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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 (hence the lack of appearance of Rocksteady, Bebop, the familiar Channel 6 employees, Rock Soldiers, etc.) 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. As such, this is the Darkest And Edgiest animated incarnation of TMNT.

The basic story is familiar: The Shredder kills Hamato Yoshi; Splinter, his pet 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 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 vastly different 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 6 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 on November 21, 2009.

After a three-year hiatus, the TMNT franchise returned to television in 2012, courtesy of the turtles' new owners.

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

This show provides examples of:

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  • Actually, I Am Him: The plot of "The Ancient One." In it, Leo's anger, that had been built up during previous episodes, causes him to accidentally hurt Splinter. In order to calm him, he's sent to train with the Ancient One, the ninja master who trained Yoshi. Along his journey, he meets an elderly goofball who acts as his guide. It isn't until near the end of the episode that the Ancient One and Leo's guide are revealed to be one and the same.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: Shredder. Big time. The only parts of the original origin in the comics that is kept is his rivalry with Hamato Yoshi. Most notably, this show has the Shredder as an evil Utrom, named Ch'rell, along with taking the moniker from the original Shredder, who was a literal demon.
  • Adaptation Drift: The series started out largely adapting material from the original Mirage comics, albeit some of them with changes to the original material for the sake of the overarching plot (such as Shredder being an Utrom). By late Season 1, however, while the show still adapted Mirage material, the series largely started to go in its own direction, and by Season 5 and the Fast Forward and Back To The Sewers retools, completely moved away from adapting Mirage material.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job:
    • Splinter's fur, normally brown, is turned gray for this series.
    • April's hair is given a purplish tone, though it would become orange in Seasons 6 and 7.
    • In the original comics, Nobody wore a black and white costume (indicated from the cover of the issue he appeared in). In this series, the white parts are colored red.
    • In other incarnations, Zanramon generally looks like any other Triceraton. In this series, however, he's red.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Some of the issues from the original comics are expanded upon:
    • The storyline that was adapted into the "The Search for Splinter"/"Turtles in Space"/"Secret Origins" multiparters was originally just five issues long. It was adapted into ten episodes.
    • The issue that "Sons of the Silent Age" is based on originally ended after the merwoman's death and the males leaving the heroes alone. In contrast, the episode continues with the Turtles' efforts to save the Merpeople's eggs from the nuclear power plant.
    • 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: When the Turtles infiltrate TCRI in the "Secret Origins" storyline in the comics, it's just the Turtles and Splinter that infiltrated the building. This cartoon had Leatherhead get involved during the Season 1 finale and also infiltrate the lab, but he separated from the Turtles before they were transported off-world. When Shredder and his forces invade, the Utroms are forced to evacuate via teleportation, but Leatherhead is nowhere to be seen. He does appear in future episodes, so it's implied he was able to escape to the sewer somehow.
  • 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": Baxter Stockman.
    • "Hunted" and "Good Genes (Part One)": Leatherhead.
    • "Zixxth Sense": Torbin Zixx.
    • "Incredible Shrinking Serling": Another guess.
  • 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," the debut of Michelangelo's alter-ego.
  • An Aesop: The fourth season had Leonardo becoming more brooding and prone to anger due to the near death battle with the Utrom Shredder in the Season 3 finale. For those episodes, he was prone to treating his brothers more strictly and would scold them for clowning around or not taking their fights seriously. In the episode "The Ancient One," during a training match, his growing anger at not getting better caused him to hurt Splinter, finally breaking him out of this. This was the first Aesop, deal with your problems instead of ignoring help, which he did when Usagi tried to talk to him the previous episode, or else your anger will cause you to hurt people you care about. Being sent to the Ancient One during a very Empire Strikes Back-like adventure, with the Ancient One as Yoda, Leo also learned that failure isn't always a bad thing as once can learn from it and grow stronger. The lesson is that being obsessed with perfection and avoiding failure can make you your own worst enemy.
  • All There in the Script: The young Ultimate Ninja is called "Ue-Sama" in Concept Art. This, however, is likely to give the character something to distinguish him from his adult self in scripts, since Battle Nexus natives are consistently shown not to have names beyond their titles, and his story arc hinges on him not having a name beyond the one he makes for himself.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Happens three 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 in the Battle Nexus, with Michelangelo himself winning the whole thing, 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 Conspiracy: The Foot Clan was founded by the Shredder during the times of Medieval Japan. Since then, the organization has accumulated massive resources, which it uses to achieve its goals.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Guardians were founded by the Utroms in order to protect themselves as well as oppose the Shredder's Foot Clan. The Ninja Tribunal also counts, as they were the ones who defeated the original Shredder and have been awaiting his return. For this occasion, they have also recruited the Turtles and the Acolytes, who began being trained in order to face and defeat him once and for all.
  • 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 choreography. 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 is a dimension where individuals from different worlds come and compete in a tournament in order to see who's the greatest warrior of them all.
    • There's also the different worlds the Turtles and Splinter were sent to by Ultimate Drako. Most notable are the Super Turtles' world and Usagi's world.
    • After a drawing of Kirby's comes to alive, it wanders around for a bit before disappearing. In reality, when they disappear, they are transported to an alternate dimension.
  • 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: Many. Some 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), Dr. Finn (she doesn't want to hurt the monster she's hunting and more or less wants to earn the respect of her fellow scientists), and the list goes on.
  • Apocalyptic Log: Twice:
    • In "Notes From the Underground (Part 1)," the Turtles discover an abandoned underground base of the Foot. There, with the help of video logs, they discover that the Underground Mutants were created there before they freed themselves and killed all the Foot Technicians.
    • In "The Trouble With Augie," a former inhabitant of the planet from the episode reveals how the Brotherhood travels to different worlds and eats all of the inhabitants of said worlds.
  • 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. It is most prominent in Season 4.
  • Arms Dealer:
    • Ruffington from Season 3 is weapon smuggler who, after the Triceraton invasion, managed to obtain many of the aliens' weapons, which he's now selling to illegal clients.
    • Darius Dun from Fast Forward uses his status as CEO of O'Neil Tech to manufacture weapons, which he sells to the black market.
  • Arrowgram: Leonardo gets an invitation from Oroku Saki this way.
    "It's not your regular mail. I guess Mikey would call it 'Air Mail.'"
  • 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": Donnie 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: The crystal that Kirby attached to his pencil allows anything that he draws to come to life.
  • 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 Bads of the first half of Season 5 before becoming The Dragons 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," the Turtles and Fugitoid manage to evade the Triceratons that are chasing them by going into an asteroid belt.
    • Another one appears in "Exodus (Part 2)," 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. After the Shredder's defeat, she made a personal objective to eliminate the Turtles in order to avenge her father's defeat. She abandons this at the end of Season 5.
  • 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," wears a longcoat.
    • The Guardians' modern day attire is comprised of a longcoat and sunglasses.
    • Bishop typically sports one as well.
    • Hun had one at one point in Fast Forward.
  • Bad Boss:
    • All incarnations of the Shredder in this series, minus maybe Karai. And even she doesn't exactly display a nice attitude towards the Foot Mystics.
    • Darius Dun has a tendency to be a particularly awful boss, as his first set of major henchmen eventually break away from him and his second set mutiny as well.
    • Zanramon is this to Mozar. He mistreats him more and more for his failure to capture the Fugitoid, eventually leading to Mozar refusing to protect him from Traximus and his rebellion.
    • 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 unlikable 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: In "Same as it Never Was," Donatello is transported by Ultimate Drako in a future world where he had been missing for at least 30 years. During these years, the Shredder has taken over the entire planet, Splinter and Casey are dead, and the Turtles went their separate ways due to infighting.
  • 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 turtles' 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."
    • "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. The episode is about the Turtles and Splinter managing to return to the present.
  • Bash Brothers:
    • Raph and Casey. Especially in early episodes of Season 1, where they often went together to beat up crooks.
    • Raph also becomes this with Traximus. They fight alongside each other in "The Big Brawl" and they even talk like good old friends when they are at a bar.
    • Usagi and Leo. The two became very fast friends, and Usagi even goes to the point of calling Leo brother during "The Real World" multi-parter.
  • 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. Eventually, the Turtles manage to turn things around on him in his last appearance.
    • Dr. Honeycutt's plan in the "Worlds Collide" three-parter. Knowing the Triceratons and the Federation will relentessly search and kill in order to obtain his Teleportal, he deletes the Teleportal plans and comes to Earth in "Worlds Collide (Part 1)," where he tries to surrender himself to them. If one of the sides captures him, he will upload a virus that will cripple both sides' forces, which will force them to surrender. While this plan works with the Federation, the Triceratons realize this and use it to their advantage by destroying their helpless enemy... until Traximus' rebels come in and overthrow Zanramon.
  • Battle Couple: April and Casey. While not at first, they eventually become romantically involved starting from around Season 3 and their relationship progresses to the point they get married in the Back to the Sewers finale. Season 3 also has them both kicking major ass together, starting with "Worlds Collide (Part 2)."
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: In this continuity, Abraham Lincoln was secretly an Utrom.
  • Beneath the Earth: After the fall of their empire, the Y'Lyntians were forced to to take refuge in the caverns of the Earth, where they can safely monitor the surface world and wait for the perfect moment to resurrect their empire. Various structures of the underground include: the Y'lyntian outpost that the Turtles make their new home, as well the abandoned Foot base, the Y'Lyntian city 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.
    • Leatherhead really, really hates the Shredder, as he's the one who's has been hunting the Utroms down all those years. If you mention to him that you either work or have worked with the Shredder, prepare to run. Stockman learned that the hard way. He also began to despise Bishop after he was experimented and tortured by him.
  • 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 brought the Purple Dragons back into their fold and we never hear from the Mafia ever again. The next turf war, in Season 7, is only between the Foot and the Purple Dragons.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies:
    • In "April's Artifact," the Turtles and April are transported to a jungle planet, whose inhabitants are the Giant Wasps.
    • In Season 4's mutant outbreak arc, many sewer animals get mutated, including bugs.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
  • Raphael (with some help from Splinter) in "City At War (Part 3)."
    • In "Return to New York (Part 3)," as the Turtles are about to get attacked by legions of Foot Ninja, the Guardians come to assist them in the battle.
  • Big Good:
    • The Ninja Tribunal in the fifth season, as they opposed the Tengu Shredder centuries ago and are now training recruits, which they are preparing for the Tengu Shredder's return. Splinter and the Ancient One take up the role in the back half of the season.
    • The stranded Utroms more or less served as this in earlier seasons. Not only did they oppose the Foot Clan and the Shredder long before the turtles and Splinter's creation, but they also were responsible for the heroes' creation, whose actions over the course of the series would lead to the downfall of Shredder and the Foot Clan.
  • 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 two 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 (though it’s only briefly foreshadowed and doesn’t really take effect on the plot until the next season).
    • "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 "Touch and Go," adapted from the original comic book.
  • Bloodless Carnage: The show rarely shows blood during its more violent scenes. Becomes a bit hard to take seriously when Leonardo is shown slashing people without actually cutting their skin.
  • Body Horror: Shows up surprisingly often in this series for a show aimed at kids. The vast majority of it happens to Baxter Stockman in a wide variety of ways, ranging from being physically mutilated the old fashioned way, to being grafted onto several robotic bodies designed to keep him subservient to The Shredder, to grotesque mutations that wouldn't be out of place in a bona fide horror movie. In "Insane in the Membrane," it was so gruesome that during the show's original run, the episode was never aired. After four seasons of losing body parts, Stockman finally obtains a new body via cloning. Soon enough, however, he discovers that it's unstable, as his limbs start deteriorating and melting off.
  • Body Surf: Jammerhead uses an orb that can shift his mind between the people that the orb enters in "Invasion of the Body Jacker."
  • 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 utters "It's ninja time!" in "Turtle X-Tinction."
  • Bow and Sword in Accord: Splinter is armed in this manner in the first episode of the "Exodus" two-parter.
  • Brain Uploading: Thanks to a combination of lightning and his telepathic helmet, Professor Honeycutt's mind was transferred into his robot's body.
  • Breakfast in Bed: In the episode "The People's Choice", Casey goes to Splinter for relationship advice concerning April. Splinter recommends breakfast in bed and flowers. When Casey surprises April with breakfast in bed and flowers, everything goes well.
  • Breaking Out the Boss: The Street Phantoms free their boss, Jammerhead, who had been arrested in a previous episode, 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: In "The Big House," the Turtles are put in a Triceraton prison asteroid. After they escape from their cells, the Turtles find a stash of cleaning equipment. Don picks up a broomstick from it and treats it like his normal staff.
  • Burial in Space: After his Heroic Sacrifice and his apparent death, Professor Honeycutt is given one of these by his friends. He gets better though.
  • Bus Full of Innocents: Occurs in "City at War (Part 2)," where a bus gets in between the Turtles and a giant robot.
  • 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.
    • Serling gets relegated to this role when he is introduced in the sixth season.
    • There's also Stockman, who slowly loses everything, gets slowly cut apart and has to replace his gradually increasing missing body parts with cybernetic parts, then transfers his mind into a clone body which degenerates, causing him to go insane and die. Then he gets brought back as a Brain in a Jar, unable to even have peace in death.
  • 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. The adoptive brothers become this when Mashimi, in a fit of jealousy, kills fellow adoptee and love triangle member Tang Shen. Afterwards, Yoshi kills Mashimi in revenge.
  • 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. Some examples are the Garbageman, the Guardians, Traximus, the Y'Lyntians, Silver Sentry, and the list goes on.
  • Canon Immigrant: Hun, the Battle Nexus, the Mystic Ninja's look, the Shredder's armor, Bishop, Darius Dunn, and the Street Phantoms all later were adapted for later continuities in the franchise.
  • Cast Herd: The cast is mostly made of several factions, good and evil, with the occasional lone wolf.
  • Catch a Falling Star:
    • Karai does the falling, Leo does the rescuing in "Mission of Gravity."
    • Raptarr catches Mikey when he topples off a building top. Somewhat explained by the fact that Raptarr has wings to help him catch up to Mikey.
  • 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, the body count begins adding up (Disney Death or not), and generally things don’t lighten up again until the sixth season’s retool.
  • Challenging the Chief: In order to free her people from Moriah's tyrannical rule, Jhanna had to challenge her in a battle for leadership. The battle is stated to be happening on Earth.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: The climax to "City at War (Part 3)," Raphael, after refusing to help Karai stabilize the Foot, decides to come and help. He explained that after doing some thinking (and Splinter's encouragement), he realized he was being an idiot.
  • Character Catchphrase: "It's ninja time!" (the Turtles in Fast Forward and Turtles Forver), "Goongala!" (Casey in all seasons), "None of you will leave here alive!" (the Shredder), "Oh, crud." (Hun)
  • 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 begins to use his innate skills to his full potential and proves his worth as a thoughtful member of the team after many episodes of prodding from his brothers and Splinter (though he still backslides into laziness depending on the episode). Raphael also becomes far less hostile to his brothers as the series goes on.
  • Charles Atlas Super Power: The Ninja Tribunal eventually reached godhood by... simply training a lot.
  • Chekhov's Boomerang: The Turtle Tunneler was designed by Don so the Turtles can better traverse the Underground. Later, in "Same As It Never Was," Don also uses it to kill a future version of the Shredder.
  • 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 was first seen in a cameo in "Secret Origins (Part 3)" and later appeared in "What A Croc!," but it wasn't until Season 3 where he becomes a recurring ally of the Turtles, usually as a back-up of The Smart Guy in case something were to happen to Don, which it did in "Adventures of Turtle Sitting."
    • Zog made a cameo at the beginning of "Secret Origins (Part 1)," but it wouldn't be until the "Rogue in the House" two-parter that he would appear again, where he was instrumental in the fight against the Shredder.
  • 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" focuses on Mikey trying to stop a bunch of Purple Dragons, who want to steal some toys that were going to be given to orphanage on Christmas. It was adapted from the 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," where it was cut by a blade in half.
  • Closet Geek Hun is revealed to be one in "Superquest," playing the titular game alongside the Turtles who are inside it. Once a mook discovers his interest, he threatens to "rip his tongue out."
  • 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.
    • The suits that the Foot Tech Ninja wear not only enhance their physical abilities, but also grant them invisibility.
  • Clothing Damage: Occurs to April in the episode "April's Artifact," as an unexpected trip to the jungle ruins her outfit.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander:
    • Marlin is a bit too attached to his weapon and robot companion.
    • Triple Threat's yellow-hued head is notably the least serious out of the three heads.
    • Played with in regards to the Professor. The other homeless people see his "theories" as this, though in reality some of his theories are actually present within the scientific community and are believed to be true.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: In addition to the normal applications for the franchise, the Turtles' weapons have their handles wrapped in cloth of their personal color: Blue for Leo, red for Raph, purple for Donatello, and orange for Mikey. Their futuristic weapons in Fast Forward continue the trend, even extending to having the weapons glow in the Turtles' specific color when powered up. Back to the Sewer downplays this, as while the handles still have the personal colors, their shade is much, much darker than their headbands.
  • 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.
    • Moriah would do anything in order to win against Jhanna, like bringing her servants to the battle or throwing dust in Jhanna's eyes.
  • 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 are 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, 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 believes that there are aliens who have remained on Earth after the Triceraton invasion.
  • 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. In "Return to the Underground," Donnie explicitly lampshades that he made the Tunneler lava-proof, but it’s later shown even it has its limits.
  • 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 solitary confinement, 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 cliché in the book.
  • Converse with the Unconscious: Pretty much the entire A-plot of "Tales of Leo." Leo is unconscious after his beatdown at the hands of the Foot Elite and his brothers and Splinter recount their stories with him.
  • Cool Big Sis/Cool Big Bro: 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.
  • Cool Sword:
    • The Sword of Tengu was a sword that was used by the Shredder in Season 1. He claims to have used it in his conquests during Medieval Japan. It strangely generates energy that the Shredder uses as energy beams. In "Secret Origins, Part 2," it was revealed that it was crafted using Utrom tech, explaining its strange abilities.
    • In Season 5, Faraji manifests a big dragon sword, which he bequeathes to Leonardo after his supposed death.
    • During Fast Forward, Leonardo crafts a pair of futuristic swords to use, which can glow blue to greatly enhance their cutting power.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • Darius Dun used his status as CEO of O'Neil Tech to manufacture weapons to be sold on the black market. He later gets exposed and loses his position, though.
    • The Utrom Oroku Saki and, by extension, his heir Karai are these as well, as they use their massive resources for their illegal operations, mutate innocent civilians, and much, much more.
    • Baxter Stockman was the CEO of Stocktronic Industries and planned on using his creations, the mouser robots, to rob banks. Emphasize on "was," as after his planned failed, he was forced to work for the Foot permanently and his company closed.
    • Ruffington is said to be a weapons supplier for the government. In the meantime, he also supplies weapons to gangs and other illegal clients.
  • Covers Always Lie: The back of the Season 2, Part 2 DVD released in 2008 describes the premise of the "City at War" arc in its first paragraph, but the second paragraph goes into detail about the Triceraton invasion that opens Season 3. The Triceratons only cameoed in the second season finale’s ending as a Sequel Hook, and the Federation (who were also mentioned on the DVD blurb) also didn’t return until the next season.
  • 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. He compensated by getting a pair of metal wings, but loses those by the end of his episode too.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: In Michelangelo's first spotlight 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, he is crowned the winner of the Battle Nexus (on a technicality, although with Leo's training, he wins outright in "Grudge Match"), and he is eventually able to defeat his brothers' challenges to become chunin after initially failing out. He just enjoys lounging around too much to fully tap into his potential unless pushed.
  • 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.
    • Turtles Forever has the group meet up with the 1987 and the Mirage Turtles to take out Shredder.
  • Cue the Sun: Earth's sun is alien invader's Sh'Okanabo's main weakness. When he (not yet knowing of this weakness, since it affects him only when he's particularly weak) begins turning New York's population into mindless, subservient Kanabo drones, the effect only lasts until the sun rises, which coincidentally occurs just when Sh'Okanabo is about to defeat the last turtle standing, Raphael. Later, in the episode "The Day of Awakening," Sh'Okanabo has taken over a moonbase and has programmed it to block out the sun in preparation in order to allow him to create Kanabo drones, and again, it is only as he is about to win that the heroes manage to open these shutters.
  • 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. The first time is in the "Return of Savanti" two-parter, where Mikey names a Triceratops after him upon wondering if he’s Zog’s ancestor (Donnie quickly shoots it down since Zog was an alien). The second time in "Tempus Fugit" where, during another visit to the Mesozoic Era, the Turtles meet a friendly fictional cross between Triceratops and Styracosaurus, who Mikey calls “Zog II.”
  • Dead Hat Shot: Done with a nameless boat captain at the beginning of "Junklantis" after his ship gets sunk by a robotic whale.
  • Deadly Dodging
  • Deadpan Snarker: Serling. If he isn't the Butt-Monkey, then he's pretty witty.
  • 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 in Season 7.
  • Deus ex Machina: The turtles obtain several important victories thanks to this.
    • One of them happens in "Exodus (Part 2)," where the Turtles, Splinter, Karai, Chaplin, and the Shredder are saved in the nick of time from an exploding ship by the Utroms. It is notably acknowledged by the characters in Season 4, especially Leo, who's Season 4 arc revolves around him coping with his PTSD from the event, that if the Utroms didn't come, all of them would have been dead.
    • In "Triceraton Wars," the Turtles and the Fugitoid are cornered by the Federation and the Triceratons. At the last second, a beam from the Utroms' teleporter reaches them and brings them back to New York.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Tang Shen, Hamato Yoshi's lover who died alongside him in the original comics and 1990 movie, is murdered by Yukio Mashimi, long before Hamato Yoshi himself would be murdered by the Foot Clan.
    • In the original comics, Marlin was killed by another hunternote . Here, he's dealt with by Leatherhead.
  • 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: Several characters die only to later prove to still be alive, such as Leatherhead, Honeycutt, the Acolytes, and the Tribunal.
  • 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 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 and Karai to Shredder in Seasons 1-3.
    • The Foot Mystics become Karai's in Season 4 after she became the Shredder, until they betray her and become the Tengu Shredder's in Season 5.
    • Viral was Sh'Okanabo's Dragon in Fast Forward.
    • Darrius Dun first employed the Inuwashi Gunjin, but after they were freed from Dun's employ, he created the Dark Turtles to take their place.
    • Back to the Sewer has Khan become the Cyber Shredder's main enforcer.
  • Dragon Ascendant:
    • Karai, in Season 4, where she inherits the Shredder armor and goes on the warpath against the Turtles. She technically remains in this role through the rest of the series, but stops being the Big Bad after she's defeated later on in the season.
    • 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 and even the military. However, come Turtles Forever, after he gets mutated into Slash he willingly decides to get Demoted to Dragon and 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.
    • Splinter, at one point, has a recurring dream of the Tengu Shredder killing the Turtles and a vision of Hamato Yoshi. The events of the dream do happen, but in a different way.
  • Drill Tank: The Turtle Tunneller. Donatello specifically designed it so that the Turtles can more easily maneuver in the Underground and the Y'Lyntian city. It was also designed to withstand molten lava, but it has its limits.
  • 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 those elements 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.
    • Played with, and subverted, with the Triceraton invasion. The only way the Turtles can stop the invasion is to convince Zanramon that the Fugitoid isn't on Earth... which they do. But as they are about to leave, the Fugitoid actually shows up. This not only brings them back, but also brings the Federation to Earth, leading to massive battles above the planet.
      • Though the invasion is eventually stopped, it has effects on the entire season as humans now know that aliens exist, there's advanced alien technology in demand and Bishop makes himself prominent. The Shredder also uses the alien tech to his advantage, wanting to return to the stars and have his revenge upon the Utroms.
  • Egomaniac Hunter: Marlin is one, who's specialized with hunting the most exotic, dangerous game he can find, which results in him hunting Leatherhead.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Necro Creature from "The Darkness Within." It came from an asteroid that landed hundreds of years ago, it corrupts people and makes them do its bidding by exploiting their inner fears and greed, it has captured hundreds of people before the Turtles discovered it and it puts them in pods, with which it eats them. Did we also mention that while its victims are in the pods, it also mind rapes them?
  • 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. There are by far the strongest of the Foot Ninjas, second only to Karai and the Shredder.
  • 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: 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 in "Mission of Gravity" and the turtles help Hun save Karai from Bishop in "Hun on the Run."
    • Season 4 has the turtles in 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). Bishop betrays the turtles, but Don ends up cured anyway.
    • Season 5 has the turtles join forces with the Foot, Purple Dragons, and the Earth Protection Force to fight the Tengu Shredder.
    • 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.
  • Environment-Specific Action Figure:
    • While not to the extent of the '87 series (no clowns or Starfleet officers here), the line did indulge in this. Aside from figures that just had special gimmicks, there were waves of the Turtles in two different sets of extreme sports gear, astronaut suits, homemade-looking armor, classic knights, deep sea divers, bodybuilders, in ceremonial Battle Nexus armor, two different sets of parachute gear, camouflage outfits, Robo Hunter gear, Monster Trapped gear, their mystic tattoos from Season 5, dinosaur-themed outfits, motorcycle outfits, and S.W.A.T. gear. Whew! Note that only the Turtles really got to participate in this. Shredder, a Foot Ninja, and Splinter got in some of the gimmick waves, but using their default designs.
    • Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer avert this. The former had Donatello as a secret agent, but was only released in the UK, and the only variants introduced still had the Turtles in their default outfits that season. The latter was cancelled before a toyline could even come to fruition.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • Looking back at the first episode, it's hilarious how straightforward this was. As the first scene was a practice session, we were treated to, in order, Donatello and Michelangelo being berated for their failed attempts to put out a candle with some amount of fondness from Splinter, "Poor choice, Raphael," and Leonardo succeeding where his brothers failed. That sums up the series, with, perhaps, more jokes and Techno Babble from Mike and Don, respectively.
    • There's also the first verbal exchange between Raphael and Leonardo, right after the training session:
      Raph: "Teacher's pet!"
      Leo: "Ninja dropout!"
      Mikey & Don: "Ooooooo!"
    • The very first thing the Shredder does is personally execute a Purple Dragon who failed him, which establishes him as an individual who takes failure very seriously and won't hesitate to mutilate if one of his minions fails. It also marks him as a Knight of Cerebus, as he's much more serious and dangerous than other incarnations.
    • We first see Casey while he's in his apartment. While there, he's training and listening to a report about the crimes of the Purple Dragons. Cut to a flashback, where they burn a shop (later revealed to be his father's). Casey then stands up and grabs his mask and hockey equipment while saying "Somebody's gotta make them pay!" All of this establishes him as a Vigilante Man with deep resentment towards the New York gang.
    • Silver Sentry is first seen when he flies next to a burning building, rescues a young girl from it, and proceeds to put down the fire with ease. This establishes him as a super hero to New York.
    • Zanramon when he meets the Fugitoid. At first, he's respectful and friendly towards the professor, until he refuses to build the teleportation device. Then, Zanramon snaps and begins to threaten to kill the Fugitoid if he doesn't build it, before collecting himself and reassuring the professor that he'll use the device "for peace." This establishes him as Faux Affably Evil who presents himself as friendly, but is otherwise an uncaring tyrant.
    • Savanti Romero is first seen in "Time Travails," when Renet uses the "Orb of Hindsight." Then, he is gloating about how he's going to obtain the Time Scepter and have his revenge upon the time lord that banished him, establishing his motivation and plans.
  • 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 Daimyo's son. Leads to a moment of Fridge Brilliance when you realize that when the Daimyo's son speaks about making a name for himself, he is not only speaking about gaining fame, but about literally giving himself a name.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • Ch'rell and Karai. Ch'rell, despite being a monster, truly cares for Karai, which is shown when she gets kidnapped and orders Hun to rescue her. Karai also truly cares and respects her adoptive father, despite knowing who he truly is.
    • 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.
    • Happens two times to Mozar. In his first instance, he truly gets disgusted at Lonae's greed. In his second instance, he refuses to attack the Federation fleet because they are defenseless.
  • 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. Oroku Saki was a friend and a fellow member of the Ninja Tribunal before he made a deal with a Tengu and merged with it, becoming evil.
    • Also Mephos to Raptarr.
    • Yukio Mashimi, due to his jealousy towards Yoshi, eventually joined the Foot Clan and killed Tang Shen.
  • Evil Knockoff:
    • Baxter Stockman's Turtle-bot. It was programmed to know each of the Turtles' fighting styles.
    • The Dark Turtles in Fast Forward.
  • Evil Laugh:
    • The Shredder, especially when he gets hold of the Sword of Tengu.
    • Savanti Romero has a particularly epic one.
    • The very first thing Garbageman does (outside of his truck at least) is laugh maniacally.
  • Evil Overlord:
    • Savanti Romero strives to be one after gaining the Time Scepter, and came very close.
    • The Tengu Shredder was more or less this before his defeat at the hands of the Ninja Tribunal. In Season 5, he wants to regain this status.
  • Evil Power Vacuum: Occurs after the Shredder is defeated at the end of the "Secret Origins." The Foot Clan gets weakened and a massive battle over New York is fought between the Foot Clan, the Purple Dragons, and the New York Mafia.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: The main Foot HQ. It towers over many of the buildings in New York and even has a sinister melody that plays when its shown.
  • Evolving Credits:
    • In Season 4, the intro acknowledges Shredder's defeat from Season 3 with Mikey juggling his helmet, as well as showing Bishop and Stockman. When Karai assumes the title of the Shredder, a scene that replicates Shredder's scene from previous seasons but with Karai is shown. Also, the lyrics are modified to include a Theme Tune Roll Call of the Turtles and, after the midway point of the season, changes the opening lyrics since the Turtles are no longer "living underground."
    • A weird variant for Season 7. The original footage for the Back to the Sewer intro included original footage of the Turtles battling Cyber Shredder in cyberspace, with the same dynamic and fluid animation the rest of the intro has. For whatever reason, this changes to recycled show footage depicting a similar battle. The original intro also included different alternate clips in the beginning and different, extended portaits of the Turtles fighting Hun and later Khan.
  • Expository Theme Tune: The intro more or less told and showed you what you needed to know before the episodes. This was taken up to eleven in Season 4, including a section with the customary Theme Tune Roll Call.
    "Leonardo, always in control."
    "The wise guy is Michelangelo."
    "Donatello, he's the brains of the bunch."
    "Count on Raphael to throw the first punch."
  • 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: Usually used in dramatic scenes.
  • 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: While the trope was initially in full effect (with some exceptions, such as a scene involving a wild west shoot-out) in early episodes, more realistic-looking guns started appearing as the series went on. The second season featured stylized guns which shot ambiguous-looking ammo which appeared to be designed for maximum plausible deniability, which evolved into more realistic automatic weaponry in the third season. It wasn't until the fourth season that handguns began appearing. While laser weapons did appear throughout the series (and far more frequently than "real" firearms), the producers attempted to justify them by showing that they were only accessible to the particularly well-funded; however, once the Triceraton invasion left a large amount of advanced ordnance lying around, a black market was created, and street gangs began using them as well.
  • 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.
  • Fantastic Racism:
    • Hun really despises mutants and aliens, or as he calls them "freaks," after his multiple defeats at the hands of the Turtles. He hates them so much that he leaves the Foot Clan when he discovers that the Shredder himself is an alien.
    • During the height of their empire, the Y'Lyntians considered humanity to be inferior. Nowadays, while there are those who still believe this, others have moved on. They also looked down upon their servants. A special mention goes to the Avians, who were put in a cage because their masters thought they "befouled" their city.
    • Mephos constantly refers to residents of the surface by monikers, such as insects and apes, with a sneer. He even uses the word "befouled," indicating that he is not so different from his ancestors' slavers.
  • 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, a morbidly obese, disgusting, and filthy villain.
  • Feather Flechettes: Mephos' cybernetic wings allow him to use his cybernetic feathers as a weapon.
  • Final Battle:
    • "Return to New York" in Season 1 is the culmination of the Turtles and Shredder during the intial story arc.
    • "Exodus" in Season 3, the final time the Turtles fight Utrom Shredder until Turtles Forever (barring a few cameos in Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer.)
    • "Enter the Dragons" in Season 5 is the final fight against Tengu Shredder.
    • "The Day of Awakening" in Fast Forward is this against Sh'Okanabo.
    • "Wedding Bells and Bytes" sees the Turtles and every ally of theirs against Cyber Shredder and his minions.
  • Find the Cure!: In the episodes "Good Genes (Part 1 and 2)," it occurs when Donatello is infected with the mutagenic virus making its way across New York, which allows Agent Bishop to extort a favor out of them in exchange for a cure — one that he doesn't actually have. Fortunately, the turtles' ally Leatherhead managed to invent one on his own by the time they got back from stealing the relevant MacGuffin.
  • 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 1 and 2)."
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: The turtles in Fast Forward, as well as Viral (albeit for a very short time) and Serling in Back to the Sewer.
  • Fish People: The Merpeople from "Sons of the Silent Age" and the flashbacks from "The Entity Below." They were originally people who were turned into this by the Y'Lyntians.
  • Floating Continent: Beijing, China, from "Space Invaders (Part 2)" to "Mission of Gravity" due to a Triceraton anti-gravity generator.
  • Flying Brick: Silver Sentry, which is natural given he is a natural homage to Superman.
  • Foreshadowing: From its first appearance the Sword of Tengu appears with its pommel crafted into the likeness of a Utrom head, hinting at its extraterrestrial origins.
  • Forgotten First Meeting: In "The Lesson," the Turtles as kids are revealed to have helped some kid gain confidence and defend himself from the local bullies. It's unknown to them that the kid they helped was, in fact, Casey.
  • 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. Justified in that Renet only ever seeks them out when she's bored and Lord Simultaneous likely knew about it, but also knew they were needed in the future and thus did not intervene.
  • 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: After both Drako and The Ultimate Ninja were sucked in by the black hole at the end of "The Big Brawl (Part 4)," they were combined into one being called "Ultimate Drako."
  • 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 Fast Forward 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.
  • Gambit Pileup: The events in the Ninja Tribunal arc. The Foot Mystics allow the Acolytes to gather the Tengu Shredder's equipment so they can steal it in one fell swoop, which the Tengu Shredder repeats with the Keystones later in the season. The Ninja Tribunal allowed the Tengu Shredder to revive, the Acolytes to be seemingly killed, and Yoshi to be slain all in order for the Turtles to have the strength and mental fortitude necessary to defeat the Tengu Shredder once and for all.
  • Gambit Roulette: Executed by the Ninja Tribunal in order to kill the demon Shredder and detailed right above.
  • Gladiator Games: The Season 2 episode "The Arena" revolves around "The Games," a popular Triceraton show. It's so popular that it is even aired in the Federation.
  • 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 Season 5 finale. The Turtles recruit the help of the Ninja Tribunal Acolytes, Agent Bishop, Baxter Stockman, the Purple Dragons, and the Justice Force to defeat the Tengu Shredder.
  • Gone to the Future:
    • Occurs to Don in "Same as it Never Was," where he travels to a Bad Future (see the entry above) that is ruled by the Shredder.
    • The entire premise of Fast Forward.
    • Variant in the premiere of Back to the Sewer. The Turtles travel back into the past to find the Utrom, Demon, and Cyber Shredders fighting a war in New York, which is the distant past of Fast Forward, but still occurs two years after Season 5, and the end of the episode has the Turtles travel back to before the Shredder Wars take place.
  • Good All Along: Zig-zagged in the case of the Underground Mutants. They were initially believed to be just simple-minded mutants that were created by the Foot Clan. They are later revealed to be quite intelligent and good-willed. It's zig-zagged because only three out of the seven Underground Mutants are actually good... and the number will be going down. As explained by Quarry, their minds are slowly deteriorating due to their mutations and eventually her, Razorfist, and Stonebiter would also become evil. The only way all of them can become good permanently is if they are cured, which seemed impossible... until the Turtles showed up. Later in "Return to the Underground," all of them have become evil, but after the Turtles return with an antidote that cures their mutations, they become good once again and are able to return to the surface, back to their normal lives.
  • 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.
    • Nobody is on the good guys' side, but don't let that fool you. He's gonna use extreme measures to take out his opponents, even guns at one point.note  In his next appearances, however, he stopped using them.
    • Leonardo, thanks to his PTSD, becomes this in the first half of Season 4.
  • Gosh Dang It to Heck!: "What the shell?"
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Earth Protection Force, which was founded and led by Bishop, is an agency whose mission is to protect Earth from aliens.
  • Grand Finale: Turtles Forever.
  • Grand Theft Me: At one point, Cyber Shredder managed to get inside Stockman's cyborg body and take control of it, forcing Stockman to use his old spider body.
  • 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 addressed by a minion 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.
  • Great Escape: In "The Big House," the plot is about the Turtles being sent to a Triceraton prison that they try to escape from.
  • Green Aesop: "Sons of the Silent Age" is about the dangers of nuclear power and the effects of it on local wildlife.
  • 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: At the end of Season 5, the Turtles summon Hamato Yoshi in spirit form, who slices the Tengu Shredder in half, finishing him once and for all until an unexplained revival in Season 7.
  • Halloween Episode: "All Hallows' Thieves" focuses on a thief call "The King of Thieves" and his accomplice Hadji wanting to steal jewels and other valuable items during Halloween.
  • 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. The Turtles are shocked to see that the man that has been previously working against aliens now works with them. In "Head of State," he explains that when one of his bases began to collapse, he was saved by one. This changed his outlook on extra terrestrials as a whole and after that, he wanted to make peace with other life forms, leading to the creation of the Pan-Galactic Alliance.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Raphael in "City at War (Part 3)." He refused to help Karai stabilize the Foot, but after doing some thinking, he realized he's being an idiot.
    • Angel in her self-titled episode, "Fallen Angel." She initially wanted to become a Purple Dragon, but after seeing how bad they beat up and capture Casey, she goes to the Turtles and asks them for help in order to rescue him.
  • Hero of Another Story:
    • Silver Sentry is a superhero, who has been battling his Arch-Enemy Doctor Malignus for some time before their episode debut.
    • The Justice Force, while being the focus of several episodes, is generally in the background, so their other adventures are not really dwelled upon.
    • Usagi is a hero in his own world who fights evil ninjas alongside other heroic samurai and ronin, but his adventures are only focused on in about two episodes .
  • Hero Killer: The Shredder is the one who killed Yoshi.
  • 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." It can only be reached by using a diadem that is possessed by Raptarr.
  • 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 5.
  • Hollywood Darkness: As most episodes take place at night, all backgrounds have a generally blue tint to indicate that it's dark, while still being visible. It's particularly notable in "Darkness at the Edge of Town," where the supposed darkness is a plot point. Generally averted whenever the Turtles venture into the Underground though.
  • 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 until Season 6.
  • Holodeck Malfunction: In the "Secret Origins" three-parter, the Turtles and Splinter are taken to the Utroms' Oracle Pod Chamber, which allows them to experience the aliens' collective memory in a virtual reality environment. Unfortunately, after some sabotage by Baxter Stockman, the environment becomes deadly, and the turtles are forced to look for the failsafe embedded inside the simulation before their minds can return to their bodies.
  • Hologram: Very prominent in Fast Forward, since it is the future and all. Zixx notably uses them to trick his opponents into thinking that he's actually somewhere where he isn't. Raph falls for it all the time.
  • 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.
  • Human Aliens: Most members of the Federation army are indistinguishable from humans, which is most notable when General Blanque stands next to Bishop.
  • 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, until he was found frozen in ice and freed by 1987 Shredder in Turtles Forever.
  • I Call It "Vera": Marlin calls his 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 "April's Artifact" they are forced to use the local sticks as weapons.
    • In "The Big House," they find some cleaning tools that they use as weapons. When the Triceratons see them, they started laughing.
  • 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.
  • Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: Much like the Mirage comics, the Turtles' eyes are irisless whenever they wear their masks, which is almost all the time, until Season 7.
  • 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."
  • JerkassHasAPoint/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. But there is the idea that the least the Turtles could do is help mitigate the collateral damage, so it goes both ways.
  • 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. Then again, Stockman spent about a century trapped as a brain in a jar, which, given how much he despises it, could be considered punishment enough.
    • Due to Fast Forward not seeing another season as originally planned, Darius Dun becomes this as a result, being still at-large as of the events of "DNA Is Thicker Than Water". As there's no mention of his capture or defeat, we can only assume he hasn't been brought down and is still out there plotting somewhere.
  • 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 Shredder, Cyber Shredder, 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 is seen, in "Darkness at the Edge of Town," training against several Foot Ninjas in his personal dojo. Karai is also introduced this way in "City at War (Part 1)," where she trains with a practice dummy.
  • Kirby Dots: In the episode "The King." The sky of the dimension that Donatello and Kirby find themselves in is filled with Kirby dots. Fitting for an episode that is dedicated to the Trope Namer.
  • Knight of Cerebus:
    • Regardless of which one it is (Utrom, Demon, or Cyber), the Shredder is always, always taken very seriously when involved.
    • For Fast Forward, Sh'Okanabo's appearances were more laced with seriousness and less comedy.
  • 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 Shredder's Splinter-bot in "Rogue in the House," as well as the turtle clones.
  • Laser Hallway: Used several times, particularly in any building owned by Bishop and/or Shredder.
  • Last of Their Kind:
    • The Inuwashi Gunjin ended up being this due to the wars their race fought.
    • The High Mage presented himself to the Turtles as one of these, but they later find out he's really lying.
  • 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 Ninja Tribunal arc) 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 amother retool to bring them back to the present, but losing a lot of the original charm and congruence with the comics that the first four seasons had, being more similar to Fast Forward's tone.
  • Lava Is Boiling Kool-Aid: In "Return to the Underground," Donatello and Sydney use Turtle Tunneler to traverse the lava that looks like red water. Sort of Justified, since the Tunneler was designed to traverse the Underground and by extension lava, but it is later shown that it does have its limits.
  • 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.
      • Chronologically speaking, the first being that was ever known as the Shredder was a tengu that terrorized Japan centuries ago. It was later defeated by a group of ninjamasters know as the Ninja Tribunal. But before the tengu was killed, he made a deal with one of the ninjamasters, a man named Oroku Saki, merging with him. Oroku Saki would become known as the Tengu/Demon Shredder. He would later appear as the Big Bad of Season 5.
      • Years later, a rogue Utrom named Ch'rell learned of the stories of the Tengu Shredder and decided to take up his identity and create a clan of ninjas. He is by far the most promiment Shredder of the series, as he's the one who murdered Hamato Yoshi and is usually regarded as their number one enemy.
      • In Season 4, Karai would later adopt the mantle of the Shredder after Ch'rell was exiled to an ice asteroid, leading the Foot Clan in order to avenge him.
      • In Season 7, a digital copy of Ch'rell gets accidentally activated and takes over Viral, becoming the Cyber Shredder and the new leader of the Foot Clan.
    • Also true for the Turtle Titan. The first one was Mikey, while Turtle Titan II is a descendant of fellow superhero Silver Sentry.
  • 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 Sewer toned it down somewhat, but some returning characters, such as Hun, ended up more comical.
  • Lonely Rich Kid: Cody. It's why he invented the time portal to begin with, as he was bored from being cooped up in his house and made the time window to watch the Turtles back in their time period. Taken literally in Back to the Sewer, when Serling is accidentally sent back to the 21st Century with the turtles, leaving Cody in his penthouse all by himself, though it's never explored, as after the premiere, Cody is only ever seen as a brief cameo in the finale.
  • Magical Land: The Battle Nexus, and later, The Hidden Land.
  • Making a Splash: Justice Force member Tsunami has the ability to manipulate water.
  • 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 "A 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."
    • After Ruffington ruined his career and personal life, Nobody lost everything. That is to say, he became a "nobody."
  • Męlée ŕ Trois:
    • Several times, most notably between the Foot Clan, Mob, and Purple Dragons in "City at War."
    • In "Return to New York," the Turtles vs. Shredder vs. 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 vs. Shredder vs. 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 (Part 2)."
  • Microts: Triceraton measurement units are called "Trigons."
  • Mini-Mecha: Turtle X from Fast Forward, the Foot's Shred-naughts in Season 4, Baxter's mech from "Return to New York (Part 3)," and the main transport Dome-Bot used by both Dr. Dome and his daughter Ananda, are all these.
  • Mistaken for Aliens: Occurs to the Turtles a lot, especially 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.
  • Mobile-Suit Human: After crash landing on Earth, the Utroms salavged some of their ship's technology in order to create such suits. They use them them to blend in with humans.
  • Mob War: "City at War" focuses on a war between the Foot Clan, the Purple Dragons, and the New York Mafia for control over New York.
  • Monochromatic Eyes: Everyone wearing a Shredder helmet, the Ninja Tribunal, and Dr. Malignus.
  • Monowheel Mayhem: In Fast Forward, one of the many vehicles shown is a futuristic monowheel.
  • Morally Ambiguous Doctorate: Malignus, being the comic book-like villain that he is, calls himself a doctor.
  • The Movie: Turtles Forever.
  • Multiple Head Case: Triple Threat from Fast Forward has three heads: a red brutish one, a yellow crazy one, and a methodical blue one.
  • 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:
    • The logo used for Seasons 1-6 is basically an "extreme" version of the logo used for the 1987 cartoon.
    • When the Turtles first find an unconcious April in the sewers, Mikey asks "Can we keep her?"
    • In one episode, an Utrom complains that he hates walking with his tentacles. Another one replies to him "Oh shut up, Krang."
    • This isn't the first show where Raphael had a motorcycle.
    • 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.
      • This also happened in the original comics to Leo himself in the Leonardo One shot and its follow up.
    • The warehouse where the Turtles keep the Battle Shell at is the corner of "Eastman and Laird." The creators themeselves show up as recurring cops.
    • When Gennosuke is strolling around Earth, he ends up changing his clothes to look like Rocksteady's outfit from the original cartoon.
    • A 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.
    • In "Secret Origins," April poses as a TV reporter to infiltrate a building, wearing a very familiar yellow jumpsuit; when she tries to "interview" the soldier supervising the blockade around the Utrom building (it's complicated), she explains that she's from "Channel 9 News *broken tag on jumpsuit flips down* er, Channel 6 News". Later, once the smoke clears, Leonardo says April would make a good reporter, to which she replied "In another lifetime, maybe."
    • One denizen of future New York is an expy of 1987 Bebop.
    • Chaplin, Stockman's replacement as chief scientist in Shredder's organization, is based off of Stockman's human form in the 1987 series.

  • Named Weapons: The Sword of Tengu was a sword that was used by the Shredder in Season 1. There's also the The Fangs of the Dragons that the Turtles and Acolytes use in Season 5.
  • 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: The eponymous Nano is made out of these, as one can guess by the name.
  • 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 is very friendly, even though he's working for the Foot, which makes him a villain.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: While there are many smaller, more self-contained examples, there are two that have large, unintended consequences.
    • The first is that, by taking out the Shredder and crippling his organization, the Turtles end up setting up a massive war between the Foot, the Purple Dragons, and the mob.
    • The second sets up the Ninja Tribunal arc, as the Turtles accidentally end up freeing the Foot Mystics, allowing them to begin their plan to resurrect the Demon Shredder.
  • The Night That Never Ends: The linchpin of Sh'Okanabo's plan in "Day of Awakening."
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown:
    • At the end of "The Shredder Strikes Back (Part 1)," the Foot Elite savagely beat down Leo, leaving him nearly dead.
    • In "Exodus (Part 1)," Leatherhead finally comes face to face with the Shredder. Enough said. Part 2 has the Shredder completely whalloping the Turtles and Splinter, and they wouldn't heal until a few episodes in the next season.
  • 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: In "The Trouble With Augie," after Donatello, April, and Augustus escape from the Brotherhood, they encounter the previous inhabitants of the planet. That is, a giant pile of skulls.
  • 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. Any time Splinter has to face off against an army of Mooks, expect him to pull this off at least once.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • The Shredder gets this when he realizes he shouldn't have let Splinter cut the posts holding up the water tower in "The Shredder Strikes (Part 2)."
      • 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 Character Catchphrase "Oh, crud," which comes close enough to Oh, Crap!.
    • The series as a whole loves this trope. Almost to Once an Episode levels.
  • Old Hero, New Pals: The Fast Forward season sends the Turtles and Splinter to the future, where they meet new allies and enemies.
  • Old Master: The Ancient One. Splinter, obviously.
  • The Omniscient Council of Vagueness:
    • The Council of Three speak by completing each other's sentences and monitor the Guardians.
    • 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 Tengu 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.
  • 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.
  • Pair the Smart Ones: Cody and Starlee end up in a relationship during Fast Forward. To nail just how smart they are, Cody managed to create a Time Travel device without even realizing, while Starlee was able to hack into Jammerhead's system and cause him to malfunction.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Splinter is this for the Turtles. Best example is in "The Shredder Strikes (Part 2)," where he saves them from the Shredder, saying he won't get his family destroyed again. Splinter proceeds to curbstomp him.
    • Also Serling for Cody. He would do anything to protect the kid.
  • 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.
  • Party Scattering: The Season 3 episodes "Reality Check," "Across the Universe," "Same As It Never Was," and "The Real World (Parts 1 and 2)" deal with the four Turtles and Splinter being sent through time and space to different locations by Ultimate Draco.
  • People's Republic of Tyranny:
    • Triceratons' civilization is called the "Triceraton Republic."
    • Also applies to their enemies. They are called the "Federation" and are as tyrannical as the "Triceraton Republic."
  • 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 gained god-like abilities simply by training.
    • The original Shredder gained god-like powers when he made a deal with a Tengu, merging with it. He became known as the Tengu 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, Constable Aloysius Biggles and his coworkers are utterly useless to handle the mutliple villains that inhabit New York and require assistance from the Turtles.
    • While they appear less frequently, the cops in the present day typically don't do much to help the Turtles and their allies. Particularly in the "City at War" arc, where they are overwhelmed by the Foot, Purple Dragons, and the mob.
  • Posthumous Characters: All three characters in the Hamato Yoshi/Yukio Mashimi/Tang Shen love triangle died before the series began. Yoshi was killed by the Shredder when he refused to reveal the Utroms' locaton, while Mashimi and Tang Shen were both seen in "A Tale of Master Yoshi."
  • 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: Some of the episodes are direct adaptations of stories from the original comics. While they are largely faithfully adapted, some episodes are cases of Adaptation Expansion ("Sons of the Silent Age" ended when the episode was by its middle) and Compressed Adaptation ("City at War" only focusues on the Turtles, while the comic had stories that featured also April and Casey). General changes have been made to also make them less violent.
  • 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.*
  • President Evil: Zanramon is the prime leader of the Triceraton Republic, who doesn't hesitate at sacrificing his own men if it means to protect himself and wages a ruthless war for a device that would be more devastating than the war itself.
  • Private Eye Monologue: In the beginning of each episode until Season 6.
  • The Professor: Lots. Lampshaded early in 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. Slightly deconstructed in their case, as their race fought so many wars, the ones the heroes encounter are the Last of Their Kind.
    • The Triceratons, to a lesser and less uniform extent. Their primary entertainment are the Gladiator Games the Turtles are sent to.
  • 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 is probably the friendliest member of the Foot Clan. It probably helps that he doesn't really hate the Turtles and the fact that, while he works for Shredder, he's more loyal to Karai.
    • Mr. Touch and Mr. Go don't really hate the Turtles, as they just hunt them down for the money.
  • 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 were created by splicing the DNA of the Turtles and Kanabo drones, creating more strong and brutish clones of the 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. After his apparent death and the Daimyo mourning him, Lord Simultaneous decides to revive him as a young child so the Daimyo can raise him right this time and not become a villain.
  • Raised Hand of Survival: Splinter defeats the Shredder in their first battle by collapsing a water tower, washing him off the side of the building with the tower itself crashing on top of him. After Splinter and the Turtles leave, 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." Dr. Finn believes that there's a monster in the woods and uses a video of it as evidence. The monster in the video is in fact Mikey. Later, it's discovered that there is a Bigfoot-like creature living in Northampton, and the Turtles try their best to stop Dr. Finn from capturing it.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Remake Cameo: Some foreign dubs has voice actors from either the 1990s live-action films or from the 1987 series voicing other roles:
    • In the Japanese dub, Hidenari Ugaki, who voiced Donatello in the TV Tokyo dub of the 1987 series, ironically voices Shredder here. Likewise, Kiyoyuki Yanada, who voiced the aforementioned villain in the same version, voices Big Boss instead, while Daiki Nakamura, who voiced Leonardo in the same version, voices the Ultimate Ninja instead.
    • In the Latin American Spanish dub, René García, who voiced Carter during a few episodes in the 1987 series, voices Casey Jones instead, while Mónica Manjarrez, who voiced April O'Neil, voices Viral instead.
  • The Remnant: The Foot Clan is seemingly reduced to this during the Season 7, as it displays none of the massive resources it had in earlier seasons. During Season 1-5, the Foot frequently used vehicles, mecha, and scientifically created mutants. In Back to the Sewer, all that remains are Khan, a bunch of general Foot Ninja, and a digital clone of the Shredder. To add insult to injury, even Karai and Chaplin turned their backs to the organization, through Karai would return to the organization in Turtles Forever.
  • 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.
  • Retool: During Season 6, the setting was changed from the present day to the year 2105 via accidental time travel. Fast Forward, as the season was subtitled, featured a shift in art style (simpler) and tone (lighter), and the abandoning of most of the show's supporting cast in favor of completely new characters. A second, milder retool occurred with Season 7, which featured the turtles' return to present day, yet another Art Shift, and a new subtitle: Back to the Sewer.
  • Ret-Canon: The show influenced the original comic book in several ways, mostly involving Casey's backstory.
  • 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 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.
  • Robe and Wizard Hat: In "SuperQuest", the Turtles enter the titular game in order to find more of Splinter's bits. As they are forced to be a specific class, Donnie becomes a mage with such an outfit.
  • Rollerblade Good: Starlee Hambrath's ubiquitous inline skates.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Starlee's race looks almost exactly like humans but with Pointy Ears and blue skin.
  • Running Gag: Whenever the Turtles are at the antique shop, they're going to break priceless antiques.
  • Sadistic Choice: Zanramon forces the Fugitoid to build the teleportal or the Turtles will be executed.
  • 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 Season 5. He loses it in Season 6 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. The Turtles and Acolytes are forced to fight each other, after which they team up against the Ninja Tribunal, passing the first test.
    • Casey's mother meeting April too. Upon first meeting April, she subjects her to an increasingly aggravating series of chores, all while being rude and bossy to her. When an exasperated April finally completes the tasks, Mrs. Jones becomes much nicer, even inviting April to call her "Mom," implying that she wanted to see if April's devotion to Casey was strong enough that she'd be willing to go through anything for him.
  • 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 an NFL 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 his titular episode. When he and Leo camp during the night, several spirits with weapons pass around them. The Ancient One tells him not to fight them, with which Leo reluctantly agrees...until the ninja master ''farts'', drawing the spirits to their presence. They and Leo begin to fight, but the Ancient One tells him to surrender, but Leo continues to fight them. The spirits overpower him, to which he surrenders, with which the spirits leave them alone, making this trope Double Subverted.
  • Shout-Out: So, so many of them. Mostly from Mikey.
  • 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 minor Fridge Logic, 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 "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 "DNA is Thicker Than Water," 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. They go from their standard weapons to mystical superweapons to futuristic enhanced weapons. 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). Somewhat averted for Season 7. In the real world, the Turtles have their original weapons back, but inside cyberspace they use new digital weapons which have unique abilities.
  • Soft Reboot: Back To The Sewer 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 3 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.
    • Barring the ambiguity in whether or not the Demon Shredder killed them in their final fifth season appearance, the Foot Elite don't die during the "City At War" event, unlike their Mirage counterparts, and remain as recurring minor villains for a good while longer.
  • 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 constanlty tried to betray the Shredder, usually unsuccessfully, 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, eventually freeing themselves at the end of the season.
  • 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!" Some 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."
    • Also in "Secret Origins (Part 1)," both Raph and the past version of Mortu have the same response to Ch'rell's threat: "Big talk, little slimeball."
      Raph: "Hey, I like the way this Mortu guy thinks."
  • 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 (Part 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, most notably in "Return to New York" and "Exodus."
  • Story Arc: There are many, many story arcs that span several seasons, while others span only several episodes.
    • Probably the longest Story Arc of the entire series is the conflict between the Turtles and the Shredder's Foot Clan. It began in Season 1 and ended in Season 3. Each season contributes to this arc in some way.
      • Season 1 focuses on the very first encounters between the Turtles and the Foot Clan. For most of the early episodes, the Turtles foil Shredder's plans, which forces him to become a more active player with "The Shredder Strikes (Parts 1 and 2)." In "The Shredder Strikes Back" two-parter, the Foot brutally defeat the Turtles and nearly kill Leonardo, which forces the heroes to retreat and take shelter at Casey's old farmhouse. This part of the arc culminates with the "Return to New York" three-parter, an epic Storming the Castle series of episodes, and end with the Shredder getting decapitated by Leo and surviving.
      • Season 2 reveals the Shredder's true nature as an evil Utrom, and marks the debut of Karai, who comes to New York in order to stabilize the criminal underworld.
      • Season 3 focuses on Shredder's efforts to return to space and have his revenge upon the other Utroms. Throughout the season, the Foot Clan gathers tech, that they use in order to build a space ship. The season culminates with the "Exodus" two-parter, in which the Shredder manages to leave the planet, but the Turtles get on his ship and decide to blow it up, sacrificing themselves in the process. But just in time, the Utroms come to rescue them, including the Shredder. He is then put on trial, where he's sentenced to eternal banishment on a ice asteroid, trapped forever.
    • Season 2 also began the "Triceraton-Federation conflict" arc. The two sides both want the Fugitoid's teleportation device to achive their goals, which leads to them waging a war against one-another. The Turtles also meet Traximus, a triceraton who wants to depose Zanramon, the dictator of his race. The arc culminates in the "Worlds Collide" three-parter, where the Fugitoid sabotages the fleets of both sides, which leads to the Federation being forced to surrender, while Traximus' rebellion overthrows Zanramon.
    • A minor arc from Seasons 1 and 2 focuses on the Underground Mutants. The Turtles meet them in the "Notes from The Underground" three-parter, where they discover that they were once people who were kidnapped by the Foot and transformed into the creatures they currently are. When the Turtles leave, they promise to come back with a cure, which they do in "Return to The Undergorund," where Donnie has created a proper cure and cures their mutations, allowing them to return to the surface.
    • Another minor arc from Seasons 1 and 3 focuses on the Y'lyntians. Foreshadowed from the moment the Turtles found their new lair, they are an ancient race that once dominated the Earth, enslaved many humansnote  and now wants to regain its former power. In "Notes from the Underground (Part 3)," the Turtles meet the High Mage, the only Y'Lyntian who hasn't been put in a cryogenic sleep, who initially wanted to trick them into believing he's a good guy. They defeat him and he's put in a cryogenic sleep himself until "The Entity Below," where his race gets awoken thanks to the planets aligning. His race proceeds to nearly cause The End of the World as We Know It, until the Turtles stop them with the help of a rogue Y'Lyntian.
    • Season 4's first arc focuses on Leo, who, due to the many beatdowns he has suffered due to the Foot, turns into The Stoic and nearly becomes a Knight Templar. It takes him half of the season in order for him to get back on track.
    • Season 4's second story arc is the "Outbreak" arc. Due to Bishop creating artifical creaturesnote  and the Turtles defeating them, the creatures explode and leak a strange ooze into the sewers. This ooze eventually mutates countless sewer creatures, who begin to terrorize New York City. It gets to the point where Donatello himself gets mutated, which forces the Turtles to work with Bishop in order to find a cure. The Turtles infiltrate the Foot's headquarters and steal an amulet. Then they give it to Bishop and he creates a cure, which cures Donnie. This arc directly leads into...
    • Season 5's "Ninja Tribunal" arc. It started with the Season 4 finale, where the Turtles and several other characters, called the Acolytes, are recuited by the Ninja Tribunal for training. For the first part of Season 5, the heroes are told the story of the original Oroku Saki, a former ninja master, who made a deal with a Tengu and merged with it, becoming the Tengu Shredder, and that he one day will be resurrected. When he is resurrected, he proceeds to conquer the entire world, starting from New York. In the finale of the season, the Turtles team up with all their allies and enemies, including the Foot, in order to stop him. A massive battle occurs, where the Turtles defeat the Tengu Shredder once and for all.
    • The Fast Forward season, while primarly being composed of standalone episodes, did have one notable arc: the "Sh'Okanabo Invasion." It focuses on Sh'Okanabo, an alien overlord, who wants to spread his virus and has set his eyes upon the Earth, which he wants to infect. The arc culminates with "The Day of the Awakening," where he nearly succeeds, until he's stopped by the Turtles, Cody, and Bishop.
    • Another arc during the season was the gradual reveal of Darrius Dun being the one trying to kill Cody as well as selling weapons on the black market, culminating in him being arrested and Cody taking over O'Neil Tech.
    • Back to the Sewers also has a notable arc: while the Turtles and Splinter return to the present, Splinter is sucked into Cyberspace. This sets up the events of the entire season, as the Turtles try to bring him back. There is also Casey proposing to April and the two preparing their wedding.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
    • 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.
  • Sword over Head: Karai does this to one of the defeated Foot Elite at the end of "City at War."
  • The Syndicate:
    • The Foot Clan has a large influence on the New York criminal underworld, having many criminal operations and immense power over it, to the irritation of other criminal organizations who want a piece of the pie. As soon as the Foot gets weakened, a massive gang war is fought over the control of New York.
    • After Hun leaves the Foot Clan at the end of Season 3, he returns to the Purple Dragons and reorganizes them, turning them from a petty street gang into a powerful criminal organization.
    • While not as prominent as the organizations above, the New York Mafia can also be assumed to be this, as they were trying to stop a woman and her kid from exposing them.
  • Taken for Granite/Literally Shattered Lives: Happens to Drako and The Ultimate Ninja. As the Time Scepter interacts with the War Staff, it seperates them from their "Ultimate Drako" persona, turns them into stone and shatters them.
  • Taking You with Me:
    • The Shredder really likes to do this. Notably in "Secret Origins," where he planted a bomb that will destroy everything inside the TCRI buiding and if he doesn't leave, so will the Turtles. He doesn't succeed, but he later got better.
    • Also attempted by the Turtles in the episode "Exodus." As they know that they won't be able to defeat the Shredder in one-to-one combat, they decide to detonate the ship's core, killing themselves and Shredder in the proccess. Thankfully, the Utroms came in and saved them.
  • 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, who, over the course of the series, has designed heat-vision goggles, the Battle Shell, the Turtle Tunneler, as well as developed the antidote that ultimately cures the Underground Mutants.
    • Also Cody Jones, who accidentlly created a Time Travel machine. There's also Starlee, who uses her smarts to hack into Jammerhead's system.
  • 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," Raph encounters a young boy (the titular "Cub") who's in troubles with the Mafia. When a goon throws a smoke bomb into him and the boy, Raph gets blinded and it isn't until he faces The Don that his eyes get better.
  • Tempting Fate:
    Honeycutt: "Well gentlemen, it should be fairly smooth sailing from here on." *(Triceraton fleet shows up)*
    "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: Didn't gain one until Season 4, but is then kept until the end of the series.
  • 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 "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.
    • "Same As It Never Was" has Donatello gets transported into a Bad Future, 30 years from the present day.
  • Time-Travel Tense Trouble: This.
  • Title Theme Tune: All three theme songs chant the franchise title, with the latter two seasons also chanting the subtitle.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Used in the initial promo for "Exodus (Part 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 due to the circumstances.
    • 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" revolves around the Turtles competing in the Battle Nexus Tournament, though it also has a plot surrounding the inhabitants of the place.
  • 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. He presents himself as total goofball before revealing himself as the master Leo was sent to train with.
  • Truer to the Text: Zig-Zagged. The series remains to this day the most source-accurate TMNT show and 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 started placing more emphasis on original story arcs and new major characters, steering the show in its own direction. Season 4 was the final hurrah for adapting Mirage material before the show completely went its own course from Season 5 onwards, though it did result in some Adaptational Late Appearance for certain characters like Sid and Jhanna since they showed up much later than their original comic appearance.
  • UltimateGamer386: In "SuperQuest," there's the Trope Namer himself, who's the highest-leveled player of the titular game and The Dreaded to all the other players.
  • Uncanny Family Resemblance: Turtle Titan II resembles Silver Sentry (grandson/grandfather). Also, Ananda to Battling Bernice (daughter/mother), as in the comic books. Ananda looks so much like her mother that Dr. Dome believes upon seeing her to be Battling Bernice.
  • Under the Mistletoe: In the episode "The Christmas Aliens," Casey tries to get a kiss from April O'Neil by having Raph and Angel put mistletoe up on a pulley and line so it would follow them across the room. During Casey's first attempt, April slapped him across the face with the mistletoe, but at the end of the episode, when Casey was standing under one at an orphanage he and the others were at, April walks up to him and casually plants a kiss on his cheek.
  • Unequal Pairing:
    • Karai and Dr. Chaplin end up in a relationship by Season 5. Up to that point, Karai has become the leader of the Foot Clan, while Chaplin is just her lieutenant. Sort of played with, as after Season 5, they are strongly implied to have left the Foot Clan.
    • To a lesser extent Cody Jones and Starlee Hambrath, as Cody at the start of Fast Forward is a higher-ranked employee than Starlee.
  • 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.
  • The Unmasqued World: The Triceratons stage a very public Alien Invasion. After it is repelled, things return more or less back to normal, with some subtle differences, such as anti-alien militias, a new black market for alien weaponry, and a world more ready to accept subsequent weirdness. While the turtles are still not free to show themselves on the streets, when they do, they're immediately classified as aliens.
  • Unnamed Parent: Casey's mom is never named.
  • 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 previous events in "Rogue in the House (Part 2)." Due to the Earth's athmosphere, he believes that the Turtles and Splinter are Triceraton commanders and see the Foot as Federation scum.
  • Unsportsmanlike Gloating: Michelangelo's preferred method of handling victory. He especially likes to gloat about his victory in the Battle Nexus.
  • 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" focuses on Hun trying to rescue Karai in order to earn Shredder's trust.
    • "Aliens Among Us" focuses on Bishop trying to secure funding for his agency by capturing the President using fake aliens.
    • "Insane in the Membrane" focuses on Baxter Stockman losing his sanity after he puts his mind into a new body.
  • Villain: Exit, Stage Left:
    • Bishop often does this, but typically escapes in a way that the Turtles can't follow him.
    • Dr. Malignus notes how he always has an escape plan in the case Silver Sentry defeats him. However, he didn't count on Mikey being there to stop 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 are more or less seen as heroes by the New York population and the mayor himself, as they funded large-scale operations to rebuilt the city after the Triceraton invasion. Oroku Saki even has a statue dedicated to him in Season 4.
    • Darius Dun is seen as the honest CEO of O'Neil Tech, though the Turtles and Splinter know what's going behind the scenes. He loses this status when his criminal operations get exposed.
  • The Virus: Sh'Okanabo uses his Gene Eggs to infect the inhabitants of a planet and turn them into his drones. He's believed to have conquered multiple planets in this manner and has now set his eyes upon the Earth as his next big conquest.
  • 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" after she gets possessed.
  • 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: In "The Shredder Strikes Part 2", as Splinter and the Shredder fight under a water tower, Splinter tricks Shredder into cutting the supporting beams of the structure before he makes it crumble on the villain.
  • 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: The 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 this series (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 "The Search for Splinter (Part 1)," April is required to go deep inside the TCRI building, but there's a receptionist who keeps a close eye on her. Casey decides to help by dressing up as a guy with a broken toaster.
    Casey: "I gotta complain about one of your products!"
    TCRI receptionist: "TCRI doesn't manufacture toasters, sir."
  • Wham Episode:
    • "The Shredder Strikes Back." The Turtles and their allies are beaten by the Foot and Shredder throws a bomb that causes April's entire antique shop to explode. The ending of it doesn't even let us know whether they survive the explosion, but the next episode confirms they do.
    • "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, Professor Honeycutt 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.
    • Probably the biggest Wham Shot of the entire series happened in "Secret Origins (Part 3)," where the Shredder's suit opens, revealling that he's in fact an Utrom.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After "Secret Origins," 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," while not all just a flashback, has the Turtles and Splinter recount their stories with Leo to the unconcious turtle.
    • "The Lesson" is about how the Turtles helped a young boy gain confidence and defend himself from his neighborhood bullies, the kid in question revealed to the audience to be Casey.
    • In "Tale of Master Yoshi," Leo tells the story of Hamato Yoshi, his doomed friendship and romance with Mashimi and Tang Shen respectively, and his experiences with the Utroms and the Foot Clan.
    • "Legend of the Five Dragons" is about how the Tengu Shredder came to be, as well as his connection with the Ninja Tribunal.
    • "Fathers and Sons" is about how the Turtles and Splinter have been connected to the Tengu Shredder-Ninja Tribunal conflict from a very young age.
  • Who's on First?: This short.
  • Why Isn't It Attacking? In "Return to New York, Part 2," the Turtles (and Splinter) are storming the Foot headquarters. When they reach the top floor, four of Shredder's Elite Guard appear and ready their weapons, but do not attack, unnerving the Turtles.
    Raphael: What are they waiting for?
    Leonardo: Orders.
  • 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 is an unpredictable mercenary who will do whatever benefits him. This has involved helping the Turtles, as well scamming them.
    • Karai also fits this. Due to her sense of honor clashing with her allegiance to her father, she has worked with the Turtles as much as she has fought against them.
  • Winged Humanoid: The Avians were originally humans who were turned into this by the Y'Lyntians.
  • 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 6 episode "Timing is Everything" did this to the Season 1 Shredder post-"The Shredder Strikes." In Season 1, 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. When they bump their fists, their powers activate. This also forces them to be nearly always together at all times.
  • 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 Sewer, the Turtle Tots meet an old man who unleashes an army of deadly toy robots and a life sized one to attack them.
    • The Mafia goons from "Lone Raph and Cub" are perfectly willing to eliminate Tyler.
    • Lord Hebi sends his assassins to kill Lord Noriyuki, who is just a kid.
  • 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 Shredder Strikes Back (Part 1)," as the climax to the ass-kicking the character gets in that episode. And again in "The 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. All he wanted was to get his human body back, but by the end of the episode he's back to being just a brain in a jar.
  • 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 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 Tengu Shredder's heralds do this to the fish tengu for failing them in the beginning of "Legend of the Five Dragons."
  • 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 "Head of State," 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 Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird occasionally show up whenever the show needs a cop in the background.


Shedder's True Identity

In the midst of an intense battle with the Shredder, the turtles discover that he's actual the evil Utrom, Ch'rell, who caused the Utroms to crash on Earth millenia ago.

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5 (20 votes)

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