Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a animated television series set in New York City. The first episode aired on February 8, 2003, and it marked Fox reviling the franchise as a Saturday morning cartoon. They were helped by 4Kids Entertainment. It is part of 4Kids TV (formerly known as the Fox Box). The 2003 animated series is produced by Mirage Studios, which owns a third of the rights to the show.
The WB Proposal
Before creating the current 2003 series, Mirage pitched an idea for a different series to Warner Bros. The series would be aired either on The WB or Cartoon Network. The style of the art from the proposal was more cartoony than the current show's style. Ultimately, Warner Bros. passed on the show, making way for the current show on Fox.
The 2003 series is quite different from the 1987 series. While it's still appropriate for children, like the 1987 series, it has the darker, edgier feel of the original comic books. Many of the recurring characters and locations, including Krang, Bebop, Rocksteady, Dimension X, and the Technodrome, are missing from the newer series because they weren't in the original comics. The Shredder is much more menacing than his earlier, bumbling incarnation. The series also has an overarching storyline, with each episode contributing a bit to the story.
In the 2003 series, the Turtles personalities have been altered to match their comic book counterparts more closely. The Turtles are more fleshed-out, more sensitive, and share a stronger family bond. Leonardo is more skillful and meditative. In addition, his strained relationship with Raphael has become an important plot element. Raphael has become angrier and more emotional. He is shown fighting with Leonardo, but also shows that he cares deeply for his family and friends. Casey Jones, who was a minor character in the 1987 series, has been given a bigger role. He is also shown with romantic feelings toward April O'Neil. The Turtles old catch phrase, "Cowabunga," is the subject of a few jokes.
The Turtles' master, Splinter, is shown to be a mutated rat. In the 1987 series, he was a mutated human. Baxter Stockman is an African-American like he was in the comics, instead of a Caucasian like he was in the 1987 cartoon. April works as a lab assistant and, later, owner of an antique shop, instead of an anchorwoman. She is also trained in Ninjitsu and can hold her own in a fight. Leatherhead is no longer depicted as an evil, Cajun crocodile. He is more intelligent and peaceful in the 2003 series.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles:
- Master Splinter
- April O'Neil
- Casey Jones
- Ancient One
- Hamato Yoshi
- Ninja Tribunal
- Justice Force:
- Professor Honeycutt/Fugitoid
- August O'Neil
- Miyamoto Usagi
- Ultimate Daimyo
- Lord Simultaneous
- Foot Clan:
- Baxter Stockman
- Agent Bishop
- Dr. Chaplin
- Purple Dragons
- Dr. Malignus
- Abigail Finn
- General Blanque
- Prime Leader Zanramon
- Ultimate Drako
- King of Thieves
- Savanti Romero
- Rat King
- Tengu Shredder
- Cyber Shredder
The coloring of various characters is different in the 2003 series. Splinter is now gray rather than brown and his robes are brown instead of purple. April now has long, red hair instead of short, brown hair. Each of the Turtles has a unique skin color; in the original series, they all had the same skin color. In the new animated series, Leonardo is a basic green (much like the 1987 original), Raphael is dark green, Michelangelo is dark green-blue, and Donatello is a yellowish olive-green. This is also different from the toyline, which has kept the same skin tones. The Turtles weapons now have the handles wrapped in each turtle's favorite color, unlike the 1987 series, in which the weapons were all wrapped in white. The turtle's bands on their elbows, knees, and wrist are now brown, instead of their favorite colors like in the 1987 series. The belts have also been change; they have a knot instead of a buckle with each turtle's initial.
The culminating story lines and story arcs were unexpected changes. The direction of the storyline, revealing a new origin for the Shredder, was a result of Peter Laird's input. The decision sparked a lot of controversy among fans.
The 2003 series received negative criticism from fans of the 1987 series. Popular criticisms include less likable characters and a less exciting theme song. The video games based on the 2003 series have also received similar criticism. However, fans of the comic books have enjoyed the series due to it's similarity to the Mirage comics, the increased character development, more consistent animation, daring plot twists, and consistent story arc.
During the fourth season, the shows theme song was slightly altered. The basic music remained, but the tempo was increased. The lyrics were altered to include a description of each turtle as well as identify the new villain, since the Shredder had been defeated. Also, the line "Watch out for Shredder!" was changed to "We shredded Shredder!" The line was changed back when Karai took up the mantle of the Shredder.
Fifth Season & Fast Forward
After the fourth season, the 2003 series shifted to a new story line called "Fast Forward." The Turtles are transported to the year 2105 by a accident caused by Cody Jones, the great grandson of Casey Jones and April O'Neil. The series premiered on July 29, 2006.
Originally, the fifth season was supposed to air. It was going to continue the Ninja Tribunal story arc and thirteen were completed. They were shelved in favor of Fast Forward, but were made available through 4Kids' on demand channel on August 9, 2006. They have since been pulled, but are still available on the 4kids website.
Following the October 2009 buyout of the franchise by Viacom/Nickelodeon, it was announced that 4Kids had the rights to broadcast the series up until August 31, 2010. Following this date, Nickelodeon is given full broadcast rights.
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Fast Forward
- TMNT: Back to the Sewer
- List of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2003) episodes