Sunday, 7 June 2015

Top 10 Characters with the Most Potential

Well... my last list caused more discussion and controversy than I thought it would! So let's flip the switch, join the bandwagon and discover the top 10 characters that, I think, have the most potential!

The rules are pretty much the same as my other list. The only slight difference is that these will also be eligible:
  • Any characters that were never seen but have been confirmed, by primary sources, to have some sort of role.
  • Characters that have been seen in the current series, but haven't really been used by the team (by that, I mean those that have had less than five lines from King of the Railway to now).
Honourable Mentions
- The Mountain Engines
Well, the small railway is being featured in Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure and series 20 (series 19 is focusing on the current crop of characters, so there probably won't be any returnees), so why not give the main engines some screen time?

The reason they're only an honourable mention though is simple: because of the strict safety measures, it'd be difficult to come up with story ideas.

- Nigel
Wait, who?

Unless you properly research, you'll know there was a dropped character for The Pack. So... why not give him a chance? His design is lovely and since he has no personality, from what we can tell, it'll be very interesting to see him

- The Blisters
No, I don't mean the things you get on your feet. I mean two small diesels that were mentioned in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways. I would never have considered these if the small railway wasn't confirmed to be introduced to the series. That and Glynn is based on the coffee pots from the same book.

I don't think I'd want to see them (or Jock and Frank) just yet though, since they need to establish the small railway properly beforehand. But when they do, it would be nice to consider (all four of) them.

- BoCo
Fans complaining that he's just a carbon copy of Edward? Fine. Bring him back and add a couple of things to his personality to change it.

I personally would like him to return as, since they're bringing the concept of the Wellsworth-Brendam branch line back, he would complete the dynamic, bit I agree that more could probably be given to his personality.

- Trevor
If you want the prime example of a wasted character, Trevor would probably be up there. Why? Because he's been rendered since series 13! The American audiences are still treated to the Island of Sodor intro, which Trevor is a part of. The only episode he's seen in is Emily and Dash, and even then you have to look pretty hard to see him! Unless they're waiting until Arc render the vicarage orchard, or if the render for Trevor wasn't transferred with the others, why have they not given him some sort of role?!

- Alice, Mirabel, Dulcie and Isabel
Ah yes, Duck and Oliver's original coaches. I have to admit, I gave up hope on any Railway Series additions a few years ago, and I also gave up on new coaches being introduced during the Nitrogen era. But all that changed with the current team introducing the slip coaches in series 18 (I don't count Connor and Caitlin's coaches as such as they're just re-designed express coaches) and the small rathway in SLOTLT.

I'd love to see the autocoaches again, but in all honesty, I think I'd rather see Dulcie and Isabel, given the choice. That's not to say Alice and Mirabel aren't great, but with Duck having the slip coaches on TV, it wouldn't make much sense him having five coaches. Besides, Oliver's an autotrain, which is something the show has never explored, and it's an avenue that could open up really interesting stories for them all.

- The Pel Godred Branch Line
This little line was mentioned in Sodor: Reading Between the Lines, which was basically Christopher's follow up book to The Island of Sodor book from his father. And this is here for pretty much the same reason as Jeremy: it would help modernise Sodor a bit.

Not to mention, the fact that it's an electric line could introduce its own series of problems and adventures. And since it wasn't in the main series of books, the team could have a field day introducing a variety of characters for it. Not only that, but its links with the Culdee Fell railway would help the mountain engines as well. Sure, they wouldn't get starring roles, but they'd still be kept around.

10. Thumper
Wait, what?

I imagine many will be surprised that a character that I don't like is on a list of the ones that have the most potential. Yes, his design is weird. Yes, his appearance in series 5 is ridiculous (he's more of a plot device than a character). But... I can still see a place for him.

In recent years, it seems that quarries are being portrayed a bit more realistically, especially with the Blue Mountain Quarry's blasting, so seeing him there or at Ffarquhar's could actually be really interesting. And since he's a blank slate, they can give him any personality they want.

9. Stanley
My second favourite character is on this list? Who'd have thought it?

Yeah, I know he had a speaking role in series 18, hence he's only down here. But I do think he has a lot of potential that's not been explored. Then again, from what we've heard about Ryan, he could be Stanley done better. I'm serious; he could become my new second favourite character. It still wouldn't take away the fact that Stanley is still rather underused, but I digress.

8. Jeremy
I feel like I'm the only one who actually liked the concept of the airport and Jeremy. The reason I think that is simple: it follows what made The Railway Series great; it helped the show move with the times. The first diesels were introduced in the 50's when diesel power was rising to supremacy, the books took a darker turn in the 60's when the Beeching report was made public, a HST was released in 1987 when they were on the rise on Britain's main rail network. So with all that being considered, why not modernise other aspects of Sodor too?

That being said, maybe they could give him a different rivalry than one with the railway? Maybe with another plane? Heck, maybe even Harold? But I do think he's an interesting character that wasn't given much of a chance.

7. Bear
I really like Bear. It takes a lot of guts to stand up for complete strangers against someone you've known for a while, and that's what I admired about him. But since then, he's sadly done... not that much. It got to a point where he was barely mentioned by Christopher in any of his stories, nor was he illustrated by Clive Spong.

So I think that Bear has quite a bit of potential as a character with his strong work ethic and big heart. Also, I really do think the main line needs some big diesels.

6. Old Slow Coach
I really hate wasted potential, and that's why I have  a lot of scorn for series 5's newbies. At least with HiT's characters from series 9-12, there was some effort to give them their own distinct personalities. Series 5's were only there to sell the toys! And out of all of them, I think Old Slow Coach had the biggest waste of potential.

Making her a GWR Clerestory coach was a fantastic idea. Her Great Western livery was beautiful. But rather than tie it to anything, they turned it into a typical "engine saves something from scrap" story. But it wasn't Duck or Oliver, oh no! It was Thomas and Percy... Golden opportunity lost. In all honesty, the introduction of the slip coaches made me realise this. Sure, the back story was slightly convoluted, but it was still believable and the writers delivered on the potential they had amazingly well.

And that brings me back to Slow Coach. Now I don't think she should be given to Oliver (I'll get to him soon), but I do think that they could add a couple of clerestory composites and give them to Donald. Then, he could take them along the Little Western whenever he's wanted there for passenger duties.

5. Pip and Emma
And here's another modern addition.

In all honesty, I really like what Christopher Awdry did with these two; making them the main express from Tidmouth to London. And I'd love for that to be replicated on TV. Granted, they'd probably never be seen in London, but it'd still be nice if it was mentioned that they went there.

Also, it would really shut the naysayers up. Seriously, what better way to say "the show isn't sexist" than to give her the most important job on the island? Plus, since they weren't really given one, a proper personality.

4. Elizabeth
I'll admit it, my favourite character from series 6 was Elizabeth. She has a really unique design and her personality was fantastic. I quite like no nonsense characters, but I love no nonsense female characters, as it gives girls a better role model than some pink thing that's portrayed as a stick figure more often than not.

I've always wanted more focus on the roads of Sodor to show that the island doesn't just have a railway infrastructure, and if that ends up happening, then Elizabeth needs to return. With all the happy, caring vehicles on the island, it'd be awesome to see her shake things up a bit.

3. Rosie
Yep, another character from my least favourite character list makes it here. Like I've said before, I don't hate the concept of Rosie, I just hate what they've done with her. Apart from her (pretty good) role in series 12, she was a stalker in series 10 and most of the time, she's done... nothing. It's was only when I made a series of Trainz screenshots on DeviantART introducing her to my headcanon that I realised there was more that could be done with her. And with Arlesburgh gaining a port, that feeling grew.

Rosie's basis is a dock shunter, so I think she'd be brilliant at a harbour should they decide to bring any of them back (I'm not counting Brendam as they already have Salty and Porter stationed there). If they wanted to keep the dynamic with her and Thomas, they could stick her on the harbour at the end of the Ffarquhar branch. If that doesn't bother them too much, stick her at the Knapford/Tidmouth (wherever it is on TV) harbour. And if they want to continue the tomboy attitude, have her shunt the heavy trains her male counterparts won't bother with.

It's really sad that she's been relegated to cameo status, as there's so much that can be done with her.

2. Ivo Hugh
"Oh, but he has no personality!" "He's only in a few illustrations!" These are some of the complaints that I've seen about Ivo Hugh, and it feels like I'm the only one who can actually see the bigger picture.

Remember James? He started out in similar circumstances: he had no personality and he was the focus of only one story. The difference is that he actually got a book which fleshed out his personality. Chrstopher Awdry never got the chance to do the same with Ivo Hugh due to the publishers being too demanding. There's a reason it was called Thomas and the Fat Controller's Engines. It's also the reason the Railway Series took an 11 year hiatus. It also may have been the reason that the final two books had a rather heavy focus on Thomas.

That is why I don't really give up on Ivo Hugh. Unlike the characters from series 5, T&TMR and series 9-12, which were obvious toy ploys, Ivo Hugh was meant to be a rising character, and I personally believe that the current team would do a brilliant job with him.

And on a slight tangent, I also wouldn't mind seeing his namesake either. Maybe put him in the Steamworks as the narrow gauge specialist or something.

1. Arthur
I'll admit that my fondness for him has waned for him slightly in recent years, due to how great new characters have been. But I do still think there's a place for him.

First off, his design is fantastic. I just love that maroon livery and the LMS influence is lovely too. I also think his introduction was one of the better ones from series 7. He thought that his spotless record was the be all and end all, but then he realised how important friendship was. He also redeemed himself in his second episode by helping Thomas after his accident with the pier and was properly rewarded for it.  But ever since, he's done very little.

What put Arthur on the top though were three main reasons:
  1. The Fishing Village. Since series 15, the fishing village has been seen rather regularly, and the series 19 episode Toad and the Whale may very well take place on the Norramby branch line (even though they work on the Little Western, but I digress). So with, potentially, so much being done there recently, why not bring Arthur back to run it like he used to?
  2. His personality. Unlike the majority of series 7 newbies, Arthur didn't have as much of a personality, with more focus on his accomplishments than anything else. So introducing him to the fold could give the writers a chance to flesh him out a bit. Maybe (and this may sound cliché) give him some LMS pride?
  3. His name. The choice for it just seems so sweet, and one that Awdry himself would have been proud to settle on. Basically, a competition was held to come up with an official name for him and the winner had a late grandfather with the same name. Bring him back would, in my opinion, be a wonderful tribute to the winner, his grandfather and the man whose main character was inspired by one of his loved ones.

 Agree or disagree with this list? Leave your thoughts below or leave a tweet (@ChrisTomson2013)!


  1. Under Arthur's reasons, you stated that the fishing village could be on Arthur's Branch Line. I think its most likely on the Little Western in Arlesburgh.

    1. 1. I said Toad and the Whale could take place on the Norramby branch.
      2. The Fishing Village is on the the Norramby branch. The harbour on the Little Western is completely different.