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Egon Spengler
Ghostbusters character
First appearanceGhostbusters (1984)
Last appearanceGhostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
Created byDan Aykroyd
Harold Ramis
Portrayed byHarold Ramis [a]
Voiced byHarold Ramis
(Ghostbusters: The Video Game)
Maurice LaMarche
(The Real Ghostbusters, Extreme Ghostbusters)
In-universe information
SpeciesHuman
GenderMale
TitlePhD
OccupationScientist
Ghostbuster
FamilyUnnamed wife (deceased)
Callie Spengler (daughter)
Trevor Spengler (grandson)
Phoebe Spengler (granddaughter)
NationalityAmerican

Egon Spengler, PhD is a fictional character from the Ghostbusters franchise. He appears in the films Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife, in the animated television series The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters, in the video games Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Ghostbusters Beeline. Spengler was portrayed by Harold Ramis in the films and voiced by him in Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Lego Dimensions, and voiced by Maurice LaMarche in the cartoon series. He is a member of the Ghostbusters and one of the three doctors of parapsychology, along with Dr. Peter Venkman and Dr. Ray Stantz.

Creation and conception

The character of Egon Spengler was named after Oswald Spengler and a classmate of Ramis at Senn High School, Egon Donsbach, a Hungarian refugee.[1]

Christopher Walken, John Lithgow, Christopher Lloyd, and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Egon Spengler, before Ramis, who had gotten close to the character while writing him, felt compelled to play it himself.[2]

LaMarche stated that when he auditioned for the part of Spengler in The Real Ghostbusters, he was asked not to do an impression of Ramis, which he ignored because impressions were one of his strengths as a performer, and there was no other way he could imagine properly portraying the character other than to follow Ramis's example. He got the part anyway and said in an interview that he did two different takes: in which he impersonated Ramis, the other in which he tried a more "Woody Allen"-like approach that did not suit the character's physicality, he admitted.[3]

Character

Egon Spengler is a tall, lanky, laconic, bespectacled, awkward member of the team responsible for the main theoretical framework for their paranormal/quantum studies. Being addicted to science, he is the creator of the Ghostbusters' equipment along with Raymond Stantz, thus making him the brains of the Ghostbusters. Although book smart, Spengler does not have much social ability, as demonstrated by his stiff interactions with the Ghostbusters' secretary Janine Melnitz, and his reliance on Peter Venkman as spokesperson for the group.

Spengler is the most serious and rigid member of the team. Of his hobbies, Spengler states that he collects "spores, molds, and fungus", and claims that, as a child, the only toy he ever had was "part of a Slinky", which he straightened out. As implied in the first movie, Spengler apparently is a junk food junkie, due to his affection for sweets and candy and snack crackers. In the second film, revealed that he and Ray like pizzas and Asian cuisine. According to the 2009 video game, Spengler sleeps an average of 14 minutes per day, leaving him "a lot of time to work." Despite being a stereotypical timid professor, Egon is prone to violent reactions when pushed too far temperamentally, as demonstrated by his attempt to assault Walter Peck.

Appearances

Film

Ghostbusters (1984)

Main article: Ghostbusters

Egon was very interested in paranormal phenomena, even while working with Ray Stantz and Peter Venkman at Columbia University. He and Ray Stantz studied paranormal literature in their spare time, and Egon personally follows John H. Tobin's works including Tobin's Spirit Guide, and were interested in theories of reincarnation.

Egon was usually the first to interview case subjects, adding to their mantra, "we're ready to believe you." Examples were Dana Barrett from her Zuul encounter and her carriage phenomenon with Oscar. Even people Peter called "schizo" always went to either Egon or Ray to describe their paranormal experiences, no matter how far-fetched their stories were. For his part, Venkman once took back everything negative he said about him, rewarding the fellow scientist with his favorite candy bar (a Crunch bar). Egon's only weakness is evidently junk food (or at least snacks), as he is seen, on occasion, snacking candies and crackers (like Cheez-It).

Egon developed the technology behind the P.K.E. Meter, the Proton Pack, the Trap, and the storage facility. He was also aware of the risk of crossing the streams. He spent a lot of time focusing on the stability of the storage facility, and was concerned about the possibilities of a P.K.E. surge of dangerous proportions. Egon was particularly critical of Walter Peck's actions, and his attitude that the Ghostbusters were responsible for the explosion of the containment unit that occurred when Peck ordered a municipal worker to shut the unit down. After their encounter with Stay Puft, Egon suggested an atypical solution when he recommended blasting Gozer's dimensional portal while crossing the proton streams to reverse the particle flow and send Gozer back to his/its dimension.

Egon once tried to drill a hole in his own head (a process known as trepanning), which he says "would have worked" if Venkman had not stopped him.[4]

Ghostbusters II (1989)

Main article: Ghostbusters II

Due to the large amount of collateral damage the city of New York suffered from the battle with Gozer, the Ghostbusters were sued by nearly every county and city agency in New York. Additionally a judicial restraining order was enacted which barred the Ghostbusters from performing services as paranormal investigators and eliminators, effectively putting them out of business. Five years after the events of the first film Egon was working at the Institute for Advanced Theoretical Research and was conducting experiments on human emotions. A negative test involved keeping a couple with marriage problems locked in a room for hours and gradually raising the temperature. A positive test involved a girl in a room with dozens of stuffed animals and a puppy.

He was the first person Dana Barrett contacted when her baby carriage took off by itself. Egon recommended bringing in Ray, and they both performed a physical exam on Dana's son Oscar. Egon, along with Peter and Ray were later arrested after digging a large hole under First Avenue as part of their paranormal investigations to help Dana.

During the course of their trial they were found guilty of willful destruction of public property, fraud, violating their judicial restraining order, and malicious mischief by judge Stephen Wexler (whom Egon said was known as "The Hammer"). While angrily insulting the trio judge Stephen Wexler inadvertently released the ghosts of the Scoleri Brothers; two murderers he sentenced to death by the electric chair. During the chaos judge Wexler dismisses the charges against the Ghostbusters, and rescinds the judicial restraining order allowing Egon, Ray, and Peter to capture the ghosts, effectively putting the Ghostbusters back in business. Egon had a dry sense of humor, of which he used on Peter to bewilder him, and smirked at his friend's cluelessness on what the word "epididymis" was.

Egon primarily worked with Ray, both of whom were still living at the Firehouse, conducting research on the pink slime. Still very scientifically minded, Egon seems to have loosened up a little bit, letting his sense of humor show and even giving Dana a smile and Peter (who was carried away with photographing Vigo's portrait), a knowing smile. It is implied by Venkman that two years prior to the film's events, the team had used their proton packs.

Ghostbusters (2016)

Main article: Ghostbusters (2016 film)

Although the 2016 Ghostbusters film is a reboot, the film's marketing confirms that a version of Egon Spengler does exist in the film's fictional universe. According to a tie-in video to the film, Kate McKinnon's character Dr. Jillian Holtzmann and Harold Ramis' character Dr. Egon Spengler created the film's proton packs.[5][6] The paragraph accompanying the video read:

Engineers at Sony Corporation developed the 2016 Proton Pack™ in collaboration with nuclear engineer and munitions expert Dr. Jillian Holtzmann. Sony President and CEO Kazuo Hirai commented “The perfection of the Proton Pack™, long a dream of the world’s greatest engineers since first pioneered by Dr. Egon Spengler of Columbia University, is an example of Sony’s relentless pursuit of innovation. It absolutely delivers the wow factor that is so important to our company mission.

Additionally, in the film itself, a bronze bust of Harold Ramis as the film's version of Spengler is seen just as Erin Gilbert leaves her office. During the credits of Ghostbusters, the words "For Harold Ramis" are seen.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

Main article: Ghostbusters: Afterlife

In Ghostbusters: Afterlife, which serves as a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, which marks a heroic end of the life journey of Egon Spengler. In the film, it is retroactively established by Jason Reitman and Gil Kenan (with acknowledgements from the franchise's co-creator Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis' family as canon), that Egon fathered his daughter Callie in 1982 before the events of the first film, whom that even Peter and Ray apparently are unaware of except Janine. However, he became estranged from his family. Callie then became resentful towards her father, and blames his life as a scientist is the cause of him abandoning her. Despite the Ghostbusters successfully closing the "Manhattan Crossrip of '84", Egon had come to believe that Gozer would attempt to return again (revealed later because he discovered prophecies of it), but his insistence that the Ghostbusters prepare strained their relationship (a nod to the real-life estrangement between Ramis and Bill Murray after their collaboration in the film Groundhog Day). Ten years after the Manhattan Crossrip (thus five years after the "Vigo Incident of '89" and three years after the second incident of 1991 as seen in Ghostbusters: The Video Game if it still canonical), Egon stole equipment and the Ecto-1, and moved to Summerville, Oklahoma, where Ivo Shandor had mined the selenium used to build the Shandor Apartments building back in New York City, and had built another gateway for Gozer. Egon spent years preparing to stop Gozer's eventual return, building energy cannons with the parts of the proton packs to barricade the portal with crossed streams and setting a ghost trap-field for Gozer on his property, and in the process, earning the nickname "Dirt Farmer" by Summerville's residents because of his eccentricity and not growing anything on his land. At some point, he added a taser to his PKE meter for defense against spectral entities sent by Gozer. He is revealed to be a collector of strange artifacts like a death whistle from the Aztec culture and Gozerian Sentinel figurines, and still eating junk food. He remained in contact with Janine and had called Ray once, trying to warn him about Gozer.

Egon captured one of Gozer's minions, needed by it to successfully manifest on Earth, and used the creature in an attempt to lure Gozer into the trap-field. When the ambuscade failed because the traps' capacitors malfunctioned, Gozer sends the other minion to attack Egon, but he suffers a fatal cardiac arrest and dies during the struggle before Gozer can learn its trapped minion's whereabouts.

Egon's death results in Callie and her two children, Trevor and Phoebe, moving from Chicago to Summerville to take possession of his house and belongings. Though unseen by his family as a not yet developed entity (Class 1 manifestation), Egon's presence guides Phoebe into continuing with his plan to defeat Gozer; she eventually uses it to stage an ambush after forming her own team. In the process, Egon establishes a familial bond with Phoebe which he failed to do with Callie when he was alive. In turn, Phoebe is affectionate to her ghostly grandfather, regarding Egon special as a scientist, and feeling hurt when her mother expresses contempt for Egon. He also guides Callie to realize that he had always kept an eye on her life. When Ray, Peter and Winston arrive to aid the Spenglers in stopping Gozer, Egon materializes as a fully formed Class 4 manifestation beside Phoebe to help them one last time. He embraces his family and acknowledges his colleagues before fading away to the afterlife.

Outside of archived audio clips, Egon has no speaking lines throughout the film and his face was obscured in present day shots until his return as a ghost. The likeness of Harold Ramis was recreated digitally for key shots in conjunction with body doubles (Bob Gunton and Ivan Reitman). In the beginning of the credits at the end of the film, the words "For Harold" are seen.

Television

The Real Ghostbusters

Main article: The Real Ghostbusters

Spengler's hair was changed from brown in the films (Ramis's natural hair color) to a blond pompadour in the animated series (Spengler wore his hair in a ponytail on Extreme Ghostbusters). This was explained as they didn’t want everyone to have dark hair, and wanted the characters to each have a distinguishing feature so the audience would be able to easily recognise each one.

Despite his leanings toward science, Spengler has a family history of witchcraft (three ancestors, Zedekiah, Eli and Ezekiel, were wizards), of which he is not so much ashamed as "strongly" considers irrelevant, mainly because he sees science as relevant. Spengler's faith in science was also tested in one episode where the Ghostbusters get abducted to the ghost world by the ghost of Al Capone. Spengler's scientific equipment fails until he is told by former capos of Capone (who aid the Ghostbusters in revenge for Capone double-crossing them) that only magic can harm ghosts in the ghost world as opposed to science harming ghosts in the human world, thus forcing Spengler to accept the wizardry methods of his ancestors to defeat Capone.

He is the love interest of Janine Melnitz, the Ghostbusters' secretary, in the first film and both animated series (Ghostbusters II excluded their romance due to Ramis' dislike of the subplot, thus having Melnitz date Louis Tully instead). Spengler sometimes appears to be unaware of Melnitz's romantic interest in him, but at times he displays having similar feelings for her, such as when he gave her a geranium as a gift when she expressed an interest in plants (which backfired horribly when it was revealed that the geranium was possessed by a ghost and nearly destroyed her apartment, along with much of Brooklyn; though Spengler managed to thwart the ghost, Melnitz angrily told Spengler he would have to pay for the damages to her home) and when he rushed to her rescue in "Janine, You've Changed"; he also embraces her in "Ghost Busted" after she was kidnapped and held for ransom by a gangster, and became jealous when she was briefly involved with a slimy businessman named Paul Smart.

In the episode "Cry Uncle", Spengler's well-meaning but skeptical uncle Cyrus, visits him and, since he does not believe that Spengler's work with the Ghostbusters is real scientific work and therefore a waste of Spengler's genius, tries to make him come back to Ohio (where Spengler grew up) to work at his uncle's lab, but fortunately, after his uncle accidentally releases the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the containment unit, he realizes that ghosts are real and accepts Spengler's work.

Throughout the series, Spengler would have his soul switched with that of a demon, have his molecular structure destabilized to the point that it stranded him in the Netherworld (requiring him to be rescued by the others), regress into a baby, turn into a were-chicken, and have his intellect switched with Slimer's. He has however, ceased his sugar junkie ways, only to briefly be tempted by a candy store when in Slimer's body (a likely fact that Slimer was an overt glutton).

It is revealed in "The Boogieman Cometh" that, as a child, Spengler was stalked by the boogieman, a supernatural monster that fed on the fear of children and hid in their closets, and was particularly fond of Spengler's fear; it was these encounters with the creature that inspired Spengler to study the paranormal, and as an adult, he would battle the Boogieman twice and defeat him.

It is implied in one episode of the animated series that Spengler accidentally burned down his family's garage.

Extreme Ghostbusters

Main article: Extreme Ghostbusters

Spengler is the only original Ghostbuster to return for the Extreme Ghostbusters series as a regular, acting as a mentor to the new Ghostbusters (the others appeared for a two-part episode, "Back in the Saddle"), monitoring and sustaining the Containment Unit and taking care of Slimer while working as a paranormal studies professor at a university. He is the de facto leader of the new, younger team of Ghostbusters; although the old team had gone into retirement after they apparently dealt with all the ghosts in the city, after the digging of a new subway tunnel resulted in the release of an ancient ghost, Spengler was forced to recruit his only four current students to act as the new Ghostbusters.

Although willing to do his share of the legwork, Spengler overestimates his abilities and his aging becomes apparent when he is no longer able to work at the same level as in his younger days, generally working at the firehouse doing research while the team handle the actual 'Ghostbusting', though when the situation calls for it he will help. Melnitz is still carrying a torch for him, which leaves him a little flustered. He celebrates his 40th birthday during this series, which would put him in his late twenties when The Real Ghostbusters began. Age is the largest factor causing Spengler to having transition from active ghost hunting to a mentorship role; in one episode where the original Ghostbusters guest starred on an episode the audience clearly sees middle adulthood has affected the speed and weakened the stamina of the original Ghostbusters.

The Earth Day Special

Main article: The Earth Day Special

Although Egon Spengler does not appear in the 1990 The Earth Day Special, his character and status as a Ghostbuster is mentioned, and Harold Ramis portrays his twin brother, named Elon Spengler, who is the President of the Wastebusters.[7]

Video games

Ghostbusters: The Video Game

Main article: Ghostbusters: The Video Game

A likeness of Ramis, circa 1991 (the year in which the game takes place) appears in the Ghostbusters: The Video Game that was released on June 16, 2009. Ramis also reprised his role for the game by voicing him.[8] In the game, Egon becomes significantly more 'hands-on' during the course of the video game. He and Ray instruct the Rookie in the use of the Proton Pack and its eventual PCS upgrades. Over the course of the game, it becomes evident that he was somewhat traumatized by their exhausting trek up the stairs of 55 Central Park West. While in the alternate dimension of the library, Egon is heard to groan, "Oh no," and when Ray asks if he saw something scary, Egon replies, "Stairs, lots of stairs". Before the "Return to Sedgewick Hotel" mission, Stantz comments that Spengler was once a coroner, to which he replied that he maintains interest in the subject as a hobby. Like other Ghostbusters, Egon remains carrying a grudge against Walter Peck and struggles to control his anger when Peck is around. According to a message left on the Ghostbusters' answering machine, Peck made calls that canceled Egon's orders for parts that he needed with pleasure.

Beeline's Ghostbusters

Spengler appears in Beeline's Ghostbusters game for iOS alongside his niece, Michelle Ying. The game was released on January 24, 2013.[9]

Lego Dimensions

Main article: Lego Dimensions

Spengler appears in Lego Dimensions, with archival audio of Harold Ramis being used to represent his character.

Comics

Notes

  1. ^ Ramis' likeness was used in Ghostbusters: Afterlife, with Bob Gunton and Ivan Reitman as body doubles

References

  1. ^ Ghostbusters DVD Commentary
  2. ^ "30 things you (probably) didn't know about Ghostbusters | ShortList Magazine". Shortlist.com. 1984-06-08. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  3. ^ "The Real Ghostbusters" DVD vol. 1, Special Features: Ain't Afraid Of No Ghost: Creating The Real Ghostbusters (October 2008)
  4. ^ Harold Ramis wrote the line about Egon trying to drill a hole in his head. It was inspired by a thwarted experiment by John Lilly, a prominent researcher in dolphin communication who proposed drilling a hole in his head to test some higher brain function. See also: Making Ghostbusters - Page 27.
  5. ^ "Sony Global". Proton Pack. 2016-04-02. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  6. ^ "Sony develops the world's first ghost catching device - The Proton Pack™". YouTube. 2016-03-31. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  7. ^ "Wastebusters!". YouTube. 2008-04-21. Archived from the original on 2021-12-13. Retrieved 2016-07-17.
  8. ^ Miller, Greg (January 25, 2013). "IGN: Ghostbusters: The Video Game Review". IGN. Retrieved August 14, 2010.
  9. ^ Nicholson, Brad (January 25, 2013). "Beeline Releases A Free-To-Play Ghostbusters Gam". toucharcade. Retrieved August 23, 2019.