Thomas the Train is a beloved British children’s show that is adored by millions of kids. It follows the adventures of Thomas the Train, a blue locomotive and his fellow train car friends. The adventures always involve them solving a problem and learning a life lesson along the way.
How many Thomas characters are there? In total there are actually 1005 not including any of the human characters in the show, with the main character being Thomas the Tank Engine.
Read below to find out more about the most popular characters from the Thomas the Tank series.
While there are many different characters in the Thomas and Train group the most popular are listed below.
Thomas The Tank Engine
Thomas is a blue tank engine and is the lead character of the show, “Thomas and Friends”. His character is cheeky and loves to go on adventures. Sometimes those adventures get him into trouble. He tries very hard to be a “really useful engine” so he tries to do things that are better left to bigger engines. Thomas and his friends work in the North Western Railway on an island named Sodor.
Percy is a green engine. He was so beloved he was given the lead in two separate Thomas the Train movies, “Day Of The Diesels” and “Tale Of The Brave”. He is a happy go lucky type of engine and the others tend to take advantage of his happiness to be around the engine yard all day. Even though Percy was built in 1900 he is one of the youngest of the trains in the trainyard.
James is a red engine who thinks he is of noble quality because of his fine paint which he received after having a crash on his first day with Thomas and friends. This can lead him to question what kind of work a noble engine such as himself can do, which ends up putting him into trouble once in a while.
Toby is an old fashioned train that was nearly scrapped but found a use in the quarry. He is brown and wooden and can be temperamental at times. He is also wise and often helps Thomas and Percy when they have disagreements.
Oliver is a brave green tank engine who was saved from being scrapped. He was rescued by Douglas while trying to reach Sodor and getting sidetracked. As a result he gets a new coat of paint and he is very proud of it.
Gordon comes off as having a tough exterior but a softer, caring interior. This blue engine is the oldest of the trains in Sodor. He is goodhearted, always willing to forgive and uses his strength to help others in need but he can be boastful at times.
Donald and Douglas
Donald and Douglas love to play pranks on the other engines and their antics always lead to trouble. Donald and Douglas are both strong engines and sometimes forget just how strong they are. They never take anything that happens too seriously, always trying to have fun. The two brothers are always ready to help their fellow trains. When first arriving they had been frightened that one of them would be scrapped so they quietly made arrangements with the crew to be shipped together. Despite the new owners only ordering one train, the brother engines proved how well they could push snow and the new owners decided to keep both of them.
Duncan, a Scottish train engine, has a rock and roll side to his personality and can end up sounding grumpy and rude at times. He tends to go where the “wind takes him”. His arrival on the show was as a spare engine, which was ill-mannered and rough in nature. In his cynical viewpoint he was always overworked. Over time and getting to know the other engines his demeanor has improved considerably.
Henry is a green engine. He is high strung and fast but shows a lot of sympathy for others. He is definitely a hard worker and is known as “an enterprising engine.” He was involved in an accident and after he received his new coat of paint, green in color, with red stripes.
Edward’s character is one of determination in the name of kindness. Sir Topham Hatt turns to Edward when there is trouble and he helps to calm the other trains. Edward is a blue engine. He is one of the oldest engines in Sodor and is friendly with everyone. His favorite thing to do is work with trucks.
Bill and Ben
Bill and Ben, like Donald and Douglas, are twins. They too are mischievous and like to tease the other trains. They keep busy shunting trucks all day. Both of them have saddles that cover their smoke boxes and are smaller sized engines. Ben is a bit more cautious than Bill but other than that they are pretty much identical.
Duck is boxy and green, cheerful and busy and he doesn’t let the bigger trains order him about. He is a hard worker and has been quoted as saying “there are only two ways to do things: the Great Western way, and the wrong way.” His original job, before coming to Sodor, was as one of the only engines that worked on station pilot duties in Paddington.
Bloomer was about to be scrapped when Sir Topham Hatt found him in an abandoned shed. He was painted a beautiful red and only comes out during special occasions.
Rusty is a very friendly engine. He is super reliable as he works on maintenance of the other engines. He sometimes pulls passenger cars as well. He does tend to be a worry wart when it comes to the upkeep of the line. Sometimes this can annoy the other engines.
He is a heartfelt, fatherly type who has a lot of respect for others. He previously missed being included in a sale and was left in an old shed. The shed was then hidden by a landslide and he stayed buried there for 20 years. Once he was discovered he was restored back to service.
Although most of the characters in Thomas the Train series are male there are a few, very beloved female characters as well.
Annie and Clarbel
Normally pulled by Thomas, Annie and Clarbel are a team of coaches, and are orange and brown. They are an indispensable part of the train family since they carry passengers.
Emily is an emerald-colored train engine who does odd jobs on the Main Line and was appointed as a safety train engine for her bravery in saving Oliver. Emily can be hard to deal with as she is bossy, snobby and can be condescending. She can cause drama to form from her stubbornness and refusal to follow directions. Despite the frustration of her attitudes she can also be kind, thoughtful and helpful when she wants to be.
Mavis is a black, boxy, diesel engine that is very kind to all the other trains. She takes pride in her work and takes the time to help organize the other trains at the quarry when they need it. She is thought of fondly by both the steam engines and the diesel engines. She is a peaceful character who loves bringing others together.
Molly’s job was hauling “empties” when she first appeared on the Thomas series. Emily made fun of her for that but Thomas helped to show Molly’s importance to the other trains. Molly is a bright yellow engine and she carries coal and water.
Rosie is purple and has cute freckles. She is a fun, friendly train that Thomas gets along well with. They like to play water games together.
There are a few characters in the shows and movies that are not trains but are still vehicles of some sort. Continue reading below to learn more about them.
Harold, a white patrol helicopter, is nicknamed whirlybird and he loves to be helpful. He can sometimes be boastful and sometimes gets annoyed if he has nothing to do and gets bored.
Trevor is a green Traction engine. He was found by Edward who saved him from going to a scrapyard. He is old fashioned and tends to be a bit slow. He is most useful in helping with construction needs. He absolutely loves to give rides to children as well.
Bulgy used to be red but is now green. He is a double decker bus who’s favorite phrase is “Free the roads!” He believes that all the railways will be replaced by roads. He is now a mobile vegetable stand and he has fun delivering fruits and vegetables to everyone on the island.
Caroline is an elderly car that does not like to go fast. It tires her out. She does have a soft side and appreciates the friends she has.
Butch is a blue vehicle used for towing broken down vehicles on the island. He helps take care of the island by moving any broken down cars and lorries and keeps the rubble picked up. If there are auto accidents he helps out. He tows stranded vehicles. He was one of the first of Thomas’ friends to have facial hair.
He is a barge that is used to carry coal and stone and he is quite disagreeable. He loves to complain if he is not being loaded fast enough. Through an accident with Percy, Bulstrode was damaged and is now a children’s playground.
The human characters in Thomas the Train add a bit of charm all their own. Here are a few of them and what they do on the show.
Sir Topham Hatt
He is also known as the Fat Controller and he controls the direction the trains need to go in and sometimes works on the engines. In his past he drove a steam engine himself. He can be shrewd but always lets the trains know he is proud of them with his phrase “You are a really useful engine!”
She is an elderly lady who once saved Thomas from crashing when an avalanche blocked the railway. The crew were so thankful and a warm friendship began where they helped her celebrate Christmas and get presents for her daughter’s wedding.
As Trevor’s driver, he helped save Trevor from scrap. He is a mechanic who has a love for older vehicles and loves restoring things.
Farmer Trotter is a pig farmer who also has sheep and bees. He is good friends with the other farmers as well.
She is Sir Topham Hatt’ mother and she visits often. She has a Dalmation who earned the name Gremlin after he became frightened during one of their visits and ran away. They were able to find him hiding out in Thomas’ cab.
She is known as Miss Jenny. She is a red haired Irish woman who owns a construction company. She calls her machines “The Pack” and they are friends with the trains.
The Vicar of Wellsworth
The Vicar was instrumental in saving Trevor the Traction Engine and gave him a job in his orchard. He holds Sunday School outings and garden parties. He hires some of the Friends to give rides during holiday celebrations. He also takes care of bees and gives honey to his friends as gifts. He normally dresses in black with a wide brimmed hat.
The Refreshment Lady
She owns a shop called “Neptune’s Refreshments” and she sells tea and other things to the passengers. She now also has a mobile shop that was set up in a disused coach that some of the other trains helped her with.
The animal friends play an important role in Thomas the Train as well.
Gremlin is the beloved pet of the Dowager Hatt’s. He had been frightened by a bull and had run into Thomas’ cab.
She is a pet mouse that was first discovered by Thomas when he heard a strange squeak coming from one of the coaches he was helping. She was given a home and named Allicia then.
A cute koala, he lives in Australia and has been helped and saved by Thomas a few times.
A circus elephant who was discovered by Henry’s work crew in a tunnel, he was treated with cakes and water but became nervous and blew water all over Henry.
In her sadness of losing her calf to the market she wandered onto the train tracks where she was discovered by Gordon and Henry. They tried to talk her off of the tracks but she refused. She finally moved when she was reunited with her calf and they happily went away together.
Dilly was purposely slipped into Donald’s tender as a means of revenge for Donald teasing Duck about his quacking. She became friends with Donald and she ended up living in a pond at Haultraugh. She did end up leaving at one point but came back a few months later with a mate and ducklings.
Pegasus was named by Percy as he mistakenly thought the horse was flying. In reality he had gotten trapped in a ditch and Harold winched him free which sent him flying through the air.
Katie is a timid border collie who does not like loud noises. She loves to attend country shows with her owner and is often seen with other people on the island helping them as well. She is owned by Farmer McColl.
History of Thomas the Train
Thomas the Train is based on a series of books derived by Reverend Wilbert Awdry. He came up with the stories for his son who was down with measles in 1942 but penned the first book in 1945, the last in 1972. In all there were a total of 26 books.
By the time Awdry was able to finish the “The Railway Series”, the beginning of the books, real train engines had moved from steam engines to diesel and electric engines. That spurred a further series of diesel-based engines; however, steam engines still were the main characters in the series.
The original trains in the book series were Edward, Henry, and Gordon. Thomas was not prominent in the books until the minister made a model of Thoma for his son.
After the minister passed away, his son Christopher wrote 16 more books to continue the legacy his father had started.
The series first started as smaller segments on Shining Time Station before it was picked up by PBS as its own show in 1989. The segment was called Thomas and Friends but once it was picked up by PBS it was changed to Thomas the Tank Engine.
The national Autistic Society did a survey in 2001 and experts found autistic children were helped by the simple facial expressions made by Thomas and Friends. It helped them understand displays of emotion.
The show involves multiple trains, the most famous are listed in the article above. There is also the train conductor/controller named Sir Topham Hatt. He tends to guide the other trains when he can and relies on other engines to help when he needs extra assistance.
The series and the shows all have different personality types in their characters. They all clash at times, hurt each other’s feelings and find ways to apologize and fix the issues. And they always pull together and help each other when the other is in need, just like true friends do.
There are many events planned each year for Thomas the Train enthusiasts. These events are held in various places across the United States. Most are planned for 2-3 day increments and include activities such as fun on the Play Pod and photo ops in the Dream Big Corner. There are lawn games, gift shops full of toys and a chance to ride aboard Thomas the Train himself. The ride is interactive to allow your little engineers’ imaginations to soar. You can view times and ticket prices here.
You can also ride on Thomas the Train in Pennsylvania. This 45 minute ride takes you through Lancaster, PA and costs $25.00 a person. The cars are historical Victorian in style complete with a potbelly stove for the colder seasons. This trip includes photo ops with other trains as well like Rusty and Mavis. You can visit with Sir Topham Hatt and have a dance party with live singers and dancers. You can purchase tickets and see all dates available here. The Railroad Museum of Pennsylvania is close by and you can purchase tickets to enter separately from the museum.
- In 1957 kits were sold for Thomas the Train that allowed kids to put together cardboard versions of Thomas, Percy, Gordon, and James.
- A Day Out with Thomas, a 9 day event was held in Wisconsin in 1996 where families could ride a 15-ton version of Thomas. This was the first event in the United States.
- Thomas was originally a teal green and had a driver named Bob.
- In 1996 the website for Thomas was launched.
Thomas the Train and his friends are loved by children worldwide. They teach morals and standards, kindness and friendship. They always lend a hand to their fellow trains and work hard to get the job done.
There are numerous movies and shows aired on PBS so your little one will never run out of episodes to watch and love. As they get to know all of the characters they can then go to the events and enjoy the magic of riding on Thomas the Train himself.