- Though much more lighthearted than the 2003 version this show still has its moments of this. One of the most memorable is "Turtles, Turtles Everywhere." Shredder and Krang reprogram a network of robotic garbage trucks and order them to capture "the turtles." With no knowledge of the TMNT, the trucks start rounding up every turtle in the city, and eventually what is said to be the last surviving member of an endangered sea turtle species, just as she was about to lay her eggs. One of the reasons it's such a great episode is that, unique among shows in The '80s, it's actually a Green Aesop done right. Unlike Captain Planet villains and much more similar to real-world polluters, Shredder and Krang aren't actually intending to damage the environment as its own end; they're just greedy and don't care if it's a side-effect. At the end of the episode, they put a stop to the plan and return the sea turtle to the beach to finish laying her eggs and the resident joker Michelangelo starts sobbing as she swims off saying that she reminds him of his mother. Also, while they attempt to end the episode on a humorous note after that bit, it actually becomes sadder when rewatching it as an adult, when you can think about it enough to worry that even though the sea turtle got to lay her eggs after all, based on April's claim that she was the last surviving member of her species, the eggs might not have been fertilized. So she could still be the last of her kind, ever.
- In "Splinter No More", it's pretty hard to see Splinter lamenting his loss of his humanity to the point of shedding tears. This becomes much Harsher in Hindsight when you remember that Splinter destroyed Shredder's Retro Mutagen Ray in order to save the turtles, but also destroying the one thing that could return him to his human form in the process.
- In the episode "Hot Rodding Teenagers", it's tough to see Kala break down as she explains that the only reason that she and the other Neutrinos are on the run is because that they are kids who would like to have fun instead of fighting in Dimension X's infinite war, and are being hunted down for it.Kala: "You don't know what it's like.... living in a place where everyone wants to do you in....just for the crime of being young." (She starts to cry.)
- The beginning of "Splinter Vanishes".
- The penultimate example for most fans of the original series is in the opening episode "Get Shredder" where Shredder actually destroys the Channel 6 building which takes it out of commission for the rest of the series.
- Meta-wise, the death of James Avery, Shredder's original voice actor, on December 31, 2013.
Tear Jerker / Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987)