Heartwarming: Thomas the Tank Engine
"...and I think he knows that sometimes, the best travels are those we can only dream about."
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The Railway Series
- The dedication at the start of book 42, Thomas and his Friends:
In memory of the Rev. W. Awdry (1911 - 1997), without whom none of Thomas' adventures would have been told.
- Prince Charles unveiling the bust of Wilbert Awdry at Tidmouth.
Prince Charles: My parents read stories about your Railway to me as a child. There will never be anything like it anywhere.
- In "Edward, Gordon, and Henry/Henry to the Rescue", there's the moment where Henry is let out of the tunnel after The Fat Controller asks him to pull the heavy express.
- In the ending, Edward and Henry take Gordon back to the sheds, thus cementing the three's friendship.
- Thomas' first meeting with the Fat Controller in "Thomas And The Trucks/Trouble For Thomas". After his mishap with some mischievous trucks, the Fat Controller bluntly asks what he's doing in the yard. An intimidated Thomas whimpers his problem. The Fat Controller decides Thomas needs experience and puts him to work with trucks for the next few days. Come the next episode, he is cheerfully encouraging Thomas, who is now much more confident and competent in handling trucks (which would come in handy later on).
- In Troublesome Trucks, there's James sincerely apologizing to the Fat Controller for causing trouble with the coaches, prompting the Fat Controller to forgive him and let him out of the sheds to pull some trucks. It gets better in the end of the episode where the Fat Controller reveals himself after James finishes the arduous job. James is worried he's in trouble again, but the Fat Controller smiles and commends James for dealing with the trucks and allows him to keep his red paint, signaling that James has already on good terms with him.
- Following that in James And The Express after Gordon suffers a mishap, James is left to pull the Express in his place. Rather than the usual formula with the pompous engine humiliated and upset, Gordon is revealed to be impressed with James' work and encourages him to keep up the good work. The narration explains that James pulls the Express to give Gordon a rest every once in a while and the two cement their Vitriolic Best Buds relationship.
- In "The Flying Kipper", Henry returns from crewe and is greeted with a warm welcome back from the people at the station and is cheered for his new shape.
- In "Down The Mine", Thomas and Gordon "formed an alliance" after Gordon helped Thomas from the mine accident. This is quite intriguing considering that the two had quarreled in the first episode.
- This is brought back up in "Paint Pots and Queens" (which takes place directly after "Down the Mine" chronologically) in which the two vouch for each other to the Fat Controller (Gordon asks if Thomas can run his branch line again, Thomas is cut off, but in the books he requests Gordon can pull coaches again).
- The ending of Thomas, Percy, and the Coal shows Thomas and Percy making up for their quarrel for their eventful coal incidents, which is unlike of how said episode ended in the novels where Percy vows to pay back Thomas for laughing at him. This actually proves that the two will continue to be friends through the good and the bad.
- In A Close Shave, after Duck stopped the freight cars from hurting passengers by crashing into a barber shop, the barber yells at him without knowing the scenario. When the Fat Controller explains what happened, the barber is immediately sympathetic.
Barber: I'm sorry. I didn't know you were being a brave engine.
Duck: That's alright, sir. I didn't know that either.
- Along with Duck being told that he can come home, he rolls into the shed, greeted by whistles of all the other engines.
- The ending of The Deputation definitely qualifies. The Fat Controller has been contemplating whether to send Donald or Douglas home.
Fat Controller: Donald, Douglas, I heard your work in the snow was good. You shall have a new coat of paint.
Donald: Thank ye, sir!
Fat Controller: But your names will be painted on you, so there will be no more mistakes.
Douglas: Does this mean that the both of us...?
Fat Controller: It means -
Narrator: But the rest of his speech was drowned by a delighted chorus of cheers and whistles. The twins were here to stay.
- A short but memorable moment at the end of Percy's Predicament was when Thomas returned from being mended. Annie and Clarabel are overjoyed to see him again.
- In Edward's Exploit, Edward, who's often mocked for being the oldest engine, uses everything in him to pull a train after a serious breakdown. He shows up late at the station, but the passengers are so proud of him that they give him a round of applause.
- The ending of Henry's Forest, doubles as a Tear Jerker.
- Trust Thomas sets Thomas up for a Break the Cutie moment, after starting the day exceptionally cheerful, he gets grumbled at by Bertie due to his broken road, is tricked by James into taking his trucks, which then push him into a river. However following the crash, he discovers the missing tar wagon for the road. James is genuinely remorseful for getting Thomas in trouble, while a joyous Bertie takes back everything he said before, with Thomas' optimism paying off.
- The end of All at Sea:
Narrator: Duck still wonders about the lands beyond the horizon, but he enjoys being with friends most of all, and I think he knows that sometimes, the best travels are those we can only dream about.
- All of this accompanied by heartwarming music and a beautiful shot of the engines looking out of the sunset.
- Thomas' speech to the engines in the end of "Percy, James, and the Fruitful Day":
Thomas: You know, there's more than one way to get jammed. We all learned that today. [...] What's more, we also learned that sometimes when engines help each other out of a jam, things can still go wrong. [...] So that means we've learned a lot today, and therefore...
Other engines: We're really useful engines after all!
- Duke reuniting with Sir Handel/Falcon and Peter Sam/Stuart in "Sleeping Beauty", especially because their relationship hasn't changed at all.
Duke: You woke me up. In my young days, engines were...
Sir Handel: Seen and not heard, Granpuff. We know.
Peter Sam: We'll all be back to work tormmow. We're glad you've come back.
Sir Handel/Peter Sam: We can keep you in order now.
Duke: *playing along* Keep me in order? Be off with you!
(The tank engines leave)
Duke: (To self in a playful manner, sleepy) Impudence scallywags.
Narrator: But his old eyes twinkled and for the first time in years, he smiled as he dozed in the sun.
- In "Four Little Engines", Skarloey, who was long overdue for repairs at that point, pulled a passenger train for Sir Handel after he fails. But that's not all, one of his springs give way and he struggles on to the station, and makes it. He earns a respectful silence from James, and we get this nice exchange at the end of the episode.
Skarloey: Old engines can't pull trains like the young ones can...
Skarloey's driver: They can if they're mended, Old Faithful. You deserve it.
- Rheneas coming home at the end of Gallant Old Engine.
- In Harvey To The Rescue, Thomas and the Fat Controller cheer up a dejected Harvey after he hears about his bad first impressions from the other engines. He later proves his worth and gets a much different reception:
Harvey: The other engines don't like me. I'm too different.
Fat Controller: Different is what makes you special.
- In "Gordon Takes A Tumble", Gordon returns to the docks, ashamed and expecting the worst from the other engines after his accident. However Thomas and James are sympathetic and also inform him Salty apologised for teasing him. Cheered up, Gordon also apologises for being pompous, leading all the engines to whistle happily.
- In Twin Trouble, after getting into an argument with Douglas, Donald has an accident. Compared to most instances where a bickering engine has to be goaded into resentfully helping the other, Duck barely has time to complete the sentence "Donald's in trouble" before Douglas frantically pulls off to help him.
- In Squeak, Rattle and Roll, Gordon's gears start making unpleasant noises whenever he runs at full speed. Convinced it is a sign he is breaking down, he believes the Fat Controller will send him to the scrapyard the moment he finds out. However he is later given the job of taking some children to the docks in time for their boat journey home. Rather than risk leaving them stranded by going slow and quiet, he decides to make his last journey one to remember and rushes them over in time. The Fat Controller afterwards commends Gordon and tells him to go over...to the Works and get his gears tuned up.
Gordon: Does this mean you're not going to scrap me, Sir?
The Fat Controller: Scrap Gordon? The fastest engine on Sodor? Who would pull the Express?
- Near the end of Thomas, Emily, and the Snowplough, despite adopting a bossy attitude towards Thomas earlier on, Emily felt sorry for Thomas after he was scolded by the Fat Controller for not listening to his orders of putting his snowplough. This led her to take the blame by telling the Fat Controller that she neglected to tell Thomas that it was him who ordered her to tell him about the snowplough. After this, Thomas thanks Emily for owning up and promises to listen to her in the near future.
- In Edward the Great, while racing Spencer, Edward starts to get tired and considers stopping at a station. However, some workers, who had caught word of the race, start to cheer Edward on, giving Edward the strength to continue. Just goes to show you what a little encouragement can do.
- As does Gordon, despite his disgust at Edward being elected to race beforehand, taking pity on Edward while passing by and complimenting him.
- Edward The Hero makes up for previous Character Derailment concerning Edward, and spotlights him delaying his time as Rescue Engine to help others while passing by (cheering up Charlie, retrieving Dowager Hatt's luggage and gently returning a lost Katie to Farmer Mc Coll).
- While it's not winning awards for railway realism, it's cute how every engine (even Gordon and James) instantly agree to help Thomas in "Thomas And The Sounds Of Sodor".
- The ending to Happy Birthday Sir, in which Thomas and Winston find and restore Sir Topham Hatt's old riding carriage from his younger days. His reaction is nearly overwhelmed.
- While Toby and Edward's Not So Above It All moments tend to earn the ire of many fans, they can be Heartwarming In Hindsight when you consider that most of the time it is Thomas and Percy, the two younger engines they previously mentored, that usually end up helping them out, and usually with the same level of patience and sympathy as they gave them, at least giving them an opportunity to return their kind treatment from before. This is especially evident in episodes the older engines are embarrassed about admitting their weaknesses to the younger idolizing ones (eg. Edward And The Mail, Toby And The Whistling Woods).
- Under a similar light, Winston's relationship with the Fat Controller. While Sir Topham is portrayed as being thoroughly wise, patient and competent in his treatment of the engines, Winston is left putting up with one of his few vices; his poor driving. Winston's personality however is that of a loyal, patient butler to his driver, only cracking once in Wayward Winston, where he quite willingly accepts his aesop about showing mutual patience as someone attempts to learn. Given how much Sir Topham has had to tolerate in 17 seasons and going, it seems fair someone is willing to show him the same amount of patience and compassion.
Winston: Early days, sir. Early days.
- Cranky standing up to the Fat Controller and praising Kevin in Kevin's Cranky Friend. Kevin's reaction completes it.
- A minor one, but in Scruff's Makeover, it's Gordon of all engines that snaps Scruff back to his senses and return to the waste dump. He may be grumpy, bossy and boastful, but he does look out for his fellow engines and helps them get back on track.
- In The Missing Christmas Decorations, Percy goes out of his way to make sure Sidney gets a set of new wheels, after he's been left alone at the Dieselworks for two years. The other engines are shocked Percy would give a diesel a gift, especially after the diesels stole and ruined their sheds' Christmas decorations, but Percy firmly believes Christmas is a time for being kind to others.
- Prior to that, Diesel 10 was firmly convinced the Fat Controller didn't care about his diesels and so gets Paxton to steal Tidmouth Shed's decorations. Eventually Paxton feels guilty and draws the line, instead setting about the order the Fat Controller gave him earlier. As the steamies confront Diesel 10 over his theft, Paxton enters with his special; trucks of Christmas decorations the Fat Controller ordered for the Dieselworks.
- A few in Disappearing Diesels. Diesel decides to prank Paxton by having the other diesels at the Dieselworks hide from him. Paxton however, believes that they have all disappeared and goes out looking for them. The other diesels think that they've gone too far seeing this, but Diesel says that it was just a joke. Later, when Diesel's ruse is discovered, Paxton chases after him, confused as to what's going on. After a while of this, Diesel runs out of fuel, and despite everything that he put Paxton through, Paxton cheerfully helps Diesel to get refuelled without a second thought. After this, Diesel is confused as to why Paxton helped him, and at the end of the episode, manages "a friendly smile" in thanks.
- Thomas and Henrietta's encouragement for Toby in Signals Crossed.
- James confessing to his mistake and accepting his punishment in Duck In The Water. Though the Fat Controller disapproves his behavior, he commends him for taking responsibility for it, while Duck and Oliver give silent but clearly sympathetic exchanges, aware this was a lot for someone like James.
- Similarly Toad bailing out James after he almost has to go through this again in "Toad's Adventure". Later on they have a friendly exchange, with James helping Toad get in his own story through chatty Oliver.
- Duck reuniting with his old coaches near the end of Duck and the Slip Coaches.
- A fairly minor one, but the Fat Controller stops to ask the coaches if they're alright with going with Duck instead of James. It's evident that he cares about every member of his railway - not just his engines, but coaches too.
- In the end of "Missing Gator", Percy tells Salty that even if thinking about Gator makes him sad, it also makes him happy. Salty assures that Gator may come back to Sodor, and Percy hopes he's right.
- The troublesome trucks of all things gets themselves a CMOH. They became delighted that Percy came to rescue them from the mine. Just seeing them smile when they were coupled to Percy was surprisingly pleasant to see.
- Gator finally reuniting with Percy in "Long Lost Friend", and confirming he's back to stay.
- In Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Lily and Burnett get Lady working again, and take a journey down the Magic Railroad. Especially seeing Burnett happy again and hugging his granddaughter.
Lily: Tasha would've loved this journey.
Burnett: And she'd love that you're with me now.
- And later, after Mr. Conductor and Junior get their gold dust back, Burnett and Lily share some between Lily's bluebird.
- In Hero of the Rails, Hiro's friendship that forms between the Steam Team definitely counts. Especially when Thomas and Percy hear him laugh for the first time.
- On top of that, when Thomas tells the rest of the engines about Hiro's situation, not one of them hesitates when it comes to helping Hiro.
- Spencer's sincere apology to Thomas and Hiro at the end.
Spencer: You're both fine engines and fine friends.
- Arguably Thomas saving Diesel in Misty Island Rescue. Despite the recurring Fantastic Racism between the two rivals, Thomas is genuinely horrified when Diesel nearly falls over the unfinished bridge, and vehemently pulls him to safety. Diesel rather earnestly thanks him afterwards.
- Percy finding Thomas in the tunnel in Misty Island Rescue is nothing short of touching.
- Following that Thomas goes back to Misty Island after Sir Topham and the other engines have started a search party for him. Sir Topham is so overjoyed at finding Thomas he throws his top hat into the air. Thomas is horrified as his master's beloved hat disappears into the mist, however Sir Topham is unfazed:
Sir Topham: I can find another hat, but I can never find another Thomas.
- Thomas and Percy standing up for the the diesels at the end of Day of the Diesels.
- Oh, Tale of the Brave. Just how exactly are you heartwarming? Let us count the ways...
- Percy and Gator's friendship. Percy admires Gator so much, while Gator is willing to act as an emotional support while Percy struggles with his insecurities. Then, when Gator is afraid of crossing the suspension bridge, Percy coasts by him with a reassuring smile, and that alone gives Gator the courage to get across the bridge.
- Even though they've had issues with their friendship in the past, Thomas' attempts to reconcile with Percy, and his concern when the green engine goes missing, are felt even stronger than before. Most notable when he begs Cranky to stop the ship, thinking Percy is on board. His panic is so strong, it's even kind of heartbreaking.
- On top of that, Cranky doesn't hesitate a second when Thomas begs him to stop the ship, and holds on despite being damaged in the process. Of course, when he finds out why Thomas needed the ship stopped, he's furious.
- In her little amount of screentime, Emily is the only one who openly defends Percy from James' teasing. And after the Scrap Heap Monster scene, when James tries to make a joke about Percy in bad taste, he receives a glare from the other engines, who know he has gone much too far.
- Despite having to put up with a lot of trouble from James, during the landslide, Percy doesn't think twice about helping James escape.
- Percy immediately forgiving both Thomas and James later on.
- Last but not least, Gator's departure scene. Also doubles as a Tear Jerker, especially when Gator, who had been Percy's hero for most of the movie, says Percy's actions inspired him.
- Especially great with James and Percy's closing dialog.
Percy: I guess you have to be brave to say goodbye to someone too.
James: That sounds very wise, Percy. Did Gator tell you that?
Percy: No...I thought of it all by myself.
- The song "That's What Friends are For", one of the most emotional pieces of music made for the series.
- The most recent Mr. Perkins segments on the DVD releases of the new episodes, mainly in that they feature the titular character reading a slightly abridged version of the Railway Series Stories, even featuring most of the original illustrations as well as a few new ones, showing that the show is starting to acknowledge its roots for the first time since Series 2.
- For the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series, Mattel is releasing a limited edition Wooden Railway model of Thomas, modeled after the very first Thomas toy: a wooden train Rev. W. Awdry made for his son Christopher.