The twelfth season of Ninjago, subtitled Prime Empire, is preceded by Season 11 and the Prime Empire Original Shorts and succeeded by Season 13. Jay is the focus ninja and mascot character, Unagami serves as the main antagonist and Unagami's army and The Mechanic's henchmen serve as the villainous factions of the season.
The first teaser was released on LEGO.com on January 31, 2020, and was released on YouTube on February 5, 2020. The season itself was set to release in the first half of 2020. The first English release date for the first episode was March 21 in Taiwan and on Cartoon Network Asia. Episodes 1 - 6 were made available On Demand and on the Cartoon Network App/Website in the US on July 12, 2020. The first four episodes aired together in the United States on July 19, 2020, with 2 episodes airing each Sunday after that along with 2 reruns. On September 10, 2020 SIC K confirmed that Season 12: Prime Empire was going to be released on September 21, 2020 in Portugal. But for some unknown reason, the release of the season was delayed to September 29, 2020.
This season was also released On-Demand in the U.K. on August 1, 2020.
A trailer was released on the LEGO YouTube channel on March 10, 2020.
This season, along with Seasons 10, 11, and 13 became available on Netflix in the US starting November 1, 2020.
Trailer: “Would you like to enter Prime Empire?” In the hyped video game, Prime Empire, you can be whoever you want to be. Jay, ever the avid gamer, can’t wait to start playing. But when hundreds of players, and Jay, suddenly start vanishing without a trace, the ninja need to get inside the game and find out who is playing Unagami. Now they must compete in adventures and difficult game worlds, win all three Key-tanas – and only then can they face the evil Unagami. Can they reach the final level and beat the game? 
Prime Empire Moments: Ninja Action: It’s time for the ninja to put all their Spinjitzu skills to the test in a whole new environment. How will they fight the seemingly unstoppable Red Visors and defeat Unagami in the game Prime Empire? Get ready for epic new challenges, gravity-defying ninja jumps and stunts, super-charged weapons, dangerous dragons - and some seriously scary cyber action! 
Prime Empire Moments: New Heroes And Challenges: The ninja face all new levels of threats in the three game worlds of Prime Empire! From Terra Karana, a beautiful, ancient realm, to Terra Technica, a futuristic world of speed racing, and finally Terra Domina, home of the terrifying Temple of Madness where the evil Unagami rules. Traps, pitfalls, vicious villains, epic dragons and helpful heroes await those who enter the game… Who can they trust? Super racing drivers Racer Seven, the Whack Rats, and Scott? Game programmer Milton Dyer? And watch out for Okino the Samurai, Sushimi, the mad sushi chef! Get a sneak peek at all the epic new ninja adventures. 
Prime Empire Moments: Speed Racing: There is no room for error in the Speedway Five Billion race! Prime Empire drivers in the legendary race have the race cars, the skills, and the will to risk it all for the main prize. Only the winner takes home the Key-tana – the key to unlock the next game world in the Prime Empire game! 
Prime Empire Moments: Dragons: Don’t miss the epic dragon battles in Prime Empire! As the ninja approach the Key-tana in the game world Terra Karana, they come face to face with the terrifying Red Dragon, also known as the Cyber Dragon. There may be hope for the ninja if they can use the dragon to their advantage. But the wrath of the devastating Cyber Dragon pales against the gruesome powers of Unagami’s brutal Empire Dragon. Get ready for colossal clashes with these digital giants! 
Prime Empire Moments: Temple of Madness: Ticking time bombs, giant, swinging sledgehammers, revolving ninja stars, and fierce, fanged sushi rolls? Anyone who tries to go near Unagami’s Temple of Madness must be… well, mad! But the ninja have no choice – they have to beat the game and defeat Unagami! How will they make it past all the threats and traps and escape the maki-roll-throwing, mad sushi chef, Sushimi? 
- Admin Droid - Michael Adamthwaite
- Adventure-Ready Woman - Kathleen Barr
- Announcer - Clay St. Thomas
- Avatar Harumi - Britt McKillip
- Benny - Andrew Francis
- Beta Jay 137 - Andrew Francis
- Bob the Intern - Colin Murdock
- Cole - Kirby Morrow
- Cyrus Borg - Lee Tockar
- Dance-Bot Announcer - Paul Dobson
- Dareth - Alan Marriott
- Dee-Jay 81 - Paul Dobson
- Fred Finely - Bill Newton
- Fugi-Dove - Adrian Petriw
- Game Narration - Adrian Petriw
- Gamer Geek - Kathleen Barr
- Hostess - Shannon Chan-Kent
- Jay - Michael Adamthwaite
- Jaybird 64 - Kelly Metzger
- Jaywalkin 238 - Bill Newton
- Kai - Vincent Tong
- Leroy - Kelly Metzger
- Lloyd Garmadon - Sam Vincent
- Milton Dyer - Mark Hildreth
- Mrs. Dyer - Mary Black
- Newbie Gamer - Brian Drummond
- Noble - Paul Dobson
- Nya - Kelly Metzger
- Okino - Alessandro Juliani
- P.I.X.A.L. - Jennifer Hayward
- Police Commissioner - Michael Donovan
- Racer Seven - Shannon Chan-Kent
- Red Visors - Sam Vincent
- Ritchie - Sam Vincent
- Sage Master - Brian Drummond
- Sammy - Vincent Tong
- Scott - Adrian Petriw
- Shifty - Allesandro Juliani
- Soto - Alan Marriott
- Spectator - Brent Miller
- Successful Samurai - Ian Hanlin
- Sushi Chef - Vincent Tong
- Sushimi - Vincent Tong
- The Mechanic - Michael Antonakos
- Tony - Michael Daingerfield
- Ultra Violet - Sharon Alexander
- Unagami/Empire Dragon - Dean Redman, Zion Simpson
- Wu - Paul Dobson
- Zane - Brent Miller
|Season Ep #||Series Ep #||Image||Episode name||Airdate|
|1||129||"Would You Like to Enter Prime Empire?"||July 19, 2020 (US)|
|2||130||"Dyer Island"||July 19, 2020 (US)|
|3||131||"Level Thirteen"||July 19, 2020 (US)|
|4||132||"Superstar Rockin' Jay"||July 19, 2020 (US)|
|5||133||"I am Okino"||July 26, 2020 (US)|
|6||134||"The Glitch"||July 26, 2020 (US)|
|7||135||"The Cliffs of Hysteria"||August 2, 2020 (US)|
|8||136||"The Maze of the Red Dragon"||August 2, 2020 (US)|
|9||137||"One Step Forward, Two Steps Back"||August 9, 2020 (US)|
|10||138||"Racer Seven"||August 9, 2020 (US)|
|11||139||"The Speedway Five-Billion"||August 16, 2020 (US)|
|12||140||"Stop, Drop and Side Scroll"||August 16, 2020 (US)|
|13||141||"Ninjago Confidential"||August 23, 2020 (US)|
|14||142||"The Prodigal Father"||August 23, 2020 (US)|
|15||143||"The Temple of Madness"||August 30, 2020 (US)|
|16||144||"Game Over"||August 30, 2020 (US)|
This was the first set wave to feature Arcade Pods.
- 71706 Cole's Speeder Car
- 71707 Kai's Mech Jet
- 71708 Gamer's Market
- 71709 Jay and Lloyd's Velocity Racers
- 71710 Ninja Tuner Car
- 71711 Jay's Cyber Dragon
- 71712 Empire Temple of Madness
- 71713 Empire Dragon
The Trivia on Season 12: Prime Empire needs to be organized.
- Although refered to as Season 12 by fans and several creators, this is not the official term for the season as LEGO no longer refers to the season number when advertising seasons after Season 10, referring to them mainly by their respective subtitles.
- Some sources, such as the Cartoon Network Asia website and LEGO's YouTube channel, claim that Prime Empire and Master of the Mountain are the same season, that being Season 2 of the WildBrain-animated Ninjago series. However, the seasons are two separate "chapters" and are were simply combined this way on platforms due to cable networks buying both seasons as one instead of making two separate purchases.
- 2020 content was first revealed to exist by a LEGO designer on The Eljay Johnsen Show.
- Zane doesn't have a Digi suit in any of the known sets so far. His Digi suit was seen in a poster lift out from an issue of Ninjago Magazine and a trading card.
- This is the third season to have all of the ninja use their robes from the previous season.
- According to Tommy Andreasen, this season was inspired by the Polybius urban legend.
- It was also inspired by Blade Runner and the 2010 sequel of Tron, Tron: Legacy.
- Other games that inspired the season were Street Fighter II, Dance Dance Revolution, The Legend of Zelda, Super Mario Bros., Contra, and WipeOut.
- This season featured Cyrus Borg's first speaking role since The Hands of Time. While he appeared in March of the Oni, he did not speak at any point in the season.
- The intro for the season is similar to the intro for the previous season in that it changes with every episode, showcasing the events of the previous episode. It is also the second intro to not feature the "Masters of Spinjitzu" subtitle or use episode numbering and is the fifth consecutive intro to not showcase the ninja's names. It also features a new rendition of The Weekend Whip.
- Just like many previous seasons, the antagonists of the season manage to complete the thing the ninja spent the whole season trying to prevent, but are later defeated before they can win.
- The new rendition of The Weekend Whip, titled "The Arcadian Whip", was released on March 15, 2020.
- This is the first season to feature Airjitzu since Season 7, although this season's Airjitzu is not real or physical, but rather a power-up in the game.
- It premiered in Taiwan in English and Mandarin on March 21, 2020, and on March 29, 2020, in Japan.
- A promo airing on Cartoon Network Asia mistakenly calls this season Secrets of the Forbidden Spinjitzu.
- With this season having only 16 episodes (equal to eight 22-minute episodes), it is as long as Season 3 and Season 13 and tied with them as the second shortest seasons after Season 10.
- According to Bragi Schut, there was a small nod to a future Ninjago installment at some point near the end of the season, similar to how Milton Dyer was referenced at the end of the Ice Chapter in Season 11.
- This is the second season in a row where there are two villainous factions and the fourth overall.
- The seasons with two villainous factions are Seasons 2, 9, 11, and 12.
- Even though there are two villainous factions, Unagami's army has a much higher role than The Mechanic's henchmen, as it appears in every episode of Season 12, while The Mechanic's henchmen only appear in 4 episodes.
- According to Tommy Andreasen in the chat of a stream hosted by Joshua Deck on YouTube, there was an unproduced episode: "After the Speedway Five Billion, the Keytana was [stolen] by the rats. The ninja recruited the League and had to enter the highly glitchy sewers and face Atta the Ratta. The rat king was an unfinished mess that could only be remedied by the Keytana... The Rats weren't so bad after all."
- This season shares some similarities to Season 6:
- Jay is the focus and mascot character.
- Jay is separated from the rest of the team for a few episodes before rejoining the group, and was held captive by the Sky Pirates for part of Season 6 and enters Prime Empire before the other ninja in Season 12.
- The ninja team is taken down one by one until only Jay and Nya are left, giving the other ninja fewer episode appearances.
- In the following episode, A version of Zane makes an unexpected and humorous appearance, that being Echo Zane in Season 6 and Zane's detective persona in Season 12.
- Jay ultimately "defeats" the villain in a way other than physical combat, making Nadakhan reverse the events of Season 6 and being able to empathize with Unagami's feelings of abandonment as well as bringing Milton Dyer to him in order for them to make amends and release the players in Prime Empire in Season 12.
- The season started releasing on Cartoon Network in America on July 19, with the first four episodes airing. They will continue to release on Sundays, with two per week.
- Kai regains the bottom half of his scar in "I am Okino," after missing it since animation switched from WILFilm ApS to WildBrain in 2019.
- Despite this season mostly focusing on Jay, Nya appears in more episodes than any of the Ninja, including Jay.
- Though Ninjago can be considered a science-fantasy story, this is the only season without any notable fantasy elements, technically making it the only season in the sci-fi genre. Rebooted and Decoded are also very technology-focused, but the main villain of both is the Overlord, who fits the category of "fantasy villain" first and foremost.
- Amount of times a different character reads a title card:
- Cyrus Borg was previously slightly redesigned in Season 10, having a new hairstyle and slightly smaller glasses. However, in this season he has his original hairstyle and larger silver glasses again.
- This season calls back to several elements from earlier seasons, such as the Triple Tiger Sashay, Buddy's Pizza, and Mister Cuddlywomp.
- According to Andreasen, there was a scraped concept including Jay's mother being trapped in Prime Empire and Jay's Elemental Powers being crucial to her survival.
- Jay serves as the main focus character of this season. Having the main role for this season, he was shown to have great video game skills and knowledge which helped the ninja escape dangerous situations.
- He was focused on in Episodes 129, 132, 136, 137, 143, and 144
- In Episode 129, he activated Prime Empire and was the first ninja to enter the game.
- In Episode 132, the ninja attempted to find Jay after he entered the game. He was also shown as the leader of the League of Jay's.
- In Episode 136, Jay was the only Ninja who had enough stealth to steal the Keytana from the Red Dragon. He attempted to do so and ultimately destroyed the dragon and gained a chance to use it for his own purpose.
- His ability to dance along with Nya in Episode 137 allowed the ninja to win a dance competition and enter the Speedway Five-Billion.
- In Episode 143, he and Nya are able to get through the first half of the Temple of Madness but is forced to go on his own after Nya is cubed. His conversation and fight with Unagami is vital as it provides insight into Unagami's identity and his plan to find Milton Dyer. He also gains control of his Blue Dragon which he uses for the only time.
- He fights Unagami in Episode 144 with his Blue Dragon in Ninjago City and is able to lead him to Borg Tower where he confronts Unagami and calms the latter down, which causes Milton Dyer's apology to Unagami for the past and make amends.
- He was focused on in Episodes 129, 132, 136, 137, 143, and 144
- Nya is a prominent character in this season.
- She was focused on in Episodes 137 and 143.
- She dances with Jay in Episode 137 which allows the ninja to win a dance competition and enter the Speedway Five-Billion.
- In Episode 143, she and Jay work together to get through the first half of The Temple of Madness but gets cubed which causes Jay to get briefly emotionally devastated.
- She was focused on in Episodes 137 and 143.
- Lloyd is another prominent character in this season.
- He was focused on in Episodes 138 and 140.
- He convinced Racer Seven in Episode 138 to join their team and break her programming by winning the race. This allowed the ninja to obtain the Yellow Key-Tana.
- In Episode 140, his fight with Avatar Harumi is one of the highlights of the season as he contemplates whether to fight her.
- Although Lloyd wasn't a focus when the ninja were in Terra Karana, he was the main ninja who convinced Okino to find his true identity.
- He was focused on in Episodes 138 and 140.
- Kai and Cole have significant roles in certain episodes.
- Kai thought he was invincible when he entered Prime Empire and lost three out of four lives to start the game in Episode 132.
- He saved the ninja team in Episode 135 at the Cliffs of Hysteria.
- Because of Kai purchasing his own avatar in Episode 137, Jay and Nya had no other option but to enter a dancing competition to get enough credits to enter the Speedway Five-Billion.
- Cole was focused on in Episode 131, where he plays the Prime Empire video game and unlocks the thirteenth level, allowing the ninja to go after Jay.
- Kai and Cole sacrifice themselves in Episode 139 to allow Lloyd, Nya, and Jay a fighting chance to win the Speedway Five-Billion.
- Zane plays a minor role for most of this season but does play a prominent part in the end.
- He helps Wu, and P.I.X.A.L. interrogate Mrs. Dyer in Episode 137.
- He was focused on Episode 141 where he narrated their detective work and gets insight on Milton Dyer only to be kidnapped by the Mechanic and eventually rescued by P.I.X.A.L and Jay.
- He, alongside P.I.X.A.L and Wu, helped bring Milton Dyer to Borg Tower to have him make amends with Unagami in Episode 144.
- P.I.X.A.L. has a minor role in this season, but receives some attention towards the end.
- She helps Wu and Zane interrogate Mrs. Dyer in Episode 137.
- She and Zane attempt to find Milton Dyer although P.I.X.A.L. in Episode 141. When Zane is kidnapped by The Mechanic, P.I.X.A.L. plays detective and finds Dyer.
- Her conversations with Dyer are important in Episode 142 as it reveals the origin of Unagami as well as Dyer's struggle to figure out why a machine has emotions. She laters finds Zane and Wu and fights The Mechanic's henchmen.
- Master Wu has a very minor role in the season.
- He helps Zane and P.I.X.A.L. interrogate Mrs. Dyer in Episode 137.
- He is also captured in Episode 142 by The Mechanic's henchmen and is used as a bargaining chip to get Zane to reveal the Prime Empire motherboard.
- Unagami served as the main antagonist of this season.
- After being shut down and abandoned by Milton Dyer, Unagami became the ruler of Prime Empire and spent years plotting his revenge. During his time, Unagami allied with the Mechanic and several other villains to help him with his goal to cross over to Ninjago so he can face Milton Dyer.
- Once he cross over, Unagami attacked Ninjago City during his search for Milton Dyer until he battled against Jay. And later forgave Milton Dyer after he explained why he had to shut him down.
- The Mechanic served as the secondary antagonist of this season.
- After escaping from Kryptarium Prison, the Mechanic became in league with Unagami and helped him with his plan to cross over to Ninjago.
- Other important antagonists include the Red Visors, Avatar Harumi (Episode 140), Sushimi (Episode 143), the Hostess (Episode 143), Sushimi's sushi chefs (Episode 143), Richie, Ritchie, the Red Dragon (Episode 136), Ultra Violet (Episode 131), and Captain Soto (Episode 131).
- In Episode 131, Ultra Violet, Captain Soto, and the other Kryptarium inmates were convinced by The Mechanic to help Unagami by invading Borg Tower to get the Prime Empire motherboard.
- The Red Visors appeared in Episodes 132, 134-135, 137-139, and 143-144.
- Due to being programmed to eliminate Unagami's enemies, the Red Visors became a major threat to the ninja when they were at Prime Empire.
- During the ninja's time in Prime Empire, the Whack Rats became allies with Unagami and helped him with his plans.
- In Episode 134, the Whack Rats ambushed the ninja at the Forest of Discontent. Altough they failed, Ritchie tricked the ninja by leading them to the Red Visors in a glitch, losing several of their lives.
- In Episode 139, the Whacks Rats compete with the ninja and the other racers in the Speedway Five-Billion.
- During the attack by Unagami, the Whack Rats crossed over to Ninjago and attacked the citizens, but redeemed themselves and return to Prime Empire after Unagami made amends with Milton Dyer.
- In Episode 136, the Red Dragon fought the ninja for the purple Key-Tana.
- In Episode 140, after Lloyd was chosen to fight the boss in the battle arena, Unagami created an avatar of Harumi to let Lloyd's guard down. Although Avatar Harumi's deception worked at first, Lloyd was able to realize that Avatar Harumi wasn't the real Harumi and defeat her, but at a cost of his last life.
- In Episode 143, Sushimi, Sushimi's sushi chefs, and the Hostess battled against Jay and Nya at Sushimi's sushi restaurant.
- Unagami's army and the Mechanic's henchmen served as the villainous factions of this season.
- Upon discovering the ninja's plan to enter Prime Empire and rescue the trapped players, Unagami ordered the NPCs in league with him and the Kryptarium inmates to prevent the ninja from stopping him.
- After associating with Unagami, the Mechanic recruited the henchmen to help find the Prime Empire motherboard and construct the Manifestation Gate from Ninjago.
- However, after Unagami crossed over to Ninjago, the Mechanic's henchmen were some of the many people that were attacked.
- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j09h3yVVMnA (link unavailable)
- https://youtu.be/b7LHU5jEHIY?t=4580 (live-chat)