Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Season 1

8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 9/10

Closer to the comic book version of the characters, strong animation

Hard to find



I love being a Turtle!

Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Raphael aren’t your average teens.  From an early age they have been trained in the ancient arts of combat and live in the sewers outside of human contact…they also happen to be mutated turtles.  With their master Splinter, a rat also mutated, the Turtles seek their origin.  When metal creatures called Mousers invade their home, the Turtles and Splinter find themselves on the run.  Saving a woman named April O’Neill, the Turtles find a new ally in her and a barebones superhero named Casey Jones.  As the Turtles fight the rise of a powerful ninja named Shredder, they might just find their origin in a group called TCRI.


Same old TMNT…new direction!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Season 1 aired from February 8, 2003 to November 1, 2003 on FOX.  The show was produced by Mirage Studios and 4Kids Entertainment.  The first two seasons of the series were released on DVD, but the DVDs are no longer available.

I loved the original TMNT series, but it wasn’t the comic book which was darker and more serious.  The Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic series had the Turtles (all wearing red) fighting and battling…not only villains like Shredder, but other worldly characters too.  This series follows closer to the plot of the comic with darker themes (but the Turtles do still keep their colors and personalities close to the original series).


It’s like Warhol…with Turtles

With a darker turn, I do find it grittier, but maybe not as much fun as the original series.  The fact that they are turtles (like the comic book) aren’t necessarily funny loses a bit one element of the story.  The series smartly mixes in “funny” episodes to keep the pace light, but those often leave me wanting the main plot instead of the stand-alone episodes.  I do feel however that stories often take too long to develop like the three part “Notes from the Underground” and “Return to New York” which go on too long.  It is fun to see “The King” episode which is a tribute to prolific comic book artist/creator Jack Kirby and has Donatello headed into an Asgard like world with him.


It is the comic version of Krang!

I think the animation is quite strong for the series.  It is a bit more experimental with different framework and different styles at points, but it is also smoother and cleaner than the original.  The great animation does help move the stories along.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was a great relaunch of a series that already had a long run.  I wish that all these episodes were readily available and hopefully with Nickelodeon now owning the rights to the Turtles, something can be done to get this fun series out for purchase.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Season 1 Complete Episode Guide:


“Things Change”

1.1       Things Change Airdate:  02/08/03

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles find themselves out of a home when strange metal creatures attack their lair.  Forced to go to the streets to find Splinter, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stop a bank robbery but encounter ninjas.  Splinter battles the metal creatures and searches for a new home for the Turtles.


“A Better Mousetrap”

1.2       A Better Mousetrap Airdate:  02/15/03

The Turtles move into their new tunnel and try to track the origin of the metal attackers.  The Turtles learn that a scientist named Baxter Stockman created the Mousers and question Stockman’s real motives.  When Stockman’s lab assistant April O’Neil discovers her boss’s secret, the Turtles must come to her rescue.


“Attack of the Mousers”

1.3       Attack of the Mousers Airdate:  02/22/03

April learns the origins of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Splinter, and the Turtles learn that Baxter has different plans for the Mousers.  As the Shredder pressures Stockman for results, the Turtles and April try to shut down Stockman once and for all.


“Meet Casey Jones”

1.4       Meet Casey Jones Airdate:  03/01/03

Raphael tries to deal with his anger and encounters Casey Jones who is angrier than him.  Michelangelo discovers a hidden door in the Turtles’ new sewer base and the Turtles question why it is there.  Casey reveals the reason behind his hatred of the Purple Dragons to Raphael, and Raphael warns him about the danger of not begin able to control his anger.



1.5       Nano Airdate:  03/08/03

A sentient nanobot escapes a lab and inhabits a charlatan toy robot seller’s robot product.  April meets April O’Neill when the Turtles help April move, and April and Casey find themselves at odd.  As the thief uses the nanobots, the nanobots begin to grow and spread…and the Turtles must stop them!


“Darkness on the Edge of Town”

1.6       Darkness on the Edge of Town Airdate:  03/15/03

A blackout hits part of the town, and the Turtles the Turtles find themselves in conflict with a number of ninjas.  As more blackouts strike, the Turtles sneak out of the sewers against Splinter’s orders to investigate the ninjas.  The Turtles discover the ninjas are working on something on the pier and try to shut them down…ending up with the Sword of Tengu.


“The Way of Invisibility”

1.7       The Way of Invisibility Airdate:  03/22/03

Casey reports to the Turtles that someone is leaving graffiti as a warning to the Turtles and that it also indicates the Sword of Tengu.  Baxter develops super Foot Tech Ninjas for Oroku Saki and Saki questions the Turtles’ past.


“Fallen Angel”

1.8       Fallen Angel Airdate:  03/29/03

Casey Jones’ attempt to liberate a young recruit named Angel from the Purple Dragon clan backfires and leads to his capture.  It is up to the Turtles and Angel to rescue him from a public fight.



1.9       Garbageman Airdate:  04/05/03

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles learn that homeless people are disappearing from the street and that someone called the Garbageman is responsible.  When they discover a huge garbage truck is taking people, the Turtles must find out why.


“The Shredder Strikes: Part 1”

1.10     The Shredder Strikes:  Part 1 Airdate:  04/12/03

Leonardo is criticized by Splinter for relying on his weapon and runs off.  Contacted by Oroku Saki, Leonardo is offered a position with Oroku Saki’s men.  Leonardo returns to the Turtles with the information, and Splinter tells the Turtle how Oroku Saki killed his master as the Shredder.  As the Turtles face off against the Foot, they are watched by an outside group that might become their allies.


“The Shredder Strikes: Part 2”

1.11     The Shredder Strikes:  Part 2 Airdate:  04/19/03

The Turtles reject Shredder’s offer to join his Foot soldiers and end up on the run as they work to defeat him.  With the Shredder as their enemy, a mysterious ninja ally might be the key to avenging Splinter’s master.


“The Unconvincing Turtle Titan”

1.12     The Unconvincing Turtle Titan Airdate:  05/03/03

Michelangelo decides to become the Turtle Titan so he can fight crime and finds himself on the case with Silver Sentry to stop Doctor Malignus.


“Notes from the Underground: Part 1”

1.13     Notes from the Underground:  Part 1 Airdate:  05/10/03

Donatello studies the crystals found in the tunnel and Michelangelo accidentally activates them.  The Turtles enter the tunnels to seek out a monster but discover a genetics base tied to the Foot.


“Notes from the Underground:  Part 2”

1.14     Notes from the Underground:  Part 2 Airdate:  05/17/03

The Turtles battle the genetically altered soldiers but discover that Quarry, Stonebiter, and Razorfist are victims of the Foot.  Forced to team-up, the Turtles journey deeper into the underground in search of more crystals to help Quarry, Stonebiter, and Razorfist.


“Notes from the Underground:  Part 3”

1.15     Notes from the Underground:  Part 3 Airdate:  05/24/03

Donatello’s activation of a secret door with one of the crystals leads to the Turtles and the Foot’s creatures to an underground city made up of the technology from the Turtle’s new headquarters.  As the Turtles are picked off one-by-one, the Turtles must find the origin of the crystals and the city.


“The King”

1.16     The King Airdate:  05/31/03

The Turtles are forced out of the lair by the Foot and back into April’s apartment.  Donatello discovers that April’s tenant Kirby is using a crystal that makes his cartoon drawings come to life.  Donatello and Kirby find a magical world through a portal where Kirby and Donatello find themselves fighting against enemy forces.



“The Shredder Strikes Back–Part 1”

1.17     The Shredder Strikes Back:  Part 1 Airdate:  06/07/03

Leonardo finds himself facing the Foot as he heads out on a training mission and fights for his life while the Turtles remain at April’s.


“The Shredder Strikes Back: Part 2”

1.18     The Shredder Strikes Back:  Part 2 Airdate:  06/14/03

The Turtles find Leonardo broken and beaten and learn that the Shredder has returned.  Attacked at April’s apartment, the Turtles are joined by Casey Jones in a battle to the finish with Shredder and the Foot.


“Tales of Leo”

1.19     Tales of Leo Airdate:  09/13/03

April’s store is destroyed, the Turtles are on the run, and Leonardo clings to life.  Casey takes the Turtles and April to his old family farm and the Turtles tell Leonardo stories to help bring him back from his injuries.  Baxter Stockman makes a power-play against Shredder.


“Monster Hunter”

1.20     The Monster Hunter Airdate:  09/20/03

The Turtles recover from Shredder’s attack at Casey’s farm and Leonardo tries to overcome his beating.  When Michelangelo is spotted by a neighbor, the monster hunters led by Abigail Finn come to find the Green Man of the Woods.


“Return to New York:  Part 1”

1.21     Return to New York:  Part 1 Airdate:  09/27/03

The Turtles are back in New York to stop the Shredder and learn that the Shredder thinks they are dead.  Using their “deaths” to their advantage, the Turtles plan a raid of Shredder’s base…revealing Stockman’s deceit.


“Return to New York:  Part 2”

1.22     Return to New York:  Part 2 Airdate:  10/04/03

The Turtles find themselves facing Shredder’s genetic clones and fight their way deeper into Shredder’s base.


“Return to New York: Part 3”

1.23     Return to New York:  Part 3 Airdate:  10/11/03

The Turtles find themselves in battle with Baxter Stockman as they battle their way through Shredder’s base.  When Splinter is injured in the battle, Leonardo is forced to abandon him to help the Turtles battle Shredder, but the Turtles find new allies…and a new mystery.


“Lone Raph and Cub”

1.24     Lone Raph and Cub Airdate:  10/11/03

The Turtles deal with Splinter’s disappearance after the battle with Shredder.  As Raphael heads out for a night, he finds himself protecting a kid from gangsters who are making a power move with the fall of Shredder.  When Raphael is blinded, the kid must be Raphael’s eyes if they hope to survive.


“The Search for Splinter: Part 1”

1.25     The Search for Splinter:  Part 1 Airdate:  10/25/03

The Turtles search for Splinter and question if the Guardians could have something to do with it.  The Guardians find Shredder alive and the Turtles track the Guardians to learn that the Guardians are tied to TCRI which helped create them.  The Turtles must infiltrate TCRI with April and Casey’s help, but the Turtles, April, and Casey find that TCRI might be hiding more secrets.


“The Search for Splinter: Part 2”

1.26     The Search for Splinter:  Part 2 Airdate:  11/01/03

The Turtles, April, and Casey find themselves inside TCRI and uncover that the owners are alien.  The Turtles find Splinter in stasis inside of TCRI, but end up in more trouble when they find themselves in battle with the aliens.

Related Links:

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles—Season 2 Review and Complete Episode Guide

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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