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Series / Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation

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

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


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

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


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

For more details on the TMNT franchise in general, visit the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles page. For a list of some of the characters in the series, and the tropes that apply to them, visit the franchise character page. For the old cartoon, see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) for the second cartoon see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), for the third cartoon see Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) and for the latest cartoon see Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Now With A Character Page Under Construction

Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation provides examples of:

  • Aborted Arc: There are some plot threads that ended up unresolved because of the show's cancellation.
    • Early episodes had the Turtles trying to find a way to reimprison the Dragon Lord and his army in the enchanted mirror they escaped from, but this was eventually forgotten.
    • "Enemy of My Enemy" ends with the implication of Oroku Saki becoming the Shredder again and re-forming the Foot Clan, but nothing came of it.
    • "The Good Dragon" suggested that there were many other good dragons still in the enchanted mirror and that they would one day emerge to overthrow their evil master.
  • Absentee Actor: Venus, Michelangelo, and Splinter are inexplicably absent in "Going Ape", though Leonardo speculates that Raphael might be sparring with Venus as a possible reason for why he hasn't returned to the sewers yet.
  • Adapted Out: While they were planned to appear in the scrapped second season, this continuity stands out as the only major incarnation of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to not feature Casey Jones and April O'Neil.note 
  • Action Girl: Venus de Milo.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In "Truce or Consequences", Donatello uses a lie detector he built on Leonardo, which ends up going off when Leonardo insists that he's never lied. This amuses Donatello and also turns out to tickle Splinter's funny bone, much to Leonardo's annoyance.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: In "Silver and Gold," Michelangelo reports his encounter with Silver. The other mutants express disbelief that an ape could talk. Michelangelo himself expressed disbelief during said encounter until being reminded by Silver that he's a talking turtle.
  • Arc Villain: The vampire Vam-Mi was the villain of the four-part episode "Unchain my Heart" until she is killed.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: In this show, the word "shinobi" is treated as being a kind of magician, with Venus being trained to use shinobi magic and having no experience in ninjutsu. Not only is "shinobi" a synonym for "ninja" in real life, but it also specifically means a male ninja.
  • Big Bad: The show's main villain is the Dragon Lord. (No relation.)
  • Black Best Friend: Andre is a blind black man and Splinter's friend.
  • Blind and the Beast: Splinter is friends with an elderly blind man named Andre. The two of them play Chess together and Andre even lived with Splinter and the Turtles when he was evicted from his apartment.
  • Blunt Metaphors Trauma: Venus. Well, she is new to American culture.
  • Bottle Episode: "Going Ape" mostly takes place in an old abandoned house.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Both of the introduction theme songs. The latter gets points for the "mess with green, it's gonna get mean" lyrics. The end credits song also reminds us that the "turtles don't lose". This is basically what happens when you have a TMNT show produced by the company that gave the world Power Rangers another children's entertainment franchise known for bragging theme tunes.
  • Broad Strokes: Certain visual cues such as Splinter missing an ear and the Turtles living in an abandoned subway station seems to imply that the series takes place after the live-action films by New Line Cinema, but certain details (such as the Shredder still being alive, Michelangelo using tonfa instead of nunchucks, and April O'Neil and Casey Jones seeming to not even exist) suggest that the films' events may have happened differently.
  • Canon Foreigner: Venus is the most notable character created for this continuity, but there's also Dragon Lord, Wick, Dr. Quease, Silver and Bonesteel.
  • Crossover: These versions of the Turtles appeared in Power Rangers in Space during the episodes "Save Our Ship" and "Shell Shock".
  • Clip Show: The series had two clip show episodes.
    • "Like Brothers", which focuses on Raphael and Leonardo.
    • The final episode "Who Needs Her", where the Turtles reflect on their experiences with having Venus de Milo on their team.
  • Clumsy Copyright Censorship: The DVD releases and Netflix had to replace the show's theme music because of copyright issues.
  • Co-Dragons: The Dragonlord had three Dragons: A small dragon sorcerer named Wick, the Rank Lieutenant, and Dr. Quease. While Dragonlord himself is literally a dragon, he is not an example of this trope.
  • The Corrupter: Dragonlord. He was once the only bad member of the Rank, until he turned the rest of them against mankind.
  • Death by Origin Story: Chung I is killed by the Dragon Lord and tells Venus to go to New York on his deathbed.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dr. Quease tries to invoke this by pointing out his method of destroying his nearly robotic clones of the Turtles is painless. Naturally the Turtles disagree.
  • Evil Knockoff: Dr. Quease creates evil clones of the Turtles in the episode "Mutant Reflections".
  • Expository Theme Tune: It really wouldn't be TMNT without a theme song explaining the premise, but the Next Mutation theme gets major points just for starting with the line "FOUR GREEN TURTLES!"
    • Followed by - "Check it out, another one found, made her way to Chinatown..."
  • Eye Scream:
    • In "Mutant Reflections", Dr Quease apparently tore out one of his eyes to use it in a scouting robot. He later has to destroy the eye to get Venus' DNA. This just seems to merely annoy him since he just clones a new one.
    • The fourth part of "East Meets West" had Dragonlord threaten to suck out the eyes of one of his minions.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: In "Enemy of My Enemy", Splinter finds that the Shredder has become a vagabond since his defeat in the series premiere. Against the Turtles' wishes, Splinter takes Oroku Saki in and tries to rehabilitate his old enemy. By the episode's end, the Shredder isn't the least bit grateful that the Turtles begrudgingly helped him out and presumably gets started on preparing his next attempt at defeating them.
  • Five-Episode Pilot: The series premiered with a five-part episode titled "East Meets West".
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar:
    • In one episode, the Dragonlord yells at the turtles that he will have their shells for defeating him, which takes on a different meaning when you remember that the turtles have said "kiss my shell". The word "shell" was used in place of "ass".
    • In "All In The Family", Venus tells Michelangelo that he must have a talk with Splinter about the birds and the bees after he asks her how she knew the baby turtle was female.
    • The episode "Turtles' Night Out" featured a gang called The Unknowables, the leader of which resembled Alex DeLarge. Another member of the gang crudely flirts with Venus by asking her what she has under her shell. Michelangelo also hosted a radio show where one of his callers asked about "getting high".
    • Due to the turtles wearing little more than knee pads, elbow pads, and bandannas, there are frequent shots of Venus's ass whenever she is viewed from behind.
      • It stands out because the male turtles bottoms are clearly not as detailed, and their shells fit in a way that hides their bottoms more fully.
    • The fifth part of "East Meets West" at one point shows Raphael drawing a picture of himself riding on his motorcycle with Venus. While it could be attrituted to the drawing's simplistic style, Venus appears to be naked in the drawing.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The "Unchain my Heart" episodes had a vampire named Vam-Mi as the main antagonist, but she briefly summons some kind of elder vampire god to ask him for help.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: All of the turtles are skilled in fighting at close range but while the male turtles use melee weapons Venus uses either magic or smoke bombs in conjunction with her martial arts.
  • Hypno Fool: The episode "Sewer Crash" has Silver use a computer to hypnotize Donatello into stealing stuff for him whenever he hears the word "banana". Saying "banana" again undoes the hypnosis.
  • Hypothetical Fight Debate: In "Mutant Reflections," Raph and Mikey debate what would happen if Batman and Superman had a fight. Raph thinks Batman would win, while Mikey thinks Superman has the advantage.
  • I Ate WHAT?!: In part three of "East Meets West", Leonardo is grossed out when Venus informs him that the eggs he's eating on the Turtles' picnic are pigeon eggs.
  • I Call It "Vera": Bonesteel has many weapons with girl's names, such as Mary Lou the crossbow and Susanna the whip. The Turtles even lampshade it, with Leonardo asking what kind of weirdo would name his weapons and Donatello coming to the conclusion that Bonesteel has an infantile attachment to inanimate objects.
  • Idiosyncratic Wipes: Scene transitions are done using ninja weapons.
  • I Have No Idea What I'm Doing: Stated verbatim by Wick in "King Wick" after the Dragon Lord forces him to whip up a potion to restore his powers.
  • I'm a Doctor, Not a Placeholder: Slight variant in "Silver and Gold."
    Leonardo: We're ninja, not Power Rangers.
  • Insult Friendly Fire: In "The Guest", Andre refers to the landlord who evicted him as a rat, unaware that his friend Splinter is a mutated rat because of his blindness.
  • Intercontinuity Crossover: Power Rangers in Space crossed over with this series in the episodes "Save Our Ship" and "Shell Shock".
  • Kid-Appeal Character: Mikey
  • Killed Off for Real:
    • Chung I is permanently killed off via Death by Origin Story.
    • Arc Villain Vam-Mi stands out as being the only villain on the show to be permanently defeated, as she turned to ash when the Turtles prevented her from restoring her heart in time.
  • Kung-Fu Wizard: Venus.
  • Lady of War: Venus again.
  • Lame Pun Reaction: In the third part of "Unchain My Heart", Donatello makes a bad pun only he finds hilarious when he studies Vam-Mi's heart and asks Venus if she knows how to beat the heart. The other Turtles walk away in disgust.
    Donatello: Get it? Beat this heart? Heartbeat?
  • Left Hanging: The series ends without any resolution toward the ongoing conflict with the Rank.
  • Licensed Game: There was a Tiger Handheld LCD game based on this show as well as a PlayStation title that ended up becoming Vapor Ware shortly after it was announced.
  • Literal-Minded: Venus tends to take figures of speech literally due to her naivete.
    Venus: I'm feeling unnerved by all the attention I am getting from the boys.
    Michelangelo: Who could blame them? You're some babe!
    Venus: Babe? I'm exactly as old as you are! And one boy said I was quite a fox. You'd think he'd got his species mixed up?
  • Mad Scientist: Dr. Quease is enlisted by the Rank to study the cause of the Turtles' mutation and he has a pretty deranged fixation on experimenting on the mutated terrapins.
  • Malicious Misnaming: The Turtles often refer to Bonesteel as Bonehead.
  • Market-Based Title: It's called Hero Turtles: The Next Mutation in the UK.
  • Monster of the Week: The Unknowables gang from the episode "Turtles' Night Out" stand out as being the only antagonists in the series who only appeared once.
  • Mook Lieutenant: The Rank Lieutenant, lead soldier of the Rank, differs from the other dragon soldiers in that he wears a magenta veil over his mouth in contrast to the others' purple veils.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: The episode "The Good Dragon" featured a member of the Rank who was benevolent. In the end, the Dragon Lord imprisoned him in the enchanted mirror, but not before the good dragon made a vow to find other dragons like him to amass a rebellion against the Dragon Lord.
  • Mythology Gag: Several to the 1987 cartoon: The turtles wear buckles with their initials on them as well as bands on their arms and legs matching the colors of their bandannas, their taste for weird pizza toppings, and they ride in a van with a license plate that reads "TRTL PWR"(Turtle Power!)
  • Nature Tinkling: When Splinter informs his blind friend Andre that he needs to go in part one of the five-part premiere episode "East Meets West", Andre misinterprets Splinter's statement as saying that he needs to use the bathroom and replies that since they're the only people around, he can just use a bush.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Venus is a turtle with breasts, but it's more like her shell is curved in.
  • Non-Mammalian Hair: Dragon Lord has visible hair when he's not wearing his helmet.
  • Not Blood Siblings: Not the first continuity to suggest it, but the one that is remembered for outright saying it. Apparently, they made a point of saying this specifically so Venus could play love-interest to the brothers.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The four-part episode "Unchain My Heart" dealt with the Turtles having to contend with a vampire named Vam-Mi who was out to restore her heart so she can fully recover, aided by her two childlike servants Bing and Chi-Chu. They seem to be based on the Chinese mythos with some elements of the American interpretation of vampires thrown in (afraid of sunlight, can turn into bats, etc).
  • Painting the Medium: At one point, Leo almost seems startled by the Sword Idiosyncratic Wipe and rushes out of frame.
  • Power-Up Food: The Dragonlord wants to eat the turtles, so he can have the "magic" that made them what they are, believing it will make him stronger.
  • Right Behind Me: Zig-zagged in "Truce or Consequences". Wick calls Michelangelo during his radio show Sewer Hour as part of a plan by the Dragon Lord to lure Mikey into a trap. To make it sound convincing that Wick is on Michelangelo's side, he makes several insults directed at the Dragon Lord, who turns out to be standing behind Wick when the call ends. Dragon Lord isn't at all happy about Wick insulting him, but Wick saves his skin by explaining that he had to make it sound convincing.
  • Sarcastic Clapping: In the "Unchain My Heart" four-parter, Venus botches a magic spell that was supposed to fire a blast of energy at Vam-Mi and her minions Bing and Chi-Chu. The three vampires respond by giving insincere applause.
  • Scooby-Dooby Doors: Doors leading characters to improbable pathways is used in "Going Ape".
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Dragonlord and his army of dragon warriors were imprisoned in an enchanted mirror before breaking free in the Five-Episode Pilot. The "Unchain My Heart" episodes introduced a vampire named Vam-Mi, who was locked in her casket by Chung I 17 years before the events of the series.
  • Secondary Adaptation: This 1997 live-action television series used the technology of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990) film trilogy (which synthesized elements from the original comics and the 1987 cartoon) to continue the storyline after the events of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III.
  • Shout-Out: In the "Unchain My Heart" episodes, the villain Simon Bonesteel reveals that he has hunted vampires in addition to endangered animals. A vampire hunter named Simon? Now, why does that ring a bell?
  • Sixth Ranger: Venus is introduced as the fifth Ninja Turtle.
  • The Starscream: Wick became this to the Dragonlord in the episode "King Wick" after accidentally drinking a potion that gives him new powers. He uses his new powers to steal Dragonlord's powers and become the new leader of the Rank, but eventually is tricked into losing his powers.
  • Stock Footage: "East Meets West, Part 3" uses the opening clip from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze.
  • Stock Sound Effects: There are many laced throughout the show, usually during fight scenes and almost every few seconds.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • The Shredder is shown to have little patience for his Foot Ninjas' screw-ups in the series premiere.
    • Silver constantly bemoans the idiocy of his henchmen.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Dragon Lord has many traits and characteristics in common with The Shredder. Dr. Quease is also similar to Baxter Stockman, namely in that both are mad scientists.
  • Title Theme Tune: Though the words "Next Mutation" aren't in the song, it does mirror the omission of the words "Teenage Mutant" from the title.
  • Theme Tune Rap: The original opening and ending themes were raps, but the Netflix and DVD releases had to replace them because of copyright issues.
  • Toku: Despite being a western series, it uses live effects like a typical Tokutatsu. It may be due to being made by Saban, the same company that adapted Super Sentai into Power Rangers.
  • Unrelated in the Adaptation: While there was rarely a distinction on whether the Turtles were brothers by blood relation or by adoption, this series notably made it so that none of them were related by blood so that the male Turtles could have Ship Tease with Venus de Milo and have Venus established as mutating with the other four before being separated from them without raising incestuous implications.
  • Vampire Episode: The "Unchain My Heart" four parter, where the turtles have to deal with a vampire and her child, like minions trying to find her heart.
  • Vampires Hate Garlic: One of the weapons Donatello makes to prepare the Turtles for a battle against Vam-Mi and her minions Bing and Chi-Chu in "Unchain My Heart" is a squirt gun loaded with garlic juice.
  • Villainous BSoD: The Shredder, post-Mind Rape.
  • Vocal Dissonance: Vam-Mi's minion Bing looks like a young boy, but has a deep and gravelly voice.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In "Turtles' Night Out", the Turtles hold a rave to raise money for animal welfare and pretend they're humans in turtle costumes. When confronted by the Unknowbales, one of the thugs remarks that the Turtles look like they were ripped off by the store they bought their costumes from.


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