Open Thread: Love, Actually


TMNT is is still on hiatus, and the next posts on the pipeline–my review of the first “Secret Origins” episode and my essay on Iago / Coldsteel– aren’t finished yet.  So have at it.

The rules remain the same: This is an open thread, which means that you can write about whatever you’d like in the comments, as long as it remains within the bounds set by the comment policy.  Discussions taking place in previous Open Threads–which will be closed after this one goes online–can also be continued here.

ETA: Here’s a list, for reference, of the romantic relationships to be canonically established in both shows, either as possibilities, or couplings that actually occurred–at least those that I remembered.  If you have anything to say about any of them, or about either show’s approach to romance in general, feel free to do so.


  • Goliath / Demona
  • Goliath / Elisa
  • Goliath / Delilah
  • Elisa / Morgan
  • Elisa / Jason
  • Brooklyn / Demona
  • Brooklyn / Maggie
  • Brooklyn / Angela
  • Brooklyn / Katana
  • Lexington / Angela
  • Lexington / Staghart
  • Broadway / Angela
  • Princess Katharine / Tom
  • Princess Katharine / The Magus
  • Xanatos / Fox
  • Demona / Macbeth
  • Demona / Thailog
  • Hyena / Coyote (Robot)
  • Dingo / Robyn Canmore
  • Diane Maza / Peter Maza
  • Macbeth / Gruoch
  • Othello / Desdemona
  • Desdemona / Iago
  • Derek / Maggie
  • Halcyon Renard / Anastasia Renard
  • Thailog / Delilah
  • Una / Leo
  • Una / Griff
  • Yama / Sora
  • Oberon / Titania
  • Delilah / Malibu


  • April O’Neil / Casey Jones
  • Stainless Steel Steve / Battling Bernice
  • Battling Bernice / Doctor Dome
  • Karai / Dr. Chaplin
  • Hamato Yoshi / Tang Shen
  • Tang Shen / Yukio Mashimi
  • Adam McKay / Chikara
  • Cody Jones / Starlee Hambrath
  • Leonardo / Karai *
  • Donatello / April *

8 Responses to Open Thread: Love, Actually

  1. Ian says:

    [Comment deleted by author.]

  2. Darthempress says:

    I’ll tell you a secret…before I watched the 2k3 series, I totally thought Leo/Karai were going to have this big epic romance. I saw all this fanart and fanfiction of them and people gushing about their feelings for each other so I was waiting for it when I first started watching the show. And you know what?

    I didn’t see it. Any of it. All I saw were two warriors who had respect for each other, but under false pretenses (I stand by the reasoning that they never truly knew each other). On Mr. Laird’s website, there were a few lines in the original scripts where Raph would joke about Karai being Leo’s girlfriend, but it never went anywhere. That’s the only thing that would make me think “oh yes they were a couple” in this series. Otherwise, I didn’t see and/or feel “the vibe” between them as anything other than false respect in warrior terms.

    Don did seem to have a little crush on April, but it was subtle and sweet; I liked it a lot, unlike with the Nick series where it’s shoved in my face. I swear, I feel like the writers keep throwing a giant Apritello pie at my face every time they’re on screen together…it’d be different if it were a delicious pie, but alas it is bitter D:

  3. Ian says:

    I’m the same way about Leonardo and Karai: give me a microscope and I still wouldn’t be able to see it–hence the asterisk next to it. The case for Donatello textually having a crush on April is more plausible, although I’m really not fond of it at all–then again, I’m not fond of the turtles–at least this version of them–having romantic relationships in general, which is why I’m thankful for Peter Laird and his anti-relationship stance.

  4. Ian says:

    As for relationships I do like, in no particular order…

    Doctor Dome / Battling Bernice: This one occurs entirely off-screen, and from what we’re told probably did not extend beyond a one-night stand–or at most, a brief and secret relationship–and yet I like it because of those reasons. Because how many of those exist in cartoons?

    Goliath / Elisa: Because it was handled nigh-perfectly.

    Casey / April: Because I like how it progressed after its bumpy start. Because while theirs is not a love that will shatter universes with its passion, it is a love by people who know each other well and have been through a lot together, and in doing so, have realized that they’d rather not face the world with anyone else.

    Xanatos / Fox: While I really wish we’d see more of the two acting as partners, I really like the idea and the execution. They really do deserve each other, and I continue to love the idea that the bad guys know how to make it work.

    Halcyon Renard / Anastasia Renard: This one also occurs entirely off-screen, but given the personalities involved, I really can’t help but be fascinated. In recent years, I’ve become convinced that the unmade spin-off that I’m saddest about is the one that was never proposed about a Cyberbiotics in the seventies and eighties, with younger versions of Renard, Anastasia, Fox, Xanatos, Sevarius Owen and Vogel, done in the style of Melrose Place.

    Oberon / Titania: I love political marriages of mutual convenience, and this is very clearly one of those. And yet, there’s that 1% of actual affection.

    Relationships I actively dislike:

    Brooklyn / anyone: On one hand, Brooklyn tends to expresses his interest and frustration in far less problematic ways than someone like Nick Donatello does, if you don’t count “Turf”. On the other hand, it’s incredibly hard to feel any sympathy for his kicked puppy routine when it seems that the only thing he’s looking for in a partner is a pulse. The only reason I appreciate Brooklyn / Katana at the mo, given that the latter isn’t actually a character yet, is because she closes this particular plotline.

  5. Pterobat says:

    After first reading the Mirage comics and then getting around to the TMNT 2k3 superhero episodes, I was actually very disappointed that the latter decided to have Battling Bernice accept Dr. Dome’s overtures, no matter how briefly. In the comics, it was clear that Dome’s affections were never returend and he can’t get over that, which was presented as a bad thing for him to do, with no blame on Bernice for rejecting him. Ananda was someone else’s child.

    That’s a preferable storyline, since it’s rarer to have a female character reject a male character when he’s not outright evil, and not have her change her mind.

    I don’t think Karai and Leo were ever intended as a couple, just characters who saw themselves reflected in each other, yet couldn’t understand why the other had chosen the path they did. It wasn’t handled in the best of ways, but it wasn’t a romance.

    I never saw anything between 2k3 Don and April, and I actually agree with Peter Laird’s veto of human/turtle romance. It’s good to have some complexity in a world, so that the Turtles are indeed outsiders, and women can be repulsed by inhuman love interests.

    However, pairing the Turtles with other aliens or mutants is fine[.] [Mod Note: I’ve redacted the latter part of the original paragraph, as well as the entirety of the next, as claims that entities as diverse as “the fandom” are a monolith are against the comment policy.]

    Goliath / Elisa I’ve always appreciated since I’ve seen so many xenophiliac relationships that don’t take into account how long and difficult such relations would be, and the series and comics take their time with it. Their being unable to have biological children or being unwilling to change their specices for the other also adds a bit of spice to a pair, ensuring they have genuine barriers but will still think it’s all worth it.

    Coldstone / Coldfire does a lot to make a distinct character dynamic for gargoyles that are tertiary characters, but I’ve always been a little put off by the obvious way that Coldfire serves to temper Coldstone’s temper and worse impulses. Not that no one can write a male and female couple this way, but I couldn’t ever quite forget how pervasive such a dynamic is.

    Brooklyn / Angela was never a possiblity except in fans’ minds. Now I admit, maybe the animators / directors should not have confused the issue by having her make physical gestures to Brooklyn that would traditionally be interpreted as romanitc, such as her touching his face in “The Reckoning”. But at the same time, there’s some responsibility on the viewer to see beyond these conventions to what the narrative is actually saying (re: Angela and Gabriel’s interaction, and what the series was saying about gargoyle parenting).

    Which means again, it’s refreshingly “okay” for a woman to reject a sympathetic male character when he wants to date her.

    Broadway / Angela is also stereotypical in a few ways, and it’d be a lie to pretend it’s anything surprising or profound on a visual level–I know that gargoyles probably don’t see it as “ugly guy, hot wife”, but the designers and animators are human. But at least the writers back it up with Broadway having a great personality, and of course he’s a far better match for her than Brooklyn.

    Where does it say that Oberon and Titania have a mostly “political” marriage? Yes, she is subject to him as her leige lord as well as being his wife, but the circumstances as to how or why they got together are left unspoken, and the affection they do display is very earnest and more than a “1%” to me, even if they are sometimes at odds. After all, she said only Oberon could hold her interest for long.

  6. Ian says:

    Hello, Pterobat. It’s good to hear some pushback on my opinions, and yours are always thought-provoking.

    Doc Dome / Bernice / Steve Steel: I think the situation is a lot more ambiguous than you suggest, at least in the show. While the original story does make it clear that Dome’s affection was unrequited–Ananda is explicit on that point–the cartoon episode makes no such claim. We have the comic book–a source of questionable reliability, given that it’s improbable that its writer was privy to details unknown to the superheroes themselves–establishing Bernice’s feelings for Steve, and Dome’s feelings for Bernice, but never Bernice’s feelings for Dome. Later on, we have opposing claims from Steve and Dome, and no way to determine which, if either, more accurately reflects reality as Bernice saw it.

    Which means, basically, that there’s a lot of valid ways one could interpret the facts that do exist. While I personally like the version of the story where nobody’s at fault, and much prefer it over the original comic book story–that’s by no means the only possible interpretation.

    Brooklyn and Angela, like Lexington and Angela, I included mostly to be throughout, as “Turf” explicitly raised the possibility of pairing Angela with any of The Trio’s members, and until she was explicitly paired in “The Journey”, they were all, I believe, equally likely, in that they could have all happened without any feeling righter than the alternatives–unless there’s some sort of subtext I’m missing.

    As for Oberon and Titania and “political”, I mean that Titania agreed to remarry Oberon as part of the terms of a wager undertaken as a way to repay a favor, suggesting that the ebb and flow of their relationship depends a lot on who exactly benefits from a particular status quo at any point in time. There’s affection, to be sure–probably more than the 1% figure I more or less plucked out of thin air suggests–but I doubt either Oberon or Titania would have an equivalent to Xanatos’ “Eye of the Beholder” epiphany.

  7. Darthempress says:

    I have to say I really like the beginnings of Casey and April’s relationship in the Nick series. Their interactions remind me of Judith and Elias in the first movie ❤ I didn't really ship April and Casey in the 2k3 series just because I found the portrayal of their relationship a bit…boring, I guess. I loved that they were together, but nothing about their interactions made me excited to see them on screen together. Maybe it had to do with their voice acting, which I wasn't a fan of.

    Goliath/Elisa is the best interspecies relationship I've ever seen portrayed because it doesn't force the "oh we're different and can't be together boo hoo" into cheesy territory, which is something I see in a LOT of TMNT fanfiction. Although I ship a lot of ships in the TMNT universe, I don't like seeing romance between the turtles and human women in the actual canon of the series (I could understand Leo with Radical, though, because she was a superhero and not just a regular human). I do think it'd be interesting to experiment with the physical desires of the turtles, but just as long as it didn't go into cheesy territory.

  8. Pterobat says:

    I skipped checking for replies to this post for Christmas and completely forgot about it:

    I still assume that the 4Kids version of the Justice Force was meant to give the impression that Bernice didn’t like Dome at first. I suppose the Mirage comics are colouring my interpretation, but at the same time, if this wasn’t the case, it removes a lot of the shock surrounding Ananda’s existence.

    Greg Weisman has pointed out that Broadway stopped calling her “Angie” before the others did in “Turf”, and if we think of the kiss in “The Journey” as when the pairing was made official, “Possession” also lent some substance to Angela/Broadway, though of course it wasn’t intend to *start* Angela/Broadway. Broadway giving her chocolates is stretching it, but even so…

    These things aren’t that blatant by TV romance standards, but there’s just no equivalent subtext from Lexington and Brooklyn. Yes, those pairings would still be possible, but Broadway already had a “lead”.

    Oberon and Titania won’t have an “Eye of the Beholder” moment because they’re already a long-term couple, while Fox and Xanatos were just getting together at the time.

    While Titania intended to repay the gargoyles in “Ill Met By Moonlight”, she admitted in “The Gathering” that no one could hold her interest more than Oberon. It suggests to me that Titania would have gotten back with Oberon even if she had never met Goliath. My interpretation is more like…the Children have more flexible ideas of what love and marriage can be used for than the western human viewers. Titania wanted to get back with Oberon anyway, but saw no problem with also using that desire to also get something for the gargoyles in return.

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