Main page

This article is about 'the episode'. You may be looking for 'the Buzz Book'.
"Poor old engine! It's no good, Stuart. You can't win."
— Duke

You Can't Win is the fourth episode of the fourth season. It aired in the US on the Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales episode, Splish Splash Splosh in 1996.


Duke is not feeling well and needs a rest. His crew clear his tubes and Stuart arrives and jokes if he is short of puff, but Duke says it is routine maintenance. But Stuart suggests that he and Falcon keep him in working order in case of any breakdowns. Duke pays no attention, and begins to leave.

That evening, Duke, unable to stay cross any longer, begins taking his passengers home. Most of the journey starts out all smoothly until they come to a hill where he starts wheezing with valves leaking steam. Duke finds it not easy but still manages to get to the station. Falcon and Stuart arrive to help him. The three engines then split up at the next station so Falcon can take Duke's train to the docks so Duke and Stuart can take Falcon's train home.

Stuart is delighted, bragging he may be rescuing Duke from any trouble but Duke is not quite out of steam and makes a grand effort, despite the nasty sound of his valves. Duke and his driver start puffing as soon as they reach the hill. After arriving at the top station, a boy thinks that two engines are not needed for the train but his father tells his son that Duke had to help Stuart as a result of a breakdown. Stuart becomes furious and he vanishes in a cloud of steam. Duke then teases Stuart that it was no good and he can't win.




  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Duke the Lost Engine.
  • Behind the scenes footage of the episode was filmed in 1994 as part of a Thomas & Friends segment for WIN Television's Sixty Minutes.
  • This episode marks Duke's last individual speaking role to date, outside of a group line in Steam Roller.
  • This is the only episode based off of a story from Duke the Lost Engine not told by Thomas to the other standard gauge engines.


  • As Stuart is being coupled up to Duke, Duke is wearing one of Falcon's faces.
  • At the beginning, Stuart has Rheneas' whistle sound. Also, when Falcon takes Duke's passengers to the boat, he has Rheneas' whistle sound. Later, when Stuart leaves the station with Duke, Stuart has Falcon's whistle sound.
  • In a rare still of Stuart coupling up to Duke's train, his funnel is loose and his lining is peeling off.
  • In a deleted scene, it is not sundown when Duke and Stuart enter Crovan's Gate.
  • In a rare Japanese still, Duke is seen coupled in front of Stuart instead of behind him.


Home Media Releases


DVD Packs


  • Thomas and Stepney and other Stories (Direct-to-Home Video)
  • The Complete Series 4

DVD Packs

  • Classic Collection
  • Series Three and Series Four Double Pack