Percy is a cheeky green saddle tank engine who was brought to Sodor to help run the railway during the big engines' strike. His favourite job is to deliver the mail. He works on Thomas' Branch Line as a goods engine.
The Railway Series
Percy was most likely built by the Avonside Engine Company sometime around the 1900's and has gone through a subsequent rebuild in the period before he was sold second-hand to the North Western Railway by a factory on the Mainland. He is said to have been found to contain Hunslet parts, among others, according to workers at Crovan's Gate.
When Gordon, James and Henry went on strike in protest of the extra work (since Thomas left to run his branch line), the Fat Controller decided that the railway needed another tank engine. At the engine workshop, the Fat Controller saw a green saddle tank and when the engine confirmed he was willing to work hard, the Fat Controller bought him and named him Percy. Bringing him back to Sodor, Percy was charged with running the branch line while Thomas ran the Main Line with Edward and was allowed to stay after the big engines surrendered and returned to work. At first, Percy liked to annoy the big engines. Percy was later waiting at Tidmouth, but forgot to whistle to the signalman, and thus was startled when Gordon came running towards him with the express. Gordon managed to stop in time, but Percy was so frightened, he ran away and ended up stuck in a sandbank. He was rescued by Gordon and took up the duty of station pilot at Tidmouth.
Percy was still a cheeky engine and often liked to play jokes on Gordon and James, but one day the other engines got their revenge when Percy failed to recognise a "backing signal." After this, Percy was subject to bullying from the big engines until Duck arrived and helped Percy to put the big engines in their place, although Percy still received a reprimand from the Fat Controller for it.
With Duck's arrival, Percy was sent to Thomas' Branch Line to help build Knapford Harbour and has stayed there ever since as a goods engine. He met a self-centred white helicopter named Harold who said that railways were "slow and out-of-date," so he decided, to race him, of which he won. When Percy had to take the Sunday School children home, he came across a flooded paddock which swashed away his fire. Thankfully, with a little help from Harold, who had dropped supplies of hot drinks for his crew and the passengers, he was able to get the children home.
Despite being really useful, Percy was prone to having accidents, sometimes for acting naughty, and others for carelessness. He was naughty when he asked the trucks to push him past a danger notice, only to end up in the water until he could be lifted out and taken to the works by Henry. When a diesel railcar named Daisy came to look after Thomas' Branch Line, she constantly kept leaving behind the milk van every time Percy shunted it for her. Fed up with taking the milk for her, Percy offered to take Toby's trucks for him while he took the milk. However, the trucks were unfamiliar with Percy, and when he ordered them about, they decided to seek revenge by pushing him onto a line of stone trucks.
Thomas & Friends
One winter, the cold was severely getting to Percy, so he tried to think about warm things. As a result, his workday led to Percy obsessing over scarves and seeing everyone around him wearing them. Henry remarked on the silliness of an engine wanting a scarf, but Percy bit back with a comment about Henry's funnel size. The cold did not affect Percy's cheekiness however, as he planned on startling the coaches by coming in quietly. However, the porters did not hear him either, and Percy crashed into their luggage trolley, ending up covered in jam with the Fat Controller's hat on Percy's lamp iron and his best trousers wrapped around Percy's funnel. James joked that Percy found a 'scarf' after all and ran off to tell Henry. That night, Thomas and a clean Percy prepared to go to sleep happy that the firelighter had agreed to arrive earlier the next day. Henry and Percy make up, and Henry assures Percy that the weather will be warmer the following day.
In Tale of the Brave, Thomas told Percy about some mysterious footprints that he saw at the China Clay Pits. Percy convinced himself that it was be footprints of a monster that was roaming Sodor. Continuing to be anxious for a few days, he caused lots of confusion and delay such as: mistakenly referring to Gator, the new engine as the monster, failing to delivery his mail on-time and running off before the Fat Controller finished talking to him. After talking with his new friend Gator, he understood what being brave is like and later used this courage to save James from a huge landslide. He later learned that the monster was really a dinosaur a long, long time ago, which had now become a fossil. He also understood that the footprints Thomas saw, were also only fossils left from the dinosaur. Percy later said goodbye to Gator, who had to return to the mainland, but the two friends were certain they will meet again someday.
In the eighteenth season, Percy was starting to miss Gator and tried to forget him by working hard and not think about him. When he had to deliver trucks full of precious sculptures and paintings for a special exhibition, he did not stop to be coupled and the Troublesome Trucks went rolling to the Old Mine. He thought about Gator and his advice of how to be brave. Percy goes into the mine and rescues the trucks. Percy reunited with Gator at Christmas.
In the nineteenth season, he was to take the Mayor of Sodor to the Search and Rescue Centre to present a new alarm bell to celebrate their one thousandth rescue. Diesel overheard Percy talking about it at the Docks and he played a trick on him, sending Percy to the Old Quarry which resulted him ending up on a badly flooded railway line and after Diesel unsuccessfully attempted to pull him out of the flood, he too also ended up getting stuck in the water after it badly damaged his generator. The rescue of Diesel and Percy marked the Sodor Search and Rescue Centre Crew's one thousand and first rescue. He was once giving the job of transporting Farmer McColl's ewes to a fair at Maithwaite, however he was late delivering that nights mail. Rushing to get back on time, he bashed his lifestock wagon into a flatbed, and unknowingly created a hole in it. He collected the sheep from McColl Farm, but every time he stopped some of the sheep escaped. By the time he had reached the fair, all the sheep had escaped. Fortunately, Thomas, Annie and Clarabel arrived shortly afterwards with the sheep, much to Percy's relief. Once, he saw some painters at Knapford, talking about the Fat Controller "leaving." He told Thomas and the other engines, and they came to the conclusion he was leaving Sodor because of them, so they decided to create no confusion and delay until he decided to stay. By the end of the day, it appeared their plan was successful, though Percy still had his doubts. His suspicions were seemingly confirmed when he saw the painters clearing out the Fat Controller's office. Now believing the Fat Controller was being forced to leave, the engines decided to go on strike until he was allowed to stay. After much confusion and delay, the Fat Controller explained to the engines that he was just moving to a temporary office while his was being redecorated. With the misunderstanding cleared up, Percy and the other engines worked hard to get the railway back on schedule.
In the twentieth season, he had the job of taking the Christmas Mail to Vicarstown for Hiro to take to the Mainland and onwards to the North Pole. Harold offered to help, but Percy refused, determined complete the job on his own. After he left a bag of letters behind at Dryaw, Harold chased after him, but Percy, believing he was mocking his speed again, refused to stop and crashed into a snowdrift at a tunnel. Stuck, he reluctantly agreed to let Harold deliver the Mail. The following day, he heard from Toby that Harold had not returned to Sodor that night, so he raced off to the Mainland to find him. He found him stuck in a field and out of fuel. Not wanting Harold to spend Christmas stranded and alone, he fetched his fuel and the two returned to Sodor. Later, Percy was taking the Mail Train at night, when he came across the Watermill bridge and heard a moaning sound which gave him a fright. Percy later told Thomas and Toby about it, and remembering the story of The Three Billy Goats Gruff, he thought it was a troll that lives under the bridge. The three engines reluctantly crossed the bridge and discovered it was only a lost cow. He was also the only engine to be nice to Hugo, who was being shunned as the others though he had come to replace them. He would then see a Zeppelin in the sky and question how Hugo could be in the sky as well as on the rails.
In The Great Race, Percy took Thomas' place in the shunting competition of The Great Railway Show after Thomas had an accident and was left on Sodor. However, Thomas managed to make it to the Mainland after all and Percy dropped out of the competition so his best friend could compete, and because he did not want to compete in the first place.
In the twenty-first season, Percy became confused because of the new P.A. system which was not working properly. Because of this, he ended up taking a delivery of pigs to Lord Callan at Callan Castle. He was also told by Dowager Hatt to pull Gordon's Express instead of Gordon doing so, but because he was not strong enough to pull it, he got stuck on Gordon's Hill and ended up severely delayed.
Thomas & the Magic Railroad
In the film, Percy overheard Mr. Conductor talking in his sleep. Later, he arrived at Knapford with his Mail Train, he told Thomas about Mr. Conductor and conclude that he travels on Sodor to the magic railroad. Thomas told Percy about the missing truck and realised that the buffers leading to the magic railroad and told Percy to guard the buffers to be a brave engine. Sometime afterwards, Percy found Splatter and Dodge at the magic buffers and raced to warn Thomas, telling him to get Lily back to Muffle Mountain before Diesel 10 destroyed the magic railroad.
Percy is a rather cheeky, but kind engine, and generally behaves well, except when he is getting into mishaps from being over-eager. He loves teasing the others, especially the bigger engines, such as Gordon and James, but is always brought down to earth in due course by anyone who gives him the moral to learn, especially the Fat Controller.
As the television series has progressed, Percy has been dumbed-down in order to teach viewers difficult words: he would say "dingy-fried" where anyone else would say "dignified," "demonstration" into "dimer-station," "railway inspector" into "railway inspectacles," "new-fangled nonsense" into "new-funneled nuisance", "action" into "act-on", or "V.I.P." into "V eyed-p." He is also shown to make silly mistakes, but then fix them upon realising what he has done before further damage is caused.
Percy is incredibly accident-prone and has many accidents, sometimes due to his own silliness or his tricks backfiring. He holds the dubious record of the most accidents in one season - five, in the second season - crashing into some buffers, falling into the sea, being pushed onto a brake van, colliding with a cart, and being hit by a falling crate of treacle. So far, his silliest accident yet was in the sixth season, when he slipped on oily rails and crashed through the chocolate factory and emerged covered in chocolate. Despite this, he always tries to do his best, learn from his mistakes and get his jobs done, a loyalty which Sir Topham Hatt has praised him for on several occasions.
Although their friendship has been turbulent at times, Thomas is generally portrayed as Percy's best friend, he is also good friends with Toby as well.
Since the second season, Percy has had a small rivalry with Harold, stemming from their race. However, they are always willing to help each other when in trouble.
He also had held a grudge from the big engines about their tricking him into misinterpreting a signal, but silenced this with some help from Duck. This shows that, when nonsense goes too far, Percy will not stand for it and seek help to settle the matter for good, even if he faces a reprimanding from Sir Topham Hatt for it.
Percy is an 0-4-0 saddle tank believed to have been built originally by the Avonside Engine Company of Bristol but prior to being purchased second or third hand by Sir Topham Hatt he acquired components from Hunslet of Leeds and other builders.
Percy is painted in the North Western Railway's green livery with red and yellow lining and the number "6" painted on his bunker sides in yellow.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates, one on either side of his cab.
One of Percy's original face masks is owned by Twitter user ThomasTankMerch.
Percy went through several aesthetic changes in the television series:
Season 2 (only):
His right side piston was loose and would shake violently when moving.
His centre lamp iron was heavily glued in.
His whistle changed shape (now being more like Gordon or Henry's).
Later in the season, his whistle sound would be his own but in a whole step lower in pitch.
His two front sandboxes were flipped around.
His whistle sound changed back to its original pitch.
His smokebox was raised up.
In some episodes towards the end of the season, one of the two black sections extending from under his smokebox to the end of the footplate is missing.
Thomas and the Magic Railroad:
He gained a permanent lamp.
He gained a stand underneath his smokebox.
The lining on his pistons was moved slightly inwards.
His eyebrows change shape.
His cab was blacked out (except for cab shots filmed on a larger model).
Jack and the Sodor Construction Company (large scale model only):
The step ladders on his running board are painted red.
His whistle is taller than his cab.
His dome is painted green.
The counterweights on his wheels vanished.
The Great Discovery:
His large scale model's dome is painted gold.
His large scale model's stepladders were painted green.
Hero of the Rails:
His cab became open again
His side rods become silver.
“Do you know what?"
"Do you know what?"
"Silly! Of course I don't know what, if you don't tell me what 'what' is.”
―A conversation between Percy and Gordon, Duck Takes Charge, "Percy the Small Engine"
“Wheeeeeeeeeeesh! Don't be frightened, Thomas, it's only me!"
"Your ugly fizz is enough to frighten anyone, you're like..."
"Ugly indeed! I'm..."
"A green caterpillar with red stripes. You crawl like one too."
"Who's been late every afternoon this week?"
"It's the hay."
"I can't help that! Time's time, and the Fat Controller relies on me to keep it. I can't if you crawl in the hay 'till all hours.”
―An argument between Percy and Thomas, Woolly Bear, "Tramway Engines"
“Harold told me you were a ..... uh, wizard. He says he could beat you at some things but not at being a submarine. I don't know what you two get up to sometimes but I do know you are a really useful engine.”
―Sir Topham Hatt after Percy took a swim in Percy's Promise, third season
“I can't see any, Where are they?"
"Ideas above the station - the sky is empty."
"Like your smokebox, Percy!”
―Percy, Gordon, and James talking about a brief example of Percy's curiosity, "A Better View for Gordon", fifth season
“And then there was trouble!”
―Percy breaking the fourth wall with the infamous quote, "Reds vs. Blues", nineteenth season