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Western Animation / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)

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You forgot the pizza.

"Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Heroes in a half-shell—turtle power!"

The first animated series starring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and the one responsible for the worldwide phenomenon spurred by the franchise. It lasted from 1987 to 1996; the first three seasons and for half of Season 4 it aired in syndication via Group W/Westinghouse, and after that it moved to CBS' Saturday morning lineup, and ironically, CBS and Westinghouse merged in 1995.

The story goes something like this: Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki were members of the Foot Clan. Out of jealousy, Saki compromises Yoshi's position in the clan and forces him into exile. Escaping to the New York sewers, Yoshi eventually makes pets of rats living there, as well as four baby turtles which happened to fall inside.

One day, Yoshi finds the turtles immersed in pink-colored ooze, which he gets all over himself while trying to clean it off. Soon, he finds the turtles growing to humanoid size, and himself turning into a humanoid rat; the ooze, which had been spilled by Saki in order to kill Yoshi, was a mutagen that would grant an organism traits from the previous organism it had come into physical contact with. Yoshi decides to raise the turtles, name them, and train them in the martial arts.

Eventually, the turtles rescue April O'Neil, a reporter covering a crime wave seemingly committed by ninjas. With her help, they discover that Oroku Saki, now calling himself the Shredder, had taken control of the Foot Clan, and had allied himself with exiled extradimensional warlord Krang in order to conquer the world. The turtles, naturally, vow to stop him, and obtain a way to restore Hamato Yoshi—now named Splinter "for obvious reasons"—to his human form.

Unlike the comic book that inspired it, the tone of the cartoon was for the most part more akin to a sitcom than an action series. The turtles were more liable to crack wise than act like the ninjas they supposedly were. The main villain group shared a sitcom dynamic, with Villain Decay setting in almost immediately. Many episodes were Strictly Formula, using whatever stock plots the producers had handy.

After seven seasons, the series was retooled in an attempt to make them more serious. The palette was darker, the Shredder and company were eventually Put on a Bus and were replaced by the alien Lord Dregg and his posse, and the tone became less humorous. Reactions to the "red sky" seasons remain mixed; while some appreciate the shift, others believe it took away from the series' strengths. This new direction lasted for three 8-episode seasons, until the series' end in 1996.

Despite—or perhaps because of—the numerous changes made to the source material, the series became wildly popular, providing the thrust behind a massive toy line, inspiring the Teenage Mutant Samurai Wombats cartoon subgenre, and even getting a two-part OVA in Japan. The series continues to influence the franchise today, with every later incarnation of the turtles maintaining at least part of the tone of the series, as well as multiple nods to it.

Thirteen years after its end, the series was revisited in Turtles Forever, a crossover between this incarnation of the Turtles and their counterparts from the 2003 series, though contractual issues meant that these Turtles had new voice actors. The 2012 series is essentially a modernized reboot of the 1987 series since it utilizes and/or modifies characters and elements from it. The 2012 series also includes a few appearances by the 1987 Turtles with their old voice actors intact (and Rob Paulsen, who voiced Raphael in this show, regularly voices Donatello in the 2012 one).

In September 2022, IDW Publishing created Saturday Morning Adventures, a comic series based on the 1980s versions of long-running franchises, which includes the 1987 series.

In July 2023, Nickelodeon, the owner of the IP since 2009, bought the rights to the 1987 series, which is ironic since CBS is now its sister company and another one of its sister companies, CBS Media Ventures, is descended in part from Group W Productions. This made the show the oldest animated series under Nick control, predating the first offical Nicktoons by 4 years.note 

See also: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (franchise page), the franchise character sheet, and the page for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, the comic book based on the animated series.

This incarnation of the Ninja Turtles includes examples of:

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    Tropes A-I 
  • Aborted Arc: Season 8 set up several possibly new enemies and allies for the Turtles — all of whom were promptly forgotten about in the following season in favor of Dregg and Carter.
    • It also ended with the implication that members of H.A.V.O.C. were still on the loose and that April would do something important in the far future, things that were never brought up again in Seasons 9 and 10.
    • In Season 9 one-shot villain Sleazebug was mutated by Dregg but never appeared again.
    • Although The Mona Lisa appeared in just one episode, it was implied her storyline was just beginning.
    • While Muck Man and Joe Eyeball were seemingly set up for recurring appearances, they didn't show up again.
    • Usagi Yojimbo's situation of being trapped on Earth has not been resolved by his last appearance.
  • The Ace:
    • Leonardo is a strange mix of being the best at everything and The Generic Guy.
    • April's Aunt Agatha Marbles is a very skilled detective.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: In the episode "Nightmare in the Lair", the Turtles end up in a place called Nightmare Land and are forced to fight monsters from nightmares that Michelangelo got from watching horror movies. When asked what movie he saw to have a nightmare about a monstrous and gigantic spider, Michelangelo explains that the spider is actually from a nightmare he got from eating bad pizza.
  • Adaptational Villainy:
    • Leatherhead is a recurring villain in this version, when he's an ally in other continuities (though it was common for him to start off as having a misunderstanding with the Turtles).
    • On the same token, the Rat King, officially a neutral character who teams up with Leatherhead in later appearances in this series, gets this in many episodes in which he appears. Made even more explicit in the "Red Sky" episodes.
    • Wingnut and Screwloose, who originated as allies in the Archie Comics series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, appeared as one-shot villains in the episode "Zach and the Alien Invaders".
  • Adaptation Origin Connection: In the original Mirage comics, Splinter and the Turtles mutating was a complete accident, and didn't involve the Shredder. Here, Shredder delibrately poured mutagen into the sewer, thinking it would kill Hamato Yoshi.
  • The Ahnold: Hanz and Fitz in "Planet Of The Turtles" and Wally Airhead, along with his gang in "Leonardo Cuts Loose".
  • Alien Abduction: In "Burne's Blues", after an already difficult night, Burne Thompson and Vernon Fenwick get beamed up by Elvis Presley looking aliens. They get strapped on an examination table and subjected to tickle torture.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Raphael lampshades this perfectly in the episode "Usagi Yojimbo" when they meet the titular character.
    Raphael:"Not only is he from feudal Japan, but also from another dimension. So, of course, he speaks English."
    • Pretty much all Dimension X aliens spoke flawless English. Some even had accents to boot!
  • The Alleged Car: The Technodrome. It is a legitimately deadly war machine, when it works. Unfortunately for the bad guys that's almost never. Many a scheme was hatched just to get the darn thing running and it would remain trapped inoperable for entire seasons at a time. You could actually tell which season of the show you were watching by the location of the Technodrome. First, it was under New York, then it was in Dimension X, then it was in the center of the Earth, then it was trapped on a particular asteroid in Dimension X, it returned to Earth but was trapped in the Arctic, then it was at the bottom of the ocean, until finally it was sent back to Dimension X, but without Shredder and Krang.
  • All There in the Manual: Demonicus, the mutant ram member of H.A.V.O.C., has his name given only in a model sheet and did not seem family friendly at the time.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version had three different endings.
  • Alto Villainess: Shreeka.
  • Amazon Chaser: Leonardo, who is completely taken by Lotus Blossom after she defeats him in a duel.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Shredder's mother (being a retired villain) is this to her son when trying to help him capture the turtles. Much to Kraang's amusement.
  • Ambiguously Jewish: Irma Langinstein and Vernon Fenwick.
  • Ambiguously Human: The Rat King looks human for the most part, but no explanation is given for how he's able to control rats and he takes offense when Scumbug calls him a human in "Night of the Rogues".
  • And I Must Scream:
    • Synapse in the Red Sky episode "H.A.V.O.C. In The Streets". Donatello defeats the electric mutant created by Titanus by sending him through a ham radio, leaving him permanently trapped on the radio airwaves forever.
    • Implied to be Baxter's final fate in "Revenge of The Fly!" when he's trapped in another dimension forever.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: The Rat King falls under the Animal Alias type since he has no actual rat powers. Interestingly, most of the characters in this show fall under Beast Man or Animal Superhero despite the vast number of Animal Motifs.
    • There was also Bug-Man who only showed up in two episodes. He was an insect-themed superhero who curiously turned into a powerful superhuman when angered. In the episode, he had become a pacifist but since Michelangelo needed his help, he tried his best to make him angry so he would turn into his super-powered form.
  • Animation Bump: More times than possibly any cartoon in the '80s and '90s. The animation style could go from being horrible to decent, sometimes in a single episode. The first two seasons each kept with a single animation studio (Toei for Season 1, and A-1 Productions for Season 2), but the seasons grew much longer starting with Season 3, resulting in animation being farmed out to several different studios*. This continued until the "Red Sky" era, where the seasons got cut down to eight episodes each and a single studio (this time Dai Won Animationnote ) became sufficient to handle all the show's animation again.
    • On top of that, a number of Season 3 episodes and the entire first half of Season 4 was farmed out to Murakami-Wolf-Swenson's studio in Ireland. Some of the episodes turned out okay, but most of these outsourced episodes were among the worst-animated in the show's run. Likewise, the "Vacation in Europe" episodes were farmed out to French studio IDDH on a smaller budget than usual, and suffer particularly for it.
  • Animesque: The first season had a very obvious anime influence — unusually though, it was for reasons of practicality rather than artistic preferences. The show's original character designer, Ira Turek came up with a load of character designs which were butt ugly and nearly impossible to animate well, resulting in him being fired. He was replaced at the last minute by Peter Chung, who redesigned the primary characters to have a more Anime-inspired look in order to ensure that the Toei Animation team would be able to work with them. The following seasons largely ditched the animesque character designs. Showrunner David Wise spent some time in Japan prior to working on TMNT, and has gone on record sayingnote  that April's iconic character design, with a yellow jumpsuit and camcorder, was based on Fujiko Mine's reporter outfit from The Castle of Cagliostro.
  • Animorphism: A lot, both temporary and permanent.
  • Another Dimension: Several, most notably Dimension X.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In "New York's Shiniest", Rex-1 saves April from being arrested by security guards. And these are the charges he recites:
    Rex-1: (holding the guards) You are charged for disturbing the peace...
    Fat guard: Put us down, you hunk of tin!
    Rex-1: ...resisting arrest...
    Thin guard: You ain't never gettin' away with this!
    Rex-1: ...and using a double negative. (throws them on the wall)
    • This was also used during the end of the episode "The Maltese Hamster".
    Donatello (narrative): Big Louie was arrested for robbery, racketeering, and pulling those little tags off of mattresses.
  • Art Evolution: The Red Sky seasons have a very different art style from the earlier seasons.
  • Artistic License – Engineering: In "The Big Zipp Attack", Shredder and co. try to steal the top of a metal spike from the roof of a building. If the spike's top is removed, the entire building will fall over, as the construction of the building is somehow completely dependent on the top of the spike staying in place (even though the spike itself more or less resembles an antenna mast sticking out of a flat rooftop).
  • Artistic License – Biology: In earlier seasons the Turtles are occasionally called amphibians. Turtles are reptiles. While some of these instances could be taken as an intentional insult, the Turtles call themselves amphibians on at least one occasion.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics:
    • The series is inconsistent about Shredder's family name (Oroku in the original comics) and Japanese name order (surname first). In one episode he has a brother named Kazuo Saki, and in another his mother is named Miyoko Saki, but in yet another his ancestor is named Oroku Sancho. Krang tends to address Shredder as Saki, which should mean he's on First-Name Basis.
    • In the episode where the Turtles are entrusted with the urn of Chakahachi, the urn's owner refers to them as "Turtle-sans". The correct plural for the "-san" honorific is "-san" (no final "s").
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign:
    • A subtle running gag was for Splinter's hot-blooded (supposedly) Japanese kung-fu noises to actually be the names of famous indigenous Americans. Listen closely in a few episodes, and you can clearly hear him saying "Hiawatha" and "Sacagawea" while fighting. There's also the similarly absurd "Kur-Li Maneuver" from the episode "Blast From the Past" - a supposedly great and ancient, vaguely Asian-sounding martial arts technique which turns out to be an impression of Curly Howard from The Three Stooges.
    • Splinter's real name, Hamato Yoshi, is itself an example of this, as the surname doesn't exist in real Japanese. The Japanese dub called him "Yoshihama Takeshi" instead.
  • Ascended Extra: The Shredder was killed in the first issue of the original comic. (Although he came back a few times, including in the form of a giant, mutant shark.) Here, he collaborates with Krang as the longtime Big Bad of the series.
  • As You Know:
    • Spoofed in the episode "Super Rocksteady and Mighty Bebop":
      Shredder: Only mutants are immune to the Mesmerizer's beam; humans like myself can't be near it when they set it off!
      Krang: You don't have to explain it to me; I invented it, remember?
      Shredder: I wasn't explaining it to you... (points at the camera) I was explaining it to them.
    • And again in Season 5's "Enter Mutagen Man":
      Krang: We must have that mutagen ready before the rocket takes off this afternoon!"
      Shredder: I know, I know, you don't have to tell me!
      Krang: I'M NOT! (looks at camera) I'm telling the audience.
  • Atlantis: Plays a part in the episodes "The Lost Queen of Atlantis" and "Atlantis Awakes". While both episodes aired in Season 7, Atlantis is portrayed completely differently in each of them — first as a villainous cult and later as a friendly lost world.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever:
    • "Attack of the 50-Foot Irma" where Irma is accidentally enlarged by an enlarging ray powered by Exaporon, by Krang (who meant to fire the beam at Shredder). While "attack" is stretching it, upon being giant, Irma's clumsiness gets the better of her. Eventually, the Turtles manage to shrink her back to her normal size.
    • Also, Krang's robotic body was able to grow into this until the Ninja Turtles broke the microchip that enabled it to.
    • In "Turtles Of The Jungle", a scientist accidentally enlarges a monkey, then enlarges Don to stop him.
    • "Big Bug Blunder" had several giant bugs, created somewhat by accident by Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. It was their intention to make an army of giant ants, but instead Bebop and Rocksteady wasted most of Krang's chemical on only a couple of insects, which included an ant, a praying mantis, a wasp, and a fly. Cue giant monster fight.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Technodrome. Virtually unstoppable on occasion, but virtually unstartable the rest of the time, as its heavy fuel requirements and tendency to get stuck in various remote locations make it hard to manage.
  • Back Up Twin: Baxter Stockman's twin brother Barney Stockman would probably be this if he appeared more than once.
  • Bad Boss: The Shredder constantly abuses and insults Bebop and Rocksteady. He also wasn't very nice towards Baxter Stockman when he was his lackey.
  • Bad Future: Inverted in "Once Upon A Time Machine", where the future is bright, clean and peaceful, because the Turtles did away with Shredder, Krang and their forces. Even the former members of the same gang as Bebop and Rocksteady took to living a life without crime. That is, until Bebop and Rocksteady get their former gang into the future, where there seems no law enforcement (or need thereof). The turtles, though, see themselves as not having aged well at all.
    • Played straight in "Carter The Enforcer". in which a pair of time travelers bring the Turtles forward to see what their twenty-years-later future is like: a dark dystopian world dominated by the alien warlord Dregg, where the Turtles are long dead. Fortunately the Turtles are able to avert this future by changing the timeline.
  • Bad Guy Bar: The Secret Hideout in "Farewell, Lotus Blossom".
  • Badass Adorable: Kala's pet Grybyx is an adorable creature that can turn into a hideous monster when fed the wrong food.
  • Badass Longcoat: The turtles' trench coats. Also Rat King gets one in the eighth season.
  • Base on Wheels: The Technodrome is Shredder and Krang's base of operations and has tank treads, though most of the time it's damaged to the point of being immobile.
  • Bat People:
    • During the five part pilot, Krang gives Shredder the idea to use the mutagen on the gang members in his employ. After turning Bebop into a warthog and Rocksteady into a rhino, he applies the mutagen to one gang member (offscreen) and turns him into a bat. This same gang member is restored to humanity when Shredder demonstrates the retro-mutagen gun on him.
    • A later episode has the turtles face off with a pair of aliens, one of whom, Wingnut, is a bat creature. Oddly, he's an ally of the turtles in the toy line.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Technodrome in Season 1 and 3.
  • Berserk Button: Barney Stockman will go in fits of rage whenever someone mistakes him for his twin brother Baxter.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • Kala's pet Grybyx is usually a sweet and docile creature, until you feed it the wrong kind of food.
    • Also Irma, considering that she was able to defeat the Rat King after he paid more attention to April than her.
    • Donatello when he becomes the Dark Turtle.
  • Big Bad:
    • For the first eight seasons, the main villains are Shredder and Krang.
    • Following Shredder and Krang's banishment to Dimension X at the end of "Turtle Trek", Lord Dregg becomes the main antagonist for the show's final two seasons.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Shredder and Krang are the main villains of the show and almost always work together in their plans.
  • Big Brother Bully:
    • Shredder belittles and mocks his little brother Kazuo Saki.
    • Zach's older brother Walt was a bit mean to him in his earlier appearances, but later softened up.
  • Big Eater: Michaelangelo is the most gluttonous of the four Turtles, but the others have their moments, too.
  • Birthday Episode:
    • The Season 3 episode “Michellangello’s Birthday.”
    • “Attack of the 50 Foot Irma” takes place on Irma’s birthday.
    • Burne Thompson’s birthday happened in the episode “20,000 Leaks Under the City.”
  • Body Horror: Some of the mutations in the series are quite disgusting. The varying quality of the animation doesn't help it.
    • Kraang, a non-mutagen example, especially in the first season. He's a bubbling, pulsating, wet, glistening, slimy blob of brains that burbles, groans and slurps with every motion.
    • Mutagen Man, who consists of a throbbing brain, pulsating guts, chattering teeth and staring mad eyes in a heap of slime.
    • The turtles themselves undergo this during the Red Sky episodes. The form Michelangelo takes in the first episode of Season 10 is particularly distorted, with mouth-like orifices in his arms that shoot energy weapons, distended limbs, craggy plates thrusting from his shell, bulging muscles and drooping, half-melted flesh.
  • Bound and Gagged: April gets tied up and gagged so often that eventually the Turtles can recognize her muffled voice even from a communicator/telephone. And this being a '80s cartoon that lasted to the '90s means that the even the Turtles are given this treatment occasionally too. Everybody gets their fair share.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: The Shredder proves himself more than a match for the turtles in armed combat, yet on many occasions when confronted he 'escapes', often with the words "another time turtles!" Why another time? Why not now!? How else do you think they made so many seasons?
  • Bowdlerise: Over in the UK, Ireland and Germany, "ninja" has until more recently been a banned word, so the series (as well as the franchise as a whole) would be known as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles. Also, all scenes where Mikey wields his signature nunchuks were cut as much as possible due to the media-wide ban on them in the UK at the time. By the later seasons, the series would see Mikey using a grappling-hook weapon instead just to get around these kind of problems. Eventually, years after restrictions were loosened, the first few seasons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles were eventually released uncensored on DVD in the UK.
  • Brain Monster: Krang has been reduced to a brain thanks to a judgment in his home dimension of Dimension X. He went through several iterations of armor to protect this squishy body until he reached a full robotic suit of armor.
  • Brainy Brunette:
    • Irma, brown-haired nerdy type.
    • Mona Lisa.
    • Buffy Shellhammer and Foster Fenwick also.
  • Bratty Half-Pint:
    • Buffy Shellhammer and Foster Fenwick, at first.
    • Also the Polarisoid Kids and the Starchild, initially.
  • Bumbling Henchmen Duo: Bebop and Rocksteady are a pair of muscle-bound, but dim-witted and cowardly minions of Shredder.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Baxter Stockman. Unlike the original comic villain, who was his own entity, here Baxter is a shaky ally of Shredder, who eventually swears vengeance against both him and the turtles after they make his life a living hell. This status even carried over to his counterpart in the 2003 show; albeit in Darker and Edgier form.
    • Bebop and Rocksteady can never catch a break.
    • Not to mention Vernon. If anything bad happens to someone at Channel 6, you can bet he'll be the first person on the receiving end. But he usually deserves it anyway.
    • Shredder became one by the third season, as his defeats became more and more humiliating, such as being reduced to a child, trapped in block of cement, or turned into a tiny fly, among others. By the end of the seventh season he gets out of this territory.
  • By-the-Book Cop: Shredder's brother, Kazuo.
  • Camera Abuse: In the intro, Raphael throws a pizza directly at the camera, with mushrooms and pepperoni sticking to the lens as the rest of it falls away.
  • Camp Straight: Vernon. He's extremely wimpy and effeminate but he develops a crush on Irma in "Super Irma".
  • Canon Foreigner: The cartoon features many characters who weren't present in the original Mirage comic, Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, and the Channel 6 crew being the most notable.
  • Canon Immigrant:
    • Antrax and Scumbug in Night of the Rogues. They are originally from the Archie Comics TMNT Adventures.
    • Tokka and Rahzar from the second live-action film appeared in the episode "Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter".
  • The Case of...: The series had episodes titled "The Case of the Missing Pizza" and "Case of the Hot Kimono".
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • In "The Old Switcheroo", Splinter and Shredder accidentally switched bodies when they were hit by a mind transfer machine during a fight against one another. After being almost discovered by Krang when he brain scanned him, Splinter in Shredder's body decided to go to the Turtles for help in getting back to his real body. Although they knew something wasn't right with their master, the Turtles weren't convinced when Splinter in Shredder's body arrived as they believed he was really their enemy. Splinter tried to get the Turtles to understand that he's trapped inside Shredder's body but they still didn't believe him. However, hearing their master wise wisdom and seeing that he wasn't willing to fight them, the Turtles realized that Splinter was telling the truth about being trapped inside Shredder's body. After everything was explained, the Turtles devised a plan to get Splinter and Shredder back in their correct bodies, which worked despite Bebop and Rocksteady almost running everything.
    • In "Zach and the Alien Invaders": after reading comic books about alien invaders, Zach believed that there was one going on as he saw one for real. However, Zach wasn't able to convince the citizen, the Turtles and his family about seeing real alien invaders. After being sent to a military school, Zach notice that the school is where the alien invaders were headquarter then called the Turtles for help. Although they weren't entirely convinced, the Turtles do get the feeling that something was wrong as Michelangelo and Donatello went to the military school Zach is in so they can investigate. However, while there, Michelangelo and Donatello realized that Zach was right about alien invaders being on Earth. While heading over to the military school on the Turtle blimp, Leonardo and Raphael see the space ship, after the alien were defeated by the kids at the school, Zach, Michelangelo and Donatello, as they realized that their friend was telling the truth about the whole thing. After that, Zach was given an apology from everyone for not believing him about being alien invaders.
    • Donatello in "Too Hot to Handle".
  • Casting Gag: Rocksteady and Bebop were voiced by Cam Clarke and Barry Gordon respectively, who also happen to be the respective voices of Leonardo and Donatello. Later, when Tokka and Rahzar, who were deliberately designed to be Suspiciously Similar Substitutes to Bebop and Rocksteady, were introduced to the show as Canon Immigrants from The Secret of the Ooze, they were respectively voiced by Rob Paulsen and Townsend Coleman, who are also the respective voices for Raphael and Michelangelo. Thus, the Foot Clan was given four Funny Animals who can be considered their equivalent to the Turtles.
  • Character Catchphrase: Several, with "Cowabunga" being far and away the most recognizable.
    • "Turtle Power!"
    • Donatello's catch phrase was "That was my favorite bo".
    • Leonardo's catch phrase was "We've got to do something".
    • Burne Thompson's was "Go go go go go go".
    • Leatherhead's was "I guarantee", bordering on Verbal Tic.
    • "Go Green Machine!"
    • "Turtles fight with honor!"
  • Cerebus Syndrome: The last three seasons were a lot darker in tone and were nearly devoid of lighthearted humor.
  • Character Development:
  • Characterization Marches On: Vernon acts completely different in the first season.
  • Chick Magnet: All the turtles fared pretty well in this department.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome:
    • Happened quite frequently. Nearly every episode would introduce a new ally of the turtles or a villain who swears revenge after being defeated, only to never be seen again. Many of the characters from the Lighter and Softer earlier seasons (The Punk Frogs, The Neutrinos, and Mondo Gecko, etc.) were nowhere to be seen in the Darker and Edgier Red Sky seasons.
    • After Shredder and Krang are defeated at the end of "Turtle Trek", they simply stop appearing in the show. Even in the show's final episode, when the Turtles explore the Technodrome's ruins, Shredder and Krang are nowhere to be found.
  • City of Adventure: New York City.
  • Clear My Name: This happened in several instances. The first and most notable example would be "Return of the Shredder", where the Turtles were framed for a series of crimes by a gang of costumed crooks called the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang.
  • Clip Show: In "Blast from the Past", Splinter loses his memory, and the turtles tell him his backstory, featuring clips from the first two episodes and "Shreddered and Splintered" to revive his memory.
  • Color-Coded Characters: In the Mirage comics, the Turtles all wore red bandanas (not that it mattered much in a black-and-white comic), leaving their distinct weapons as usually the best way to tell them apart. Obviously, this series didn't go that way - giving Leonardo blue, Donatello purple and Michaelangelo orange, while Raphael kept red. All succeeding adaptations have maintained this approach, as something other than weapons (especially if they don't have them out or otherwise visible) is needed to distinguish these extremely non-distinct characters from each other.
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: Before it started establishing its own continuity, the Archie Comics series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures started out as an adaptation of this cartoon, with the three-issue miniseries "Heroes in a Half-Shell" consisting of adaptations of the Five-Episode Pilot and the first four issues of the ongoing series being adaptations of the episodes "Return of the Shredder" and "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles".
  • Comm Links: The turtles communicators.
  • Composite Character: In the original comics, Hamato Yoshi was murdered and his pet rat became mutated into Splinter. In this version, Yoshi himself is mutated into a rat-man. A rather poignant episode lampshaded the fact that Splinter was pretty lonely because of this, since he couldn't interact with other humans anymore. He was mostly a quiet man after all.
  • Compressed Vice: Several episodes have the Turtles develop one of these for the purposes of the episode having a plot. One example is "Leonardo vs. Tempestra", which has Leonardo, normally the most straight-laced, level-headed turtle, develop an addiction to the titular character's video game, so much so that he obsesses over the game to the detriment of his ninja practice, and sneaks out of the lair at night to play it more. He's never shown an obsession like this before, and hasn't since.
  • Conspicuous Trenchcoat: The turtles' outfit of choice whenever outside the sewers.
  • Convection, Schmonvection: Lava arguably made more appearances than the teens from Dimension X in this show, but one particularly blatant incident occurs in an episode where a rock soldier accidentally knocks a special welding material into lava, turning the lava into an unknown yellow goo. Shredder inspects this substance by STICKING HIS HAND INTO IT AND PULLING SOME OUT. Hilariously, while he's standing right next to a red-hot puddle of lava, he does complain about the heat, but apparently the goo is cool to the touch. Suspension of disbelief aside, who sticks their bare hand into mysterious gelatinous substances like tha... oh. right. Shredder.
  • Cool Airship: The Turtle Blimp.
  • Cool Big Sis: April was somewhat like this to the turtles considering she is older than them at 28.
  • Cool Old Lady: Shredder's mom, for being able to put him in his place on numerous occasions.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: A Running Gag is the various types of pizza the Turtles end up having, as a lot of them include toppings that absolutely do not belong on pizza, yet they still scarf them down, anyway. Standout examples include...
    • Peanut butter and avocado pizza with extra pickles ("Pizza By the Shred")
    • Marshmallow and asparagus pizza ("Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady")
    • Butterscotch, onion, and anchovy pizza ("Case of the Hot Kimono")
    • Chocolate chip pizza ("The Gang's All Here")
    • Fudge, sardine, chili pepper, and whipped cream pizza ("Donatello Trashes Slash")
  • Correspondence Course: Donatello used one to further his education beyond super genius, only to run into problems with getting the degree itself: he has to pick it up in person, and the university mistook him for "Miss Dona Tello". It turns out the owner of the university was looking for a mate as part of a Genius Breeding Act, which is why he wanted "Dona" to appear in person.
  • Create Your Own Hero: Shredder ends up creating the Turtles. He poured a caustic chemical down the sewer where Hamato Yoshi was living in an attempt to kill him. The chemical turned out to be a powerful mutagen which made the Turtles anthropomorphic and transformed Yoshi into an anthropomorphic rat named Splinter. Shredder tried to use this information to convince the Turtles to join his side, but they declined.
  • Crossover: A few episodes feature the Usagi Yojimbo protagonist Miyamoto Usagi (renamed after his series title here), having inadvertently been transported into the Turtles' dimension.
  • Crying Wolf: Played with in "Zach and the Alien Invaders". Zach wasn't purposely lying when making false alarms about alien invaders as he truly believed it was happening. When real aliens come and take over the military school he was shipped off to, he tries to warn the Turtles, but they think he was just misinterpreting things again. They get suspicious, however, when the phone gets disconnected on Zach's side and decide to investigate, proving what Zach claimed is true.
  • Cute Bruiser:
    • April and Irma had their moments of this.
    • Also Mona Lisa.
  • Cut the Juice: Second variety; April stops one menace of the week this way.
    • Another time, she stops a generator from overloading by pulling the power plug. She stops a GENERATOR by UNPLUGGING itnote .
  • Damsel in Distress: April O'Neil, to the point where Shredder once lampshades this by admitting that, when he can't come up with a decent plan, he just defaults to kidnapping her.
  • Darker and Edgier: The final three seasons, also known as the "red sky" seasons are this compared to the first seven seasons, for various reasons, including, but not limited to, the humor being greatly reduced (fourth wall humor is still there, but not as prominent as in earlier seasons), Shredder becoming more of a threat again, after years of Villain Decay, the more comic relief characters like Bebop & Rocksteady, and Vernon and Irma are phased out by the end of Season 8, the more metal-oriented theme song, the color of the sky being changed to dark red (hence the nickname "red sky" seasons), bright and vibrant colors are not as prominent as in earlier seasons, the Turtles no longer waste their time eating pizza, the Turtles skin tone is changed from lighter green to darker green (along with having bigger eye holes in their masks to show some skin around their eyes) and last, but not least, starting with Season 9, we are introduced to Lord Dregg, easily the show's most dangerous villain.
    • Season 7 note  is also noticeably darker than the first six seasons, acting as the link between those seasons and the Red Sky seasons.
  • Dating Catwoman:
    • Leonardo and Lotus Blossom
    • Raphael and Mona Lisa.
  • A Day in the Limelight: There were a few of these in the series.
    • "Bebop and Rocksteady Conquer The Universe" is one episode that gives focus to Bebop and Rocksteady
    • Irma too, in episodes like "Turtle Terminator", "Attack of The 50 Foot Irma", and "Super Irma".
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Raphael, to the point where he should be the picture for the trope.
    • Also Shredder and Krang, usually with each other.
    • Splinter. Fans tend to agree that he has some of the best lines in the show.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen:
  • Demoted to Extra:
    • After Carter showed up, April was relegated to sitting in her apartment and researching stuff on the internet for all of Season 9 and the first few episodes of Season 10. Fortunately, she started taking a more active role in the final few episodes once Carter was written out.
    • The Shredder in the ninth and tenth seasons.
    • The Triceratons tend to be recurring antagonists in the Ninja Turtles franchise. In this show, they only make one appearance in "Night of the Dark Turtle."
    • Casey Jones is usually one of the Turtles closest friends and allies in most continuities, in addition to being romantically involved with April most of the time. In this show, this incarnation of Casey is still an ally to the Turtles but isn't as close of a friend, does not get romantically involved with April, and makes a total of five appearances altogether.
  • Delusions of Doghood: It's heavily implied (if not outright stated) that the Rat King actually believes himself to be a rat.
  • Depending on the Writer: Every single character is subject to change. Poor Leonardo go hit by this the hardest and never seemed able to keep a consistent personality.
    • Shredder also got hit with this pretty bad considering his level of competence and maturity shifted with practically every writer. This made it so he either completely overpowered the turtles without breaking a sweat ("The Incredible Shrinking Turtles") or was on the opposite side of the spectrum and was completely defeated without even putting up a decent fight. ("The Case Of The Killer Pizzas")
    • Exactly how well known the Turtles are among the public varies somewhat. Some episodes will have civilians recognizing them on sight, others will have people having no clue who or what they are.
    • Vernon is either tolerant of the Turtles and recognizes their service to the city, or he too views them as menaces to society; the latter was never quite to the same extent of Burne until the beginning of the Red Sky seasons, when he then does a Face–Heel Turn and agrees with Burne that the Channel 6 building blowing up is all their fault.
    • Early on, April was either trying to convince Irma that the Turtles were heroes, or keep them a secret from her. This of course ended when the characters finally met.
  • Desperately Craves Affection: Irma, so very much.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • The episode "Bebop and Rocksteady Conquer The Universe" features this.
    • Baxter Stockman also had his own taste of this trope in a few of his appearances.
  • Don't Try This at Home:
    • While hanging from a flying helicopter, Raphael informs the viewers that they’re professionals and tells them not to try this at home.
    • When Bebop and Rocksteady jump off a moving subway train, Rocksteady tells the viewers not to try this.
  • Dork in a Sweater: Irma usually wears a light blue sweater with a turtleneck.
  • Double Entendre: In the opening theme no less, Donatello does machines.
    • Also this:
    • In "Green With Jealousy", Rocksteady eats a slice of pizza with Shredder and Krang's love potion, figuring it would have no effect on him, only for him to fall madly in love with April when they encounter her at the submarine base.
    Rocksteady: Come to me, my precious!
    April: No way, horn head!
    • In one episode, when Irma is helping the turtles on an undercover assignment, she is told to stand and wait for someone to pick her up (meaning wait for her ride). She scornfully replies that she isn't "that kind of girl".
    • In "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles", the turtles are doing jungle fighting training, and Leonardo throws a dagger which slices the daisy off the camouflage Raphael is wearing.
    Raphael: Oh great! I've just been de-daisyed!
  • The Dragon:
    • Rocksteady and Bebop were Co-Dragons to The Shredder.
    • Baxter Stockman was Shredder's Dragon for the first half of the second season.
    • In the Red Sky seasons, Hi-Tech was Lord Dregg's Dragon in Season 9. He was later replaced by Mung in Season 10.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: The Shredder sometimes falls into this starting in Season 2, though the relationship between him and Krang is basically a Big Bad Duumvirate since the plan seems to be for both of them to rule the world.
  • Drill Tank: The Technodrome's transport modules.
  • Drives Like Crazy: Splinter of all characters does this in "Enter the Fly" when he pulls a Big Damn Heroes for the Turtles. Take note he's never driven a car in his life.
  • Dumb Muscle:
    • Bebop and Rocksteady are both very strong, but not very bright. As Donatello put it, the mutation didn't up their IQs any.
  • Early Adaptation Weirdness: This series is noteworthy for being the only screen adaptation to Race Lift Baxter Stockman from black to white, while every screen adaptation since has kept his original skin colour.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • A relatively mild case — the show's tone and overall storyline remained pretty much intact from the first few episodes until the "Red Sky" era. The big differences were in the way the first season was animated, with a much more obvious anime/manga influence (in part due to Toei Animation animating the first season), but also being prone to moments of sloppiness and Off-Model characters. Raphael was also more similar to his comic counterpart initially, to the point where he threatened to kill Baxter Stockman if he wouldn't tell the turtles where Shredder was.
    • The first season is only five episodes long, telling a relatively tight narrative that sets up the status quo for the following seasons.
    • In the first episode of Season 2, Return of the Shredder, Baxter is able to kidnap Splinter from the Turtles' lair without issue. Soon after, simply finding the Turtles home would become a major goal of Shredder's, treated as being nearly impossible due to the complex sewer system.
    • In his first few appearances, Krang had a rather freakish design. His later character design was a lot more cartoony, but still a bit creepy.
    • Krang's robotic body actually makes grunting noises in its first appearance. It's completely silent in all future appearances with the sole exception of "Krangenstein Lives", although in that case it had a video game program inserted into it by mistake which explained why it talked there.
    • In one early episode, Splinter is shown eating pizza alongside his sons, even though later episodes established that he can't even stand the thought of trying to eat it, to the point that a bodyswapped Shredder eating pizza serves as an Out-of-Character Alert to the turtles.
    • The Channel 6 team was much less exaggerated in Season 1 compared to the rest of the series. Burne's obsessive hatred for the turtles was not established yet, and Vernon's cowardice and pettiness was much more downplayed in Season 1, even willing to help April get her scoop in the Season 1 finale. Irma was also completely absent in Season 1.
  • Educational Short: Season 4 introduced short segments called "Turtle Tips" which usually dealt with environmental issues.
  • Enfant Terrible: Shredder, as shown in the clips of his life from "Shredderville". He is seen angrily breaking toys as a baby and picking fights with other kids when he was a child.
  • Episode Title Card: For the first 3 and a half seasons until the move to CBS.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas:
  • Everyone Has Standards: Irma once dated an accordion player who was too obnoxious and love struck even for someone as desperate as her, requiring the Turtles to scare him off.
  • Evil Knockoff:
    • Metal Head, a robotic turtle.
    • Also Slash, an evil mutant turtle.
    • And Lex-1, Shredder's clone of Rex-1.
  • Evil Redhead: Baxter Stockman's twin brother Barney has red hair and is also evil.
  • Evil Twin:
    • The Doku plant used to poison April is the evil twin to the identical looking Gazai plant used to cure April.
    • Also Donatello's duplicate, and the duplicates of the other turtles that he creates.
    • And The Turtle Terminator when it impersonates Irma.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The theme song mentions the Turtles' personalities and their never-ending mission to thwart the Shredder's schemes.
  • Expy:
    • Mr. Ogg, an alien with mannerisms and a laugh similar to Pee-wee Herman.
    • The host for the Show Within a Show On Trial, Clayton Kellerman, is similar to Morton Downey, Jr. and his show.
    • Two businessmen whose ventures figure into the Turtles' adventures, real estate magnate Donald J. Lofty and fast food executive McDonald Crump, are obvious references to Donald Trump, who was a well-known celebrity businessman before becoming the 45th President of the United States.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Shortly before the entire Channel 6 staff was Put on a Bus, Vernon Fenwick ends up siding with Burne Thompson, and agreeing that the Turtles are a menace to society, and all because they didn't save the Channel 6 building from Shredder's explosive device in time.
  • False Reassurance: This exchange from Shredderville, when the Turtles encounter the unmutated Bebop and Rocksteady.
    Human Rocksteady: Turtles, huh? We like turtles.
    Michelangelo: That's a relief.
    Human Bebop: Yeah. We like you for lunch!
  • Fatal Flaw / Foreshadowing: The Turtles' Bad Future selves in "Once Upon A Time Machine" turn out to be everything Splinter warned them against earlier on. Specifically, Donatello turning blind from reading in poor light, Raphael's inability to work from excessively watching television, and Michelangelo's eating disorder.
  • Fat Bastard: Quite a lot of villains on the show were overweight, including Big Louie, Titanus, and Mad Dog McMutt.
  • Feathered Fiend: Raptor from H.A.V.O.C. is this.
  • For Halloween, I Am Going as Myself: At the beginning of "Super Irma", the Turtles don't know what they should wear to the Channel 6 Halloween party. Splinter suggests that they go as themselves, and they do.
    • In "Raphael Meets His Match", this is how Raphael pulls off going to a costume party on a ship that he wins. Hilariously, one of the other guests is also there dressed as a ninja turtle and complains about a lack of originality some people have with costume ideas.
  • Fish People: Mona Lisa from "Raphael Meets His Match". She's a former human mutated into a half-fish, half-reptile Mix-and-Match Critter.
    • Also Alim "Merdude" Coelacanth from the episode "Atlantis Awakes".
    • The episode "Rebel Without a Fin" has Ray, a mutant manta ray, and April gets turned into a fish woman.
  • Five-Episode Pilot: The first season consisted of a five-episode miniseries where the Turtles first met April and their battles with Shredder and Krang first began.
  • Flanderization: Bebop and Rocksteady weren't exactly smart in the first season, but were portrayed as serious threats to the turtles. Later seasons toned up their stupidity to ridiculous degrees, and made them even more incompetent.
    • EVERYBODY on the show as time went on.
  • Forced Transformation:
  • Fountain of Youth: All four turtles (Leonardo twice), Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady have been turned into kids (or in Shredder's case, a baby) through various means in the series. In each case, they are returned to normal age by the end of the episode (Except for Shredder's, where the episode ends with him still a baby, but he's fully grown again in his next episode.)
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: To quote the theme song: Leonardo leads (phlegmatic); Donatello does machines (melancholic); Raphael is cool, but rude (choleric); Michaelangelo is a party dude (sanguine).
  • Frame-Up: Back when they were both students in the same dojo, Oroku Saki betrayed Hamato Yoshi by using a knife to pin his shirt to the wall. When their master came by, Saki bowed to him but Yoshi couldn't because he was stuck, making him look disrespectful to the master. When Yoshi finally pulled himself free, the action made it look like he'd drawn the knife to attack their master which led to his exile.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip:
    • "The Old Switcheroo", During a fight against one another and getting hit by a machine, Splinter and Shredder minds were accidentally swapped. Although, due to their personalties, Splinter in Shredder's body tried not to give himself away because of his kind demeanor to the mutants with Krang, even fooling them when a brain-scan machine was used on him by controlling his brain waves, while Shredder in Splinter's body made the Turtles realize right away that something was wrong as they and April decided to look for answers as to what was going on. While looking for answers, the Turtles with April were confronted by Bebop, Rocksteady and Splinter in Shredder's body. After taking care of Bebop and Rocksteady, the Turtles surround what they believe was "Shredder" as Splinter tried to get them to listen to him and understand that he's not really their enemy but they don't believe him. However, Splinter got the Turtles to listen to him as he was able to convinced them that it's really him but trapped inside Shredder's body. After learning the truth, the Turtles help Splinter and Shredder get back to their real bodies, which they succeeded even though they had some interferences from Bebop and Rocksteady.
    • "Raphael Drives 'Em Wild", had Raphael switch with a taxi driver. An unusual one, it reverses most of the sub-tropes, in that everybody else knows that they've switched bodies, but Raphael and the taxi driver are unable to acknowledge this fact. Also the bodies retained their muscle memories, so Raphael could no longer do ninjutsu but could drive insanely well.
  • Friend to All Living Things: Michaelangelo, who has had several pets in the past, including his pigeon Pete and his parrot Ditto.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare:
    • Baxter Stockman started out as a hapless scientist who only wanted to use his Mousers to help with the city's rat problem. He ends up becoming one of the Turtles' most fearsome enemies.
    • Alpha-1 started off as just another Foot Soldier until an accident greatly increased his intelligence.
  • The Generic Guy: Raphael when compared to his siblings. Some episodes tried to give him quirks of his own but they are too dry and corny.
    • This was actually deliberate, as Raphael is described by the voice actors as "the corny guy", who allows the other characters particularly Leonardo or Michelangelo to follow through with a great line.
  • Genre Deconstruction: A hallmark of the "Red Sky" episodes, with specific examples including the Turtles becoming Public Enemy Number One thanks to the destruction of the Channel 6 building and April being demoted and eventually leaving the station (it's unclear whether she quit or was fired) offscreen for defending the Turtles, and both within the first season of the "Red Sky" era, to boot!
  • Genki Girl: Irma, when she becomes Super Irma!
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: When April's boss tells her that he hasn't brought her "diddly squat".
  • Girl of the Week: Mona Lisa. It seemed that she was being set up as Raphael's Love Interest, but she only appeared once.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: Rocksteady is wearing heart-print boxers when Leonardo cuts through his belt.
  • Goo-Goo-Godlike: The Neutrino Princess baby Tribble.
  • Grand Finale: "Divide and Conquer" ended with the Turtles finally defeating Lord Dregg for good, though it was left open-ended in case more episodes were ordered. Splinter also declares that he is no longer the Turtles' sensei as they have become his equal.
  • Green Gators: Leatherhead. He is also a much darker shade of green than the turtles.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Medusa in "The Wrath of Medusa".
  • Hate Plague: A minor plot point in "Splinter No More" has the Shredder use his neuro-scrambler to make the Turtles hate each other and start fighting so he can keep them off his trail. It nearly succeeds until April calls them out on their behavior and gets them to destroy the device so they can go back to normal.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Mondo Gecko was originally raised to be a criminal by a crime boss named Mr. X, but was convinced to join the side of good by Michelangelo.
    • Muckman and Joe Eyeball tried to harm the Turtles because they believed them to be responsible for their mutation. They change sides when they learn that the Shredder lied to them.
    • Lotus Blossom was originally introduced as a hired mercenary that Krang intended to use as a replacement for Shredder, but changed her ways in her second and final appearance.
  • Heist Clash: In "Sword of Yurikawa", Splinter sends the Turtles to guard the titular artifact, which is on display at the Japanese embassy. While the Turtles stop for pizza on the way, three mysterious ninjas sneak into the embassy, each one after the sword for themselves. The first replaces the real sword with a copy, the second punches out the camera and replaces the first fake with a second, and the third steals the second fake thinking it is the real deal.
  • Heroes with Bad Publicity: Burne Thompson would invariably paint the turtles as a menace, regardless of the evidence. It was even a plot point of the Red Sky era.
    • After Burne got Put on a Bus, Lord Dregg uses this for his own advantage.
    • And even BEFORE the Red Sky era, Clayton Kellerman was stirring up trouble for the Turtles in the episode "Turtles On Trial".
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Splinter destroys the Retro-Mutagen Ray to save the turtles from Shredder, which was the only way to return to being human again.
    • Landor and Marik pull one of these in their first appearance to save the turtles.
    • Subverted with Krakus, when he willingly allows himself to be mutated to save April, but is unaware that his mutation is actually temporary, and reverts back to normal after he saves her.
  • Highly-Visible Ninja: The Turtles, who can frequently be seeing putting around on a blimp. With a giant "Turtles" on it.
    • Not to mention the Turtle Van, which was customized with armored plates resembling turtle shells and laser turrets on the roof.
      • The Turtles themselves weren't quite that astute at not letting people see them, they were known by the general public (it probably didn't help that April kept filming them though). Even Shredder, a proclaimed "ninja master", wore outlandish Samurai armor and would often broadcast threats with as much publicity as Dr. Doom.
  • Honest Corporate Executive: Donald J. Lofty, a minor recurring character in the fourth season who once fired one of his employees for attempting to scam the city and was also notable for being one of the few people aside from April O'Neil who actually trusts the Turtles.
  • Honor Before Reason: Baxter and his computer ally takes over the Channel 6 News building, putting it on total lockdown. When the Turtles arrive, Raphael attempts to break in, but Donatello stops him, saying "the destruction of other people's property for whatever reason is wrong." They are forced to enter through the sewers instead. Averted in a later scene when they rescue April and the others from getting electrocuted where Raphael was prepared to destroy the hacked control panel. When Donatello tries to pull this trope again, Raphael angrily tells him to shut up and breaks the control panel, making the floor safe to walk on.
  • Hot God: April wearing a magical amulet in the episode "The Lost Queen Of Atlantis".
  • Hour of Power: The turtles' super forms in the Japanese OVA.
  • Humanity Ensues: Temporarily occurs to Michelangelo in the episode "The Gang's All Here".
  • Hurricane of Puns: The episode "Mutagen Monster", where the mere presence of a mutated bull leads the episode to be full of cow puns. Raphael even says the Wendy's slogan "Where's the Beef?" in the same voice as in the commercial.
  • Hypocritical Humor: In the first episode, The Shredder, upon seeing the Turtles, says to himself that the Turtles must not discover his Technodrome. He then proceeds to loudly announce "All Foot Soldiers return to the Technodrome". And yes, the Turtles manage to hear the announcement.
  • Iconic Outfit:
    • April's yellow jumpsuit.
    • The turtles' masks and Shredder's outfit.
    • Krang's android body, due to how freaking weird it looks.
    • Bebop and Rocksteady's regalia are also rather unusual and likely to stand out.
  • Identical Stranger: Princess Mallory, to April, in the episode "April's Fool".
  • Idiot Ball: As the plot required.
  • If You're So Evil, Eat This Kitten!: In "The Big Cufflink Caper," the Turtles try to infiltrate a mob. As a test, they are sent to put two rival mobsters "on ice" — which they manage by capturing the two in a hockey rink.
  • I Know Madden Kombat: Casey Jones attacked villains with various sports equipment like baseball bats and hockey sticks. In Season 8, he gets a sword and faces off against Shredder, which could be a fencing reference.
  • I'm Melting!:
    • Michaelangelo tricks two foot soldiers into invoking this trope on each other in "Sky Turtles" in order to steal their anti-gravity boots. Strangely, the liquid remains of the foot soldiers drain away into the boots without so much as scorching them.
    • Not so much a literal example, but the titular Donatello duplicate says this word-for-word as he fades from existence, having been tricked by the real Donatello into setting his cloning machine in reverse.
  • Imperfect Ritual: Shredder is creating an incantation to access Dimension X using magic, as opposed to the usual dimensional transport tech that he and Krang have access to. However, the ritual has to be performed exactly as transcribed or there will be terrible, unmentioned consequences. Shredder manages to stay one step ahead of his foes, and almost complete the ritual, however at the very last word of the ritual, Splinter bursts in and yells "STOP". This causes the magic portal to open to Dimension ''Stop'' as opposed to X, where an Eldritch Abomination resides. Said Eldritch Abomination tries to escape and kill everyone, good or bad, and chaos ensues.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: No matter how much ammo the bad guys use, they almost never hit their targets.
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: Twice: once in "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles" and again in "Funny, They Shrunk Michelangelo".
  • Informed Flaw: Despite being described in an episode as no match for the turtles without a special weapon, General Traag proves impervious to their attacks and trounces them in combat before getting to use said weapon.
  • In Name Only: And that's a fact. There is barely any resemblance to the source material besides four mutant turtles.
  • Innocent Prodigy: Baby Tribble and The Starchild.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: The episode "Cyber Turtles" featured this.
  • Insult Backfire:
    Shredder: Krang, you are insufferably cruel.
    Krang: Thank you.
    Krang: Shredder, you're an insane, power-mad fiend.
    Shredder: Thank you.
  • Interspecies Romance: Nearly every episode with a potential love interest for one of the Turtles or for Splinter, plus all four of them had some degree of teenage crush on April.
  • Interrupted Bath: Played for Laughs when Krang shower is interrupted by Shredder contacts him on his communicator, with Krang coming out of the bathroom in a Modesty Towel around his robotic body.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: In "Donatello's Degree", when the other turtles can't locate Don, we get one of these combined with a Fourth Wall break:
    Mike: If I know that dude, he's probably hanging out at the library.
    [Cut to Donatello hanging out of a university window in a completely different town]
    Don: Actually, Michelangelo's right. I am hanging out at the library.
  • Irony: M.A.C.C., a friendly and peace loving robot from the future is built with some of the most destructive weapons around. He's also shown blasting rock soldiers in to gravel, one of the few times in the show where a sentient being is unambiguously killed.

    Tropes J-Z 
  • Jerkass Genie: Mr. Ogg fits this to a tee.
  • Just Eat Gilligan: Krang and Shredder would have much less trouble taking over the world if they'd just get rid of Bebop and Rocksteady. Or stop trying to get the Technodrome to work.
  • Just Ignore It: Once, and only once in "Rock Around The Block", the turtles stopped the Technodrome by doing nothing.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: By the Red Sky seasons, many villains who long evaded punishment for their crimes ended up getting their just deserts.
    • The Turtles finally capture the Rat King in "Wrath of the Rat King", when most of his previous appearances ended with him avoiding capture after his plans were thwarted.
    • "Turtle Trek" has Shredder and Krang get their comeuppance by ending up stranded in Dimension X with the Technodrome irreparably damaged.
    • Lord Dregg starts off as a Villain with Good Publicity who uses propaganda against the Turtles, but the 10th and final season has April O'Neil succeed in exposing his deception and the final episode "Divide and Conquer" ends with him apparently killed.
  • Killed Off for Real: The Channel 6 building by Shredder in the first episode of Season 8.
  • Killer Rabbit: Usagi Yojimbo is a literal variation to the Foot Soldiers.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Lord Dregg is said to be more serious than the Shredder and his incompetent goons.
  • Later-Installment Weirdness: The last few seasons came to be noted as the "Red Sky" seasons and switched the Big Bad from Shredder and Krang to Lord Dregg, as well as the fact that these later seasons had a Darker and Edgier tone.
  • Latex Perfection: In the third season beginning with "Turtles on Trial," the Turtles would often wear full-head rubber masks of bald human men when above the sewers. More often than not they'd just wear the masks with trenchcoats, not caring if their actual green hands and legs are exposed. In fact, Raphael is skeptical on how this disguise would work when April brings them the masks...
    Donatello: Hey, great! Now we don't look like mutant turtles.
    Raphael: Yeah, we look like mutant turtles wearing people masks.
  • The Lava Caves of New York: Trope Codifier. For something often surrounded by lava, the turtles don't have to walk very far underground in order to find the Technodrome. In fact, a few times, lava lakes apparently existed just below the sewers (if not in them).
  • Leeroy Jenkins: Shredder and Michaelangelo.
  • Legion of Doom: Shredder assemble a band of villains called the Rogues to defeat the Turtles, which members include: The Rat King, Slash, Leatherhead, Tempestra, Chromedome, Scumbug and Antrax. The last two came from the Archie Comics TMNT Adventures. Somehow, the Turtles met them before even though this is their debut episode.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything:
    • When Baxter died in Season 2, the next season revealed that he was actually intangible. He touched a lightning rod that was hit by lightning and was restored to fully tangible.
    • When Leonardo played the Tempestra's Revenge arcade game during a stormy night, a lightning bolt struck the arcade and broke Tempestra out of the cabinet. She even later confirms that the lightning bolt brought her into Leo's dimension.
  • Like an Old Married Couple: Pretty much sums up Shredder and Kraang's relationship.
  • Likes Older Women:
    • Michaelangelo has been shown to have a little bit of a crush on April, despite only being a teenager and she's nearly thirty, though this is completely justified considering her appearance.
    • Also Donatello shows the same signs as Michaelangelo towards April which are once again justified, but this is inverted with Irma who seems to have a slight crush on him at times.
    • Raphael for Mona Lisa, considering that he's still somewhere in his mid teens, and she's a college student who's probably in her late teens.
    • Leonardo for Lotus Blossom also applies.
  • Lighter and Softer: Especially in comparison to the original comics, but also the first season compared to most of the ones that followed, and in turn those seasons compared to the "Red Sky" seasons.
    • Having said that, the series was still criticized for being Darker and Edgier compared to most other animated shows at the time. Considering the restrictions the creators had to work under, it's actually a small miracle that the series didn't end up a total bastardization of the original comics.
      • Peter Laird said in an interview that, faced with the reality of needing to water down his creation for a younger audience, he largely let the show's staff do it for him. This may have been a wise choice on his part, as had he tried to do a more comic-acurate version in the face of the rigid censorship of The '80s, it quite possibly would have come off as a total bastardization of the comics. As it was, it came off as an extremely loose adaptation but very entertaining when taken as its own entity.
    • Raph and Shredder also fall under this trope, with Raph being far less hot-headed (and more sarcastic) and Shredder being more ineffectual and comedic (although still skilled at martial arts and a potential threat).
  • Literal-Minded: In "Turtles, Turtles everywhere", Shredder orders the DUMP 1000 to "seize the turtles". It responds by stealing every turtle it can find from pet shops and aquariums.
  • Magic Floppy Disk: Frip, an alien from the planet Polarisoid, has a camera that literally sucks in matter regardless of its size with endless capacity for space. It runs on videotape.
  • Martial Arts for Mundane Purposes: The turtles walk through the "ninja district" of the city and, after finding their original destination (Ninja Pizza), see signs for Ninja-run dry cleaning, shoe repair, video rentals and dentists. At said Ninja Pizza, the food is thrown like shuriken at the customers (and either you catch it or it ends up all over you).
    [a ninja throws a dagger with a piece of paper at the Turtles' table, landing smack in the middle; Raphael picks it up]
    Leonardo: What is it, a threatening note?/
    Raphael: Worse than that... it's the check!/
  • Masking the Deformity: The episode "The Phantom of the Sewers" has a mysterious man running around the sewers while wearing a mask. When the Turtles meet him, he explains that he wears the mask because of an altercation where his business partner threw a chemical in his face, disfiguring him. At episode's end, he shows his disfigurement to the Turtles by taking off the mask. It's then that Donatello realizes that the chemical thrown in his face was paint. All he has to do is wash it off and he's good to go.
  • Masochist's Meal: Most of Michaelangelo's choices of pizza topping combos (tuna fish, peanut butter and grape jelly, anyone?)—and yes, it was lampshaded. Cinemassacre later made some of the show's various gross-out combinations and sampled them.
  • Master of Disguise: Raphael wanted to be one in "Raphael, Turtle of a Thousand Faces." He even makes himself up with latex to look like the gangster Mad Dog. Of course in classic cartoon tradition, a mix-up occurs and the real Mad Dog winds up with the turtles, and Raphael winds up with the gang Mad Dog works with.
  • May–December Romance:
    • A lot, but Leonardo and Lotus Blossom is probably the best example of this.
    • Another example is the canonically fifty-year-old Burne and his girlfriend Tiffany, who looks nineteen, but at least this one isn't interspecies.
  • Meaningful Echo: In the first episode of the Red Sky series, Shedder and his minions are pinned down by police as they try to retrive a device they need. Shredder hurls a trashcan which he says are filled with explosives at the cops, causing them to scatter. After they make their escape, Bebop and Rocksteady compliment him on his bluff. The trashcan explodes in the back ground, with Shredder stating, "I never bluff." Much later, Shredder has taken the Channel 6 building hostage, and has to threatened to blow it up if the Turtles don't meet him in a certain amount of time. When they get there, they see that the building is still standing, causing them to assume he was bluffing. What does Shredder have to say? "I never bluff." What follows is easily the most dramatic moment in the series.
  • Meaningful Name: Many characters had these.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: In "April Fool" Shredder manages to get away with a rare isotope. Unfortunately for the bad guys, the isotope is unstable under high atmospheric pressures (especially those deep within the Earth), and the sample explodes after the Shredder returns to the Technodrome parked many miles beneath the Earth's surface.
  • Medium Awareness: A regular feature of the series, with characters talking to the audience ("kids, Don't Try This at Home") or acknowledging it (Shredder does an As You Know, Krang replies that he knows, and the response is Shredder pointing at the screen while saying "I was telling it to them!").
  • Merchandise-Driven: Obviously, being made because Playmates Toys wanted a cartoon alongside what became one of the most successful toy lines of the late 80s into the 90s (Playmates originally owned the copyright on Season 1). This also blends with Early-Installment Weirdness as many of the characters and toys were designed before the cartoon:
    • Shredder's shirtless attire rather than his usual gray shirt(a later release would attempt the animation colors, albeit without any mold retooling).
    • Krang having a slightly but noticeably different design.
    • the four turtles having solid white Mirage-styled eyes as well as different skin tones.
    • April O'Neil carrying a HANDGUN as a weapon(this did show up very briefly on one episode, however), and even later figures seemed to treat her as more of a badass than the show did as even towards the end of the toy line she would often come packed with various weapons, plus her packaging artwork and character bio would often depict her as more of a brazen warrior woman than the "damsel in distress" the cartoon made her out to be.
    • Bebop having solid white eyes.
    • General Traag was a semi-rock man with humanoid features instead of being purely stone- this happened to many characters thanks to the toys often being designed first and the animators choosing to diverge from the toys, such as Napoleon Bonafrog.
    • Thanks to the series choosing to ignore many of the later toys, lots of characters had either minimal or no appearance whatsoever in the cartoon, tie-in video games, etc., while many gimmicky themes are also ignored wholesale.
  • Metal Muncher: A dinosaur-like creature from Dimension X called a Zipp has an endless appetite for metal. Even worse, eating copper makes it multiply. Eating chocolate re-merges them into one, but into a giant Zipp. The only way to make a Zipp vanish and/or shrink is for it to eat an extremely rare metal called Regidium.
  • Monster of the Week: More common in the earlier seasons, the turtles would often fight a new one-shot villain that either has a connection with Shredder and Krang or is working of their own accord. Alien warlords, other mutants, criminal gangs, evil robots, mad scientists. Name it, and chances are the turtles have faced them at least once.
  • Motive Decay: This is explicitly pointed out with Dregg. At first he's just trying to take over the world. By the last episode, the turtles have thwarted his schemes so much that he's driven purely by the desire to kill them. Even his right-hand henchman calls him crazy to his face.
  • Mugging the Monster: In Return of the Shredder, two muggers in Central Park decide to accost the Shredder after Krang returns him to Earth. When he realizes that his minions aren't around to do it, the Shredder nearly crushes them by hacking off a tree branch, scaring them so badly they dump their loot at his feet and run away in fear.
  • Mysterious Past:
    • We know absolutely nothing about the Rat King's backstory.
    • Krang too. What little we know of him actually seems to contradict itself.
  • Nano Machines: Lord Dregg's "micro-bots".
  • Napoleon Delusion: A Napoleon wannabe is in the insane asylum with Baxter Stockman in the episode "Return of the Shredder," voiced by Peter Cullen.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Technically played straight initially although averted later on starting with the second season considering that characters and monsters (mostly the latter) actually die pretty often.
    • Often played with, as a Running Gag often features the turtles getting cornered by the Monster of the Week and one of them would often say they've run into a dead end. Another turtle would then ask "Did you have to use the "D" word?" Although the show has no problems with the word "kill".
  • Ninja: This one's a given.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: A Morton Downey Jr. type talk show host in "Turtles on Trial".
  • No Fourth Wall: The Turtles and Shredder quite often stop to address the audience.
  • No One Else Is That Dumb: When Bebop and Rocksteady meet some friends from before they were turned into mutants, they have to prove to their friends who they are. Rocksteady runs towards a wall and hits it with his head and it convinces their friends because they don't believe anybody other than Bebop and Rocksteady would do anything that stupid.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Justified with Mona Lisa because she was human before her mutation.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: In the episode "Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter", A.J. Howard hires the eponymous mutant hunter to capture mutants, claiming them to be a menace to society with no regard to them being good or evil. However, not only is Howard a mutant himself, he plans to build an army of brainwashed mutants in hopes of mutating and controlling the entire human race, this leads to Don and Raph stopping a vengeful Rahzar from killing Dirk in order to convince him to turn against Howard.
  • Number Two for Brains: Bebop and Rocksteady. Note they fall under both The Dragon and Dumb Muscle.
  • Older Than They Look:
    • Zack the Tagalong Kid claims he's "almost fourteen". He looks eight. He acts like a little kid in his later appearances, so it's possible he might just be lying.
    • Also April who's 28 years old, considering that she looks like she just hit her twenties, but is almost thirty.
    • Buffy Shellhammer who's 15 looks like she just hit puberty, but apparently she's around the same age as Michaelangelo.
  • One-Episode Fear: In one episode, Lenonardo is afraid of snakes. In fact, they were his greatest fear, up until he outgrew the fear, but it was not mentioned before that point.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Shredder's attitude towards Splinter and the Turtles, so much so that they taunt him with it over the interstellar radio from a slave camp on Dimension X. His twisted code of ninja ethics forces him to bring them back to Earth...where they proceed to defeat Krang's bid for global domination.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: The "Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang" are a bunch of karate thugs poorly disguised as the Ninja Turtles who commit crimes to frame them. Literally as the turtle masks are just painted paper grocery bags. April was the only one not fooled and was annoyed how everyone else around her was.
  • Parenthetical Swearing: After Shredder destroys the Channel 6 building, with the turtles thinking their friends were still inside Leonardo's line "You miserable maggot!" is said with so much bile and restrained fury that one can easily hear him say "You lousy son of a bitch!"
  • Pie in the Face:
    • A variant, in the intro Rafael throws a pizza right at the "camera". As pizza is actually just the Italian word for pie, this doubles as a (probably unintentional) Bilingual Bonus.
    • Played more straight in Usagi Yojimbo's first episode. After defeating Donatello, Raphael and Leonardo single-handedly, Usagi is stopped by Michaelangelo throwing a pizza right at his face. This stops Usagi enough to ask, "What manner of fighting is this?"
      SPLINTER: I believe it is called "slapstick."
  • Pink Means Feminine: Princess Mallory in "April Fool" has a pink dress.
  • Pity the Kidnapper:
    • In "Turtle Terminator", Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady all learn that kidnapping Irma is really not a good idea.
    • Poor Little Rich Turtle had Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady kidnap Buffy Shellhammer, only to regret having her around due to the trouble she caused. After the Turtles rescue her and escape, Shredder angrily hopes he never sees Buffy again.
  • Powered Armor: The turtles don these in the episode "Cyber Turtles".
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: Admittedly, it's one of the most loose of all the Turtles adaptations, but, it does a pretty good job of telling a completely different story.
  • Princesses Prefer Pink: Princess Mallory in "April Fool".
  • Product Placement: At the start of "Enter the Shredder", for breakfast the Turtles have pizza with cereal on top. Donatello has Corn Flakes and Raphael has Raisin Bran.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • The Technodrome villains and the Channel 6 crew (except April), once the retool occurred.
      • Though Shredder and Krang would return for a three episode special in the tenth and last season.
    • Casey Jones was put on a bus as well, until the eighth season.
    • This was common for many of the show's guest characters. Some characters that were put on a bus never came back.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The Punk Frogs are a notable subversion, as they are tricked into believing that the turtles are the bad guys.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: Bebop and Rocksteady were shown to spend a lot of their downtime playing video games, reading comic books, and watching cartoons. Bebop even was shown to still believe in the Tooth Fairy when he heard Shredder sarcastically say "No, it's the Tooth Fairy" in response to Rocksteady asking him if he was The Shredder.
  • Race Lift:
    • Baxter Stockman, from African American to Caucasian (and vaguely European), because the writers didn't think that having the only black person in the cast be a villain would sit too well with audiences.
      • Another reason in Baxter's case is that the writers feared that Shredder constantly abusing his black assistant would be seen as racist.
    • Although many people forget that Bebop was African American before his mutation.
      • Also happened with the only human Bebop action figure made- they made the toy version white.
  • Real Men Wear Pink:
  • Recurring Extra: The first season had a couple. First was April's newscrew, who was seen working with her and Vernon in the first and fifth episodes. Next was the rest of Rocksteady and Bebop's gang, who were also shown to be mutated by the Shredder and were last seen locked up in the Technodrome's brig. Sadly, none of them made any reappearances after Season 1 ended.
  • Recycled Title: The first appearance of the Neutrinos was in the Season 1 episode "Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X". Their next appearance was in the Season 2 episode that was simply titled "Teenagers from Dimension X".
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • The Dark Turtle.
    • Baxter Stockman.
    • Lord Dregg, who naturally has red glowing eyes.
    • The Rat King in the Red Sky episodes. Earlier, he was morally ambiguous, helping both the Turtles and their friends, as well as Shredder and his associates. Once his eyes began to glow red, he was totally evil.
  • Red Sky, Take Warning: While there's no explanation for the skies turning red, things took a turn for the worse once they did- for the Turtles and their city. Either way, it's a warning for the viewers- the show wasn't as much fun since the change.
  • Remember the New Guy?:
    • Antrax and Scumbug in "Night of the Rogues".
    • Yoku, a pupil of Master Splinter's, who he walked out on him in "White belt, Black Heart".
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: The main turtles are depicted with minimal reptilian features. Other characters, like Slash and Leatherhead, may have more pronounced reptilian traits (scales, spikes, claws).
  • Retcon: The third season finale showed the Technodrome being destroyed as a result of an inadvertent attack by Krang's allies, and then crashing at high-speed into a huge battlestation. The fourth season premiere changed this to the Technodrome being badly damaged in the attack and then having a relatively soft landing on an asteroid.
  • Retool: The Red Sky seasons.
  • Right-Hand Hottie: Haypax Legomina to Alim after he becomes king.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Baby Princess Tribble, who inadvertently helps the turtles defeat Shredder once.
    • Princess Mallory also counts.
    • Also Alim.
    • The Rat King has his moments of this.
  • Rushmore Refacement: In one episode, Raphael theorized this was why Shredder and Krang went to Mt. Rushmore. He was wrong.
  • Schmuck Bait: In the episode "Shredder's Mom", Shredder's mom was able to trick the turtles into walking right into the Technodrome's trash compactor by taping a paper sign that said "This way to computer room" on the door.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Tempestra from Leonardo vs. Tempestra, who was imprisoned in an arcade video game and released when Leonardo made it to the final level.
  • Second Episode Introduction: Krang.
  • Second Super-Identity: After an accident, Donatello becomes Dark Turtle.
  • Servile Snarker: Bebop and Rocksteady had their moments of this.
  • She Cleans Up Nicely:
    • April, in the episode "April's Fool". Of course, April is always hot no matter what. It was just nice to see her in something other than a yellow jumpsuit for a change. Also her costume in "Four Musketurtles", which is described point-blank as coming "straight out of The Three Musketeers" early on.
    • Irma also has her moments of this.
  • Ship Tease: Donatello and Irma get some of this.
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Zack says this of Caitlin in "The Great Boldini".
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Burne, Vernon, and Irma were Put on a Bus sometime in the Red Sky seasons, but not before Burne blamed the destruction of the Channel 6 headquarters on the Turtles, and used Channel 6's airwaves for a virulent anti-Turtle media blitz.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy: Howie (a songwriter and a potential boyfriend for Irma) appeared in two straight episodes and was never heard from again.
  • Short-Lived Leadership: One episode has Leonardo questioning his leadership abilities after a bad dream. He leaves the group to ponder his issues and the others take turns as leader. Raphael proves to be too indecisive, Donatello relies too much on his inventions, and Michaelangelo doesn't have much in the way of strategy. Fortunately, Leonardo comes to his senses and rejoins them.
  • Shout-Out: As a Long Runner, even once a season would add up.
    • To Leave It to Beaver, in an episode that had Beaver and Wally Cleaver reimagined as mobsters. No, seriously.
    • Also the monsters in the episode The Case Of The Killer Pizzas look a lot like another famous movie monster.
    • The episode Night Of The Dark Turtle is an obvious parody of Batman.
    • Rex-1 from the episode New York's Shiniest is pretty much a redesigned Robocop.
    • One episode had Krang stealing a military robot that looks like ED-209.
    • Irma Langenstein doesn't look like Jeanette of The Chipettes by accident... half a season of Alvin and the Chipmunks was animated by Murakami-Wolf-Swenson (the other half was animated by DiC Entertainment), then Irma was introduced on TMNT the following season.
    • Many references to monster movies, which the Turtles are always seen tuning in to on TV. Heck, some of the episode titles even sound like the names of B-movies. Examples of such titles:
      • "Attack of the 50-Foot Irma"
      • "Phantom of the Sewers", actually a reference to The Phantom of the Opera.
      • "The Beginning of the End", also the name of a 1957 B-movie about a giant grasshopper.
      • "Return of the Fly", which itself was also the name of the sequel to the original The Fly filmnote . The last two episodes are references to the films In Name Only, however.
      • "Son of Return of The Fly II"
      • "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles"
      • "It Came From Beneath the Sewers"
      • "Curse of the Evil Eye"
      • "Invasion of the Punk Frogs"
      • "Teenagers From Dimension X"
      • "The Catwoman From Channel Six"
      • "Plan Six From Outer Space"
      • "Were-Rats From Channel 6", which also makes a Shout-Out to the Gypsy fortune teller Maleva from The Wolf Man (1941).
    • The Turtles have a poster of a three-headed dragon throughout the series, which seems to be King Ghidorah from the Godzilla series.
    • The episode "Nightmare in the Lair" is a reference to the A Nightmare on Elm Street franchise with a Freddy Krueger-type character named Creepy Eddie.
    • From the episode "The Big Break-In", a war machine resembling the Martian spaceships in The War of the Worlds (the 1953 film).
    • Beyond the title of the episode being a movie reference, "Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers" has aliens named Klaatu, Barada and Nikto, all references to The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951). Nikto's toy capable of destroying the world looks just like the monolith in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
    • The episode "Rondo in New York" is a tribute to the Universal Horror monsters and also has an Expy of Rambo that is named Rondo. Krang and Shredder use a substance to bring Rondo, originally just a movie character, into the real world (alongside all the other movie characters).
    • At the end of one episode, Leonardo says "There's no place like home", as a reference to The Wizard of Oz. The movie is referenced in another episode where a dying clone of Donatello says, like the Wicked Witch of the West, "I'm melting! I'm melting!" And in a third episode, Raphael is about to be sucked into a tornado when a pair of glowing red slippers fly past his head.
    • In an episode where the Punk Frogs confront Leatherhead, one says, "Who you gonna call? Gatorbusters?
    • The Terminator is referenced in one episode when the turtles see a version of The Ahnold saying in a thick Austrian accent, "I'll be back!"
    • One episode has a turtle talking about "jamming the flux capacitor".
    • One episode has Baxter's invention exploding because he "forgot to reverse the polarity of the neutron flow".
    • In one episode, Michelangelo says like Bart Simpson, "Don't have a cow, man." Raph reminds Mikey this is the "wrong show".
    • Another episode has the Transfarmers, which are robots that turn into farm machinery.
    • The show is just full of references to Star Wars and Star Trek.
    • When the Turtles are seen playing video games, sometimes the sound effects are taken from the ill-fated Atari 2600 version of Pac-Man.
    • From "Turtles on Trial", Bebop and Rocksteady are seen watching The Slurps, a thinly disguised parody of The Smurfs.
    • The Polarisoid's camera, which captures the target and traps it inside, is a parody of the Polaroid camera, which takes a photograph and prints it instantly.
    • MACC the robot from "Attack of Big MACC" resembles Johnny 5 from Short Circuit. He even calls a TV camera "Number 5".
    • In "The Gang's All Here", when Michelangelo becomes human:
    'Michelangelo: Bright lights, Big city, here comes Michael J. Angelo". note 
  • Show Within a Show: Kraang is occasionally seen watching a soap opera called "John and Marsha" which seems to be nothing but the two leads saying each other's names over and over again.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: The villainous Shredder's younger brother Kazuo Saki is actually a cop fighting for justice.
    • Also the turtles amongst themselves.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: This basically sums up Irma in a nutshell.
  • Sinister Schnoz: Granitor, the gray Rock Soldier from the episode Hot-Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Tempestra is the only woman in the Rogues, a band of villains assembled of Shredder.
  • Snow Means Cold: In Take Me to Your Leader, Shredder and Krang use a Solar Siphon to drain the sun's energy and make the Earth cold. The turtles discover something's amiss when it starts snowing in July.
  • Soap Within a Show: Krang is shown to have a specific fondness for a soap opera of the "Oh John! Oh Marsha!" variety. In fact, that's pretty much all the show seems to be.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Hamato Yoshi. Originally, he was killed. In this series, he was instead turned into a rat-like mutant.
  • Square-Cube Law: The series runs afoul of this in "Attack of th 50-Foot Irma". At the end, when restored to her normal size, Irma comments that she lost 10,000 pounds. Given that the writers are off by an order of magnitude, it looks like they squared rather than cubed the difference.
  • Standard Female Grab Area: Constantly used on April and Irma.
  • The Starscream: Baxter Stockman was briefly this to Shredder in "Curse of the Evil Eye", the conclusion of the Eye of Sarnath arc.
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In "The Turtle Terminator", after Shredder has Bebop and Rocksteady kidnap Irma, what do they do with her? Well, first, they have the Turtle Terminator assume her form... then, they make her cook for them. However, Irma's lack of cooking skills results in her burning their lunch.
    Shredder: How humiliating... the future ruler of the universe reduced to eating Chinese takeout!
  • Steal It to Protect It: In "Sword of Yurikawa", Splinter sends the Turtles to guard the titular artifact, which is on display in the Japanese embassy. Due to Turtles stopping for pizza along the way, the sword has already been stolen by a mysterious ninja, while two fakes were stolen by a different party each. The climax reveals that Splinter stole the real sword to keep it out of evil hands.
  • Stone Wall: General Tragg and the rock soldiers to a literal extent.
  • Straw Loser: Vernon to April.
  • Stumbled Into the Plot: Downplayed - April was more likely than others to meet the turtles since she's an investigative reporter, but ultimately she just happened to get lucky (unlucky?).
  • Surfer Dude: Michaelangelo.
  • Surrounded by Idiots:
    • Krang actually says a variation of this in "The Dimension X Story". "Morons! I'm surrounded by morons!"
    • Shredder laments this quite frequently.
  • Surveillance as the Plot Demands: Shredder, most definitely. This is actually lampshaded multiple times throughout the series.
  • Swiss-Cheese Security: The Technodrome, which the turtles would usually infiltrate with ridiculous ease.
  • Tailfin Walking: Merdude (a.k.a. Alim Coleacanth) from Atlantis Awakes hops around on his tail fin when on land. (Said hopping tends to be hilariously poorly animated, however.)
  • Tagalong Kid: Zack, a young kid in a turtle costume and so-called "fifth turtle".
  • Take That!:
    • Raphael Meets His Match starts with the turtles complaining a lot about tiny pizzas available at Pick A Peck O' Pizza, which is owned by McDonald Crump.
    • Plan Six from Outer Space has Bebop and Rocksteady mention that one of their favorite shows is My Mother the Tank. This doesn’t seem like an insult first, until you remember that Bebop and Rocksteady are both idiots.
  • Teen Genius:
    • Donatello.
    • Zack, the "fifth turtle".
      • His friend Caitlin also falls under this.
    • Buffy Shellhammer, who was able to use Shredder's own technology against him and trick him into making the wrong formula to free the Technodrome. Instead of rocket fuel, it turned out to be firework fuel.
    • Vernon's nephew Foster Fenwick, who creates a solar magnet that is actually powerful enough to draw the Earth towards the sun. Subverted as he's stated to be 11.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Very often with Krang and Shredder, who find new ways to annoy each other as they scheme together.
  • Terrible Trio: The Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady.
  • The Wrong Way on the Escalator: In the episode "Usagi Come Home", Usagi while confused and running away from the Turtles, tries to run upwards on a downward escalator. He becomes frustrated when he doesn't move anywhere, and slashes the escalator down the middle as he thinks the "stairs" are possessed by evil magic.
  • Theatre Phantom: An episode titled "Phantom of the Sewers" has the eponymous character haunting a pizza restaurant. The Phantom even has a secret lair full of booby traps! It turns out that his business partner had betrayed him (as he wanted to use the robots he'd built) and threw chemicals in his face, disfiguring him. But in another twist, the "chemicals" were actually paint, so his face wasn't actually disfigured at all.
  • Theme Naming: The turtles are, of course, named after artists, then there's Bebop and Rocksteady (both musical genres) and Splinter/Shredder (both destructive).
    • The punk frogs are named after historical tyrants who are Shredder's heroes.
  • Theme Tune Roll Call:
    Splinter taught them to be ninja teens
    Leonardo leads, Donatello does machines
    Raphael is cool, but rude
    Michelangelo is a party dude
  • This Is a Drill: The transport modules that Shredder and the other villains used most of the time.
  • Title Drop:
    • "Turtles, Turtles Everywhere"
    Shredder: Turtles, turtles everywhere. And not a blasted ninja among them.
    • "Four Turtles and a Baby"
    Krang: Outwitted by four turtles and a baby. Unbelievable.
    • "Leonardo Lightens Up"
    Donatello: Lighten up, Leonardo!

    Raphael: Leonardo, do yourself a favor and try to lighten up.

    Michelangelo: You ought work on some invention that'll lighten up Leonardo.

    Donatello: We all wanted Leonardo to lighten up, remember?
  • Title Theme Tune
  • Token Minority:
    • Carter and possibly Irma.
    • Technically Bebop counts considering he was African-American before his transformation.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: April and Irma respectively.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Irma, on several occasions.
    • Donatello when he becomes the Dark Turtle.
    • Shredder, when he's the chairman of Octopus Inc. He actually gets things right, with frightening (for the Turtles) results. Until a sprinkling of water changes things. This was before the Red Sky seasons.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The two muggers from Return of the Shredder. Even if you don't account for the fact he just fell out of the sky in front of them, there's the fact that he's several inches taller than them, clearly works out, and, oh yeah, he's covered in razor-sharp blades! And their first reaction is to try and mug this guy?
  • Totally Radical:
    • The turtles, especially Mikey. Justified with the turtles, since, in the first episode, Michelangelo tells April that they learnt all about humans from watching TV.
    • The Neutrinos take it up to eleven.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Pizza. And how! Not for nothing is a scene from this show the trope's page image.
  • Transformation Ray: Many.
  • Trivial Tragedy: One episode has Raphael thinking he's coming down with some kind of incurable sickness, snd his fears are seemingly confirmed when he overhears Michelangelo and Donatello talking about saying their last good-byes, and Mikey sobbing hysterically and lamenting all the pizzas they'll never get to make together, and Don trying to comfort him. Turns out, they're talking about the irreparable pizza oven.
  • True Blue Femininity: Irma, Tempestra, Haypax Legomina, and Medusa.
  • Tsundere: Buffy Shellhammer.
  • Two Guys and a Girl:
    • The Neutrinos, Zack, Dask, and Kala.
    • April's co-workers Burne, Vernon, and Irma.
  • Unconventional Food Order: The Turtles have eaten some bizarre things in their day. Some of the combinations include, but are not limited to: Pepperoni and hot fudge, clam sauce with chocolate sprinkles, marshmallow and pepperoni, sausage and jelly beans, peanut butter and asparagus, and anchovy sauce with strawberries. Eat at your own risk.
  • Undying Loyalty: The turtles to Splinter.
    • Also Haypax Legomina to Alim, which is why she is made his personal adviser when he becomes king.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: Giant humanoid turtles fighting an army of mooks, flying around town in a giant blimp, and regularly appearing on the local television news doesn't warrant much comment or outrage from the locals.
  • Vague Age:
    • Irma looks and acts like a young teenager but is apparently old enough to own an apartment and have a steady job.
    • And to a lesser extent, Shredder.
    • Even more so with Splinter, he sounds and acts like a very old man, but in his human form he can't be above early '40s.
  • Victory Is Boring
  • Video Phone: The "turtle communicators" use a video screen and camera.
  • Vile Villain, Laughable Lackey: Shredder's henchmen, Bebop and Rocksteady, may look like a menacing anthropomorphic boar and rhino, but they are actually clumsy and cowardly.
  • Villain Ball: Shredder and Krang nearly won on numerous times but lost due to not disposing of The Turtles when they had a chance or making a blunder. Or trusting Bebop and Rocksteady to do something right.
    • For example, in Metalhead The Robot has them tied up and ready to destroy them but Krang orders it to bring them back to The Technodrome, that allows The Turtles to escape and short curcuit it.
  • Villain Exclusivity Clause: Shredder is the villain for pretty much every episode.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: The Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady, invariably.
  • Villain Team-Up: Happened quite a bit.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Lord Dregg, initially. That is until the Turtles unmasked him to the people at the end of Season 9.
  • Villainous Crush: Strangely enough, Shredder sometimes seems blatantly attracted to April in some episodes. It really depends on the writer, though.
  • Wanting Is Better Than Having: In a Be Careful What You Wish For episode, the Turtles were in an alternate universe where they didn't exist, Shredder conquered the Earth and had to deal with the headaches and paperwork that went with managing Earth. When he heard of an Earth where he hadn't conquered it, he wanted to go there and escape the one he had (as it proved to be too much for him to handle).
  • Warthog Man: Bebop.
  • Wasn't That Fun?:
    • In “Leonardo vs. Tempestra,” after Leonardo and April make it through a roller coaster track in the news van, we get this exchange:
    Leo: Want to go again?
    April give Leo an angry look.
    Leo: Just kidding.
    • One of the episodes in the final season sees the Turtles go off a waterfall, which then sees Mikey saying "let's do it again!"
  • Wait, What? Whoa: In Burne's Blues, Burne and Vernon spend the entire episode unsuccessfully looking for a news story about the Turtles. Just as soon as the reporters find the Turtles frozen on a factory loading dock, the two get randomly abducted by aliens that look like Elvis.
  • We Want Our Jerk Back!:
    • In "Leonardo Lightens Up", the Turtles accidentally shot a ray at Leonardo, changing his personality. The good news he's no longer a Control Freak since Splinter put him in charge while he's gone, and just wants to have fun. The bad news, he's also now an uncontrollable prankster.
    Michelangelo: Dudes, it looks like using the personality modifying ray on Leonardo was a real no-brainer.
    Raphael: Well that figures, it was your idea.
    Michelangelo: Yeah, well it was yours too, dude!
    Donatello: Okay, let's not argue. We all wanted Leonardo to lighten up, remember?
    Michelangelo: Yeah, but not like this! The dude's turned into a walking whoopee cushion.
    Donatello: I never thought I'd say this, but I'm actually starting to miss the old Leonardo.
    • Taken quite literally in "Mr. Nice Guy," in which Raphael is turned sickeningly nice and pleasant using the same modifying ray. It doesn't take long for his brothers to discover that they'd really rather have the surly, angry Raphael back.
  • Wham Line:
    • "I never bluff!" The line Shredder says before he destroys the Channel 6 news building in the first episode of Season 8.
    • Also in "Donatello's Degree", the end of the first act features Donatello being attacked by two nerdy henchmen of the Big Bad and saying that they must be joking to take him on. The henchmen quickly bulk up and respond "If we're joking,then you're about to ''die'' laughing!
    • And in "My Brother The Bad Guy", the end of the second act has Splinter facing off against the Kojima Brothers, who were recently resurrected and saying that they have been deceased for centuries and that he doesn't believe in ghosts. The Kojima Brothers response to Splinter is "It is not necessary for you to believe in us for us to destroy you!"
    • In Zach and the Alien Invaders, Donatello is shocked when Walt informs him over the phone that Zach had been shipped off to military school.
  • Wham Episode: The first episode of Season 8 Get Shredder mainly because of the ending where Shredder destroys the Channel 6 news building.
    • "Enter: The Fly" initially starts out with the status quo from the second season: Shredder attempting to cause mayhem with whatever help he can get from Baxter thanks to Krang cutting him off in the premiere. Then quickly everything changes, as Bebop and Rocksteady return to take their place at the Shredder's side while he regains access to Krang's armament, Shredder attempts to by trying to kill April (not capture mind you, but KILL), and a botched attempt by Krang to vaporize Baxter cause him to instead be transformed into a half-human, half-fly creature in one of the most disturbing scenes in the show.
  • What the Hell Is That Accent?: Baxter Stockman has an accent. accent.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: In a later season we learn that Leonardo is terrified of snakes.
  • White Sheep: Kazuo Saki compared to his big brother Shredder and their mother.
  • Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: A Saturday morning episode had the turtles studying an art taught by Splinter called Wu Wei. The art involves allowing your enemy to defeat themselves through their own destructive energies. They end up using it against Shredder and Krang at the end of the episode. It works when Bebop and Rocksteady accidentally fire their new superweapon while fighting over a comic book.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • Raphael has absolutely no reserves about tackling Mona Lisa to ground when he thinks she's trying to take over the ship they're sailing on.
    • Shredder has no problem physically threatening April and Irma in multiple episodes.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Donatello's bos were constantly getting broken. One wonders why he never upgraded to a steel pole or something a bit sturdier.
  • Xenomorph Xerox: In "The Case of the Killer Pizzas", Pizza Monsters have elongated skulls and bodies similar to the Xenomorph.
  • The X of Y: A few examples; probably the most well-known is the Eye of Sarnath, an alien artefact that formed a Story Arc for the first half of Season 2.
  • Yandere: The alien computer Zee for Baxter Stockman, a (possibly) non-romantic example.
  • Younger Than They Look: Baxter Stockman. He looks like a middle-aged man but is implied to be younger than Shredder.
  • Your Costume Needs Work: In Super Irma, Vernon isn't impressed when the Turtles show up as themselves to the Channel Six Halloween party.
    Vernon: Hmm, I don't think they're realistic at all! I've met the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and you don't look a bit like them.

Alternative Title(s): TMNT 1987


Mugging The Shredder

The minute he returns to Earth, Shredder is beset by some two-bit hoods. He scares them off by slicing a tree branch down single-handedly, reminding viewers that while he has no chance as a conqueror, he's still a master martial artist.

How well does it match the trope?

4.91 (11 votes)

Example of:

Main / MuggingTheMonster

Media sources: