Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 TV series)

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Also known as
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Tribunal (season 5)
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward (season 6)
  • TMNT: Back to the Sewer (season 7)
Based onCharacters created
by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Developed byLloyd Goldfine
Directed by
  • Chuck Patton (Season 1 and 2)
  • Roy Burdine (Season 3-7)
  • Susan Blu (Voice Director) (Seasons 1-5)
Voices of
Theme music composerNorman J. Grossfeld
Russell Velazquez
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons7
No. of episodes155 (List of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Gary Richardson
  • Frederick U. Fierst
  • Alfred R. Khan
  • Norman J. Grossfeld
  • Tom Kenney
ProducerJoEllyn Marlow
Running time21–23 minutes
Production companiesMirage Studios
4Kids Entertainment
Dong Woo Animation
Original release
NetworkFox (season 1–6)
The CW (season 7)
ReleaseFebruary 8, 2003 (2003-02-08) –
May 23, 2009 (2009-05-23)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987–1996)
Turtles Forever (2009)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012-2017)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (also known as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Ninja Tribunal, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward, and TMNT: Back to the Sewer for the fifth, sixth, and seventh and final seasons of the series) is an American animated television series developed by Lloyd Goldfine. It is the second animated series and third television series in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise. The series premiered on February 8, 2003, as part of Fox's FoxBox programming block (later known as 4Kids TV) and ended on February 28, 2009. A sequel film, Turtles Forever, serving as both the series finale of the series and a crossover with the 1987–1996 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series (via the plot element of the multiverse), was released on November 21, 2009.

The series was announced on May 7, 2002. It was co-produced by 4Kids Entertainment (as its first in-house animated production) and franchise creators Mirage Studios,[1] which co-owned rights to the show,[2] with animation provided by the studio Dong Woo.[3]

The series ran for 155 episodes over seven seasons. For its final season in 2008, the show moved from Fox to The CW. 4Kids also licensed the first 40 episodes to Cartoon Network in 2003, and Cartoon Network aired the series until 2007.[4] As of 2024, Nickelodeon now owns the rights to the 2003 series of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, along with the original 1987 TV series and the 2012 TV series.

Series overview[edit]

Seasons 1–4[edit]

Compared to the predominantly comedic approach of the 1987 TV series, the 2003 series more closely matches the serious tone of the original comics, with a greater emphasis on action and themes of familial bonds. The series adapts a large scope of story arcs from the comics, with the Turtles' adventures combining elements of both fantasy and science fiction.

The first season starts with the Turtles' Lair being destroyed by Mousers, robots made by Baxter Stockman. On the hunt for a new place to live, the Turtles go topside and run into the Purple Dragons, who they later discover is led by Hun. The Turtles eventually get to the source of the Mousers and rescue April O'Neil, who after this becomes the Turtles' most trusted friend. Halfway through the season, Leonardo is approached by the Foot Clan leader Oroku Saki, later learned to be The Shredder, who funded Baxter's Mouser project and is Hun's master. The Shredder attacks the Turtles and burns down April's home, forcing them, April, and Casey Jones to flee the city. When the Turtles return to New York they confront the Shredder once more and Master Splinter goes missing, leading to the introduction of the Utroms, an alien race secretly living on Earth.

Season Two starts with the brothers being sent into space in the middle of a war between two alien races, the Triceraton Republic and the Federation. Upon returning to Earth, the Turtles learn from the Utroms the origins of the Shredder. This season also introduces Karai, Shredder's daughter and pupil, when she comes to take control of New York during a gang war. The season ends in a four-parter with the Turtles and Splinter taking part in the Battle Nexus tournament.

In Season Three, the Triceratons and Federation bring their war to Earth with the Turtles having to help end the war to save their planet. Agent John Bishop, leader of the Earth Protection Force, is introduced as an independent antagonist fighting both the Turtles and the Foot. The Turtles meet Renet, an apprentice timestress, which leads to them being scattered into different worlds/timelines. The Turtles and their allies then confront Shredder for a final battle when he attempts to leave Earth to wage war upon the cosmos.

Season Four sees the Turtles recovering from their final battle with Shredder, particularly Leonardo who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Karai takes leadership of the Foot, Hun leaves to reform the Purple Dragons into a powerful crime syndicate, and Bishop stages a faux alien invasion to secure funding for the EPF. However, lingering consequences from Bishop's engineered invasion caused an outbreak of mutations in New York.

Ninja Tribunal[edit]

Season Five introduces the Ninja Tribunal, a council of ninjitsu demigods who conscript the Turtles as acolytes to protect the world from the original Shredder, a dark evil coming back into being who threatens to set the world into darkness. During this season, the Turtles go through many trials and tribulations on their journey to become the best fighters they can be, eventually tapping into ancient energy to defeat the original Shredder. This would be the last to use the original character designs and animation style with its plot concluding the series' main storyline.

Fast Forward[edit]

The sixth season, subtitled "Fast Forward", would retool the series with a new art style and comedic tone. The season's plot focuses on the Turtles being transported about 100 years into the future to the year 2105; where they meet and befriend Cody Jones, the great-grandson of April and Casey. They must also contend with futurist enemies like Sh'Okanabo and his minion Viral as well as dealing with the activities of Cody's greedy and ambitious uncle Darius Dunn.

Back to the Sewer[edit]

The series would conclude in the seventh and final season, titled "TMNT: Back to the Sewer", while sporting another redesign for the entire cast based on the designs from the 2007 TMNT film. After returning to the present day, the Turtles must battle a cybernetic version of the Shredder which was the result of Viral merging with the data of the exiled Utrom Shredder. There is also a running subplot centered on the engagement and wedding of April and Casey.

Turtles Forever[edit]

The 2009 television film serves as the actual four-part finale to the 2003 series and centers around the Turtles encountering their 1987 animated counterparts, who have accidentally been transported to the 2003 Ninja Turtles' reality. To make matters worse, the 80's Shredder and Krang as well as their minions Bebop and Rocksteady free Ch'rell from his imprisonment as the redesigned Hun and Karai realign themselves with the released Ch'rell.


Leonardo fighting the Foot Clan's ninjas in the season 1 episode "Shredder Strikes Back: Part One".


  • Leonardo (voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas) is the oldest brother and the leader of the team who wields two Katana.
  • Raphael (voiced by Greg Abbey) is the most hot-blooded brother and the muscle of the team. He wields two Sais as weapons.
  • Donatello (voiced by Sam Riegel) is the most rational brother and the brains of the team who is in charge of creating their gadgets. He wields a bo staff as his weapon.
  • Michelangelo (voiced by Wayne Grayson) is the youngest brother and the jokester of the team. He loves comic books and sometimes disguises himself as the superhero Turtle Titan. His weapon of choice is Nunchucks.
  • Splinter (voiced by Darren Dunstan) is the master and father of the Turtles who finds them prior to their mutation and trains them in Ninjutsu. Prior to his mutation, he was the pet of Hamato Yoshi and learned ninjutsu by mimicking his moves.


  • April O'Neil (voiced by Veronica Taylor) is a human who used to be Dr. Stockman's assistant, but after learning his ulterior motives is saved by the Turtles and becomes their friend.
  • Casey Jones (voiced by Marc Thompson) is a human whose father's shop was set on fire by the Purple Dragon and they later killed his father. He became a vigilante to fight them but has anger issues, but manages to tune it down after meeting and befriending the Turtles.
  • Mortu (voiced by Dan Green) is a benevolent Utrom and an ally of the Turtles. He was the captain of the ship which was transporting the imprisoned Ch'rell on board and became stranded on Earth with his fellow Utroms when Ch'rell escaped and caused them to crash. He later met Hamato Yoshi and recruited him to become a guardian of the Utroms. He later saved the Turtles from their final battle with the Utrom Shredder and had him stand trial for his crimes.
  • Ninja Tribunal is a group of four ninja masters. They were once five warriors who defeated the Tengu Shredder, but one of them, Oroku Saki, made a deal with the demon and allowed his spirit to inhabit his body in exchange for power. The other four traveled across the world and trained their body and spirit to counter their old comrade and ultimately succeed in sealing him away. Afterwards, they tried to prevent his return and passed their knowledge of martial arts, which later came to be known as Ninjutsu to others.
    • Kon Shisho (voiced by David Zen Mansley) is a member of the Ninja Tribunal and the master of spirit.
    • Juto Shisho (voiced by Marc Thompson) is a member of the Ninja Tribunal and the master of weapons.
    • Chikara Shisho (voiced by Lenore Zann) is a member of the Ninja Tribunal with bandaged feet and legs who is the master of strength.
    • Hisomi Shisho is the largest member of the Ninja Tribunal and the master of stealth who is always silent.
  • The Ancient One (voiced by David Chen) is a student of the Ninja Tribunal and the master and father figure of Hamato Yoshi who joins them on their request.
  • The Acolytes are the students of the Ninja Tribunal that they seek to train and prepare them for the threat of the Tengu Shredder. They are the Ninja Turtles and four other humans.
    • Faraji Nagala (voiced by David Moo) is an Acolyte who bonds with Leonardo.
    • Adam McKay (voiced by Britton Herring) is an Acolyte who bonds with Donatello.
    • Joei Reynard (voiced by Rebecca Soler) is an Acolyte who bonds with Raphael.
    • Tora Yoshida (voiced by David Chen) is an Acolyte who bonds with Michelangelo.
  • Cody Jones (voiced by Christopher C. Adams) is the great-grandson of April and Casey and the heir of the O'Neil Tech. He is the Turtles' friend and guide in the year 2105 during the Fast Forward season. After his Time Portal accidentally brings the Turtles to his time, he helps them to become accustomed to the Earth's new way of life while trying to rebuild the Time Window and send them home.
  • Serling (voiced by Marc Thompson) is Cody's loyal robot servant who is usually annoyed by the Turtles, he later gains a battle mode known as Turtle X which Cody can control. When the Turtles are finally going back to their own time, he is infected by Viral and goes with them and later helps the Turtles defeat the Cyber Shredder.


  • The Foot Clan is a criminal organization of ninjas dating back to the ancient Japan.
    • Oroku Saki/The Shredder (voiced by Scottie Ray) is the archenemy of the Turtles and Splinter and serves as the main antagonist of the series. Several individuals have assumed the mantle of Shredder and in a possible future, all of them are engaged in a war for control of New York City.
      • Ch'rell, also known as the Utrom Shredder, is an evil Utrom warlord who masquerades as a benevolent Japanese philanthropist. He has been stranded on earth for centuries, is the founder of the Foot Clan and indirectly had a hand in the Turtles and Splinter's creation.
      • The Tengu Shredder from ancient Japan was a demon who merged with the soul of his slayer, Oroku Saki and became known as the original Shredder, with Ch'rell usurping his identity to gain followers.
      • The Cyber Shredder is an artificial intelligence copy of Ch'rell that merged with Viral.
    • Karai (voiced by Karen Neill) is Utrom Shredder's adopted daughter and his second in command from the end of season 2, replacing Hun. Due to her sense of honor, she is usually conflicted with orders she receives from the Shredder. After his defeat, she takes control of the Foot and becomes the next Shredder, seeking revenge on the Turtles for her father's exile. After being forced to team up with the Turtles against the Tengu Shredder, she disbands the Foot and declares a truce with them.
    • The Foot Mystics, also known as the Heralds of the Shredder, are five mystic beings, each presenting one of the five elements. They are the servants of the Tengu Shredder and have also served Utrom Shredder and Karai through an artifact known as the Heart of Tengu. After they manipulated the Turtles and Agent Bishop to steal and destroy it, they were freed and set out to revive their master.
      • The Metal Foot Mystic (voiced by Sean Schemmel) is the leader of the Foot Mystics who possesses ferrokinesis.
      • The Earth Foot Mystic (voiced by Sean Schemmel) is a Foot Mystic who possesses geokinesis.
      • The Fire Foot Mystic (voiced by Sean Schemmel) is a Foot Mystic who possesses pyrokinesis.
      • The Water Foot Mystic (voiced by Brian Maillard) is a Foot Mystic who possesses aquakinesis.
      • The Wind Foot Mystic (voiced by Brian Maillard) is a Foot Mystic who possesses aerokinesis.
    • Master Khan (voiced by Sean Schemmel) is a high-ranking Foot Ninja and the first lieutenant of the Cyber Shredder who was rebuilding the Foot Clan for whenever he would return. It was revealed in an alternative future that he had destroyed the Turtles.
    • The Foot Ninjas are the common foot soldiers of the Foot Clan.
  • The Purple Dragons are a street gang that is associated with Foot Clan.
    • Hun (voiced by Greg Carey) is the leader of the Purple Dragon and Shredder's second in command until the end of season 2. he was responsible for burning down the shop of Casey's father, and is implied to have killed him, as such became his archenemy. He was also going to kill Hamato Yoshi but Splinter left a scar on his face. Prior to discovering that he is an Utrom, Hun was very loyal to the Shredder and would do anything to gain his favor. After Ch'rell's defeat, Hun returns to the Purple Dragon and turns it from a street gang into a crime syndicate.
  • Baxter Stockman (voiced by Scott Williams) is a scientist working for the Foot clan and the Shredder. After suffering severe punishments at the hands of the Shredder, he starts to scheme against him and after his defeat, joins the Earth Protection Force and Agent Bishop.
  • Agent John Bishop (voiced by David Zen Mansley) is the leader of the Earth Protection Force (E.P.F). He was abducted and experimented on by aliens back in 1815 as such he deems any extraterrestrial as a threat, becoming a deadly adversary of the Turtles. After being saved by an alien during a failed experiment, he starts to have second thoughts about them and decides to seek allies instead of enemies which leads to him ultimately becoming President of the Pan Galactic Alliance (P.G.A) and an ally of the Turtles in the Fast Forward season.
  • Darius Dun (voiced by David Zen Mansley) is Cody's uncle and guardian and one of the main antagonists of the Fast Forward season. He has taken control of O'Neil Tech and uses it as a cover for his criminal activities which include making weapons and selling them in the black market. He first has a race of endangered warriors known as Inuwashi Gunjin as his slaves and after losing them are provided with the dark counterparts of the Turtles known as Dark Turtles.
  • Sh'Okanabo (voiced by Sean Schemmel) is an alien Kanabo warlord and one of the main antagonists of the Fast Forward season. He seeks to unleash the Day of Awakening on Earth, which is turning the inhabitants of Earth into Kanabo Drones, and have his race thrive on Earth until its resources are finished but finds the Earth's sun as an obstacle. To fulfill his plans, he teams up with Darius Dun and gives him the Dark Turtles, monsters that he created by combining the Turtles' DNA with that of Kanabo DNA, and in return receives the blueprints of the Time Window.
    • Viral (voiced by Eva Kaminsky) is a sentient computer virus and Sh'Okanabo's assistant. She aids her master on his quest to bring the Day of Awakening but is ultimately torn to bits by Cody and Serling. Viral returns and uses Serling to get revenge on the Turtles as she goes to their time. Viral accidentally releases the Cyber Shredder from his data storage and becomes a part of him.
  • The Dark Turtles are deformed clones of the Ninja Turtles who were created by Sh'Okanabo and controlled by Darius Dun. They were created by combining the DNA of the Ninja Turtles and the DNA of a Kanabo.
    • Dark Leonardo (voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas) is a blue-skinned clone of Leonardo who leads the Dark Turtles and eventually gains a mindset similar to original Leo.
    • Dark Donatello (voiced by Sam Riegel) is a purple-skinned clone of Donatello with wrist guards and a long tail who is the Dark Turtle's residential mad scientist.
    • Dark Raphael (voiced by Greg Abbey) is a red-skinned clone of Raphael with twin talon knuckle dusters who is the most aggressive of the group.
    • Dark Michelangelo (voiced by Wayne Grayson) is a yellow-skinned clone of Michelangelo with orange eyes and a long tongue.


  • Hamato Yoshi (voiced by Eric Stuart) is Splinter's owner and a guardian of the Utroms. he was once a homeless boy along with his friend Yukio Mashimi, but both were adopted and trained by the Ancient One and became guardians of the Utroms after learning their secrets. He and Mashimi were in love with Ancient One's daughter Tang Shen who was in love with Yoshi, causing Mashimi to become jealous, murder her, and join the Foot. Yoshi avenges Tang Shen and kills Mashimi for his betrayal. He later moves to New York along with the Utroms, where he's captured and tortured by the Foot Ninjas to reveal the Utrom's location and was murdered by the Shredder when he wouldn't talk. Afterwards, Splinter leaves and eventually finds the Turtles.
  • Starlee Hambrath (voiced by Amanda Brown) is a bright and highly intelligent O'Neil Tech intern from the planet Omatran and a friend of Cody and the Turtles in the Fast Forward season. She is shown to have a crush on Cody.
  • Torbin Zixx (voiced by David Elliott) is an intergalactic smuggler and mercenary who usually outsmarts the Turtles and uses them for his own end either as an ally or an enemy.
  • Sarge (voiced by Ted Lewis and Brian Mallard) is an old police officer who usually appears in the aftermath of the Turtles' adventures. His appearance is similar to the franchise's co-creater Peter Laird.
  • Frank (voiced by Pete Capella) is a young cop who is Sarge's partner, his name is only revealed in the Dreamwave comic adaptation of the series. His appearance is similar to the franchise's co-creater Kevin Eastman.


  • Susan Blu – Voice Director (seasons 1–5)
  • Roy Burdine – Voice Director (seasons 6–7)
  • Darren Dunstan – ADR Voice Director


In May 2002, 4Kids Entertainment announced to produce a new animated Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series for the FoxBox programming block to air on Saturday mornings.[1] The series was renewed for a second season in the summer of 2003; the third in May 2004; the fourth in April 2005. The "Ninja Tribunal" was originally intended to be the fifth and final season of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, but the schedule was changed to try to increase interest in the series, and "Fast Forward" became the fifth season. The "Ninja Tribunal" episodes were scheduled to be released on DVD sometime in early 2007, but 4Kids Entertainment later removed them from their release schedule and the season was promoted in commercials as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Lost Episodes.

Series development was headed by producer Lloyd Goldfine, who had known the Ninja Turtles since the original Mirage Studios comics and declared he "loved the charm of the cartoon", but much preferred the idea of turtles raised to be ninja assassins, and was interested in using said plot while also being family-friendly. Once he heard 4Kids had an interest in the franchise, Goldfine suggested going straight to Mirage for guidance, and then he and other company representatives went to the company's headquarters in Northampton, Massachusetts. Turtles co-creator Peter Laird and Mirage CEO Gary Richardson approved their pitch, and Mirage remained very close during development, with Laird reading every outline and draft of the script, and approving most of the character designs.[5]

Home video[edit]

The series was initially released on DVD by FUNimation Entertainment and 4Kids Home Video in various compilation releases, with pre-2005 releases also available on VHS.

On July 25, 2023, Nickelodeon and Paramount Home Entertainment released the entirety of the 2003 series in a single box set.[6] In addition, the digital versions for all seven seasons are presently available as of May 29, 2023, either individually or in a complete series set.[7]

Broadcast history[edit]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles originally aired in the US on Fox for its first six seasons from February 8, 2003, to October 27, 2007. It then aired on The CW for reruns of its first six seasons, its seventh and final season, and Turtles Forever from September 13, 2008, to February 28, 2009.

On November 24, 2003, 4Kids announced that they had licensed the first 40 episodes of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Cartoon Network.[4] 4Kids' CEO, Al Kahn, said he was "pleased to be able to broadcast the series with Cartoon Network. Now that we're adding the Cartoon Network audience, we're certain that many more kids across the country will become part of the growing craze and get 'Turtle-ized.'"[4] The show aired on Cartoon Network until March 24, 2007.

Jetix Europe handled pay-TV rights to the series.

Turtles Forever also aired on Nickelodeon on August 24, 2010. The show was eventually broadcast on Nicktoons from 2014 to 2015.

The show (excluding season 5 and Turtles Forever) aired in the Republic of Ireland on RTE Two from September 17, 2003, to 2009.[8]

The series is currently available for streaming on Paramount+,[9] and Pluto TV as part of their "Totally Turtles" channel, which the latter also includes the 2012 series.[10]

Critical reception[edit]

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles received widespread acclaim and was commercially successful throughout its first five seasons, receiving wide critical praise for the faithfulness to the source material, the storytelling, character development, action, darker tone, humor, the theme song, background music, voice acting, animation and appeal to all ages.[citation needed] It also garnered high ratings for a 4Kids Saturday morning cartoon and shortly after the premiere became the highest-rated and most popular children's television show in the US. Unleash the Fanboy praised the series for its connection to the comic books in story and tone, and it helps that co-creator Peter Laird was closely involved with the series, making sure things stayed on the right path.[citation needed]

4Kids was known for its controversial history of censoring anime, but the series was acclaimed for trying to follow the dark and gritty tone of the original Mirage comics.[11] However, due to 4Kids having to keep their ratings under PG, the last two seasons of series, Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer, was met with negative reception from fans and critics alike.

Several of the characters introduced in the series would later appear in subsequent publications of the TMNT franchise. Hun was introduced into the Mirage Comics with the issue Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume 2 No. 56 in March 2009,[12] and also appears as a recurring figure in the IDW comic series and in the 2012 animated series, as does Agent Bishop. Angel, Ch'rell, Darius Dun, and the Street Phantoms would also be featured in the IDW comics, and the Triceraton Mozar as an antagonist during season 4 of the 2012 series.


  1. ^ a b "4kids To Produce And Launch New Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Series" (PDF). 4kidsentertainment.com. May 7, 2002. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 25, 2006. Retrieved August 22, 2016.
  2. ^ "4Kids Entertainment Annual Report 2002" (PDF). March 31, 2003. p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on February 8, 2006. Retrieved August 25, 2016.
  3. ^ "TMNT – Dongwoo Animation Official Site". Dongwoo Animation Co. Archived from the original on December 19, 2008. Retrieved May 1, 2008.
  4. ^ a b c "4Kids Entertainment licenses Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Cartoon Network" (PDF). 4kidsentertainment.com. November 24, 2003. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 24, 2005.
  5. ^ NYCC2009: TMNT Animation: 25 and Going Strong
  6. ^ "'Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) - the Ultimate Collection' Leaps Onto DVD on July 25".
  7. ^ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003), The Complete Series
  8. ^ RTÉ Guide.   September 13–19, 2003 edition and subsequent dates.
  9. ^ "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles". Paramount+. February 7, 2003. Retrieved March 4, 2021.
  10. ^ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Is Streaming Live On Pluto TV
  11. ^ Patrick Coakley (September 24, 2014). "Why Does No One Talk About the 2003 Ninja Turtles". Unleasth the Fanboy. Retrieved January 15, 2017.
  12. ^ "Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Volume Two #56". Miragelicensing. March 2009. Retrieved February 3, 2018.

External links[edit]

Quotations related to Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003 TV series) at Wikiquote