January 15, 2022



(CW, November 21, 2009)
Mirage Studios, Inc., 4Kids Entertainment
Greg Abbey (as Frank Frankson) – 2003 Raphael
Vinnie Penna (as Wayne Grayson) – 2003 Michelangelo
            In 2002, 4Kids Entertainment acquired the license for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and debuted their own cartoon the following year. Compared to the original 1987 cartoon, it was a darker, more serious take on the franchise that brought it closer to its comic roots; however, it wasn’t without its own kind of humor. The series initially aired on the FoxBox/4Kids TV programming block on FOX until it was discontinued in 2008, prompting its move to The CW for its final season on The CW4Kids programming block. Ultimately, a combination of low ratings and co-creator Peter Laird selling the franchise to Nickelodeon saw the end of the series, but not before 4Kids delivered one final parting gift.

The meeting of the generations.

            As 2009 marked the 25th anniversary of the Turtles franchise, 4Kids wanted to do something for it and conceived of an idea to bring their Turtles in contact with the 1987 incarnations, as well as the original comic versions. Originally, they planned to make it part of the final Back to the Sewer season, but decided to make it its own standalone film entitled Turtles Forever. It saw the 1987 Turtles shunted to the 2003 universe when a dimensional teleporter malfunctioned during a fight in the Technodrome. The 2003 Turtles became aware of their capture by Hun (Greg Carey) and the Purple Dragons gang and rescued them; leading to an encounter with 1987 Shredder (Load Williams) and Krang (Bradford Cameron). Shredder hypothesized that there might be another Shredder on that world and sought to ally with him to defeat the Turtles once and for all. However, 2003 Shredder (Scottie Ray) found his counterpart insufferable and took over the Technodrome and its horde of Foot Clan robots for himself. 2003 Shredder discovered that there were multiple dimensions with even more Turtles that could potentially disrupt his plans, and theorized that he could end them all by destroying the universe he deemed “Turtle Prime”. The 8 Turtles made their way to Turtle Prime where they encountered their 1984 black and white, grim and gritty counterparts and proceeded to battle 2003 Shredder for the fate of the entire multiverse. The film ends with a cameo from creators Kevin Eastman and Laird as they prepared to publish the first issue of Turtles in 1984.

12 Turtles to save the world.

            The art styles for the 1987 and 1984 Turtles were rendered as close to their original ones as possible, while the 2003 Turtles sported a different design than what was currently seen on their show. For the final season of the 2003 series, the Turtles were modified to closer resemble the ones seen in the 2007 theatrical film TMNT for “brand unity”. For Turtles Forever, the Turtles were given a slight redesign of their appearances during the Fast Forward story arc. Other incarnations of the Turtles, including the original live-action films, TMNT, and various other interpretations from the “Guest Era” of the comics (a span of the original series from #22-44 that weren’t made by Eastman and Laird and later deemed non-canon) also made cameo appearances during 2003 Shredder’s villain monologue. The only one absent was the live-action Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, which was famously despised by Laird. Adrian Marquez Barrios served as the lead character designer, with further designs by Danny Kimanyen, Khary Randolph and Emilio Lopez.

Poster for the film.

            A rough unfinished version of Turtles Forever was shown at San Diego Comic Con in July of 2009. A limited theatrical release was planned for October 29th, but a dispute between 4Kids and Fathom Events ended that plan. It instead made its debut on television on November 21st on The CW4Kids following a 25th anniversary Top 10 episode countdown; although, this version was shortened with the removal or reduction of several scenes. Initially billed as a one time only airing, it was split up into three 23-minute parts and aired weekly between November 28th and December 12th. The uncut version of the film containing 12 extra minutes was put up on the 4Kids website on December 16th. The film aired again on March 20th, then May 29th, and then on August 29th and Thanksgiving Day on Nickelodeon.

2003 Shredder--outside of his human armor--is not amused by 1987 Shredder.

            Turtles Forever was generally well-received by fans of the 2003 show and the franchise as a whole. However, some fans took issue with the portrayal of the 1987 Turtles. They were depicted as unable to take anything seriously, ineffective in combat, and obsessed with getting pizza no matter what. It got to the point that the 2003 Turtles got frequently exasperated while trying to reign them in as well as their constant need to give noogies and the fact that 1987 Raphael (Sebastian Arcelus) kept breaking the 4th wall (as was done frequently in the original show).  The 1987 series actually began as a more action-oriented show, but concerns over the violence were raised and forced the show to tone it down. That necessitated the inclusion of often silly alternatives to straight-out violence, such as slicing open a fire hydrant to hit foes with water, or causing a foe to fall on their own by being pushed into some kind of pratfall. The final season also took on a much darker and serious tone, attempting to turn Shredder back into a genuine threat. But, the 1987 Turtles were allowed a redeeming moment crucial to the outcome of the final battle in the film.

The Turtle mutliverse.

            The film was written by Rob David, Matthew Drdek and series developer Lloyd Goldfine, and directed by Goldfine and Roy Burdine. Animation duties were handled by Dong Woo Animation Co., Ltd. Because 4Kids wasn’t a union operation, they were unable to use the original 1987 cast for the film; casting soundalikes instead from their actor pool. Likewise, the 1987 series’ music rights were held by Lionsgate at the time, and instead of paying to license them 4Kids opted to just have their composers recreate approximations of its music. Erik Alvarez, Rusty Andrews, John Angier, Mark Breeding, Lou Cortelezzi, Joel Douek, Matt McGuire, John Petersen, Pete Scaturro, Ralph Schuckett, Freddy Sheinfeld, John Siegler, John Van Tongeren and Russell Velazquez served as the film’s composers, with some additional music from Alex Walker and Alex Charpentier. The film was released onto DVD in August of 2010, with North America getting the TV edit and the full film overseas. In recent years it has become available to purchase for streaming on Prime Video, Vudu and Apple TV.

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