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TMNT: Mutant Mayhem director on why his beloved psychedelic avocado scene got cut

Did you know avocados are toxic to turtles?

L-r, Leonard, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo are very excited in a screencap from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem. Image: Paramount Pictures
Susana Polo is an entertainment editor at Polygon, specializing in pop culture and genre fare, with a primary expertise in comic books. Previously, she founded The Mary Sue.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem has only started preview screenings, but it’s already on track to be August’s biggest theater hit — and that isn’t lost on parent company Paramount Pictures. This week, the studio greenlit not just a sequel film, but also a two-season animated Paramount Plus series, Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, that will reportedly serve as a “bridge” between the two flicks.

What can we expect to see in that movie and show? According to the movie’s own credits scene, a quintessential TMNT villain. And according to our chat with director Jeff Rowe... avocados.

[Ed. note: This piece contains spoilers for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem.]

April O’Neil, Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo laugh while looking at a mobile phone in a still from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Image: Nickelodeon/Paramount

Does TMNT: Mutant Mayhem have a post-credits scene?

Technically it’s just a mid-credits sequence. But it’s a biggie.

If you caught TMNT: MM early, then you already know the movie ends with Mikey, Don, Leo, and Raph achieving every isolated teen’s dream: enrolling in high school. OK, well, it’s their dream, anyway: to find a way to exist in the human world without people being scared of them. But then...

Yep, that’s Shredder in TMNT: Mutant Mayhem’s credits scene

First we’re treated to more turtle high school hijinks at a school dance. But then we get a big hint at their future outside of the classroom — with a shot of the unmistakable form of Shredder, warlord of the nefarious Foot Clan.

Was there ever a version of Mutant Mayhem where Shredder was the main villain, rather than Superfly (played by Ice Cube)? When Polygon chatted with Jeff Rowe in June, he said, “Absolutely. That was our first impulse.” But ultimately, the necessity of giving this new take on the Turtles its proper introduction outweighed giving Shredder his due. Rowe and his crew opted to tease Shredder at the end of their movie and hope for a sequel — one Paramount now intends to make.

But you mentioned… psychedelic avocados?

As Rowe revealed to Polygon, early drafts of Mutant Mayhem looked pretty different from the final version. They went lighter on the mutant baddies and had much more high school adventure. And that’s where the avocado comes in.

“There was a lot of really, really funny stuff” in initial versions of the script, Rowe said, “including a scene where Mikey is at a high school party and eats a bunch of avocado. And avocado is toxic to turtles. So it was this psychedelic sequence where he now has to help his brothers out, but he’s really messed up on avocado. It was the funniest thing, but it just did not make sense for this movie.”

Nevertheless, according to Rowe, the scene was a favorite for folks on the production.

“It’s the one thing that every artist on the film is like, If there’s a sequel, can we do the avocado sequence, please? We need the avocado sequence.

So you heard it here, folks: Whether it’s in Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem’s sequel, one thing we can reasonably expect is for at least one of them to trip out on avocados. Just don’t make it a habit, Michelangelo. Focus on school!

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