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You Can't Win is the 82nd episode of Thomas and Friends.


Duke is feeling poorly, so he rests while his crew cleans his tubes. Stuart arrives and jokes that Duke is short of puff, but Duke says it is routine maintenance. But Stuart suggests that he and Falcon keep him in working order in case of any breakdowns. Duke pays no attention, and begins to leave.

That evening, Duke begins taking his passengers home. The journey starts out all smoothly until they come to a hill where he starts wheezing with his valves leaking steam. Duke finds it difficult, so Falcon and Stuart come to help him. The three engines then split up at the next station so Falcon can take Duke's train to the docks, whilst Duke and Stuart can take Falcon's train home.

Stuart is delighted, bragging about rescuing Duke from any trouble. However Duke is not quite out of steam and makes a grand effort to pull the train despite the nasty sound of his valves. Duke and his driver start puffing as soon as they reach the hill. After arriving at the top station, a boy thinks that two engines are not needed for the train but his father tells his son that Duke had to help Stuart as a result of a breakdown. Stuart becomes furious and he vanishes in a cloud of steam. 


  • Duke
  • Stuart
  • Falcon
  • Thomas (cameo)


  • This episode is based on the story of the same name from The Railway Series book, Duke the Lost Engine.
  • Behind the scenes footage of the episode was filmed in 1994 as part of a segment for WIN Television's 60 Minutes titled The Making of Thomas the Tank Engine.
  • This episode marks Duke's last individual speaking role to date (outside of a group line in Steam Roller).
  • This is the only episode based off of a story from Duke the Lost Engine not told by Thomas to the other standard gauge engines.
  • This is the first episode where no standard gauge engines speak.
  • Stuart exclaims "Fiddlesticks!" towards the end of this episode, instead of the alternative in the original book. This was likely to avoid any criticism for alluding to profanity in the TV series.