13 Sad Facts About His Backstory


  • Casper the Friendly Ghost had a tragic backstory, dying at a young age and being left to haunt his old family home.
  • Casper was initially planned as the main character of a children’s book in the 1930s, but the rights to the character were sold to Paramount’s animation division for $175.
  • Casper didn’t understand he was dead and tried to take his own life at one point; this concept was also referenced in the 1995 live-action movie.



Casper the Friendly Ghost is the friendliest ghost, but he also had a tragic life, dying at a young age and being left to haunt his old family home. He was also much more than the Casper of the 1995 movie starring Bill Pullman and Christina Ricci. Casper started out as a character in the 1930s before reaching the comic book world in the late ’40s. After the success of the comics, Casper began popping up in cartoons and later the live-action movie fans adore today.

Unlike other mystical ghosts, Casper isn’t scary or malicious. As his name describes, he’s a friendly ghost who craves human interaction. ’90s kids most likely aren’t familiar with the comics or the cartoon from the ’30s and ’40s, but they are very familiar with the movie, Casper. The movie and the comics reveal little details about his former life, but there are some lesser-known things fans weren’t aware of, like exactly how Casper died.

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Casper Was Sold For $175

The Sale Was Made By Casper’s Original Artist

Casper sleeping in Casper the Friendly Ghost Cropped

Though Casper’s first appearance in animation was in 1945, that wasn’t the original plan for the character. He was initially planned as the main character of a children’s book in the 1930s. Author Seymour Reit created the character and planned on writing the story. Artist Joe Oriolo provided the illustrations for Reit.

World War II, however, interrupted their plans. Reit served in the armed forces, putting their plans on hold. While Reit was serving, and before the book could be published, Joe Oriolo sold the rights to the character of Casper to Paramount’s animation division at the time for $175. That would be close to $4,000 in modern money, but it’s likely nowhere near what the character would end up being worth. The two continued to work on animation shorts for Paramount for the character, but they no longer owned the character and couldn’t do whatever they wanted with their stories.

RELATED: Behind-The-Scenes Facts About Casper The Friendly Ghost’s Movie

Casper Had A Dead Best Friend

Their Story Was A Tragedy

A split image of Casper and his fox friend Ferdie. They're playing together and later crying over Ferdie's death

In 1948, a short titled There’s Good Boos Tonight was released to tell the tale of Casper and his best friend Ferdie. While all the other ghosts from the graveyard spent their nights scaring people, Casper hung back to play with Ferdie. Ferdie was his only friend because he was the only one that wasn’t afraid of him. But late one night, hunters came around and shot Ferdie, despite Casper’s best efforts in trying to save him.

It was as sad a moment as Disney’s Bambi. The only good thing that came from Ferdie’s death was that he turned into a ghost himself and was able to continue being friends with Casper.

Casper Didn’t Understand He Was Dead

The 1995 Movie Homaged This Idea

The 1948 animations didn’t only feature Casper’s best friend being killed by hunters, but also Casper not actually understanding he was dead. Casper wasn’t like the other ghosts – not wanting to scare people – but he was also bullied by other ghosts. Casper hated the life he thought he was living so much that he actually tried to take his own life at one point. That’s pretty heavy for a children’s animation.

The idea of Casper not understanding that he was dead is homaged in the 1995 live-action movie as well. Casper doesn’t remember the events of his life before he died and ends up staying in Whipstaff. It’s only after Kat introduces him to objects from his own life that he gradually begins to remember.

Casper Never Knew His Mother

Casper Grew Up With His Father

Kat talking to Casper in the 1995 movie

Casper is the perfect movie to watch on Halloween night because of its elements of horror and comedy. In the movie, fans learn early on that Casper never really knew his mother. As it turns out, TV Over Mind notes that Casper’s mom died during childbirth, leaving her husband to care for Casper alone.

Later on, fans see Casper helping Kat go through the attic for something to wear to her Halloween party, and she begins trying on his mother’s clothes. It’s clear that rummaging through his old pre-ghost things stirred up a few emotions for the adorable ghost, and he began to remember more about his past.

Casper Died At A Young Age, Leaving His Dad Alone

Casper Died Of Pneumonia

Casper hovering over Kat in the 1995 movie

Fans don’t hear much about Casper’s life with his father, but being a single dad after losing his wife couldn’t have been easy. Casper remembers what happened to his dad when looking around old boxes. After begging his dad for a sled, he spent all day and night outside in the snow — even though his father asked him to come in. Come nightfall, Casper got sick and his dad got “sad.”

From the little information he gave, it sounds like Casper died from pneumonia. Knowing how heartbroken his dad was after losing his wife and now his son, Casper decided to stay with him as a ghost instead of crossing over so that his dad wasn’t lonely.

Casper Had No Last Name

For 50 years, No One Knew Casper’s Last Name

Christina Ricci is surprised in front of a ghost in Casper

Throughout the comic and cartoon world, Casper has always been known as Casper or Casper the Friendly Ghost. He never had a reason to have a last name.

RELATED: 10 Movies to Get You in the Halloween Spirit

Once the 1995 movie came out, fans learned that Casper’s last name was actually McFadden, thanks to his father’s name being J.T. McFadden. Putting the last name to Casper’s face makes it more real for fans. It’s a sad realization that Casper isn’t just a ghost; he’s the ghost of a young boy who died too soon. It’s because of this dark backstory that Casper is one of the best movies to get into the Halloween spirit.

The Ghostly Trio Aren’t His Real Uncles…

The Ghostly Trio Are Stretch, Fatso, And Stinky

An image of Casper's uncles trying to scare Kat and her dad

Casper introduces Kat and James to his three uncles, the Ghostly Trio. They were loud, obnoxious, and enjoyed scaring others — unlike Casper.

However, it’s theorized that the Ghostly Trio were not his real uncles. In fact, Fandom suggests being called “Uncle” is similar to being called a friend and might not mean it in the family sense. If that’s the case, it’s sad that such a lovable ghost like Casper was hanging around such grumpy ghosts with no way out. With Casper being so subservient, he couldn’t get away from his uncles even if he tried.

…And They Use Casper As Their Slave

Casper Is Shown Cooking And Cleaning For Them

If rumors are true about the Ghostly Trio not being Casper’s family then it’s upsetting how horribly they treat him. But regardless of whether the foursome is related or not, the uncles’ treatment of him is a sad sight. It makes them some of the most terrifying ghosts in horror movie history.

RELATED: 10 Most Terrifying Ghosts in Horror Movie History

The uncles use Casper as their servant, and Casper gets nervous when they come around. The trio expects him to make their food, and they make a massive mess knowing he’s the one that needs to pick it up. Family or not, Casper is bullied.

Casper’s Dad Had Mental Health Issues

Casper’s Father Was Declared Legally Insane

Kat holding a newspaper with Casper's dad on the cover in Casper the Friendly Ghost

Casper’s mom died from childbirth, Casper died from pneumonia, but what about Casper’s dad? Fans knew that he was lonely after the death of his wife and son, but whatever became of him?

From the movie, fans learn that Casper’s dad began creating machines to bring the dead back to human form. But what many people miss is the newspaper article explaining that Casper’s dad was declared “legally insane.” Knowing how desperate he was to see his wife and son again, he would have done anything to see them again.

Kat’s Dad Isn’t Okay Either

Kat’s Father Was Grieving The Loss Of His Wife

Kat and her dad in the car while cat looks moody out the window in Casper

Casper’s dad had mental health issues after the death of his only son and wife. However, it appears that Kat’s dad was going through something as well. He essentially dragged his daughter all around the continental US to bring back the dead as a subtle way to get in contact with his late wife. Their lives together were like a wild episode of Ghost Hunters.

Although Kat is very much alive, her childhood was on hold as her dad chased ghosts that he’d never seen. It would be one thing if he’d seen and spoken to ghosts before, but to hop around America in hopes of bringing back the dead was a hard life for Kat.

Casper’s Longing To Be With Kat

Casper Saw Kat On TV

Casper has lived an incredibly sad life. He died young, which means he never had a chance to be a kid or a teenager. He initially saw Kat in a news broadcast about her father’s work and manipulated the new owner of the house into calling them. When he met Kat, he was excited to be around a young girl with whom he got along. After all, anyone was nicer than his uncles.

When Casper had the ability to go to Kat’s school dance and asked, “Can I keep you?” to Kat, he was asking her as a friend. It was one of the sweetest moments in a Halloween film since Disney’s Halloweentown. Casper was lonely and Kat was a person he could trust and rely on. He may have had a crush on Kat, but his desire for friendship was deeper than a crush; it was companionship.

The Dark Side Of Their Family Life

The Harveys Had No Money

Casper and Kat sit on the roof in Casper 1995

Kat’s dad may have been a doctor but he wasn’t always logical. He drove around America talking to ghosts while his daughter sat beside him with her clothes in a trash bag. It was not one of those fun road trip movies; it was two souls driving aimlessly. To make things sadder, it doesn’t appear that these two were doing well financially.

After it was decided that the Halloween dance would be held at Kat’s mansion (that’s not even hers or her father’s), she asked her dad for some money to buy a costume. He sadly declined and says until he was paid by Carrigan, money was too tight. But what’s rarely mentioned is how wealthy Casper and his dad must have been. If that mansion was in fact where Casper grew up, he came from extreme wealth. Sadly, his dad stayed in his lair creating inventions until his death.

Casper Vs. Columbia Pictures

A split image of Casper the comic book alongside Ghostbuster logo

Casper started out as a character that found his way to the comic world. But before the 1995 movie came out, another ghostly tale took over the box offices: Ghostbusters. According to AP News, Harvey Comics (the owner of Casper’s likeness) didn’t appreciate how similar the Ghostbuster logo looked to Casper.

Harvey Comics ended up losing the suit because there are only so many ways one can design a ghost, but it’s an interesting tidbit about Casper’s design, competition, and his inspiration for other forms of media. The Casper backstory is full of tragedy, controversy, and surprise.

  • Casper

    Release Date:

    Brad Silberling

    Devon Sawa, Cathy Moriarty, Malachi Pearson, Christina Ricci, Eric Idle, Bill Pullman


    100 minutes

    Main Genre:

    Fantasy, Family, Comedy

    Sherri Stoner, Deanna Oliver

    An afterlife therapist and his daughter meet a friendly young ghost when they move into a crumbling mansion in order to rid the premises of wicked spirits.

    Dean Cundey

    Colin Wilson

    Production Company:
    Universal Pictures, Amblin Entertainment, The Harvey Entertainment Company

    Sfx Supervisor:
    Michael Lantieri

    $50 million

    Distributor :
    Universal Pictures

    Assistant Director :
    Steve E. Andrews


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