My favorite thing about Thomas the Tank Engine is that it canonically takes place in a train post-apocalypse where the Island of Sodor is the only safe zone in a totalitarian dystopia in which steam trains are routinely killed and their body parts are sold or cannibalized for repair.
If you think I'm kidding you need to read the original books.
It took me so long to find this quote online but I did it because it's so much darker than one might expect from Thomas the Tank Engine:
"...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," Percy nearly sobbed, "they...they c-c-cut them up."
- The Bluebells of England, Stepney the Bluebell Engine. Rev. Awdry, Wilbert. London: Egmont Publishing, 1963.
This illustration, by Gunvor and Peter Edwards, accompanied the above text in the original book, and depicts a pair of unfortunate Other Railway engines moments before being disassembled with a blowtorch.
THEY TOOK ITS FACE OMG.
The early Thomas The Tank Engine books are pretty standard stuff. Saccharine bubblegum type stories and illustrations. If you watched the show, it's like that in book form.
The second half of the railway series are so fucking dark and surreal I'm convinced they were a result of reverend Wilbur Awdry doing copious amounts of LSD and having hallucinations of his own death.
Excuse me but the very first story in the Railway Series is about an engine who hides in a tunnel and refuses to run because he doesn't want to get his paint job ruined in the rain, so railway management seals off the tunnel.
They eventually let him out because another engine breaks down or something, but the original plan was to just leave him in there forever.
On the show, they also hooked up one engine to a generator, so hed never move again. That was literally one of the lines. It was chilling.
This also happened in the books, to an engine referred to only as No. 2, but the television series applied the same scenario to an invented character named Smudger, in the episode Granpuff.
Smudger, said Duke. Was a show-off. He rode roughly and often came off the rails. I warned him to be careful, but he took no notice.
Listen, Dukie he snared. Who worries about a few spills?
We do here! I said, but Smudger just laughed.
Until one day, Manager said he was going to make him useful at last. Smudger stopped laughing then!
W-w-why? What did he do?!
He turned him into a generator. Hes still there behind our shed. Hell never move again.
Okay, so we see Railway Management doing all this shit, right, but supposedly its so much worse in the Other Railways? I mean, sure, you might get turned into a generator or bricked into a tunnel for not doing as youre told, but at least youre not cut up and sold for parts, right? Its not so bad on the island of Sodor, right?
Or maybe thats just what Railway Management wants the engines to think.
Maybe the island of Sodor is the real totalitarian regime, and the engine citizens (slaves) are fed propaganda, illustrated in hellish grays and sulfuric yellows, about how bad it is everywhere else, at all the Other Railways.
You are lucky to be an engine of Sodor.
Railway Management cares about you.
Trust Railway Management.
Stay on Your Track.
It Could Be So Much Worse.
Thanks for the Tumblr post: frog-and-toad-are-friends
with your friends!