Christmas just doesn't work out for me. Never has.
~ Billy talking to Hero Boy and Hero Girl in the observation car.

Billy the Lonely Boy is the tetartagonist of the The Polar Express film. He is an eight-year-old who thinks Christmas does not work out for him.

He is mo-capped by Peter Scolari and Hayden McFarland and his speaking voice is provided by Jimmy Bennett who also voiced Roo from Winnie the Pooh, while his singing voice is provided by Matthew Hall.

Role in the Film

Billy lives close by Hero Boy at 11344 Edbrooke Avenue in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Billy's family lives in poverty, as depicted in the film. His house is described as being "on the wrong side of the tracks" to the other children's houses and his appearance is much simpler and poorer than his friends. Billy believes that Christmas does not work out for him because his parents do not have enough money to buy him presents, which is why he is so resistant to part with his gift, as it is his first one and he does not want to lose it. His house is more run down than the other houses in the neighborhood and from outside the window, Billy's Christmas tree is more sparse and smaller than the tree in the house of the Hero Boy. He is reluctant to make friends as he feels intimidated by the others' wealth, and he is afraid of what they will think of him if they realize that his family lives in poverty.

On the Polar Express

One Christmas Eve, the Polar Express stops in front of Billy's house. Billy initially decides to stay behind, but he changes his mind and runs after the train. He cannot keep up, however, so Hero Boy pulls the emergency brake to stop the train. He gets on and sits in the observation car, away from all the other children. The Conductor, unaware of this, gets angry at Hero Boy until he Hero Girl shows Billy taking a seat. When the waiters serve hot chocolate, Hero Girl and the Conductor bring him some after realizing he did not get any, which causes Hero Boy to lose Hero Girl's ticket while trying to bring it to her.

The Conductor must have punched Billy's ticket sometime during the trip, most likely while he and Hero Girl were bringing him hot chocolate, but there is not a scene shown in which this happens. He punches out the word "ON" on the right end of the ticket.

When Hero Boy is trying to return Hero Girl her ticket, he passes by Billy in the observation car and asks where she and the Conductor went, but Billy does not respond, instead looking up at the window. Hero Boy sees a shadow and, thinking it might be Hero Girl and the Conductor, goes to climb onto the train.

Later, Billy meets Hero Boy again when he and Hero Girl sing "When Christmas Comes to Town." Afterwards, they all watch the Northern Lights form when the Conductor comes by to tell them they have crossed the Arctic Circle, then shows them the North Pole in the distance.

At the North Pole

While all the other children go to meet Santa, Billy chooses to stay behind, but Hero Girl and Hero Boy decide get back on the train and attempt to convince him to come. Unfortunately, Hero Boy accidentally steps on the coupler cut level, which causes the car to uncouple from the rest of the train and roll down a hill. Once the train stops on a turntable after Hero Boy turns the brake wheel, the three set out to get back to the North Pole Square, going through the Communications Room and the Sorting Room.

At the Sorting Room, they find Billy's Christmas present, which is the last one wrapped. Billy grabs it, the other two follow him, and they all end up with the rest of the presents in Santa's bag. Billy wants to open his present early, but Hero Girl points out a note on the present saying, "Do not open until Christmas." While the bag is being carried to the center of the North Pole, Billy's leg suddenly gets pulled, so Hero Boy and Hero Girl help pull him free. It turns out to be Know-It-All, who claims he was checking out his presents to make sure he will get everything he wants. When they arrive at the Square, the children are rescued from the bag by the elves. Know-It-All, Hero Girl, and Hero Boy slide down the bag, but Billy is hesitant to let his present go. One of the elves assures that the present will be safe, so Billy gives the present to him and slides down the bag.

Upon Santa's arrival, Billy is able to see him, unlike Hero Boy, whose view is blocked by the elves stacking in front of him. Before Santa announces who will receive the first gift of Christmas, he congratulates Billy for having made new friends, saying that friendship is the best gift of all. Billy also watches Santa fly away in his sleigh. He questions if the events are just a dream, to which Hero Boy says no.

Return trip

Billy's ticket gets punched for the return trip. When he first looks at it, it reads, "DEPEND ON", but it changes to "RELY ON" and "COUNT ON" after each time he flips it. "That is some special ticket," the Conductor remarks. He asks Billy if he can trust the Polar Express to take him home, to which Billy says yes, "me and my friends," showing that Billy has finally accepted that he has friends in Hero Boy and Hero Girl.

Billy sits with the other children this time, next to Know-It-All. Before getting dropped off, Know-It-All questions where he is going until he reminds him they are at his house. Billy also thanks Hero Boy for stopping the train for him. After getting back to his house, he comes back out holding his present up and calling out from his front porch to Hero Boy and Hero Girl that Santa has already been to his house.

It is never revealed in the film what Billy's present was.

Other appearances

The Polar Express: The Video Game

In the game, the train goes right past Billy's house, not even stopping. Hero Boy goes to pull the emergency brake for him, but the Scrooge puppet blocks his way. Hero Boy throws balls at him, defeating him, which grants him access to the brake. Later, shortly before the train arrives at the North Pole, Hero Girl and the Conductor go to give Billy some hot chocolate.

While at the North Pole, Billy, Hero Boy, and Hero Girl end up stuck on the runaway observation car. However, they use the car's brake wheel to tilt the car to the side so that it does not hit anything in the way. Finally, the car stops on a turntable and the children get off to find their way back to the Square. They ride the pneumatic, using the controls to make sure it hits the switches that open the right gates. At the Sorting Room, Billy catches sight of his present going down a conveyor belt and follows it, leaving behind the other two. After going through the tunnels and along the conveyor belts, Hero Boy and Hero Girl reunite with Billy. However, they end up at the bottom of a big pile of presents. They climb the pile, thinking there might be an exit at the top. When they make it, the presents are carried by zeppelins in a bag to the Square. Billy and the other children are taken on board the zeppelins where the Elf Captain puts Hero Boy in charge of driving while he goes to help the other elves. When he gets back, the children go back to the bag where the elves rescue them.


  • Billy is one of few characters in the The Polar Express film to not originate from the book.
  • Billy is the only passenger on the train, and one of few characters in the film, identified by name.
  • In real life, Billy's address, 11344 Edbrooke Avenue, is the address of Robert Zemeckis' childhood home. The home is in the south side of the Chicago neighborhood of Roseland.
  • Despite that Billy was given a name, he is referred as "Lonely Boy" in the credits.
  • Billy along with Sarah, Steven, and Gus are the only few characters who were given names. Not including Santa Claus.


  • "My name is Billy!"
  • "That's my address!"
  • "I think I know what it is! I wanted one of these my whole life!"
  • "Absolutely. Me... and my friends."
  • "Thanks for stopping the train for me."
  • "Look, look! Santa got here!"



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