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Tear Jerker / Thomas the Tank Engine

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"Oh dear. I'll have to stay here for always, and no one will ever see my lovely red paint ever again."

Yes, even a children's show about talking steam engines can get real darn sad.

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  • The characters' faces, before the CGI era, can be quite hard to look at for some because of how well they portray their sorrow and remorse, especially after a large screw-up. This is sometimes accompanied by the characters shedding tears.
  • Just anytime an engine get themselves into an accident or misfortune, whether or not they brought it upon themselves, can surely make the audience sympathetic to their plight. For instance, Henry and James in their respective Story Arcs in season 1.
  • A song will generally play to add to the emotional scene and help you to sympathise with the characters. Henry in particular has a very downbeat version of his Leitmotif play in sorrowful moments of the earlier episodes.

    Season 1
"He was very sad, because no one would ever see his lovely green paint and red stripes again."

The Sad Story of Henry / Come Out, Henry!

  • As a result of refusing to leave the tunnel, Henry is bricked up by the Fat Controller "for always and always and always" (although in the US version, it was only "until you're ready to come out!"). By then, he becomes sad and miserable that no one would ever see his paint again and and that he is never being allowed to journey out again. The publishers of the original novel found the ending so downbeat they only sold Awdry's work so long as he created a happy ending via "Edward, Gordon and Henry/Henry to the Rescue".
    • In the Shining Time Station episode: "Does it bite?", Mr. Conductor did not blow his whistle to begin the story because he was too choked up about Henry and his punishment. As he blurts out to the kids in tears, "But I must warn you. It's a very sad story."
    • The atmosphere and music is perfectly-executed. After the tunnel is sealed, it goes all quiet, birds are chirping, trains pass-by and Henry is unsure of himself. Then the background theme goes very sad as Henry realizes how stupid he's been, he's all alone, and it's too late to set things right.

Edward, Gordon and Henry / Henry to the Rescue

  • Continuing from the previous episode above, Henry laments on his misbehavior and wondered if the Fat Controller could ever forgive him and let him out of the tunnel. Fortunately, the Fat Controller decides to give him another chance.

Thomas' Train / A Big Day For Thomas

  • Thomas had nearly cried after realizing he wasn't coupled to his train. As soon as he returns to the big station, everyone was talking angrily about the incident just until they noticed how sad Thomas was.

Troublesome Trucks / Foolish Freight Cars

  • James (as pictured above at the top of the page) remorsefully cries about all of the trouble he's caused with the coaches, particularly mending a hole in one of them with a passenger's bootlace. The tears from his eyes definitely show how terribly sorry he was for his actions.

Thomas and the Guard / Thomas and the Conductor

Thomas, Terence, and the Snow / Terrence the Tractor

  • Thomas gets himself stuck on the snow and then realizes how silly that he was for breaking his snowplough just right before he begins to cry.
    Thomas: Oh my wheels and coupling rods! I shall have to stay here until I'm frozen! What a silly engine I am!

Coal / Henry's Special Coal

  • After constant failings, the Fat Controller sadly informs Henry that he'll have to replace him if his health doesn't improve. Henry, and his driver and Fireman seem pretty choked up by that, and even the Fat Controller seems to take every action to avoid it happening. Thankfully his Welsh Coal is brought into the situation.
  • Despite it's memetic status, Henry's quote at the start of the episode "I suffer dreadfully and no one cares" can inspire some sympathy if one realizes that Henry's failing condition is harshly dismissed by the other engines who think he's not working hard enough.
  • Henry's team and the Fat Controller make a test run to see what is wrong with Henry. As the narrator describes in a very lamenting tone, Henry tried very hard to push forward but couldn't get enough steam, and his sad theme blares as he is miserably moves into a siding, lamenting he will surely be sent away now.

The Flying Kipper

  • Henry's distraught expression just after his nasty crash, thinking that this was going to be the end for him and that he would be scrapped. Thankfully, he is sent to Crewe, and redesigned with a new look that allows him to now perform efficiently without needing special coal.

Toby and the Stout Gentleman / Toby the Tram Engine

  • In "Toby and the Stout Gentleman/Toby the Tram Engine", the passengers wish Toby one last goodbye after his controller decided to close the line, leaving Toby in the shed lonely and unwanted. That is until his driver wakes him up for good news: an important letter of a certain stout gentleman.

Thomas in Trouble / Thomas Breaks the Rules

  • Thomas has to deal with a new yet cranky policeman after the old one retires. The policeman seems to find fault in everything Thomas does, refusing to be convinced otherwise, and brands him a safety hazard and a "regular law breaker". Fortunately, things turn up after Toby is installed on the railway, with Toby getting sweet revenge for Thomas by startling the policeman with his bell.

    Season 2

Thomas and Trevor / A New Friend for Thomas

  • Trevor sheds a Single Tear due to the fact the day's work at the harbor was over. Fortunately, Thomas cheers him up by telling him that they'll work at the harbor again soon.

Dirty Work / Diesel's Devious Deed

  • The ending; the Fat Controller sends Duck to Edward's station after Gordon, Henry, and James made accusations of Duck telling the trucks false stories and names. Duck lets out a tear on his eye, knowing that his friends and (seemingly) even The Fat Controller have turned against him just as Diesel, who had made those names in the first place, watches him with a sinister grin on his face.

    Season 3

Henry's Forest

  • Henry feeling downcast when a storm decimates the forest. Toby feels very bad for him, explaining to Sir Topham Hatt that the forest was a special place for Henry.

All at Sea

  • The ending theme that plays as the narrator said "Duck still wonders about the lands beyond the horizon, but he enjoys being with friends most of all and I think he knows that sometimes the best travels are those we can only dream about. Don't you?"

    Season 4


  • The latter half when Duke is left behind and Falcon and Stuart head off to their new home. The whole situation was akin to someone being separated from their own children, for whatever reason.

    Season 5

Make Someone Happy

  • Mrs. Kyndley tearing up when her sister wasn't able to visit her.

Rusty and the Boulder

  • Sir Topham Hatt personally inspecting the damage done by Boulder to the rail yards after it was inadvertently set loose by the mining conducted on the cliff upon which it stood. Seeing the severity of the damage, he sadly laments that they should have never disrupted its home, and orders the mine shut down. The somber music certainly is fitting, reminding of the far worse disaster it easily could have been.
    • Perhaps the one to feel most sorry for is Boulder itself, as it is moved to a new home and Rusty remains true to his conviction that it has a certain mind of its own, remarking that it seems as though "its sighs are carried on by the wind, to where it once used to stand proud and silent". It is quite impressive how much it makes you feel sympathy for an inanimate object of all things that has lost its home.

    Season 6 

Salty's Secret

  • Salty's pining for the sea.

Jack Jumps In

  • Jack feeling sad about making mistakes due to his over eagerness to help out. He feels a little better after Isabella and Thomas talk to him, but it's still easy to feel sad about his plight.

Rusty Saves the Day

  • Sir Topham Hatt closes down Skarloey and Rheneas' branch line because it is in a bad condition, working on it takes up too much of Rusty's time, and Sir Topham Hatt feels Rusty is needed more at the quarry. Rusty, Skarloey, and Rheneas are all devastated to find out about this, and although Rheneas and Skarloey work their hardest at the quarry, they miss the hills, forests, and their passengers.

    Season 7 
Emily's New Coaches
  • Emily being shunned by the other engines (even nicer ones like Edward and Percy) for an honest mistake (taking Annie and Clarabel) on her first day.

Edward's Brass Band

  • Edward feeling miserable after his accident and missing the chance that he had to take the Brass Band to the concert. Fortunately, it turns out that Bertie needs his help after all, since the road conditions after the storm are bad.

What's The Matter With Henry?

  • Henry being teased mercilessly by Thomas and Percy when the two small engines think he's blowing his illness out of proportion again. They go so far as to leave him a long line of heavy trucks to pull — which he does with a valiant effort, but doing so causes him to break down.
  • When Thomas and Percy find out Henry really is sick, they are deeply sorry and miserable. Keeping in mind that Thomas has dismissed Henry's symptoms several times beforehand, and in this case even caused him to break down when picking on him over it. It's no wonder in most later episodes Thomas takes Henry's ill moments dead seriously.

The Spotless Record

Toby's Windmill

  • Toby's horror at having accidentally busted the trucks carrying the load of flour from the windmill on his branch line. That, coupled with damage from the storm during the night, nearly causes the windmill's owner to go out of business.

Salty's Stormy Tale

  • Salty being deeply hurt by Thomas and Percy's mimicking his voice.

Snow Engine

Fergus Breaks the Rules

  • Diesel tricking Fergus into thinking that the traction engine has been doing a horrible job at the cement works and that Diesel is going to replace him.


    Season 9
Even your best friend doesn't want anything to do with your bragging anymore.

Thomas and the Rainbow

  • Thomas, after obsessing over finding the end of a rainbow and thus neglecting his friends, becomes derailed. Seeing Percy on another line, he shouts and whistles for help, but Percy puffs on, seemingly taking no notice and leaving Thomas behind. Thomas sadly remembers that, because he was rushing to find the rainbow's end, he brushed Percy aside when he wanted to talk earlier. Because of his silly obsession, Thomas has lost his best pal and is stranded without hope.
    • But this is not the case. The rest of the episode turns into one long heartwarming moment, as we learn that Percy, in fact, did hear Thomas' whistle, and was puffing on because he was in a hurry to get help! The message is passed from Percy to Harvey via a large number of other characters, all of whom are anxious to help their friend. Even more heartwarming because the helping characters include several others whom Thomas had spurned earlier.

Thomas and the Birthday Picnic

  • Thomas becomes sad after failing to find a perfect place for Dowager Hatt's birthday picnic. It's even sadder when he realizes that he ran out of ideas, thus upsetting the Hatt Family, complete with letting off a low, sad whistle.

Thomas and the Statue

  • After spending most of the episode thinking the new statue is of himself and then bragging to everyone about it, Thomas's friends become irritated and alienate him (especially Percy as the picture shows). This results in a scene where Thomas sadly clears the snow with the snowplough after realizing that he let his own ego get the best of him.
    Percy: Please stop talking about the statue! Nobody wants to hear about it anymore! Nobody wants to talk to you anymore! And neither do I!

Saving Edward

  • As Edward suffers an increasing ill bout, he starts to believe he has finally worn down and is set to be scrapped. Keeping in mind that Edward's age has been brought up consistently throughout the show since the beginning.
    Edward: I'm not really useful anymore...

    Season 10 
Toby's New Shed
  • Thomas eagerly attempts to do a charitable deed for Toby by helping make a new roof for his shed, only to be confused when Toby doesn't seem too keen on the idea. When the job is done and Toby is downbeat, he doesn't understand and asks what's wrong. Toby somberly explains he liked having his old leaky roof, as birds were able to come in and take shelter, his home was their's, and a guilt-ridden Thomas watches as Toby rolls sadly into his new shed alone. Luckily Thomas fixes this by arranging a bird house to made right next to his shed.

    Season 18

Duck and the Slip Coaches

  • Duck is left alone in the sheds, feeling very sad because James had stolen his idea of bringing in the slip coaches for the passengers.
    Duck: But I told James about the slip coaches. It was... my idea.
  • Emily puffing back to Tidmouth Sheds only to find it full because Duck was sleeping there for the time being, which happens again when she comes back the next day. The second time around, there's one empty berth left for her to occupy... only for Henry to take it up, leaving her outside once again. The worst part is that no one pays her any mind at all the entire time. It seems that scene was a Take That! towards the fandom for complaining that "Emily replaced Duck!" one too many times.

No Steam Without Coal

  • Timothy is left upset over Bill and Ben's remarks about him being no fun and is the odd one out. This proves that the twins' teasing was taken too far.

    Season 19 
Best Engine Ever
  • Emily falls into a depression because she feels Caitlin is better than her at everything, and no matter how much other engines try to raise her spirits it just doesn't work. Even James tries to help her, but it's all for naught.

Goodbye Fat Controller / Goodbye Sir Topham Hatt

  • Thomas and his friends start believing that the Fat Controller will be leaving Sodor forever because of the steam engines' constant screw-ups, so they try to make everything perfect so he will never leave, but they only end up causing confusion and delay. They finally resort to going on strike, refusing to come out of Tidmouth Sheds until they are sure the Fat Controller won't be leaving. Turns out the Fat Controller was only leaving his office, as it had to be refurbished.

    Season 20 
The Missing Breakdown Train
  • The original Breakdown Train, Judy & Jerome, fell left out after the Search and Rescue Centre was built, and they have been on their siding for several years.

Christmas Coffeepot

  • Judy and Jerome's neglect is a short break compared to poor Glynn. After Thomas took over his branch line, Glynn was shunted from siding to siding until he was eventually forgotten about, with the trees growing around him and leaving him hidden. Even Thomas feels the need to apologise for just forgetting about him, though Glynn is resigned to the fact that he isn't useful, and he knows what happens to engines that aren't useful anymore. Thankfully this isn't the case, and Glynn is given new importance working at Ulfstead Castle.

    Season 21

Springtime for Diesel

  • "Springtime for Diesel" has a surprisingly poignant one. After seeing Daisy was sent to the Dieselworks after he bumped her and hearing she might not be able to be fixed, Diesel lashes out at the others all day. However, at night, he comes into the Dieselworks to a seemingly asleep Daisy and, after a bit of stuttering, finally manages to speak his mind.
    Diesel: I'm sorry for shunting into you the way I did, Daisy. I really didn't mean to cause you any trouble...but so what if I did give you a little bump? Other engines aren't nice to me, so why I should be nice to other engines? And they blame me for everything! But... I hope you can be fixed. I wish I could do something to make everything alright again. I like you...although after this...I don't suppose you'll ever want to be my friend.
    • The next day, Daisy is fixed thanks to new springs being delivered to the Dieselworks. But although Daisy is happy to be back, she treats Diesel coldly as she leaves, leaving him rather upset. Thankfully, things get better after that.

A Shed for Edward

  • On a meta level, Edward moving out of Tidmouth Sheds and to a new one at Wellsworth, so he can keep Philip company. To fans of Edward, this effectively seals his fate as Demoted to Extra for the foreseeable future with newcomers Nia and Rebecca replacing both him and Henry in the core cast.

    Season 22 
Forever and Ever
  • Gordon's feelings about the changes of the railway, especially with Edward and Henry moving to new homes and being replaced by Nia and Rebecca surely counts. Also a meta-example as his complaints reflect on how long-time Thomas fans feel about the changes.
    • Gordon's reaction when Henry informs him that he will permanently stay at Vicarstown, so that he can live closer to the Mainland. As if Edward leaving was bad enough, now another of Gordon's long time friends is also moving away to a new life, causing the permanent split-up of the once famous "Three Railway Engines".
    Gordon: When did this happen?! Nobody told me! Y-You can't move Henry as well, sir! Why don't you just... just go ahead and change everything?!!!

    Season 23 
Wish you were Here
  • Thomas spends a lot of time thinking about his best friend Percy and wishing he was here with him which left him depressed for a variety of the episode.

Laid Back Shane

  • Poor Aubrey's disappointment when she thinks Thomas is taking them and gets excited and only to realise they are going with Shane.

    Season 24 
Sonny's Second Chance
  • Sir Topham Hatt gives Sonny a trial, telling him that he can only stay on Sodor if he proves he can be useful and trustworthy. Unfortunately, the bigger engines still don't trust Sonny because he used to work for Baz and Bernie. At one point, Sonny saves James by pushing him out of the way when some watermelons fall out of a crate Cranky was carrying. However, instead of thanking him, James thinks that Sonny pushed him because he's still an untrustworthy engine, and neither he nor Cranky witnessed the rescue. Salty did witness the rescue, and he tries to tell Sonny, but by this point, an upset Sonny has left Brendam Docks. Fortunately, James admits to Sonny that he was wrong about him when Percy tells him about Sonny's rescue at the end of the episode.
  • When Sonny arrives at Ffarquhar station, he overhears Diesel telling Percy that he tricked him into being his friend so he can do the jobs he doesn't want to do. Diesel even calls Sonny silly, which hurts Sonny's feelings.
    Sonny: I thought you were my friend.
    Diesel: Sonny! (chuckles nervously) You are my friend. You see...
    Sonny: I should have listened to Thomas!
    Diesel: Sonny, wait!
  • After Sonny saves Diesel from falling into a trench, Sir Topham Hatt arrives at the scene of the accident and demands to know why Diesel's fish trucks have derailed. Sonny tells him that the accident was his fault, since he wasn't thinking about them, and Sir Topham Hatt is about to send him away in disgrace. Fortunately, things get better for Sonny when Diesel admits to Sir Topham Hatt that the accident was his fault, not Sonny's, and that Sonny saved him from falling into the trench.

Cleo's first Snow

  • Cleo's heartbreak after learning the snow has melted once she starts enjoying it.

    Feature-Length Specials 

  • "The Island Song" could make some nostalgic and long-time fans tear up.
  • The song "That's What Friends are For", one of the most emotional pieces of music made for the series. But particularly sad is the final line in the original.
    One day we may be apart.
    And the distance may sadden our hearts.
    Wherever we stray, remember this day...
    Friends together. Forever. We stay.
  • On January 2nd, 2017, Ben Forster, who played Mr. Perkins, died of cancer.
    • On January 27, 2017, John Hurt, who portrayed Sailor John in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, died of cancer.
  • George Carlin, the second narrator in the US, died of heart failure on June 22, 2008.
    • In the same year, on May 16th, David Mitton, the original director of Thomas The Tank Engine also died of heart failure.
  • On June 27th, 2018, Polly Churchill, writer of the Season 7 episodes "Salty's Stormy Tale" and "Best Dressed Engine", died from cancer.
  • On August 16, 2019, Peter Fonda, who played Burnett Stone in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, died of respiratory failure caused by lung cancer.
  • On May 30, 2020, Michael Angelis, who provided the UK narration from Seasons 3-16, died of a heart attack. That death is a guaranteed tear-jerker, especially for long-time fans of the series who grew up listening to his narrations, seeing the great devotion Angelis gave to the series for the 21 years he was involved in it.
  • The verdict of this review of "Wonky Whistle":
    Why, why was this episode known to existence? Why did it get a DVD release on 'Up Up and Away'? Why on this earth did this get approved? Seriously what has this writer done to the great blue engine that we known and loved since the beginning as an air headed dimwit that children are to be looking up too? So many unanswered questions. There are so many flaws in this episode, why did Thomas just puff away with workmen on his boiler? They can seriously get hurt or worse! And puffing away with one vent with animals with the lock unlocked, the animals can get seriously hurt. If Thomas is to teach kids, then what is the moral of this episode? This episode could be more realistic, if its like 'Near Miss' from the 1991 annual, 'Old Iron' and 'The Runaway' put together and instead of a 'wonky' whistle, Thomas' whistle is not their and you have an episode called 'Whistling Runaways', which I wrote on my DA page late last year. All I know is that, this is a rarity for me as this episode is my most hated, I didn't even bother watching the episode. It should be deleted from the entire Thomas series and its history as this is the worst Thomas episode ever made. I honestly feel bad for Greg Tiernan for his wonderful animation being wasted away due to this episode's writing.
  • The show is leaving PBS for good in 2018. If you count Shining Time Station's run on the channel, Thomas the Tank Engine has been airing on PBS since 1989. It's just heartbreaking to see a long-running staple of PBS disappear.


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