TMNT April O’Neil Biography
APRIL O'NEIL QUICK FACTS
Meaning: Open (From the French Avril”)
Personality: Helpful Confidant
As the first human the turtles encountered, April O’Neil has proven to be a faithful friend and confidant to her mutant comrades. Since the very first day, she has served as a liaison to the surface, providing key information for all endeavors, especially when it comes to tracking the actions of Shredder and other villains. When they were down on their luck, April gave the turtles a place to say, a base for their operations, and a safe house whenever they were caught on the surface. Often times, she’s shown as working for a news station, although she’s also often a scientist or especially intelligent, making her a key member to the turtle team.
In the first story of the comics, April worked as a lab assistant for Baxter Stockman. When she learned that Stockman was using his mouser robots to rob banks, she tried to get away from him and made her way into the sewers. The turtles rescued her, and made a new friend from the human world. After quitting her job with Stockman, April reopened her father’s antique shop, and served as the mutants’ link to the outside world. As the team expanded, April grew close to Casey Jones, and the two fell in love. They married and adopted a daughter, but their little family always suffered hardship from their association with the turtles. Eventually, she was forced to leave NYC to stay safe, while Casey and their daughter stayed in the city.
For the 1987 animated series, April was again the turtles’ confidant and friend; this time she was a 28-year-old journalist for Channel 6, and was always trying to get the best scoop on the goings on of NYC’s felonious underworld. She was jumped by some thugs one day while on assignment, and was saved by the turtles. The turtles agreed to help her catch the thugs, and a fast friendship was formed. She was their link to the outside world, and her position as a reporter gave her access to information that always proved crucial to stopping the latest villain’s scheme. However, more often than not she found herself as the damsel in distress that the boys would come rescue.
The 2003 series saw April become more of a big sister than just a friend. She served her usual role, but was also somewhat of a mentor when it came to human world lessons, and learning to grow as individuals (and not just ninjas). She again started as Stockman’s assistant, but when his scheming ways brought her job to an end, April reopened the antique shop and dedicated herself to helping the turtles. The shop often served as ground zero for battles, but she always rebuilt and persevered, and never turned her back on her friends. April’s intelligence and familiarity with gadgets gave her a special connection to Donatello, but she also wanted to be more useful in battle, and received plenty of ninja training from Master Splinter.
With the changes made to the 2012 series, April received a few of her own. Like the turtles, she was a teenager, and her scientist father was kidnapped by the Kraang, leading to her introduction to the mutant brothers. April stayed in the sewer with her new friends until they were able to free her father, at which point she went to live back on the surface. However, her dad was then mutated, forcing her back into an uncomfortable living situation. She also has abilities of her own, possessed by no other character, which stem from her mother being experimented on by the Kraang, leading to the development of psychic ability in the woman’s unborn baby daughter (and making her the perfect specimen that will stabilize the mutagen in this dimension). April is not only in the throes of a relationship with Casey Jones, but she also has Donatello infatuated with her. In between battles and school, April is being trained as a kunoichi by Splinter, mastering the fan blade as her weapon of choice.
April was featured in all four films, showing up initially as a reporter who was attacked by thieves. She escaped with the turtles’ help, and Raphael ultimately brought her back to the lair. After Splinter’s capture and the lair being compromised, she allowed the turtles to move in with her. Like her mutant friends, April was always at the center of the action, and in the fourth movie she worked as an antiques dealer, but also a competently trained ninja, having practiced considerably since her trip back in time to feudal Japan.
In all her forms, April O’Neil has maintained the same role. She’s always been a friend, ally, and confidant for the turtles and Splinter. When the rat master’s concern was that humans would be afraid of and persecute his sons, April showed him that there were some individuals worth trusting. She’s always been able to get Splinter to ease up and look at the human world as a safe place for his family, and not the dangerous one that he once believed it to be. Thanks to her (and other, like Casey Jones), the turtles are able to have real friends, and expand their horizons beyond their sewer lair.
In the 1987 show, there’s one aspect of April that never showed up again. She’s shown to be smart, determined, and capable as an individual, and yet somehow she’s always being captured. Not just once or twice, but in almost every episode. Sometimes it’s multiple captures in a single episode. She acts more inept than the audience was suppose to believe. Obviously, since the show was only about selling toys to young boys the strong female character isn’t going to be played up. But would it have been so wrong to have April be a little more capable? Increasing the audience to include girls, and breaking the mold of female cartoon characters would have been great ways to hide the fact that it was just a commercial, and could have showcased several new toys as well. (Perhaps a line of ninja female figures that kids could have battled against their TMNT team.)
For as little growth as the 1987 April showed, the 2012 version is the complete opposite. She has more potential than any other character in the series, and many times the show seems to be more about her story than the turtles. Being a teenager means that she’s not put into just one category or profession. She’s already acted as ninja, student, friend, and so much more. The sky’s the limit for this version of April O’Neil. She’s shown to be capable, and treated as such in situations where she can exercise her skills. It was also brilliant to make her integral to the larger story in play for the series. Knowing that her mother was experimented on by the Kraang, and that she possesses abilities that make her the key to stabilizing the mutagen gives her an importance that she’s never had before. This is exceptionally important, because she is a part of the team and deserves to be treated as more than just a secondary character, finally.
No matter how many times the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are revamped and recreated, April O’Neil will always be a part of the team. Her understanding and compassion make her the perfect friend, and she will never cease to be a help in understanding the human world. What April brings to the team can’t be replaced, no matter how much anyone else might try.
The current April has a number 5 on her shirt, the meaning of which is unknown (although it could represent her role as the “5thTurtle”).
April has a love/hate relationship with Casey Jones in every incarnation.
In the 2003 series, April puts on a yellow jumpsuit for a few moments as an homage to her former self.
The current show gives some background on April’s mother (a long forgotten character), and that April has a direct connection to the Kraang because of testing done on her mother.