Ryan was brought to help run Thomas' Branch Line while Thomas was sent to help out at the construction yard during the building of the Harwick Branch Line. After Thomas fell into a deep cavern, Ryan was once again brought to do his job while he was being repaired. After taking bad coal, he accidentally set fire to some dynamite, which Thomas managed to dispose of quickly - however, the incident also landed Thomas in trouble with Sir Topham Hatt. Ryan later helped stop Captain Calles' Pirate Ship, which was being used by Sailor John to escape with the treasure. When Thomas was fished out of the water, Sir Topham Hatt told Thomas that Ryan told him everything that had happened, and that he was proud of him. Soon afterward, Ryan started work on the Harwick Branch Line as the goods engine, with Daisy as the passenger engine.
Ryan had to help Toby take stone from Anopha Quarry to Harwick. But, he ended up doing Daisy's extra jobs too, and became so over-worked that he took his passengers to the quarry instead of Knapford Station. Later, Ryan found Judy and Jerome at Knapford. They had grown tired of sitting there for ages, so Ryan took them to Arlesburgh Harbour. He then went looking for Judy and Jerome when Daisy derailed near a signal box. Ryan looked everywhere for the breakdown cranes and finally found them at the Blue Mountain Quarry.
When Diesel tricked Harvey into making tension between him and Daisy, he told Ryan that Harvey was saying that he was more useful then her. Ryan later told Daisy this, making her cross. At Christmastime, Daisy complained to Ryan, Judy and Jerome about how Christmas wasn't the same as previous years, but Ryan reminded her that both he and Daisy did not share a shed a few years ago, nor were Judy and Jerome stationed at Arlesburgh.
Ryan is an affable engine, who goes out of his way to be kind and is concerned when he sees others in trouble. Ryan would like to be a hero, but he is not actually as brave as he wishes he was and has a tendency to panic a little in the face of danger. It does not put him off trying though. Ryan is direct and sincere, but he has a good sense of humour too and is not above making a joke at his own expense. Ryan also appears to be somewhat of a pushover, as evidenced by how easily Daisy was able to make him do her work.
Ryan is based on the Great Northern Railway Class N2. Designed by Sir Nigel Gresley as a improvement of Henry Ivatt's Class N1, these locomotives were fitted with condensing apparatus because they were used for inter-city work in the Metropolitan areas of London, while later examples were usually seen around Glasgow and Edinburgh in Scotland. One member of this class, No. 1744 has been preserved and operates on the North Norfolk Railway in Norfolk. In addition to being the sole survivor of its class, 1744 is also the sole surviving example of a Gresley designed tank engine.
Ryan is painted purple with white and gold lining. He has the letters "GNR" painted on his tanks in gold. The number "1014" is painted on his bunker sides in the same colour. He also has brass nameplates on the sides of his boiler.
- 2015 - Pirate Treasure, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure: Sticker Activity Book, and Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure: The Movie Storybook
- 2016 - 6-Movie Coloring Collection (cameo), The Great Race (cameo), The Great Race: The Movie Storybook (cameo) and The Great Railway Show (cameo)
- 2017 - Thomas' Color Book
- 2018 - Character Encyclopedia
- Eddie Redmayne (UK/US; Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure only)
- Steven Kynman (UK/US; twentieth series onwards)
- Daigo Naitō (Japan; Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure only)
- Katsuhiro Tokuishi (Japan; twentieth series onwards)
- Héctor Emmanuel Gómez (Latin America; Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure only)
- Gerardo Mendoza (Latin America; twentieth series onwards)
- Kaihiamal Martínez (Latin America; DC Super Friends™ San Diego Comic Con only)
- Oliver Böttcher (Germany; Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure only)
- Timo Kinzel (Germany; twentieth series onwards)
- Przemysław Stippa (Poland; Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure only)
- Bartosz Martyna (Poland; twentieth series onwards)
- Huub Dikstaal (The Netherlands)
- Gilan Shachaf (Israel; Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure only)
- Zvika Fohrman (Israel; twentieth series onwards)
- Ryan's Trackmaster prototype shows him with the correct purple wheels, but when the final product came out, his wheels were black. However, this was corrected with the Trackmaster pack, 'Ryan and Jerome.'
- In the original script of Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, Ryan was portrayed as being "overconfident and dismissive", as compared to his final portrayal. All merchandise descriptions of him still mention this personality.
- His whistle sound is the same one used for Smudger.
- Ryan was named after the founder of Sodor Island Fansite (SiF) and Thomas fan, Ryan Hagan.