Turtles on Trial
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987 Cartoon) episode
Season Code: 03
Episode: 02
Original airdate September 26, 1989
Written by Michael Reaves
Episode chronology
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"Beneath These Streets" "Attack of the 50-Foot Irma"
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 1989 Season
October 19, 1989 - December 22, 1989
List of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles episodes


  1. "Beneath These Streets"
  2. "Turtles on Trial"
  3. "Attack of the 50-Foot Irma"
  4. "The Maltese Hamster"
  5. "Sky Turtles"
  6. "The Old Switcheroo"
  7. "Burne's Blues"
  8. "The Fifth Turtle"
  9. "Enter the Rat King"
  10. "Turtles at the Earth's Core"
  11. "April Fool"
  12. "Attack of Big MACC"
  13. "The Ninja Sword of Nowhere"
  14. "20,000 Leaks Under the City"
  15. "Take Me to Your Leader"
  16. "Four Musketurtles"
  17. "Turtles, Turtles Everywhere"
  18. "Cowabunga Shredhead"
  19. "Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers"
  20. "Camera Bugged"
  21. "Green With Jealousy"
  22. "Return of the Fly"
  23. "Casey Jones - Outlaw Hero"
  24. "Mutagen Monster"
  25. "Corporate Raiders from Dimension X"
  26. "Pizza by the Shred"
  27. "Super Bebop & Mighty Rocksteady"
  28. "Beware the Lotus"
  29. "Blast from the Past"
  30. "Leatherhead: Terror of the Swamp"
  31. "Michelangelo's Birthday"
  32. "Usagi Yojimbo"
  33. "Case of the Hot Kimono"
  34. "Usagi Come Home"
  35. "The Making of Metalhead"
  36. "Leatherhead Meets the Rat King"
  37. "The Turtle Terminator"
  38. "The Great Boldini"
  39. "The Missing Map"
  40. "The Gang's All Here"
  41. "The Grybyx"
  42. "Mister Ogg Goes to Town"
  43. "Shredderville"
  44. "Bye, Bye, Fly"
  45. "The Big Rip-Off"
  46. "The Big Break-In"
  47. "The Big Blow Out"

1987 Season1988 Season1989 Season1990 Season - 1991 Season1992 Season1992-1993 Vacation in Europe sideseason1993 Season1994 Season1995 Season1996 Season

Turtles on Trial is a season 3 episode of the 1987-1996 TV animated series.


Leonardo, Donatello and Raphael are enjoying an episode of professional wrestling when Michelangelo enters the room and turns the channel to "ON TRIAL," hosted by Clayton Kellerman, a rabble rouser who suggests that a clear and present danger is lurking in the sewers: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The Turtles are aghast and can't understand why Kellerman would be turning people against them. April dismisses the idea that there's anything to worry about, and reveals that she had her wardrobe department make human masks so the Turtles can move more freely in the streets. Despite their initial horror, the Turtles accept the gifts.

Meanwhile, Shredder is sweating from the heat, as Krang chews him out for his failure to retrieve the necessary components to repair the refrigeration units. Shredder has had enough and suggests that Krang go up on the Earth's surface and get what he needs and eliminate the Turtles himself. Krang considers this a good idea.

Back on the surface, April and the Turtles are enjoying pizza when an alarm sounds at a jewelry store nearby. The Turtles tear off their masks, chase and apprehend the thieves but then they are chased into the sewers by an angry mob. The Turtles decide that this is Clayton Kellerman's fault, and Leonardo asks April to help them get on the "ON TRIAL" show so that they can present their side of the story.

April manages to get the Turtles airtime, mainly because Burne Thompson anticipates massive ratings. However, Kellerman makes it clear that he plans to treat them badly.

Back inside the Technodrome, Krang, Rocksteady and Bebop see a promo for "ON TRIAL" advertising the TMNT. Krang is ecstatic; now all he needs is the perfect weapon to kill them with. Shredder has second thoughts, and decides that he wishes to go too. Krang reluctantly agrees, but only on the condition that Shredder act as a decoy while he breaks into the military warehouse containing the Solar Benite.

Shredder's module arrives in the Natural Museum of History. On the way to the television studio, Splinter contacts the Turtles via his Turtlecom, and alerts them to a break-in at the Natural Museum of History. The Turtles postpone their "15 minutes of fame" and arrive at the museum only to encounter Shredder, Rocksteady and Bebop.

Meanwhile, Krang and two Rock Soldiers obtain the Solar Benite and the prototype for a weapons-laden robot, which he plans to use against the Turtles.

Back at the museum, a crowd has gathered. The sight of the Turtles incites the crowd as Clayton Kellerman predicts huge ratings. Shredder captures April to keep the Turtles from attacking, and they reluctantly lay down their arms. Just then, Krang contacts Shredder and orders him to let them all go - he plans to destroy them on national TV with his new robot. Shredder is enraged, but Krang threatens him into agreeing.

With Shredder temporarily out of the picture, the Turtles realize that they still have time to appear on the "ON TRIAL" show. They get a bad case of stage fright as Clayton Kellerman makes "mincemeat" out of them, suggesting that they are cowards. Leonardo tries to explain about Krang and Dimension X, but it all falls upon deaf ears.

Krang appears outside the studio, challenging the Turtles to "come out and play" as he fires upon the building. Clayton Kellerman is undaunted by Krang until he is fired upon and then rescued by Michelangelo. Krang is easily defeated when the Turtles disable the robot. Shredder helps Krang slither back into the Pneumatic Module and they disappear back to the bowels of the Earth.

Clayton Kellerman thanks the Turtles, but promises to continue "badmouthing" them in order to protect his reputation. The Turtles are depressed by this news, especially since April lost her footage of their battle.

Character voices



Home media releases



Animation Errors

  • The TV set changes color between shots at the beginning of the episode.
  • The perspective on Shredder is a bit screwed up when Leonardo and Michelangelo trip him over...he's supposed to be smaller, to show that he's more in the background.
  • Leonardo and Raphael had opposite colors when Clayton pointed to the Turtles at the start of the trial.
  • When Leonardo explains to Clayton that they're saving the world from Krang, Michelangelo speaks in Raphael's voice.
  • The order of the Turtles on TV trial changes between shots.
  • Raphael is seen with Leonardo's colors in the mirror when the Turtles put on the rubber face masks.
  • When April says the turtles have given up pizza her mouth doesn't move.

Continuity Errors

  • The name of the show Michelangelo tunes into is called On Trial with Clayton Kellerman, but the title card only says 'Trial'.
  • The Technodrome is seen wedged between some rock formations at the start of the episode, but is in an entirely different location when it's seen again.
  • Rocksteady's machete was shown to be made of wood in an earlier episode, but it's made of metal when he threatens Donatello.
  • The Turtles toss their weapons neatly in front of them as they surrender, but as the episode cuts back, the weapons are scattered all over the floor.

Logic Errors

  • Why did the Turtles discard their human disguises in full view of everybody in the restaurant when they were going after the robbers? Wasn't the basic idea to not draw attention to themselves?
  • The Turtles are basically lambasted by the crowd as being "No good!" after stopping a pair of robbers.
  • Krang's super-weapon causes explosions and even destroys concrete on impact, but it merely stuns Michelangelo when it hits him in the chest at point-blank range.
  • What's more, when Shredder uses the Tunneler to escape, magma appears immediately after.
  • Clayton Kellerman, mistakenly calls the turtles amphibians instead of reptiles.


  • The premise of this episode (namely, somebody on TV saying the Turtles are evil and turning the public against them) is later used in the Red Sky seasons.
  • In production order, this was the second episode of the third season.
  • Curiously, Krang's "Atomic Destabiliser" looks like a modified fighter jet, while his "Freeze Ray" appears like a modified tank.
  • This is the first appearance of Krang's Bubble Walker, which he would occasionally use for covert missions.
  • It is revealed in this episode that Michelangelo has stage fright.
  • Starting from this episode, Irma is shown to wear white bloomers under her skirt. You can tell when she falls over during Krang's attack.
  • Bebop using a spinning mace as a weapon would be revisited in the video game Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III: The Manhattan Project, albeit using it on his head.
  • First appearance of the Turtles' human rubber face masks.
  • The Channel 6 building now has a new permanent design which will last until it's final appearance in "Get Shredder!".
  • The part of the fight with Michelangelo wearing knight armour and twirling his nunchucks as well as the shot of him nervously fumbling with the weapons when April was filming him were removed from the UK broadcast of this episode.
  • Clayton Kellerman resembles infamous talk show host Morton Downey, Jr., in terms of his personality. While the show On Trial also features a similar format to Downey's self-titled late night talk show that was broadcasting at the time that this episode was produced. Both shows were considered "trashy" and known to have a rowdy audience that would easily get riled up.
  • Bebop's favorite show is The Slurps, which is a reference to the Smurfs TV series.
  • Rocksteady says, "It's taps for you, Turtles!", referencing the famous tune played on a horn at the funeral of a soldier.
  • The robot stolen by Krang resembles ED-209 from the movie RoboCop.


Michelangelo: "We fight for truth, justice and a bigger slice of the pizza pie!"

April: Uh-oh....trouble!

Raphael: Don't worry, April...."trouble" is our middle name!

Donatello: ...I didn't know we had middle names.

- Raphael's quips tend to fly over Donatello's head sometimes.

Donatello: It's all that Clayton Kellerman's fault. We should do something about him!

Leonardo: April! Can you get us airtime on "On Trial", to present our side?

April: Oh, I'm sure I could. Burne Thompson would okay anything that would deliver big ratings.

- I wouldn't be so sure of that, April.

Splinter: A wise man has nothing to fear from laughter, Michelangelo.

- After all, Splinter's pretty sure they're laughing at Shredder's antics enough already.

Shredder: It's not fair! I deserve to have a part in this! The Turtles are my enemies, too!

- The master of the dreaded Foot Clan tends to act like a four-year old when he's not invited to play.

Donatello: Hey! They just trashed the amphibian exhibit! That's it...no more Mr. Nice Turtle!

- Don't ever mess with the Amphibian Exhibit in Donatello's presence. Ever.

Bebop: YEOOOOOW!!! Look out!! A monster!!

- Bebop, on seeing his own reflection.

(April gets captured by Shredder)

Donatello: He's got April!

Raphael: (sarcastically) I've always admired your quick grasp of the situation.

- Raphael says what we're all thinking.

(interviewing Turtles)

Clayton: And if you're such nice guys, how come you carry weapons?

- Clayton, who has apparently never encountered a security guard, police officer or soldier before in his life. Naturally, the audience eats it up.



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