By Loryn Stone
You like that fake anime episode title up there?
Whatever, I thought it was funny.
When my kids were the tiniest of baby tots, the first kids’ show with a legitimate narrative they connected with was Thomas and Friends. And to be honest, I was completely stoked when that happened. You see, up until then, the only thing my son wanted to watch was Mother Goose Club on YouTube.
For those of you who have never been subjected, let’s switch lives.
For the rest of you…you know the struggle.
However, as with all childhood enjoyment of media, there is a price the parents who let their kids watch TV must pay. A repetitive, constant, “watch the episodes fives times in one day” flavor of suffering. Once that level of media consumption is reached, we parents start…how do I put it…seeing between the lines. Making connections that aren’t visible to the “I’ve watched this movie once or twice” eye. No- this is a special flavor of insanity that comes only from long term exposure.
Okay, fine, you start making shit up.
There, I said it.
Back in May 2016, I devised this really gnarly, twisted Thomas and Friends Fan Theory. It was absolutely bullshit. With it, I did what any sensible person who likes writing dumb shit on the internet would do. I pitched it to Cracked.com.
And well…I caught their…attention?
After a few back and forth sessions with the editors, I came to realize there was no way I could prove my Fan Theory. It was too out there. But from the ashes of the insanity came my very first internet article, published in October 2016. This Thomas and Friends column started everything. It was the very first piece I’d ever had published anywhere!
But still, the original Fan Theory still lingered in the shadows…begging to one day see the light of day.
Well, here on PopLurker, it’s always fucking morning.
Fear of the Incinerator? The Trains Find Ways to Stay Useful!
Sir Topham Hatt (or the Fat Controller in England, a name I can completely identify with) is the unquestioned lord and mogul running the tracks on the island of Sodor. Which still sounds like Hodor, but if it was, we’d be watching a better show.
The big man has an ever-growing collection of trains that he uses as slaves to do his bidding all across the Island, up to and including transporting people, goods, babysitting animals, and fixing fellow trains. If you remember, these trains are sentient. Sentient worker trains. The majority are steam engines, but diesel engines show up when unfair working conditions and racism needs to happen. It got my brain thinking. Where Had I seen this type of dichotomy before? Think about it.
Two types of mechanical creations. One steam powered and good. The other dark, smoky, and viewed as evil. All existing under the watching eye of one sadistic superpower. The Diesels. The Steamies.
The Angels…THE EVAS.
Neon Genesis Evangelion.
He Can’t Complete His Mission? Heart-Pounding Danger in the Ironworks!
With Sir Topham Hatt’s trains, each one’s sole objective/mission/reason for existing is to find a way to maintain the status of Really Useful Engines. And because the ever-dreaded Smelting Yard/Sodor Ironworks (Doki-Doki Train Hell!) has been brought up in several episodes, it’s really in their best interest to remain Really Useful ™. Otherwise, these trains will continue to live in fear for their jobs…and their very lives.
But for now, we’ll keep focused on that Bloated Train Mobster’s favorite engine, that cheeky fucker Thomas with the #1 stamped proudly on his blue painted side. That apathetic jerk-off who knows nothing of fear or consequence. For reasons that made absolutely zero sense per the rules of the world established in Sodor. Meaning, if all of the other trains on the island are in (seemingly constant) fear of getting smelted, why does Thomas exist in a chipper cloud of shit-faced ignorance.
Well, if you pay close attention, you may notice that Thomas is The Mad Hatt’s final attempt at parenting. Exactly the same as when Gendo abandoned Shinji with a briefcase of his dead wife’s DNA and used it to create a mess of disposable clones in the “this is pretty disturbing” form of a deadpan faced fourteen-year-old girl.
Don’t believe me? Look at this blank, happy look on Thomas’ face.
That is the look of unbeknownst death.
Splicing Trains with DNA? The Souls of the Trains Reincarnate!
Until the 2015 feature film The Adventure Begins came in and took a huge shit all over the continuity of the show, the casually forced viewer was lead to believe that Thomas was quite possibly the first train of his kind created. What would inspire Sir Topham Hatt to invest time and money into sentient creatures that he needs to teach and nurture when other humans are readily available to work? How did he get all that spare time?
Or was it a distraction that Sir Fat-Hatt truly desired? Perhaps a distraction from the most traumatic nightmare a parent can experience?
Early in the book series, Sir Topham Hatt had a son named Charles. Unfortunately, Charles’ existence was limited to one book, ironically called Sodor: Reading Between the Lines. If family was so important to The Rev. W. Awdry (who let everyone in his family have a taste of the Sodor Special when his son and other family members took a pass at book writing) why would Sir Topham Hatt, the most important man in Sodor’s, son suddenly disappear?
Proving once more that Sir Topham Hatt did have a son, let’s take a look at the plot for the episode “Tickled Pink”. Hatt decides to shame and humiliate James, the Number Five red engine, by having him painted pink. Awesome. Now pink, James needs to pick up Hatt’s granddaughter and take her and her friends to a birthday party. A granddaughter…with no parents to join her at the party.
Why wouldn’t Sir Topham Hatt’s son be present for the celebration of his daughter’s birthday party? But if the Fat-Hatt treats his children in a way that even remotely resembles the way his trains are reprimanded, it’s no surprise his son jumped ship and left Sodor.
Or maybe…Charles isn’t actually missing, but his very essence has simply been…stored elsewhere.
With Charles gone and his cash boner getting bigger, Topham Hatt invested in the rails. But deep down, he still missed his boy. Sure, he had Edward, Gordon, and James. Honestly, the way he talks to Gordon sometimes, I wonder if Gordon contains the soul of one of Hatt’s war-time buddies.
Seriously, I’ve never expected to see a train take whiskey shots, but when The Fat Controller and Gordon are on screen together, it’s like a couple of old tired men are just ready to drink and complain.
By now clearly, sentient trains just aren’t enough sometimes. Hatt wanted a fresh one he could teach from scratch. Therefore, Sir Topham Hatt adopted a young train, painted Number One on the side, and boom! Sir Topham Hatt writes a song called Soul Stuffer and is now a graduate of the Gendo Ikari School of replacing your loved ones with freaky, sentient robot-creatures.
The Return of the Forgotten Son? Thomas and Charlie’s Nervous Battle!
How is Hatt creating these sentient, DNA spliced trains? Money. The Bloated Train Mobster is managing to get the Souls of the Lost into these trains via money. Money, Government Sponsorship, too much spare time, and a sick mind rife with twisted amusement. Even still, the proof is abundantly clear once a new sentient train named Charlie, Number Fourteen, manages to sneak his way into Sodor. Charlie is a fun-loving engine who likes to mess with Sir Topham Hatt and joke around with the other steam engines.
In layman’s terms, he’s a dick.
But hold on a minute…Charlie? This fucker’s name is Charlie? As in Charles Hatt, the same son who mysteriously disappeared from the Island of Sodor?
In the episode “Charlie and Eddie”, Charlie convinces the Number Two engine, Edward, that he’s too old to have fun and they should take Sir Topham Hatt’s car to the Sodor Steamworks instead of the mechanic where it belongs. Taking a moment to examine this trope, it’s obvious what’s happening here. Let’s break it down.
Sir Topham Hatt has a son named Charles. Charles disappears from Sodor. Topham Hatt replaces his son with Number One engine Thomas. Suddenly, a train named Charlie enters the scene and…
Steals his dad’s car?
If this isn’t a scenario that most teenagers can identify with, then I’ve forgotten what it means to treat your parents like crap. Which both Charlie and Thomas do with unpunished, unbridled, uncaring enthusiasm. While Charlie is out stealing cars and teasing his peers, Thomas bosses his friends around, doesn’t listen when other trains say they can’t work because they’ll run out of oil, hides his snow plow so he doesn’t have to wear it, provokes the sentient crane at Brenham Docks, thinks he knows best, and lets all of the farmer’s livestock escape from his trailer due to frightening them with his wonky whistle. And Topham Hatt still loves Thomas the most! Remember Misty Island Rescue? Hatt was in ruins trying to find that damn train.
It comes down to this: Thomas’ disobedience is Sir Topham Hatt’s success story simply because Thomas never changes. Thomas doesn’t challenge his father. Thomas will never disappear or make his own path. He won’t leave him and die like Charles did.
This sentient predictability is the greatest gift Thomas could provide to his scarred Railway Mogul. His treatment of the other engines in their moments of disobedience is a reflection of the regret all parents feel when they yell at their firstborn but coddle their second. And in spite of his own shitty behavior, Thomas never learns, knowing that he has the Fat-Hatt’s undying love and devotion.
Let’s hope cloning machines never make it to Sodor.
You can find Loryn on Twitter. She also has an author page and personal blog. Her debut novel My Starlight, a young adult tale about sexuality, nerd fandom, and first loves will be released August 3rd, 2018 by Affinity Rainbow Publications.
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