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

“I'm sorry, sir. I only said 'good morning'."
Where's your cowcatcher?"
"But I don't catch cows, sir."
"Don't be funny!”
―Thomas and the policeman

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 some 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 has just retired, he whistles to him in greeting. 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 not having any cowcatchers or sideplates fitted. 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. Thomas' driver explains the problem to the Fat Controller; and they both try to reason with the policeman who sternly refuses to give in, saying that the law must be upheld. The Fat Controller decides that there is no use in arguing and concedes that they will have to make cowcatchers for Thomas. Thomas is distressed by this, worrying that people will say he looks like a tram. This comment reminds the Fat Controller of Toby, the tram engine he met while on holiday. Knowing that the tram engine's line has lost its business to buses and lorries, the Fat Controller writes to Toby's controller asking if he can come to Sodor.

A few days later, Toby arrives and is greeted by the Fat Controller, who notices that he has brought Henrietta, who was going to be turned into a henhouse, with him and allows her to stay as well. Toby proves to be exceptional at handling trucks, and although Thomas is jealous at first, they become good friends when Toby 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.
  • In the scene where the Fat Controller is talking on the phone, the voice on the other end is actually a sped-up snippet of dialogue from a later scene in the episode, specifically, the one where the Fat Controller argues with the policeman. This was used again in Off the Rails, along with several other quotes from this episode.
  • Stock footage from Thomas' Train was used in the original version. The restored version uses a different shot where Thomas has a different happy face, presumably unused footage from said episode. A deleted scene from Coal is used as well.
  • The shot of Thomas puffing away sadly was used in the intro for 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 first series episode introduced by Matthew Kelly before his departure from Children's ITV. However, Matthew would later introduce the entire second series in 1986.
  • The shot of Thomas looking at the policeman in anger became an internet meme in July 2019.
  • This episode was never released on VHS and DVD in South Korea.


  • In the restored version, during the first close-up of Thomas, his wheels do not move for the first two seconds of the shot.
  • When 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" are already written in the policeman's notebook before Thomas' driver says that they had traveled along the line before.
  • Clarabel is facing the wrong way when Thomas puffs away from the policeman and when Toby passes Elsbridge at the end.
  • 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, "They'll say I'll look like a tram," the bush beside him moves slightly and his smokebox saddle is cracked.
  • Before Toby passes Thomas, the track in front of him wobbles.
  • In the Serbian dub, Ringo Starr's dub can be heard clearly in the background.


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

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets




DVD Boxsets

  • Complete Series 1-10
  • Classic Collection
  • Series One and Series Two Double Pack




  • The Flying Kipper (DVD)






  • Thomas the Tank Engine 2







DVD Packs






  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4