The In-Lore Reason Egon Doesn’t Speak in Ghostbusters: Afterlife

If you’ve seen Ghostbusters: Afterlife, then you’ve witnessed the highly emotional ending featuring the late Harold Ramis’s character, Egon Spengler, appearing as a ghost to help his family and friends save the world. The film’s finale caused tears to flow for audience members everywhere, but it did raise a question that many have been pondering; why didn’t Egon speak? He appears in ghost form, is able to move objects around, and makes facial expressions at his loved ones, but never utters a word. Why is that?

Director Jason Reitman gave an answer as to why he kept the iconic character silent. In an interview with Adam Savage, he stated that “you can’t sum up Harold Ramis or Egon Spengler in a few lines of dialogue” and that there is no line of dialogue that can “understand the truth of who Harold or Egon was.” There not being a line of dialogue that appropriately fits is a solid real life reason as to why the character doesn’t speak, but what about a canon, in-world reason as to why he doesn’t? There are several theories and possibilities as to why ghost Egon remains silent based in the Ghostbusters lore.

One is that ghosts in the world of Ghostbusters are simply not able to speak. Throughout the films, we see plenty of ghosts screech, moan, yell, and make babbling noises, but we never actually hear or see them speak. Gozer speaks in the original movie and in Afterlife, but she’s a demonic deity, not a ghost. Zuul gets a line, but they’re a demon. In the second film, the primary antagonist is Vigo the Carpathian, who does receive some dialogue, but he’s an ancient sorcerer and not a ghost.

The only bit of evidence that disproves the theory that ghosts don’t speak in this world is when the mayor says “I spent an hour in my room last night talking to Fiorello LaGuardia, and he’s been dead for forty years.” There are some details worth noting here, though. The viewer never actually sees this conversation take place. He also states that he was speaking, not Fiorello. I talk to my dogs all the time, but they don’t speak back. It’s certainly possible the mayor spent an hour talking to the ghost without ever getting a response. If that’s the case, then it seems possible that Egon wouldn’t have been able to speak as a ghost.

Another possibility could be that being a ghost and doing things from beyond the grave has a learning curve. Throughout Ghostbusters: Afterlife, he moves things around to communicate with Phoebe, but is invisible when he does so. Then, toward the end of the movie, he makes himself seen. Because of this, it does appear that he’s gradually learning how to do things as a ghost, so perhaps he just hasn’t figured out how to speak quite yet.

Being a ghost in the realm of the living could also take a certain amount of energy. Whatever spectral energy he used to make himself visible to others, interact with objects, and remain in the living world for as long as he did probably prevented him from also speaking. Maybe, if he spoke, he would have used up the last of that energy and would have been forced back to the afterlife. If you’re wondering how Slimer, Muncher, and other ghosts manage to terrorize hotels and libraries without much effort. It could be as simple as those ghosts having unfinished business that forces them to stay in the land of the living. The Ghostbusters ghosts have always had a bonkers amount of variety, so it could also just be the type of ghost Egon is compared to others.

Regardless of the reason, which will only truly be confirmed if we see it addressed in a movie or by Jason Reitman, Dan Aykroyd, or the folks at Sony Pictures, the ending of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is incredibly powerful and emotional, so it was definitely the right choice.

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