Follow TV Tropes


Creator / William Atherton

Go To
Yes, it's true. This man has no dick.

"If you have to be The Antagonist, you often have a lot more creative powers. You have a lot more color to you."

William Atherton (born William Atherton Knight; July 30, 1947 in Orange, Connecticut) is an American film, stage and television actor. He's perhaps best known for his role as jerkass EPA inspector Walter "Dickless" Peck in Ghostbusters (1984), and since then has mostly (but not exclusively) played jerks.

Partial filmography:

    open/close all folders 

    Film roles 

    Television roles 

Tropes associated with William Atherton:

  • Deadpan Snarker: In keeping with their smugness and jerkish behavior, his characters get a lot of barbed remarks.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Has been called "dickless" more times than he can count because of an insult directed at his character in Ghostbusters (1984) by Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd).
  • Evil Redhead: By the nature of his career path, he plays mostly bad guys. Though few are really evil. They're mostly Obstructive Bureaucrat types.
  • I Am Not Spock: While he doesn't necessarily mind the association with roles like Walter Peck and Dick Thornburg, he's made a point of letting fans know that he isn't anything like the smarmy, sarcastic jerks he plays.
  • Jerkass: Not in real life, but many of his characters post Ghostbusters (1984). At the time he resented it, but in the Entertainment Weekly interview for Ghostbusters 30th anniversary he says it gave him a great niche that he wound up making a good living off of.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Several roles, most notably his most famous: Walter Peck in Ghostbusters (1984).
  • Playing Against Type: He played a rare sympathetic role as the adult David in The Girl Next Door.
  • Playing with Character Type: In Justice League, he voiced Doctor Destiny, who was a smug jerk like many of his other characters. However, Doctor Destiny’s smugness came from being a flat-out sociopath with delusions of grandeur, and he psychologically tortured people out of petty vengeance, even murdering his ex-wife for leaving him, taking his characters’s usual cruelty to downright unsettling levels.
  • Smug Snake: Many characters. Few characters actors can sell smarmy overconfidence and arrogance as well.
  • Typecasting: After Ghostbusters (1984) as Walter Peck he was mostly cast as the arrogant, smug jerkass character.