Casper the Friendly Ghost Wiki

"You can call them ghosts, if you like, or as I prefer, the living impaired. But the bottom line is, they need help sometimes. Just like the rest of us."

―Dr. Harvey, Casper.

Dr. James Harvey is the tritagonist in the 1995 feature film Casper. He was born on February 17th, 1957, in Fernfield, Washington, and is a psychiatrist and alumnus of Johns Hopkins University. He is the father of Kat Harvey and the husband of Amelia Harvey.

Amelia's sudden death in 1993 prompted James to give up his conventional career as a therapist and move onto parapsychology, which he used as an attempt make contact with his wife (who he now believes is a ghost). His work led him to Whipstaff Manor in Maine, where he moved with his reluctant teenage daughter under orders from Carrigan Crittenden to exorcise its inhabitants.

In Casper, he is portrayed by Bill Pullman. He also appears in the animated spin-off The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, where he is voiced by Dan Castellaneta.


Early life[]

James Harvey was born on February 17th, 1957, in Fernfield, Washington. He graduated high school in 1975. Typically, it takes about eight years of post-undergraduate study in order to become a board-certified psychiatrist. If one includes the time it takes to earn a bachelor's degree, then this implies that James spent at least twelve years in school and in training to become a psychiatrist. Sometime during this period, he married Amelia and had Kat. James became officially certified in 1987, when he was thirty years old.

In 1993, Amelia passed away without warning. Unable to accept her death, James clung to the belief that Amelia's spirit was continuing to linger in the living world. For the next two years, he and Kat traveled across the states, taking any available job opportunities while searching for what he believed to be Amelia's ghost.


Main article: Casper

"The living impaired are known for haunting us. My question is, what's haunting them? It's a lack of resolution. Ghosts are simply spirits without resolution, with unfinished business. It's my job to find out what that is."

―Dr. Harvey's quote in Casper.

The audience first learns about Dr. Harvey as Casper watches a news report about him, where Harvey explains his job as an "afterlife therapist". Using his supernatural abilities, Casper draws the news story to the attention of Carrigan Crittenden, who is staying at a nearby motel.

Upon receiving the phone call from Carrigan, Dr. Harvey begins the trip to Friendship, Maine, immediately. Kat is extremely unhappy about this, and the two have a brief dispute over whether or not they are looking for Amelia's spirit. Along the way, she points out that everyone in Santa Fe thought her father was crazy, but he brushes it off, saying most people spend their whole lives around what they believe is normal. Kat states that she wishes to stay somewhere long enough to make a friend, and for her sake Dr. Harvey promises that if he "doesn't find what he is looking for", then this assignment will be the last. Kat eagerly agrees, and the two proceed to Whipstaff. Once they arrive they are met by Carrigan Crittenden and her attorney, Dibs, who order Dr. Harvey to remove the ghosts as quickly as possible.

Shortly after settling into the manor, Dr. Harvey discovers Kat in a panic. She claims she has seen a ghost, to which he assures her that she will not be harmed. Soon after searching through the room, he opens a closet and discovers Casper, the first legimate spirit Dr. Harvey has actually seen for himself. Harvey screams in terror, frantically taking Kat to a closet and telling her to stay there while he confronts the ghost by himself. Before he leaves Kat, she apologizes to her father for disbelieving him and "thinking he was a total loser". Around the same time the Ghostly Trio, Casper's uncles, arrive home from a night's haunting. After getting Casper out of their way, the Trio find Dr. Harvey and immediately attack him. A frantic fight ensues, ending with the Trio's defeat when the frazzled Dr. Harvey sucks them up with a vacuum cleaner.

The following morning, Dr. Harvey arrives in the kitchen to discover Casper and Kat in the middle of their first real conversation. He is wary at first, but accepts the breakfast that Casper has prepared as well as the ghost's offer to fetch him a newspaper. Just as Casper leaves, the Ghostly Trio make their entrance. Despite Stretch's obvious intimidation tactics and mocking behavior, Dr. Harvey greets them politely. Casper then returns with the paper for Dr. Harvey, which leads to an argument with Stretch over how the "air-sucking intruders" deserve to be treated. Kat eventually loses patience and snaps at Stretch, who reacts accordingly, but Dr. Harvey hurries her off to school before the fight can escalate any further. As soon as Kat is out the door, he turns back to the Trio, offering to let them meet with him in his office to "start the process of crossing over". They respond by throwing their food at him, but he remains undaunted.

In his first session with the Ghostly Trio after breakfast, Dr. Harvey allows them to destroy some of his belongings (presumably as a form of catharsis). He stops Stretch from shooting a photograph of his wife, which catches the attention of all three ghosts. To his surprise, the Trio display an awareness of Amelia's identity, prompting Dr. Harvey to inquire whether or not they have a way of contacting others like themselves. Stretch informs him that the process is difficult, but he and his brothers will keep their end of the bargain as long as Harvey keeps "that ghoul Crittenden off [their] backs". Dr. Harvey agrees and is subsequently pranked by Fatso, who surprises him in a drag while pretending to be Amelia.

The following day, Kat speaks to her father while he is doing his paperwork in the kitchen, requesting money to buy a costume for the Halloween party that she will be attending with Vic DePhilippi. Dr. Harvey informs her that he would love to buy her whatever she wants, but won't be receiving any money until he is paid by Carrigan Crittenden. Kat understands, but pleads him not allow the Ghostly Trio (who are revealed by eavesdropping on their conversation) to crash her party. Hours later, Dr. Harvey enters his office, where the Trio are waiting for him. They proceed to tease and taunt him as usual until Stretch observes Harvey packing his things. While Stinkie and Fatso are unphased by this, Stretch appears genuinely concerned for his therapist and decides to take matters into his own hands. When Fatso reminds him of Kat's party, Stretch sharply responds that "the party will have to wait" before forcefully taking Dr. Harvey to a local bar. Taking advantage of the Ghostly Trio being away from the house, Carrigan and Dibs search for the treasure of which they are looking for.

Presumably hours later, Dr. Harvey and the Ghostly Trio have all become extremely intoxicated. As Harvey attempts to sing karaoke, the Trio come to realize how much they have come to like him and decide to murder him, both to relieve Dr. Harvey of they believe is a miserable existence and to add a fourth member to their group. Before they can do so, however, Dr. Harvey drunkenly reveals he has grown to care for them as well, even going far enough to promise that he's going to allow them to stay in their house regardless of what Carrigan says. Touched, the ghosts begin to cry, unable to go through with killing him. Dr. Harvey announces that they will visit every bar in town just as he opens the back door of the bar, and despite the Trio's attempts to warn him, he falls backwards to his death into an open trench.

Dr. Harvey soon returns to the manor as a ghost, flying to J.T. McFadden's underground laboratory with the Ghostly Trio. As a ghost, he has become more obnoxious and crude (much to Stretch's approval). Shocked and horrified, Kat bursts into tears, reminding her father of the promise he'd made to her before they had moved into Whipstaff. Dr. Harvey then realizes that he has died, thus leaving his daughter an orphan. Casper intervenes, using the Lazarus to revive Dr. Harvey and thereby giving up his own chance at coming back to life. Kat and her father embrace each other after he steps out of the machine and shares a happy reunion. With her father brought back to life, Kat goes back to the foyer to play hostess for her party. Meanwhile, Amelia Harvey appears to Casper as he sulks in his room, revealing that she had successfully crossed over when she died. For his selfless act of bringing her husband back to life, she allows Casper to become alive again until ten for the Halloween party as a "sort of a Cinderella deal."

Amelia later appears to her husband, explaining to him that because he and Kat loved her so well when she was alive, she had no unfinished business, and asks for him "not to let her be his". She reassures him that he is raising Kat beautifully and that their family would be eventually reunited in the afterlife. Amelia departs for the last time, but not before she informs James that the Ghostly Trio had kept their promise to him.

After Kat's party guests flee at the sight of Casper, who had transformed back into a ghost during his kiss with Kat, Dr. Harvey joins them downstairs and signals the Ghostly Trio, who perform their own renditon of Little Richard's "Casper the Friendly Ghost" as Casper, Kat and Dr. Harvey dance together.

The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper[]

Main article: The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper


Dr. Harvey has to put up with the Ghostly Trio, who have learned to like him, but nevertheless, he has as well. Dr. Harvey is an easy-going guy with a big heart. He obviously loves Kat, although he sometimes appears rather neglectful of his now motherless daughter's emotional needs. As demonstrated in the scene from the film where he speaks with his angelic wife, he is worried that he's not taking good care of her, but Amelia assured him that he was doing a good job, although she gave him some "motherly" advice ("Don't pick up the extension every time she gets a phone call, french fries are not a breakfast food..." etc.)


Dr. Harvey wears glasses. He wears a white shirt, a brown jacket, and brown pants.


  • The last name of Bill Pullman's Character's name is Harvey a reference to Harvey comics the publisher of Casper the Friendly Ghost.
  • In the episode Elusive Exclusive, it is revealed he is afraid of airplanes, circus clowns and "that weird comedian" Carrot Top.
  • In the scene where Harvey dies and becomes a ghost and confronts his daughter Kat who does not remember her is pretty similar to the ending to A Little Princess, the 1939 and 1995 movie versions where the titled character Sara Crewe is reunited with her father who(in his situation) was a recovering soldier in the British army with amnesia and like Harvey as a ghost did not remember who his daughter Sara was and like Kat with her father, Sara tries and struggles to get her father to remember who she is and like Kat, Sara bursts out into tears while doing so, but shortly after both fathers were finally able to regain their memories and were reunited with their daughters. Coincidently both Casper and A Little Princess (1995 Version) came out the same year around the same time/month.
  • Tom Hanks, Dennis Quaid, Kurt Russell, Jim Carrey, Steve Martin, Tim Allen, John Ritter, Robin Williams, Michael Keaton, Billy Crystal, Rob Schneider, Richard Gere, Rick Moranis, Martin Short, Bill Murray, Chevy Chase and Phil Hartman were all considered for the role of Dr. James Harvey before Bill Pullman was cast.