Western Animation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)
"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Heroes in a half-shell—turtle power!"
The first animated series starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
, and the one responsible for the worldwide turtles phenomenon. It lasted from 1987 to 1996
The story goes something like this: Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki were members of the Foot Clan. Out of jealousy, Saki compromises Yoshi's position in the clan and forces him into exile. Escaping to the New York sewers, Yoshi eventually makes pets of rats living there, as well as four baby turtles which happened to fall inside.
One day, Yoshi finds the turtles immersed in pink-colored ooze, which he gets all over himself while trying to clean it off. Soon, he finds the turtles growing to humanoid size, and himself turning into a humanoid rat; the ooze, which had been spilled by Saki in order to kill Yoshi, was a mutagen that would grant an organism traits from the previous organism it had come into physical contact with. Yoshi decides to raise the turtles, name them, and train them in the martial arts.
Eventually, the turtles rescue April O'Neil, a reporter covering a crime wave seemingly committed by ninjas. With her help, they discover that Oroku Saki, now calling himself the Shredder, had taken control of the Foot Clan, and had allied himself with exiled warlord Krang in order to conquer the world. The turtles, naturally, vow to stop him, and obtain a way to restore Hamato Yoshi—now named Splinter "for obvious reasons
"—to his human form.
Unlike the comic book that inspired it
, the tone of the cartoon was for the most part more akin to a sitcom than an action series. The turtles were more liable to crack wise than act like the ninjas they supposedly were. The main villain group shared a sitcom dynamic, with Villain Decay
setting in almost immediately. Many episodes were Strictly Formula
, using whatever stock plots the producers had handy.
After seven seasons, the series was retooled
in an attempt to make them more serious. The palette was darker, the Shredder and company were eventually Put on a Bus
and were replaced by the alien Lord Dregg and his posse, and the tone became less humorous. Reactions to the "red sky" seasons remain mixed; while some appreciate the shift, others believe it took away from the series' strengths. This new direction lasted for three 8-episode seasons, until the series' end in 1996.
Despite—or perhaps because of—the numerous changes made to the source material, the series became wildly popular, providing the thrust behind a massive toy line, inspiring the Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats
cartoon subgenre, and even getting a two-part OVA
in Japan. The series continues to influence the franchise today, with every later incarnation of the turtles maintaining at least part of the tone of the series, as well as multiple nods to it.
Thirteen years after its end, the series received a brief revival in Turtles Forever
, a crossover between this incarnation of the Turtles and their counterparts from the 2003 series
See also: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
(franchise page), the franchise character sheet
, and the page for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures
, the comic book based on the animated series.
This incarnation of the Ninja Turtles includes examples of:
- A Day in the Limelight: There were a few of these in the series. Bebop and Rocksteady Conquer The Universe is one of the best examples which is also a Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Irma too, in episodes like Turtle Terminator, Attack of The 50 Foot Irma, and Super Irma.
- Aborted Arc: Season 8 set up several possibly new enemies and allies for the Turtles — all of whom were promptly forgotten about in the following season in favor of Dregg and Carter.
- It also ended with the implication that members of H.A.V.O.C. were still on the loose and that April would do something important in the far future, things that were never brought up again in Seasons 9 and 10.
- Although Mona Lisa appeared in just one episode, it was implied her storyline was just beginning.
- Absolute Cleavage: Subverted: Although April's jumpsuit was occasionally left open enough for this trope depending on the artist, her cleavage was usually left undrawn whenever this happened, as seen in her character◊ model◊note . Fan artists, on the other hand...
- The Ace: Leonardo is a strange mix of this and The Generic Guy.
- Also April's Aunt Agatha Marbles.
- Action Girl: Lotus Blossom.
- April also had her moments of this.
- Also Mona Lisa.
- And Irma, at times.
- Adaptational Villainy: Leatherhead, who was an ally in other continuities (though it was common for him to start off as having a misunderstanding with the Turtles). Also Wingnut and Screwloose, who originated as allies in the Archie Comics series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, but here appeared as one-shot villains in the episode Zach and the Alien Invaders.
- Adorkable: A lot of characters, but Donatello, Baxter, Mikey, and Irma have the most moments.
- Affably Evil/Faux Affably Evil: Shredder, Depending on the Writer.
- Aliens Speaking English: Raphael lampshades this perfectly in the episode "Usagi Yojimbo" when they meet the titular character.
- Pretty much all Dimension X aliens spoke flawless English. Some even had accents to boot!
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version had three different endings.
- Alto Villainess: Shreeka.
- Always Someone Better/Always Second Best: Shredder to Splinter.
- Always Need What You Gave Up: the episode with the giant squid.
- Also the episode Case Of The Killer Pizzas.
- Amazon Chaser: Leonardo, who is completely taken by Lotus Blossom after she defeats him in a duel.
- Ambiguous Gender: Zee.
- Ambiguously Brown: Shredder, Depending on the Artist.
- Ambiguously Gay: Vernon Fenwick and Krang.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Irma Langinstein.
- Ambiguously Human: The Rat King.
- And I Must Scream/Fate Worse Than Death: Synapse in the Red Sky episode H.A.V.O.C. In The Streets. Donatello defeats the electric mutant created by Titanus by sending him through a ham radio, leaving him permanently trapped on the radio airwaves forever.
- Implied to be Baxter's final fate in Revenge of The Fly!. Poor guy...
- Animation Bump: More times than possibly any cartoon in the 80's and 90's. The animation style could go from being horrible to decent, sometimes in a single episode. The first two seasons each kept with a single animation studio (Toei for Season 1, and A-1 Productions for Season 2), but the seasons grew much longer starting with Season 3, resulting in animation being farmed out to several different studios note . This continued until the "Red Sky" era, where the seasons got cut down to eight episodes each and a single studio (this time Dai Won Animationnote ) became sufficient to handle all the show's animation again.
- On top of that, a number of Season 3 episodes and the entire first half of Season 4 was farmed out to Murakami-Wolf-Swenson's studio in Ireland. Some of the episodes turned out okay, but most of these outsourced episodes were among the worst-animated in the show's run. Likewise, the "Vacation in Europe" episodes were farmed out to French studio IDDH on a smaller budget than usual, and suffer particularly for it.
- Anime Hair: The Neutrinos take this to ridiculous extremes.
- Animesque: The first season had a very obvious anime influence — unusually though, it was for reasons of practicality rather than artistic preferences. The show's original character designer, Ira Turek came up with a load of character designs which were butt ugly and nearly impossible to animate well, resulting in him being fired. He was replaced at the last minute by Peter Chung, who redesigned the primary characters to have a more Anime-inspired look in order to ensure that the Toei Animation team would be able to work with them. The following seasons largely ditched the animesque character designs.
- Animal-Themed Superbeing: The Rat King falls under the Animal Alias type since he has no actual rat powers. Interestingly, most of the characters in this show fall under Beast Man or Animal Superhero despite the vast number of Animal Motifs.
- There was also Bug-Man who only showed up in one episode. He was an insect-themed superhero who curiously turned into a powerful superhuman when angered. In the episode, he had become a pacifist but since Michelangelo needed his help, he tried his best to make him angry so he would turn into his super-powered form.
- Animorphism: A lot, both temporary and permanent.
- Another Dimension: Several, most notably Dimension X.
- Anti-Hero: The Dark Turtle, the one-episode Secret Identity of Donatello.
- Apologizes a Lot: Irma in The Turtle Terminator
- Arson, Murder, and Admiration: Mostly between Shredder and Krang.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: In New York's Shiniest, Rex-1 saves April from being arrested by security guards. And these are the charges he recites:
Rex-1: (holding the guards) You are charged for disturbing the peace...
Fat guard: Put us down, you hunk of tin!
Rex-1: ...resisting arrest...
Thin guard: You ain't never gettin' away with this!
Rex-1: ...and using a double negative. (throws them on the wall)
- This was also used during the end of the episode The Maltese Hamster.
Donatello (narrative): Big Louie was arrested for robbery, racketeering, and pulling those little tags off of mattresses.
- Art Evolution: For the Red Sky seasons.
- Seasons 6 and 7 also have surprisingly improved animation.
- Artistic License – Engineering: In The Big Zipp Attack, Shredder and co. try to steal the top of a metal spike from the roof of a building. If the spike's top is removed, the entire building will fall over, as the construction of the building is somehow completely dependent on the top of the spike staying in place (even though the spike itself more or less resembles an antenna mast sticking out of a flat rooftop).
- Artistic License – Linguistics: In the episode where the Turtles are entrusted with the urn of Chakahachi, the urn's owner refers to them as "Turtle-sans". The correct plural for the "-san" honorific is "-san" (no final "s").
- Artistic License – Physics: Mona Lisa explains to Raphael that she was a college student that was going for her physics major, but in the flashback she is clearly using a chemistry set.
- Ascended Extra: The Shredder was killed in the first issue of the original comic. (Although he came back a few times, including in the form of a giant, mutant shark.) Here, he collaborates with Krang as the longtime Big Bad of the series.
- As You Know: Spoofed in the episode Super Rocksteady and Mighty Bebop:
Shredder: Only mutants are immune to the Mesmerizer's beam; humans like myself can't be near it when they set it off!
Krang: You don't have to explain it to me; I invented it, remember?
I wasn't explaining it to you... (points at the camera)
I was explaining it to them.
- And again in season 5's Enter Mutagen Man:
Krang: We must have that mutagen ready before the rocket takes off this afternoon!"
Shredder: I know, I know, you don't have to tell me!
Krang: I'M NOT! (looks at camera) I'm telling the audience.
- Atlantis: Plays a part in the episodes "The Lost Queen of Atlantis" and "Atlantis Awakes".
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Attack of the 50-Foot Irma.
- Also, Krang's robotic body was able to grow into this until the Ninja Turtles broke the microchip that enabled it to.
- In "Turtles Of The Jungle", a scientist accidentally enlarges a monkey, then enlarges Don to stop him.
- "Big Bug Blunder" had several giant bugs, created somewhat by accident by Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady (What I mean is it was their intention to make an army of giant ants, but instead Bebop and Rocksteady wasted most of Krang's chemical on only a couple of insects), which included an ant, a praying mantis, a wasp, and a fly. Cue giant monster fight.
- Awesome but Impractical: The Technodrome. Virtually unstoppable on occasion, but virtually unstartable the rest of the time, as its heavy fuel requirements and tendency to get stuck in various remote locations make it hard to manage.
- Back Up Twin: Barney Stockman would probably be this if he appeared more than once.
- Bad Boss: Shredder easily counts for this.
- Bad Future: Inverted in Once Upon A Time Machine, where the future is bright, clean and peaceful, because the Turtles did away with Shredder, Krang and their forces. Even the former members of the same gang as Bebop and Rocksteady took to living a life without crime. That is, until Bebop and Rocksteady get their former gang into the future, where there seems no law enforcement (or need thereof). The turtles, though, see themselves as not having aged well at all.
- Bad-Guy Bar: The Secret Hideout in "Farewell, Lotus Blossom".
- Badass: The turtles all fall under this.
- Badass Adorable: The Grybyx.
- Badass Longcoat: The turtles' trench coats. Also Rat King gets one in the eighth season.
- Badass Pacifist: M.A.C.C., the robot from the future.
- Bald of Awesome: The turtles of course.
- Baleful Polymorph: Baxter Stockman, after his transformation. Splinter to a lesser extent, though by the end of the second season he's come to fully accept his new self.
- Bare Your Midriff: Casey Jones, a rare male example. It doesn't make him any less intimidating though.
- Base on Wheels: The Technodrome.
- Belly Dancer: April and Irma are dressed like this in the episode Shredderville
- Beneath the Earth: The Technodrome in Season 1 and 3.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Kala's pet Grybyx is usually a sweet and docile creature, until you feed it the wrong kind of food.
- Also Irma, considering that she was able to defeat the Rat King after he paid more attention to April than her.
- There's also Donatello when he becomes the Dark Turtle.
- Big Bad: Shredder and Krang for most of the series, and later Lord Dregg.
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Krang and Shredder.
- Big Brother Bully: Shredder to his little brother Kazuo Saki.
- Also Walt to Zach initially.
- Bishōnen: Would you believe the Shredder? Without his mask, he's rather feminine.
- He appears out of costume in one episode wearing a pink shirt.
- "Saki" is a feminine name, lit. "blossom".
- Big Eater: Michaelangelo.
- The others had their moments as well.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Buffy Shellhammer, initially.
- Black Best Friend: Technically Bebop is this to Rocksteady, despite their mutations.
- Dr. Jane Goodfellow acts as this for Michaelangelo in the episode "What's Michaelangelo Good For".
- Also Marik to Landor.
- Blond Guys Are Evil: Baxter Stockman
- Bodyguard Crush: Rex-1 for April.
- Body Horror: Some of the mutations in the series are quite disgusting. The varying quality of the animation doesn't help it.
- Kraang, a non-mutagen example, especially in the first season. He's a bubbling, pulsating, wet, glistening, slimy blob of brains that burbles, groans and slurps with every motion.
- Mutagen Man, who consists of a throbbing brain, pulsating guts, chattering teeth and staring mad eyes in a heap of slime.
- The turtles themselves undergo this during the Red Sky episodes. The form Michaelangelo takes in the first episode of season 10 is particularly distorted, with mouth-like orifices in his arms that shoot energy weapons, distended limbs, craggy plates thrusting from his shell, bulging muscles and drooping, half-melted flesh.
- Body Swap: The Old Switcheroo, with Splinter and Shredder.
- Subverted in "Cowabunga Shredhead" with Shredder believing himself to be Michaelangelo. The entire episode is a Funny Moment.
- Also Raphael Drives Them Wild, with Raphael and Oscar the cab driver.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: The Shredder proves himself more than a match for the turtles in armed combat, yet on many occasions when confronted he 'escapes', often with the words "another time turtles!" Why another time? Why not now!?
- Bowdlerise: Over in the UK, Ireland and Germany, "ninja" has until more recently been a banned word, so the series (as well as the franchise as a whole) would be known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Also, all scenes where Mikey wields his signature nunchuks were cut as much as possible due to the weapon being illegal in real-life. By the later seasons, the series would see Mikey using a grappling-hook weapon instead just to get around these kind of problems.
- Although, the first few seasons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were eventually released uncensored on DVD in the UK.
- Brainy Brunette: April O' Neil, Irma, and Mona Lisa.
- Though April O' Neil is more of a redhead.
- Buffy Shellhammer and Foster Fenwick also.
- Bratty Half-Pint: Buffy Shellhammer and Foster Fenwick, at first.
- Also the Polarisoid Kids and the Starchild, initially.
- Breaking the Fourth Wall: Full stop.
- Breakout Character: Mikey became a hit with kids.
- Broken Aesop: The episode "Zach And The Alien Invaders". See Idiot Plot.
- Butt Monkey: Baxter Stockman. Unlike the original comic villain, who was his own entity, here Baxter is a shaky ally of Shredder, who eventually swears vengeance against both him and the turtles after they make his life a living hell. This status even carried over to his counterpart in the 2003 show; albeit in Darker and Edgier form.
- Bebop and Rocksteady can never catch a break.
- Not to mention Vernon. If anything bad happens to someone at Channel 6, you can bet he'll be the first person on the receiving end. But he usually deserves it anyway.
- By-the-Book Cop: Shredder's brother, Kazuo.
- Camera Abuse: In the intro, Raphael throws a pizza directly at the camera, with mushrooms and pepperoni sticking to the lens as the rest of it falls away.
- Camp Straight: Vernon. He's extremely wimpy and effeminate but he develops a crush on Irma in Super Irma.
- Canon Foreigner: A ton, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, and the Channel 6 crew being the most notable.
- Canon Immigrant:
- Antrax and Scumbug in Night of the Rogues. They are originally from the Archie Comics TMNT Adventures.
- Tokka and Rahzar from the second live-action film appeared in the episode Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter.
- The Case Of: The series had episodes titled "The Case of the Missing Pizza" and "Case of the Hot Kimono".
- Cassandra Truth: Donatello in "Too Hot to Handle".
- Catch Phrase: Several, with "Cowabunga" being far and away the most recognizable.
- "Turtle Power!"
- Donatello's catch phrase was "That was my favorite bo".
- Leonardo's catch phrase was "We've got to do something".
- Burne Thompson's was "Go go go go go go".
- Leatherhead's was "I guarantee", bordering on Verbal Tic.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The last three seasons are a mild example.
- Character Development: This is done extremely well with Lonely Rich Kid Buffy Shellhammer, who goes from a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing to a Defrosting Ice Queen and then to a Jerkass Woobie all in the course of one half-an-hour episode.
- Characterization Marches On: Vernon acts completely different in the first season.
- Chick Magnet: All the turtles fared pretty well in this department.
- Child Prodigy: The Starchild.
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Happened quite frequently. Nearly every episode would introduce a new ally of the turtles or a villain who swears revenge after being defeated, only to never be seen again. Many of the characters from the Lighter and Softer earlier seasons(The Punk Frogs, The Neutrinos, and Mondo Gecko, etc.) were nowhere to be seen in the Darker and Edgier Red Sky seasons.
- City of Adventure: New York City.
- City of Weirdos: Giant humanoid turtles fighting an army of mooks, flying around town in a giant blimp, and regularly appearing on the local television news doesn't warrant much comment or outrage from the locals.
- Clear My Name: This happened in several instances.
- Color-Coded Characters: In the Mirage comics, the Turtles all wore red bandanas (not that it mattered much in a black-and-white comic), leaving their distinct weapons as usually the best way to tell them apart. Obviously, this series didn't go that way - giving Leonardo blue, Donatello purple and Michaelangelo orange, while Raphael kept red. All succeeding adaptations have maintained this approach.
- Comm Links: The turtles communicators.
- Composite Character: In the original comics, Hamato Yoshi was murdered and his pet rat became mutated into Splinter. In this version, Yoshi himself is mutated into a rat-man. A rather poignant episode lampshaded the fact that Splinter was pretty lonely because of this, since he couldn't interact with other humans anymore.
- He was mostly a quiet man after all.
- Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The turtles' outfit of choice whenever outside the sewers.
- Convection Schmonvection: Lava arguably made more appearances than the teens from Dimension X in this show, but one particularly blatant incident occurs in an episode where a rock soldier accidentally knocks a special welding material into lava, turning the lava into an unknown yellow goo. Shredder inspects this substance by STICKING HIS HAND INTO IT AND PULLING SOME OUT. Hilariously, while he's standing right next to a red-hot puddle of lava, he does complain about the heat, but apparently the goo is cool to the touch. Suspension of disbelief aside, who sticks their bare hand into mysterious gelatinous substances like tha... oh. right. Splinter.
- Cool Airship: The Turtle Blimp.
- Cool Big Sis: April was somewhat like this to the turtles considering she is older than them at 28.
- Cool Car: The Turtle Van.
- Also the Neutrinos' cars, the Star Cruisers.
- Cool Old Guy: Master Splinter.
- Cool Old Lady: April's Aunt Agatha.
- Also Shredder's mom, for being able to put him in his place on numerous occasions.
- Cool Plane: The Turtle Blimp.
- Correspondence Course: Donatello used one to further his education beyond super genius, only to run into problems with getting the degree itself: he has to pick it up in person, and the university mistook him for "Miss Dona Tello". It turns out the owner of the university was looking for a mate as part of a Genius Breeding Act, which is why he wanted "Dona" to appear in person.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: This show had a few. Shredder was one briefly.
- Cute Bruiser: April and Irma had their moments of this.
- Cute but Cacophonic: Buffy Shellhammer.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: Irma, to an amazing degree.
- Cut the Juice: Second variety; April stops one menace of the week this way.
- Another time, she stops a generator from overloading by pulling the power plug. She stops a GENERATOR by UNPLUGGING it.
- Da Editor: Burne Thompson, April's boss.
- Damn, It Feels Good to Be a Gangster : Too many examples to list.
- Damsel in Distress: April O'Neil, to the point where Shredder once lampshades this by admitting that, when he can't come up with a decent plan, he just defaults to kidnapping her.
- Damsels out of Distress: April and Irma, Depending on the Writer, could fall into this.
- Darker and Edgier: The Red Sky Episodes.
- Dating Catwoman: Leonardo and Lotus Blossom, and Raphael and Mona Lisa.
- Deadpan Snarker: Raphael, to the point where he should be the picture for the trope.
- Also Shredder and Krang, usually with each other.
- Splinter. Fans tend to agree that he has some of the best lines in the show.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Buffy Shellhammer, who ends up being a cross between Lonely Rich Kid and Jerkass Woobie.
- Demoted to Extra: After Carter showed up, April was relegated to sitting in her apartment and researching stuff on the internet for all of Season 9 and the first few episodes of Season 10. Fortunately, she started taking a more active role in the final few episodes once Carter was written out.
- Delusions of Doghood: It's heavily implied (if not outright stated) that the Rat King actually believes himself to be a rat.
- Depending on the Writer: Every single character is subject to change. Poor Leonardo go hit by this the hardest and never seemed able to keep a consistent personality.
- Desperately Craves Affection: Irma, so very much.
- Destroyed For Real: [[spoiler: The Channel 6 building by Shredder in the first episode of season eight.]]
- The Dog Bites Back: The episode Bebop and Rocksteady Conquer The Universe features this.
- Baxter Stockman also had his own taste of this trope in a few of his appearances.
- Double Entendre: In the opening theme no less, Donatello does machines.
- Also this: http://failblog.org/2009/09/10/tnmt-win/
- In "Green With Jealousy", Rocksteady eats a slice of pizza with Shredder and Krang's love potion, figuring it would have no effect on him, only for him to fall madly in love with April when they encounter her at the submarine base.
Rocksteady: Come to me, my precious!
April: No way, horn head!
- In one episode, when Irma is helping the turtles on an undercover assignment, she is told to stand and wait for someone to pick her up (meaning wait for her ride). She scornfully replies that she isn't "hat kind of girl".
- The Dragon: Rocksteady and Bebop were Co-Dragons to The Shredder. Baxter Stockman was Shredder's Dragon for the first half of the second season.
- In the Red Sky seasons, Hi-Tech was Lord Dregg's Dragon in Season 9. He was later replaced by Mung in Season 10.
- Dragon-in-Chief: The Shredder sometimes falls into this starting in season 2 (though he's still the Big Bad, while Krang is a Bigger Bad), though the relationship between him and Krang is basically a Big Bad Duumvirate since the plan seems to be for both of them to rule the world.
- Drill Tank: The Technodrome's transport modules.
- Dumb Muscle: Bebop and Rocksteady.
- Also Slash and Leatherhead.
- Early Installment Weirdness: A relatively mild case — the show's tone and overall storyline remained pretty much intact from the first few episodes until the "Red Sky" era. The big differences were in the way the first season was animated, with a much more obvious anime/manga influence, but also being prone to moments of sloppiness and Off Model characters. Raphael was also more similar to his comic counterpart initially, to the point where he threatened to kill Baxter Stockman if he wouldn't tell the turtles where Shredder was.
- In his 1st few appearances, Krang was undisputed Nightmare Fuel. His later character design was a lot more cartoony, but still a bit creepy.
- Enfante Terrible: Shredder, as shown in the clips of his life from "Shredderville".
- Episode Title Card: For the first 3 and a half seasons.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: The episode "Shredder's Mom" proves that even Shredder himself is not immune to this trope.
- Everybody Laughs Ending: Too many times to count.
- Everyone Loves Blondes: Michaelangelo for Kala.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Mallory proves this.
- Also Baby Princess Tribble.
- Evil Counterpart: Mondo Gecko to Michaelangelo, at least until his Heel-Face Turn.
- Also Shredder to Splinter.
- Evil Knockoff: Metal Head, a robotic turtle.
- Also Slash, an evil mutant turtle.
- And Lex-1, Shredder's clone of Rex-1.
- Evil Redhead: Barney Stockman.
- Evil Twin: The Doku plant used to poison April is the evil twin to the identical looking Gazai plant used to cure April.
- Also Donatello's duplicate, and the duplicates of the other turtles that he creates.
- And The Turtle Terminator when it impersonates Irma.
- Expository Theme Tune
- Expy: Mr. Ogg, an alien with mannerisms and a laugh similar to Pee Wee Herman.
- Face-Heel Turn: Shortly before the entire Channel 6 staff was Put on a Bus, Vernon Fenwick ends up siding with Burne Thompson, and agreeing that the Turtles are a menace to society, and all because they didn't save the Channel 6 building from Shredder's explosive device in time.
- False Reassurance: This exchange from Shredderville, when the Turtles encounter the unmutated Bebop and Rocksteady.
Human Rocksteady: Turtles, huh? We like turtles.
Michelangelo: That's a relief.
- Fatal Flaw / Foreshadowing: The Turtles' Bad Future selves in "Once Upon A Time Machine" turn out to be everything Splinter warned them against earlier on. Specifically, Donatello turning blind from reading in poor light, Raphael's inability to work from excessively watching television, and Michelangelo's eating disorder.
- Fat Bastard: Titanus from H.A.V.O.C. is this.
- Feathered Fiend: Raptor from H.A.V.O.C. is this.
- Follow the Leader: The art style in the "Red Sky" era bore more than a little resemblance to the then hugely popular Batman: The Animated Series.
- For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: At the beginning of Super Irma, the Turtles don't know what they should wear to the Channel 6 Halloween party. Splinter suggests that they go as themselves, and they do.
- Fiery Redhead: April O' Neil.
- Fish People: Mona Lisa from Raphael Meets His Match. She's a former human mutated into a half-fish, half-reptile Mix-and-Match Critter.
- Also Alim "Merdude" Coelacanth from the episode Atlantis Awakes
- The episode "Rebel Without a Fin" has Ray, a mutant manta ray, and April gets turned into a fish woman.
- Five-Episode Pilot
- Flanderization: Bebop and Rocksteady weren't exactly smart in the first season, but were portrayed as serious threats to the turtles. Later seasons toned up their stupidity to ridiculous degrees, and made them even more incompetent.
- EVERYBODY on the show as time went on.
- Five-Man Band: The Turtles including their allies
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: To quote the theme song: Leonardo leads (melancholic); Donatello does machines (phlegmatic); Raphael is cool, but crude (choleric); Michaelangelo is a party dude (sanguine).
- Friend to All Living Things: Michaelangelo, who has had several pets in the past, including his pigeon Pete and his parrot Ditto.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: Baxter Stockman
- The Generic Guy: Leonardo when compared to his siblings. Some episodes tried to give him quirks of his own but sadly none of them stuck.
- This was actually deliberate, as Leonardo is described by the voice actors as "the setup guy", who allows the other characters to follow through with a great line.
- Genius Bruiser: Donatello.
- Genki Girl: Irma, when she becomes Super Irma!
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: Many examples:
- When the Turtles point at something, they use their middle finger (it doesn't help that they only have three fingers on each hand).
- In one episode, Shredder said, "Let me give you a hand... or better yet, a finger!"
- When April is taken hostage alongside the Turtles in one episode and is asked on any last words, she says, "I can think of a few, but they're not appropriate for television."
- The end of the first act of "The Lost Queen Of Atlantis" has a freeze frame of Shredder taking a magic amulet off of April while she's being restrained, which from the angle of the shot looks like he's grabbing April's breast and maniacally laughing at the same time.
- Raphael once said "Come on, chipheads!" "Chipheads" sounds oddly like "shitheads".
- As the group confronts Krang's body in one episode, Raph says, "Hurry up! We can't hold this bucking bag of bolts much longer!"
- Rocksteady once called Irma a "floozy". Sure, Irma may be a desperate and clingy girl, but she's certainly not a hoe or anything.
- In a world where the Turtles never existed April and Irma are Bebop and Rocksteady's scantily-clad servant girls. The word "harem" is even used.
- Girl of the Week: Mona Lisa. It seemed that she was being set up as Raphael's Love Interest, but she only appeared once.
- Goo Goo Godlike: The Neutrino Princess baby Tribble.
- Grand Finale: Divide and Conquer, though it was left open-ended in case more episodes were ordered.
- Great Gazoo: Mr. Ogg from Mr. Ogg Goes To Town.
- Green-Skinned Space Babe: Medusa in The Wrath of Medusa.
- Guttural Growler: Casey Jones, with a slight Eastwood accent. He never takes off his hockey mask in this incarnation.
- Hate Plague: A minor plot point in "Splinter No More" has the Shredder use his neuro-scrambler to make the Turtles hate each other and start fighting so he can keep them off his trail. It nearly succeeds until April calls them out on their behavior and gets them to destroy the device so they can go back to normal.
- Heel-Face Turn: Mondo Gecko.
- Muckman and Joe Eyeball.
- Lotus Blossom.
- Hello, Nurse!: Dr. Jane Goodfellow
- April acts as this whenever the Turtles or Splinter are sick or injured.
- Heroes Want Redheads: The turtles prove this every time they save April.
- Heroes with Bad Publicity: Burne Thompson would invariably paint the turtles as a menace, regardless of the evidence.
- It was even a plot point of the Red Sky era.
- After Burne got Put on a Bus, Lord Dregg uses this for his own advantage.
- Heroic Sacrifice: Splinter destroys the Retro-Mutagen Ray to save the turtles from Shredder, which was the only way to return to being human again.
- Landor and Marik pull one of these in their first appearance to save the turtles.
- Subverted with Krakus, when he willingly allows himself to be mutated to save April, but is unaware that his mutation is actually temporary, and reverts back to normal after he saves her.
- Highly-Visible Ninja: The Turtles, who can frequently be seeing putting around on a blimp. With a giant "Turtles" on it.
- Not to mention the Turtle Van, which was customized with armored plates resembling turtle shells and laser turrets on the roof.
- The Turtles themselves weren't quite that astute at not letting people see them, they were known by the general public (it probably didn't help that April kept filming them though). Even Shredder, a proclaimed "ninja master", wore outlandish Samurai armor and would often broadcast threats with as much publicity as Dr. Doom.
- Honest Corporate Executive: Donald J. Lofty, a minor recurring character in the fourth season who once fired one of his employees for attempting to scam the city and was also notable for being one of the few people aside from April O'Neil who actually trusts the Turtles.
- Hot Goddess: April wearing a magical amulet in the episode "The Lost Queen Of Atlantis".
- Hot Scoop: April O'Neil.
- Hot Scientist: Mona Lisa before her mutation.
- Hot Witch: Tempestra and Shreeka.
- Hour of Power: The turtles' super forms in the Japanese OVA.
- Humanity Ensues: Temporarily occurs to Michelangelo in the episode The Gang's All Here.
- Hurricane of Puns: The episode "Mutagen Monster", where the mere presence of a mutated bull leads the episode to be full of cow puns. Raphael even says the Wendy's slogan "Where's the Beef?" in the same voice as in the commercial.
- Hypocritical Humor: In the first episode, The Shredder, upon seeing the Turtles, says to himself that the Turtles must not discover his Technodrome. He then proceeds to loudly announce "All Foot Soldiers return to the Technodrome". And yes, the Turtles manage to hear the announcement.
- Iconic Outfit: April's yellow jumpsuit.
- The turtles' masks and Shredder's outfit.
- Krang's android body, due to how freaking weird it looks.
- Bebop and Rocksteady's regalia are also rather unusual and likely to stand out.
- Identical Stranger: Princess Mallory, to April, in the episode April's Fool.
- Idiot Ball: As the plot required.
- I Know Madden Kombat: Casey Jones attacked villains with various sports equipment like baseball bats and hockey sticks. In season eight, he gets a sword and faces off against Shredder, which could be a fencing reference.
- Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: No matter how much ammo the bad guys use, they almost never hit their targets.
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: The Neutrinos.
- Incredible Shrinking Man: Twice: once in The Incredible Shrinking Turtles and again in Funny, They Shrunk Michelangelo.
- Innocent Prodigy: Baby Tribble and The Starchild.
- Instant Awesome, Just Add Mecha: The episode "Cyber Turtles" featured this.
- Insufferable Genius: Krang.
- Also Foster Fenwick.
- And Donatello's duplicate.
- Insult Backfire:
Shredder: Krang, you are insufferably cruel.
Krang: Thank you.
- Interspecies Romance: On several occasions.
- Ironic Echo Cut: In Donatello's Degree, when the other turtles can't locate Don, we get one of these combined with a Fourth Wall break:
Mike: If I know that dude, he's probably hanging out at the library.
Don: Actually, Michelangelo's right. I am hanging out at the library.
- Irony: M.A.C.C., a friendly and peace loving robot from the future is built with some of the most destructive weapons around.
- He's also shown blasting rock soldiers in to gravel, one of the few times in the show where a sentient being is unambiguously killed.
- It Will Never Catch On: This was actually Pat Fraley's initial reaction upon hearing the title "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" at his audition for Krang, saying that nobody would watch a cartoon with a stupid title like that.
- Japanese Honorifics: In one episode, both Shredder and Splinter attempt to sway the spirit of Shibano-sama.
- In the episode where the Turtles are entrusted with the urn of Chakahachi, the owner of the urn refers to them as Turtle-sans.
- Jerkass Genie: Mr. Ogg fits this to a tee.
- Just Eat Gilligan: Krang and Shredder would have much less trouble taking over the world if they'd just get rid of Bebop and Rocksteady. Or stop trying to get the Technodrome to work.
- Just Ignore It: Once, and only once in "Rock Around The Block", the turtles stopped the Technodrome by doing nothing.
- Kid-Appeal Character: Zack is this so bad it's not even funny.
- Killer Rabbit: Usagi Yojimbo is a literally variation to the Foot Soldiers.
- Knight of Cerebus: Lord Dregg is said to be more serious than the Shredder and his incompetent goons.
- H.A.V.O.C. was this in Season Eight.
- Large Ham: Shredder, Krang, and many of the villains.
- Leeroy Jenkins: Shredder.
- Likes Older Women: Michaelangelo has been shown to have a little bit of a crush on April, despite only being a teenager and she's nearly thirty, though this is completely justified considering her appearance.
- Also Donatello shows the same signs as Michaelangelo towards April which are once again justified, but this is inverted with Irma who seems to have a slight crush on him at times.
- Raphael for Mona Lisa, considering that he's still somewhere in his mid teens, and she's a college student who's probably in her late teens.
- Leonardo for Lotus Blossom also applies.
- Lighter and Fluffier: Especially in comparison to the original comics, but also the first season compared to most of the ones that followed, and in turn those seasons compared to the "Red Sky" seasons.
- Having said that, the series was still criticized for being Darker and Edgier compared to most other animated shows at the time. Considering the restrictions the creators had to work under, it's actually a small miracle that the series didn't end up a total bastardization of the original comics.
- Peter Laird said in an interview that, faced with the reality of needing to water down his creation for a younger audience, he largely let the show's staff do it for him. This may have been a wise choice on his part, as had he tried to do a more comic-acurate version in the face of the rigid censorship of The Eighties, it quite possibly would have come off as a total bastardization of the comics. As it was, it came off as an extremely loose adaptation but very entertaining when taken as its own entity.
- Raph and Shredder also fall under this trope, with Raph being far less hot-headed (and more sarcastic) and Shredder being more ineffectual and comedic (although still skilled at martial arts and a potential threat).
- The Load: Vernon Fenwick.
- Lolicon: A mild example. In Poor Little Rich Turtle Michaelangelo (who's at least 15-16) has a very large crush on Buffy, who's 11 or 12 at most.
- Long Runners: With nine years, ten seasons, and almost two hundred episodes to its name, this was the Gunsmoke of Saturday morning cartoons. It was the longest running cartoon until The Simpsons came along.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Buffy Shellhammer from "Poor Little Rich Turtle".
- Lovable Nerd: Donatello and Irma.
- Mad Scientist: Baxter Stockman.
- Married to the Job: April O'Neil
- Masochist's Meal: Most of Michaelangelo's choices of pizza topping combos (tuna fish, peanut butter and grape jelly, anyone?)—and yes, it was lampshaded. Cinemassacre later made some of the show's various gross-out combinations and sampled them.
- Masquerade Ball: In April's Fool.
- May-December Romance:
- A lot, but Leonardo and Lotus Blossom is probably the best example of this.
- A squickier example is the canonically fifty-year-old Burne and his girlfriend Tiffany, who looks nineteen.
- Meaningful Echo: In the first episode of the Red Sky series, Shedder and his minions are pinned down by police as they try to retrive a device they need. Shredder hurls a trashcan which he says are filled with explosives at the cops, causing them to scatter. After they make their escape, Bebop and Rocksteady compliment him on his bluff. The trashcan explodes in the back ground, with Shredder stating, "I never bluff." Much later, Shredder has taken the Channel 6 building hostage, and has to threatened to blow it up if the Turtles don't meet him in a certain amount of time. When they get there, they see that the building is still standing, causing them to assume he was bluffing. What does Shredder have to say? "I never bluff." What follows is easily the most dramatic moment in the series.
- Meaningful Name: Many characters had these.
- Meaningless Villain Victory: In "April Fool" Shredder manages to get away with a rare isotope. Unfortunately for the bad guys, the isotope is unstable under high atmospheric pressures (especially those deep within the Earth), and the sample explodes after the Shredder returns to the Technodrome parked many miles beneath the Earth's surface.
- Mecha-Mooks: Krang's Foot Soldiers.
- Medium Awareness: A regular feature of the series.
- Meganekko: Irma.
- Mighty Glacier: Rex-1.
- Monster of the Week: More common in the earlier seasons, the turtles would often fight a new one-shot villain that either has a connection with Shredder and Krang or is working of their own accord. Alien warlords, other mutants, criminal gangs, evil robots, mad scientists. Name it, and chances are the turtles have faced them at least once.
- Moral Dissonance: Poor Baxter Stockman.
- Moral Guardians: The British censors. "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?! No, no; far too violent. Let's call them Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles! Much better!"
- Motive Decay: This is explicitly pointed out with Dregg. At first he's just trying to take over the world. By the last episode, the turtles have thwarted his schemes so much that he's driven purely by the desire to kill them. Even his right-hand henchman calls him crazy to his face.
- Mysterious Past: We know absolutely nothing about the Rat King's backstory.
- Krang too. What little we know of him actually seems to contradict itself.
- Nano Machines: Lord Dregg's "micro-bots".
- The Napoleon: Krang.
- Napoleon Delusion: A Napoleon wannabe is in the insane asylum with Baxter Stockman in the episode "Return of the Shredder," voiced by Peter Cullen.
- Nerds Are Sexy: Irma Langenstein.
- Never Say "Die": Technically played straight initially although averted later on starting with the second season considering that characters and monsters (mostly the latter) actually die pretty often.
- Ninja: This one's a given.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: A Morton Downey Jr. type talk show host in "Turtles on Trial".
- No Fourth Wall: The Turtles and Shredder quite often stop to address the audience.
- No One Else Is That Dumb: When Bebop and Rocksteady meet some friends from before they were turned into mutants, they have to prove to their friends who they are. Rocksteady runs towards a wall and hits it with his head and it convinces their friends because they don't believe anybody other than Bebop and Rocksteady would do anything that stupid.
- Non-Lethal Warfare
- Non-Mammal Mammaries: Justified with Mona Lisa because she was human before her mutation.
- Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The Red Sky episodes.
- Number Two for Brains: Bebop and Rocksteady. Note they fall under both The Dragon and Dumb Muscle.
- Off Model: The show fell victim to this quite a bit, especially in later seasons. The Grybyx is a good example, and Mister Ogg Goes To Town in its entirety qualifies for this.
- A good indication to discern whether or not an episode was animated in Japan is if the characters on the wall scroll in the Turtle's lair is spelled correctly (日本, which means Japan).
- The Vacation in Europe episodes are probably the worst for this, as they were animated by a European studio with a much smaller budget than the rest of the series. Season 9 suffers a similar issue.
- Older Than They Look: Zack the Tagalong Kid claims he's "almost fourteen". He looks eight.
- He acts like a little kid in his later appearances, so it's possible he might just be lying.
- Also April who's 28 years old, considering that she looks like she just hit her twenties, but is almost thirty.
- Buffy Shellhammer who's 15 looks like she just hit puberty, but apparently she's around the same age as Michaelangelo.
- Orient Express: "Turtles on the Orient Express"
- Out of Order: Episodes 3 and 4 were shown the other way around on VHS, so kids who didn't see them when they first aired on TV (stations didn't re-air the earliest episodes often) would often wind up confused about who this Baxter Stockman fellow was.
- Also, a lot of the episodes on DVD are out of order too.
- More than that, several episodes, (especially in season 4 and the vacation arc) don't make sense in their original airing order, and even have some continuity errors. "Tower of Power", the premier of the vacation arc, shows the Turtles leaving for Europe, and foiling one of Shredder's plans in Paris, but its the *next* episode "Rust Never Sleeps" that shows Shredder actually learning of the Turtles trip to Europe. In another example, "The Dimension X Story" which aired 3/4ths of the way through season 4, has the characters surprised that Shredder has found a way to return to Earth, even though its been happening all season. It also shows the turtles' dimensional portal blowing up, an event that was mentioned specifically in the episode that aired *before* it.
- The episode "Leonardo is Missing" which aired 3/4ths of the way through season 6, is obviously a displaced season 5 episode, as the technodrome is still stuck in the arctic, rather than being at the bottom of the sea.
- The VHS of "Cowabunga Shredhead" (a season 3 episode) includes "New York's Shiniest" (a season 2 episode).
- Parenthetical Swearing: After Shredder destroys the Channel 6 building, with the turtles thinking their friends were still inside Leonardo's line "You miserable maggot!" is said with so much bile and restrained fury that one can easily hear him say "You lousy son of a bitch!"
- Warthog Man: Bebop.
- Pink Means Feminine: Princess Mallory in "April Fool" has a pink dress.
- Pity the Kidnapper: In "Turtle Terminator", Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady all learn that kidnapping Irma is really not a good idea.
- Plucky Girl: April.
- Powered Armor: The turtles don these in the episode "Cyber Turtles".
- Pragmatic Adaptation: Admittedly, it's one of the most loose of all the Turtles adaptations, but, it does a pretty good job of telling a completely different story.
- Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Mallory in "April Fool".
- Purple Is Powerful: The Starchild.
- Put on a Bus: The Technodrome villains and the Channel 6 crew (except April), once the retool occurred.
- Though Shredder and Krang would return for a three episode special in the tenth and last season.
- Casey Jones was put on a bus as well, until the eighth season.
- This was common for many of the show's guest characters. Some characters that were put on a bus never came back.
- Putting a Hand over His Mouth: Happens to April sometimes when she gets captured. Sometimes the turtles do it to April or Irma, as well.
- The Psycho Rangers: The Punk Frogs are a notable subversion, as they are tricked into believing that the turtles are the bad guys.
- Psychopathic Manchild: Bebop and Rocksteady were shown to spend a lot of their downtime playing video games, reading comic books, and watching cartoons. Bebop even was shown to still believe in the Tooth Fairy when he heard Shredder sarcastically say "No, it's the Tooth Fairy" in response to Rocksteady asking him if he was The Shredder.
- Race Lift: Baxter Stockman, from African American to Caucasian (and vaguely European), because the writers didn't think that having the only black person in the cast be a villain would sit too well with audiences.
- Another reason in Baxter's case is that the writers feared that Shredder constantly abusing his black assistant would be seen as racist.
- Although many people forget that Bebop was African American before his mutation.
- Real Men Wear Pink: Vernon. And surprisingly (or not so surprisingly), Shredder in one episode.
- Splinter's kimono looks like pink, or is it some light purple?
- Red-Headed Heroine: April O'Neil.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The Dark Turtle.
- Also Baxter Stockman.
- Also Lord Dregg, who naturally has red glowing eyes.
- Also the Rat King in the Red Sky episodes. Earlier, he was morally ambiguous, helping both the Turtles and their friends, as well as Shredder and his associates. Once his eyes began to glow red, he was totally evil.
- Red Sky, Take Warning: While there's no explanation for the skies turning red, things took a turn for the worse once they did- for the Turtles and their city. Either way, it's a warning for the viewers- the show wasn't as much fun since the change.
- Remember the New Guy: Antrax and Scumbug in "Night of the Rogues".
- Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The main turtles, having sufficient Turtle Power, are depicted with minimal reptilian features. Other characters, like Slash and Leatherhead, may have more pronounced reptilian traits (scales, spikes, claws).
- Retcon: The third season finale showed the Technodrome being destroyed as a result of an inadvertent attack by Krang's allies, and then crashing at high-speed into a huge battlestation. The fourth season premiere changed this to the Technodrome being badly damaged in the attack and then having a relatively soft landing on an asteroid.
- Retool: The Red Sky seasons.
- Rhino Rampage: Rocksteady.
- Rich Bitch: Buffy Shellhammer, until she takes a level in kindness.
- Right-Hand Hottie: Haypax Legomina to Alim after he becomes king.
- The Rival: Vernon for April, Depending on the Writer.
- Robotic Reveal: "Did you just say 'clang'?"
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Baby Princess Tribble, who inadvertently helps the turtles defeat Shredder once.
- Princess Mallory also counts.
- Also Alim.
- The Rat King has his moments of this.
- Rushmore Refacement: In one episode, Raphael theorized this was why Shredder and Krang went to Mt. Rushmore. He was wrong.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Buffy Shellhammer, at first.
- Screw the Rules, I Have Supernatural Powers!: Mr. Ogg.
- Schmuck Bait: In the episode "Shredder's Mom", Shredder's mom was able to trick the turtles into walking right into the Technodrome's trash compactor by taping a paper sign that said "This way to computer room" on the door.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: Tempestra from Leonardo vs. Tempestra, who was imprisoned in an arcade video game and released when Leonardo made it to the final level.
- Second Episode Introduction: Krang.
- Second Super-Identity: After an accident, Donatello becomes Dark Turtle.
- Servile Snarker: Bebop and Rocksteady had their moments of this.
- Sexy Secretary: Irma Langenstein.
- She Cleans Up Nicely: April, in the episode "April's Fool".
- Of course, April is always hot no matter what. It was just nice to see her in something other than a yellow jumpsuit for a change.
- Irma also has her moments of this.
- Ship Tease: Donatello and Irma get some of this.
- She Is Not My Girlfriend: Zack says this of Caitlin in "The Great Boldini".
- Shoo Out the Clowns: Burne, Vernon, and Irma were Put on a Bus sometime in the Red Sky seasons, but not before Burne blamed the destruction of the Channel 6 headquarters on the Turtles, and used Channel 6's airwaves for a virulent anti-Turtle media blitz.
- Shoo Out the New Guy: Howie (a songwriter and a potential boyfriend for Irma) appeared in two straight episodes and was never heard from again.
- Shout-Out: As a Long Runner, even once a season would add up.
- To Leave It to Beaver, in an episode that had Beaver and Wally Cleaver reimagined as mobsters. No, seriously.
- Also the monsters in the episode The Case Of The Killer Pizzas look a lot like another famous movie monster.
- The episode Night Of The Dark Turtle is an obvious parody of Batman.
- Rex-1 from the episode New York's Shiniest is pretty much a redesigned Robocop.
- One episode had Krang stealing a military robot that looks like ED-209.
- Irma Langenstein doesn't look like Jeanette of The Chipettes by accident... half a season of Alvin and the Chipmunks was animated by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson (the other half was animated by DiC Entertainment), then Irma was introduced on TMNT the following season.
- Many references to monster movies, which the Turtles are always seen tuning in to on TV. Heck, some of the episode titles even sound like the names of B-movies. Examples of such titles:
- "Attack of the 50-Foot Irma"
- "Phantom of the Sewers", actually a reference to The Phantom of the Opera.
- "The Beginning of the End", also the name of a 1957 B-movie about a giant grasshopper.
- "Return of the Fly", which itself was also the name of the sequel to the original The Fly film released in 1959. The last two episodes are references to the films In Name Only, however.
- "Son of Return of The Fly II"
- "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles"
- "It Came From Beneath the Sewers"
- "Curse of the Evil Eye"
- "Invasion of the Punk Frogs"
- "Teenagers From Dimension X"
- "The Catwoman From Channel Six"
- "Plan Six From Outer Space"
- "Were-Rats From Channel 6", which also makes a Shout-Out to the Gypsy fortune teller Maleva from The Wolf Man (1941).
- The Turtles have a poster of a three-headed dragon throughout the series, which seems to be King Ghidorah from the Godzilla series.
- The episode "Nightmare in the Lair" is a reference to the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with a Freddy Krueger-type character named Creepy Eddie.
- From the episode "The Big Break-In", a war machine resembling the Martian spaceships in The War of the Worlds (the 1953 film).
- Beyond the title of the episode being a movie reference, "Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers" has aliens named Klaatu, Barada and Nikto, all references to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Nikto's toy capable of destroying the world looks just like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
- The episode "Rondo in New York" is a tribute to the Universal Horror monsters and also has an Expy of Rambo that is named Rondo. Krang and Shredder use a substance to bring Rondo, originally just a movie character, into the real world (alongside all the other movie characters).
- At the end of one episode, Leonardo says "There's no place like home", as a reference to The Wizard of Oz. The movie is referenced in another episode where a hologram of Donatello says like the Wicked Witch of the West, "I'm melting! I'm melting!"
- In an episode where the Punk Frogs confront Leatherhead, one says, "Who you gonna call? Gatorbusters?
- The Terminator is referenced in one episode when the turtles see a version of The Ahnold saying in a thick Austrian accent, "I'll be back!"
- One episode has a turtle talking about "jamming the flux capacitor".
- One episode has Baxter's invention exploding because he "forgot to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow".
- In one episode, Michelangelo says like Bart Simpson, "Don't have a cow, man." Raph reminds Mikey this is the "wrong show".
- Another episode has the Transfarmers, which are robots that turn into farm machinery.
- The show is just full of references to Star Wars and Star Trek.
- When the Turtles are seen playing video games, sometimes the sound effects are taken from the ill-fated Atari 2600 version of Video Game/Pac-Man.
- From "Turtles on Trial", Bebop and Rocksteady are seen watching The Slurps, a thinly disguised parody of The Smurfs.
- The Polarisoid's camera, which captures the target and traps it inside, is a parody of the Polaroid camera, which takes a photograph and prints it instantly.
- MACC the robot from "Attack of Big MACC" resembles Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. He even calls a TV camera "Number 5".
- In "The Gang's All Here", when Michelangelo becomes human:
'Michelangelo: Bright lights, Big city, here comes Michael J. Angelo". note
- Sibling Yin-Yang: The villainous Shredder's younger brother Kazuo Saki is actually a cop fighting for justice.
- Also the turtles amongst themselves.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: This basically sums up Irma in a nutshell.
- Sinister Schnoz: Granitor, the gray Rock Soldier from the episode Hot-Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X.
- Snow Means Cold: In Take Me to Your Leader, Shredder and Krang use a Solar Siphon to drain the sun's energy and make the Earth cold. The turtles discover something's amiss when it starts snowing in July.
- Soap Within a Show: Krang is shown to have a specific fondness for a soap opera of the "Oh John! Oh Marsha!" variety. In fact, that's pretty much all the show seems to be.
- Spared by the Adaptation: Hamato Yoshi. Originally, he was killed. In this series, he was instead turned into a rat-like mutant.
- Square/Cube Law: The series runs afoul of this in "Attack of th 50-Foot Irma". At the end, when restored to her normal size, Irma comments that she lost 10,000 pounds. Given that the writers are off by an order of magnitude, it looks like they squared rather than cubed the difference.
- Standard Female Grab Area: Constantly used on April.
- Also on Irma every so often.
- The Starscream: Baxter Stockman was briefly this to Shredder in "Curse of the Evil Eye", the conclusion of the Eye of Sarnath arc.
- Stay in the Kitchen: In "The Turtle Terminator", after Shredder has Bebop and Rocksteady kidnap Irma, what do they do with her? Well, first, they have the Turtle Terminator assume her form... then, they make her cook for them. However, Irma's lack of cooking skills results in her burning their lunch.
Shredder: How humiliating... the future ruler of the universe reduced to eating Chinese takeout!
- Stone Wall: General Tragg and the rock soldiers to a literal extent.
- Straw Loser: Vernon to April.
- Surfer Dude: Michaelangelo.
- Surrounded by Idiots: Krang actually says a variation of this in "The Dimension X Story". "Morons! I'm surrounded by morons!"
- Shredder laments this quite frequently.
- Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Shredder, most definitely.
- This is actually lampshaded multiple times throughout the series.
- Swiss Cheese Security: The Technodrome, which the turtles would usually infiltrate with ridiculous ease.
- Tagalong Kid: Zack, a young kid in a turtle costume and so-called "fifth turtle".
- Take That: One episode (Raphael meets his match) started with the turtles complaining a lot about tiny pizzas available at Pick A Peck O' Pizza, which is owned by McDonald Crump.
- Teen Genius: Donatello.
- Also Zack, the "fifth turtle".
- His friend Caitlin also falls under this.
- Also Buffy Shellhammer, who was able to use Shredder's own technology against him and trick him into making the wrong formula to free the Technodrome. Instead of rocket fuel, it turned out to be firework fuel.
- Also Vernon's nephew Foster Fenwick, who creates a solar magnet that is actually powerful enough to draw the Earth towards the sun. Subverted as he's stated to be 11.
- Terrible Trio: The Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady.
- Theme Naming: The turtles are, of course, named after artists, then there's Bebop and Rocksteady (both musical genres) and Splinter/Shredder (both destructive).
- The punk frogs are named after historical tyrants who are Shredder's heroes.
- Theme Tune Roll Call
- The Ahnold: Hanz and Fitz in "Planet Of The Turtles" and Wally Airhead, along with his gang in "Leonardo Cuts Loose".
- The Renaissance Age of Animation
- The Lava Caves Of New York: Trope Codifier. For something often surrounded by lava, the turtles don't have to walk very far underground in order to find the Technodrome. In fact, a few times, lava lakes apparently existed just below the sewers (if not in them)
- This Is a Drill: The transport modules that Shredder and the other villains used most of the time.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Shredder's attitude towards Splinter and the Turtles, so much so that they taunt him with it over the interstellar radio from a slave camp on Dimension X. His twisted code of ninja ethics forces him to bring them back to Earth...where they proceed to defeat Krang's bid for global domination.
- Those Two Bad Guys: Bebop and Rocksteady.
- ˇThree Amigos!: The Neutrinos.
- Title Drop:
- "Turtles, Turtles Everywhere"
Shredder: Turtles, turtles everywhere. And not a blasted ninja among them.
- "Four Turtles and a Baby"
Krang: Outwitted by four turtles and a baby. Unbelievable.
Donatello: Lighten up, Leonardo!
Raphael: Leonardo, do yourself a favor and try to lighten up.
Michelangelo: You ought work on some invention that'll lighten up Leonardo.
Donatello: We all wanted Leonardo to lighten up, remember?
- Title Theme Tune
- Token Minority: Carter and possibly Irma.
- Technically Bebop counts considering he was African-American before his transformation.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: April and Irma respectively.
- Took a Level in Badass: Irma, on several occasions.
- Also Donatello when he becomes the Dark Turtle.
- Also Shredder, when he's the chairman of Octopus Inc. He actually gets things right, with frightening (for the Turtles) results. Until a sprinkling of water changes things. This was before the Red Sky seasons.
- Totally Radical: The turtles, especially Mikey. The Neutrinos take it Up to Eleven.
- Justified with the turtles, since, in the first episode, Michelangelo tells April that they learnt all about humans from watching TV.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Pizza. And how!
- Transformation Ray: Many.
- True Blue Femininity: Irma, Tempestra, Haypax Legomina, and Medusa.
- Tsundere: Buffy Shellhammer.
- Two Guys and a Girl: The Neutrinos, Zack, Dask, and Kala.
- Also April's co-workers Burne, Vernon, and Irma.
- Undying Loyalty: The turtles to Splinter.
- Also Haypax Legomina to Alim, which is why she is made his personal adviser when he becomes king.
- Vague Age: Irma looks and acts like a young teenager but is apparently old enough to own an apartment and have a steady job.
- And to a lesser extent, Shredder.
- Even more so with Splinter, he sounds and acts like a very old man, but in his human form he can't be above early 40's.
- Victory Is Boring
- Video Phone: The "turtle communicators" use a video screen and camera.
- Villain Ball: Shredder and Krang nearly won on numerous times but lost due to not disposing of The Turtles when they had a chance or making a blunder. Or trusting Bebop and Rocksteady to do something right.
- For example, in Metalhead The Robot has them tied up and ready to destroy them but Krang orders it to bring them back to The Technodrome, that allows The Turtles to escape and short curcuit it.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: The Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady, invariably.
- Villain Team-Up: Happened quite a bit.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Lord Dregg, initially. That is until the Turtles unmasked him to the people at the end of season 9.
- Villainous Crush: Strangely enough, Shredder sometimes seems blatantly attracted to April in some episodes. It really depends on the writer, though.
- Wanting Is Better Than Having: In a Be Careful What You Wish For episode, the Turtles were in an alternate universe where they didn't exist, Shredder conquered the Earth and had to deal with the headaches and paperwork that went with managing Earth. When he heard of an Earth where he hadn't conquered it, he wanted to go there and escape the one he had (as it proved to be too much for him to handle).
- Wasn't That Fun?: One of the episodes in the final season sees the Turtles go off a waterfall, which then sees Mikey saying "let's do it again!"
- Wait, What? Whoa: In Burne's Blues, Burne and Vernon spend the entire episode unsuccessfully looking for a news story about the Turtles. Just as soon as the reporters find the Turtles frozen on a factory loading dock, the two get randomly abducted by aliens that look like Elvis.
- We Want Our Jerk Back: In "Leonardo Lightens Up", the Turtles accidentally shot a ray at Leonardo, changing his personality. The good news he's no longer a control freak since Splinter put him in charge while he's gone, and just wants to have fun. The bad news, he's also now a uncontrollable prankster.
Dudes, it looks like using the personality modifying ray on Leonardo was a real no-brainer. Raphael:
Well that figures, it was your idea
. Michelangelo: Yeah, well it was yours too, dude! Donatello:
Okay, let's not argue. We all
wanted Leonardo to lighten up, remember? Michelangelo:
Yeah, but not like this! The dude's turned into a walking whoopee cushion. Donatello:
I never thought I'd stay this, but I'm actually starting to miss the old
- Wham Line: "I never bluff!" The line Shredder says before he destroys the Channel 6 news building in the first episode of season eight.
- Also in "Donatello's Degree", the end of the first act features Donatello being attacked by two nerdy henchmen of the Big Bad and saying that they must be joking to take him on. The henchmen quickly bulk up and respond "If we're joking, then you're about to ''die'' laughing!
- And in "My Brother The Bad Guy", the end of the second act has Splinter facing off against the Kojima Brothers, who were recently resurrected and saying that they have been deceased for centuries and that he doesn't believe in ghosts. The Kojima Brothers response to Splinter is "It is not necessary for you to believe in us for us to destroy you!"
- Wham Episode: The first episode of season eight Get Shredder mainly because of the ending where Shredder destroys the Channel 6 news building.
- "Enter: The Fly" initially starts out with the status quo from the second season: Shredder attempting to cause mayhem with whatever help he can get from Baxter thanks to Krang cutting him off in the premiere. Then quickly everything changes, as Bebop and Rocksteady return to take their place at the Shredder's side while he regains access to Krang's armament, Shredder attempts to by trying to kill April (not capture mind you, but KILL), and a botched attempt by Krang to vaporize Baxter cause him to instead be transformed into a half-human, half-fly creature in one of the most disturbing scenes in the show.
- What the Hell Is That Accent?: Baxter Stockman has an accent. Just..an accent.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In a later season we learn that Leonardo is terrified of snakes.
- White Sheep: Kazuo Saki compared to his big brother Shredder and their mother.
- Wolverine Publicity: Michaelangelo.
- Wonderful Life: The episode Shredderville.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Macc, the robot from the future when he becomes Brainwashed and Crazy due to Krang's docilizer.
- Would Hit a Girl: Raphael has absolutely no reserves about tackling Mona Lisa to ground when he thinks she's trying to take over the ship their sailing on.
- Also Shredder has no problem physically threatening April and Irma in multiple episodes.
- Wrecked Weapon: Donatello's bos were constantly getting broken. One wonders why he never upgraded to a steel pole or something a bit sturdier.
- The X of Y: A few examples; probably the most well-known is the Eye of Sarnath, an alien artefact that formed a Story Arc for the first half of season two.
- Yandere: The alien computer Zee for Baxter Stockman, a (possibly) non-romantic example.
- Irma can show signs of being one.
- You Have Failed Me/You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: These are Shredder's reasons for sending Baxter into Dimension X, and sacrificing him so that Bebop and Rocksteady can be sent to help fight against the turtles.
- Krang also did this to Berserko, as explained by the eight season opener.
- Dregg does this to his number one man Hi-Tech in the tenth seasons premiere, by launching him into space. He later does it in the series finale to Mung by leaving him at the mercy of his nanobots.
- Younger Than They Look: Baxter Stockman. He looks like a middle-aged man but is implied to be younger than Shredder.
- Your Costume Needs Work: In Super Irma, Vernon isn't impressed when the Turtles show up as themselves to the Channel Six Halloween party.
Vernon: Hmm, I don't think they're realistic at all! I've met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and you don't look a bit like them.