|First appearance||Ghostbusters (1984)|
|Last appearance||Ghostbusters: The Video Game (2009)|
|Created by||Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis|
|Portrayed by||Ernie Hudson (Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, Ghostbusters: The Video Game)
Arsenio Hall (The Real Ghostbusters, 1986–1988)
Buster Jones (The Real Ghostbusters, 1988–1991), Extreme Ghostbusters (guest star)
|Family||Edward "Big Ed" Zeddemore (father)|
Winston Zeddemore is a fictional character appearing in the Ghostbusters films, TV series, and video games. He was played by Ernie Hudson in both movies and was voiced by Arsenio Hall in the first two seasons of The Real Ghostbusters. Buster Jones provided Winston's voice in the remaining seasons, and he reprised the role in a cameo on Extreme Ghostbusters. Hudson returned to provide his appearance and voice to Zeddemore in 2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game, and is expected to reprise the role in the future Ghostbusters III film.
Conception and creation
In the original script for Ghostbusters, Winston Zeddemore was intended to be the smartest and most capable of the Ghostbusters, a former Marine with multiple degrees and a Ph.D., making him more suited for the job than the founding three Ghostbusters. However, in the final screenplay none of these qualifications were mentioned. The changes are discussed in detail in the commentary on the DVD of Ghostbusters, the explanation being Winston allowed the technobabble to be put into layman's terms.
However, the novelization of Ghostbusters mentions Zeddemore's service with the Marines prior to joining the Ghostbusters. Further, in Ghostbusters: The Video Game, while the Ghostbusters are on a mission in the New York History Museum, Zeddemore reminisces about the time he spent studying for his doctorate in the museum's Egyptology wing. (In context, it's unclear if Zeddemore studied for the doctorate prior to joining the Ghostbusters, or sometime between the events of the movies and the game's setting in 1991.)
Zeddemore is a religious man to some extent, saying in a discussion in Ghostbusters that he believes in God and "loves Jesus' style". While driving the Ecto-1 with Ray, he voices his thoughts that the sudden spike in ghosts appearances might be a sign of the apocalypse, pointing out that while they have come to treat capturing ghosts as routine pest control, in a very real sense the dead are literally "rising from the grave".
Winston Zeddemore's first on-screen appearance was in the movie Ghostbusters, when he applied for a position with the team not long after they were established. Questioned extensively during his application by Janine Melnitz as to whether he believed in a large number of supernatural occurrences and beings (such as UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster and the theory of Atlantis among others), Zeddemore replied, "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."
Though Zeddemore had no previous background in paranormal studies and was not initially a firm believer in the existence of the paranormal, he readily accepts the existence of ghosts and the supernatural as he encounters them as a Ghostbuster. However, despite this, he continues to act as an 'everyman' and voice of reason for the team, and when the jailed Ghostbusters seriously propose asking a U.S. federal judge to release them because they must fight an invading god, Zeddemore is the one who reminds the others that they will not be believed.
After working with him the previous year on Trading Places, Dan Aykroyd originally wanted Eddie Murphy to play the role of Winston Zeddemore. Aware of his comic abilities, his characterization of Winston would have been in a semi-improvisational style, similar to Bill Murray's performance as Peter Venkman. Murphy was too busy shooting Beverly Hills Cop to commit.
The Real Ghostbusters
Many details of Zeddemore's personality and character are revealed in episodes of The Real Ghostbusters. The episode "Cry Uncle" clarifies that, in the show's continuity, Winston has no doctorate; he also informs Egon's skeptical Uncle Cyrus that, prior to becoming a Ghostbuster, he too doubted the existence of ghosts. In "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream," Winston states that, unlike his three colleagues, he is not a scientist, causing him to doubt his ability to resolve a crisis when the Sandman traps the others within their own dreams, but with encouragement from a dream-version of Albert Einstein, he meets the challenge and wins the day. "The Ghostbusters in Paris" reveals that Winston was once a construction worker prior to joining the Ghostbusters. This idea seems to be further reinforced in the episode "The Brooklyn Triangle", when the Ghostbusters respond to a construction site headed by his father; this would indicate that it might have been a family business, until Winston decided to join the Ghostbusters.
In the episode "Devil To Pay", Zeddemore mentions having a girlfriend, though she is never seen on screen during the series. In "Night Game", he is shown to love baseball, and his favorite team is the Jaguars. In several other episodes it is shown that Zeddemore loves mystery novels and detective stories, and in "Boodunnit" he is the one who solves the mystery novel left behind by a deceased mystery writer similar to Agatha Christie, allowing her soul to rest. In "Doctor, Doctor" it is revealed that Zeddemore also likes classical literature, including the works of Herman Melville and Charles Dickens. He is also a fan of The Alan Parsons Project. "The Brooklyn Triangle" introduces Winston's father, Ed, who works in construction. Their relationship is shown to have been strained because of Winston choosing to be a Ghostbuster, but they reconcile by the end of the episode.
Finally, in the episode "The Moaning Stones", Zeddemore is revealed to be the reincarnation of Shima Buku, a shaman at war with an immortal demon known only as the Undying One.
Zeddemore and the Ecto-1
Winston is the primary driver of Ecto-1 for more than a few moments in the two films. As a result, he is almost always shown driving the car in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, and is often seen performing routine maintenance such as oil changes on the vehicle. In an episode of the cartoon where the Ghostbusters are sent back in time to the 1950s, Winston sees Ecto-1 in its original role as a hearse; telling the other Ghostbusters he would know the vehicle anywhere, he says to the car, "Hang in there Ecto--better days are ahead for you", illustrating how fond Zeddemore is of the car.
Winston only appears in the two-part series finale. After the closing down of the Ghostbusters, Winston got his pilot's license, being the first and only Ghostbuster to be a certified pilot.
The name "Zeddemore" is misspelled as "Zeddmore" in the closing credits of Ghostbusters. As a result it was also sometimes misspelled in scripts and other sources related to The Real Ghostbusters. The name is spelled correctly on the nametag on Winston's jumpsuit, in the shooting script of Ghostbusters (as published in the book Making Ghostbusters), and in the closing credits of Ghostbusters II. The name is also pronounced correctly (with three syllables) by both Annie Potts and Ernie Hudson in Ghostbusters.
Role in video games
Winston, the only non-white Ghostbuster, has been noted as being the character most often not featured in video games based upon Ghostbusters media, even when Peter, Ray and Egon are selectable. So far, Winston has only been featured as a playable character in Ghostbusters II for NES, New Ghostbusters 2 for NES and Game Boy and in the multiplayer mode of the 2009 game.
As previously mentioned, Ernie Hudson reprised his role as Winston Zeddemore for 2009's Ghostbusters: The Video Game, with both Hudson's appearance and voice being used for Zeddemore in the game. Furthermore, since the events of the first film sequel, Zeddemore has earned a Doctorate and is now addressed as "Doctor" along with his colleagues (this is a possible callback by series co-creator Dan Aykroyd to the film Spies Like Us). During battles on multiplayer, Zeddemore can be heard quipping "That's Dr. Zeddemore to you, punk!" when defeating enemies suggesting that he successfully completed his PhD.
- Miller, Greg. "IGN: Ghostbusters: The Video Game Review". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-15.
- Plume, Kenneth (September 6, 2000). "Interview with J. Michael Straczynski (Part 2 of 4)". IGN. Retrieved 2007-02-06.
- Shay, Don (1985). Making Ghostbusters, New York: New York Zoetrope. ISBN 0-918432-68-5