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For other uses, see Thomas in Trouble (disambiguation).

“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 series. It is based on the story of the same name from the Railway Series book Toby the Tram Engine.


One day, Thomas is leaving the quarry at the end of his branch line with both trucks and his coaches. 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 is in his way. Thomas sees a new policeman by the crossing and having been friends with the previous Constable who recently retired, he whistles 'good morning' to him. Unfortunately, the policeman is not in the mood to be friendly.

The policeman first complains about engines whistling after stating he did not get any sleep the night before, and then claims to Thomas that he is breaking the law by having no fitted cowcatchers or sideplates. Thomas' driver protests that they have been along this road many times before without an accident, but the policeman retorts that it makes things worse and brands Thomas a "Regular Law Breaker" in his notebook. Thomas then continues sadly back to the station.

In his dining room, the Fat Controller is having breakfast with his wife when he is phoned about Thomas' incident with the police. He grabs his hat and rushes to the junction, where Thomas' driver explains what happened, and they both try to reason with the policeman who sternly refuses to back down, saying that the law must be upheld. The Fat Controller decides that there is no use in arguing with the police and concedes that they will have to make cowcatchers for Thomas. Thomas is distressed by this, worrying that people will laugh at him and say he looks like a tram. This comment causes the Fat Controller to be reminded of Toby, realizing that a tram engine is needed on Sodor. Knowing Toby's line has lost its business to buses and lorries, the Fat Controller writes a letter to his 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 he has brought Henrietta with him and allows her to stay as well. Toby proves to be exceptional at handling trucks and although Thomas is jealous at first, he becomes good friends with Toby when he uses his bell to frighten the policeman.




  • A portrait of Earnest, a Victorian-style steam engine with a moustache, can be seen in Topham Hall.
  • During the scene where the Fat Controller is talking on the phone, the voice on the other end is actually a sped up snippet of the Fat Controller's argument with the Policeman and the narration from the UK version. This was used again in Off the Rails, only with more quotes from this episode.
  • In both of Starr's narrations, when the policeman shouts "Oi, you!" at Toby, it is said by a background voice, while in Carlin's version, the shout is changed to "Hey, you!" and is said by Carlin.
  • Stock footage from Thomas' Train was used in the original version. The restored version uses a different shot where Thomas is wearing a different happy face, presumably alternative footage from said episode.
  • A deleted scene from Coal is used.
  • Footage of Thomas puffing away sadly was used for the intro of Storytime with Thomas, albeit with Thomas' happy face plastered over his sad one.
  • A deleted scene shows Toby pulling his train past Tidmouth Sheds.
  • This was the last episode which Matthew Kelly introduced before his departure from Children's ITV. Dirty Objects and Thomas' Christmas Party would air on Christmas Day, followed by the remaining two episodes of the series in 1985. However, Matthew would later introduce the entire second series in 1986.
  • This was the last episode of all four double bill pairings on 20th August 1990.
  • A shot of Thomas looking frustrated at the policeman as he writes in his notebook later became an internet meme in July 2019.
  • Although this episode was the last to air on Children’s ITV on its original airing, the remaining two episodes after this would air as standalone episodes during Christmas 1984 instead of using Children’s ITV until 7th January 1985 a day before the last two episodes aired.


  • 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.
  • As Thomas stops and talks to policeman, the top right corner of his tank has a chip in it.
  • When Thomas' driver says "Rubbish! We've been along here hundreds of times and never had an accident," the brim of his cap is coming off and there is a hole in his chin.
  • The words "Regular Law Breaker" were already written in the policeman's notebook long before Thomas' driver says that they had come along the line many times.
  • In the first shot of Elsbridge station, one of the stairs is crooked.
  • When the Fat Controller talks to the policeman, the brim of his top hat has several chips in it.
  • When Thomas says "Everyone will laugh, sir. They'll say I'll look like a tram," a bush beside him moves a bit and the left part of his smokebox saddle (viewer's right) is cracked.
  • Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas puffs away from the policeman and when Toby passes Elsbridge at the end.
  • Before Toby comes on screen before passing Thomas, the track in front of him wobbles.
  • In the Serbian version, Ringo Starr's narration can be heard in the background.
  • In the Japanese title, the Ffarquhar policeman is called "警察官" (Police Officer), but he is called "警官" (Policeman) in the episode.


In Other Languages

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Language Title
Albanian Tomasi ka telashe
Brazilian Portuguese Thomas Desrespeita a Lei
Canadian French Thomas a des Ennuis
Chinese Mandarin 托马斯有麻烦了
Croatian Tomica u Nevolji
Czech Tomáš má Potíže
Danish Thomas i Knibe
Dutch Thomas in de Nesten
Finnish Tuomas-Veturi Vaikeuksissa
German Thomas in Not
Hebrew תומס בצרות
Hungarian Thomas Bajba Kerül
Italian Thomas nei Guai
Japanese トーマスとけいさつかん
Korean 토마스와 토비의 만남
Latin American Spanish Thomas Rompe las Reglas
Norwegian Thomas i Trøbbel
Polish Kłopoty Tomka
Romanian Thomas are Necazuri
Romansh Tumasch en difficultads
Russian Томас в беде
Serbian Tomas u Nevolji
Slovak Thomas má Problémy
Slovenian Tomaž se Znajde v Težavah
Swedish Thomas i Trubbel
Ukrainian У Томаса неприємності
Welsh Tomos a'r Plismon Newydd

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  • The Flying Kipper (DVD)






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