Yes, even a children's show about talking steam engines can get real darn sad.
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- The characters' faces, before the CGI era, can be quite hard to look at for some because of how well they portray their sorrow and remorse, especially after a large screw-up. This is sometimes accompanied by the characters shedding tears.
The Sad Story of Henry / Come Out, Henry!
- As a result of refusing to leave the tunnel, Henry is bricked up by the Fat Controller "for always and always and always" (although in the US Version, It was only "until you're ready to come out!"). By then, he becomes sad and miserable that no one would ever see his paint again and and that he is never being allowed to journey out again. The publishers of the original novel found the ending so downbeat they only sold Awdry's work so long as he created a happy ending via "Edward, Gordon and Henry/Henry to the Rescue".
- In the Shining Time Station episode: "Does it bite?", Mr. Conductor did not blow his whistle to begin the story because he was too choked up about Henry and his punishment. As he blurts out to the kids in tears, "But I must warn you. It's a very sad story."
- The atmosphere and music is perfectly-executed. After the tunnel is sealed, it goes all quiet, birds are chirping, trains pass-by and Henry is unsure of himself. Then the background theme goes very sad as Henry realizes how stupid he's been, he's all alone, and it's too late to set things right.
- Continuing from the previous episode above, Henry laments on his misbehavior and wondered if the Fat Controller could ever forgive him and let him out of the tunnel. Fortunately, the Fat Controller decides to give him another chance.
- Thomas had nearly cried after realizing he wasn't coupled to his train. As soon as he returns to the big station, everyone was talking angrily about the incident just until they noticed how sad Thomas was.
- James (as pictured above at the top of the page) remorsefully cries about all of the trouble he's caused with the coaches, particularly mending a hole in one of them with a passenger's bootlace. The tears from his eyes definitely show how terribly sorry he was for his actions.
- In one scene, Henry bemoans his poor condition to Thomas, who was very dismissive of the issue, bluntly telling him that he's "too fat/slow and he needs exercise". You have to feel for Henry for his current condition. Ouch.
- Thomas gets himself stuck on the snow and then realizes how silly that he was for breaking his snowplough just right before he begins to cry.
- After constant failings, the Fat Controller sadly informs Henry that he'll have to replace him if his health doesn't improve. Henry, and his driver and Fireman seem pretty choked up by that, and even the Fat Controller seems to take every action to avoid it happening. Thankfully his Welsh Coal is brought into the situation.
- In "Toby and the Stout Gentleman/Toby the Tram Engine", the passengers wish Toby one last goodbye after his controller decided to close the line, leaving Toby in the shed lonely and unwanted. That is until his driver wakes him up for good news: an important letter of a certain stout gentleman.
- Thomas has to deal with a new yet cranky policeman after the old one retires. The policeman seems to find fault in everything Thomas does, refusing to be convinced otherwise, and brands him a safety hazard and a "regular law breaker". Fortunately, things turn up after Toby is installed on the railway, with Toby getting sweet revenge for Thomas by startling the policeman with his whistle.
Thomas and Trevor / A New Friend for Thomas
- Trevor lets out a tear due to the fact the day's work at the harbor was over.
- The ending; the Fat Controller sends Duck to Edward's station after Gordon, Henry, and James made accusations of Duck telling the trucks false stories and names. Duck lets out a tear on his eye, knowing that his friends and (seemingly) even The Fat Controller have turned against him just as Diesel, who had made those names in the first place, watches him with a sinister grin on his face.
- Henry feeling devastated when a forest was decimated by a storm in "Henry's Forest". Toby feels very bad for him, explaining to Sir Topham Hatt that the forest was a special place for Henry.
- The ending theme that plays as the narrator said "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. Don't you?"
- The latter half of "Granpuff" when Duke is left behind and Falcon and Stuart head off to their new home. The whole situation was akin to someone being separated from their own children, for whatever reason.
Make Someone Happy
- Mrs. Kyndley tearing up when her daughter wasn't able to visit her.
- Salty's pining for the sea.
Thomas and the Birthday Picnic
- Thomas becomes sad after failing to find a perfect place for Dowager Hatt's birthday picnic. It's even sadder when he realizes that he ran out of ideas, thus upsetting the Hatt Family, complete with letting off a low, sad whistle.
- After spending most of the episode thinking the new statue is of himself and then bragging to everyone about it, Thomas's friends become irritated and alienate him. This results in a scene where Thomas sadly clears the snow with the snowplough after realizing that he let his own ego get the best of him.
Thomas and the Rainbow
- Thomas, after obsessing over finding the end of a rainbow and thus neglecting his friends, becomes derailed. Seeing Percy on another line, he shouts and whistles for help, but Percy puffs on, seemingly taking no notice and leaving Thomas behind. Thomas sadly remembers that, because he was rushing to find the rainbow's end, he brushed Percy aside when he wanted to talk earlier. Because of his silly obsession, Thomas has lost his best pal and is stranded without hope.
- But this is not the case. The rest of the episode turns into one long heartwarming moment, as we learn that Percy, in fact, did hear Thomas' whistle, and was puffing on because he was in a hurry to get help! The message is passed from Percy to Harvey via a large number of other characters, all of whom are anxious to help their friend. Even more heartwarming because the helping characters include several others whom Thomas had spurned earlier.
Toby's New Shed
- Thomas eagerly attempts to do a charitable deed for Toby by helping make a new roof for his shed, only to be confused when Toby doesn't seem too keen on the idea. When the job is done and Toby is downbeat, he doesn't understand and asks what's wrong. Toby somberly explains he liked having his old leaky roof, as birds were able to come in and take shelter, his home was their's, and a guilt-ridden Thomas watches as Toby rolls sadly into his new shed alone. Luckily Thomas fixes this by arranging a bird house to made right next to his shed.
Duck and the Slip Coaches
- Duck is left alone in the sheds, feeling very sad because James had stolen his idea of bringing in the slip coaches for the passengers.
Duck: "But I told James about the slip coaches. It was... my idea."
- Emily puffing back to Tidmouth Sheds only to find it full because Duck was sleeping there for the time being, which happens again when she comes back the next day. The second time around, there's one empty berth left for her to occupy... only for Henry to take it up, leaving her outside once again. The worst part is that no one pays her any mind at all the entire time. It seems that scene was a Take That! towards the fandom for complaining that "Emily replaced Duck!" one too many times.
- Timothy is left upset over Bill and Ben's remarks about him being no fun and is the odd one out, making some feel that the twins' teasing were taken too far.
Best Engine Ever
- Emily falls into a depression because she feels Caitlin is better than her at everything, and no matter how much other engines try to raise her spirits it just doesn't work. Even James tries to help her, but it's all for naught.
- Thomas and his friends start believing that the Fat Controller will be leaving Sodor forever because of the steam engines' constant screw-ups, so they try to make everything perfect so he will never leave, but they only end up causing confusion and delay. They finally resort to going on strike, refusing to come out of Tidmouth Sheds until they are sure the Fat Controller won't be leaving. Turns out the Fat Controller was only leaving his office, as it had to be refurbished.
Springtime for Diesel
- "Springtime for Diesel" has a surprisingly poignant one. After seeing Daisy was sent to the Dieselworks after he bumped her and hearing she might not be able to be fixed, Diesel lashes out at the others all day. However, at night, he comes into the Dieselworks to a seemingly asleep Daisy and, after a bit of stuttering, finally manages to speak his mind.
Diesel: "I'm sorry for shunting into you the way I did, Daisy. I really didn't mean to cause you any trouble...but so what if I did give you a little bump? Other engines aren't nice to me, so why I should be nice to other engines? And they blame me for everything! But... I hope you can be fixed. I wish I could do something to make everything alright again. I like you...although after this...I don't suppose you'll ever want to be my friend."
- The next day, Daisy is fixed thanks to new springs being delivered to the Dieselworks. But although Daisy is happy to be back, she treats Diesel coldly as she leaves, leaving him rather upset. Thankfully, things get better after that.
- On a meta level, Edward moving out of Tidmouth Sheds and to a new one at Wellsworth, so he can keep Philip company. To fans of Edward, this effectively seals his fate as Demoted to Extra for the foreseeable future.
The Great Discovery
- Thomas' increasing jealousy towards Stanley as the latter starts doing his regular jobs, fraternizing with the other engines, and sleeping in his berth at Tidmouth, leaving Thomas feeling left out. The final straw comes when when Stanely takes Thomas' place on supervising the Great Waterton restoration project. Thomas then decides to make Stanley look foolish by giving him a long freight train too heavy for him to pull. Unfortunately, the prank backfires as the coupling snaps and the trucks race down the hill, veering into a siding and crashing into the newly-built Great Waterton tower, and poor Thomas is left shunned.
Hero of the Rails
- Hiro's backstory. He was once known as "Master of the Railway", and he was famous, strong, and respected among the engines. At some point, he was transferred from Japan to Sodor, where he lived and worked for many years, until he eventually broke down due to age. Instead of being scrapped, he was put on a siding until Sodor could get the parts needed to repair him... but they never came. Hiro ended up waiting and waiting on that siding until he was forgotten by the public, still broken down and covered in overgrowth by the time Thomas and friends find him.
Misty Island Rescue
Blue Mountain Mystery
- Luke and Victor's backstories. Good god.
- Luke spent his entire life believing he did something terrible enough to warrant being scrapped should he ever show his face to the public. He was on the same ship that brought Victor to Sodor, and he was so eager that he begged to be taken off first. However, during the process, he accidentally knocked Victor into the sea. Luke thought Victor was scrapped, and blamed himself for his impatience, which was why he shut himself up in the quarry out of guilt.
- Victor was transferred to Sodor alongside Luke, but Luke accidentally knocked him into the sea while he was lifted. Because of the bad weather conditions at the time, he stayed underwater for a long time, to the point where his body had become rusted and dingy by the time he was found by workmen. He was repaired soon after, but Luke did not know this.
- A meta example: The fact that this movie was Michael Angelis' swan song as the narrator of the show.
King of the Railway
- Stephen trying his hardest to find his special job. Being a refined version of one of the first engine designs built, he spent most of his early life as The Ace. However, in the modern world, Stephen is slow, outdated and unable to pull even small loads that current steam engines can. He is rejected every place he tries to prove his worth (despite sympathetic treatment from Paxton and Skarloey) and finds his old mines to have closed down, lamenting sadly he now has no place on the railway.
Tale of the Brave
- Right after the Scrap Heap Monster incident. It ends with Percy completely rejecting Thomas AND James.
- On the same coin, Thomas still wants to make amends, but it doesn't go well at all.
- While they're looking for him, Thomas thinks that Percy is leaving Sodor forever on Gator's boat. After the initial moment of horror, he rushes to the docks, only to find the boat is already leaving. He whistles and screams for the boat to stop, but they don't hear him. As a last ditch effort, he gets Cranky to snag the boat with his hook, but the crane nearly falls off the docks while pulling the ship back to the port.
- Making it worse is Ben Small's delivery in the UK dub. You can hear his voice breaking with this particular line:
Thomas: You CAN'T let him leave! This is an EMERGENCY!
- Gator's goodbye. Seriously, Percy looks/sounds so sad through the whole thing, as opposed to Hiro's departure where Percy cheered him on and wished him well.
Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure
- Most of the scenes involving Thomas and the Fat Controller (whether directly or indirectly) feel this way, especially because this is the strictest he's acted in years. The worst one of all, though, is after the dynamite scene, where the Fat Controller shouts at Thomas and sends him away, not having seen enough to know that Thomas was simply trying to save everyone from getting destroyed. It's a gut punch at its finest, because more often than not, his harsh words towards Thomas are mostly justified. His behavior towards Thomas also feels much more strict than towards the other engines this time around, which makes things feel worse still. In fact, quite a few fans, prior to the special's release, expected the Fat Controller to state his intent to sell Thomas to the highest bidder, even if for scrap, as he had become that much of a liability.
- Sailor John indirectly accusing Thomas of taking the treasure. Thomas' expression as the sailor rolls away in Skiff really seals it.
- The worst part is that Sailor John and Skiff usually appeared not long after something happened to dishearten Thomas, and his mood improved quite a bit whenever he met with them. But now even that was taken from him...
The Great Race
- The scene where Sir Topham Hatt tells Thomas he can't take part in the Shunting Challenge due to his accident, and that Percy has to take his place. Sir Topham looks legitimately heartbroken during this scene, like a parent telling his ill child that he can't come on vacation with the rest of the family. It doesn't help that Percy is worried about competing, and Ashima coming in to say goodbye before they all leave for the Mainland. The scene ends with Thomas alone at the Steamworks looking miserable and heartbroken.
Journey Beyond Sodor
- Thomas being kept at the steelworks against his will is just Heartbreaking. What makes it worse is when he sings about how he just wants to go home and misses all his friends, including James.
- Thomas thinking he should be scrapped after spending the whole day messing up is very depressing.
- Thomas: No, Theo. I'm not being scrapped. But...(sigh) I probably should be. I lost James' cars, and I got trapped in the steelworks, and I want to go home to Sodor, but I don't know the way. I'm a useless engine. I just do everything wrong.
- "The Island Song" could make some nostalgic and long-time fans tear up.
- On January 2nd, 2017, Ben Forster, who played Mr. Perkins, died of cancer.
- On January 27, 2017, John Hurt, who portrayed Sailor John in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, died of cancer.
- George Carlin, the second narrator in the US, died of heart failure on June 22, 2008.
- In the same year, on May 16th, David Mitton, the original director of Thomas The Tank Engine also died of heart failure.
- The verdict of this review of Wonky Whistle:
Why, why was this episode known to existence? Why did it get a DVD release on 'Up Up and Away'? Why on this earth did this get approved? Seriously what has this writer done to the great blue engine that we known and loved since the beginning as an air headed dimwit that children are to be looking up too? So many unanswered questions. There are so many flaws in this episode, why did Thomas just puff away with workmen on his boiler? They can seriously get hurt or worse! And puffing away with one vent with animals with the lock unlocked, the animals can get seriously hurt. If Thomas is to teach kids, then what is the moral of this episode? This episode could be more realistic, if its like 'Near Miss' from the 1991 annual, 'Old Iron' and 'The Runaway' put together and instead of a 'wonky' whistle, Thomas' whistle is not their and you have an episode called 'Whistling Runaways', which I wrote on my DA page late last year. All I know is that, this is a rarity for me as this episode is my most hated, I didn't even bother watching the episode. It should be deleted from the entire Thomas series and its history as this is the worst Thomas episode ever made. I honestly feel bad for Greg Tiernan for his wonderful animation being wasted away due to this episode's writing.
- The show is leaving PBS for good in 2018. If you count Shining Time Station's run on the channel, Thomas the Tank Engine has been airing on PBS since 1989. It's just heartbreaking to see a long-running staple of PBS disappear.