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Broken Base / Thomas the Tank Engine

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Even a children's show about talking trains is not without its divided fanbase.

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  • Whiff. Oh dear. Whiff. A filthy steam engine, wearing glasses. Some find him charming, but many fans were disheartened feeling the show at this point had abandoned all and any railroad/railway realism it had left. Though, it should be noted that the original books had a minor character, the Ballast Spreader, who also had glasses.
  • Certain characters retaining their early HiT era personalities in the Brenner era (particularly Henry). Some think it gives the characters more unique personalities, while others feel it makes them too far removed from their original characters.
    • On the topic of Henry, fans feel his departure from the main cast in “Forever and Ever” to take up residency at Vicarstown was poorly handled. While some see the move as trying to be “Railway Series faithful” (due to the engines living at Vicarstown in the early books), others feel his move was done solely to write him out due to the writers despising him, and to make room for Rebecca. Fans feel that because he has been handled badly in later seasons, and with most of his Season 22 appearances only being cameos, Henry should have been written out of the show altogether, just to save him from rotting away in the background.
  • Flying Scotsman finally being introduced in the The Great Race had a mixed response. While in all versions he cares about his brother Gordon. They kept the Spencer-tradition going that any foreign British locomotive is always depicted negatively. The famous engine's graceful and humble character of the books was rewritten in favor of recasting him as a more pompous and arrogant version of Gordon. However, since all of his jabs were directed at Gordon, and he was shown to speak kindly to Thomas, he could just be teasing Gordon for fun without any underlying pomposity, and he does show concern for Gordon's well being during the titular Great Race, so his smokebox may not be so clouded with pride as it appears.
  • The change to Rosie's color scheme in Season 21. Some feel it suits her name better (since well, roses are red) and signified her new mature personality, along with finally giving the TV series an engine to canonically have “NWR” lettering (which would also get another member in Rebecca). Others feel it ruins her uniqueness that her original livery presented, and they feel it was a pointless change overall as Red!Rosie has a massive lack of merchandise, the episode that finally acknowledged the change wasn't even about her, and that she comes across as more of a Flat Character than how she used to be.
  • Donald and Douglas' Sibling Rivalry in the later seasons. Some fans find their bickering to be humorous while the other half find it annoying and prefer their relationship in the earlier seasons.
  • Philip is another divisive character. Some like him for being Adorkable, while others detest him for being an annoying child. It also didn’t help he was used as a plot device to get Edward written out of the main cast, with Edward deciding to transfer to Wellsworth Sheds, to live with Philip for the rest of his life.
  • Nia is quite divisive. She has garnered some praise for her resourcefulness and kindness, while others pan her for supposedly being a Mary Sue. It doesn't help that she's taking Edward's place in the main cast, along with being criticised as a Flat Character due to her only character trait being a Token Minority.
  • Ace gets a lot of hate for being a toxic influence to Thomas, yet he also has fans, mostly because of his "Free and Easy" song.
  • Rebecca also falls into this following her introduction in Season 22. Some fans like her for her Adorkable personality and expression (with some fans liking her only due to said facial expressions) as well as being based on a popular locomotive class, while others loathe her due to replacing Henry in the main cast and having a ridiculous over-the-top Eye Candy livery, the latter of which Mattel said was done in an attempt to please young children with low attention spans. It also doesn't help that many feel the writers missed the chance to make the relatively popular Season 9 character Molly a permanent member of the cast, being another extremely shy yellow female tender engine.
  • Hong-Mei is another often hated character. Some enjoy her for being a fun engine, while others hugely despise her for having no character traits other than just being a female version of Thomas.

  • The last scene in Duck and the Slip Coaches, a hilarious Take That! to those who thought that Emily replaced Duck? Or an unnecessarily cruel joke at the expense of a character who ultimately didn't deserve it?
  • A Shed For Edward practically sent the fandom into a tizzy. Many view the episode's situation of of Edward trying to find a place to sleep as a thinly-veiled excuse to kick Edward out of the Steam Team and write the old engine out of the show. Others however, consider the situation as an emotional one, as well as considering Edward's move to Wellsworth to be a decent choice character-wise, since he's now properly situated on his branch line as opposed to the mainline, and tends to work best as a mentor character, which he can now do so for Philip.
  • Most episodes from the "Big World Big Adventures" series (Season 22 onwards), particularly the international episodes. Of the Sodor-based episodes, "Forever and Ever", "Rosie is Red" and "Apology Impossible" are the most divisive.
    • "Forever and Ever". Some appreciate the message regarding change, while others felt that Gordon was uncharacteristically mopey and regarded it as a Take That! towards the entire fandom.
    • "Rosie is Red". It gets praise for the moral that if a girl and a boy hang out, that doesn't mean they're dating, while the more hardcore fans argue that romance has no place in Thomas & Friends.
    • "Apology Impossible". Some like it for Philip's Character Development, but fans of James felt that he was too mean-spirited in the episode.

  • The Great Race itself is much more divisive than the previous specials, in no small part due to the sheer amount of characters introduced, many of said characters being relegated to background roles, the special being a musical, and Gordon and Thomas' streamlined forms (though Thomas' was a fantasy, it still got a ridiculous amount of merchandise). Some people were turned off by all of these factors and more, while others found the special a lot of fun regardless—or even because of—those factors.
  • Journey Beyond Sodor has also become rather divisive. This has to do with an increased amount of bouncing in the animation, along with maintaining the musical aspect of The Great Race, as well as Thomas once again having the main focus. There's also it playing with railway realism a lot more than Season 20, which had been praised for retaining Season 19's humor while returning to more realistic plots. Others however, enjoy the more dramatic story, having more focus on its new characters than The Great Race did, and featuring more of the mainland at long last.
  • Big World! Big Adventures! has split the fanbase even further than the previous two specials, with some panning it for the lighting, and others praising it for the soundtrack and the characterizations of Nia and Beau.

  • The faces. Charmingly simple or nightmarishly unsettling?
  • Fans seem completely split down the middle over the shift to CGI animation. Many fans find it a complete betrayal to the original model series, or a necessary move that opened up more potential for characterization and flexibility story wise.
  • Disputes over over the best narrator of the show are also common. Particularly between Ringo Starr and George Carlin.
  • 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 backlash.
  • Some of the changes in voice actors, or even just those between the UK and US dubs, are also of contention, especially since some sound vastly different from the other. Prior to that, the various narrators were also of debate between fans.
  • Season 22 has also been divisive among fans. Some like it for being a change of pace and testing different dynamics by incorporating the international engines (both newbies and returning The Great Race characters), while others hate it due to the faster pacing, Nia and Rebecca joining the main cast purely to force in more female representation, Edward, Toby, and Henry's roles being diminished to make way for Nia and Rebecca and appease the feminists who frequently target the show for its predominantly-male cast, and the focus on more gimmicks such as unrealistic fantasy sequences, over-the-top stunts (some of which actually take place outside of fantasy sequences) and wild animals. Some also hate the involvement of the United Nations on the new series, due to them pushing agendas and prioritising cultural and political messages over the storytelling. Everyone, though, agrees that the series was retooled by Mattel specifically to compete with PAW Patrol, which had taken a considerable amount of Thomas' market share.
  • Merchandising is also a divisive topic. Debates rage over which of the die-cast toylines is better: Ertl, Take-Along, Take n' Play, Adventures, or Push-Along. There's also debates over Tomica vs Trackmaster, Bachmann vs Hornby, the existence of Minis, among others.
    • Just about the only thing fans can agree on is the superiority of the long-running and beloved Wooden Railway range over the Thomas Wood range that replaced it, due to the latters' myriad of issues, such as leaving large sections of the models unpainted (because, according to Mattel, kids didn't know the toys were made of wood), all engines share a common chassis and lack domes of any sort to cut costs, all tenders are nothing but blocks of wood with vague details painted on (again to cut costs), coaches and Bertie being gutted to fit plastic figurines (Mattel apparently figured kids can't imagine passengers getting on and off), the track system was made 100% incompatible with other wooden track brands such as BRIO to force consumers to buy their track (though the trains themselves are fully compatible with all other wooden train brands, including the very line it replaced, thus defeating this attempted monopolization), Edward, Henry, and Toby were dropped from the line-up due to being dropped from the Steam Team, and overall, the range had a cheap feel to it, as if Mattel had licensed a Chinese knock-off. Even worse was their arrogant assumption that consumers were dumb enough not to tell the difference between Wooden Railway and Wood. The entire line ended up being a major embarrassment for Mattel, resulting in huge losses and massive backlash from not just fans, but parents and children, who were turned off by the unfinished look of the models. Not helping was the fact that, when Wood was being developed, Mattel was more focused on merchandising for Cars 3. After rumors that Mattel was planning to quietly revert back to the old Wooden Railway line and pretend Wood never existed, reports surfaced that Wood was going to stay, but the models and destinations would now be fully-painted.

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