Follow TV Tropes

Following

YMMV / Thomas the Tank Engine

Go To

    open/close all folders 

    Tropes A-M 
  • Accidental Aesop: In the episode "Thomas Comes to Breakfast", Thomas's driver tells him that he's doing so well that soon he won't even need a driver anymore! Unaware that his driver was joking, Thomas recklessly takes this to heart and goes out on what he thinks is his own the next day (as a result of a careless cleaner who accidentally meddled with his controls)... an adventure that is soon over when he crashes through the wall of a house, because without a driver, he can't stop. So basically, don't ever take responsibility for your actions or do things without an adult's help, even if they encouraged you to do it, because you'll cause destruction and possibly death.
  • Accidental Innuendo:
    • Emily is very proud of her Big Wheels.
    • The trucks in "Pop Goes the Diesel" moan when Diesel tries to jerk them out of a siding. As well as Duck having a suggestive grin as he "watched with interest."
    • The opening narration of "Double Teething Troubles", particularly with the way it is delivered: "Bill and Ben work in the clay mines and quarries near Brendam Docks. Their work is important, but it can be hot and dirty. Sometimes, this makes the twins naughty." There is a distinct emphasis put on that last word, combined with the description of their work...
    • And the line "Bill banged his trucks hard".
    • "Engines with proper funnels do! You've only got a small one!"
    • From The Movie, Peter Fonda has a little trouble making his lady steam.
    • "Henry smiles all the while he has his Special Coal. Henry's Special Coal makes him very happy."
    • "Ooooh I'm stiff! I'm stiff!, he (Henry) groaned".
    • The entirety of "Mike's Whistle", both versions, can be read as a long, subtle, drawn-out immature joke. Not the least bit helped by the opening scene in the adaptation, in which Duck's faulty whistle produces what amounts to farting noises.
    • "Something sticky splashed all over James."
  • Adaptation Displacement:
    • Especially in the United States, where Awdry's books are scarce to the point of being unknown.
    • So much that bookstores would sometimes carry versions from the British printings in the early 90s.
  • All Animation Is Disney: In Japan, some people don't recognize that the show (the classic series at least) is foreign. Though, given some of the shows that are actually from Japan, it's not hard to see why.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation:
    • In "Break Van," Donald seems to be smiling as he back up onto the siding next to the signalbox he destroys. This has led some to believe he crashed on purpose as part of a gambit to save Douglas' life from scrap.
    • In "Dirty Work", did the Fat Controller actually buy Diesel's lies hook, line, and sinker and then later discovered the truth? Or did he know Diesel was lying from the start and sent Duck away to lull Diesel into a false sense of security to then be Hoist by His Own Petard? Also, did he do so rather than call bullshit on Diesel to avoid having the big engines go on strike again for taking Duck's side? The second option is implied by what the Fat Controller says in "A Close Shave".
    • It's become popular to assume that the Fat Controller is an Abusive Parent to the engines, judging by how their responses (whenever they have an accident) is shame and fear, often needing him to reassure them when it wasn't their fault. Granted, this is the side-effect of him being a stern parent, though whether or not it counts as abuse is in the eye of the beholder.
    • Following the departure of Edward and Henry from the main cast, some fans believe Edward’s out-of-character decision to leave his friends behind and spend the rest of his life living at Wellsworth with Philip, may have influenced Henry to request his transfer to Vicarstown, due to him leaving without any reason for doing so. Henry moves to Vicarstown to live with Rosie, despite never interacting with her previously. Fans interpret the situation as Edward being a bad influence by making the others believe that it’s okay to ditch your friends to be with someone you only just met, or even implying that Edward and Henry hated living at Tidmouth Sheds to begin with, and only left because they got the chance to. There’s also the possibility that Henry was informed about Rebecca and that he had to give up his place for her, as Sir Topham Hatt wanted her to live with Gordon. Another headcanon has been that Henry moved due to him having a new job of more frequently taking trains to the Mainland, requiring him to live closer to the Mainland, and that he eventually plans to leave Sodor and move to another railway, much like Hiro (who was shown to be friends with him) did.
    • New main cast member Rebecca has been said to have come from another railway, according to her official bio, but due to the “N.W.R.” logo already being painted on her tender, this has led fans to believe her previous home was the Southern Railway (the railway her basis worked on) and that she originally wore the SR’s green livery with yellow stripes, and that when she was purchased by Sir Topham Hatt, he likely may have asked her to be repainted in a livery that made her able to stand out, and that Rebecca likely chose her current yellow livery due to its brightness.
    • Due to no proper In-Universe explanation, some fans try to come up with their own theories on Rosie's repaint. Some feel it may be to do with her new job being based at Vicarstown, choosing the new colour due to feeling that her old livery is an embarrassment, or that she simply wanted to look different.
    • Even Henry's rebuild during the events of "The Flying Kipper" may be subject to this as well, with some wondering how the process of said rebuild went. One common fan interpretation is that Henry's smokebox was likely the same size as a LMS "Black Five" Class 5MT's smokebox, and that his existing smokebox was modified to fit onto his new body, and may explain why his memories and personality stayed the same. Some even believe that Henry chose the Black Five as his new shape because he simply liked the design.
    • Is Diesel 10 really evil? Or he is actually a Well-Intentioned Extremist who just wants the diesels to be loved like the steam engines are?
    • In "Thomas Comes to Breakfast", the narration clearly stated that Thomas was only moving because the cleaner accidentally fiddled with his controls, and while some fans accept this, other fans tend to believe that Thomas brought the accident upon himself in the first place since he thought he could go without his driver.
  • Animation Age Ghetto: The entire show could arguably fall under this. The show is commonly viewed as a preschool show in the popular consensus, when in reality, at least at first, it was presented more as an all-ages affair, being aired in the same blocks as shows like DuckTales (1987) and Thunderbirds, shows still meant for younger audiences, but not necessarily preschoolers.
  • Archive Panic: It has over 570 episodes as of 2020, plus a theatrical film and numerous feature-length specials.
  • Audience-Alienating Premise: The "Big World! Big Adventures!" Series aka Season 22 onwards has seen a more drastic shift in writing style and tone than any previous season. For starters, Edward and Henry are replaced in the main cast by Nia and Rebecca, the narrator being ditched for Thomas talking directly to the audience, episodes taking place in countries outside of Sodor, the story being shortened in order to keep children with a low attention span interested, wild animals becoming more prominent, unrealistic fantasy sequences, the United Nations being involved in the writing and production to increase "diversity". While some fans enjoy it, others massively loathe it, viewing it as either a regression to the Sharon Miller era, a kneejerk reaction to PAW Patrol eating into Thomas' market share, or both. The change in format was so drastic that even young children from the target audience were allegedly turned off.
  • Author's Saving Throw:
    • Andrew Brenner, a former writer of Thomas magazine stories back during seasons 1 and 2 (as well as for some adapted stories for Season 3 and 5), took over as head writer of the series starting with King of the Railway and season 17. Since he's arrived, alliteration has all but disappeared from the series, and every character introduced from seasons 1 to 3 (aside from BoCo) has returned after being absent, (Duck, Bill and Ben, Oliver, Toad, Donald and Douglas, Daisy, Trevor, Terence, and even Bulgy), as well as other characters who disappeared like Harvey. He even went as far as to finally bring the Small Railway engines into the TV series, who had only appeared in the Railway Series until that point, as well as bring the coffee-pot engines that had previously only been mentioned in a book titled "The Island of Sodor: Its People, History, and Railways" (an extremely rare book that has been out of print since 1992 and is extremely coveted, with the lowest price one can get for it being $500 on Amazon) into the television series canon in the form of Glynn. Many fans now believe that the Culdee Fell engines are next, as is Ensemble Dark Horse Bear.
    • It also helps that he also brought along old writers like Paul Larson, who wrote The Thomas Way and Henry's Hero, and experienced writers in children's television like Davey Moore, who wrote Percy's Lucky Day, one of the most well-received episodes of Season 17.
    • From Season 18, "Duck and the Slip Coaches". Almost universally well-received by the fanbase due to the involvement of an obscure railway operational practice (absent from the British rail network since 1936) as a major plot point, except for the infamous shed scene.
    • Two of the first Season 20 episodes, Toby's New Friend and Henry Gets the Express can easily be seen as this. After episodes portraying them as nervous, scared, or (in Toby's case) a Shrinking Violet, Toby is shown being placid and easy-going, while Henry is shown being confident and clever.
    • The Adventure Begins makes one of the biggest saving throws in two decades by (re-)adapting the first two Railway Series books, with the last adaptation being the Season Four finale. Season 20 continues this by adapting three of the four stories from "Small Railway Engines" into episodes at last (though with some alterations, namely shoehorning Thomas into the stories in response to complaints from parents and children during Season 19 that secondary characters such as Duck and Oliver had become a Spotlight-Stealing Squad precluding Thomas from having a major role, complaints that flew straight in the face of what older fans wanted, that being less Thomas).
    • Reverend Awdry was known to have complained about the Series 3 story "Henry's Forest" for not following railway protocol, such as trees being too close to the tracks. Series 5's "James & the Trouble with Trees" later included a plot point that some trees near the railway were being removed due to safety concerns.
    • Many complained about the lack of variety in the countries Season 22 portrayed, with Thomas not even visiting the European Continent despite previous content where he did. However, Italy was confirmed to be appearing in Season 23.
    • One major criticism of season 22 is that too many episodes focused on animals, especially considering that this is a show about trains. Season 23 rectifies this by not having any animal episodes at all, with animals only playing a small role in the episode "Crowning Around". However, Season 24 will feature a few animal-focused episodes, such as "Thomas' Fuzzy Friend", where Thomas befriends a dog named Fuzzy, and "Nia and the Unfriendly Elephant", where Nia has to put up with a temperamental elephant.
    • While Season 24 keeps the New World New Adventures format, the new formula changes have loosened their grip. Imagine Spots no longer appear every episode and are saved for more appropriate stories or punchlines to gags, while less episodes take place worldwide, meaning a larger use of traditional episodes focused on Sodor and allowing for more character reappearances.
    • After Season 7, Seasons 8-16 started referring to Christmas as the "winter holidays" despite showing Christmas trees, decorations, and people dressed up as Santa Claus and elves and episodes taking place on Christmas. After receiving controversy from fans and Hilary Fortnam wrote to HIT Entertainment expressing disappointment, Seasons 17 onward reinstated Christmas back into the episodes.
  • Asshole Victim: Due to a change of plot points, Bulstrode becomes this in Special Attraction. In the original source material, the quay is sloping, and the trucks run away and fly off the edge onto Bulstrode due to a coupling snapping. In the adaptation, Percy pushes the trucks through some buffers and onto Bulstrode. The difference here is that, in the book, Bulstrode brought it on himself by being moored in a dangerous position and refusing to listen to reason. Because of this omission, Percy essentially ruined someone's life.
  • Big-Lipped Alligator Moment:
    • The episode "Rusty and the Boulder" has a few. Gordon's stern face suddenly appears, then disappears, on the boulder, and then is visible on it at the end. There's also a scene of the shed somehow spontaneously catching fire.
    • Also, in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, a talking tumbleweed appears a couple times. It's there for no reason and the characters never refer to it.
  • Bizarro Episode: Again, "Rusty and the Boulder", an unexpectedly dark episode where a new quarry is threatened by a boulder sitting on a cliff high above it, a boulder that's heavily implied to be sentient and seems to be trying to drive the engines out of its territory. It's a really creepy episode.
  • Broken Base: Now has its own page.
  • Cant Unhear It: Here's a fun challenge: watch episodes narrated by Ringo Starr for the first few years of your life, then when you're older, watch footage of him talking about literally anything else and don't immediately assume he's narrating a Thomas episode. You can't. In fact, if you want to feel particularly uncomfortable, listen his performance in the London Symphony Orchestra version of Tommy where he plays as Uncle Ernie, a child molester.
  • Cargo Ship:
    • With most characters being locomotives, the list is long. Thomas/Emily, Thomas/Rosie, Thomas/Molly, James/Emily, James/Molly, Toby/Mavis, Toby/Henrietta, Gordon/Rebecca, Percy/Rosie, Percy/Rebecca, Thomas/Ashima, Timothy/Marion, Luke/Millie, Cranky/Carly, Diesel/Daisy, Rajiv/Noor Jehan, etc. Shipping is a notably taboo subject to discuss outside of certain circles, though.
    • Due to the overwhelming amount of male characters, Cargo Yaoi Shippings are arguably more popular than the above pairings listed. Generally Thomas/Percy, Edward/James and Gordon/Henry are accepted, either seriously or just for the hell of it. There's also Thomas/James, Percy/James, Gordon/James, Duck/Oliver, Captain/Skiff, Salty/Porter, Duncan/Rusty, Skarloey/Rheneas, and Whiff/Scruff.
      • More rarely, there are Cargo Yuri pairings. The most popular ones seem to be Emily/Caitlin, mostly because of "Best Engine Ever", and Rebecca/Belle, mostly because of "What Rebecca Does".
    • As a side-effect, humanized stories and fan art with many of the above ships are not uncommon, and these are fair game in the general fan community.
  • Character Rerailment: Haha...! No, but seriously, any of the engines slowly became more tame relative to their earlier strong presence of personalities in the long run. (e.g. Henry began as a character often stricken with envy and misfortune and became a character who worried about many things.) From Season 17 onward however, a new writing team was brought on board, reverting back many of the engines to how they used to be and reinforcing its roots in The Railway Series. While characteristics established by the TV series do remain, they are more shrewdly peppered on as Hidden Depths (eg. Edward and Toby are still more fallible and Adorkable than their novel counterparts to make them more colourful, but retain their more sensible characteristics otherwise).
  • Critical Research Failure: Mattel has said in various press releases that Nia's name was chosen because it meant "purpose" in Swahili. Using Google Translate shows that Nia actually means "interested" in Swahili, not purpose.
  • Common Knowledge:
    • In truth, "Gordon Goes Foreign" was intended to be adapted in Season 2, not Season 3.
    • The mainstream media and people outside the fandom believe that Henry was sealed in the brick tunnel forever, when one simple viewing of "Edward, Gordon, and Henry" would show that this is not the case whatsoever.
    • The classic series was not animated in stop-motion. The locomotives were filmed in real-time on a set, and stop-motion was used extremely rarely and only for the humans and animals.
  • Crosses the Line Twice: The music video for "Accidents Will Happen" portrays many of the show's nastiest accidents with a cheery, upbeat tune.
  • Designated Hero:
    • Thomas in Misty Island Rescue. The most "useful engine" would be allowed to take a special train of logs, and Diesel thinks he's really useful. Thomas says, "No, Diesel! I'm sure the Fat Controller means a really useful STEAMIE. You'll never be that!". Diesel gets furious and runs off with the logs to prove he's as useful as a steam engine. In the end, Thomas never gets called out for insulting Diesel.
    • In Steam Roller, Skarloey and the others make fun of Sir Handel's wheels, and when Sir Handel sticks up for himself, Skarloey makes a plan "to make Sir Handel see sense." He's treated as being in the right for this. This is actually a case of a poor adaptation, as in the original book Sir Handel's boasting had taken place over the course of a while. Thus while this trope still applied to the other engines for starting it, Sir Handel's genuine need to be taken down a peg made him less of a Designated Villain than he was in the TV Show.
    • In "Pop Goes the Diesel", Duck takes an instant dislike towards Diesel for boasting about his lineage (which Duck had been bothering the others by doing a long while before) and sets him up to humiliate himself shunting for trucks. Like with the Misty Island Rescue example, it is only afterwards that Diesel shows his true nasty side by committing Disproportionate Retribution, again, meaning he's not a Designated Villain, but the opposing engine was still Bullying the Dragon. Though like in the case of "Steamroller," this is a somewhat flawed adaptation. As in the book, Duck had become somewhat prideful about his heritage thanks to City of Truro's visit. Which had happened recently at the time.
  • Designated Villain:
    • The policeman in "Thomas in Trouble." He might have been relying too heavily on outdated laws, but he was only doing his job.
    • In "Emily and the Special Coaches", Diesel is made out to be the bad guy for taking the special coaches, but he wasn't even rude to begin with and just said that Gordon isn't the only one who's special and was about to tell Emily his record and Emily just rudely dismissed him.
  • Dork Age: The show is often perceived to have gone through at least one of these.
    • First was the more overtly educational seasons 8-16, known as the "Miller Era", even though Sharon Miller only joined during season 9. The episodes often followed a format of three strikes, and later on, a lot of rhyming and alliteration. It also didn't help that the new characters introduced from season 9-12 (mostly as a ploy to sell merchandise) usually only receive one spotlight episode to themselves before being relegated to infrequent supporting roles, and only Rocky, Rosie, Whiff, and Stanley made it past the switch to full-on CGI. However, it turns out that the educational aspects weren't Sharon Miller's fault, and were rather orders by HiT Entertainment executives in order to fit PBS programming guidelines.
    • For a lot of people, the series entered a second dark age with Season 22, known as Big World! Big Adventures!, coupled with a Channel Hop from PBS to Nick Jr. The series changes the writing style again, replaces Edward and Henry in the main cast with new female engines Nia and Rebecca, along with notably being more fast-paced to please younger children with low attention spans, and focus on new gimmicks such as fantasy sequences and animals featuring in most international episodes, all because the franchise had lost a large amount of its market share to PAW Patrol, the changes seemingly being a kneejerk reaction on Mattel's part so they could be more competitive with Spin Master in this segment of the market.
    • As if what happened with Season 22 wasn't bad enough, the news of what will happen to the series when Season 25 starts airing (such as the tone of the series being over-the-top and cartoony, Sodor losing all of its British influences, realism being virtually nonexistent, most of the characters acting childish and Thomas being the main character in every single episode) has caused many fans to fear that it will only get worse from then on. Considering Mattel's poor treatment of the franchise in recent years, such as not bothering to sell the toys they promote and give the show proper airing times, they also feel that the series will continue to lose its viewership and the merchandising sales will continue to drop, effectively causing the franchise in its entirety to come to a miserable end, unless another company buys the series.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Sir Handel (in Season 4) and Duncan get this treatment due to their rude attitudes.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • For secondary characters, Duck wins by a landslide, followed by Oliver, the Scottish twins, and Bill and Ben.
    • Salty and Cranky of Brendam Docks locale were among the first key supporting characters created specifically for the show. They became popular enough to stick around throughout the entire series, in spite of several attempts at cast streamlining demoting even key Railway Series characters.
    • Paxton, a non-speaking background character introduced in 2011's Day of the Diesels, was given a much larger starring role in Blue Mountain Mystery that solidified his odd but well-meaning personality. Fans liked the character so much that he's since received several starring roles in Series 17 and 18.
    • Plenty of fans were excited to know that the Flying Scotsman would make his first proper appearance in The Great Race, and hope he will appear again after that.
    • For a literal (probably) non-sentient slab of rock, the Boulder from "Rusty and the Boulder" is considered very memorable by the fans, in part because of how bizarrely frightening its episode is.
    • Derek has a good number of fans due to being an accurate portrayal of his basis.
    • As far as characters introduced during seasons 9-12 go, Molly does seem to fare somewhat better than the others. In fact, one criticism of Rebecca is the fact she is a rather obvious Expy of her.
  • Epileptic Trees: There are some pretty wild fan theories about the inexplicable activities of the seemingly sentient Boulder from "Rusty and the Boulder", not least of which being that it's possessed by the spirit of a condemned engine seeking revenge.
  • Ethnic Scrappy: Amongst the sea of international engines introduced in The Great Race, Vinnie has guard rails over his face to resemble the face mask of a football helmet, as well as the rough and antagonistic attitude of a vile bully, which is seen as a bad stereotype of Americans.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Referring to Thomas the Tank Engine as "Thomas the Train", "Thomas the Tank", or especially "Thomas the Choo Choo Train" will guarantee you a kick in the rear from the fanbase. This was made into a joke In-Universe. The Season 22 episode “Outback Thomas” had Shane refer to Thomas as “Thomas the Train”.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which attempted to serve as a send-off to the spin-off Shining Time Station and thus ended up being tonally inconsistent with the bulk of Thomas & Friends, such as the engines driving themselves (including the actually murderous Cartoon Creature Diesel 10) due to the lack of humans on Sodor, the railway's roster of steamies suddenly dropping to six engines (even Edward is absent), and portraying Sodor as an almost "toy-world come to life" at the opposite end of Mr. Conductor's "special universe" powered by magic instead of a plausibly-fictional island located in the Cumbrian Sea between the British mainland and the Isle of Man. The film has only ever been subtly referenced once afterwards, though characters Lady and Diesel 10 have shown up in later films, though Lady only appeared in a dream.
      • The latter seasons have not hesitated to make multiple allusions to the film, and there is now a strong implication the film is canon.
    • Due to all the drastic changes to the series in the writing style, main cast and general format, some fans also try to erase the Big World! Big Adventures! era from their personal canon as well.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Surprisingly, Thomas/Lady, despite Thomas and The Magic Railroad having once been widely mocked. Part of this is due to First Girl Wins, as Lady is the first female steam engine who was introduced to the show. However, Lady is often depicted as a benevolent woman who wants to connect with her fellow steam engines and likes Thomas because of his role in bringing her back from the dead, along with his bravery, while Thomas is taken by Lady's beauty and his most noble traits are in full play when around her.
  • Fandom Rivalry:
    • With PAW Patrol, as PAW has beaten Thomas as the most popular preschool brand (in ratings and in toy sales) and fans of Thomas are upset. Thomas fans have also been known to take jabs at PAW Patrol and other generic modern preschool shows. It doesn't help that Thomas now airs on Nickelodeon alongside PAW, and Mattel is revamping the brand starting with Big World! Big Adventures! and the tie-in Season 22 to compete with PAW Patrol and it's contemporaries on Nick and Disney. Both also have the dubious honour of being accused of pro-authoritarian themes, though in Thomas' case it has to do with the series' age. Season 22's new gimmick of inserting wild animals more frequently in the show further proves the attempt to rip off PAW Patrol, as if the change was a kneejerk reaction on Mattel's part to Spin Master's toyline cutting in on their share of the preschool vehicular toy market note . Couple that with PAW merchandise becoming more prevalent, and Thomas merch becoming less of a presence (especially following the demise of Toys R Us), and heritage railways scrapping their “A Day Out with Thomas” events and replacing them with PAW Patrol-based events, and the PAW franchise's commonly-referred title as the "Thomas Killer" is easily becoming true. Surprisingly, it's a pretty one-sided rivalry as PAW fans generally ignore the Thomas fans when they bash PAW Patrol for killing the popularity Thomas had for nearly a decade.
    • A milder but longer rivalry exists with Chuggington as well. Mainly because Thomas fans see Chuggington as more "kiddie" and less mature in comparison and while appealing to preschoolers, is alienating to the rest of the family; unlike Thomas which has generally done a good job appealing to young kids but also can be entertaining to older kids and adults. A lot of Thomas fans also criticize Chuggington for being a lot less grounded in railway realism, as the characters literally bounce off the rails. Some fans blame Chuggington for the Thomas CGI-series making the characters more "animated" in later seasons, mainly the "bouncing"-like body language gestures done by the engines and cars which has sparked a lot of controversy within the fandom (though it's mitigated by the fact that the boucing in Thomas is much more subtle and graceful compared to Chuggington's more Cars-like physics, and the one time Edward did jump off the rails, it was Played for Laughs and he did so in shock, and not as high as the Chuggington characters tend to). Chuggington was also created by former HiT writers and the show also as a strong merchandise presence that rivals the Thomas merchandise line. Fans have accused Chuggington of trying to leech off of the popularity of Thomas since day one. It also didn’t help that the CGI switchover happened around the same time Chuggington was first released. In Season 22, the physics are also now mostly following in Chuggington’s footsteps, likely causing this rivalry to sink even further.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
    • The initial episodes, even those based directly off The Railway Series stories, wavered somewhat in realism for story purposes or studio goofs. The drivers' involvement went in out depending on the plot ("Daisy" seemingly had an engine stop and start without her driver's involvement, all of one episode after demonstrating the engines' dependence on their workmen) and sometimes engines would suffer Out Of Character Moments (Edward shown subtle signs of an irritable or heckling demeanor as early as Season One). But the Reverend infamously expressed distaste for the Season Three episode "Henry's Forest" because of its violation of Rule 55; imagine if he had been alive to witness Season 5 onwards.
    • HiT is often criticized for introducing an abundant amount of characters who only appeared in one episode (usually alongside Thomas) before being delegated to cameos or disappearing altogether, created only for merchandising purposes. However such a trend was started all the way back in Season 5, with the likes of Thumper, Bertram, etc. (Salty and Cranky naturally exempt). Even The Railway Series used a palpable number of one-shot characters for stories that got no development or even basic personalities (so much so that the adapted episodes had to replace a lot of them with recurring characters for cost reasons). However, most of these characters were one-shot antagonists that had an in-story reason for leaving Sodor, whilst Executive Meddling demanding more Thomas stories prevented the development of other characters, with Bear being a primary example.
    • Before he was stripped of his main character status come Season 22, there were several seasons where Edward didn't have much of a presence or had only a handful of noteworthy roles. Even in The Railway Series novels themselves, Edward appeared less and less over time. This is more forgivable because it wasn't until Season 8 that there was a designated group of "main characters". This may even count as a case of Tropes Are Tools to some level, given how often Edward's personality was compromised to reach quota following that, with most of his Season 22-onward appearances, while more sporadic, keeping him mostly in-character.
    • A lot of fans complain about "Big World! Big Adventures!" bringing in trains from other countries to make it racially diversive. Never mind the fact that, as far back as Season 12, engines from other countries have been introduced to the cast. The difference probably has to do with the perception that newer examples are placed in for the sake of Anvilicious diversity themes, though this is not the place to discuss these arguments.
    • Later seasons, particularly those of the HiT era, are often panned for their overuse of Thomas at the expense of other characters. In truth, this was also the case with many of the original stories from Season 3. Though that is remedied by the fact that there were still many stories in which he was either a minor role, or absent altogether.
    • Fans have come down on Whiff for wearing glasses. He wasn't the first, though, as a ballast spreader who appeared in the first illustration of Small Railway Engines (and, bizarrely, received a Wooden Railway toy in the late 90s-early 2000s) also had glasses.
  • Friendly Fandoms:
    • The Thomas fandom and the TUGS fandom go hand-in-hand. This is because of the similar concepts, and the fact that a good chunk of the production team of TUGS also worked on Thomas. The show was even created by David Mitton and Robert Cardona, who were the series' then director and producer, respectively. It's even implied that both shows take place in the same universe (especially with Big Mickey becoming a character in Season 21 after his model was just there as a case of Prop Recycling. There's even clear parallels to his character in TUGS).
      • The incredibly-popular fan series The Stories of Sodor started off as a version of TUGS with Thomas characters, with clear parallels between the characters, and plots being adapted wholesale, mixed with original stories and Reality Ensues versions of Railway Series and TV series episodes.
    • There's also a nice overlap with the Theodore Tugboat fandom, given that Robert D. Cardona worked on that show as well as Thomas and TUGS. Theodore is similar to the aforementioned TUGS, but is more kid-friendly.
    • The Thomas fandom and the Transformers fandom have a good overlap.
    • Despite the above-mentioned Fandom Rivalries, there are a few Thomas fans who like Chuggington and PAW Patrol as well.
    • Many Thomas fans are also My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic fans, and there are a lot of fanfics and fanart crossing over the two. Unfortunately, a lot of it ships the engines with the ponies.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In the magazine story Taking Toby, Edward overhears a conversation between two workmen and mistakenly thinks they’re planning to steal Toby. Then in December 2010-early 2011, Toby’s model was stolen from the exhibit at Drayton Manor Theme Park.
    • In "Rusty and the Boulder", Rusty is anxious about a new quarry disturbing the resting place of a massive, ominous boulder sitting atop a tall mountainside. Before it is inevitably knocked off its resting place, it is implied that it may be sentient on more than once occasion, with a face resembling that of an old man appearing and then disappearing throughout. Five years after the episode debuted The Old Man of the Mountain, a famous rock formation in New Hampshire that resembled a man's profile when viewed from the side, sadly collapsed after years of erosion. Its destruction was deeply mourned as it was considered a symbol of the state; Boulder's story ends on a similarly somber note, seemingly gazing upon its former home with sadness.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: The Japanese love the franchise so much that they even built a Thomas theme park at the base of Mt Fuji. Not only that, but they even get exclusive promos for the new seasons and specials. The Japanese dub even had individual voice actors for each character as far back as the first season, long before both English dubs had individual voices.
  • Growing the Beard:
    • After languishing in what was almost unanimously considered to be Seasonal Rot for seasons 8-16, content from 2013 to 2017 was much more well received thanks to Andrew Brenner. Some may call it a Beard Re-growth. Season 18 and Tale of the Brave have cemented this in the eyes of the fans; the latter has been praised for its character-driven and dramatic storyline.
    • An earlier example would be Season 2, which introduced fan-favorite supporting characters and was the season to introduce the concept of scrapping and the rise of diesels. It's often cited as the high point of the classic series.
  • He Really Can Act:
    • Ben Small, the first UK voice of Thomas. His voice for Thomas is endearing, but rarely excels past the quirky personality you'd expect from a preschool cartoon character. He puts a great deal of realistic emotion into the surprisingly dramatic Tale of the Brave however. His replacement, John Hasler carries on from this rather well too, especially in the later special features.
    • Many fans were surprised by the foul mouthed comedian George Carlin's genuinely earnest and warm narration of the earlier US episodes.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Following Edward and Henry’s departure from the main cast, and subsequent replacement by Nia and Rebecca in order to include more female members in the main cast, several examples of this have happened:
      • The final verse of the song "That's What Friends Are For" can come off as much more sadder, due to Edward and Henry well, no longer being among Thomas’ main cast of friends.
      • Season 1's episode "Coal" has a scene of The Fat Controller telling Henry that if he doesn't get better, they will have to get another engine instead of him. Come Season 22, Henry is Demoted to Extra, and his spot in the main cast is taken by Rebecca.
      • Gordon's rude remarks towards Edward ("He should be retired!", "Edward is a waste of steam", "The driver won't choose you again") can come off as this due to, again, Edward being Demoted to Extra and his status as a main character being taken by Nia in Big World! Big Adventures!. So basically, Edward did get retired. To punctuate it, it's Gordon himself that takes his departure from Tidmouth Sheds the worst.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • "Henry's Forest", despite being a very heartwarming episode, was infamous for breaking a number of railway rules and leading the Awdrys to cut ties with the TV series. But come 2013, Andrew Brenner, author of the original "Henry's Forest" magazine story, is the head writer of the series! (To be fair, though, Brenner's version didn't trample railway safety nearly as badly.).
    • The Season 22 episode "Rosie is Red" takes place on Valentine's Day and revolves around an interaction between Thomas and Rosie. 5 years earlier, this video was released by a Thomas YouTuber named DieselD199, and the Thomas/Rosie interaction is also similar. Some fandom members jokingly named him a “time traveler” due to this.
    • This Parody Fic of The Railway Series book "Thomas The Tank Engine involves Thomas saying that he wants to see Australia, Tibet, Africa. Come Season 22... It may overlap with "Funny Aneurysm" Moment considering the backlash that "Big World! Big Adventures!" has received.
    • In "No Joke for James", The Fat Controller reprimands James for taking Gordon's Express coaches, telling him that he has "caused confusion". A couple of seasons later, it would later become one half of one of the Fat Controller's infamous Catchphrase "Confusion and Delay".
    • "What Rebecca Does" has a scene early in the episode where Percy shunted the coaches for Rebecca’s Express train, with Rebecca giggling at him in an affectionate manner, and Percy blushing in response. This comes off as notably hilarious (and/or heartwarming, depending on how you look at it), particularly in the US dub, with the reveal that Rachael Louise Miller (Rebecca’s voice actress) and Christopher Ragland (Percy’s US dub voice actor since Season 19) are Happily Married.
    • In Season 1’s "James and the Coaches", the Fat Controller threatens to paint James blue if he misbehaves. Fans had been wondering how hilarious James would look if he was blue, which became a reality in Season 22’s episode "An Engine of Many Colours", where James' Imagine Spot has him imagining himself in different colours, one of which being blue. Due to his similarity in appearance to Edward, one human even mistakes Blue!James for Edward.
    • In "Thomas and the Trucks", Thomas complains about shunting coaches for the other engines and wants to see the world. He got his wish in Big World! Big Adventures! and Season 22 and onwards.
  • Iconic Character, Forgotten Title:
    • As the TV series gained popularity, The Railway Series became more frequently called "Thomas the Tank Engine."
    • The TV series itself has never actually been titled Thomas the Tank Engine, despite what the top of this page may indicate. It used to be Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, and was later changed to Thomas and Friends. Season 22 onwards also adds “Big World! Big Adventures!” to the title.
  • Idiot Plot: Season 11's "Edward and the Mail". Edward makes his stops with the mail train in a different order than Percy, so the crew (for some reason) unloads each delivery in the wrong place.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships:
    • Thomas, who has been shipped with practically every female character in the show (with Lady, Emily, Molly, Rosie and Ashima being the most notable examples), as well as some male characters like Percy, James, and Ryan.
    • Diesel 10 also gets a lot of shipping. He often gets paired with Lady, Diesel, Thomas, Harvey, Derek, Belle, Henry, Frankie, and the list goes on.
  • LGBT Fanbase: As the show's cast was predominantly male (and close to each other) for many years (not to mention James' stereotypical mannerisms), LGBT fans and LGBT ships were inevitable. Aside from gay and lesbian pairings, fans also make gender headcanons like Daisy being BoCo post-transition to female, Lexi being genderfluid, and Rusty being non-binary. The last two don't come without precedent either; a few articles claimed Lexi was genderfluid when Journey Beyond Sodor was new, even though there was no indication that she was in the movie. When Rusty joined the show, Britt Allcroft sought to make him gender-neutral by having no specific pronouns referring to him. However, he has been referred to by male pronouns since the HiT era.
  • Love to Hate:
    • Diesel, Depending on the Writer. Several other antagonists such as Diesel 10, Spencer, and 'Arry and Bert also qualify at times.
    • Sailor John is also this, with many considering him the show's best villain period.
  • Memetic Molester: Trevor the traction engine gets this treatment from various memes and YouTube Poops because of his Friend to All Children personality combined with his borderline-creepy circus-esque theme tune and how George Carlin voices him in the American version.
  • Memetic Mutation: Now has its own page.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Frankie tends to be like this, especially how she's trying to keep the engines both her and Hurricane stay with them forever.
  • Mexicans Love Speedy Gonzales: Hiro is a very popular character in Japan. He's even often seen on merchandising alongside other characters.
  • Mis-blamed:
    • Fans often blamed Sharon Miller for the infamous Dork Age spanning Seasons 8-16, when in reality, HiT Entertainment found that the show had to be written in a more educational way to fit PBS programming guidelines. Miller actually has very notable experience as a writer, having worked on several other HiT shows such as Bob the Builder and Mike the Knight. It just happened that Thomas was where she got the worst reputation.
    • Also, the fact is that Sharon Miller only became involved starting with season 9, not 8, so any problems fans had with season 8 being blamed on her was a mistake. She didn't even become head writer until season 12.
  • Moral Event Horizon: 'Arry and Bert cross it with the very first thing they do on screen- try to smelt down Stepney after he gets lost in the scrapyard.
  • More Popular Replacement: Day of the Diesels initially intended to have Diesel 10's original minions, Splatter and Dodge return alongside him. Due to the Merchandise-Driven nature of the series, however, their roles were instead taken by a new pair of diesels of the same line as them, Paxton and Sidney. While these were deemed glorified extras initially, they became regulars under Andrew Brenner's pen and were given more distinct personalities and spotlight episodes, leading them to become among the more popular engines introduced during the CGI era.
  • My Real Daddy: In Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Ryan was voiced by Eddie Redmayne, most notable for playing Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them series. In the regular episodes, he is voiced by Steven Kynman. When Redmayne came out in support of J. K. Rowling, who is notorious for her transphobic comments, many Thomas fans disowned him and think that Kynman is the true (and better) Ryan voice.

    Tropes N-Z 
  • Narm:
    The passengers: Goodbye, Toby! We can't bear to see you stay any longer!
    Toby: [extremely nasal voice] I'm sad.
  • Nausea Fuel:
    • Boiler sludge. The engines find it vulgar to talk about. Those who have seen the stuff in real life know why; It's that stuff that builds up in the tubes of boilers. In-Universe, it is apparently the locomotive equivalent of shit.
    • Whenever we see a close-up of Whiff's Wastedump.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Sharon Miller is recognized more often for her less-than-well-received writing contributions to the series than for her current role as the voice director.
    • Character example. While Nia and Rebecca have their fans, they are more well-known for being massively-hated female replacements for the once loved Edward and Henry, as opposed to their other traits.
    • Henry's tunnel incident is this, both In-Universe and out. One reason why he was removed from the main cast is that Mattel wanted to distance the show from the false narrative that Henry stayed in the tunnel forever.
    • Relatedly, The Fat Controller is seen by some as a cruel dictator who punishes engines harshly for minor inconveniences.
  • No Problem with Licensed Games: Kikansha Thomas To Nakamatachi is a PS1 game released exclusively for Japanese audiences by Bandai in 2000. The graphics, music, and presentation are all well-done and show-accurate, and the game is loaded with educational mini-games such as counting, memory, correct paths, and creativity. When replaying certain mini-games, certain aspects are changed so they're not the same thing twice. The game is also very simple to play, due to the fact that the D-pad is never used, only the face buttons. It can be played with either the standard PS1 controller or the special KidsStation controller it comes bundled with. Caddicarus gave the game a positive review.
  • Periphery Demographic
    • Because the original stories were based on actual events on the British Railway system and the well done models, train enthusiasts enjoy the show. Also, the show has many older fans who grew up with the show and like to revisit the older episodes, as well as look forward to new ones after such a long run.
    • As mentioned on the main page, the original series is also very popular with autistic children, thanks to its straightforward narration and lack of busy visuals, which prevent sensory overload. It's also proven extremely useful in teaching children with autism visual cues, as the characters' limited facial expressions are usually accompanied by a narration of exactly what emotion they're experiencing.
  • Replacement Scrappy: Emily was considered to be this by some fans for a while, the need for a prominent female character leading her to take the role of eighth Steam Team member, which left Duck to get slapped with Chuck Cunningham Syndrome. Some fans also considered her introduction pointless due to the existence of Daisy and Mavis, two female characters who were popular with the fans and had similar personalities to Emily. Exacerbated by the fact that while Emily was promoted to main cast in Season 8, the other recurring female characters in the show at that time (Mavis, Annie, and Clarabel) only appeared as much as they did before, leading to accusations of Emily being a token female. Time passed, and most of the fanbase warmed up to her, viewing her as an only sane engine amidst the other characters' antics and quirks.
  • Ron the Death Eater: The Fat Controller is a stern, but kind authority figure towards the engines. While he does sometimes blame the engines for accidents that weren't their fault, he's still seen as father to his engines. However, some fans (and a few media outlets) tend to portray him as a cruel, authoritarian dictator who treats his engines like slaves and punishes them with threats of scrapping (a concept he frequently stands against in canon).
  • Sacred Cow: The first seven seasons, but most notably Seasons 2 and 3, which are almost unanimously seen to be the best of the series. There are a number of fans who consider Seasons 4 and 5 to be the best as well, praising the former for its beautiful aesthetic and the latter for its darker tone and the more adventurous storytelling direction it took after the seasons that preceded it.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Most nostalgic fans of The Railway Series will generally dislike any characters that were not originally introduced in the books, especially if they have limited Character Development and are really just there to be used as marketing tools.
    • Charlie, due to his annoying voice and lame jokes, and even outright mean behavior at times. However, he was Rescued from the Scrappy Heap in Season 17.
    • The Logging Locos, Ferdinand especially, due to them being obnoxious and over-used during Miller's tenure as head-writer.
    • Samson due to his constant Aesop Amnesia being worse than the other characters.
    • Belle and Flynn, due to their unrealistic designs and naive/idiotic personalities.
    • Most Emily fans consider her S8-11 portrayal as unsympathetic and annoying compared to the one from S7. However, some think that the former made her more interesting and dynamic. Perhaps to circumvent this, S12 onward uses something of compromise, making her more wise and well-meaning again, but still somewhat haughty to allow for flawed moments.
    • Billy from Season 11's "Don't Be Silly, Billy" gets this from fans for being very impulsive with his work and being rude to Thomas by always disregarding his advice and accuses him of bossing him around. While he did learn his lesson in the ending, that didn't stop fans from hating his behavior. Since this was Billy's only appearance, fans are relieved.
    • "Wonky Whistle" a rare episode example, mainly because Thomas of all characters, Taking a Level in Dumbass!
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Though it garnered nowhere near the amount of hatred Series 9-15 had, Series 6 received somewhat mixed reactions in comparison to the previous ones, mainly due to a visual downgrade and narrator Alec Baldwin's increasingly apathetic tone.
    • Series 7, the last of the Classic Series, has also gained mixed responses when compared to the past seasons, mostly due to the much safer story telling compared to the much darker stories of old, and the overall introduction of new characters that mostly go unnoticed after said series has ended (of all the characters introduced in Series 7, only Emily and Spencer have had significant roles since then, with Emily being part of the main cast and Spencer being a recurring antagonist; Arthur had one major role in Season 8, Murdoch was shoved to the background, and Fergus was removed because his model was damaged in the landslide in "Bill, Ben, and Fergus"; even though the model still ran fine, the flywheel became temperamental). This season also tended to use a lot of stock footage, which while not unusual, was more frequent than in the past, as well as creating continuity errors (such as one episode used footage of Henry in his old shape from "The Flying Kipper", and several episodes used footage of Peter Sam with his old funnel). Not helping was it aired in the US alongside Season 8, and took several years to air. It also replaced Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell's original themes with those from the HIT era.
    • Seasons 8 through 16 and the movies within were almost unanimously considered to be the absolute worst of the show's over 20-year run. Among the era's flaws were...
      • An overuse of Thomas.
      • Popular supporting characters, the majority of whom were created by the Awdrys, being used rarely or disappearing altogether.
      • Characters being introduced only to be shunted to the background (and in a few instances, such as with Billy, Hank, and Flora, promptly disappeared and retgonned), making it painfully obvious their existence was to justify making new toys. These characters, as a result, are favorite subjects for fanfiction writers.
      • Unrealistic railway operations bordering on both dangerous and at times even criminally negligent (e.g. lack of brake vans, loads being carried in the wrong kind of wagon, not to mention loads not being properly secured, all for plot convenience).
      • Engines being used for jobs that fly in the face of their basis, such as Molly pulling empty trucks to the coaling plant, when her basis, the GER D56, was built for express passenger trains.
      • Dumbed down writing and dialogue, including the overuse of rhyming mantras and alliteration and catchphrases such as "Cinders and Ashes", "Confusion and Delay", and "Oh, the Indignity!"
      • The switch to full-on CGI after season 12, which you can still find people calling a betrayal to the models.
      • But the visuals themselves were never faulted, as the model sets still had a meticulous attention to detail, and the CG animation was unanimously considered excellent. Also, director Greg Tiernan (who was in the position for the duration of Nitrogen Studios' run as the animation studio for the series) was very accommodating to the Sodor Island Fansite, and apparently, for new characters, research actually was conducted on their basis.
    • The "Big World! Big Adventures!" retool in 2018 was considered a milder but still blatant downgrade, due to Executive Meddling enforcing a more fantasy actionized tint to the series, culminating in plots with Thomas travelling around the world and other fantasy inducing mandates like Imagine Spots Once per Episode, less realistic railway physics returning and other flourishes of uncharacteristic cartoony behaviour like the engines now being animated with expressive chassises. Since it still has the same writing team on board as before trying to make the setup amusing and slip in some more conventional stories among it all, it isn't quite as badly received as the earlier HIT seasons, though is still considered an annoying ratings grab, especially after Seasons 17-21 were managing to revive the show back to its former glory in many areas.
  • Shallow Parody:
  • Signature Scene:
    • Thomas' introduction in "Thomas & Gordon".
    • Edward helping Gordon up the hill in "Edward & Gordon".
    • Henry getting bricked up in the tunnel in "The Sad Story of Henry".
    • Henry released from the tunnel and pulling the Express along with Edward in "Edward, Gordon, and Henry".
    • Thomas rescuing James and get awarded with his own branch line in "Thomas and the Breakdown Train".
    • Thomas and Bertie's race in "Thomas & Bertie".
    • James spinning around the turntable in "Tenders and Turntables".
    • Henry pulling the Flying Kipper in the eponymous episode. In addition, Henry returning with his new shape.
    • Edward saving a runaway James in "Old Iron".
    • Duck stopping the runaway trucks from crashing into a passenger train in "A Close Shave".
    • Edward successfully arriving to the station despite a broken crank pin in "Edward's Exploit".
    • Thomas, Percy, and Duck watching the sunset in "All At Sea".
    • Douglas saving Oliver from the scrapyards in "Escape".
    • Cranky falling in "Cranky Bugs".
    • The shed randomly exploding in "Rusty and the Boulder".
    • Thomas driving off when workmen are still on him in "Wonky Whistle".
  • So Bad, It's Good:
    • The earlier seasons had relatively poor supermarionation (especially by supermarionation standards) and the entire show was styled more like an animated picture book, with the narrator carrying both the narration and the dialogue. This was easily the most memorable period of the show, and it has both an ironic and unironic following for this reason.
    • These Nick Jr. promos.
  • So Okay, It's Average: Seasons 8-12. And then it goes downhill from there. Specials Calling All Engines! and The Great Discovery are almost universally considered to be better than the likes of Misty Island Rescue and Day of the Diesels, but worse compared to Blue Mountain Mystery and King of the Railway.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The restoration of Series 1 seems to suffer from this:
      • In "Thomas & Gordon" alone, there are multiple instances in which camera equipment and set boundaries can be seen on the edge of the screen.
      • The Jump Cut seen in the original cut of "Trouble in the Shed" (when The Fat Controller dons his hat) is missing.
      • "Coal" features an alternate take of Henry arriving at Wellsworth. As he's backing into the siding, he bumps into the station building, then zips forward so the crew can film another take. Meanwhile, Edward remains motionless, even while the sound effects of him backing down onto Henry's train can be heard.
    • The series has a bit of a reputation of having such failures when a crewmember's hand (or other part of their body) ends up on camera.
    • The bee that stings James in "James Goes Buzz Buzz" looks really out of place, given that it was made using hand-drawn animation, while everything else was physical models.
    • If you watch some episodes on YouTube, you might see a comment saying that an engine or a truck was actually derailed. Once you see it you can't unsee it.
    • GWR Studios [https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCsjwk_WAKuaI7QFPhI8j7FQ] covers a lot of them. Frequent occurrences include stationary engines being slightly derailed, tracks wobbling as trains go over them, goods trains being rearranged from shot to shot, faces not being attached properly, visible blu-tack, paint and stickers peeling, or mysterious holes in models.
  • Stock Parody Jokes:
    • The engines are slaves or authoritarians who are happy to be slaves.
    • Sir Topham Hatt (The Fat Controller) is a Fat Bastard Corrupt Corporate Executive who is excessively bossy or abusive to his engines.
    • Jokes about the anthropomorphism of railroad equipment are often made, usually asking if the engines can do certain human functions like eating, using the bathroom, or mating.
  • Suspiciously Similar Song
    • Oliver's leitmotif is a pretty blatant sound-alike of John Williams' theme to Indiana Jones.
    • The opening credits of Misty Island Rescue bears an uncanny resemblance to He's a Pirate.
    • Edward's Leitmotif from Season's 8-12 is very similar to the Percy The Park Keeper Theme.
    • Jack and the Pack's Leitmotif is also slightly similar to the Trumpton fire brigade's Leitmotif.
    • Daisy's theme in the Classic Series is fairly similar to Cruella De Vil.
    • "The Hottest Place In Town" from Journey Beyond Sodor is vaguely similar in tune to "Strange Things" from Toy Story.
    • In addition, while the newer seasons generally ditch the old themes outside special occasions, a few similar off-key tunes seem to perk up here and there:
      • A ragtime piano tune with a very similar arrangement to the original Thomas theme is heard during Glynn's flashback in "Over the Hill".
      • A sinister salsa theme similar in beat to Diesel's original theme is heard during his Malicious Slander montage in "A Most Singular Engine".
  • Take That, Scrappy!:
    • Of the first two listed under The Scrappy: "Not Now, Charlie" has Charlie get called out by all the other characters for his constant joking around; although the Misty Island tunnel is still clearly visible, the Logging Locos haven't been directly acknowledged (outside interstitials) in the Brenner era, but in "The Way She Does It", Daisy wants Thomas to guess what her special job is, and when Thomas asks her is if she's going to Misty Island, Daisy tells him, "No!" in a somewhat negative tone.
    • "Duck and the Slip Coaches" has a running gag in which Emily is unintentionally shut out of Tidmouth Sheds, which is where Duck happens to be at the time in both instances. This was confirmed by Word of God to be a nod to fans who accused Emily of replacing Duck on the Steam Team, which was indeed the original plan, until feminist groups cried sexism.
    • For those who hated Emily for her bossy persona in seasons 8-16, "Emily's Adventure" has Thomas straightforwardly telling Emily the reason Elizabeth won't do what she says is because she's a bossy boiler.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks!:
    • The opinion of many older fans once the series was bought by HiT Entertainment.
    • Some of the more fickle fans say this about The Adventure Begins.
    • While the Arc Productions era episodes are mostly considered good, a recurring complaint are their tendency to switch at least one or two characters' voice actors every season. Nearly every character has changed voice actor in either dub or both, sometimes more than once, compared to the Nitrogen era episodes, which kept a consistent cast.
    • Merchandise example; After 25 years, the Thomas Wooden Railway line had been discontinued and replaced with the "Thomas Wood" line, which had many changes, including blockier and less detailed models, compacted models of bigger engines, and a different track system that is incompatible with track from Thomas Wooden Railway and other brands. Longtime TWR fans and collectors had originally not taken well to this line for these reasons, plus the fact that Edward and Henry were not originally part of it, adding to evidence of them being removed from the Steam Team. Thankfully, things improved for the Wood line in 2019 when the engine models, while still retaining their shapes, became fully painted, and again when it was announced that Edward, Henry, and Toby would be released for it in Spring 2020.
    • Another merchandise example, with the traditional die-cast line coming to an end (with the September 2018 announcement of Adventures being discontinued) and being merged into TrackMaster with a new line called "TrackMaster Push-Along" which depicts the models in a similar style to the previous Take-Along/Take N Play/Adventures line, but retooled to be compatible with the TrackMaster line and being free-wheeled unlike the motorised variant, likely due to people complaining over compatibility between different toylines. The engines are now all depicted with the same wheel arrangement, having only six wheels on the main body (though there are some exceptions such as Luke, Dash and Victor, who have four wheels instead), and four wheels for the tenders. Fans viewed this as an even bigger downgrade than the Thomas Wood controversy, and feel that Mattel's days with the brand are numbered.
    • When the first look at Season 25's Art Evolution from 3D to 2D was revealed on Twitter on October 12, 2020, it was immediately subject to intense criticism from longtime fans, who took issue with how childish it looked due to the more chibi-esque designs and the Sudden Eye Color design tweaks. Even parents complained about the redesign, many saying their children preferred the older seasons.
      • Enflaming the already intense criticism from the fandom was a summary of a conference call that revealed more details about and changes being made with the reboot, such as the engines having no drivers or firemen and behaving more like preschoolers with the exception of Gordon, the animation being even more cartoony and bouncy than the last few seasons already were, all humans (except Sir Topham Hatt) being relegated to background characters, and Sodor's British ties and influences being effectively scrapped.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • The Logging Locos suffer from this. Logging was a major industry that involved lots of interesting, specialized locomotives. Bash and Dash were both based on a locomotive with log-hauling gear equipped, and Ferdinand is based on a geared locomotive that was popular for logging operations. However, none of this was ever the character's focus; they instead fell into Scrappy territory due to being portrayed as goofballs who were outcast from the Mainland and banished to Misty Island as punishment, having to adjust to a new environment and new friends once they made contact with Sodor. American fans, in particular, saw them as offensive, as if the show was insinuating that all Americans are stupid, lazy rednecks who carry out dangerous stunts on a regular basis, and fans in general view them as "railway terrorists" who were imprisoned on Misty Island for a good reason. There's also the issue of how it would be impossible for Bash and Dash to run in real life since there is no visible mechanism as to how their wheels turn.
    • Truthfully the show is prolific at this due to its Merchandise-Driven push to introduce Loads and Loads of Characters. since season 5. Every season since then, aside from 8 and 15, introduce at least one new character, but before the switch to full CGI, there was a great chance that any given new character would fade into the background after their introductory spotlight episode. Egregiously, the three characters introduced in the twelfth season (Hank, Colin, and Flora) appeared in only their respective introductory episodes. This tends to be zigzagged in its treatment of the cast from the original The Railway Series novels (Daisy appeared in only three episodes, compared to the books where she became a prominent character, at least until she was reintroduced in Season 20 and got several spotlight episodes; however, minor characters such as Bertie, Harold and Diesel are regulars in the show and have been granted numerous spotlight episodes).
    • The international engines from The Great Race have all been stated to only be sticking around for this one special, which automatically caused some fans to view them this way.
      • This feeling was increased to some following the release of the film in UK cinemas, as with the exceptions of Ashima, Vinnie, and Flying Scotsman, most of them are relegated to primarily background roles, only having one or two lines each with some not speaking at all.
      • May be mitigated in the future however, due to the international engines receiving official shorts showcasing their own adventures, as well as the fact that the next special and Season 22, Big World! Big Adventures! continues the international theme, meaning that they may very well appear again and receive development.
    • Some fans feel this way about Rosie in Season 21. Pre-release material made a big deal out of the change to her livery from pink to red and becoming a more assertive character, leading many to suspect that she would receive A Day in the Limelight as has been the case with several new-era characters. Not so. The episode that dealt with the change, The Fastest Red Engine On Sodor, only gives the repaint as an offhand mention and focuses more on James (and his reaction to Rosie's new color, as he believes There Can Be Only One when it comes to engines painted red)) rather than Rosie, with the only really noticeable character trait seen in Rosie is her being more down to earth than in her initial appearances.
    • Noor Jehan, the large diesel from India, has also fallen into this, due to only having two speaking roles out of the four India-based episodes. Fans were originally hyping her after seeing Rajiv's implied crush on her, only for her to do barely anything. Though, there may be a chance for Season 23 to explore her character more. Fans feel Noor Jehan's wasted potential goes against Mattel's claim that they're using the "Big World! Big Adventures!" Series to promote more female characters in the spotlight in an attempt to please extreme feminist groups. Charubala, the Indian controller (and first female railway controller in the series) also suffered a similar case, due to her screentime also being very limited.
    • Another Season 22 newbie, Tamika the Australian railmotor engine, also suffered from limited exposure, appearing in only one episode of the entire season. Season 23 may possibly give her more spotlight if Australia is revisited.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Salty All At Sea has Salty being required to help out on the mainland, which, as of Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, has been confirmed to be England. This could've been the perfect opportunity to finally see the modern-day version of the Other Railway, after it had been mentioned extensively throughout the books and being featured in Season 3. Instead, we just get the Irony of Salty being scared about going out to sea due to the Vicarstown Bridge needing repairs and the hi-jinks that ensure as a result of his fear. In the end, the episode concludes with Salty returning to narrate what happened during his stay on the mainland, except we don't get to hear it. That's it. No flashbacks, no mention of the Privatisation of British Rail (though it's generally assumed the TV series is perpetually stuck in the 1960s). Nothing.
    • Some fans feel that Season 22 had wasted potential due to the reveal that China, Australia and India were the only countries getting featured in the series, leaving no spotlight for countries in Africa, the Americas or Europe. The former was baffling due to an engine from said continent joining the main cast (Nia) and the early pre-release clip of Thomas and Nia talking about zebras (which didn’t feature in the movie) and that African episodes would have served as potential spotlight for Nia. The latter two continents were also wasted potential due to many engines from said continents featuring in The Great Race (along with Carlos reappearing in the Big World! Big Adventures! movie) and Thomas visiting European countries previously in several YouTube shorts. The absence of S22 episodes in Africa and America also caused wasted potential for Kwaku and Beau, two characters from the movie who had minimal screentime and that fans hoped could have gotten more development. However, with Seasons 23 and 24 confirmed to retain the World Tour format, and all the other "Big World! Big Adventures!" series elements, there may be hope for engines from the other countries.
    • One criticism about Nia and Rebecca is that the writers missed an opportunity to bring back a pair of pre-existing females to add to the main cast. This is especially the case with Rebecca, a blatant Expy of the relatively popular Molly. These critics believe the writers should have made Molly a permanent member of the main cast instead of creating Rebecca, as they feel she did the "shy yellow engine" character better.
    • In "The Big Freeze", a coal shortage results in the diesels being drafted to take over all trains. This would have been the perfect opportunity to reintroduce BoCo and Derek and possibly even introduce Bear to the TV series, but instead, all of the work is done by diesel shunters, leading to the ridiculous sight of Den, Dart, and Sidney triple-heading the express.
  • Tough Act to Follow: Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure seems to have become this, as The Great Race was highly divisive, while Journey Beyond Sodor, despite being considered an improvement over the latter, it is still divisive.
    • Likewise, George Carlin is all but unanimously considered the best narrator of the US localization, as Alec Baldwin is rather divisive, and Michael Brandon gets more flak from more fans.
  • Unexpected Character: Absolutely no one expected Diesel 10 to reappear in Calling All Engines! (along with Lady) despite being sent away; this was because of popular toy sales centered around him. And if The Stinger of Misty Island Rescue would beg to differ (which in turn sets up Day of the Diesels), that scene was a last-minute decision made by Nitrogen, without any narration involved whatsoever.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Non-fans think this of the faces of the engines themselves. The sometimes emotionless expressions in the model era were unsettling to some, but then the show decided to update to CGI and now it's just downright frightening according to some.
    • Season 12 is pretty odd looking with the combination of models and CGI. Granted, that was when the crew just started using CGI, but they were still using the standard model format in some scenes, and the superimposed early CGI faces (combined with them now lip syncing, but still currently to the narrator's lines) made the engines look rather odd. Season 13 fixed that problem for good where the CGI animation became the full default, allowing it look much more fluent and each character was given a voice actor proper.
  • Unintentionally Sympathetic:
    • Henry, in his first ever story. Oh, come on! Who can say they've never wanted to stay in a shelter while it's raining?
    • Sir Handel in Steamroller. The other engines make fun of him for his Broad Tyre wheels and while the episode was intended to be a case of Break the Haughty, however, the reason he needs broad tyre wheels is because he kept slipping between the rails. So they're making fun of him because he needs special equipment to do his job. It's the equivalent of antagonising someone who needs a hearing aid, or someone who needs a walking stick because they have a limp.
    • Gordon in "Respect for Gordon". He gets tired of the other engines teasing him and starts demanding respect, although he does it in a bossy manner and this leads him into a nasty accident with the jam tankers, in which the engines teased him for it. After coming back from the works, he apologizes to the other engines, though the other engines didn't apologize for their teasing him about his rattling firebox.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: The Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt can come off as a jerk at times. Yes, he's obviously under a lot of stress and has some genuinely troublesome engines in his railway, but on several episodes in which an engine has an accident (ie, Percy's Predicament), he blames THEM for it, even when it was obviously the Troublesome Trucks who were the cause of it. It becomes extra jarring when he does this, since a few episodes have an accident, and the Fat Controller actually reassures the engines it wasn't their fault.
  • Unfortunate Implications: Since the franchise's inception a massive variety of reviewers have noticed/accused pro-authoritarian or even pro-fascistic leanings in the books and original series. That being said, there have been defenders of the series who have called these accusations rubbish. Ultimately, it chalks down to a strange combination of Values Dissonance and Values Resonance, the former due to the original age of the series, and the latter because many of its morals still hold up in modern times.
  • Values Resonance: "Thomas in Trouble" explores abuse of power by law enforcement, especially against people who did nothing wrong. Toby even stands up to the Jerkass cop by ringing his bell at him, scaring him off in the process. During the protests against police brutality in 2020, many fans cited the episode as being relevant today. In other words, Toby said ACAB before it was cool.
  • Villain Decay:
  • Vindicated by History: Downplayed. While seasons 8-12 were widely panned when they were first aired and were the subject of mockery by many of the fans, these days, fans consider those seasons So Okay, It's Average. Season 8 in particular sometimes is even seen as the last good season until season 17.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: This is apparently more common than you'd expect. Quite a few children mistook Mavis for a male. Skarloey, Rheneas, and Rusty have been mistaken for females before (not to mention Rusty was mistakenly referred to as female by Michael Brandon in the initial television broadcasts of the ninth seasons episodes that Rusty starred in; later airings and DVD releases fixed this). Out of the main cast, James is mistaken as a female disturbingly often.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome:
    • Some of the crashes, especially in the fifth season.
    • Nearly everything Arc Productions churns out looks spectacular to most people. An example would be Duncan crossing the viaduct in "Duncan the Humbug".
  • Wangst: Henry in "Coal", in which he loudly proclaims that '(he) suffers dreadfully and no-one cares.' James calls him out on it, though.
  • WTH, Casting Agency?:
    • George Carlin as narrator for a children's series. Just think about that.
    • You would be amazed at how many people have made Thomas episodes overdubbed with some of George Carlin's acts.
      • Many fans thought Carlin did the role justice, to the point some consider him the best narrator throughout its run. Carlin actually took the role to present a different side to him and is one of the few projects he didn't Self Deprecate.note 
    • Big Mickey being voiced by Rob Rackstraw has received some criticism, as he made no attempt to imitate the late Timothy Bateson, who voiced Big Mickey in his original show TUGS. These fans believe that Keith Wickham would've been a better choice, noting how close his Edward voice sounds to O.J. (who was also voiced by Bateson).
  • What an Idiot!:
    • In "Dirty Work", the big engines believe Diesel's lies about Duck although they did have to lose a hell of a lot of IQ points for the story to work, especially since Henry had only just said "Duck would never do that.". This is mitigated in the annuals however, which explain that Diesel had spread the lies over a period of several weeks, basing them off of incidents that each of the big engines had suffered through, playing to each of their egos in order to get them mad at Duck.
    • Egregiously in "James to the Rescue". James repeatedly ignoring Toby's advice to get Rocky to re-rail Gordon, culminating with him trying to push Gordon back on the rails. The crash that happens afterwards is spectacular.
    • Flynn spraying Edward and Gordon because he thought they were on fire (which they were obviously not) in "Fiery Flynn".
    • Thomas going off without warning while workmen were still on him in "Wonky Whistle".
    • There are other examples of this trope throughout the series, such as Spencer not listening about water.
    • One of the most egregious is The Fat Controller blaming engines for incidents that are clearly not their fault. It is theorized that he scapegoats his engines for crashes and other incidents because if he properly blamed the crews or other railway personnel, there would be alot of legal and bureaucratic bullshit to go through.
  • What Do You Mean, It's Not Political?: People noticed some heavy conservative undertones in the original series, such as looking down on technological progress like diesel trains or air travel, and the trains getting punished for not doing their job properly, stepping out of their assigned roles or even doing the slightest mistake. The way the trains are being treated, being traded back and forth between people to suit their needs and always forced to work also drew comparisons to slavery.
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: The second half of the song "Never Overlook a Little Engine" has some...interesting visuals in both Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure and the music video.
    • Prior to that, the song "Monsters Everywhere" from Tale of the Brave also has a similar effect in some areas, particularly when Percy goes into the tunnel.
  • Win Back the Crowd:
    • See Author's Saving Throw above.
    • After Season 22 got mixed reception (with more negative than positive), Season 23 appears to be winning back some fans. The special Digs & Discoveries had plenty of people excited due to the fact that the Pack traveled with Thomas to Italy this time, meaning that they finally got more focus. Also, the Steam Team's renders were updated with rivets and handrails to make them look more realistic. Some episodes of Season 23 were were acclaimed by the fandom. "Heart Of Gold" makes Toby more competent and awesome, "Free The Roads" gives Bulgy some well-deserved focus, and "Chucklesome Trucks" features CGI remakes of "Percy Takes The Plunge" and "Dirty Objects". To top it off, this season doesn't have any animal-focused episodes, to the delight of the fandom.
  • Woolseyism: The Slovene dub states that rather than being Scottish, Donald and Douglas are from Jesenice, in the Gorenjska region of Slovenia.
Advertisement:

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report