In the 1987 TMNT animated series, April O'Neil was a television reporter for Channel 6 News. She was employed by Burne Thompson, though she expressed frequent disagreement with his assignments for her due to her headstrong nature and passion for her work. She also butted heads on a regular basis with Vernon Fenwick, the director/camera operator whose enormous ego compelled him to scoop April on her stories whenever possible. April was best friends with Irma, the receptionist at Channel 6. Her Channel 6 News Van was a blue van that had classic headlights and the Channel 6 News logo on each side. April could usually be found wearing a distinctive yellow jumpsuit with white boots. She lived in an apartment in New York City, though during the course of the series, she was forced to relocate several times due to a variety of indirect Turtle-related mishaps.
In the 1987 series, April was reporting a series of thefts of high-tech scientific equipment, apparently by a ninja, when she came under attack by a gang of street punks. Thinking quickly, she managed to squeeze into a storm drain and ran from the mob until she hit a dead end. The Turtles were nearby and defeated the punks for her. She was taken back to their sewer lair, where they explained their origins to her. At first, she believed them to be responsible for the equipment thefts, but they agreed to provide her with the true culprits if she provided her assistance and didn't tell people about them. April quickly became the Turtles' major link to the outside world, since their unusual appearance effectively precluded them from functioning above ground without some sort of disguise.
April's friendship with the Turtles resulted in the opportunity to film exclusive footage of their encounters with Shredder, but despite her intimate knowledge of the details of their lives, she tended to keep her professional news reports about them impersonal and mysterious. She was a vocal champion of their cause, despite the opinion of Burne Thompson that the Turtles were a menace to the city, and most episodes generally showed her attempting to convince Burne that the Turtles are not the criminals he is convinced they are. April was frequently kidnapped by Shredder, quite often as bait in order to lure the Turtles out of hiding in order to unleash his latest attempt at destruction upon them. Turtles Forever exploited this plot device to comic effect when the 2003 Turtles arrived in the 1987 Turtles' dimension, with 1987 Donatello commenting that they saved April at least once a day to the extent that watches could be set by it.
April revealed her age in the Season 3 episode, "Leather Head - Terror of The Swamp". While in Florida for vacation, the Turtles meet with her, and join forces with the Punk Frogs. They find a body of water contaminated with mutagen, which makes mutants feel youthful, while physically de-aging humans into 4 year old versions of themselves. Donatello does not allow April to enter the water, to which April laments, "Oh, great! I'm doomed to be a decrepid twenty-eight year old hag!" Based on this exclamation, April was born in 1962; April met the Turtles at the age of twenty-five, and was age thirty-five by the final season.
Her Aunt Agatha ("Aggie"), who appeared in the episodes ("Case of the Case of the Hot Kimono" and "Sleuth on the Loose"), is a detective.
April was normally portrayed as a capable woman, but also filled the role of the typical plot device of damsel-in-distress. Her obsession with "getting a story" led to numerous instances of poor judgment which often resulted in her getting captured for the Turtles to save. April's innate curiosity and determination placed her in danger on several occasions as well. Her most important contribution to the Turtles was her experience in doing research on the Channel 6 computers and alerting the Turtles to trouble and possible case leads.