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  • 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! Thomas takes this to heart and goes out on his own the next day... an adventure that is soon over when he crashes through the wall of a house. 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. And the freight cars in "Pop Goes the Diesel" moan when Diesel tries to jerk them out of a siding.
    • And the line "Ben banged his freight cars hard".
    • In the episode "Mavis," a farmer tells Mavis "just what to do with her train."
    • In "Donald's Duck," Donald told Duck that he was talking too much, and sounded like a quacking duck. Duck told him to "quack yourself."
    • "Engines with proper funnels do! You've only got a small one!"
    • Some of the descriptions when engines are 'excited' or 'anxious' about something, especially prominent in the newer series.
  • 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.
  • Anvilicious: Good God. The "Big World! Big Adventures!" seasons are particularly egregious offenders as the United Nations got involved with the writing to increase diversity and gender equality.
  • Added Alliterative Appeal: Many examples.
    • "Cranky the Crane was quick to criticize," in "Horrid Lorry".
    • "Hullo, Thomas! You're chuffing cheerfully today!" in "Edward the Hero".
    • "Trembling Tracks!" also "Edward the Hero".
  • Affectionate Parody: Trains Formers, which combines Thomas the Tank Engine with Transformers
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Follow That Flour. Most of the episode is about Thomas and James getting into an argument and Thomas taking flour cars, but the first two minutes is just some random montage of how the Skarloey Railway characters enjoy working at the wharf.
    • Anything in the episode of Rusty and The Boulder
    • Also, in Thomas & The Magic Railroad, a talking tumbleweed constantly appears. It's there for no reason and the characters never refer to it.
  • Blooper: In the small arc about Donald and Douglas, their names were painted on them at the end because of confusion...however they seemed to film some scenes out of order, or flubbed the models used because you can spot them with their name tags on.
    • See Special Effect Failure for a specific example.
    • Someone with a keen enough eye will notice switchboxes or props in the scene. oops.
  • Canon Sue: Duck & Boco, in both the original episodes, and fanfictions. Stanley to some degree. Edward is also protrayed in this light in Fanfics.
  • Cargo Ship: With most characters being steam locomotives, the list is long. Thomas/Emily, Thomas/Rosie, Thomas/Molly, James/Emily, James/Molly, Toby/Mavis, etc.
  • Character Rerailment: Pun aside, Season 17 sees a return to many characters' personas from The Railway Series.
  • Counterpart Comparison: Diesel with Shadow the Hedgehog. There's also a website known as Scratchpad, which is basically dedicated to this.
  • Creator's Pet: Diesel in the newer series.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome
  • Designated Hero: Thomas in Misty Island Rescue. The most "useful engine" would be allowed to take a special train of logs, and Diesel think he's really useful. Thomas says, "No, Diesel! I'm sure Sir Topham Hatt 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, Diesel gets punished, while Thomas never gets called out on insulting Diesel. Also 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.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Smudger has quite a few fans despite being a rude, stuck-up, rough-rider who never learnt from his mistakes. Probably due to his And I Must Scream fate.
    • D261, or Bowler, also has quite a few fans. Most seem to rationalize that he was just a young fool when he came to Sodor.
  • Ear Worm: Some of the engine's leitmotifs are incredibly catchy.
    • "Trucks are/Cars waiting in the yard, tackling them with easel, show the world what I can do, gaily boasts the diesel. In and out he creaks about, like a big black weasel, when he pulls the wrong trucks/cars out...pop goes the diesel!"
      • And later on, "Oliver's no use at all, thinks he's very clever. Says that he can manage us. That's the best joke ever! When he orders us about, with the greatest folly, we just push him down the well...pop goes ol' Ollie!"
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: For main characters, Gordon. Other one-off characters usually get quite popular. Some of the book characters who have not put in the show have quite a strong following as well.
  • Fandom Specific Plot:
    • Many, MANY Thomas fanfictions have a plot where an evil super-engine arrives on Sodor to wreak havoc, and must be defeated by the main engines.
    • The holiday season has seen a rise in traffic and an engine from the other railway, inevitably a Diesel, has to be called in.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: The Magic Railroad, which attempted to mix Thomas and Friends continuity with the completely different Shining Time Station. It included an actually murderous Cartoon Creature, Diesel 10, completely breaking the cosy Little England atmosphere of Thomas and frightening the intended audience of small children. The film has all but been removed from continuity, though characters Lady and Diesel 10 have shown up in later films.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop: Tons, especially in the earlier episodes.
    • A really bad Family-Unfriendly Aesop would be in "Jack Jumps In", in which the aesop is something along the lines of "Don't try and help anybody with anything ever, because you'll just screw up and get yourself hurt. So stay in your place and don't complain." Reprimanded somewhat in the following episode, "A Friend in Need", when Jack does jump in again, this time to save Thomas from falling off a bridge. This time he gets praised, repaired, and made part of the Pack.
  • First Installment Wins: Season 1 through 6 are often regarded as the show's best.
  • Fridge Logic: Particularly evident in the movie Calling All Engines. If, as according to the movie, steam engines are every bit as efficient and reliable as diesels, why don't we still use steam?
    • This one is more of an Adaptation-based question, but the Barber shop. Why was it right in front of the train tracks meant to capture a runaway train? The books explain that the Barber shop used to be a shed that was renovated.
      • And likewise, the conductor's house that Thomas crashed into. Anyone else wonder why a house was placed that close to a train track meant to capture a runaway train?
  • Friendly Fandoms: With the Sonic the Hedgehog fandom like you wouldn't believe.
  • Germans Love David Hasselhoff: So popular in Japan that they even built a Thomas theme park at the base of Mt Fuji.
  • Idiot Plot: Misty Island Rescue, full stop. Also, just about every story in Season 15.
  • Jumping the Shark: Many say this happened at the start of season 8. Others say earlier.
  • Mary Sue: Lady, a self-insertion by TV series creator Britt Allcroft in the 2000 movie The Magic Railroad. The character appears to have been abandoned, only appearing since in 15 seconds of dream sequence in Calling All Engines (2005).
  • Memetic Mutation: "Look what you've done to our breakfast!"
Cquote1
No, the O-face is not a meme. I never intended for it to be. All memes get out of hand and rubbish eventually, so stop using my idea now guys. It's actually making me hate it. Create your own jokes!
Cquote2
      • The description of the video this message appears in says "... ignore the message halfway through this somewhere. I was angry." so it's possible he went back on this.
    • Clips of Thomas the Tank Engine overlaid upon audio from the various Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons, as well as Animaniacs, Toy Story, and others.
  • Motive Decay: Originally the diesels were a reminder to the steam engines that Technology Marches On and the more efficient, mass-produced engines were becoming the rule instead of the exception. Since around Series 7 there's been no mention of scrapping and steam's still alive on the mainland, yet the steam and diesel engines are more at each other's throats than ever.
  • 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.
  • Periphery Demographic: Because the original stories were based on actual events on the British Railway system and the well done models, model train enthusiasts consider the show a Guilty Pleasure.
  • Replacement Scrappy: In Season 22, Edward, Henry, and Toby were Demoted to Extra as part of the push for a Gender Equal Ensemble. While no one really seems to hate Nia and Rebecca, there some fans who can't look past their old favorites being shoved aside.
  • Ron the Death Eater:
    • Applied almost universally to Diesel, Arry, Bert, and Diesel 10. Some non-villanous engines tend to be hit with this a lot too, particularly Daisy, Bill, and Ben. In recent years, Den, Dart, Max, Monty, Elizabeth, Cranky, Dennis, Bash, and Dash seem to be getting hit hard with this too.
    • About half-serious/half-joking when it comes to Sir Topham Hatt/The Fat Controller. Many an older fan enjoys casting the Island of Sodor as a Crapsaccharine World where the engines are a slave labour force given how Topham always blames them for the crashes instead of the drivers or the trucks.
  • The Scrappy: Charlie and The Logging Locos, Ferdinand especially. All of which were created by the same writer.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Season 7 was generally viewed as a step down from the first six due to its Lighter and Softer tone.
    • Season 8 to 16, Season 15 in particular, are regarded as a massive step down from the classic era. Common complaints were an overuse of Thomas, too many new characters that stole the spotlight from old favorites, and plots that played it too safe.
    • The "Big World, Big Adventures" seasons, Season 22 onwards, given their drastic shift in writing style, Thomas Breaking the Fourth Wall, stories set beyond Sodor, and episode times being severely cut down to keep the limited attention span of children.
  • Special Effect Failure: The scene where Henry crashes at the end of "The Flying Kipper." You can see the hand.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Thomas, who is starting to border on being a Creator's Pet.
  • Take That Scrappy : The Logging Locos being blocked off from Sodor. There was also an episode focused on the utter humiliation of Charlie.
  • Tear Jerker: Henry's Forest.
  • They Changed It, Now It Sucks: A reaction to seasons 8-15.
  • They Just Didn't Care: The writing team of season 15.
  • Took the Bad Film Seriously: Peter Fonda in The Magic Railroad. Seriously.
  • Uncanny Valley: The faces of the engines themselves. Honestly, the sometimes emotionless expressions are unsettling enough, but then they recently decide to update them with CG, and now it's just downright frightening.
  • Unfortunate Implications: A number of parallels with slavery. The trains are, essentially, an entire sentient species who constantly have it beat into them that the only way anyone will like them is if they are 'really useful'; otherwise they'll be sent to the smelter to be melted down. None of the humans seem to empathize when the engines' 'families' are broken up (Donald and Douglas, before coming to Sodor), if they're left to rot (Duke and Hiro), or if they're going to be scrapped just for being out of date or in slightly bad repair (Oliver, Toad, Trevor.) There are also references to the engines being literally bought and sold by the humans, with very little consideration as to whether or not they want to move on to another destination.
    • Also, before the shows started deviating from the books, there were virtually no female characters other than Annie, Clarabell, and Henrietta, the coaches. They were literally helpless and could not even move without the (male) engines to help them.
      • Not entirely true; Mavis was an excellent female role model, and despite the fact that she only ever starred in a couple of episodes, was a popular sight in alot of merchandise from around when Season 3 and 4 were out. She still appears on alot of Japanese merchandise. Daisy also fits this role, although she's practically a self-propelled carriage.
  • Villain Decay: 'Arry & Bert went from genuine menacing threats to pantomime villains/ obnoxious bullies.
    • In all fairness though, they probably got in serious trouble for trying to get Stepney scrapped, so they decided the only other thing they could do is play tricks on the steam engines, which certainly works for them.
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: Some of the crashes.
  • 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 childrens 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
  • The Woobie: Both Henry and Peter Sam have had their moments.
    • Percy in Day of the Diesels.
  • 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."). There are other examples of this trope throughout the series, such as Spencer not listening about water.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Season 17.
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