The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Personality Index

I have previously made random references to something I called the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Personality Index or TMNTPI. Personality Inventories are fairly common from the Myers-Briggs to the lesser known profile that breaks people down into Lions, Beavers, Golden Retrievers, and Otters. The TMNTPI is based on pure amateur psychology and a childhood of watching cartoons, but it is based on my observation that most people would fall into some sort of combination of the personalities portrayed by Leonardo, Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo. I haven’t made a survey to correspond with the TMNTPI, but I can tell you what the four types are.

We are told in the classic TMNT theme song that Leonardo leads. Leonardo is your classic take-charge individual. They are the achievers, the team captains, the class presidents. When a group is in disarray and needs someone to give the group shape and form, they turn to a Leonardo. Leonardos are people persons. Leonardos are typically mature and intelligent but also can occasionally demonstrate a “my way or the highway” attitude.

The basic gist of Donatello is that he was an inventor, the one that—as the theme song reminds us—“does machines.” Donatello is a brain, but a creative brain. The Donatellos of the world are creatives. They tinker with machines or art or writing or computer programs or whatever else. They might be a bit more introverted. Donatellos might be considered a geek or a nerd or a little bit of an outsider. Typically a Donatello is a bit more insecure because of this.

The theme song—which states that “Raphael is crude but rude”—breaks down a little bit here. That is not an accurate representation of the sai-wielding turtle. Yes, Raphael has a bit of an attitude, but it is because he is an independent thinker. He bucks leadership because he thinks there is a better way. Now sometimes a Raphael will challenge leadership just for the sake of challenging leadership, but many times that challenge comes from a genuine place. Raphaels are often sarcastic yet seem to be well-liked for the most part.

He’s a party dude, the outgoing one, the people person that makes other people persons look like wallflowers. As such, Michelangelos are much needed to ease tension in group situations, they provide levity. Michelangelos can sometimes be immature or unfocused, but they are also fiercely loyal. People who are Donatellos frequently wish that they were Michelangelos.

Like all situations, you need all of these personalities for an organization to run. You need leaders, thinker/creative types, those that will challenge the system, and those that are remarkably outgoing. If you don’t have a Leonardo, there might be chaos. If you don’t have a Raphael to challenge leadership, hubris could bring the entire group down. 

So that’s the basic gist of my silly idea. No person is typically all of one turtle. I personally have a healthy dose of Donatello, with Leonardo and Raphael mixed in there. Hipsters would be equal parts Donatello and Raphael (the creative, cynical types). I would peg President Obama as a strong Donatello (the professorial nature) with some Leonardo (President). Peyton Manning would be a Leonardo (leader), Donatello (dedicated student of the game), with a wild card of Michelangelo (those commercials/that epic SNL hosting gig a few years ago).

Feel free to share thoughts, critiques, or where you would fall on the TMNTPI. Perhaps we can publish this and make self-reflection a little more animated.