Turtle Tracks
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 Cartoon) episode
Title screen
Season Code: 01
Episode: 01
Original airdate December 14, 1987
Written by David Wise
Patti Howeth
Producers: Kara Vallow
Directed by Yoshikatsu Kasai
Episode chronology
← Previous Next →
"N/A" "Enter the Shredder"
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1987 Season
December 14, 1987 - December 18, 1987
List of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episodes


  1. "Turtle Tracks"
  2. "Enter the Shredder"
  3. "A Thing About Rats"
  4. "Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X"
  5. "Shredder & Splintered"

Season 1Season 2Season 3Season 4Season 5Season 6Season 3 1/2Season 7Season 8Season 9Season 10

Turtle Tracks is the first episode of the 1987 animated TV series.


Bebop, prior to his mutation

As dusk falls in New York City, news reporter April O'Neil is broadcasting for Channel 6 News about crime waves. She has an assignment to deliver a news report on mysterious thefts of high-tech scientific equipment from various laboratories across the city. During the investigation, she learns that the thieves are ninjas. She goes with her film crew to stake out a scientific laboratory that she believes to be the site of a potential destination ... only to be seized by a street gang. April's film crew panics and takes off. April makes a run for the canister and slips it into the sewers and is chased by the thug mob under the streets of New York City through an intricate maze of sewer tunnels.

Bebop and Rocksteady's gang.

Down in the sewers, the street gang members prepare to attack April, when four big talking turtles arrive and help April by defeating the street gang members.

The Turtles bring April back to see their lair where she meets a giant talking rat, who tells April who they are.

Saki was up to no good, Started making trouble in Yoshi's neighborhood.

In Japan, there was a ninja clan known as the Foot, led by a man named Hamato Yoshi. Hamato Yoshi liked art. One of his pupils, Oroku Saki, planned to take over the leadership of the Foot Clan. One day, a master sensei visited the Foot Clan's dojo. The Foot Clan members sat near a wall to bow for the sensei, when Oroku Saki used a knife to pin Hamato Yoshi's clothes in the wall. To bow for the sensei, Hamato Yoshi now first had to remove the knife, which caused the others to think that he was trying to kill the sensei. He was banished from the Foot Clan and fled to the United States in disgrace.

Penniless, Hamato Yoshi lived in the New York City sewer system, where his only friends were the rats. One day, a small child was walking on a street with a bowl with four turtles. The boy accidentally tripped and fell, causing the bowl to crash on the street and the turtles to fall into the sewers. Hamato Yoshi made the turtles his new friends.

Meanwhile, back in Japan, the Foot Clan became a criminal army led by Oroku Saki.

Back in the USA, Hamato Yoshi one day found the turtles covered in "goo", which was a powerful "mutagen" that "caused whoever touched it to take on the form of whatever animal they had most recently been in contact with." The turtles become humanized turtles, because of their recent contact with Hamato Yoshi, who had tried to clean them up. Hamato Yoshi was transformed into a rat because of his recent contact with the rats. When the rat says this, April realizes that the rat is Hamato Yoshi.

Hamato Yoshi tells April how they got their names. The Turtles gave Hamato Yoshi the nickname "Splinter" because of his ability to splinter wooden boards, and Splinter gave the Turtles names of his four favorite Renaissance painters: Donatello, Leonardo, Michelangelo and Raphael. Knowing the outside world would consider them freaks, he trained them in the ancient art of Ninjutsu. Together, Splinter called them the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Leonardo decided one day to find the person responsible for Splinter's mutation and force the responsible person to turn Splinter human again.

For a short while, April believes that the Turtles are the thieves. However, the Turtles and April strike a deal. The Turtles will help April find the real thieves and get her story, while April will help them find a cure for Splinter's condition and not tell the world about the Turtles.

The Turtles and April walk up on the city streets with a matchbook that was left behind at the fight between the Turtles and the street gang members. When an old woman with a rifle notices the Turtles, April goes to a clothes store and buys trenchcoats and fedoras so the Turtles can disguise themselves as humans. Then they go to a "Ninja Pizzeria," in order to learn more about the thefts. While the Turtles eat pizza, April scouts the neighborhood and finds a building with a sign attached to it that says "Manhattan Security Services". April enters the lobby and hears the receptionist dispatch a "security team" to another scientific equipment lab that is "just waiting to be cleaned out." April goes to a nearby telephone booth and calls Channel 6 to tell them she found the thieves, only to be abducted.

Meanwhile, the Turtles start worrying about April and go out in search for her. They find her wallet and her press pass. They also see her purse hanging on the roof of an abandoned tenement building. The Turtles rush towards the top of the building, where April is tied to a chair. The Turtles are attacked by a group of "ninjas", but they soon learn that the "ninjas" are robots.

Oroku Saki, who watches the scene via remote controlled cameras, recognizes the fighting style of the Turtles, which is the Foot Clan's techniques. Oroku Saki wonders if Hamato Yoshi is still alive.

The Turtles destroy the robots, save April and chase the robots over to the roof of the nearby building, which is Manhattan Security Services. The robots escape, and April and the Turtles are watched by Oroku Saki via his closed circuit camera system. Now, more than ever, he is convinced that the Turtles have been trained by Hamato Yoshi. Oroku Saki calls back his "Foot Soldiers" to retreat to the Technodrome, but first they flood the building by activating the fire sprinkler. April and the Turtles run to the rooftop of the building as the water inside the building gets higher and higher. They escape from the rooftop just before the building explodes from the water pressure.

Back down in the Turtles' sewer lair, Splinter watches the uniform of one of the robotic ninjas. After studying it, Splinter is convinced that it is the uniform of the Foot Clan and that his old enemy, Oroku Saki, is still alive and also nearby.




Home media releases




Animation/Technical Errors

  • When Vernon tells April to get going, his hand disappears for one single frame.
  • The camera that one of the crew members leave behind shifts from being far away from the van to sitting right by April's feet when Rocksteady threatens her.
  • The van disappears altogether when April tosses the camera to Rocksteady.
  • Watch the way April slips into the grate leading into the sewers. One of the bars should have stopped her lower body from slipping through the hole, but it doesn't.
  • The low angle shot of that same grate indicates that even Rocksteady could have fit through that gap, but after he tells them to rip it out, it's barely wide enough to fit a newspaper through.
  • There is no reason, animation-wise, for the Turtles to be in silhouette in shots where they're manhandling thugs (who happen to be in full color) up close.
  • When the Turtles are inside the Ninja Pizzeria, the door is on the corner of the building. When they're seen coming out, the door is now in the center of the building.
  • When April tries to run away after Splinter's flashback, Donatello speaks in Raphael's voice.
  • Michelangelo is seen with Leonardo's colors when Donatello picks up the little Ninja Pizzeria matchbox.
  • The old lady's trenchcoat changes from brownish grey to tan in a shot after she pulls a gun on the Turtles.
  • The sound effects are slightly out of sync when Leonardo chops the street gambler's box.
  • In a cut after April gets kidnapped, look carefully at the counter as the scene pans across. Neither the cashier nor the cash register are visible. Both reappear later.
  • As the dagger with the bill hits the table, the table behind where the Turtles are sitting has vanished.
  • In the scene after the Turtles slide down the rope to chase after the Foot Soldiers, there are two Leonardos, two Raphaels, and Michelangelo is missing.
  • Raphael and Michelangelo had opposite colors when they were sliding down the rope to follow the Foot Soldiers to the next building.
  • When a Foot Soldier attempts to use a laser beam on Michelangelo, Michelangelo speaks in Raphael's voice, but it changes back to normal in the same line.
  • When the Turtles and April are looking down at the Foot Soldiers after the jump over to the Manhattan Security Services building, the top of Leonardo's right scabbard is coloured brown.
  • When Raphael held up the cheque for the pizza, his plastron was colored green.
  • Despite the fact that Michelangelo carries two nunchucks, he is seen throughout the episode with only one on his belt, this will happen numerous times during the first and second seasons.

Continuity Errors

  • Where are the police at the scenes of the crime? You'd think that with evidence just lying around and a security guard tied up, they'd have been all over the place.
  • The scientist concludes that the incisions made on the door "could only have been made by a samurai sword." When you consider the fact that there are so many other, more common types of blades that could have made a cut like that (such as a machete), that is really a lot to swallow.
  • April states in her report that ninjas are 'a thousand year old clan of assassins', which, according to history, is rather inaccurate.
  • Shredder's reaction towards the Turtles seems to be rather inconsistent. One minute, he can't believe his eyes, the next, he's apparently known about them all along.
  • It's never made clear how Shredder is seeing the Turtles after April faints, since he presumably doesn't have cameras in the sewers.
  • Yoshi is said to be the leader of the Foot Clan, yet the people visiting the school appear to have rank over him.
  • Splinter implies that upon his mutation, the creatures he most recently came into contact with were the rats. However, the very last things he came into contact with once the mutagen takes effect were the turtles. Then again he did step in the mutagen before he picked up the turtles.
  • The matchbox that Donatello picks up reads, "Ninja Pizzeria," but it's referred to everywhere else as "Ninja Pizza" (excluding the check when Raph holds it up.)
  • Leonardo's sword can punch a hole through concrete after being flung a good distance away. Something unlikely since its only made of metal.
  • Shredder watches the live video of the Turtles thrashing his Foot Soldiers... he recognizes their fighting style as that of the Foot but can't tell if they're turtles or not?
  • For some reason it took one minute and six seconds for a skyscraper to get completely flooded out, and promptly explode from the pressure. Then again it does edit around them getting up the stairs so it could have been longer.
  • Burne's lamenting that April's been missing for some time now, but apparently nobody told him about the ambush or even the fact that April could have been kidnapped or much, much worse. For a sneaky coward like Vernon, it's understandable and completely in character for him, but what about the other crew members? Did they just forget about April?


  • This is the very first episode of the 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series.
  • Despite contributing nothing to the series beyond a few early ideas, Patti Howeth (David Wise's then-wife) was credited as co-writer on all of the first five episodes, due to the Writers' Guild requiring that all contributing writers be credited.
  • Splinter does a title drop when he introduces the Turtles to April. Something very rarely used again after this episode (mostly they're referred to as "the Turtles" or "the Ninja Turtles").
  • At the pizza parlor, the Turtles had ordered three whipped cream pizzas, and one sashimi pizza. Raphael was the Turtle who ordered that last one.
  • The Turtles have been apparently trained not to bring harm to living beings, as their fighting style seems to revolve around disarming or incapacitating them instead. This is notable once the Turtles realize they're fighting robots in one scene, where they cut loose and start fighting a bit more brutally.
  • Rocksteady makes a rather sexist comment towards April when he says his boss thinks she should "stick to reporting fashion shows." Oddly, after that, April says, " problem," and then puts on a cute face and starts batting her eyelashes?
  • For the entire season 1, the sound effects in the interior of the Tenchnodrome come from the 1984 Williams' pinball machine, Space Shuttle.
  • Upon getting the trenchcoat, Raphael uses Humphrey Bogart's famous line, "Here's lookin' at you, kid."
  • Despite the Turtles not being sea turtles, as evidenced by their feet and a lack of flippers as normal baby turtles, the fishbowl they're carried in is full of water and the Turtles seem to have no trouble breathing. This is actually a frequent inconsistency throughout the entire series, as there are numerous times throughout the series when the Turtles are in danger of drowning, and in the Season 7 episode "Atlantis Awakes", the Turtles are able to breathe underwater without aid.
  • A flashback of this episode is used in the season 3 episode, "Blast from the Past".
  • Leonardo, Michelangelo and Donatello all have small sleeves for their weapons under their belts, they will use these until the end of Season 2.


Michelangelo: PIZZA TIME!!!
Raphael: Who had the pepperoni and ice-cream?
Donatello: I want some of the jelly beans and mushrooms.
Michelangelo: Yeah, get me a slice of anchovies and peanut butter!
April O'Neil: This is seriously grossing me out!
Raphael: :She talks, she walks!
April: How can you eat that junk?
Donatello: How can you eat raw fish? Blech!
-- The Turtles and April debate fine cuisine in a sewer.


Burne: Where the devil is April? She's been gone almost a day!
Vernon: Well, it's not like she was irreplaceable, or anything.
Burne: Look at THAT. Another hi-tech warehouse hit last night! This story's heating up, and I have to lose my second-best reporter!
Vernon: April wasn't your second best reporter.
Burne: Well....third best! ...maybe.
-- April's co-workers are JERKS.


[The Turtles are searching for clues for the secret hideout of the punks who tackled April.]
Michelangelo: Were not going to find anything here.
Donatello: (after picking up a clue): Ninja Pizza?
Raphael: :Well, whaddaya know.
Michelangelo: Rock dudes! Do you realize what this is??!!
Donatello: The crucial peice of evidence we were looking for?
Raphael: The clue which will lead us to the heart of the evil ninja empire?
Michelangelo: No, better! It's a place where we can get some pizza!
Raphael: RIGHT ON!!!
-- Well, at least we know the Turtles have got their priorities straight.


Leonardo: We had better go with you April.
Raphael: Yeah, besides...WE'RE HUNGRY!
April: But if you draw a lot of attention we will be in big trouble.
Donatello: Relax. We know all about humans.
April: How?
Michelangelo: We watch a lot of TV.
April: We are in big trouble.
-- April and the Turtles on blending in with society.


April: We won't get anywhere unless we do something about your looks. (he sees a mens clothing store.) Wait here.
[She gives them all night coats and fedoras.]
(Raph puts his hat on.)
Raphael: Here's lookin' at you, kid.
April: Well it's a SLIGHT improvement.
-- April gets disguises and shows she doesn't care for cheesy Humphrey Bogart impressions.


[A disguised Leonardo slices a guy's box stand in two, after being asked to "cut the cards"]
April: Nice going, Raphael! Only half the people on the street saw that!
Leonardo: I'm Leonardo.
April: Oh, sorry.
Street Vendor: Fake teeth! Goofy noses! Get 'em here!
Raphael: Hey April, why do humans want to make themselves dumber-looking than they already are?
April: I really don't know, Michelangelo.
Raphael: I'm Raphael.
April: Oh, sorry.
[Sees a guy holding a boombox walk by]
Donatello:Uh, April?
April: Sigh... yes?
Donatello: Why do human beings want to make themselves deaf?
April: I really have no idea, Leonardo.
Donatello: I'm Donatello.
April: Sorry!
-- April getting the Turtles' names wrong


April: I'm going to check it out.
Donatello: No, April. It's too dangerous. You wouldn't last 5 minutes in a ninja pizza parlor.
Donatello: I love saying lines like that. (rimshot)
-- Donatello:, showing concern, breaking the fourth wall, and...saying something funny, apparently.


Shredder: So, they are up above...But who are they?
Donatello: [spotting Shredder's image on the huge TV screens] Hey look, An ACME Technologies digital video tranciever!! This is Big League gear!
Michelangelo: [looking at Shredder's image] Whoa, who's the dude with the metal face?
Shredder: [he turns off the video screen and rotates round in his chair] They are the Turtles! (removes face mask) Hamato Yoshi's turtles!! They must not discover my Technodrome!
-- Mere seconds later, Shredder loudly announces the existence of the Technodrome in front of them. Well played, Shredder!



External links