Ray is a simple man. Warm, good-natured, and endlessly enthusiastic. Like Mulder, Ray wants to believe. He may be the only Ghostbuster to actually believe in ghosts from the very beginning. Egon approaches everything with a scientist’s scepticism. Peter flat out doesn’t believe in anything. And Winston… well, if there’s a paycheck in it, Winston will believe anything you want. But Ray grew up reading sci-fi, going to horror movies, and taking everything at face value. He loves ghosts. They excite him. And once he’s excited, he’s like a dog with a bone.
Ray Stantz is the heart of the Ghostbusters. The beating lifeblood and driving emotional force that got this bizarre business up and running. We know from Ghostbusters that Ray worked in the private sector, but it didn’t work out because they expect results. The way he says it implies that he didn’t deliver the results as they were expected, and that sense of failure definitely plays into the innocence and idealism that the star-eyed Ray views the world with.
The scene where they’re starting up the Ghostbusters shows what Ray is about better than any other part in the movie. The way he approaches what needs to be done not from an economic or logical standpoint, but from a standpoint of whimsy and fun and “does this pole still work” is enough to put a smile on my face no matter what my mood.
And what about his relationship with his fellow Ghostbusters? Although they see each other as peers, it’s clear that in day-to-day life, Ray is seen as the kid brother of the bunch. Rightfully so. Egon is the intelligence and Peter is the lust. Ray is respectful to both, often calling them Dr. Venkman or Dr. Spengler, instead of Peter or Egon. Even though he’s the financial founder of the company, he holds his friends in high esteem. His formality with Peter and Egon makes his friendship with Winston particularly charming. Winston is a levelled, everyman character and Ray acts accordingly.
Ray, throughout the entire franchise, has been the go-to guy for two things: mechanical repair and mystical knowledge. When he bought Ecto-1 it needed suspension, shocks, brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end, new rings, mufflers, and a little wiring. He got that baby up and running like new in no time! And while Egon is the Ghostbuster that will be able to explain the science to you, Ray is the one that’s going to know exactly what type of ghost it is, why it’s haunting the place that it is, and just how amazing it is that they’re witnessing this event within their lifetimes!
It’s Ray’s unceasing energy, joy, and positivity that drives the whole operation! Ray’s enthusiasm comes genuinely, as it’s Dan Aykroyd’s enthusiasm as well. Ghostbusters is his baby after all. He wrote the movie, crafted these characters, and created the technology. If you asked Aykroyd what any specific piece of ghostbusting equipment does, much like Ray, he can tell you in extreme detail.
In The Real Ghostbusters, Ray’s general love of life, and his child-like nautre, is played up even more. There’s full episodes dedicated to his naivety or love of cartoons being how the ghost was defeated and what ends up saving the day! Need to trick the Boogeyman into believing a child is around? Ray’s your man!
Ray is the heart of the operation, but no man is a heart alone. Ray is presented as an intelligent but naive scientist, ready to believe everything he’s told because life is better with fun and excitement and mystery! He’s as soft and sweet as the 100 foot Marshmallow Man he conjured up and the Ghostbusters do all the better because of it.