Casper, a ghost who wants to be friendly but scares people away, debuted in a 1946 Noveltoon released by Famous Studios for Paramount Pictures, adapted from a children's story co-created by Joe Oriolo. Casper appeared in 55 animated shorts and became Paramount's most popular character after Popeye. In 1958, Paramount sold the character to Harvey Comics, where he frequently crossed over to Richie Rich stories.
In the Harvey Comics line, Casper lives in the Enchanted Forest with The Ghostly Trio, and met many other supporting characters, such as Wendy the Good Little Witch, Spooky the Tuff Little Ghost, and Hot Stuff the Little Devil.
Casper's television debut was on the ABC Animated Anthology series Matty's Funday Funnies, sponsored by Mattel Toys. The Casper shorts were syndicated during the 1962/63 season, after which they returned to ABC, accompanied by new supporting segments, in The New Casper Cartoon Show. In 1979, Hanna-Barbera produced Casper and the Angels for NBC Saturday mornings, with the voices of Julie McWhirter as Casper and John Stephenson as Hairy Scary. Since 1995, Casper has been the star of a Fox Animated Series (The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper), an All-CGI Cartoon (Casper's Scare School: The Series), and a series of live-action/CGI films (starting with a feature); one of the direct-to-video movies, Casper Meets Wendy, launched the career of Hilary Duff and another, Casper: A Spirited Beginning that introduces the Big Bad Kibosh. 2009 saw Casper and his two friends Wendy and Hot Stuff return in a Darker and Edgier reboot named Casper And The Spectrals. In 2020, Casper had a guest role in an episode of the fourth and final season of Harvey Street Kids.
- The Friendly Ghost: The first appearance of Casper, as part of the Noveltoons series. Notable for it being co-written by Otto Messmer. Public Domain.
- There's Good Boos Tonight: Second appearance of Casper, as part of the Noveltoons series. Public Domain.
- A Haunting We Will Go: Third appearance of Casper, as part of the Noveltoons series. Public Domain
- Casper's Spree Under the Sea: The first short of the solo Casper series.
- Once upon a Rhyme
- Boo Hoo Baby
- To Boo or Not to Boo
- Boo Scout
- Casper Comes to Clown
- Casper Takes a Bow-Wow
- The Deep Boo Sea
- Ghost of the Town
- Spunky Skunky
- Cage Fright
- True Boo
- Frightday the 13th
- Spook No Evil
- North Pal
- By the Old Mill Scream
- Little Boo Peep
- Do or Diet
- Boos and Saddles
- Zero the Hero
- Casper Genie
- Puss 'n Boos
- Boos and Arrows
- Boo Ribbon Winner
- Boo Moon
- Hide and Shriek
- Keep Your Grin Up
- Spooking with a Brogue
- Bull Fright
- Red White and Boo
- Boo Kind to Animals
- Ground Hog Play
- Dutch Treat
- Penguin for your thoughts
- Line of Screammage
- Fright from Wrong
- Spooking about Africa
- Hooky Spooky
- Ghost of Honor
- Ice Scream
- Boo Bop
- Heir Restorer
- Spook and Span
- Ghost Writers
- Which is Witch
- Good Scream Fun
- Doing What's Fright
- Down to Mirth
- Not Ghoulty
- Casper's Birthday Party: Last Casper theatrical cartoon.
"The friendly tropes":
- Alternate Universe: There are multiple universes in which Casper resides, thanks to Continuity Reboot and things of the like.
- Animated Anthology
- Art Evolution: Casper's original design was a much chubbier duckpin like shape and had more resemblance to a bedsheet ghost, whereas his later Harveytoons redesign streamlined him into the simpler, big-headed ghost design that we recognize today.
- Bedsheet Ghost:
- While not exactly bedsheeted, the ghosts are invariably transparent, pale and not at all detailed.
- In at least one of the cartoons, many of the ghosts masquerade as sheets in a haunted house, going so far as to cover furniture and serve as pillowcases.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Casper may be "The Friendliest Ghost You Know", but he can be the opposite if pushed enough. In one short, the Ghostly Trio force feed him some "Mean Pills" which should make him the opposite. Turning into a literal devil-child, Casper tortures his uncles with destructive pranks, sending them fleeing. After they leave, Casper reveals to the audience that he avoided taking the pills and was just doing that to teach them a lesson.
- Birthday Episode: "Casper's Birthday Party" has Casper going out to find people to invite to his birthday party. After failing at every chance due to people being afraid, Casper returns to find that the other ghosts have prepared a surprise party for him. Instead of "Happy Birthday", they sing Casper's theme song.
- Brought Down to Normal: In "Not Ghoulty", Casper is tried in a ghost court for unghostly conduct (i.e. saving a baby from a burning building) and the judge removes his ghostly abilities until he scares someone again. This does not work out in Casper's favor, as his newfound friends, unaware of his powers being lost, get mad at him when he keeps screwing up good deeds he was a natural at before (i.e. a shopkeeper asks Casper to phase through a locked door to open it, but Casper can't, so he accidentally smashes through the shop window to unlock it). Fortunately, Casper turns the tables on the other ghosts—he poses as a Ghost Exterminator and scares the crap out of them, restoring his powers.
- Captain Ersatz: Casper has inspired more than a few knockoff comics featuring friendly ghosts as the lead character, including Charlton Comics' Timmy the Timid Ghost, Atlas Comic's Homer the Happy Ghost, and Fawcett's downright plagiaristic Spunky the Smiling Spook, who has the exact same design as Casper.
- Canon Immigrant: Wendy the Good Little Witch appeared in only one theatrical cartoon, but she became an established character in the comics that were being published at the same time. Likewise, the Ghostly Trio only appeared in a few of the theatricals, and they tended to vary in appearance and even in number (sometimes there were four or more of them), but they quickly evolved within the comics to their familiar likenesses. When an attempt by Famous to launch a series of made-for-tv Casper shorts came about in the 60's, they brought them over from the comics as main characters.
- Characterization Marches On: In early Casper comics, he actually scared people. But he eventually got bored and wants to make friends. Though in every other incarnations, Casper is apparently friendly from the start.
- Chekhov's Skill: Casper's informally scary appearance may have been a burden to him throughout the bulk of his debut, even scaring the mother of the kids he befriends—but this same flaw ends up scaring off a man from the mortgage company who dropped by to evict the family. The mother finally warms up to Casper because of this, and invites him to be part of their family.
- Christmas Special: Casper's First Christmas, a Cartoon Crossover which had Casper and Hairy Scary interacting with Yogi Bear and friends.
- Clam Trap: Discussed. In the episode "Ghost Writers", at the end the writing staff for Casper (it's a rather meta episode) spitball ideas for episodes, including "maybe a giant clam tries to swallow Casper!".
- Spunky the Donkey, who originally appeared in several of the Fleischer Studios Color Classics and a Famous Noveltoon, appears (curiously, without his mother, Hunky) in at least two of Casper's shorts, over a decade after his previous roles.
- "Casper's First Christmas" has the ghost crossover with Hanna-Barbera characters like Yogi Bear.
- Cute Witch: Wendy, who later got her own comic series, Wendy The Good Little Witch.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Oh sure, he looks harmless, but there must be something to make him so instantly terrifying. Needless to say, he's very kind and benevolent.
- Distaff Counterpart: Wendy is essentially Casper as a witch; she even lives with three wicked aunts. Borders on Men Are the Expendable Gender, though to be fair, she mostly appears in the 1960s cartoon, where ghosts are simply a type of The Fair Folk.
- Driven to Suicide: In his very first short, "The Friendly Ghost", Casper is driven to despair at his inability to make friends, and willingly allows a train to run him over. Since he's a ghost, the train doesn't harm him—it just blows him away in the wind.
- In "Spunky Skunky", an outcast skunk attempts suicide by jumping off a cliff, but convieniently falls into a can of white paint—he lives, but he thinks he's become a ghost.
- Dumb Blonde: Some versions of Pearl.
- Fauns and Satyrs: Hot Stuff's devil race are a child-friendly version of these.
- Felony Misdemeanor: From the way Casper treats it, you'd think scaring people was ax murder or something. Wendy's the same with her aunts, though sometimes they did go farther with their spells than harmless pranks and scares. (How does turning a butterfly - remember, all animals are sentient in this series - into a knothole in a plank of wood even work?)
- Five Races: The devils are the Stouts, the fairies and witches are the Fairies, the gnomes are the Mundanes who live to invent and build things, the wizards who occasionally mentor Casper or Wendy are the High Men, and the ghosts are the Cute despite their scare superpower.
- Friend to All Living Things: Casper can make friends with just about anyone of any species, after they aren't afraid of him anymore of course.
- Friendly Ghost: Casper is the Trope Namer and the Trope Codifier.
- I Just Want to Have Friends: This pretty much defines his whole character.
- Jerkass: The Ghostly Trio. There have even been instances where even Spooky was a little appalled at their schemes, and he idolizes them.
- Just Eat Gilligan: If Spooky would just lose the hat that never turns invisible with him, he'd have a much easier time. Of course, the one time he did try to ditch it, nobody recognized him without it, and neither human haunting victims nor other ghosts who wanted in on his territory were afraid of him.
- Juvenile Delinquent: Spooky is a mid-20th century American ghost version.
- Loads and Loads of Races: In the Harvey comics, many adventures involve meeting someone from an unknown magical species, most often a magically-alive species of animated inanimate objects.
- Magical Species: In the Harvey comics and most of the cartoons, ghosts and witches and devils (as well as butterfly-winged good fairies and monsters from ''Monster Land'' or giants) are nothing more than different magical species.
- Magic A Is Magic A: In the Harvey comics, at least, all ghosts have a very specific set of powers, and it is possible to make 'ghostproof' materials that they can't phase through.
- Monochrome Apparition: The ghosts are transparent, pale and white-ish and not detailed.
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: In his debut short, Casper unwittingly scares off a man from the mortgage company who was about to evict a mother and her kids. He tells them to just keep the mortgage and literally burns a bridge as he hightails it.
- The Movie: There's several movies, the most recent being Casper Scare School.
- Mr. Fixit: Pretty much the niche of the gnomes.
- Naughty Is Good: Spooky
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: In "Not Ghoulty", Casper gets stripped of his powers by a ghostly court for doing good deeds like saving a baby from a burning building, and can only get them back when he scares someone again. Fortunately, he manages to turn the tables on them and get his powers back in the end.
- On One Condition: Casper And Friends has several episodes not featuring Casper. One is about a rich cat living large and being waited upon by her butler. It quickly changes as soon as the butler chances upon the will and learns he's the next to inherit. His several attempts to off the cat fail and the last one ends with his own demise. The cat then phones asking for a new butler.
- Once per Episode: The Famous shorts became increasingly formulaic as time went on. Casper feels lonely, Casper tries to find a friend but everyone runs away from him, Casper finally finds someone who will overlook the fact that he's a ghost and be friends with him usually after he helps them get out of some kind of trouble. The friend is then menaced by a large baddie, at which point Casper steps in and demands, "You leave my friend alone!" at which point the baddie runs off in fear. All ends well. Rinse and repeat. Famous Studios had a hard time coming up with original ideas for Popeye, too, incidentally. Lampshaded in an episode of Cheers:Norm: I don't get it. Start of the cartoon, Casper has no friends. End of the cartoon, he has friends. Start of the next cartoon, he has no friends again. What happened?Cliff: I think it's obvious what happened. Casper was quenching his thirst for blood.
- There is also the phrase "A G-G-G-GHOST!" in just about every short.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: Let's start with throwing the idea of ghosts being dead humans out the window (except for the movies).
- One early episode (possibly the first) actually did begin with Casper at his own grave.
- There's Good Boos Tonight starts with a bunch of ghosts rising out of their graves, and at the end a dead fox comes back as a ghost.
- Our Monsters Are Different: In Casper's Scare School, many of the creatures that would normally be former fleshies were never fleshies. Mantha was always a zombie, Ra was always a mummy, etc. The only characters that were confirmed to be formerly human were Fly Boy and his father.
- Public Domain Animation: His first three appearances have slipped into the Public Domain, and as a result can be found on many dollar store DVD sets.
- Public Domain Soundtrack: In "The Friendly Ghost", when the other ghosts are in the sky and about to fly into the buildings, the music playing is an excerpt of Felix Mendelssohn's "Rondo Capricioso, op. 14".
- Reality Warper: A number of times, Spooky has briefly discovered a way that his "Boo!" can alter reality, such as reversing time or changing something's size. Usually, he has to scream "Oob!" to reverse it.
- In addition to this, any ghost's "Boo!" seems to be able to make inanimate things jump up and run away, broken automobiles run again, barren trees bear fruit again, eggs hatch, and whatever alteration works for the panel artist.
- Reluctant Monster
- Slave to PR: Ghosts are supposed to be scary, so Casper is feared by humans for being a ghost and looked down upon by other ghosts for not being a "proper" ghost. Other ghosts enjoy scaring, but also take it very seriously and do it because it's a ghost's purpose in death . There are even scaring experts that the Ghostly Trio have either consulted to improve their scaring, or gone up against to prove that they were the best (in a Good Old Fisticuffs sorta way: the others and their fancy techniques are no match for tried-and-true invisible playing with objects or yelling of "Boo!"). One of the cartoons even featured a ghost school that taught haunting. Spooky protects his reputation as the number one scarer at any cost.
- Smelly Skunk: "Spunky Skunky" is centered around Casper befriending a skunk who is spurned from playing baseball with some local animals, prompting him to try to commit suicide by jumping off a cliff, only to fall into a white can of paint and think he's become a ghost. Casper rolls with it just so he can have a friend, but the act is up when the skunk falls into water and washes off the paint—and realizes that Casper is a ghost and flees. Later on, the skunk tries to save his other friends from a hungry wolf, and Casper of course arrives to save the day, earning the skunks friendship back (and also earning the respect of the others, who wear clothespins on their noses for the skunks sake when they play baseball).
- Strictly Formula: Most of the cartoons are virtually interchangable from each other save for some superficial settings and slightly different characters (who all serve identical purposes in the plot). One Famous Studios animator, Lee Mishkin, even had a quote about it:"With the Casper series, you never knew what picture you were working on, because they were all exactly the same."
- However, there are several shorts in the series where they actually did try to get away from the formula. "Ghost of Honor" is an episode where Casper visits the Paramount Cartoon Studio and ends up being the inspiration for his own cartoons in the first place, and "Ghost Writers" is a very meta episode parodying the series, centered on two of the cartoons writers brainstorming typical ideas for Casper cartoons. "Not Ghoulty" has Casper robbed of his powers and his newfound friends turning on him due to them trying to have Casper help them, only for Casper to keep screwing up because he can't use his ghost abilities anymore. One of later shorts had the Ghostly Trio dosing Casper with something to make him more antagonistic (and thus more "ghostly" and interested in scaring people), but it works too well and Casper spends most of the short viciously pranking the Ghostly Trionote .
- Terrible Trio: The Ghostly Trio, in every incarnation they've ever been in.
- Uncanny Family Resemblance: Cousins Spooky and Casper. Though not identical, they look similar enough to fool some.
- The 'Verse: Frequent Crossovers with other Harvey comics, even Richie Rich (though Richie is never sure he didn't dream his Casper encounters). Some arcs have brought together all Enchanted Forest characters.
- Wild Take: The Casper series has some of the weirdest, sometimes outright grotesque, wild takes of the Golden Age cartoons, and the original shorts have them at least once per short. The over-the-top runaway gags or transformations after the takes (a whale scared by Casper runs off on its tailflukes, a zookeeper hides - then runs away - inside a lion, another group of zoo staffers combine into a wheel when they see him, etc.) are the icing on the cake."A GHOST!"
- Will They or Won't They?: Casper and Wendy.
- Funnily enough, Wendy's first appearance had her and Casper on a date.
- Brooklyn Rage: Spooky is much more "tuff" than spooky (since he looks about as cuddly as Casper), is somewhat of a hothead, and even his "Boos" look more he's flipping out. He speaks with a Brooklyn-style Funetik Aksent: his girlfriend Pearl is "Poil" and his derby hat is a "doiby".
- Costume Evolution: In "Casper and the Spetrals" Wendy and Hot Stuff's outfits were totally redesigned, Wendy doesn't wear her pijama-like red robe, instaed she is more of a modern goth witch, and Hot Stuff changed his classic asbestos diaper for a punk outfit.
- Crossover: Casper had many encounters with other Harvey characters.
- "Freaky Friday" Flip: In Hot Stuff and Casper # 1 Casper, Wendy and Hot Stuff switched bodies due to a malfunction of Wendy's magic wand.
- Halloween Town: Spooky Town, a city segregated into numerous boroughs for different supernatural beings that compete with each other to scare normal humans and ensure that the local Sealed Evil in a Can stays sealed.
- Horned Humanoid: The devils in the comics are a perfect example of this trope.
- Interspecies Friendship: Casper, Wendy, Hot Stuff and Spooky are good friends despite being different creatures.
- Our Demons Are Different: All the demons from Harvey Comics. Hot Stuff the Little Devil is the main example.
- Pointy Ears: Hot Stuff, along with every other devil.
- Shared Universe: Most of the characters of Harvey, including Casper, Hot Stuff and Wendy, live in the same universe. In fact, all the supernatural characters live in a place called "The Enchanted Forest".
- Women Are Wiser: Pearl is generally more level-headed than her boyfriend Spooky.