Theodore Tugboat is a children's television show about a tugboat named Theodore who lives in the Big Harbour with all of his friends. The show was produced in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada by CBC Television and (the now defunct) Cochran Entertainment. It was filmed on a model set with radio controlled tugboats, ships, and machinery. The show has been off the air since 2001 but is said to still be shown in some countries. The show's distribution rights were sold to Classic Media. At one time, the show appeared in eighty countries. It premiered in Canada on CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation), then went on to PBS (Public Broadcasting Service), the Noggin Channel, and qubo in the US.
The show dealt with life learning issues portrayed by the tugs or other ships in the harbour. Most of the time, the tugs would have a problem involving a struggle with each other or another ship, but they always helped one another to resolve these problems. Their main focus however, was to always make the Big Harbour the friendliest harbour in the whole world, and to always do a good job with their work.
: The Harbourmaster is the narrator of the series. He is portrayed by the late Denny Doherty
, formerly of The Mamas & the Papas
, in the Canadian and US version and by other performers internationally. The Harbourmaster is the character who introduces the theme at the start of every episode by addressing an issue that he has with a similar issue that the tugs have. He also loves to play the tuba and is good friends with a man named "Rodney" (who is never seen).
- Theodore Tugboat: Theodore is the title character who lives in the Big Harbour with all of his friends. He's one of the smaller tugs that wears a red baseball cap and is sometimes offended if someone calls him "cute" or "small". He and his closest friend Hank are the only two "harbour tugs" (tugs that stay in the harbour) that are not yet "ocean tugs" (tugs that are eligible to work outside of the harbour). They both share the harbour tug side of the dock and love working together. He's a kind little tugboat that is always friendly to the other ships in the harbour, with the goal of becoming friends with everyone he meets. He loves to sway back and forward to show that he's happy. His biggest dream is to become an ocean tug and to travel across the sea to different harbours. But before he does, he works as hard as he can to make the Big Harbour the friendliest harbour in the world. That's why whenever someone needs him, he is always there for them.
- Hank: Hank (the Volcano, as he sometimes calls himself) is the smallest, funniest, fastest tugboat in the Big Harbour. He wears a blue tuque and loves to make funny faces and noises as a way of getting attention. He can be very sensitive too, and usually gets ignored for being the smallest. But whenever he feels down, he always turns to Theodore for help or guidance. Sometimes Hank is the one to give a good idea without even knowing it. He also loves to use the word "fresh" to describe something. But out of all the other tugboats, Hank is special because of his good humour and nature to learn and grow from his mistakes. He is performed by the same vehicle and puppeteer of Spud from Bob the Builder, Rob Rackstraw.
- Emily "the Vigorous": Emily is the only female tug in the fleet. She wears an old turquoise fishing hat that is very special to her. She is also the biggest tug who loves to travel to different countries and discover new cultures and languages. Emily loves to be admired and hates to look silly in front of her friends, because they always have high expectations for her and look up to her as a leader. But she always comes to find that her friends are there to help her, even if she doesn't ask for their help. She usually gets into arguments with George, but they always resolve their disagreements. But no matter how upset Emily gets, she always shows her kind spirits and female strength.
- George "the Valiant": George is the strongest tugboat in the Big Harbour. He wears a purple baseball cap on his head backwards. George loves to show off and can sometimes be a little rude without knowing it. He's somewhat stubborn and always struggles to ever admit that he is sometimes wrong. He especially loves to tell stories to the other tugs, mostly about himself. He also loves to blow up a lot of smoke from his smokestack and make a lot of loud noises with his powerful engine. But most of all, George is a hard worker, and never finishes a job until it's done, and always stands up for his friends.
- Foduck "the Vigilant": Foduck is the harbour's "safety tug". He wears a red fire hat and is equipped with extra bright spotlights, sonar transceiver and a fire hose. Foduck is always very serious and takes his work importantly. Like all the other tugs, Foduck loves to journey out to the open ocean. Foduck is a "V" tug (a tug with a "V" word that is fully qualified to make ocean voyages) like George and Emily. Even though he is able to journey on out to the ocean, he is content with staying in the harbour to keep it safe. Foduck usually doesn't express his feelings, but deep inside, he has a soft spot for everything and everyone in the harbour.
- Oliver "the Vast": Oliver is a tugboat from another harbour with two smokestacks and a purple/blue cap. He came to the Big Harbour to help with some extra work. He especially loved to bully Theodore, no matter how hard Theodore tried to be friends with him. Finally, the Dispatcher sent Oliver back home for his bullying.
- Molly "the Vehement": Molly is an ocean tug from another harbour that won the "Tug of the Year Award" instead of George. She is never actually seen in the series and mentioned only once.
- The Dispatcher: The Dispatcher is a rotating building on the "Great Ocean Tug and Salvage Company" dock, who gives the tugs their jobs for the day. He has a black moustache and a flag on his head. He usually is very serious and stern with the tugs. But they are always respectful to him because of his father-like figure. He shows that he cares for the tugs by disciplining them for their faults, and by counselling them for their mistakes. And like a father, he always has a gentle side to him and is always there when the tugboats need his help the most.
- Donald Dock: Donald is the wooden dock across from the Dispatcher, and also happens to be his best friend. Donald is special because he only uses the words "uh-huh" and nothing else. The Dispatcher and the tugs sometimes go to him for advice and occasionally get the right answer from him.
- Benjamin Bridge: Benjamin is a green suspension bridge at the end of the harbour who loves to watch everything that goes on. His design is based on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge, the first of two bridges built to connect Halifax and Dartmouth. He also enjoys telling jokes, riddles and rumours, which can cause a lot of confusion. Besides spreading rumours, Benjamin has a bad habit of snoring very loudly. Even though he can't move, Benjamin has many exciting moments, like oil rigs nearly crashing into him and ocean liners getting stuck under him. He's very good friends with the tugboats and loves to socialize.
- The Ferry Twins: Phillip and Philmore are two identical ferry boat twins that cross the harbour before Benjamin Bridge. The twins are modelled after the twin Metro Transit ferries Halifax III and Dartmouth III which were built in 1979 to carry passengers across Halifax Harbour on a daily basis. No one in the Big Harbour is able to tell which twin is which. And they usually finish each others sentences. Phillip and Philmore are sometimes stubborn, and at one point Philmore left the harbour to visit Fundy the fishing boat. Their job is very well recognized, and every tug and ship is careful when they cross between them.
- The Pilot Boats: Pearl and Petra are the harbour's only two pilot boats. They patrol the harbour and sometimes help the tugs with moving ships to their docks. They both used to have a problem with not listening to the tugboats, which caused a lot of confusion. Pearl was the first pilot boat to come to the harbour. She expects a little too much from the tugs and can be very strict with them. She used to be taken as mean and boring, until she played a fun game with Theodore. Petra was the second pilot boat to come to the harbour and has a closer relationship with the tugboats. She was shy at first about coming to the Big Harbour until Theodore introduced her to everyone. She also enjoys playing "hide and surprise" with Theodore and Barrington on occasion. Both are hard working and work together with the tugs to keep the harbour running properly.
- Bedford Buoy: Bedford is a small buoy that marks the place where the harbour ends and the ocean begins. He and Theodore are best friends and they love to tell "knock-knock" jokes to each other. Even though Bedford is not allowed to move, he sometimes has fun adventures, like when his chain broke and he drifted out of the harbour. Even so, Bedford also suffers from depression from not being able to move and at one time wanted to leave the harbour. That is why every ship in the Big Harbour stops by every day to say hello and talk with Bedford. But whenever Bedford feels useless, the tugs are always there to remind him just how important he really is.
- Owan the Oil Rig: Owan is a loudmouth, boisterous, Barney Fife-type, oil rig that works outside the Big Harbour. He has eight big pillars and is hooked onto giant anchor cables. He's full of free expression and always yells instead of talking. The tugs usually have to remind him to be a little more quiet. The funny thing is, Owan never knows when he's too loud. He loves to use catchphrases such as "Yessireebob!", "Nosirreebob!" and "Oh my star fish and little oysters!" Owan is good friends with the tugs, especially Theodore. Whenever the tugs are depressed or struggling with an issue, they always hide under Owan. They call it their "favourite thinking place." He is also good friends with Sigrid the Supply Ship, who brings him whatever he needs while he's out on the ocean. Owan is always happy and cheerful (except for when Oliver came to take him to work) and sometimes careless (like when he broke free from his cables and nearly hit a cliff). Everyone in the Big Harbour loves Owan, because he can put a smile on their face any time they need some comfort.
- Digby the Cable Ship: Digby is an old cable ship who is always getting stuck somewhere out on the job. It's always a surprise to him and the tugs when someone gets stuck other than himself. He has a mild East Coast accent and uses catchphrases such as "Oh flibberty jibberty!" and "Oh my starfish and little oysters" (like Owan). His best friend is Theodore, who seems to always have to rescue Digby whenever he gets stuck. He loves to say whatever is on his mind and especially enjoys talking about cables. The tugs once thought of Digby as old and useless when the big and strong Dartmouth came to the harbour. But even though Digby is always getting stuck somewhere, he always shows that he is still a useful cable ship in the end.
- Northumberland Submarine: Northumberland is a black submarine who sleeps during the day and works during the night. He is hardly ever awake in front of the tugs, except for when Theodore and Hank saw him on their night shift. Northumberland is a very quiet sub too, and hates loud noise and bright lights. He also helps the "salvage crew" (Theodore, Rebecca and Shelburne) to find great things under the water. He never likes to disappoint his friends, which can sometimes get him or his friends into danger. He once broke his propeller in an underwater rock slide and showed Hank where a sunken ship was. Northumberland is also a big brother-like figure to Pugwash the Mini-Sub, but was once scared that she would bump him. Northumberland is always a great help to the tugs and the salvage crew and whether he's awake or half-awake, he is always willing to be of some assistance to anyone in the Big Harbour.
- Rebecca the Research Vessel: Rebecca is a Research Vessel who explores everything about the ocean. Rebecca had three different models from seasons one to two. She started out with a grey colour and no eyebrows in season one. In season two, her eyes were bigger and her eyebrows were thick and grey and later had smaller eyes and grey eyebrows. She is great at giving facts and information about the ocean and once advised Theodore to let Walter the Whale return to his family. Rebecca is the leader of the "salvage team" and works with Theodore, Northumberland and Shelburne to find great things under the water. Rebecca has no trouble finding underwater treasures with her special sonar equipment. She and the salvage team once found and old ships bell. Theodore looks up to Rebecca because she always does everything close to perfect. Rebecca also has a grumpy side, which she showed when Benjamin Bridge kept her up all night with his loud snoring. But even though Rebecca is not perfect, she is always fun to explore with and is the tugs closest guide to the mysteries of the sea.
- Shelburne the Giant Sea Barge: A giant sea barge designed for longer journeys on the open ocean. He sometimes requires two tugs to move. He has a very slow and sluggish nature which is epitomized by his slow speech. Shelburne is often seen helping the tugs raise items up off the ocean floor and back to the surface.
- Constance the Coast Guard Ship: Constance is a coast guard ship who takes almost everything seriously. Whenever her name is mentioned, she is noted as an important ship. The tugs used to think that Constance was mean and Constance used to think that she was too busy to be nice. Emily soon showed her how easy it was to be friendly, and became Constance's best friend. Even though Constance is very serious about her work, she can also be a lot of fun (like when she played light tag with Theodore and Hank). The tugs are now more comfortable socializing with Constance, but still give her all their respect.
- Carla the Cool Cabin Cruiser: Carla is a zany cabin cruiser who only works to please herself. She loves to give the tugs funny nicknames and usually refers to the Dispatcher as the "Dishwasher". Carla is always looked at as "cool" because she's never afraid to do what she wants. She occasionally runs out of control and causes peer pressure on all the tugs. Carla mainly hangs out with Emily and loves to go exploring with her. Whenever Carla goes over the line, Emily is usually the one to tell her so, and Carla always knows when she makes a big mistake.
- Sigrid the Supply Ship: Sigrid is a supply ship that takes supplies out to Owan the Oil Rig out on the ocean. She is orange with a helicopter on her head and is especially good at making waves. Sigrid is very good friends with the tugboats and has always wanted to be a tugboat. She got her chance when she helped Theodore and Emily dock a ship in a storm by pushing the ship with her waves. The tugs gave Sigrid a green bumper to wear on her side, but instead, she put the bumper on her wheelhouse to remind her of the time when she was a tugboat too.
- Bluenose the Sailing Ship: Bluenose is a schooner sailing ship that lives in the Big Harbour and holds the title of "the fastest ship in the harbour" (considering that she has no engine). Bluenose is good friends with the tugs and loves to race them. She even helped Foduck when his propeller was clogged in seaweed.
- Barrington Barge ; Barrington is the smallest barge in the Big Harbour. He is always quiet like all the other barges and is best friends with Theodore. The two have a special game of "hide and surprise", but once hid too long and got into trouble. Barrington looks up to Theodore as a leader and never goes against his plans or ideas
- Bobby Barge: Bobby is a green salvage barge, who like all the other barges, is good friends with the tugs and always quiet. He is very encouraging and lifted George's spirits when he didn't win an award.
- R. Boat: R. Boat (short for row boat) is a gloomy little row boat that Theodore found stuck on some sharp rocks. R. Boat's dock had been destroyed during a big storm and Theodore promised him a new home. R. Boat complains very often and hates loud noise. He continued to complain until he was offered a new home, in Queen Stephanie's swimming pool.
- Bonavista Barge: Bonavista is a small red barge who usually works with Hank. She is always calm and content with whatever goes on. Carla the Cabin Cruiser once towed Bonavista to a little cove as a way of getting attention.
- Guysborough the Garbage Barge: Guysborough is a grumpy garbage barge who loves to be "stinky and steamy" and always describes everything as "rotten". Theodore and Digby are the only ones that can stand Guysborough's grouchiness. His way of calling Theodore's names is by saying "Theee-o-dooore!". He once used his catchphrase as a foghorn to prevent a shipwreck. Guysborough usually gets advice from his good friend Jasper and says to him "I thought so too". Even though Guysborough is a smelly old garbage barge, the tugs appreciate him for keeping the harbour so nice and clean.
- Jasper the Junk Dock: Jasper is the garbage dock who is the exact opposite of Donald, because the only thing he can say is "nope". Jasper is a good friend of Guysborough, who always turns to Jasper for advice, even when his answer is always "nope".
- Bayswater Barge: Bayswater is a small green and blue barge that loves to make up funny names. He once called Hank a "bumper-bum", which got Hank into trouble when he called a ship by a funny name. Bayswater is good friends with Brunswick Barge and at one time didn't get along with him. The two are know very close and are usually pulled by Theodore and Hank.
- Brunswick Barge: Brunswick is a small red barge that's always looking for "thrills and chills". Brunswick quickly changed his mind when he was swept away by a storm and thought that he had been swallowed by a giant snorkel clam.
- Blankton Buoy: Blankton is a marker buoy who's light was broken when a large container ship was coming into the harbour.
- Bingham Buoy: A Buoy-in-training who Hank bumped into one time.
Characters Outside the Big Harbour
- Fundy the Fishing Boat: A little fishing boat who says strange things. It is really his way of giving advice. Fundy and Theodore often spoke in the series, and the Ferry Twins have met him by travelling to his cove!
- Truro the Fishing Trawler: A small fishing trawler who lives and cares for Dorothy in Ceilidh's Cove.
- Dorothy Dory: A dory who lives in Ceilidh's Cove with Truro. Looks to both Truro and Theodore as older siblings. Dorothy is always loud and bursting with questions for Theodore and all the other tugboats. Dorothy also got to have a "Girls Night Out" with Emily, Sigrid, and Carla.
- Baddeck the Buoy Boat: A buoy boat who brings new buoys into the harbour. Theodore was once jealous of Baddeck and his relationship with Bedford and Blandford, but they soon became friends.
- Nautilus the Navy Ship: Nautilus is the only Navy Ship in the big harbour and has the number 411 on his sides. He lives near the oceanic institute. Nautilus was first seen being docked by Theodore and George, when George wanted to be a navy ship too. His second appearance was his starring role, as he was in charge of saving Canso the Container Ship, who was sinking. Theodore and the tugboats seem to look up to him a lot.
- Halliburton Houseboat: Halliburton lives in an enclosed cove near the Big Harbour. Theodore once thought Halliburton was a haunted houseboat, making him scared. Thanks to Foduck, Theodore and Halliburton became fast friends.
- Pugwash the Mini-Submarine: A mini submarine who once scared Northumberland by bumping him, but now she knows better and travels the world with Stewiacke. She does not like lighthouse fog horns and lighthouse lights. Pugwash was once scared off by Lunenburg, and hid underwater for some time. Soon enough, Theodore helped her out of the situation.
- Stewiacke the Salvage Ship: A ship who loads Pugwash onto him with a cradle. Stewiacke loves to explore the coast, with Pugwash as his underwater aide.
- Millie: A fishing trawler who wears glasses. When she arrived in the harbour, she caused some trouble with her bad eyesight, but gained two friends in Theodore and Hank.
Visitors to the Harbour
- Tex the Oil Rig: An oil rig that was really rude until a storm nearly made him crash into Benjamin Bridge, after which he learned humility.
- Olympia: An oil tanker brought in when huge packs of sea ice were in the harbour. She almost ran into Willy's Island when Theodore's towrope snapped.
- Margaree Pride: A container ship that George and Theodore helped out of the harbour, the day after Theodore first arrived.
- Gloria Cornwallis: A ship Emily and Theodore were towing during the time Theodore was having nightmares of a sea monster coming at him in the night. She was also brought in during the time that Foduck was bumping Theodore, as well as the time where George and Emily wouldn't talk to each other.
- Julia: First cargo ship that Theodore and Hank brought into the harbour together.
- Kirby: A cargo ship loaded with telephone poles from England.
- Queen Stephanie: The greatest and grandest ocean liner in the world, also the nicest. Occasionally visits the harbour after getting stuck under Benjamin Bridge by accident, the first time she appeared in the series. In another, she even had R. Boat in her swimming pool after R. Boat wished he could be big. Apparently, Her Majesty has about 1,001 windows on each of her sides. The Queen holds a special place in her heart for Theodore. She's based on the RMS Queen Elizabeth
- Elo Echo: A container ship Theodore saved when she was about to hit sharp and dangerous rocks, by flashing his light and blowing his horn.
- Katherine: A cargo ship who, like Emily, had never met a ship from Russia until Gregor was in the harbour. Also once said Theodore's whistle was cute.
- Margaret: A large cargo ship that visits the big harbour occasionally. She was seen with Theodore and Hank when they were lost in a thick fog, as well as being pulled by George and Emily most of the time.
- Isabel: A cargo container ship who was seen in several episodes. Isabel never was introduced properly.
- Walter: A whale who was separated from his pod by a strong current. Theodore had been babysitting him until George found his family. Walter was returned to his pod before he grew to a tremendous size. He is featured in the book "Theodore and the Whale".
- Freda: A small cargo ship that got stuck on some rocks outside the harbour, but Theodore and George teamed up to pull her to safety. She was the first ship Theodore brought in by himself, when he was the 'Tug in Charge'.
- Caroline: A container ship that Foduck and Emily had trouble with while trying to get her to her docked, until George came to help them out.
- Jennifer: A ship who Emily rescued before Theodore got the assignment to rescue Digby, who was stuck on a sandspit.
- Snorri the Viking Ship: A Viking ship that arrived at the Big Harbour.
- Gregor: A fishing trawler from Russia whom Emily wanted to meet.
- Colchester: A container ship Theodore and Emily were helping bring into the harbour when Hank was suffering with the hiccoughs.
- Catherine: A big container ship who carried a "double" load and gave Theodore and George a time trying to move her.
- Shamus: A fishing trawler that was once completely covered in ice, and later struck up a friendship with George.
- Oliver "the Vast": A tug from another harbour who gave Theodore a hard time. George and Owan seem to dislike him.
- Kulu the Canoe: A story-telling canoe. Saved by Theodore and Foduck when he ran aground on a beach.
- Inverness: A cargo ship that Hank accidentally offends by calling him "needle-nose".
- Clementine: A big container ship who came when Theodore first met Clayton and wished that he could lift things like he could. Clementine becomes paranoid whenever anything happens to one of her containers.
- Cumberland: A big container ship who thought he did not need tugs until he met Theodore.
- Scally: A ship who brought treasures as cargo into the harbour. When he gave the tugs some of his treasures, it didn't take long for them to cause confusion. So they decided to return their treasures back to Scally.
- Louis: A cargo ship Theodore and George brought in, the first time they heard that Petra the new pilot boat was coming to live in the harbour.
- Dartmouth the Giant Cable Ship: A giant cable ship who won the attention of all the tugboats when he first arrived in the Big Harbour. Digby showed him good places to lay cables.
- Annapolis: A cargo ship brought into the harbour when the tugs first met Sigrid the Supply Ship. Her name has no relation to Emily's middle name (which is Annapolis too).
- Canso Colossus: A supertanker who had hit rock near the Pictou Peaks and was sinking fast. Apparently, Canso is the king of supertankers, and talks with a very squeaky voice. Canso's biggest pet peeve seems to be "yucky stuff."
- Caroquette: A container ship Theodore had a hard time keeping steady when George was doing tough tugging. Caroquette had many speaking roles, including the time where she, Theodore, and Hank had a good laugh when George made a funny noise.
- Chester: A container ship who wanted to have flags during the time the ship and boats of the harbour were having their flag day.
- Emma Sophia: A small ship who Theodore was to bring into the harbour, loaded with kumquats.
- Clair a cargo ship that is loaded with special cargo such as bicycles.
- Igloo: An oil tanker who helped the tugs out when Clair was beginning to leak oil.
- Cocomagh: A container ship who was afraid to come into the harbour, until Foduck convinced her that the Big Harbour was the safest and friendliest harbour in the whole world.
- Cabot: A cargo ship with no self control, who did not care about safety until Theodore helped him.
- Cabot's Cargo: After Cabot had let some of his cargo fall off his deck, Theodore felt bad, until the cargo spoke to him! Various pieces included a cylinder-like container, a crate, an open shipping container, and a red pipe.
- The Rock Brothers: When Pugwash was hiding from Lunenburg Lighthouse, she discovered the Ecum Secum Cave, where she met the three Rock Brothers (three pairs of eyes in the cliff). The Rock Brothers taunted Pugwash, and Pugwash grew surprised when they mentioned her fear of lighthouses. They have only appeared once.
- S.S. Malarkey: A cargo ship who tells stories that, true to his namesake, are nothing but malarkey.
- Seabright: A cargo ship that was afraid of Benjamin Bridge until Theodore explained there was nothing to be afraid of. After Seabright overcame his fear of Benjamin, he soon became frightened of Clayton.
- Kingston: Kingston is a cargo ship who has visited the harbour on one or more occasions. He was once frightened of Hank.
- Marin: A Giant Cruiser who visited the harbour when Guysborough was trying to make friends.
- Chimey the Clock Tower: Chimey is the harbour's clock tower. He is seen in many episode but only speaks once. In the episode "Big Harbour Fools Day", Chimey is mentioned by name, and we discover he is the Tugboats' personal "wake up call". Chimey is modelled after the Halifax Town Clock on Citadel Hill.
- The Buildings: There are some buildings in the harbour with faces, but have never been spoken of, had the chance to speak, etc. These include the red warehouses, and the long blue house.
- Lilly the Lighthouse: A lighthouse on "Willy's Island", found in the middle of the harbour, warns visiting ships away from the sharp dangerous rocks on the island. Although she doesn't appear as often as some of the characters, it is possible that Lilly's character is a nod to Lillie Lightship of TUGS, as both characters use large beacons to warn ships of the fog, and their names are both Lillie/Lilly.
- Clayton the Harbour Crane: A crane who lives near the oceanic institute (Rebecca and Northumberland's dock). Clayton is usually very nice, and is a good friends of the tugboats. There once was a time where Theodore wanted to be just like Clayton.
- Shediac the Shipyard Shed: A supply shed Theodore met while he was at the repair dock, who supplies the tugboats their bumpers.
- Lunenburg the Lighthouse: A lighthouse that lives near Shipwreck Rock. Pugwash was once scared of Lunenburg's bright light and loud foghorn. Lunenburg was also seen the time that Theodore was separated from Pearl in the thick fog near Shipwreck Rock.
The program's formula
The show always opens with the theme song, and the opening title dissolves into the harbourmaster's office. The harbourmaster is normally doing something or thinking about something, which prompts him to remember when one of the tugboats was involved in a similar scenario.
As the harbourmaster starts telling the story, the camera shot dissolves into a shot of the tugs working somewhere, or getting their orders
from the Dispatcher. In the first few minutes of the episode, the tugs encounter a problem, and they use their heads to solve it. Other times, the tugs have to conquer an emotional problem, such as not feeling good enough, or having to say goodbye to a friend. As each episode continues, the tugs resolve their problems, and life returns to normal in the Big Harbour.
The scene again dissolves into a shot of the harbourmaster's office, with the harbourmaster deciding to pay attention to the lesson learned by the tugs. During this time, he sometimes communicates with the tugs through his office window (they reply with the sound of their whistles), plays his tuba, or listens to his friend Rodney playing bagpipes. The harbourmaster finally says "Thanks for visiting us here in the Big Harbour, and we'll see you all again next time. So long", and the credits roll.
On the half-hour PBS series, following the first story, Denny's goodbye is instead followed by a voice-over, reminding viewers to stay tuned for the next story, and reminding viewers to visit the website.
The series was filmed in a converted elementary school in Halifax's North End
. A team of model builders constructed the characters in a workshop adjacent to the large set located in a water-filled former gymnasium. The radio controlled models were driven by propellers but used underwater wheels to provide guidance and avoid drifting out of shots. The original models used to film the series can now be seen at Halifax's Maritime Museum of the Atlantic
Real names and locations
The characters are loaded with references to Halifax Harbour
, Nova Scotia and Maritime Canada
in general. Many of the references are obvious (such as Brunswick the Barge, named after New Brunswick
) while others are more obscure. The following is a list of other references:
- The Big Harbour itself is modelled after Halifax Harbour, in Nova Scotia, Canada.
- The tugs occasionally visit a fishing village called Ceilidh's Cove, which is modelled loosely off of Peggys Cove, a real-life fishing community in Nova Scotia.
- Some of the tugboat characters' V-names are derived from actual tugboats that operate in Halifax Harbour, including Point Vigour and Point Valiant.
- Annapolis (a cargo ship) is named after the Annapolis Valley in northwestern Nova Scotia.
- Baddeck (the buoy boat) is named after the village of Baddeck, Nova Scotia
- Barrington (the smallest barge) is likely named after the municipality of Barrington, Nova Scotia, which is located in the southwestern region of the province near Shelburne. Others have argued that the character's name comes from one of Halifax's best-known streets, Barrington Street, which runs straight through the downtown core parallel to the harbour.
- Bedford (the buoy by Willy's Island) is based on both the name (Bedford Basin), part of Halifax Harbour, and the former town of Bedford at the head of the basin.
- Blandford (the buoy at the harbour entrance) is named after the fishing community of Blandford, Nova Scotia, which later gained international fame as a base from which the rescue efforts of Swissair Flight 111 were carried out.
- Bluenose (a sailing ship) is named after the famous racing schooner of the 1920s, the Bluenose. A replica of the 'Bluenose', the 'Bluenose II', calls Halifax Harbour home, and sails as a promotional vessel for Nova Scotia. Bluenose is also the name of boat on TUGS.
- Bonavista (one of the barges) is named after the fishing town of Bonavista, located in the province of Newfoundland.
- Cabot (the cargo ship) is named after the Cabot Trail, a highway that takes sight-seeres through the scenic mountainous regions of northern Cape Breton Island.
- Canso Colossus (the super tanker) is named after the small fishing town of Canso, Nova Scotia on the southeast coast.
- Chester (the container ship) gets his name from the seaside village of Chester, Nova Scotia.
- Cumberland Gets his name from Cumberland County, Nova Scotia, which is located in the province's northwest region.
- Dartmouth (a visiting cable ship) is named after the former city of Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, which lies on the eastern shore of Halifax Harbour. Dartmouth's municipal government was amalgamated into Halifax's in 1996, but the area retains its original name.
- Digby (the cable ship) is named after Digby, Nova Scotia, a seaside community on the northwest shore of Nova Scotia famous for its scallop fishing.
- Fundy (the fishing boat) gets his name from the Bay of Fundy, the body of water that separates northern Nova Scotia from southern New Brunswick and eastern Maine, and is the body of water with the world's largest tides, which is approximately 16 meters (52 feet).
- Guysborough (the garbage barge) is named after Guysborough County on the south shore of Nova Scotia.
- Inverness (the cargo ship) gets her name from the community of Inverness, Nova Scotia, which is located on the west coast of Cape Breton Island.
- Lunenburg (the lighthouse by shipwreck rock) is named after the port town of Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, which is where the original Bluenose was built.
- Northumberland (the submarine) is named after the Northumberland Strait, a body of water that lies between the New Brunswick, Nova Scotia mainland, and Prince Edward Island.
- Seabright (the cargo ship) is named after the tiny community of Seabright, Nova Scotia, which is located southwest of Halifax.
- Shediac (a supply shed at the shipyard dock) is named after the town of Shediac, New Brunswick, which holds the nickname Lobster Capital of the World.
- Shelburne (the giant sea-going barge) is named after the town of Shelburne, Nova Scotia, which lies on the southwest shore of the province.
- Truro (the fishing trawler) gets his name from the town of Truro, Nova Scotia, which is known as the Hub of Nova Scotia for its central location and historical importance to the province's railroad network.
- Stewiacke (the salvage ship) gets his name from the town of Stewiacke, Nova Scotia, which is located halfway between the equator and the north pole. It is also the hometown of Fred Allen, the artist who designed and built the characters and set of Theodore Tugboat.
It was also revealed in the episode Hank's New Name that Emily's middle name is Annapolis, after Annapolis County in northwest Nova Scotia.
CBC aired Theodore Tugboat
from 1993 until 2001.
- The original idea for the series came to Halifax native Andrew Cochran while he was walking along the waterfront. He named two of the tugboats in the series, Hank and George, after his son's favourite teddy bears. His son was four years old at the time and made up the name "Foduck" one day some months later, while looking at the real tugboats in the harbour with his father.
- Cochran and his production company, Cochran Entertainment, went on to lead the development of the series with the CBC in Canada, starting in 1989. Production commenced in 1992, and the first broadcasts were aired on CBC in 1993. Cochran Entertainment produced all 120 original episodes with Cochran as the Executive Producer.
- The show was funded in part by Robert Cardona of Britain, the maker of the television shows TUGS and Thomas and Friends.
- George, Emily, Foduck's horn sounds in order will result a broken C6 chord with no E.
- PBS telecasts of the show were supported by the Primestar satellite service, which was later absorbed by DirecTV.
- Replaced Shining Time Station on PBS.
- In the episode "Bedford's Big Move" The Harbourmaster receives cookies from his mother. If you look closely the cookies are shaped like Sunshine from TUGS.
- The Harbourmaster in the Canadian/US version was played by The Mamas & the Papas front man, Denny Doherty. The role, and the person playing the role, is similar to that of Shining Time Station, the American series that featured Thomas the Tank Engine; like Theodore Tugboat, that series initially starred (and was narrated by) an entertainment figure associated with the 1960s. Ringo Starr (of The Beatles), and, later, comedian George Carlin, both playing the role of "Mr. Conductor".
- Some of the character names coincide with the characters in Thomas and Friends and TUGS, the other two shows of which Robert Cardona was involved. Examples of those in TUGS include Lillie Lightship (whose name Lilly Lighthouse almost shared) and Bluenose the Naval Tug (whose name went to the sailing ship), while those in Thomas and Friends include Oliver the Vast with Oliver the Western Engine, Emily the Vigorous with Emily the Stirling Engine and Molly the Vehement with Molly the Yellow Engine.
There are 130 episodes in the series. Fifty-two of which premiered in the US while the rest were broadcast in Canada. They were aired on CBC and PBS. The list includes both Canadian and American episodes. [Note] episodes may not be in perfect order.
- Theodore and the Oil Rig: In the series pilot, an oil rig named Tex arrives overnight and George is boastful to Theodore saying that he knows oil rigs and he tries to show Theodore this, but to their surprise Tex is very arrogant and decides to head into the harbour by himself, almost running into Theodore. Later on, Tex is still being rude to George, and then Theodore when a storm begins to brew, and the tugs decided to check on Tex's anchor cables. Afterwards, Theodore tells the tugs that Tex is a bunch of rods and rails, and George starts to think Theodore and Tex are friends, which upsets Theodore. When the storm hits, Tex's cables snap and George is sent to stop him from running into the harbour, but after some choppy tugging, George gets caught and calls for Theodore. Tex, nearing a scared Benjamin Bridge, is about to hit but Theodore, being small but agile, manages to rope Tex and free George. preventing an incident. The next morning Tex apologizes and becomes good friends with the tugs.
- * The five tugboats, the Dispatcher, Benjamin Bridge, Bobby Barge and Donald Dock's first appearance.
- * Tex the Oil Rig is introduced but doesn't appear in any further episodes, but is mentioned in several.
- Theodore and the Homesick Rowboat: Theodore wants to try doing a job all by himself, and he finds this opportunity with R. Boat, a sad little rowboat who's dock was destroyed in a nighttime storm. Hank tags along to help but Theodore resents his presence. After searching and searching, Theodore allows Hank to help, and the two find a nice little dock for R. Boat, knowing that together they can get the job done.
- * R. Boat is introduced.
- * Olympia's first appearance.
- The Dark and Scary Cove: One day, Theodore and Hank are helping George bring in Margaree Pride when they discover Cobequid Cove, an old cove outside the harbour. The two go inside and race around but discover scary sights and sounds, along with a creepy old wreck. The two are so startled they run off, with Hank losing his lifeboat in the process. The next morning, Hank is confined to the dock until his lifeboat is discovered. A brave but scared Theodore heads to the cove and discovers the lifeboat, and Pearl the Pilot Boat shows Theodore that the cove's sights and sounds are really everyday items like branches in the water and animals. Theodore is happy and thanks Pearl for showing him that the cove isn't as scary as they thought.
- * The wreck seen at the entrance to the cove is seen again as the old wreck George attempts to haul up in the Big Harbour clean up contest.
- * Pearl the Pilot Boat and Margaree Pride are introduced.
- Foduck the Vigilant: Foduck is about to receive his V-word but can't think of anything special about himself. The tugs try to cheer him up but to no avail. Later on, George collects some crates he discovered and he brags. Foduck notices sparks coming from George's stack but says nothing. Later that night, Foduck can't sleep as he is still curious about what his V-word will be. He notices George's stack sparking again, but this time the sparks set fire to the crates George collected earlier, and then to his lifeboat. The tugs are alerted and scared, but a quick thinking Foduck uses his fire fighting equipment to put out the fire. The next morning George apologises for the incident and Foduck is seen with a cloth over his back. The tugs think he was injured in the fire but it is revealed to be Foduck's V-word, Vigilant. The tugs whistle and cheer as Foduck finally comes to the conclusion that he is happy and special.
- * Foduck's fire fighting equipment is used for the first time.
- * First accident of the series (George's lifeboat catches fire).
- * Julia is seen but not introduced.
- Bumper Buddies: Theodore and Foduck have a little game where they race to Bedford Buoy, but when they finish Foduck bumps Theodore, and it hurts. Theodore thinks this is unfriendly and makes the mistake of avoiding Foduck all together. Later Theodore decides to hide under Owan the Oil Rig, who is staying in the harbour. When he hears a noise, he asks Owan if it's him, but he's asleep. Theodore is horrified and becomes more scared when it's Foduck! Foduck apologises and the next day they're silent on the way home from work, until they see Bedford. Theodore knows all is not right so they race, and without bumping, they nudge and discover that avoiding someone is not the way to solve a problem.
- * Owan the Oil Rig, Bedford, and Gloria's first appearance
- Different Strokes - Different Boats: One morning the Dispatcher gives Theodore the task of teaching Hank how to pull barges. Theodore is delighted and hopes to make a good impression as a teacher. When they arrive at Barrington's dock, Hank pulls his from the side, which Theodore thinks is wrong because he has always pull barges from the front. Thinking about this, Theodore thinks he made the wrong decision of wanting to teach Hank how to pull barges, but in the end Theodore realizes some boats do things differently than himself.
- * Barrington Barge is introduced.
- Hank and the Mermaid: The Sandy Beach is in need of some junk and scrap removal, so Hank is given the task of doing so with Bonavista Barge. When he arrives, he sees a Mermaid. No one believes Hank, but every time he comes back to the beach for removal it's still there. Finally Hank takes charge and finds out it's a ships wooden bow. He finishes his job, and the tugs are surprised to see Hank head straight through the harbour with the mermaid on his bow.
- * Bonavista Barge is introduced.
- True Blue Friends: George is told that he needs a hull checkup at the dry dock. George, never having experience this is worried and when he asks the tugs about it, they all say "having a checkup never hurts", but George takes this as nonsense. He decides to hide in the junk docks behind a big barge. Theodore finds George and realizes the the barge is moving and could crush him! Saving the big tug, he is taken to the dry dock. After work, the tugs hear laughing from the dry dock and they see that it's George. He's ticklish from the workers and he thanks the tugs for helping him realize that checkups are meant to help not hurt.
- * Second Accident: George's hull is damaged from a big junk barge that he was hiding behind.
- Theodore and the Welcome: Theodore is given the job of welcoming ships, a job which the four other tugs are very talented at, giving that welcoming feeling to any ship wanting to rest in the Big Harbour. Theodore tries to welcome a submarine that doesn't reply, and becomes distressed until the submarine finally speaks, stating that Theodore just woke him up. Theodore comes to realizes the submarine, named Northumberland, is really just a sleepy sub. Theodore smiles and realizes he is good at what he puts his mind to.
- * Northumberland Submarine is introduced.
- Theodore the Vegetable: All the ocean tugs are out doing work and this makes Theodore wonder about what his V-word would be. He decides to go with Hank the Volcano and is delighted. The two are given the task of taking Julia, a large cargo ship, into her dock. Julia is massive and she has quite the attitude. While the two tugboats do their best, they are cut off by a boat (The Mysterious Grain Ship). Julia is impressed with the tugs quick thinking and the two small tugs realize that no matter what, they can get the job done no matter their size nor strength.
- * Julia is introduced.
- * The Mysterious Grain Ship cuts off Julia, then appears throughout the series in random cameos and situations.
- The Day Ice Came to the Harbour: A big freeze slows down the productivity of the harbour. The pilot boats are restricted to their docks so Theodore and his other tugboat friends are left in charge to make sure that the harbour is kept safe.
- * The Ice Breaker Inverness is only mentioned but never seen. Ironically, Inverness is the name of another container ship later on.
- * Cameos by the Ferry Twins, Bobby Barge, and Bonavista Barge.
- * Olympia is introduced.
- Theodore’s Nightmares: One night Theodore has a nightmare about a sea monster, and when he wakes up he is scared that the dream will come true. But with a little help from his friends, Theodore finds out that dreams are 'just pretend' and he will be alright.
- * Chimey is seen up close for the first time.
- * Gloria Cornwallis is introduced.
- * First and only appearance of the Sea Monster.
- * First and only appearance of the Waltzing Sugarplum Ferries.
- Theodore’s First Pull: Like Foduck, Theodore wants to earn his 'V-word' too. Emily tries to help Theodore by teaching him some skills that he'll need if his 'V-word' is to be so. Theodore soon grows over confident.
- * Kirby is introduced.
- Theodore and the Queen: A grand ocean liner named the Queen Stephanie visits the harbour. When she tries to pass beneath Benjamin Bridge, she gets severely stuck. Theodore however, quickly comes up with an idea to free her.
- * The Mysterious Grain Ship is seen when all the boats are whistling.
- * The thin eyed coast guard boat is seen up close for the first time.
- * Cameo by Rebecca.
- * The Queen Stephanie is introduced.
- Theodore and the Bluenose: Bluenose the old sailing ship saves Foduck when his propeller becomes clogged with seaweed.
- * First appearance of Shipwreck Rock.
- * Bluenose is introduced.
- Is Anybody Listening?: Theodore thinks that the pilot boats who patrol the harbour never seem to listen to anybody, and they don't. But soon, after a lot of confusion and a near crash, the pilot boats learn a valuable lesson about not listening.
- * Blankton Buoy is seen for the first time, though he is named Blandford.
- * Petra and Elo Echo's first appearance.
- George Buzzes the Dock: It is found that Sandy Beach is terribly polluted and Emily and George notice this. They then have an argument about which one of them is causing the pollution. Theodore soon reminds them that all the tugs make pollution. Later on, all the tugs agree on the great idea of a 'Big Harbour Cleanup Contest' to be held, but that's another story.
- * This episode forms the first two part episode.
- * The junk barge is seen again.
- The Big Harbour Cleanup Contest: All the tugs seem to have a very big plan in terms of what part of the harbour they are each going to clean up in the contest. But once Theodore has heard each tug's 'big plan', he can't seem to think of one himself. So he has to settle for a 'little plan'.
- * Cameos by Rebecca and the old wreck.
- Best Friends: Theodore tells all the tugs that they are his best friend. Later, they get angry at him when they find out Theodore has said the same thing to all of them. They then demand to know which one of them truly is his best friend. Hank becomes very upset with this, and gets stuck on a sandspit. So the other tugs pull him off, and they all become best friends.
- * This episode is out of production order, and was slated to appear after "The Cold Snap".
- Theodore and the Big Harbour: It's Theodore's first day in the Big Harbour and he is completely astonished at how different everything is compared to where he used to work. It takes a few lessons for him to take it all in.
- * Originally the first episode, but was changed to become an original episode.
- * Benjamin Bridge is seen as a bully in this episode.
- * Theodore meets the Tugs for the first time (time-line wise).
- * Phillip and Philmore the ferry twins are introduced.
- Theodore's Whistle: Theodore doesn't like his high-pitched whistle tone so he tries to change the sound of it. He only ends up badly damaging it and is then unable to do one of his favourite jobs. Later though, he gets a pleasant surprise.
- * Katherine the Container Ship is introduced.
- * This story received a book adaption due to popularity.
- * Owan the Oil Rig and Barrington Barge make cameos.
- George's Ghost: Theodore says that he has seen a ghost at Shipwreck Rock that makes a strange "ding ding" sound and looks like it's floating in the air. George however, doesn't believe Theodore until he actually sees the ghost for himself, and what a surprise it turns out to be!
- * Digby the Cable Ship is introduced.
- * The wreck is a stranded Digby.
- * We learn why Shipwreck Rock is famous in this episode.
- * Cameo by Bobby Barge.
- A Whale of a Tug: Theodore finds a whale named Walter who is trapped in some logs. He and the other tugs take care of the whale until George can find his parents. When he does, Theodore has a hard time saying goodbye to Walter, but learns that Walter is better off in his natural habitat.
- * First and only appearance of Walter.
- * Cameo by Rebecca.
- Night Shift: The Dispatcher assigns Theodore and Hank to do the night shift because the other tugs doesn't want to stay up all night. When it comes time for Theodore and Hank to actually do the shift, they find the darkness a little scary.
- * First time we see the night shift.
- * Cameos by Owan, Northumberland, and Rebecca.
- * Last time we see Rebecca's first model.
- Theodore Changes Sides: George says that Theodore can sleep with the ocean tugs on the other side of the home dock while Emily is away. Theodore agrees because sleeping on the ocean tugs' side of the dock makes him feel more important. Hank however, is then left all by himself on the other side of the dock and feels very sad and lonely.
- * First and only appearance of the Broken Bell Buoys.
- * Margaret's fist appearance.
- The Tugboat Pledge: The Dispatcher has assigned Emily to lead the tugboat parade. Hank suggests to her that she should recite "The Tugboat Pledge" as well, except he has tricked Emily and there is no such thing!
- * First large cameo episode.
- * First appearance of Isabel.
- * First time we see Foduck hose down the tugboats.
- * Cameos by Phillip and Philmore, Northumberland, Katherine, Bedford, Lilly Lighthouse, Barrington, Bobby, Rebecca, Digby, Constance, Pearl, Petra, Isabel, and various faceless boats.
- Emergency: Foduck decides to teach the other tugs about safety flags. George doesn't find the lesson important, until he finds a ship that can't talk, but little does he know that he could be putting himself in serious danger.
- * We learn about safety flags in this episode.
- * First episode to feature a ship incident.
- * Stranded ship is Freda.
- Foduck Stays Home: Foduck is chosen by the Dispatcher to be the Big Harbour's official safety tug. While he is happy about this, he is also very disappointed that he won't be able to go out on the open ocean. He feels happier after helping Theodore and Hank find their way back to the harbour in a thick fog.
- * Cameos by Bedford, Benjamin, the Ferry Twins, and Northumberland.
- * Margaret makes a cameo.
- Theodore and the Tug in Charge: Theodore is chosen to be the tug in charge for the day. When he runs into a spot of bother with Northumberland Submarine he doubts his ability to bring in the real ship. His friends give him support and he does bring in the ship all by himself.
- * This episode is famous for the Theodore and Northumberland incident.
- * Cameos by Lilly, Bedford, Freda and Benjamin.
- The Cold Snap: The Dispatcher can't hear properly due to a bad cold. This situation unfortunately leads to some confusion because he is not entirely sure what everyone else is saying. Theodore gets restricted to his dock for a misunderstanding. He later leaves to help the other tugs and fears what the Dispatcher will say. He learns that everyone makes mistakes in the end, even the Dispatcher.
- * Freda the cargo ship makes a cameo.
- * The Dispatcher wears ear muffs in this episode.
- * Second appearance of Margaret.
- Tug of the Year: George is sad that he didn't win the "Tug of the Year" contest, and he had practised so hard for it too. His other tugboat friends decide to give him his own award for being such a good friend.
- * First time another tug from a different harbour is mentioned.
- Hank and the Hug: No one wants to play with Hank or even let him help. He at first feels angry, but a little later feels very depressed. The other tugs soon join together to formulate a plan on how to apologize to Hank and make him feel better.
- * Cameo by Bonavista.
- Emily and the Rocket: Theodore and Emily see a large light travelling across the sky one night. The next day, Emily is asked to help Constance the Coast Guard Ship with something very important, though Constance isn't the friendliest ship. Emily soon discovers that the large light was really a fallen rocket from space. She later makes friends with Constance when she stands up to her, and the two get along with each other very well.
- * Constance is introduced.
- Theodore in the Middle: Theodore ends up in the middle of an argument between Emily and George, when George decides to report an official complaint on Emily for being late. They eventually make up without Emily getting a red mark in the Great Tugboat Book, and without Theodore losing a friend.
- * Cameo by Gloria Cornwallis.
- Carla, the Cool Cabin Cruiser: Carla encourages Emily to cause trouble in the Big Harbour. Will Emily build up the courage to say that she doesn't want to?
- * Carla is introduced.
- * Cameo by Jennifer.
- Snorri, the Viking Ship: A weird ship named Snorri arrives in the Big Harbour. He seems to be rather rude but Theodore soon finds out that in fact, he is not.
- * Snorri the Viking Ship is introduced.
- * First and only appearance of Snorri.
- * Katherine, Rebecca, Barrington, and several faceless boats make cameos.
- Theodore the Jokester: At first everyone laughs when Theodore accidentally makes a joke. Theodore likes this so he then tries to tell another joke, but on purpose. He can't figure out why nobody laughs at him again, so he tries to find out.
- * Cameos by the Pilot Boats.
- Emily, the Vigorous: Emily has a full day of work to do but she really wants to meet a fishing trawler who has come from Russia. She attempts to rush all her jobs but unfortunately she is just a bit too hasty for her own good.
- * Gregor is introduced.
- * Gregor's first and only appearance.
- * Katherine is introduced.
- Theodore's Day Off: Theodore requests to the Dispatcher for some time off, which is agreed upon, but he soon gets very, very bored.
- * Cameos by Northumberland and the Ferry Twins.
- Foduck and the Rainbow: A string of unexpected, sudden changes to Foduck's routine deeply upset him because he liked the way his original routine was.
- * Cameos by Olympia and the Pilot Boats.
- * An Error on this episode. Petra is working with the tugs for the second docking, but in one shot it's pearl instead.
- Hank's New Name: A large ocean barge named Shelburne is brought in to live in the Big Harbour and the tugboats are amazed at not just his size, but his name. This results in Hank changing his name to Henry and from this comes a multitude of name changes, minus Theodore who likes his name. After a confused Dispatcher gives out his jobs, George, Emily and Hank go to move Barrington, leaving Theodore to move Shelburne which results in a barge runaway. In the end, Hank saves Shelburne from hitting Willy's Island. At the end of the day, Hank realizes he likes his name and he decides to go back to it.
- * Shelburne the Sea Barge is introduced
- * Cameos by Barrington, Donald, and Colchester.
- All Quiet in the Big Harbour: After a loud morning of tug o' war, the Dispatcher demands that the tugs be quiet. The tugboats take this too seriously and begin to act silent all the time. When Theodore and George are given the job to move Owan the Oil Rig, Hank tags along. This results in the tugs listening to Owan's loud voice and Hank's laughter, which forces George to send Hank home. By this time a heavy fog has rolled in and Hank is concerned with the loud sound coming from Willy's Island, which ends up to be Lillie's foghorn. After Hank stops the horn, Theodore and George arrive in the harbour with Owan, but with no horn, they are in danger of hitting the island. After some quick thinking, Hank saves the day and prevents an incident between Owan and the island. After the tugs return, they worry about an angry Dispatcher, but they discover he is proud of Hank for knowing what to do.
- * Cameos by Owan, Lillie, and Petra.
- * Near Incident: Owan's collision near Willy's Island.
- Theodore to the Rescue: After Emily rescues Jennifer from an incident at sea, Theodore can't wait for the day he will go out on a rescue mission. The next day, a storm is brewing and Digby is in need of rescue in a cove outside the harbour. Forgetting his extra strength tow rope, Theodore struggles but manages to improvise and save Digby from sinking. Back home, Theodore tells Emily he should have listened, and as he tows Digby to the repair yard, he wonders when he will get to go out farther.
- * Cameo by Jennifer.
- Theodore and the Northern Lights: After a puzzling riddle from Benjamin Bridge, the tugs are given a chance to see Kulu, a storytelling canoe who treasures his paddle. Foduck however, sees all of Kulu's stories as nonsense and tends to shake them off. During a large storm, Theodore asks Foduck to see Kulu, who doesn't want to, but after a little compliment of importance, decides to come along. They find the canoe missing but the paddle afloat in the water. As they look around, the paddle points to Shipwreck Rock, where they find Kulu stranded on a lonely beach. As the tugs and their old friend head home, they see the Northern Lights, and Foduck becomes fond of the stories Kulu tells.
- * First and only appearance of Kulu the Canoe.
- * Cameos by Kingston and Jennifer.
- Northumberland is Missing: Theodore and Rebecca spend the day searching for Northumberland, who gets trapped on the bottom of the ocean after an underwater rock-slide bends his propeller. With the help of Shelburne, Northumberland is soon raised back to the surface.
- * Cameos by Rebecca and Shelburne.
- Theodore Visits Ceilidh's Cove: Theodore is sent to deliver a new propeller to a fishing trawler in Ceilidh's Cove. After finding the cove all by himself and giving Dorothy the Dory a ride out on the ocean, he finally knows how being bigger feels.
- * Ceilidh's Cove is introduced and seen for the first time.
- * Truro the fishing trawler and Dorothy the Dory are introduced.
- Emily Goes Overboard: Emily is known for doing great turns in the Big Harbour, until she acts carelessly and gets herself stuck between two of the Pictou Peaks trying to do a turn right through them. Luckily, Digby the cable ship finds her and gets help from Theodore, who later pushes Emily out from the peaks.
- * Cameos by Digby, Bedford, and Inverness.
- * First time we see Emily stuck instead of Digby.
- Hank and the Night Light: Hank becomes afraid of the dark. Scary noises and dark shapes scare Hank even more, and the other tugs advice doesn't help him either. Theodore explains to Hank that sometimes you just have to grow out of your fears. Hank soon forgets about night lights and being afraid of the dark.
- * We see R. Boat's board making creaking noises in this episode.
- Theodore and the Harbour Crane: Theodore meets Clayton the Harbour Crane, and decides that he wants to lift heavy things just like Clayton does. When he and Emily take Clementine the Container Ship out of the harbour the next day, Theodore spots a bumper, which he mistakes as a rock. The turn they make sends one of Clementine's container's overboard. When Theodore tries to lift it back up, he hurts his engine. Clayton then convinces Theodore that he's better at being a tugboat than a harbour crane.
- * Clayton the Harbour Crane and Clementine are introduced.
- * Cameos by Shelburne and Northumberland.
- Hank's Wheezy Whistle: Hank's whistle starts wheezing right before the Big Harbour Tugboat Races. When he doesn't get it fixed right away, it starts to get worse. In the end, Hank has his whistle cleaned and gets to start the tugboat race.
- * Cameos by Bedford, Constance, Rebecca, Barrington, Bobby, and Digby.
- Emily's Bruised Bumper: Emily bruises her bumper while docking a big ship with Theodore and George. She had to float around with a big red bandage on her side, making her look and feel silly. Emily feared that everyone would laugh when they saw how pathetic she appeared to be. Theodore soon convinced her that she would always be Emily no matter how she looked.
- * Cameos by Pearl and Clementine.
- Rebecca and the Big Snore: Benjamin Bridge keeps Rebecca up all night with his loud snoring. This makes her grumpy when she goes treasure hunting with Theodore and Shelburne. Both she and Theodore learn that nobody's perfect when Rebecca upsets everyone.
- * Cameos by Shelburne.
- Theodore's Big New Friend: When Theodore is in charge of a ship's arrival, things go awry when the ship decides to go in by himself and dock right in the middle of the harbour. When Theodore has to spend the night next to the ship, he learns that the big ship only misses his friend. So he and Theodore become very good friends, and the ship learns that everyone needs tugboats.
- * Cumberland is introduced.
- * A ship called Conrade Explorer is mentioned but never seen.
- George and the Underwater Mystery: Foduck's sonar detects that there is something big at the bottom of the harbour. He asks Theodore and George to help him find out what it is. Theodore decides to use Shelburne and Northumberland to help out, but when George starts to give too many orders, nothing goes right. When they all work together, they raise what turns out to be a fallen satellite.
- * Cameos by Shelburne, Northumberland, Catherine, and Colchester.
- A Joke Too Far: Theodore and Barrington Barge decide to play a joke on everyone by hiding from them, like they always do with Petra the Pilot Boat. But they stay hidden too long and this causes everyone else in the harbour to be worried about them. When they are found, Theodore learns that jokes are funny, but not when they cause worry.
- * Cameos by Constance, Petra and Owan.
- Grumpy Garbage Barge: Guysborough the Garbage Barge turns Theodore's normal mood of being a bright and cheerful scamp into an old scrooge.
- * Guysborough is introduced.
- * Jasper is seen but not introduced.
- * Cameos by Catherine and Julia, who speak to one another.
- Theodore Hugs the Coast: The Dispatcher sends Theodore out on a job where it is vital that he hugs the coast. Unfortunately he becomes distracted and disobeys orders. But he meets lots of new friends on the way and finally becomes an ocean tug.
- * First appearances of Fundy and Blandford.
- * Cameo by Owan.
- * First time Theodore gets to go out on the ocean.
- Theodore and the Ice Ship: Theodore, George, and Hank find an enormous ice sculpture floating in the water, but can't tell what the object inside it is. It turns out to be Shamus the Fishing Trawler, and soon the tugs see how wonderful the ice ship was on the inside when he was good for nothing on the outside.
- * First appearance of Shamus the Fishing Trawler.
- * Cameo by Jennifer.
- Emily and the Tug of War: George excludes Emily from a game of "tug of war" because she's a girl tug. This starts a huge conflict between the two. Later, Catherine the Container Ship arrives with a double load that tilts her to one side while Theodore and George are towing her to her dock. They soon find themselves on a collision course with Owan the Oil Rig. After hearing a call for help from George, Emily rushes to the scene to help stop the ship just in time. George then realizes that it doesn't matter whether you're a boy tug or a girl tug. And they all play tug of war.
- * Catherine is introduced.
- * Cameos by Constance and Bedford.
- Hank's Hiccups: Hank has a severe case of the hiccoughs that interfere with his work. He spends the whole day trying to get rid of them by using different methods. But what gets rid of them, is when Hank forgets about his hiccoughs to save a ship from danger.
- * Cameos by Bobby, Fundy, Jennifer, and Colchester.
- Theodore and the Missing Barge: It's 'New Bumper Day' in the Big Harbour. All the tugs are anxious to get their new bumpers, while Carla the Cabin Cruiser is anxious to go exploring. When no one will go with her, she starts taking everything in the harbour, from oil barrels, to bumpers, and even to barges. Everyone thinks that Emily took everything. Carla soon finds the courage to tell the tugs what she did.
- * Bonavista and Carla have roles.
- Big Harbour Fools' Day: It's "Big Harbour Fools' Day" but unfortunately, George doesn't take a liking to any of the jokes being played. The tugs are soon able to change his mind.
- * First proper appearance of Chimey.
- * Cameos by Shelburne and Jennifer.
- * The Dispatcher wears toy glasses with slinky eyes on them.
- Theodore and the Boat Bully: A new tug comes to the harbour to work for a while. His name is Oliver the Vast. After running into him a few times, Theodore is certain that Oliver is a bully and that he doesn't want to be Theodore's friend. Theodore finally tells the Dispatcher about Oliver, and the next day, Oliver gets sent back across the ocean.
- * Oliver is introduced and appears for the first and last time.
- * First time Owan talks in a hushed voice.
- Big Harbour Birthday: It's Theodore's birthday, but he thinks that everyone in the harbour has forgotten all about it. This causes him to feel miserable. But at the end of the day, Theodore gets a surprise when everyone throws him a big birthday party.
- * Cameos by Colchester, Pearl, Petra, and Bobby.
- * Error: Bobby Barge is mistaken for Bonnavista.
- Theodore's Backwards Day: Theodore's engine breaks down in such a way that he can only move backwards. The incident causes Theodore to feel so embarrassed, that he hides from the rest of the tugs until he manages to get his engine fixed.
- * Cameo by Cumberland.
- George's Turn: The tugs meet Sigrid, the new supply ship. While working with Sigrid when they move Owan together, George becomes jealous and doesn't want to make friends with Sigrid. But when he sees that he and Sigrid have a lot more in common, he changes his opinion, and they all become best friends.
- * Sigrid the Supply Ship is introduced.
- * First appearance of Annapolis.
- Owan on the Loose: Sigrid goes into the harbour to fetch Owan some new anchor cables, when she gets trapped under some junk. Owan gets too excited and tries to go and look for her. When he raises his cables, they snap. The tugs are able to stop him right before he runs into a cliff, and then they save Sigrid.
- * Cameos by Sigrid and Northumberland.
- Scally's Stuff: A ship named Scally comes to the harbour full of different treasures that he gives to the tugs. Theodore gets a windspinner, Hank a big, huge bumper, Emily a smokestack extension, and Foduck a siren. After causing confusion in the harbour, they finally have order when they return their treasures to Scally.
- * First and only appearance of Scally.
- * Cameo by Shamus.
- Theodore and the Lies: Theodore starts telling lies to everyone just to get out of trouble. But when he lies about inspecting a dock, it catches fire because he didn't clean it up. Foduck puts it out and gets into trouble instead Theodore. That's when Theodore decides to tell the truth.
- * Cameos by Phillip, Philmore, Baddeck, and Constance.
- Digby's Disaster: Digby and all the other tugboats get very exited when they meet Dartmouth the Giant Cable Ship. They soon forget all about Digby when they compare him to the big ship. Later Digby notices one of Dartmouth's cables slipping into the water. After saving the cable, the tugs then realize that Digby is just as important as any other ship.
- * Dartmouth is introduced.
- Dartmouth Says Goodbye: Dartmouth the Giant Cable Ship is ready to leave the harbour after laying the rest of his cables. Theodore however, doesn't want Dartmouth to leave, and has trouble saying goodbye to him.
- * Cameos by Digby and Barrington.
- George and the Navy Ship: George and Theodore meet Nautilus the Navy Ship. George all of a sudden wants to be a navy ship, and ends up towing in Truro for dumping garbage in the ocean. George mistakes Truro's fishing net for garbage and takes him into the harbour. After realizing his mistake, George escorts Truro out of the harbour, and goes back to just himself, George the Valiant.
- * Nautilus is introduced.
- * Cameos by Bonavista, Barrington, and Northumberland.
- Sigrid and the Bumpers: Sigrid the Supply Ship has always wanted to be a tugboat. She thinks that she can finally be one, if only she had bumpers. Later, when a bad storm prevents Theodore and Emily from docking a ship, Sigrid discovers that she can be a tugboat without bumpers.
- * Cameos by Owan, Digby, Bedford, Shediac, and Canso.
- Hank Hurts a Ship: Hank meets Bayswater Barge for the first time and Bayswater has a passion for calling him names. Hank takes a liking to it until he calls Inverness, a cargo ship, "Needlenose". Inverness is so insulted that he tries to leave the harbour. Hank quickly learns his mistake after Theodore convinces Inverness to stay.
- * Bayswater is introduced.
- * Cameos by Constance, Bluenose, Rebecca, and Pearl.
- * Inverness is introduced.
- Emily's New Hat: The Dispatcher sends Emily to replace her old hat with a new one. But Emily doesn't want a new hat, and the new one makes her look silly and too different. Theodore explains to the Dispatcher that everyone has a favourite thing to hold on to. So the Dispatcher lets Emily go to get her old hat back. And Emily is finally happy, with her good old hat.
- * Cameos by Digby, Petra, Cumberland, Shelburne, and Owan.
- George and the Funny Noise: George makes a weird sound in front of Theodore, Hank, and a ship! He feels embarrassed, so he goes to live under Owan. Theodore shows him that it's okay to do something silly once in a while, and to laugh along with your friends.
- * Cameo by Caroquette.
- Visit from the Queen: The Queen Stephanie is coming to visit the Big Harbour. The entire back end of the harbour is being cleared out for her. R. Boat is miserable though, because they have to take his dock away. Theodore tries to cheer him up, but it's no good. When the Queen arrives she goes to meet R. Boat. The next day the tugs are happy to see that R. Boat has a new home, the Queen's swimming pool.
- * Last appearance of R. Boat.
- * Cameo by Shelburne.
- Theodore and the Tough Tugging: Theodore and George have the job of bringing in a ship called Caroquette, who's loaded with fragile cargo. While Theodore tries to keep her steady, George is making noise and going faster. When it's time to take Caroquette out of the harbour, Theodore realizes that the only way to get Caroquette out of the harbour safely, is to ask George to slow down.
- * Caroquette is introduced.
- * Cameos by Owan and Northumberland.
- Theodore's New Job: Theodore gets the new job of inspecting bell buoy's. Only when he does, he acts a little too bossy. When he asks the bell buoys in a nice way to do what he wants, things get much easier for him.
- * Cameos by Bedford, Blandford, and Caroquette.
- Theodore's Prize: The tugboats have a contest for whoever does the best job each day. The winner gets a prized flag. Theodore gets the job of hauling Bedford, but it's harder than he thought. In the end, Theodore doesn't get a prize, but something he gave himself.
- * Cameos by Pearl, Canso, Shelburne, and Bedford.
- Guysborough's Garbage: Canso Colossus, the king of all supertankers is visiting the harbour. While the tugs are paying all of their attention to the giant supertanker, they forget how important Guysborough is. When Guysborough refuses to work, the harbour becomes a mess, literally. When Canso sees the garbage floating in the water, he demands to be taken out of the harbour. The tugs finally see how much the harbour needs Guysborough.
- * Cameos by Fundy, and Jasper.
- * Canso Colossus is introduced.
- Brunswick's Big Scare: Brunswick Barge always enjoys thrills and chills. But he starts to think differently when a bad storm separates him and Theodore. He learns to be more careful after being pulled off some rocks by Theodore and Constance.
- * Brunswick is introduced.
- * Cameos by Constance and Chester.
- Theodore Gets Lost: Theodore gets separated from Pearl in a thick fog near Shipwreck Rock. The only way he is able to find her, is when he stays put and waits for her to come to him.
- * Lunenburg Lighthouse and Emma Sophia are introduced.
- * Cameos by Digby, Blandford, and Clare.
- Emily Drifts Off: Emily starts to drift off every time she falls asleep. She thinks it's really Theodore playing a joke on her, until he wakes her from another drift. They soon figure out a way to keep Emily from ever drifting again.
- * Cameos by Bedford and Emma Sophia.
- Emily and the Sleep Over: Emily goes to have a sleep over with Carla, Sigrid, and Dorothy at Ceilidh's Cove. They decide to visit Shipwreck Rock, where things start to get a little spooky, after Emily tells them the story of the Sea Beagle.
- * Cameos by Truro and Clare.
- Theodore's Bright Night: Theodore and Hank have a fun night out with Constance while they wait for the Queen Stephanie to return to the harbour.
- * First time Constance meets the Queen Stephanie.
- * Cameo by Bedford.
- Foduck and the Shy Ship: Foduck has his regular night safety patrol. But no one seems to enjoy his loud job. Then, Foduck is told of a ship that's too shy to come into the harbour. Foduck then goes to convince the ship that the harbour is safe and friendly.
- * Cocomagh is introduced.
- * Cameos by Digby, Northumberland, Emma Sophia, Bayswater, and Brunswick.
- * In this episode, Foduck wakes Theodore, and Theodore wakes with a start. With a jump he thinks there's a fire, runaway oil rig, and a rocket ship crash was going on. Theodore references past events to George's life boat fire and the dock fire, Owan running away, and Emily and the crashing rocket.
- Bedford's Big Move: Bedford Buoy feels sad that he can't go anywhere in the harbour. So later, he asks Baddeck the Buoy Boat to take him to another harbour. Only with the love of his friends, does he decide to change his mind.
- * Baddeck is introduced.
- * Cameos by Constance, Barrington, Rebecca, Pearl, and Petra.
- Hank and the Sunken Ship: Northumberland discovers a sunken ship, and tells the tugs all about it. Hank decides to try and raise the ship so that he'll have a great story to tell. A bad storm rolls in while he attempts to raise the ship, causing his rope to get stuck and runs out of oil, and soon finds himself almost running into the cliff-side. He is later rescued by Theodore and Northumberland, and that night, Hank has a great story to tell the others, and realizes that he doesn't have to be better than everyone else to be liked.
- * Cameos by Northumberland and Digby.
- Guysborough Makes a Friend: Digby is told about the grumpy garbage barge, Guysborough. He instantly wants to make friends with him, but Theodore tries to prevent that from happening. He didn't want Guyborough's feelings to get hurt because he's always grumpy to everyone. But Digby surprises the both of them.
- * Cameo by Jasper.
- Theodore and the Unsafe Ship: Theodore has the job of bringing in a ship named Cabot all by himself. But Cabot gives him nothing but trouble. Theodore tricks him into running aground on the Sandy Beach, where he takes control, the safe way.
- * Cabot is introduced.
- * First time cargo speaks.
- Hank Stays Up Late: Hank joins Theodore on the night shift where he has the best time of his life. But the next few nights don't turn out to be as good as the first. Hank goes back to taking old bumpers to Shediac, the shipyard shed.
- * Cameos by Owan, Northumberland, Constance, and Shediac.
- Theodore and the Hunt for Northumberland: When Stewiacke the Salvage Ship arrives in the harbour with Pugwash the Mini-sub, Northumberland goes into hiding. He's afraid that Pugwash will bump him like she always does. But later, he sees that people change sometimes.
- * Pugwash and Stewiacke are introduced.
- Theodore's Big Decision: Pugwash goes missing in action when she gets lost in the Ecum Secum Circle, a place underwater where ships stay lost forever. Theodore joins the search, but has trouble convincing Constance what to do. That's when Theodore makes a big decision that brings Pugwash back up to the surface.
- * The Rock Brothers are seen for the first and last time.
- * Cameos by Constance, Owan, Northumberland, Stewiacke, and Lunenburg.
- * First time we hear of Pugwash' fear of foghorns and lighthouse lights.
- Pugwash is Gone: Pugwash is sent to Ceilidh's Cove with George and Foduck to search for a lost piece of cargo dropped by a ship. While George and Foduck show off, Pugwash wanders off. Theodore arrives to see chaos, and figures out a way to bring Pugwash back up to the surface.
- * Cameos by Truro, Dorothy, and Shelburne.
- * Last episode with Pugwash.
- * This was the last episode produced.
There were several books and toys linked with the series. Notably, the producers, Cochran Entertainment, worked out a marketing deal with European toy manufacturer BRIO to produce wooden toys of some of the main characters, as well as a line of scale die-cast models and bathtub toys manufactured by Ertl. The characters were retired in 2000. A full size replica of Theodore Tugboat (called Theodore Too) was constructed by the series producers in the late 1990s and went on a fifty-city tour of harbours from Tampa, Florida, through the Great Lakes to Chicago, Illinois, and back again to Halifax. It still resides in Halifax Harbour where it was purchased by a touring company, and is used for sight seeing tours of the harbour. There was also a series of nineteen books published by Random House, a set of squeezy toys made by Alpi, and puzzles and games by International Playthings. The videos were released by Warner Brothers/PBS Kids in the USA, and by Children's Group in Canada.