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The Hobo is a main antagonist in The Polar Express film. He is a ghost  who lives on top of the Polar Express and rides it whenever he feels like it for free. He does not believe in Santa Claus or Christmas, but his negativity tests Hero Boy's faith. Throughout the film, Hero Boy is the only character who sees and directly interacts with him.
- 1 Role in the Film
- 2.1 The Polar Express: The Video Game
- 2.2 The Polar Express Ticket Chase
- 3 Behind the scenes
- 4 International languages
- 6.2 Video Game
- 8 References
Role in the Film [ ]
The Hobo first appears sleeping in a hammock underneath the train during the ticket journey scene. As the wind blows Hero Girl's ticket underneath the train, it lands on his face before being blown away again.
When Hero Boy tries returning Hero Girl's ticket, he sees the Hobo's shadow on the roof of the observation car from inside. Thinking it is Hero Girl with the Conductor, he climbs onto the car's roof. He meets the Hobo, preparing coffee over a fire while humming "Good King Wenceslas" and playing a hurdy-gurdy. Hero Boy says that he is "looking for a girl", though the Hobo laughs, thinking he meant a romantic partner. When he shows Hero Girl's ticket, the Hobo recognizes its value and suggests Hero Boy puts it in his slipper. He goes on to explain how he rides on top of the train for free whenever he likes and claims to be the king of both the train and the North Pole . He also offers Hero Boy a cup of coffee, though the boy spits it out when he finds out the Hobo washes his socks in it. Afterwards, he questions him being the king of the North Pole, thinking that role would belong to Santa Claus, which leads to the Hobo mocking Santa by putting on a Santa hat and pretending to be a department store animatronic Santa. The Hobo asks why he wants to see Santa and Hero Boy explains that he wants to believe. The Hobo then hints that everything is just a dream and asks Hero Boy if he "believes in ghosts." When Hero Boy's replies "No," all Hobo says is "interesting" as he mysteriously appears and vanishes in the snow.
The Hobo comes back and puts Hero Boy onto his shoulders to get ready to head to the locomotive , explaining that they must make it before they reach Flat Top Tunnel , which is only one inch taller than the locomotive. However, when the train goes up a hill, they slide towards the back of the train. The Hobo stops them by grabbing the top rung from the train ladder with one of his ski sticks, but Hero Boy falls off his shoulders and starts hanging off the edge of the train. The Hobo uses his other ski stick to save him and puts him onto his skis in front of him. The train begins going down the hill and the two ski down the train, jumping from one car to the next. As soon as Flat Top Tunnel's teeth fly out, Hero Boy jumps into the tender of the locomotive just in time after the Hobo mysteriously disappears.
Later, the train ends up on the Ice Lake and crashes through an iceberg, causing it to lean sideways and Hero Girl to nearly fall off. Hero Boy and the Conductor grab her in time, but are unable to pull her to safety. Luckily, the Hobo appears and helps them, then disappears before anyone other than Hero Boy could see him. While Hero Boy, Hero Girl and the Conductor go through the abandoned toy car , the Hobo, hiding on top of the car, uses a Scrooge marionette to scare Hero Boy. He appears again on the speeding runaway observation car, tapping on the manual brake wheel to show Hero Boy where the brakes are while drinking another cup of coffee. He disappears again when the car rushes through a tunnel. The Hobo makes one last appearance near the end of the film when Hero Boy is dropped off at his house . He waves goodbye to Hero Boy from the roof of the train before disappearing one last time.
Other appearances [ ]
The polar express: the video game [ ].
The Hobo only appears in the second chapter of the video game and plays a less antagonistic role. Like in the film, he meets Hero Boy on the roof of the train, but not on the observation car, instead on one of the other passenger cars. Impressed with his determination in trying to return Hero Girl's ticket, he helps Hero Boy get to the locomotive by skiing down the hill, not down the cars, with Hero Boy leaning from side to side to help steer. They eventually get to the bottom and Hero Boy makes it into the engine room.
The Polar Express Ticket Chase [ ]
After the player helps Hero Boy retrieve his lost ticket, they become the Hobo and ski down the train to help Hero Boy return to the first passenger car before the train reaches Flat Top Tunnel. They must avoid obstacles along the way.
Behind the scenes [ ]
Like most human characters in the film, the Hobo's animation was done through motion-capture, which was provided by Tom Hanks along with the voice. However, some keyframe animation was done to perfect his movements.  While on set, Hanks would help imagine himself into his characters by wearing different pairs of shoes for each role, including a specific pair of boots for the Hobo, as the actors did not wear costumes. 
The Hobo would have been featured in the deleted scene " It Takes Two " in which his backstory is told. The scene was cut for time when the filmmakers thought it would make the film flow better. In the scene, Smokey and Steamer tell the story of the Hobo to Hero Boy and Hero Girl in a shadow puppet show. The Hobo rode on the roof of the train on Christmas Eve of 1933 and was killed at Flat Top Tunnel due to its low clearance. His ghost can still be seen riding the train every year. It also reveals that his name is King .
International languages [ ]
- The Hobo is one of many characters from the film to not be originally in the book . He is the only such character played by Tom Hanks.
- The Hobo tells Hero Boy, "You don't wanna be led down the primrose path!" However, the primrose path actually refers to an easy life. He probably meant "garden path," which means to be deceived.
- In the film when Hero Boy, Hero Girl, and the Conductor return to the passenger cars, the Conductor talks about when he nearly fell off the train during his first ride on the Polar Express, though he never figured out who or what saved him. It can be assumed to have been the Hobo, but it is never specified.
- "Is there something I can do for you?"
- "Ain't we all?!"
- "I own this train. Oh, yeah. It's like I'm the king of the train. Yeah, the king of the Polar Express. In fact, I'm the king of the North Pole!"
- "Hey, would you like some joe? A nice hot refreshment perfect for a cold winter's night."
- "But, you don't wanna be bamboozled. You don't wanna be led down the primrose path! You don't wanna be conned or duped, have the wool pulled over your eyes. Hoodwinked! You don't wanna be taken for a ride, RAILROADED!!!"
- "Seeing is believing. Am I right?"
- "One other thing. Do you believe in ghosts?"
- "We gotta make the engine before we hit Flat Top Tunnel."
- "So many questions. There is but one inch of clearance between the roof of this rattler and the roof of Flat Top Tunnel. Savvy?"
- "You said it, kid. Not me."
- "There's only one trick to this kid. When I say jump... YOU JUMP!!!!"
- "Take a break, kid! How about a nice, good hot cup of Joe?!"
Video Game [ ]
- ”You know, it’s pretty dangerous up here, but I’m impressed that you managed to get this far. You’re a regular hero, trying to give that girl her ticket back, and let me tell you, if you thought getting up here was hot, then you better prepare yourself for a shock, that was nothing, cause frankly, there’s no way you’re gonna make it, if you stay on the roof.”
- ”There’s one way to get that ticket back to the girl. Do you wanna hear it?”
- ”We gotta jump off this here train, and take a shortcut. Now look at me in the eye, do you believe that you can do this?”
- ”Okay, take my hand, broad deep breath.”
- ”On the count to three, we’re gonna ski down the hill. You’re gonna need to shift your weight to steer us clear in the rocks. One, two, three!”
- ”Like I was saying, this here is the fastest route for the front of the train.”
- ”Don’t worry son, will catch that train in no time.”
- ”Okay, this is it, we’re nearly there! When I say jump, you got to jump, got it!?”
- ”Ready, set, JUMP!”
Gallery [ ]
References [ ]
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Cotta Vaz, Mark. Starkey, Steve. (November 4, 2004) The Art of the Polar Express , Chronicle Books. p. 28 & 57. ISBN 978-0811846592 .
- ↑ Schaub, David (November 23, 2004). " 'The Polar Express' Diary: Part 1 -- Testing and Prepping ". Animation World Network .
- 1 Hero Girl (Holly)
- 2 Know-It-All
- 3 Hero Boy (Chris)
10 Best Horror Movies That Take Place On A Train
Commuters would be lucky if they ended up missing these terrifying trains.
Trains are ubiquitous in our world, so common we barely think about them. They haul freight in mile-long caravans across wide open country. They move passengers from town to town, or, in cities, from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. If you live next to train tracks, eventually you get used to the trains going by, even take comfort in the sounds (it's called the lullaby effect.)
Aside from trainspotters and hobbyists, about the only time you really think about a train is when you see one pulling away without you on it, cursing that you now have to wait for the next one.
In these films, though, missing your train would be a blessing.
If you think about it, trains are a perfect venue for horror. They're contained spaces with not a lot of places to hide, so you're basically a captive. They move quickly, making escape difficult, if not impossible. They're massive vehicles, full of machinery and equipment that can crush, slice, boil, or run over you.
With all this in mind, when things go bad on a train, they can go really bad. This list explores what happens when people (or things) on a train decide to turn a pleasant way to watch the countryside pass into exercises in horror.
10. Night Train Murders - 1975 (Also Known As Last Stop On The Night Train)
Night Train Murders was one of the infamous video nasties banned in the UK in the 1980s, and for good reason. For all intents and purposes, it's a European remake of Last House on the Left, with all the expected violence and depravity.
Two college students, Lisa and Margaret, are travelling to stay with Lisa's parents for Christmas. Unfortunately, during their trip they cross paths with criminals Curly, Blackie, and their upper-class blonde accomplice. After being sexually assaulted and tortured, the girls are killed. Lisa's father meets the criminal trio, figures out what happened, and takes his revenge on them.
Night Train Murders is absolutely a product of its time. It's dark, gritty and raw, with some scenes that are borderline unwatchable (one infamous scene, where one of the girls forcibly loses her virginity to a switchblade, is thankfully shot very dark and the worst is left to the imagination.)
The film has some interesting social commentary on violence (Lisa's dad, a doctor, was a vocal critic of violence in society until he needed it as a tool) and working-class vs wealthy (the blonde clearly manipulated the two thugs into violence but used her upper-class status to escape unscathed at the end.)
Night Train is a tough watch, but it is a great mid-'70s example of a violent revenge movie and makes an interesting European book-end to Last House on the Left.
Child of the Canadian '80s. Fan of Star Wars, Marvel (films), DC (animated films), WWE, classic cartoons. Enjoys debating with his two teenage sons about whether hand-drawn or computer animation is better but will watch it all anyways. Making ongoing efforts to catalogue and understand all WhatCulture football references.
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Schiavelli gained fame as a character actor. His best-known roles include Fredrickson in One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975), Mr. Vargas in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), the Subway Ghost in Ghost (1990), Organ Grinder in Batman Returns (1992), Chester in The People vs Larry Flynt (1996), Dr. Kaufman in Tomorrow Never Dies (1997) and ABC executive Maynard Smith in Man on the Moon (1999).
Before his death in 2005, Vincent Schiavelli was considered by many as one of Hollywood's best character actors. Roger Ebert stated "Schiavelli had a way of slipping into films without people knowing his name, but they remembered his great performances as unique characters."
- 1 Early life
- 3 Personal life
- 5 Ghost Roles
Early life [ ]
Schiavelli was born in Brooklyn, New York, to a Sicilian-American family. He attended Bishop Loughlin Memorial High School as a teen. He studied acting through the theatre programme at New York University. He began performing on stage in the 1960s.
Schiavelli's first film role occurred in Miloš Forman's 1971 production Taking Off , in which he played a counselor who taught parents of runaway teens to smoke marijuana in order to better understand their children's experiences. Schiavelli's aptitude and distinctive angular appearance soon provided him with a steady stream of supporting roles, often in Miloš Forman films, including One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest , Amadeus , The People vs. Larry Flynt , Valmont , and the 1999 biopic Man on the Moon .
He played Mr. Vargas, the biology teacher, in the 1982 comedy Fast Times at Ridgemont High , a role he reprised in the 1986 television spin-off Fast Times . He was cast in a similar role in Better Off Dead in which he played Mr. Kerber, a geometry teacher.
In 1987, he starred alongside Tim Conway in the short film comedy Dorf on Golf , and then Dorf and the First Games of Mount Olympus in 1988. In 1990, he played the Subway Ghost in Ghost and in 1992, he played in Tim Burton's Batman Returns as the "Organ Grinder", one of the Penguin's henchmen. He appeared as another villain in the James Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), as a silent monk in The Frisco Kid (1979), and as John O'Connor, one of the evil Red Lectroids in 1984's The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension . In 1994 he appeared in the music video for ZZ Top's song "Breakaway", alongside Fairuza Balkand in 1997, he was named one of America's best character actors by Vanity Fair magazine. He also made several voice appearances in the animated television show Hey Arnold! . In 2002, he played a children's television show host turned heroin addict named Buggy Ding Dong in Death to Smoochy .
His first television role came in 1972 as Peter Panama in The Corner Bar , the first sustained portrayal of a gay character on American television. His other television credits include The Moneychangers , Buffy the Vampire Slayer , and Taxi as the priest who marries Latka and Simka. He appeared in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Arsenal of Freedom" as a holographic salesman, on Miami Vice as a research scientist who conspires to steal a top-secret prototype weapon from his employer, and in an uncredited role in an episode of Punky Brewster . In 1987 he appeared as Lyle, a gangster, in the MacGyver season 2 episode "Soft Touch". In Highlander: The Series , he played Leo Atkins, a homeless Vietnam War veteran accused of murder in the Season 1 episode "Innocent Man". In The X-Files , he played Lanny, man with an underdeveloped conjoined twin in the Season 2 episode "Humbug".
He wrote a number of cookbooks and food articles for various magazines and newspapers, notably Gourmet, Saveur and the Los Angeles Times. In 1999, Schiavelli starred in a 26-episode Italian cooking show called Chefs of Cucina Amore that aired on PBS periodically for the next couple of years. He received a James Beard Foundation Journalism Award in 2001 and was nominated on several other occasions.
Vincent Schiavelli's three cookbooks are memoirs, with recipes related to personal history and anecdotes:
Papa Andrea's Sicilian Table: Recipes from a Sicilian Chef As Remembered by His Grandson, 1993
Bruculinu, America: Remembrances of Sicilian-American Brooklyn, Told in Stories and Recipes, 1998
Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa, 2002
Schiavelli served as honorary co-chair of the National Marfan Foundation, an organization which serves those affected by Marfan syndrome, from which Schiavelli suffered.
Schiavelli also performed in a few video games, including Emperor: Battle for Dune (Harkonnen Mentat Yanich Kobal) and as Dr. Hellman in the video game Corpse Killer .
Personal life [ ]
Schiavelli was married to actress Allyce Beasley from 1985 until their 1988 divorce. He guest-starred as the love interest of Beasley's character on one episode of Moonlighting . Their son, Andrea Schiavelli, was born in 1987. In 1992, Schiavelli married American harpist Carol Mukhalian.
Schiavelli died of lung cancer on December 26, 2005, aged 57, at his home in Polizzi Generosa, the Sicilian town where his grandfather was born, and about which he wrote in his 2002 book Many Beautiful Things: Stories and Recipes from Polizzi Generosa ( ISBN 0-7432-1528-1 ). Schiavelli was buried at Polizzi Generosa Cemetery, near Palermo, Sicily. Two documentaries were made about Schiavelli's Sicilian life. The first, Once Upon a Time in Polizzi , was released on October 11, 2005 (two months before his death) and the second, Many Beautiful Things ( Tanti Beddi Cosi is the Sicilian title), was produced by Aurelio Gambadoro and released in 2014. The film Hey Arnold!: The Jungle Movie is dedicated to his memory. (Schiavelli provided a memorable guest voice appearance as the Pigeon Man in the original series.)
Ghost Roles [ ]
- Vincent lost his life to cancer at the age of 57, four years before co-star Patrick Swayze did.
- 1 Subway Ghost
- 2 Carl Bruner
- 3 Oda Mae Brown
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The Hidden Messages In The Polar Express
Table of Contents Show
What is the polar express about, the nameless characters, why does tom hanks play so many characters, the mysterious “hobo”, know it all, is it all a dream, the significance of believing.
Since its release in 2004, The Polar Express has become one of the most beloved Christmas movies. Every December, it graces the screens of televisions all over the world. It’s even inspired a real-life Polar Express experience that stops by various towns throughout the United States every Christmas. Though it might be a Christmas classic, The Polar Express has always felt more complex than most light-hearted Christmas movies.
Though it might seem like an adventurous film about a mysterious, late-night train ride, there is more than meets the eye. From the nameless characters to the mysterious ghost on the roof, there are many messages hidden in this children’s film that distinguish it from all the holiday films that came before it. The Polar Express explores more than Christmas spirit but also taps into the power of belief. It takes us on a dream-like experience that becomes possible only when you truly believe.
The Polar Express is a film that follows a young, cynical boy who finds himself struggling to believe in Santa Claus. On Christmas Eve, a large train comes charging through his small town, stopping in front of his house. Strangely, no one else in his household is awoken by the loud train. The conductor tells him the train is called The Polar Express, and it is on its way to the North Pole where everyone aboard will get to see Santa Claus. Initially, the boy is doubtful and doesn’t get on the train, yet he jumps on once it starts pulling away. Throughout the train ride, he is determined to find out if there really is a Santa Claus.
Throughout the film, we only learn the names of two characters, Sarah, the main character’s younger sister, and Billy, one of the boys on the train. Even in the film’s credits, they are only listed as “Hero Boy” or “Hero Girl.” It is never made clear why the majority of the characters are nameless. Did the screenwriter feel names were unimportant and would distract from the film’s message, or is there a reason behind it?
The nameless characters definitely add to some of the eeriness of the Christmas classic. As the train is incredibly mysterious and dream-like, so are the characters. It makes it clear that this is a one night only train ride, a once in a lifetime experience, and the characters are never going to meet again. They will never have proof that any of them ever existed, which makes the goodbyes at the end so emotional. If the main characters are nameless, why name Hero Boy’s younger sister or Billy? There’s no clear answer why but it sure adds to the enigma of The Polar Express.
A film produced by Warner Brothers with a budget of 150 million US dollars surely could afford a full cast. However, instead of hiring a full cast, Tom Hanks did the voices for five of the film’s characters. Tom Hanks voices The Conductor, Hero Boy, Hero Boy’s Father, Santa Claus, and the mysterious Hobo. Tom Hanks is a talented actor who can play a vast range of film roles, and though that may be reason enough for him to voice five of the film’s characters, there seems to be another reason.
There’s a connection between all of the characters in the film, and Hero Boy can potentially grow up to be like any of them. If he continues to be doubtful, he’ll end up like the cynical Hobo character or his father, who can’t hear the sound of the sleigh bell at the end of the film. If he chooses to believe, he’s more inclined to end up like the more positive train conductor or Santa Claus himself. Also, for someone who believes the whole train ride was a dream, the other characters could be people the boy made up in his mind. They all represent his contradicting thoughts about whether or not he should believe.
One of the strangest yet most intriguing characters in the film is Hobo, who rides on top of the Polar Express and only ever interacts with the main character. The only other possible mention of him comes from a story the conductor tells to Hero Boy and Hero Girl. The conductor tells of a time when he almost fell off the train but never did. The boy asks if “someone” pulled him back up, hinting that he believes the conductor may have seen Hobo too; the conductor responds, “or something.”
The existence of him seems very blurred. He often disappears into the wind like a ghost leaving the audience questioning who he is, if he’s real, and what his purpose is in the film. Some online forums claim there is a deleted scene from the film where the train engineers say he is a ghost who was killed after hitting his head on Flat Top Tunnel. Unfortunately, this scene can not be found anywhere online.
“Seeing his believing, am I right?” -Hobo, The Polar Express
The boy first meets this mysterious man when he’s trying to return Hero Girl’s ticket to her. The man is sitting on top of the train by a bonfire playing the hurdy-gurdy . He has a cynical personality, which seems to reflect all of Hero Boy’s doubts. He mocks, laughs at, and persuades Hero Boy to be a non-believer like himself. Hobo refers to himself as the King of The Polar Express and The King of The North Pole. He asks the boy his “persuasion” on Santa Claus. Hero Boy tells him he wants to believe, then, before he can finish his sentence, Hobo interrupts. He suggests Hero Boy is afraid of being “bamboozled” or let down.
This scene cements Hobo’s purpose. He is a personification of Hero Boy’s fears and doubts and is meant to test his ability to believe. This scene is crucial because it can relate to real-life struggles people have with believing in themselves. People are so afraid of being let down or disappointed that they’d rather not take a chance. Instead, they stay doubtful and cynical as a way to protect themselves. However, the only way to get anywhere is to take chances; like Hero Boy learns, all the magic lies in when you choose to get on the train.
Towards the end of the film, it becomes clear that the Polar Express doesn’t stop at random children’s houses asking if they want to go to the north pole. If that were the case, Hero Boy’s younger sister, Sarah, would have joined him on his adventure. But Sarah already believed in Santa Claus at the start of the film and didn’t need to get on the Polar Express. However, her brother did. Whether it’s the importance of believing or the power of leadership, each child aboard the Polar Express is there to learn a valuable life lesson.
Hero Boy is extremely doubtful. He spends the start of the film looking through newspaper articles and geography textbooks that seem to prove the existence of Santa Claus and his North Pole residency impossible. He listens for sleigh bells he can’t hear and even sneaks downstairs, determined to find out if Santa is down there or if it’s just his parents. When the train first arrives at his house, the conductor reveals that Hero Boy didn’t bother sending in a letter to Santa.
Hero Boy doubts everyone on the train who seems excited about going to the North Pole, and even when he gets there, he’s still suspicious that it all might be one big scheme. In one scene, the train passes a store window. The window is decorated with Christmas decorations, one of the decorations being a mechanical Santa Claus. While the other kids run to the window in excitement, mesmerized by the festive windows, Hero Boy’s eyes are drawn straight to the mechanism on Santa’s back. He shakes his head at the fake Santa, seemingly irritated at the store’s attempt to trick him.
However, while aboard the train, he learns from his unexplainable experiences and the people around him that maybe there are things that exist even if he can’t see them. At the North Pole, during Santa’s arrival, Hero Boy struggles to see him. While his friends cheer in excitement, he’s left panicked and wondering why he is the only one who can’t see Santa Claus.
One small sleigh bell falls from the reindeers’ ropes, Hero Boy picks it up and shakes it. Initially, he hears nothing, so he begins to repeat, “I believe” to himself. It is then that he hears the bell ring and meets Santa face to face. It’s at this point in the movie that Hero Boy learns why believing is so important. If he didn’t believe, he would’ve missed out on getting the first present of Christmas from Santa Claus himself.
“Sometimes seeing is believing, and sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can’t see.” -Conductor, The Polar Express
As he boards the train ready to leave the North Pole and head back home, the conductor asks for his ticket so he can punch it one last time. When he gets his ticket back, it says, “Believe.” He tries to read it aloud to the conductor, something all the other children ahead of him did; however, the conductor cuts him off, he says, “It’s nothing I need to know.” Hero Boy was the only one who needed to learn about believing, and he is the only one who needs to know what he believes in.
We’re introduced to Hero Girl at the start of the film when Hero Boy gets on the train. She is sitting in the seat across from his and is the first child he meets. Hero Girl is the opposite of Hero Boy. She fully believes in the magic of Christmas and is ecstatic about going to the North Pole. She’s also incredibly kind, even taking an extra cup of hot chocolate to bring to Billy who is sitting in a separate room. Hero Girl is the first to acknowledge him even though he intentionally isolated himself from the other kids.
Hero Girl is also smart. She learns about operating the train from the train engineers and always knows the right way to go or the right thing to do. However, other people don’t always believe in her, especially Hero boy. He doubts her several times throughout the film, constantly asking, “Are you sure?” anytime she tries to make a decision. Each time he asks this question, she is shaken. At the North Pole, Hero Boy, Hero Girl, and Billy get separated from everyone else.
They have to find their way back, and Hero Girl leads the way by following the sound of a sleigh bell that Hero Boy can’t hear. When she tells Billy and Hero Boy, what direction to go in, Hero Boy once again asks, “Are you sure?” She confidently responds, “Absolutely.” When it’s time to get back on the train, she hands her ticket to the conductor. He punches “Lead” into it. Hero Girl’s purpose was to become confident as a leader. She learns this lesson and happily gets back on the train.
Billy is the last child to board the train and the only main character whose name is revealed. Like Hero Boy, he hesitates to get on the train. He only gets on after it pulls away. He chases it down and nearly misses it, but Hero boy pulls the emergency brake so Billy can get on.
Billy immediately isolates himself from all the other children. While everyone else sits in the main train car, he sits in an abandoned car alone. He tells the other children that Christmas doesn’t work out for him, and he struggles to relate to the other children. Billy isn’t cynical like Hero Boy. Instead, he is sad. He, too, wants to believe, but it doesn’t seem possible for him.
Billy is also credited as “Lonely Boy.” This is because he doesn’t seem to make friends as easily as the other kids. However, after spending time with Hero Boy and Hero Girl, he learns what the conductor refers to as the true meaning of Christmas. He learns how to trust and depend on his friends and that spending all that time alone isn’t helpful. When he gets his ticket punched, he receives three different messages. Billy’s ticket reads, “Depend On. Rely On. Count On.” The conductor then asks if he can count on them to get him home safely. He responds, “Absolutely, me and my friends.”
Know It All is one of the most comical characters in the film and seems to exist only to make the audience laugh. However, even he has a purpose for being on the train. From the moment he’s introduced, Know It All has already educated other children on the train about topics they didn’t ask about. Know It All offers unsolicited opinions and advice about everything and seems to talk every chance he gets without listening to anyone else.
He’s extremely self-centered and thrives off of attention. When he meets Santa Claus, he loudly announces that he wants to be the one to receive the first gift of Christmas by yelling, “Pick me!” Know It All even sneaks into Santa’s toy bag to make sure he gets all the presents on his list. To his disappointment, all he finds is “a bunch of stupid underwear.”
Santa Claus suggests that Know It All learn some patience and humility. When he gets back on the train, the conductor punches “Learn” onto his ticket. He initially misreads it as “Lean,” ready to correct the conductor. When the conductor corrects him, he accepts it and gets on the train, learning that he doesn’t always have to educate other people because it is just as important to learn from others.
“Young man, patience, and a smidgen of humility.” -Santa Claus, The Polar Express
Although every character had a crucial lesson to learn, none of the characters were forced onto the train. In fact, both Hero Boy and Billy almost missed it. Each child’s decision was whether or not to get on, meaning they were not destined to learn anything. They had to make the conscious choice to take a risk and get on the train in order to grow.
It’s unclear if the experience Hero Boy has on the Polar Express was all just a dream, but many things suggest it might have been. During the scene with Hobo, Hero Boy asks, “Are you saying that this is all just a dream?” Hobo responds, “You said it, kid, not me.” Later, as Hero Boy struggles through the snowstorm on top of the train, he tries to force himself to wake up. He pinches his arm, shakes his head, and yells, “Wake up.” Yet, nothing he does seems to wake him from what he perceives as a dream.
“The one thing about trains is, it doesn’t matter where they’re going, what matters is deciding to get on.” -Conductor, The Polar Express
Another telling sign is the parallel between the two scenes in the film. At the start of the film, when Hero Boy awakes to the sound of the Polar Express, he grabs his robe off of his bed and accidentally rips his pocket. The marbles that were in his pocket fall and scattered around the floor. The following morning, Hero Boy grabs his robe to run downstairs and open his Christmas presents. Again, he rips his pocket, and his marbles fall all over the floor. Could this have happened twice, or was the original scene an illusion?
Perhaps whether it is a dream or not is all up to perspective, or more specifically, one’s ability to believe. After Hero Boy is given the first gift of Christmas, a bell from Santa’s sleigh, he puts it in his robe pocket. Unfortunately, he puts it in the pocket he ripped, and he loses it. The next morning, after he and his sister open all their presents, Sarah finds one last present behind the tree. A note attached reads, “Found this on the seat of my sleigh, better fix that hole in your pocket,” and it is signed, Mr. C. It seems impossible that his parents could have done this as the only ones to know about the bell were Santa, the elves, and the passengers on the train.
“At one time, most of my friends could hear the bell, but as years passed, it fell silent for all of them. Even Sarah found one Christmas that she could no longer hear its sweet sound. Though I’ve grown old, the bell still rings for me, as it does for all who truly believe.” -Hero Boy, The Polar Express
Hero Boy and his sister can hear the bell, but his parents can not. This is because his parents don’t believe as he and his sister do. This seems to answer the question of whether or not the Polar Express was all a dream. For those who don’t believe, it could be perceived as a dream or an imaginary experience. For those who do believe, it was real. Like many things in this world, the Polar Express is only as real as someone believes it to be.
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Once a year, estranged brothers Michael and Peter make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground yard where their friend Sam went missing when they were boys. Both men's' lives are colore... Read all Once a year, estranged brothers Michael and Peter make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground yard where their friend Sam went missing when they were boys. Both men's' lives are colored by what happened the day their friend was sucked inside the Ghost Train, never to return... Read all Once a year, estranged brothers Michael and Peter make a reluctant pilgrimage to the old fairground yard where their friend Sam went missing when they were boys. Both men's' lives are colored by what happened the day their friend was sucked inside the Ghost Train, never to return. This year, Michael has something to tell Peter that will cast fresh light on the inciden... Read all
- Owen McDonnell
- Matthew Dillon
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- 3 wins & 2 nominations
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- October 11, 2014 (United States)
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Film / Ghost (1990)
Sam: Molly, you're in danger. Oda Mae: Now, you can't just blurt it out like that! And quit moving around, will you? 'Cause you're starting to make me dizzy! I'll just tell her in my own way! (to Molly) Molly... you in danger, girl.
Ghost is a 1990 film directed by Jerry Zucker , starring Patrick Swayze , Demi Moore , Tony Goldwyn , and Whoopi Goldberg in the performance that won her an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress (which she attributes to Swayze insisting on her being cast in the part).
Executive Sam Wheat and his artist girlfriend Molly are a pair of yuppies living in SoHo in New York City . They're in love, though Sam seems to have a little difficulty coming right out and saying it , and can only manage "ditto" when Molly tells him she loves him.
On their way home one night, Sam is mugged and killed. This is where the actual story begins, as the violent murder (plus the fact that Sam had the unfinished business of never truly telling Molly he loves her) causes him to stick around as a ghost. Then Sam discovers there's more to his death than just making him an unfortunate statistic in mugger-prone New York.
In 2010, a Foreign Remake was made in Japan, where Sam's character is now a woman trying to protect her husband. A musical production of Ghost hit Broadway in 2012. It has its own separate page here .
Not to be confused with the 1997 short film Ghosts , starring Michael Jackson , or the 2005 book Ghost by John Ringo .
Ghost provides examples of the following tropes:
- Accidental Murder : Carl never wanted Sam dead — he just wanted his wallet . Once he dies and becomes a ghost himself, he actually seems pleased to see Sam again, if only briefly .
- Accidental Truth : Sam Wheat was gunned down in a mugging, and after his spirit follows his killer who had recently broken into his apartment, he goes to Oda Mae Brown, a medium, in the hopes she can help him get a message to his girlfriend. When he first sees her working, Oda Mae is scamming a woman whose husband recently died. When Sam voices his displeasure, Oda Mae begins freaking out at the revelation that she can in fact hear ghosts, and later in the movie she voices her displeasure at the fact that spirits from afar traveled to see her, and won't leave her alone.
- Afterlife Angst : This is a major theme in the movie. After main character Sam Wheat is killed in a mugging, he has the opportunity to move on to the next world, but can't bring himself to leave his beloved girlfriend Molly. Later, Sam meets another spirit on the subway ( known only as "The Subway Ghost") who also chose to remain on Earth—but his anger and self-loathing have left him a miserable monster incapable of finding peace. At the end of the film, Sam ensures Molly's safety, comes to terms with his death, and finally passes into Heaven.
- Alas, Poor Villain : Willie Lopez and Carl Bruner. The scenes of them being literally dragged into the netherworld (and what is probably waiting for them once they get there) are pitiful and terrifying. Carl: Sam? Sam : Oh, Carl...
- Subway Ghost is forever angry at the suddenness of his death and refuses to move on.
- Willy and Carl are both Dragged Off to Hell for their actions in life.
- Artistic License � Engineering : Sam and Molly's apartment features a stairway with no rails whatsoever. In the real world, this would be a flagrant building code violation.
- Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence : Sam, and a man on an operating table.
- Aside Glance : After Oda Mae finally agrees to help Sam thanks to his unbearable rendition of "I'm Henry the VIII, I Am", he gives a small grin to the camera.
- Asshole Victim : There is a reason Carl literally gets dragged down to hell after his accidental death (as does his accomplice, Willy).
- Backup from Otherworld : At the start of the movie, Sam Wheat is murdered and becomes a ghost. At the end, he saves his girlfriend from being killed by his murderer by accidentally causing the villain's death.
- Bait-and-Switch : During Sam's fight with the mugger, we hear a gun go off and then we see Sam apparently chasing the mugger away. Sam then returns to Molly and discovers to his horror that she's holding his corpse; only then do we realize that he died instantly from the gun shot and it was his ghost chasing after the mugger.
- Barred from the Afterlife : The movie is all about this — some souls aren't ready for one place or the other at the time they part with the body, and the main character had some things to resolve on Earth before his soul could be at peace. Played with a bit, as it seems that Sam could have gone to the afterlife, and made a conscious decision to stay (you can even hear Molly in the background shout "Don't you leave me, Sam!" as rescuers are attempting first aid). Once he turned away, the light closed up, but reappears when he's ready to move on. Carl and Willy, on the other hand, are dragged off and don't seem to have any choice in the matter.
- Bavarian Fire Drill : Sam basically helps Oda Mae pull this when posing as "Rita Miller", even directing her to talk to Lyle Ferguson and claim they met at a Christmas party where Lyle was so drunk he wouldn't be able to remember if he met her or not.
- Becoming the Mask : Oda Mae starts out as a con artist posing as a psychic, but when Sam enters her life, she becomes one for real.
- Berserk Button : One need only imply that you think the Subway Ghost committed suicide for this to be pressed for him.
- Beware the Nice Ones : Sam is a well-mannered honest banker who's faithful to his girlfriend, Molly but when he discovers that his friend and co-worker, Carl was indirectly responsible for his death by sending a thief to steal Sam's wallet with his apartment key inside it to access the place and look for his book of passwords so he can transfer money that he laundered for drug dealers to a single account, he's pissed off and decides to take actions in his own hand by having Oda Mae steal back the laundered money in a cheque and donating it to charity then protecting her and Molly from them by using his poltergeist skills to drive them to their death as comeuppance for both of them.
- Big Applesauce : Hodgepodge piecing together of Brooklyn and Manhattan.
- Big Damn Heroes : Sam when Oda Mae and Molly are cornered by the Big Bad .
- Billed Above the Title : Patrick Swayze , Demi Moore , and Whoopi Goldberg .
- With a little help from Oda Mae, Sam saves Molly from Carl, also bringing an end to the money laundering he was behind, and he finally tells her he loves her . But after all is said and done, Sam is still dead , he just watched his best friend get Dragged Off to Hell , and he can never come back.
- In the Foreign Remake , just when you think the male lead would die, he is actually experiencing a Near-Death Experience . But his wife promises that they'll reunite again.
- Black Comedy Rape : Orlando jumping into Oda Mae's body without her permission or consent, her struggling to get rid of him—"Get out of me, you son of a bitch!" and her disgusted, angry shuddering—"Don't you EVER do that to me again!" comes across like this.
- Body Surf : Oda Mae is nonplussed to discover that she is a vehicle for ghosts as well.
- Break the Haughty : Sam haunts both Willy and Carl to the point they end up running scared immediately up to their Karmic Deaths .
- Bullying a Dragon : Even when the Big Bad realizes he's being haunted by Sam, including being attacked and knowing he can't do anything to defend himself, he continues to threaten Molly's life aloud to him. This goes as well as expected.
- Cannot Spit It Out : Sam has difficulty saying "I love you" to Molly. When she says "I love you" to him, he answers, "Ditto." This becomes a plot point; when Oda Mae says "Ditto" as something Sam would say, Molly begins to believe her.
- Cement Shoes : Carl pulling his hair over the (newly-drained) bank account while Ghost!Sam looks on impishly. Sam tosses out observations about how the mob is going to bury him "right next to Jimmy Hoffa".
- Character Development : Oda Mae is the only character to grow and change throughout the film, going from a Phony Psychic to someone with genuine Psychic Powers , and (reluctantly) using those powers for good.
- Chekhov's Gun : Sam's " lucky " Indian penny. He later uses his ghost powers to make a penny move while Molly watches.
- Sam encounters a ghost in the subway who somehow breaks a window. Later on, Sam tips over a picture frame. So he goes back to the ghost to teach him how to touch solid objects.
- Floyd, Molly's ghost-sensing cat .
- Oda Mae's past as a con artist comes in handy when Sam guides her through the process of withdrawing funds from a secret account. She's able to effortlessly lie and spin stories to anyone who asks, which allows her (along with Sam's guidance) to navigate the procedure without arousing too much suspicion.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder : Carl and his mishandling of accounts.
- Comforting the Widow : With the guy who killed Swayze's character attempting it by putting the moves on his girlfriend. Though Molly (the girlfriend) doesn't appear to feel that way about the murderer, even when she doesn't know he's the murderer.
- What ultimately throws a wrinkle into Sam and Oda Mae escaping with the laundered money undetected is Molly showing up on the same floor of the same bank at the exact time they're there.
- The mob instructs Carl to transfer the dirty money into an account under a woman's name "Rita Miller" so a former con artist like Oda Mae can impersonate her.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment : When Oda Mae initially refuses to help Sam, he starts singing "I'm Henry the VIII, I Am" over and over again for hours to her until she finally can't take it anymore and agrees to help. Later in the film, we learn that Sam used the same trick to get Molly to agree to their first date.
- Cool Old Lady : In the Foreign Remake , Oda Mae's character is now a tiny old lady who enjoys frightening children.
- Sam writing "BOO" on the steamed bathroom mirror in Willie's apartment. Cheap but effective!
- Later, Sam freaks out the Big Bad Carl by typing "SAM" repeatedly on his computer.
- Cruel and Unusual Death : The Subway Ghost says he was pushed into an oncoming subway.
- Curb-Stomp Battle : Once Sam learned how to manipulate objects in the real world, Willy and Carl never stood a chance.
- Cutting Back to Reality : Whenever Sam moves something as a ghost, all we see is an object moving by itself. The one exception is when he kicks a can in the subway scene.
- Deadpan Snarker : Sam, especially once he drains Carl's bank account.
- Dead Person Conversation : Inverted, as Oda Mae's conversations with Sam make everybody think she's crazy, but she's not.
- Death by Irony : Carl impotently swings a hook at Sam's ghost � only for it to swing back and smash into a glass window twice, shatter said window, then have it fall and fatally impale him.
- Death Is Dramatic : It sure as Hell is...
- Died Happily Ever After : Patrick Swayze's character finally goes on to heaven once his murder is avenged and his fiancee protected, but not before a final, phantasmal kiss is shared.
- Died in Ignorance : After his death, Sam learns that his killer, Willy Lopez, was hired by his best friend, Carl, to mug him.
- Died in Your Arms Tonight : Sam dies as Molly cradles him.
- Didn't Think This Through : Sam writing out his own name on the computer in front of Carl was not the brightest decision. Carl now knows who screwed him over, and would be able to go after those who are connected to Sam.
- Dirty Coward : Carl , whose primary goal is to avoid getting killed by the Drug Dealers he's working for.
- Don't Think, Feel : The Subway Ghost's explanation on how he, and later Sam, can move objects without the use of a physical body. Subway Ghost: You gotta take all your emotions, all your anger, all your love, all your hate, and push it waaaaay down here into the pit of your stomach, and then let it explode like a reactor! Pow!
- Dragged Off to Hell : Willie, and later Carl . The Hospital Ghost implies this is the fate of other evil people when they die.
- The Dragon : Willy is this to Carl .
- Driven to Suicide : The Subway Ghost's death was apparently taken as a case of this trope, and he reacts very poorly when he thinks Sam is implying it, insisting bitterly that it wasn't his time and that he was pushed .
- Entitled Bastard : After being killed by a car running him over and getting his spirit dragged to Hell, Willy cries to Sam "help me!" Says the guy who killed him, which led him to this fate.
- Everyone Has Standards : Despite his vengeful agony over them costing him his life, Sam is left legitimately horrified by the fates of Willy and Carl after accidentally chaining their death and Fate Worse than Death , respectively. Sam even has to look away in pain as he anticipates what will happen to Carl—if anything, he seems like he wants to stop it, but it's too late .
- Even Evil Has Standards : Carl chews out Willy for killing off Sam when he didn't want that, only to rob him.
- Evil-Detecting Dog : Exploited � Molly's cat goes berserk when it senses Sam's ghost. Sam used that to make it lash at Willy's face, alarming Molly and foiling his break-in attempt.
- Fake-Out Opening : The intro of this film makes it seem spookier than it really is. It also comes across as something of a Big-Lipped Alligator Moment invoked , since all it does is establish Carl's friendship with Sam and Molly and show that Sam is rich enough to afford breaking into and completely refurbishing an expensive SoHo loft; aside from providing the surreal imagery for Sam's later strange dream, it never gets referenced again until the climax, when Sam chases the Big Bad through other abandoned or under-construction portions of the building.
- Final Speech : Subverted. Sam gets a poignant goodbye to Molly... after he's already dead, and has been for some time.
- Finding Judas : Subverted. Carl was plotting behind the scenes, but it wasn't for the greater good, and he really was the villain. He was perfectly willing to seduce Molly or kill her to forward his plans. Sam: YOU BASTARD! YOU GODDAMN BASTARD! WHY?! WHY?! YOU WERE MY FRIEND! I HAD A LIFE, GODDAMN YOU! I had a life...
- Flipping the Table : Oda Mae does this when Willie walks into her shop, buying herself time to take cover before he can get a clean shot at her.
- Carl's brand new, bright red Testarossa. How'd he afford that?
- Carl's reflection is shown in a mirror.
- When he walked into Sam and Molly's new apartment, he said they should flip it and double their money. It shows just how greedy Carl really was.
- One that you only notice after The Reveal . Carl asks Sam what he and Molly are doing that night, it turns out they're going to the theater. So Carl knows where Sam is going to be that evening...
- When Sam and the Hospital Ghost watch a spirit ascend to Heaven, the Ghost calls him a "lucky bastard" and then mentions, "Could have been the other ones. You never know." Later, we get to see the "other ones" and exactly what they do to the unfortunates they've been sent to collect.
- Molly tells the movers to put the angel statue in the bedroom. Later, Sam "wakes up" to find the statue beside him in bed.
- Ghostly possessions can wear a ghost out temporarily. This happens to Orlando when he possesses Oda Mae and Sam himself learns the hard way when he briefly possessed Oda Mae to touch Molly when Carl arrives and Sam is too weak at first to stop him.
- Upon his death, the heavens try calling Sam to them, but with Molly begging him (his body at least) not to leave her, he chooses to stay. Later, Oda Mae tells Sam that he is holding onto a life "that doesn't want him anymore" - despite said life having been wrongfully and forcefully taken from him. At the end, when Molly is no longer in danger, Sam allows himself to ascend to heaven, now knowing that he is no longer needed, and Molly has closure enough to let him go.
- Fright Deathtrap : Sam scares Willie and Carl into causing their own deaths.
- Genre Mashup : The film is at once a romantic drama, a crime thriller, and a supernatural fantasy with occasional elements of horror. It becomes a comedy in most of Whoopi Goldberg�s scenes, but is otherwise a fairly serious drama.
- The Subway Ghost screams this at Sam, while hitting stuff from the passengers' hands, until he relents teaching Sam.
- Oda Mae also screams this when one of the ghosts took possession of her body, which she hated so much.
- Go into the Light : The way Sam ascends after saving Molly from the guy who murdered him. Also the flatlining patient at the hospital.
- Gone Horribly Right : Oda Mae started as as a con artist pretending to be a medium, but after hearing Sam, she becomes a medium for real much to her dismay that during her business, other ghosts from all over America began coming to her to reach out to their loved ones visiting Oda Mae to the point that she complains to Sam about it. Sam: Oda Mae, where did these ghosts come from? You can hear them too? Oda Mae: Hear them? Can I hear them? I hear them in the morning and in the evening, they come into the shower. Sam, what the hell did you do to me? Did you tell every spook in the world about me? I got spooks from New Jersey coming here. There's stuff going on you wouldn't believe. I don't even believe it.
- Greater-Scope Villain : The Drug Dealers Carl owes money to. We never get to see this group, but they are the main motivator for Carl's whole scheme.
- Hero with Bad Publicity : Oda Mae 's established reputation as a con artist initially made it hard for Molly to believe her at first about Sam still being here .
- High-Pressure Blood : The spatter coming out of Carl when he gets run through by the window pane is pretty gruesome, considering the injury.
- Hoist by His Own Petard : Carl swings a construction hook at Sam out of desperation, but without Sam even manipulating it (he literally stands there and watches it swing by harmlessly), it comes back and smashes into a window pane twice as he's trying to scramble away, causing it to turn into a giant shard of glass to impale him.
- Holy Backlight : Happens just before Sam goes to Heaven. Notably this is the only time in the entire film his girlfriend sees him as a ghost.
- Sam follows Carl after saying he'll take care of it, thinking he's gonna confront Willie. Sam tells his friend to be careful even though he can't hear him. Then, Willie opens the door and says what he's doing back at his apartment...
- When Molly told Carl that she talked to the police about Willie. Sam makes a small smirk, thinking this would get Carl into trouble, until she has revealed that they showed her a profile of Oda Mae with all of her cons instead due to them not having a profile of Willie in the first place, ruining his attempt to warn her of the danger she's in.
- When Sam "wakes up", assuming being shot was a nightmare. Until he pulls the blankets to see the angel statue and an ominous vision of it being broken in the street. He "wakes up" again, only to see a bright light above him and finds himself standing near Molly holding his body.
- I See Dead People : Oda Mae is descended from a long line of mediums who have always been able to commune with the dead. It seems that the family power skipped a generation at first—but when Sam shows up, she realizes that she actually does have the power of mediumship, and before long, every ghost for miles around is using her as a channeler, too.
- I See Them, Too : This happens at the end of the movie. Oda Mae's the only one who can hear Sam until the White Light appears. Then his girlfriend can hear him, too. And a few seconds later, they can both see him as well.
- I "Uh" You, Too : "Ditto." Inverted at the end: when Sam finally manages to say "I love you" to Molly, thereby ensuring his Ascension to a Higher Plane of Existence , it's she who replies with "ditto".
- Impaled with Extreme Prejudice : Carl , courtesy of a shattered window pane.
- Involuntary Charity Donation : Oda Mae Brown does a variation of this to the villain — with Sam's help, she's able to steal the money from a special account, turn it into a check, and donate it to a nuns' charity.
- Jacob Marley Apparel : Sam spends the entire movie in the burgundy polo and jeans he was wearing when he was murdered.
- Japan Takes Over the World : Sam, in preparation for a big client, is practicing saying basic phrases in Japanese.
- Jerkass Has a Point : While it's apparent Carl's "live for today" speech is just a transparent attempt to earn Molly's trust, it does resonate true with how Sam lost his chance at marrying Molly (or at least telling her "I love you") by putting it off.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold : Oda Mae is a psychic medium charlatan who's not afraid to rip off people for her own benefits but even she's willing to help Sam communicate to Molly about a warning that she's in danger from Willie and Carl and when they manage to secure the latter's laundering money of $4 million in check form, she's willing to use it for herself but Sam's stern warning makes her begrudgingly donating it to the nun's charity.
- The Journey Through Death : Sam is murdered by his former friend Carl, and through much of the movie he's a ghost who tries to protect his girlfriend Molly from him, and gets help from a medium (Oda Mae). After Carl dies (and is taken to Hell), Sam bids farewell to Molly and Oda Mae before heading to Heaven.
- Jump Scare : With the title card of all things.
- Just in Time : Oda Mae and her sisters make it inside a neighbor's apartment not two seconds before Carl and Willie come up the stairs.
- Karmic Death : Willie and Carl , who surely did have it coming.
- The Klutz : Besides believing to be suicidal (see Driven to Suicide), the Subway Ghost also acted poorly when Sam thinks he "tripped". "You think I tripped?! You think I fell in?! Well, fuck you!"
- Know When to Fold 'Em : Oda Mae leaves both Sam and Molly to their own devices after Sam mentions "there's somebody else involved". She probably doesn't want to be added to that list, especially since Willie lives in her neighborhood.
- Lampshade Hanging : As Sam and Oda Mae plan to withdraw the laundered money at the bank, Sam whispers instructions to her to avoid being overheard, but Oda Mae points out it's quite unnecessary since he's Invisible to Normals . Oda Mae : Why are you whispering?
- Large Ham : Vincent Schiavelli as the Subway Ghost. LIKE TRAINS?! GET OFF MY TRAIN! GET OFF! GET OFF!!
- Living Shadow : The demons that carry off Carl and Willie.
- Look Both Ways : While fleeing from Sam's ghost, Willie gets sandwiched between two speeding cars.
- Sam terrorizes Oda Mae with Herman's Hermits until she agrees to help him. Sam: ♪ OHHH I'M 'ENERY THE EIGHTH, I AM! 'ENERY THE EIGHTH, I AM, I AM... ♪ Second verse, same as the first...
- And according to Molly, this is also how he got her to agree to go out with him.
- Lovable Rogue : Oda Mae is a con artist who's run so many scams and frauds that the police know exactly who she is when Molly brings her up—but she's so naturally funny and over the top that it's impossible to not like her. It helps that she has a Hidden Heart of Gold and eventually comes to truly appreciate and respect Sam as a friend.
- The Mafia : It's hinted that Carl is laundering drug money for a mob boss.
- Magical Negro : Oda Mae, who for a good part of the movie does NOT want to become one. She inherited her ability from her mother, who got it from her grandmother. They said she'd get it too, but she never believed them.
- Molly and Sam believe he was killed in the course of a random mugging before Sam learns that it was a set up. Even worse is that Carl's dialogue indicates that he wanted it to only be a robbery and on some level, was initially genuinely sorry that Sam was killed.
- The Subway Ghost insists someone pushed him in front of a train, which was later deemed a suicide.
- Meaningful Echo : "Ditto."
- Mickey Mousing : When the Big Bad sees his money drained on the computer, the score jingles with the error message popping up on the screen.
- Mid-Life Crisis Car : Carl's new sports car.
- Mind over Matter : An example of the "mind over matter only" convention. Sam is taught how to manipulate physical objects as a ghost, which later proves helpful for him to possess Oda (with her consent) and defeat his murderer .
- Mood Whiplash : Other than the surreal opening, the movie starts out as a regular drama with some romance. Once Sam is killed and starts investigating his murder, things get even more dramatic and elements of horror appear... but then he meets Oda Mae Brown and the movie switches to a comedy. Most scenes with her remain funny (if at times in a Gallows Humor way) even as they are interspersed with Sam's continued investigation, his attempts to protect Molly, and Carl putting the moves on Molly to cover his tracks, get the password, and eventually eliminate her as a witness. Finally, after the horror returns and an action climax, the movie ends with a Tear Jerker invoked . Whew.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker : Carl.
- Mr. Exposition : The first ghost Sam meets, a world-weary old guy in the hospital. "Lucky bastard", he dryly says when a patient ascends to Heaven. He almost shudders when he talks of " other ones " that sometimes appear.
- Murder the Hypotenuse : Willy thought he was doing this on Carl's behalf by killing Sam instead of sticking to the original plan of stealing his wallet. It'd be of no surprise if Carl had told him at some point of his attraction toward Molly.
- My Death Is Just the Beginning : A heroic example, Sam's death at the beginning of the movie is what kicks off the main plot.
- Nailed to the Wagon : The "subway ghost" has learned how to manipulate objects (and teaches the protagonist), but not enough to light and smoke a cigarette (which apparently was his addiction when he was living). "I'd give anything for a drag! Just one drag!"
- Near-Death Clairvoyance : Though the near death experience just ended up as death.
- Nice Guy : Sam is a good guy, but is not to be trifled with while avenging his death.
- Not-So-Phony Psychic : Oda Mae comes from a family of mediums, though she didn't believe in spirits and scammed her customers with fake seances. That is until she meets Sam and realizes she really can hear dead people . Word spreads and she is soon swamped by ghosts trying to contact their living relatives , even though Sam didn't actually tell any of them about it. Oda Mae: Orlando, Orlando, is there an Orlando here?
- Oh, Crap! : Sam's reaction when Molly tells the Big Bad she saw Oda Mae at the bank using the "Rita Miller" alias, then in the climax when he realizes the swinging hook is about to have deadly consequences for the Big Bad .
- One-Word Title : Titled such, because a ghost is a central character.
- Oscar Bait : Pulled it off; it earned a Best Picture nomination and took the home the Oscars for Best Supporting Actress and Best Original Screenplay, even though actual critical reception was mixed.
- Our Ghosts Are Different : The poltergeist effect of throwing things around is described as coming from the emotions, but the ghosts still kick and hit and shove things to make them move as if they were alive. Also, possession can wear a ghost out temporarily.
- Out-of-Character Alert : Sam nearly blows it trying to prove it's him by relaying "I love you" until he changes it to "ditto" .
- Pet the Dog : After some coercing by Sam, the Subway Ghost eventually relents to teach him how to move solid objects and even praised him ("Way to go kid.") after Sam manages to kick a can with his ghost powers.
- The Pig-Pen : Willy's messy living arrangements in his apartment seem to imply that he is this.
- Pink Means Feminine : "Rita Miller's" fancy getup.
- Plague of Good Fortune : Once Sam leaks word of her communing with real ghosts, Oda Mae has more business than she knows what to do with.
- Plucky Comic Relief : In this romantic/fantasy/horror movie, Oda Mae provides funny moments in most of her scenes.
- Police Are Useless : When Molly comes to them with her story about Oda Mae warning her about Willy Lopez, the police are skeptical and instead tell her about Oda Mae's con artist past, breaking poor Molly's trust in her warning . Justified, not just because Willie Lopez may not have a record, but the police have dealt with Oda Mae's cons so many times that it stands out more.
- Polite Villains, Rude Heroes : The dynamic between Sam and Carl after the former discovered he was killed by him to fulfill a debt for the mob over the four million dollars.
- Poltergeist : Most dead spirits can't touch things by default, but with enough practice, a sufficiently determined (or angry) spectre can beat the crap out of you with ordinary household objects.
- Posthumous Character : Sam is enough of one that it's genuinely shocking to see the lights of heaven opening to welcome him at the end of the film.
- The Power of Love : It's what keeps Sam there to look after Molly and what allows Molly her chance to hear him and say goodbye when he goes into the light .
- Pragmatic Villainy : While arguing with Carl , Willy says that killing Sam was a "favor". He may have a point as if Willy left Sam after robbing him, Sam could have reported the robbery to the cops, which could in turn make the money-laundering scheme fall apart. Even though Sam's spirit stayed on Earth which soon ends up with said scheme falling apart anyway, Willy honestly could not have known that, so really from his viewpoint, killing Sam was the best option in order to make sure there are no loose ends.
- Psychopomp : There are shadowy spirits that will drag you off to hell after you die if you've been an evil person in this life.
- Real Dreams are Weirder : Although it happens after he's died, Sam's bizarre dream about waking up in bed with the angel statue instead of with Molly seems like an example of a nonsensical everyday dream. It isn't till later that Sam realizes it's Foreshadowing that Molly, his angel, is in grave danger (with a glimpse of the statue getting broken).
- Really Gets Around : Implied when Willy says that a lot of women know where he lives.
- Reluctant Gift : After conning the villains' money out of the bank, Sam convinces Oda Mae that she can't keep it and urges her to give the check to a nearby Salvation Army booth. Which she does... although still clutching the check for a while and crying as the puzzled nun is pulling on it. Finally, Oda Mae relents, allowing the nun to read the amount... and faint.
- Repurposed Pop Song : "Unchained Melody", by The Righteous Brothers , originally about a prisoner hoping his girl will wait for him (hence "unchained"), becomes the love theme for this film. It also put the song back on the charts invoked .
- Resurrected Romance : The protagonist never managed to tell his girlfriend he loved her while he was alive, so making sure she knows he did becomes one of his Ghostly Goals .
- His concern when he notices Sam investigating the phony accounts and the way he insists that he take over.
- Willie knowing precisely where to attack Sam and Molly—because earlier we see Carl ask Sam what he and Molly are doing that night.
- Carl encouraging Molly to join him for a walk—to give Willie the chance to break in and steal the information.
- His incredulous reaction when Molly tells him all the things Oda Mae told her initially seems to be because he thinks she's a scam artist. We soon realize that he's terrified that Willie's been blabbing to people.
- Romancing the Widow : Inverted — Carl took a shortcut by bumping off her hubby first.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here : Willie attempts to do this when he's being overwhelmed by Sam haunting him. Unlike most examples, he gets killed .
- Seen It All : The Hospital Ghost. As he sits with Sam, they see some doctors trying to save a dying patient. The Hospital Ghost: He ain't gonna make it. I've seen it a million times. He's a goner. [cue light from Heaven] There, you see? Here they come. Lucky bastard. Coulda been the other ones. You never know.
- Sensei for Scoundrels : The Subway Ghost is a madman who fell in front of a train, possibly intentionally. He begrudgingly agrees to teach Sam how to manipulate solid objects. Once the lesson is concluded, the ghost succumbs to his delusions and vanishes into the tunnels again.
- Sex by Proxy : Sam uses Oda Mae's body for a Makeout by Proxy with Molly.
- Sinister Subway : The subway where a ghost (played by Vincent Schiavelli ) knocks items around and whatnot. His tragic backstory also adds a layer to this.
- So Proud of You : Before ascending into Heaven, Sam tells Oda Mae that her mother and grandmother would be proud of her.
- Several ghosts throw out little tidbits of pertinent information for Sam, but notably the Subway Ghost, who teaches him how to move objects. Slightly different in that the character being advised is himself a ghost...
- The Hospital Ghost, while waiting for his soon-to-be-deceased wife, talks to Sam for a bit about how he'll be wandering the Earth for a while and warns him about "the other ones". Sam: Who are—? [Sam turns around to find him gone]
- Teach Him Anger : The Subway Ghost laughs his ass off when Sam fails to move a soda can. This causes Sam to get furious enough to kick it like David Beckham, which earns him a friendly congratulations.
- Sam gleefully gloats to Carl from the beyond when he thinks everything is in the clear, but this sends him into a panic to Molly, who reveals she saw Oda Mae at the bank using the laundered alias and immediately putting her in danger.
- Sam jumps into Oda Mae's body to share a last dance with his fiancée, which had already been shown to weaken ghosts . Naturally, that's when a psychotic Carl chooses to attack .
- Took a Level in Badass : Sam himself, thanks to instruction from the Subway Ghost.
- Torment by Annoyance : Sam badgers Oda Mae into helping him by singing "I'm Henry the Eighth, I Am" loudly over and over again for hours until she finally can't take it anymore.
- A Tragedy of Impulsiveness : While an enraged Sam was eager to take revenge on both Willie and Carl, he is genuinely horrified when it indirectly leads to them panicking and running to their deaths in both instances, and especially towards the aftermath their souls await.
- Tragic Villain : While Carl is a crook, his turn to violence is motivated by desperation, not any fundamental desire to hurt anyone. As he explains to Willy, he owes money to drug dealers who will kill him if he doesn't pay up very soon. He didn't intend for Sam to be killed, he simply wanted Sam's wallet so that he could gain access to an account. At the end when he becomes a ghost, just before the demons take him away, he and Sam share a brief moment where they simply look at each other sadly, obviously both thinking "Why did it have to come to this?"
- Troll : After draining the laundered money, Sam taunts the villain and start messing with objects in the office just to mess with him. Sam: Yoo-hoo! [pushes chair across the room]
- Trust Password : Sam is trying to convince his girlfriend that a medium can speak for him. He tries to tell her that he loves her, but this backfires, since he was reluctant to say those words in life. He quickly corrects himself and tells the medium to say "ditto", which is how he would usually respond to his girlfriend telling him that she loves him.
- Two Roads Before You : Sam sees a light emanating from the sky after he dies. But he turns away from it to be with Molly, and it seals shut. Subverted at the end, when the light returns. Apparently, good people are allowed to stay behind if they feel they aren't ready to move on, though can do so when they are. Bad people aren't given any choice in the matter.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment : In the beginning of the movie, Carl and Sam pull what's clearly an often-practiced joke where they discuss what communicable diseases they've picked up, whilst in a crowded elevator.
- Unfinished Business : The movie revolves around Sam comes back as a ghost after his murder to save the life of his girlfriend.
- Vengeance Feels Empty : At some point, Sam was delighted at the idea that Carl would most likely be killed for failing to delivered the laundered money. But later, when he witnesses Carl's accidental death, Sam expresses somber pity at seeing his friend die.
- Starting when Carl realizes he can't access the stolen money and lasting somewhere around the entire third act. Culminating at the end, where he winds up getting a Karmic Death as a result of trying to win a physical fight against a ghost.
- Willy is driven into one when Sam haunts him to protect Oda Mae, to the point that he runs blindly into the street, scared out of his mind and becomes Road Kill .
- Later that day when Sam follows Willy to his apartment, he finds him lying on the bed admiring a photo of Molly while taking a swig from a bottle of alcohol. Needless to say, Sam doesn't take this well. Not that he could do anything about it though.
- Visual Innuendo : Featuring the world's only PG-13 rated clay-pottery-throwing scene . (Until of course, the Affectionate Parody as seen in Wrongfully Accused , and the one in Naked Gun 2½ .)
- Wham Line : When Sam follows Carl to Willie's house and finds they are in cahoots: Willie: Carl, what the hell are you doing here?
- Wham Shot : When Willie shows up at the apartment. It's the first sign that Sam's death might not have been as accidental as it initially seemed.
- Whodunnit to Me? : The Trope Codifier . At the start, Sam is resigned to being a dry crime statistic until Willie turns up again in the apartment. The goal was not to kill Sam but to hack into his work computer, a task left unfinished. Sam starts to catch on while tailing Carl to Willie's place, ironically out of concern for his friend's safety.
- Wig, Dress, Accent : Oda Mae adopts a broad southern stereotype with the bank.
- Willie slaps Molly, enraging Sam and resulting in the fight that gets him killed.
- Carl has no problem grabbing and slamming Oda Mae into a concrete floor trying to get her to tell him where the money is. Then he shoves Molly when she tries to get him off of Oda Mae, and finally outright holds her hostage in an attempt to get Ghost-Sam off him.
- Yuppie : Sam and Molly. Sam is a Wall Street financier and Molly is a potter, and they live together in Soho, and Sam is murdered because of his friend/co-worker Carl's greedy money laundering scheme.
Death of willie lopez.
Willie gets killed by getting caught between traffic while fleeing from Sam Wheat's ghost. After coming to, Willie walks toward his dead body and was horrified. Then the demons show up and take a screaming Willie to Hell.
Example of: Dragged Off to Hell
- Roger Corman
- Creator/Illusion Arts
- G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra
- When Harry Met Sally...
- UsefulNotes/Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay
- Alice (1990)
- UsefulNotes/Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy Film
- The Flintstones
- Creator/Available Light Productions
- Ghostbusters (1984)
- Dances with Wolves
- UsefulNotes/Academy Award for Best Original Score
- Edward Scissorhands
- UsefulNotes/Hugo Award
- Total Recall (1990)
- Paranormal Romance
- Jack & Diane
- UsefulNotes/Academy Award for Best Picture
- The Godfather Part III
- Get Your Man
- The Ghost and the Darkness
- UsefulNotes/Parents Strongly Cautioned Rating
- Ghost in the Shell (2017)
- Getting Straight
- Girlfriends (1978)
- Gangland Odyssey
- Films of 1990�1994
- The Ghost (1982)
- Ghost Fiction
- Ghost (2012)
- Freddy's Dead: The Final Nightmare
- Creator/DreamWorks Animation
- Heart and Souls
- AmericanFilms/D to G
- The Ghost and Mr. Chicken
- Get Out (2017)
- UsefulNotes/Saturn Award
- Action Adventure
- Crime & Punishment
- Professional Wrestling
- Speculative Fiction
- Sports Story
- Animation (Western)
- Music And Sound Effects
- Print Media
- Sequential Art
- Tabletop Games
- Applied Phlebotinum
- Characters As Device
- Narrative Devices
- British Telly
- The Contributors
- Creator Speak
- Derivative Works
- Laws And Formulas
- Show Business
- Split Personality
- Truth And Lies
- Truth In Television
- Fate And Prophecy
- Edit Reasons
- Isolated Pages
- Images List
- Recent Videos
- Crowner Activity
- Un-typed Pages
- Recent Page Type Changes
- Trope Entry
- Character Sheet
- Playing With
- Creating New Redirects
- Cross Wicking
- Tips for Editing
- Text Formatting Rules
- Handling Spoilers
- Trope Repair Shop
- Image Pickin'
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