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Mother: "Oh, that's too bad."
Father: "Yes. It's broken."

— Hero Boy's parents after Hero Boy rings the silver bell

Hero Boy's parents are two characters from the 1985 book, The Polar Express and the 2004 film of the same name. They are the mother and father of Hero Boy and Sarah.

Role in the book

On Christmas morning, Hero Boy and Sarah are listening to the beautiful sound of the silver bell. However, their parents cannot hear it due to not being true believers of the spirit of Christmas, though they assumed it is because it is broken.

Role in the film

On Christmas Eve night, Hero Boy's father takes Sarah downstairs for a drink of water. The sound of the bell from Sarah's Santa hat wakes up Hero Boy. Thinking it might be Santa Claus, he goes downstairs to find what looks like his shadow, but its true identity is revealed when Sarah gets off her father's shoulders. Hero Boy returns to his room and looks through the keyhole to watch his parents tuck in Sarah, who recalls her brother expressing doubt in Santa's existance and citing how illogical his Christmas Eve runs sound. Her father assures her he was joking while her mother says Santa will only come if she goes to sleep. Later, they check up on Hero Boy and comment on how he used to stay up late waiting for Santa. They describe his current state as "the end of the magic."

The next morning, they are woken up by an excited Sarah. They soon come downstairs an notice the silver bell. Hero Boy hands it to his mother who shakes it, but does not hear a sound. His father shakes it too but also hears nothing. He notes that it must be broken and hands it back to Hero Boy. Later, the mother calls her children and Hero Boy puts the bell on the table before leaving.

Behind the scenes

Like most of the human characters in the film, Hero Boy's parents were animated through motion-capture with some keyframe animation done to perfect their movements.[1] The mother was played by Leslie Zemeckis and the father by Tom Hanks, both of whom also did their voices. While on set, due to a lack of costumes, Tom Hanks would wear different pairs of shoes to help imagine himself into each role, though it is unknown what he wore while playing Hero Boy's father.[2]

In other languages

Language Name Voice actor (father) Voice actor (mother)
Chinese 英雄男孩的妈妈
Kang Dian-Hong Fiona Cheng
Danish Moderen og faderen Niels Olsen (unknown)
Dutch Vader en moeder van de jongen Frans Limburg (unknown)
Finnish Pojan äiti ja isä Jari Karjalainen Noora Malli
French La mère et le père du garçon Jean-Philippe Puymartin Céline Monsarrat
German Mutter und Vater des Jungen Tobias Meister Ulrike Stürzbecher
Hebrew אמא ואבא Ohad Shahar Sarit Vino-Elad
Hungarian Az anya és az apa Péter Forgács (unknown)
Italian Madre e padre Angelo Maggi Roberta Greganti
Japanese Mǔqīn hé Fùqīn Toshiaki Karasawa (unknown)
Polish Mama i tata Adam Ferency Dorota Chotecka
Portuguese Mãe e pai do herói Diogo Infante (Portugal) Paula Fonseca (Portugal)
Romanian Mama și tata Răzvan Vicoveanu Gabriela Codrea
Russian Mat' i Otets Leonid Belozorovich Svetlana Starikova
Spanish Madre y padre Roberto Molina (Latin America) Adriana Casas (Latin America)
Swedish Mamma och pappa Andreas Nilsson Louise Raeder


  • The faces of Hero Boy's parents are never shown in the film while the book only mentions them.
  • According to The Polar Express: The Movie: Trip to the North Pole, Hero Boy's mother is pregnant during the events of the story.
  • Hero Boy's parents do not appear in the video game. This makes Hero Boy's father the only of Tom Hanks' characters to not appear in the game nor be played by Jim Hanks in said game.


  1. Schaub, David (November 23, 2004). "'The Polar Express' Diary: Part 1 -- Testing and Prepping". Animation World Network.
  2. Cotta Vaz, Mark. Starkey, Steve. (November 4, 2004) The Art of the Polar Express, Chronicle Books. p. 28. ISBN 978-0811846592.
Children Hero Boy (Chris) Hero Girl (Holly) Know-It-All Billy the Lonely Boy Sister Sarah Gus the Toothless Boy Boy on Train Blonde Girl (Heather) Little Boy Young Boy Steven Unnamed Kids
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 Wolves Other animals
Toys Ebenezer Scrooge puppet Scrooge's friends