Let's Officially End the Ghastly Debate: Casper vs. Thackery Binx

The ghosts of Casper and Hocus Pocus, played by Devon Sawa and Sean Murray, became the unexpected heartthrobs of the '90s, but which one was the best?

By Tierney Bricker Oct 31, 2019 8:00 PMTags
Watch: Have You Seen Devon Sawa or Sean Murray Lately?

Chocolate or vanilla. Dogs or cats. Casper or Thackery. 

OK, so that last one might not be as universal a question to define a person, but for young people who came of age in the '90s, it's arguably one of the most important as Casper (Devon Sawa) and Thackery Binx (Sean Murray), the respective ghosts from 1995's Casper and 1993's Hocus Pocus would become two of the most unexpected heartthrobs of the decade. And their allure continues decades later.

Over the years, there's been countless headlines about Thackery being a "colonial crush," writers dissecting the fact that one of their earliest crushes was a cat and a ghost literally leading to their sexual awakening

Seeing as how Halloween was the day both Casper and Thackery briefly appeared in their their human form, we decided to pit them against one another and finally end the debate. Welcome to Confusing and Weird Halloween Teen Crushes Thunderdome, let's officially meet our competitors:

Stars Celebrate Halloween 2019

The Basics:

Universal Pictures

Casper McFadden
Age: 12 (died of phenumonia)
Height: Around 2 feet
Weight: 0 lbs
Hometown: Friendship, Maine
Box Office: $287.9 million worldwide

Thackery Binx
Age: Likely 16 (then lived 300 years as an immortal cat)
Height: Approximately 18 inches
Weight: Approximately 10 lbs
Hometown: Salem, Mass.
Box Office: $39.5 million

Universal Pictures, Disney

Now, let's compare their stats when it comes to their respective performances:

Voice: Ironically enough, both human actors who portrayed the respective ghastly heartthrobs did not voice their character, even when they briefly appeared in human form. 

American voice actor Malachi Pearson provided the vocal chords for Casper, something Sawa once poked fun at on Twitter when someone posted a photo of the Casper DVD and tagged him in it. 

"I'm not the voice even in the the 30 seconds I'm in it," he wrote. "Can't take credit for anything. Please untag me."


Thackery, meanwhile, was voiced by Boy Meets world actor Jason Marsden, who originally auditioned for Max. Now here's where it gets a little weird: After being called back to read for Thackery, Marsden landed the role...sort of. While Murray had been cast as Binx, the filmmakers wanted Marsden to voice the character, meaning Marsden, who was friends with Murray, had to dub the lines for both the cat and human forms of the character.

However, Marsden revealed Murray's voice was initially used in an interview with The Daily Beast, saying, "They were using him first and animating his performance. It's absolutely no detriment to Sean, who's a friend and fantastic actor. It's one of those things that happen in movies all the time. Movies are shot, written, go into production, and then take on a voice of their own. Sean has a very contemporary sound."

Murray wasn't too bothered by their decision, telling Bustle in 2018, "They originally wanted a sort of California vibe with the voice, and then at some point thought [they] should do it Olde English. I'm not a voice actor; I couldn't do an English accent, I'd never been trained to do that, and I was young." Winner: Draw. 

The Kiss: OK, so this one really isn't fair, as Thackery's is just a sweet kiss on the cheek he gives Dani after he is finally able to cross over as a human. (Let's not even discuss the years of therapy that girl probably went through after her first love was an immortal cat.) It's very touching, but she's 8 years-old, ya know?


Universal Pictures

Casper, however, is a different story. From the moment he walked down those stairs, it was on like Donkey Kong. Casper and Kat's slow dance at the was literally a middle school girl's DREAM. And their kiss as they levitated helped many of them crossover into not-a-girl-not-yet-a-woman territory. it also helped that Sawa and Ricci, who had worked together (and kissed) on 1994's Now & Then had chemistry to rival the greats!


Even crazier? They almost chose to end t he movie without showing Casper in human form. THOSE FOOLS. 

"It was crazy, because they didn't know whether that was going to be the ending or not," Sawa told The A.V. Club. "I think [executive producer] Steven Spielberg decided in the last couple of weeks of shooting to shoot an alternate ending of Casper coming back as a real boy. And then they went with that ending." Can you imagine all of the sexual awakenings that would've been stalled--possibly forever--had they not gone with that endings?


Winner: Casper.

Iconic Line: Casper's "Can I keep you?" vs. Thackery's "I shall always be with you"? Winner: Casper. 

Sense of Style: Listen, both boys were straight up livin' for that loose white blouse look, so... Winner: Draw.

The Legacy: Alright, so this is tough, because you need to separate the character and the movie's legacies. While both Casper and Hocus Pocus have endured as Halloween classics and two of  the season's most beloved (and played) films, Hocus Pocus' legend has only grown with time, turning into a cult classic that wasn't fully appreciated when it was released in July 1993. Freeform is literally playing Hocus Pocus for 24 hours straight on Halloween, also kicking off their iconic 31 Days of Halloween programming with the movie. Plus, it's FINALLY getting a sequel! So movie legacy: Thackery.

When it comes to the character's legacy, Casper has the advantage, as the character spawned a few direct-to-film sequels, video games and a hit animated series. Thackery, meanwhile, has endured more as a confusing object of our tween and teen affection and some people still think his name is Zackary. Winner: Casper. 

Jim Smeal/Shutterstock, MediaPunch/Shutterstock

Now let's look at the actors' legacy and relationship with their respective characters decades later. 

Aside from Casper, Sawa's turns in Little Giants, Now & Then and Wild America made the Canadian a full-blown teen idol, with his image serving as wallpaper in many teens' bedrooms in the '90s.

"There was a point where Jonathan [Taylor Thomas] and I were in London, and we shared a limo," Sawa recalled to Us Weekly. "It was, like, [we were] The Beatles! They were chasing our car and smacking the windows, and that's when I finally realized that, 'Holy s--t, this is this is this is getting crazy.'"

Also, Sawa, now 41 and a father of two, is down for a sequel! (He also loves to poke fun at his teen heartthrob past and has an ongoing faux-feud on social media with Home Alone star Macaulay Culkin.)

Murray's time as Thackery didn't lead to him taking over the pages of Tiger Beat or J-14, but he continued to work, making appearances on TV series like ER, Touched By an Angel and starring in TV movies, before landing a role on NCIS in 2003. That's right, Binx got that CBS procedural money, as NCIS is still on the air today and is one of TV's most successful drama series ever.

Though he doesn't talk about his experience working on Hocus Pocus much, Murray, also 41 and a father of two, opened up about playing one pf pop culture's most beloved cats in an interview with Bustle last year.

"I consider myself very fortunate to be a part of that," he said. "It was a really good time and I learned a lot. I'll always remember it fondly."

And on the 25th anniversary of the movie's release, Murray acknowledged the milestone on Instagram (though he did not appear during Freeform's Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash TV special).

Winner: Casper. 

ULTIMATE WINNER: It was a close call, but Casper ultimately takes the crown in this ghastly (and probably slightly inappropriate) debate, not like he could wear it though.