Robert Zemeckis and Tom Hanks teamed up once again for Disney’s new Pinocchio movie in 2022 to add to their impressive list of films together. But to many people, their greatest collaboration was on The Polar Express and the best quotes from the movie still live rent-free in their heads.
Updated on December 19th, 2022 by Mark Birrell: The best Polar Express quotes are great all year round, but they have an extra dose of power in the holiday season, not to mention around Christmas Eve and Christmas day. From songs to wise advice, The Polar Express is packed with unforgettable sayings that fans find themselves thinking about during the festive period.
“I Was Listening For A Sound I Was Afraid I’d Never Hear. The Ringing Bells Of Santa’s Sleigh.”
Right at the beginning of the movie, Tom Hanks introduces the audience to the story through the first of his numerous roles as he voices the older Hero Boy, who narrates the story.
This line not only introduces the audience to Hero Boy and his state of mind but also sets up a crucial plot point which fully emerges toward the end of the movie when Hero Boy picks up a loose bell from Santa’s sleigh and has to believe in order to hear its ringing. The way that the bells bookend the story is a great detail in The Polar Express that fans may have missed.
“‘Cause That’s The Way Things Happen On The Polar Express.”
The Kids Singing “The Polar Express”
Once aboard the Polar Express, the Hero Boy hears the first song of the movie, which repeats later on, and it’s sung by the other kids on the train. It helps set up the train as a magical place where the normal rules don’t apply, and it helps give the locomotive a magical and festive atmosphere too.
The Polar Express is a place where things don’t always make perfect sense, and they don’t need to. Both Hero Boy and the audience have to give in to its charm, it’s impossible not to.
“Whatever It Is, You Need To Share It. It’s The Spirit Of The Season.”
Santa’s Elves Singing “Spirit Of The Season”
Once the children reach the North Pole, they quickly see that it’s populated mostly by elves who work with Santa Claus, and they have their own Christmas song to sing.
There are many great quotes throughout The Polar Express but this sentiment about sharing ties most directly into the spirit of both the season and the movie.
“Now, Young Man, Christmas May Not Be Important To Some People, But It Is Very Important To The Rest Of Us!”
Hero Boy is a bit of a skeptic when it comes to not only Santa but Christmas overall. There’s nothing wrong with this but, as the Conductor rightly points out, Hero Boy’s disregard for the season spills out and impacts other people. The audience sees this at the beginning when it’s revealed that he’s been sowing seeds of doubt in the mind of his younger sister.
Just because a person doesn’t observe a particular holiday doesn’t make it okay for them to lessen the experience for others, and this is one of the film’s smaller–but important–lessons.
“Look, I Don’t Know If Christmas Is Gonna Work Out For You Or Not, But It’s Christmas Eve. Don’t Stay Here By Yourself.”
While talking to Billy about Christmas, Hero Boy and Hero Girl find out that he has his own doubts when it comes to the season. Though the audience doesn’t know exactly why he doesn’t have a lot of faith in the holiday, Billy is established as living on “the other side of the tracks” and it can be assumed that Christmas has been pretty tough for him up to that point.
Hero Boy says this line not just to cheer Billy up but because he clearly means it. It’s a good sentiment that people shouldn’t be abandoned on Christmas, and his care for Billy’s well-being is perhaps his most truly heroic deed in the movie.
“Just Remember, The True Spirit Of Christmas Lies In Your Heart.”
The Hero Boy struggles with his thoughts on if Christmas and Santa should be believed in all the way up until he meets Santa himself. When he does, Santa imparts this excellent piece of wisdom unto him.
Often at Christmastime, people get wrapped up in the worry of expensive gifts, and all the stress that can come with creating the perfect day. However, ultimately, the Christmas spirit and the joy of the festive period come from within.
“Why, To The North Pole, Of Course! This Is The Polar Express!”
This iconic Polar Express quote comes right at the beginning of the adventure when the Hero Boy approaches the train for the first time and the Conductor asks him if he’s coming. When the Hero Boy asks where they’re going, the Conductor bellows this memorable line, setting the merry tone of the entire movie in just one sentence.
Tom Hanks pumps all of his charisma and energy into this line, which makes it even greater, convincing the lead character–and the audience–to jump aboard. His amazing performance is a part of what makes the Conductor one of the best Christmas movie characters of all time.
“I Suggest We All Hold On… TIGHTLY!”
Another great quote from the Conductor comes when the train is about to go flying out of control down into Glacier Gulch, which he describes as the steepest downhill grade in the world.
He’s normally incredibly in control of every situation, having an answer for everything that is happening throughout the movie. Hearing the Conductor slightly more panicked makes it a memorable moment, but the way Tom Hanks delivers the line actually makes it very funny, rather than something that may have otherwise come across as nerve-wracking.
“And Do You See Those Lights In The Distance? They Look Like The Lights Of A Strange Ocean Liner Sailing On A Frozen Sea. There Is The North Pole!”
There are so many magical depictions and descriptions of Christmas staples in The Polar Express and this introduction to The North Pole given by the Conductor makes for one of the movie’s best quotes.
The North Pole in the movie is indeed that wondrous to behold, with a heavenly glow all around it and though the movie’s visuals are stunning, it’s the Conductor’s description that really allows the audience to see it through the kids’ eyes.
The Hero Boy is the lead character of the movie, and the only real conflict in the entire story is his internal conflict regarding his belief in Santa.
The big moment of resolution comes when Santa arrives to give the first gift of Christmas. The other kids can hear the sound of the bells on Santa’s sleigh while the Hero Boy cannot. All of his skepticism throughout the movie has is tinged with the hope that Santa might be real. He finally makes his decision about choosing to believe when one of the bells falls to his feet. After he says that he believes out loud, he rings the bell again, and he can hear it. It’s such a simple statement, but it creates one of the most powerful moments in the movie.
“Found This On The Seat Of My Sleigh. Better Get That Hole In Your Pocket Fixed. Mr. C.”
Hero Boy tears a hole in the pocket of his robe at the beginning of the movie when he rushes to see the Polar Express for the first time, this tear causes him some trouble later on when Santa’s gift to him slips right out and gets left at the North Pole.
Awaking on Christmas morning, and tearing the same hole again in the same robe as he did at the beginning of the movie, Hero Boy once again doubts the truth of what he saw the previous night, as does the audience. But when he goes to open his presents, he finds that Santa has left the bell for him as a gift with this message. The personal touch to the note makes this such a heartwarming scene to take the film out on, offering one last memorably suspenseful moment for the audience with a payoff that’s fully in the Christmas spirit.
“Though I’ve Grown Old, The Bell Still Rings For Me. As It Does For All Those Who Truly Believe.”
The final words of the movie are its most poignant, but also its most uplifting as Hero Boy tells the audience about how all of his friends and even his little sister grew to become like their parents and unable to hear the sound of Santa’s bell, while his belief remained unwavering.
It’s a beautifully bittersweet ending that reminds the audience that the feeling of the holidays can be kept alive in the hearts of children and adults alike. This Polar Express quote is really elegant as it sums up the film’s message very succinctly while letting the audience know that Hero Boy’s happy ending lasted for the rest of his life.
“We Are In Some Serious Jelly.”
When the Polar Express gets stuck at caribou crossing, the main characters look like they’ll never get through the massive obstacle ahead, which the Conductor so eloquently points out with this line.
The Conductor is a character with a generally amusing temperament and vocabulary, often voicing his dissatisfaction with events but doing so in a way that still makes the audience laugh. This is about as genuinely concerned and annoyed as the Conductor becomes in the entire film, and he still finds a way to make his frustration sound funny.
“In Fact, I Am The King Of The North Pole!”
The most mysterious character in The Polar Express is a man that the Hero Boy meets atop the train referred to only as the Hobo. He’s a caricature of the image of a person who would ride trains across the United States looking for work around the Great Depression, but serves a much more ambiguous role in the story, and a very important one too.
He’s not a villain, but he appears to encourage Hero Boy’s doubt in Santa, whilst also appearing to be magical himself. As he yells this into the night when he introduces himself, it’s a reference to the distinct culture of hobos in popular culture, but has the booming confidence of some alternate version of Santa himself.
“He Was Just Trying To Stop The Train, So That Kid Could Get On!”
Billy is very quiet and shy at the start of the movie, and he almost doesn’t make it onto the train after being so nervous at the start. He initially decides to not get on, but, when the Hero Boy sees him starting to run toward the train, he makes the decision to pull the emergency cord.
When the Conductor begins to show a little bit of disappointment toward him for doing it, Hero Girl quickly points out why it was necessary. This shows the strength of their connection straight away, while establishing her brave personality.
“One Thing About Trains: It Doesn’t Matter Where They’re Going. What Matters Is Deciding To Get On.”
At the end of the movie when the Hero Boy thanks the Conductor, he makes a very good point about trains, which can be linked to life in general. This is a clear metaphor for life, as nobody knows what is going to happen when they start one aspect of it, but the journey is the fun part.
The destination is often unknown, but it’s always important to try and experience things. The key idea behind it might go over the heads of younger viewers, but, for adults, this is a particularly meaningful quote.
“Here We Only Got One Rule. Never, Ever Let It Cool.”
The Conductor Singing “Hot Chocolate”
There’s something perfectly fitting about a musical number within a Christmas movie, and one of the very best comes from The Polar Express. Tom Hanks singing a song about hot chocolate is something that could only happen in a Christmas movie, which is what makes this so special.
It’s just a really fun scene that brings the energy of the entire movie up a notch. The enthusiasm that the Polar Express team gives to serving hot chocolate is infectious and helps to give the movie a safe and cozy feeling at the same time.
“It’s So Much Fun When Christmas Comes To Town.”
The Kids Singing “When Christmas Comes To Town”
Another of the musical moments from this movie comes from Hero Girl, who sings a heartwarming song that is all about the love and joy that Christmas brings to people. The song touches on the difficulties some may face, but the ultimate love and happiness that it brings.
The best Polar Express quotes create a very warm and fuzzy Christmas feeling, and this main chorus line from the kids is the most unequivocally festive of them all.
“There’s No Greater Gift Than Friendship.”
While The Polar Express is mostly about Christmas, at its core, it’s a brilliant story about friendship too. The young characters join together on the train without knowing each other and have very different personalities.
When the kids all finally see Santa, he gives them each some wise words, and he tells Billy that friendship is the greatest gift, and it’s hard not to see Santa’s point. Billy seemed to have so little when the night began but ended it with the most valuable thing of all: new friends.
“Seeing Is Believing, But, Sometimes, The Most Real Things In The World Are The Things We Can’t See.”
Though the Hero Boy is the only character who sees or interacts with the Hobo, the Conductor tells a very interesting story about how he slipped and almost fell off of the train one Christmas Eve, but some mysterious force saved him. This sounds similar to how the Hobo had held onto the Hero Boy moments earlier to save him from falling off the edge of the train, and when the Conductor talks about his miraculous incident more, he uses some of the same words that the Hobo says earlier.
Adding onto the Hobo’s quote about seeing being believing, the Conductor reminds the Hero Boy about the importance of things that can’t be seen. The connection to Santa is clear, but the whole conversation is one of the most subtle in the film, further delving into the Hero Boy’s questions about faith and belief.