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Western Animation / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003)

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"In this life, we only have each other. If one of us goes down, we all go down."

"Turtles count it off!
Live by the code of the martial arts
Never fight unless someone else starts
Always stick together no matter what
If all else fails then it's time to kick butt!"

The second animated series starring Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's characters, produced by 4Kids Entertainment under the direction of Lloyd Goldfine, with supervision by Laird and additional funding and input by toymaker Playmates Toys. Often nicknamed "TMNT 2k3" by fans, and designed to be more faithful to the original comic book and more serious than the previous cartoon, it translated most of the original's storylines faithfully, often directly recreating issues as episodes, while creating its own additions to the TMNT mythos.

The basic story is familiar: The Shredder kills Hamato Yoshi; Splinter, his rat, escapes; ooze from a canister labeled "TCRI" falls on some turtles and eventually himself. All five are mutated, and Splinter takes it upon himself to train them in the martial arts. Eventually, the turtles fight The Shredder; along the way meet Casey Jones and April O'Neil, who become their comrades. They have many different adventures. However, the differences in stories soon become apparent. The Shredder has an almost entirely new backstory and origin. Karai is now his adopted daughter. And new characters such as hulking gangster Hun and government agent Bishop keep things interesting.


Although spurned by a segment of fans of the old show who found it to be too different (which itself is rather ironic, given the 1987 series was a vast difference from the original source material), the series was generally well received (something of an aberration among 4Kids works), particularly for its long-term story arcs, clever use of the mythology, aversion of tropes like Status Quo Is God and Thou Shalt Not Kill, and strong characterization. Memorable episodes included "The Big Brawl", a Tournament Arc guest-starring characters from Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo; "Same as it Never Was", a Bad Future tale featuring the turtles' "final" battle with the Shredder; and the 100th episode, "The Tale of Master Yoshi", a Whole Episode Flashback focusing entirely on Hamato Yoshi and his doomed love, Tang Shen.


Then, after four seasons, trouble. Thanks to Executive Meddling by all parties, the showrunners decided to skip the show's already-produced fifth season (which continued a cliff-hanger set up in the fourth) and continued straight into the sixth, which heavily re-tooled the cartoon, changing the series' setting, supporting cast, tone, and art style. The new season, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward featured the turtles stuck in the future year of 2105, where they befriended Cody Jones, the billionaire great-grandson of April and Casey. The fifth season, on the other hand, would eventually air after season six had finished, promoted as a series of "Lost Episodes".

But that wasn't the end of it. During production of the show's seventh season, a 10-episode follow-up to Fast Forward, the decision was made to scrap it and retool the series again. After several battles to determine what the new direction of the show would be, the program more or less returned to the previous status quo. Due to Nickelodeon's acquisition of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, the seventh season, titled TMNT: Back to the Sewer, ended up being the series' last, and ended with the wedding of the series' main couple, April and Casey.

However, the series' true finale would not occur until Turtles Forever, a movie in which turtles team up with other incarnations of each other in a mad scramble to save the entire multiverse. Created as a celebration of the franchise's twenty-fifth year, it aired for the first time November 21, 2009.

After a three-year hiatus, the TMNT franchise returned to television in 2012, courtesy of the turtles' new owners. That show ran until November 2017.

For more details on the TMNT franchise in general, and links to its other incarnations, visit the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles page. For a list of some of the characters in the series, and the tropes that apply to them, visit the franchise character page. There's also a recap page.

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This show provides examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: There are only two episodes of the series in which all four Turtles don’t appear:
    • Raph, Don, and Mikey are absent in season 4's Dragons Brew, which focuses on Leo and Casey fighting Hun.
    • In Back to the Sewers, Leo and Don are absent in Super Power Struggle, which focuses on Raph and Mikey’s dueling careers as superheroes.
  • Aborted Arc:
    • Fast Forward's Darius Dun arc, which was set aside when the show was retooled for its seventh season. When last seen, Dun was fuming in his lair when the Dark Turtles implied to be open to taking a better path, but with the retool, Dun’s final fate was never revealed.
    • Another one comes from the Rat King's episode end, which clearly indicated he was going to return, but it never happened. Closest he ever came to returning was watching April and Casey's wedding in the final episode.
      • The Shredder War. Hinted at in the very first episodes of Back to the Sewer, it seemed like the entire series was moving towards a three way war between three incarnations of the Shredder (including Cyber Shredder, introduced in Back to the Sewer, and the previous two from previous seasons), but the show ended after the wedding of Casey and April, leaving this entire plot point, which seemed to be the entire driving point for the series and which had been established from the word go simply never materialized.
    • Neither T9581 of Dragon's Brew nor the Eldritch Abomination who was the real founder of New York from The Darkness Within ever appeared again, despite the endings of their respective episodes implying they would.
    • The Garbageman was going to have a third appearance in season 5, but it didn't happen due to 4Kids deeming the premise (Garbageman and Hun being conjoined twins separated at birth by a back-alley surgeon) too disturbing.
  • Actually, I Am Him: The plot of The Ancient One.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Splinter's fur is turned gray for this series instead of being brown.
    • Also, April's hair is given a purplish tone.
  • Adaptation Expansion: The Search for Splinter/Turtles in Space/Secret Origins/Sons of the Silent Age.
    • Some episodes like I, Monster and All Hallows Thieves are given expanded fight scenes. In the original Mirage comics, the Turtles' encounter with the Rat King is basically Leonardo throwing a ninja star at him and sending him plummeting to his doom. Here, while he does throw ninja stars at the Rat King, the Rat King survives the fall and Leonardo is given a full-length fight scene with him.
  • Adaptation Induced Plothole: In the show, Leatherhead was shown to be inside the TCRI building when the Turtles, Shredder, and the military were involved in the Secret Origins storyline, so the Utroms can come off as slightly uncaring or negligent towards Leatherhead, as they didn't bother trying to find Leatherhead to take back to their homeworld, despite the clear danger they were in with the military outside and Shredder, along with his bomb, inside. In the original comics, Leatherhead was established as someone who liked to spend a lot of time exploring the outside world, so he wasn't present at all when the Turtles were at the TCRI building where the Utroms decided to evacuate the whole place so they legitimately didn't have any time or means to summon him due to the emergency, whereas in the show, one has to wonder if they even cared about Leatherhead, since he was in the building and the Utroms couldn't be bothered to summon him or even ask the Turtles to find him.
  • Adapted Out:
    • Dr. Shreddarius isn't mentioned in Reality Check, with the major antagonistic role instead filled in by The Sliver, Splinter's alternate universe counterpart.
    • Oroku Nagi has no presence in The Tale of Hamato Yoshi, being replaced by Yukio Mashimi, another street rat alongside Hamato Yoshi, no doubt because they couldn't use Nagi due to the Shredder's altered origin story.
    • In Hunted, there was an African poacher-hunter who went after the big game hunter Mr. Marlin for his illegal poaching in the original comics. In the show, however, he doesn't appear and Leatherhead himself is the one who takes Marlin down.
    • In the comics, when Renet and the Turtles teamed up for the first time to fight Savanti Romero in medieval times, they were joined by Cerebus the Aardvark. In Time Travails however, Cerebus isn't included and it's just the Turtles and Renet who go up against him. The only trace of him is a briefly seen non-anthropomorphic aardvark, as an in-joke.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Each of the turtles, Splinter, and even Casey and April get their own episodes every now and again. Even more minor characters get some:
    • City At War: For the Foot Elite, who are now the leaders of the Foot following the Shredder's most recent defeat.
    • The Trouble With Augie: The titular Uncle Augie finally makes his debut after April's been searching for him.
    • The Real World, Part One: For Usagi and Gen.
    • Hun on the Run: Guess.
    • Aliens Among Us: Bishop.
    • Insane in the Membrane: Stockman.
    • Hunted and Good Genes, Part One: Leatherhead.
    • Zixxth Sense: Torbin Zixx.
    • Incredible Shrinking Serling: Another guess.
  • Adult Fear: Exodus, where the four turtles and Splinter nearly losing their lives to Shredder starts Leonardo's downward spiral into Jerkass Knight Templar Territory. It is only by the episode The Ancient One that we learn why. It is quite the Tear Jerker.
    Leonardo: I did the best I could! There wasn't anymore I could have done!
  • Adventure Rebuff: Splinter tries this several times, unsuccessfully.
    Splinter: How many times have I told you not to sneak out to the surface?
    Michelangelo: This month?
    Donatello: Five hundred and twelve, actually.
  • The Adjectival Superhero: The Unconvincing Turtle Titan.
  • All There in the Script: The Ultimate Ninja is called "Ue-Sama" in Concept Art.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Happens 3 times, with each of the Turtles' Lairs getting destroyed.
  • Almighty Janitor: It's not until the sixth season episode Graduation Day: Class of 2105 where the Turtles finally attained the middle ninja rank of Chunin. Before all that, they were able to fight on par with long-lived warriors like Ch'rell and Agent Bishop who have at least centuries of experience on them, defeat some of the greatest warriors of the multiverse with Michelangelo himself winning the tournament in the Battle Nexus, play a huge role in stopping a Triceraton invasion of Earth, bring down an Eldritch Abomination in The Darkness Within, and ultimately become mystically powerful enough that they could transform into dragons and manhandle the Demon Shredder, stated to be the greatest evil who ever walked the earth. So in retrospect, the greatest accomplishments of the Turtles were achieved while they were still lower ranked ninja.
  • Almost Kiss: Between Casey and April, in Modern Love: The Return of Nano.
  • Alternate Universe: Several, although the most notable is probably the one shown in Same as It Never Was.
  • Alternative Foreign Theme Song: In the Japanese version, the show has several opening and ending themes. All of them can be found here.
  • Amusement Park: Most of Modern Love's plot takes place on Coney Island.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Utrom Guardians and the Ninja Tribunal.
  • Animal-Themed Superbeing: While the original Turtle Titan — Michelangelo — isn't quite this, his successor, the Turtle Titan of 2105, is the "Animal Alias" version of this trope.
  • Animesque: Slightly visible in the designs and some of the fight coreography. That it was animated and co-produced by Studio Gallop-owned Dong Woo Animation helps.
  • Anime Theme Song: Three, in the Japanese Dub.
  • Another Dimension: Several: The Battle Nexus, Usagi's Earth, etc.
  • Another Story for Another Time: In the third episode, Splinter tells April about how he and the Turtles were mutated. When she asked how they learned martial arts, he tells her "that is a story for another time."
  • Anti-Villain: Several. Most notable examples include Bishop (who is a Well-Intentioned Extremist), Darius Dun's original minions (who only obey him because he is keeping them as slaves), Karai (who sees the Turtles as Worthy Opponents), and the list goes on.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Twice: The first occurs in the episode Notes From the Underground pt. 1, while the second occurs in The Trouble With Augie.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Michelangelo is the first to encounter Leatherhead, and when he tells them, the rest of the Turtles disbelieve him. At this point in the series, they have already encountered/know the existence of ninjas, criminal organizations, superheroes, cryptids, aliens, and mystical forces, yet a giant crocodile (mutated in the same way they were) is unbelievable. At the very least, Leo does remind Raph that they met a giant crocodile as kids, but he still gets a laugh at the whole thing.
  • Area 51: The site of one of Agent Bishop's bases.
  • Arms Dealer: Ruffington, Darius Dun.
  • Art Evolution:
    • Fast Forward simplified the designs of the Turtles and traded the darker coloring of the earlier seasons for more vibrant coloring, which also had the effect of making fight scenes more fluid.
    • Back to the Sewers kept the coloring, but gave the Turtles pupils, and also redesigned April and Casey to look more similar to the 2007 TMNT movie (and both get their combat uniforms from that film).
  • A-Team Firing: Occurs often with both lasers and bullets. One heroic example would be in Same As It Never Was: Donny sprays the Shredder's giant exosuit with the two Gatling guns on his own exosuit's shoulders, and not one of the bullets hits Ch'rell, who is completely exposed in this particular exosuit.
  • Art Initiates Life: Kirby's crystal.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • The Purple Dragons went from a small-time gang that were always on the losing side to a criminal powerhouse big enough to firmly place Hun in the Big Bad Ensemble of Seasons 4 and 7.
    • The Foot Mystics originally appeared as one-off villains during Return to New York. They return in Season 4 as supporting villains with an ulterior agenda, and ultimately serve as the Big Bad's of the first half of Season 5 before becoming The Dragon's to the Tengu Shredder.
  • Aspect Ratio Switch: To add dramatic effect or produce a widescreen effect, a black bar will often slide onto the top and bottom of the screen for that shot. Especially prominent in the first season.
  • The Asteroid Thicket:
    • In Turtles in Space Part 5: Triceraton Wars.
    • Another one appears in Exodus part two, as Ch'Rell is exiled to an ice asteroid amongst hundreds if not thousands of others in a massive ring of them around an alien planet. It's also where he's recovered from in Turtles Forever.
  • Atlantis: Or Y'lyntis, as it's called here; it plays a part in several subplots.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Raph can be seen in this pose in one of the images in Identity Crisis.
  • Avenging the Villain: Karai's motivation during the fourth and fifth seasons.
  • Back for the Finale: Wedding Bells and Bytes features appearances by Karai and Bishop, as well as a slew of recurring characters who had not been seen in two seasons.
  • Badass Bookworm: Donnie, Cody, and Serling to name a few. Professor Honeycutt even shows shades of this; look closely and you'll see he's the first to attack the Foot invading Casey and April's wedding.
  • Badass Longcoat: Leonardo, in Same As It Never Was. The Guardians. Bishop typically sports one as well, and even Hun had one at one point.
  • Bad Boss: All incarnations of the Shredder in this series, minus maybe Karai. And even she doesn't exactly display a nice attitude toward the Five Foot Mystics.
    • Darius Dun too has a tendency to be a particularly awful boss.
    • Let's not overlook Baxter Stockman, who fully intended to murder April when she discovered the Mousers' true purpose. Sure, he's almost never in a position of authority again in the series, but this is pretty bad, and it is a small piece of a character so generally unlikeable that him being increasingly mutilated over the series' run (ironically as punishment for repeatedly failing the Shredder) elicits little in the way of sympathy.
    • Pre-Fast Forward Agent Bishop is also no candidate for employer of the year. While not as brutal as the Shredder, Bishop has also done some pretty evil things to the people who work under him. In Dragon's Brew, there was a man who worked under Bishop named Finn who liked and trusted Bishop enough that Bishop was apparently the best man at his wedding. Naturally, it didn't take long before Bishop mutated the man into a monster, leaving behind his widow and son with no hope of ever seeing him again. And even with Baxter Stockman, who himself has been a Bad Boss in the past, Bishop consistently overworked Baxter to the point where Stockman is barely allowed the time or freedom to build a new body for himself. And even when Stockman seemingly died after botching a clone body experiment, Bishop still brought Stockman back to life, denying him his wish to die in peace and finally be at rest with his mother.
  • Bad Future: Same as it Never Was.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Bishop has a tendency to do this, even when things don't go exactly as planned. He managed to obtain the turtle D.N.A. samples and protect Earth in the Triceraton Invasion Arc, succeeded in securing the E.P.F.'s funding in Aliens Among Us, and bluffed his way into getting a cure for the mutant outbreak and the Heart of Tengu in Good Genes.
    • Other examples include:
      • The Shredder Strikes Back where Leo is beaten to near death at the hands of the Foot Elite and April's shop is burned down.
      • Scion of the Shredder has Karai seemingly killing Master Splinter and all but one of the Turtles (Leo), as well as destroying their lair. By the next episode it's revealed that they all survived, however.
      • The Beginning of the End ends with the Foot Mystics seemingly killing the Ninja Tribunal and their human acolytes while escaping with the Tengu Shredder's helmet, gauntlet, and sarcophagus.
  • Bait-and-Switch Credits: Tempus Fugit, the first episode of Back to the Sewer, which uses Fast Forward's opening instead.
  • Bash Brothers: Raph and Casey.
  • Batman Cold Open: Occurs in several of the episodes featuring super-heroes, such as the one introducing Raptarr and both Nobody episodes.
  • Batman Gambit: Mercenary Torbin Zixx's stock in trade.
  • Battle Couple: April and Casey, eventually.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In this continuity, Abraham Lincoln was secretly an Utrom.
  • Beneath the Earth: The Y'lyntian colony, among other things.
  • Berserk Button: Did we mention how much Raph hates bugs? In April's Artifact, he gets pushed too far after recovering from the paralysis given to him by one of the hornets, declaring in a Punctuated! For! Emphasis! fashion that bugs must pay.
  • Between My Legs: Karai gets subjected to this camera shot in the episode Same as it Never Was when her long toned legs frame future Leonardo as he dies.
  • Big Bad: The Shredder is this, in all his forms, though the most overarching villain of the series is Ch'Rell, the Utrom Shredder.
    • Big Bad Duumvirate: Darius Dun and Sh'Okanabo, in Fast Forward.
    • Big Bad Ensemble: In the third season, the Foot and the Earth Protection Force. In the fourth season, after Ch'Rell's final defeat, Hun, Bishop, and later Karai, who dons the Shredder's mantle fill this role.
  • Big Bad Wanna Be: After the Shredder's disappearance, the Foot Clan remnant, the Purple Dragons and the Mafia duke it out in an turf war. The Mafia aggressively gained new territories and even hired Dr. Stockman to build a robot for them. However, Karai eventually take over the Foot and bring the Purple Dragons back into their fold and we never hear from the Mafia ever again.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In April's Artifact and in season 4's mutant outbreak arc.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Raphael (with some help from Splinter) in the City At War arc.
  • Big Good: The Ninja Tribunal in the fifth season. Splinter and the Ancient One take up the role in the back half of the season.
  • Big "NO!": Used many times by just about every significant character.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Quite a few episodes have this.
    • In The King Donatello enters another world created by a Jack Kirby Expy. At the end, the portal they used to enter the world begins to shrink. Don makes it back to the real world in time, but Kirby doesn't. Just before the portal disappears, a paper airplane flies out where Kirby gives Don the message "Don, life at best is bittersweet. Take care of yourself, Kirby."
    • The Return to New York trilogy ends with The Shredder's defeat and the turtles have successfully sabotaged the Foot HQ but Splinter has somehow disappeared.
    • Nano's first 2 episodes end this way since the turtles feel guilty about killing someone who has the mindset of a child and didn't know any better. Nano does eventually get a happy ending though.
    • What a Croc! ends with the Turtles' old lair caving in on Leatherhead and Mikey pities him for being alone.
    • Rogue in the House ends with Zog's Heroic Sacrifice in attempting to take down the Shredder with him on-board a flaming ship. It's made worse when Shredder survives and Zog doesn't.
    • April's Artifact allows the turtles and April to escape the world of giant hornets, and finds her long-lost uncle's compass and notebook. April vows to find him someday and she does in season 4.
    • Same as it Never Was ends with the future Utrom Shredder killed, but Donatello has to witness his brothers die first and in the end, April is the only main character still alive. Thankfully, Don's return to the present ensures that this future never happens.
    • The season 3 finale, Exodus ends with the turtles and Splinter beaten rather badly and performing a Heroic Sacrifice, but they're saved at the last second and the Utroms sentence the Utrom Shredder to exile on an icy asteroid where he remains for the rest of the series until Turtles Forever. Additionally, Leo has been severely traumatized by his family's near-death experience and has a lot of issues to work out.
    • Tale of Master Yoshi depicts Yoshi murdering his friend and adoptive brother Yukio Mashimi out of revenge for murdering Tang Shen and for telling the Foot where the Utroms were hiding. In the end, Yoshi has to leave Japan and move to North America to continue serving the Utroms.
    • In Tempus Fugit, the turtles finally get to return to the 21st century, but thanks to Viral's interference, Splinter gets trapped in cyber space in the process.
  • Black Sheep: Sid, Casey's cousin. Also Casey's grandfather. In fact, April remarks that Casey's grandmother is probably the only white sheep of the family.
  • Blind and the Beast: Occurs between Raphael and an old woman named Mrs. Morrison, in a story adapted from the original comic book.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The show rarely shows blood during its' more violent scenes.
  • Body Horror: Baxter Stockman in Insane in the Membrane, to the point that during the show's original run, the episode was never aired.
  • Body Surf: Jammerhead, in Invasion of the Body Jacker.
  • Bonus Material: The various supplementary shorts produced by 4Kids.
  • Book-Ends: In Aliens Among Us, Bishop corners Don and tries to shoot him with a gauntlet-mounted gun. In Good Genes Part 1, he tries the exact same thing when Don, who's been mutated for a second time, starts tearing up Area 51. Fitting, considering Aliens Among Us sets up the Outbreak arc, and Good Genes Part 1 is the first part of the resolution.
  • Borrowed Catchphrase: Serling does it for "It's Ninja Time" in Turtle X-Tinction, the turtles do it for their original toon counterparts in Turtles Forever.
  • Bow and Sword, in Accord: Splinter is armed in this manner in the first episode of the Exodus two-parter.
  • Brain Uploading: Professor Honeycutt, The Shredder.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: The Street Phantoms do this to Jammerhead at the beginning of Enter the Jammerhead.
  • Broken Aesop: The whole message of an episode is that nuclear power plants are bad. Because the plant was leaking toxic waste, the Turtles destroyed it to save some Fish People's eggs. In reality, destroying the plant (with an explosion no less) will probably make things far much worse, as it will scatter the toxic waste everywhere. The real kicker is that the plant was already in the process of being dismantled and the eggs could have been easily moved elsewhere.
  • Broomstick Quarterstaff: Don does this in the episode The Big House.
  • Burial in Space: Prof. Honeycutt.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Occurs in City at War, pt. 2
  • Butt-Monkey: If anybody's going to cross-dress, get smacked upside the head, pummeled by his brothers, insulted, or any form of bad luck for comedic effect, it's Mikey. Casey also gets a fair amount of this in the second and third seasons, overlapping with Badass Decay; and Serling gets relegated to this role when he is introduced in the sixth season.
  • By the Eyes of the Blind: The episode Fathers and Sons features a demon that can only be seen by the innocent, thanks to an amulet it wears.
  • Cain and Abel: Hamato Yoshi and Yukio Mashimi.
  • Call-Back: Hacking Stockman has Leo directly reference the City at War arc, and — in case that wasn't clear enough — there's also Don's response to him, which is oddly similar to Raphael's from City at War, though Raph believed they shouldn't interfere in the gang war, while Donnie was overworking himself trying to save some of Splinter's data.
    Don: Sorry, but it's not my problem.
    (Compared to):
    Raph: It's not our fight, Leo!
  • Canon Foreigner: Lots.
  • Canon Immigrant: Hun, the Battle Nexus, the Mystic Ninja's look, the Shredder's armor and Bishop.
  • Cast Herd
  • Catch a Falling Star: Karai does the falling, Leo does the rescuing in "Mission of Gravity".
  • Catchphrase: "It's ninja time!" (Fast Forward only) "Goongala!" (Casey) "None of you will leave here alive!" (the Shredder), "Oh, crud." (Hun).
  • Cerebus Syndrome: While the story was always with an edge that the Fred Wolf series never had, the tone steadily grows darker and bleaker as the series goes on, with Season 4 possessing a long, grueling arc about Leo’s battle with PTSD, and Season 5 being set against a war against an ancient evil. The violence grows more graphic (even if it’s offscreen), the monsters grow more inhuman and eldritch in nature, and generally things don’t lighten up again until the sixth season’s retool.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: The climax to City at War, pt. 3.
  • Character Development: Really beautifully put into the mix in season 4 where Leonardo becomes the best fighter of the bunch while trying and failing to master his anger and fear after being defeated and stabbed in season 3. Michelangelo finally grows up, begins to use his innate skills to his full potential, and proves his worth as a thoughtful member of the team.
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: The Ninja Tribunal eventually reached godhood in this manner.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang
  • Chekhov's Gun: Quite a few fired between Adventures in Turtle Sitting and Good Genes Part 1 — notable examples include the tunnel to April's apartment — introduced in The Trouble with Augie — and Stockman's helicopter from Insane in the Membrane.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Leatherhead; Zog.
  • The Chessmaster(s): The omniscient Ninja Tribunal.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: The Hamato Yoshi/Tang Shen/Yukio Mashimi triangle features both types. Yoshi and Shen are Victorious Childhood Friends, leaving Mashimi as the unlucky one.
  • Christmas Episode: The Christmas Aliens. Adapted from the Vol. 1 comic of the same name.
  • City of Adventure: New York City, of course.
  • Clip Show: Reflections, also a Recap Episode.
  • Close-Call Haircut: A variation of this occurs with Michelangelo's bandanna in Return to New York.
  • Clothes Make the Maniac: The Ring of Yin in the episode The Engagement Ring.
  • Clothes Make the Superman: The Green Mantle cape, which endows its wearers with several super-powers.
  • Clothing Damage: Occurs to April in the episode April's Artifact, as an unexpected trip to the jungle ruins her outfit.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Mr. Marlin, and Triple Threat's yellow-hued head.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Torbin Zixx is fond of using holograms to confuse his opponents (Raph falls for it every time). He lampshades it when he tells a Triceraton "You're ten times stronger than me, of course I'm going to fight smart!" Casey Jones outright admits that when he's outclassed he just starts fighting dirty.
  • Comm Links: The Shell Cells.
  • Compressed Adaptation: The original City at War arc had separate stories for the turtles, Splinter, April, and Casey. The cartoon adaptation excises all but the turtles'.
  • Compressed Hair: Jammerhead, whose feet-tall hair can be easily concealed under his hood.
  • Composite Character: The Shredder actually being the Utrom Ch'rell in some ways makes him this series' answer to Krang, as well as Oroku Saki. While Word of God says they tried to keep that similarity to a minimum throughout the show's run, Turtles Forever takes the idea and runs with it when they merge Dimension X technology with Utrom technology, giving him a Molecular amplification Exosuit that can grow to skyscraper size and transform into various weapons.
  • Concept Art Gallery: 4Kids' now-defunct TMNT blogs served as these.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Both used and averted.
    • The Foot soldiers start out as the Final Boss of the pilot, giving the Turtles a hard time, and remain a fairly consistent threat throughout the first season through skill and sheer numbers. Over the course of the series they gradually grow less effective, until midway through the fourth season, Karai is revealed to have trained them to be much deadlier. Just three wind Raphael down in an elevator. They remain more or less this deadly for the remainder of the series until Fast Forward.
    • The Foot Elite initially powerful enough to give Leo a vicious Curb-Stomp Battle even when he'd already fought his way through Hun and the vast majority of the Foot. By the third season, they're a minor threat and are quickly taken out with one kick by Raph during the final battle of Exodus, Part I, and then they're tossed around like rag dolls by Bishop. We don't get to see much of them after Karai's taking control, but if the regular mooks are as dangerous as they were, the Foot Elite must be worse tenfold.
  • Conspiracy Theorists: The group Humans Against The Extraterrestrials.
  • Continuity Nod: Adventures in Turtle Sitting features April's basement apartment, which hadn't been seen or referenced since The King, three seasons earlier. It even had the appropriate pieces of furniture in it, like Kirby's drawing desk.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Most notably in the episodes with the underground city.
  • Conveniently Cellmates: The Turtles get a cell together when they are captured by the Triceratons. When Raphael gets in a fight in the mess hall, however, he is moved to another cell alone, so the others have to free him when they escape.
  • Conversational Troping: A couple of times, but most notably in Night of Sh'Okanabo, where Mikey lists every horror movie cliche in the book.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Pretty much the entire A-plot of Tales of Leo.
  • CoolBigSibling: April and Casey, who are 23 and 24, respectively, at the start of the series, are this to the teenaged turtles, who're supposed to 15 at the start of the series and about 18 or 19 at the end.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: Darius Dun, initially. The Utrom Oroku Saki (and by extension, his heir Karai) are these as well. Baxter Stockman also was one before his body kept getting destroyed.
  • Creator Cameo: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird occasionally appear as cops.
  • Crippling the Competition: Mephos, an Avian who was punished for crimes against his race by having the wings torn from his back and being forced to live as a human.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In Michelangelo's first centric episode, he becomes a superhero, saves another superhero, and during all this learns a lesson on why he's a ninja: because it's what he does best.
    • This is a running theme with Mikey. In Touch and Go, Splinter tells him that he is the most naturally athletic of his brothers and he is crowned the winner of the Battle Nexus on a technicality (although with Leo's training, he wins outright in Grudge Match).
  • Crossover: The characters and setting of Usagi Yojimbo show up more than once in the series, and Across The Universe features Raphael in one of Peter Laird's other stories, Planet Racers.
  • Cue the Sun: Instrumental in The Freaks Come Out at Night and Day of Awakening.
  • Curbstomp Battle: Several, though one of the most notable ones include the one the Shredder deals to the Turtles and Splinter in their final battle. To hammer the point home, the Turtles are electrocuted, have bones broken, and Leo is impaled by Karai.
  • Darker and Edgier: As a whole, definitely more so than any previous adaptation, though still (somewhat) Lighter and Softer than the Mirage comics.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Done twice with Zog.
  • Dead Hat Shot: Done with a nameless boat captain at the beginning of Junklantis.
  • Deadly Dodging
  • Deadpan Snarker: Serling.
  • Deal with the Devil: How C.F. Volpehart and the original Oroku Saki gained their wealth and powers, respectively.
  • Deconstruction: A minor one but in Samurai Tourist, Mikey — yes, Mikey — gives an accurate analysis as to why Leo takes the burden on being the leader: so that he lets his brothers be themselves.
    Mikey: I think you all [Donatello, Raphael, and Casey] should just lay off the poor guy [Leonardo]. I mean, it can't be fun always being the responsible one. And we're the ones who really benefit: Raph's free not to think cause Leo does all the thinking for him, Don's free to dream, and I'm free to take it easy all because Leo's busy being responsible enough for all of us.
  • Demonic Possession: Happens to April in one episode.
  • Deus ex Machina: The turtles obtain several important victories thanks to this.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation: Tang Shen, Hamato Yoshi's lover who died alongside him in the original comics and 1995 movie, is murdered by Yukio Mashimi, long before Hamato Yoshi himself would be murdered by the Foot Clan.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Accompanies the Turtles' arrival in 2105. They set off a series of traffic accidents, culminating in a truck going off the road (or rather, over the edge of it) and derailing a train.
  • Discussed Trope: Mikey regularly references movies and comics in the course of the Turtles' adventures, remarking on what would happen if they were in said movie/comic
  • Disney Death
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Leonardo loses part of his shell after the Turtles' final battle with Ch'Rell in Exodus. The original name for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was "Shell Shock". Leonardo displays every single symptom of PTSD, so the injured shell is a metaphor for his psychiatric injury. None of the other Turtles get shell injuries — or PTSD.
  • Dope Slap: Michelangelo is frequently subjected to these.
  • Downer Ending:
    • The Shredder Strikes Back two-parter ends with Leonardo beaten to near death and everyone else nearing exhaustion, forcing them to hide in April's storage closet. Shredder barricades the door, punctures a gas line, and activates a bomb. April's antique store is caught on fire and burns down. But the next episode reveals that they escaped at the last minute.
    • Scion of the Shredder has Karai becoming the new Shredder and destroying the Turtles' lair. The episode ends with the Turtles (save Leonardo) and Splinter dying while escaping the Foot. Although the next episode shows that they're fine.
    • There's also Beginning of the End. The Tengu Shredder's Foot Mystics murder the Ninja Tribunal and the human acolytes although the season finale reveals they survived and they escaped with all 3 of the Shredder's helmet, gauntlet, and sarcophagus. Splinter's quote at the end sums it up rather nicely:
      Splinter: They (the Ninja Tribunal and the other acolytes) have made the ultimate sacrifice. We cannot let it be in vain.
      Raphael: What about the heralds? Why the shell would they come here to New York City?
      Splinter: I do not know Raphael, but I do know what their victory today means. It means the end of the world begins here.
      For extra effect, some storm clouds gather and form the Tengu Shredder's helmet.
    • Dragon's Brew ends with the thought to be dead monster, revealed to have been human and experimented on by Bishop, looking at the gazebo upon which he was wed, realizing he can never be with his wife or child again.
    • Dragons Rising ends with the Turtles failing to apprehend Hun and Leo's already-deteriorating mental state getting even worse.
  • The Dragon: Hun, Karai, and Khan, to the Shredder.
    • Viral was Sh'Okanabo's Dragon in Fast Forward.
  • Dragon Ascendant: Karai, in season 4. When Hun finds out Oroku Saki is actually an alien named Ch'rell he leaves The Foot Clan, and does a complete makeover of The Purple Dragons, transforming them from simple street thugs into a veritable army that pulls off some very high risk & high reward theft jobs from Multinational Corporations & even the military. However come Turtles Forever after he gets mutated into Slash he willingly decides to get Demoted to Dragon & serve Ch'rell once again. Karai also reassumes her role as co-dragon in this movie finale
    • Viral in Back to the Sewer, until she is overpowered by the Cyber Shredder.
  • Dramatic Irony: In The Lesson, the turtles tell of a story about when they, as little turtle tots, tried to teach a kid how to fight. While they never know who it was, the audience finds out who it is: it was Arnold "Casey" Jones.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: Occurs to Splinter several times, and once to the turtles.
  • Drill Tank: The Turtle Tunneller.
  • The Dying Walk: In the Bad Future episode Same As It Never Was, Karai kills Leo and then mortally wounds Raphael. Raph makes his way over to Leo's body so he can die at his brother's side.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Especially apparent in the first season when the show was still just getting started. Fight scenes tended to be less intricate and developed than later seasons. Also, the Turtles tended to be a lot more chatty and joked around more in battle like their '87 counterparts. Some of the humor also came off as a bit flat, as if the writers were trying too hard to make the show funny and witty. There was also a ninja instrumental theme that played whenever the Turtles went into battle but was no longer used after the first season. By the second season, a lot of these elements in the first season were done away with and the show established itself more as its own unique Ninja Turtles incarnation.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Sh'Okanabo's invasion of Earth in The Freaks Come Out at Night.
    • Notable averted in the season three six-part opener which portrays a large scale alien invasion whose effect was felt for the next two seasons.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Mr. Marlin.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The monster from The Darkness Within.
  • Elemental Rock–Paper–Scissors: How Splinter defeats the Foot Mystics during their initial battle.
  • Elite Mooks: The Foot Elite — it helps that there are only four of them.
  • Enemy Civil War: Season 2's City at War three-parter sees the Foot Clan, the Purple Dragons and the Mob battle for control of New York following the Shredder's supposed demise. Averted in Seasons 4 and 5, where despite a split between the Foot and the Purple Dragons, the two take no hostile action against each other. Played straight between the two again throughout Back to the Sewer, though it only escalates into war during Hacking Stockman.
  • Enemy Mine: Several times, most notably in season 5 where the turtles join forces with the Foot, Purple Dragons and the Earth Protection Force to fight the season's Big Bad.
    • Every season has had at least 1 Enemy Mine team up.
      • Season 1 has the turtles and Shredder working together to take down Stockman in his new cyborg armor during the first third of the episode Return To New York Part 3.
      • Season 2 has the turtles and Casey working with Karai to end the war between the Foot Ninjas, Purple Dragons and Mob in City at War Part 3.
      • Season 3 had the turtles and Karai working together to prevent Shredder from removing an anti gravity machine left behind by the Triceratons to prevent the city of Beijing from crashing down to Earth as well as saving the city in the process in Mission of Gravity and the turtles help Hun save Karai from Bishop in Hun on the Run.
      • YMMV on Season 4 but the turtles need a cure for Don after he had been mutated into a mindless, savage monster and ask Bishop if he has one. Bishop agrees to hand over a cure provided the turtles run an errand for him (by stealing a pendant from Karai).
      • Fast Forward had the turtles and Sh'Okanabo working together to send the Shredder back to the 21st century.
      • Back to the Sewers had Stockman contact Donatello telling him to defeat Cyber Shredder in order to save the other turtles in Hacking Stockman. Another one occurs when Hun (although only the viewers see it) teamed up with the turtles to defeat a cheater in an online game in Superquest.
      • Finally, in Turtles Forever, the turtles persuade Hun to give them his technology to stop the Utrom Shredder from wiping out the TMNT multiverse. The final battle depicts 12 turtles, Splinter, Karai, 80's Shredder and Krang working together to foil the Utrom Shredder.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Every Battle Nexus Native. Notable examples include the Daimyo (a title in pre-modern Japan given to a subordinate of the shogun that controlled vast areas of land), Gyoji (a sumo referee), and The Ultimate Ninja/The Daimyo's Son
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Ch'rell and Karai.
    • The Ultimate Ninja showed true remorse and concern for his father in The Real World, Part 2 — suggesting banishing him rather than killing him. As the Ultimate Ninja later becomes Taken for Granite, he genuinely asks his father for forgiveness.
  • Evil Counterpart: The Sliver is this to Master Splinter, although he was only in one episode and Mikey's the only main character who meets him.
  • Evil Former Friend: The original Shredder to the Ninja Tribunal. Also Mephos to Raptarr
  • Evil Is Dumb: Dark Raph and Mikey
  • Evil Knockoff: Baxter Stockman's Turtle-bot.
  • Evil Laugh: The Shredder, especially when he gets hold of the Sword of Tengu.
    • Savanti Romero has a particularly epic one.
  • Evil Overlord: Savanti Romero; The Demon Shredder.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Occurs after the Shredder is defeated at the end of the Return to New York.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The main Foot HQ.
  • Evolving Credits: In season 4.
  • Expository Theme Tune
  • Expy: The Justice Force for the Justice League; and particularly Silver Sentry (Superman), Nobody (Batman), Zippy Lad (The Flash), Green Mantle (Green Lantern) and Raptarr (Hawkman).
  • The Extremist Was Right: Agent Bishop's mission to protect Earth from alien invasion. Also in Insane in the Membrane, he's right that Stockman's new body will decompose like all the aliens he used in his fake alien invasion.
  • Eyedscreen
  • Fall of the House of Cards: Occurs to Mikey early in Scion of the Shredder, foreshadowing the impending destruction of the lair and many of the Turtles' prized possessions.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Used in the first few seasons of the show, although real guns started showing up as the show got more violent. Some of the FFF's were justified by being left over Triceraton tech.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: One of the most notable was in Same as it Never Was, which didn't just feature all of the Turtles of that dimension being brutally killed by Karai and the Karai-bots, it also featured the Shredder getting a drill thrown into his Utrom face and being utterly obliterated, all shown on-screen.
  • Fashionable Asymmetry: Several Purple Dragons, particularly in the first and third incarnations of the group. The Shredder's gauntlet also makes him qualify.
  • Fat Bastard: The Garbageman, the morbidly obese disgusting villain.
  • Feather Flechettes: Mephos' cybernetic wings allow him to pull this off.
  • Final Battle: Three: The climax to Return to New York in season 1, Exodus in season 3, and Enter the Dragons in season 5.
  • Find the Cure!: In Good Genes.
  • Fingerless Gloves: Angel. Several Purple Dragons. Season 7 Casey. Season 7 Hun.
  • Fingore: Occurs to Baxter Stockman in Insane in the Membrane.
  • First-Name Basis: Even after accepting her into their family, Splinter persists in politely calling April "Miss O'Neil." He does not switch to calling her "April" until later in the series.
    • Dr. Chaplin and the Mayor of New York refer to the Shredder as "Mr. Saki" (Shredder's human identity being Oroku Saki), but in Japanese, the family name comes first, and given name comes last, the reverse of most Western naming traditions. This could be justified in that the characters just did not know better (they were American, not Japanese), and the Shredder was not all that concerned with correcting such mistakes.
    • The brothers' last name is said to be "Splinterson," after, obviously, Splinter since he is their father — several characters use this as their official name (Donnie even mails a letter to Mikey signed "Michelangelo Splinterson"). Thus, Usagi and Leonardo take impressive liberties from a Japanese perspective, as Usagi calls Leo "Leonardo-san" more often than not (though "Splinterson-san" would probably sound awkward to the ear, not to mention this could mean any of the four brothers), but does also refer to him without any honorific at all. This is justified by the fact that the two became very fast friends, and Usagi even goes to the point of calling Leo brother during The Real World parts one and two.
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The turtles in Fast Forward, and Viral (albeit for a very short time) and Serling in Back to the Sewer.
  • Fish People: The fish people from Sons of the Silent Age.
  • Five-Man Band: The turtles and their allies
  • Floating Continent: Beijing, China, from Space Invaders pt. 2 to Mission of Gravity.
  • Flying Brick: Silver Sentry
  • Forgotten First Meeting: Casey and the turtles in The Lesson.
  • Forgotten Phlebotinum: Renet and Lord Simultaneous are completely and inexplicably absent from the Fast Forward season, where the Turtles are stuck in the future — because if they'd appeared they could instantly have fixed The Turtles' predicament.
  • Fridge Logic: Rare in-universe example during Fast Forward. When the turtles find what appears to be April's journal, from which Cody learned about the turtles, they all sneak in to read it late at night. However, as they get to the end of Raphael's story, they notice contradictions between the story and what they already know about recent history. Just then, Cody and Splinter enter and reveal that they had replaced the journal with a fake to teach the turtles a lesson.
  • Fusion Dance: "Ultimate Drako," a combination of Drako and The Ultimate Ninja.
  • The Future: 2105 in the Fast Forward series. That's the main premise.
  • Future Badass: Leonardo, Raphael, April, and especially Mikey, in Same as it Never Was.
  • Future Me Scares Me: One episode of the Fast Forward season has a future journal suggesting that robot butler Serling might be Donatello's future self. Donnie and his brothers are grossed out by the idea. Fortunately, the journal is a fake set to discourage the turtles from trying to learn too much about the future.
  • Gladiator Games: The season 2 episode The Arena revolves around these.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Everyone wearing the Shredder helmet.
  • Going by the Matchbook: The turtles track down a trio of Texas mercenaries this way.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid: Enter the Dragons, the 5th season finale. The Turtles recruit the help of the Ninja Tribunal acolytes, Agent Bishop, Baxter Stockman, the Purple Dragons, and the Justice Force.
  • Gone to the Future: Apparently occurs to Don in Same as it Never Was.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: A very subtle one occurs with Karai in Season 4. Normally she wears pink lipstick, but for "Prodigal Son" she wears red lipstick, symbolizing her crossover into evil when she believed she's killed the Turtles. After Leo defeats her the next time we see her she's gone back to the pink lipstick, showing she's not so evil and such a threat anymore.
  • Good Feels Good: Discovered by Leonardo's clone in the Fast Forward episode D.N.A. is Thicker Than Water.
  • Good Is Not Nice: Casey in his debut episode. He gets better though.
    • There's also the Ninja Tribunal. They don't care too much if the Turtles or their new human friends are injured on a mission. Splinter even calls them heartless monsters and says they're not any better than the Tengu Shredder's Foot Mystics. They do mellow out a little bit when Chikara compliments Raph, Don, Joy, and Tora for passing a training session and compliments Leo when his dragon avatar destroys all the nezumi guarding the Shredder's gauntlet. Hisomi also smiles when Mikey successfully focuses his chi energy, develops super-speed and has a brief friendly race.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "What the shell?"
  • Gratuitous Japanese: Splinter will occasionally use this, as will the characters from Usagi Yojimbo. Another particular case is the Inuwashi Gunjin, named so despite the fact that they have no apparent connection to Japan besides the name. (It actually means Golden Eagle Soldiers.)
    • In Secret Origins part 2, Shredder is by a minion addressed as "dono-sama", which is roughly translatable as "lord". It's a title that was used in feudal Japan, which the episode technically took place in. But it's still a bit out of place when you consider the rest was spoken in English.
  • The Greys: Bishop's initial abductors.
  • Guilty Pleasures: In-show variation with Hun. Running the Purple Dragons is one thing, but who would've thought he plays the same MMORPG that Mikey does? Not to mention he, unknowingly, met the Turtles in it and helped them get Splinter's data bits.
  • Guns Akimbo: Bishop occasionally uses guns in this manner.
  • Hair Color Dissonance: Particularly noticeable with Casey, whose hair is highlighted blue but is meant to be black.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: The Demon Shredder's ultimate fate.
  • Halloween Episode: All Hallows' Thieves.
  • Hard-Work Montage: April and the Turtles get one as they build small sailboats in April's Artifact, complete with music.
  • Happily Married: Casey Jones and April O'Neil by the end of Wedding Bells and Bytes and during Turtles Forever.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Bishop in Fast Forward.
  • Heel Realization: Raphael in City at War part 3.
    • Angel in her self-titled episode, Fallen Angel.
  • Hero of Another Story: A few, but the most obvious is Silver Sentry and the Justice Force.
  • Hero Killer: The Shredder.
  • Heroes Want Redheads: Casey Jones with April O'Neil. The series even takes their relationship all the way as by the final season, they get married. April herself was much more of an obvious redhead than any previous incarnation as well.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Zog in Rogue in the House, to defeat Shredder. Also cements his position as a Woobie, as much as a huge dino-man can be one. His efforts didn't stick, sadly.
  • He's Back: Happens to Leo twice: first during Return to New York, when he confronts the Foot Elite, who nearly killed him during their first encounter, and again in Prodigal Son, the conclusion to his season 4 character arc.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Avian city in A Wing and a Prayer.
  • High-Altitude Interrogation: Leo does this to a random punk in Dragons Rising.
  • Hit Flash: Particularly notable in Fast Forward.
  • Holding Hands: Karai does this to Chaplin at the end of Season Five.
  • Hollywood Darkness: Particularly notable in Darkness at the Edge of Town, where the supposed darkness is a plot point.
  • Hollywood Healing: Occasionally averted. The Turtles and Splinter get the living crap beaten out of them in their battle with the Shredder in Exodus, and are bandaged and in pain for several episodes after that. The gouge in Leonardo's shell is also depicted consistently.
  • Holograms: Very prominent in Fast Forward, since it is the future and all.
  • Homage: Very many to earlier TMNT media, but special mention to homages to the comics, which have entire storylines that homages to them. Usagi Yojimbo also gets some homages with characters besides Usagi appearing. There are also a bunch of movie references of varying quality.
  • Hooked Up Afterwards: Karai and Chaplin, after the season 5 finale hand-holding.
  • Human Aliens: Most members of the Federation army.
  • Human Popsicle: Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder, was banished to the ice asteroid belt of Mor Gal Tal at the end of Exodus Part 2 after being found guilty by the Utrom council. And he was found frozen in ice and freed by 1987 Shredder in Turtles Forever.
  • I Call It "Vera": Jack Marlin's laser rifle, Betsy.
  • Improbable Weapon User: Agent Bishop, including his tie. He is basically of the "beat you down with anything handy" school of fighting.
  • Improvised Weapon: The turtles do this a couple of times.
  • In Medias Res/How We Got Here: A regular feature of the show's teasers.
  • Intangibility: The Street Phantoms, thanks to their capes.
  • Internal Homage: The first four seasons included several recreations of scenes, issues, and story arcs from the Mirage comics, being the most direct adaptation of the original turtles ever created. For seasons 5-7 this became less of a thing.
  • Interspecies Romance: Cody Jones/Starlee Hambrath (Human/Rubber Forehead Alien).
  • Irony: The episode "SuperQuest" shows that size doesn't matter for Hun.
  • It's All My Fault:
    • The episode The Way of Invisibility has Casey blaming himself for getting Raphael captured by the Foot for experimentation.
    • Fallen Angel has the eponymous character of the episode blaming herself for getting Casey captured by Hun and his gang, the Purple Dragons.
    • This was Leo's attitude about how he and his family nearly died to the Shredder in Exodus. And for once it was not brushed aside after the episode ended. It was so bad that it became a mental hurdle he needed half a season and a whole episode of lessons to get over.
  • It Was a Dark and Stormy Night: That was how Mikey wanted to begin the telling of a flashback in The Lesson.
  • Jerkass Has a Point / What the Hell, Hero??: Raph's attitude during the City at War trilogy. What the Hell, Hero? stems from the fact that he refuses to believe that the Turtles were responsible for New York's gang war between the Foot Clan, Purple Dragons, and the Mob and he sounds like he doesn't care about the innocent people who have been caught in the crossfire. This stems from his statement that the Turtles' involvement would only "add fuel to the fire", in other words, make the situation worse. And to be honest, Raph wasn't wrong; apart from Leo saving a gang of mobsters from an exploding warehouse and evacuating a man trapped in a bus, the Turtles weren't making much progress to end the war until Karai showed up and offered a truce.
  • Kabuki Sounds: Particularly the "Ooowoooh!" whenever the Shredder appears.
  • Kappa: In the Demon Shredder's army — although they lack some of the characteristics of traditional kappa. The Turtles, as in other continuities, are also sometimes confused with them.
  • Karma Houdini: Agent Bishop commits arguably some of the most horrific acts during the series and is never really punished for any of them.
    • By the time of Fast Forward, Baxter Stockman can be considered this as well in the episode Head of State. While Bishop himself committed his fair share of atrocities, he also mentioned that Baxter Stockman became just as overzealous as he was, if not more so, in torturing and experimenting on sentient alien beings for the sake of science. And even though Stockman went missing for several decades, the episode basically ended with Stockman being forgiven and given a new job despite all the torture and pain he put a lot of beings through during his time under Bishop.
  • Kids Are Cruel/Teens Are Monsters: Casey and his geeky friend Steve were shown to be harassed by the neighborhood bullies until Casey gave the leader a smackdown.
  • Killed Off for Real: Savanti, Drako, the Foot Mystics, the Tengu and Cyber Shredder's, the Brotherhood, Hamato Yoshi, the leader of the Purple Dragons from the first episode, the Y'Lyntian Entity, the female fish-woman. As well as the millions that die off-screen thanks to the Shredder.
  • Kingpin in His Gym: Oroku Saki does this in Darkness at the Edge of Town. Karai is also introduced this way in City at War, part 1.
  • Kirby Dots: In the episode The King — fitting, for an episode dedicated to the Trope Namer.
  • Knight of Cerebus: For Fast Forward, Sh'Okanabo's appearances were more laced with seriousness and less comedy. One could also say the Shredder is this, as humor in the show is less prominent when he's around.
  • Koan: Splinter is fond of these. Subverted on one occasion when he had to explain what he was saying.
    Splinter: Remember, my sons, even the mighty oak bows before the raging storm winds.
    Mikey: Huh?
    Splinter: Be careful and do not become overconfident!
  • Know When to Fold Them: The Turtles sometimes invoke this, with Raph on one occasion settling on a "tactical retreat". This is also the Ancient One's first lesson, when a bitter Leo faces a losing battle against intangible demons.
    Leo: To surrender is not the warrior's way!
    The Ancient One: You won't be much of a warrior without a head!
  • Lame Pun Reaction: Michelangelo's constant puns almost always trigger negative reactions from his brothers, ranging from groans, Facepalms, and derogatory looks, to outright physical punishment such as head-slaps, flicks and pulling the ties of his ninja mask. His brothers aren't immune to it either: on the rare occasions when one of them says a bad pun, they'll almost always get a similar Lame Pun Reaction from another turtle, though it's typically not as aggressive as the reactions dished out on Mikey due to the frequency of his puns.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Bishop was an ordinary man experimented to by aliens. Fast forward 200 years later, Bishop has an alien strapped on an operation table and is about to experiment on him (although it's unclear if this alien is the very same one who abducted him or another of the same species).
  • Laser Guided Tykebombs: The turtle clones; the Shredder's Splinter-bot in Rogue in the House.
  • Laser Hallway: Used several times.
  • Last of Their Kind: The Inuwashi Gunjin.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Several, with the Shredder's true nature being by far the most notable.
  • Later Installment Weirdness: Had a very strong sense of continuity and had several episodes and arcs that were faithful adaptions of the original Mirage Comics up until season 4. Season 5 (The Lost Episodes) continued where season 4 left off, but with an original mystical storyline and retcons to prior seasons. Season 6 (Fast Forward) was a Retool with the main cast getting flung 100 years into the future with a major tone shift from dramatic action to comedic action, and Season 7 (Back To The Sewer) was a retool bring them back to the present, but losing a lot of the original charm and congruence with the comics that the first 4 seasons had, being more similar to Fast Forward's tone.
  • Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: Return to the Underground.
  • Left for Dead: Happens to several characters, most often The Shredder.
  • Legacy Character: The Shredder, whose mythology is gradually revealed and expanded upon across the first five seasons of the show. Also true for the Turtle Titan.
  • Leitmotifs: Most prominent characters and groups have one.
  • Le Parkour: The series gives more focus to the bros' acrobatics, especially when they're not using vehicles to trip through NYC.
  • Let's You and Him Fight: Leonardo and Raphael get into this in episodes like A Better Mousetrap and City At War.
  • Letting Her Hair Down: Inversion: if April's hair isn't in her trademark bun, the situation generally isn't good.
  • Lighter and Softer: Fast Forward allows the Turtles to go out in public more frequently, the palette is much less muted, and most of the villains' plans have much less dire scales and consequences than previous seasons. Back To The Sewers toned it down somewhat, but some returning characters such as Hun ended up more comical.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Cody. Taken literally in Back to the Sewers when Serling is accidentally sent back to the 21st Century with the turtles, leaving Cody in his penthouse all by himself.
  • Magical Land: The Battle Nexus, and later, The Hidden Land (The Ancient One).
  • Making a Splash: Justice Force member Tsunami has this power set.
  • Marked Change: Occurs when the turtles accessed their Ninja Tribunal powers in season 5.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Leonardo is faced with a variation of this during the Ninja Tribunal Arc, a storyline that was already filled to the brim with actual magic, where he was the only Turtle who failed to get a mystic weapon from the forge. There was the possibility that because he was having the most difficulty with the Ninja Tribunal's tests, he lacked the confidence and faith to be worthy of earning himself a mystical weapon. However, it should be noted that in the past, he had his swords broken and subsequently repaired in the forges of the Battle Nexus, another place of great mystical power. Therefore, it was equally possible that the real reason he didn't get new weapons from the Ninja Tribunal's forge was because his two swords were already imbued with mystical power from the Battle Nexus.
  • Meaningful Name: Chikara's name is the Japanese word for "Power". Her specialty is physical strength.
    • In Tale of Master Yoshi it is revealed that Yoshi named his pet rat "Splinter" after The Ancient One warns him:
      The Ancient One: Vengeance is like a splinter: it gets under your skin and can poison your life.
      Hamato Yoshi: [Later, to his pet rat] ...I will name you "Splinter," to remind me of what I have done, and what I have failed to do. And together we will remind each other of Tang Shen.
  • Mêlée à Trois: Several times, most notably in City at War.
    • In Return to New York, the Turtles v. Shredder v. Baxter Stockman. (The Turtles and Shredder immediately peg Baxter Stockman as the greater threat, though they don't actually call a truce.)
    • Then in Exodus, we get Turtles v. Shredder v. Bishop. Although since Stockman is providing Bishop's technology and intel, it's almost just a continuation of the above.
  • Me's a Crowd: Nano, in his Justice Force form, is shown to do this in Enter the Dragons pt. 2.
  • Microts: "Trigons".
  • Mini-Mecha: Turtle X, the Foot's Shred-naughts, and the main transport Dome-Bot used by both Dr. Dome and Ananda are all these.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Occurs to the Turtles a lot, after the Triceraton invasion.
  • Mistaken for Quake: Splinter is giving the turtles a lecture when their sewer home begins to shake. Michelangelo wonders if it's an earthquake, but Donatello answers that since they're in New York it's possible but not likely. Then the cause is revealed to be Baxter Stockman's mouser robots breaking through the wall, preceding to attack Splinter and the turtles.
  • Mister X and Mister Y: Mr. Touch and Mr. Go are named like this, befitting a duo of villains.
  • Moral Dissonance: The Turtles find a Triceraton that was accidentally teleported back to Earth with them in Season 2, a soldier named Zog. Since he can't breathe oxygen, he's delirious, and thinks that the Turtles and Splinter are commanding Triceraton officers. They save his life, but he's still delusional, and they wind up taking him on a mission to fight the Shredder, during which he dies. While the Turtles are saddened by his death, the fact that they knowingly and willingly manipulated a delusional alien by masking as his commanding officers, dragging him into a fight which is not his where he dies, and that if he were aware of who they were would consider them enemies and want to kill them is never addressed. This is taken directly from the original comics, though there it was part of the Return To New York storyline. The comic Turtles were always much more morally ambiguous than their animated counterparts, so exploiting a delirious alien to get some extra muscle was completely in character there.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: The Utroms utilize robotic exosuits to blend in.
  • Mob War: City at War.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Everyone wearing a Shredder helmet. The Ninja Tribunal. Dr. Malignus.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: In Fast Forward.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Dr. Malignus.
  • The Movie: Turtles Forever.
  • Multiple Head Case: Triple Threat, from Fast Forward.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Leatherhead says this almost word for word when he attacks Michelangelo in a fit of uncontrollable rage, leaving him unconscious and fearing him badly hurt/dead. Don't worry though; Mikey was fine.
    • Leonardo also has an example of this in The Ancient One, when he loses control and injures Master Splinter. Although he doesn't actually say the line, the look on his face after it happens and his subsequent remorse show he was clearly shocked and deeply regretted his actions.
  • Mythology Gag: Several, most notably a cameo by an Utrom named Krang, and April's impersonation of a reporter, complete with a familiar-looking yellow jumpsuit.
    • Raphael also had a motorcycle in this series.
    • Season 1 has an arc where a turtle gets beaten nearly to death by the Foot Clan, who then destroy April's residence, forcing the heroes to relocate to a farm. This is very similar to what happened in the 1990 movie, with the main difference being that the turtle that gets beaten is Leo, not Raph.
    • The warehouse where the Turtles keep the Battle-Shell is at the corner of "Eastman and Laird."
    • Another reporter can be seen in Web Wranglers, during a story from "Channel 6 News." Coincidentally, she seems to be wearing a canary yellow jacket.
    • It's never explicitly pointed out but at one point during season 5, there's a joke about the Competitive Balance from the games. In a speed test, Mikey blasts off after Hisomi, Leo and Raph keep a relatively even pace, and Don brings up the tail end, chatting enthusiastically with his running partner and noting how unlikely it is that they're going to catch up.
      Donnie: Um, we're not going to catch Hisomi today, are we?
      Adam: I don't see that happening.
      • Earlier in the same episode, there's a test of strength that Raph and Don ace, but Mikey and Leo don't, making this an episode-long gag.
  • Named Weapons: The sword of Tengu; The Fangs of the Dragons.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The villain known as "The Garbageman." While his name is laughable, this garbage-themed villain is nonetheless dangerous. He has multiple weapons, access to high-technology, his own army and even an elaborate Underwater Base.
  • Nanomachines: Used to create Nano.
  • Never Say "Die": Inconsistently applied, despite the considerable amount of explicit deaths. While there are occasionally lines like "You cannot kill the dead!" there are numerous instances where the word "dead" is replaced by much more awkward synonyms or euphemisms — heck, what is Shredder's trademark line of "none of you will leave here alive" but a sanitized version of "you will all die"?
    • A few instances of death words were also used in non-life threatening situations from time to time, such as Donatello saying that he "died and gone to techno-heaven" in Return to New York, Part 1 when the turtles and Splinter enter the Foot's vehicle bay.
    • A notable example of this trope being averted outright is in the episode Same As It Never Was, where upon saving the life of a time-traveling Donatello, Future Mikey says that the rest of the Turtles "thought [he was] dead."
  • New Neo City: New York in Fast Forward.
  • Nice Guy: Dr. Chaplin, even though working for the Foot makes him a villain.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Twice: the first sets up the City at War arc, while the second sets up the Ninja Tribunal arc.
  • Nice Hat: The Turtles' (not counting Leo) opinions of the Foot Elite Guard upon first seeing them.
    Donatello: Say what you will about the Foot, but they do not skimp on the headgear.
    • It should be noted that Mike and Don say this after seeing four uber badass looking ninja assassins waiting for them. The compliment was clearly intended to distract/placate them as they retreat.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The linchpin of Sh'Okanabo's plan in Day of Awakening.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: The end of The Shredder Strikes Back, pt. 1. Also Exodus, pt. 2.
    • In Exodus, pt. 1, Leatherhead finally comes face to face with the Shredder. Enough said.
  • Noodle Incident: A subversion occurs in the final episode of Fast Forward. Torbin Zixx mentions that he lost his spaceship because of an incident that happened to the Utrom ambassador's wife. When the Turtles look at him funny, he simply responds with "Was it my fault she was standing near the sushi bar?" It is a subversion because it turns out that he still had his ship and was lying.
    • Interestingly enough, this trope was played straight when a similar incident to the above was mentioned in Wedding Bells and Bytes, where an Utrom informs Mortu that there is no sushi at the wedding, Mortu mentioning that the last time he was near sushi he ended up smelling like soy sauce.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: The Shredder's spaceship in season 3; justified in that it's built from parts salvaged from an alien invasion, including some that could not be replicated with available Earth technology.
  • No, You: Karai's not very good at trash-talking. She does this several times to the Tengu Shredder.
  • Not a Date: Casey and April insist their late-night jaunt to Coney Island is this. They're both in complete denial though.
  • Not So Above It All: April and Splinter both have moments where they sink down to the Turtles' level of silliness. For April most notably in April's Artifact, where she gets waaay into the Jungle Princess role and The Christmas Aliens where she sticks a spoon on her nose and grins stupidly. As for Splinter, he loves his soap operas, beats out Casey and Raph in poker, snarks periodically about his sons' antics, and even cracks a joke here and there.
  • Nothing but Skulls: The mass grave in the episode The Trouble With Augie.
  • Offhand Backhand: When the Shredder and the Foot Ninja attack April's antique shop, Master Splinter smacked a Foot Soldier with his stick without even turning back. He does this again to another Foot ninja when Karai invades the Lair and maybe once more at one point in between.
  • Oh, Crap!: The Shredder gets this when he realizes he shouldn't have let Splinter cut the posts holding up the water tower.
    • And again when the tower's about to fall right on top of him.
    • Hun does this really well when he gets these moments, even combining them with his Catchphrase "Oh, crud," which comes close enough to Oh, Crap!.
    • To be fair, the 2003 series DEFINITELY loves this trope.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: The Fast Forward season sends the Turtles and Splinter to the future, where they meet new people.
  • Old Master: The Ancient One. Splinter, obviously.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness: The Utrom navigators. Subverted by the Ninja Tribunal.
  • Omniscient Morality License: The immortal Ninja Tribunal gets away with allowing everything that had transpired thus far throughout the series to occur, because according to them, it all had to happen that way for the demon Shredder to be killed.
  • One-Winged Angel: The Demon Shredder's dragon form. The Turtles' and the Ninja Tribunal's respective Dragon forms may also apply.
  • Out-Gambitted: Bishop is completely played for a fool by the Foot Mystics, who use him to free them from Karai's hold.
  • Out of the Inferno: The Shredder does this during his first fight with the Turtles, later revealed to be because he's an Utrom in an exosuit.
  • Overprotective Dad: Casey's mom.
    • And there's obviously Splinter, not just towards the turtles but also towards April, Casey, and Cody (who also has Serling).
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Casey Jones is an above average fighter and when it comes to beating up thugs and lower level Foot ninjas, he's more than capable of defending himself. However, whenever he fights alongside the Turtles against stronger, tougher opponents like Karai, Agent Bishop, the Rat King, and higher ranking Foot warriors, he usually gets taken out relatively quickly while the four Turtles are able to keep up with those stronger opponents.
  • Pair the Smart Ones: Cody and Starlee in Fast Forward.
  • Papa Wolf: Splinter for the Turtles, and Serling for Cody.
  • Parents in Distress: For all of the times Splinter has rescued his sons, he has to be rescued by them often as well.
  • Parental Abandonment: To the point where only one character — Starlee Hambrath, in case you're counting — is known to have been raised by both biological parents.
  • Pet the Dog: Saki's adoption of Karai. Even if he may have had ulterior motives for raising her, it's very nice to even think about that little flashback. Karai explicitly refers to him as a good father and seems to have had a happy life being raised by him, the genocidal psychopath he is.
    • Bishop and the Rat King are both seen watching Casey and April's wedding with seemingly genuine approval.
  • Physical God: The Ninja Tribunal; The Demon Shredder.
  • Pineapple Surprise: In one of the less family-friendly (and most awesome) moments of the Space Invaders arc, Michelangelo does this to a Triceraton soldier.
  • Place of Power/Ley Lines: The Statue of Liberty, The U.N. Building, and Manny's Meats were all located near Ley Line nodes, as revealed in the episode Past and Present.
  • Plague of Good Fortune: This is how Michelangelo became the Battle Nexus champion.
  • Police Are Useless: In Fast Forward.
  • Posthumous Characters: All three characters in the Hamato Yoshi/Yukio Mashimi/Tang Shen love triangle.
  • Powered Armor: Baxter Stockman and Darius Dun occasionally wear these.
  • Power Glows: The Sword of Tengu, when in use. Also the Guardians' weapons.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation
  • Preemptive Apology: In Sons of the Silent Age.
    Donatello: We don't have time for this! Please accept my apology.
    Worker: For what?
    Donatello: For this. (hits the worker with his bo)
  • Private Eye Monologue: In the beginning of each episode, except on seasons 6 and 7.
  • The Professor: Lots. Lampshaded early into the third season, when Professor Honeycutt and the homeless Professor constantly get mixed up whenever Donnie tries to address one of them.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Zig-zagged. While there are instances in which the protagonists get smacked down with the realization that not everything is about them, the series is often quite willing to color the Turtles' actions as heroic or neutral, even when they have damaging consequences.
  • Proud Warrior Race: The Inuwashi Gunjin. The Triceratons, to a lesser and less uniform extent.
  • Pro Wrestling Is Real: In Fast Forward, Pro Wrestling has become a legit sport. However, being from the past, Raphael is unaware of this and treats it like its all a show, at least until he gets his shell kicked by a disgruntled wrestler.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Dr. Chaplin.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: Is it any surprise that Hun has at least one moment of this?
    Hun: Arrrrrgh! Go away! WE! PLACED! NO! ORDER!
  • Pungeon Master: Michelangelo, much to his brothers' continued annoyance.
  • The Psycho Rangers: The Dark Turtles.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: The Dark Turtles.
  • Race Lift: One-shot villain Skonk, who was turned from black to white.
    • A (possibly unintentional) in-universe example can be found in Samurai Tourist: Michelangelo shows Gen a comic book issue about the Silver Sentry, and on the cover, Silver Sentry appears white, though the actual Silver Sentry we see in the series is black.
  • Raise Him Right This Time: Ultimately occurs to The Ultimate Ninja.
  • Raised Hand of Survival: In one episode, Splinter defeats the Shredder by collapsing a water tower which washes Shredder off the side of the building they were fighting on and then falls off the building, landing on his prone body. The final shot of the episode is of Shredder's extended fist punching its way out of the debris.
  • Real After All: A variation of the trope occurs in the episode Monster Hunter, with a Bigfoot-like creature living in Northampton.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • In City at War, during one fight with the Foot Clan, Donatello attempts to emulate a scene from The Matrix Reloaded by doing a spinning kick around a virtual wall of Foot Ninja using his bo staff as leverage. The only thing that happens is him embarrassingly falling right to the ground.
    • Insane in the Membrane reveals that Stocktronics went out of business after Baxter Stockman, the head of the company, disappeared.
  • Rearing Horse: Happens a couple of times. The Tengu Shredder does this on his Hellish Horse in Enter the Dragons Part 2. Happens again with a regular horse in Tempus Fugit, when Viral sends the Turtles back to the medieval ages
  • Recurring Character: Tons, many of which return for both the fifth and seventh season finales for massive battles.
  • Red Herring: Once the Foot Mystics are free, they declare that they can now free the one and true Shredder. Viewers will think it's the Utrom Shredder, since he's missing and they dislike Karai, the new Shredder. Next season reveals that the Shredder they speak of is actually the Tengu Shredder, a demon-infused warrior from ancient Japan. In fact, he was the original Oroku Saki, from whom the Utrom Shredder fashioned his human identity after.
  • Retool: For Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: The Turtles were believed to have been destroyed with the Shredder's starship, and gradually make their survival known during the early parts of the fourth season.
  • Resist the Beast: Happens to Donatello in Adventures in Turtle Sitting. He even begs April and Casey to "stay away from" him as he runs off, before he mutates fully and starts to attack them.
  • The Reveal: In Secret Origins, the Utroms' presence on Earth is made known, as is their benevolence and relation to the Guardians. However, the two biggest reveals of the series relate to the Shredder and the mythology of the character. The climax of Secret Origins reveals that the Shredder is actually an Utrom warmonger named Ch'Rell (though his Utrom name wouldn't be revealed until a season later) who's been on Earth for a millennia, biding his time to take his vengeance on the Utroms. Then three seasons later, it's revealed that Ch'Rell took the name Oroku Saki from the legend of the true Shredder, a Tengu demon fused with the ancient warrior Oroku Saki.
  • Ret-Canon: The show influenced the original comic book in several ways, mostly involving Casey's backstory.
  • Rollerblade Good: Starlee Hambrath's ubiquitous inline skates.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: Donnie in "SuperQuest".
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens
  • Running Gag: Whenever the Turtles are at the antique shop, they're going to break priceless antiques.
  • Samus Is a Girl: Occurs with the mutated human Quarry, who is assumed to be a guy until returned to her human form... while naked. The turtles have enough courtesy to cover their eyes.
  • Scars Are Forever: Hun sports a trio of matching scars on his face, courtesy of a pre-mutation Splinter.
    • Leo's shell-gouge stays with him through the end of the Demon Shredder arc. He loses it with the Art Shift.
  • Scenery Porn: The hidden land in The Ancient One, whose background feature an art shift, to boot.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: Mortu (Utrom). Also, Kluh and Ammag from the planet Levram, for a particular type of shout out.
  • Secret Test of Character:
    • The Ninja Tribunal's first test.
    • Casey's mother meeting April too.
  • See the Invisible: Stockman's Foot Tech Ninja have cloaking devices that render them invisible. The Turtles use everything from spray paint to thermal-vision goggles to get around this.
  • Self-Parody: On an alien planet, the Turtles come across a turtle ninja master with four teenage mutant ninja rats. One of them says cowabunga in his alien language, complete with subtitles. The ninja rats get two boss fights in the Battle Nexus game.
  • Serial Prostheses: Baxter Stockman, thanks to the Shredder's attitude towards failure. He loses an eye, a hand, and ends up in a wheelchair before trying to take his revenge in a Mini-Mecha. When that fails, he's reduced to a head attached to a robot. It gets worse from there.
  • Series Continuity Error: In season 2, Mortu and the Shredder fight each other. Mortu snarked that it took the Shredder 1000 years to find him. In season 4, a flashback showed that the two had met earlier in the '60s, when Mashimi betrayed the Utroms.
    • In Insane in the Membrane, April is shown working in the underground lab in Stocktronics, despite the fact in A Better Mousetrap, she doesn't even know about it. Of course, this episode does take place from the point of view of a man slowly going insane, so it's possible Stockman's memory is faulty.
  • Series Fauxnale: Originally the two part episode Enter the Dragons was supposed to be the conclusion of the series. However, with the Fast Forward season being released early it isn't anymore.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Donatello, being the smart turtle, is particularly fond of this. A notable example is in The Shredder Strikes Back, Part 1, when he and Raphael are watching a football match on television.
    Raphael: Panthers, Rams, Bears, they even got Dolphins. You'd think they'd have room for something a little more... reptilian.
    Donatello: The "Turtles?" My friend, unfortunately the lowly turtle has been saddled by society with the stereotype of being velocity challenged.
    Raphael: Say what?
  • Sheathe Your Sword: The Ancient One's first lesson, in The Ancient One.
  • Shout-Out: So, so many of them. Mostly from Mikey.
    • Baxter Stockman's automated response he's programmed into the Shredder's computer system in Exodus Part Two is a clear nod to Jurassic Park.
    • Also his line in Return to New York Part 3:
      Stockman: I've spared no expense. And why should I? After all, you were footing the bill, Shredder!
    • Serling's greeting of "Come with me if you want to live".
    • One denizen of future New York is an expy of 1987 Bebop.
    • Chaplin looks awfully familiar, doesn't he?
    • One of the monsters in Notes From the Underground is a dead ringer for obscure Eastman/Laird character Carnage.
    • April O'Neil isn't a news reporter and doesn't have the same design as her '80s/early '90s cartoon counterpart, but in Web Wranglers there is a female news reporter with short brown hair and a yellow jacket.
    • This gets combined with Hurricane of Puns in episode 2. While trying to figure out the name of their new home, Don and Mikey have this discussion, after Don hears Mikey's first suggestion.
      Mikey: And what would you call our new digs? The Shellter?
    • In Tale of Master Yoshi, two of Yoshi's outfits are an homage to Bruce Lee, the yellow jumpsuit from Game of Death, and the black uniform from Enter the Dragon.
    • When the Turtles are down, April attacks an insect queen while saying "Get away from them, you witch!"
    • In The Search for Splinter Part 2 a couple of Utrom's are discussing how much they dislike one of their compatriots named Newman. One of them exclaims angrily "Newmannnn!"
    • April says to Casey, "Don't call me Babe".
    • In Space Invaders Part 1:
    • In Samurai Tourist, Gen, an anthro rhino, is impressed by a New Yorker's outfit, and gets his own set. He ends up looking like Rocksteady.
    • In The Big House, Raphael's battle cry is "Spooooooon!"
    • In the opening credits, Raphael slides his bike away from the camera just like Kaneda. The original teaser for the show even had similar lightning effect for that part, but it was removed in the finished product.
    • During Playtime's Over (Fast Forward season) Mikey tells Cody "Quick Robin, to the Shellmobile!"
    • When looking for a way off a planet, Professor Honeycutt suggest hiring Han Solo and Chewbacca expies.
    • The "Helix" video-games are an Expy of Halo.
  • Shout-Out Theme Naming: Kluh, Ammag, and planet Levram.
    • Also, the abandoned warehouse that serves as the Turtles' garage is on the corner of Eastman and Laird.
  • Sigil Spam: The Foot's tendency to plaster its logo everywhere made for a minor wall banger, as the organization's dragon claw symbol was also used in its legitimate operations, meaning that anyone who got a good look at a Foot Ninja would see the symbol adorning the Foot's very visible skyscraper base and put two and two together without effort.
  • Significant Anagram: From "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003 S 3 E 14 The Darkness Within": C.F. Volpehart/H. P. Lovecraft.
  • Single-Stroke Battle: Occurs once between Leonardo and the Shredder in Return to New York, and again with Hamato Yoshi and Yukio Mashimi in Tale of Master Yoshi.
  • Smug Snake: Darius Dunn of the Fast Forward season is surprisingly arrogant for a Manipulative Bastard and master of deception as Splinter calls him, seeing how he treats his mooks poorly when they fail him and sometimes even berates them for their stupidity. He didn't even take too well to the Inuwashi Gunjin's disobedience towards him when they said that they were no longer under his command after capturing Cody for the first time. And he really lost it when he finally lost control over his Gunjin slaves. So yeah, he's reduced to a screaming mess when things go wrong with his plans. Of course, in the final scene of the DNA is Thicker Than Water episode, he does pull off a Pet the Dog moment for the Dark Turtles by giving them another piece of steak to fight over even though they failed to destroy the real turtles for him.
  • So Last Season: Beginning with season 5, with the weapons and items used by the turtles. Lampshaded in Timing Is Everything, when the Turtles deal a quick defeat to the Shredder (who had unwittingly traveled in time to the future from the first season of the show).
  • Soft Reboot: Back To The Sewers brought the Turtles back to their time, but dropped most of the previously lingering plot threads and toned down the heavy continuity the series had accumulated in favor of keeping the Lighter and Softer tone established by Fast Forward.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Goes hand in hand with Splinter's Gentleman Snarker.
  • Sound-Only Death: A number of times, likely to avoid having to show grisly murders on screen in a children's cartoon.
    • In the Shredder's first appearance, the audience's point of view cuts to outside of his skyscraper as we hear a Purple Dragon's scream right when he's executed.
    • For a non-villainous example, in the season three episode Bishop's gambit, Leatherhead gets the drop on some EPF mooks who are about to execute the unconscious turtles. Cut to black, and the audience hears screaming, tearing sounds, and guns being dropped.
  • Space Jews: Starlee's family, especially her mother.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Prime Leader Zanramon — at least until it was revealed that he hadn't died at all.
    • Also Nobody; he was killed in the comics 3rd arc, eaten by a mutant monster.
  • Spiritual Crossover: The episode The Darkness Within features the Turtles going up against the Necro Monster, who's basically a stand-in for Cthulhu.
  • Stable Time Loop: In Timing is Everything. The episode heavily implies that the Shredder's defeat in this episode attributed to his desire to eliminate the Turtles by any means possible from then on. This is because the Shredder that appeared here had just gone through the events of The Shredder Strikes, Part 2, and learned that the turtles would one day be strong enough to defeat him, embedding a deep fear that would cause his eventual fall.
    Raphael: We put the kabosh on you a long time ago! You're history!
  • The Starscream: Dr. Stockman to the Shredder, until he finally defects to the Earth Protection Force in the third season finale.
    • In the following season, the Foot Mystics become this to Karai.
  • Stealth Pun: In Same As It Never Was, the Shredder is destroyed by the Turtle Tunneler, that is to say, shredded.
  • Stolen MacGuffin Reveal: In Fast Forward.
  • Strange Minds Think Alike: In the episode, The Shredder Strikes Back, Part 2, Michelangelo says to the Foot Elite ninjas "Nice hats!". 35 seconds later, Donatello says the same thing. Then another minute later, Raphael shows up:
    Raph: [to the ninjas] Nice hats.
    Mikey: Yeah. We thought so too.
    Don: Say what you will about the Foot, but they do not skimp on the headgear.
  • Strapped to an Operating Table:
    • Raph, by Hun, in The Way of Invisibility.
    • The Foot's "volunteers" in Notes From the Underground.
    • The turtles, by Bishop, in Worlds Collide, pt. 2 (and, by implication, Leatherhead).
    • Master Splinter in Bishop's Gambit.
    • The President of the United States, by Bishop's aliens in Aliens Among Us.
    • Bishop himself in Head of State.
  • Stripped to the Bone: Occurs to Agent Bishop's body after his mind is transferred into a new one.
  • Storming the Castle: Happens a number of times with the Foot Headquarters.
  • Story Arc
  • Sword over Head: Karai does this to one of the defeated Foot Elite at the end of City at War.
  • Taken for Granite/Literally Shattered Lives: Drako and The Ultimate Ninja.
  • Taking You with Me: The Shredder is wont to do this. Also attempted by the Turtles in the episode Exodus.
  • Talking to Himself: Three of the Shredders in this series are voiced by the same person, Scottie Ray. The Utrom Shredder, the Tengu Shredder and the Cyber Shredder. There's an in-universe reason for this however; the Tengu Shredder is the original Oroku Saki from ancient Japan, whom the Utrom Shredder, Ch'rell (the main Big Bad of the series) based his human persona on, and the Cyber Shredder is a virtual manifestation of Ch'rell combined with Viral.
  • The Team: The Turtles and their main allies
  • Techno Babble: Commonly crops up when particularly smart characters, such as Donatello, Leatherhead or April, start talking science. Played for Laughs in April's Artifact, when April and Don's conversation is so full of technical jargon that it prompts Michelangelo to ask:
    Michelangelo: Do you guys come with subtitles?
  • Technological Pacifist: O'Neil Tech, in theory.
  • Teen Genius: Obviously Donatello, also Cody Jones and Starlee Hambrath.
  • Temporarily a Villain: Casey in Karate Schooled, April in The Engagement Ring, and the Turtles in Identity Crisis.
  • Temporary Blindness: In Lone Raph and Cub.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Honeycutt: Well gentlemen, it should be fairly smooth sailing from here on. (Triceraton fleet shows up) [later] Well gentlemen, I'd say the difficult part is over. (Federation fleet shows up)
  • That Came Out Wrong: Casey's marriage proposal to April:
    Casey: April, I love you like... like Gretzky loves hockey, and I wanna play you for the rest of my life... — Dah! I mean your life! I-I mean Gretsky's life! — I mean-
  • Theme Tune Roll Call: The theme for the fourth and fifth seasons.
  • They Really Do Love Each Other: Despite sometimes being a jerk to his brothers, Raphael is very protective of them.
  • This Cannot Be!: Being a jerkass in his own right, the Shredder is so confident about his remarkable power and his belief in fighting only to win that he loves using this trope when he's defeated.
    Shredder: Guh... this can't be happening... I cannot lose!
    • Also, Sh'Okanabo finds out that the Kanabo drones can be reverted back to their previous normal selves by sunlight. And he doesn't take that too well.
      Sh'Okanabo: (after going back to his spaceship) This is impossible! The Kanabo have thrived before on countless planets under countless suns.
  • This Is Unforgivable!: As mentioned before, Raph doesn't take too well to having been paralyzed by one of the hornets in the episode April's Artifiact.
    • And in later episode Same as it Never Was, after stating a Big "NO!" upon watching the Karai Legions kill Future Mikey to his horror, Don gets pushed too far. His response:
      Donnie: You'll pay for this, Shredder! If it's the last thing I do, YOU WILL PAY!
      • Same episode sees Future Leo cut down by Future Karai while his back was turned. An enraged future Raph clearly tries to kill her for it.
  • Time Bomb: Averted throughout the series. If a villain activates a time bomb or any other type of explosive, it will go off. The only time it was played straight was in "Turtle X-Tinction" where Serling prevents Turtle X from exploding at the last second.
  • Time Skip: Fast Forward takes place in the year 2105, roughly ninety-nine years from the present day, while Back To The Sewer takes place one year after the day the turtles were transported to the future.
    • In Same As It Never Was, Donatello gets transported into the Bad Future, 30 years from the present day.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: This.
  • Title Theme Tune
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Used in the initial promo for Exodus, pt. 2, albeit with the less-precise "you'll never see one of these characters again."
    • To be fair, after Shredder's exile, the show probably thought he wasn't going to come back.
  • Took a Level in Badass: April in season 3, when Splinter teaches her martial arts. Casey undergoes a bit of this in Back to the Sewer when training under Master Khan (he manages to sneak attack and take down all four of the Turtles in this episode), but brainwashing is involved and the show doesn't give any strong indication of whether he retained his newfound fighting skills afterwards.
    • However, Casey still applies to this trope as it was revealed that when he was young, Casey lacked the confidence he shows as an adult, until the Turtles trained him to be assertive.
    • In Same As It Never Was, Mikey of all people gets this treatment. He is not goofing around anymore. This jarring change in character is pretty much justifiable.
    • In Season 4, Hun transforms the Purple Dragons from a petty street gang working for the Foot into a far more sophisticated organization operating on its own.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: It's more so "losing a level in jerkass," but by Back to the Sewers, Raph was no longer beating up Mikey or challenging Leo's authority, though he still flung a few insults here and there and even those were reduced.
    • Cousin Sid returns in the final episode after previously nearly getting Casey and April killed while trying to get money for the Purple Dragons, and is Back-to-Back Badasses with Casey for some time.
  • To Serve Man: The motivation of one-shot villain group "The Brotherhood." Donny even directly references the infamous Twilight Zone episode.
  • Tournament Arc: The Big Brawl.
  • Traintop Battle: The Turtles regularly fight their foes on the tops of moving vehicles, most usually trucks and vans.
  • Transforming Mecha: Serling, after he is modified to become the second Turtle X.
  • Trickster Mentor: The Ancient One, initially.
  • Truer to the Text: Zig-Zagged. A number of the episodes are faithfully adapted from the original Mirage comics, most prominently the earliest ones. By late Season 1 and Season 2, the series started to toy with the stories more heavily (such as the reveal of Shredder being an alien) and create almost entirely new plots and characters, making the series more of its own thing.
  • UltimateGamer386: In the episode SuperQuest. Trope namer.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Turtle Titan II to Silver Sentry (grandson/grandfather). Also, Ananda to Battling Bernice (daughter/mother), as in the comic books.
  • Under the Mistletoe: In the episode The Christmas Aliens, with Casey and April.
  • Unequal Pairing: Karai and Dr. Chaplin, and to a lesser extent, Cody Jones and Starlee Hambrath. Both are canon.
  • Uniqueness Decay: Invoked and also somewhat subverted for the Turtles. It doesn't take long for the mutant Turtles and Splinter to discover that they're not the only anomalies in the world, with the discovery of ancient ninja clans like the Foot, alien races like the Triceratons and Utroms, multiple mystical entities, extradimensional locations like the Battle Nexus, long-lived immortals like Bishop, and much more. Subverted because if we're not counting the people mutated by Shredder(all of whom were cured) and Bishop, the Turtles, Splinter, and Leatherhead remain pretty much the only six mutants in the series and retain that unique status until the end.
  • Unnamed Parent: Casey's mom.
  • Unexplained Recovery:
    • The Battle Nexus Gyoji gets sucked into the vortex created by the Daimyo's warstaff in The Big Brawl, Part 4, but is seen alive and well in a later episode (though the first time the character reappears, he turns out to be the Ultimate Drako in disguise).
    • In a somewhat less extreme case, Hun and Leatherhead both appear to fall to their doom in Exodus, Part 1. They both appear later with no explanation of how they survived or what happened to them immediately after the episode. Granted, their fall was indoors and it is rather hard to determine how far they fell (and unlike the Gyoji, it is rather doubtful that the writers intended this to be their death).
  • Unreliable Narrator: Zog's narration of the events of Rogue in the House, Pt. 2.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Michelangelo's preferred method of handling victory.
  • Vague Age
  • Victory-Guided Amnesia: Fathers and Sons revealed that the Turtles helped defeat a servant of the Foot Mystics when they were very young, but the Ninja Tribunal insisted on erasing all their memories of it.
  • Villain Episode: Hun On the Run, Aliens Among Us, and Insane in the Membrane, for Hun, Bishop, and Baxter Stockman, respectively.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left: Bishop often does this, but typically escapes in a way that the Turtles can't follow him.
  • Villain Team-Up: Happens a couple of times. The most obvious example is in Bad Day, although the events of this episode were mostly just a mystical illusion
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Oroku Saki and Karai. Darius Dun.
  • The Virus: Sh'Okanabo and his Gene Eggs.
  • The Voiceless: Hisomi Shisho, as the embodiment of Stealth, does not speak.
  • Voice of the Legion: The Ultimate Drako. April O'Neil in The Engagement Ring.
  • Volleying Insults: Between Casey and Raph, in The Way of Invisibility.
  • Waif-Fu: April sometimes demonstrates martial arts skills, after being trained by Splinter.
  • Walking Away Shot: in the episode "The Christmas Aliens" with Mikey going back into the sewer and into the lair
  • Water Tower Down: The Turtles obtain their first victory over the Shredder in this manner.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: Sh'Okanabo's drones and their weakness to... sunlight.
    • Actually there's something about the combination of Earth's highly-oxygenated atmosphere and the sun's specific light wavelengths that does it, as it didn't happen on other worlds. (Though it doesn't explain why the kanabo still die from sunlight on the moon, with very light atmosphere.)
  • Wedding Finale: Series finale Wedding Bells and Bytes. Lampshaded by Michelangelo:
    "Every series eventually does a wedding episode, dude!"
  • Wedding Smashers: Face it, the moment Casey proposed to April, you knew this was coming.
  • Weirdness Magnet: Noted several times:
    Michelangelo: How come all the weird stuff always happens to us? I mean, we were just minding our own business, when WHAM, that time lady fell out of the sky, right on top of us! Now we're stuck here AND we've gotta go to that creepy-loking place! It just doesn't seem fair!!!
  • Weirdness Search and Rescue: In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) (as well as the comic) there's a character called Lord Simultaneous who holds the time scepter and generally manages time with his incompetent assistant Renet. He's even voiced like a New York tour guide, and has been key to helping our heroes out of time displacement related predicaments more than once (to the point of Deus ex Machina). Read more here.
  • We Need a Distraction: In order to let April enter the T.C.R.I. building, in The Search for Splinter, pt. 1.
  • Wham Episode: For one, The Shredder Strikes Back.
    • Secret Origins — The Utroms are revealed, as is the Shredder's true nature as being one himself, and the Turtles are finally home from space and reunited with Splinter.
    • The Space Invaders and Worlds Collide multi-parter is probably the Wham Episode of the entire series. The Triceraton-Federation war is brought to Earth, and the effects are felt for the remainder of the show until Fast Forward. Agent Bishop debuts as a major antagonist, the Professor is seemingly killed, and the Tricerations pull a Heel–Face Turn under Traximus' new leadership, and end their feud with the Federation.
    • Exodus — the Utrom Shredder is finally defeated and banished to the far reaches of space. Leonardo is left with lasting emotional wounds; Hun cuts ties with the Foot after learning the Shredder's true nature; Stockman also leaves the Foot to join Bishop, who is also under fire for attacking Shredder's mansion; and Karai is left to take over the Foot.
    • The two episode arc consisting of Scion of the Shredder and Prodigal Son count. The Turtles' Lair is destroyed, and the group is scattered to the winds, having lost many sentimental items such as Yoshi's orb, Mikey's Battle Nexus trophy, and most of the Turtles' vehicles — all thanks to Karai's ascension to become the new Shredder. Leo returns, reunites his family, and finds them a new home.
    • Beginning of the End — the Foot Mystics successfully destroy the Ninja Tribunal's monastery, wiping out the four other acolytes and the Tribunal themselves, and gaining all artifacts neccesary to revive the Tengu Shredder.
    • The Fall of Darius Dunn — Dunn's true nature is revealed to Cody, who is able to kick him out of O'Neil tech, and is forced to become the new CEO himself.
  • Wham Shot: In Return To New York, Part 3, after being beheaded by Leonardo, and the Turtles leave the tower, the Shredder's body walks over and carries off his own head, being the most major hint that the Shredder isn't human.
  • What Happened to the Mouse??: After the Secret Origins trilogy, the Guardians were never seen again except via flashback. It's implied that they went with the Utroms to their home world, or simply reintegrated into human society, but it's never actually stated.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: In Meet Casey Jones, Leo and Don call Raph out when he loses his temper and almost attacks Mikey with a metal pipe.
    Leonardo: Raphael! Have you lost your mind?!
    Donatello: You OK, Mikey? What were you thinking, Raph?!
    • The roles are reversed when Raph calls Leo out a couple of seasons later in The Ancient One for injuring Master Splinter when Leo loses control in a fit of rage.
      Raphael: Leo, what the shell is your problem?!
  • Whole Episode Flashback: Lots: Tales of Leo, The Lesson, Tale of Master Yoshi, Legend of the Five Dragons, and Fathers and Sons.
  • Who's on First?: This short.
  • Why Won't You Die?: Let's face it, the Shredder comes back regardless of defeat. In Bad Day, Mikey says this verbatim:
    Michelangelo: How many times do we have to get rid of this guy?
  • Wild Card: Fast Forward's Torbin Zixx, as well as Karai.
  • Winged Humanoid: The Avians.
  • With This Ring: I will turn you into a demon. (The Engagement Ring)
  • The Worf Effect:
    • Any storyline involving the Justice Force, as a group or individually, will involve them needing the Turtles to help them. The one time they didn't team up with the Turtles against the threat (the Triceraton Invasion), they got their asses kicked. It's finally subverted when in the final episode, the Justice Force's arrival is able to tip the tide in the Turtles' allies favor in a massive battle against the Foot. Also played completely straight in a sense because even though the Justice Force were able to turn the tide against the Foot in general, when they tried attacking the Cyber-Shredder himself, Cyber-Shredder pretty much knocked them down with relative ease.
    • The final episode depicts the Cyber Shredder launching a massive assault on Casey and April's wedding with hundreds of Foot Ninja, and the Foot appear to be winning for the majority of the battle. Keep in mind, the guests present at the Turtles' wedding include ancient ninja masters who qualify as gods, advanced alien races, plenty of Badass Normal beings, a mutant alligator, a samurai rabbit and rhino, robots from a century in the future, and more. Glaringly, we see Cyber Shredder casually backhand Kon Shisho himself.
    • The season six episode Timing is Everything did this to the season one Shredder post The Shredder Strikes. In season one, it took all four turtles plus Splinter to defeat him. In this episode, Leo easily defeats him while the others (including Splinter) trounce his army.
  • Wonder Twin Powers: Mr. Touch and Mr. Go.
  • Would Hurt a Child: As toddlers, the Turtles met a Bone Demon and when he was in the middle of squeezing the life out of Splinter and The Ancient One, he threatened the Turtle Tots with a worse fate.
    • Some of the Fast Forward villains have no problem with hurting Cody.
    • And in Back To The Sewers, the Turtle Tots meet an old man who unleashes an army of deadly toy robots and a life sized one to attack them.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Hun was planning on killing April in The Shredder Strikes Back, Part 2 hoping the Turtles' would lose their will to fight with her gone, and in City At War Part 3, Hun picks up a support beam and uses it to smack Karai around.
    • For that matter, the Turtles have no problems with attacking Karai, although to be fair, she is more than capable of holding her own in a fight.
  • Wrecked Weapon: Done to Leonardo's swords in the episode The Shredder Strikes Back, Part 1, as the climax to the ass-kicking the character gets in that episode. And again in Big Brawl, part 1 by a Gom-Tai.
    • Donatello also gets his bo staff broken a number of times.
  • Write Back to the Future: Used in the Fast Forward episode Timing is Everything, coming into play before Donnie (the writer) actually got stuck in the past.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Insane in the Membrane for Baxter Stockman.
  • Yawn and Reach: Casey, to April, in The People's Choice.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Timing Is Everything heavily implies that the events of this episode are the reason why the Shredder became so ruthless in his hunt for the Turtles after the events of The Shredder Strikes, Part 2. He learned of his defeat at their hands and resolved to never let it happen — making his fate inevitable.
  • You Did Everything You Could: The key realization that shakes Leo from his season 4 funk.
  • You Gotta Have Blue Hair: Sydney/Quarry. Mr. Mortu. Starlee.
  • You Have Failed Me:
    • The Shredder constantly does this, with Baxter Stockman as the most obvious and frequent example. (In fact, doing this to an unlucky Purple Dragon is his Establishing Character Moment in the first episode.)
    • Similarly, the Demon Shredder's heralds do this to the fish tengu for failing them in the beginning of the Legend of the Five Dragons episode.
  • You Have GOT to Be Kidding Me!: Raph loves using this.
  • You Monster!:
    • In Turtle X-Tinction, Splinter, as a father, gives a rather pointed line to Darius Dunn about his horrid treatment of Cody, his nephew.
      Splinter: I have faced many monsters in the past, but it takes a special kind to direct such vile hatred towards a child.
    • In the Head of State episode, Leo points out that in Bishop's world, nobody's considered a monster based on their appearance, only based on how they act, and asks Stockman if he wants to use his inventions to create or destroy. Stockman later chooses to create after Bishop, being the changed man he is in Fast Forward, rescues him to make up for his failure to save him some time in the past, which, no doubt, led to his redemption.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: A feature of the Utrom virtual reality program shown in Secret Origins.
  • Yuppie Couple: A pair of police officers resembling TMNT creators Eastman and Laird occasionally show up whenever the 2003 series needs a cop in the background.


Video Example(s):


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

Opening theme to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) series.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

Example of:

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