Percy is a cheeky green saddletank engine who was brought to Sodor to help run the railway during the big engines' strike. His favourite job is to deliver the Mail Train. He works on Thomas' Branch Line as a goods engine.
Percy was most likely built by Avonside sometime around the 1900's and had gone through a subsequent rebuild in the years preceding his second-hand sale to the North Western Railway. He is said to have been found wearing Hunslet parts, according to workers at Crovan's Gate.
When Gordon, James and Henry went on strike in protest of the extra work they had to do since Thomas left to run his branch line, the Fat Controller decided that the railway needed another tank engine. Going to the engine workshop, the Fat Controller saw a green saddletank 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.
In Tale of the Brave, Thomas tells Percy about some mysterious footprints that he saw at the China Clay Pits. Percy convinces himself that it must be footprints of a monster that is roaming Sodor. Continuing to be anxious for a few days, he causes 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 understands what being brave is like and later uses this courage to save James from a huge landslide. He later learns 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 says goodbye to Gator, who has to return to the mainland, but the two friends are certain they will meet again someday.
In the eighteenth season, Percy was starting to miss Gator & tries to forget him by working hard & not think about him. When he had to deliver trucks full of precious sculptures and paintings for a special exhibition, he didn't stop to be coupled & the Troublesome Trucks rolling to the Old Mine. He thinks about Gator and his advice of how to be brave. Percy goes into the mine and rescues the trucks. Percy reunited with Gator on 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.
In The Great Race, Percy takes Thomas's place in The Shunting Competition of The Great Railway Show after Thomas has an accident and is left on Sodor. However, Thomas manages to make it to The Mainland after all and Percy drops out of the competition so his best friend can compete.
Writing in The Thomas the Tank Engine Man, Brian Sibley described Percy as "one of the most engaging engines in the shed, with his slightly roly-poly appearance and a look of wide-eyed innocence". 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". 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 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 brakevan, 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, 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.
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 primarily based on a GWR Avonside 0-4-0ST with the body of a GWR 1340 Trojan, the bunker of a GWR 1361 class locomotive, Hunslet underframes and valve gear, a smokebox protruding from his saddletank, external cylinders and motion, and sandboxes underneath the tanks on his footplate.
Modifications made to Percy's shape include the angled smokebox supports and the cab being cut down slightly from the back for the bunker.
A similar looking engine painted red, lived with Percy at the Workshop where he used to live before arriving on Sodor, in the My Thomas Story Library book, The Fat Controller.
Percy is painted NWR green with NWR red-and-yellow lining and a "6" painted on his bunker sides in yellow with red lining.
In the Railway Series, he carries two builder's plates, one on either side of his cab.
The Reverend W. Awdry and C. Reginald Dalby did not get along very well. Awdry considered Dalby's drawings "toy-like"; this relationship was worsened by the creation of Percy, who was depicted as an Avonside 0-4-0ST/GWR 1340 Trojan with a bunker.
When Percy the Small Engine was published, Awdry wrote to Dalby, criticising his illustrations and claiming Percy resembled "a green caterpillar with red stripes". This was too much for Dalby and he promptly resigned. However, the insult was not forgotten: Thomas called Percy "a green caterpillar with red stripes" in Tramway Engines as well as the televised episode Woolly Bear.
It is debated as to what year Percy arrived. The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways states that Percy was made the station pilot at Tidmouth in 1949, somewhat implying that he arrived on Sodor in that year. However, Henry is said to have been rebuilt in 1935 and Percy makes several appearances in the presence of the pre-rebuild Henry, suggesting that either Henry was rebuilt later on or that Percy arrived before 1935. A post on SiF states that Christopher Awdry affirmed the arrival date in The Island of Sodor: Its People, History and Railways to be incorrect and that Percy came to Sodor before 1935.
- Keith Wickham (UK; Hero of the Rails - Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure)
- Nigel Pilkington (UK; nineteenth season onwards)
- Martin Sherman (US; Hero of the Rails - eighteenth season)
- Christopher Ragland (US; nineteenth season onwards)
- Javier Olguín (Latin America; Hero of the Rails onwards)
- One of Percy's models is currently on display in Japan at the Hara Model Railway Museum (previously on display at Nitrogen Studios).
- Percy's large scale model used for the spin-off series, The Pack, is currently on display in Japan at Thomas Land.
- One of Percy's face masks is now in the possession of SiF user Brj38.
- In Jack and the Sodor Construction Co., Percy's dome is green and the steps up to his footplate are red.
- According to Abi Grant on her website, Percy is her favourite character. He is also Mark Moraghan's favourite character, alongside Cranky.
- Percy's whistle sound is actually Edward and Henry's in higher pitched.
- Percy is the first character other than Thomas to be the main character in a special.
- Percy went through several changes in the television series:
- Season 3:
- His whistle changed shape (now being more of a cylinder shape).
- Is whistle is one tone lower starting with Time For Trouble
- Season 4:
- His whistle changes back to it's original tone.
- Thomas and the Magic Railroad:
- He gained a permanent lamp
- A stand underneath his smokebox.
- His eyebrows change shape.
- Season 6:
- His cab was blacked out (except for cab shots filmed on a larger model).
- Jack and the Sodor Construction Company (Large Scale Model Only):
- His dome became green.
- The step ladders on his running board are painted red.
- His whistle is taller than his cab.
- The Great Discovery:
- His O Gauge model's dome is painted gold.
- Hero of the Rails:
- His cab became open again
- The counterweights on his wheels vanished.
- Season 19:
- His side rods become silver.
- Season 3:
- Will You Won't You (performed)
- Be Who You Are, And Go Far (performed)
- ERTL (normal, Gold Rail, and metallic, all discontinued)
- Wooden Railway (several versions)
- Take Along (discontinued normal, metallic, and lights and sounds)
- Take-n-Play (normal, pull back, talking, push 'n' puff, and glow racers)
- My First Thomas (normal and talking)
- Motor Road and Rail (normal, talking, and chocolate-covered; discontinued outside Asia)
- TrackMaster (normal, talking, greatest moments, and RC)
- Bachmann (HO and large scale)
- Woody Capsule Series
- Trading Cards
- My Thomas Story Library (discontinued)
- Thomas Engine Collection Series (discontinued)
- Mini Die Cast Collection (normal and with Santa hat; discontinued)
- Departing Now (discontinued)
- Thomas Town (discontinued)
- Capsule Collection
- Pocket Fantasy (discontinued)
- Brio (discontinued)
- LEGO Duplo (discontinued)
- Mega Bloks (discontinued)
- Meccano (discontinued)
- Around Town with Thomas
- Discover Junction
- Diablock (large and mini)
- Boss (normal and pullback; discontinued)
- New Block
- Collectible Railway
- Motorized Railway
- Push Along
- Pullback Racers
- Padlock and Key
- Micro Rubber Engines
- Pull 'n' Spin
- Pico Pico
- Interactive Learning Railway
- Minis (classic, metallic, spooky, dino, advent calendar, warriors, twist-n-turn stunt set, DC super friends, racers and Tootsie)
- Bath Toys
- Switch-On Keychains (normal and chocolate covered)
- MV Sports (in figure of 8 set; discontinued)
- Pre-Cut Model Engine Books (with Clarabel; discontinued; re-released separately; re-discontinued)
- Big Buddy (discontinued)
- Rail Rollers