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This article is about the episode. You may be looking for the magazine story, the colouring book or the Buzz Book.

“That Henry is too big for his wheels! Fancy speaking to me like that! Me, who has never had an accident!"
"Aren't jammed whistles and burst safety valves accidents?"
"No, indeed! High spirits! Might happen to any engine. But to come off the railslike Henry did, well, I ask you, is it right? Is it decent?”
―Gordon and Percy

Off the Rails, retitled Gordon Takes a Dip in American releases, is the twenty-fourth episode of the first series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Gordon the Big Engine.


One morning, Gordon is resting in a siding while noting to himself that being an important engine can sometimes be very tiring. Henry suddenly pulls up, rudely waking Gordon with his whistle and calling him names. Gordon is very cross, believing that an engine like him who has never had an accident should be respected. Then Percy comes and asks Gordon if jammed whistles and burst safety valves count as accidents. Gordon denies it, saying that those things could happen to any engine, unlike Henry who came off the rails.

It is Henry's day to take the Express and as he prepares to leave, Gordon warns him not to come off the rails, much to his annoyance. After Henry leaves, Gordon tries to go back to sleep, but his driver wakes him and tells him that he is to pull a special train. Gordon is outraged when he learns it is trucks, as he would rather take coaches.

Gordon's fire is unable to burn right away, so Edward pushes him to the turntable to be turned around. Gordon complains the whole way and Edward rebukes him. The movement has gotten Gordon's fire burning nicely and making steam. As the turntable rotates, Gordon is so cross that he is willing to do anything to get out of taking the special, regardless of the consequences. When the table is halfway round, he moves forward in an attempt to jam it, but he cannot stop and slides down some old unused rails into a marshy ditch. Gordon is horrified and shouts for someone to get him out, but his crew sternly refuse, telling him that he is stuck.

"Not a hope, you're stuck, you silly great engine; don't you understand that?"

In his office, the Fat Controller receives a phone call from Gordon's crew, who tell him all that has happened. Seeing Gordon from his window, he sends orders to have Edward take the special train instead and leave Gordon where he is for now. Meanwhile, some little boys come by, see Gordon's predicament and tease him with a rhyme, leaving him humiliated.

Gordon stays in the ditch for hours, thinking he will never get out, until late at night when a rescue team finally comes. After extensive work removing his tender and preparing a road of sleepers to keep his wheels out of the mud, cables are hooked behind him and then he is pulled out by James and Henry. Afterwards, a filthy and disgraced Gordon crawls back to the shed, much sadder and wiser for his experience.




  • During the scene where the Fat Controller is talking on the phone, the phone chatter heard on the other end is actually sped-up dialogue from Thomas in Trouble.
  • According to the boys' song, the events of this episode take place on a Monday.
  • In the US, this episode aired before Whistles and Sneezes, so American viewers would not understand the "jammed whistles" line until George Carlin narrated the aforementioned episode in 1991.
  • A scrap model of Thomas can be seen beside the ditch.
  • When Gordon is shown being lifted from the ditch, an engine's lights can be seen passing to the left; this is the unspecified Märklin engine.
  • In George Carlin's dub, the boys' song "Silly Old Gordon Fell in the Ditch" has the same tune as the Mother Goose rhyme Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush. The song is sung in the same way in the Railway Stories audio version of the original book, which was narrated by Johnny Morris. In both of Ringo Starr's dubs, however, the song uses a different tune.
  • In its original 1985 UK broadcast, this episode was paired up with Down the Mine. However, original VHS releases had it paired up with Dirty Objects, as do Norwegian and Swedish original broadcasts.
  • This episode marks the last appearance of two things:
    • Knapford Sheds' last appearance until the seventh series episode, Something Fishy, not counting the stock footage appearance in the fourth series.
    • Knapford Sheds' last appearance in its original roundhouse design.
  • This episode was never released on VHS and DVD in South Korea.


  • In the original broadcast order, this is the twenty-fifth episode of the first series.
  • In the opening scene, Gordon's front bogie wheels are misaligned and his buffers are crooked.
  • Throughout the episode Gordon has several problems with his eyes:
    • They are very wonky.
    • They jolt several times when he talks to his driver about the special train.
    • His right eye (viewers' left) slightly pops out of his face before he start moving on the turntable.
    • His left eye (viewers' right) has a little divot.
  • In the close-up of Percy, his coupling chain is up, but in the next shot it is suddenly dangling downwards.
  • When Henry pulls up to Gordon with his goods train, Gordon's right trailing wheel is derailed.
  • Henry's top feed is in the wrong place.
  • Percy puffed up next to Gordon, the former's face was rather misaligned and the latter's tender derailed.
  • When Henry is getting ready to take the express, Gordon's driver has blu-tak on his feet.
  • Despite being stated that Gordon was out of steam, he somehow changes position from his siding to the Knapford goods platform before Henry leaves with the express.
  • When Henry leaves with the express, there is a random piece of track that leads to nowhere.
  • When Gordon says "Trucks? Pah!" a piece of hair is visible by his right eye.
  • When Edward is pushing Gordon to the turntable, there is steam coming out of his funnel, even though it is said that his fire was slow to start.
  • In the close-up of Gordon on the turntable, a large gap is visible through his left eye.
  • Due to portions of the script being taken verbatim from the original book, the narrator says that James and Henry helped to rescue Gordon, but only James is seen.
  • In the long shots of James during Gordon's rescue, he has the rescue cable Gordon uses in Percy Runs Away and Down the Mine attached to his middle lamp iron, but in a close-up, he has a chain attached to his front coupling hook instead.
  • When Gordon is being pulled out of the ditch, his buffer beam hits a wooden post.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Albanian Jashtë shinavë
Brazilian Portuguese Gordon, o Sabotador
Chinese Mandarin 脱轨
Croatian Izvan Tračnica
Czech Mimo Koleje
Danish Den Store Afsporing
Dutch Van de Rails Af
Finnish Kiskot Putoaminen
French Le Déraillement
German Entgleist
Hebrew מחוץ למסילה
Hungarian A Vonatsilkás
Italian La Locomotiva Brontolona
Japanese ゴードンみぞにはまる
Korean 도랑에 빠진 고든
Latin American Spanish El Plan de Gordon
Norwegian Ut av Sporet
Polish Wypadek (Original)
Wykolejenie (Alternate)
Romanian Pe Langă Linie
Romansh Gordi fa il bogn
Russian Падение Гордона (Original)
Крушение поезда (Alternate)
Serbian Van Šina
Slovak Mimo Koľaj
Slovenian Gorazd Iztiri
Swedish Ur Spår
Ukrainian Зійшов з рейок
Welsh Cadw ar y Cledrau

Home Media Releases






DVD Boxsets




Latin America

DVD Boxsets







  • The Flying Kipper





  • Thomas the Tank Engine 3



DVD Packs





  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4