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Egon Spengler is a fictional character appearing in the films Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, and in the animated television series The Real Ghostbusters and later Extreme Ghostbusters. He is a member of the Ghostbusters, and one of the three doctors of parapsychology on the team. Spengler is portrayed by Harold Ramis in the films, and voiced by Maurice LaMarche in the cartoon series.

Creation and conceptionEdit

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

Maurice LaMarche stated that when he auditioned for the part of Egon Spengler in The Real Ghostbusters, he was asked not to do an impression of Harold Ramis, a request 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, and got the part anyway. LaMarche said in an interview that he did two different takes, one where he impersonated Ramis, the other where he tried a more "Woody Allen" like approach, which he admitted didn't suit the character's physicality.

CharacterEdit

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.

Spengler's role was the equivalent of Velma Dinkley in the Scooby Doo cartoons; if the other members of the team didn't understand something about their current situation, they'd ask him to explain, although they often wouldn't understand the answer he gave because he usually speaks in technobabble. Although he was brilliant, Spengler didn't have much social ability (as demonstrated in his interactions with the Ghostbusters' secretary Janine Melnitz), and generally needed Peter to do the talking for the group.

Spengler is the most serious and straight-forward member of the team. Of his hobbies, he 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 (such as Twinkies and Nestle Crunch bars). He also once attempted self-trepanation, but was stopped by Peter Venkman. As Venkman told Spengler "This reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole in your head," to which Spengler replied, "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me."

Appearances in other mediaEdit

The Real GhostbustersEdit

Spengler's hair was changed from brown in the films (Harold Ramis' natural hair color) to a blond pompadour in the animated series (Spengler wore his hair in a ponytail on Extreme Ghostbusters). This was reportedly done due to legal issues concerning character/actor likenesses.

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 Egon 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), experience a curse-induced age regression that nearly destroyed him, turn into a were-chicken, and have his intellect switched with Slimer's.

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 GhostbustersEdit

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. He is the de facto leader of the new, younger team of 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 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.

Video gamesEdit

A likeness of Harold 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.

ReferencesEdit

  1. Ghostbusters DVD Commentary

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