Peter Venkman

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Peter Venkman
Peter GB1.jpg
First appearance Ghostbusters (1984)
Last appearance Lego Dimensions (2015)[1]
Created by Dan Aykroyd, Harold Ramis
Portrayed by Bill Murray
Voiced by Bill Murray
(Ghostbusters: The Video Game)
Lorenzo Music
(The Real Ghostbusters; 1986–87)
Dave Coulier
(The Real Ghostbusters; 1988–91)
(Extreme Ghostbusters; guest star)
Created for John Belushi[2]
Occupation Scientist
Title Ph.D.
Family Charlie Venkman (father)
Nationality American

Peter Venkman, Ph.D. is a fictional character from the Ghostbusters franchise. He appears in the films Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II and in the animated television series The Real Ghostbusters. In both live action films, he was portrayed by Bill Murray, and was voiced in the animated series first by Lorenzo Music and then by Dave Coulier. He is a parapsychologist and the leader of the Ghostbusters.

In 2008, Peter Venkman was selected by the magazine Empire as one of The 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time,[3] described by Empire's Nick de Semlyen as "the ultimate New York hero: cynical, sarcastic, secretly sweet-natured",[3] "a man possessed by manic spontaneity, with a wont to twirl in circles around a public concourse or declare undying love for a woman he's just met", and the "most popular" character played by Murray.[4]


Born in Brooklyn, New York, Peter is one of three doctors of parapsychology on the Ghostbusters team. He holds PhDs in both parapsychology and psychology. Originally his professional interests were focused on paranormal phenomena like ESP; he appeared not to believe in ghosts until he actually saw one. In the movies, he is characterized by his flippant persona, his approach to his profession as a scientific charlatan, and his womanizing demeanor.[5] Fred Pfeil sees in him a postmodern hero, whose level of "crass self-interest" safeguards him from being ensnared by a stereotypical role.[6]

Despite Venkman's lackadaisical attitude, from time to time he has created inventions that help the Ghostbusters save the day, and he is shrewd and more street-smart than either Ray Stantz or Egon Spengler. Venkman serves as the front man for the group and possesses more social ability than the more academically inclined Ray and Egon. For instance, he is the one who is able to persuade the city mayor to release them after being arrested, return their equipment and otherwise support their attempt to stop Gozer.

The Real Ghostbusters[edit]

In The Real Ghostbusters series, Peter's womanizing is toned down somewhat (though he is still quick to approach attractive women), but he retains his quick wit and cynical demeanor, and his arrogance is played up more. While not the official leader of the group, Venkman is the closest thing they have to one, and often makes the decision whether the Ghostbusters will take a case or not. He often reinforces the prospect of Ghostbusters being a business and, with rare exceptions, opposes ghostbusting without the promise of equity. He is originally opposed to the idea of Slimer living in the firehouse, but quickly develops a love–hate relationship with the ghost; mostly hate whenever he is "slimed" on an episodic basis. The episodes "Venkman's Ghost Repellers", "Cold Cash and Hot Water", and "Treasure of the Sierra Tamale" feature Peter's father, a con artist/businessman who could not make an honest dollar and was often away on business during Peter's childhood, as mentioned in "X-mas Marks The Spot". He is depicted as a selfish, even obnoxious father; his relationship with Peter is estranged. Peter has claimed to be a Scorpio, as mentioned in "Mean Green Teen Machine". In "Last Train to Oblivion", one of Peter's favorite hobbies is trains, and he used to dream about driving a big locomotive when he was a child (Peter even studied engineering in college for two years before discovering it had nothing to do with trains). Peter Venkman was voiced by Lorenzo Music during the first season. At the start of the second season, Music was replaced by Dave Coulier when Murray complained to the studio that the character sounded too much like Garfield the cat (who was also voiced by Music). Coincidentally, Murray voiced Garfield in the 2004 live-action film and its 2006 sequel.


Bruce G. Hallenbeck, author of Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914–2008, compares Peter Venkman to Groucho Marx, who hosted the 1950s quiz show You Bet Your Life. Hallenback said, "With a quip for every situation, a put-down for everyone who deserves it and an ability to rise above it all, Venkman is a lot like Groucho." The comparison is also reinforced by the scene in the original movie where, waiting for Dana Barrett to finish the day's rehearsals with the orchestra Peter jogs up and down a bustling New York square hopping on a single foot, alternately, just as Groucho Marx used to do.[7]


  1. ^ Miller, Greg. "IGN: Ghostbusters: The Video Game Review". IGN. Retrieved August 14, 2010. 
  2. ^ Reitman, Ivan (2005). Ghostbusters DVD commentary (DVD). Columbia TriStar. 
  3. ^ a b "Empire's The 100 Greatest Movie Characters". Empire. Retrieved May 21, 2010. 
  4. ^ Nick de Semlyen (August 1, 2009). "Ghostbusters – Too cool for Zuul". Empire. p. 142. Retrieved October 1, 2011. 
  5. ^ Elizabeth Hirschman (2000). Heroes, Monsters, and Messiahs. Andrews McMeel. p. 187. ISBN 0-7407-0485-0. 
  6. ^ Fred Pfeil (1990). Another Tale to Tell: Politics and Narrative in Postmodern Culture. Verso. p. 111. ISBN 0-86091-992-7. 
  7. ^ Hallenback, Bruce G. Comedy-Horror Films: A Chronological History, 1914–2008. McFarland. p. 130. ISBN 978-0-7864-3332-2.