Ten Cents is the main protagonist of Tugs who is Captain Star's first tug and switcher. He is used for a wide variety of tasks around Bigg City Port. Ten Cents' capabilities range from the towing of barges to liner docking operations. Like the rest of the Star Fleet, Ten Cents is based on the tugs of San Francisco from the 1920s, and his name reflects his American origins.
He speaks with an East End Cockney accent.
Ten Cents is one of the younger and braver Star Tugs. He has a tendency to be somewhat cheeky at times, but is strong-willed, and it takes a lot to break him. He is quick-witted and takes action swiftly without hesitation. He never lets other tugs bully him, never fails to stand up for others, and is always willing to set aside his own safety for the sake of others. He has a bit of a short temper, but he is also smart enough to listen to the advice of the older, more experienced tugs.
Unlike the other tugs of Bigg City, Ten Cents' whistle was modeled to resemble a face complete with a red flat-cap like Sunshine's; its tone is strident but middle-pitched and Ten Cents almost always sounds it in quick double or triple bursts. The audience's attention was focused on this whistle in the episode Jinxed when it seemed that any sounding of it by Ten Cents would prompt some unfortunate event for the hapless tug, Boomer.
Ten Cents usually works with Sunshine, the Star Fleet's second and smallest switcher. They have shared many adventures, almost to the extent that it is impossible to imagine one without the other. Ever since Sunshine joined the fleet, he and Ten Cents have been the best of friends. Hercules often relies on Ten Cents to look after others such as Lillie or the Duchess.
Ten Cents is painted in the Star Fleet's corporate livery. This consists of a black hull, a yellow superstructure, white mast, and an American flag-styled red, white, and blue funnel. His name is painted on the sides of his bow in white and he has the number 1 on his funnel. He wears a blue cap.
In Tugs' spin off series, Salty's Lighthouse, Ten Cents is the brother of Sunshine (who was portrayed as a female character along with Captain Star and Little Ditcher) and he looked up to Hercules as his older brother.
Although Tugs did not officially have a lead character, Ten Cents was the closest the series came to one. He appeared in all thirteen episodes, the majority as a major role, and was a character that was mostly used in merchandise. He is also in the Tugs logo.
- After Tugs' production ended, Ten Cents' model was purchased by The Star Tugs Company, an organization which aimed to restore and preserve the show's models.
- Ten Cents is the only tugboat to have his own sentient whistle, despite the fact it never had a speaking role.
- It is currently unknown if Ten Cents' other face masks still remain in existence.
- In a picture from Ten Cents' Busy Day, Ten Cents is depicted as a harbour tug like Big Mac, O.J., and Warrior, rather than a switcher.