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Image:TMNTLeoProfile.jpg Leonardo (or "Leo" or "Fearless Leader"), a fictional character, is the unofficial leader of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT). His bandanna is typically portrayed as blue, his favorite color (although originally all four Turtles had red bandannas), and his weapons are two katana. He is named after Leonardo da Vinci, the famous Renaissance artist and inventor.
Leonardo takes after his sensei, Splinter in taking Ninjutsu very seriously. He is the closest to Splinter and spends most of his free time in practice and meditation. Leonardo has a strong sense of honor and experiences many moral dilemmas. He also is a strict follower of the Bushido code. He tends to keep his brothers (Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael) "in line," and is protective of them, acting as something of a "big brother." He is also, arguably, the main character of the TMNT stories.
In the original comic series by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird, Leonardo plays an important role. He comes up with the most ideas (except those related to technology: Donatello's field) and speaks for the team. As the series progresses, his confidence builds and he is accepted more and more as the group leader (to Raphael's annoyance); it also becomes clear that he is willing to give his life for his family. After the Turtles initially defeat the Shredder, Leonardo is ambushed alone on Christmas Eve by the Foot Clan and severely injured. He requires a good deal of recuperation, feeling he let down his brothers, but eventually it is he who finishes off the Shredder by decapitation.
In Volume 4 of the series, Leonardo continues to deal with the Foot Clan, now not explicitly his enemies, and their leader, the Shredder's adopted daughter Karai (who was at one time the head of the Japanese Foot). His conflict with Raphael seems to be greatly lessened as both characters have "mellowed."
Leonardo was given a similar personality in the Image comic books; he was fairly sure of himself as a leader but also on more easygoing terms with his more difficult brothers, Raphael and Michelangelo. He lost a hand in the series, although this did not seem to deter him significantly as he was given a prosthetic one by Donatello.
Leonardo's swords are called katana, but they are actually straight-bladed variants of the katana known as ninjatō. He carries two of them, both of the same size and strapped to his back; all of these customs are virtually unheard of traditionally, although other ninjas have been portrayed the same way in the TMNT universe (such as Karai). Leonardo is often portrayed more as a "typical" samurai, following Bushido and valuing his swords very highly, than as a ninja, who follow the different, less-known code of Nindo. However, little research went into authenticity during the creation of the TMNT, and the inaccuracies stuck.
1987 animated series
Image:Leonardo 1987.jpg In the 1987 TV series' theme song lyrics, Leonardo is said outright to be the leader of the TMNT, and there is little disputing this; as such, his orders are usually followed, and he is a very serious do-gooder.
2003 animated series
In the new Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment 2003 animated TV series, Leonardo is the unofficial (and occasionally disputed) leader of the group and the most "spiritual" of the four TMNT. He has a very close bond with Splinter; furthermore, episodes that deal with the Shredder and honor usually also focus on Leonardo, and he is often the Turtle who "saves the day." Leonardo is a more sensitive, self-doubting character than in the 1987 cartoon show. Raphael often quarrels with him and resents his leadership, sarcastically calling Leonardo "Fearless Leader."
As in the comics, Leonardo is ambushed and seriously injured by the Foot Clan in the series' first season, and he later decapitates the Shredder (although this does not kill the Shredder). After the Shredder is exiled on an ice asteroid at the end of Season Three, Leonardo takes on a more aggressive nature and distances himself from his family and friends, with his personality taken a sharp turn towards the dark and gritty. He also becomes very hard on his brothers, who he thinks are unfocused and unable to finish important tasks. Eventually it becomes apparent that his anger is caused by Karai, whom Leonardo believed was an honorable ally but who was unable to go against her master's evil orders, eventually causing her to stab Leonardo (albeit unintentionally). Leonardo also feels extremely inadequate, as he believes he let himself and his family down by thinking of no other way to destroy the Shredder than to blow up the spaceship that both the Shredder and Leonardo's entire family was on; the Turtles and Splinter would have died if they had not been rescued by Utroms. It is not until he loses control while sparring with Splinter, and injures his sensei, does he go to Japan to seek enlightenment and repentence under the guidance of the Ancient One, who trained Splinter's sensei, Hamato Yoshi, where he makes peace with himself before returning home to New York City.
From their final battle with the Shredder in Season Three, Leonardo was the only Turtle to sustain truly lasting damage; part of his shell on his upper left shoulder had its edge shorn right off.
He is voiced by Mike Sinterniklaas.
Image:Leonardo First Movie.jpg In the three released TMNT movies, Leonardo was fairly modest and sensitive, rarely issuing direct commands; he also joked around with his brothers much more than in other versions of the TMNT. It was he who first communicated telepathically with a kidnapped Splinter in the first movie, but he was not ambushed by the Foot Clan (Raphael was), nor did he kill the Shredder. He was acted by David Forman and voiced by Brian Tochi.
In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze, he was acted by Mark Caso and voiced again by Brian Tochi.
Image:Leo attackB.gif In the video games, Leonardo is the first turtle of choice. He is popular especially for beginner players of the TMNT games. Like Nintendo's corporate mascot Mario, Leonardo is portrayed as the well-balanced fighter, having, in all areas, strong but not extreme abilities and no glaring weaknesses. His range is rather long, but not as long as Donatello's; however, Leonardo can usually inflict more damage.