Actor Allusion: Lady is voiced by Britt herself, and also shares the same color scheme as the Queen of Night from Mumfie, another show Allcroft worked on before.
Blooper: In the small arc about Donald and Douglas, their names were painted on them at the end because of confusion...however they seemed to film some scenes out of order, or flubbed the models used because you can spot them with their name tags on.
Someone with a keen enough eye will notice switchboxes or props in the scene. oops.
Sometimes engine's faces will placed improperly or have the wrong facial expression (in "Thomas And Trevor" for example, Thomas' facial expression is one same happy face model throughout the entire episode, no matter what emotion the narration claims he expresses).
Similarly, take a look at the moment in Coal where the Fat Controller says he will have to replace Henry if his troubles continue. He looks happy about it!
Despite most of the fandom praising its animation quality, Arc Productions makes many silly errors in their first few works: points being set the wrong way, Oliver and Duck being out of proportion with their surroundings, brake vans changing on a whim, James pulling narrow gauge coaches, and so on and so forth.
Creator Backlash/Creative Differences: While the Awdrys often cooperated with the show on early seasons, and even wrote some new novels for extra material, Rev Awdry was rather critical of its first attempts at original stories due to their lack of realism towards railways, most infamously "Henry's Forest", as well as "crane shunting" Thomas into unlikely stories to keep him the main character. Christopher Awdry also disliked some of his newer stories to contribute to the show, as well as being forced to make more Thomas-centric stories to tie in on its main character. Allegedly the Awdrys' ties with the show were more or less severed after the reverend wrote angry letters to Mitton and Alcroft about the state of the third and fourth seasons, considering them to be acting "pompous" with his work.
To a lesser extent original director David Mitton, who was cynical about the CGI transition, but otherwise had faith in the series going on after his departure.
HiT story executive Sam Barlow admitted that the constant rhyming theme of the CGI seasons (especially Season 15) probably wasn't a great idea.
Defictionalization: Numerous railways hold licensed events known as "A Day Out with Thomas" that feature full-sized and fully-functional replicas of Thomas himself. Other replicas include James and Toby.
Edited for Syndication: Some scenes from later specials were cut out of the PBS Kids broadcasts, to allow for the "one hour with commercials" airtime.
Executive Meddling: Thomas and the Magic Railroad got butchered thanks to Sony Pictures executives being ignorami.
Specifically, the film was not received well by test-screen audiences, stating that the plot and main villain were too dark, despite the film being complete at that point. The end result was a mess riddled with plot holes that resulted in HIT Entertainment taking control when the film failed. Later, when HIT was planning on bringing Thomas back to the television screens in America, they chose PBS, whose educational stance forced the show to be retooled extensively from a show that could be enjoyed by both kids and adults alike with a subtle moral, to a show aimed at preschoolers with a blatan Aesop and writing that treats the audience like they're idiots.
The Shake Shake Bridge from Misty Island Rescue was originally supposed to be a girder bridge, which would sway when a character crossed it but was otherwise durable and safe. The animation team, however, were instructed to animate a wobbly old bridge that was falling to bits for the sake of merchandising, which resulted in the intended moral being butchered in the name of money.
According to Ryan Hagan, Season 17 was going to be only 20 episodes, with Season 18 having both "Spills and Thrills", and 19 having both "Dinosaurs and Discoveries" and "Start Your Engines". This was changed thanks to Japan, though this was not that bad.
It isn't uncommon to hear fans who've watched Shining Time Station call the narrator "Mr. Conductor".
Fans like to divide the series into "eras", with a name for each one.
Seasons 1 through 7 are called "The Classic Series".
Seasons 8 through 11 are known as "The HiT Era".
Seasons 12 and onwards are known as "The CGI Era", with two "sub-eras". 12 through 16 are "The Sharon Miller Era" while Season 17 and onward is "The Brenner Era", named after the head writers during those seasons.
God Never Said That: One major rumor surrounding P.T. Boomer before his full role was discovered was that he was planning on destroying Shining Time Station and replace it with a highway. An interview with Doug Lennox, the actor who played Boomer, said that though such a plan sounded quite villainous, was never in any version of the script to begin with.
Andrew Brenner wrote for Fireman Sam before working on Thomas & Friends. It's no coincidence that he wrote the episode "Too Many Fire Engines", which stars fire engines specifically.
Keep Circulating the Tapes: The 1999 Fox Family series Storytime With Thomas. It would feature two episodes from series 1-5, sandwiched with an episode of Britt Allcroft's other show The Magic Adventures Of Mumfie in between. No VHS or DVDs were ever released of the show, and it was never sold to other networks.
Method Acting: George Carlin, who was used to performing before an audience, found it difficult recording his dialogue in an isolated booth, so Britt Alcroft put a teddy bear on the script stand for Carlin to "read to."
Though "The Missing Coach" was never finished, the production team took a few still shots corresponding to this story. When these got out on the Internet, for a while some people did think the entire thing had been filmed.
"Gordon Goes Foreign" was also going to be adapted, but was scrapped due to budget cuts. There was some concept ideas by one of the art directors, where they would reuse Henry's model.
Name's the Same: In the UK, Season 2 and Season 11 both had unrelated episodes titled "Dirty Work," but in the US, the former, taken from the Railway Series' Duck and The Diesel Engine, was re-titled "Diesel's Devious Deed." The US is not immune to this, however, as it had a Season 1 episode called "Thomas Saves the Day" (its British title was "Thomas and the Breakdown Train") and a Season 8 episode also called "Thomas Saves the Day."
The UK did this again with season 1 and season 11 where both episodes "Thomas in Trouble" (the US version of said season 1 episode is re-titled "Thomas Breaks the Rules". Also the season 4 and season 8 episodes name is entitled "Fish", which the name stays the same in all UK and US versions.
Non-Singing Voice: In the UK dub of The Great Race, Percy and Emily have their US voices when singing.
Rupert Degas, who originally voiced Bertie, Butch, Dart and Flynn, departed following the production of Series 16. His roles were given to Keith Wickham, Matt Wilkinson, Steven Kynman and Ben Small respectively, who replicated the characters' original voices.
Ben Small, who originally voiced Thomas, Toby, Ferdinand for the UK dub, Stanley & Charlienote starting in Series 16 for the US dub, and Rheneas, Ben, Flynnnote Series 17 only, and the Troublesome trucks for both dubs, left after Series 18 when HiT Entertainment wanted a fresh voice for Thomas and decided not to renew his contract. Following his departure, Thomas & Toby's UK voices are now provided by John Hasler and Rob Rackstraw respectively with the latter also providing Stanley's current US voice, Steve Kynman provides Charlie's US voice, and for both dubs Rheneas and the Troublesome Trucks are voiced by Joseph May & Christopher Ragland respectively. It's unknown who the current voices for Owen & Ferdinand are as both characters haven't had speaking parts since Ben's departure.
Joe Mills voiced both Donald & Douglas for Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure. But starting in the twentieth season, Donald is now voiced by Rob Rackstraw.
After Michael Brandon's departure, Martin Sherman took over the role of Diesel in the US. Following Martin's departure from the series in 2014, Diesel's US voice is now provided by Kerry Shale who was already doing his UK voice.
In Japan, the entire show was recast after the eighth season when the show switched stations.
The Other Marty: Various voice actors in Thomas & the Magic Railroad were replaced during the post-production overhaul:
Thomas was initially voiced by John Bellis, a cab driver the crew met while shooting on the Isle of Man. He can be heard in one of the teasers.
The series' concurrent UK narrator, Michael Angelis, was the voice of Percy and James. Test audiences thought the characters sounded too old, and in the final version they're both Cross-Dressing Voices.
A few of the trailers feature Diesel 10's original voice actor, Keith Scott.
Rupert Degas was supposed to voice Diesel 10 in Misty Island Rescue, but he was replaced with Matt Wilkinson after his lines had been recorded.
The Pete Best: George Carlin joked about this after he replaced Ringo Starr.
Playing Against Type: George Carlin, the legendary comedian famous for his profane material played Mr. Conductor in the US version. Carlin stated in an interview he had taken the role with the direct intent of doing this and showing a different side to him.
He later claimed to have formed a close friendship with Britt Allcroft, both of whom found working in children's programming helpful for dealing with their own difficult childhoods.
Prop Recycling: After TUGS was canceled, a majority of the models were used in Thomas up until the CGI switch.
Reality Subtext: Diesel's basis, the Class 08, was a diesel responsible for displacing countless steam engines, especially tank engines. Further emphasizing this is just how many Class 08s Sodor currently has.
The "Naughty" freight cars always causing havoc are based on the British practice through the 1970's of not fitting certain freight stock with automatic braking systems. These "unfitted" trains were only controlled by the braking force of the engine and the "brake van" on the rear. As was seen on the show it was quite tricky to keep these trains (or even just lose cars) under control. This can also be considered a case of Technology Marches On.
Recursive Adaptation: The show garnered it's own magazine series, with some of it's original stories actually adapted into episodes of the show itself in Seasons Three and Five. Incidentally the magazine's writer at the time eventually ended up lead writer for the show come Season Seventeen.
Ironically, this was also one of the reasons the original team stopped adapting stories from The Railway Series, feeling they had already adapted most of the unique stories their budget could handle.
The plot of Season 17's "No Snow for Thomas" is remarkably similar to Season 8's "Thomas, Emily and the Snowplough". Arguably a case of Tropes Are Not Bad, since reviewers who noted the similarities also commented that the former episode's plot is basically the latter's, but better.
Similarly "Duck In The Water" uses a lot of similar cues as "James To The Rescue", but is considered one of the best episodes of the CGI era.
Same Language Dub: The US version of the series is renarrated by American actors outside of Ringo Starr and Mark Moraghan's tenures (and even they had to rerecord many of their lines for the US version to use American terms and slang). The CGI series plays with this, while they have a voice cast for both regions, some characters use the same actors and so share recordings between both dubs.
Star-Derailing Role: Thomas and the Magic Railroad and A Simple Wish were arguably this for poor Mara Wilson. Magic Railroad ended up being her final movie before she decided to drop her film career in favor of her education.
Schedule Slip: This occurred to Thomas & Friends many times before (prior to HiT's takeover), but it took this trope happened many times right after the series switched to CGI.
It first happened in the UK when they aired Season 12, and some viewers are left confused about certain characters and locations (eg. Stanley and Great Waterton) that were already established that viewers didn't know before. This is because "The Great Discovery" hadn't been released yet, in which that's where the established characters and locations were properly introduced.
2010 was the only year that show played two seasons, as production was still going after the series switched to full CGI.
Season 15 and 16 actually aired months before the specials that were meant to air in between, respectively. Like before, viewers would get confused on the new characters and locations that were actually suppose to be properly introduce.
Season 17 repeated the same thing, though it was much worse (despite the stories being better). The UK only aired the first ten episodes during June, then they stopped airing them until sometime before the release of "King of the Railway", which they only aired five more episodes until around Christmas, then again during Summer-Fall 2014, which by that point Season 18 was already starting to air. Australia and Japan already aired all the episodes (including the episodes from the Spring releases) by that point.
Season 18 was a bit more forgiving as yes, while they somewhat repeated what Season 12 did before, they at least manged to air them close towards the release of "Tale of the Brave".
Since Brenner's takeover, America has the Walmart exclusive DVDs where they included some never before seen episodes of the yet-to-be aired season. This can leave some fans having to wait longer than usual thanks to that.
Japan zigzagged this trope various times. While they already dubbed the current episodes in Brenner's run, they still haven't dub the other episodes made between S13-16 (Then again, this was because of the tsunami from 2011 that delayed it).
Even before the CGI switch, Japan was a bit late on dubbing. Best example was when they did season 8 in 2006, even though it was already finished in both the UK and US by that point, and we were already in Season 10.
Season 4 was released on VHS in the UK over a year before it was broadcast on TV. Cartoon Network would be the first to show it (and Season 5) in the country rather than ITV, who took the show back for Season 6.
Screwed by the Lawyers: A truly bizarre case. As we know, the Reverend would often base his characters on their real-life counterparts. Peter Sam is based on the locomotive "Edward Thomas" which works at the Talyllyn Railway in Gwynedd, Wales. In the Railway Series books, Peter Sam visited the Talyllyn Railway. This was in commemoration of the fact that the Talyllyn Railway repainted "Edward Thomas" to represent Peter Sam. Egmont, the publishers of the Railway Series books, caused a lot of controversy and backlash, when they complained that the real locomotive... is a violation of copyright. Apparently, they thought, the engine was infringing upon... yes you read right, itself. Needless to say, a compromise was eventually reached.
Spoiled by the Merchandise: A frequent issue with the feature-length specials is that the toy previews typically give away many of the movie's twists and cast of characters.
For Blue Mountain Mystery, the merch spoiled that Victor was the yellow engine that fell into the sea.
For King of the Railway, the merch spoiled that the lost crown is hidden in the mine, and Stephen finds it.
For Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, the merch spoiled that Skiff makes a Heel–Face Turn and joins Sodor, while Sailor John gets the treasure but loses it in the sea.
Talking to Himself: Naturally the case for the pre-CGI era where all characters were voiced by the narrator. In a more conventional example, Keith Wickham voices several major characters in the CGI era, even more-so if looking at the UK dub specifically where he voices four of the eight characters in the Steam Team as well as The Fat Controller.
However, this is completely averted with the Skarloey Railway, as only Sir Handel and Skarloey share a voice actor.
Both of Oliver's current Japanese voices are done by Yuta Odagaki. This actually comes into play with Marion for "SLOTLT".
Throw It In: Much of Neil Crone and Kevin Frank's voiceover work in Magic Railroad - particularly the banter between Splatter and Dodge. They were originally hired to improvise material for the trucks.
The second season was supposed to feature an adaptation of "The Missing Coach". Half the episode's footage was filmed, however mid way through production the story was considered too complicated for young audiences so canned (leaving missing plot points in Donald and Douglas' introductory story as a result).
An adaptation of "Gordon Goes Foreign" was planned during Season Three, though low budgets prevented them being able to produce the story's original scenery and characters.
A few discarded stories from The Railway Series were planned for adaptation early on, but were canned due to time and budget constraints, or being considered too complex for children's stories (eg. "The Missing Coach" and "Gordon Goes Foreign"). A few other stories that were more loosely adapted are also the result of this (e.g. "Tender Engines", which was originally planned to be closer to the novel's "Tenders For Henry" until budget prevented them from making a full model for the Flying Scotsman; one rumor says the model was complete, but was dropped accidentally and badly damaged, and with time and budget ruling out any repairs, the damaged model was attached to the completed tenders and the episode hastily rewritten).
"The Missing Coach" is notable in that it was actually filmed, but ultimately canned because Britt Allcroft thought that kids would find the plot of Donald and Douglas switching tenders too complex; it was to be the second season premiere, and was replaced by "Thomas, Percy, and the Coal". Multiple screenshots of the unaired episode still exist, and many YouTube users have made their own reconstructions of what the episode may have looked like using Trainz Simulator or the existing screenshots.
For "Gordon Goes Foreign", the Foreign Engine was to have been Henry with a different face, paint scheme, and added smoke deflectors. London would have been represented by a redressed version of the Tidmouth set. The story did, however, makes its way to the official YouTube channel as part of the Mr. Perkins Story Time series.
A feature length special was planned that would have involved The Fat Controller loaning the railway to the king of Sodor. For whatever reason, this special was scrapped and Blue Mountain Mystery took its place. It's unknown if any elements of the scrapped special ended up being reused in any of the later specials.
Derek was meant to appear in the sixteenth season with a non-speaking role, but this never materialized. It is believed that his absence may not have been deliberate- Derek's alternative name is Paxman, and so some theorize that he was confused with Paxton when the notes were passed to Nitrogen Studios.
The show was originally planned as a BBC kids show, but after only one episode (Thomas and Gordon, obviously), the show moved to ITV instead.
Several classic characters were originally planned to be part of the core Steam Team for the show's 2004 revamp, but a need for a prominent female character, coupled with problems on some of the models, resulted in the current cast of main characters.
Duck was one of the biggest considerations, and was actually going to be part of the Steam Team, but the need for a female character to appease parents who had accused the show of sexism overruled this. This led to a large Main/Hatedom for Emily, with many accusing her of replacing Duck. Andrew Brenner even included a nod to this in the fan-favorite episode "Duck and the Slip Coaches", and many fans found it funny, though some thought it was in Dude, Not Funny! territory.
A few characters have had alternate names in pre-production:
Derek from "Double Teething Troubles" was originally named "Paxman" after the brand of diesel engines utilized in the Class 17 design.
Some tie-ins give Porter the alternate name "Baldwin", possibly after Baldwin Locomotive Works (his basis in the final version was an engine by H.K. Porter, hence the name).
There were considerations to keep the show in its "transitional" form from Season 12 (ie. still using the models, but using super imposed CGI animation for expressions and human characters). However, since the models became an increasing issue to maintain budget-wise, the show ultimately transitioned to full CGI.
There was going to be a Spin-Off series titled "Jack & the Sodor Construction Company". As the name implies, it was going to star The Pack, putting little emphasis on the railway. This idea was scrapped during the time HiT Entertainment bought the rights to the franchise, saying that it would've conflicted with a certain other construction-themed show that just so happens to also be owned by HiT. Episodes that were filmed were put exclusively on the DVDs "On Site with Thomas & Other Adventures" and "Thomas' Trusty Friends".