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Clockwise from left to right: April O'Neil, Donatello, Raphael, Leonardo, Michelangelo.

Risin' up against evil, paint the city green
Raph is ready for a fight, Leo's makin' a scene
Mikey's got mad skills, Donnie rocks machines
With each other they discover their destiny and rise!
COWABUNGA!
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The fourth animated series featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the second to air on Nickelodeon after the 2012 series. Premiering on September 17, 2018 with a preview on July 20, as the name suggests, it serves as something of a spiritual prequel to more "traditional" versions of the TMNT story, depicting the Turtles before they met their most famous villains or settled into their familiar dynamic; however, it shakes up the concept in other ways too, changing up the heroes' designs and iconic weapons and adding more fantastical elements.

This series is developed by Ant Ward, who originally produced the 2012 series, and Andy Suriano, character designer for The Powerpuff Girls and Samurai Jack. Veteran voice actor and Ninja Turtles mainstay Rob Paulsen is the voice director for the series.

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The series was renewed for a second season on July 27, 2018, just a week after the preview. It ended with a four-part finale on August 7th, 2020 after two seasons and thirty-nine episodes. A Netflix movie premiered on August 5th, 2022, acting as the Grand Finale.

Here's the first teaser.


Tropes unique to this incarnation include:

  • Aborted Arc: Due to Mayhem largely disappearing after Season 1, his role over watching Baron Draxum is left unexplored.
  • Action Girl: April tries to be at least. She's not a major powerhouse or has any training but is very proactive and will charge into battle with her bat. The Foot Recruit is a straighter example.
  • Adaptation Deviation: While the Turtles have always had magic in the franchise, owing to most incarnations having a Fantasy Kitchen Sink approach, this series puts much more significant focus on mysticism, giving New York a much more overt supernatural underbelly, and the Turtles' weapons having magical abilities.
  • Adaptation Distillation:
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    • The series has hints of the shows that came before in its direction, fusing the wackiness of the Fred Wolf cartoon, the action of the 2003 4Kids cartoon and the Turtles having divergent silhouettes from its immediate predecessor.
    • The 2003 series' Demon Shredder was largely the result of tweaking the internal chronology of the series and Arc Welding, which resulted in a fairly convoluted origin story. This series' Shredder, also a demonic entity, has his backstory heavily simplified to a set of evil armor that devoured its wearer and their soul. The series finale also reveals that rather than a demonic entity, an alien creature was the one who gave Oroku Saki the armor.
  • Adaptation Inspiration: The series features many of the mystic aspects from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), most prominently in the Battle Nexus (albeit being bloodsport, which might be taken from the IDW comics) and the Turtles having mystical weapons and the overall stint toward magic, along with a cult oriented around resurrecting a demonic version of the Shredder, but plays a bit loose with most of the concepts or tweaks them with a more humorous or lighthearted slant.
  • Adaptation Personality Change:
    • Leonardo is irreverent and rebellious, rather than being a responsible leader (though he does show that he has the potential every so often). Arguably the most infamous change in the group, the writers candidly admitted it was an attempt to address Leonardo "stern leader" personality being difficult to write for and infamous reputation as the least popular turtle.
    • Splinter's a bit more relaxed, and hasn't been training the Turtles very seriously due to the lack of any major threats.
    • Raphael is more open and friendly in this incarnation as opposed to being an angsty loner or sarcastic rebel.
  • Adaptation Species Change: Downplayed. The protagonists are still mutated turtles, but they're all different types of turtles in this continuity; Leonardo is a red-eared slider, Donatello is a soft-shelled turtle, Michelangelo is a box turtle, and Raphael is a snapping turtle.
  • Adaptational Ugliness: Splinter resembles less the typical sleek rat than a fat opossum with a round, wrinkly face. Think Mr. Miyagi crossed with a bulldog. Apparently, he was inspired by Danny Devito. His human self was shown to be quite handsome.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Most series begin with the turtles having gone through years of ninjutsu training. This time turtles start without formal training. After being confronted with how lackadaisical he's been by the boys, Splinter admits he had lost his taste for fighting years ago plus had a subconscious fear that Draxum's prediction of the turtles becoming violent monsters might come true.
    • This bites Mikey the hardest since Nunchaku take a lot of experience to properly wield. During the team's first fight he winds up pummeling himself with them.

  • All There in the Manual: In the Junior novel "Ninja Power", it's revealed that April has known the turtles for five years, although it was later clarified that she met them since before they were teenagers.
  • Alternate Continuity: The series is a distinctly separate continuity from prior entries, and while it is billed as a spiritual prequel, it would likely be difficult to fit into any of the other incarnations of the franchise.
  • Animesque: While not the only entry in the franchise to be influenced by Japanese animation, it is by far the most obvious. In particular, the action sequences look like they came from a Studio TRIGGER production.
  • Anger Born of Worry: Splinter starts of the series rather apathetic to what the turtles have been up to, but as events transpire, even he can’t help yelling at them for their reckless antics.
  • Arc Words: HOT SOUP! is one of the battle cries the Turtles yell, from their favorite movie star, Lou Jitsu. It takes new significance as the series rolls on.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: There’s Kristoff Van Bradford, who is literally this, but a variety of villains could be seen as such.
  • Authority Grants Asskicking:
    • Splinter is introduced as being out of shape, but the turtles are still not surprised the few times he decides to teach them a lesson.
    • Big Mama sends her henchmen out before she reveals her true form; there's a reason many are fearful of her.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: This version of the turtle brothers were already established to be more affectionate with each other, they even took to accepting new “family members” despite Draxam’s previous deeds.
  • Background Halo: In several episodes and scenes, the turtles will be portrayed as being centered in a circular window or the moon. This is likely a reference to them being named after Renaissance artists.
  • Bait-and-Switch: The opening of the first episode has rooftop party with what looks like a shady deal going down. The Turtles then appear a couple of rooftops away, setting up a zipline. We're led to believe that the Turtles are going to zipline into the party and stop whatever is happening — but then they use the zipline to preform cannonballs into a pool on the rooftop next door, and the party is never mentioned again. This scene firmly establishes this series' much more light-hearted and jokey tone in comparison to the previous ones.
  • Bear Hug: Ralph will give plenty of those, and there is much delight when Splinter offers them.
  • Big Bad Ensemble:
    • The role is shared between Baron Draxum, Big Mama, and the Foot Clan for most of Season 1. Draxum intends to use his Oozesquitoes to create more mutants to take over the surface, Big Mama wants to use said Oozsquitoes to drum up more contestants for the Battle Nexus, and the Foot Clan are working to reassemble the Kuroi Yoroi armor for the purpose of resurrecting the Shredder. Draxum and Big Mama's different agendas bring them into conflict, and the Foot Clan later join forces with Draxum to mutually achieve their goals.
    • Come the first season's finale, the Shredder is successfully revived and goes on outclass both Draxum and Big Mama, becoming the main villain and True Final Boss of the second season.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Humorously subverted when the Foot Recruit and Mikey first meet. Both start to fight each other, their respective superiors and brothers see this as an ambush and crash into the scene, and both the Foot Recruit and Mikey complain to each other.
  • Book Ends: The series begins on the Turtles fighting with their traditional weapons, and ends with them using their traditional weapons against the Shredder in "Rise".
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: Mostly famously when Donatello insists Leonardo go into a dangerous situation in the sewer instead of him because "you sell the least action figures", a trend among actual TMNT merchandise.
  • Breaking Old Trends: This series significantly deviates from prior TMNT properties, but predominantly animated entries in the franchise:
    • Raphael is the leader of the Turtles rather than Leonardo (albeit the series makes it clear it's self-appointed, and Leonardo is assigned the leader role in the series finale).
    • The turtle's usual weapons are destroyed in the very first episode, which they replace with new mystic weapons except Donatello (whose Bo staff is still highly mechanized). The series finale gives them new versions of their original weapons, but with mystic powers identical or similar to the replacement weapons.
    • Karai and Oroku Saki are not evil as in prior incarnations; Karai is not only a fully heroic figure, but Saki himself is established to have been a leader who was forced into a desperate situation, which led to the Dark Armor devouring his soul and becoming the Shredder.
    • Casey Jones is a female Foot Clan member rather than a male vigilante. That said, a more traditional Casey Jones is introduced in the movie, albeit from the future.
    • This series is the first animated incarnation to not feature a Crossover with Usagi Yojimbo.
  • Brick Joke: Donnie's giant drill is usually the one that gains his brothers' attention, but each time it's introduced in the series, it's mostly used for transportation and storage purposes. Aside from those, it's continuously in a beta testing phase in terms of combat. During "Rise", Donnie officially announces the drill is "out of beta", but only used for show. Then, during the heroes' battle against Shredder, he finally makes full use of it.
  • Brilliant, but Lazy: How the writers describe this show's Leonardo; he's smart enough that he could be the leader, but that he's too focused on "just enjoying life and being a teenager". Indeed, when he's not commanding the team in Raph's stead, he's usually the first to criticize his poor strategic skills.
    • To an extent, all of the turtles qualify as this, given that some of them demonstrate Skewed Priorities when more pressing matters show themselves.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Both humorously and seriously with Splinter, some of his earlier antics put the turtles in the responsible-guardian position, but there is at least one case where he lies to the turtles and is genuinely regretful when he sees how much it upsets them.
  • Canon Foreigner: Baron Draxum, a new villain created for the show, as well as the majority of its Rogues Gallery.
  • Captain Space, Defender of Earth!: Jupiter Jim is a popular series the turtles are big fans of, and the main character seems to be inspired by this trope.
  • Casting Gag:
    • We have a two fold example with Ben Schwartz as Leo. He's a ninja with red marks over his eyes, which is another instance of him voicing one, and Leo is associated with the color blue, like another iconic character based on an existing property.
    • Rob Paulsen (probably most famous for voicing the 1980's version of Raphael and 2012's version of Donatello) not only voices multiple characters but was the voice director for the whole series.
    • For the Latin Spanish dub:
      • Alan Prieto (Raphael) is the first actor to have voiced all four turtles. He was previously Michelangelo in the trailer for the 2007 movie (he voiced Donatello in the final product), and Leonardo in the 2012 series.
      • Master Splinter, whose character design is based on Mr. Miyagi, is voiced by Jorge Roig (Miyagi's dubber). Roig was also the voice of Michelangelo in the 1987 series.
    • Twice Leo makes a crack that Splinter would be cooler if he was a tiger mutant instead of a rat, calling back to the previous series where Eric Bauza, Splinter's voice actor, voiced the mutant Tigerclaw.
    • Deliberately invoked in the episode Raph's Ride-Along, where Raphael gets caught up with a group of criminal doppelgangers called the Mud Dogs who resemble, and are named similarly to Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo. They're voiced by Seth Green, Rob Paulsen, and Greg Cipes, their respective Turtles' voice actors from the 2012 series.
    • Cipes also voices Donnie's robotic assistant S.H.E.L.L.D.O.N.
  • Cats Are Mean: Repo Mantis has a cat, one which causes him and the turtles plenty of grief. Todd’s puppies and the dog-like Mayhem are portrayed in a considerably friendlier light.
  • Central Theme: Family is a major theme of the series; the Turtles' relationship with Splinter is often the focus of many episodes (as well as using familial terms when talking about each other) some of the Turtles' allies are readily accepted into the family, and one of Season 2's subplots is about the Turtles and Splinter trying to (at the urging of Mikey) recognize Baron Draxum as part of their family. The power of familial love is also what finally defeats the Shredder once and for all in the finale.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The action hero, Lou Jitsu, who cries "Hot Soup!" in “Origami Tsunami”. The Evil League of Mutants reveals that 1) he was a Battle Nexus Champion, 2) he was used to create the Turtles by Baron Draxum and 3) he's mutated into Master Splinter. Who knew?
  • Child Prodigy: Baxter Stockman is named "Baxter Stockboi" this time and is just a little kid working in his parents' store. He still capable of put together highly advanced robots.
  • Clarke's Third Law: The series finale reveals a lot of details that have a lot of implications on the show's Fantasy Kitchen Sink setting; First off, it's revealed that Shredder got his powerful, shapeshifting, believed-to-be mystical, soul-corrupting, life-draining armor from a demon whose was mistaken for an alien (resembling prior incarnations' Utroms). Either the same or another alien is the dead pilot of a gigantic figure whose cockpit is a wellspring of a substance known as "Empyrean" which is apparently the source of all yokai as well as the basis of Baron Draxum's mutagen. Said substance is also perfectly serviceable as a component of a powerful mystic ritual to drain another's life force.
  • Continuity Nod: Fairly frequent.
    • The episode “The Fast and the Furriest” is heavy with this.
      • Donnie reveals he built their new tank out of the moon buggy they took in “Repo Mantis”.
      • Mikey first expects the gift to be the drill from “Donnie's Gifts”, and also brings up he still wants to learn Meat Sweats' risotto recipe.
      • “Minotaur Maze”'s "Prove You're A Champion" entrance is seen in the background.
      • Raph asks why Donnie didn't put a tracking device in the Tank, as he did with the salami paper in “Origami Tsunami”.
    • The hippo suit used in “Newsworthy” finds another trip in “Mascot Melee”. The latter episode in turn happens chronologically before “The Gumbus”, as Stockboy's next video is on Raph's dance off.
    • The 'turtle alien disguises' Mikey, Leo and Donnie wore in "Mascot Melee" return in "Jim Jupiter Riot" since they're based off of one of the Jim Jupiter movies.
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: When Splinter causes trouble, Donatello punishes him by adjusting his television so that he can only watch educational shows.
  • Cool Helmet: Subverted, when Donatello presents Ralph one, it’s visually unimpressive but supposed to help Ralph improve. Then they learn what exactly Donatello intends for the helmet to do.
  • Cool Teacher: Compared to Splinter, Karai likely comes across as such. Krisoff tries to be one, but his Jerk Jock attitude ruins it.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Leonardo’s plan to outsmart Big Mama? Keep escalating the odds against Splinter, knowing full well she couldn’t resist a last-minute change to include him in there…and complete forget the weapons exclusion for him.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: While Donatello chose his tech over mystical weapons, he does fear that it is his only use to the team, and that his brothers will cast him aside if magic could do the only thing he is good at. April snaps him out of this belief.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The first time Splinter actually has to fight his sons, he is in disguise and the turtles laugh in his face. He wipes the floor with them.
  • Cut Short: Despite Nickelodeon renewed the series for a second season consisting of 26 episodes, the series ended on the second season with just 13 episodes.
  • Denser and Wackier: The series is much less grounded than the 2012 cartoon; the antagonistic mutants in this series are more humanoid with supervillain-esque gimmicks (such as a celebrity chef turned into a pig who can steal the powers of other mutants), the Turtles are back to using nearly futuristic technology courtesy of Donatello, and with a greater emphasis on slapstick and the heroes being teenagers. Comes to a point where "The Evil League of Mutants" features a musical number.
  • Divergent Character Evolution: The Turtles have even more individualized looks in this series than ever before. They are even different species of turtles, with Leo being a red-eared slider, Don a soft-shelled turtle, Mikey a box turtle, and Raph a snapping turtle. Each one also has their own unique body shapes and weapons (Raph is huge, Donny is thin and tall, Leo is muscular, and Mikey is short and petite).
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Splinter and Baron Draxum's argument in "Hidden City's Most Wanted" comes off as two parents arguing over the attention of their child and being the favorite one in their eyes.
  • Driven to Suicide: The turtle's music is so bad that a bunch of sapient Albearto animatronics destroy themselves rather than listen to it further.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Seeking a way to defeat Shredder in the series finale, the Hamato Clan rediscover their family's ancient technique of Hamato Ninpo, accessed through their love for each other and powered by their ancestry.
  • Evolving Credits: Season 2's opening features Splinter in the Turtle Tank alongside April, changes the assortment of the Rogues Gallery the Turtles are shown fighting, and also switches the figure behind the Turtles as the intro ends from Baron Draxum to The Shredder.
  • Emperor Scientist: Baron Draxum seems to fit into this from what we've seen of him. This is proven during the "Warring Warrior Scientist" song in “The Evil League of Mutants”.
  • Faceless Goons: With the exception of the leaders, the Foot Clan’s members are often masked.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: While the series is more heavily oriented toward mysticism, the series finale heavily aliens exist in this continuity, due to the demon who corrupted Oroku Saki looking very similar to Utroms from prior TMNT material, and the Crying Titan, which appears to be a giant robot piloted by an alien being (who is now dead), being the source of Empyrean, which Baron Draxum seems to have used to create his mutagen.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Despite the change in team dynamic, Leo is shown calling the shots with ease despite not being the leader, while Raph struggles in the role.
    • Baron Draxum's reactions to the Turtles when they first meet. We learn that he's the one who mutated them. Further still, "The Evil League of Mutants" reveals that the entirely smitten reaction he pulls when he sees them is darn-near the same "love-at-first-sight" reaction he gave when he beheld Lou Jitsu as the newly-minted Battle Nexus Champion in all of Lou Jitsu's handsome, athletically muscular glory.
    • Raph's Battle Cry ("Hot Soup!") comes from his favorite film star, Lou Jitsu. This becomes much more poignant after "The Evil League of Mutants".
      • Or the fact that Splinter is just so insistent on training the turtles with Lou Jitsu films. Because he was Lou Jitsu.
    • In “Turtledega Nights: The Ballad of Rat Man”, when Donnie and Mikey learn that the final contestant of the demolition derby they got signed up to is Big Mama, they react in fear. Splinter? He's looking interested. Because he dated her in the past as revealed in the episode after, “The Ancient Art of Ninja Hide and Seek”.
  • Fireball Eyeballs: In "Late Fee", Mikey's eyes go on fire when Raph reveals that he forgot the DVD.
  • Fish Eyes: Characters tend to go walleyed in their Oh, Crap! face.
  • Genius Bruiser: As Draxum shows in the first episode, he's not a slouch in the battle department, taking down the entire team, and is apparently a scientist.
    • Donatello as usual.
  • Girl's Night Out Episode: "Cloak and Swaggart" has April and Sunita trying to snatch Sunita's cloaking brooch from Meat Sweats while the turtles and Splinter's B-plot is them stuck in a 24-hour lockdown in the Turtle Tank.
  • Half-Arc Season: The show appears to follow this format, with the majority of episodes being self-contained adventures, while the plot-related episodes are often half-hour specials.
  • The Heart: Alternates back and forth between Leo and Mikey. Mikey is generally the most interested in maintaning harmony between his brothers, while Leo is the most concerned about how their actions affect others outside the family.
  • Hybridization Plot: Baron Draxum's goal is to use his oozesquitoes to mutate all of humanity into mutant animal hybrids in a bid to save the Yokai. This results in newly mutated humans wreaking havoc across New York as many turn to crime. The Turtles were all subject to his experiments and Draxum points out that without him, they would not have existed as they do now.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: "Operation Normal" centers around April expressing a desire to have a normal day, which she tries to have with her new friend, Sunita. The same can also be said for Sunita, who turns out to be a slime yōkai.
  • Inappropriate Hunger: Raph seems to have this as he eats the salami used as fake paper even after it's soggy and on the ground much to the disgust of his brothers during "Origami Tsunami".
  • Innocuously Important Episode: The opening of "Origami Tsunami" with the Turtles doing training via a movie starring Lou Jitsu and Splinter dismissing how his sons will be great heroes like Lou one day. Episodes later, in "The Evil League of Mutants" we later learn how Lou was actually a Battle Nexus Champion and that Lou was mutated into Splinter.
  • Internal Reveal: "Shadow of Evil" has the Turtles learn that Master Splinter was once the famous movie star Lou Jitsu. This gets confirmed later on in "Jim Jupiter Riot" when Leo notes that Lou Jitsu was a lot cooler "before he was our dad".
  • Jail Bake: The Tales of the Hidden City arc ends with Mikey and Splinter breaking everyone out of prison by sneaking in Leo's odachi very obviously baked inside a giant cake under the guise of being their lawyers.
  • Karma Houdini: After DIGG destroys three pizza places, Raph placates them by getting them a gig at the forth restaurant they were trying to sink.
    • Played for laughs with the mutant pirates. Leo attempts to engineer a quick escape from them with his brothers to Tahiti. Instead, he winds up teleporting the pirates to Tahiti where they're shown laughing it up on the beach.
    • After working to stop a criminal spa owner from using evil hair to rob a resort blind, Leo is the one blamed for the robberies (technically right) because he had to shave his head bald again to do it. Meanwhile the actual criminal is given the stolen loot as a reward because now he has fabulous hair.
  • Kleptomaniac Hero: The Turtles got their weapons by stealing them from Baron Draxum's headquarters.
  • Knight of Cerebus: This incarnation of Shredder flips over the Denser and Wackier take on TMNT whenever he shows up. When the usually lazy Splinter learns of the cursed armor being collected to form the villain, he and his sons take things a lot more seriously.
  • Language Barrier: Averted. Despite being born in Japan hundreds of years ago, Kurai and Shredder have no issues communicating with their respective English-speaking allies and subordinates.
  • Large and in Charge: Raphael is much larger and muscular than the other turtles and, as stated below, is the leader of the team.
  • Leader Wannabe: It's noted in Raphael's character bio that he's actually self-appointed himself as leader, and the motion comic shows off that he's still got a lot of his loner mentality from previous incarnations.
  • Leeroy Jenkins: April, of all people, to the point where it seems like a deliberate Shout-Out: While the others are still talking, April leaps into action with a loud and triumphant cry of "Apriiiiiiil O' NEIL!!!" With about the same amount of success as the original Leeroy Jenkins.
    • Complete with the same “OMG, he/she just ran in!” from the original Leeroy Jenkins video.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the 2012 series, the show thusfar has a lighter narrative and according to Ant Ward will put more focus on the "teenage" part of the TMNT, as well as the theme of brotherhood/family.
  • Logical Weakness: The Foot Soldiers, being origami in this incarnation, are weak to water.
    • Donatello's bo staff is just a powerful as his brother's magical weapons and he has much firmer grasp on how it works. Still needs to be charged to work.
  • Lost in Character: "Jim Jupiter Riot" reveals that Marcus Morcrier, the star of the Jupiter Jim films, has him believe that he truly is Jupiter Jim. It's not helping that he sees the Turtles as the evil reptilian monsters that he once fought.
  • Loud Sleeper Gag: In one episode, Donnie wins the Lair Games and finally breaks Leo's massive winning streak, with his prize being trading his room for his brother's considerably nicer one. However, Leo confesses to April that he lost on purpose so he could swap rooms and move away from Splinter's horrifically loud snoring, a problem that's now passed on to Donnie.
  • Major General Song: "The Evil League of Mutants" has Baron Draxum explain his origins in this style called "Warring Warrior Scientist".
  • Meaningful Name: The series finale introduces a green liquid called Empyrean, which was responsible for the creation of all yokai. "Empyrean" means something related to the heavens or the sky, which makes perfect sense given that it's heavily implied that yokai are an aftereffect of alien contact.
  • Mythology Gag: As expected for a Long Runner like TMNT, there are quite a few:
    • The Turtles's physical appearance (average Leo, lean Donnie, bulky Raph, short Mikey) comes from the 2012 show and the Platinum Dune films. Mikey's color scheme of dark scales and bright plastron and with short bandana may be influenced from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW).
    • Donatello's gear (a taser bo staff, a drone) comes from the 2016 film Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows. His gear, but especially the wristbands with screens on them, also resemble what the Turtles wore in the Fast Forward retool of the 2003 cartoon.
    • The concept of the characters having mystical powers pertaining to their personalities and weapons seems to be taken from the fifth season of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), which dealt heavily with mysticism and featured the Turtles getting powerful new weapons and abilities.
    • The opening of the series features a reversal of its immediate predecessor's; a shot of a manhole cover and then the moon and sky.
    • "Plan H", the Turtles' contingency for being seen by humans who aren't April, involves them pretending to be nerds in "Alien Turtle" costumes. A fake leaked script for the 2014 film claimed that the Turtles would be aliens instead of mutants.
    • Splinter's characterization in this series seems to be based off of one of the Non-Canon Guest Era characterizations of the character. Specifically, this page. His enjoyment of TV has also been a part of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003).
    • When Raph comes up with the Atrocious Alias "Mad Dogs" for the team, Leo comments that maybe they should use something like "Ninja Mutant Turtle Teens", the exact naming order that April in the 2014 film uses when she meets the Turtles.
    • Four in “Mascot Melee”, Donnie while parking the Tank whistles the chorus of the 1987 theme song and the dance that seals their victory in the dance-off is from the famous scene of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze. Also, Mikey mentions that Raph's former disguise of a trenchcoat (which was used in the film and original 1987 series) and April's meme of a Turtle-potamus uses the 1987 Raph head.
    • Bebop and Rocksteady cameo in Baron Draxum's speech in "Bug Busters".
      • They appear again in "Shadow of Evil," this time as two humans being held captive by Baron Draxum, along with a rhino and a warthog.
    • In "Pizza Pit", pictures of the 2012 Ninja Turtles, the Mirage Ninja Turtles and the 1987 Ninja Turtles can be seen on Donatello's conspiracy board.
    • In "The Evil League of Mutants", the backstory for the Turtles and Baron Draxum ended in a fire where Draxum thought that Splinter—aka Lou Jitsu—died in a fire. Splinter being thought to have died in a fire before turning up alive happened in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012).
    • Splinter bears some resemblance to the 2003 incarnation with his grey fur and clothing, but is more overwight and has different hairstyle.
    • In “Hot Soup: The Game”, the auction house features a katana with the symbol of the Hamato Clan from the 2012 cartoon, as well as a statue of Ice Cream Kitty from the same series.
      • Also a Freeze-Frame Bonus: when the Foot Clan are discussing Lou Jitsu's movies, his co-star in Jitsu For Justice is Tang Shen, Hamato Yoshi's wife in most continuities.
    • In “Warren & Hypno, Sitting in a Tree”, it turns out that April is a huge fan of Warren Stone from his time as an anchorman, likely a nod to her career as a reporter in the '87 cartoon.
    • Ace Duck appears on a flier held up by Donnie in “One Man's Junk”.
    • Beyond the fact that Splinter's ancestor is played by Hoon Lee in the Season 1 finale two-parter, their design from the front, wearing a ninja mask, but with lines below the chin and a shadow under the nose, makes them look similar to the 2012 Splinter's "rat" design.
    • When Splinter has had enough of his ancestors' advice in “End Game”, he destroys the mystic scroll with a paper shredder. The shredder's brand is "Saki", alluding to Oroku Saki, who is The Shredder in most of the various continuities.
    • Raphael's weapons being tonfas might be a reference to the short-lived Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation. However Michealangelo used the tonfas there.
    • Cudley the Cowlick makes a brief appearance in "Raph's Ride-Along", eating some grass before disappearing.
    • In "Raph's Ride-Along", the "Mud Dogs", a gang composed of three characters named Danny, Mickey, and Leonard, who look very similar to the Turtles with the exception of their species, are respectively played by Rob Paulsen, Greg Cipes, and Seth Green, who played the prior incarnation's Donatello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo.
      • Leonard complains when the rest of the gang make Raph gang leader, pointing out that "the blue guy has always been the leader".
  • New Job as the Plot Demands: April seems to have a different part-time job with every appearance.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The turtles manage to destroy the villains lair in the first episode, but end up unleashing a swarm of mutagen injecting mosquito creatures on the unsuspecting city.
    • Mikey also forgetting to mention to his brothers that his favorite celebrity chef mutated into Meat Sweats cause he didn't want to mess up his Risotto.
  • Paper Master: The Foot Soldiers in this series are origami creations animated by the magic of the two Foot Clan members that make them.
  • Pineapple Ruins Pizza: Pizza is the turtles' Trademark Favorite Food, but when considering what to order in the episode "Minotaur Maze", Leonardo says "definitely not Hawaiian".
  • Prequel: Described as a spiritual prequel that details the Turtles before they had met their most famous allies and foes; but of course, reimagined to give the franchise a breath of fresh air.
  • Prophecy Twist: "Endgame" reveals that Baron Draxum heard from the council of the Hidden City that Yokai were in danger of being wiped out, and Baron Draxum assumes this means the humans will find them and destroy them. The end of the episode features the Shredder being unleashed upon the world, because Draxum tried to take the armor's power for himself in an attempt to avoid said prophecy.
  • Pro Wrestling Episode: Shell In A Cell, with Leo thinking it's fake (at least until he actually faced Ghostbear wanting a rematch).
  • Race Lift: For the first time since (a few issues of) the original Mirage comics, April will be depicted as African-American.
  • Real After All: Played with. The Jupiter Jim moon buggy is initially shown to be a barely functional prop vehicle during the car chase in ''Repo Mantis”, but Michelangelo manages to find a secret panel in its dashboard that activates some of the gadgets used in the in-universe show. Said gadgets, however, are of of only nominal help and the car's engine is still so weak that Repo Mantis' grungy junkyard truck can easily keep up with it.
  • Remake Cameo:
    • Fred Tatasciore, who played Rocksteady in the 2012 cartoon, plays one of Baron Draxum's enforcers in the first episode. He also plays recurring villain Repo Mantis.
    • Rob Paulsen, who had played Raphael in the Fred Wolf cartoon and Donatello in the 2012 series, plays the Foot Lieutenant.
    • Greg Cipes, who played Michelangelo in the 2012 cartoon, plays S.H.E.L.L.D.O.N., the antagonist of “Smart Lair”.
    • Zelda Williams, who played Mona Lisa in the 2012 cartoon, plays the initially unnamed female Foot enforcer called The Foot Recruit (later revealed to be this series take on Casey Jones).
    • Hoon Lee, the voice of the 2012 Splinter, makes an appearance as the voice of one of Splinter's ancestors in ”Endgame”. He also plays the Shredder in the Season 2 finale.
  • Revisiting the Roots: Not for the franchise in general, as the comics are a far more serious affair, but for TMNT animation. Rise is far closer in tone to the original extremely comedy-based cartoon.
  • Rewatch Bonus: After The Reveal of Splinter being Lou Jitsu, a lot of scenes start making sense.
    • Baron Draxum whispering how beautiful the Turtles are when they first meet. This is because he thought they were killed off as revealed in “The Evil League of Mutants”.
    • “Origami Tsunami” starts with the Turtles doing training by re-enacting a scene of a movie, with Raph predominantly copying the hero's Battle Cry of "Hot Soup!" and his pose After The Reveal in “The Evil League of Mutants”, we find out that Splinter — aka Lou Jitsu aka the guy Raph is copying — was their father and it's one of the things Raph and the turtles inherited from him.
    • The Turtles telling Splinter that he's "just a rat" after he tries to train them via a Lou Jitsu film in “The Evil League of Mutants” causes Splinter to snap, not the fact that he's training them with another Lou Jitsu film. Splinter isn't just a rat; he is Lou Jitsu.
      • Also, Splinter charging into play "Hot Soup: The Game" at the end of...well Hot Soup: The Game makes no sense at first, especially when he shouts the line from the trailer, "I'll get you boss level!" and praises the blocky graphics even though he wasn't there to see the trailer from the beginning of the episode. After the reveal, you realize that Splinter is Lou Jitsu and is trying to relive his past through his own merchandise. He probably never played the game before being sent to the Battle Nexus.
    • In "Turtledaga Nights", while Michaelangelo and Donatello are screaming at seeing Big Mama as their final opponent, Spliter is more amused. The next episode, "The Ninja Art of Hide and Seek" would reveal that they used to date.
  • Running Gag: Whenever the turtles need to tell another character something in a subtle manner, Mikey swoops in, saying something along the lines of "This is a job for Dr. Delicate Touch!" and then proceeds to be absolutely not delicate about it, usually yelling.
  • Sequel Hook: While "Rise" wraps up most of the series, Splinter says that he wouldn't be surprised if there was a movie made about the Turtles, a tongue-in-cheek nod to the upcoming Netflix film, and Leonardo is made leader shortly after. "Shreddy or Not" also shows that the "demon" who corrupted the Shredder is an alien being, and an alien corpse is seen in "Rise", as the dead pilot of the Crying Titan.
  • Silent Credits: This happens when the season 1 finale ends on a cliffhanger that involves the Foot finally reviving the Shredder, played with no music audio save for the sound of a gust of wind.
  • Ship Tease: While the show's focus lies squarely on familial and platonic love, there are a few potential outliers, like Hypno and Warren's tender bromance in "Warren and Hypno, Sitting in a Tree," and Splinter's previous relationship with Big Mama, and it's clear that they still carry a torch for each other.
  • Shout-Out:
  • Show Within a Show: The Turtles are big fans of the Jupiter Jim films and ones staring an action star known as Lou Jitsu. The latter one turns out to be very important later on.
  • Significant Double Casting: Two of the characters that Eric Bauza voices in the series are Splinter and an action hero named Lou Jitsu. They're one and the same.
  • Something Only They Would Say: In The Evil League of Mutants, upon hearing Raph cry out "HOT SOUP!", Baron Draxum has a flashback to Lou Jitsu stating that same phrase, which makes him realize that these are the same turtles he mutated 13 years ago.
  • Spontaneous Weapon Creation: Practitioners of Hamato Ninpo can either conjure mystic weapons out of nothing or transform base objects into spectral replicas.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Compared to Splinter and the Turtles, who are merely skilled martial artists, villainous mutants tend to also get random superpowers along with their mutations. Narratively justified to supplement the fact that they have no martial skill before being transformed.
  • Synchronous Episodes: The Tales of the Hidden City 4-parter details the adventures of the gang in various parts of the Hidden City: Donnie versus Witch Town focuses on Donnie and April, Raph’s Ride-Along on Raph, Hidden City's Most Wanted on Mikey, Splinter, and Baron Draxum, and Bad Hair Day on Leo.
  • Title Drop: Averted, which ironically is easy to do when the title is that humorously awkward. Raphael's name for the team, when appropriate, is the Mad Dogs.
  • Tranquil Fury: April when the turtles break into her apartment to see if she stole their tank in The Fast and the Furriest.
  • Trash the Set: The Turtles' lair is decimated in the series finale by The Shredder.
  • Urban Fantasy: Rise borrows from Urban Fantasy much more than previous series. Leo, Mikey, and Raph wield mystical weapons which they found in a magical city deep under New York. The mutagen was created by a youkai alchemist who uses enchanted mosquitoes to administer it. There's an entire underground mutant culture living in the shadows of New York. And several of the turtles' enemies have been mystical in nature, such as a Living Toy that feeds on screams.
  • Villain Episode:
    • “Newsworthy” focuses on Warren Stone for his debut episode.
    • “How to Make Enemies and Bend People to Your Will” focuses on Baron Draxum and (to a lesser extent) the Foot Recruit.
  • Villain Song: “The Evil League of Mutants” has the Turtles' origin explained in a similar style to the Major-General's Song.
  • Weird World, Weird Food: Leo and Donnie take April to Run of the Mill Pizza, a secret pizzeria run by Yokai from the Hidden City beneath New York. When their food arrives, while the Turtles are fine with it, April is thoroughly grossed out at the sight of a pizza topped with eyeball-covered tentacles that talk, and asks if they can just go to a normal restaurant. Leo then points out that as mutants, they can't go anywhere else.
    Leo: (With a mouth full of writhing tentacles) What do you mean? What's not normal about this?
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist:
    • Baron Draxum's goal is to mutate human-kind, but only because he's trying to stop a prophecy from something that would destroy the Hidden City and its youkai populace.
    • The band DIGG in "Pizza Pit". They just wanted somewhere to play their gig, but their plan involved destroying pizza restaurants in the city. The Turtles decide to get the chefs to form one huge pizza restaurant and have DIGG play at the opening.
  • Wham Episode:
    • “The Evil League Of Mutants” has, in song, the reveal that Baron Draxum is the creator of the Turtles and Splinter was once the famous movie-star and Battle Nexus Champion known as Lou Jitsu and thus Lou Jitsu is the father of the turtles.
    • “Shadow of Evil” features Splinter learning his sons have fought Baron Draxum and the Foot Clan without his knowledge, his sons in turn learn Splinter is Lou Jitsu, and also confirms that the Shredder exists in the setting.
    • “How to Make Enemies and Bend People to Your Will” has Baron Draxum take over the Foot Clan.
    • “Endgame” has Baron Draxum donning the Shredder armor and then revealing that the armor was really sucking out his life force so the Shredder could be reborn.
    • Despite being a comedic episode. "Pizza Puffs" ended with a Living Shadow kidnapping Meat Sweats.
    • "Battle Nexus: New York" ends with The Reveal that the creature that's been kidnapping villains from prior episodes is actually The Shredder under Big Mama's control, which she loses to the Foot Recruit, who takes control of the Shredder by stealing her ring.
    • The episodes from "Shreddy or Not" to "Rise" reveal quite a bit of new information in the series that raises more questions, and also gives some answers: the Shredder armor is heavily implied to be alien technology given to Oroku Saki by an alien being, with "Rise" suggesting all yokai and possibly their magic may have been created through alien technology, the Foot Recruit is revealed to be Casey Jones, and Leonardo is made the leader in the closing seconds of the series.
  • Wham Line: In “Shadow of Evil” after Splinter discovers the Foot Clan’s plans to revive an Ancient Evil.
    Splinter: You will never walk this Earth again Shredder.
    • When we finally learn Foot Recruit’s name in "Rise".
      Shredder: You dare defy me, General?
      Foot Recruit: The name’s Cassandra! Cassandra Jones!
  • Wham Shot:
    • The Evil League of Mutants reveals the Battle Nexus Champion is Lou Jitsu, from the films the Turtles are fans of... who also happens to be their father.
    • “The Ancient Art of Ninja Hide And Seek” ends with Splinter taking a photo from Big Mama's lair, which is of her and Splinter, back when he was Lou Jitsu, together.
    • It's not called attention to in-universe, but the masked ninja Big Mama calls out to seal Shredder at the end of “Many Unhappy Returns” has the same kind of chest plating as the Turtles.
    • In "Repairin' the Baron", someone is making a lot of noise above April's apartment. When Raph decides to check it out, the person who opens the door is Baron Draxum himself!
    • "Shreddy or Not", which explains the origins of the Shredder, shows an alien being that veteran TMNT fans will likely recognize as resembling Krang or an Utrom, with "Rise" showing the corpse of another one in the Crying Titan, which contains "Empyrean", the source of all the yokai's power, which recontextualizes the origins of yokai in the series.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: “Goyles, Goyles, Goyle” is Huginn and Muninn recalling how they met Baron Draxum while also showing how Lou Jitsu would become Splinter, and how the Turtles came into his care.
  • Wrap It Up: The final three episodes of the series, "Battle Nexus: New York", "E-Turtle Sunshine of the Spotless Mind/Shreddy or Not", "Anatawa Hitorijanai/Rise" (with the last three prefixed with "Finale" on their title cards) concludes the series' Myth Arc, and occurred due to Nickelodeon informing the crew that the series was being cancelled.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The first episode actually starts with Leo, Mike and Raph's iconic weapons getting destroyed during a Curb-Stomp Battle, then eventually finding their new weapons in the enemy's lair. Don's weapon is the only one that wasn't destroyed, due to it being heavily modified and reinforced his with powerful tech.
  • You Don't Look Like You: Race Lift aside, April looks very different from other incarnations of the character outside of wearing some yellow. Specifically, she has pigtails and pointy red-rimmed glasses, more akin to Irma.

(Rise! Of! The!) Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Heroes in a half shell — turtle power! (Rise!)
 
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"GET YOUR MIND RIGHT, SON!"

Raphael starts freaking out over his brothers going missing because Donatello forgot to remind him that they would be running late. Michaelangelo loudly tells Raph to stop panicking.

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