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YMMV: Thomas the Tank Engine
  • Accidental Aesop: In the episode Thomas Comes to Breakfast, Thomas's driver tells him that he's doing so well that soon he won't even need a driver anymore! Thomas takes this to heart and goes out on his own the next day... an adventure that is soon over when he crashes through the wall of a house. So basically, don't ever take responsibility for your actions or do things without an adult's help, even if they encouraged you to do it, because you'll cause destruction and possibly death.
  • Accidental Innuendo: Emily is very proud of her Big Wheels. And the freight cars in "Pop Goes the Diesel" moan when Diesel tries to jerk them out of a siding.
    • And the line "Ben banged his freight cars hard".
    • In the episode "Mavis," a farmer tells Mavis "just what to do with her train."
    • In "Donald's Duck," Donald told Duck that he was talking too much, and sounded like a quacking duck. Duck told him to "quack yourself."
    • "Engines with proper funnels do! You've only got a small one!"
    • From The Movie, Peter Fonda has a little trouble making his lady steam.
    • "Henry smiles all the while he has his Special Coal. Henry's Special Coal makes him very happy."
  • Adaptation Displacement: Especially in the United States, where Awdry's books are scarce to the point of being unknown.
    • So much that Bookstores would sometimes carry versions from the British printings in the early 90s.
  • Anvilicious: For the first seven seasons, the morals were far more subtle, but seasons 9 through 16 had the anvil hit hard. Season 17 seems to have pulled back from this, having more subtle Aesops or odd stories which lack them altogether.
    • Calling All Engines!: "Steam engines and diesel engines need to work together!" Ironic considering the Fantastic Racism abound during the CGI seasons.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Seasons 8 through 12 had them in small doses, and seasons 13 through 16 had them in every episode.
    • "Cranky the Crane was quick to criticize," in "Horrid Lorry".
    • A particularly cringe-inducing example is present in "Percy's New Friends": "Cranky cranked crankily."
    • "Snow is silly soft stuff! They won't bother me!"
    • Gordon, James and Henry's old Catchphrase: "Disgraceful! Disgusting! Despicable!"
  • Author's Saving Throw: Andrew Brenner, a former writer of Thomas magazine stories back during seasons 1 and 2 (as well as for some adapted stories for Season 3 and 5), took over as head writer of the series starting with King of the Railway and season 17. Since he's arrived, the writing quality of the series has improved, and several fan-favorite characters have made their official returns (Duck, Bill and Ben, Harvey, Oliver and Toad).
    • It also helps that he also brought along old writers like Paul Larson, who wrote The Thomas Way and Henry's Hero and Lee Pressman, who rescued several previously hated characters from scrappy status, as well as experienced writers in children's television like Davey Moore, who wrote Percy's Lucky Day, one of the most well-received episodes of Season 17.
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Follow That Flour. Most of the episode is about Thomas and James getting into an argument and Thomas taking flour cars, but the first two minutes is just some random montage of how the Skarloey Railway characters enjoy working at the wharf.
    • Everything in "Rusty and the Boulder". Gordon's angry face suddenly appearing on the boulder, random chase scenes, the shed somehow catching fire, and the quarry being closed down despite the boulder out of the way now.
    • Also, in Thomas & The Magic Railroad, a talking tumbleweed constantly appears. It's there for no reason and the characters never refer to it.
    • Both accidents in "Bye George!". Thomas crashing into a henhouse and a truck somersaulting in the air after Gordon hits it.
  • 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.
    • See Special Effect Failure for a specific example.
    • 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).
  • Broken Base: Much fighting within the Thomas the Tank Engine community comes from the fact some of the older, nostalgic fans think either the new, younger fanbase are a bunch of morons (at least those who've outgrown the target demographic) or go out of their way to bash the writers over their tendency to treat the supposed young, bright minds as morons. Shipping and overused locomotive classes are also huge sources of Internet Backdraft.
  • Canon Sue: Duck & Boco, in both the original episodes, and fanfictions. Stanley to some degree. Edward is also portrayed in this light in Fanfics.
    • Carefully Deconstructed in Duck's first reappearance "The Thomas Way", where he has a point against Thomas' mischievousness, but his own stubbornness causes an accident, leading to both being called out by the Fat Controller and having to Take a Third Option.
  • Cargo Ship: With most characters being steam locomotives, the list is long. Thomas/Emily, Thomas/Rosie, Thomas/Molly, James/Emily, James/Molly, Toby/Mavis, etc. Shipping is a notably taboo subject to discuss outside of certain circles, though.
    • Due to the overwhelming amount of male characters, Cargo Yaoi Shippings are arguably more popular than the above pairings listed. Generally Thomas/Percy, Edward/James and Gordon/Henry are accepted, either seriously or just for the hell of it.
  • Creator's Pet: Diesel in the newer series, at least for those that don't Love to Hate him.
    • From season 14 through 16, the much-loathed trio of Bash, Dash, and Ferdinand, (and the equally detested Misty Island), made constant appearances, even if they had no real reason to be included in the plot. This may be because their creator (and the writer of Misty Island Rescue) was also the head writer of the show.
  • Critical Research Failure: Started cropping up once the show branched away from the books, though it's most prominent in Season 15. The most infamous examples include "Thomas and the Jet Engine", "Fiery Flynn" and "Wonky Whistle".
  • Crowning Music of Awesome
  • Cultural Translation: For American audiences. Which is strange though. Its easy to understand British railway terms and the American railroad differences i.e. a Caboose/Brakevan, Conductor/Guard, etc, but it was re-dubbed nonetheless.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Thomas in Misty Island Rescue. The most "useful engine" would be allowed to take a special train of logs, and Diesel think he's really useful. Thomas says, "No, Diesel! I'm sure Sir Topham Hatt means a really useful STEAMIE. You'll never be that!". Diesel gets furious and runs off with the logs to prove he's as useful as a steam engine. In the end, Diesel gets punished, while Thomas never gets called out on insulting Diesel.
    • In Steam Roller, Skarloey and the others make fun of Sir Handel's wheels, and when Sir Handel sticks up for himself, Skarloey makes a plan "To make Sir Handel see sense." He's treated as being in the right for this. In contrast, this one is due to a flawed adapation. Railway Series story that the episode was adapted from, when Skarloey made The Plan, several days had passed since then and Sir Handal had gotten arrogant about it, thus requiring him to be knocked down a peg.
  • Designated Villain: James can come across as this in "James and the Coaches".
    • The diesels, between Calling All Engines! and Season 17, often fall into this. Case in point, Diesel's role in Misty Island Rescue.
    • The policeman in "Thomas in Trouble". Sure he was a jerk, but he was only doing his job.
  • Ear Worm: Some of the engine's leitmotifs are incredibly catchy.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: For main characters, the tender engines trio consisting of Gordon, James and Henry.
    • For secondary characters, Duck wins by a landslide, followed by Oliver, the Scottish twins, and Bill and Ben. Especially evident from the fanfare they got for their return come season 17 and 18 (Donald and Douglas have yet to reappear). One-off characters usually get quite popular.
    • Paxton, a non-speaking background character introduced in 2011's Day of the Diesels, was given a much larger starring role in Blue Mountain Mystery that solidified his odd but well-meaning personality. Fans liked the character so much that he's since received several starring roles in Series 17 and 18.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: The Logging Locos, a trio of redneck American locomotives who are almost universally loathed by the fanbase. American characters in general tend to be less well-received by fans, a good chunk of their hate coming from American fans themselves, though the introduction of good characters such as Connor, Caitlin and Porter helps. Averted with Millie, Victor and especially Hiro, who is wildly popular in Japan.
  • Fan Nickname: The "Holy Trinity" for the trio consisting of Thomas, Percy and James.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The Magic Railroad, which attempted to mix Thomas and Friends continuity with the completely different Shining Time Station. It included an actually murderous Cartoon Creature, Diesel 10, completely breaking the cosy Little England atmosphere of Thomas and frightening the intended audience of small children. The film has all but been removed from continuity, though characters Lady and Diesel 10 have shown up in later films.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Tons, especially in the earlier episodes. A really bad one would be in "Jack Jumps In", in which the aesop is something along the lines of "Don't try and help anybody with anything ever, because you'll just screw up and get yourself hurt. So stay in your place and don't complain." Reprimanded somewhat in the following episode, "A Friend in Need", when Jack does jump in again, this time to save Thomas from falling off a bridge. This time he gets praised, repaired, and made part of the Pack.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The initial episodes, even those based directly of The Railway Series stories, wavered somewhat in realism for story purposes or studio goofs. The drivers' involvement went in out depending on the plot ("Daisy" seemingly had an engine stop and start without her driver's involvement, all of one episode after demonstrating engines' dependence on their workmen). and sometimes engines would suffer Out Of Character Moments (Edward shown subtle signs of an irritable or heckling demeanor as early as Season One). The Reverend infamously expressed distaste for the Season Three episode "Henry's Forest" because of its violation of Rule 55; imagine if he had been alive to witness Season 5 onwards, though then again, Season 5 wouldn't have been made as it was if he was alive, as the original copyright was still in his hands.
    • The Reverend gave the characters defining quirks (James' vanity, Percy's naivety) that made them interesting, but lazy writing soon Flanderized their personality into nothing but said quirks (James became a self-absorbed Jerkass obsessed with his paint, Percy became Too Dumb to Live), making the entire cast unsympathetic and painful to watch until Season 17 came along.
    • HiT is often criticized for introducing an abundant amount of characters who only appeared in one episode (usually alongside Thomas) before being delegated to cameos or disappearing altogether. However such a trend was started all the way back in Season 5, with the likes of Thumper, Bertram, etc. (Salty and Cranky naturally exempt.) Even The Railway Series used a palpable number of one shot characters for stories that got no development or even basic personalities (so much the adapted episodes had to replace a lot of them with recurring characters for cost issues). However, most of these characters were one-shot antagonists that had an in-story reason for leaving Sodor, whilst Executive Meddling demanding more Thomas stories prevented the development of other characters, with Bear being a primary example.
    • The over usage of formulas can also be counter argued since the original novels were also frequently criticized for this problem (it was also a key reason the series stopped adapting from the books from the first place). Execution of said formulas on the other hand...
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: So popular in Japan that they even built a Thomas theme park at the base of Mt Fuji. Not only that, but they even get exclusive promos for the new seasons and specials.
  • Growing the Beard: After languishing in Seasonal Rot for seasons 9-16, Season 17 has been much more well received thanks to Andrew Brenner. Some may call it a Beard Re-growth.
    • An earlier example would be Season 2, which started tackling Darker and Edgier plots and introduced fan-favorite characters. It's often cited as the high point of the classic series.
  • I Am Not Shazam: As the TV series gained popularity, The Railway Series became more frequently called "Thomas the Tank Engine."
  • Idiot Plot: Misty Island Rescue, full stop. Also, just about every story in Season 15.
  • Jerkass Woobie: The large majority of time in most of the seasons' episodes, the engines either gets themselves into a misfortune or an accident, due to their stubborn refusal to accept help from others.
    • Gordon and James. Especially the latter during his Story Arc.
  • Jumping the Shark: Many say this happened at the start of season 8. Others say earlier.
  • Love to Hate: Diesel, Depending on the Writer. Several other antagonists such as Diesel 10, Spencer and 'Arry and Bert also qualify at times.
  • Mary Sue: Lady, a self-insertion by TV series creator Britt Allcroft in the 2000 movie The Magic Railroad. The character appears to have been abandoned, only appearing since in 15 seconds of dream sequence in Calling All Engines (2005).
  • Memetic Mutation: "Look what you've done to our breakfast!"
    • A certain face of Thomas' from Series One, accompanied by a Scare Chord, has been dubbed 'The O-Face'
    • It is common to mash up the theme song with various rap tracks (for example: Eminem), for some reason.
    • There are lots of YouTube videos using this show's clips, then redubbing them with audio from another cartoon, dubbed "Thomas\X Show Parody". Even ones with TUGS, another show by Clearwater!
  • Most Annoying Sound: "That's right!"
  • Nausea Fuel: Boiler sludge. The engines find it vulgar to talk about. Those who have seen the stuff in real life know why. It's that stuff that builds up in the tubes of boilers.
  • Older Than He Looks: Many characters fall under this, depending on your interpretation of the series. Thomas is actually almost 100 and Percy is 117 years old.
  • Periphery Demographic: Because the original stories were based on actual events on the British Railway system and the well done models, train enthusiasts enjoy the show. Also, the show has many older fans who grew up with the show and like to revisit the older episodes. In addition, several of these older fans now look forward to the newer episodes, now that Andrew Brenner and his writing team have gotten the show out of its Seasonal Rot.
  • The Scrappy: Charlie and The Logging Locos, Ferdinand especially. All of which were created by the same writer.
    • Most nostalgic fans of the The Railway Series will generally dislike any characters that were not originally introduced in the books, especially if they don't receive any worthwhile Character Development and are really just there to be used as marketing tools.
    • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: Season 17 seems to be bringing back many previous excess characters and giving them proper Character Development, as well as rerailing (unintended) several other original ones.
    • Replacement Scrappy: Emily was considered to be this by some fans for a while, the need for a prominent female character leading her to take the role of eighth Steam Team member, which left Duck Demoted to Extra. Some fans also considered her introduction pointless due to the existence of Daisy and Mavis, two female characters who were popular with the fans, were well-developed and had interesting personalities. Especially telling is that while Emily was promoted to main cast in Season 8, there was no effort made to make the other female characters (not even the coaches) more prominent, thus defeating the intention to be politically correct. She ended up being a fairly popular, or at least tolerable, character once most of the fanbase warmed up to her.
    • Bash and Dash are perhaps more straightforward examples, their defining trait being that they're mostly just more reckless versions of Bill and Ben. Their lack of a Straight Man (which Bill and Ben had in the form of Edward, BoCo, and Mavis) also meant that they were basically free to do whatever stupid ploy the writers wanted them to, only adding to the fans' ire.
    • Belle and Flynn prior to Season 17, due to their overly-gimmicky designs and unlikable personality.
    • A non in universe example: A lot of fans of the early TV series dislike HIT Entertainment for the numerous changes they have made in the series, removing several original characters from the original books, and converting the show's format to CGI.
      • Most of the fanbase can agree that the CGI is actually one of the most redeeming qualities of the series at present, due to the awful writing, cringeworthy dialogue, a constantly Recycled Script and misleading morals.
    • Most, if not, all nostalgic fans even consider Seasons 9-16 writer Sharon Miller this as she is always primarily blamed for the terrible writing quality detailed below. Her role in the show in other departments such as voice direction tends to be looked upon more favorably however.
    • An episode example: "Wonky Whistle" is widely regarded to be the absolute lowest point of the whole series and franchise as a whole. The fanbase also jump at the chance of dissing Season 15.
    • All of Season 15, period.
    • Most Emily fans consider her S8-11 portrayal as unsympathetic and annoying compared to the one from S7. However, some think that the former made her more interesting and dynamic while the latter verges upon making her a Canon Sue. Perhaps to circumvent this, S12 onward uses something of compromise, making her more wise and well meaning again, but still somewhat haughty to allow for flawed moments.
  • Seasonal Rot: Series 9 through 15 and the movies within are considered to be the absolute worst of the show's over 20-year run. Only the final special by Sharon Miller, "Blue Mountain Mystery", is considered good by the Periphery Demographic.
  • So Cool It's Awesome: Seasons 1-7
    • So Okay, It's Average: Seasons 8-12. And then it goes downhill from there.
      • Specials Calling All Engines! and The Great Discovery are almost universally considered to be better than the likes of Misty Island Rescue and Day of the Diesels, but worse compared to Blue Mountain Mystery and King of the Railway.
  • Shallow Parody: Thomas The Chav Engine
    • Ernest the Engine Cart from Australian series Comedy Inc..
  • Special Effect Failure: The scene where Henry crashes at the end of "The Flying Kipper" is pretty epic. Too bad you can see the hand.
  • Take That, Scrappy!: In Series 17, there are several scenes in which the poor writing, ignorance of continuity, and unlikable characters introduced in past seasons are directly called out or retconned.
    • "Not Now, Charlie" has Charlie get called out by all the other characters for his constant joking around.
    • "King of the Railway" has a brief scene where Toby explicitly states that Henry doesn't need special coal (a major point of continuity failure in the most recent episodes), saying that it was fixed years ago.
    • Both "The Thomas Way" and "Too Many Fire Engines" have a brief shot of the Misty Island tunnel (home of the Logging Locos) bricked up, with the rails leading to the tunnel removed.
    • However, one of the producers confirmed that the tunnel is not boarded up, and with HIT still selling some toys of them, it's still possible they'll appear. Though let's hope the current head writers will fix them up and save them from the scrap heap.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: The opinion of many older fans once the series was bought by HIT Entertainment.
  • They Just Didn't Care: The writing team of season 15.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: The Logging Locos suffer from this. Logging was a major industry that involved lots of interesting, specialized locomotives. Bash and Dash were both based on a locomotive with log-hauling gear equipped, and Ferdinand is based on a geared locomotive that was popular for logging operations. However, none of this was ever the character's focus; they instead fell into Scrappy and Creator's Pet territory due to them (and Misty Island by extension) appearing in nearly every episode and only being portrayed as goofballs who don't fit on Sodor.
    • Truthfully the show is profound at this due to it's Merchandise-Driven drive to introduce Loads and Loads of Characters. Almost every season introduces two or three new engines that get a spotlight episode each...and then are forgotten about, usually appearing in a handful of background cameos at best. This tends to be zigzagged in it's treatment of the cast from the original The Railway Series novels (Daisy appeared in only three episodes, compared to the books where she became a prominent character, however minor characters such as Bertie, Harold and Diesel are regulars in the show and have been granted numerous spotlight episodes).
    • Andrew Brenner seems to be going out of his way to avoid this, bringing several underutilized characters back into the spotlight (Paxton, notably) and giving them more prominent development.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Peter Fonda in The Magic Railroad. Seriously.
  • Uncanny Valley: The faces of the engines themselves. Honestly, the sometimes emotionless expressions are unsettling enough, but then they recently decide to update them with CG, and now it's just downright frightening.
  • Unfortunate Implications: A number of parallels with slavery. The trains are, essentially, an entire sentient species who constantly have it beat into them that the only way anyone will like them is if they are 'really useful'; otherwise they'll be sent to the smelter to be melted down. None of the humans seem to empathize when the engines' 'families' are broken up (Donald and Douglas, before coming to Sodor), if they're left to rot (Duke and Hiro), or if they're going to be scrapped just for being out of date or in slightly bad repair (Oliver, Toad, Trevor.) There are also references to the engines being literally bought and sold by the humans, with very little consideration as to whether or not they want to move on to another destination.
    • Prior to the introduction of Lady in [1], the only female characters in the series were either coaches pulled by male engines {Annie, Clarabel, Henrietta, and Old Slow Coach), or rude, stuck-up diesels (Daisy and Mavis, note that Daisy was more prominent in the books and Mavis' character was redeemed in later seasons). Both the show and The Railway Series got a lot of flack from the media over this. As of the show's current roster of characters, there's a much larger cast of female engines, Emily being the most prominent.
    • Trevor's over emphasised fondness of children can come off as a bit creepy sometimes. It's really not helped by scenes where Trevor murmurs things like "I like children..." in his sleep.
    • The tension between steam engines and diesels come across as this far too often thanks to clumsy writing.
  • Villain Decay: 'Arry & Bert went from genuine menacing threats to pantomime villains/ obnoxious bullies.
    • Diesel was initially a slimy bully who played cruel pranks on engines and dwelled in amusement over steam engines getting scrapped. In later episodes he's more an petty heckler who sometimes just wants approval. Granted this evolution is actually similar to how he was written in the novels.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: This is apparently more common than you'd expect. Quite a few children mistook Mavis for a male. Skarloey, Rheneas, and Rusty have been mistaken for females before (not to mention Rusty was mistakenly referred to as female by Michael Brandon). Out of the main cast, James is mistaken as a female disturbingly often.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Some of the crashes.
  • Wangst: Henry in Coal, in which he loudly proclaims that '(he) suffers dreadfully and no-one cares.' James calls him out on it, though.
  • What The Hell, Casting Agency?: George Carlin as narrator for a children's series. Just think about that.
    • You would be amazed at how many people have made Thomas episodes overdubbed with some of George Carlin's acts.
      • Many fans thought Carlin did the role justice, to the point some consider him the best narrator throughout its run. Carlin actually took the role to present a different side to him and is one of the few projects he didn't Self Deprecate.
  • The Woobie: Both Henry and Peter Sam have had their moments.
    • Percy in Day of the Diesels.
      • As well Percy Runs Away, Percy's Big Mistake, Percy The Snowman.... It's easier to list the episodes the poor guy isn't a Woobie to some extent.
    • Toby, after Character Exaggeration deteriorated his self esteem until Season 17 returned him to his original persona.
    • Sidney, who spent two years on a hoist in the Dieselworks waiting for a new set of wheels that had supposedly failed to be delivered, to the point even the above Woobie Percy feels sorry for him and takes action.
    • Winston, who has to deal with The Fat Controller's terrible driving.
  • What an Idiot: In Dirty Work the big engines believe Diesel's lies about Duck although they did have to lose a hell of a lot of IQ points for the story to work, especially since Henry had only just said "Duck would never do that.".
    • Considering that Duck seemingly betrayed them by supposedly spreading rumors almost right after they insisted that doing that would be unthinkable, their reaction is somewhat justified. Also they might still be holding a grudge over his trick in "Duck Takes Charge".
    • Egregiously in "James to the Rescue". James repeatedly ignoring Toby's advice to get Rocky to re-rail Gordon, culminating with him trying to push Gordon back on the rails. The crash that happens afterwards is spectacular.
    • Flynn spraying Edward and Gordon because he thought they were on fire (which they were obviously not) in "Fiery Flynn".
    • Thomas going off without warning while workmen were still on him in "Wonky Whistle".
    • There are other examples of this trope throughout the series, such as Spencer not listening about water.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Due to Andrew Brenner becoming head writer in Season 17, there is references to older episodes and fan favourites like Bill, Ben and Duck are brought back. The writing style is also more mature than the other CGI seasons and there has been a lot of Character Rerailment, undoing the Flanderization of the later seasons. Thomas, while still appearing frequently, is regulated to supporting roles and the same moderated number of lead roles as other engines instead of being a Spotlight-Stealing Squad.

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