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  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • "Donatello does machines!". Made even more hilarious by the fact that he's the only turtle without an official Love Interest. Though it's been implied that Irma does canonically have a bit of crush on Donatello in several episodes such as "Sky Turtles" and "Invasion Of The Turtle Snatchers", which means that he's really shy, or Oblivious to Love, unless he's actually Robosexual.
    • The title "Enter the Shredder" for some.
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    • The end of the first act of "The Lost Queen Of Atlantis" has a freeze frame of Shredder taking a magic amulet off of April while she's being restrained, which from the angle of the shot looks like he's grabbing April's breast and maniacally laughing at the same time.
  • Adaptation Displacement: This is the version most people remember when they think about the Turtles (or at least most people in their mid-20's or older).
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Shredder's teasing of April. Is he just trying to piss her off or does he have a genuine Villainous Crush on her? This is actually strongly implied in a few episodes.
    • Some fans speculate Irma's boy-craziness stems from loneliness and a desperate need for love and affection.
      • Some see her as a Yandere in the making.
      • And even others are theorizing that her constant chasing after men (or, more accurately, anything male) is her way of covering up actually being a closeted lesbian, which leads us to:
      • April and Irma's friendship seeming to be one-sided. Irma always mingles with April, and even refers to her as her best friend, however, April doesn't necessarily seem to ever return the sentiments. On top of that, because Irma seemingly clings to April seems to egg on the above-mentioned closet theory that perhaps Irma wants more than just friendship with April.
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  • Awesome Music:
    • The opening theme for seasons 1-7 as well the "red sky" theme.
    • The German version, even though it was released as Teenage Mutant Hero Turtles.
    • The piece of music that plays when the Technodrome's on screen.
    • The Italian theme song. It sounds absolutely nothing like the original, but it's nice and surprisingly catchy.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Bebop and Rocksteady are seen as either funny or annoying.
    • Leonardo is either awesome or a boring Generic Guy.
    • Irma is either hilarious and Moe or an obvious sign of writer sexism.
    • Mikey's Totally Radical Surfer Dude schtick has divided a few fans as well.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • Splinter looks extremely pissed in the opening scene of "Leonardo, Renaissance Turtle" for no apparent reason.
    • Michelangelo delivering a pizza to a pregnant woman in "Pizza by the Shred".
    • "Turtles fight with honor!"
      • Not completely, as Leo actually said it once or twice in the original Mirage comics. Still usually spoken with no context, both there and here.
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    • In "The Four Musketurtles" there's a brief shot that includes a walking skeleton. There's no way it's somebody in a costume, since you can see through the ribs and pelvis.
  • Broken Base:
    • Were the "Red Sky seasons" (8, 9, and 10) any good?
    • Similar issues come up with the "Vacation in Europe" Story Arc.
    • Season 4 was either the funniest season or full of pointless Filler.
    • Fans of later adaptations find the series' immaturity as a whole rather grating.
  • Cargo Ship: Mikey X Pizza. Almost canon.
  • Cliché Storm: Appears as one to modern audiences due to "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • Many fans will tell you that the Turtles hate anchovies on their pizza. While several storybooks based on the cartoon have brought this up and Michelangelo did specifically say he wanted no anchovies in the first film when he phoned a delivery, the cartoon itself never said they hated them. Quite the opposite in fact; several episodes have mentioned that they did eat pizzas with anchovies.
    • Krang isn't an Utrom. It's true his appearance was inspired by the Utroms, but he is himself a disembodied brain from another dimension. The Utroms are brain-like creatures from another planet.
    • Many people believe that this version of the Shredder is a downgrade from a more fearsome counterpart in the comics. In fact, it's the other way around: this Shredder, though certainly a source of comedy, is a far greater threat than his comics counterpart. While the Shredder from the original comics ended up getting curb-stomped and killed by the Turtles in his first appearance, this Shredder is a Badass Normal ninja master who can hold his own against the Turtles despite being only human, possesses combat skills only rivaled by Master Splinter, and quite a few of his schemes are potentially deadly.
  • Complete Monster: Lord Dregg replaces Shredder and Krang as the Big Bad of seasons 9 and 10. Dregg, an alien warlord who lost power after a rebellion, now wants to conquer Earth and make it his new base of operations. His initial scheme to steal gold from the Federal Reserve is thwarted by the Turtles. In response, Dregg comes to Earth and pretends to be a friendly alien who wants to improve the human race, making people see him as a hero, while Dregg casts the Turtles as threats to humanity. Despite this, the Turtles manage to thwart several of Dregg's destructive schemes, such as overloading a death ray Dregg was building to start destroying cities until the Earth bowed to him, and stopping a mad supervillain named Chronos Dregg hired to destroy New York with earthquake machines. Dregg's true intentions are later revealed, as is his cowardice when confronted by a more powerful warlord named Doomquest. Beaten, but not defeated, Dregg launches his main henchman HiTech into a space in a shuttle craft for failing him and replaces him with a new villain, Mung. Dregg engages in a new set of destructive schemes, such as trying to turn Leonardo into a waking nuclear bomb and having him blow up NYC; attacking several cities at once with his forces; planning to teleport parts of the Sun to Earth if they do not accept his rule; using an organic computer to take over several defense satellites; planning to destroy a dozen major cities; and trying to suck the Earth into a worm hole and teleport it to a solar system he still controls. After several defeats, Dregg loses interests in conquest and just wants revenge on the Turtles. Dregg disposes of Mung and hires 5 powerful mercenaries to help defeat the Turtles, but uses a powerful exoskeleton to absorb the mercenaries, taking their powers and killing them in the process.
  • Crack Ship: There is Baxter and April Rule 34. Yeah.
  • Crazy Awesome:
    • THE TECHNODROME.
    • The Turtle Van and Turtle Blimp too.
    • This incarnation of Casey Jones.
  • Critical Research Failure: In earlier seasons the turtles are occasionally called amphibians. Turtles are reptiles. While some of these instances could be taken as an intentional insult, the turtles call themselves amphibians on at least one occasion.
  • Designated Villain: Baxter Stockman's worst crime (before turning into a fly) was helping out Shredder, but the way the Turtles treat him you'd think he killed their mom or something.
    • Thanks to Baxter and his rat-catcher Shredder nearly succeeded in killing Splinter and Baxter also pulled off a Dog Bites Back move where he easily defeated the Turtles and likely would have done so to Shredder as well if not for him not knowing the Eye of Sarnath's one weakness. Shredder may have easily been the more eviler of the two, but he definitely wasn't an innocent victim.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Shredder has quite a few fangirls. Doesn't help that he's sometimes more entertaining to watch than the good guys.
  • Ear Worm:
    • The original theme.
    • "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, heroes in a half shell, Turtle Power!"
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Bebop and Rocksteady.
    • The Rat King.
    • Even fans who dislike the Red Sky seasons admit to liking one-shot villain Chronos.
    • Mona Lisa only appeared in one episode, but she has a huge fan base as a result.
    • Mondo Gecko. Only appeared in around two episodes (though he had a slightly bigger role in the Archie comic books) but he has a ton of fan-art, and quite a few fangirls.
    • Shredder's mother Miyoko, and to a lesser extent his little brother Kazuo.
    • Irma. Cute as a button, and it also helps that the rest of her Channel 6 co-workers (save for April) are annoying Scrappies.
    • Mutagen Man is apparently this to the 2012 show's writers according to this article, stating that they want to utilize him in some way.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Tempestra.
    • Shreeka to some.
    • Medusa.
    • Shredder according to some female fans. In fact, he seems to be the version of Shredder with the most fangirls.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: If fanart is any indication, Shredder X April, Raphael X Mona Lisa, Mikey X Kala, Donatello X Irma, and Leonardo X Lotus.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Seasons 8, 9 and 10, the "Red Sky" seasons. (Possibly Canon Discontinuity, since Turtles Forever chose to ignore those seasons completely.)
    • Some are more forgiving of Season 8, though.
    • Though Turtles Forever was meant to highlight the differences between the 2003 series and this one, so including the more serious seasons would largely defeat the purpose.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • One of the first episodes featured an entire building flooding out and spilling a massive amount of water in the city when said building explodes from the pressure. Though copious on its own merits already, it can hit way too close to home for those involved in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, especially since the setting for the cartoon is New York City.
    • "Slash - The Evil Turtle from Dimension X" has a funny caricature of Donald Trump. It's starting to become less funny now that President Donald Trump is in charge.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • Season Three, arguably, when compared to the somewhat lackluster Season Two. It wasn't consistently good, but contains the most fan favorites.
    • Season Seven, the last "normal" season, is considered to be the best of all, due to some surprisingly well-written and enjoyable episodes. "Night of The Dark Turtle" and "Legend of Koji" are believed to be the best episodes in the entire series.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • "Enter The Fly!" has Baxter and Shredder plotting evil on top of the Twin Towers. Yikes.
    • "Get Shredder!" has the Channel 6 building being blown up by a bomb, which became much harsher after the Oklahoma City bombing. Surprisingly enough despite this the episode was never banned from airing unlike episodes of other shows which featured similar scenes(I.E. "New Partners on the Block" in Bonkers).
    • The plight of the Neutrinos, whose only 'crime' in Dimension X is to be young and not want to take part in the endless war of the adults around them, grows more poignant for the generation who came of age post-9/11 and the seemingly unending war in the Middle East.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Lotus Blossom was introduced in the cartoon a few years before Karai debuted in the comics.
    • An early episode has a toy company employee presenting "Trans-Farmers" which are toy robots that transform into farm equipment. Sometime in the mid-90s when Playmates was desperate for new ideas to keep selling the toys to kids, not only did they do various transforming versions of characters(mutating varieties as well as vehicles), but there were also farming turtles with tractors. I wish I was making that last one up.
    • In the first episode, "Turtle Tracks", there's a sequence where Donatello flips in front of April to stop her from leaving and speaks with Rob Paulsen's voice. Though this was a mistake, Rob Paulsen would be voicing Donatello again 25 years later…
    • Speaking of Rob Paulsen, while we know that he voiced Raphael, his Love Interest Mona Lisa is voiced by Pat Musick. Fast forward 25 years, and Rob is now playing Donatello. But the real kicker is that Donnie's Love Interest, April, is voiced by Pat Musick's daughter, Mae Whitman!
    • Going even further with Donatello, the episode "Night of the Dark Turtle", has him don a costume similar to that of Batman. And look what happened.
    • Leonardo means "bold as a lion". Cam Clarke, who voices Leonardo in this cartoon, would go on to voice Simba in the Kingdom Hearts games.
  • Ho Yay: You have to admit, the way Shredder and Krang would bicker throughout the series made them look like an old married couple. May also count as No Yay.
    • James Avery himself even lampshaded this in his Under the Shell interview, saying he and Pat Fraley treated the interaction between Shredder and Krang like they really were an old married couple. When asked what Shredder was up to recently, James responds, in-character as Shredder, "Krang and I are divorced now, I haven't seen him in many years. I kinda miss him, but not really, he was always such a nag."
    • Bebop and Rocksteady very rarely leave each other's side. If Rocksteady didn't have his gigantic crush on April there would be a lot more Ho Yay going on from the fans' point of view.
    • Baxter Stockman and his gender-neutral (but still male-sounding) alien computer, Zee. Watch an episode with them in it and see for yourself.
    • Sometimes happens to the turtles themselves.
  • Hollywood Pudgy: From time to time, Irma will mention being on a diet, and although her size is mostly obscured by a baggy turtleneck sweater, on the few occasions she wears something else, it's clear that she certainly isn't even fat at all.
  • Idiot Plot:
    • The episode "Zach And The Alien Invaders" is easily the biggest offender of this in the entire series, considering that the whole premise is about Zach convincing the turtles that he's seen aliens, and robots, and other dangerous things that ended up being harmless, and getting in trouble for it. Because it's not like the turtles have ever fought aliens or robots before, except you know like every episode where Krang and Shredder attack the turtles with the Foot Soldier robots which happens on a regular basis! Later on Zach does see aliens that are trying to take over the world, and helps the turtles stop them, but the episode basically sends the message that "it's OK not to listen to kids". To be fair the episode was trying to go for a "Boy Who Cried Wolf" type of Aesop, but didn't pull it off very well.
    • The episode "Leonardo Is Missing" also falls under this, which is lampshaded by Splinter at the end, but unlike the first example, this episode is actually still fun to watch.
    Splinter: Next time you leave, Leonardo, make sure to leave a note.
    • Any time Shredder and Krang rely on Bebop and Rocksteady for a plan but special mention goes to "Super Rocksteady and Mighty Bebop" when a plan to mind control New York failed because Bebop and Rocksteady's first attempt to install the machine damaged it causing it to malfunction. When Krang notices it's not working right his response, is to send them up to fix, rather than go himself or send Foot Soldiers, or anything else not effected by the machine. After he asks them how many more times they intend to fail, they state they will do so lots more.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Baxter Stockman. Starting out he was just trying to legally make money off his inventions and the Shredder offered him work, but then tried to murder him to keep him from saying anything about his plans, and after being rescued by the turtles he's left tied to a telephone pull. In Season 2 he's shanghaied by Shredder into helping him again and the abuse he takes eventually turns him into a full blown villain and he's turned a mutant fly. Later he tries to make himself human again and the turtles stop him for no good reason by kicking him into a dimensional portal where he's apparently eaten by a spider monster. He's one of the least evil villains on the show but the only one with a (heavily implied) canon death.
  • Les Yay: Some fans see this with April and Irma, some even like to insist that Irma wants more than just friendship from April; and Irma always clinging to, or sometimes being protective of April kind of eggs this on.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "Cowabunga!" and "It's Pizza Time!"
    • "Turtle Power!"
    • "Turtles Fight With Honor!"
    • "Go Green Machine!"
    • "SUPER IRMA!"
    • The theme song.
    • The Technodrome will definitely be one of the first things to come up in your mind when you think about this show.
    • Recently, posting weird and Off-Model screenshots from the show has become popular on 4chan, several of which have become minor memes of their own.
    • "...All on account of those turtles!"
      • "Those blasted turtles!!"
    • "I crave pizza no more."
    • "Tonight I dine on turtle soup!"
    • "MY PRECIOUS POWER RING.....GOOOOONE FOREVER....."
  • Moe: Irma. A good portion of the fanbase thinks she's cute as a button.
  • Moral Event Horizon: See the right section of this page for the examples.
  • Narm: During the early seasons, they weren't in the territory of Family-Friendly Firearms yet (being in syndication instead of a network), but it seems that somewhere along the line communications got muddled, and as a result, you'd hear a line like "the bullets aren't stopping them", while the guns being fired are shooting lasers!
  • Narm Charm: The series had a good amount of this, and made it work well.
  • Nausea Fuel: The Turtles' ...''interesting'..' tastes in pizza.
  • Never Live It Down: Many fans are still ticked off about Shredder's destruction of the Channel 6 building.
  • Older Than They Think: When most people think of a morally ambiguous ninja girl with a tempestuous and sometimes romantic relationship with Leonardo, Karai always comes to mind and not Lotus Blossom from this show. Lotus, in fact, predates Karai, having been introduced in 1989 whereas Karai only came about in 1992.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Dregg wasn't really a bad villain by his own terms, but the mere fact that he wasn't Shredder ensured he never became popular. It didn't help that Shredder had become genuinely threatening again during his last season before being replaced by Dregg. Not even being voiced by Tony Jay could save Dregg from the Scrappy Heap.
    • Carter, considering he sort of replaced April in season nine (though she would take the role back in season ten).
  • Rooting for the Empire: As Shredder, Krang, Bebop and Rocksteady have what many fans agree as the funniest scenes in the show it can hard not to root for them. Shredder in particular since he never catches a break even when he wins.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Zach and Howie.
      • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: However, Zach did have his share of valuable moments like when he saved April's life in "Bebop And Rocksteady Conquer The Universe" and the turtles' lives in "Night Of The Rogues", which both earned him a good amount of fans.
    • Carter has a few fans, but most of them agree that he doesn't really belong on a show like TMNT.
    • Burne and Vernon aren't well liked either. Especially for being huge selfish jerks and constantly bad mouthing the turtles, even when they saved their lives.
      • Though they were intended as ineffectual antagonists, so it would be more weird if people actively liked them. Considering they're both chew toys as well, Vernon especially, it's more of a case of Intended Audience Reaction.
    • Most Filler Villains, due to being unoriginal (almost all of them are gangsters or mad scientists, and nearly identical ones at that), and the fact that they just aren't as interesting as Shredder or Krang.
    • Dregg isn't a bad character, but the fact that he replaced Shredder as Big Bad doomed him to be this.
  • Seasonal Rot: Some fans agree that this happened during Season Eight, when the sky was permanently red and the show took on a Darker and Edgier tone.
    • Having said that, Season Eight isn't entirely without its fans; a few consider it to have struck a good balance between the show's original tone and that of the comic book. In addition, Shredder became a serious threat again for the first time since the very beginning of the show. However, fewer people are willing to defend Seasons Nine and Ten, when Lord Dregg replaced Shredder and Krang. Though the 3-part "Return of Shredder and Krang" arc in the middle of season 10 does have its fans, with many feeling that it served as a better finale to the show than the actual series finale.
    • A good chunk of Season Four (and some of Five) is considered this by some fans (though following seasons improved), due to Flanderization and Villain Decay, extremely goofy/borderline nonsensical plots, bad/inconsistent animation, weak one-shot bad guys, and lack of action scenes. Proof that Up to Eleven isn't always a good thing.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: This probably started most modern-day cartoon cliches.
  • So Bad, It's Good: Even the worst episodes are strangely enjoyable. This is probably the show's greatest strength.
  • So Okay, It's Average:
    • Season Two is widely considered this: not as good as the short first season preceding it or the long third season following it, but perfectly watchable regardless. The "Eye of Sarnath" Story Arc and "Enter The Fly' are considered its highlights.
    • How a lot of fans feel about Season Five. It has some of the series' best ("My Brother, the Bad Guy") but it also has some of the series' worst ("Donatello's Badd Time" and "Zack and the Alien Invaders")
  • Squick:
    • Those goddamn pizza toppings. This may be why the Red Sky seasons did away with them completely.
    • Baxter's mutation into a fly.
    • The turtles' mutation in season 9.
    • The sewers. Lampshaded constantly.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!/Broken Base: There are many mixed feelings about the altered theme during the red-sky seasons (and about how changed the red-sky seasons were themselves).
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Mona Lisa.
    • Howie, despite being The Scrappy, had some cute scenes with Irma, and the idea of her having a steady boyfriend is admittely interesting. Too bad everything else about him was so annoying.
    • Lotus Blossom. Her second and final appearance is considered Fanon Discontinuity due to being such a disappointing farewell to her.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • "Night Of The Living Rogues". Fed up with Bebop and Rocksteady's incompetence, Shredder gathers a large group of the Turtle's previous enemies to defeat them once and for all. The Turtles are completely helpless against the assembled baddies. So will this cause the the Turtles to call on all of their allies, like The Mutant Frogs, Usagi, Mondo Gecko and Mona Lisa leading to a huge brawl between the groups? Nnnnnope. Instead, the Turtles just call on Casey Jones and Zach the "fifth turtle" for back up, and the villains run away at the end when it's pointed out that they're outnumbered. Keep in mind that one of those people is a kid, and the other two are April and Irma.
    • The subplot of "Krangenstein Lives!!" Shredder loses his memory. Pretty interesting right? You'd think they'd go for something different but... he's still evil, he just can't remember his name. There are so many different ways that could have gone.
    • The seventh season had an episode called "Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter", where an eccentric billionaire who is secretly a mutant slug plotting to take over the city named A. J. Howard hires bounty hunter Dirk Savage to capture all the mutants in New York. Considering the episode's focus on mutants and the large number of mutants the show had, you'd expect fan favorites like Mona Lisa or Muckman to return, but this was not the case. While Mondo Gecko and the Punk Frogs Napoleon Bonafrog and Genghis Frog returned in this episode, the only other mutants that appear in the episode are Tokka and Rahzar from the second movie and a bunch of unnamed mutants created solely for this episode. It's still a good episode, just an example of how good things could have been better.
    • Fans who dislike Bebop and Rocksteady often wish Baxter stayed The Dragon to Shredder in Season Two.
    • "Attack of The 50-Foot Irma!": The "Giant Shredder" plotline is dropped near-instantly despite how cool it would have been for the Turtles to fight him.
  • Ugly Cute:
    • Baxter's half-fly form. D'awww. Strange, considering he was an apparently middle aged man beforehand.
      • Some actually find his human self to be adorable, strangely enough.
    • The Shredder as a fly. His voice is freaking adorable.
    • Krang, sometimes.
  • Uncanny Valley: Some episodes had a very rubbery, constantly-changing art style which more often than not resulted in some really creepy faces and expressions.
    • Krang himself, if you think about how he would look in real life.
      • His first appearance in "Enter The Shredder", where he's slimy and pulsating.
    • Some of the Red Sky-era villains/mutants. One of the most memorable is Doomquest, a giant-like conqueror of worlds with very small eyes.
    • The turtles' mutant forms in Season 9.
    • The rubber face-masks the turtles use for some of their disguises.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic: Baxter Stockman seemed to be more concerned with becoming human again than being genuinely evil.
  • Villain Decay: Shredder and his cohorts. A case of Tropes Are Not Bad, as they became a lot more funny and unique. And reversed in the "Red Sky" seasons which saw Shredder become much more competent and dangerous.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Lampshaded in Turtles Forever.
    2003 Raphael: Was that a mutant... banana?!
    2003 Michelangelo: This dimension is seriously messed up.

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