back the wrong horse

Peter Venkman

Peter Venkman, Ph.D. is a fictional scientist and member of the Ghostbusters, appearing in the films Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters II and in the animated television series The Real Ghostbusters. In both the 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.

Coincidentally, Lorenzo Music and Bill Murray also shared another role. Music provided the voice of the popular cartoon cat Garfield in his animated specials and television series in the 1980s and 1990s. Murray later took over the role in two live-action feature films following Music's death.


Born in Brooklyn, New York, Peter is one of three doctors of parapsychology on the team, though he also holds a PhD in psychology. In the movies, he is characterized by his flippant persona, his lackadaisical approach to his profession, and his womanizing demeanor; of the three doctors in the Ghostbusters, he is the least committed to the academic and scientific side of their profession, and tends to regard his field, in the words of his employer in the first film, as "a dodge or hustle". However, he created from time to time inventions that help save the ghostbusters but end up destroyed at the end, he possesses more savvy and street-smarts than either Ray Stantz or Egon Spengler.

Venkman tended to serve as the front man for the group, and despite being less scientifically oriented, he made up for this with a greater degree of social ability than the more academically inclined Ray and Egon. He thus served as a link between the group and more normal reality.

Ghostbusters I and II

With the possible exception of Winston Zeddemore, he is the most skeptical member of the team when dealing with paranormal activity. He is the comic relief Ghostbuster and also acts as the salesman of the group. The latter duty proves critical during the Gozer Crisis when Venkman manages to persuade the Mayor of New York City with masterful rhetoric to allow the Ghostbusters to attempt to stop Gozer. In Ghostbusters II, following the break-up of the team, he hosts a psychic-themed talk show on local television. His love interest in both films is Dana Barrett.

The Real Ghostbusters

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 dry wit and sarcastic demeanor, and his vanity 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 is originally opposed to the idea of Slimer living in the firehouse, but quickly develops a love-hate relationship with the ghost. 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 couldn't 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 negligent, even manipulative father; his relationship with Peter often tumultuous. 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 finding out it had nothing to do with trains).

Extreme Ghostbusters

Only appearing in the two part series finale. After the closing down of the Ghostbusters, Peter moved out to California, with the intention of getting another Ghostbusters movie made, although he said he was holding out for Brad Pitt to play him.


Ghostbusters (film)

  • Peter: "Are you, Alice, menstruating right now?"

Library administrator: "What has that got to do with it?"
Peter: "Back off, man. I'm a scientist."

  • "Get her? That was your whole plan, "get her"?"
  • "Call it fate, call it luck, call it Karma, I believe everything happens for a reason."
  • Peter: "Janine, any calls?"

Janine: "No."
Peter: "Any message?"
Janine: "No."
Peter: "Any customers?"
Janine: "No, Dr. Venkman."
Peter: "It's a good job, isn't it?" (She smiles) "Type somethin', will ya? We're payin' for this stuff!"

  • "That's right boys, it's Dr. Venkman!"
  • :Dana Barrett: "That's the bedroom. Nothing ever happened in there."

Peter: "What a crime."

  • "Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back."
  • Ray: "Ugly little spud, isn't he?"

Peter: "I think he can hear you, Ray."

  • "He slimed me..."
  • "Maybe now you'll never slime a guy with a positron collider, huh?
  • "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!"
  • "What about the Twinkie?"
  • "I make it a rule never to get involved with possessed people... Well, actually, it's more of a guideline than a rule."
  • "Yes, it's true your honor. This man has no dick."
  • "Dogs and cats living together... mass hysteria!"
  • "If I'm wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail -- peacefully, quietly. We'll enjoy it. But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing... Lenny... you will have saved the lives... of millions... of registered voters."
  • Ray: "Where do these stairs go?"

Peter: "They go up."

  • "What floor are we on?" Ray: "I dunno. Somewhere in the teens, I think." Peter: "Well let me know when we get to twenty, I'm gonna throw up."
  • "OK... so... she's a dog."
  • "Heat 'em up!"
  • "Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown."
  • (Seeing the god, Gozer, coming toward the building as a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) "Now there's something you don't see every day."
  • "Nobody steps on a church in my town!"
  • "Mother pus bucket!
  • (Just prior to crossing the streams) "See you on the other side, Ray."

Ghostbusters II (film)

  • Jack Hardemeyer: (Halting Peter from speaking to the mayor) "I'm Jack Hardemeyer, The Mayors assistant. May I help you?"

Peter: "Yeah. Get your hand off me."

  • (to the mayor's aide) "Hey, I'm a voter! Aren't you supposed to lie to me and kiss my butt?"
  • "Sometimes shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who you gonna call?"
  • (To fat Scoleri Brother) "C'mon fatboy, I'm taking you home to my private zoo!"
  • "We're the best, we're the beautiful, we're the only... Ghostbusters!"
  • (to dancing toaster) "Oh! Oh baby, you're my new number one Christmas boutique gift item!"
  • (After discovering Egon has been "sleeping with" the mood slime) "You ... You hound."
  • Egon: "I'd like to do some gynecological tests on the mother", Peter: "Who wouldn't?"
  • "Suck in the guts, guys, we're the Ghostbusters."
  • "I have a hamper?"
  • "Wait, let me have one guess... All you can eat barbecue rib night at the Sizzler?!"
  • "I have all-new cheap moves."
  • "Boys, boys you're scaring the straights!"
  • (To psychiatrist) "Don't look at me. I think these people are completely nuts."
  • "If anyone here tonight is a national monument, would they raise their right hand please? Oh, hello, miss."
  • "It makes you wonder, doesn't it? Whether she's naked under the toga. ... She is French, you know."
  • (concerning the Statue of Liberty) "It's all right. She's tough. She's a harbor chick!"
  • (As the Statue of Liberty is about to smash the dome of the museum) "I love you when you roughhouse!"
  • "Happy New Year...!"
  • "Viggy, Viggy, Viggy, you have been a bad monkey!"
  • "Oh, Johnny, did you ever back the wrong horse!"
  • "Not so fast Vigo! hey Vigo! Yeah yo the bimbo with the baby. Did anybody tell you the big shoulder look is out? You know i have met some dumb blondes in my life but you take the taco pal. only a Carpathian would come back to life now and choose New York. Tasty pick BONEHEAD!If you had brain one in that huge melon on top of your shoulders you'd be living the sweet life out in southern california beautiful san fernando valley."

The Real Ghostbusters (cartoon)

  • Peter: "...And then in third grade I got in a fight with this guy named Rick. Big guy, big muscles, brains of a trout..."

Reporter: "Doctor Venkman, when I said I wanted to do a pre-interview about the history of the Ghostbusters, this isn't quite what I had in mind. I mean there's so much the public doesn't know about you; what you do in your spare time, where you come from..."
Peter: "Not much to say. Ray's home is in the Bronx --" (Followed by rumbling from an explosion) "Make that WAS in the Bronx!" ("Citizen Ghost")

  • "That's a terrible thing to say, Egon. You're right, of course, but it's still a terrible thing to say." ("Knock, Knock")
  • "It's just that -- just that we're -- we're getting too far away from New York City! I can feel my powers draining!" ("Drool, the Dog-Faced Goblin")
  • "SLIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIMMMMMMMMMMMMMERRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!!! What have you done to my bed!?" ("The Spirit of Aunt Lois")
  • "Ray, you're about as Scottish as a Big Mac." ("Bustman's Holiday")
  • "Janine... remind me to pay you sometime so I can cut your salary." ("The Boogieman Cometh")
  • "We're professionals, not vigilantes! People pay us to do this, we can't just go chasing after every ghost in the universe just because they're there!" ("Beneath These Streets")
  • "Me neither! Mama Venkman raised no fool!" ("Beneath These Streets")
  • "It means that if Darth Vader is willing to lend us the Death Star, then we may have a chance." ("The Revenge of Murray the Mantis")
  • "Alright! But if I don't come back alive, I'm going to be really upset." ("Knock, Knock")

In popular culture

  • The Apprentice, of Melbourne radio station 979fm and presenter of Young Blood, Hot Blood, usually gets Peter Venkman's name mixed up with fellow presenter Peter Vale whilst on the air.


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