James is a vain red mixed-traffic engine that works on the Main Line.
James is a boastful engine who likes to show off. He loves to pull the Express whenever he gets the chance. He has mixed traffic duties on the main line, but often strives to only perform tasks he feels as important. James was brought to the railway to the railway to help out when there was a new engine needed. However, he was given wooden brakes and they burned up into flames as he was being pushed by his troublesome trucks when he was taking a goods train. He derailed at Dryaw and Thomas came to his rescue! James was sent to the Works to be mended and returned with a gleaming red paint job and a new boastful attitude to match! James became very conceited and had a number of misadventures including a top hat and some bootlaces. James was shut up in the shed but proved himself a really useful engine when he managed to help out with an extremely naughty goods train. He was then rewarded with the Express! James learnt sense since those escapades, but he is still rather fond of himself up in his smoke box!
James was part of the "tender engines don't shunt" protest after Thomas went to run his branch line.
During The Fat Controller's meeting of the engines at Tidmouth, James was disgusted with the condition of the Kirk Ronan Water Towers, and even more appalled that Scruff insisted that "rust water builds character."
James questioned the Fat Controller's choice in bringing Wilbert to work on the Little Western Extension, especially after Stepney's accident. He was quickly reminded of the workload and the alternative by Toby and Oliver. And when he further goes to think he should have been assigned to the project, Toby jokingly reminds the engine of his vanity.
During a frigid winter, James complained to Dart and Den about the cold and urged them to work faster. Dart teased him for boiler-aching, but secretly he was even colder than James! Eventually, when Dart had broken down on an icy ridge for most of the morning, it was James who had the last laugh when he came to his rescue!
James had an "out of boiler experience" when his driver fell ill and a doctor accidentally dropped some psycho-active compounds into his smokebox! Just before he was supposed to pull the express too!
James and Arthur made their way to the Canal of the Munitions Outpost when a tower exploded and almost took Arthur with it. Throughout all the excitement, he spent the whole catastrophe worrying about his paint!
When a meeting was held to dicuss the implications of Donald's accident, James was present. He, along with Gordon and Henry voiced their hesistation surronding Richard Hatt's ability to serve as Fat Controller. He was reassured by Edward that Richard would serve just fine, growing into his position.
On one occasion, James arrived at the Crosby Coaling Plant to collect a train. Digusted by the dirty nature of the plant and his train, he berates Logan as he departs for a drink. While taking on water, he dicusses the little shunter with Emily, who reminds James that he is an exclusive shunter. This causes James to further dismiss Logan, much to Emily's dismay. Not soon after he departs, he recives his comeuppance when the trucks push him over a bend up the line.
During a half-finished repaint, James was sent to collect a goods train Derek had been taking to Balladrine, but had broken down doing so. James was thoroughly embarrassed by his state and tried to rush the job, causing him to crash into the loading siding! It was then that he was exposed to the nudist colony that resided there, much to his horror. James was repaired and repainted after a stern reprimanding, but did end up laughing alongside Victor concerning his adventure.
James can be boastful, vain, snooty and obsessed with his appearance. He can appear to be bored and impatient in situations where things are not revolving around him. He can be dimissive of the smaller engines on the railway, but quite often he realizes that they are worthy of recognition. He loves coaches and hates trucks.
- Season 0: Old Groaner, Snow Problem (cameo)
- Season 1: Lift Bridge, Swagger and Swerves (cameo), Splatter (cameo), The Old Warrior (cameo), Redemption (cameo), Feeling Lucky? (cameo), Snow Blind, Shepherd's Pie (does not speak), Buffer Bashing, Scruff's Scaffolding (cameo), Rendezvous with Disaster (cameo), Will Power, Cannon Fodder (cameo), Conspiracy Theory (cameo)
- Season 2: Paxton and Norman (cameo), Serendipity (cameo), Scot-free, Mavis and the Tornado (cameo), Rosie (cameo), James Goes on a Trip, Rock-Star, Pummeling Percy (cameo), Tag-Team, Munitions, Hibernation (cameo), Aura of Menace (cameo), All the World's a Stage (cameo), Swashbuckler (cameo), Thomas and the Fortune Teller
- Season 3: This Too Shall Pass (cameo), Perhaps He's Got a Corset, Logan Leaves his Mark, Samson, BoCo, and the Man in the Hills (cameo), The Suggestion Box (cameo), Penn Pals (cameo), Ice Breaker, Chivalry is Dead (cameo), Percy and Asbestos (cameo), James Goes On A Streak, Stafford's Request (cameo), Carols in The Forest
- Web Clips: Mike and Frank Banter: SLOTLT, ScarletFire, and EE93's Return (cameo), Thomas the Tank Engine 70th Anniversary Celebration! (cameo), Gina gives Percy some pointers - Meet the Characters! (cameo), Percy's Kafka Dream
- James' 1992 model was used in the older episodes of Season 1. From the remastered version of Lift Bridge up to James Goes On A Streak, his 2002 model was used. His pre-2019 Wood model was also used in the latter to represent him being half painted. From Self-Fulfilling Prophecy onwards, his 2013 model is used.