Shredder’s Ultimate Army Was Too Disturbing for the ’90s Cartoon

The Shredder is easily the most iconic villain in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles history, with his depiction in the ‘90s animated series the primary version many fans think of when an image of the Shredder comes to mind. However, it wasn’t until his latest appearance that the Shredder reached the pinnacle of his power, as his ultimate army made the Foot Clan look pathetic – and it was way too disturbing for the ‘90s cartoon.

In IDW Publishing’s TMNT continuity, the Shredder is much more intense than his ‘90s cartoon counterpart, both in terms of the heightened violence associated with his character and the fact that his soul is linked to dark magic. In this newly-formed continuity, the Shredder was the leader of the Foot Clan in feudal Japan. After he murdered Hamato Yoshi and his four children, Shredder then aligned himself with the devious god, Kitsune, who introduced Shredder to the secrets of immortal life. While Dimension X’s mutagen ooze was able to sustain Shredder in stasis until the modern day – which is how he was alive to be a TMNT villain in the first place – Kitsune also found a way to preserve his soul in hell until the next time she needed him. It’s fair to say that the Shredder’s storyline and overarching purpose in IDW Publishing’s TMNT is a bit darker than anything that would be appropriate for children, and his ultimate army is no exception.

TMNT's Shredder commanding an army of demons.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100 by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz, and Dave Wachter, the Ninja Turtles are facing the end of the world. Kitsune has resurrected the Shredder after he was decapitated by Master Splinter, pulling his corrupted soul from the depths of hell to inhabit a body that was more spirit than flesh. However, that wasn’t the only thing Kitsune pulled from hell, as this dark, undead Shredder commanded an army of demons that flooded the streets of New York City.

These demons were not only greater in numbers than the Foot Clan has ever been, but their grotesque appearance was an intimidating visual that the Foot Clan simply could not match. Plus, their supernatural strength, speed, and overall ferocity with no regard for individual self-preservation made them far more dangerous than the Foot Clan could ever be. Most importantly, however, is that these demons could never appear in the ‘90s animated series – at least, not as they’re depicted here. No parent would be comfortable with their child watching hordes of horrific creatures screaming about tearing people apart in the streets, all while the colorful heroes struggle to stay alive as they’re being crushed beneath their hellish wrath. Sure, they could be spun into bumbling, cartoon caricatures of what is shown in this issue, but then they wouldn’t be Shredder’s ultimate army, proving that there’s no world in which these specific creatures would be appropriate for children to see in a cartoon geared towards them.

While they wouldn’t work in the ‘90s cartoon, these demons were an absolutely epic addition to IDW’s TMNT continuity. They helped reaffirm the fact that this TMNT series isn’t necessarily geared towards children, and that intensely dark storytelling is possible within a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles story just as it was in the original comic, as Shredder’s ultimate army was way too disturbing for the ‘90s cartoon.