Thomas serves as John Smith's best friend, fellow soldier, accomplice, and sidekick in the film. As his best friend, Thomas shows great loyalty to John, especially because John saved his life. He often has a cheerful attitude and gives the majority of his respect and admiration to John. Thomas appears to be a fairly young man, as he is shown saying goodbye to his parents and younger sister before boarding the ship. Accordingly, he's also very child-like, shy, and innocent. He also appears to be very inexperienced in life. For most of the film, he is fairly incompetent, being a poor sailor, soldier, and shooter - all factors for which he is berated by Ratcliffe. But by the end of the film, he is able to take the leadership among the settlers and have Ratcliffe arrested after the latter showed his true colors when he inadvertently shot John while trying to shoot Chief Powhatan after both sides had already agreed not to fight.
Despite his shortcomings as a sailor, soldier and shooter, and his desire to prove himself to others, Thomas is shown to be a very caring and sweethearted person. He shares an emotional, yet optimistic farewell with his family, shows considerable alarm when he almost shoots John while out looking for him, and only kills Kocoum in a misguided attempt to defend John, before showing extreme shock and horror upon the realization of what he has done afterwards. He does express some racial prejudice at the start of the film, by stating that he'd willingly shoot any natives who he thought threatened his property - however, as he had yet to encounter them, and eventually willingly allied himself with them when he realized the truth about Ratcliffe, this was likely made out of pure ignorance.
Role in the film
At the beginning of the film, Thomas is one of the settlers going to the New World as part of the Virginia Company. We first see him say goodbye to his family as he boards the ship. He meets Ben and Lon and later is amazed to learn that the legendary John Smith is going to be the captain. Thomas remarks that he has heard some amazing stories about the man.
During the voyage, a storm strikes. Thomas attempts to help secure the ship's cannons but the ropes snap. Thomas holds it in place and calls John for help. John comes to Thomas's aid telling him, "It's alright, Thomas. We'll get her tied off." Soon Thomas is swept overboard by an incoming wave. Thankfully, he is rescued in a daring move by Smith. After his rescue, a coughing and weak Thomas only manages to smile at John in gratitude for saving him as John gives Thomas back his hat. When Ratcliffe comes and questions if there's trouble on deck, Thomas stands up appearing to begin an explanation, but John cuts in saying, "Thomas fell overboard, sir." Ratcliffe then goes on to say, in a voice that couldn't care less, that it was a good thing Thomas was rescued and praised John for his brave deed. John and Thomas then listen to Ratcliffe's speech, though Thomas, unlike John, seems inspired by it. Thomas later, in high spirits again, confides to John his plan to make his fortune in the New World, as well as his willingness to shoot any of the "savages" that get in the way of his goal, though John persuades Thomas to refrain from killing any savages saying, "You just worry about that fortune of yours, Thomas. Leave the savages to me." However, John is moved by Thomas's bravery, will, and spirit, takes Thomas under his wing and begins acting as Thomas' big brother figure for the rest of the movie.
At the New World, Thomas is assigned by Governor Ratcliffe to help dig for gold. When he's asked by Ratcliffe if he's found any yet, he replies, "Nothing but rocks and dirt, sir." The settlers soon spot a small group of Indians. Assuming they are there to attack, Ratcliffe orders a defense. Thomas grabs a gun and goes to join the fight, but trips over a log and his rifle goes off accidentally, firing right between an enraged Ratcliffe's legs. After the skirmish, Ratcliffe finds an ashamed Thomas lying at the bottom of the log, and orders him to learn to shoot properly, remarking that until then, Thomas will only be considered a child and not a man. Ratcliffe then leaves Thomas with lowered self-esteem, deepened shame, and hurt feelings.
A few days later, Thomas is seen working with Smith, Ben, and Lon on a fence for the Jamestown settlement. He hopes the fence will keep anyone and anything out (though Meeko gets in). Noticing John's unusual behavior, he asks if there's something wrong. He tells John, "You've been awfully quiet the last few days." Lon assumes that John is feeling upset about missing the skirmish with the Indians. Thomas then tries to console his friend saying, "Don't worry, John. You'll get your chance to deal with the Indians." Later, when Smith seems to go missing from the settlement and Ben and Lon have failed to find him, he goes out to look for him and nearly shoots at a returning Smith in brief fear, but quickly sees it's John after John tells him, "Easy Thomas, it's me." When Thomas lowers his gun and remarks, "Oh, John. I could've killed you!" John takes pity on Thomas telling him, "Not aiming like that, you couldn't." John advises Thomas to keep both eyes open when he shoots, "You'll see twice as well." and gives him a slap on the back before entering the settlement. Brief tension arises between John and Thomas when John claims to have made friends with a Native American woman, Pocahontas, and suggests that they find a diplomatic solution instead of fighting the Indians. He and all the other settlers are also shocked when John tells Ratcliffe that there is no gold and are left stunned by their argument and scared as Ratcliffe threatens execution by hanging if, "Anyone who so much as looks at an Indian without killing him on site."
That same night, Thomas is by the campfire hanging his head while the other men discuss the possibility that Ratcliffe had been lying to them. He then spots John sneaking out of the camp and follows him to the entrance, wondering where he's going. Thomas is then sneaked up on by Ratcliffe, who pushes him out from behind and orders him to follow John, and to shoot any Indians he comes upon that may approach him tossing him a gun. Ratcliffe leaves Thomas with a warning to not disappoint him again, citing he's "a slipshod sailor and a poor excuse for a soldier." A hurt-felt and saddened Thomas goes and follows John. He hides behind some bushes and, to his shock, finds John kissing Pocahontas in Grandmother Willow's glade. He watches as John is suddenly attacked by another Native American, Kocoum who has been sent by Nakoma. Believing his friend to be in mortal danger, Thomas intervenes and remembering the aiming advice John gave him earlier, shoots Kocoum, killing him. A shocked Thomas emerges and is noticed by John. He tries his best to explain himself, but Pocahontas, enraged at Kocoum's death, charges at him. John stops her, saying that Thomas was only trying to save him. Thomas then begins to hyperventilate, as the reality of what he has done hits him. As other warriors who heard the gunshot rush to the area, John firmly orders Thomas to get out of the area, choosing to take the blame in the hopes that Thomas's life will be saved so he can alert the other settlers. Thomas, now speechless, sees there's no other choice and runs.
Thomas rushes back to the camp screaming for help. Ben and Lon hear him over the fence and, after telling him to settle down, ask him what's wrong. Thomas, in a deep state of panic, informs the settlers of John's capture and begins rallying the settlers to attempt a rescue mission insisting, "He'd do the same for any of us." Ben agrees telling the others, "Thomas is right. We've got to do something." Ratcliffe takes advantage of the situation and insists he was right about the Indians all along inciting the settlers to kill all the savages and save Smith. Secretly, however, the greedy governor wants the gold he incorrectly believes the Native Americans to be hiding. Though most of the settlers are quite happy to comply, Thomas is shown looking somewhat discouraged, having seen John and Pocahontas kissing, taking it as a sign that a diplomatic solution may very well be possible. However, he lacks the courage to speak up and follows along in silence.
At the battle, Thomas watches as John's execution is narrowly prevented by Pocahontas and Powhatan, after some persuasion from both his daughter and his wife's spirit, decides to call off the battle and release John, at which everyone from both sides lower their weapons. However, Ratcliffe orders the settlers to fire anyways, but Thomas steps up and firmly refuses, "No! They let him go." He's soon joined by Ben who adds, "They don't want to fight." Ratcliffe further insists it's a trick as Lon also joins them as the three begin to suspect that John was right all along. Ratcliffe, still hungry for gold, takes matters into his own hands and attempts to shoot Powhatan, but hits John who pushes Powhatan out of the way, leading the settlers to believe that he had done it intentionally. Now realizing John was right all along and they should never have listened to Ratcliffe in the first place, Thomas takes control, and taking Ratcliffe's gun from him, he orders the governor arrested, chained and gagged, and runs to John's aid.
Later, Thomas oversees the preparations to return both John and Ratcliffe back to England. When Pocahontas arrives, he personally tells her that John must return to England for medical treatment, or he will die, to which Pocahontas responds by gently putting a hand on his shoulder, indicating that she has forgiven him for killing Kocoum, knowing he had tried to save John's life. Thomas, like with John, reflects his gratitude for being forgiven, with a smile. After Pocahontas talks with John and they say their goodbyes, Thomas sees John off with Ben, choosing to stay at Jamestown with Lon and a few of the others to carry out and continue the settlement there.
Thomas appears in two of the books from the collection: A Boy Across the Sea and On The High Seas.
A Boy Across the Sea
Thomas first appears when Pocahontas and Nakoma hear him coming and hide to see who it is. They come out again upon seeing clearly that Thomas had gotten lost again. When they ask if he's lost, he turns shocked at hearing their voices but, upon seeing it's them, blushes and grins admitting he did get lost again. He then spots John's compass in Pocahontas' hand and tells her that it makes sense why he gave it to her, "You saved his life." He then asks if John ever told her how he got it. When she answers that he didn't, he tells them how John told it while they were still sailing over, and it was one of the best stories he ever heard. He then, at Pocahontas' request, gladly tells them the story. At the end of the book, Thomas notices it's getting late and that he'd better get back to the settlement. Pocahontas chooses to stay alone on the riverbanks but thanks Thomas for telling the story as he and Nakoma go off into the woods together.
On The High Seas
Thomas starts out in the story learning sailing knots from John Smith. While talking with him and their cabin boy, Will, Thomas begins voicing his complaints about the state of the food and how long it's taking to get to The New World. He then begins thinking of things he'd rather eat, particularly a piece of his mom's blackberry pie. As they continue talking, Ratcliffe comes up and demands what all the talking is about. When John replies that they're just passing the time, Thomas adds with a smile, "There's plenty of that to go around." causing everyone to laugh. Ratcliffe angrily questions Thomas, "You think this is all fun and games, Thomas?" Thomas explains that he was only joking, "It's nice weather for a change and so-" but Ratcliffe interrupts to finish the sentence with, "You decided to be a comedian." Ratcliffe then announces that, with the helmsman, Wilson, still out sick, they're short one man on the third watch. He then decides that since Thomas "has lots of extra time", that he will stand to the helm. The others, starting with John, try to dissuade Ratcliffe from choosing Thomas as they all insist Thomas doesn't have the necessary experience, but Ratcliffe insists Thomas needs to learn.
That night, Thomas struggles with the helm during a storm so much so that Ben has to come relieve him of it. After Thomas thanks him, he angrily wonders aloud, "I don't know why he has it in for me." As Ratcliffe sees Thomas useless at the helm, he decides to send him up the main mast to shorten the main topsail. John argues that Thomas has never even been into the rigging before, "He's only a farm boy." Ratcliffe then tells John that, if he thinks Thomas needs help, they can both go. Thomas begins angrily stepping towards Ratcliffe (presumably to give him a piece of his mind) but is stopped by John who tells him there's no time for that and they begin going up the rigging. Halfway up, Thomas misses the rigging and falls back to the deck. John comes down to his aid to find Thomas out cold; checking his pulse, he assures the others he'll be okay. This is confirmed when, after they secure the rigging, Thomas regains consciousness.
The next day, Thomas is with the rest of the men resting on a coil of rope. Ratcliffe, upon finding him, mockingly tells him how nice that Thomas is feeling better after such a fall. They then begin yelling at each other on the fact that Thomas didn't know how to man the helm or, as Ratcliffe puts it, do anything but fall. He then says that the ship being okay again was no thanks to Thomas. Thomas, along with the others, quickly notices Ratcliffe feeding Percy the dog better food than they're getting. He looks away when Ratcliffe asks, "What's everyone staring at?" then when Ratcliffe asks why they aren't busy and demands they work on something starting with Thomas. Thomas, still angry but controls it, asks Ratcliffe what he should do, to which he tells him, "I don't know, think of something." After Ratcliffe leaves, Thomas talks with Ben and Lon about how things will be different in the New World. Ben suggests that maybe they ought to get rid of Ratcliffe once and for all. When John comes up wondering what's going on, he sits down next to Thomas. Lon tries to tell Thomas, "Don't listen to Ben. He doesn't know what he's talking about." Thomas still further questions that maybe Ben is right, to which John gently puts his hand on his shoulder. Thomas is quick to join the others in agreeing that they have to get rid of Ratcliffe despite John's objections.
That night, Thomas and several of the others gather in the hold to discuss their plans. Thomas starts the talk reminding them that the meeting must be secret, "The punishment for mutiny is death." He's followed by one of the seamen, George Martin, who starts the listing out of all the incidents of Ratcliffe's deplorable behavior mainly in how he's suspected of hoarding good food and his lack of knowledge of sailing is putting Thomas in danger. Wiggins falls into the hold and, when he insists that he and Percy were coming down for apples, Thomas is quick to call him a liar and correctly suspects that Wiggins followed and heard every word. When Wiggins accidentally tells them, "The word mutiny never came up." Thomas is first to go after Wiggins and grabs his ankles preventing him from running away. Percy quickly nips Thomas' hand hard enough that he lets go. As Wiggins makes a run for it, Thomas tells the others, "After him! We can't let him get away!" After a quick chase, Thomas catches Wiggins by the collar as Ben prevents Wiggins from going further. Percy bites Thomas again and the two run off in different directions. When they catch them again, they narrowly escape Ratcliffe's suspicion. They are about to discuss a deal when John comes over to make a final effort to dissuade them from committing mutiny.
Thomas ashamedly begins to tell John that "A few of us got together tonight and-" but John cuts him off, grabs his shoulder and, after making sure no one else is listening, reminds them of the consequences of mutiny: if they're found guilty (which they would) they will be put to death. Thomas says he would much rather prefer death than to be under Ratcliffe's leadership. So, John begins presenting the reasonability of letting this go first to Thomas asking him, "What about that big house you want?" He goes on to say that, in the New World, Thomas and the others would have things they couldn't have in England. He goes on to ask Thomas would his dreams be worth giving up for the sake of "a foolish plan to get even." As John goes on, Thomas listens quietly and becomes the first to suggest that maybe John has a point and begins going over what things could go wrong. Ben begins to suspect Thomas of backing out, but Thomas assures him "I'm only thinking things over." Then goes on to say that, while he still can't find it in himself to forgive Ratcliffe, he's ready to put it behind him and encourages the others to do so as well. After all except Ben agree to let it go (Ben being forced to let it go because no one else will go along), John sends them back to bed reminding them that it's late and tomorrow would be another long day.
Thomas appears on pages three, six, seven, eight, nine, and eleven.
On page three, Thomas is shown watching Governor Ratcliffe claim Jamestown for England after the reading of the second to last line. After this, Governor Ratcliffe picks up a shovel at his feet and tosses it to Thomas telling him, "And now, Thomas, get to work." Thomas catches it and then assumes his position for the rest of the player's time on the page: holding it on the ground and smiling towards the screen before the narration continues. If the player clicks on him, Thomas will begin digging to the tune of Mine, Mine, Mine and saying, "I'm going to get a pile of gold and build me a big house." Thomas will also do this if the player clicks on the dictionary icon at the bottom of the screen and clicks the word 'adventure' which is defined as "exciting work or play."
On page six, after the narration, Ratcliffe will ask Thomas, "Any gold yet?" To which Thomas will poke his head out of the hole he's digging and say, "Nothing but rocks and dirt, sir." If the player clicks on Percy, Thomas will shovel dirt out causing Percy to sneeze and fall in the hole; Thomas will yell, "Hey!" and come up with Percy on his head. He'll take him off telling him, "Watch your step, Percy." and go back down. If the player clicks on Ratcliffe a second time, Thomas will accidentally shovel dirt on Ratcliffe's shoe; this will also happen if the player has the word 'upset' defined.
On page seven, Thomas won't appear until the player clicks the continue button. After John Smith leaves, Thomas will back up from where John left. Ratcliffe will put a hand to the side of his mouth and address him. Thomas will look up as Ratcliffe points towards where John left and orders, "Follow him." Thomas will then exit the screen in the same direction as John.
On page eight, Thomas can be seen to the right of the screen hiding behind a tree. If the player clicks on him, he'll peek out from behind the tree and then go back behind it. When the player clicks the continue button, after John Smith and Pocahontas kiss and Kocoum reveals himself, Thomas will come out of hiding and yell, "Look out, John!" before the screen goes blank.
On page nine, Thomas is mentioned in the narration that he shot Kocoum thinking that he was going to hurt John and that, after John was captured, Thomas ran for help.
One page eleven, Thomas is seen holding down a chained Ratcliffe. If the player clicks on Ratcliffe, Thomas will tighten the chains as Ratcliffe says, "How dare you!" If the player clicks on him a second time, Thomas will hold him down as Ratcliffe tries to get away; Ratcliffe tells Thomas, "Unhand me, I say!" but falls into the boat with his feet sticking out causing Thomas to laugh; he then holds a position of looking into the boat at Ratcliffe for the rest of the time the player stays on the page. If the player clicks on Ratcliffe's feet, Ratcliffe will begin kicking his feet while Thomas continues to laugh. If the player clicks on Thomas, Thomas will start laughing again as Ratcliffe keeps kicking and saying, "I don't find this funny in the least." Thomas will then remove one of Ratcliffe's shoes and ask, "How about this?" and begins tickling Ratcliffe's foot after which he puts the shoe back and resumes his original position.
- This character was most likely named for Thomas Gates, who once was governor of the Jamestown settlement, due to his taking charge at the end of the film.
- He is also based on the young English laborer, Ensign Thomas Savage who did not arrive in Virginia until January 8, 1608 when he was thirteen years old and resided with the Pamunkey tribe, similar to a foreign exchange student.
- In this animated film, he and John Smith arrived in Virginia together. Thomas observes Smith's execution with other English colonists. In real life, there were no Englishmen observing the incident. Smith was the only Englishman in Chief Powhatan's village when Pocahontas rescued him.
- Christian Bale, who voiced Thomas in this animated film, later portrayed John Rolfe in New Line Cinema's The New World, co-starring again with Irene Bedard.
- Except for Pocahontas, Thomas is the only other character to address John Smith by his first name.
- On The High Seas reveals that Thomas grew up a farm boy.
- Despite staying in Jamestown at the end of the first movie, he is not seen there or mentioned in the second film. Presumably, he is still carrying out the colony and possibly has now sent for his family to reside with him and has now made a life there.
- Several different ages were tried for Thomas including 12, 15, 17, and 19.