The term "Classic Series" refers to the first seven seasons of Thomas & Friends. Episodes from these seasons were four minutes and thirty seconds long, excluding the opening and closing credits. Each season had twenty-six episodes. The series was created by Britt Allcroft, and directed by David Mitton.
The original 1983 pilot episode of the series. The pilot was based on Down the Mine and had simpler sets, fewer characters, and flatter lighting. The pilot was never broadcast, instead it was refilmed after the series was green-lighted by ITV.
The first season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom in 1984 and in the United States in 1989. This season was originally narrated by Ringo Starr in both the UK and 25 episodes in US, and later re-narrated by George Carlin for the US.
- Thomas, a cheeky tank engine
- Edward, an old and wise tender engine
- Henry, a kind, but sometimes vain, green tender engine
- Gordon, a big, blue express engine
- James, a proud, red mixed-traffic tender engine
- Percy, a small, energetic, saddle tank engine
- Toby, an old and wise steam tram
- Annie and Clarabel, Thomas' two faithful branch line coaches
- Henrietta, Toby's faithful passenger coach
- Troublesome Trucks, rolling stock that love causing grief for the engines
- Terence, a crawling tractor
- Bertie, a bus who works near Thomas' branch line
- Sir Topham Hatt (The Fat Controller in the UK) - Head of the North Western Railway
- Lady Hatt - Sir Topham Hatt's wife
- Bridget Hatt - Sir Topham Hatt's granddaughter
- Stephen Hatt - Sir Topham Hatt's grandson
- The only season where all of the episodes are adapted from the Reverend W. Awdry's stories.
The second season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom in 1986 and in the United States in 1989. This season was originally narrated by Ringo Starr in both the UK and 17 episodes in US, and later re-narrated by George Carlin for the US.
- Duck, a Great Western pannier tank engine
- Donald and Douglas, twin Scottish mixed-traffic engines
- Bill and Ben, tank engine twins, who work at the Sodor China Clay Company
- Diesel, a devious Class 08 shunting diesel
- Daisy, a highly strung, diesel railcar
- BoCo, a big, green, mixed-traffic diesel engine
- The Spiteful Brake Van, a rude brake van
- Trevor, a traction engine
- Harold, a rescue helicopter
- Jem Cole, Trevor's driver
- The Vicar of Wellsworth
- Percy's Ghost Engine, a mysterious engine mentioned in a story told by Percy
- The first season to feature stories by Christopher Awdry.
- The first season to feature a story not adapted from the Railway Series.
- The final season narrated by Ringo Starr.
- The Trucks gained face masks to allow a greater variety of facial expressions, some Season 1 trucks do still appear in the second season however.
The third season of the television series aired in 1991 in the United Kingdom and United States. This season was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and by George Carlin in the US.
- Oliver, a Great Western auto tank engine
- Mavis, a diesel quarry shunter
- Bulgy, a double-decker bus
- Toad, a Great Western brake van who belongs to Oliver (does not speak)
- City of Truro, a famous visitor who visited the Fat Controller's railway
- Flying Scotsman, a famous visitor who visited the Fat Controller's railway
- Farmer Trotter
- Big Mickey
- The first season narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and George Carlin in the US.
- Britt Allcroft's first season as producer.
- The first season to have episodes not based off of material by either Awdry.
- The first season to introduce real life engines.
- The story Gordon Goes Foreign from The Eight Famous Engines was going to be adapted for television. In order to create The Foreign Engine, the production crew were going to use Henry's model and adapt it with a new face and smoke deflectors. However, the episode was cancelled, and thus the engine never materialised.
The fourth season of the television series aired in the United Kingdom in 1994 and in the United States in 1995. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and by George Carlin in the US.
- Stepney, an enthusiastic tank engine from the Bluebell Railway
- The Diesel, a rude and snobbish diesel engine
- Skarloey, an old and wise, narrow gauge engine
- Rheneas, a gallant old narrow gauge engine
- Sir Handel, a proud but sometimes cross narrow gauge engine
- Peter Sam, a kind and excitable narrow gauge engine
- Rusty, a kind and helpful, little orange narrow gauge diesel
- Duncan, a boisterous, narrow gauge tank engine, who sometimes complains
- Duke, an old and wise, narrow gauge engine,
- Smudger, a rude narrow gauge tank engine, who was turned into a generator
- S.C. Ruffey, a privately owned truck who once showed attitude towards the engines
- Narrow Gauge Coaches, four-wheeled passenger rolling stock
- Slate Trucks, the narrow gauge counterparts to the Troublesome Trucks
- George, a steamroller who dislikes all railways
- Caroline, a vintage car owned by a cricketer
- Bulstrode, a very disagreeable barge
- The Refreshment Lady
- Nancy, a guard's daughter
- Tom Tipper, a postman
- Queen Elizabeth II, the Queen of England
- The first season to feature the Skarloey Railway.
- The last television series production to adapt Railway Series material until The Adventure Begins.
- George Carlin's last season as narrator.
- The last season to be featured on Shining Time Station as well as the only season to be featured on Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales.
- This season introduced the most new characters, to date.
- The first season to feature characters not created by the Rev W. Awdry.
The fifth season of the television series was filmed in 1997, the same year that the Rev W. Awdry died, and later aired in the United Kingdom in the following year, 1998 and the United States in 1999. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Alec Baldwin in the US.
- Old Slow Coach, a Victorian luxury coach, restored by Thomas and Percy from almost being scrapped
- The Horrid Lorries (Lorry 1, Lorry 2, and Lorry 3), three lorries who were sent away in disgrace after getting into accidents
- Cranky, a dockside crane who gets very irritable and cranky sometimes
- Old Bailey, a fogman who became a stationmaster of a once abandoned station
- Derek, a diesel who works at the clay pits
- 'Arry and Bert, two diesel engines who work at the scrapyards
- Dowager Hatt, Sir Topham Hatt's mother
- Bertram, known as the Old Warrior because he is very brave
- Rusty's Ghost Engine, a mysterious engine mentioned in a story told by Rusty
- Butch, a yellow breakdown tow truck
- Thumper, a quarry machine
- Tiger Moth, a rude bi-plane
- Boulder, a giant mysterious boulder
- The first season to have episodes narrated by Alec Baldwin for the US dub.
- The last season filmed in full screen.
- The first season not to adapt any stories from the Railway Series.
- For ease of filming, Season 5 would introduce larger-scale versions of the narrow gauge engines, and from Season 6-12 these larger models were used almost exclusively.
The sixth season of the television series was filmed in 2001 and later aired in the United Kingdom in the following year, 2002 and in the United States in 2003. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Alec Baldwin in the US, with some episodes re-dubbed by Michael Brandon.
- Harvey, a crane engine
- Salty, a fun and sea-loving, dockside diesel shunter
- Elizabeth, a sassy vintage sentinel lorry
- Jack, an enthusiastic, young front loader
- Alfie, a fun-loving little green excavator
- Max, a troublemaking, large dump truck
- Oliver, a kind hearted, big brown excavator
- Kelly, a helpful crane, who is the oldest member of the Sodor Construction Company
- Byron. a large bulldozer who has a massive blade
- Ned, a fun and clumsy, steam shovel
- Isobella, a proud, vintage lorry
- Jenny Packard, the owner of the Sodor Construction Company
- The Foreman
- Cyril the Fogman, a fogman who lives in Misty Valley
- Headmaster Hastings
- Allicia Botti, a very famous opera singer
- Farmer McColl, a farmer who lives on Thomas' Branch Line
- Edward's Ghost Engine, a mysterious engine mentioned in a story told by Edward
- The final season narrated by Alec Baldwin in the US.
- The first season featuring episodes re-narrated by Michael Brandon.
- The first season to feature a full writing staff.
- The first season filmed in widescreen.
- The first season to feature episodes directed by Steve Asquith.
The seventh season of the television series was filmed in 2002 and later aired in the United Kingdom in the following year, 2003 and in the United States in 2004. It was narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and Michael Brandon in the US.
- Emily, a large emerald, Stirling Single tender engine
- Fergus, a railway traction engine, who always tries to follow the rules
- Spencer, a large streamlined tender engine from the Mainland, who is privately owned by the Duke and Duchess of Boxford
- Arthur, a big tank engine, who holds a spotless record
- Murdoch, a large tender engine who pulls very heavy goods trains
- Sodor Brass Band, a brass band from the Mainland
- Lord Callan, the lord of Callan Castle
- The Duke and Duchess of Boxford, two visitors from the Mainland
- The Mayor of Sodor, the man in charge of the island
- The first season to have Michael Brandon as the primary narrator of the US dub.
- The last season to use the classic opening titles and theme.
- The last season directed by David Mitton.
- The last season to have music composed by Mike O'Donnell and Junior Campbell.
The title sequence has a duration of 30 seconds and displays the main tributes to the episode.
Season 1-5 and 7 (UK) Season 1-5 (US)
In these seasons, it shows Thomas, Annie and Clarabel going through 3 main scenes, the windmill, the rail under road bridge and signal box, and finally ending with Ffarquhar station.
Production Crew credited:
- THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE & FRIENDS (THOMAS & FRIENDS in the restored versions and Season 7)
- Based on the Railway Series by the Rev. W. Awdry
- Adapted by Britt Allcroft
- Told by Ringo Starr/Michael Angelis/George Carlin/Alec Baldwin/Michael Brandon
- Directed By David Mitton/Steve Asquith
The ending titles had Thomas next to Tidmouth goods sheds looking at the rolling credits.
Throughout these seasons, the logo changed fonts and from colours pink to red. In their restored versions has the cloud. from Season 1-5 the logo has no cloud in the opening title. Season 7 has the same intro as seasons 1-5, but with the series' current logo and in 16:9 widescreen.
In this season, it starts off with a snowy scene of the windmill from a deleted scene of Thomas and Percy's Christmas Adventure, the watermill from stock footage of Percy's Promise, the rail under the road bridge and signal box, and Ffarquhar station.