Cowabunga is a catchphrase first used by the Ninja Turtles in the 1987-1996 animated TV series. While used by all four turtles, its generally associated with Michelangelo. As one of the more recognizable aspects of TMNT lore, it continues to be referenced in various other incarnations. The phrase is also spoken in the 2003 TV series, 2012 TV series and Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It is pronounced /ˌkaʊ.əˈbʌŋ.ɡə/ (KOW-ə-BUNG-gə).
- In the 1990 film the "Cowabunga" catchphrase is introduced to the Ninja Turtles by Splinter.
- In the 2014 film it's revealed Raphael made Michelangelo promise never say it again, but Raphael allowed him to say it one last time, against Shredder.
Coming Out of Their Shells
2003 TV series
- In the 2003 TV series it is occasionally said by Michelangelo:
- In the first episode "Things Change", Michelangelo begins to say it before being pushed by Raphael.
- In "Attack of the Mousers", Michelangelo yells it while a child.
- In "Notes from the Underground, Part 1", Michelangelo yells it in which Raphael replies "Mikey, I told you no more Cowabunga!".
- In the episode "The Christmas Aliens", Michelangelo yells it while sledding.
- In the episode "Secret Origins, Part 3", Casey Jones tries to convince General Hedd that a terrorist organization called "Goongala-Cowabunga" is trying to blow-up TCRI.
2012 TV series
- In the 2012 TV series it was replaced by a new catchphrase, Booyakasha for two and a half seasons. In "Meet Mondo Gecko", Mondo Gecko introduced the phrase Cowabunga into the series. Ever since "Meet Mondo Gecko", Michelangelo uses Cowabunga from time to time, although he still more often uses Booyakasha.
- A sports equipment store named Cowabunga appears in the background of various episodes.
- At the end of "The Manhattan Project, Part 2", the 80's Turtles charge against a Kraathatrogon shouting "Cowabunga!".
- The new Party Wagon's license plate saids "CWABNGA" in previous artworks instead of LUVDCTR.
- The phase is used in the game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time when the Turtles finish levels.
The phrase "Cowabunga" was actually not originative from TMNT to begin with. It actually came from the British ventriloquist show in the 1950s, Howdy Doody, by the character Chief Thunderthud. Writer Eddie Kean wanted to think of a word that's the opposite of the friendly "Cowagoopa" (which was "hello", instead of the usual "How"). So, Eddie Kean came up with "Cowabunga", showing a sign that the character, Chief Thunderthud, would get frustrated.
Eventually, after the Howdy Doody show was off the air, the word got stuck into people's minds, over the years it has become a kind of triumph for surfers, eventually getting into different media like the Ninja Turtles; and since Michelangelo is known for "pop culture references", it doesn't hurt that Cowabunga, would be used. David Wise himself stated that it occurred to him to make Michelangelo exclaim "Cowabunga!" while surfing improvisedly over an object during the very first episode, just because he vaguely recalled a similar scene that Charles M. Schulz had already done during the 1960s within a sequence in Peanuts, where Snoopy surfed and shouted that word, and that it was Fred Wolf's suggestion to use it regularly in the cartoon series as a catchphrase.
This phrase enjoys some successor, mostly as a spoof of clichés.