Western Animation: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)
Turtles count it off!
Live by the code of the martial arts
Never fight unless someone else starts
Always stick together no matter what
If all else fails then it's time to kick butt!
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 original 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, and links to its other incarnations, 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. There's also a recap page.
This show provides examples of:
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.
Neither the title character of "I, Monster" nor the Eldritch Abominationwho was the real founder of New York from "The Darkness Within" ever appeared again, despite the endings of their respective episodes implying they would.
Another Story For Another Time: In the third episode, Splinter tells April about how he and the Turtles were mutated. When she asked how did they learned martial arts, he tells her "that is a story for another time".
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 organizations, superheroes, cryptids, aliens, and mystical forces, yet a giant alligator (mutated in the same way they were) is unbelievable.
A-Team Firing: Occurs often with both lasers and bullets. One heroic example would be in Same As It Never Was: Donny sprays the Shredder's giant exosuit with the two gatling guns on his own exosuit's shoulders, and not one of the bullets hits Ch'rell, who is completely exposed in this particular exosuit.
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 outbreak and the Heart of Tengu in "Good Genes".
Other examples include:
"The Shredder Strikes Back" where Leo is beaten to near death at the hands of he Foot Elite and April's shop is burned down.
"Exodus" is an interesting case. The turtles and Splinter beaten pretty badly. Their only option is to blow up Shredder's Starship and everyone on board including themselves. At the last second, the Utroms arrive and save everyone with the Utrom Shredder being exiled on an icy asteroid never to be seen or heard again until Turtles Forever.
"The Beginning of the End" ends with the Foot Mystics seemingly killing the Ninja Tribunal and their human acolytes while escaping with the Tengu Shredder's helmet, gauntlet, and sarcophogus.
Bait-and-Switch Credits: "Tempus Fugit", the first episode of Back to the Sewer, which uses Fast Forward's opening instead.
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 Punctuated! For! Emphasis! fashion that bugs must pay.
Big Bad: The Shredder. In 2105, Darius Dun and Sh'Okanabo share the role.
In The King Donatello enters another world created by a Jack Kirby Expy. At the end, the portal they used to enter the world begins to shrink. Don makes it back to the real world in time, but Kirby doesn’t. Just before the portal disappears, a paper airplane flies out where Kirby gives Don the message “Don, life at best is bittersweet. Take care of yourself, Kirby.”
The Return to New York trilogy ends with The Shredder's defeat and the turtles have successfully sabotaged the Foot HQ but Splinter has somehow disappeared.
Nano’s first 2 episodes end this way since the turtles feel guilty about killing someone who has the mindset of a child and didn’t know any better. Nano does indeed get a happy ending though.
What a Croc! ends with the turtles’ old lair caving in on Leatherhead and Mikey pities him for being alone.
Rouge in the House ends with Zog’s Heroic Sacrifice in attempting to take down the Shredder with him onboard a flaming ship. It’s made worse when Shredder survives and Zog doesn’t.
April’s Artifact allows the turtles and April to escape the world of giant hornets, and finds her long-lost uncle’s compass and notebook. April vows to find him someday and she does in season 4.
"Same as it Never Was" ends with the future Utrom Shredder killed, but Donatello has to witness his brothers die first and in the end, April is the only main character still alive. Thankfully, Don’s return to the present ensures that this future never happens.
The season 3 finale, Exodus ends with the turtles and Splinter beating rather badly and performing a Heroic Sacrifice, but they’re saved at the last second and the Utroms sentence the Utrom Shredder to exile on an icy asteroid where he remains for the rest of the series until Turtles Forever.
Scion of the Shredder has Karai becoming the new Shredder and destroys the turtles’ lair. The episode ends with the turtles (save Leonardo) and Splinter dying while escaping the Foot. Although the next episode shows that they’re fine.
Tale of Master Yoshi depicts Yoshi murdering his friend and adoptive brother Yukio Mashimi out of revenge for murdering Tang Shen and for telling the Foot where the Utroms were hiding. In the end, Yoshi has to leave Japan and move to North America to continue serving the Utroms.
In Tempus Fugit, the turtles finally get to return to the 21st century, but thanks to Viral’s interference, Splinter gets trapped in cyber space in the process.
Book Ends: In 'Aliens Among Us', Bishop corners Don and tries to shoot him with a gauntlet-mounted gun. In 'Good Genes Part 1', he tries the exact same thing when Don, who's been mutated for a second time, starts tearing up Area 51. Fitting, considering 'Aliens Among Us' sets up the Outbreak arc, and 'Good Genes Part 1' is the first part of the resolution.
Butt Monkey: If anybody's going to crossdress, get smacked upside the head, pummeled by his brothers, insulted, or any form of bad luck for comedic effect, it's Mikey. Casey also gets a fair amount of this in the second and third seasons, overlapping with Badass Decay; and Serling gets relegated to this role when he is introduced in the sixth season.
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.
Call Back: "Hacking Stockman" has Leo directly reference the "City at War" arc, and— in case that wasn't clear enough— there's also Don's response to him, which is oddly similar to Raphael's from "City at War"
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.
Chekhov's Gun: Quite a few fired between "Adventures in Turtle Sitting" and "Good Genes Part 1"— notable examples include the tunnel to April's apartment— introduced in "The Trouble with Augie"— and Stockman's helicopter from "Insane in the Membrane".
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.
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.
Composite Character: The Shredder actually being the Utrom Ch'rell in some ways makes him this series' answer to Krang and well as Oroku Saki. While Word Of God says they tried to keep that similarity to a minimum throughout the shows run, Turtles Forever takes the idea and runs with it when they merge Dimension X technology with Utrom technology, giving him a Molecular amplification Exosuit that can grow to skyscraper size and transform into various weapons.
Continuity Nod: "Adventures in Turtle Sitting" features April's basement apartment, which hadn't been seen or referenced since "The King," three seasons earlier. It even had the appropriate pieces of furniture in it, like Kirby's drawing desk.
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.
Cool Big Sis: April, who is 23 at the start of the series, to the teenaged turtles.
Corrupt Corporate Executive: Darius Dun, initially. The Utrom Oroku Saki (and by extension, his heir Karai) are these as well. Baxter Stockman also was one before his body kept getting destroyed.
Creator Cameo: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird occasionally appear as cops.
Crippling The Competition: Mephos, an Avian who was punished for crimes against his race by having the wings torn from his back and being forced to live as a human.
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.
This is a running theme with Mikey. In "Touch and Go" Splinter tells him that he is the most naturally athletic of his brothers and he is crowned the winner of the Battle Nexus on a technicality (although with Leo's traning, he wins outright in "Grudge Match").
Cue the Sun: Instrumental in "The Freaks Come Out at Night" and "Day of Awakening".
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.
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.
The Shredder Strikes Back two parter ends with Leonardo beaten to near death and everyone else nearing exhaustion, everyone hides in April’s storage closet. Shredder barricades the door, punctures a gas line, and activates a bomb. April’s antique store is caught on fire and burns down. But the next episode reveals that they escaped at the last minute.
There's also Beginning of the End. The Tengu Shredder’s Foot Mystics murder the Ninja Tribunal and the human acolytes although the season finale reveals they survived and they escaped with all 3 of the Shredder’s helmet, gauntlet, and sarcophagus. Splinter’s quote at the end sums it up rather nicely:
Splinter: They (the Ninja Tribunal and the other acolytes) have made the ultimate sacrifice. We cannot let it be in vain.
Raphael: What about the heralds? Why the shell would they come here to New York City?
Splinter: I do not know Raphael, but I do know what their victory today means. It means the end of the world begins…here.
For extra effect, some storm clouds gather and form the Tengu Shredder's helmet.
The Dragon: Hun, Karai, and Khan, to the Shredder.
Viral in Back to the Sewers, until she is overpowered by the Cyber Shredder.
Dramatic Irony: In "The Lesson", the turtles tell of a story about when they, as little turtle tots, tried to teach a kid how to fight. While they never know who it was, the audience finds out who it is: it was Arnold "Casey" Jones.
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.
Every season has had at least 1 Enemy Mine team up.
Season 1 has the turtles and Shredder working together to take down Stockman in his new cyborg armor during the first third of the episode Return To New York Part 3.
Season 2 has the turtles and Casey working with Karai to end the war between the Foot Ninjas, Purple Dragons and Mob in City at War Part 3.
Season 3 had the turtles and Karai working together to prevent Shredder from removing an anti gravity machine left behind by the Triceratons to prevent the city of Beijing from crashing down to Earth as well as saving the city in the process in Mission of Gravity and the turtles help Hun save Karai from Bishop in Hun on the Run.
YMMV on Season 4 but the turtles need a cure for Don after he had been mutated into a mindless, savage monster and ask Bishop is he has one. Bishop agrees to hand over a cure provided the turtles run an errand for him (by stealing a pendant from Karai).
Fast Forward had the turtles and Sh'Okanabo working together to send the Shredder back to the 21st century.
Back to the Sewers had Stockman contact Donatello telling him to defeat Cyber Shredder in order to save the other turtles in Hacking Stockman. Another one occurs when Hun (although only the viewers see it) teamed up with the turtles to defeat a cheater in an online game in Superquest.
Finally, in Turtles Forever, the turtles persuade Hun to give them his technology to stop the Utrom Shredder from wiping out the TMNT multiverse. The final battle depicts 12 turtles, Splinter, Karai, 80's Shredder and Krang working together to foil the Utrom Shredder.
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 Counterpart: The Sliver is this to Master Splinter, although he was only in one episode and Mikey's the only main character who meets him.
The Extremist Was Right: Agent Bishop's mission to protect Earth from alien invasion. Also in "Insane in the Membrane", he's right about Stockman's new body will decompose like all the aliens he used in his fake alien invasion.
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.
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 does not switch to calling her "April" until later in the series.
Dr. Chaplin refers to the Shredder as "Mr. Saki" (Shredder's human identity being Oroku Saki), but in Japanese, the family name comes first, and given name comes last, the reverse of most Western naming traditions. This could be justified in that the character just did not know better (he was American, not Japanese), and the Shredder was not all that concerned with correcting such mistakes.
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."
Fridge Logic: Rare in-universe example during Fast Forward. When the turtles find what appears to be April's journal, from which Cody learned about the turtles, they all sneak in to read it late at night. However, as they get to the end of Raphael's story, they notice contradictions between the story and what they already know about recent history. Just then, Cody and Splinter enter and reveal that they had replaced the journal with a fake to teach the turtles a lesson.
Fusion Dance: "Ultimate Drako", a combination of Drako and The Ultimate Ninja.
There's also the Ninja Tribunal. They don't care too much if the turtles or their new human friends are injured on a mission. Splinter even calls them heartless monsters and says their not any better than the Tengu Shredder's Foot Mystics. They do mellow out a little bit when Chikara compliments Raph, Don, Joy, and Tora for passing a training session and compliments Leo when his dragon avatar destroys all the nezumi guarding the Shredder's gauntlet. Hisomi also smiles when Mikey successfully focuses his chi energy and develops superspeed and has a brief friendly race.
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.
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 highlighted blue but is meant to be black.
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.
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.
Human Popsicle: 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.
Japanese Honorifics: One episode set in virtual-reality feudal Japan misuses these, where the Shredder is addressed as "dono-sama," which is roughly equivalent to calling someone "Lord Sir."
Jerkass Has a Point / What the Hell, Hero??: Raph's attitude during the City at War trilogy. What the Hell, Hero? stems from the fact that he refuses to believe that the turtles were responsible New York's gang war between the Foot Clan, Purple Dragons, and the Mob and he sounds like he doesn't care about the innocent people who have been caught in the crossfire. This stems from his statement that the turtles' involvement would only "add fuel to the fire", in other words, make the situation worse and to be honest, Raph wasn't wrong, apart from Leo saving a gang of mobsters from an exploding warehouse and evacuating a man trapped in a bus, the turtles weren't making much progress to ending the war until Karai showed up and offered a truce.
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).
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.
Splinter: Be careful and do not become overconfident!
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".
Moral Dissonance: The Turtles find a Triceraton that was accidentally teleported back to Earth with them in Season 2, a soldier named Zog. Since he can't breathe oxygen, he's delirious, and thinks that the Turtles and Splinter are commanding Triceraton officers. They save his life, but he's still delusional, and they wind up taking him on a mission to fight the Shredder, during which he dies. While the Turtles are saddened by his death, the fact that they knowingly and willingly manipulated a delusional alien by masking as his commanding officers, dragging him into a fight which is not his where he dies, and that if he were aware of who they were would consider them enemies and want to kill them is never addressed.
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"?
A notable example of this trope being averted outright is in the episode "Same As It Never Was", where upon saving the life of a time-traveling Donatello, Future!Mikey says that the rest of the Turtles "thought [he was] dead".
Noodle Incident: A subversion occurs in the final episode of Fast Forward. Torbin Zixx mentions that he lost his spaceship because of an incident that happened to the Utrom ambassador's wife. When the Turtles look at him funny, he simply responds with "Look, was it my fault she was standing near the sushi bar?" It is a subversion because it turns out that he still had his ship and was lying.
Interestingly enough, this trope was played straight when a similar incident to the above was mentioned in Wedding Bells and Bytes, where an Utrom informs Mortu that there is no sushi at the wedding, Mortu mentioning that the last time he was near sushi he ended up smelling like soy sauce.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Series Continuity Error: In "Insane in the Membrane," April is shown working in the underground lab in Stocktronics, but despite the fact in "A Better Mousetrap," she doesn't even know about it. Probably because Baxter Stockman kept her in the dark about it.
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.
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.
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.
Also Nobody; he was killed in the comics 3rd arc, eaten by a mutant monster.
Spoiled Sweet: Cody. He live in a luxurious penthouse, has a robot butler who waits on him hand and foot and is overprotective of him, the president of his own corporation, has all the video games any teenager could ever want, and his own private laboratory. Yet, Cody doesn't exhibit any spoiled brat characteristics apart from disobeying Sterling by sneaking out even though "the outside world is a dangeroud place for him". He feels responsible for his mistake bringing the turtles and Splinter into the future and does his best to fix the Time Window to send them back (even though he's excited to have them around).
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.
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.
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.
Time Bomb: Averted throughout the series. If a villain activates a time bomb or any other type of explosive, it will go off. The only time it was played straight was in Turtle X-Tinction where Serling prevents Turtle X from exploding at the last second.
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.
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.
Took a Level in Kindness: It's more so "losing a level in jerkass", but by Back to the Sewers, Raph was no longer beating up Mikey or challenging Leo's authority, though he still flung a few insults here and there and even those were reduced.
To Serve Man: The motivation of one-shot villain group "The Brotherhood".
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).
Victory Guided Amnesia: "Fathers and Sons" revealed that the turtles helped defeat a servant of the Foot Mystics when they were very young, but the Ninja Tribunal insisted on erasing all their memories of it.
Villain Episode: "Hun On the Run", "Aliens Among Us", and "Insane in the Membrane", for Hun, Bishop, and Baxter, respectively.
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!!!
Weirdness Search And Rescue: In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 (as well as the comic) there's a character called Lord Simultaneous who holds the time scepter and generally manages time with his incompetent assistant Rene. He's even voiced like a New York tour guide, and has been key to helping our heroes out of time displacement related predicaments more than once (to the point of Deus ex Machina). Read more here.
We Need a Distraction: In order to let April enter the T.C.R.I. building, in "The Search for Splinter, pt. 1".
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.
Had a new season of Fast Forward emerged, there would have been a Triceraton Shredder called the "TriShreddertron". Concept art was eventually shown, and Peter Laird confirmed that he would have been Ch'rell taking over the body of a Triceraton soldier.
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.
Would Hurt a Child: As toddlers, the turtles met a Bone Demon and when he was in the middle of squeezing the life out of Splinter and The Ancient One, he threatened the turtle tots with a worse fate.
Some of the Fast Forward villains have no problem with hurting Cody.
And in Back To The Sewers, the turtle tots meet an old man who unleashes an army of deadly toy robots and a life sized one to attack them.
Would Hit a Girl: Hun was planning on killing April in "The Shredder Strikes Back Part 2" hoping the turtles' would lose their will to fight with her gone and in "City At War Part 3", Hun picks up a support beam and uses it to smack Karai around.
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.
"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.