Chuggington started airing in Great Britain in 2008, and debuted on the Disney Channel in the United States in 2010. It features three young, talking trains referred to as "trainees", and several supporting characters in the form of either people who work at the station or other anthropomorphic trains. Most episodes revolve around these three learning a new kind of job, including pulling passenger cars or delivering cargo... also, serving ice cream and learning to be superheroes.
Two of the founders of the company that produces this show were previously executives for the company that produces Thomas the Tank Engine. Not that there's any similarity between this show and that one.
The main characters are as follows:
- Wilson, a red train who likes to have fun, often at the expense of listening to important directions. He has also been shown to be impatient and impulsive. Presumably used as a way of demonstrating to kids the benefit of taking your time with important jobs and listening carefully.
- Brewster, a blue train that is supposed to be the strongest of the three, but also has a tendency to be overly cautious. He's not used to demonstrate subtle moral lessons so much as the two others, but is the butt of their jokes more often.
- Koko, a green train who is the fastest of the group, and is quite competitive as well. She tends to work faster than the others, then teases them about being slow. This often results in things not going well, or taking longer than normal. The resulting Aesop is similar to what is taught via Wilson.
Chuggington provides examples of:
- Abridged Series: Chuggington: Little Trainees, four-minute re-edited episodes with a narrator a la Thomas, produced following the fifth season completed production.
- Accidental Misnaming: Being old and forgetful, Puffer Pete regularly forgets everyone's names.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version had an exclusive ending theme that included a dance number, called "Janken Train" (Rock-Paper-Scissors Train).
- Catch-Phrase: There are several. Like with Thomas the Tank Engine, many of them are railway-themed puns:
- "Let's ride the rails!"
- "Chugga-chugga choo-choo!"
- "Go Koko! Go Koko!"
- She also lets out a squeaky "Ooooooh!" when she is excited.
- Action Chugger: "I'm number one! I'm helpful, I'm strong, I get the job done!"
- Emery: "This chugger is ready to depart." (See also Verbal Tic below.)
- Chaos Architecture: Mainly between Seasons 3 and 4. Notably the Repair Shed being moved to make space for the Chug Patrol HQ and many human-catering features being removed and replaced with cargo drop-offs.
- Crying Wolf: Zephie, a small anthropomorphic trolley, is outfitted with a siren to be used in case of emergency in one episode. She almost immediately starts coming up with excuses to use it.
- The Kiddie Ride: A carousel made by Kiddie Rides Australia
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Despite the fact that this show is relatively new, there's already a substantial cast of supporting characters. There are at least a dozen other trains besides the three trainees, about half a dozen recurring human characters, and a few other humans who were only featured in one episode.
- Lost Voice Plot: In one episode, Old Puffer Pete loses his voice and the others try to get it back and find out why he lost it. It turns out his mouth needed oiling.
- Single Power Superhero: Action Chugger, a train that can fly, and... that's all.
- Sleep Aesop: In "Wake Up, Wilson", Wilson stays up late playing with Koko and so messes up his job due to sleep deprivation. In the end, he learns the importance of sleep.
- Steam Never Dies: Steam locomotives will go on and on and on. Forever. Though one of the newest episodes introduces one that runs on vegetable oil, and the characters comment on the eco-friendliness of this.
- Theme Tune Cameo: When Vee sounds an announcement, the three-note tune is the same sound as the "Chuggington" heard in the theme tune. Brewster can be heard briefly humming the theme tune during one of his Badge Quests.
- Verbal Tic: Being a public transit chugger, Emery has a habit of saying certain phrases as transit announcements.
- The Voice: Vee, the depot announcer and dispatcher. She is only ever "seen" via her omnipresent public address system, which is capable of showing body language (well, as much as a faceless speaker post fastened to the ground can anyway). This coupled with contradictory clues from various episodes make it unclear if she is a human or an intelligent machine like the chuggers.