Create a new article
Write your page title here:
We currently have 1,061 articles on Incredible Characters Wiki. Type your article name above or create one of the articles listed here!

    Incredible Characters Wiki

    Thomas the Tank Engine (seasons 1-11, 17-24)

    This page is dedicated to both the late creator of Thomas and Friends, The Reverend W. Awdry, who passed away on March 21, 1997, and the late Michael Angelis, who passed away on May 30, 2020. They will always be really useful crew members.


    This is a featured article!
    This article has been reviewed by one of our administrators as one of the best articles on Incredible Characters Wiki. To request an article to be featured, click here.

    Thomas The Tank Engine
    Model Thomas Season 9.png
    "Little engines can do big things!" -
    Gender: Male
    Type: A Really Useful Engine
    Species: Tank Engine
    Portrayed by: Ben Small (UK, 2009-2015)
    John Hasler(UK, 2016-present)
    Martin Sherman (US, 2009-2015)
    Joseph May (US, 2016-present)
    Edward Glen (Thomas and the Magic Railroad)
    John Bellis (original workprints only)
    Ringo Starr (The Official BBC Children in Need Medley)
    Status: Alive
    Media of origin: The Railway Series
    First appearance: The Railway Series No.2: Thomas The Tank Engine

    Thomas the Tank Engine is an anthropomorphised fictional tank locomotive in the British Railway Series books by Wilbert Awdry and his son, Christopher, published from 1945. He became the most popular and famous character in the series, as well as one of the most iconic and beloved characters to ever be creative, and is the titular main protagonist in the accompanying television adaptation series Thomas & Friends (aka Thomas the Tank Engine or Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends). He's a little blue engine who works on the North Western Railway. He originally worked as the station pilot at the Big Station but longed to leave his yard to go out and see the world. After helping to rescue James from a nasty accident, Thomas was rewarded with two new coaches, Annie and Clarabel, and was given the responsibility of running the Ffarquhar Branch Line, where he works to this day.


    When Awdry created Thomas, the engine existed only as a wooden toy made for his son Christopher. This engine looked rather different from the character in the books and television series, and carried the letters NW on its side tanks, which stood for "No Where" according to Awdry.

    Thomas wasn't originally based on a prototype; rather, the initial stories were an accompaniment to the toy made for Christopher. After Awdry's wife encouraged him to publish the stories, the publisher of the second book in The Railway Series (Thomas the Tank Engine) hired an illustrator named Reginald Payne. Awdry selected a real locomotive for Payne to work from to create authenticity: a Billinton designed 0-6-0 E2 Class of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway. This may have been chosen simply because Awdry had a photograph to hand.

    Thomas as portrayed by Hornby and the TV series is based on one of six E2 class locomotives fitted with an extension to the front of the water tanks. Awdry was unsatisfied with one detail of the illustration — the fact that the front end of his running board featured a downward slope, which meant that his front and back buffers were at different levels. This was an illustrator's mistake that was perpetuated in subsequent books. The accident, in Thomas Comes to Breakfast was partly devised as a means of correcting this. Thomas has always been shown with a curved running board in the television series.

    Payne was not credited for his illustrations at the time, and it is only since the publication of Brian Sibley's The Thomas the Tank Engine Man that he has started to receive major recognition. It had often been erroneously assumed that C. Reginald Dalby created the character, as he was responsible for illustrating books 3–11 and repainting the illustrations of books 1 and 2.

    Although Thomas locomotives are seen today on various heritage railways, the locomotives are either unpowered decoys or converted from other locomotives, as all of the prototype LB&SCR E2 class locomotives were scrapped between 1961 and 1963.

    Why He's a Really Useful Engine

    1. He is a classic British icon, much like characters such as Wallace and Gromit, Postman Pat, Bob the Builder, Fireman Sam, Peter Rabbit, Paddington Bear, Sooty and Noddy. In fact, this character is what we call the Mickey Mouse of British children's media.
    2. His personality trait as a tank engine who wants to see the world, but is always fussy and cheeky is quite an excellent concept put together. In both the RWS & TV series, his wish of getting his own branch line from his debut book, "The Adventure Begins", and season 1 had come true, but in the TV series, his other wish was to go on an adventure to go around the world in "Big World! Big Adventures!". Although it was established in the Railway Series, that he just wanted a branch line where he can see the world for himself.
    3. He knows when to call out on an engine if either the engines is being immature or being stubborn.
      • The line to Emily in "Emily's Adventure", "That's because you're a big bossy boiler", pokes fun at HiT Entertainment's portrayal of Emily when he was calling Emily out for her bad attitude towards Elizabeth.
    4. His teal green colour in "The Adventure Begins" looks amazing in green.
    5. His design is true to the original E2 classes (despite none of the E2s wearing blue in real life), and his live-action model for the TV show is beautifully made.
    6. He's a good friend to all engines and a popular one of the Fat Controller's railway. Sure, he may be cheeky yet he can still be a good pal since he's always the optimistic, idealistic, and altruistic engine who has a heart of gold. He also does his best helping his friends and those he cares about.
    7. His short-lived sister show called TUGS’ counterpart is Ten Cents, because of his cheeky, but very good-natured and hard-working personality.
    8. His iconic friendship between him and Percy is really charming.
    9. To add more fuel to the car, Thomas does show to look out for younger engines like Bill and Ben. This is particularly evident in later episodes and seasons, where he is more experienced and is often charged with helping newer engines out. So you could say he's like a big-brother to the much younger engines.
    10. He lives his way of being a really useful engine, and in a good way, he wants to let the other engines know that they can do the same. So you could say that he does his job playing his part very well.
    11. While he might drive others away, Thomas is very good at luring back friends if the situation demand it.
    12. Thomas became less arrogant and self-absorbed which is a good character development which is notable in season 2 and in season 3. Even he was shown to be less arrogant and rude compared to his incarnation from the original books.
    13. Eddie Glen (Thomas and the Magic Railroad), Ben Small (UK, S13-18), Martin Sherman (US, S13-18), John Hasler (UK, S19-24) and Joseph May (US, S19-24) all do great voices for Thomas in both the UK and US.
      • In addition, the narrators from the model series, Ringo Starr (UK, S1-2), George Carlin (US, S1-4), Michael Angelis (UK, S3-16), Alec Baldwin (US, S5-6), Michael Brandon (US, S7-16) and Mark Moraghan (a few episodes where he narrated model episodes) do amazing jobs too!
    14. Made many friends with international engines such as Ashima, Nia, Gina, Rajiv, Yong Bao, Beau, Sam, etc.
    15. What also makes him feel like a likable character is you could even relate to him too. (Aside from his first feature film)
    16. Thomas is shown to be really brave as well. Like in "Hector the Horrid", when Hector found out the hard way that you should never frighten Rosie in front of Thomas.
    17. Thomas himself as well as the rest of the cast from the franchise do a good job at teaching kids (and even adults) life lessons such as social and emotional skills. In fact, even autistic children can learn from Thomas as well as the rest of the gang.
    18. In some cases, Thomas has demonstrated a perspective of seeing some suspicious moments going on such as the Tiger Hunters' hidden cage, Diesel 10s plans to take over the railway of steam engines with his fellow diesels and Baz and Bernie's whispering.
    19. Although he was flanderized in the Sharon Miller era, he was never flanderized during his show's decline throughout the Big World, Big Adventures! era and still kept his original persona during those seasons.
      • In addition to this, in the Andrew Brenner era of Thomas & Friends, he alongside those who got flanderized during the Miller era redeemed themselves.
      • Thomas was also likeable for the downfall of S9-S11, before he got sadly flanderized, as mentioned above.
      • He was also likeable in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which was his less-than-positively-received feature film.
    20. His theme tune from S1-7 and "The Adventure Begins" hold true to his personality.
    21. Thomas contributed in "The Official BBC Children in Need" program in "The Official BBC Children in Need Medley" in 2009 and he even got his own "Children in Need" video in 2018.
    22. In terms of the CGI series, his CGI models from Nitrogen Studios, Arc Productions, and Jam Filled Entertainment all look really good and stay true to the model designs from seasons 1-12.

    "Cinders and Ashes" Qualities

    1. Of course, just like most iconic characters, he got flanderized during the Sharon Miller era as he became more moronic and just plain happy all the time and in Thomas & Friends: All Engines Go when he became so much more childish and useless.
    2. There are a handful of episodes where he is unlikable (even before and after flanderization), such as:
      • “Woolly Bear”
      • “Emily’s New Coaches”
      • “What’s the Matter with Henry?”
      • “Spotless Record”
      • “Salty’s Stormy Tale”
      • “Something Fishy”
      • “Thomas and the Circus”
      • ”Thomas and the Rainbow”
      • ”Thomas and the New Engine”
      • ”Thomas and the Statue”
      • ”Follow That Flour”
      • ”Thomas’ Tricky Tree”
      • ”Seeing the Sights”
      • ”Topped Off Thomas”
      • ”Thomas’ Frosty Friend”
      • ”Thomas and the Big Bang”
      • ”Thomas in Trouble”
      • ”The Other Side of the Mountain”
      • ”Rosie is Red”
      • ”Thomas Makes a Mistake”
      • ”Too Loud, Thomas!”
    3. Inconsistent portrayals here and there:
      • He has shown to be a great singer in "The Great Race" through songs, but in "Too Loud, Thomas!", his attempts at opera come off pretty annoying.
      • In "Ace's Brave Jump", Thomas is happy to see Ace again, even though Ace convinced Thomas to play a trick on Nia while she, Ace, and even Thomas were in the United States.
    4. He got very little screen-time in his first feature film: Thomas and the Magic Railroad, which lead to the movie flopping at the box office, despite receiving divisive reception from fans anyway, but at least he was still likeable.
    5. The way he gets angry at other engines for pulling Annie and Clarabel, after "Emily's New Coaches", comes off as shallow and plain mean-spirited. It was depicted as a trope by fans where another engine pulls Thomas' loyal carriages, Thomas gets all hissy at another engine over taking Annie and Clarabel like a spoiled brat (as shown in "Thomas and the New Engine").
    6. Like SMG4, his newer designs in the late BWBA era, while pretty good and accurate, can look way too overly-detailed to some.
      • In addition, his new design in the infamous All Engines Go is bad, as it makes Thomas look too young.
        • His prototype design thereof is even worse.
        • While not bad overall, its CGI design is divisive due to being unnecessary, as there was no reason to change the model design.



    • Thomas was the first character in the Railway Series to have a number. According to Brian Sibley in Thomas The Tank Engine Man, Awdry used the number one because it was the easiest to draw.
    • Thomas was the first character introduced in the television series.
    • From the first to twelfth series during the model era, Thomas had three different facial expressions: furious, frustrated and jovial; that were not used on-screen. His unused second series jovial face mask, however, was designed in The Great Festival Adventure game, where Thomas was teasing Gordon about being on the turntable.
      • Also in the tenth series episode "Topped Off Thomas", his unused third series enraged face was used where Thomas was arguing with Spencer about going or not going faster than the wind and later challenging him to a race to Kellsthorpe Road.
      • Sometime before or during the production of the fourth series, Thomas had an elderly face mask, created by model maker Jeremy King, which was originally made as a joke to David Mitton during the filming of Thomas and the Magic Railroad.
    • In the American and Finnish cast, Thomas is the only character voiced by Joseph May and Juha Varis in the series.
    • Thomas' LBSC number, 70, was actually carried by a real LB&SCR locomotive, an A1 named "Poplar" currently preserved by the Kent & East Sussex Railway. The number also represents the top speed of his basis and the 70th anniversary of the Railway Series. All the actual E2s, however, were only numbered from 100 to 109.
    • According to Sir Topham Hatt on the 2001 version of the official website, Thomas was given his name by the engine workshop which built him.
    • Thomas is one of three characters to have a speaking role in every series and special, the other two being Henry and James.
    • Following Mr. Conductor in Thomas and the Magic Railroad, Thomas became the second character to narrate in first-person.
    • In Calling All Engines!, Thomas sleep-whistles. This is apparently the steam engine version of snoring, though instead typical snoring sounds, Thomas makes warbling whistles after pausing before the next toot. This was only mentioned in Calling All Engines as it might be because his crew never shut off his steam properly.
    • He has the most nicknames of any character, with nineteen in total.
    • Thomas has the distinction of having the first speaking role in the series premiere and last line of the series finale. However, he does not have the last line in the produced series finale
    • He is the first Sudrian engine with a separate driver in international locations.
    • He is the only vehicle character with headwear (a nightcap in the series 9-12 closing segments, a party hat in the ninth series episode "Thomas' Milkshake Muddle", an aviator pilot hat in the tenth series episode "Sticky Toffee Thomas" and a top hat in the same episode and the eleventh series episode "Smoke and Mirrors" (if one were to also count The Fat Controller's top hat in "Topped Off Thomas"), not counting Whiff's glasses or Darcy's visor (or the Santa caps on all the vehicles in the early Christmas episodes).
    • Thomas is the first character in the show to have lost his voice onscreen with the twenty-third series episode "Too Loud, Thomas!". With this, he is the third character on the show with a speech impediment (albeit temporarily) after Fergus and Theo.
    • Thomas is the only original member of the current Steam Team not to have handrails across his boiler or side tanks.
    • To celebrate Easter in 2017, a giant 140kg chocolate sculpture of Thomas was displayed at Kings Cross Station. Made out of real Belgian chocolate, the display piece was sculpted in 250 hours by three master chocolatiers and was surrounded by TrackMaster engines running around. An actor dressed as Sir Topham Hatt was on hand to hand out easter eggs.
    • Thomas was one of two engines featured on a poster for the NWR. The other was Gordon.


    Loading comments...
    Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.
    Cookies help us deliver our services. By using our services, you agree to our use of cookies.