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Hero Boy (Chris)
HeroBoy
Character information
Gender Male
Born Sometime between 1949 to 1950
Primary wardrobe Golden yellow pyjamas, dark navy blue robe
Age 9-10
Occupation Polar Express passenger
Home His house in Grand Rapids, Michigan
Relatives Sister Sarah (sister), His Parents
Background information
Performed by Tom Hanks (motion-capture and adult voice)
Daryl Sabara (child voice)
Josh Hutcherson (additional motion-capture)
Appeared in The Book and the Film
The Hero Boy is the main character in the 1985 book, The Polar Express and the 2004 film of the same name. The narrator is him as a grown-up in which he tells the story of his experience on the Polar Express.

Role in the Book

One Christmas Eve, Hero Boy was lying in his bed, waiting to hear the bells from Santa's sleigh, despite a friend having told him that Santa does not exist. Suddenly, he hears a train outside and sure enough, a train had stopped right in front of his house. A Conductor steps outside and looks at Hero Boy's window, prompting him to go outside. He tells Hero Boy that the train, called the Polar Express, is going to the North Pole, so Hero Boy puts out his hand and the conductor pulls him aboard.

On the train, Hero Boy meets other children also going to the North Pole. Throughout the journey, they sing Christmas carols, eat candies, and drink hot cocoa while the train travels through villages and forests and climbs mountains until it arrives at the North Pole where Hero Boy, along with the other children and the Conductor, get off. Hero Boy hears the bells from the reindeer's harness and thinks it is the most beautiful sound he has ever heard. Soon, Santa Claus shows up and chooses Hero Boy as the one to receive the first gift of Christmas. Hero Boy tells Santa that he wants one of the silver bells, so an elf cuts one from the harness and tosses it to Santa, who declares it the first gift of Christmas and gives it to Hero Boy, who puts it in his robe pocket.

Soon, the Conductor and all the children are back on board the train. The other children ask Hero Boy to see the bell, but only feels a hole when he reaches for it. To make matters worse, the train had already began moving, so they cannot go outside to look for it, as one of the children suggested. The train arrives at Hero Boy's house where he gets off. The Conductor wishes him a merry Christmas, but Hero Boy cannot hear it from his house, so he shouts it with his arms cupped around his mouth.

The next morning, Hero Boy and his sister, Sarah open their presents. Sarah finds one small present behind the tree and Hero Boy opens it to find the silver bell he lost. He shakes it and he and Sarah both enjoy the sound it makes. However, neither of their parents can hear it, as they do not believe in Santa.

Most of Hero Boy's friends were also able to hear the bell, but it would fall silent for them over the years, even for Sarah. However, Hero Boy continued to hear it, even though he has grown old.

Role in the Film

While the book only implies that Hero Boy is losing his faith in the Christmas spirit, the film directly states his crisis.

Late one Christmas Eve, Hero Boy thinks he hears Santa's sleigh bells, so he goes down stairs where he sees a shadow resembling Santa, but it turns out to be his father taking Sarah to get a drink of water. He goes back upstairs to his room and watches, through the keyhole, Sarah telling her parents about her being told that Santa does not exist, but her parents assure her that Santa will come. Hero Boy then looks into an encyclopedia, which says that the North Pole is "devoid of life", and at an old magazine, newspaper, and picture of him with a department store Santa in which he is pulling his beard.

Hero Boy goes back to bed, but is woken up again when the train shows up outside. He puts on his slippers and robe and goes outside to investigate. The Conductor steps outside and tells Hero Boy about the train, as well as some recent signs of disbelief in Santa he has been showing this year, including no picture with a department store Santa, no letter to Santa, and making Sarah put out the milk and cookies. Hero Boy initially declines the trip, but just as it starts moving, he ends up running aboard the train.

On the Polar Express

Hero Boy walks into the seating area to find other children singing the Polar Express song and goes to take a seat. A Know-It-All kid in front of him looks back and asks him what kind of train they are on, leaving Hero Boy in confusion. Hero Girl jumps in and says they are on a magic train going to the North Pole. Hero Boy asks her if they are really going there when the train passes by Herpolsheimer's. The other children were mesmerized by the Christmas display, but Hero Boy smirks at the mechanical workings of the Santa figure.

When the Conductor comes to punch everyone's tickets, Hero Boy does not know where his is. The Conductor suggests he checks his pockets. Only a hole is in the right one, but when he checks the other, he finds a ticket and hands it to the Conductor, who punches the letters B and E out of the left and right sides. Next, the train stops at Billy's house, but Billy makes the decision to get on the train a little too late. Hero Boy stops the train for him by pulling the emergency brake. This briefly gets him in trouble with the Conductor until Hero Girl jumps in to explain his actions.

Next, a group of chefs and waiters enter the car to serve Hero Boy and the other children hot chocolate. After they leave, Hero Girl goes to give a cup she saved to Billy. Hero Boy finds her ticket left on her seat= and goes to return it, but it gets blown away by the wind while he attempts to transfer to the other car. When Hero Girl finds out that she had lost her ticket, Hero Boy owns up and attempts to transfer his ticket to her, but the Conductor tells him he cannot do so and takes her away. Luckily, Hero Boy finds the lost ticket, goes after Hero Girl and the Conductor, and along the way, meets a Hobo on top of the observation car. The Hobo offers him a cup of coffee, but he spits it out after finding out the Hobo washes his socks in it. After that, he helps Hero Boy get to the engine room before Flat Top Tunnel by skiing down the passenger cars.

In the engine room, Hero Boy find Hero Girl driving the train. He then stops the train after they catch sight of a herd of caribou blocking the track, then helps Smokey, Steamer, and the Conductor clear the track. Later, the wind blows Hero Girl's ticket out of his slipper, but he and Hero Girl manage to grab it. Hero Girl thanks him for finding her ticket and the Conductor punches it. Everyone soon heads back to the passenger cars, but not before going through the abandoned toy car where Hero Boy gets scared by an Ebeneezer Scrooge puppet being operated by the Hobo. In the observation car, he encounters Hero Girl and Billy singing "When Christmas Comes to Town" and watches the Northern Lights, before the Conductor shows up to tell them they are almost at the North Pole.

At the North Pole

Soon, they arrive and get off the train. There, Hero Boy, Hero Girl, and Billy end up exploring most of the area, including Santa's Workshop, after Hero Boy accidentally presses a lever that uncouples the observation car from the rest of the train, causing it to become a runaway. The children find their way back by following the sounds of the silver bells, but Hero Boy cannot hear it. After he and Hero Girl chase Billy and his new found gift in the Wrapping Hall, they end up in Santa's bag with Know-It-All, who had followed them around the whole time.

After they arrive at the North Pole Square and get rescued from the bag, Santa Claus arrives, but the Hero Boy has trouble seeing him, and he still cannot hear "the most beautiful sounding bells in the world," according to the Hero Girl, but when a bell falls off a reindeer and lands at his feet, he still can not hear it until after he whispers to himself, "I believe." Later, Santa chooses Hero Boy to be the one to receive the first gift of Christmas, which is the sleigh bell that landed at his feet just then. Hero Boy then watches Santa fly away in his sleigh. When Billy asks him if the events are just a dream, he responds by saying no.

Return Journey and Christmas Morning

The children line up to get their tickets punched again. When it is Hero Boy's turn, the resulting word is, "BELIEVE", but the Conductor interrupts him before he can read it out loud, claiming he does not need to know. Soon, everyone was back on the train and they all ask to see the silver bell, but Hero Boy discovers that the sleigh bell fell out of the hole in his pocket, much to his depression. Later, before Billy gets off, he thanks Hero Boy for stopping the train for him and they say goodbye to each other. Hero Boy also cheers up when he finds out Billy's present has arrived. Next, it was time for Hero Boy to get off. He says goodbye to Hero Girl and Know-It-All, then gets off the train and to his house.

The next morning, when Hero Boy and Sarah were opening their presents, Sarah finds a box which contains the sleigh bell and a note from Santa Claus himself, telling the Hero Boy he had dropped it on his sleigh the night before. Hero Boy rings the bell and he and Sarah enjoy the sound it made, but Hero Boy's parents do not hear it when they ring it themselves.

Hero Boy, as a grown-up, narrates the end, saying that even though he has grown up, he can still hear the bell, unlike most of his friends and Sarah, who were able to hear it when they were children.

Other appearances

The Video Game

In the video game, Hero Boy appears as the character which the player plays as in every level. In the first chapter, he helps the other children find their lost tickets, which were stolen by Scrooge. He also encounters Scrooge and his minions on several occasions and fights them. When he meets the Hobo on top of the passenger cars, the Hobo takes him on a ski down the hill and race the train. Later, when the children are being served refreshments, Hero Boy fills in for a missing waiter. Hero Girl saves a refreshment for him.

He, along with Hero Girl and Billy, have several adventures at the North Pole. First, the observation car becomes a runaway and they have to avoid crashing into oncoming obstacles by tilting the car with the brake wheel. Next, they ride the pneumatic and make sure they open the right gates by hitting the correct switches. They end up at the Wrapping Room where Hero Boy and Hero Girl get separated from Billy, who gets distracted by a present and follows it. However, they manage to make their way through the factory and reunite. Next, they find themselves at the bottom of the big pile of presents. They decide to climb up the pile, thinking an exit might be at the top, but by the time they make it, the presents are enclosed in a big bag and carried by a pair of zeppelins to the Square. They, along with Know-It-All, are taken aboard the zeppelins where the captain asks Hero Boy to take the wheel while he goes to help the other elves. By the time they make it to the Square, the captain takes over again and the children go back to the bag. They are rescued from the bag after it gets landed on the sleigh.

International languages

Language Name Meaning Voice actor(s)
Latin AmericanNiño HéroeChild HeroFabrizio Santini
European SpanishNiño HéroeChild HeroAndrés Arahuete (child voice)
Jordi Brau (adult voice)
FrenchLe Jeune HérosThe Young HeroMaxime Baudouin
GermanDer Kleine JungeThe Little BoyTim Schwarzmaier
PolishKrzyśChrisKajetan Lewandowski
ItalianHero BoyHero BoyFurio Pergolani
SwedishPojkenThe BoyCalle Dahlström (child voice)
Roger Storm (adult voice)
RussianGlavnyj GerojMain CharacterDmitriy Martynov (child voice)
Pavel Smetankin (adult voice)
JapaneseHīrō BōiHero BoyRyuhei Yamamoto (child voice)
Toshiaki Karasawa (adult voice)

Trivia

  • In contrast, the character was named "Chris" after the author, Chris Van Allsburg. He based the book on his life as a very young boy (Possibly 9 to 10 years of age) during Christmas Eve when he was having a dream about riding on a magical train from his hometown Grand Rapids, Michigan, all the way to the North Pole to meet a "real-life" Santa Claus, up close and personal. He told Santa that he wanted a bell for Christmas, which was later granted as the first gift of Christmas. Sadly, what Chris didn't really know was that he had a small hole in one of his pockets which caused his "first gift" to slip out and drop onto Santa's sleigh. The following morning on Christmas day, it was time to open up the presents, but one of them was a special present that he did not know was his "first gift" from last night. He also reads the letter Santa wrote, whom luckily found it and the elves grabbed a special spare "left over" gift box, along with the ribbon to keep it safe and put the present with the rest in Santa's sack.
  • While Hero Boy's real name is never revealed in neither the book nor the film, several art books related to the film say that his name is Chris, named after Chris Van Allsburg.
  • Fritz the Dog appears in Hero Boy's room on top of the bedpost in both the book and the film.
  • After Hero Boy blows the locomotive's whistle, he says, "I've wanted to do that my whole life." In Back to the Future III, a film also directed by Robert Zemeckis, Emmett Brown says the same thing after blowing the whistle of Locomotive 131.

Quotes

  • "Are we really going to the North Pole?"
  • "She didn't lose her ticket. I did. I was trying to return it to her, but the wind blew it out of my hand. You can have my ticket."
  • "I've wanted to do that my whole life."
  • "What about this red one?! It looks like a brake!"
  • "Are you sure?!"
  • "I believe."
  • "It says..."

Gallery

Characters
Children: Hero Boy (Chris) Hero Girl Know-It-All Billy the Lonely Boy Sister Sarah Gus the Toothless Boy Boy on Train Red Head Girl Little Boy Young Boy Steven
Adults: Conductor Hobo Smokey and Steamer Santa Claus Pastry Chefs Waiters Hero Boy's Parents
Elves: Elves Acrobatic Elves Elf General Elf Lieutenant Elf Singer
Animals: Caribou Santa Claus' Reindeer
Toys: Ebenezer Scrooge Puppet Jack-in-the-Boxes

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