Series / Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation

The first and so far only live-action tv series starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, produced by Saban Entertainment. It lasted from September 12, 1997 to March 20, 1998. While supposedly taking place after the 1987 cartoon series, in reality, it follows the live-action film continuity. Confused yet?

The series begins with some familiarity: The four iconic anthropomorphic reptiles do battle with the Foot Clan and its leader, the Shredder. The turtles' master, Splinter still aids his sons with advice, and Leonardo and Raphael bicker amongst themselves. Suddenly, Splinter's spirit is rat-napped by an army of dragon warriors called the Rank. Led by their ill-tempered dictator, the Dragon Lord, the Rank ruled the world before they were banished to the Realm of Dreams by a mystic mirror. Splinter's friend, Chung I, a Shinobi master from China, was killed by the Rank, but not before telling his apprentice Mei Pieh Chi of her origins.

Turns out Mei Pieh Chi is really a pet turtle from Chinatown in New York who was covered in mutagen and became an anthropomorphic, 5 foot tall, talking turtle. Mei returns to New York, meets the other four turtles, uses her Shinobi magic to Mind Rape the Shredder right off the bat, effectively leaving the Foot without a leader, and rescues Splinter's spirit. Unfortunately, she accidentally helps the Rank escape, who take up the mantle as the new major threat to the turtles. Mei joins the four brothers and is given the nickname Venus de Milo.

The show only lasted 26 episodes, and was canceled after the end of the first season, with any hope of a second season permanently scrapped. Reception was not great, as fans of the first show and to an extent, the original comic didn't like that the Shredder and the Foot Clan were Put on a Bus and no other established characters besides Splinter and the Turtles themselves made any appearances, or that the Turtles were frequently overshadowed by Venus' mysticism. The characters created for the show, i.e. Venus and the rogues gallery, took the brunt of the fan backlash, with TMNT co-creator Peter Laird personally hating Venus for ruining the brotherhood dynamic of the turtles and subsequently barring the character from appearing again in the franchise for the remainder of his ownership of it. Combine all of that with the hefty price-per-episode thanks to the animatronics required for most of the characters. Of all the Ninja Turtles shows, this usually stands as both the least successful and least remembered.

The show ended up in Disney's hands when they bought Saban Entertainment, but Saban Brands has now got the show back, along with the other Toei collaborations (Power Rangers, VR Troopers, Beetleborgs, and Masked Rider). The franchise itself is owned by Nickelodeon. As of 2011, the show is now available on Netflix. Shout!Factory released the series on DVD in 2012. Prior to that, the series had previously seen a Region 2 DVD release, although in a heavily edited form (and under the "Hero Turtles" banner, as the word "Ninja" was a no-no in Europe at the time). For some odd reason it got back on the airwaves in 2013 via The Hub until the network switched brand names to Discovery Family.

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) for the second cartoon see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) and for the latest cartoon see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012).

Now With A Character Page Under Construction

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: Finding a way to put the Dragonlord and his army back to the enchanted mirror they escaped from, Oroku Saki resuming his role as The Shredder.
    • "The Good Dragon" suggested that there were many other good dragons still in the enchanted mirror and that they would one day emerge to overthrow their evil master.
  • Adapted Out: While they were planned to appear in the scrapped second season, this continuity stands out as the only major incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to not feature Casey Jones and April O'Neil.
  • Action Girl: Venus de Milo.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "Silver and Gold," Michelangelo reports his encounter with Silver. The other mutants express disbelief that an ape could talk. Michelangelo himself expressed disbelief during said encounter until being reminded by Silver that he's a talking turtle.
  • Arc Villain: The vampire Vam-Mi was the villain of the three-part episode "Unchain my Heart" until she is killed.
  • Artistic License Linguistics: In this show, the word "shinobi" is treated as being a kind of magician, with Venus being trained to use shinobi magic and having no experience in ninjutsu. Not only is "shinobi" a synonym for "ninja" in real life, but it also specifically means a male ninja.
  • Berserk Button: Bonesteel hates it when he is called "Bonehead".
  • Big Bad: The Dragon Lord. (No relation.)
  • Black Best Friend: Andre for Splinter.
  • Blind and the Beast: Splinter is friends with an elderly blind man named Andre. The two of them play Chess together and Andre even lived with Splinter and the Turtles when he was evicted from his apartment.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Venus. Well, she is new to American culture.
  • Bottle Episode: "Going Ape" mostly takes place in an old abandoned house.
  • Broad Strokes: Certain visual cues such as Splinter missing an ear and the Turtles living in an abandoned subway station seems to imply that the series takes place after the live-action films by New Line Cinema, but certain details (such as the Shredder still being alive, Michelangelo using tonfa instead of nunchucks, and April O'Neil and Casey Jones seeming to not even exist) suggest that the films' events may have happened differently.
  • Canon Foreigner: Venus is the most notable, but also Dragon Lord, Wick, Silver and Bonesteel.
  • Crossover: With Power Rangers in Space. Probably the only thing most fans remember about the show.
  • Clip Show: TWO episodes in just one season. One focus on Raph and Leo while the other was about Venus.
  • Co-Dragons: The Dragonlord had three Dragons: A small dragon sorcerer named Wick, the Rank Lieutenant, and Dr. Quease. While Dragonlord himself is literally a dragon, he is not an example of this trope.
  • The Corrupter: Dragonlord. He was once the only bad member of the Rank, until he turned the rest of them against mankind.
  • Death by Origin Story: Chung I is killed by the Dragon Lord and tells Venus to go to New York on his deathbed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dr. Quease tries to invoke this by pointing out his method of destroying his nearly robotic clones of the Turtles is painless. Naturally the Turtles disagree.
  • Expository Theme Tune: It really wouldn't be TMNT without one, but the Next Mutation theme gets major points just for starting with the line "FOUR GREEN TURTLES!"
    • Followed by - "Check it out, another one found, made her way to Chinatown..."
  • Eye Scream: Though it's played up. Dr Quease TORE ONE OF HIS EYES OUT FOR A SCOUTING ROBOT. He later has to destroy it to get Venus' DNA. This just seems to merely annoy him since he just clones a new one. An earlier episode had Dragonlord threaten to suck out the eyes of one of his minions.
  • Five-Episode Pilot
  • Five-Man Band
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one episode, the Dragonlord yells at the turtles that he will have their shells for defeating him, which takes on a different meaning when you remember that the turtles have said "kiss my shell". The word "shell" was used in place of "ass".
    • In "All In The Family", Venus tells Michelangelo that he must have a talk with Splinter about the birds and the bees after he asks her how she knew the baby turtle was female.
    • The episode "Turtles' Night Out" featured a gang called The Unknowables, the leader of which resembled Alex DeLarge. Another member of the gang crudely flirts with Venus by asking her what she has under her shell. Michelangelo also hosted a radio show where one of his callers asked about "getting high".
    • Due to the turtles wearing little more than knee pads, elbow pads, and bandannas, there are frequent shots of Venus's ass whenever she is viewed from behind.
      • It stands out because the male turtles bottoms are clearly not as detailed, and their shells fit in a way that hides their bottoms more fully.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The "Unchain my Heart" episodes had a vampire named Vam-Mi as the main antagonist, but she briefly summons some kind of elder vampire god to ask him for help.
  • Hypno Fool: "Banana!"
  • I Call It "Vera": Bonesteel has many weapons with girl's names. The Turtles even lampshade it.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Ninja weapon based.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Slight variant in "Silver and Gold."
    Leonardo: We're ninja, not Power Rangers.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: With Power Rangers in Space
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Mikey
  • Killed Off for Real: Chung I via Death by Origin Story. Arc Villain Vam-Mi stands out as being the only villain on the show to be permanently defeated.
  • Lady of War: Venus.
  • Left Hanging
  • Licensed Game: There was a Tiger Handheld LCD game based on this show as well as a PlayStation title that ended up becoming Vapor Ware shortly after it was announced.
  • Literal-Minded: Venus.
    Venus: I'm feeling unnerved by all the attention I am getting from the boys.
    Michelangelo: Who could blame them? You're some babe!
    Venus: Babe? I'm exactly as old as you are! And one boy said I was quite a fox. You'd think he'd got his species mixed up?
  • Mad Scientist: Dr Quease
  • Market-Based Title: It's called Hero Turtles: The Next Mutation in the UK.
  • Monster of the Week: The Unknowables gang from the episode "Turtles' Night Out" stand out as being the only antagonists in the series who only appeared once.
  • Mook Lieutenant: The Rank Lieutenant, lead soldier of the Rank, differs from the other dragon soldiers in that he wears a magenta veil over his mouth in contrast to the others' purple veils.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The episode "The Good Dragon" featured a member of the Rank who was benevolent. In the end, the Dragon Lord imprisoned him in the enchanted mirror, but not before the good dragon made a vow to find other dragons like him to amass a rebellion against the Dragon Lord.
  • Mythology Gag: Several to the 1987 cartoon: The turtles wear buckles with their initials on them as well as bands on their arms and legs matching the colors of their bandannas, their taste for weird pizza toppings, and they ride in a van with a license plate that reads "TRTL PWR"(Turtle Power!)
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Venus, but it's more like her shell is curved in.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Dragon Lord when he's not wearing his helmet.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Not the first continuity to suggest it, but the one that is remembered for outright saying it. Apparently, they made a point of saying this specifically so Venus could play love-interest to the brothers.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: A three part arc dealt with the turtles having contend with a vampire queen whose out to restore her heart so she can fully recover. Aided by her two childlike servants. They seem to be based on the Chinese mythos with some American concept thrown in (afraid of sunlight, can turn into bats, etc).
  • Painting the Medium: At one point, Leo almost seems startled by the Sword Idiosyncratic Wipe and rushes out of frame.
  • Power-Up Food: The Dragonlord wants to eat the turtles, so he can have the "magic" that made them what they are, believing it will make him stronger.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: In Going Ape.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dragonlord and his army of dragon warriors were imprisoned in an enchanted mirror before breaking free in the Five-Episode Pilot. The "Unchain My Heart" episodes introduced a vampire named Vam-Mi, who was locked in her casket by Chung I 17 years before the events of the series.
  • Shout-Out: In the "Unchain My Heart" episodes, the villain Simon Bonesteel reveals that he has hunted vampires in addition to endangered animals. A vampire hunter named Simon? Now, why does that ring a bell?
  • Sixth Ranger: Venus
  • Spot the Imposter: In the clones episode.
  • The Starscream: Wick became this to the Dragonlord in the episode "King Wick" after accidentally drinking a potion that gives him new powers. He uses his new powers to steal Dragonlord's powers and become the new leader of the Rank, but eventually is tricked into losing his powers.
  • Stock Sound Effects: There are many laced throughout the show, usually during fight scenes and almost every few seconds.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dragon Lord has many traits and characteristics in common with The Shredder. Dr. Quease is also similar to Baxter Stockman, namely in that both are mad scientists.
  • Title Theme Tune: Though the words "Next Mutation" aren't in the song, it does mirror the omission of the words "Teenage Mutant" from the title.
  • Theme Tune Rap
  • Toku: Despite being a western series, it uses live effects like a typical Tokutatsu. It may be due to being made by Saban, the same company that adapted Super Sentai into Power Rangers.
  • Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny: In "Mutant Reflections," Raph and Mikey debate what would happen if Batman and Superman had a fight.
    • For the record, Raph thinks Batman would win, while Mikey thinks Superman has the advantage.
  • Villainous B.S.O.D.: The Shredder, post-Mind Rape.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Vam-Mi's minion Bing looks like a young boy, but has a deep and gravelly voice.