|~ Leatherhead's catchphrase in the original cartoon.|
|“||I let my rage consume me... I let my reptilian rage overwhelm my human intellect... ...and in my blind rage I have hurt other sentient beings...||„|
|~ Leatherhead in the Mirage Comics.|
Leatherhead is a major character in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise and related media. He is a mutated alligator who, dependent on the version, serves as one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' closest allies or fiercest opponents. He serves as an anti-hero in the Mirage and Archie comic series, a reoccurring antagonist in the 1987 animated series, and an anti-villain in the IDW comic series.
He was voiced by Jim Cummings and Peter Renaday (Night of the Rogues) in the 1987 animated series, F.B. Owens (Seasons 2 and 3) and Gary Lewis (later seasons) in the 2003 animated series, and Peter Lurie in the 2012 animated series.
Leatherhead appears as a supporting character in the original Mirage comics as an anti-hero.
In the 1987 cartoon, he is a mutated villain who made slaves out of the Punk Frogs until he was captured by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who came to save the frogs. He escaped thanks to Shredder, Rocksteady, and Bebop. Then, he went to New York City to get revenge on the turtles, but got captured by the Rat King, and later freed himself and tried to wrestle him down until they made an alliance to capture the turtles and send robot-rats and android alligators to kill them. However, this failed. But they later worked together again, along with some other villains one time with Shredder to capture them.
Leatherhead also kidnapped April O'Neil and her coworker/frenemy, Vernon, numerous times throughout the series, sometimes separately and sometimes together. His main method of capture was simply shackling someone's neck into a neck chain and dragging them along behind him.
Leatherhead first appears in Issue #6 of the Archie series. As opposed to most versions where Leatherhead is a mutated alligator, here he is depicted as being an impoverish man known as Jess Harley, who steals a large gem from the supposed swamp witch Mary Bones. Harley travels to New York to sell the gem, but loses it in the sewer, where Mary Bones discovers him. To punish Harley, Bones uses the power of the gem—in reality, an alien device called the Turnstone—to transform him into a mutant alligator. Now called Leatherhead, he accidentally stumbles upon one of Shredder's hideouts, and is convinced by the villain that the Turtles are in league with Mary Bones and can transform him back into a human. Leatherhead then battles the Turtles alongside Bebop and Rocksteady, until being convinced of Shredder's manipulations by Raphael.
Leatherhead seemingly perishes by destroying the bridge he and the Turtles had been fighting on, although it is soon revealed that he was saved by Cudly the Cowlick, and is recruited into the Intergalactic Wrestling League. Much later, Leatherhead and his fellow wrestlers join the Turtles in keeping Krang and Maligna's forces from acquiring the Turnstone. During the battle, Leatherhead meets Cherubae—the true form of Mary Bones—and learns that she transformed him knowing that he would one day help the Turtles. Leatherhead would subsequently join the Mighty Mutanimals team and remained a close ally of the Turtles for the rest of the series, up until the Mutanimals' death at the hands of Null.
In the 2003 animated series, Leatherhead has a different backstory: He was once a baby alligator that got mutated. He was found by an alien race called the Utroms and became their top scientist. Later, he went wild and escaped. He was then found by the Turtles to be an ally. There are two sides of his personality, a brilliant being and a wild monster.
Leatherhead started life as a baby alligator who had been secretly raised by a child. But the child's parents found him, and flushed him down the toilet. He ended up being banished to the sewer drains, where he was found by the Kraang. The Kraang, upon discovering him, took him in and subjected him to several tests. But he escaped and revolted against the Kraang. The turtles saved him, but the damage had already been done. His hatred runs so deep that even hearing the word 'Kraang' sends him into an uncontrollable rage. Later, he became a valuable ally and friend to the Turtles, especially Michelangelo.
Leatherhead appears in the IDW comics with his character being a mix of the 1987 (his being an enemy of the Turtles), Mirage Comics/2003 (the fact he is brilliant, but can also easily fall into an uncontrollable rage), and 2012 incarnations (his hatred towards Krang) but is far more vicious than previous versions as his hatred towards Krang extends to the entire Utrom race (to which he was responsible for murdering several Utroms and later Krang himself) and he believes it is goal to protect all normal animals from Mutants to whom he believes should not exist. Also like his Archie Comics/2012 series incarnations he was approached for membership in the Mighty Mutanimals but rejected it due to his and Old Hob's opposing beliefs.
- In most incarnations Leatherhead was captured and subjected to various tests to which he develops a personal hatred against the one responsible, namely Agent Bishop in the 2003 series, the Kraang in the 2012 series and Krang (and by extension all Utroms) in the IDW Comics.