Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 series)

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The second animated series starring Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's characters, produced by 4Kids! Entertainment under the direction of Lloyd Goldfine, with supervision by Laird and additional funding and input by toymaker Playmates. Often nicknamed "TMNT 2k3" by fans, and designed to be more faithful to the comic book and more serious than the previous cartoon, it translated most of the original's storylines faithfully while creating its own additions to the TMNT mythos.

The basic story is familiar: The Shredder kills Hamato Yoshi; Splinter, his rat, escapes; ooze from a canister labeled "T.C.R.I." falls on some turtles and eventually himself. All five are mutated, and Splinter takes it upon himself to train them in the martial arts. Eventually, the turtles fight The Shredder; along the way meet Casey Jones and April O'Neil, who become their comrades. They have many different adventures. However, the differences in stories soon become apparent. The Shredder is now a thousand year-old alien posing as a human. Karai is now his adopted daughter. New characters such as hulking gangster Hun and government agent Bishop keep things interesting.

Although spurned by a segment of fans of the old show who found it to be too different, the series was generally well received (something of an aberration among 4Kids works), particularly for its long-term story arcs, clever use of the mythology, aversion of tropes like Status Quo Is God and Thou Shalt Not Kill, and strong characterization. Memorable episodes included "The Big Brawl", a Tournament Arc guest-starring characters from Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo; "Same as it Never Was", a Bad Future tale featuring the turtles' "final" battle with the Shredder; and the 100th episode, "The Tale of Master Yoshi", a Whole-Episode Flashback focusing entirely on Hamato Yoshi and his doomed love, Tang Shen.

Then, after four seasons, trouble. Thanks to Executive Meddling by all parties, the showrunners decided to skip the show's already-produced fifth season (which continued a cliff-hanger set up in the fourth) and continued straight into the sixth, which heavily re-tooled the cartoon, changing the series' setting, supporting cast, tone, and art style. The new season, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward featured the turtles stuck in the future year of 2105, where they befriended Cody Jones, the billionaire great-grandson of April and Casey. The fifth season, on the other hand, would eventually air after season six had finished, promoted as a series of "Lost Episodes".

But that wasn't the end of it. During production of the show's seventh season, a 10-episode follow-up to Fast Forward, the decision was made to scrap it and retool the series again. After several battles to determine what the new direction of the show would be, it was determined that the show would more or less return to the previous status quo. The seventh season, titled TMNT: Back to the Sewer, was the series' last, and ended with the wedding of the series' main couple, April and Casey.

However, the series' true finale would not occur until Turtles Forever, a movie in which turtles team up with other incarnations of each other in a mad scramble to save the entire multiverse. Created as a celebration of the franchise's twenty-fifth year, it aired for the first time November 21, 2009.

For more details on the TMNT franchise in general, visit the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles page. For a list of some of the characters in the series, and the tropes that apply to them, visit the franchise character page. For the old cartoon, see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

Tropes used in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 series) include:

  • Aborted Arc: Fast Forward's Darius Dun arc, which was set aside when the show was retooled for its seventh season.
    • Another one comes from the Rat King's episode end, which clearly indicated he was going to return, but it never happened. Closest he ever came to returning was watching April and Casey's wedding in the final episode.
      • The Shredder War. Hinted at in the very first episodes of Back to the Sewer, it seemed like the entire series was moving towards a three way war between three incarnations of the Shredder (Including Cyber Shredder, introduced in Back to the Sewer, and the previous two from previous seasons), but the show ended after the wedding of Casey and April, leaving this entire plot point, which seemed to be the entire driving point for the series and which had been established from the word go simply never materialized.
  • Acrofatic: The Ancient One.
  • Action Girl: Several. This version of April O'Neil is probably the character at her most Action Girl ever!
  • Actually, I Am Him: The plot of "The Ancient One".
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Splinter's fur is turned gray for this series.
  • Adaptation Expansion: "The Search for Splinter"/"Turtles in Space"/"Secret Origins"; "Sons of the Silent Age".
  • Adventure Rebuff: Splinter tries this several times, unsuccessfully.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each of the turtles, Splinter, and even Casey and April get their own episodes every now and again.
  • The Adjectival Superhero: "The Unconvincing Turtle Titan"
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Happens a lot.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Casey and April, in "Modern Love: The Return of Nano"
  • Alternate Universe: Several, although the most notable is probably the one shown in "Same as It Never Was".
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: In the Japanese version, the show has several opening and ending themes. They can all be found here.
  • Amusement Park: Most of "Modern Love's" plot takes place on Coney Island.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Utrom Guardians. The Ninja Tribunal.
  • And I Must Scream: Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder, was banished to the ice asteroid belt of Mor Tal at the end of "Exodus Part 2" after being found guilty by the Utrom council. And he was found frozen in ice and freed by 1987 Shredder in Turtles Forever.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: While the original Turtle Titan—Michelangelo—isn't quite this, his successor, the Turtle Titan of 2105, is the "Animal Alias" version of this trope.
  • Anime Theme Song: Three, in the Japanese Dub.
  • Another Dimension: Several: The Battle Nexus, Usagi's Earth, etc.
  • Anti-Villain: Several.
    • Baxter Stockman is shown to be greedy and materialistic, come "Insane In The Membrane", we see a few more sympathetic qualities, mainly coming from his childhood.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Twice: The first occurs in the episode "Notes From the Underground pt. 1", while the second occurs in "The Trouble With Augie".
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Michelangelo is the first to encounter Leatherhead, and when he tells them, the rest of the Turtles disbelieve him. At this point in the series, they have already encountered/know the existence of ninjas, criminal organisations, superheroes, cryptids, aliens, and mystical forces, yet a giant alligator (mutated in the same way they were) is unbelievable.
    • May be justifiable in that they only knew of one canister of Ooze falling into the sewers, and Splinter kept it as a keepsake, but never saw any sign of a mutated alligator. The show did inidicate alligators in the sewer wasn't a myth in their universe however, so if Mikey had just said he'd seen a giant alligator, that, they would have believed, ironically enough.
  • Area 51: The site of one of Agent Bishop's bases.
  • Arms Dealer: Ruffington, Darius Dun.
  • Art Evolution: Three times, for Fast Forward, Back to the Sewer, and again for Turtles Forever.
  • Art Initiates Life: Kirby's crystal.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Raph can be seen in this pose in one of the images in "Identity Crisis".
  • Ascended Extra: The Shredder, The Purple Dragons.
  • The Asteroid Thicket: In "Turtles in Space Part 5: Triceraton Wars".
  • Atlantis: Or Y'lyntis, as it's called here; it plays a part in several subplots.
  • Attention Whore: Mikey at all times.
  • Avenging the Villain: Karai's motivation during the fourth season and fifth seasons.
  • Back for the Finale: "Wedding Bells and Bytes" features appearances by Karai and Bishop, as well as a slew of recurring characters who had not been seen in two seasons.
  • Badass: Pretty much every fighter in the series.
    • Most notable are Bishop and the Shredder.
  • Badass Longcoat: Leonardo, in "Same As It Never Was". Bishop typically sports one as well, and even Hun had one at one point.
  • Badass Normal: Casey Jones.
  • Bad Future: "Same as it Never Was".
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Bishop has a tendency to do this, even when things don't go exactly as planned. He managed to obtain the turtle D.N.A. samples and protect Earth in the Triceraton Invasion Arc, succeeded in securing the E.P.F.'s funding in "Aliens Among Us", and bluffed his way into getting a cure for the mutant outbreack and the Eye of Tengu in "Good Genes".
  • Bait and Switch Credits: "Tempus Fugit", the first episode of Back to the Sewer, which uses Fast Forward's opening instead.
  • Bash Brothers: Raph and Casey.
  • Batman Cold Open: Occurs in several the episodes featuring super-heroes, such as the one introducing Raptarr and both Nobody episodes.
  • Batman Gambit: Mercenary Torbin Zixx's stock in trade.
  • Battle Couple: April and Casey, eventually.
  • Battle Royale With Cheese: "The Beginning of the End", in season 5.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Y'lyntian colony, among other things.
  • Berserk Button: Did we mention how much Raph hates bugs? In "April's Artifact", he even gets pushed too far after recovering from the paralysis given to him by one of the hornets, declaring in a "This Is Sparta" fashion that bugs must pay.
  • Big Bad: The Shredder. In 2105, Darius Dun and Sh'Okanabo share the role.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Darius Dun and Sh'Okanabo, in Fast Forward.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In "April's Artifact" and in season 4's mutant outbreak arc.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Raphael (with some help from Splinter) in the "City At War" arc.
  • Big Good: The Ninja Tribunal in the fifth season.
  • Biological Mashup/Fusion Dance: "Ultimate Drako", a combination of Drako and The Ultimate Ninja.
  • Black Sheep: Sid, Casey's cousin.
  • Blind and the Beast: Occurs between Raphael and an old woman named Mrs. Morrison, in a story adapted from the original comic book.
  • Bloodless Carnage
  • The Blob: Sh'Okanabo.
  • Body Horror: Baxter Stockman in "Insane in the Membrane".
  • Body Surf: Jammerhead, in "Invasion of the Body Jacker".
  • Bonus Material: The various supplementary shorts produced by 4Kids.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Serling does it for "It's Ninja Time" in "Turtle X-Tinction", the turtles do it for their original toon counterparts in Turtles Forever.
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Splinter is armed in this manner in the first episode of the "Exodus" two-parter.
  • Brain Uploading: Professor Honeycutt, The Shredder.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: The Street Phantoms do this to Jammerhead at the beginning of "Enter the Jammerhead".
  • Broomstick Quarterstaff: Don does this in the episode "The Big House".
  • Burial in Space: Prof. Honeycutt.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Occurs in "City at War, pt. 2"
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: The episode "Fathers and Sons" features a demon that can only be seen by the innocent, thanks to an amulet it wears.
  • Cain and Abel: Hamato Yoshi and Yukio Mashimi.
  • Canon Foreigner: Lots.
  • Canon Immigrant: Hun, the Battle Nexus, the Mystic Ninja's look, Shredder's armor and Bishop.
  • Captain Ersatz: The Green Mantle, an obvious parody of Green Lantern, right down to the comic book cover.
  • Cast Herd
  • Catch a Falling Star: Karai does the falling, Leo does the rescuing--"Mission of Gravity".
  • Catch Phrase: "It's ninja time!" (Fast Forward only) "Goongala!" (Casey) "None of you will leave here alive!" (The Shredder), "Oh, crud." (Hun).
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: The climax to "City at War, pt. 3".
  • Character Development: Really beautifully put into the mix in season 4 where Leonardo becomes the best fighter of the bunch while trying and failing to master his anger and fear after being defeated and stabbed in season 3. Michelangelo finally grows up, begins to use his innate skills to his full potential, and proves his worth as a thoughtful member of the team.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: The Ninja Tribunal eventually reached godhood in this manner.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Leatherhead; Zog.
  • The Chessmaster(s): The omniscient Ninja Tribunal.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The Hamato Yoshi / Tang Shen / Yukio Mashimi triangle features both types. Yoshi and Shen are Victorious Childhood Friends, leaving Mashimi as the unlucky one.
  • Christmas Episode: "The Christmas Aliens" Adapted from the Vol. 1 comic of the same name.
  • City of Adventure: New York City, of course.
  • Clip Show: "Reflections", also a Recap Episode.
  • Close-Call Haircut: A variation of this occurs with Michelangelo's bandanna in "Return to New York"
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: The Ring of Yin in the episode "The Engagement Ring".
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The Green Mantle cape, which endows its wearers with several super-powers.
  • Clothing Damage: Occurs to April in the episode "April's Artifact", as an unexpected trip to the jungle ruins her outfit.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Mr. Marlin, Triple Threat's yellow-hued head.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Torbin Zixx is fond of using holograms to confuse his opponents (Raph falls for it every time). He lampshades it when he tells a Triceraton "You're ten times stronger than me, of course I'm going to fight smart!" Casey Jones outright admits that when he's outclassed he just starts fighting dirty.
  • Comm Links: The Shell Cells.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The original "City at War" arc had separate stories for the turtles, Splinter, April, and Casey. The cartoon adaptation excises all but the turtles'.
  • Compressed Hair: Jammerhead, whose feet-tall hair can be easily concealed under his hood.
  • Concept Art Gallery: 4Kids' now-defunct TMNT blogs served as these.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Both used and averted.
  • Conspiracy Theorists: The group Humans Against The Extraterrestrials.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Most notably in the episodes with the underground city.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: The four turtles get a cell together when they get captured by the triceratons. When Raphael wins a fight under the dinner, he is however in another cell alone, so the others have to free him when they escape.
  • Conversational Troping: A couple of times, but most notably in "Night of Sh'Okanabo", where Mikey lists every horror movie cliche in the book.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Pretty much the entire A-plot of "Tales of Leo".
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Darius Dun, initially. The Utrom Oroku Saki (and by extension, his heir Karai) are these as well.
  • Creator Cameo: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird occasionally appear as cops.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In Michelangelo's first centric episode, he becomes a superhero, saves another superhero, and during all this learns a lesson on why he's a ninja: because it's what he does best.
  • Cue the Sun: Instrumental in "The Freaks Come Out at Night" and "Day of Awakening".
  • Cyber Cyclops: Viral, in her corporeal form.
  • Darker and Edgier: As a whole, definitely more so than any previous adaptation.
  • Dead Guy, Junior: Done twice with Zog.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Done with a nameless boat captain at the beginning of "Junklantis".
  • Deadly Dodging
  • Deadpan Snarker: Serling.
  • Deal with the Devil: How C.F. Volpehart and the original Oroku Saki gained their wealth and powers, respectively.
  • Deconstruction: A minor one but in Samurai Tourist, Mikey—yes, Mikey—somehow pulls off an accurate analysis as to why Leo takes the burden on being the leader: so that he lets his brothers be themselves.

Mikey: I think you all [Donatello, Raphael and Casey] should just lay off the poor guy [Leonardo]. I mean, it can't be fun always being the responsible one. And we're the ones who really benefit: Raph's free not to think cause Leo does all the thinking for him, Don's free to dream, and I'm free to take it easy all because Leo's busy being responsible enough for all of us.

  • Deus Ex Machina: The turtles obtain several important victories thank to this.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Accompanies the Turtles arrival in 2105. They set off a series of traffic accidents, culminating in a truck going off the road (or rather, over the edge of it) and derailing a train.
  • Discussed Trope:
  • Disney Death
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Leonardo loses part of his shell after the Turtles' final battle with Ch'Rell in Exodus. The original name for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was "Shell Shock". Leonardo displays every single symptom of PTSD- so the injured shell is a metaphor for his psychiatric injury. None of the other Turtles get shell injuries- or PTSD.
  • Dope Slap: Michelangelo is frequently subjected to these.
  • Dr. Genericius: Dr. Malignus
  • The Dragon: Hun, Karai, and Khan, to the Shredder.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Karai, in season 4.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Occurs to Splinter several times, and once to the turtles.
  • Drill Tank: The Turtle Tuneller.
  • Dumb Blonde: Renet
  • Easily-Thwarted Alien Invasion: Sh'Okanabo's invasion of Earth in "The Freaks Come Out at Night".
    • Notable averted in the season three four-part opener which portrays a large scale alien invasion whose effect was felt for the next two seasons.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Mr. Marlin.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The monster from "The Darkness Within"
    • And the monster from "The Darkness Within", if one pays close attention, looks almost exactly like Cthulhu, some people also guess that the thing is Cthulhu.
  • Elemental Powers: The Foot Mystics.
  • Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: How Splinter defeats the Foot Mystics during their initial battle.
  • Elite Mooks: The Foot Elite—it helps that there are only four of them.
  • Enemy Civil War: Season 2's "City at War" three-parter sees the Foot Clan, the Purple Dragons and the Mob battle for control of New York following the Shredder's supposed demise. Averted in Seasons 4 and 5, where despite a split between the Foot and the Purple Dragons, the two take no hostile action against each other. Played straight between the two again throughout Back to the Sewer.
  • Enemy Mine: Several times, most notably in season 5 where the turtles join forces with the Foot, Purple Dragons and the Earth Protection Force to fight the season's Big Bad.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Casey Jones in this version is particularly sexy with his long hair, Blue Eyes, tall build, and chiseled features.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Every Battle Nexus Native.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Shredder and Karai.
    • The Ultimate Ninja showed true remorse and concern for his father in "The Real World, Part 2" - suggesting banishing him rather than killing him. As the Ultimate Ninja later becomes Taken for Granite, he genuinely asks his father for forgiveness.
  • Evil Former Friend: The original Shredder to the Ninja Tribunal.
  • Evil Knockoff: Baxter Stockman's Turtle-bot.
  • Evil Laugh: Savanti Romero has a particularly epic one.
  • Evil Overlord: Savanti Romero; The Demon Shredder.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Occurs after the Shredder is defeated at the end of the "Return to New York".
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The main Foot HQ.
  • Evil Uncle: Darius Dun, to Cody Jones.
  • Evolving Credits: In season 4.
  • Executive Meddling: As mentioned on the introduction, the 5th season got skipped in favor of the Fast Forward season. This caused the 4th season to end in a cliffhanger for some time.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Expy: The Justice Force for the Justice League; and particularly Silver Sentry (Superman), Nobody (Batman), Zippy Lad (The Flash), Green Mantle (Green Lantern) and Raptarr (Hawkman).
  • The Extremist Was Right: Agent Bishop's mission to protect Earth from alien invasion.
  • Eyedscreen
  • Fall of the House of Cards: Occurs to Mikey early in "Scion of the Shredder".
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Used in the first few seasons of the show, although real guns started showing up as the show got more violent. Some of the FFF's were justified by being left over Triceraton tech.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: One of the most notable was in Same as it Never Was, which didn't just feature all of the Turtles of that dimension being brutally killed by Karai and the Karai-bots, it also featured the Shredder getting a drill thrown into his Utrom face and being utterly obliterated, all shown on-screen.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Several Purple Dragons, particularly in the first and third incarnations of the group. The Shredder's gauntlet also makes him qualify.
  • Feather Flechettes: Mephos' cybernetic wings allow him to pull this off.
  • Final Battle: Three: The climax to "Return to New York" in season 1, "Exodus" in season 3, and "Enter the Dragons" in season 5.
  • Find the Cure: In "Good Genes".
  • Fingerless Gloves: Angel. Several Purple Dragons. Season 7 Casey. Season 7 Hun.
  • Fingore: Occurs to Baxter Stockman in "Insane in the Membrane".
  • First-Name Basis: Even after accepting her into their family Splinter persists in politely calling April "Miss O'Neil." He doesn't switch to calling her "April" until later in the series.
  • Fish Out of Temporal Water: The turtles in Fast Forward, and Viral (albeit for a very short time) and Serling in Back to the Sewer.
  • Fish People: The fish people from "Sons of the Silent Age".
  • Floating Continent: Beijing, China, from "Space Invaders pt. 2" to "Mission of Gravity".
  • Flying Brick: Silver Sentry
  • The Future: 2105
  • Future Badass: Leonardo, Raphael, April, and especially Mikey, in "Same as it Never Was".
  • Gambit Pileup: The events in the Ninja Tribunal arc.
  • Genre Savvy: The Shredder has his moments, including moments where he reaches the much more dangerous variety.
  • Gladiator Games: The season 2 episode "The Arena" revolves around these.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Everyone wearing the Shredder helmet.
  • Going by the Matchbook: The turtles track down a trio of Texas mercenaries this way.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: "Enter the Dragons", the 5th season finale.
  • Gone to the Future: Apparently occurs in "Same as it Never Was".
  • Good Feels Good: Discovered by Leonardo's clone in the Fast Forward Episode "D.N.A. is Thicker Than Water".
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Earth Protection Force.
  • Grand Finale: Turtles Forever.
  • Grand Theft Me: The plot of "Hacking Stockman".
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Splinter will occasionally use this, as will the characters from Usagi Yojimbo. Another particular case is the Inuwashi Gunjin, named so despite the fact that they have no apparent connection to Japan besides the name. (It actually means Golden Eagle Soldiers.)
    • In "Secret Origins part 2", Shredder is by a minion addressed as "tono-sama", which is roughly translatable as 'lord'. Its a title that was used in feudal Japan, which the episode in a way took place in. But its still a bit out of place when you consider the rest was spoken in English.
  • Great Escape: The plot of "The Big House".
  • The Greys: Bishop's initial abductors.
  • Guilty Pleasures: In-show variation with Hun. Running the Purple Dragons is one thing, but who would've thought he plays the same MMORPG that Mikey does? Not to mention he, unknowingly, met the turtles in it and helped them get Splinter's data bits.
  • Guns Akimbo: Bishop occasionally uses guns in this manner.
  • Hair Color Dissonance: Particularly noticeable with Casey, whose hair is painted blue but is meant to be black.
  • Hair Decorations: Starlee Hambrath and her hairband.
  • Half the Man He Used To Be: The Demon Shredder.
  • Halloween Episode: "All Hallows' Thieves".
  • Hard Work Montage: April and the turtles get one as they build small sailcraft in "April's Artifact", complete with music.
  • Happily Married: Casey Jones and April O' Neil by the end of Turtles Forever.
  • Hero of Another Story: A few, but the most obvious is Silver Sentry and the Justice Force.
  • Hero-Killer: The Shredder
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Casey Jones with April O'Neil. The series even takes their relationship all the way as by the final season, they get married. April herself was much more of an obvious redhead than any previous incarnation as well.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Zog in "Rogue in the House", to defeat Shredder. Also cements his position as a woobie, as much as a huge dino-man can be one. His efforts didn't stick, sadly.
  • He's Back: Happens to Leo twice: First during, "Return to New York", when he confronts the Foot Elite which nearly killed him during their first encounter, and again as the conclusion to his season 4 character arc.
  • Hey, It's That Voice!: Joey Wheeler, Yusei Fudo, Viral, and Mikey Simon are the Turtles.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Avian city in "A Wing and a Prayer".
  • High Altitude Interrogation: Leo does this to a random punk in "Dragons Rising".
  • Hit Flash: Particularly notable in Fast Forward.
  • Holding Hands: Karai does this to Chaplin at the end of Season Five.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Particularly notable in "Darkness at the Edge of Town", where the supposed darkness is a plot point.
  • Hollywood Healing: Occasionally averted. The Turtles and Splinter get the living crap beaten out of them in battle, and are bandaged and in pain for several episodes after that. The gouge in Leonardo's shell is also depicted consistently.
  • Homage: Very many to earlier TMNT media, but special mention to homages to the comics, which have entire storylines that homages to them. Usagi Yojimbo also gets some homages with characters besides Usagi appearing. There are also a bunch movie references of varying quality.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Karai and Chaplin, after the season 5 finale hand-holding.
  • Human Aliens: Most members of the Federation army.
  • I Call It Vera: Jack Marlin's laser rifle, Betsy.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Agent Bishop, including his tie. He's basically of the "beat you down with anything handy" school of fighting.
  • Improvised Weapon: The turtles do this a couple of times.
  • In Medias Res/How We Got Here: A regular feature of the show's teasers.
  • Interspecies Romance: Cody Jones/Starlee Hambrath (Human/Rubber Forehead Alien).
  • Irony: The episode "SuperQuest" shows that size doesn't matter for Hun.
  • Kabuki Sounds: Particularly the "Ooowoooh!" whenever the Shredder appears.
  • Kappa: In the Demon Shredder's army—although they lack some of the characteristics of traditional kappa. The turtles, as in other continuities, are also sometimes confused with there.
  • Keep Circulating the Tapes: Given the inconsistencies in the way the series was distributed on DVD in the US, several bits are available only in inconvenient, out-of-print bits (season 3 and the first half of season 4), available in incomplete forms (Turtles Forever), or not available at all (Back to the Sewer).
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Oroku Saki does this in "Darkness at the Edge of Town".
  • Kirby Dots: in the episode "The King".
  • Knight of Cerebus: For Fast Forward, Sh'Okanabo's appearances were more laced with seriousness and less comedy. One could also say the Shredder is this, as humor in the show is less prominent when he's around.
  • Koan: Splinter is fond of these. Subverted on one occasion when he had to explain what he was saying.

Splinter: Remember, my sons, even the mighty oak bows before the raging storm winds.
Turtles: Huh?
Splinter: Be careful and do not become overconfident!

  • Laser Guided Tykebombs: The turtle clones; the Shredder's Splinter-bot in "Rogue in the House".
  • Laser Hallway: Used several times.
  • Last of Their Kind: The Inuwashi Gunjin.
  • Late Arrival Spoiler: Several, with the Shredder's true nature being by far the most notable.
  • Left for Dead: Happens to several characters, most often The Shredder.
  • Legacy Character: The Shredder; The Turtle Titan.
  • Leitmotifs: Most prominent characters and groups have one.
  • Magical Land: The Battle Nexus, and later, The Hidden Land ("The Ancient One").
  • Making a Splash: Justice Force member Tsunami has this power set.
  • Marked Change: Occurs when the turtles accessed their Ninja Tribunal powers in season 5.
  • Medieval Japan
  • Melee a Trois: Several times, most notably in "City at War".
  • Me's a Crowd: Nano, in his Justice Force form, is shown to do this in "Enter the Dragons pt. 2".
  • Microts: "Trigons".
  • Mini-Mecha: Turtle X, the Foot's Shred-naughts, and the main transport Dome-Bot used by both Dr. Dome and Ananda are all these.
  • Missing Episode: "Insane in the Membrane", which wasn't aired because Fox found it too intense for Saturday Morning cartoons. Also occurred that the entire fifth season was this, although it was eventually aired and billed as a series of "lost episodes".
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Occurs to the turtles a lot, after the Triceraton invasion.
  • Mobile Suit Human: The Utroms utilize robotic exosuits to blend in.
  • Mob War: "City at War".
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Everyone wearing a Shredder helmet. The Ninja Tribunal. Dr. Malignus.
  • Monowheel Mayhem
  • Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Malignus.
  • The Movie: Turtles Forever.
  • Multiple Head Case: Triple Threat, from Fast Forward.
  • Mythology Gag: Several, most notably a cameo by an Utrom named Krang, and April's impersonation of a reporter, complete with a familiar-looking yellow jumpsuit.
  • Named Weapons: The sword of Tengu; The Fangs of the Dragons.
  • Nanomachines: Used to create Nano.
  • Never Say "Die": Inconsistently applied, despite the considerable amount of explicit deaths. While there are occasionally lines like "You cannot kill the dead!" there are numerous instances where the word "dead" is replaced by much more awkward synonyms or euphemisms—heck, what is Shredder's trademark line of "None of you will leave here alive" but a sanitized version of "you will all die"?
  • New Neo City: New York in Fast Forward.
  • Nice Guy: Dr. Chaplin.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Twice: the first sets up the "City at War" arc, while the second sets up the Ninja Tribunal arc.
  • Nice Hat: The Turtles' (not counting Leo) opinions of the Foot Elite Guard upon first seeing them.

Donatello: Say what you will about the Foot, but they do not skimp on the headgear.

    • It should be noted that Mike and Don say this after seeing four uber badass looking ninja assassins waiting for them. The compliment was clearly intended to distract\placate them as they retreat.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The linchpin of Sh'Okanabo's plan in "Day of Awakening".
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The end of "The Shredder Strikes Back, pt. 1". "Exodus, pt. 2".
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Shredder's spaceship in season 3; justified in that it's built from parts salvaged from an alien invasion, including some that could not be replicated with available Earth technology.
  • No, You: Karai's not very good at trash-talking. She does this several times to the Tengu Shredder.
  • Not a Date: Casey and April insist their late-night jaunt to Coney Island is this. They're both in complete denial though.
  • Not So Above It All: April and Splinter both have moments where they sink down to the Turtle's level of silliness. Most notably in "April's Artifact" where she gets waaay into the Jungle Princess role and "The Christmas Aliens" where she sticks a spoon on her nose and grins stupidly.
  • Nothing but Skulls: The mass grave in the episode "The Trouble With Augie".
  • Offhand Backhand: Splinter does this once or twice.
  • Oh Crap: The Shredder gets this when he realizes he shouldn't have let Splinter cut the posts holding up the water tower.
    • And again when the tower's about to fall right on top of him.
    • Hun does this really well when he gets these moments, even combining them with his Catch Phrase "Oh, crud," which comes close enough to Oh Crap.
    • To be fair, the 2003 series DEFINITELY loves this trope.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: the Fast Forward season sends the Turtles and Splinter to the future, where they meet new people.
  • Old Master: The Ancient One. Splinter, obviously.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Utrom navigators. Subverted by the Ninja Tribunal.
  • Omniscient Morality License: The immortal Ninja Tribunal gets away with allowing everything that had transpired thus far throughout the series to occur, because according to them, it all had to happen that way for the demon Shredder to be killed.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Demon Shredder's dragon form. The turtles' and the Ninja Tribunal's respective Dragon forms may also apply.
  • Out of the Inferno: The Shredder does this during his first fight with the turtles.
  • Overprotective Dad: Casey's mom.
  • The Other Darrin: Several characters eventually get recast, most notably Leatherhead (F.B. Owens to Gary Lewis).
  • Pair the Smart Ones: Cody and Starlee in Fast Forward.
  • Papa Wolf: Splinter for the Turtles, and Serling for Cody.
  • Parental Abandonment: To the point where only one character—Starlee Hambrath, in case you're counting—is known to have been raised by both biological parents.
  • Pet the Dog: Saki's adoption of Karai. Even if he may have ulterior motives for raising her, it's very nice to even think about that little flashback.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The dark turtles.
  • Physical God: The Ninja Tribunal; The Demon Shredder.
  • Place of Power / Ley Lines: The Statue of Liberty, The U.N. Building, and Manny's Meats were all located near Ley Line nodes, as revealed in the episode "Past Present".
  • Plague of Good Fortune: This is how Michelangelo became the Battle Nexus champion.
  • Police Are Useless: In Fast Forward.
  • Posthumous Characters: All three characters in the Hamato Yoshi/Yukio Mashimi/Tang Shen love triangle.
  • Powered Armor: Baxter Stockman and Darius Dun occasionally wear these.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation
  • Preemptive Apology: In "Sons of the Silent Age".

Donatello: We don't have time for this! Please accept my apology.
Worker: For what?
Donatello: For this. (hits the worker with his bo.)

  • Private Eye Monologue: In the beginning of each episode, except on seasons 6 and 7.
  • The Professor: Lots.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Zig-zagged. While there are instances in which the protagonists get smacked down with the realization that not everything is about them, the series is often quite willing to color the turtles' actions as heroic or neutral, even when they have damaging consequences.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Inuwashi Gunjin. The Triceratons, to a lesser and less uniform extent.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: In Fast Forward, Pro Wrestling has become a legit sport. However, being from the past, Raphael is unaware of this and treats it like its all a show, at least until he gets his shell kicked by a disgruntled wrestler.
  • Punch Clock Villain: Dr. Chaplin.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Dark Turtles.
  • Race Lift: One-shot villain Skonk, who was turned from black to white.
    • A (possibly unintentional) in-universe example can be found in "Samurai Tourist": Michelangelo shows Gen a comic book issue about the Silver Sentry, and on the cover, Silver Sentry appears white, though the actual Silver Sentry we see in the series is black.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: Ultimately occurs to The Ultimate Ninja.
  • Real After All: A variation of the trope occurs in the episode "Monster Hunter", with a Bigfoot-like creature living in Northampton.
  • Recurring Character: Tons.
  • Recursive Adaptation: The series spawned a short-lived comic book adaptation.
  • Retool: For Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer.
  • Ret Canon: The show influenced the original comic book in several ways, mostly involving Casey's backstory.
  • Rollerblade Good: Starlee Hambrath's ubiquitous inline skates.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Donnie in "SuperQuest".
  • Rubber Forehead Aliens
  • Samus Is a Girl: Occurs with the mutated human Quarry, who is assumed to be a guy until returned to her human form.
  • Scars Are Forever: Hun sports a trio of matching scars on his face, courtesy of a pre-mutation Splinter.
    • Leo's shell-gouge stays with him through the end of the Demon Shredder arc. He loses it with the Art Shift.
  • Scenery Porn: The hidden land in "The Ancient One", whose background feature an art shift, to boot.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Mortu (Utrom). Also, Kluh and Ammag from the planet Levram, for a particular type of shout out.
  • Secret Test of Character: The Ninja Tribunal's first test.
  • Serial Prostheses: Baxter Stockman, thanks to Shredder's attitude towards failures. He loses an eye, a hand, and ends up in a wheelchair before trying to take his revenge in a Mini Mecha. When that fails, he's reduced to a head attached to a robot. It gets worse from there.
  • Sheathe Your Sword: The Ancient One's first lesson, in "The Ancient One".
  • Shout-Out: Many of them, particularly in the second 'toon. Mostly from Mikey.
    • Serling's greeting of "Come with me if you want to live".
    • One denizen of future New York is an Expy of 1987 Bebop.
    • Chaplin looks awfully familiar, doesn't he?
    • One of the monsters in "Notes From the Underground" is a dead ringer for obscure Eastman/Laird character Carnage.
    • April O'Neil isn't a news reporter and doesn't have the same design as her '80s/early '90s cartoon counterpart, but in "Web Wranglers" there is a female news reporter with short brown hair and a yellow jacket.
    • This gets combined with Hurricane of Puns in episode 2. While trying to figure out the name of their new home, Don and Mikey have this discussion, after Don hears Mikey's first suggestion.

Don: Turtlecave? That is so lame.
Mikey: And what would you call our new digs? The Shellter?
Don: Uhh... how about the sewer of solitude?
Mikey: Terrapin Station?
Don: The School for Gifted Reptiles?
Mikey: The Hall of Ninjustice!

  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Kluh, Ammag, and planet Levram.
    • Also, the abandoned warehouse that serves as the Turtles' garage is on the corner of Eastman and Laird.
  • Sigil Spam: The Foot's tendency to plaster its logo everywhere made for a minor wall banger, as the organization's dragon claw symbol was also used in its legitimate operations, meaning that anyone who got a good look at a Foot Ninja would see the symbol adorning the Foot's very visible skyscraper base and put two and two together without effort.
  • Significant Anagram: C.F. Volpehart/H.P. Lovecraft.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Occurs once between Leonardo and the Shredder in "Return to New York", and again with Hamato Yoshi and Yukio Mashimi in "Tale of Master Yoshi".
  • Smug Snake: Darius Dunn of the Fast Forward season is surprisingly arrogant for a Manipulative Bastard and master of deception as Splinter calls him, seeing how he treats his mooks poorly when they fail him and sometimes even berates them for their stupidity. He didn't even take too well to the Inuwashi Gunjin's disobedience towards him when they said that they were no longer under his command after capturing Cody for the first time. And he really lost it when he finally lost control over his Gunjin slaves. So yeah, he's reduced to a screaming mess when things go wrong with his plans. Of course, in the final scene of the "DNA is Thicker Than Water" episode, he does pull off a Pet the Dog moment for the Dark Turtles by giving them another piece of steak to fight over even though they failed to destroy the real turtles for him.
  • So Last Season: Beginning with season 5, with the weapons and items used by the turtles.
  • Sophisticated As Hell: Goes hand in hand with Splinters Gentleman Snarker.
  • Space Jews: Starlee's family, especially her mother.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Prime Leader Zanramon—at least until it was revealed that he hadn't died at all.
  • Stable Time Loop: In "Timing is Everything".
  • The Starscream: Dr. Stockman.
  • Stealth Pun: In "Same As It Never Was", the Shredder is destroyed by the Turtle Tunneler, that is to say, shredded.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the episode, "The Shredder Strikes Back, Part 2", Michelangelo says to the Foot Elite ninjas "Nice hats!". 35 seconds later, Donatello says the same thing. Then another minute later, Raphael shows up:

Raph: [to the ninjas] Nice hats.
Mikey: Yeah. We thought so too.
Don: Say what you will about the Foot, but they do not skimp on the headgear.

  • Strapped to An Operating Table:
    • Raph, by Hun, in "The Way of Invisibility.
    • The Foot's "volunteers" in "Notes From the Underground".
    • The turtles, by Bishop, in "Worlds Collide, pt. 2" (and by implication, Leatherhead).
    • Bishop himself in "Head of State"
  • Stripped to the Bone: Occurs to Agent Bishop's body after his mind is transferred into a new one.
  • Story Arc
  • Sword Over Head: Karai does this to one of the defeated Foot Elite at the end of "City at War".
  • Taken for Granite/Literally Shattered Lives: Drako and The Ultimate Ninja
  • Taking You with Me: The Shredder is wont to do this. Also attempted by the turtles in the episode "Exodus".
  • Talking to Himself: Three of the Shredders in this series are voiced by the same person, Scottie Ray. The Utrom Shredder, the Tengu Shredder and the Cyber Shredder. There's an in-universe reason for this however; the Tengu Shredder is the original Oroku Saki from ancient Japan, whom the Utrom Shredder, Ch'rell (the main Big Bad of the series) based his human persona on, and the Cyber Shredder is a virtual manifestation of Ch'rell combined with Viral.
  • Technological Pacifist: O'Neil Tech, in theory.
  • Teen Genius: Cody Jones and Starlee Hambrath. Donatello, obviously. Dr. Chaplin, maybe.
  • Temporary Blindness: In "Lone Raph and Cub".
  • Tempting Fate:

Honeycutt: Well gentlemen, it should be fairly smooth sailing from here on. (Triceraton fleet shows up) Later: "Well gentlemen, I'd say the difficult part is over." (Federation fleet shows up)


Casey: April, I love you like... like Gretzky loves hockey, and I wanna play you for the rest of my life...- Dah! I mean your life! I-I mean Gretsky's life! - I mean-

  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The theme for the fourth and fifth seasons.
  • This Cannot Be!: Being a jerkass Complete Monster in his own right, the Shredder is so confident about his remarkable power and his belief in fighting only to win that he loves using this trope when he's defeated.

Shredder: Guh... this can't be happening... I cannot lose!

    • Also, Sh'Okanabo finds out that the Kanabo drones can be reverted back to their previous normal selves by sunlight. And he doesn't take that too well.

Sh'Okanabo: (after going back to his spaceship) This is impossible! The Kanabo have thrived before on countless planets under countless suns.

  • This Is Unforgivable!: As mentioned before, Raph doesn't take too well to having been paralyzed by one of the hornets in the episode "April's Artifiact".
    • And in later episode "Same as it Never Was", after stating a Big No upon watching the Karai Legions kill Future Mike to his horror, Don gets pushed too far. His response? "You'll pay for this, Shredder! If it's the last thing I do, YOU WILL PAY!"
      • Same episode sees Future Leo cut down by Future Karai while his back was turned. An enraged future Raph clearly tries to kill her for it.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: Mr. Touch and Mr. Go.
  • Time Skip: Fast Forward takes place in the year 2105, roughly ninety-nine years from the present day, while Back To The Sewer takes place one year after the day the turtles were transported to the future.
  • Time Travel Tense Trouble: This.
  • Title Theme Tune
  • Tonight Someone Dies: Used in the initial promo for "Exodus, pt. 2", albeit with the less-precise "you'll never see one of these characters again".
    • To be fair, after Shredder's exile, the show probably though he wasn't going to come back.
  • Took a Level in Badass: April in season 3, when Splinter teaches her martial arts. Casey undergoes a bit of this in Back to the Sewer when training under Master Khan (he manages to sneak attack and take down all four of the Turtles in this episode) but brainwashing is involved and the show doesn't give any strong indication of whether he retained his newfound fighting skills afterwards.
    • However, Casey still applies to this trope as it was revealed that when he was young, Casey lacked the confidence he shows as an adult, until the Turtles trained him to be assertive.
    • In Season 4, Hun transforms the Purple Dragons from a petty street gang working for the Foot into a far more sophisticated organization operating on its own.
  • To Serve Man: The motivation of one-shot villain group "The Brotherhood".
  • Tournament Arc: "The Big Brawl".
  • Transforming Mecha: Serling, after he is modified to become the second Turtle X.
  • Trickster Mentor: The Ancient One, initially.
  • Ultimate Gamer 386: In the episode "SuperQuest". Trope namer.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Turtle Titan II to Silver Sentry (grandson/grandfather). Also, Ananda to Battling Bernice (daughter/mother), as in the comic books.
  • Under the Mistletoe: In the episode "The Christmas Aliens", with Casey and April.
  • Unequal Pairing: Karai and Dr. Chaplin, and to a lesser extent, Cody Jones and Starlee Hambrath. Both are canon.
  • Unnamed Parent: Casey's mom.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • The Battle Nexus Gyoji gets sucked into the vortex created by the Daimyo's warstaff in "The Big Brawl, Part 4", but is seen alive and well in a later episode (though the first time the character reappears, he turns out to be the Ultimate Drako in disguise).
    • In a somewhat less extreme case, Hun and Leatherhead both appear to fall to their doom in "Exodus, Part 1". They both appear later with no explanation of how they survived or what happened to them immediately after the episode. Granted, their fall was indoors and it is rather hard to determine how far they fell (and unlike the Gyoji, it is rather doubtful that the writers intended this to be their death).
  • Unreliable Narrator: Zog's narration of the events of "Rogue in the House, pt. 1".
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Michelangelo, preferred method of handling victory.
  • Vague Age
  • Villain Episode: "Hun On the Run", "Aliens Among Us", and "Insane in the Membrane", for Hun, Bishop, and Baxter, respectively.
  • Villain Exit Stage Left: Bishop often does this, but typically escapes in a way that the turtles can't follow him.
  • Villain Team-Up
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Oroku Saki and Karai. Darius Dun.
  • The Virus: Sh'Okanabo and his Gene Eggs.
  • The Voiceless: Hisomi Shisho, as embodiment of Stealth, does not speak.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Ultimate Drako. April O'Neil in "The Engagement Ring".
  • Volleying Insults: Between Casey and Raph, in "The Way of Invisibility".
  • Waif Fu: April sometimes demonstrates martial arts skills, after being trained by Splinter.
  • Water Tower Down: The turtles obtain their first victory over the Shredder in this manner.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Sh'Okanabo's drones and their weakness to...sunlight.
    • Actually there's something about the combination of Earth's atmosphere and the planet's sunshine that does it as it didn't happen on other worlds.
  • Wedding Day: Series finale "Wedding Bells and Bytes". Lampshaded by Michelangelo:

"Every series eventually does a wedding episode, dude!"


Michelangelo: How come all the weird stuff always happens to us? I mean, we were just minding our own business, when WHAM, that time lady fell out of the sky, right on top of us! Now we're stuck here AND we've gotta go to that creepy-loking place! It just doesn't seem fair!!!

  • We Need a Distraction: In order to let April enter the T.C.R.I. building, in "The Search for Splinter, pt. 1".
  • Wham! Episode: For one, "The Shredder Strikes Back".
  • What Could Have Been: The different rejected pitches for season 7 of the 2003 'toon, from Fast Forward season 2 to "Superworld". Concept art for these rejected series are now being released on 4Kids' TMNT blog. There's also "Nightmares Recycled", a season 5 episode that was planned but scrapped due to objections from standards and practices.
    • And apparently, had there been another Back to the Sewers season, they would have started a "Shredder Wars Arc", where it would answer how the fight between the Utrom, Demon, and Cyber Shredders got into their fight in the first place; this plan seemed to have been discarded in favor of Turtles Forever.
    • The "Nightmare Recycled" episode would have revealed that The Garbageman and Hun were born as conjoined twins, separated at birth by a seedy, back-alley surgeon; the baby that would later become Garbageman was thrown in the trash, whereas Hun was kept and raised. 4Kids, not surprisingly, felt that this was not for kids, and scrapped the episode before it could be completed.
  • Whole-Episode Flashback: Lots: "Tales of Leo", "The Lesson", "Tale of Master Yoshi", "Legend of the Five Dragons", and "Fathers and Sons".
  • Who's on First?: This short.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Let's face it, the Shredder often comes back regardless of defeat. In "Bad Day", Mikey even says this verbatim about him.

Michelangelo: How many times do we have to get rid of this guy?

  • Wild Card: Fast Forward's Torbin Zixx, as well as Karai.
  • Winged Humanoid: The Avians.
  • With This Ring: I will turn you into a demon. ("The Engagement Ring")
  • The Worf Effect: Any storyline involving the Justice Force, as a group or individually, will involve them needing the turtles to help them. The one time they didn't team up with the Turtles against the threat (the Triceraton Invasion), they got their asses kicked.
  • Wonder Twin Powers: Mr. Touch and Mr. Go.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Done to Leonardo's swords in the episode "The Shredder Strikes Back, Part 1", as the climax to the ass-kicking the character gets in that episode.
  • Write Back to the Future: Used in the Fast Forward episode "Timing is Everything", coming into play before Donny (the writer) actually got stuck in the past.
  • Xanatos Roulette: Executed by the Ninja Tribunal in order to kill the demon Shredder.
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: Tang Shen.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: "Insane in the Membrane" for Baxter Stockman.
  • Yawn and Reach: Casey, to April, in "The People's Choice".
  • You Did Everything You Could: The key realization that shakes Leo from his season 4 funk.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Sydney/Quarry. Mr. Mortu.
  • You Have Failed Me...: The Shredder constantly does this, with Baxter Stockman as the most obvious and frequent example.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!: Raph loves using this.
  • You Monster!:
    • "I have faced many monsters in the past, but it takes a special kind to direct such vile hatred towards a child."
    • In the "Head of State" episode, Leo points out that in Bishop's world, nobody's considered a monster based on their appearance, only based on how they act, and asks Stockman if he wants to use his inventions to create or destroy. Stockman later chooses to create after Bishop, being the changed man he is in Fast Forward, rescues him to make up for his failure to save him some time in the past, which, no doubt, led to his redemption.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: A feature of the Utrom virtual reality program shown in "Secret Origins".
  • Yuppie Couple: A pair of police officers resembling TMNT creators Eastman and Laird occasionally show up whenever the 2003 series needs a cop in the background.