Kicking off in 2003, Turtles 2K3 was a half-hour animated show produced by 4Kids Entertainment and Mirage Studios. The series ran for seven seasons, comprising 156 episodes and concluded in 2009 with the TV movie Turtles Forever.
Like the previous Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, Turtles 2K3 focused on four mutanted turtles, their sensei/father Splinter (a humanoid rat), their human friend April O'Neil and their enemy Shredder. However, unlike the previous Turtles show many comic book characters also appeared on a regular basis, including Casey Jones, the Utroms, Baxter Stockman and the Triceratons. Throughout the course of the series the Turtles found themselves battling bad guys in the present, the past and the future, as well as in different dimensions and even in space!
A breakout star of the first season was the Shredder. In the early episodes of Season One, the Shredder made a few appearances without his armour, yet he was just as deadly regardless of his attire. Leading the Foot Clan, controlling rival gang the Purple Dragons and (regularly) maiming lacky Baxter Stockman, gave Shredder a strong presence in the show even though he wasn't always standing toe-to-toe with the Turtles.
As the first season progressed the Turtles found themselves increasingly at odds with Shredder which resulted in a rooftop battle that appeared to reach a climax with the death of Shredder. Although at first it seemed as if Shredder had been beheaded by Leonardo there was in fact a lot more going on with the metal-faced menace than the Turtles realised and his 'death' was merely a short setback. Meanwhile with Shredder temporarily out of the picture, the Turtles started to learn a little more about their mysterious origins, including their connection to the alien race known as the Utroms.
With Season Two there came more revelations, more characters - including Leatherhead, the Triceratons and the Fugitoid - and yet more butt-kicking action. The biggest reveal of the second season was arguably the fact that Shredder was an evil Utrom named Ch'rell and it was Ch'rell who had indirectly created the Turtles. The second season also saw the introduction of Karai, the Shredder's adopted daughter, who made her debut in the City at War story arc.
As the show continued into Season Three the action still largely focused on the Turtles' adventures in New York, with occasional stories taking place in in other dimensions or realities. The three-part season opener Space Invaders, which was followed by the three-part story Worlds Collide, also brought an epic war to Earth, with the Triceratons invading the planet in search of the Fugitoid. Oh, and epic was certainly the correct word to describe Season Three of Turtles 2K3 as during a rather interesting five-part story, Leo, Mikey, Raph and Don were separated from each other and sent to different time zones and realities. The third season also introduced Agent Bishop - a secret government agent who worked to protect the planet from extraterrestrial threats... even if that included the Turtles.
Season Three of Turtles 2K3 concluded with Exodus, a two-part story which saw the Turtles finally defeat Ch'rell (aka the Utrom Shredder) - although perhaps 'finally' and 'defeat' are never quite the correct words when it comes to the Shredder.
For the fourth season of the show the opening titles were slightly reworked to make reference to the fact that Shredder was no longer the chief villain and with a spot opened up for a new bad guy, it was up to Karai to take up the mantle...so enter the new Shredder!
The fourth season also largely focused on Leonardo's 'attitude problem' which had developed as a result of the Turtles' last battle with Ch'rell. During the fight with Shredder the Turtles were almost defeated, which was something that Leonardo took personally, so he was sent to train with the Ancient One - the man who trained Splinter's sensei, Hamato Yoshi. Meanwhile, Agent Bishop and his new sidekick Baxter Stockman were responsible for an outbreak of mutantations in New York, which the Turtles had to stop.
Whilst Season Five was in production a decision was made to try and push the Turtles brand to a younger audience with the slighlty revamped season known as Fast Forward. The season was techincally the show's sixth season and would feature new characters, a futuristic setting and of course a range of toys related to the season.
So... keen to get Season Six on to the air, the fifth season (aka The Ninja Tribunal) was bumped from the schedules and was instead released straight to DVD. In its place, and causing a slight bit of confusion for fans, Fast Forward aired instead, which resulted in Turtles 2K3's fifth season being unofficially dubbed as 'The Lost Season'.
Comprising 12 episodes (the shortest season of Turtles 2K3's entire run), the Ninja Tribunal season saw the Turtles head to Japan to learn about the impending resurrection of... yes, you guessed it, the Shredder!!! But hold your horses just a second, as the Shredder who returned from beyond the grave wasn't Ch'rell, the Utrom Shredder from Seasons One to Three, oh no, this was the original Shredder!!!!
Confused? Well, that's not surprising.
Thanks to a handy flashback episode, the Turtles (and the audience) discovered that Ch'rell had merely adopted the persona of the Original Shredder, aka Oroku Saki, who was in actual fact an ancient warrior, and a good guy to boot! Well, that was until he was possessed by an evil demonic spirit, which turned him evil and then resulted in his death! But you can never keep a good, bad guy down, and the Original Shredder was soon resurrected to cause yet more havoc.
In retrospect it wasn't such a bad idea not to air Season Five, as although the fifth season was another perfectly enjoyable season, the Original Shredder storyline was stretched out a little bit longer than it needed to be. The result was a slightly slower season with occassional repetitive storylines.
Meanwhile, with Fast Forward (aka Season Six) on air the Turtles and Splinter found themselves transported to the future, where new adventures and new villains awaited them. Teaming up with Cody Jones - a relative of April and Casey - the Turtles fought new bad guys such as Darius Dunn, Jammerhead, Viral and Sh'okanabo. The Turtles were also given a makeover, with new weapons and reworked character designs.
Airing between 2008 and 2009, Season Seven (aka Back To The Sewers) saw the Turtles transported back to their own time period to conclude their TV adventures. Once again the Turtles were given a slight makeover, this time to bring them in line with the most recent movie, TMNT (2007), even though the fourth big screen movie wasn't connected to the TV show.
With the Turtles back in their own time zone they were once again met with hostility from familiar bad guys... and of course Shredder!
Yep, ol' Shred-head was back, but this time it was in the form of the deadly Cyber Shredder, who was neither the Original Shredder, the Utrom Shredder, or even the Karai Shredder! Nope, this Shredder was actually the combination of Season Six bad gal Viral (who had returned to the present day with the Turtles) and the computer 'back-up' memories of Ch'rell. (Ed - told you it would get more confusing).
Season Seven was another short season, comprising just 13 episodes and concluded with Wedding Bells and Bytes - the wedding of Casey and April.
*During the opening credits of Season Four, Michaelangelo made reference to the fact that Shredder was no longer the Turtles main enemy by saying 'we shredded Shredder', replacing the line 'watch out for Shredder' which had appeared during Seasons One to Three.
*Season Five was originally planned to run for 13 episodes instead of 12, however the episode Nightmares Recycled was dropped from the season before production work could be completed.
*As Season Six was set during the year 2105 many of the Turtles enemies and allies were absent from the season, however Karai, Bishop, Hun, Baxter Stockman and even the Shredder did still crop up... from time to time.
*Although the seventh season of Turtles 2K3 was the final season if the show had remained on air rumours suggested that Season Eight would have been subtitled The Shredder Wars.
*Throughout the run of Turtles 2K3 (including the movie Turtles Forever) there were seven different Shredders: Ch'rell; the Original Shredder; Karai Shredder; Cyber Shredder; Cyber-Baxter Shredder; the 1980s Shredder and the Mirage Shredder.