Turtles are beautiful animals, easily identifiable for anyone who’s ever felt a little slow and think having a shell to hide from the outside world with would be nice. And Turtles have among the most storied histories as animal pop-culture icons.
Honorable Mention: The Kappa
I’m not actually too familiar with this creature from Japanese folklore- which is not a pure turtle but rather something of a human-monkey-turtle-frog hybrid- but I was compelled to share the incredible Wikipedia quote: “The kappa are known to favor cucumbers and love to engage in sumo wrestling. They are often accused of assaulting humans in water and removing a mythical organ called the shirikodama [a mythical ball said to contain the soul] from their victim’s anus.” Kappa’s can be defeated by tricking them with politeness, detaching their arms, wrestling, or by using sesame/ginger.
Perfectly captures the go with the flow Turtle attitude.
9-6) The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
You know them, you love them, you’d eat pizza with them, and they help me make this list shorter by taking four spots at once. You can decide what order they should go in on your own.
5) Great A’Tuin
More Avocado pandering- but any great space travelling turtle is legitimately pretty bad-ass. Consider this a catch-all spot for all turtles of major cosmic significance.
I was going to make a hot take here about Squirtle being the best original starter Pokemon, but they’re all really adorable so I can’t commit to that claim. I always wanted Charmander as a kid because I just thought fire was neat, but sometimes you need someone who’s more plain cool like Squirtle.
The greatest kaiju Godzilla has never had the courage or legal rights to face. I don’t care what happens when they fight King Kong again, Godzilla is not the proper King of the Monsters until they take on The Friend Of All Children.
The most iconic boss of the 8-bit era who Nintendo has been finding fun things to do with for 30 years. Can strike the balance between intimidating and comical when he needs to. Arguably the true hero of the Mario franchise.
1) Aesop’s Tortoise
The hero of the original underdog story. Teaching generations that they should… hope anyone who’s better at you also takes too many naps or something? Well anyway, he established a cultural idea of turtles as plucky and resolutely determined creatures that’s mostly stuck for over 2000 years. Good job, tortoise!