You Can't Win is the fourth episode of the fourth season.


Duke is not feeling well and needs a rest. His crew clear his tubes and Stuart arrives and jokes if he 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, unable to stay cross any longer, begins taking his passengers home. Most of the journey starts out all smoothly until they come to a hill where he starts wheezing with valves leaking steam. Duke finds it not easy but still manages to get to the station. Falcon and Stuart arrive to help him. The three engines then split up at the next station so Falcon can take Duke's train to the docks so Duke and Stuart can take Falcon's train home.

Stuart is delighted, bragging he may be rescuing Duke from any trouble but Duke is not quite out of steam and makes a grand effort, 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 then teases Stuart that it was no good and he can't win.


  • Duke
  • Falcon
  • Stuart
  • Thomas (cameo)
  • Bertie (cameo)
  • Refreshment Lady (cameo)
  • One Little Boy (cameo)


  • Tidmouth Sheds
  • Crovan's Gate
  • Sodor Castle
  • Hawin Doorey
  • Rheneas
  • Skarloey
  • The Mountain Line
  • Cros-ny-Cuirn


  • 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 Thomas & Friends segment for WIN Television's Sixty Minutes.
  • This is the only episode to date 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 series.
  • In a rare Japanese still, Duke is seen coupled in front of Stuart instead of behind him.


  • As Stuart is being coupled up to Duke, Duke is wearing one of Falcon's faces.
  • At the beginning, Stuart has Rheneas' whistle sound. This happens again when Stuart leaves the station with Duke.
  • In a rare still of Stuart coupling up to Duke's train, his funnel is loose and his lining is peeling off.
  • In a deleted scene, it is not sundown when Duke and Stuart enter Crovan's Gate.
  • The narrator says that Stuart took Falcon's train with Duke coupled behind. But Duke was still coupled up to his own train. It's also said that he was coupled behind when he was actually coupled in front to double head with Stuart.


  • Buzz Books - You Can't Win
  • Magazine Stories - Grand Old Duke

In Other Languages

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Language Title
Chinese 你是赢不了的
Czech Nevyhraješ
Danish Du Vinder Aldrig
Dutch Je Wint Nooit
Finnish Voitto Kotiin
German Du Kannst Nicht Gewinnen
Greek Δεν μπορείτε να κερδίσετε
Hungarian Nem Győzhetsz
Italian Non Mi Batti!
Japanese かちめなし
Korean 듀크의 완승
Norwegian Du Kan Ikke Alltid Vinne
Polish Ze Mną Nie Wygrasz
Romanian Nu Poţi Câştiga!
Russian Ты не можешь победить
Slovak Nemôžete Vyhrať
Slovenian Ne Moreš Zmagati
Spanish La Venganza
Swedish Du Kan Inte Segra
Thai ดุ๊กไม่ยอมแพ้
Ukrainian Не здолаєш
Welsh Y Jôc

Home Media Releases

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  • Thomas and Stepney and other Stories (Direct-to-Home Video)
  • The Complete Series 4
  • Seasonal Scrapes
  • 5 Episode Video

DVD Packs

  • Classic Collection


  • Thomas the Tank Engine: Bumper Special 2


  • Thomas and Stepney and other Stories (Direct-to-Home Video)
  • The Complete Series 4

DVD Packs

  • Complete Series 1-10
  • Classic Collection
  • Series Three and Series Four Double Pack


  • The Gallant Old Engine and Other Thomas Stories/Henry and the Elephant
  • Thomas & Friends Classic Volume 4


  • New Thomas the Tank Engine Vol.2 (Direct-to-Home Video)
  • The Complete Works of Thomas the Tank Engine 2 Vol. 5
  • I'm Busy Hurry Hurry!!


  • Thomas and Stepney and other Stories


  • Thomas and Stepney (Norwegian VHS)


  • A Day at the Station

DVD Boxsets

  • 3 DVD Boxset 2


  • For the Story of Determination


  • Four Little Locomotives and Other Stories


  • Four Little Engines and Other Thomas Adventures
  • One Good Turn and Other Adventures


  • Rock 'n' Roll Locomotive (Finnish DVD)


  • Oliver Owns Up and Other Stories


  • The Sleeping Beauty


  • The Greatest Stories: The Adventures of Thomas, Percy and Gordon
  • Merry Christmas!


  • A Train Thomas and Friends
  • Thomas and Friends - Season 4 (Ukrainian DVD)


  • Thomas and Friends Season 1-4 (DVD)


  • Thomas and Friends - Volume 12 (Thai DVD)


  • Thomas and Friends Volume 9 (Taiwanese DVD)

<< Season 3

Season 4

Season 5>>

#01 Granpuff #10 Rock 'n' Roll #19 Henry and the Elephant
#02 Sleeping Beauty #11 Special Funnel #20 Toad Stands By
#03 Bulldog #12 Steam Roller #21 Bulls Eyes
#04 You Can't Win #13 Passengers and Polish #22 Thomas and the Special Letter
#05 Four Little Engines #14 Gallant Old Engine #23 Paint Pots and Queens
#06 A Bad Day for Sir Handel #15 Rusty to the Rescue #24 Fish
#07 Peter Sam and the Refreshment Lady #16 Thomas and Stepney #25 Special Attraction
#08 Trucks #17 Train Stops Play #26 Mind that Bike
#09 Home at Last #18 Bowled Out
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