"High Five, Turtle!"
—Matt Parkman, Heroes
Just like Monkeys and Penguins, people have an odd fascination with turtles. They come off as clumsy, shy and slow, but they also appear wise and spiritualistic at times. They also live for a really long time. If you want a very elderly funny animal, it's usually going to be a tortoise. If they get large enough, they can also qualify as a fantastic transport or living island (or in the case of one series and certain mythologies, the entire world).
Sea turtles in particular are quite popular and are often included as charismatic megafauna for ocean and beach conservation. Giant Tortoises are also quite popular for island conservation, especially the Galapagos Tortoise, which the islands were named after.
They're also notable as the main exceptions to the Reptiles Are Abhorrent trope, being slow, inoffensive, and seen as herbivorous (though only a few are exclusively). A localized exception is the snapping turtle, which isn't generally considered cute, and pretty bad-tempered to boot.
- Comcast Cable has, as their mascots for high speed internet, the speed-hating Slowskys - a husband and wife turtle couple.
- "Mr Turtle, how many lick does it take to get to the Tootsie Roll center of a Tootsie Pop?"
Anime and Manga
- Squirtle, Torkoal and Turtwig are all examples of turtle Pokémon. Squirtle and Turtwig are both starter Pokemon, and one of the more popular ones in their generation, while Torkoal is the signature Pokemon of gym leader Flannery. Ash, the main character of the series, has had all three of them at one point or another.
- Also, 5th generation newcomers Tirtouga and Carracosta.
- It IS just a coincidence we mention Penguins and Monkeys up top, right?
- Love Hina Cute little Tamago aka Tama-chan, who was originally Mutsumi's pet that she gave to Keitaro as a gift.
- Dragon Ball had not only Master Roshi, the Turtle Hermit (whose Training from Hell involves wearing huge turtle shells on your back all day), but also his pet turtle, which also happened to be a competent martial artist, and "Baby Gamera".
- And the signature move of the series has the Japanese word for "turtle" in the name. Roughly translated, it means "Turtle Destruction Wave". How cool is that?
- Speaking of which, Kamemon in Digimon Savers, as well as Ebonwumon and Eldradimon.
- Especially Ebonwumon: he's one of The Four Gods, and they thought his back was a forest when he first appeared.
- Naruto: Might Guy is capable of summoning ninja turtles (no, not those ninja turtles), though he doesn't do it very often.
- There is also a giant island in The Land of Lighting that's really just a ginormous turtle....With another semi-ginormous turtle on top.
- The unnamed turtle in JoJo's Bizarre Adventure part 5 had a stand called Mr. President that enabled the heroes to use his shell as Hammerspace.
- One of the aliens that the Wolkenritter stole Mana from in Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha A's were giant turtles with metal plates and shells containing rocky protrusions. As one could guess from the description, they weren't the docile type of fictional turtles.
- One of the One Piece movies featured an island that turned out to be giant turtle, which the Big Bad had set his eyes on manipulating to help him Take Over the World.
- One of the Four Emperors, Big Mam, has a crewmember named Mr. Pekoms, who has a Turtle Zoan. However, he is also a sentient Lion, making him a Mix and Match Critter.
- The wise old turtle from Mori no Ando who the animals go to for advice and appears to be able to read kanji.
- The Horned Turtle is an iconic high-toughness/low-power defensive creature card from Magic: The Gathering. The game also has a plain ol' Giant Turtle and Giant Tortoise.
- Magi-Nation has the Parathin and the Giant Parathin, both of which function as Fantastic Transport. In addition, the Torpar is a mobile village. The Yarothis is a flying turtle.
- Sopio has the "Time Traveling Tortoise", which reverses play direction.
- In the various incarnations of Elflord comics the sidhe Windblade has a turtle which he mutates into a goofy bipedal sidekick and names Mister MacTutt.
- Fastback and the Crash, Animal Superheroes with speed powers in DC Comics' Captain Carrot And His Amazing Zoo Crew.
- There's also DC's Golden Age turtle speedster (and Fastback's uncle), the Terrific Whatzit.
- While not an actual turtle, The Flash had a turtle-based villain, complete with super-slowness and a launchable shell.
- Wally West, the third Flash has been shown with a pet turtle in stories such as Teen Titans Year One.
- In one issue of X-Men Fairy Tales, Charles Xavier is represented by a (talking but otherwise basically unanthropomorphized) tortoise.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This concept, crazy as it is, spawned at least three TV series, four movies, and couple dozen video games. Oh, and it's also the Trope Namer.
- Ironically, when Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird first designed the characters, they wanted to create an absurd satire and thought that combining "turtle" with "ninja" was an oxymoron. (A turtle is a slow, clumsy creature, not one that suggests a stealthy martial artist.) To their surprise, the concept turned out far better received than they thought it would.
- Ivo Statoc of Blacksad totally fits the trope. Oh, wait...he just is a cold-blooded murderer and a necrophiliac.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (Trope Namer, from a line of the Theme Tune). They're a slight Not a Subversion since they're in no way clumsy... except Michelangelo sometimes.
- The second movie introduced a
villainous stupid infantstupid infant snapping turtle in Tokka.
- The second movie introduced a
- Gamera, friend to children.
- And abundant food source, as seen on Mystery Science Theater 3000. Gamera is really neat! Gamera is full of meat!
- In Godzilla, Mothra, Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS, a deceased giant turtle named Kamoebas (first appeared in Yog: the monster from Space), washes up to the beach after getting killed offscreen by Godzilla.
- Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda pretty much typifies this trope. He isn't particularly clumsy, however, as that part is taken by the main character, Po.
- E.T.'s extending neck is based on a turtle's neck.
- It should be mentioned that one of The Four Gods is a turtle.
- Many mythologies, particularly Hindu and Native American ones, have the earth on the back of a tortoise. The creature in Hindu mythology varies quite a bit, but the most well-known version in the West is this guy. Another Hindu turtle of importance is Kurma.
- While not ubiquitous, this is common enough among Native American cultures for some to propose using the name "Turtle Island" as a truly American (non-European) replacement name for the continent of North America ("America" is derived from some Italian guy's name).
- Aesop's Fables: In particular, The Tortoise and the Hare.
- Kusu Island, one of Singapore's several offshore territories, was said to be created when an ancient turtle transformed into an island to save a Chinese and Malay sailor when their boat capsized during a storm. To this day, a temple on Kusu Island raises tortoises and turtles alike.
- The Japanese folktale about Urashima Taro involves him rescuing a turtle that then takes him to an Undersea Palace.
- Also from Japan is the Kappa; basically an anthropomorphic turtle with a few extra features. Essentially a bogeyman of rivers, the Kappa was originally blamed for deaths caused by drowning, and in time evolved a complex mythology of its own. It has a hole on top of its head that carries water, allowing it to survive on land, and hence can be defeated by causing it to spill, loves to eat cucumbers, and according to some sources, eats through its butt. The Koopas from Super Mario Bros. games are based on this legend.
- The Tortoise and The Hare.
- Great A'Tuin, the multiverse's largest turtle, carries the Discworld on his back through space. With elephants.
- Somewhat Not a Subversion'd with Dr. Seuss' Yertle the Turtle, but he isn't outright evil, just greedy. He was, however, an allegorical stand in for Hitler as Dr. Seuss stated in an interview.
- The turtle wizard Clothahump in Alan Dean Foster's Spellsinger series.
- Morla, the giant swamp turtle in The Neverending Story.
- Also from a Michael Ende story: Cassiopeia, the wise turtle from Momo who can see half an hour into the future, and communicates by making letters appear on her shell.
- The Clutch in the Liaden Universe. Big, ancient, smart turtle species. Very, very polite, but do not mess with them.
- In the Redwall book Rakkety Tam, the MacGuffin being sought by the villain is the "Walking Stone", which is the symbol of power in his homeland and must be owned by the king. It turns out to be a tortoise, which is nicknamed "Rockbottom" and adopted as a semi-sapient pet by the heroes. (Ironically, the villain, despite being a savage maniac in all other respects, must have kept pretty good care of it for a cold-blooded animal to survive in the "Lands of Ice and Snow".)
- In the Stephen King multiverse, especially the Dark Tower series, The Turtle is a benevolent force who watches over various characters and even acts as a type of Deus Ex Machina at times. The "Voice of the Turtle" is the force which compels King to write, especially about things related to The Dark Tower.
- More specifically, in the Dark Tower series the Turtle is one of the old gods/guardians which protect the foundations of the Tower itself.
- Also in IT, where the Losers are sort of the champions of the Turtle. Unfortunately, the Turtle apparently dies in their universe before their Final Battle (although It very well may have been lying to Bill when he said that in an attempt to discourage him).
Live Action TV
- Underwater nature documentaries love to show swimmers riding the back of a turtle.
- The Discovery Channel Mockumentary The Future Is Wild has Toratons. They are basically dinosaur-sized turtles with less shell.
- Why are you talking to the turtle,
Park ManPac Man?
- "High five, Turtle!"
- Jeremiah, the wise old turtle in Bear in the Big Blue House. Oh, and he runs the Post Office.
- Crabman has a box turtle, named Mr Turtle, who occasionally suffers from the actions of others.
- He also once got lost, and had all kinds of crazy adventures (ran in a marathon, got caught in the middle of a gang war, and mated with another turtle he found) on the way back.
- On Stargate Atlantis, Dr. Beckett decides that the ideal pet for him would be turtles, as they don't require much care or space (any animal that did require such would be unfairly served by him and his job) but are still appealing to him. He reveals this when they're leaving on a particularly dangerous mission, and he realizes he never left any instructions that the "baby wee turtles" should be cared for, lamenting, "Ah've prob'ly killed them."
- Deleted scenes from a later episode establish that the turtles survived, and that after Carson died, they passed into Rodney's care.
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers features Tor the Shuttlezord. He's big, he's green, and more often than not the only way you'll know he's there is the growing shadow from him about to crush you from above.
- Also, one-shot Monster of the Week Shellshock, who made a hilarious Shout Out: "Wait until those teenage mutants see what a full-grown turtle can do!" (Which proved Hilarious in Hindsight during Power Rangers in Space, when they actually showed up.)
- Mia's Zord on Power Rangers Samurai is of the flying sea turtle variety.
- Abby of NCIS had a pet turtle as a kid large enough to ride on. She was told that the turtle would be replaced with a wagon upon its passing, but that turtle hung in there...
- The Home Base in Choujuu Sentai Liveman, the Gran Tortoise, is shaped exactly like what you think it's shaped like.
- Maura Isles on Rizzoli and Isles has a giant turtle...
- It's probably obligatory to mention Ninja Turtles the Next Mutation here—although many people see it as Turtle LACK of Power
- '60s pop group The Turtles, of "Happy Together" fame.
- Churchy La Femme in Pogo certainly subverts the 'wise' trope.
- Dungeons & Dragons has Dragon Turtle. "Dragon" part is expressed in size, breath weapon (hot steam), intelligence and hoarding habits (usually satisfied by demanding tribute from any ship passing through its territory).
- Mystara had humanoid turtles called tortles (as well as an evil subrace oh-so-imaginatively called snappers) and giant turtles, including the snapping variety.
- Al-Qadim (Arabian Nights-themed setting) introduced Zaratans.
- Spelljammer introduced enormous Gammaroids (a Shout-Out to Gamera), since Everything Is Bigger In Space.
- In the tabletop RPG Werewolf: The Apocalypse, each tribe follows a specific totem whose beliefs, goals, and philosophies match those of the tribe. The extinct Croatan (yes, that Croatan) followed Turtle as their totem, due to their ties to the Earth element and the recurring myth that the world is carried on the back of a turtle. After the tribe's Heroic Sacrifice, Turtle withdrew his support from the werewolves for over 500 years. When the Old World of Darkness line ended, a possible scenario for the end of the world involved Turtle's return.
- Pretty prominently featured with the Koopas from the Super Mario Bros.. series. Most of them are intelligent buy very nasty, especially Bowser and his kin, but the rank-and-file are still kinda cute and cartoony. After the switch to 3D, numerous good Koopas have turned up as well.
- The Legend of Zelda: Majora's Mask has a turtle enemy called Snapper, and an island that turns out to be a giant turtle (which also appears in the Great Bay stage of Super Smash Bros. Melee).
- The Animal Crossing games all have the elderly tortoise Tortimer as the mayor of town.
- The Quadav from Final Fantasy XI are a large-scale subversion of Exclusively Evil. Think Indians vs. Colonists, and you can get an idea of why they fight back.
- The ancient Sage Ghido from Final Fantasy V is the oldest living creature in the world, supremely wise, monumentally sarcastic (especially towards Bartz) and can engage Exdeath in hand-to-hand combat that leaves the young adventurers positively flabbergasted. He still needs help flipping over if knocked on his back, though.
- Adamantoise enemies from Final Fantasy XIII bear only a passing resemblance to turtles, but they've got the "power" part down.
- World of Warcraft has turtle beasts, typically immense and fanged, with heavy armour. Wild turtles can be tamed as Hunter pets and as one can expect, are good for tanking. Lastly, one of the trading card bonuses is a ridable turtle without any requirements, but it's not any faster than walking (and recently, a new turtle mount has been introduced, which is obtainable by fishing and gives movement speed bonuses only while swimming). One quest involves two talking turtles as well.
- One dungeon has a turtle for a boss, called Ghamoo-ra. Another turtle in the wild is called Gammerita. Unlike Gamera, both are very much hostile, though.
- Even larger turtles are or have been used as ships by the Horde and the tuskarr of Northrend. In Cataclysm we get to meet the even larger turtle ancient Tortolla (and combat his Evil Twin Nemesis, who is also on fire), and Mists of Pandaria takes it even further with Shen-zin Su, a Turtle Island of massive proportions.
- Tortoleans, introduced in Battle for Azeroth, are a Proud Merchant Race of humanoid turtles. Most aren't exactly fighters, but there are exceptions.
- The Touhou series used to feature a flying turtle named Genji as main character Reimu Hakurei's main method of transportation. He has not been seen since the series migrated to Windows and Reimu learned to fly on her own. Word of God is that he now lives in a pond behind the shrine.
- The Ninth Colossi from Shadow of the Colossus, a really, really big turtle/tortoise, is very nasty. Also one of the hardest Colossi in the game.
- Bentley from Sly Cooper. Even after he loses the use of his legs in the second game, he still proves to be essential to the Cooper Gang.
- The Turtle Tamer is a class in Kingdom of Loathing. Live turtles are also used in lieu of helmets, apparently without any harm to the turtle. You can even get them upgraded with linoleum or chrome plating.
- A sidequest in Golden Sun ends with a large turtle offering (through telepathy) to carry the party to his secret island, where they can fight powerful monsters and a sub-boss who grants a useful summon. To get him to offer this you have to bring him a baby turtle who relieves his loneliness, much to his surprised joy.
- Tales of Symphonia has the enemies called turtles and their Tethe'allan counterparts crush turtles.
- In Monster Hunter, one common source of meat is the peculiar turtle/dinosaur cross known as an Apceros. They're also one of the few herbivores which will actually chase and attack the player on sight - albeit verrry slooooowly.
- Psychonauts: Mr. Pokeylope, an infantile old lady's pet with a deep voice and a mind full of stratagems. "That's right baby, Daddy's here. Everything's going to be alllllright."
- Toss the Turtle. Yes, you get to throw turtles. With cannons.
- Tiptup from Diddy Kong Racing, considered to be one of the best drivers in the game. He proved to be popular enough to have cameos in a later series starring one of his fellow racers, Banjo-Kazooie.
- In Aquaria, you ride an Ancient Turtle to speed-travel. The game also has an entire cave full of peaceful turtles, looked over by a gigantic Turtle Mother.
- In Super Metroid, there are several turtles in one room in Maridia, an large one and several smaller ones. The smaller ones, presumably children, are docile, but the larger one can go Mama Bear on you if you're not careful.
- In Infocom's Enchanter, a turtle is one of the friendly creatures you encounter, and its shell combined with a haste...er, exex...spell make it a useful ally in getting one necessary item.
- Rainy Turtloid from Mega Man X6 and Heat Genblem from Mega Man Zero 4. One of the bosses in Mega Man 7 was a robotic tortoise.
- Tartagon mounts in Rift: basically giant two-headed riding tortoises.
- In Return to Mysterious Island, spotting a sea turtle on the beach and backtracking it to its eggs is what part of what keeps your stranded character alive.
- Jackie Chan's Action Kung Fu has flying turtles as the typical sort of platforms that move up and down in mid-air.
- Gohma squashers from Asura's Wrath.
- In Robo Aleste, the Stage 6 boss is a gunship shaped like a turtle, with a retractable head.
- The Lord of the Rings Online has a variety of giant turtles, most of which toss characters across the map. Notable turtles include one of the harder mid-level quest instances (The Tomb of Elendil) and Nornuan, a turtle that is an entire raid until itself.
- Guild Wars has the Luxon. Their turtle clan builds nomadic cities on the backs of giant land tortoises, and they strap cannons to turtles to make mobile siege platforms.
- In 3D games of the Tales (series), truck-sized tortoises are a common monster type. They tend to not be very threatening, due to moving and attacking slowly, and being very large targets.
- In Master of Magic, Lizardmen have Dragon Turtle cavalry. It's well-armoured and beefy, can reliably damage units with high Defense and breathes fire. It's also as fast as normal cavalry both in water and on the ground, though it's the result of movement rate not being tied to movement types.
- Crush and his offspring Squirt from Finding Nemo. Bonus points for being both the laid-back Ninja Turtle type and the wise old mentor at the same time.
- Master Oogway from Kung Fu Panda, wise beyond all others, the inventor of Kung Fu, and badass enough to drop the nigh-unstoppable Tai Lung with a lightning-fast nerve strike pattern. All he needs now is a bandanna and a name based on a Renaissance artist...
- Filbert from Rocko's Modern Life.
- Hanna-Barbera gave us Touché Turtle.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has the Lion Turtle. It's incredibly old, the Last of His Kind, the size of an island, and has the power of Energybending.
- Also Turtleducks.
- The Simpsons "If I don't save the wee turtles, who will? Ah! Save me from the wee turtles! They were too quick for me!"
- On Futurama, Crimes of the Hot, Bender is moved by the plight of African turtles migrating to Holland because of global warming because they remind him of the one he loves the most: himself. "We both have a tough outer shell, but live a rich inner life. Also... I can't get up if I fall on my back."
Fry - "But I've seen you get up when you're on your back before"
Bender - "We pollute too much! We're hurting the planet and killing the turtles!" (Holds up said turtle)
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. 'Nuff Said.
- Wouldn't they be considered the Trope Namer here?, since they kind of coined the phrase literally.
- They are. They were mentioned earlier. Heroes in a half shell! TURTLE POWER!
- Wouldn't they be considered the Trope Namer here?, since they kind of coined the phrase literally.
- In British kids' show The Caribou Kitchen, a waiter at the titular cafe was a tortoise called Tom, whose main trait was that he was reeeaaallly slllooowww.
- Lancelot of "Mike, Lu & Og" fame.
- Carapace, Nino's turtle-themed super-heroic alter-ego in the second season of Miraculous Ladybug.
- Mrs. Turtle and Shelby from House of Mouse.
- The main villain of Rango is the evil tortoise mayor of a Western village populated by animals that is voiced by Ned |Beatty.
- Toby Tortoise from Robin Hood. Curiously enough, his best friends are rabbits.
- A turtle is among the many animals Snow White befriended in the woods during her stay in the Seven Dwarfs' cottage.
- The first animal Merlin turns into during the Wizard Duel from The Sword in the Stone is a blue tortoise.
- Just right before the end of The Emperors New Groove, Kuzco is accidentally turned into a red tortoise.
- Cecil Turtle is that rarest of Looney Tunes characters, one who consistently thwarted Bugs Bunny.
- Burt from Danger Rangers.
- In My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic, Rainbow Dash gets a tortoise she names Tank after she held a competition. While the tortoise failed to impress her in speed or coolness, he proves to be the most dedicated when he ends up saving her from an avalanche. To counteract the fact that tortoises can't fly, Tank gets modified with a helicopter rotor that straps to his shell.
- A 5th century B.C.E. Greek writer (claimed to be the founder of Greek tragedy), Aeschylus, was reportedly killed when an Eagle, attempting to crack open a turtle shell, mistook Aeschylus's bald head for a rock and dropped the turtle on it. Despite the fact that Aeschylus was killed instantly, the turtle lived. Turtles > Greek Writers.
- Any true Marylander knows that you should Fear the Turtle. Because you should REALLY fear the turtle.
- Anything capable of living more than a century and a half has to be pretty cool.
- Any animal that decides to grapple and chew on one should beware of a horror-filled revenge.
- The largest known turtle to have existed, Archelon, lived in the Cretaceous Niobrara Basin. The largest Archelon fossil, found in the Pierre Shale of South Dakota in the 1970s, measures more than 4 metres (13 ft) long, and about 4.9 metres (16 ft) wide from flipper to flipper.