|This article is about the movie. You may be looking for the book or the audiobook.|
- “He wanted to be the leader of the track. But we're all leaders of the track.”
- ―Pierce Brosnan talking about Thomas
The Great Discovery is a Thomas & Friends movie special released in 2008.
PlotThe railway is preparing for Sodor Day and Thomas and James are racing to the wharf to be given a special job by Mr. Percival. Thomas wins and is sent into the hills to collect lumber with Duncan. After Thomas teases Duncan, Duncan pays Thomas out by sending him on an old, disused line which he claims will lead Thomas back to the wharf faster. After avoiding an old, collapsing bridge, Thomas takes another route at the old junction, and as he journeys further down the line, he comes across an old overgrown town.
The news of Thomas' discovery spreads and eventually reaches the Fat Controller, who tells Thomas that the town is Great Waterton - the largest town on Sodor when steam engines first came to the island. The Fat Controller decides that the restoration of the legendary lost town would be perfect for Sodor Day and calls the Pack to help. Thomas is told to take charge of the engines working around the town, while a new tank engine named Stanley is brought to do Thomas' regular jobs.
All of the engines take to Stanley, who does a good job and has fun as well, but when Thomas sees Stanley doing his jobs and fraternising with his friends, he becomes jealous. Thomas is furious when Stanley takes his place at Tidmouth Sheds and the final straw comes when Stanley takes his place as the leader of the restoration project after Thomas has an accident.Later, Thomas is shunting stone trucks for Stanley to take away when he decides to make Stanley look foolish by giving him a train too heavy for him to pull. Unfortunately, the plan backfires - as Stanley ascends the hill, a coupling breaks and the trucks race down the hill, veering into a siding and crashing into the newly finished tower. The Fat Controller states that this will likely set back the restoration past Sodor Day and Thomas is blamed. Stanley, however, realises that Thomas merely missed his friends and wants to set things right.
Later that night, Thomas decides to clear the rubble out of the way. He is almost finished when he accidentally bumps a truck into an old mine shaft. Racing in after it, Thomas crashes into a blocked tunnel and falls down into the water where he floats down an underground waterway.The engines soon realise that Thomas is missing and the Fat Controller organises a search effort. Then everyone searched everywhere, but no one could find Thomas. Everyone tried their hardest, but Thomas was nowhere to be seen. They were just about to give up, when Percy reminds them that Thomas found Great Waterton on his own, stating that it's his town and can't have the opening without him and everyone agrees. Stanley thinks Thomas ran after the incident yesterday and tries to find him the hills. Meanwhile, Thomas continues floating in the dark tunnel until he reaches an opening to the mine and is flung across a canyon and down a hill without the wooden planks that made him float in the mine.
Stanley decides to make another search effort by himself before he returns to work. Thomas, with the last of his steam, sounds a loud, long whistle. Stanley hears it and hurries to where Thomas is stranded beside the track. The two make up for their quarrel and Stanley pulls Thomas back onto the rails, but the strain is too much for Stanley and a valve bursts. Thomas, using some of Stanley's coal, pushes him back to Great Waterton. The word soon spreads that Thomas has been found.
The standpipe is rebuilt, completing the restoration. As a sign of friendship, Thomas offers Stanley his last job - bringing the mayor to the festivities at Great Waterton. The engines gather at the town for the celebration and Thomas realises just how important his friends are.
- Sir Handel
- Mighty Mac
- Sir Topham Hatt
- Lady Hatt
- Miss Jenny
- Mr. Percival
- Bill and Ben (do not speak)
- Molly (does not speak)
- Mavis (does not speak)
- Salty (does not speak)
- Peter Sam (does not speak)
- Rusty (does not speak)
- Annie and Clarabel (do not speak)
- Rocky (does not speak)
- Terence (does not speak)
- Bertie (does not speak)
- Trevor (does not speak)
- Max and Monty (do not speak)
- Jeremy (does not speak)
- Sodor Brass Band (do not speak)
- The Mayor of Sodor (does not speak)
- Rosie (cameo)
- Whiff (cameo)
- Diesel (cameo)
- 'Arry and Bert (cameo)
- Diesel 10 (cameo)
- Dennis (cameo)
- George (cameo)
- Butch (cameo)
- Elizabeth (cameo)
- Big Mickey (cameo)
- Stephen Hatt (cameo)
- Bridget Hatt (cameo)
- Jem Cole (cameo)
- Refreshment Lady (cameo)
- Cyril the Fogman (cameo)
- Lord Callan (cameo)
- Farmer Finney (cameo)
- The Storyteller (cameo)
- Kuffy the Clown (cameo)
- The Dairy Manager (cameo)
- Two members of the Railway Board (cameo)
- Henrietta (music video cameo)
- Kelly (music video cameo)
- Allicia Botti (mentioned in newspaper)
- Great Waterton
- Brendam Docks
- Sodor Shipping Company
- Rolling River Bridge
- Centre Island Quarry
- Topham Hall
- Great Waterton Sheds
- Tidmouth Sheds
- Kirk Ronan Junction
- Sir Topham Hatt's Office
- Morgan's Mine
- Stepney's Branch Line
- The Wharf
- Transfer Yards
- Village Square
- The Depot
- Henry's Tunnel (music video)
- Knapford Yards (music video)
- Sodor Airport (music video)
- The Windmill (music video)
- Gordon's Hill (music video)
- Knapford (music video)
- Wellsworth (music video)
- The School (music video)
- Thomas and Morgan's Mine Car
- Working Hard Gift Pack
- Great Waterton Grand Opening 4 Pack
- Morgan's Mine Set
- Great Waterton Fold and Go Set
- Great Waterton Expansion Pack
- Mud Covered Thomas
- Morgan's Mine
- Sodor day Thomas and Stanley
- A Race to the Wharf Set
- The Great Discovery Set
- Thomas at Action Canyon (Thomas at Tumblin' Bridge in the UK)
- Thomas at Morgan's Mine
- Thomas and the Great Discovery Set
- Great Waterton Station
- Great Waterton Butchers
- Great Waterton Post Office
- Great Waterton Blacksmiths
- Great Waterton Footbridge
- Great Waterton Blacksmiths
- Great Waterton Ben's Books
- Great Waterton Ed's Garage
- Great Waterton Station Platform
- Stanley's Shed
- Stanley at Great Waterton
- Thomas at Morgan's Mine
- James Celebrates Sodor Day
- Thomas and the Great Discovery
- My Thomas Story Library - Stanley (discontinued)
- Runaway Engine! (book)
- The Great Discovery was shown in select theatres in the US throughout July, in the UK throughout September and in Australia throughout November 2008. It made a return to Australian theatres on 17 January 2013.
- Stock footage from Thomas and the Storyteller, Edward and the Mail, Thomas and the Lighthouse, Thomas in Trouble, Henry's Lucky Day and Percy and the Left Luggage are used.
- Possibly due to its limited release by Kidtoon Films, the film is rated G in the United States.
- This was the first special for multiple things:
- The first special where both the US and the UK have the same narrator.
- The first appearance of The Pack in the main series since the sixth season episode, A Friend in Need, excluding their appearances in ninth season music videos.
- It also marks Monty and Buster's first appearances in the main series; Max had been introduced without Monty in the sixth season and he had only previously appeared in the spin-off Jack and the Sodor Construction Company, the same applies with Buster.
- The first time in the series where each member of the Steam Team appears and have speaking roles.
- The first special written by Sharon Miller.
- The first US DVD released by Lionsgate.
- The first special filmed digitally in 1080p high definition, even though it is not available on Blu-ray.
- The first special that does not feature any sort of antagonist.
- The first special not to feature Henrietta or Knapford station (if counting its appearance in stock footage in Calling All Engines!). Although, they did appear in music videos from this special.
- Dennis' first appearance since his debut in the ninth season.
- The first special to have a member of the Steam Team speak only one line, with those engines being Edward, Henry, Toby and Emily.
- Skarloey, Rheneas, Sir Handel, Peter Sam, Jack, Alfie, Oliver the Excavator, Mr. Percival, Rocky, Trevor, Max and Monty, Rosie and Whiff's first appearances in a special.
- The first special in which Harvey, Cranky, and Lady Hatt have speaking roles.
- The first special to not have a video game based on it.
- This was also the last special for several things:
- The last special to feature songs and music composed by Ed Welch.
- The last special filmed interlaced.
- The last special until King of the Railway where both the US and the UK have the same narrator.
- The final Thomas & Friends production to use an all-model set. The twelfth season aired with several parts of the set in CGI like the faces, people, and animals, and starting with Hero of the Rails all footage was done in CGI.
- The last special until Blue Mountain Mystery to have songs during the runtime.
- The last special to date to feature the theme song, Island of Sodor intro and Engine Roll Call.
- The final feature-length Thomas and Friends production made at Shepperton Studios.
- This was the only time for several things:
- Jamie Thomason's only special as voice director.
- Stanley's only appearance as a full model, without a CGI face.
- Pierce Brosnan's only special as narrator. He was originally intended to narrate two more specials, as well as three seasons, but left during production of the twelfth season for unknown reasons.
- The only special in which Diesel 10 appears, but does not speak, as well as his only appearance without an antagonistic role.
- The only appearances of Arthur, Duncan, Mighty Mac, Freddie, Ned, Buster, Madge, Jenny Packard, Molly, Terence, Jeremy, Dennis, Elizabeth, Cyril the Fogman, Lord Callan, the Storyteller, Mr. Bubbles, the Dairy Manager, Allicia Botti, and members of the Railway Board in a special.
- The special marks the final appearances and/or speaking roles of several characters:
- The last appearance of Bill and the last time he and Ben are seen together until the seventeenth season episode, Percy's Lucky Day.
- Harvey's last speaking role until the seventeenth season episode, Gone Fishing and his last appearance in a special until Journey Beyond Sodor.
- Arthur and Miss Jenny's last speaking roles to date.
- Cranky's last speaking role until the thirteenth season episode, Creaky Cranky.
- Alfie's last speaking role until Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
- The last time Max and Monty are seen together until Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
- Oliver's last appearance until Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure.
- Diesel 10 and Butch's last appearances until Misty Island Rescue.
- Stephen and Bridget Hatt's last appearances until the thirteenth season episodes, Tickled Pink and Thomas and the Runaway Kite, respectively.
- Terence's last appearance until the twenty-first season episode, Terence Breaks the Ice.
- Molly, Elizabeth, Madge, George, Dennis, Ned, Kelly and Buster's last appearances to date.
- Before Pierce Brosnan was hired as special guest narrator, Gwyneth Paltrow was in talks with HiT Entertainment according to SiF, thus would have made her the first woman storyteller for the English dub of the series, however no agreement was made.
- According to the original US trailer, Fox was originally going to distribute the DVD, but Lionsgate took over instead.
- Among other things, the Sodor Daily newspaper reports that "Percy is in tears" and mentions something about "Trevor the Traction Engine." Another article reports on an Allicia Botti concert. The paper's articles are apparently written by "J.K. Lee." The date for the newspaper is Monday, March 24th, 1955. However, this date is incorrect, as March 24th, 1955 was actually a Thursday. This also leads to a number of errors, as most characters who are featured in the special either hadn't arrived on Sodor yet at the time, or their basis wasn't built.
- This special was broadcast on PBS Kids Sprout on June 5th and 6th, 2010 and on ABC2 in Australia on April 24th, 2011.
- Special Walmart editions, including a bonus CD featuring all five songs from the special, were released.
- On the UK DVD, in the game Follow the Whistle, part of the Thomas, You're the Leader song will play at the beginning along with an engine's whistle.
- The first UK trailer was narrated by Tim Whitnall, who later joined the voice cast in 2014, six years later.
- Due to Jack and the Sodor Construction Company never being shown in Norway, Japan, Greece, Poland, Finland and Romania, those viewers would not have known who Monty and Buster are.
- According to a behind-the-scenes photo, there are not any rails on the bridge that Molly and Rosie are on at the Great Waterton ceremony.
- In the Japanese dub, Emily says Arthur's line when he tells her that Thomas has been found.
- The Polish version of the songs are performed by Beata Wyrąbkiewicz, Veronica Łukaszewska and Marcin Mroziński.
- In Finland, this movie aired before the tenth season premiered, meaning that the audience may have not known who Rocky, Rosie, and Freddie were.
- This special takes place in between the eleventh and twelfth seasons.
- Learning Segments were planned to appear during the special similar to Calling All Engines! but they were later removed and put into the bonus features of the DVD, as the crew felt "the story was served better by losing those moments."
- Thomas and James are Racing
- There's a Job for Everyone
- Where, oh Where is Thomas?
- Engine Roll Call (The Great Discovery version)
- Thomas, You're the Leader
DVD Bonus features
- Introducing Stanley text
- Thomas and James are Racing sing-a-long
- Jobs-a-Plenty sing-a-long
- Where, oh Where is Thomas? sing-a-long
- Thomas, You're the Leader sing-a-long
- Follow the Whistle game
- Thomas, You're the Leader sing-a-long
- Behind the Scenes with Pierce Brosnan
- Spot the Difference
- Tough Trucks!
- Thomas' Puzzle Parts
- The Complete Ninth Series and The Great Discovery Double Pack
Trailers and Featurettes