As a child I read and watched an obscene amount of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends. It wasn't so much that I was obsessed with Thomas, as my brother was obsessed with Thomas. I can't tell you how many hours we spent reading Thomas books, watching Thomas on TV and even doing Thomas puzzles - it was a lot. Then today I stumbled across a Tumblr thread that basically changed my whole view on Thomas and the gang, and dare I say it, actually made me feel pretty depressed for the poor trains of Sodor. Just when you thought it was an innocent children's series....
Thomas the Tank Engine is set in a Post-Apocalyptic safe-zone
That's right, you read correctly. Tumblr user frog-and-toad-are-friends was the first one to plant the seed of the whole theory when he declared that Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends takes place in a post-apocalyptic train depot! Basically, his theory is that the Island of Sodor, where the books and TV show take place, is the only safe-zone in a totalitarian dystopia where steam trains are regularly killed off and their parts are sold or used for repair.
Sounds grim right? Well it only gets worse
He then goes on to find a very fitting quote from one of the Thomas books titled "The Bluebells of England," have a read:
…Engines on the Other Railway aren’t safe now. Their controllers are cruel. They don’t like engines any more. They put them on cold damp sidings, and then, they…they c-c-cut them up.
Whoa! Pretty brutal, but what came after it was even worse as Tumblr user frog-and-toad-are-friends included an illustration from the book, which shows one poor train about to be disassembled with a blowtorch.
One commenter even noted that the train in the background had already had his face taken:
But this wasn't only limited to the book series
Yep, the dark times in Thomas weren't only limited to the books (though these stories were also featured in the literary series). In the TV series there was also the sad tale of Henry, a train who refused to come out of a tunnel in case his paint job was spoiled by the rain so he was bricked up in the tunnel! While it seems like the Fat Controllers plan was to leave poor Henry in the tunnel forever, he was given a second chance only when the Controller was desperate for a second train to help out when Gordon broke down.
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And if Henry's plight wasn't sad enough, then maybe you remember Smudger, a train who was a bit of a show-off and frequently came off the rails after riding roughly.
Although Smudger was warned by Duke, the engine continued on his carefree ways, but soon enough though... that was put to a stop when he was turned into a generator, and stuck behind the shed never to move again.
But isn't Sodor supposed to be a safe-zone?
Meanwhile user unclewhisky brought up a very good point: all of this is happening on Sodor, a supposed 'safe-zone' then is it actually much worse in other railways around the world? Or is that just what the railways of Sodor wants you to think?
Perhaps, unclewhisky muses, the island of Sodor is the real totalitarian regime and the Sodor railways just fill the trains with propaganda about how it's all so much worse at all the other railways. So no matter how bad it is at Sodor — being made into a generator or bricked up in a tunnel — it could be so much worse elsewhere.
It almost doesn't bear thinking about.
Did this fan theory depress you?