Like his brothers, Donatello was a simple pet shop turtle until exposure to toxic “ooze” mutated him. He was raised by Splinter along with his brothers, Leonardo, Michelangelo, and Raphael.
Donatello was created by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Donatello is usually considered the brains behind the Ninja Turtles being more thoughtful and quiet than his brothers. In the early issues he was presented as Leonardo's second in command. In the first issue he was the one to knock the Shredder and his thermite grenade off the roof top killing him. The second issue showed he had an interest in electronics. The opening of the issue showed him soldering circuits while fighting Baxter Stockman's Mousers. He and April O'Neil cracked Stockman's computer system to shut down the Mousers.
In the Image Comics incarnation of the TMNT, Donatello became a cyborg after his body was partially destroyed from being shot and dropped out of a helicopter (he maintained a positive attitude nonetheless, although he was constantly at risk of losing his mind to the cyborg half).
In this reboot, instead of wearing his regular purple bandana. Donatello is wearing the classic red bandana.
Major Story Arcs
Don meets Kirby
While living with April he met an artist called Kirby who was leasing April's basement space. Donatello became fascinated by Kirby's crystal, which would bring his drawings to life for a short time before disappearing. The only exception was a drawing of a gateway which led to a world were his drawings existed permanently.
Venturing into the other world Donatello became involved in battle between the evil monsters and heroic human warriors that Kirby had created. With Kirby's artistic help they managed to capture the monsters. The grateful warriors hailed the two outworlders as heroes. Making their way back to the gateway the pair noticed that it was shrinking. The turtle managed to get though, but the gateway disappeared before his friend could get through. All that made it through was a piece of paper with a drawing of Donatello with a note "Don -- Life at best is bittersweet. Take care of yourself - Kirby". (Kirby is based on legendary comic book creator Jack Kirby.)
Exile in Northamton
During the family's exile in Northampton Donatello became obsessed with the many repairs that needed to be done to the farmhouse that they were living in. Among his many projects he built a windmill and a water wheel to provide a small amount of electricity to the farm as well as spending weeks fixing the water heater. He also used an old type writer he found to write in secret.
When encountering a survivalist fringe group called the Committee to Rebuild American Patriotism (C.R.A.P) who had an atomic bomb which they planned to detonate hoping that the people of America would blame it on the Russians. Upon hearing this Donatello wanted to leave stating that he he wasn't sure if he could dismantle an atom bomb. When Raphael accused him of cowardice the two almost came to blows before Master Splinter put a stop to it and suggested that they split up and take on the survivalists individually. Easily dispensing his foes Donatello decided to try and dismantle the bomb after all.
When the survivalist leader returned to their head quarters to set off the bomb Donatello told his brothers and Splinter to quickly run. He'd removed the plutonium core thus it's activation caused only a small explosion. Donatello however took no pleasure in the victory, lamenting that a man died, while he realized that the survivalist leader was sick and misguided and could never approve of his methods, he could sympathize with his most basic aim because "in this world plagued by terrorism and poised on the brink of nuclear Armageddon...who doesn't want to survive?"
The turtles also came to the aid of an alien Jhanna who was to battle her rival Moriah for leadership of her people. Donatello helps Jhanna when she is attacked by Moriah's henchmen and cared for her. After winning against her opponent when she leaves but cuts off a lock of her hair and places it on a sleeping Donatello.
In the story "Shades of Grey" Donatello was the only one of his brothers not to go to Springfield to retrieve Casey Jones. Upon his return to Northampton Jones encountered Donatello by a ravine as he was pondering " the fractal structure of natural patterns". Casey accused the turtle of using big words and acting better than everyone else. Donatello suggests they should continue the conversation when Casey is sober. Grabbing a stick the angry Jones continually poked the turtle until he lost his temper and sends Casey careening into the water.
City at War
During the "City at War" story Donatello led the turtles in what they assumed was a rescue mission for Leonardo but when they arrived they found out their presumed foe was Karai leader of the Foot Clan in Japan who had come to New York to restore order to the New York foot after the Shredder's death. Offering the turtles a truce with the Foot if they helped her kill Shredder's Elite Guard, the turtles eventually accepted. During the battle with the Shredder Elite and their loyal Foot Ninja in the ruins April's old building Donatello was injured and fell several floors down knocking him out. Donatello came round to see a defenseless Karai about to killed by an Elite, unable to move due to a broken leg he quickly reached for one of the fallen foot soldier's guns and repeatedly shot the Elite rescuing Karai.
At the end of the story the entire family meet back up in the Northampton farmhouse. The turtles decide to live in New York with April, Casey and their adopted daughter Shadow. Donatello however wished to stay in the woods of Northampton with Splinter while he recovered from his injury and train with Splinter. For a year he spent time his time at the farmhouse, one day he confronted a trespasser which turned out to be the turtles vigilante ally Nobody. Along with Nobody Donatello went to New York to help out his fellow turtles in a battle with the Baxter Stockman who had transferred his mind into a robotic body.
Donatello is once again living with his brothers in the sewers of New York. Now presented as slightly more assertive he finds an old armored car which he believed had been in a bank robbery during the seventies but had been buried in sewers with the robbers still inside. Donatello spent his time fixing up the track along with Casey Jones and Raphael, eventually driving the car outside the sewers the three noticed the Utroms arrival on Earth.
Donatello often found himself revisiting Baxter Stockman in the sewer he had kept him. In one instance, the nanobots that were used to create the robotic Stockman became artificially intelligent with a mind of their own. They began assimilating with living tissues creating robotic-like animals in the sewers. Finally, Donatello defeats the nanobots by having the assimilate onto a dog, and trapping the dog forever in a heavily fortified room.
It was revealed that April had nanobots inside her which she had been injected with during her confrontation with Stockman. Donatello went to a small secret lab he had built in the sewers where he had kept what was left of Stockman captive for years unbeknown to his brothers. Trying for hours to get his former enemy to reveal the purpose and of nanobots the turtle finally broke down saying that when he first preserved what was left of Stockman his brothers would have been appalled but he did it because he hoped there would something of value he could learn from him but now realized that Stockman was irredeemably evil and should have killed him. Taking out a blaster Donatello shoots Stockman finally putting his out of his misery with the parting words "Goodbye Baxter...rot in Hell."
At Master Splinter's funeral Donatello went alone to his master's body and asked his forgiveness before clipping a sample of his fur and ran away before anyone could see. Two months after the funeral Donatello accepted the Utroms offer to help investigate a mystery in the jungles of Tepui which had led to the disappearance of two research teams.
Upon arrival the turtle and the Utroms were attacked by mutant lizards, swiftly defeating them they were confronted by strange wooden creatures which fired a ray at them making them disappear. Waking up the turtle and Utroms met
up with the missing research team who revealed to them that they'd been shrunk down and placed in a habitrail. One of the wooden creatures called Glyminal shrunk himself down and entered the habitrail revealing himself to be an Utrom. One of a group which marooned themselves in the jungles of Tepui during the Utroms' first sojourn on Earth. Adapting to jungle life they developed unique technology to help them survive such as organic exoskeletons and the quantum inversion re-dimensioning field which they used to shrink and hide themselves from a primitive group of mutant lizards they'd accidentally created with their mutagen. Now that the marooned Utroms could rejoin their brethren they planned to kill the lizards but Donatello came up with a solution of shrinking down the lizards and letting them live in Habitrail.
Returning everyone to the normal dimensions the device would not work in reverse on Donatello due to his unique mutant makeup. He was stuck the size of an action figure. Returning to New York his new height came in handy when infiltrating Yogu's head quarters and capture him and his gang. He also converted an android body to work by remote for him until the Utroms can find a way to return him to his normal size.
While searching for a cure to his small size, Donny builds an exoskeleton similar to that of the Utroms. Nevertheless, the contrast between Dino-Raph and Mini-Don is quite startling to everyone involved.
The first glimpse of Donatello in the future came from the short story "Old Times" set in Japan in the early 21st century, an older Donatello is battling with the Foot and Shredder. When a younger version of him and his brothers join the fight it is revealed that the entire fight save for Donatello is holographic simulation. He orders the computer to delete the characters from the program and never use them again. He goes outside and tear falls down his face suggesting that something tragic happened to his family.
In the second volume of the main turtles book Donatello has a vision of himself in Japan wearing the same outfit from "Old Times". When Donatello asks Master Splinter what he would be doing in Japan in the future Splinter states it will be to bury him.
Donatello also appears briefly for Radical's funeral in order to console the pained Leonardo.
Donny is typically portrayed in a trench coat with a ribbed collar along with goggles.
Archie Comic Version
In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics published by Archie, the stories started as adaptions of the then popular cartoon show but but with the fourth issue the book branched out into telling it's own stories. In the these original stories the turtles were kept more in line with their original Mirage counterparts.
This version of Donatello started out as a skeptic in spiritual matters. In Japan while going off alone to observe repair work on a cooling tower he encountered the Japanese gods Izanagi and Izanami who had joined together to form a Tao. While journeying home to New York Splinter wished to take his sons though Tibet to visit his spiritual teacher Charlie Llama (an analogue of the real life Dalai Lama). There a nervous Donatello assisted in the in the birth of a child which Splinter and monks of the Crystal palace believed to be the reincarnation of the Buddha.
Upon their return to America a storm washed them ashore were they were shocked to find that they had been transported back in time to 1492, at the precise moment Christopher Columbus discovered the New World. Columbus himself took Donatello hostage on the Santa Maria. While there he approached by an Earth Spirit who educated Donatello on the full impact that the events they were witnessing would have.
This version of Donatello also won the Stump Intergalactic Wrestling competition against his four brothers and El Mysterio. When Raphael expressed surprise and asked his brother were he learned his impressive wrestling moves, Donatello simply answered "Books. It pays to read". On a return trip to Stump Asteroid Donatello is abducted by the "Sons of Silence" and transported to a white void were he communicates with the Turnstone. Reaching towards the Turnstone he claims it's calling to him and as soon as he touches it he experiences cosmic awareness and becomes one with the universe.
The turtle's ally Sarnath who was also transported to the void repeatedly tries to pull Donatello away from the Turnstone but the turtle in unconcerned with such matters until he gets him to focus on the danger his brothers are in. Sarnath manages to wrestle the Turnstone away from Donatello and teleports him away. A shaken Donatello tells Leonardo that he the Turnstone had control of him and he could have destroyed the universe.
Original cartoon series (1988-96)
In the original cartoon series, Donatello was voiced by Barry Gordon (who also voiced the bad guy Bebop). When this version of Donatello appeared in the 2009 Turtles Forever special (which celebrated the 25th anniversary of the TMNT), he was voiced by Tony Salerno in an imitation of Barry Gordon.
Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997) and Power Rangers In Space (1998)
4Kids! cartoon universe (2003-09)
This version of Donatello is voiced by Sam Riegel. He takes center stage in some episodes, which deal with his emotional and intellectual struggles.
Turtles Forever (2009)
In addition to the 2003 and 1988 versions of Donatello, the original 1984 incarnation has some screen time in the last portion of the special. He is voiced by Pete Capella.
2012 Nickelodeon cartoon
Donatello, in this series, will not only wield his trademark bo staff, but the staff will also double as a naginata, complete with a retractable spearhead. He will be voiced by Rob Paulsen (who voiced Raphael in the original 80's cartoon).
1990's film series (1990-93)
Donatello is voiced by Corey Feldman in the first and third live-action films, while Adam Carl voiced him while Feldman was in rehab during the second film.
Donatello is voiced by Mitchell Whitfield in this animated film. It is shown that while Leonardo was in Central America for a while, Donatello ran an IT tech support phone service to earn money.
Donatello is a playable character in every video game ever released based on the franchise. In each, he is shown to have the longest range but not the most powerful attacks (the exception is in the first NES game). In the most recent game, 2009's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Smash-Up, he is voiced again by Sam Riegel.