[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/thomas_tank_engine_1_9566.jpg]]

-> ''"It's Thomas The Tank Engine,\\
Hip, hip, hip, hooray,\\
Chugga-Chugga, Chug Chug,\\
Chuff, Chuff, Chuff,\\
He rides along the way,\\
And when you hear that whistle,\\
It can only be one train,\\
Our Favorite little engine,\\
Thomas is his name."''
-->'''-Thomas Anthem'''

''Thomas The Tank Engine and Friends'', now known as ''Thomas and Friends'', is a British series first broadcast in 1984. It began life as ''Literature/TheRailwaySeries'', a series of books about a group of [[CoolTrain talking steam engines]] living on the Island of Sodor and the adventures they have under the guardianship of the Fat Controller (Sir Topham Hatt). The books were originally written by the Reverend Wilbert Awdry; his son Christopher now has the job. There is also a widely-available series of books based on TV episodes.

The books were adapted for British television by Britt Allcroft in 1984. The first four series followed the books, but since Series 5 the show has gone in a completely different direction, so much so that the show and books are almost unrecognizable to each other. In the US, the stories were originally [[FramingDevice encapsulated]] into the live-action PBS show ''ShiningTimeStation''; later series are DirectToVideo.

The show steadily became a worldwide hit, leading to the franchise becoming increasingly MerchandiseDriven (especially following it's new ownership by toy company Mattel), many recent additions are developed at least with the partial intent of selling new toys to kids (with varying degrees of subtlety). Thomas has also spawned a popular long running magazine series, that similarly has [[RecursiveAdaptation played its part in elements of the show itself]].

The episodes--and until ''Hero of the Rails'', the characters as well--are told through a {{narrator}}, with many of the stories being renarrated for North American audiences. These narrators include:

UK:
* Music/RingoStarr: 1-2.
* Michael Angelis: 3-16.
* Pierce Brosnan: ''The Great Discovery''.
* Mark Moraghan: 17 and onward.

North America:
* Ringo Starr: 1-2.
* Creator/GeorgeCarlin: 3-4, renarrated 1-2.
* Alec Baldwin: 5-6.
* Michael Brandon: 7-16.
* Pierce Brosnan: ''The Great Discovery''.
* Mark Moraghan: 17 and onward

In addition - long before the series was televised - some of ''The Railway Series'' stories were made into audiobooks narrated by children's TV presenter Johnny Morris and comedian Willie Rushton. The stories were released in the 1960s on 45rpm records under the Delyse label.

Oddly enough, care to take a guess at the group of children that favours ''Thomas'' above all other kids' shows? ''Autistic children.'' People with autism can be extremely sensitive to sensory input, but the visuals in ''Thomas'' are largely static - unless the trains are traveling, the only things moving are their eyes and the occasional smoke. Even when the trains ''do'' travel, it's not a particularly "busy" visual. Furthermore, the static, expressive faces help children with autism (or the milder Asperger's syndrome) to understand expressions and their connection to emotions. And the narration approach (as opposed to individual voices) also seems to help.

Here is a [[Characters/ThomasTheTankEngine list of all the main characters]] for more information.

----
!!The series includes:

* TheAce: Stanley and Spencer.
* AchievementsInIgnorance: In season 15, "Firey Flynn". Thomas's firebox catches on fire. Let that sink in for the moment.
* AchillesInHisTent: ''The Sad Story of Henry''.
* AcquiredSituationalNarcissism: This happens to many engines who were given important jobs, rewards, or are praised for their feats.
** Thomas becomes a bit stuck-up after he gets his branch line in season 1.
** Percy became cocky about overcoming the rainy weather from "Percy's Promise".
** Oliver experiences this after positive remarks about escaping from scrap from Gordon, James, and Henry.
** Scruff refuses to do work at the wastedump after getting a repaint in "Scruff's Makeover".
* AdaptationPersonalityChange: Many characters of ''Literature/TheRailwaySeries'' have ended up altered in the television series due to {{Flanderization}} coming into play during the show's long run. Thomas in particular is a more rude and pretentious character in most of the novels (only warming in the very later books). While early seasons kept to this depiction, he quickly became more altruistic and kind as the show branched away from the novels, as well as becoming something of a CloudCuckooLander come the CGI transition. Wiser supporting characters such as Edward and Toby also became more flawed and childlike to enable more spotlight episodes, while Henry, Gordon and James underwent a more thorough DivergentCharacterEvolution.
* ADayInTheLimelight: Season 17 had a ''lot'' of these; to compare, the amount of episodes dedicated to secondary characters (18) were more than double the amount which focused on the core cast (8). This is almost certainly [[InvokedTrope an attempt]] by the writing team to avoid having LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters existing purely for merchandising reasons.
* {{Adorkable}}: Thomas himself along with Percy are perhaps the most prominent examples. Other engines such as Henry, Toby and Edward are this DependingOnTheWriter.
* AesopAmnesia: Especially in the later seasons, with Thomas, James, Gordon and Duncan being the worst offenders.
* AIIsACrapshoot: These trains have personality issues. Not to mention the ridiculous amounts of crashes that they seem to get into. (See Incompetence Inc below)
* AllOfTheOtherReindeer: Harvey's crane, Peter Sam's special funnel, Sir Handel's wheels--although these make him egotistical until the events of "Steam Roller".
** Percy suffers from this on a few occasions, mainly in episodes such as "Put Upon Percy" and "Percy's Chocolate Crunch".
** Duck in the early episodes, though he really brought it on himself with his constant harping on about the inherent superiority of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Western_Railway the Great Western Railway]] above all others.
** Thomas was subject to this treatment in the first few episodes, but this is mainly because of being a [[BrattyHalfPint cheeky and fussy]] AttentionWhore.
* AllThereInTheManual: The books ''The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways'', ''Sodor: Reading Between the Lines'' and ''The Thomas the Tank Engine Man'' explain between them pretty much everything about the early series.
* AlternativeForeignThemeSong: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g75YK_yIxNM This]] is the theme song in Japan.
* AlwaysChaoticEvil: Most of Sodor's freight cars, along with any engine who actually gets along with them.
* [[AlwaysMale Always Male]]/[[AlwaysFemale Always Female]]: The trucks and coaches, respectively. The engines tend to prefer pulling the latter.
* AlwaysSomeoneBetter: Stanley in ''Thomas & The Great Discovery''. Also Spencer and City of Truro for Gordon.
* AnachronicOrder: Seasons 1-4 occasionally fall to this when the books are adapted out of order. The series is episodic outside of the occasional StoryArc, so it's usually not too obvious, or the script is edited to fit continuity. A jarring example however is the Season 2 episode "Percy Takes the Plunge", which references the events of "Percy's Promise", televised the following season, and Season 4's "Paint Pots and Queens", which takes place directly after Season 1's "Down the Mine" (though at least it's made clear in a flashback).
* AnachronismStew: The current series, as of ''Misty Island Rescue'', is set in TheSixties, yet uses engines from different time periods and locations on Sodor. A TruthInTelevision, since most modern steam railways use engines from different time periods and locations.
* AnAesop: including, but not limited to:
** BeYourself
** ThePowerOfFriendship
** [[TruthInTelevision Never be cocky or become careless around heavy machinery and freight cars.]]
** TeamSpirit: Particularly in the later series.
** BrokenAesop: Sadly, a good portion of these popped up very often during the first four CGI seasons. The worst offender may be the episode "The Biggest Present of All". Thomas is given the task of telling the other engines about a welcome party for Hiro at the Big Station, but Thomas thinks finding Hiro a welcome present would be more fun instead. He tells all his friends he's looking for a gift, but never tells them about the party. Later, he finds that Hiro is alone at the station, waiting for guests. Thomas is horrified and runs off to tell the others about the party, but they're all looking for presents too. Thomas ''[[{{Hypocrite}} promptly chews them out for doing the exact same thing he JUST did]]''.
** On a positive note, "Henry's Forest" handled the GreenAesop pretty well. Helps that it was an early episode, and that the last scenes are [[SceneryPorn very pretty.]]
* AnotherDimension: The Island of Sodor in ''Thomas and the Magic Railroad''. Also doubles as a MagicalLand. This is particularily odd as in the books and TV series Sodor was simply a small island directly besides Britain. The books also established that all the engines in the world, not just the Sodor ones, were alive, unlike in the movie where you can see nonsentient locomomtives.
* AppliedPhlebotinum: In ''Thomas and the Magic Railroad'', gold dust and [[spoiler:coal from Sodor]].
* ArsonMurderAndJaywalking: No matter what kind of horrific damage the engines cause, Sir Topham Hat always, ''always'' yells at them for causing "confusion and delay."
* ArtShift: Hiro's flashback in ''Hero Of The Rails'', as well as the opening credits.''Misty Island Rescue'' also does it.
* AscendedExtra: Some recurring engines like Diesel only appeared in a handful of stories from TheRailwaySeries.
* AscendedFridgeHorror: The earlier storylines, like "Saved From Scrap," implied, but did not show, that characters could be scrapped when they could no longer work. Later, however, some of the books/episodes, like "Stepney the Bluebell Engine" and "Twin Engines" got absolutely ''vicious'' with this concept, after the Reverend decided to do a TakeThat against [[UsefulNotes/NationalRail BR's]] [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1955_Modernisation_Plan#The_Modernisation_Plan Modernization Plan.]] The way the mass scrapping is portrayed, especially in the books, sometimes goes beyond FantasticRacism and implies that the characters think of it more like genocide.
** About half of the very long [[NightmareFuel/ThomasTheTankEngine Nightmare Fuel]] page for this show is about scrapping.
* {{Backstory}}: ''Hero of the Rails'' takes some time off to explain Hiro's past.
* BadDreams: In ''Calling All Engines'', the characters have bad dreams about what might happen to them if no holiday makers came to Sodor anymore.
* {{Barsetshire}}: The whole fictional setting of the Island of Sodor (which is supposed to be between the lake district and the Isle of Man).
* BerserkButton: Just a few examples:
** Never remind James about his incident with the bootlace.
** Don't make Gordon pull trucks instead of coaches.
** Never call Toby "electric".
** Don't bump or even boss around the Troublesome Trucks or they will attempt to throw you off the rails.
** Never pull Thomas's coaches without his consent.
** Don't compare Duck's MotorMouth to a quacking duck.
** Don't bump coaches.
* BigBrotherInstinct: Thomas developed a ''huge'' case of this as the show drifted into it's own continuity ([[StopHelpingMe if not always with the best results]]). Played with for Edward and Toby since while they often act as kind elderly mentors, their self esteem issues and bullying from others sometimes leads younger engines such as Thomas and Percy to stick up for them.
** Donald is a Twin Brother Instinct variant for Douglas as he gave the Spiteful Brake Van a fierce bump for making his trains late.
* BigBudgetBeefUp: To hold up better on the big screen, the characters and sets featured in ''Thomas and the Magic Railroad'' were all rebuilt from scratch. In Series 6, they began to replace some of the older models.
* BiggerIsBetter: In "Thomas's Trusty Friends", the foreman kept fitting Oliver with bigger wrecking balls to knock a particular wall down.
* BiggerOnTheInside: The titular box in "Henry's Magic Box" can somehow fit more than a dozen Christmas trees despite its small size.
* BittersweetEnding: About few episodes have these such as "Down the Mine", "Percy's Predicament", and "Percy, James, and the Fruitful Day".
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Somewhat of a case with the rivalry between the engines and the diesels in the later seasons. Although the diesels ([[DarkIsNotEvil some of them anyways]]) are presented as bullying {{Jerkass}}es towards the engines and want to see them scrapped, the engines themselves can sometimes be presented as condescending and unsympathetic, even to the point when the diesels aren't hardly causing any trouble.
* TheBlank: City of Truro in Series 3, and some of the trucks and coaches, depending on the episode. Henrietta was, but Series 18 depicts her with a face (as [[Literature/TheRailwaySeries the books]] eventually did in ''Thomas and Victoria'').
* {{Bowdlerise}}: The Fat Controller was referred to by his Sunday name "Sir Topham Hatt" in the US version.
** The UK narrations of the earlier episodes were replaced with more lenient versions for the US. For example, "The Sad Story of Henry" became "Come Out, Henry!", and in that episode, the line "so that Henry couldn't get out of the tunnel anymore" was changed to "so that other engines wouldn't bump into him", and the line "We shall leave you here for always and always and always" was replaced with "we shall leave you here until you are ready to come out".
* BottleEpisode: "Steamy Sodor" (season 13) and "Victor Says Yes" (season 14), both which take place at the Steamworks.
** "Thomas, Percy and the Coal" may also count. Apart from the first few scenes, the episodes takes place entirely at the Tidmouth complex. The episode is believed to have replaced [[MissingEpisode The Missing Coach]], so this was probably done to save time and money.
* BreakoutCharacter: Thomas of course, who was only as prominant as most other recurring engines in the books.
* BreakTheCutie: This happened to Thomas in "Trust Thomas". After getting snapped at by Bertie, manipulated by James and pushed into a river by the trucks, his positive outlook starts to fade. [[EarnYourHappyEnding Luckily things get better from there.]]
* BreakTheHaughty: Expect this to happen to Gordon or James, and probably any other character trying to be important.
** Duck is a rare case. Despite being a hard working engine, he is often boastful about his Great Western heritage, much to the annoyance of the other engines. In the episode "Dirty Work", this trope came into play when Diesel tells lies to the troublesome trucks that Duck had made names about Gordon, Henry, and James. When Duck is berated by the three engines, and when the Fat Controller orders Duck to go to Edward's station, Duck lets out a tear, knowing that everyone is against him, while Diesel smirks of this successful plan.
* BrickJoke: Bulgy was made into a henhouse after getting stuck under a bridge. In "Train stops Play", you can see him in the background.
* BrokenAce: Later episodes tend to give the older more experienced engines more prominent shortcomings and insecurities, some of which they are unwilling to admit to the younger idolizing engines they usually mentor. "Edward and the Mail" is a standout example.
* CallBack: The pipe trick James uses to distort his whistle in "The Phantom Express" comes up again as a plot point in "Flatbeds of Fear".
* TheCameo: Famous locomotives ''City of Truro'' and ''Flying Scotsman'', or at least models of them.
* CanonImmigrant: Meta example. Andrew Brenner wrote many stories for the promotional magazines. Not only were some of these adapted into actual episodes in Seasons Three and Five, but Brenner eventually took over as lead writer for the show itself come Season Seventeen.
* CannotKeepASecret: Thomas can't resist telling a downbeat Stephen about his special job in ''King Of The Railway'', pivoting the chain of events. Subverted in ''Blue Mountain Mystery'', the narrow gauge engines think Thomas blabbed about Luke in trying to clear his name, but he did so via shrewd investigation.
* CaptainObvious: "And banannas are no good for building sheds!"
* CastHerd: The Standard Gauge, Narrow Gauge, roadway, trucks and carriages, and then everyone else.
* CatchPhrase: "Really Useful Engine(s)", "Cinders and ashes!", "Confusion and delay", "Bother(ations)!" "Hurry, hurry, hurry!" The Narrator's "Then there was trouble", "He/She/They was/were very cross/pleased.", "Luckily, no one was hurt" and "An idea flew into his/her funnel". "Bust my boiler/buffers!", "'On, on, on!' yelled the cars," Ferdinand's "That's right!", Gordon has any phrase involving the word "Indignant!", Gordon, James, and Henry say the respective words, "Disgraceful, disgusting, and despicable.", and The Fat Controller's "You're a really useful engine."
* CharacterNameAndTheNounPhrase: Especially the form "Thomas and the....."
* ChekhovsGun: It's pretty obvious from the minute the Breakdown Train shows up that Thomas is going to have ''some'' reason to haul it out later in the episode.
** The Canvas Barrier in the Season 5 episode 'Put Upon Percy'
* ChekhovsSkill: The Scottish Twins were allowed to stay on Sodor after they demonstrated a particular talent for plowing snow. Later episodes showed them clearing the tracks after snowstorms and rescuing some of the other engines that had gotten trapped by snowdrifts.
* ChristmasEpisode: The series has had several winter and Christmas-themed episodes each season. However, one episode, 'Thomas and Percy's Christmas Adventure' was [[{{Bowdlerise}} Bowdlerised]] into a Thanksgiving episode, as the ShiningTimeStation episode it premiered on was Thanksgiving-themed. A controversial Bowdlerisation in the later winter episodes was that the season would always be referred to as the 'Winter Holidays' rather than the 'Christmas Holidays', despite Christmas trees and presents appearing in the episodes.
* ColourCodedCharacters: The Skarloey Railway engines in the TV series - their original uniform color was thought to confuse younger viewers, and Rusty with black colors could be confused for Diesel. Now the only engines with similar colors are Sir Handel with Mighty Mac, and Skarloey with Rheneas.
* CompanionCube: Henrietta, Toby's personal coach, has turned into this. She only ever had a speaking role in her first appearance way back in season 1. She's been completely silent ever since, even though Toby still treats her if she was alive. This has been resolved come Season 18, where she has been redesigned with a face and converses with the other characters, defining her more clearly as an actual character.
** The movie Misty Island Rescue has a few machines with names but no faces - a crane called Old Wheezy and a steam donkey called [[PunnyName Hee-Haw]].
* ComicallyMissingThePoint: ''Thomas Comes to Breakfast.'' When Thomas skids off the rails and crashes into a house, just as the family within is sitting down to breakfast, the stationmaster's wife is more upset about her ruined pancakes that the ''freakin' locomotive that just drove into her living room.''
** A barber is angry when Duck took out half his shop for ''scaring his customers'', so to get back, he puts shaving cream on his face.
* ConspicuousCG:
** The cell animated bees in season 3's ''[[Recap/ThomasTheTankEngineS3E17BuzzBuzz (James Goes) Buzz Buzz]]''.
** In season 12, the show was a hybrid of CG animation and models. Often the engine's faces did not have the proper lighting for the scene, making them stand out awkwardly. Meanwhile, Harold was ''completely'' converted to CG animation, making him look unusual next to the model engines.
* ContinuityNod: An early episode has Henry crashing because snow weighed a lower-quadrant signal down to its "clear" position. In the next series Percy is confused when he sees an upper-quadrant signal which points "up" to its "clear" position. In the third series, upper-quadrant signals are seen frequently in the background.
* ContinuitySnarl: In the books and television series, the island of Sodor is off the coast of England. ShiningTimeStation put it in another dimension. ''Thomas and the Magic Railroad'' placed Sodor in another, ''magical'' dimension, kept afloat by [[spoiler: Lady and her gold dust,]] even though there was nothing mystical about the series until (or after) that point (pushing ''Magic Railroad'' toward FanonDiscontinuity).
* CoolTrain
* CrapsaccharineWorld: An [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation alternate interpretation]]. Imagine this- as a locomotive, you live in a world where it's nearly impossible to leave a set line of rails (and for those who do attempt this the results are almost always very, very bad), you deal with the JerkAss trucks every day, the overtaking diesel engines, and absolutely everything is your fault. If you're late? They forget that you're being driven by people and blame you. If you crash? They usually blame you for that too and apparently forget that you're alive and could actually be in pain. All this leads to the fact that you're called "useful." Think about the fact that if you're not "a really useful engine" it means being scrapped, AKA, death. You work for a job where you can be executed for uselessness. Enjoy your day.
* DarkerAndEdgier: Season 5 is often viewed as this. It featured more darker plotlines and crashes than the other seasons.
** An interview with David Mitton explained this was due to the team wanting to showcase the series' potential before the movie was produced, and trying for original stories with more dynamic scenes.
** Season 2 as well has a much more moody tone compared to the first thanks to the direction and soundtrack, and dealing with plotlines like the rise of diesel engines and scrapping.
** The original Literature/TheRailwaySeries also was a lot more mature in many ways. For starters, WordOfGod states that in the first book, "The Sad Story of Henry", was going to be the end of the book right there. [[FateWorseThanDeath With Henry locked in the tunnel for God knows how long]]. Another example would be the genocidal diesels, who murdered all but one of Gordon's brothers, and continue to do it in the Bluebell Railway. If that wasn't enough the original story of "Henry's Sneeze", described the boys who had been sprayed with ashes as [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar "Dark as niggers"]].[[note]] However, this was edited out of later versions[[/note]] It may have written in the 1940s, it still was supposed to be a [[WhatDoYouMeanItsForKids children's book]].
** Many of the feature length specials have more actionized plots and involve the characters getting into mortal peril.
* DarkIsNotEvil: A number of diesels.
* DeconReconSwitch: "Henry's Hero" regarding the {{Determinator}} trope. Hiro and Henry both fall ill because of bad coal. While Henry decides to wait in the shed cautiously, Hiro insists on pulling the trucks they were supposed to take by himself, which he successfully does with much effort. Later on he is assigned to pull a train of heavy iron girders and persuades Henry to be his backing engine. On Gordon's Hill [[{{Deconstruction}} Hiro breaks down because of overexertion]]. Henry, [[{{Reconstruction}} inspired by Hiro's determination]], [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome pushes both the flatbeds and Hiro up the hill]] despite his failing health.
* DemotedToExtra: Edward from seasons 4-6, but everybody gets this treatment in the newer movies. The only characters to get a lot of Focus are Thomas and the new engine introduced. Toby's been getting the worst it lately. In Hero Of The Rails, not only does he get only one line, not only one word, but one '''Syllable'''.
* DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment: "That tricky Thomas and his tricks!"
* {{Determinator}}s: Hiro and later Henry in "Henry's Hero".
* {{Disneyfication}}: Some episodes based of the novels in the earlier seasons were less dark and had more leniency. One example includes from the novel "Resource and Sagacity", where Oliver falls into a turntable thanks to the troublesome trucks and was given a stern talking to by The Fat Controller, Donald, and Douglas, whom the latter two were angry that he had broken their turntable. In the television version "Oliver Owns Up", The Fat Controller was more forgiving towards Oliver and advised him on how to handle trucks better and the other engines felt sorry for Oliver and hope that he comes back from the works to be mended.
** Perhaps most evident with "Tenders For Henry" (adapted as "Tender Engines"), which omits almost all references to steam being abolished in other railways and all but one of Gordon's brethren being scrapped.
** The TV adaptation of "Wrong Road" tones down a BlackComedy moment, in which Bill and Ben argue whether they should push Gordon into the sea or scrap him, in increasingly graphic detail ("Besides, he'd make a lovely splash!").
* DisproportionateRetribution: The trucks/cars have been known to do this. Their way of getting retribution on engines that bump them one time too many (or annoy them) is often to tease them (often with [[Recap/ThomasTheTankEngineS2E12PopGoesTheDiesel Pop Goes the Weasel-rhyming songs]]) or even worse, push them back. And whenever the Trucks/Cars push back, they try to cause a crash of some kind. "[[Recap/ThomasTheTankEngineS2E14ACloseShave A Close Shave]]" features them breaking away from Edward and trying to push Duck ''into a train'', another shows them pushing Oliver into a turntable well, and perhaps one of the most disturbing is when the trucks/cars decide to get revenge on Sir Handel by ''riding down the hill into his face''. And they don't realize it's actually ''Peter Sam'' they suicide-themselves onto!
** They've caused violent accidents for Percy and Oliver simply because they didn't like their tone towards them.
* DistaffCounterpart: Toby and Flora. Flora's debut episode was even entirely focused on her being the "new steam tram" and her personality more or less mirrored [[ShrinkingViolet Toby's]] [[EraSpecificPersonality at the time]].
* DivergentCharacterEvolution: Gordon, Henry and James, while having many solo stories initially, usually acted as a near interchangeable trio of arrogant peers, bickering with other engines or making pompous remarks. As seasons passed the three began to appear together less and gained more individual characteristics. Henry in particular became far less egotistical, converting into a sensitive {{Hypochondriac}} and {{Nature Lover}}. James and Gordon retained their vanity as their defining quirks, however while Gordon became the main team's GrumpyBear, James became more cheerful and mischievous.
* ADogNamedDog: A diesel named Diesel (sometimes called "Devious Diesel").
** Diesel 10 to a lesser extent.
* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: The episode "Trouble in the Shed", in which the tender engines Gordon, James and Henry go on strike. Sir Topham Hatt calls for Edward (who is also a tender engine) to fetch coaches for them. Later on, the striking engines are shown to be acting rudely and hissing at Edward, saying that he has "black wheels". "Black-legged" is a synonym for a strikebreaker, a worker who works despite an ongoing strike.
* DoomedHometown: The Railway, where Duke, Peter Sam, and Sir Handel once lived. Great Waterton may also count. As well as Toby's old line (though it inexplicably reappears in later episodes).
* DownerEnding: Some episodes from the earlier seasons end with this such as "The Sad Story Of Henry", "Off The Rails", "Dirty Work", and "Thomas Comes To Breakfast". However, such episodes are part of arcs, and will then be resolved and given a happy ending in their continuation.
* {{Eagleland}}: Misty Island (all the locomotives there are of an American build) is portrayed as a mixture of types one and two- the Logging Locos are rather loud, boorish, and mischevious, but they all have a good heart and always have the best intentions.
* EarnYourHappyEnding: Many of episodes end with this, especially if said episodes are the last ones of an arc. Common examples include "Edward, Gordon, and Henry", "Thomas and the Breakdown Train", "Troublesome Trucks", and "A Close Shave".
* EmbarrassingNickname: Inverted: Duck doesn't like that the people who coined his name say he waddles, but still prefers it to his real name, "Montague."
* EnemyMine: The engines and the troublesome trucks have a few of these in "Special Attraction" when dealing with Bulstrode, a disagreeable boat, and in "The World's Strongest Engine" when going against Diesel. For the latter episode, Thomas and Percy lampshade that sometimes, troublesome trucks can do an engine a favor, which is getting rid of a haughty diesel.
** This also happens with the steam engines and diesels in ''Calling All Engines''.
* EnnioMorriconePastiche: In some episodes between Seasons 3 and 7, there is a music cue for when something is about to go wrong or there is a standoff between two characters. It sounds like something out of the Film/DollarsTrilogy.
* EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep: The Fat Controller.
* EverythingsWorseWithBees: ''(James Goes) Buzz Buzz''.
* EverybodyLaughsEnding: Used a lot since the show went CGI.
* {{Expy}}: New characters Connor and Caitlin are generally seen as expies of the ''Railway Series'' characters Pip and Emma, as they're both high-speed engines that run a regular passenger service from Vicarstown to the mainland (the difference being that Pip and Emma are a modern Intercity 125, while Connor and Caitlin are [[{{AnachronismStew}} American streamliners from the 1930s]].
* ExtremeOmniGoat - usually eating the Fat Controller's hat. Sometimes a goat, sometimes a ram.
* FamilyUnfriendlyDeath: The Spiteful Break Van, who was smashed to pieces by Douglas, and S.C Ruffey that Oliver broke apart (though he was rebuilt). For FridgeHorror, there are scrapyards.
* FamilyUnfriendlyViolence: Many examples, especially in the early years when the railway accidents were fairly realistic.
* FanFicMagnet: Mostly James, sometimes Edward or Smudger.
* FantasticRacism: The steam engine/diesel hatred came to a head in ''Calling All Engines'', and has mostly disappeared since then.
** To a lesser extent, there's the trains and the vehicles.
* FeudEpisode: Many examples, especially in early seasons. To name but few, Thomas and Percy in "Thomas, Percy, & The Coal/Double Trouble", Bill and Ben in "One Good Turn", and Donald and Douglas in "Twin Trouble".
* FireForgedFriends: Gordon implied that he and Thomas were this in "Down The Mine" after helping him from the mine accident. This was referred back to in "Paint Pots and Queens/Thomas Meets The Queen".
** Gordon and James are also an example in the end of "James and the Express".
* {{Flanderization}}: Edward and Toby went from being old and wise to being just old, Gordon went from being somewhat pompous to being completely full of himself, James went from being snobbish, but cheerful and hard-working to being a lazy, spoilt narcissist and Percy went from being somewhat naive to making [[TheSimpsons Homer Simpson]] look intelligent.
** Season 17 has reversed this however, Edward and Toby have returned to being wise, Gordon has become less pompous and able to knock an engine down a peg, James has gained a more mischievous side, and Percy has regained his intelligence whilst still being naive. Some traits of the later episodes are still evident (eg. Thomas is still a {{Cloudcuckoolander}} while Henry is still [[TookALevelInKindness softer and less arrogant]]) but they qualify more as HiddenDepths to their now revived original personas.
* FollowTheLeader: The biggest complaint about the PoorlyDisguisedPilot ''Jack and the Pack'' was that it seemed to be a knockoff of the fellow [=HiT=] Entertainment show ''Bob the Builder''.
* FourTemperamentEnsemble: The original tender engines: James is Sanguine, Gordon is Choleric, Henry is Melancholic, and Edward is Phlegmatic.
* FramingDevice: ''Shining Time Station'' introduced when the series was shown in America.
* TheFreelanceShameSquad: In early episodes especially, the engines are often shown laughing or smirking whenever another has an accident or other humiliating incident, no matter how dire. Downplayed in later episodes, where they often show a more consistant concern for each other whenever they seem to be in trouble.
* FreudianThreat: A bizarre FreudWasRight train-equivalent example occurs in "Home at Last" where Sir Topham Hatt threatens to "cut Duncan down to size" if he acts up again. It's shown that he's referring to [[DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything Duncan's rather long funnel]] and Duncan immediately behaves upon hearing said threat.
* FriendToAllChildren: Any engine who happens to he pulling a "special" special related to children. Namely, Thomas. Trevor was first introduced as this.
* TheFriendsWhoNeverHang: Most of the "Steam Team" have had an episode together within the long run. Edward and Emily have had very little interaction however. Edward also rarely interacts with Toby, likely due to [[CoolOldGuy similarities in character]] (and even being Flanderized in a [[ExtremeDoormat similar manner]]).
* FriendshipTrinket: In The Magic Railroad, Lily gives her Burnett a friendship bracelet to remind them of their friendship. Later in the film, Lily puts the gold dust Junior gives to her on her bluebird toy, also to remind her of her friendship with Burnett.
* FruitCart: In "Percy, James and the Fruitful Day", Percy crashes while pushing some trucks full of fruit. He gets covered in smashed fruit. "The Spotless Record" has Arthur crashing into Duck's train full of fruits.
* FunnyBackgroundEvent: A bonus of the CGI transition is the show's ability to now animate funny goings on in scenes on a regular basis, usually from the crewman inside or behind the engines as they talk.
* FurryConfusion: Though all locomotives are alive, the depiction of the road vehicles vary widely. Some, like Bertie, are sentient, while others, like Sir Topham Hatt's car, are not.
** Coaches. During seasons 1-2 faceless coaches were sentient and could talk, but eventually the show treated all coaches as non-sentient save for exceptions like Annie, Clarabel and Henrietta.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: In the episode 'Mavis, the titular character gets stuck over a road crossing. An angry farmer is seen telling her 'just what she could do with her train'!
* GreenRooming: Several engines, especially in later seasons, are granted an introductory episode, only to be forgotten about for several episodes, if not seasons before making so much as a cameo again.
* HardWorkMontage: Used quite frequently when shunting rolling stock is part of the episode plot.
* TheHedonist: New engine Charlie has shades of being this, described as 'the most fun engine' and seeking fun and games from the other engines in the form of racing, jokes, and shirking their responsibilities.
** Averted in Season 17, where Charlie mainly tells his jokes during the off periods in between his and his fellow engines' work instead of doing it whenever he pleases.
* HeroicRROD: When the engines are old, or overworked, they begin to break down and show damage. Such as Edward losing his siderods in "Edward's Exploit."
* TheHeroSucksSong:
** In "Special Funnel", Peter Sam is the butt of the other engines' jokes due to his funnel being wobbly, and after said funnel was knocked off by an icicle while he was passing by a tunnel, Sir Handel sings about Peter Sam's funnel, much to the amusement to the other engines.
--->"Peter Sam's said again and again\\
his new funnel will put ours to shame\\
He went into the tunnel\\
lost his old funnel.\\
Now his famous new funnel's a drain!"
** In the episode "Toad Stands By", the troublesome trucks sing "Pop Goes Ol' Ollie" to Oliver as ridicule for him falling into the turntable well in "Oliver Owns Up".
--->"Oliver's no use at all;\\
Thinks he's very clever.\\
Says that he could manage us;\\
That's the best joke ever!\\
When he orders us about,\\
With the greatest folly,\\
We've just pushed him down the well!\\
Pop Goes Ol' Ollie!"
* HeterosexualLifePartners: Thomas and Percy. Gordon and James could count, too. Especially in the earlier seasons.
* TheHouseOfWindsor: Queen Elizabeth II comes to visit the engines in a season 4 episode.
* [[AndIMustScream I Have No Funnel, and I Must Steam]]: Scrapping. Also Smudger, who was converted into a stationary steam pump.
* IdiotBall: Expect stupidity, accidents, or unrealistic things to ensue whenever anybody is put in charge of a special. It's even more jarring when older, experienced engines are the ones making the mistakes.
** SanityBall: Though it's not rare for some of the younger, more reckless engines to sometimes show moments of clarity as well. Thomas and Percy in particular switch irratically between being arrogant dimwits or kind natured voices of reason.
* IncompetenceInc: [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BCzODUHQSE4 With all of the crashes and runaways on Sodor,]] how does the railway stay in business? The logging company on Misty Island, too, which probably makes absolutely no profit since cranes keep throwing logs into the river.
* IncrediblyLamePun: From ''Magic Railroad:''
-->Splatter (to Diesel 10): Liar, liar.
-->Dodge: Pants on fire.
-->Splatter: Does he wear pants?
-->Dodge: Well, training pants.
-->Splatter: Alright.
* IndyEscape: The Episode ''Rusty and the Boulder''.
* InspectorJavert: The Constable in ''Thomas In Trouble''.
* IntergenerationalFriendship: Percy and Toby, Thomas and Hiro in ''Hero of The Rails''.
* {{Jerkass}}: Diesel is the most prominent example in the series, not to mention that most of the diesels like Arry & Bert will fit under this category as well. Duncan, Sir Handel, The Troublesome Trucks, and The Spiteful Brakevan count as well.
* JerkJock: Gordon, James & Henry in season 2.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Some of the engines may be cocky, scornful, and ill-mannered at times, but they prove to be just as kind and helpful to other engines and always compensate for their previous misbehavior toward them. Gordon and James are common examples. Even Diesel has his redeeming qualities on occasions.
* JustInTime: From season 8 onward, this happens '''all the time'''. Happens quite frequently to Paxton. The poor guy.
** Inverted whenever an accident is inevitable: "...but it was too late..."
* JustTrainWrong: This applies to numerous railway gaffes from season 6 onward, where the writers (no longer working from Awdry's books) seem to know little about the workings of steam engines and railways. Nitrogen Studios seems to have very little knowledge of how steam engines are supposed to work. For example, in real life, cylinders for big tender engines are attached to the engine's main frame. But in the animated series, the cylinders appear to be completely independent from the rest of the body. 'Misty Island Rescue'' apparently has a railway track built ''inside a hollow log.'' What the hell?
** Thankfully, Season 17 and onwards now has a railway consultant to deal with this.
* KarmaHoudini: The adapatation of "Old Iron" neglects to mention the fate of the two boys who meddled with James' controls and caused him to run off out of control, whereas in the book they are caught by the police and [[ValuesDissonance "soundly walloped"]] by their fathers.
** The Troublesome Trucks are often the reason why many engines are chewed out for their accidents, and they are never seen to be held responsible for them. In most accidents, however, they will get destroyed in the process, [[TooKinkyToTorture not that it will stop them from laughing about the trouble they've caused]].
** Subverted with Daisy. In the titular episode, she made a fib about her fitter ordering her not to pull trucks because it's bad for her swerves just to avoid pulling a milk tanker. In "Percy's Predicament", the Fat Controller scolds her for her laziness, but then decides to give her another chance after she helped clear Percy's accident.
* KickTheSonOfABitch: The troublesome trucks can play tricks on an engine who is rude and arrogant towards other engines (i.e, James in "Dirty Objects" and Diesel in "Pop Goes The Diesel").
* KidAppealCharacter: One of the reasons Thomas became the star of the show is likely because of his childish personality. Percy counts as well.
* KilledOffForReal: The Spiteful Brakevan is the ''only'' character in the entire show to die permanently.
** A few other trucks are shown dismantled in episodes. Also the show kept in S.C. Ruffey's destruction from the novels, but had him repaired rather than scrapped.
* TheKlutz: Kevin the crane.
* {{Leitmotif}}: Each character had their own theme in the earlier series.
* LaserGuidedKarma: This will happen to any engine, whether it's the result of being prideful, stubborn, or just being a {{Jerkass}}. Most often, their mishaps prompts them to see the error of their ways and to make up for their behavior in the end of the story.
* LastOfHisKind: The real life engines that Thomas, Toby and Edward were based on were all scrapped, with none of their numbers surviving to preservation beyond replicas of the characters themselves.
* LawyerFriendlyCameo: ''Double Teething Troubles'' featured a BR "Clayton" diesel which, as in real life, suffered from having insufficient engines crammed into a compact space. While originally named "Paxman" after the contained engines, the producers decided the company might not take so kindly to the reference. He went unnamed in the episode, but the merchandise now calls him "Derek."
* LeaveMeAlone: This was frequently played with in many Seasons 8-16 episodes. An engine will refuse to let the other engines help them with their work until circumstances rise, and said engine will learn that they needed their help after all.
* LighterAndSofter: The HiT episodes from Seasons 8-16, combined with a bit of DenserAndWackier. Most of the realism was thrown out the window until Season 17 brought it back, even the nastiest of engines tend to show a redeeming side, and scrapping is refered to a lot less (or when it is, is made clear that Sir Topham has no interest in it whatsoever, though to be fair, he never once had any interest in it to begin with in both the original show and the books).
* TheLostWoods: Several: Henry's Forest, the Whistling Woods, and Misty Island could all qualify.
* LovableCoward: Toby in later seasons. Percy and Henry sometimes get in on it too.
* LightningBruiser: These are trains afterall.
* [[LionsAndTigersAndHumansOhMy Engines and Diesels and Humans... Oh My!]]
* LoadsAndLoadsOfCharacters: Adding more in each season doesn't help.
* LockedOutOfTheLoop: In "Don't Tell Thomas", the engines are planning a surprise party for Thomas, and he grows suspicious. Eventually he gets fed up enough that he runs away, leaving Harold to find him and tell him about the party.
* LooksLikeSheIsEnjoyingIt: In "Pop Goes the Diesel" the trucks made a very... ''suggestive'' sound when Diesel forcefully pulls them. Also, rare male and non-human example.
* LongRunner: The television series has been running since 1984. The Railway Series, meanwhile, originally ran from 1945 to 2011.
* LoonyFan: Rosie to Thomas in "Thomas and the Birthday Mail".
* LostAesop: ''Misty Island Rescue'' is supposedly about making decisions, but this message is inverted and subverted so many times it's impossible to tell whether the writers support or condemn the idea of Thomas making decisions for others.
* LyricalDissonance: Children singing about railway accidents in a cheery voice, accompanied with a montage of the characters getting into [[FamilyUnfriendlyViolence violent crashes]].
* MacGuffin: The ''special'' specials from Seasons 13 to 16.
* ManipulativeBastard: Diesel, and occasionally, Gordon.
* MassiveMultiplayerCrossover: Thomas and his friends have been on 3 compilations that include almost no excerpts in them. First is Thomas and Gordon (unsurprisingly. Additionally, the music in the first 2 seasons of this and the music in the 1983 ''Literature/MrMen'' cartoon have somewhat similar sounding music) in NSPCC Children's TV Favourites Volume 2 in 1993, then Thomas' Train in Calling all Toddlers in 1999, and then again in its sequel in 2001.
* MeaningfulName: In a very odd example, Gordon. His name was chosen to be meaningful to Christopher Awdry, the late Reverend's son. It was meaningful because the character is bossy, and there was a bossy boy living on the Awdrys' street named Gordon.
* MediumBlending: The CGI faces in season 12 and the full CGI in ''Hero Of The Rails''. Earlier, the 2D-animated bee that stings James in "Buzz, Buzz."
* MerchandiseDriven: Arguably; some characters are only in one episode and seem to exist purely for merchandise reasons. The worst case of this is currently ''Day of the Diesels''. Three new characters - Norman, Paxton and Sidney - are introduced and marketed...and none of them have a single line of dialog, only seen creeping around in the background. A few characters from ''TheRailwaySeries'' that were never adapted into the show have also made it onto ''Thomas And Friends'' merchandise.
** Recent episodes seem to be remedying this a little with previous characters getting ADayInTheLimelight and CharacterDevelopment. Paxton in particular is now an AscendedExtra with regular appearances.
* {{Metaphorgotten}}: In one episode when Peter Sam is put in charge of finding a new location for the Refreshment Lady's stand:
--> '''Peter Sam:''' I can find her a beautiful place.\\
'''Refreshment Lady:''' I knew it! It will be a piece of cake!\\
'''Peter Sam:''' Tea rooms don't live in cakes...
* MisunderstoodLonerWithAHeartOfGold: "Hector the Horrid".
* MoodWhiplash: ''The Flying Kipper'' starts off most memorably in this manner. As Henry pulls his train through the wintry countryside, it has such a magical, almost "Christmassy" atmosphere to it. Then a yellow caution signal appears followed by a green clear signal, okay fine, but the music turns ''threatening'' for an impending disaster. Ice and snow have fouled the signals and points taking Henry straight into the back of a goods train. Following this we cut forward to a broken down Henry on the ground feeling very sorry for himself (with the sad variant of his theme playing in the background), fast forward again to a rebuilt Henry happily puffing down the bridge with his usual cheery theme playing.
** Luke's backstory in ''Blue Mountain Mystery'' is noticeably dark compared to the rest of the movie. Not to mention it's juxtaposed with Thomas' optimistic, almost oblivious reaction to the story.
* MortonsFork: Donald and Douglas's backstory. Sir Topham Hatt only expected one of them to come to Sodor, and decided to send the one that was less useful back to the Scottish Region of British Railways--where, unknown to him, they would be scrapped. For either of them to do their best work would be to doom the other, but to shirk off just a bit might mean to doom themselves. Fortunately, the situation was eventually [[ItGotBetter resolved.]]
* MotiveDecay: Originally the diesels were a reminder to the steam engines that TechnologyMarchesOn and the more efficient, mass-produced engines were becoming the rule instead of the exception. Since around Series 7 there's been no mention of scrapping and steam's still alive on the mainland, yet the steam and diesel engines are more at each other's throats than ever.
* TheMovie: Two theatrical, three direct to video with another to follow in 2011, to be directed by [[{{WesternAnimation/Nine}} Shane Acker]] and written by WillMcRobbAndChrisViscardi.
* MrViceGuy: Almost ''every'' engine, particularly in later seasons, is hard working and effecient, but often causes great problems due to a defining flaw (eg. Thomas' poor attention, James' arrogance, Toby's cowardice, Percy's naivete). Most of their spotlight episodes revolve around them overcoming their flaws to be "really useful", while in supporting roles they often act as more capable [[TheStraightMan Straight Men]].
* MustMakeAmends: Very common in the newer series before Season 17 where an engine makes a lot of mistakes in their given job due to their FatalFlaw and The Fat Controller calls them out for causing "confusion and delay". This prompts the engines to make things right, and as they did, The Fat Controller praises them by calling them "really useful engines".
* {{Narrator}}
* NeverLiveItDown: InUniverse. Back when continuity was a thing, whenever an engine gets into an accident the other engines ([[WithFriendsLikeThese even their friends]]) won't miss a beat to bring it up whenever possible to tease them for the next few episodes. For example, the incident involving James and bootlaces.
* NeverMyFault: The engines getting blamed for the railwaymen's mistakes. This helps contribute to the FridgeHorror and NightmareFuel of the series - no wonder the trains look ''sad'' when they're in an accident!
** Compared to the books, the show does at least have a handful of subversions however. In "Thomas And The Rumors", when Gordon crashes into an unfinished tunnel, the Fat Controller is explained as having a stern word with the driver, not the engine. Also in "Wayward Winston" the Fat Controller ''himself'' takes blame for Winston becoming a runaway, when Winston reminds him he forgot to put his brakes on.
* NewTechnologyIsEvil: The diesels, who are usually portrayed as arrogant, rude, and cruel. However, most of the recurring diesel cast are extremely likable (Rusty, who is nice, Daisy who is a SpoiledBrat but can be a SpoiledSweet if she wanted to, Mavis, who has received a great amount of CharacterDevelopment and is a much more responsible engine, and Paxton, a gullible, but very likable engine) . This trope mainly applies to one-shot diesel engines who eventually end up suffering from a BreakTheHaughty moment.
* NiceGuy: Edward, Toby, [=BoCo=], and many others.
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Thomas pulls this off in "The Great Discovery", and because of this, Great Waterton almost doesn't get completed in time.
* NobleFugitive: Oliver, Toad and Stepney.
* NonSequitur: {{Invoked}} by Diesel in "Disappearing Diesels" to distract Paxton.
* NoOSHACompliance: After the Awdry adaptions ended, many of the engines have done things that real railways would consider irresponsible or even illegal, Season 5 is a great example of this, more than half of the episodes in that one Season featured a large crash.
** The Shake Shake Bridge. [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8qcmZdJqMY See for yourself.]]
** Building a quarry under a mountain with a giant boulder resting on top, which by the way, was from Season 5.
* NoSympathy: This tends to be common in the series. Whenever there's an engine who gone through a misfortune, they will receive belittling and smug insults from the other engines about them. This treatment on the engine depends either if the engine [[LaserGuidedKarma brought it upon themselves due to their misbehavior]] or that the engine is just being rude or arrogant, in which case something will likely lead them to get ATasteOfTheirOwnMedicine shortly afterwards.
* NotSoAboveItAll: A few episodes depict a day in the life of Sir Topham Hatt, which often end disastrously with him getting into mishaps and vehicle related blunders he is constantly scolding the engines for.
** A lot of the wiser more rational engines such as Edward and Toby were given more prominent flaws and moments of incompetence during the HIT Seasons until Season 17 came along.
* NowLetMeCarryYou: In ''The Great Discovery'', Stanley rescues Thomas, but breaks down in the process. Thomas then helps Stanley back home, and the two become good friends ever since.
* OhCrap: [[http://ttte.wikia.com/wiki/File:ThomasComestoBreakfast27.png Often without need for words, apart from the narrations. The facial expressions speak for themselves]].
* {{Oireland}}: Luke has an Irish accent despite being based on a British locomotive design. May double as TruthInTelevision however, as many Irish narrow gauge engines were British-built. Connor and Caitlin have Irish accents as well. This is extremely strange, considering [[{{Eagleland}} where their prototypes are from...]]
* OlderThanTheyLook: The target audience is meant to identify with Thomas thanks to his childlike personality. However, he was (according to [[AllThereInTheManual external sources]]) built at least sometime before 1915, making him older, or at least along the same age as, the bigger engines that tend to look down on him (Gordon, Henry and James to name a few). For reference, ''Misty Island Rescue'' is set in 1960.
* OminousFog: Used in ''Misty Island Rescue'', when Thomas first arrives on the island. It's seen again when Edward, James, and Gordon get lost.
* OneMarioLimit: The name "Thomas" is forever linked with the series' title character.
* OneSteveLimit: [[AvertedTrope Averted]]: we have Bertie/Bert/Bertram, Bill/Billy, two characters named Oliver, and a literal handful of diesels without proper names: Devious Diesel/The Diesel(261)/Diesel 10/D 199/Derek the Diesel. Whew!
* OnlySixFaces: Averted. According to one British newspaper, the engines' facial expressions are actually more expressive than ''human'' faces!
** Some are similar enough that modelers seem to mix up character's face masks however (in particular Thomas and Percy, while having unique facial designs, frequently use each other's masks without it looking glaringly off model).
* OutOfCharacterMoment: Edward suffered a small number of these from season 6 until Season 17, though he's yet to have a starring episode, he does seem to have reverted to his normal persona.
* OutOfContextEavesdropping: "[[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NolKsx27tRo Percy's Big Mistake]]" had Percy overhearing The Fat Controller say something about scrap and thought it meant he was to be scrapped (he's a steam engine). [[spoiler: The Fat Controller actually said that Percy was working to hard recently and so after taking some scrap metal to the smelters he would be given the somewhat easier job of carrying the mail for a week]].
* OvertookTheSeries: From season 5 onward due to the well of Railway Series stories drying up. Admittedly not every story from the original books has been adapted and the direction the television series is taking means it will probably never happen. This is complicated further by the show also adapting stories from other medias such as the magazines and annuals (mostly during Season Three, though a handful of episodes from Season Five onward are also adapted roughly from the magazines).
* PinkGirlBlueBoy: Thomas and Rosie, figuratively and literally.
* PoorCommunicationKills: The prime example in "Fish"' where Duck and Henry work together to haul the extra-long Flying Kipper up Gordon's Hill. Henry pulls his train harder than he realises, then a tail lamp falls off the rear-most van. Duck loses sight of the train, whistles, but gets no reply. Without his bank engine, Henry starts to slow down, and Duck crashes into the Kipper.
* PoorlyDisguisedPilot: For the proposed {{Spinoff}}, ''Jack and the Pack''. In the episode, ''A Friend in Need'', Jack worries that Ms. Jenny will be cross with him after holding up a bridge to save Thomas from falling off it (Also bending his arms as a result). However, it's this very act that gets him accepted as the newest member of The Pack.
* PulledFromYourDayOff: In "Thomas' Day Off", Sir Topham Hatt gives Thomas a day off and sends a diesel engine named Dennis to do his work for him. However, Dennis is a lazy diesel and [[CryingWolf lies about having something wrong with him]] to get out of doing his work. Thomas is still happy to help Dennis despite wanting to enjoy his day off, even when Dennis actually does have something wrong with him.
* PunnyName: Guess what Sir Topham Hatt wears? Lampshaded in ''Misty Island Rescue'' by the Logging Locos, saying that he sounds funny.
* RealPersonCameo: H.M. the Queen in "Paint Pots and Queens" and three real trains: City of Truro, Flying Scotsman and Stepney.
* RedOniBlueOni: Just any pair of engines usually run into this if the story is based on a calm and level-headed engine advising an excited and brash engine to avoid causing trouble. James and Edward play this a couple of times.
* ReassignedToAntarctica: Why the Logging Locos were sent to Misty Island (apparently they misbehaved on their old mainland railway).
* RememberTheNewGuy: Fearless Freddie randomly appears one day... but it's all okay! He was just hiding off screen, never mentioned, for the entire series until then!
* ReplacedTheThemeTune: Due to the original composers resigning, the theme tune was replaced with the Engine Roll Call in Season Eight onwards. The rest of the original soundtrack was also replaced.
** ThemeTuneCameo: It reappears as the calliope's music in "Percy And The Calliope" however.
* RetCon: In addition to Hiro building the railway, Fearless Freddie is now established as the oldest engine on the Skarloey Railway.
* {{Retool}}: From Season 8 onward. Whilst the series could have been said to have done this when the Awdry adaptions ended, Season 8 was most certainly a full-on retool. The character cast was streamlined into a central cast known as the 'Steam Team', the episode lengths were increased and became less realistic, and several character personas were completely changed.
* RhymesOnADime: Thomas gets a few in ''The Great Discovery''. "I am brave and I am strong. I'll get to the wharf and it won't take long!" Since then, the engines seem to come up with a recurring mantra almost OnceAnEpisode. They are finally done away with in Blue Mountain Mystery, much to the relief of the fans.
* RightlySelfRighteous: Some engines are occasionally conveyed this way; e.g., Toby, Duck, Donald and Douglas, and Fergus. They can often be smug and heckling to the other engines, but are competent hard workers. Usually, any attempts to ignore or belittle them only lead to a [[LaserGuidedKarma karmic accident]] or {{humiliation|Conga}}. It's usually avoided in later episodes, where each engine gets his shortcomings and arrogant moments spotlighted equally, with most of said characters being put OutOfFocus or having a completely altered personality. (Toby, far from this role, became a ShrinkingViolet who usually underestimates his worth until Season 17, while Duck's stubbornness has been shown to be a bit more problematic.)
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: All the episodes based on the Reverend's original books were in turn inspired by real life railway events. Everything in the railway series has happened to some engine, somewhere, at some time. [[http://www.pegnsean.net/~railwayseries/database.htm This site]] has an entire database of the real-life anecdotes which inspired the Reverend's stories.
* RookieRedRanger: Jack would have been this in the proposed ''Jack & The Pack'' SpinOff.
* RuleOfThree: From season 8 onward, almost ''all'' plots follow this, where a character must make one mistake three times in the row before realizing what they did wrong, and then things get {{Anvilicious}}.
* RunawayTrain: Naturally a recurring plot line. The early episodes even had a recurring Leitmotif for such moments.
* SameLanguageDub: Mostly due to differences in railway terminology between the US and UK (such as "trucks" in Britain and "freight cars" in America).
* SantaClaus: Has a minor appearance in the Season 2 finale.
* SaveBothWorlds: Basically the entire plot of ''Thomas and the Magic Railroad''.
* SaveTheVillain: Thomas saves Diesel from rolling off an unfinished bridge in ''Misty Island Rescue''.
* SceneryGorn: The Vicarstown Dieselworks, which is filthy, grimy and full of broken machinery, including a broken crane. [[spoiler:And then it catches fire.]]
* SceneryPorn: The modelers for before the series went CG made some beautiful scenery and backgrounds for the trains to roll around in. There's still quite a lot of it in the CG series, especially in ''Misty Island Rescue''. In addition Arc Productions, the current animators for the series, really enjoy using various shots that show a great deal of scenery.
* SeriousBusiness: Pretty much every race Thomas gets in. Similarly the railway itself is a SeriousBusiness since pretty much everything on Sodor is somehow affected by the railway. Especially in later seasons.
* ShesAManInJapan: Rusty was referred to as she in the US narration of season 9, though this had quickly been corrected.
* ShortCutsMakeLongDelays: If an engine even thinks of taking a shortcut somewhere, expect them to get lost, trapped, crashed, or otherwise delayed.
* ShoutOut: There's no way that the song played in the beginning of ''Misty Island Rescue'' wasn't partially inspired by the ''PiratesOfTheCaribbean'' theme.
* [[ShouldntWeBeInSchoolRightNow Shouldn't You Be Working On Schedule Right Now?]]: There are multiple episodes where an engine, who should be working at a [[MacGuffin 'Special Special']], is instead seen travelling light-engine around the island with nothing in tow, allowing themsleves to stop at any location they please. One has to wonder if the railway schedules still exist, or can The Fat Controller just order any engine to do something on a whim.
* ShownTheirWork: Rev. Awdry was a railway nut and obsessive about details being right. Many stories in the original books were based on stories from railway workers. He would often fire or insult away book artists who hadn't gotten enough details right. The early TV seasons were based directly on the books, so inherited the accuracy of detail. Plus, while the new episodes are less realistic, the characters are still (mostly) based on real machines, with maybe some proportional changes. The addition of a railway consultant has also helped in this, with engines starting to receive realistic headcodes as well as several bits of real-life railway workings being used as plot points.
* SingleMindedTwins: Bill and Ben, and to a far lesser extent Donald and Douglas. Bash and Dash rely heavily on this trope, to the point where they finish each other's sentences.
* SingleTear: This happens to a few engines in the earlier seasons. James in "Troublesome Trucks", Thomas in "Thomas, Terrence, and the Snow", Toby in "Toby and the Stout Gentleman", and Duck in "Dirty Work".
** TearsOfRemorse:
*** Happens with James in the beginning of "Troublesome Trucks", learning of the trouble he's caused with the coaches.
*** This also happens with Thomas twice. One in "Thomas, Terrence, and the Snow" where he regrets not taking his snowplough while being stuck on the snow. The other in "Down the Mine" when he is reprimanded by the Fat Controller for falling down a mine.
* SixthRanger: Percy and Toby in season 1. Duck in season 2. Emily also fits.
* SliceOfLife: Arguably, the earlier seasons.
* TheSmurfettePrinciple: ''TheRailwaySeries'' featured just two female engines, Daisy and Mavis, neither of whom were exactly strong characters. The TV series added more female engines in later series, such as Emily, Molly and Rosie. However, coaches such as Annie and Clarabel were always female. Which, given that the coaches couldn't even move without an engine's help, [[UnfortunateImplications made things worse]].
* SneezeOfDoom: Variant example. In an early story, boys drop stones on Henry and his train. [[CrowningMomentOfFunny He pays them out on his return trip by "sneezing" ashes from his smokebox on them]].
* SpaceWhaleAesop: Being steam engines means that the consequences of their actions will be strange and pretty impractical for it to happen to humans. Some examples include:
** Tell lies, and you might get turned into a chicken coop.
** Do sloppy work, and you might get turned into a [[AndIMustScream stationary generator]]
** Be vain, and you might get [[BuriedAlive bricked inside a tunnel]].
** It's OK to kill out of the guy that's bullying you and your brother, as long as it technically happens accidentally.
** Don't be rude or you will crash into tar wagons.
** Don't annoy or tease others or they will play a trick on you, whether it be dragging you along with their train or making you believe that you saw a ghost.
** It's OK to pretend you're another species as long as you understand the time and place for it.
* SpiceUpTheSubtitles: One pirated Indonesian DVD (commonly sold at stalls in markets) of ''Calling All Engines!'' translated Thomas' exclamations "Cinders and ashes!" and "Bust my buffers!" as something that roughly means "Son of a bitch!" in English.
* SorcerersApprenticePlot: Done frequently whenever an engine makes a slight alteration to their work run, or is given the job of another more experienced one. Naturally they usually have to face the annoyance of the Fat Controller afterwards.
* SparedByTheAdaptation: S.C. Ruffey was scrapped in the novels after being dismanteled by Oliver. In the show he is repaired and appears in later episodes.
** In the original novels Bulgy was last seen acting into a chicken coop. In the show however, he is redeemed and converted back into a working bus.
* SpoiledBrat: Daisy. She even gets ''away'' with some spoiled antics in her introductory episode by throwing a tantrum. Although she does get called out on it a couple times, and is given another chance because she helped clean up the mess caused when she (indirectly) caused an accident to Percy.
* SpotlightStealingSquad: Thomas, who reached near CreatorsPet levels from Season 8 to Season 16. To some extent Percy and James, who have the most recurring roles after Thomas and are the most merchandised supporting characters. This is partly due to their best friend status with the main character as well as them being even more prominant than Thomas himself in ''TheRailwaySeries'' books that the initial seasons adapted from.
* StealthPun: The Island of Sodor is named for the [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diocese_of_Sodor_and_Man Diocese of Sodor and Man]], which by Awdry's day had dwindled down to just the Isle of Man. So he invented an Island of Sodor to go with it.
* SteamNeverDies: Steam locomotives are forever and ever and ever. And ever. (This is somewhat justified, as steam was still in operation in TheSixties, which is when the current television series is set.)
* SteamPunk: Being steam locomotives, obviously.
* StepfordSmiler: Common in the HIT episodes where characters ignorantly cause damage to everything and everyone around them. As of Season 18, this has ended.
* TheStinger: [[spoiler:After the credits of Misty Island Rescue, Diesel 10, the BigBad from ''Thomas and the Magic Railroad'', appears watching the Sodor engines, with an EvilLaugh and promising ruin and destruction.]]
* StoryArc: During Seasons 1, 2, and 4, mostly consisting of CharacterDevelopment. Season 1 deals with the main cast's respective arcs, Season 2's has Duck and Diesel's, with several minor characters such as [=BoCo=] getting their own, while Season 4's arcs are centered around the narrow gauge engines.
* TheStoryteller: The Narrow Gauge Engines
* {{Supermarionation}}: The earlier seasons, before CGI. The engines were all model trains on a miniature set. Their eyes, wheels and even ability to let off steam were controlled by off-camera puppeteers. It helps that it was overseen by Series/{{Thunderbirds}} veteran David Mitton.
* SurvivalMantra: Plenty of them. Starting from ''The Great Discovery'' it's been combined with [[RhymesOnADime rhyming]] as well. As of season 18 the rhyming aspect's mostly disappeared, save for an abrupt return in "Flatbeds of Fear", courtesy of Henry.
* SynchronousEpisodes: "Thomas And Stepney" is a rare case of this playing alongside a novel. The events of the episode mostly mirror those of ''TheRailwaySeries'' story "Stepney's Special" albeit from Thomas' perspective. "Buzz Buzz" seems to act as this in places with the novel version of the story as well, though other changes probably apply more as AdaptationDecay.
* TakeThat: ''King of the Railway'' has two cases of this towards the previous writing style, particularly towards Henry needing Special coal.
* TearOffYourFace: This is how one of the Scottish Twins actually kills the Spiteful Brakevan (a bullying caboose) at the end of the episode "Brake Van", by ramming into him [[IncrediblyLamePun face-on]], smashing the caboose to bits, and tearing off his face.
* TerribleTrio: Diesel sometimes forms one with [[ThoseTwoBadGuys 'Arry and Bert]] in later episodes. Gordon, James and Henry were a lighter example in the earlier seasons (being more just arrogant peers than villains) while Diesel 10 formed one with Splatter and Dodge in ''Thomas And The Magic Railroad''.
* ThatMakesMeFeelAngry: Basically every episode will have some variation of "That made (character) feel very (emotion)." This was strictly limited in earlier seasons, but became more prominent from season 8 onward, mainly because it was a selling point for autistic children.
* ThemeTuneExtended: The original theme tune is in fact a mere snippet from the original [[http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e5SMxYT8FHo two minute long track]].
* ThoseTwoBadGuys: 'Arry and Bert.
* TookALevelInKindness: Thomas was a lot more of a pompous brat in the early episodes based on the original novels. As the show began to branch off on it's own however, he became more altrustic and high spirited. A few other engines such as Sir Handel have also been tamed a little in later seasons.
* TookALevelInJerkass: Edward was a kind-hearted and patient engine in the earlier seasons, but at the start of season 6 and on wards, he is prone to rude and arrogant moments DependingOnTheWriter.
* ToothStrip: In the original books and TV series. Averted with some Trucks. Interesting to note, in the early days of the TV series, the production crew did make an individually toothed face for a smiling Gordon... It didn't look too well. They also made one for Thomas, though it was mainly a joke prop.
* ATragedyOfImpulsiveness: The majority of the accidents in the show is this, because the engines did not stop to think before they act.
* TransAtlanticEquivalent: PBS' ''Series/ShiningTimeStation'' added a FramingDevice with a live action EnsembleCast to the British footage. The Narrator's actor became a character (Mr. Conductor) who told the stories to the children.
* TrueCompanions: The main 'Steam Team' consider themselves this.
* TwinSwitch: Bill and Ben in "The Diseasel". A variation since instead of acting as each other, they pretended to be one unnamed engine. Besides, they are pretty much the same in personality. They also pulled the same trick on Connor in "Bill or Ben?".
** Donald and Douglas also used this early in their tenure on Sodor, when Sir Topham Hatt was still trying to decide which one to send home. If one ever seemed to be outperforming the other, they'd switch tenders (the only places their numbers were painted) and do each other's work until their records evened out, so the boss couldn't make a decision.
* UltimateJobSecurity: The railway men are hardly ever punished for their mistakes.
* UnusuallyUninterestingSight: Nobody seems to notice or care that their vehicles are alive and sentient. Many of the engines are good friends with humans and vice versa.
* ViewersAreMorons: HIT's reasons for extensively retooling the show.
* [[ViolentGlaswegian Violent Caledonian]] "Spite Douggie, will ye? Take that!"
* VitriolicBestBuds: Some of the engines will have their differences and will throw out their quips from time to time, but in the end, they will always help out each other when needed.
** The trio of Gordon, Henry, and James run into this.
** James in particular runs into this with several [[RedOniBlueOni more introverted engines]] such as Edward and Toby, especially in later seasons where NotSoDifferent moments are more common.
** Thomas and Percy are this in the earlier seasons.
** Thomas and Bertie too. They are rivals when they race, but they're good friends outside competitions.
** Percy and Harold parallels Thomas and Bertie's rivalry. Episodes such as "Percy's Promise" and "A Bad Day for Harold the Helicopter" shows that they can have their friendly moments too.
* WantingIsBetterThanHaving: In "Tender Engines", Henry is jealous of a visiting engine with two tenders (the two that No. 4472 Flying Scotsman carried while on tour in the '60s). Duck and Donald overhear and [[LiteralGenie tell Henry they have six tenders for him to take]]. [[HumiliationConga Once everyone has gathered to see him, Henry finds out the tenders are all old, grimy, and sludge-filled]].
* WatchingTheSunset: Thomas, Percy, and Duck at the end of 'All at Sea.'
* WellExcuseMePrincess: Emily and Daisy.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse?: Much of Salty's story about [[spoiler: Misty Island. He says they use smoke signals there, but aside from Thomas using it as a [[ChekhovsGun way to get Percy's attention across the bay,]] we never see it used on the island.]] Salty also mentions that [[spoiler: an engine was lost there once, but after "puffing three times" we don't know what happened to him]], and it's never mentioned again.
* WhatKindOfLamePowerIsHeartAnyway: Rosie isn't strong enough to pull heavy loads, but is really good for pulling trucks full of balloons.
* WhiteSheep: Most trucks on Sodor range from mischievous to outright sociopathic, teasing the engines or outright causing accidents for them. Toad the break van and Hector the coal hopper however are kind natured and help the engines keep the other rolling stock at bay.
** Though the diesels' nature varies DependingOnTheWriter, a fair number of diesels starting from [=BoCo=] are shown to be consistently good throughout the series. In addition, in the episode ''Disappearing Diesels'' in Season 18, the narrator says that some engines give the diesels a bad reputation.
* WithFriendsLikeThese: The engines are such assholes to each other, sometimes it's hard to remember that they're supposed to be friends. Especially evident in the earlier seasons. Examples include everyone teasing Gordon for his size, making insensitive remarks about Henry's condition, belittling Thomas and Percy for being small engines, jokes involving Edward and scrapping, having your embarrassing accidents [[NeverLiveItDown brought up again and again]], and so on.
* YouDidntAsk: Duck and Diesel in "Pop Goes The Diesel".
* YoungerThanTheyLook: Used perhaps most oddly when Salty is telling Thomas and Percy stories of the railway's past, despite them being far more likely to know from experience. How Thomas and Percy have remained small children although Thomas was built in 1915 and Percy was built in the 1930's and The Railway Series was created in the 1940's. Although they DO look that young in appearance, and the only reason they fit this trope is when they were built would make them OlderThanTheyLook, but apparently doesn't.

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