Raphael, the team's "rebel".
Publication information
Publisher Mirage Studios
First appearance Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
(May, 1984)
Created by Kevin Eastman
Peter Laird
In-story information
Team affiliations Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Notable aliases Nightwatcher
Abilities Highly skilled in ninjutsu
Olympic-level agility, speed, and strength
Mastery of kobudo
Master of stealth
Chi Gong
Master of twin offensive/defensive sai

Raphael, or Raph, is one of the four protagonists of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics and all related media.[1]

In the Mirage/Image Comics, all four turtles wear red bandannas over their eyes, but unlike his brothers in other versions, he is the only one who keeps the red bandanna. Raphael wields twin sai as his primary weapon, although historically, sai were never used by ninja as the sai is a Kobudo weapon originating in Okinawa. (In the Next Mutation series, his sai stick together to make a staff-like weapon.) He is generally the most likely to experience extremes of emotion, and is usually depicted as being aggressive, sullen, maddened, and rebellious.[2] The origin of Raphael's anger is not always fully explored, but in some incarnations appears to stem partly from the realization that they are the only creatures of their kind and ultimately alone. He also has a somewhat turbulent relationship with his older brother Leonardo because he is the group's leader. He is named after the 16th-century Italian painter Raphael. In his horse form, he wears a red feather headband and red saddle on his back.[3] In 2011 Raphael placed 29th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.

Comic booksEdit

Mirage ComicsEdit

In the earliest black-and-white Mirage Comics, Raphael was the most violent turtle and had a tendency for going berserk either in battle or when his temper flared up. He has a somewhat cynical and sarcastic sense of humor. In later issues, it's shown that he is not particularly fond of the supernatural, stating it up front in Tales of Raphael: Bad Moon Rising.

Raphael mellowed somewhat as the series went on, possibly a key moment for his character development was when he allowed Leonardo to go in alone to defeat The Shredder after nearly being killed by the foot elite. Since then, he has been less likely to challenge Leonardo's leadership, and on the whole is more friendly towards his family and allies.

Of his three brothers, Raphael is actually closest to Michelangelo, even having stated it in the fourth issue of the original TMNT comics. Raphael often shows a caring, more laid-back, side of himself when around his youngest brother, frequently indulging the younger turtle emotionally when at home and ferociously protecting him from harm when in battle. Raphael openly admits that the mere thought of his youngest brother being grievously injured causes him to experience violent rage. In his self-titled one-shot micro series, Raphael met human vigilante Casey Jones, his foil, who was even more violent and unstable than he was. Despite their brutal first meeting, the two have since formed a close bond.

In the comic book series' Volume 4, he is still the most violent turtle, but is more sociable. After having been bitten by a vampire-like creature, he experienced a further mutation, and became a large, dinosaur-like version of himself. He went into a state of berserk animal rage because of it, but with some guidance by an inner manifestation of Master Splinter, he regained his original mentality and later assisted Donatello and Casey Jones in tracking down the vampires who attacked him. This is also somewhat similar to an earlier storyline during Volume 1, where Raphael was attacked by a leech-like creature who, when sucking his blood, also drained him of the mutagen in his body and reverted him to a small turtle. The leech itself mutated and vanished, prompting the remaining turtles to follow it. Finally, after tracking down the creature, Raphael manages to bite it and pierce its skin, thereby drinking its blood and mutating back.

This incarnation of Raphael appeared in the crossover special Turtles Forever voiced by Sean Schemmel.

Image ComicsEdit

In the Image series that treated the first two volumes of the Mirage Comics as canonical, Raphael was blasted in the face and disfigured. After that, he wore one of Casey Jones' hockey masks for much of the time, and eventually just an eye patch. Later, Raphael wore Shredder's armor in an attempt to psychologically dominate a number of the New York Mob, with whom the Foot Clan was engaged in a losing gang war. He donned a slightly variant version of the armor, and pretended to be the Shredder to get the advantage on his pursuers. He succeeded in defeating them and was then accepted into, and given control of, the New York faction of the Foot Clan for a brief time.

The next series produced by Mirage Comics, Volume 4, did not treat the Image series as canon.

Archie ComicsEdit

The Archie comics series was titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures and began as a direct adaptation of the popular cartoon series in the late 1980s. After the second story arc, Raphael changed costumes and began wearing an all dark ninja outfit which he won during an Alien Wrestling Match. He would be the first member of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to have a girlfriend, meeting Ninjara in issue #28 and breaking up near the end of the magazine's 75 issue run. In the future, Raphael would lose an eye during a conflict with the Shredder and Verminator X. He would time travel after his brother Donatello invents the technology and eventually retire on the island Turtleco (which used to be Manhattan) and become a bar owner.


1987 animated seriesEdit

1987 raph 02

Raphael as he appears in the 1987 cartoon

Raphael's personality in the 1987 animated series deviates the most from all other incarnations. The show's theme song states that Raphael is "cool, but crude" (he takes a slice of pizza with his sai and shoves the rest of it onto the screen), as opposed to being angry and sullen as in other versions, since the series is based on humor. Raphael is a sarcastic wise-guy, and supplies comic relief alongside Michelangelo, whose humor is usually attributed to his ignorance and spaciness. As a result, Michelangelo is the subject of Raphael's jokes more than any other Turtle. He frequently makes jokes that break the fourth wall.

This incarnation of Raphael is entirely different from other variations and has a far less confrontational relationship with his friends and fellow Turtles. The most striking example with this is his lack of a sibling rivalry with Leonardo. Raphael has no desire to steal anyone's thunder or become a leader; he's perfectly content providing the wittiest of the cartoon's jokes, being the most humorous turtle of the group. Despite this, Raphael usually served as a contrast to Leonardo's "gung-ho do-gooder" persona with his pessimistic sarcastic remarks. However, Raphael did challenge Leonardo's leadership once in the season 8 episode "Turtle Trek".

In the Season 4 episode "Raphael Meets His Match", Raphael was paired off with a mysterious mutant female named Mona Lisa, who might have been considered as a potential girlfriend for Raphael. Despite following the Turtles back to New York City, Mona Lisa was never seen again.

In the season 5 episode "Raphael Versus the Volcano", due to a malfunction in Donatello's Healthometer, Raphael was convinced that he soon was going to die and decided to end his life as a hero named the "Green Defender", saving people from dangers and stopping criminals when he thought he had nothing to lose. When the Healthometer malfunction was discovered, the other Turtles tracked him down to tell him he wasn't going to die.

In the 1987 series' original English-language version, Raphael's voice actor is Rob Paulsen from season one to season nine with Thom Pinto as the 1989 alternate, Hal Rayle as the 1989 and 1993 alternate, and Michael Gough in the final season. In Turtles Forever, the 1988 version of Raphael is voiced by Sebastian Arcelus.

Ninja Turtles: The Next MutationEdit

Next Mutation Raphael

Raphael as portrayed in The Next Mutation.

Raphael appears in the live action series, Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, as well as its crossover episode with Power Rangers in Space portrayed by Mitchell A. Lee Yuen and voiced by Matt Hill.

2003 animated seriesEdit

3680121596 e0c6d18a54 o

Raphael as portrayed in the 2003 series

In the 2003 series, Raphael was voiced by Greg Abbey. Raphael's personality is more akin to his original incarnation-he is angrier and more sardonic, but not quite as violent unless extremely angry, as proven in one incident where he almost smashed Michelangelo's head in with a pipe after he beat him in a sparring match.

He often argues with Leonardo and Michelangelo, although he is depicted as being very close with both at times. His relationship with Donatello consists of poking fun at his intellect or annoyance at his long-winded explanations, more or less thinking of him as something of a dork, yet still his brother. His best friend is generally regarded as Casey Jones. In all incarnations of the turtles except for the 1987 cartoon, Raphael appears to live in the shadow of Leonardo and resents his brother's social position in the group. However, his rivalry with his brother is heavily toned down in comparison to the comic books and rarely shows a deep hatred towards him as the series progresses. He is shown to be a skilled motorcyclist.

It has often been hinted that Raphael has entomophobia, the fear of insects. He has shown on many occasions an unrivaled hatred of bugs.

Raphael's relationship with Michelangelo is unique in this series. Michelangelo has a tendency to severely annoy his brother, from playing pranks, to taunting, gloating, and overall rubbing his accomplishments in Raphael's face.

He also expressed his pain and fear of losing his only older brother and leader when Leonardo was nearly killed by the Foot to the point where he even started crying. As Leonardo recovered, Raphael was also the one who supported Leonardo the most, even helping him to create new swords and paying the greatest attention to the care of his brother. In the episode "Ultimate Ninja" Raph attempted to protect Leo from the Ultimate Ninja when he challenged him and lashed out in anger and fear when Leo was nearly hurt. Raphael continues to challenge Leonardo's decisions in this incarnation as well, as Raphael and Leonardo often argue over what to do in certain situations, Raph usually favoring a direct and confrontational approach. Despite differences, Leo and Raph arguably have the closest relationship of the Turtles emphasized in the series, as their conflicting views and care for one another is a key point in many episodes throughout the entire series. Raphael will often put the security of his family and sometimes friends in danger as far as disobeying Splinter and Leonardo, but will react immediately if they are in danger.

He has an extremely loyal side and is the first to react when another of his brothers is in trouble. This happens on numerous occasions, like when he stops a blow from hitting Donatello using only his sais or kicks the Shredder away from Leonardo when the latter is about to attack.

2012 animated seriesEdit

Raphael is voiced by Sean Astin in the 2012 series.[4] During the first portion of the first episode, "Rise of the Turtles", it was shown that he has exceptional agility, able to dodge all of Donatello's Bo Staff strikes, before snatching and breaking it, and then won the training tournament by throwing Leo with his Sai. However, when Splinter congratulated them, Raph bragged about his win, which caused Splinter to hit a pressure point on his neck and forced him to compliment his brothers. He is once again an impulsive hothead, and also has a normal pet turtle named Spike. His relationship with Leonardo does not involve a lot of fighting but trust and care. With Michelangelo he insults him but he cares this is shown when in "New Friend, Old Enemy" he comforts him when he feels down by telling him that he is an awesome guy. His relationship with Donatello involves threats, glares, hitting, insulting, and bullying. Like in "I, Monster", where he throws a rat at him to get him to stop talking. Donatello cares for Raph, for instance having a hard time insulting him in "Turtle Temper", and trying to give him a hand when he his later in the van with the Kraang. He is also afraid of cockroaches until he managed to defeat the mutant cockroach Spyroach.

Raphael's character design was updated, giving him green eyes as well as a small, lightning shaped chip cut out of his plastron across his left shoulder. His shell shows distinct battle damage, and the tails of his mask are tattered and worn.


Original Live-action trilogyEdit


Raphael as he appears in the original film

In the 1990 film adaptation, Raphael is voiced by Josh Pais. He speaks with a distinctive tough-sounding Lower East Side accent (that was imitated in the later versions of TMNT), is the turtle whose character is explored most completely. He has a quick temper, uses mild language, verbally challenges Leonardo. This film focuses more so on his feeling of isolation from his brothers and sense of regret and anger when Splinter is eventually captured from the Shredder. Here, it is established that he shares a closer relationship with news reporter April O'Neil having saved her from the Foot Clan on several occasions.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, he is played by Kenn Troum, and voiced by Laurie Faso, and in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III film he is played by Matt Hill, and dubbed by Tim Kelleher. In the films, he is still angry and occasionally goes off by himself in the second movie, but has a soft spot for the young people the team meets. It is also shown that he has an appreciation for nature as it appears to calm him.

Throughout these 3 films, he is shown to have a scar on his cheek and his shell has scratches, unlike his brothers.


Raph 01

Raph as he appears in the 2007 film

In 2007, CGI sequel TMNT, Raphael is voiced by Nolan North.[5]

In the TMNT movie prequel comics, Raphael becomes the Nightwatcher after failing to save an old man who was once a crime-fighter, and promising to take the man's gear and get his revenge. He starts this career in Harlem, which the comic vividly shows to be full of gangs and other illicit activities.

His time as the Nightwatcher is one of the few during which Raphael uses a different ninjitsu weapon, the manriki: weighted chains that can be concealed in the hands and used from considerable distances. Unlike his sai, the manriki are typically not lethal weapons, though they could crush a skull if used with enough force.[6]

It is in the animated movie where the animosity between Raphael and Leonardo is brought out into the open. This leads to a physical confrontation between Raphael and Leonardo and resulting in Raphael almost mortally wounding Leonardo before retreating. After Leonardo is kidnapped, Raphael then acknowledges his mistake to Master Splinter and confesses what happened and why he understood the reason Leonardo was chosen as the leader. Master Splinter then explains to Raphael that his tendency to put the world's problems on his own shoulders as a protector of the weak is a great quality and that while he may not be his favorite student, it does not mean he is his least favorite son. Master Splinter then goes on to tell Raphael that his strength, his passion, and his loyalty to the people he cares about are also merits of a great leader if it can be tempered with compassion. After Raphael, the Turtles, as well as Casey and April rescue Leonardo, Raphael is shown to be eager to fight alongside his brother instead of against him.

Series relaunchEdit

Raphael is set to re-appear in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles,[7] directed by Jonathan Liebesman and produced by Michael Bay, which originally controversially dropped the mutant aspect from the turtles in favor of them spawning from an 'alien race'. This idea was later retracted by Bay after he said that the script was rewritten.[8] It was later announced that Alan Ritchson was cast as Raphael in this reboot.[9]

Video gamesEdit

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In the first few video games, based on the 1987 cartoon, Raphael was an unpopular character because of the short range of his weapon. In later games, he was designed to be the fastest turtle to give him more of an advantage. In games based on the 2003 animated series, he is the strongest and toughest Turtle as opposed to the fastest. He appears in TMNT: Smash Up as a playable character, with Frank Frankson reprising his role. The Nightwatcher also makes an appearance as a separate playable character.


In 2008, Raphael shared the fifth place with Leonardo on TechCrunch's list of Top 10 Video Game Ninja Characters.[10]


External linksEdit

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