Thomas & Friends TV Poster Image

Thomas & Friends



Thomas and his train friends huff and chuff around.
Popular with kids

What parents need to know

Educational value

Kids will learn positive social lessons about teamwork and cooperation; they'll also be exposed to vocabulary words like "reliable," "determined," and "useful."

Positive messages

Though Thomas and his friends sometimes feel "cross" with one another, they rely on one another for help and support. Themes include perseverance and compassion.

Positive role models

The characters work well together and are good friends. On the (relative) downsite, there aren't many female characters.

Violence & scariness
Not applicable
Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable

There are lots of tie-in Thomas products available, but there's no brand placement within the show itself.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Thomas & Friends is told through the voice of a single narrator and is compelling even for the youngest viewers, without overstimulating young children's sensitive field of perception. It is generally a male-centric series, though a few females do make appearances.

What's the story?

In THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE & FRIENDS, on the fictional island of Sodor, Thomas the Tank Engine and his other engine friends are kept busy porting loads of steel, food, and passenger cars to meet the demands of their human counterparts. Model engines with expressive faces are the media with which this tale is told, creating a fascinating fictional world that many young viewers will enjoy. By staying true to the single-voice narration, the storybook aspect of the show has been well maintained.

Is it any good?


Parents can be assured that this series has educational aspects as well as behavioral modeling. The Thomas the Tank Engine stories were conceived by a young British boy early in the 20th century, who would listen to the trains as they chuffed through the countryside. The stories he told his son -- who has consequently passed them on to his own son -- have been documented in books and toy train models. Since the series was introduced to television viewers in the 1980s, Thomas & Friends has seen a healthy fan base sprout worldwide. Some of the expressions on the train's faces can be a tiny bit creepy, but the intention behind the animation is good, as follows the tradition of a well-told story.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the role that Thomas and his friends play in the Sodor community in Thomas & Friends. How do they help their community and each other?

  • Do you think the various train characters enjoy their jobs or not? Why aren't there more female trains?

  • How do the characters in Thomas & Friends demonstrate perseverance and compassion? Why are those important character strengths?

TV details

Premiere date:October 9, 1984
Cast:Michael Angelis
Genre:Kids' Animation
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Friendship, Trains
Character strengths:Compassion, Perseverance
TV rating:TV-Y
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Parent of a 2 and 4 year old Written byreedsmom March 20, 2009

What's up with the RUDE Thomas Shows?

My son has been watching Thomas since he was 2, he has an obsession with Thomas the Tank toys, shows, movies, anything to do with it. At a certain point I had to take away all the video watching as it came to my attention that the engines are all very RUDE to each other most of the time. Occasionally there is a decent message, but the focus is mostly on the rude behavior and my son started imitating it!!!! Recently I brought the shows back out, this time trying to fast forward through the unacceptable episodes, but I had to cut it off when an episode from the Halloween DVD featuring the "trouble trucks" (my son's favorite!) the first word of the show is "Shut Up!" and the engine named Duck bashes into a bunch of trouble trucks! I was shocked and turned it off immediately! What a horrible thing for a children's show! They blame each other for things, I'm so disappointed. Why is there not more talk about this? What's more is that while he was playing with his trains yesterday he acted out the scene and I heard him say "shut up!". Now I have to explain to him that that is not a nice thing to say and he is confused as to why..."but Duck said that" he looks at my confused. Argh!@#!
Adult Written bylorildixon April 9, 2008

An excellent series for children

Currently Thomas only comes on PBS, in my area, once a week. Thankfully we own several videos also. With all of the junk shows out there, we are so glad to have Thomas available. My two year old and my five year old both love Thomas. They also love to 'read' the books and play with the trains. It is fine that the trains get cross with one another and such. We protect our children from being around mean or rude people and this is a great opportunity to explain to our children that not everyone is always nice. Some are grumpy and trouble makers. On Thomas, they work it out. Sometimes the trains persevere difficult things to get the job done. Sometimes they say something rude to someone then end up having to rely on that train to help them out. This series shows children how to get along with others (even when its tough) and many other social situations.
Parent of a 2 year old Written byShawnaLanne January 24, 2009

Behavioral Modeling - Yeah it models all the bad things

I began watching this with my son just before he turned 2 and quickly turned it off. Yes, there is behavioral modeling, and trains who are acting 'badly' always get it in the end and learn a lesson, but along with the lesson they learn, I believe it's also teaches bad behavior with examples of jealousy and envy and plain old mean spiritidness. I know this has a big following, and it is age appropriate, but I don't want my son modeling his behavior on these trains.