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"Merry Christmas to you, Duncan!"
"Merry Christmas to one and all!"
"Bah humbug!
— Mr. Percival, Luke and Duncan

Duncan the Humbug is the nineteenth (eleventh in Australia) episode of the eighteenth season.


It is Christmas on the Island of Sodor. It is a busy time, but the engines love this time of year. All the engines that is except for Duncan who complains even more than usual.

During the day, Duncan complains to Rheneas about the cold weather. He then complains to Rusty about the apparent lack of sand. Later, he complains about the extra passengers slowing him down to Skarloey, causing the engine to start losing his Christmas spirit.

By the time Skarloey returns to the depot, he does not feel very festive at all. Neither do Rusty and Rheneas. Thomas arrives and tells them that even Duncan will be impressed by the brightly lit depot. But sure enough, Duncan arrives and starts complaining. Thomas tells his narrow gauge friends that the Fat Controller is giving all of the standard gauge engines a new coat of paint. Duncan thinks this is unfair, but Rusty informs him that Mr. Percival is planning a similar treat for his narrow gauge engines. Duncan is pleased, but goes off moaning as usual. Skarloey and Rheneas begin to wish that there was a way to stop Duncan complaining, even just for one day. This gives Rusty an idea.

The next day, Duncan travels to the Steamworks for his fresh coat of paint where he finds the Thin Controller talking to Victor. Mr. Percival tells Duncan that he is upsetting the other engines with his constant complaining and that he will only get his coat of paint if he is cheerful for the rest of the day. Duncan accepts the challenge and sets off to work.

On his way, Duncan meets Rheneas at a junction. Rheneas reminds Duncan to go slow on the icy rails. Duncan thanks Rheneas for the reminder. At Crovan's Gate, Duncan has to wait while all the passengers climb aboard his carriages with their extra luggage. Skarloey arrives and notices that Duncan's attitude has completely changed since yesterday. Shortly, Duncan gets held up at a frozen level crossing. To pass the time, the passengers start to hum a Christmas tune. Duncan doesn't like the humming at all, but he grins and bears it.

Later, Duncan gets stuck behind Luke on a slippery hill. Try as he might, Luke cannot reach the summit; his wheels will not grip the rails. Duncan is very impatient with Luke and upsets him. Unfortunately, Rusty is watching Duncan with interest. Duncan realises that he has upset Luke and decides to help his friend. As Luke's sandbox is empty, Duncan drops some sand on the line himself. He then buffers up to Luke and gives him a push to the top of the hill. Rusty has seen everything. Duncan feels sad; he knows that he lost his temper and that means no new coat of paint for him.

The next morning, Duncan heads to the Steamworks anyway to apologise for his behaviour. As Duncan begins to explain to Mr. Percival he is cut off mid-sentence. Mr. Percival explains that Duncan had done a very kind thing in helping Luke and such usefulness should be rewarded with a new coat of paint. Mr. Percival also says that he had been wrong to make Duncan be cheerful all day. Rusty goes on to say that he is just that sort of engine and, as Luke points out, it doesn't make him any less useful.




  • Going by production order, this is the eleventh episode of the eighteenth season.
  • The tunes of the Christmas carols, 'Once in Royal David City', 'Hark! The Herald Angels Sing', 'I Saw Three Ships', 'We Three Kings', 'God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen' and '12 Days of Christmas' can be heard occasionally throughout the episode. This is also the first episode since the third season to include Christmas carols of any kind.
  • In Australia, this episode was first available to view on the ABC iView online service on December 21st before its television broadcast.
  • Duncan's quote, "Bah humbug!", is a reference to the Charles Dickens novel, "A Christmas Carol".
  • This episode marks the first appearance of the Rheneas Viaduct since the tenth season.
  • A fade effect is missing in the UK version.
  • Some shots of Duncan and Rheneas at Glennock were reused from Duncan and the Grumpy Passenger but snow was rendered into the scene.
  • This episode marks Luke's last speaking role to date.


  • When Rheneas arrives at Glennock, there is slate in his trucks. But in his close ups, the trucks are empty.
  • Both times that Duncan goes to the Steamworks, the line that he uses to get onto the transfer table is standard gauge.
  • When Skarloey arrives at the Depot, there are no trucks in front of him or Rusty, but in the next scene, some trucks appear in front of them. Similarly, when Duncan shows up at the Depot, he has no coaches, but gains them when he leaves.
  • Duncan skids to a halt due to a sudden signal change. After chatting with Rusty, he sets off again before Rusty, and therefore ran a red signal.
  • When Rusty is talking to Duncan at the signal, compared to the first close up of Duncan, the background appears to be set much further back in the second one.
  • Throughout the episode, rust stains disappear and reappear on Duncan's front buffers.
  • Rusty's driver is actually a Dieselworks workman.
  • When Duncan comes up behind Luke, the tree is hanging off the flatbed, but when Duncan buffers up to the flatbed, the tree has moved up.
  • When Duncan stops at the junction by Rheneas his face isn't animated. Also in the aerial shot he stops, in the next shot he stops again.


In Other Languages

Language Name Meaning
Japanese ダンカンはもんくばっかり Duncan is Complaining About
Spanish Duncan el Caramelo de Menta Duncan the Mint Candy
Dutch Duncan de Mopperkont Duncan the Grouch
Hungarian Duncan a méltatlankodó Dncan's Indignant
Romanian Duncan cel care nu suporta Craciunul Duncan Who Can Not Stand Christmas
Russian Ворчливый Дункан Grouchy Duncan
Ukrainian Дункан - Буркотун Duncan - Grouch
French Duncan le Ronchon de Noël Duncan the Christmas Grouch
Czech Nepořádný Duncan Unkempt Duncan
Polish Damian Maruda Duncan the Humbug
Thai ดันแคนขี้หงุดหงิด Duncan is Frustrated
Lithuanian Duncanas paniurėlio Duncan is Surly
Portuguese Duncan o rabugento Duncan the Grouchy
Korean 웃어요 던컨 Smile, Duncan

Home Media Releases


DVD Boxsets


  • The Christmas Engines