Leatherhead appeared in the '87 TV series as an enemy of the Turtles, who fought them on several different occasions. He was redesigned for this series by his original Mirage Comics creator, Ryan Brown.
Leatherhead was a giant green alligator before he swam through a portion of Florida's Everglades swamp, polluted with mutagen (due to previous activities of Krang and Shredder, the one that gave birth to the Punk Frogs) where he mutated to his current humanoid form. But despite his new intelligence he could not shake off his ferocity and hunting instincts entirely, which is why he was a danger to anyone who crossed his path.
After his mutation, Leatherhead wears a yellow cargo vest, blue rubber waders (rubber pants that go over boots & regular pants, held up by straps over shoulders), a brown belt, and a disheveled pink hat. He usually carries bear traps & large crayfish on his person. He is a survivalist and tracker. Here he is portrayed as backwoods and is far more stupid than his other incarnations.
In his first appearance, the turtles' allies, the Punk Frogs (Napoleon Bonafrog, Genghis Frog, Attila the Frog, and Rasputin the Mad Frog), who had also been mutated by the same swamp, find themselves enslaved by Leatherhead, until he was captured by the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles who came to save the frogs. He escaped thanks to Shredder and Rocksteady, though they are defeated in the end.
Then he went to New York City to get revenge on the turtles. He then hunted the Turtles within their own turf the sewers. While he searched for the Turtles he got captured by the Rat King, towards whom he does not show much respect (thinking of him as "a few shrimp shy of a boatload"). He later freed himself and they bickered and attempt to kill one another until they decide partnering to eliminate the Turtles is more likely to succeed.
Later, they made an alliance to capture the turtles and sent robot-rats and android alligators to kill them, this however failed
- "Leatherhead: Terror of the Swamp"
- "Leatherhead Meets the Rat King"
- "Splinter Vanishes"
- "Night of the Rogues"