The fourth season of Thomas & Friends first aired on television in March 1996 in the UK. It aired between 1995 and 1996 on Shining Time Station and Mr. Conductor's Thomas Tales in the US. All twenty-six episodes were narrated by Michael Angelis in the UK and George Carlin in the US.
The fourth series saw the introduction of the smaller narrow gauge engines. For ease of filming, Season 5 would introduce larger-scale versions of the characters, and from seasons 6-12, these larger models were used almost exclusively.
Half of the third season consisted of stories written by the show's staff, but only one original story, Rusty to the Rescue was written by Allcroft and Mitton for the fourth series. The episodes which used the Railway Series did take some liberties with the source material, in order to fill the runtime and make the stories more accessible. From the fifth season onward, all stories would be staff-written, without using the Awdrys' books as a source until the twentieth season which would later finally introduce the Arlesdale Railway. The characters would then be led by their television personas and no longer by their storybook roots.
Stepney, a character based on a real-life engine and used to highlight the preservation movement in the books, was given an entirely different background when he was introduced. This decision carried on into later series, in which he was seen on either a fictionalised Bluebell Railway or as a visitor helping out on the Fat Controller's railway.
|Screenshot||UK title (top)|
US title (bottom)
|Original UK release date||Episode number #|
|Granpuff||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
4th March 1996
|Thomas tells the story of Duke, a narrow gauge engine who worked with Stuart and Falcon. However, when their railway closed, the young engines were sold and the old engine was left abandoned in a shed.|
|Sleeping Beauty||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
5th March 1996
|After many years had passed, some rescuers began a journey to find Duke and reunite him with his old friends.|
|Bulldog||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
6th March 1996
|Falcon was sent to take the Mountain Road with Duke. However, he was impatient and did not pay attention to Duke's advice. He eventually winded up dangling from a cliff.|
|You Can't Win||21st August 1995 (VHS)|
7th March 1996
|One evening, Duke is too ill to manage by himself. Stuart teases him about this, but Duke gets his own back and he proves that he still has a lot of life left in him.|
|Four Little Engines||8th March 1996||#05|
|Sir Handel is pushed off the rails by some angry coaches. Skarloey is the only engine available and is determined to get his passengers home, even when one of his front springs breaks.|
|A Bad Day for Sir Handel||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
11th March 1996
|Sir Handel and Peter Sam are brought in to help Skarloey and Rheneas. But Sir Handel is in a bad mood and deliberately derails himself to get out of work.|
|Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady||12th March 1996||#07|
|One day, Henry threatens to leave without Peter Sam's passengers. In a haste to meet his connection, he leaves the Refreshment Lady behind.|
Rusty Helps Peter Sam
|7th November 1994 (VHS)|
13th March 1996
|Gordon advises Sir Handel to get out of work by pretending to be ill, leaving Peter Sam and Rusty to take over. However, some trucks/cars mistake Peter Sam for Sir Handel and crash into him at the incline.|
|Home at Last||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
14th March 1996
|Peter Sam informs Skarloey of the newest arrival, a careless and bad-tempered engine named Duncan. Soon, Skarloey is sent to Duncan's aid when he is stuck under a decrepit tunnel.|
|Rock 'n' Roll||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
15th March 1996
|Rusty is concerned about Duncan, who ignores his warning about a broken section of track. After Duncan derails, Rusty grudgingly comes to the rescue.|
|Special Funnel||7th November 1994 (VHS)|
18th March 1996
|Peter Sam's funnel is knocked off by an icicle and is temporarily replaced by a drainpipe. However, Peter Sam gives the other engines a run for their money once his new funnel arrives.|
|Steam Roller||21st August 1995 (VHS)|
19th March 1996
|Skarloey tells Sir Handel of an anti-railway steamroller named George, whom Sir Handel vows to pay out. But George and Sir Handel are too evenly hot-headed.|
|Passengers and Polish||21st August 1995 (VHS)|
20th March 1996
|Duncan complains about not getting polished. His rudeness reaches its peak when he stops on the viaduct and refuses to move.|
|Gallant Old Engine||4th March 1996 (VHS)|
21st March 1996
|Skarloey tells the story of how Rheneas saved the railway from closure, even after suffering a serious breakdown.|
|Rusty to the Rescue||21st August 1995 (VHS)|
22nd March 1996
|When Rusty hears that an engine is needed to help run the Bluebell Railway, he ventures out to find one and meets a steam engine named Stepney.|
|Thomas and Stepney||21st August 1995 (VHS)|
25th March 1996
|Stepney has been invited to visit the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt's railway. Thomas is jealous when the visiting engine is talked about more than he is and is shunted for Stepney to pass with a special train that night.|
|Train Stops Play||3rd July 1995 (VHS)|
26th March 1996
|Stepney doesn't realise that a cricket ball has landed in one of his trucks/cars. Caroline the car sets off with the players in pursuit of Stepney along the branch line.|
|Bowled Out||3rd July 1995 (VHS)|
27th March 1996
|A stuck-up diesel makes a fool of himself when he sucks an inspector's bowler hat through his air-intake vent. Duck and Stepney volunteer in taking his train.|
|Henry and the Elephant||4th March 1996 (VHS)|
28th March 1996
|A circus comes to Sodor but Henry and some workmen are called to investigate a blockage in a tunnel, where he unhappily comes across an elephant.|
|Toad Stands By||21st August 1995 (VHS)|
29th March 1996
|Toad advises Oliver on how to regain the trucks/cars' respect. Oliver struggles to pull a goods train but he is so determined that he accidentally pulls S.C. Ruffey apart.|
|Bulls Eyes||4th March 1996 (VHS)|
1st April 1996
|Daisy claims that she would simply have to "toot" to scare animals off. However, when she comes across a bull, she realises that it will need more than a command to move it away.|
|Thomas and the Special Letter||4th March 1996 (VHS)|
2nd April 1996
|After the Fat Controller/Sir Topham Hatt reads a letter inviting the engines to visit the mainland, Thomas becomes very conceited and puts his big trip in jeopardy.|
|Paint Pots and Queens|
Thomas Meets the Queen
|3rd July 1995 (VHS)|
3rd April 1996
|Henry misses the chance of pulling the Queen's royal train after a paint accident, giving Gordon and Thomas a special opportunity.|
|Fish||3rd July 1995 (VHS)|
4th April 1996
|Extra vans are added to the Flying Kipper and as a result, Henry needs a back engine to help him up Gordon's Hill. Duck offers to help but a badly attached tail lamp causes problems.|
|Special Attraction||3rd July 1995 (VHS)|
5th April 1996
|Percy is called into the harbour/harbor to deal with Bulstrode, a highly disagreeable barge. Bulstrode makes the trucks/cars more troublesome than usual, though he pays dearly for it.|
|Mind that Bike||4th March 1996 (VHS)|
8th April 1996
|Tom Tipper, a postal-worker, is unhappy when his post van is replaced by a bicycle. Percy manages to help him out, but not in the way he intended.|
|Screenshot||Title||Composers||Original release date|
|Thomas' Anthem Grand Finale|
(with footage from seasons 1-4)
|14th September 1999 (US; VHS)|
|Let's Have a Race||Mike O'Donnell|
|4th March 1996 (UK; VHS)|
|Gone Fishing||Mike O'Donnell|
|21st February 1995 (US; VHS)|
4th November 1996 (US; TV)
3rd March 1997 (UK; VHS)
|4th March 1996 (UK; VHS)|
|Don't Judge a Book By its Cover||Mike O'Donnell|
|15th August 1995 (UK; VHS)|
|The Island Song||Mike O'Donnell|
|4th March 1996 (UK; VHS)|
|Really Useful Engine||Mike O'Donnell|
|20 November 1995 (UK; VHS)|
|That's What Friends Are for|
(no music video)
|Rules and Regulations|
(no music video)
- Donald and Douglas
- Bill and Ben
- Annie and Clarabel
- Sir Topham Hatt
- The Little Boys
- Jeremiah Jobling (not named)
- Jem Cole (not named)
- Farmer Trotter (not named)
- Diesel (does not speak)
- Bertie (does not speak)
- Henrietta (cameo)
- Terence (cameo)
- Trevor (cameo)
- Bulgy (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- Stephen Hatt (cameo)
- Mrs. Kyndley (cameo)
- The Vicar of Wellsworth (cameo)
- Farmer Finney (cameo)
- Harold's Pilots (cameo)
- One Member of the Railway Society (cameo)
- The Ffarquhar Stationmaster's Wife (cameo)
- Bridget Hatt (music video cameo)
- The Stone-dropping Boys (music video cameo)
- The Storyteller (music video cameo)
- Coast Guard (cameo)
- Izzy Gomez (cameo)
- Sir Handel
- Peter Sam
- S.C. Ruffey
- Refreshment Lady
- Tom Tipper
- The Inspector with the Bowler Hat
- The Portly Man
- The Crovan's Gate Policeman
- The Dryaw Policeman
- The Important Passenger
- The Elsbridge Cricket Club
- The Painter
- The Tailor
- The Railway Board
- Class 40 (not named)
- The Queen (does not speak)
- The Elephant Keeper (does not speak)
- Other Mid Sodor Railway Engines (indirectly mentioned)
- The Dukes of Sodor (indirectly mentioned)
- This was the first season of several things:
- The first season to feature the Skarloey and Mid Sodor Railways.
- The first season to feature Callan and The Misty Valley Branch Line.
- The first season not to end with a Christmas-themed episode and the first not to feature a Christmas-themed episode.
- The first season to add the Proteus 1 to compose the music.
- The first season to have episodes released on more than one VHS before airing on TV.
- The first season where Bertie doesn't speak in any of his appearances.
- The first season to feature a television series-exclusive engine, with that being Smudger.
- The first season to premiere on Cartoon Network in the UK.
- The first season where Bill and Ben, Diesel, Harold, Terence, Trevor and Farmer Finney all appear in only one episode each.
- The first season dubbed by Mike Erander.
- The first season not to feature Bridget Hatt.
- This was also the final season of a few things:
- The last production to feature stories based on The Railway Series until The Adventure Begins, and therefore the last to have Wilbert Awdry as a technical consultant.
- The last season up until the twentieth season to feature episodes based on the stories from the Railway Series.
- George Carlin's last season as narrator. Alec Baldwin would assume the role from the fifth - sixth seasons.
- The last production to introduce Railway Series-exclusive characters into the television series until King of the Railway, and the last to introduce a non-standard gauge railway (and engines thereof) from the Railway Series until Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
- The last season shown on Shining Time Station.
- The last season released completely on VHS in New Zealand.
- The last season dubbed in Ukrainian until the seventeenth season.
- The last season dubbed in Finnish until the eighth season.
- The last season to feature Daisy in an episode until the nineteenth season.
- With a number of 24 out of 26 episodes, Season 4 holds the most episodes released directly to home video in the UK before airing on TV. Four Little Engines and Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady were the only two episodes this season that aired before they were released on video.
- The first eleven episodes of this season, from Granpuff to Special Funnel have Michael Angelis' narration recorded in dobey.
- The last fifteen episodes of this season, from Steam Roller to Mind that Bike have Michael Angelis' narration recorded back to normal.
- This season contained the 100th episode of the television series, which was Thomas and the Special Letter.
- This is the only season dubbed by The Family Channel Studios.
- To date, this season introduced the most new characters out of any other season to date.
- Thomas appears in 23 episodes in this season, more than any other season in the Classic Series, but still less than most of the seasons outside the Classic Series.
- Oddly, a significant amount of sound effects and music are missing in the US versions of most fourth season episodes, a notable example being Rusty Helps Peter Sam, which misses almost all the music in the first half of the episode. The episode also excludes most of Peter Sam's whistles, and adds an unusual high pitched whistle when he cries for help after his accident.
- This season is unique as the first fifteen episodes focused primarily on the Skarloey Railway engines.
- All Chinese narrations from this season credit George Carlin as the narrator and all Norwegian/Hindi narrations credit Michael Angelis, even though the episodes were redubbed.
- In the Ukrainian narration, Michael Angelis' voice can still be heard in the background.