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Series / Casey Jones

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Casey Jones is an American Western series that ran in syndication for one season (1957–58). Starring Alan Hale Jr. (of later Gilligan's Island fame), the show serves as an example of an Alternate History, exploring the legend of the eponymous railroad engineer as he operates the "Cannonball Express" for the Midwest and Central Railroad at some point during the 1880s.

Casey Jones contains examples of:

  • Absentee Actor: Red Rock and Wallie are out on sick leave and vacation in “Way Station” and “The Trackwalker” respectively.
  • Adaptational Name Change: Casey’s fireman on the show is named Wallie Simms, after Wallace Saunders (the man who wrote the song about Casey) and Simm Webb (a black man who was Casey’s fireman on the night he died).
  • The Alleged Car: “The Marauders” has Casey take charge of a new train in place of the Cannonball when he’s asked to transport a group of US Marshalls. It’s old, falling apart, and supposedly has faulty brakes.Of course, this is deliberate, as the old engine is due for the scrap heap, and Casey had been assigned to wreck it so he can fake the Marshalls’ deaths to ambush a gang. He nevertheless bids farewell to it before he jumps, thanking her for her service as she plummets off the curve into the river.
  • Artistic License – History: The show takes several liberties with Casey’s life, basing it more on the myth and less on the man.
    • Casey’s fireman on the show was Wallie Simms, a southern white man. The actual Casey’s fireman was Simm Webb, a black man, who was there on that fateful night Casey died.
    • The show is implied to take place in the early 1880s, as the second episode deals with both the expansion movement and the assassination of James A. Garfield. Casey wasn’t an engineer until 1887, mostly working as a brakeman and a fireman during the time the show takes place.
    • The Midwest and Central Railroad is the company Casey works for in the show. No such railroad existed at that time (there is a Midwest Central Railroad today, but it’s a narrow gauge tourist line in Iowa); the real Jones worked for the Mobile and Ohio Railroad at the time before switching to the Illinois Central.
    • Jones’ engine is a 4-6-0, but it was the Rogers Built #382 of the Illinois Central Railroad from 1898, not the Baldwin Built #1 (in reality, played by the Rogers Built #3 of the Sierra Railroad from 1891).
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    • Casey’s wife was named Mary, not Alice. Moreover, he had three children, not one (though one of his sons was named Casey Jones Junior).
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Averted with representatives of the U.S. Government, who are shown to be pretty reasonable.
  • Assassination Attempt: “The President’s Special” mentions the death of James A. Garfield as having occurred not too long ago. Word spreads that a similar attempt is going to be made on Chester A. Arthur, who will be riding out to the territories on his private car, so Casey is assigned to take the Cannonball and move the President in secret. However, a secret service agent assigned ends up being replaced with an assassin. Fortunately, his cover is blown and the attempt is thwarted.
  • Bait-and-Switch:
    • In “Star Witness,” one of the men onboard the train hates the railroad, as it was an accident on their lines that killed his brother, making him a likely suspect for trying to kill a witness who could identify those responsible. Instead, it turned out to be a farmer (rather a gun smuggler) riding the train.
      • The same episode sees a boxer onboard the train apparently try to help the assailant. It’s just a distraction to knock him out.
    • In “The Marauders,” Casey appears to have undergone a Face-Heel Turn and agrees to help the titular gang when they rob Midvale’s bank, infuriated at how the town is treating him for his role in a train wreck. However, he was faking it the whole time, using his train to lure the thieves into a trap so he could get the US Marshalls—who’s deaths he faked via that train wreck—to come and arrest them.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • “The Dutch Clock” sees Casey suspended when the railroad is sued for starting fires along the line and causing damage to a nearby farm. However, Casey suspects foul play, so with Wallie and Redrock’s help, he takes the Cannonball out for an unscheduled run. When he returns back to Midvalle, the farmer’s barn has been lit on fire, and both the lawyer and the company present are waiting at the station to give him an earful. However, Casey proves his train didn’t start the fire by revealing he had installed a spark arrestor in the smokestack, thus the train couldn’t have possibly started any of the previous three fires. Instead, he is able to prove that the fires were deliberately set by the lawyer, who was trying to make some extra money by suing the railroad.
    • “Star Witness” sees the US Marshalls take a woman onboard the Cannonball, as she is due to testify against four men who are part of a gang of seven that caused a deadly train wreck. The gang tries to kill her, but when that fails, they reveal via a note they had a bomb planted on the train, and if they didn’t stop and turn her over in 27 minutes, it would go off. Casey takes a chance and bets that, since the train hasn’t stopped, that the agent for the men is still onboard, and is one of the three passengers en route. With the bomb ticking closer to detonation, he is able to scare the culprit out of hiding (a farmer who was smuggling guns), and in turn gets him to toss the bomb off the train to save his own neck.
    • “Hard Luck Train” has Casey’s old friend Earl Bonner in hot water with the insurance company when his time running the Cannonball sees it robbed twice for oil drilling equipment. Doubting that his friend could be in on it, and in further trouble when the train is robbed while he’s running it, Casey manages to catch on that one of the locals is aiding in the robberies. Paying him $50 to stage a robbery, Casey suspects a double cross and is able to catch the real thieves when it inevitably occurs, learning that the shipper of the oil drilling equipment is stealing his own shipment to sell it on the black market and get the insurance money from it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Casey is a generally good and easy going person, but if you try to put the lives of his passengers or his crew at stake, he won’t stand idly by and let them get hurt.
  • Big Dam Plot: “Night Run” uses this trope when a heavy storm causes difficulty for the railroad and the surrounding infrastructure along the line. The town of Valley Junction ends up in the middle of a massive flood threat when the nearby dam threatens to overflow and eventually collapse, which the Cannonball narrowly avoids getting hit by while waiting for the populous to escape.
  • The Big Race: The pilot episode deals with the Southern and Panhandle racing against the Midwest and Central for the rights to an exclusive mailing contract, pitting the former’s speedy “Swamp Tiger” against the latter’s famed “Cannonball.” Needless to say, the S&P is eager to win that contract by any means necessary.
  • Blackmail: In “The Trackwalker,” the titular character gets a job with the railroad when he saves the Cannonball from smashing into a boulder that had fallen on the track. When he takes a job as a mechanic, a mysterious man threatens to reveal his true identity unless he pays him half his wages every Saturday. Later, when the railroad plans to pay the drifter for his automatic coupling design, the blackmailer ups his demands by wanting half of the patent profits. Turns out, the drifter was an engineer for the Missouri Central railroad, who was in charge of a train when a deadly train wreck occurred, and the blackmailer was his old fireman, who had framed him for the incident in an attempt to steal his job. Casey shoos the crooked fireman out, threatening to have him arrested for blackmail.
  • "Blackmail" Is Such an Ugly Word}}: Used almost verbatim by the old fireman of the Missouri Central when he threatens to expose a drifter as the engineer in charge of a deadly train wreck.
  • Bribe Backfire: The pilot episode deals with the crew of the Swamp Tiger attempts to bribe Casey to throw the race between them and the Cannonball so they can get an exclusive mail contract. Instead of a deal, the man gets slugged for his troubles.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In “The Lost Train,” Casey complains the Cannonball’s steam valve bursts too often upgrade and is getting close to scrapping her. Later, he uses that same valve to fend off thieves who had earlier stolen his train, complimenting his engine for doing what he wants.
  • Broken Pedestal: Casey Jr. initially admires the wanted murderer Doc Bailey, impressed by how he evaded the authorities for so long. However, when a little girl with appendicitis collapses, Bailey offers to do the job—only on the condition he’s given his freedom, a gun, ammo, and a six hour head start. When the sheriff in charge of him initially refuses, Bailey is quick to gloat how the girl’s death would be on the sheriff’s head, leaving Casey Jr. heartbroken at how heartless the outlaw truly is. It does, however, leave him with the idea that he might want to be a doctor when he grows up.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • “The Gunslinger” has the outlaw Doc Bailey on the end of this trope when he’s finally capture, only to weasel his way out of an execution when a girl collapses on the train, and he agrees to help her only if he’s allowed to be released and rearmed. However, the Cannonball is stopped near Native American territory, and they’ve already signaled to attack. The train crew pleads with Bailey to stay, but he thinks they’re trying to trick him into going to Fort Worth so they can hang him and back out of their end of the deal, so he decides to take his chances. It ends up being played straight when, just after he gets off the train, he’s shot in the back.
    • In “Iron Men,” Casey Jr. and his friend (the son of the railroad foreman building a new line) end up wandering away to catch fish for the workers when Casey takes the Cannonball back to town to get food and supplies after a group of angry cattle ranchers burn theirs down. The boys end up finding dynamite in an old army shed, and end up getting caught by the ranchers, who intend to use the dynamite to blow up the nearby dam and flood the valley. When they escape, and are found by their fathers, Casey initially refuses to believe them. Subverted, however, when they point out the shed had a lock that it never had to begin with, something Casey himself noticed when he was looking for the boys. Casey immediately believes them afterwards.
  • Clothing Damage: Downplayed, but Cinders tears up Wally’s sleeves a little when he tries to stop him from throwing a stick of wood into the firebox. Turns out, Cinders was trying to keep Wally from tossing that stick in because it had been loaded with dynamite.
  • Cool Train: The Cannonball Express, the fastest train on the Midwest and Central. Whenever Casey’s at the throttle, she moves like lightning.
    • In-Universe, the Silk Train from the episode of the same name counts as one. It’s from another railroad that’s been detoured onto the Midwest and Central, and it’s as fast as the Cannonball, if not more so.
  • Conscience Makes You Go Back: “Death Rides the Tender” employs this trope to the local wood maker on the railroad, Pete, who’s son is captured after murdering a miner. Since Casey was the one who identified him, and won’t back away from testifying against him, Pete decides to save his son by sticking dynamite into a wood piece intended to be used for the Cannonball’s next run, which will destroy the train the moment the log gets pitched into the fire. However, the next morning, a guilty conscience leads him to chase the train down on horseback and throw the offending log out before Wallie can get it in the firebox.
  • Crazy-Prepared:
    • “One Way Ticket” sees this used by an angry mob. When it’s learned that Charlie Ferguson, a man who was arrested seven years ago for accidental manslaughter of a local man’s wife and daughter during a duel, has been released from prison, the man leads a mob to hang Charlie the moment he gets into town. Casey fails to talk Charlie out of going home, so he is forced to warn the Sheriff about the mob threatening railroad property. However, they wait outside of town and block the tracks instead to get at Charlie. When Redrock refuses to let them onboard, they present purchased tickets, giving them the legal right to board the train.
    • “The Dark Rider” plays this for drama. When a passenger onboard the Cannonball contracts smallpox, Redrock telegraphs out to the next town so the hospital can get the vaccine ready for distribution. However, the townsfolk force the train to leave at gunpoint, not wanting anyone to get sick. The doctor instructs Casey to highball it to the next city, intending to keep quiet so that they won’t face a similar disruption. Instead, they find themselves forced to stop at a trestle, since the last town wired to every station down the line to warn them about the disease, and the trestle had been rigged with dynamite.
    • “Dangerous Hours” employs this trope at the hands of gang members. After spending several days, if not weeks, planning on a robbery of the Midvale Bank, they succeed in doing so and managing to capture the Cannonball to use as a getaway vehicle. They not only outrun the authorities, but cut the telegraph lines to prevent word from getting out about their actions, disarm Redrock before he can use his gun to defend himself, shut the shades to keep anyone from looking in, and take the visiting Alice Jones hostage to ensure Casey’s cooperation. Subverted, however, in that they fail to expect any resistance from Casey, who uses the steam valve to knock one of their members off the train, and then does the same quickly to their leader.
  • Cut Phone Lines: Invoked a few times by the thieves, so as no one can stop them from getting away with their ill-gotten gain or warning anyone about what occurred. Other times they subvert this trope and use the lines for their own gain.
  • Dick Dastardly Stops to Cheat: The Southern and Panhandle, desperate to win a race against the Midwest and Central for an exclusive mail contract, deliberately sabotages the Cannonball’s run to Fort Worth to slow them down long enough to win, first by attempting (and failing) to bribe Casey, greasing the caboose’s journal boxes with flint, putting wood on the tracks, and torching the train’s log supply. All of it might have proven unnecessary, as Casey himself points out that S&P’s route is 25 miles shorter than M&W’s more mountainous line, and they could have easily won regardless.
  • Dirty Cop: Marshal Croy is about as bad as they come. In an attempt to try and throw a telegrapher in jail in Laramie for the murder of his brother about 20 years ago, he goes to any lengths to pursue his quest for vengeance. First, he shoots a man who got into a fist fight with him, getting off on the self-defense claim. Then, when Casey sends a message over the wires to get the telegrapher released into the Jamestown Sheriff’s custody, he tries to shoot the wires. Casey slugs him, but weasels his way out by claiming he was jumped by the engineer. His luck finally runs out when he shoots his prisoner when he apparently goes for his gun…only for him to be shown to not have a gun whatsoever, meaning he just shot a defenseless man. Then, word comes in from Laramie that Croy had been dismissed six months ago. The Sheriff is more than happy to take Croy in after that.
  • Disappeared Dad: Averted. The series takes place long before Casey Jone’s fateful wreck, and he’s still around to provide for his son Casey Jr.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • “Death Rides the Tender” plays this straight, then subverts it. When Pete the local wood maker in the roundhouse learns his son, a notorious outlaw, has been captured, he tries to get Casey Jones (who helped capture and identify him) to let him off the hook. When Casey refuses, he decides to try and save his son’s life by sticking dynamite in one of the logs, which would cause the Cannonball to explode and kill everyone onboard when it was pitched into the firebox. Subverted when he gets a guilty conscious and catches up to the train and tosses the offending log out before Wally can use it.
    • Played straight in “The Trackwalker.” When a crooked fireman learns his old engineer (who he had thrown to the wolves by blaming him for a train wreck so he can steal his job) has gotten a job with Midwest and Central, he blackmails the man into keeping quiet about his identity. However, Casey Jones forces him off the property, and threatens to have him arrested. Out of revenge, he sends the Cannonball running away, and would have caused a deadly collision had Casey Jr. not been aboard and warned the titular character of his plight, allowing him to stop the train.
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • The Cannonball looked slightly different in the pilot compared to her final appearance. Here, she only carries a combine and a caboose, where as later episodes saw her with a coach, a baggage combine, a flatcar, and a caboose. Perhaps justified seeing as sabotage to the caboose’s journal boxes set it on fire and torched it to ash, and a new train set may have been needed to replace it. Moreover, the engine has a larger number plate, different handrail placements, and a different paint scheme, not to mention an entirely different set up in the cab. note 
    • The Cannonball’s crew consists of Casey as the engineer, Wallie as the fireman, Sam in a similar capacity, and Redrock as the conductor. Sam disappears without a trace, and is never mentioned again.
    • Mrs. Jones is shown flagging down the Cannonball so Casey can fulfill his promise to take his son on a ride in the cab. She never does this again in later episodes.
    • Casey is more hesitant in the pilot to take Casey Jr. with him in the cab. Later episodes show him as being near-completly trusting of his son to handle the train with him, even checking on the engine when he’s not around it.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Casey Jr. forgives Pete the wood maker for almost killing his dad when, in a desperate attempt to save his own son from being hanged, he stuck dynamite in a piece of wood so Casey would die in an explosion. However, this is mostly due to the wood maker getting a guilty conscious about doing so and correcting his mistake (not to mention he helped Casey make a nice replica of the Cannonball)
    • “The Trackwalker” is allowed to have his old job back as engineer of the Missouri Central when it’s discovered his old fireman lied about a wreck he was involved in, and was trying to steal his old job. Well, that and the fireman almost wrecked the Cannonball and a northbound train in the process.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • “The Black Box”: A Mexican government official is revealed to have been bribed for information moving the Crown Jewels of Maximillian onboard the Cannonball by thieves looking to steal it. He’s fine with the theft since he needs the money, but he’s not okay with their plan to uncouple the cars and derail them on a sharp curve, since everyone (including his niece) will die in the wreck. He ends up with a knife in his back for his objections.
  • Expository Theme Tune: A reworked version of the classic folk song "The Ballad of Casey Jones".
    Stop, look, listen, 'cause you're gonna hear
    A brand-new story 'bout a great engineer
    He's the greatest of them all, we claim
    Number One's his engine, Casey Jones his name

    Casey Jones – steamin' and a-rollin'
    Casey Jones – you never have to guess
    When you hear the tootin' of the whistle
    It's Casey at the throttle of the Cannonball Express
  • Fantastic Racism: A key theme of several episodes:
    • “Spurline to Danger” sees a heavily racist US Army Colonel mistreat the Native American population, planning on having two men caught in a bar executed via firing squad. His actions lead to the Sioux attacking the fort, and he is removed from command for his troubles.
    • “Iron Men” has immigrant workers building the railroad into new territory constantly getting attacked by cattle ranchers, many of whom don’t want the foreigners on what they presume is their property. Only when the foreman of the workers saves the head cattle rancher from nearly blowing himself up do they start cooperating.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Subverted by Casey Jones, who fakes such a fall in “The Marauders.” Having been forced to wreck a train and fake the death of US Marshalls to ambush a gang of thieves, his reputation had fallen apart in Midvalle. As such, when the thieves attack the town, he uses this poor treatment as a cover for his willingness to join them…until he reveals he was faking it so he could get the thieves to the Marshalls (since they were waiting in another town they thought the thieves were planning to hit).
  • Foreshadowing:
    • “The Marauders”: Casey mumbles under his breath that the arrival of the title villains means that his plan with the US Marshals has gone terribly wrong (since he faked their deaths via a staged train wreck to allow the crooks to be ambushed). It hints that his attempts at helping the gang rob Midvale were merely a ploy to lower their guard.
    • “Star Witness”: One of the passengers on the Cannonball complains about the water tasting funny. Guess where the bomb that was planted on the train was hidden?
  • For Want of a Nail:
    • “The Old Timer”: If Casey Jr. hadn’t gone out to find Redrock, he never would have been forced to take him back to town on a handcar, discovering in the process that the storm from last night had washed out the trestle, and would have lead to the Cannonball plummeting into the ravine with everyone onboard.
    • “The Trackwalker:” If Casey hadn’t sent his son to check the Cannonball’s steam levels, the crooked fireman and blackmailer would have sent the train plowing into the Northbound Express, causing untold amounts of deaths in the process. Moreover, the titular drifter would have never noticed the train running by unmanned if Casey Jr. hadn’t been aboard blowing the whistle like crazy, thus he never would have rushed to save him and stop the train, averting disaster and getting his job back in the process.
    • “The Silk Train”: If Casey Jr. hadn’t asked his uncle to stay up and watch the Silk Train go by, they never would have noticed the window to the station opened and the oil lamp left on. Thus, the thieves would have not only tricked the Cannonball into leaving at 1:37AM, they would have been hit by the silk train and exploded in a fiery inferno, killing Casey and everyone onboard. Moreover, the $3 million in silk would have been destroyed in the wreck, and the shipping companies would have gotten away with corporate sabotage.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: Casey Jones is one of the friendliest people in Midvale, and is unquestionably the hero of the series. However, despite his good heart and laid back nature, he’s no fool when it comes to suspicious situations.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: Downplayed in “Dangerous Hours,” but when Casey manages to smack the gang leader off his train, he’s heard screaming as he falls off the train; the implication is that he was sucked under the wheels and crushed to death.
  • Heroes Gone Fishing: Casey, Willie, and Redrock have all occasionally taken time off to go fishing. Of course, their trips are either never shown or short lived.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • All three of the Cannonball Express’ crew are shown to be avid fishermen.
  • Hoistby His Own Petard:
    • Downplayed in “Night Mail,” but the Southern and Panhandle’s attempts to sabotage the Cannonball in a race against their Swamp Tiger leads Casey to switch his train onto S&P tracks (with a quickly built switch no less) and chase them up from behind.
    • “Star Witness” has a group of railway saboteurs cause a deadly train collision that gets blamed on a workers’ dispute. When a witness to their identities is assigned aboard the Cannonball to testify in court, they pay an inside man to shoot the woman when they enter a tunnel. The plan backfires and they resort to using a bomb planted aboard the train, threatening to let it go off unless they stop the train and let them take the witness. However, thanks to Casey’s gambling, the inside man chickens out and tosses the bomb off the train, agreeing to testify against his bribers. And the kicker? The original witness only knew four of the gang. The man they bribed knew all SEVEN of them.
    • In “The Silk Train,” a trio of bandits are hired by a shipping company to wreck the titular train (which is carrying $3 million worth of silk). They plan this by having one of their men pay to load oil onboard the Cannonball, which is forced to take siding to allow the Silk Train to pass. Then, this same man will hijack the telegraph line and send the Cannonball orders to head back out onto the mainline at 1:37 AM, just three minutes before the Silk Train is due to arrive. As part of the orders, the Cannonball was told to run at 10mph, which will result in a wreck when the Silk Train catches up to it. When Casey catches on, the crooks hold him at gunpoint and force him to back the Cannonball out of the siding and onto the mainline, holding the passengers and crew in the baggage car to leave no witnesses. However, Casey and Wally are able to not only use the oil to burn the baggage car’s locks and sneak back into the cab to get the train rolling, but Red Rock is able to use the oil to light a fuse and get the Silk Train to stop before it hits them.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Lampshaded by Casey in “The Marauders” when he discusses how easily they let him help with their robbery, unaware he was luring them into a trap.
  • I Have Your Wife: The Cannonball is once again hijacked by thieves in “Dangerous Hours,” and the gang leader takes delight in learning that one of the passengers onboard is Alice Jones. In order to get Casey to cooperate, he threatens to use her as leverage if he tries anything. Casey has other ideas.
  • Indy Ploy: Whenever a tense situation rises and Casey has to improvise, he tends to use this trope as quick as he can.
    • “Way Station”: A gang of thieves hijack The Cannonball, demanding they turn over the registered mail. Casey, after getting Willis, the gang leader, to agree to release them upon getting the mail, tells them it’s coming in on the next train. In reality, it’s a quick ploy to save them, as the mail already came in on a train ahead of theirs, and Casey is hoping to pull his train over at the titular way station to inform the telegrapher “clear the line” for this non-existent train (by having him warn dispatch of the holdup). The thieves initially buy into their claim and allow The Cannonball to take siding, but Willis wises up and shoots the telegraph transmitter, knowing full well how to speak code. With his first plan shot, Casey tries to get access to the gun on the train; an opportunity of which is presented when a gambler riding his train sneaks out the window and steals a horse. While Willis pursues them, Casey is able to convince just one of them to stay behind while the other chases after his boss in fear a posse is riding out towards them. Again, their plan gets shot when the one gang member left they plan to jump is trigger happy. As such, one of the female passengers tries to get at the gun by exploiting how the gunman happens to like her a little too much, claiming one of the other passengers is ill and she needs to get her smelling salts off the train. Unfortunately, Willis found the gun first, and the lone gunman left is prepared to kill the woman while gloating about how she was outsmarted, until the woman’s husband (a solider) kills him. With the train retaken, Casey is narrowly able to get it restarted before Willis returns and ends up dead, while his cohort is taken out from a clean shot by Redrock.
    • “A Badge for Casey”: Mort Clio, a notorious serial killer, ends up arriving in the town of Bitter Creek in order to kill Judge Ripley—the man who sentenced his brother to hang—in spite of giving him a fair trial. In order to kill the judge when he arrives in town and then make a clean getaway, they hold the Cannonball in town once it arrives, while making sure that the populous stays inside, threatening to kill them if they try to warn Ripley. When the Sheriff is killed, Casey is forced to take up the position, deputizing his crew and one other citizen to help him. He initially plans to take out the gang by luring them into one spot, but Clio and his men end up taking their entire arsenal of weapons to prevent them from interfering. As such, Casey comes up with a quick ploy to alert nearby Fort Shelby of what has transpired by making his way to Clio and convincing him to allow him to shut of the locomotive before her boiler explodes. Clio allows it, but only allows Redrock and Wallie to go while also taking Casey Jr. along as insurance in case they try anything. Unfortunately for Clio, the plan works and the army arrives, killing or arresting the gang members in the process.
    • “The Silk Train”: In the midst of a race between the railroads and the shipping lines to transport valuable silk, the railroads are wining by a long shot. When $3 million worth of silk being transported by rail is rerouted on the Midwest and Central, one of the shipping firms hires a group of saboteurs to wreck the train by making it seem like an accident. To accomplish this, the thieves send a man ahead of the Cannonball to pay to load oil onto that train, which has been ordered to take siding on the line to allow the Silk Train to pass. Two men board the Cannonball and get off at the siding station, while the third man sneaks into the station late at night to send a telegram instructing Casey to proceed out of the siding at 1:37, then proceed 10mph to St. Louis, under claims the Silk Train is running 7 hours late due to a broken piston. However, thanks to Casey Jr. and his uncle watching the Silk Train pass by, they discover the break in at the station, and an alert is sent ahead to let dispatch know about the passing. Casey realizes what’s going on and decides to pull out, but the two men in the station force them to back the train out onto the main line and hold everyone in the baggage car to ensure they all die in the ensuring wreck, threatening to shoot them if they try to run. Instead, Casey quickly comes up with a plan and uses the very oil the crooks had loaded to burn through the baggage car’s door, unlock it, and run out to the engine to try and make a run for it. Redrock does the same by using the oil to light a fuse and warn the Silk Train to stop before they hit them.
  • Instant Death Bullet: Some of the crooks go down immediately when they’re shot by Casey or any of the lawmen on the show.
  • Insurance Fraud: “The Hard Luck Train” uses this for the owner of an oil drilling equipment maker, who wants to double his profits. He has men steal the equipment he paid the railroad to ship off the train, then is not only able to sell them on the black market, but receive a great deal of money from the insurance company. He would have cost the railroad a vital shipper and their insurance had Casey, already suspicious at how his old friend Earl Bonner was being accused as an accomplice to the job, manages to catch him in the act.
  • Internal Reveal:
    • “The Trackwalker”: Jeff Tyler is really Jefferson Roberts, a former engineer of the Missouri Central Railroad, who was fired when a deadly train wreck occurred. His fireman, Vic Hogan, threw him under the bus during the trial in an attempt to steal his job. While it failed to get him that position, it led Roberts to become a pariah amongst the railroad community. However, Hogan eventually pushes his luck and nearly wrecks the Cannonball and a northbound express and gets himself in jail.
  • Jerkass: And plenty of them to go around.
    • “The Gunslinger” gives this to its titular character, Doc Bailey. Already wanted for murder and evading the authorities, he happily gloats when, on the way to his execution following his capture, he agrees to save a sick passenger on the condition of his immediate release. When the sheriff initially refuses, he proclaims that the girl's death will be on his captor’s head, forcing the sheriff to agree to his terms. Luckily, when he goes free, karma swiftly makes an example of him.
    • “The Dark Rider” has one who throws a fuss when the train is forced to continue on after one of its passengers is diagnosed with smallpox, rather than stopping where scheduled. He gets increasingly agitated, especially as multiple factors further keep them on the train. Eventually, he tries to leave the train with his wife and ends up in a fist fight with Casey when he tries to bring them back, and it takes his wife standing up to him at gunpoint to convince him to go back. He later apologizes for the mess he caused, but Casey tells him that’s for the doctor, not him, to hear out.
    • “The Fire Eater” has the head of the Pontus Valley Players, Greg Pontus, who fires the fire-eater Ben Mallory simply out of spite. As it turns out, Ben and the previous singer of the troupe were in a fire, and he darted out of there while she died in the blaze. Greg was not pleased with this outcome (as it was implied he had feelings for her), considered Ben a coward, and fired him the moment he could. He changes his mind when Ben uses his fire-eating talents to save them from a group of Indians.
  • Just Train Wrong: Averted for the most part, but sometimes it happens to slip through the cracks:
    • The show frequently has the Cannonball make a hard stop when braking or suffer from wheel slips as it pulls out. While the engine seems fine after this, in reality, the locomotive’s running gear would be beaten pretty badly from making those rapid stops, not to mention she’d be in danger of exploding if Casey pushed her too hard during the slips. However, it should be noted that many of those stops are done in extreme emergencies, so for the most part it seems to be okay. Even so, Casey should know better than to ram the brakes on for a quick stop.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: In “Layover at Jamestown,” Marshal Croy is introduced as a trigger happy bounty hunter who’s trying to arrest the local dispatcher for the murder of his brother. After killing one of the dispatcher’s friends (which he avoids being charged with murder for by claiming self defense) and trying to shoot the telegraph lines to keep a message from getting through from Laramie (which he again avoids because Casey stopped him and nearly pressed charges against him), he shoots the dispatcher when he attempts to go for his gun. However, it turns out he had no gun at all, and word comes in over the wire that Croy had been dismissed six months ago. The sheriff of Jamestown is more than happy to arrest him then and there.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Mort Clio's brother in "A Badge for Casey" was hung for some sort of crime he committed some time ago.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Doc Bailey, a noted gangster and murderer, is finally captured by the authorities in Coalville. While on route to trial, a little girl with appendicitis collapses. Bailey is willing to save her life, provided the sheriff release him, arm him, and give him a head start. After some reluctance, the sheriff agrees and Bailey performs the surgery. However, when he gets off the train, karma swiftly gives him what’s coming when Native Americans put an arrow in his back.
  • Loophole Abuse: Redrock gets a chance to invoke this in “Old Timer.” After he reaches a new mandatory retirement age, he is forced to leave the railroad. However, when he saves the Cannonball from speeding off a broken trestle, he is given a lifetime employment opportunity by the board of directors (who happened to be riding the train), allowing him to get his old job back.
  • Make It Look Like an Accident: "The Silk Train" deals with this trope when a shipping company hires saboteurs to derail a rerouted train carrying millions in silk. By paying to ship fuel oil on the Cannonball, which has been ordered to hold siding for the other train, the crooks send phony orders for Casey and crew to press on by claiming the Silk Train is behind eight hours due to a broken piston, but order them to proceed at 10 mph. That way, when both trains collide, it would appear to be a case of mistaken train orders and not corporate sabotage. Unfortunately for the crooks, fate has other ideas.
  • Moving the Goalposts}}: Vic Hogan, a crooked fireman, decides to blackmail his old engineer Jeff Roberts (who was involved in a deadly train wreck that Hogan threw him under the bus for) into keeping quiet about his true identity by forcing him to pay half his wages each Saturday. Then, when “Jeff Tyler” is offered a patent for a new automatic coupler system, Hogan ups his blackmail demands and wants his named cosigned for it.
  • Named After Somebody Famous: Casey Junior is named after the legendary train engineer Casey Jones. Justified in that Jones is his father.
  • The Neidermeyer: Colonel Bullock from “Spurline to Danger” fits this trope to a tee. He has no respect for any of the men under his command, is convinced the Sioux Tribe are little more than savages, and expects total loyalty from those under him. It’s this kind of behavior that eventually leads to the Sioux attacking the fort. When he proposes to use a pincer maneuver to trap the enemy, Casey points out that strategy would lead the entire platoon to slaughter. The colonel loses it promptly, and a Washington agent promptly removes him from command.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • A thief disguised as a US Agent in “The Black Box” pays handsomely for information from a government official in order to rob the Cannonball of a shipment of crown jewels from the late Emperor Maximillian of Mexico. However, he chooses to reveal his plan to his informant on how he intends to steal said shipment: uncoupling the last three cars as the train moves upgrade, then let it derail around a sharp curve, which would let them pick through the shipment, but kill everyone onboard. When the official is horrified by this plan and intends to stop it, he gets stabbed in the back and thrown off the platform, just seconds before Redrock arrives to bring his fellow official a glass of water. This leads to the official’s body being discovered, leading Casey to become suspicious. Indeed, when he receives a telegram that the real agent has been killed, Casey goes back to confront him just after he uncoupled the train. He’s then able to pull the emergency cord and warn Wallie to stop, allowing him to get back at the throttle and run the engine back fast enough to recouple the train.
    • “The Trackwalker” dealt with Jeff Roberts, a former engineer who of the Missouri Central Railroad, who was fired after a deadly train wreck occurred. His old fireman, Vic Hogan, had lied and claimed the engineer caused the wreck so he could swipe his old job (though he failed, as the railroad wasn’t entirely fooled). When he tried to blackmail Roberts (living as “Jeff Tyler”) by threatening to reveal his identity after the Midwest and Central hired him on as a mechanic, then Casey Jones ordered him off the property. Rather than cutting his losses, he decides to send the Cannonball on a runaway by opening the throttle and tying it shut. However, he does so when Casey Junior is on the train, and his cries for help lead Roberts to hop on and stop it before it hits a northbound express, in turn leading to the Hogan’s arrest and Roberts getting his old job back!
  • Noodle Incident:
    • The wreck on the Missouri Central in “The Trackwalker.” All that’s mention is that five people died and fifteen more were injured. We don’t know what caused it and what sort of a wreck happened, with the only information being revealed besides the casualties is that the engineer in charge that day, Jeff Roberts, had the responsibility laid solely at his feet. Not helping the case was his fireman, Vic Hogan, lying to the jury so he can get his boss fired and steal his job. While the jury evidently got Roberts fired, Hogan was never given the position (as apparently the railroad wasn’t that stupid).
    • In “The Silk Train,” some sort of massive flooding up on the Transcontinental Route leads the titular train to being rerouted onto the Midwest and Central.
  • Off Bridge, onto Vehicle:
    • One man does this in “Lethal Journey” by jumping off a water tower onto the Cannonball so he can kill a man who is about to prove him guilty of a crime his brother was framed for.
  • Paranoia Gambit: Casey ends up suspended from work when the Cannonball is apparently starting damaging fires at a local farmer’s property. However, Casey finds it oddly suspicious that his train is causing the damage. So, he instead tells his intentions to take the Cannonball out for an unscheduled run in front of the son who’s father is suing the company on behalf of the farmer. It turns out Casey was counting on this, since he was able to prove, thanks to his special spark arrestor, that the fires were being deliberately set by arson and not the train as part of a get-rich-quick scheme by the lawyer.
  • Police Are Useless: Averted, as the law officers and army men do know what they’re doing and are effective in their work. Sometimes, however, this trope is played straight when the crooks have the upper hand and the sheriffs are unable to do anything.
  • Railroad Tracks of Doom:
    • “Lethal Job” reverses this trope on the train when a cow ends up on the line…and the train has nitroglycerine aboard. Luckily, unlike most instances of this trope, she gets off before the Cannonball hits her.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • So, Pete, the local wood maker, manages to save the Cannonball from exploding. Think he’ll get off the hook for his heroic deeds? Not really, as the reason the Cannonball almost exploded was because he stuck dynamite into a wood piece just to try and kill Casey, hoping his death would spare his own son’s life. Downplayed in that his going back to fix his mistake may garner him a lighter sentence, and Casey Jr. has already forgiven him.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Mr. Carter, President of the Midwest and Central, explicitly trusts Casey to do a good job and handle business, though at times his patience is exasperated when the seasoned engineer questions his authority (though more often than not Casey is usually proven right). Even so, he trusts Casey as his finest engineer.
  • Reluctant Retiree: “The Old Timer” sees Redrock forced onto the end of this trope when the company board of directors institutes a mandatory retirement age; an age the conductor just hit. Though he seems to be okay with the decision, his face and body language clearly say otherwise. Fortunately, his actions in saving the Cannonball from a deadly wreck get him a lifetime employment pass from the chairman of the board, and he’s able to return to work.
  • Retirony: Narrowly averted by the Marshall seen in “Satan’s Wail.” While being tasked to transport the contents of bank money on the Cannonball, he admits to Casey he feels uneasy in his old age ever since he got shot in the leg, seeing as he’s a few weeks away from retirement. He gets shot, but he fortunately survives.
  • Runaway Train: Casey usually runs a well oiled machine, but she has gotten away a few times:
    • “The Old Timer” plays this straight, as a gasket blows on the compressor, causing the brakes to not get enough pressure and nearly sends the Cannonball blowing into the next county. Fortunately, Casey is able to warn the switchman to send them onto a spur, allowing the Cannonball to stop (albeit very roughly), and reports it to the Yardmaster. However, they only did a patch job on the compressor, and when Redrock warns of a broken trestle, he remembers the brake issue and tosses an old tie on the tracks to jam up the wheels so it would stop the train, saving the Cannonball from plummeting to its doom.
    • Subverted in “The Lost Train.” The Cannonball appears to have run away, but the brakes were set. Instead, it was stolen.
    • “The Marauders” invokes this deliberately, when Casey wrecks an old train by pretending its brakes failed before it takes a curve. It was part of a larger plan Casey was ordered to participate in so they could fake the deaths of the US Marshalls onboard and allow them to ambush a gang.
    • “The Black Box” does this to only half the train, when thieves intended to steal the contents of the train’s cargo uncouple the coaches to send it rolling downhill and wreck it at a curve. Luckily Casey is able to reverse his engine and recouple it.
    • “The Trackwalker,” does this to the whole train, when a blackmailer (in reality a former fireman trying to squeeze money out of his old engineer) ties a metal wire to the throttle and sends it careening out of the yard to get back at Casey for halting his blackmail scheme. He would have caused a collision too, had that very same engineer not heard Casey Jr. whistling for help up in the cab.
  • Running Gag: The Cannonball is usually held up or stolen by thieves for some part of a get-rich-quick scheme.
  • The Scapegoat:
    • Deliberately invoked in “The Marauders.” In order to catch a gang of scoundrels, Casey is asked to deliberately wreck an old train to make it seem like the US Marshalls chasing them died in the accident, so they can ambush the Marauders when they hit the next town. Mr. Carter is well aware Casey’s reputation will be destroyed by this incident, but Casey, wanting to be a responsible citizen, willingly takes the heat and goes through with the wreck. Thankfully, his reputation is restored when he improvises a plan to catch the Marauders when they attack Midvalle instead, and the Marshalls reveal what really happened afterwards.
    • Again invoked in “The Dutch Clock.” In order to get a good lawsuit payout, a local lawyer hires arsonist to set fire to a farmer’s property as the Cannonball rolls by, making it look like Casey’s train is setting out sparks that start the fires. Casey proves his innocence by installing a spark arrestor and taking the Cannonball on an unscheduled run, showing that a barn fire that was caused as his train passed was not his doing.
  • Science Is Wrong}}: “The Dark Rider” deconstructs this trope when a quarantined passenger onboard the Cannonball refuses to take a smallpox vaccine, convinced it will cause him to come down with cowpox and turn into a cow himself. This is in spite of the fact that the man in question who’s telling him this is a doctor with proven medical experience, and no one else seems to doubt his judgement.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Several times has Casey disregarded company orders in order to get to the bottom of suspicious activities.
    • “The Dutch Clock” places Casey on suspension when the railroad is sued for allegedly starting fires at a local farmer’s property, and is instructed to take time off until the matter has been settled. However, the engineer is clearly suspicious about the circumstances, and decides to take the Cannonball on an unscheduled run to test his suspicions. Mr. Carter is quite furious about this…until Casey proves his train didn’t start the fires; they had been deliberately set by an arsonist as part of a scheme between the farmer and a local lawyer to get rich off the railroad. The trick was to have Casey build a spark arrestor he’d put in the stack, showing that there was no possible way that the train could have started those fires.
    • “The Hard Luck Train” deals with Casey’s old friend Earl Bonner get placed under suspicion when, during Casey’s absence, the Cannonball is robbed twice of oil drilling equipment. Bonner’s presence on the train, combined with the fact he had apparently stolen similar equipment prior to his employment on the railroad, led the insurance agent to temporarily suspend the railroad’s insurance. Not even Casey’s run (with Bonner present) proves helpful to his case. Mr. Carter, already exasperated with the affair, orders Casey not to get involved. However, Casey, determined to prove his friend’s innocence, manages to persuade his boss to let him take one more shipment and stage a robbery. Of course, he suspects a double cross, and manages to thwart the attempt, thereby exposing the true crook as being the supplier of the equipment, who was robbing the train so he could sell it on the thieves market and collect the insurance from it.
  • Spanner in the Works:
    • Cinders ends up as this in “Night Mail.” After being ordered to stay behind with Casey Jr. while the Cannonball races a rival train for a lucrative mail contract, the dog ends up running onto the caboose, forcing Casey Jr. to follow him. Needless to say, this proves beneficial, as Casey’s presence allows him to uncouple a flaming caboose (that had earlier been sabotaged) when regular crewman Sam gets knocked unconscious. This allows the Cannonball to speed by the Swamp Tiger and win the race, getting them the contract.
    • Casey Jr. and his uncle become this in “The Silk Train.” The boy insisted on seeing the titular train role by, which his uncle was happy to let him see. Doing so led them to discover that someone had broken into the station, unaware that he had telegraphed phony orders to the Cannonball so they could cause a wreck. It was the stationmaster telegraphing a report that the Silk Train had passed through that alerted Casey to the scheme (though the men involved unfortunately learned their plan was foiled just as quickly and used the engineer to try and force the wreck anyway, though Casey again foiled them).
  • Status Quo Is God: Casey Jr. initially changed his mind about being a railroad engineer and wanted to be a telegraph operator in “Satan’s Wail.” The whistle (which he was able to identify morse code signals from when it had been hijacked) makes him change his mind again.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Played straight, then very narrowly subverted in “Layover at Jamestown.” Sam Wilson, a dispatcher being charged with a murder from 20 years ago, decides to refuse to surrender to the trigger happy bounty hunter Marshal Coy, and apparently goes for his gun while triggering Coy’s berserk button by talking poorly about his dead brother. He gets shot, and Coy claims self defense, but it turns out that Wilson had no gun on him at all. Needless to say, Coy is quickly taken to jail (not helped when word arrives from Laramie that he was dismissed six months ago), but fortunately Wilson survives and is cleared.
  • Track Trouble:
    • Invoked in “Night Mail” by the Southern and Panhandle Railway, who stack wood on the tracks and try to shoot the Cannonball’s crew in an attempt to beat them in a race for a mail contract. The Cannonball just plows right through it. Then, the Cannonball crew invokes it themselves to pull up their own tracks and build a switch to connect to S&P tracks, allowing them to run behind their competitor’s train before switching onto an old army spur.
    • “Prison Train” has both a trestle destroyed and a set of rails pulled up by thieves trying to steal gold bullion from the Cannonball.
    • “The Old Timer”: Heavy rainstorms wash out the trestle, and would have nearly derailed the Cannonball if Redrock hadn’t risked his life to flag it down.
    • “Night Run” invokes this via Mother Nature, who unleashes a fierce storm that destroys a damn and floods everything in its path. Though the Cannonball narrowly avoids getting washed out, other parts of the network are destroyed by the raging flood.
    • “The Trackwalker”: A boulder falls onto the line, and the Cannonball would have nearly hit it had it not been for a passerby flagging them down.
    • “Star Witness”: A gang of seven called “The Workers Ring,” as part of an attempts to get control of the workers union, deliberately invokes this somehow by staging a train collision during a worker’s strike.
    • Averted in “The Dark Rider.” Fearful citizens of a town plant dynamite along the trestle when they learn the Cannonball has a passenger with smallpox aboard. If they try to cross, they’ll blow up the trestle, but they never do, and the train reverses onto a siding instead to wait for a vaccine and avoid an oncoming express.
    • “Lethal Journey” does this twice. First, a cow ends up on the tracks, only getting out of the way at the last second. Then, a rock blocks the tracks. This proves to be too intense for the crew, who are carrying nitroglycerine on the train and have to be careful to avoid setting it off. Fortunately, they are able to clear the rock by using their cargo.
  • Train Job: And boy do they have it a plenty on the railroad.
    • “Prison Train” has the Cannonball attacked by thieves trying to steal gold the railroad was transporting in secret.
    • “Way Station” leads the Cannonball to be stolen and its passengers held hostage by a gang of hoodlums trying to steal the mail. Casey tells them it’s due on the next train behind them, but it’s really a lie; the mail train already passed through, and it was part of a plan to buy the passengers time to escape.
    • “Satan’s Wail” once again has thieves take over the Cannonball when it’s transporting gold, this time posing as army soldiers.
    • Subverted in “One Way Ticket.” Men do stop the Cannonball to take it, but not to steal gold, but rather kill a passenger onboard who they want revenge on.
    • “The Lost Train” sees this happen right off the bat, as Meeks, a metallurgist in the company, swipes the Cannonball and hides it on a spur line to transport stolen gold. When Casey investigates, he and Wally are forced to act as the crew for it upon capture.
    • Attempted to be invoked in “Storm Warning” when two thieves take Casey and his family hostage to force them to drive out of town when they bust out of prison. It never occurs though, as the Sheriff is able to catch on and arrest them thanks to Redrock.
    • “Girl in the Cab” has the titular character hold up the train and rob its contents.
    • Invoked by Casey Jones himself in “The Marauders.” When his plan to fake the deaths of the US Marshalls by wrecking a train backfires thanks to the villains hitting Midvalle instead of another town, Casey (his reputation in tatters thanks to the wreck) decides to assist them by offering to use the Cannonball to drive them out of town. However, it’s part of a ploy to leave them in the desert while he gets the US Marshalls to come arrest them.
    • “Dangerous Hours” puts the Cannonball in this position again, only this time it’s used as a getaway vehicle from a bank job.
    • “Honeymoon Express” does this when a wealthy groom-to-be charters the Cannonball as his wedding train. However, it’s really a cover for his gang and his robberies, which ends up getting blown because Casey wasn’t entirely cooperative with the unreasonable demands of his client.
  • Vehicular Sabotage: Tried a few times:
    • “Night Mail”: The Cannonball’s caboose is greased with flint and steel in the journals, causing it to develop a hot box and catch fire. It’s simply uncoupled and left to burn on the tracks.
    • “Death Rides the Tender”: Pete, the local woodman, spikes a piece of the Cannonball’s fuel with dynamite, intending to blow up the train so Casey can’t testify against his son in court. However, he subverts this trope when he ends up with such guilt that he rides up and pitches the offending wood before Wally can toss it into the firebox.
    • Invoked in “The Lost Train.” The Cannonball’s steam valve is loose and pops off when it goes upgrade, which Casey uses to get rid of thieves who had earlier stolen his train before they can use it to haul their stolen gold.
    • Again invoked in “The Marauders.” Casey is ordered to deliberately wreck a train so he can fake the deaths of a group of US Marshalls and allow them to catch a gang of thieves off guard. To accomplish this, they use an old engine bound for the scrap heap, then have Casey feign malfunctioning brakes as it approaches a sharp curve.
    • “Black Box”: Thieves working to steal the Crown Jewels of Maximillian plan to uncouple the last three cars on the Cannonball to roll it downhill, which would cause it to derail at a sharp curve and crash into a canyon. Casey is able to catch up to the missing consist, recouple, and stop before disaster strikes.
    • “The Trackwalker”: A crooked fireman, having spent some time blackmailing his old engineer to keep his identity from being exposed to Casey Jones, decides to get back at him for being driven out of town by tying the Cannonball’s throttle with a metal tie and running it away on the mainline. He might have also caused a wreck between the runaway and the Northbound Express had Casey Jr. not been in the cab, which led to the titular character rushing onboard and successfully stopping the train and alerting the other train to their presence.
    • “Star Witness”: A gang of saboteurs deliberately caused a devastating train wreck, and are attempting to kill the only witness to their identity. As such, they smuggle a bomb on board and try to blow up the train unless they stop at the next station. Luckily, Casey is able to make their inside man nervous enough for him to toss the bomb out.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?:
    • Sam the Native American only appears in the pilot episode and is never seen or heard from again.
    • More like what happened to the whistle, but the titular whistle from “Satan’s Wail” is never used on the train again.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit}}: The US Marshall’s invoke this in “The Marauders.” In order to catch a rampaging gang of thieves and murderers, they want Casey to wreck a train with them onboard so they can fake their deaths and make it look like they died in an accident. Part of the plan's success depends on Casey letting his reputation fall apart to make it work. Casey further invokes this when he allows his damaged reputation to feign joining the gang so he can get them out of town…and then leave them in the desert for the US Marshalls to come and get them.


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