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. 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. But, by the end of the film, he is able to take the leadership among the settlers and have Ratcliffe arrested after Ratcliffe showed his true colors when he inadvertently shot John.
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, 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.
At the New World, Thomas is assigned by Governor Ratcliffe to help dig for gold. When he's asked by Ratcliffe is 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 go 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. Until then, Thomas will not be considered a man, only a child. Ratcliffe then leaves Thomas with lowered self-esteem, deepened shame, and hurt feelings.
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 be 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. 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.
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. Ratcliffe leaves Thomas with a warning to not disappoint him again, citing his earlier failures as a sailor and 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 advice John gave him earlier, shoots Kocoum, killing him. A shocked Thomas emerges and is found by John. Thomas tries his best to explain himself but an enraged Pocahontas charges at him. John stops her, saying that he was only trying to save him. Thomas then begins to hyperventilate with his head down as the reality of what he has done hits him. As other warriors who heard the gunshot arrive, 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." Ratcliffe takes advantage of the situation and incites 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, a sign that a diplomatic solution may very well be possible.
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. He's soon joined by Ben and Lon as he tells Ratcliffe that John was free and the Indians didn't want to fight. 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 to carry out and continue the settlement there.
- 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.
- 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.