The Rat King is a fictional character from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles multimedia franchise. The character was created by Jim Lawson and first appeared in the comic Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 written by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird and has made various appearances since, in the comic books and other mediums, such as animated series and video games.
The Rat King remains one of the more enigmatic characters in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with various appearances depicting him as either a villain, a neutral character and even an ally of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Rat King has a distinguishable attire, which consists of filthy, tattered rags and, most prominently, various bandages covering his body. As his name implicates, the Rat King has apparent telepathic influence over rats, with his only other consistent power being his immense strength (the level of which, varies throughout incarnations of the character).
Mirage Comics Edit
In the Mirage Studios Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, the Rat King makes his first appearance in Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #4 as the story's main antagonist. After residing in a swamp for several months, the Rat King (who remains unnamed until the end of the issue) decides to venture into a nearby abandoned industrial park and use it as shelter against the oncoming winter. There, the Rat King happens upon the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and their friend Casey Jones, who had come to the industrial park to train. Believing the Turtles and Casey to be other "monsters" who wish to take his territory, the Rat King proceeds to stalk them throughout the park, even capturing Michelangelo and leaving him to be devoured by the rats (Michelangelo later escapes). The Rat King is eventually defeated by Leonardo who, in a duel with the Rat King, flings several shurikens at him, which impale the Rat King and knock him off balance, sending him plummeting into the bowels of a silo.
In the multi-part storyline "City at War", the Rat King appears in a major role. After entering the silo where Leonardo defeated the Rat King, Splinter falls into a pit and injures his leg; left helpless, Splinter is found by the Rat King, who appears before him multiple times throughout the story-arc, often debating philosophically with him and giving him cryptic advice in dreams. Splinter soon has a dream in which the Rat King appears before him as a demonic rat-like entity, and tells him to devour a rat to regain his strength. Rat King also tells Splinter that eating rats has allowed him to "find what he was looking for", and also states that he had been waiting for Splinter to come to him for some time. Two months later, after the Rat King stops appearing to him he gets enough strength and leaves the silo. Splinter finds, much to his surprise, the heavily decayed corpse of the Rat King buried under rubble, its limbs twisted and several shurikens imbedded in it.
After several years of absence, the Rat King (in ghost form) reappears in a brief cameo appearance in Teenage Mutant Ninjas Turtles Vol. 4, watching as Splinter succumbs to a heart attack and dies while retrieving milk from a refrigerator.
Much of the Rat King's origin is later revealed in an issue of Tales of the Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol. 2; the story reveals that a group of beings known as the Pantheon exists, with each member of the group having jurisdiction over a species of animal. When the Pantheon member who rules the rats time reaches an end, a new one is chosen, a scarred and heavily bandaged (explaining the Rat King's appearance) patient at a hospital. Becoming the Rat King, the man challenges Splinter to a battle, which he loses after a long fight. With the Rat King defeated, Splinter is offered to take his place in the Pantheon, which he refuses. Accepting Splinter's decision, the Pantheon and Rat King leave, though not before stating that Splinter will be offered membership in the Pantheon one more time, at the moment of his death.
Despite being a minor character in the comics at the time of its initial airing, the Rat King (voiced by Townsend Coleman) is featured as recurring character in the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, being one of the few villains from the comics to make the transition into the cartoon (the others being the Shredder, Leatherhead and Dr. Stockman). The cartoon counterpart of the Rat King was somewhat inconsistent in some regards to his comic version, being shown with blonde hair instead of black and having a slightly altered costume; his first few appearances on the show also had him controlling rats with a flute (à la The Pied Piper of Hamelin) instead of his mind as in later episodes. Even Splinter was affected by the music and almost killed the TMNT in a fight.  The cartoon version of the Rat King was also depicted as highly intelligent, shown to be able to create such things as various chemical concoctions and bombs.  
In the series, the Rat King is shown living in a dilapidated portion of the New York City sewer system near the Turtles and Splinter. In episodes featuring him, the Rat King would often enact some sort of plot to establish his own rat-controlled government and bring human rule to an end, believing that rats (which he counted himself as) were superior to all other species, whom he described as "inferior non-rodents." He occasionally joined other villains in group efforts that would, he thought, ultimately help his own goals.   In some episodes of the show, the Rat King is depicted as somewhat of an anti-hero, with him, on one occasion, even helping the Turtles rescue a captured April O'Neil.  When not actively seeking to expand his "empire," the Rat King eventually seemed content to simply remain underground with his loyal rats and, it seems, realized it was more to his advantage to have the Turtles as allies than as enemies.
Archie Comics Edit
In Archie Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series, the Rat King is given the name Lord Ha’ntaan. The Rat King's first appearance in the Archie Comics is in issue eleven, where the Turtles encounter him while searching for the Shredder in the sewers. The Rat King allows the Turtles to pass him unhindered and tells them where the Shredder is, after Leonardo proves that he and his brothers mean him and his rat subjects no harm.
The Rat King has an extended role in the "The Future Shark Trilogy", which reveals him to be still active several decades in the future (showing no signs of having aged at all). After the future version of Donatello exterminated most of the world's rat population, the Rat King declares war on him and his allies for killing so many of his "children".
Though mentioned throughout "The Future Shark Trilogy", the Rat King only appears in person in the story-arc's last issue, which has him engaging in a battle royal with the Turtles, their allies and several other villains. The Rat King is defeated in the issue after Verminator X accidentally floods the room everyone is in, washing the Rat King and his rats away.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 - Present) Edit
In the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles the Rat King (who is never referred to as such and voiced by David Zen Mansley) appears in the episode "I, Monster", which is an adaptation of his first appearance in the Mirage Comics. Instead of dying like in the comics, the Rat King survives the fall into the silo after his fight with Leonardo. 
Throughout "I, Monster", various flashbacks reveal the origin of this series' version of the Rat King; the episode reveals the Rat King was originally the Slayer, from the episode "Bishop's Gambit", a prototype bio-mechanical super soldier created by Agent Bishop using his own and Splinter's DNA. The Slayer was meant to be used to fight off any alien threats and was given a test run against the Turtles, who broke into Bishop's laboratory looking for the kidnapped Splinter. The Slayer was presumed destroyed when a fight between it, the Turtles, Splinter and Bishop flooded the agent's lab. In actuality, the Slayer survived and was sent hurdling through the sewers, eventually being deposited near the industrial park the events of "I, Monster" take place in. Losing several of its robotic parts, cloaking device and regenerative abilities, the Slayer degenerated into an even more monstrous form, becoming the Rat King. 
The Rat King makes a later appearance in the episode "Wedding Bells and Bytes", secretly watching the wedding near the end of the episode with a smile.
Video games Edit
The Rat King appears as a boss in the Super Nintendo version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time, battling the player using a speedboat equipped with missiles and spiked buoys.  The Rat King also appears as a secret character in the Super Nintendo version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Tournament Fighters.
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