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Western Animation / Hero of the Rails

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Hero of the Rails is the 2009 Thomas & Friends special.

Thomas discovers an old engine, Hiro, who's the oldest engine on Sodor.

Hero of the Rails contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Villainy: In the original show, Spencer was a pompous Jerkass like Gordon. Spencer's role here is more malicious and petty than his previous appearances, being closer to a Big Bad for Thomas and his friends.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal:
    • "All over Sodor, Thomas's friends were buffeted and blasted on their tracks!"
    • "Rail raider!"
    • "Cinders and ashes! I've broken my brakes!"
  • Adult Fear:
    • Being left and forgotten. Hiro originally came to Sodor from Japan, and worked there until he broke down. He was put on a siding until he could receive the parts needed to repair him... but they never came, dooming him to years of isolation without contact from his old friends, or knowing how they are doing now.
    • After Spencer gets wind of Hiro's existence, Hiro is understandably terrified for his life. Thomas and his friends all worry that Hiro will be scrapped if he's found out, so they all dedicate their efforts into hiding and protecting him, while getting him whatever parts they could find so Hiro could appear "useful".
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    • The chase between Thomas, Hiro, and Spencer is this. Hiro is desperately trying to escape someone who essentially wants to have him killed, but greatly injures himself from the strain of running. Thomas could only watch helplessly as his new friend's body literally falls apart before his eyes. Fortunately, just as things seem bleak for them, Gordon shows up and challenges Spencer to a race.
  • Art Evolution: The first Thomas & Friends production in full CGI animation.
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • Mavis suddenly appears just as Spencer finds Thomas and Percy at the quarry, and she gives him a "tour" which results in Spencer getting slate dust and rocks in his funnel.
    • Gordon has one - after Hiro literally comes apart at the rails trying to escape Spencer, and is dangerously close to being scrapped, Gordon suddenly wheeshes by and challenges Spencer to a race, knowing the latter couldn't resist. It works; Thomas and Hiro are saved, and Spencer gets in trouble with the Duke and Duchess for slacking off.
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  • Body Horror: A very tense chase scene in the climax has Hiro literally come apart and scream in agony from the stress of trying to flee Spencer, all while Thomas watches helplessly. The human equivalent would be bleeding to death.
  • But Now I Must Go: Hiro promises everyone is really useful before he puffs away to his ship, intending to go back to Japan.
  • The Chase: Spencer tries chasing after Thomas in the climax to prevent him from informing Sir Topham Hatt, fully intending to have Hiro scrapped. It results in Spencer falling into the muddy marshlands after some old tracks buckle and snap under his heavy weight.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Percy's missing mail trucks, which Thomas and Percy spend much of the film looking for. When Spencer finds it later, it's at the worst possible moment, and is wrongly assumed by Sir Topham Hatt to have stolen the mail trucks from Percy.
  • Creative Closing Credits: The end credits play over a montage of scenes from the movie, set to the song "Go, Go, Thomas".
  • "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: The engines try desperately to fix Hiro without the Fat Controller discovering, worrying he might scrap him if he finds him so derelict. Quite predictably, when the Fat Controller does finally realise, this is not the case, and he has Hiro properly repaired.
  • Death Glare: Thomas shoots one at Spencer as he is cornering him on the tracks.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: For Hiro, he was abandoned on Sodor when the parts needed to repair him didn't come, and was forgotten for years. Through the efforts of Thomas and his friends, and the kindly intervention of Sir Topham Hatt, Hiro was fully repaired, restored to his rightful title as "Master of the Railway", and now able to go back to Japan.
  • Evil Is Petty: Spencer, who wants to have Hiro scrapped beecause he is far too old to be a useful steam engine.
  • Humiliation Conga: Spencer goes through one at the hands (wheels?) of the other steam engines.
    • First, he gets told off by Emily after he questions her about Thomas too aggressively.
    • When he finds Thomas and Percy at the quarry, Mavis arrives to come and give Spencer a "tour". He ends up with his funnel full of slate and dust.
    • He is taken to the Sodor Steamworks by Henry and Edward, who know that he has to suffer through the noises of Kevin's clumsiness. Victor also knows, and gives Kevin some leeway so Spencer would divert all his attention to shutting out everything while his funnel's repaired.
    • Later, in trying to find clues for Thomas's activities, he wanders too closely to Hiro's hideout, prompting James and Toby to chase him away. Then Thomas joins in to trap Spencer at a junction and bring him in to Sir Topham Hatt. Because Spencer was also caught with Percy's missing mail trucks, Sir Topham Hatt assumes he stole them, and refuses to listen to whatever he had to say.
    • After finally catching Hiro and Thomas, Spencer thinks he'll have Hiro scrapped for sure... when Gordon comes thundering by, challenging Spencer to a race. Spencer is not only left exhausted, but it turns out that the Duke, Duchess, and Sir Topham Hatt were riding Gordon, and they proceed to scold Spencer for not finishing the summer house. Thomas volunteering to help build it further shatters Spencer's pride.
    • Finally, in a fit of spiteful pettiness, Spencer chases after Thomas to stop him from telling Sir Topham Hatt about Hiro so Hiro could get scrapped. He follows Thomas over an old set of tracks in the marshlands, which break under his heavy weight, sending him into the muddy water. The Duke and Duchess, now fed up with his actions, punish him by leaving him there until Hiro is fixed.
  • Jaw Drop: Thomas when he notices Hiro for the first time.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Invoked; everyone tries to keep Sir Topham Hatt from learning that Hiro's hiding on Sodor, because they fear he'll be scrapped the moment he gets out. Once Thomas decides to take the ultimate risk and come clean, however, Sir Topham Hatt is elated and promises to have Hiro repaired.
  • Mood Whiplash: When Thomas reaches the top of Gordon's Hill, he feels triumphant... then his brakes fail, shocking him.
  • Mythology Gag: Spencer chasing Thomas and then suffering a bridge-related accident references the climatic battle with Diesel 10 in Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
  • Oh, Crap!: How each member of the Steam Team reacts upon seeing Spencer pass by.
    • Thomas has one after his breaks fail.
    • Hiro is understandably terrified when he hears Spencer whistling close by. Fortunately, James and Toby were there to chase Spencer away.
  • Punny Name: Hiro. Coincidentally, the movie's title is called "Hero of the Rails".
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Sir Topham Hatt. Upon hearing that the "Master of the Railway" is somehow still staying on Sodor after so many years, he immediately decides to help repair him at once.
  • Rhymes on a Dime:
    • "Suddenly, there was a whoosh and a wheesh and a clackety clack as a streak of silver roared by on the track!"
    • "I can do it! I'll puff for longer! I'll show Spencer I really am stronger!"
    • "I'll show Thomas who's strong and who's weak! He'll puff home with a squeak and a creak!"
    • "With a scrunch and a crunch..."
  • Rummage Sale Reject: Hiro is the steam engine equivalent. Because Thomas and his friends only grabbed whatever they could find for Hiro without rousing suspicion from Sir Topham Hatt or Spencer, Hiro ends up looking like a mismatch of parts. Literally deconstructed as, since Hiro was haphazardly repaired, his body could not take the strain of fleeing Spencer and ends up breaking down rather quickly.
  • Say My Name: The Steam Team say Spencer's name after he arrives at Knapford.
  • Shifted to CGI: As of this special, all productions are in CGI.
  • True Companions: The Steam Team all rally behind Thomas and Percy in their efforts to help repair the broken-down Hiro and keep him company, and protect him from Spencer.
  • Wham Episode: Hiro is discovered and restored.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Sir Topham Hatt calls out Thomas for not finding Percy's mail trucks and slacking off his duties, unaware that Thomas was focused on helping Hiro.
  • When He Smiles: Hiro tells Thomas and Percy that when Gordon smiles, it "changes his whole face".

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