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|First appearance||Ghostbusters (1984)|
|Last appearance||Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009)|
|Created by||Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis|
|Portrayed by||Harold Ramis (Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters: The Video Game)
Maurice LaMarche (Real Ghostbusters, Extreme Ghostbusters)
|Family||Mrs. Spengler (mother)|
Egon Spengler, Ph.D. is a fictional character appearing in the films Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II, in the animated television series The Real Ghostbusters, and later in 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 conception
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, 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 did not suit the character's physicality.
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."
Appearances in other media
The Real Ghostbusters
Spengler's hair was changed from brown in the films (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 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), experience a curse-induced age regression that nearly destroyed him, 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.
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. In the game, 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.