At the time of posting, the Wikipedia entry on the Technodrome from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise claims that the giant spherical vehicle was "based on" the Death Star from Star Wars.

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However, the claim is unsourced. Further investigation reveals several discussion forums and Internet sites with similar claims, but no official statements or hard evidence.

Was the Technodrome actually based on the Death Star?

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    I think the only way anyone can answer this question is to check with the originator of the story, it first appears in. The author is David Wise. I left a note on his Twitter feed to see if he can remember that long ago. (Personally, given the difference in scale between the two - one is a space station and the other is a very large tank, I can't really see any similarity... Given that Wise is a speculative fiction writer, I would expect Bolo to be the greater influence than Star Wars.) – Thaddeus Howze Jun 9 '16 at 3:09
  • @ThaddeusHowze : Excellent --- thanks for doing that. I hope he responds. :-) – Praxis Jun 9 '16 at 3:11
  • The tmnt guys did really like to borrow ideas like the strong similarities withdaredevil – Himarm Jun 9 '16 at 3:25
  • In that same vein, in the 2009 Turtles Forever they redesigned the Technodrome. Which looks a LOT like Starkiller Base. Cartoon imitates movie. Movie imitates cartoon? – Machavity Jun 9 '16 at 3:38
  • I thought it was based on Disney's Spaceship Earth in Epcot – Hack-R Jun 9 '16 at 5:59

The "Word of God" answer from David Wise is: Yes. He was at least a bit inspired by the Death Star in the creation of the Technodrome.

After a bit of detective work I discovered that David Wise, a science fiction writer was attributed as the creator of the Technodrome. I found him on Twitter and his response follows:

"I conceived of it as a "Death Star on tank treads." Did a lot of tunneling in 5-part part pilot so round shape seemed appropriate."

The debate is ended.

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    Very awesome! But the round shape was always his intent? – user31178 Jun 11 '16 at 18:11
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    Now someone needs to update Wikipedia to remove that citation needed disclaimer, and add the citation. – user31178 Jun 11 '16 at 18:25
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    This is awesome, thanks Thaddeus. I've reassigned acceptance to your answer. I second the motion that the Wikipedia entry needs to be updated! :-) – Praxis Jun 11 '16 at 23:17
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    The round shape was part of the original design... – Thaddeus Howze Jun 11 '16 at 23:20
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    If I could do more than +1 this, I would. I've always had it in my head that it was based on the Death Star but have never known whether that was down to "something I just know" or if I was making connections in my own head based on the visual similarities and how Eastmen, Laird, et. al liked to "borrow" things from other properties. Delighted to finally have a definitive, atrributable answer. – Shaggy Jul 24 '16 at 22:11

It didn't appear so.

For instance, Peter Laird's blog has no mention of it. The 1988 Playmates Toys concept art doesn't discuss it:

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The toys are dated 1988, the same year as the first comic edition of the Technodrome in the Archie Comics Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1. This was well after the `77 Star Wars, but there's no direct indication that Death Star was a direct inspiration.

No information is available from Kevin Eastman, the other co-creator of TMNT, on the Technodrome, either. At least, nothing that's made its way to the digital either. The same goes for Michael Dooney, the scripts and pencils guy for that first issue of TMNT Adventures.

We also see nothing from David Wise, who created many of the characters for the original 1987 TMNT cartoon show, and is credited as the creator of the Technodrome. This is interesting, because if you're going to compare the Technodrome to a giant, spherical death machine, there's a more-likely suspect:

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That's the planet-mode of Unicron, a massive Transformer.

So why is Unicron a more likely suspect? Because David Wise is a well-credited writer of the G1 Transformers cartoons. He didn't appear to have involvement with the 1986 The Transformers: The Movie, where Unicron first appeared, but he did write for the show immediately before and after that. And the Season/Series 4 episodes he wrote for Transformers just so happens to have been done in 1987, which you'll note is the year before the Technodrome came out. So, was Unicron based on the Death Star? (Not based on what I can tell)

Let's get back to the Death Star, though. Once you take away the greeble and spherical likeness, the difference between the Technodrome and Death Star become much more apparent:

  • The Technodrome is relatively small, not to be confused with a moon
  • The Technodrome can't fly (even to Peter Laird's knowledge, it's never done so, see the blog above)
  • The Technodrome has a bunch of external armaments, including tridents
  • The Technodrome is mostly subterranean, not space-based
  • The Technodrome has treads
  • The Technodrome, for the most part, is run by one guy, Krang

So, they're very different in function and design.

Now, it's possible that Laird, Eastman or Wise could have been inspired by the massive Star Wars phenomenon, having been 23, 15 and ~22 respectively when the first film aired. But, there's no indication that they intentionally copied the concept at all. Even if it were the case, as the saying goes: The secret to creativity is knowing how to hide your sources.

There's also the chance that officially claiming the Technodrome was based off the Death Star could have led to some sort of intellectual property lawsuit, but we see no history of that. However, that could also be because large-scale production of Star Wars toys by Kenner stopped in 1985, whereas the TMNT action figures began in 1988, so there's the possibility that no one cared about suing for some extra money.

You can easily find that fans have certainly referred to the Technodrome as Death Star-like, and so have critics in recent reviews of the latest Michael Bay TMNT movie. However, that all seems to coming from viewers, not creators.

  • @amaranth Glad to! – user31178 Jun 11 '16 at 18:11
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    @CreationEdge : Yeah, sorry, for obvious reasons Thaddeus gets the green checkmark. I still think your reasoning made for a great answer, so thanks for the hard work. :-) – Praxis Jun 11 '16 at 23:15
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    @Praxis No, it's a great reason to lose it to. – user31178 Jun 11 '16 at 23:19

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