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Thomas the Tank Engine—or Thomas the Train, if you prefer—finds his way into the head of just about every child in the English-speaking world at some point. Even in his original context, Thomas and his world are pretty weird. Remember that time they imprisoned a train in a tunnel, Cask of Amontillado style?
But Thomas has a second life that those kids couldn't even imagine. He moonlights as a car, a spaceship, and a terrifying monster that hunts you down in the night. Thomas the Tank Engine as a game mod is a meme unto itself, and when a big PC game comes out it's not a question of whether a Thomas mod will show up, but a question of when a Thomas mod will appear.
The best part about Thomas mods is the creativity their makers employ in adding Thomas to the game, often using a game's very design and the juxtaposition of Thomas to make something funnier than just the surface idea alone. Here are seven of the most memorable video game mods starring Thomas the Tank Engine—and one honorable mention for good measure.
Just because Starfield is basically a brand new game doesn't mean you'll have to wait for mods. Some mods on this list have Thomas chasing you, while others have you driving Thomas. In this Starfield mod, everyone is Thomas. The mod's creator, trainwiz, describes the mod simply: "Replaces all ships in game with Thomas the Tank Engine. Let's be mature about this now."
— Trainwiz (@trainwiz) October 11, 2023
Indeed, with the addition of this mod, every ship becomes Thomas. You're Thomas. The pirates are Thomas. The UC Navy is Thomas. In space, no one can hear you choo-choo, but they'll definitely see you coming.
Marvel's Midnight Suns
A gothic Marvel strategy game might not seem like the most intuitive place for a Thomas mod, but let me introduce you to Robbie Reyes. Old Marvel heads will remember Johnny Blaze as Ghost Rider, or maybe Danny Ketch. Robbie Reyes is the current Ghost Rider, though, and he's swapped the chopper bike out for an intimidating black muscle car.
What if, instead of a car, Ghost Rider was… a train? This mod is among our favorites purely for the image of the “Hell Ride” move showcasing the charging Tank Engine. It's a little weird because the modder, VinnyHaw, has chosen to swap out Ghost Rider in his entirety rather than just swapping out his car. Even so, the image is too funny to skip.
Elden Ring is widely considered to be one the best games of the last few years, standing tall alongside all-timers like The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild. Fans love the game not just for its demanding combat, but for the mysterious fantasy atmosphere, where darkness and decay lurk around every corner.
Of course, that means it needs a Thomas mod. Heck, it needs multiple Thomas mods. One of the very first ones replaced the first boss you'll encounter, the Tree Sentinel, with the ghastly visage of the smiling locomotive. We love this one though, because it's a throwback to the ultimate Thomas mod. Instead of replacing a ground-bound boss, this mod replaces the dragon Agheel with Thomas, letting him fly around and cause havoc. It's funny, atmosphere-breaking, and nostalgic all at once.
Grand Theft Auto V
To get the most out of adding Thomas to Grand Theft Auto V, we recommend downloading both the "Thomas the Tank Engine" mod and the "Train on the Highway" mod. The first one replaces the locomotive at the front of the train in GTA5 with our favorite friendly freight car. The second, importantly, jumps the train off of the tracks and has it do a lap around Los Santos. It's a great way to add some chaos and weirdness to a game we've been playing for literally 10 years.
The Xenomorph of the “Alien” series is such a fearsome, formidable creature that just hiding from it can hold up a whole game. As Amanda Ripley, you don't spend a lot of time shooting in Alien Isolation, as the Xenomorph is unkillable.
You know what else you can't kill? A train. Thomas' too-relaxed smile is unsettling at the best of times, but in this mod, it takes on a new kind of terror when plastered across his face while he hunts you down.
Resident Evil 2
Thomas is so cheery and bright that when you take the light away, he feels deeply out of place—and he turns into something else entirely. That's what these Resident Evil 2 Thomas mods offer.
Mr. X, the hat-and-trenchcoat-clad goliath that lumbers behind you throughout much of Resident Evil 2, can be replaced with Thomas with one mod. The other replaces his soundscape. Instead of the Mr. X theme music, you'll hear the Thomas theme. Instead of thump-thump, you'll hear choo-choo. It makes the inevitability of him catching you that much more terrifying.
The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim
Here it is—the best, the original, the king of Thomas mods: Really Useful Dragons. This legendary mod replaces all of Skyrim's dragons with Thomas characters. This mod almost doesn't need introduction at this point. In fact, YouTuber Dunkey shows the mod off perfectly in his classic video, "Ultimate Skyrim."
Really Useful Dragons might not be the first Thomas mod, but it's unquestionably the one that turned the idea from a joke into a proper meme.
Honorable mention: Choo-Choo Charles
Either a video game meme dies funny, or it lives long enough to see itself become a game of its own. That, of course, happened with the long-lived Thomas mods. Just in time for Christmas last year, we received Choo-Choo Charles, a game where you "navigate an open-world island in an old train, upgrade it over time, and use it to fight an evil spider train named Charles." You know, that old chestnut, the evil spider train.
At just two hours, Choo-Choo Charles doesn't overstay its welcome. Yeah, it's $20, but who hasn't paid that much for a shorter movie? Get in there and get chased around by a terrifying evil spider train.