In The Polar Express (2004), we see this hobo:

The Hobo

He claims to be the 'King of the North Pole', but I'm not entirely sure.

Who or what is he? I'm looking for an out-of-universe explanation regarding who or what this character is.

  • 1
    Is this question not a better fit for the movies and TV stack exchange site?
    – user44053
    Dec 19, 2015 at 9:47
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    @JackGraveney I would consider this movie to fall under the category of fantasy therefore it's good for this site Dec 19, 2015 at 9:48
  • 4
    Obviously we needed to hear Tom Hanks do yet another weird voice.
    – RedCaio
    Dec 19, 2015 at 10:28
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    There's a wealth of info here. In short, the character is alternately the ghost of xmas past, a literal ghost (of someone who was riding the express before it was polar) and the holy ghost. polarexpress.wikia.com/wiki/Hobo
    – Valorum
    Feb 22, 2016 at 22:53

1 Answer 1


There are a few theories, probably all of them true.

The Hobo is a literal ghost

In the DVD extras, there's an additional song which features a backstory about the "king of the train" being killed in a tunnel and haunting the train

The Hobo is the "Ghost of Xmas Past"

There are more Dickens references in this film than you can shake a stick at. With the young boy representing the disbelieving Scrooge, the 'Three Ghosts' become the Hobo (Past) the Conductor (Present) and Santa (Future). Note the Ebeneezer Scrooge cameo about halfway through the film.

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Religious overtones

There's a fair argument to be made that the Hobo represents the 'Holy Ghost' of the classic Christian trinity with Santa as 'the Father" and the Conductor as the 'the Son'.

  • 3
    Oh, I need Tom Hanks to have represented all parts of the holy trinity and also Santa Clause in a single movie... Feb 22, 2016 at 23:47
  • @GGMG - I think it's pretty reasonable to assume that Tom Hanks has developed a messiah complex given how often people say how "nice he is" on the internet
    – Valorum
    Feb 23, 2016 at 0:02

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