The Big Cufflink Caper! is a season 4 episode of the 1987-1996 series.
The Turtles go over their various disguises as they prepare to head for the surface, with Donatello expressing a desire to wear a specially-tailored formal suit. It turns out that the Turtles are currently stuck in a rut, with nothing to really occupy their time.
Fortunately for their sanity, mobsters have been breaking into high-society stores, homes and functions, where they steal nothing but cufflinks. Hearing about it on the news, Donatello latches onto the mystery of the whole thing, despite Raphael declaring the crime spree "incredibly STUPID." They decide to investigate this seemingly frivolous crime, just to get out of their rut.
They decide to infiltrate a retirement ceremony for a toy-making company, on the basis that gold cufflinks will presumably be given to the retiree. This also gives them the opportunity to wear their formal suits, although Splinter seems a little confused by what they're doing. They sneak into the building and witness the theft of more cufflinks, and Leonardo recognizes them as the henchmen of gangster Big Louie. He decides that in order to find out what's going on, the Turtles will have to pretend to switch sides and join Big Louie's mob.
At Big Louie's hideout, it is revealed that the mob boss is stealing cufflinks for Shredder, who was demanding a certain pair called the Cufflinks of Cathay. He's enraged by the fact that Louie's men haven't found them yet. Just after he ends the transmission, the Turtles come in, dressed as mobsters.
Louie reacts with hostility and distrust, but eventually accepts their declaration that they're tired of being heroes and want in on the money and cufflinks. So he decides to test them, He sends the Turtles to find a rival mob boss, Babyface "The Beaver" Cleaver, and put him and his men "on ice." The Turtles are visibly shaken by the idea, but they have to do something in order to prove themselves.
They locate Babyface's hideout and provoke the tiny mob boss into fighting them, and end up chasing him into a nearby mall. In particular, they fight on the indoor ice rink, where the Turtles struggle to stay upright as Babyface approaches them with a zamboni machine. The Turtles manage to shatter the ice under the zamboni, thus literally putting Babyface and his men "on ice."
The Turtles return to tell Big Louie of their success, and Leonardo asks why he's stealing cufflinks. He tells them that they're actually only after one pair, the Cufflinks of Cathay. One Chinese man created an explosive powerful enough to blow up an entire city and disguised it as a simple ruby. Centuries later a munitions expert found it and converted it into one of a pair of cufflinks. Big Louie says that certain parties are willing to spend a fortune for the explosive cufflinks, which piques Leonardo and Donatello's interests.
In Dimension X, Krang rages about Big Louie not having found the cufflinks, Bebop and Rocksteady question why they want fashion accessories in the first place, and are informed that the explosive contained in one of the cufflinks could blow the Technodrome free of its hardened lava prison.
Donatello brainstorms that the cufflinks might be at the home of Pietro Calzone, a pizza tycoon who has the largest collection of antique cufflinks in the world. Michelangelo is uneasy about the whole thing, as breaking and entering was against their moral code. Donatello says that they can't be worried about the ethics since the fate of the world is at stake (and Raphael adds that they didn't bring the Turtle Codebook).
Just then April and Irma arrive, having had a similar idea of where the robbers will strike next. However, they are shocked when Donatello blurts out that THEY are the thieves, having been assigned this by Big Louie. April refuses to leave despite the possibility of danger, and the Turtles head into the mansion, which has a variety of booby-traps based on pizza. Eventually they find the cufflink collection, which happens to have the Cufflinks of Cathay on display.
But just as they take the cufflinks, Big Louie and his men appear, aiming weapons at them. Shredder and his mutants appear out of a portal and demand the cufflinks, which Donatello reluctantly does. A distraction arrives in the person of Calzone, who unleashes yet more pizza traps on Big Louie and Shredder, but the Turtles manage to escape with the cufflinks and drive off. April chooses that moment to rush towards the house, and she and Irma are immediately captured.
The Turtles head for a pizza parlor, where Donatello reveals that the explosive cufflink has lost potency over the centuries, but Leonardo points out that Shredder could still try to duplicate its chemical structure. Just then April's camera is thrown through the window wrapped in a ransom letter, demanding the cufflinks' return at an old taffy factory.
They arrive to the factory to see April and Irma suspended over a vat of hot taffy, as well as Shredder and Big Louie's men. Donatello threatens to blow them all up by dropping the explosive cufflink, and then throws one of them into the taffy vat. A fight breaks out, with Michelangelo swooping in to save April and Irma, and Bebop and Rocksteady uncovering the cufflink in a taffy candy. Shredder calls for a portal, and the three villains get away.
As the Turtle Van drives away, Leonardo asks whether Shredder got the explosive or the real ruby. Donatello isn't entirely sure.
In Dimension X, Krang mocks Shredder, saying that he was tricked by the Turtles, because they would never allow the explosive cufflink out of their hands. Enraged, Shredder tosses the cufflink, only for it to explode against some machinery. In the Turtle Van, the Turtles are startled by a comm feed from Shredder, who cursed them for "tricking him into giving him the real explosive" and vows revenge. The Turtles honestly didn't have any idea what he's talking about, and Raphael comments that Shredder had finally lost it.
Back in the Lair, Donatello decides to test out his buffer machine to clean up the other cufflink to return to Calzone. Raphael is edgy about it, since they really don't know if that one was explosive as well. Donatello assures him it's safe, until he gets blown back by an explosion. He chalks it up to his machine still having a few bugs in it.
- Leonardo (Cam Clarke)
- Donatello (Barry Gordon)
- Michelangelo (Townsend Coleman)
- Raphael (Rob Paulsen)
- Splinter (Peter Renaday)
- April O'Neil (Renae Jacobs)
- Irma Langinstein (Jennifer Darling)
- Shredder (James Avery)
- Bebop (Barry Gordon)
- Rocksteady (Cam Clarke)
- Krang (Pat Fraley)
- Big Louie (Peter Renaday)
- Pietro Calzoni (James Avery)
- Baby Face "The Beaver" Cleaver (Cam Clarke)
- Wally Cleaver (Pat Fraley)
- Gargantuan Toy Company Toy Designer (Peter Renaday)
- Wealthy Cufflink Victim (Townsend Coleman)
- Wealthy Opera House Woman (Jennifer Darling)
- Turtles' Lair
- Toy Fair
- Vinnie's Pizzeria
- Pietro Calzoni's mansion
- Taffy factory
- Shopping mall
- Babyface "Beaver" Cleaver's hideout
- Big Louie's hideout
Home media releases
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Big Cuff Link Caper
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season 4
- Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Complete Classic Series Collection
- In the fourth shot of Donatello holding up his suit, the bow tie from it is missing.
- When the Turtles find April and Irma tied to the taffy machine the shot of the pair is freeze-framed.
- First appearance of Big Louie, though the Turtles act like they encountered him before.
- Tony "The Butcher" Vivaldi (or his double) appears as one of Big Louie's henchman but he has a different voice.
- The plot for this episode is very similar to "The Maltese Hamster".
- Babyface "Beaver" Cleaver and Wally Cleaver are parodies of characters in the 1950s TV series Leave it to Beaver.
- Donatello: "Cufflinks are vanishing all over the city, but why? What could the robbers possibly want?"
Michelangelo: "I KNOW! They want... cufflinks!"
Raphael: "Can we pretend we never met?"
Donatello: "But why steal cufflinks? It's mind-boggling! It's baffling! It's-"
Raphael: "INCREDIBLY STUPID!"
- Leonardo: "Look! It's the Beaver's hideout!"
Donatello: "Ooh, you mean that incredibly stylish four-story shopping mall?"
Leonardo: "No, I mean that incredibly run-down old warehouse next to the mall!"
Michelangelo: "How come these gangster dudes always hang out in old abandoned warehouses?"
Raphael: "Because there aren't any old abandoned luxury penthouse suites."
- Michelangelo: "Killer pizza trays!? Heavy duty!"
Donatello: "Boy, this guy's even more hung up on pizza than we are!"
Raphael: "Yeah! What's he gonna do next? Spray us with tomato sauce? Yaaah! (armor suir sprays him in the face with tomato sauce) I HAD to ask...