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"Where's your cowcatcher?"
"But I don't catch cows, sir."
"Don't be funny!
— The policeman and Thomas

Thomas in Trouble, retitled Thomas Breaks the Rules in American releases, is the twenty-second episode of the first season.


One day, Thomas is leaving the quarry at the end of his branch line with both trucks and Annie and Clarabel. The rails here run alongside the road, so Thomas is always careful at this point in his run and whistles to make sure no one gets hurt. Thomas sees a new policeman on his bike and, having been friends with the previous policeman who had just retired, he whistles good morning to him. Unfortunately, this policeman is not in the mood to be friendly.

The policeman first complains about Thomas' whistling after muttering over not getting much sleep last night, and then tells Thomas that he is breaking the law by not wearing cowcatchers and sideplates on the road. Thomas gets angry, and his driver argues that they have never had an accident before. But the policeman claims that it makes things worse, and the policeman brands Thomas a "regular law breaker." Thomas then continues sadly to the station.

In his dining room, the Fat Controller is having breakfast when he is phoned about Thomas' incident with the police. Rushing to the station, the Fat Controller is told what happened, and talks to the policeman who won't back down while staying loyal to his duties. The Fat Controller concedes that Thomas will need to be fitted with cowcatchers and sideplates. Thomas is distraught by this, saying that he will be laughed at for looking like a tram. The comment causes the Fat Controller to be reminded of Toby. Knowing that the tram engine is losing a lot of his work to buses and lorries, the Fat Controller writes a letter to Toby's controller asking if he can be sent to Sodor.


A few days later, Toby arrives, and is greeted by the Fat Controller, who notices that Toby has brought Henrietta with him and is more than happy to allow her to stay as well. Toby soon proves to have a talent for handling the trucks. Although Thomas is jealous at first, he quickly becomes good friends with Toby, especially when Toby uses his bell to frighten the policeman.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book Toby the Tram Engine.
  • A portrait of a Victorian-style steam engine depicted with a moustache can be seen at Topham Hall.
  • The dialogue of Sir Topham Hatt's butler saying that he's wanted on the telephone and Sir Topham Hatt saying "Bother that telephone!" became a popular internet meme.
  • As the Fat Controller was listening to the phone, the fast-talk is simply the quote within the episode 'But no matter how much he argued, it was no good "The Law is the Law" he said, "and we can't change it!" The Fat Controller felt exhausted.' sped up. This was also used in Off the Rails, but with more quotes from this episode within.
  • Stock footage from Thomas' Train is used, though only in the original version (restored only uses a different footage, presumably alternative from said episode).
  • Footage of Thomas puffing away sadly was used for the intro of Storytime with Thomas, albeit Thomas' face was edited.
  • A deleted scene shows Toby pulling his train past Tidmouth Sheds.


  • In the first close-up of the policeman talking, the camera wobbles.
  • In the restored version, during the first close-up of Thomas, his wheels do not move for the first two seconds of the shot.
  • The policeman looks more sad than cross after the narrator says "He was red in the face and very cross."
  • As Thomas is seen stopping and talking to the policeman, a small black spot is seen on the top right corner of his tank.
  • When Thomas' driver says "Rubbish, we've been along here hundreds of times," the brim of his cap is falling off.
  • In the restored version, the words "Regular lawbreaker" were written long before the narrator says that the policeman wrote them in his notebook.
  • When the Fat Controller talks to the policeman, the brim of his top hat has paint chips in it.
  • Before Toby comes onscreen after frightening the policeman, the track he is on wobbles.
  • In a picture of Thomas at Elsbridge and when Thomas first stops by the policeman, his eyes are wonky.
  • Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas puffs away from the policeman.
  • In the Serbian version, Ringo Starr's narration can be heard in the background.


  • Buzz Books - Thomas in Trouble
  • Magazine Stories - Thomas in Trouble
  • Ladybird Books - Toby and the Stout Gentleman and Thomas in Trouble

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets




  • Coal and other stories
  • Playtime
  • The Complete Series 1
  • My First Thomas with Toby and Edward

DVD Boxsets

  • Classic Collection
  • Series One and Series Two Double Pack