Egon Spengler, PhD is a fictional character from the Ghostbusters franchise. He appears in the films Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, in the animated television series The Real Ghostbusters and Extreme Ghostbusters, in the video games Ghostbusters: The Video Game and Beeline's Ghostbusters. 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.
Egon Spengler is a tall, 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 sugar junkie, due to his affection for sweets and candy. 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 would prone to violent confrontations if being pushed too far emotionally, indicated by his attempt to assault Walter Peck and cursed him by saying "you mother!", implying that he would use profane language when being upset.
- 1 Film
- 2 Television
- 3 Video games
- 4 Comics
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 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 sugar (or at least snacks), as he is seen, on occasion, snacking.
Egon developed the technology behind the PKE 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 PKE 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 Marshmallow Man, 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.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
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 Osctar. 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 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.
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. 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 Engineers at Sony Corporation developed the 2016 Proton Pack in collaboration with nuclear engineer and munitions expert Dr. Jillian Holtzmann.
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)
In the 2021 film, which serves as a direct sequel to the original Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, at some point after the events of Ghostbusters II, Egon had fathered his daughter Callie, and relocated to a farmhouse at Summerville, Oklahoma (where the Gozarian cult leader Ivo Shandor's mining operation were located). Egon later died and left his farmhouse to his daughter and her children Phoebe and Trevor, where they discover their link to the Ghostbusters' legacy.
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 recognize 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.
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"), and monitoring and sustaining the Containment Unit 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
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.
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. 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. 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.
Spengler appears in Beeline's Ghostbusters game for iOS alongside his niece, Michelle Ying. The game was released on January 24, 2013.
Spengler appears in Lego Dimensions, with archival audio of Harold Ramis being used to represent his character.
Egon appears in the Ghostbusters manga, entitled Ghost Busted, where he tells an actress he studied four years at Columbia University, studied two years at Oxford University, and had an extended residence with the Gnostic Monks of Carpathia.