Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

TV review by
Scout Davidson, Common Sense Media
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV Poster Image
Mediocre actioner is mostly OK, dude.

Parents say

age 10+
Based on 8 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 15 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Violence is always the answer -- and unfortunately outweighs the turtles' teamwork.

Positive Role Models & Representations

While the turtle siblings mostly get along (as well as brothers do, anyway) and are definitely motivated to fight bad guys, violence is their default means of conflict resolution. They also often come across as a bit dim and goofy.

Violence & Scariness

Scary monsters, body parts being chopped off (bloodlessly), lots of weapons and fighting.

Sexy Stuff

The turtles sound like idiots, but at least they don't curse.


Plenty of tie-in merchandise available.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this is a fairly violent show about four turtle brothers who work together to battle monsters, gangsters, aliens, and just about any other villains you could think of. Characters are beaten, stabbed, maimed, and clearly shown to suffer. The brothers get along as well as any siblings do, whether they're teaming up to defeat evil or trading quips and punches to prove how manly and macho they are. (Note: Different seasons of this show have been promoted/known by different names, including Fast Forward and Back to the Sewer.)

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Teen, 13 years old Written byTheFMan July 30, 2014

Best TMNT Show So Far!

Wow, mind blown. Even here in 2014 I still watch this masterpiece. It tops the 1990's ninja turtles in almost every way. It's more action packed, it h... Continue reading
Kid, 12 years old February 17, 2021

CSM doesn't know doodly squat about TMNT.

I'm not even sure which TMNT cartoon this is talking about. The pictures all come from the 2003 cartoon, but some of the stuff in the review seems to come... Continue reading

What's the story?

Over the years, the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES have had many incarnations. Their comic book origins led to their first animated series in 1987 and a few live-action movies in the early '90s. This show, which premiered in 2003, is closer to the original comic books. The animated series features the amphibious foursome -- Leonardo (voiced by Michael Sinterniklaas), Michelangelo (Wayne Grayson), Donatello (Sam Riegel), and Raphael (Frank Frankson).

Is it any good?

The animation makes the show less irritating than the live-action films, but only barely. The amphibious brothers still talk like southern California skater dudes (except one who, strangely, has a New York accent), and are still differentiated only by the color of their eye-masks, making them virtually indistinguishable to adult viewers. Taking its pacing and approach from Japanese anime (though not its animation style), TMNT is quite violent, filled with nunchucks, throwing stars, swords, and many, many fight scenes punctuated by flashes of blinding light and characters flying sideways through the air to land crippling kicks. Though the Turtles are ninjas, studying under a sensei named Splinter (a giant rat, natch), they're surprisingly materialistic and Western in their overall thinking.

The program's overall messages purport to be positive ones -- working as a team to overcome evil, for instance -- but the underlying themes aren't as encouraging. The brothers use violence to achieve their goals, unapologetically chopping, stabbing, maiming, and beating their enemies to within an inch of their lives; their friend Casey (Marc Thompson) has a cousin who shows up with a machine gun in order to steal an inheritance (to pay off his gambling debts!); one of the Turtle brothers is brooding and uncommunicative for no real reason; and so on. This is a show that will definitely appeal to younger viewers, but because of the violence, a preview would be a good idea.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the importance of teamwork in accomplishing goals. Do the turtles work well together as a team?

  • Scientific-minded kids might enjoy figuring out how, exactly, these turtle creatures came to be -- what does it mean to mutate, and is it realistic to think such characters could exist?

  • On a completely different note, the characters, named for classic Italian artists, could provide a good starting point for a discussion of Renaissance art and history.

TV details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love action

Themes & Topics

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