- Big Good: As the leader of the heroic Star Fleet.
- Blue Is Heroic: His megaphone is painted blue and white.
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially when his patience is tested.
- A Father to His Men: Is a warm, but stern character that is not afraid of punishing wrongdoings.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: All that is seen of him is his megaphone.
- The Narrator: He tells the stories in a nostalgic recalling tone.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Blue to Captain Zero's Red. He speaks mostly in a calm and controlled way.
- Took a Level in Kindness: His warm dialogue and easy-going personality as The Narrator was nowhere to be seen back when he was leading the Star Tugs. Case-in-point: In "Quarantine", in his narration, Captain Starr speaks very fondly of OJ, even bringing up his age in stride...but back when these events took place, he was seriously considering scrapping OJ (in his defense, even OJ seemed resigned to giving up the ghost and his engines were completely shot) until he learned of how the old tug saved Ten Cents from quarantine.
- Basis: 1920's San Francisco Steam Tug (as with most Star Tugs members of the cast)
- Big Brother Mentor: To Sunshine.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: The big guy to Sunshine's little guy.
- Blue Is Heroic: Wears a blue cap.
- Clear Their Name: Proves that Sunshine is innocent in "Sunshine".
- Deadpan Snarker: Despite being one of the reliable and hardest working tugs, being a youngster, he's not afraid to talk back to the older characters, except Captain Starr.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: Is easily set off by wrongdoings against him or other Star Tugs.
- The Hero: The mascot of the franchise, and the one with the biggest focus.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Sunshine.
- Nice Guy: Is very kind and sociable.
- Big Damn Heroes: He and Warrior stop Izzy from sinking in "Warrior".
- The Big Guy: Makes up the muscle of the fleet, a role he shares with Warrior.
- Blue Is Heroic: Wears a blue cap.
- Brave Scot: Has a noticeable Scottish accent, along with a never-give-up attitude in danger.
- Deadpan Snarker: His snark is usually directed towards Top Hat.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: He is best friends with Warrior and they often appear together.
- Large and in Charge: He is third in command, and will take charge if both Hercules and O.J. are absent.
- Violent Glaswegian: Easily the most menacing member of the Star Tugs.
- Basis: 1914 Sidewheel Steam Tug "Eppleton Hall"
- Blind Without 'Em: The 1989 Tugs annual "Mistaken Identity" reveals he has a hard time seeing without his glasses.
- Cool Old Guy: As the eldest of the Star Fleet, he's got the upper hand in a lot of situations, he's no pushover and he's smarter than just about anyone in the harbor.
- Last of His Kind: Is the last wheelhouse tug in Bigg City.
- The Leader: Most of the time since he's the oldest and wisest tug.
- Nice Guy: Is very kindly to others.
- Only Known by Their Nickname: Everyone calls him O.J., an interview with production crew member Chris Tulloch revealed his name was actually Old Jones.
- The Smart Guy: Comes up with most of the plans for the Star Fleet in a pinch. This trait ends up being one of the key reasons Captain Star keeps him, even in his old age. OJ's experience in preventing disasters, such as saving Ten Cents from profit-destroying quarantine, makes him too valuable to lose.
Top HatA railway tug owned by Captain Starr. Voiced by John Baddeley
- Basis: John A. Dialogue & Sons New York Central Tugboat #13
- The Dandy: Is ridiculously concerned about his image.
- Deadpan Snarker: He usually snarks at the other tugs, often about their image.
- Drama Queen: Overblows a good amount of minor issues.
- Gentlemen Rankers: He is upper class and wishes he was an ocean liner, but does blue collar work as a railway tug.
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Downplayed. His whining frequently gets on the other tugs' nerves and even Captain Star has to tell him to shut up occasionally.
- High-Class Glass: Wears one, it has even popped off in shock before.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: While he's smug and overdramatic, he's still a heroic character.
- Let's Get Dangerous!: He may be panicky and whiny most of the time, but "High Tide" proved that he can be competent and level-headed when push comes to shove.
- Small Name, Big Ego: Thinks very highly of himself.
- Stuffy Brit: Can't take a joke that well against him, and has a thick Received Pronunciation accent.
- Upper-Class Twit: Has this air about him, and he acts like it.
WarriorAnother harbor tug owned by Captain Starr. Voiced by Nigel Anthony.
- Big Damn Heroes: He and Big Mac stop Izzy from sinking in "Warrior".
- The Big Guy: A role he shares with Big Mac and Hercules.
- Blue Is Heroic: Wears a blue cap.
- Catchphrase: "Sufferin' Stacks!"
- Dumb Muscle: Not the brightest bulb of the fleet.
- Genius Ditz: He might not be ultra-bright, but he's one of the few that knows how to work with Lord Stinker.
- He has an excellent sense of direction; in "Munitions", he's able to recognize that the red light on the horizon was not the setting sun (like Lord Stinker had assumed) because it was coming from the north, not the west.
- Idiot Hero: Always trying to help, but not the best at it.
- Kindhearted Simpleton/Nice Guy: He's not the brightest, but he has a big heart.
- The Klutz: Has a tendency to not look where he's going and ram into things.
- Unusual Euphemism: See Catchphrase.
- Basis: 1907 San Francisco Steam Tug "Hercules"
- The Ace: Is practically perfect in every job he does.
- Blue Is Heroic: His cap contains bit of blue
- The Big Guy: The strongest of the Star Tugs.
- The Charmer: Is a bit of a ladies' man.
- Cool Shades: Wears round glasses with yellowish lenses.
- Genius Bruiser: In addition to being the strongest of the Star Tugs, he's very intelligent, having knowledge in matters even OJ is not privy to, such as the White Fleet.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: He has sideburns and bears more than a passing resemblance to John Lennon, while his rival Zorran has a villainous moustache.
- The Leader: When he's in port. He's usually in charge on major towing operations and even the Z-Stacks generally won't mess with him.
- An Officer and a Gentleman: Is soft spoken but strict and can intimidate Zorran with a glare. Presumably he was originally a Navy tug because his cap is similar to Bluenose's.
- Out of Focus: Unlike the other tugs, he doesn't have a proper focus episode, and is relegated to a supporting role.
- Ship Tease: With Lillie Lightship.
- Specs of Awesome: Wears orange-tinted sunglasses.
- Big Guy, Little Guy: The little guy to Ten Cent's big guy.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Ten Cents
- Nice Guy: One of the kindest members of the Star Fleet.
- New Transfer Student: Comes from "Up River" and sports a different paint job than the other Star Fleet Tugs until he's made a part of the fleet. This ends up coming in handy for the Star Tugs since several of their contracts require them to go "Up River", and Sunshine is the tug that knows many of the locals from there.
- Oop North: A Geordie.
- Ship Tease: With Sally Seaplane.
- Speech Impediment: He sometimes whistles when he talks.
- Transfer Student Uniforms: When he first appears he is painted white instead of the Star Fleet's yellow color.
- Ambition Is Evil: He wants to run the Star Tugs out of business and take over the harbor, and is devious and scheming in his attempts.
- Big Bad: As the leader of the Z-Stacks.
- Diabolical Mastermind: He comes up with shady plans to forward the Z-Stacks' reputation.
- Evil Counterpart: To Captain Star. Both are captains of tug fleets that want to score contracts in the harbor and make money, but while Captain Star cares about his tugs and wants to work honestly, Captain Zero often acts abusive towards his tugs and is willing to lie and cheat to get ahead.
- He Who Must Not Be Seen: Like Captain Star, all that is seen of him is his megaphone.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The Red to Captain Star's Blue. He yells at his tugs and shakes his megaphone whenever he speaks.
- Basis: 1920's Moran Fleet Steam Tug (as with most of the rest of the Z-Stacks' tugs)
- Ambition Is Evil: One of the main motivators of his antagonism throughout the series is to gain as many contracts as possible for the Z-Stacks. It tends to backfire on him 99% of the time, with the remaining 1% concerning his willingness to take on dangerous munitions work due to how well it pays despite the risk.
- Beard of Evil: He has a thin pencil mustache, as worn by spivs, gangsters and cads.
- The Dragon: To Captain Zero.
- Dragon-in-Chief: He acts as a role of authority to the other Z-Stack tugs, but answers to Captain Zero all the same.
- Everyone Has Standards: In "Munitions", he recognizes the danger of the munition cargo and instructs the other Z-Stacks on how to transport it safety. He tears into Bluenose for his bullheadness causing the dock fire to go up. He also shows genuine concern for Ten Cents' safety.
- Evil Wears Black: All of the Z-Stacks have a black and white paintjob.
- Evil Sounds Deep: His whistle sounds deep and Diesel-like.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Tells Ten Cents to leave Bluenose to his fate when the dock starts going up in flames. Even O. J. agrees with him.
- Pragmatic Villainy: He's willing to lie and cheat to score contracts, but will never do something outright dangerous, because it would be too much of a risk for the business.
- Never My Fault: He sometimes blames the other Z-Stacks for the mistakes he made.
- Noble Demon: When Bluenose was trying to order OJ around, Zorran stood up for him, albeit because what Bluenose was suggesting was asinine.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Many of his schemes can be a bit greedy and short-sighted, but when he's put in charge of munitions work, he does not mess around with it, knowing full well how hazardous explosives are. If it wasn't for Bluenose, the munitions contract for the Z-Stacks would have gone off without a hitch.
- Surrounded by Idiots: He's the smartest and most competent of the Z-Stack tugs, which is why he's often the one taking the lead of jobs.
- Smug Snake: Overly proud of himself.
- Affably Evil: While still against the Star Fleet, he still will do what's right in the end.
- Big Damn Heroes: He helps the Star Fleet dock the Princess Alice in "High Winds".
- Dark Is Not Evil: He wears black, but has a strong sense of right and wrong.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: A bit abrasive, but has a hidden kind center.
- Noble Demon: Will end up doing the moral thing in the end.
- Oop North: Has a scouse accent.
- Token Good Teammate: The only Z-Stack with a moral code.
- The Brute: Is the muscle of the Z-Stacks.
- The Dragon: To Zorran.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Like Zorran, he tells Bluenose to get stuffed and backs up Big Mickey.
- Flat Character: Justified, given the show's limited running time and he was an antagonist.
- London Gangster: Speaks with a cockney accent.
- Mad Bomber: After being tasked with towing explosives, his response to the possibility of the Star Tugs giving them trouble is to threaten to blow them up.
- Satellite Character: In most of his appearances he is with other members of the Z-Stacks.
Zip and Zug
- Bumbling Henchmen Duo: They are ineffectual villains who are hardly ever seen apart.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Zip.
- The Ditz: Both qualify, but Zug is the smarter of the two.
- Dirty Coward: Both qualify.
- Evil Genius: Zug.
- Evil Counterpart: To Ten Cents and Sunshine.
- Harmless Villain: They tend to cause more problems for the Z-Stacks (and themselves) than they do the Star Tugs.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: They are usually seen working together.
- The Igor: Zug is short, ugly and creepy, and is over-eager to please Zorran.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Zug's voice and appearance are very similar to Peter Lorre.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Zip was all set to help Ten Cents with Izzy in Warrior, but Zug talks him into waiting to salvage both. Zip never seems all that comfortable with the idea.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: A naval tug who is rude and bossy.
- Drunk with Power: He usually uses his authority to screw over the other tugs.
- Enemy Mine: He's so reviled by both the Star Tugs and the Z-Stacks alike that his presence is enough to make them cooperate.
- Honor Before Reason: He often puts orders before common sense.
- Jerkass: One of the nastiest tugs in the harbor, rivaling even the Z-Stacks. And by rival, we mean that even they can't stand him.
- Too Dumb to Live: He demands that Zorran move his barge while it's in the middle of being unloaded of ammunition, and when Zorran refuses, he tries to move it by force. Predictably, this ends in disaster.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His belief in obeying orders of the Navy over his common sense leads to disaster at the harbor.
- Basis: Plunger-class submarine SS-4 USS Grampus
- Character Tic: He spits out water when he surfaces. Sometimes it's Played for Laughs.
- It Can't Be Helped: His view of his impending scuttling in "Regatta." Luckily, the Star Tugs don't feel the same way.
- Just in Time: Often shows up just in the nick to rescue boats in peril, the biggest standout examples being Lillie in "Regatta" and Ten Cents in "Munitions."
- Nice Guy: Rarely raises his voice, and is rather pleasant most of the time.
- Sixth Ranger: Near the end of the series, he joins the Star Tugs.
- Speech Impediment: He lisps when he talks.
- Basis: Trinity House Lightship #93
- Alliterative Name: Lillie Lightship.
- Distressed Damsel: Gets holed by a runaway tramper in "Regatta" and would have sunk if not for Grampus.
- Nice Girl: Never seen losing her temper in the show's run.
- Ship Tease: Often gets this with Hercules.
- Smurfette Principle: The only female boat we see in the series.
- Tertiary Sexual Characteristics: She wears makeup and lipstick.
- Basis: Douglas Dolphin flying boat
A seaplane who the Star Tugs have the contract to deliver fuel to. Voiced by JoAnne Good.
- Alliterative Name: Sally Seaplane.
- Cool Plane: She's truly an awesome plane, as she can land on both land and the water.
- Anti-Villain: He was stealing things from Big City Port to save his uncle.
- Eyepatch of Power: He wears an eyepatch, but considering that he's been Forced into Evil, and is implied by his livery to work for the munitions company, it's safe to say that the eyepatch doesn't quite represent any form of power.
- Forced into Evil: The Green-Eyed Pirates force Sea Rogue to steal barges of cargo for them, threatening to sink his uncle if he refuses
- Justified Criminal: See Anti-Villain and Forced into Evil
- Oireland: He has an Ulster accent
The Green Eyed Pirates
- Expy: Hmmm, Green eyes? Deep booming voice? Sounds a lot like The Mysterons, doesn't it?
- I Have Your Wife: They kidnapped Sea Rogue's uncle to get Sea Rogue to steal barges for them.
- Green and Mean: Its in the name
- Monster of the Week: They only appeared in "Pirate" in which they were the main antagonists.
- Basis: Tramp Steamer SS Carlton
- Australian Gangster: Even resident Big Bad Captain Zero is wary of him.
- Enemy Mine: See Pet the Dog.
- Implied Death Threat: He threatens Zebedee with the tug equivalent of murder several times if the latter doesn't help him out.
- Monster of the Week: Only appears in "High Winds" in which he was the main antagonist.
- Pet the Dog: In the debatably-canon tie-in book "Nothing to Declare", he helps the Star Tugs stop a spy from ruining an inspection being carried out by Bluenose.
Billy ShoepackAn eccentric alligator tug who brings dynamite to the logging camps upriver. Voiced by Lee Cornes.
- Basis: 1920's Ontario Sidewheel "Alligator Boat"
- Crazy Enough to Work: His plans are usually this.
- Demolitions Expert: It's his job and his greatest passion. Sometimes veers a little into Mad Bomber territory.
- Fiery Redhead
- The Friend Nobody Likes: Downplayed. He has a nice enough personality but the other tugs are terrified of his liberal attitude with explosives.
- Gallows Humor: He's the only one who finds jokes about blowing up funny.
- Good Ol' Boy: He talks like a farmer from the West Country.
- Non-Standard Character Design: He's an alligator tug, so he's much lower in the water than any other tug seen in the show. Also he seems to be a simpler construction than most tugs.
- Unwanted Assistance: Though he always comes through in the end.
- Youthful Freckles
BoomerA tugboat whose name was changed, thus bringing bad luck onto him. Voiced by Lee Cornes.
- Butt-Monkey: He's so unlucky, he can't even sink without suffering some sort of misfortune that prevents him from accomplishing even that.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Goes through a lot of crap before finally being rebuilt as a houseboat and docked in a peaceful inlet.
- The Eeyore: Before his rebuild, the only time he seems happy is when he starts taking on water.
- The Jinx: Believes himself to be one in his debut episode, which has the same name.
- Meaningful Rename: He used to be called "Captain Harry" but after he was sold and renamed "Boomer" he's suffered continual bad luck.
- Suicide as Comedy: Is quite happy when he believes himself to be sinking.
Izzy GomezA Mexican banana tramper who often tries to sneak into Bigg City Port for free. Voiced by Sean Barrett.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: In "Sunshine", when Sunshine is blamed for causing the accident with The Duchess that forces the Star Tugs to accept help from Zorran, Izzy witnesses what really happened and tells Ten Cents that Zorran pushed Sunshine to help clear his name.
- Laser-Guided Karma: In "Warrior", not only does Izzy get stuck onto a rock foundation when he tries to sneak into Port without a tow, but the Coast Guard gives him a hefty fee.
- Lazy Bum: Can usually be found sleeping.
- Lazy Mexican: He's a Mexican banana tramper who is very lazy and often falls asleep. He also does not like when the tugboats wake him up to tow him into Bigg City Port for a good price, and would rather sneak into it for free, which is both illegal and extremely dangerous.
- National Stereotypes: Izzy has a mustache and a sombrero, sleeps a lot, has a very goofy accent, and is notoriously cheap.
The yards biggest crane. Voiced by Timothy Bateson.
- Basis: USN 20t tower crane
- The Big Guy: The biggest and strongest crane in Bigg City Port.
- The Cameo: After TUGS ended, his model regularly appeared on Thomas & Friends since Season 3 as a crane who works at Brendam Docks, though it took until Season 21 for him to have a face and a voice. He has remained on the show even after the transition to CGi, and even retained his original name.
- Disney Death: Depending on the version you watch, in "Munitions." During the munitions disaster, his dock is blown apart and he tumbles into the water. The TV version says he was saved by falling in, but the VHS version doesn't give us this comfort, implying this fate.
- The Faceless: He was planned to have a model face like the tugs, though due to technical issues, was instead left blank with a speaker. The idea was finally realised when he was properly introduced in Thomas and Friends, though the design is different from his original planned face mask.
A garbage barge who works with Warrior, and on occasion, Top Hat. Voiced by Timothy Bateson.
- Big Damn Heroes: In "High Tide", he and Top Hat save the Goods Engine from sinking into the canal when Zebedee's steel rig destroys the bridge above it.
- The Pig-Pen: It should come as no surprise, since he's a garbage barge. He even wears a clothespin on his nose to escape smelling his own garbage.
- Trash Landing: In "High Tide", he catches the Goods Engine when it slides down a steel bridge destroyed by Zebedee's steel rig, saving it from sinking into the canal.