These Grim Grinning Ghosts Are tagging along, determined to establish a permanent alliance with a favorite mortal: You...
~ The Ghost Host about the Hitchhiking Ghosts
Mind if we hitch a ride?
~ The Ghosts' catchphrase.
Phineas Q. Hackenbush, Ezra Gasser, and Gus, known collectively as the Hitchhiking Ghosts, are minor antagonists in the Disney Park attraction The Haunted Mansion, which appears in Disneyland in California, Walt Disney World in Florida, and Tokyo Disneyland in Japan. They also appear as supporting antagonists in House of Mouse and Mickey's House of Villains, and one-shot protagonists in the Slave Labor Graphics comic book series The Haunted Mansion.
They were all voiced by Kurt von Schmittou in the attraction. In Ghost Post, Ezra was voiced by Peter Renaday, Phineas was voiced by Stephen Stanton, and Gus was voiced by Dee Bradley Baker.
Each of the Hitchhiking Ghosts had his backstory revealed in The Haunted Mansion comic book series by Slave Labor Graphics, which ran for seven issues from 2006 to 2007.
In life, Phineas Q. Hackenbush was a con artist and snake oil salesman, claiming to be a doctor. However, his so-called miracle "cures" transformed the tongues of their users into ones resembling a snake's tongue. Enraged, an angry mob formed and chased Phineas in his wagon off of a cliff, killing him. Phineas' ghost traveled to the mansion, where he tried to use his charm and deceit to fool some of the other ghosts into using his product. However, Madame Leota reminded everyone that they were already dead, and the ghosts of the mansion drove Phineas out into the graveyard, where he met the only two ghosts to remain friendly: Gus and Ezra.
Ezra Gasser was a prankster and a trickster since his childhood, often pulling crazy pranks on those he encountered. When he grew up, Ezra began a successful practical joke business, selling gags, pranks, and toys. One day, he was visited by a mysterious salesman, who introduced him to the Chinese finger trap. Ezra tried the new novelty out, but was unable to free himself. He found this extremely humorous, and began laughing so long and so hard that he soon suffocated and died. His ghost made its way to the mansion, still playing pranks and tricks. These angered the other ghosts, so Ezra left to the graveyard and met Phineas and Gus.
Gus was a shepherd who was kept awake constantly by the bleating and noises of the sheep he watched over. One day, after not being able to get any rest, he became angry and lashed out at the sheep, awakening an angry ram. The ram chased him to Port Royal, where he accidentally stumbled in on a wedding and knocked over the wealthy and short-tempered groom, who had him arrested and thrown into prison. As he sat in prison, Port Royal was suddenly attacked by pirates. In the commotion, he was able to escape and board an abandoned pirate dingy, which he rowed out to sea. However, his ball and chain fell overboard, pulling him off the dingy and into the crushing depths of the sea, where he drowned. His ghost made its way to the mansion, where he was welcomed. However, even in death he could get no sleep, as the various parties at the mansion kept him awake. So Gus voluntarily left the mansion to linger just outside the graveyard, where he met Phineas and Ezra and was able to get some peace and quiet.
The Haunted Mansion
In the ride, the Hitchhiking Ghosts seem to be the only ones not fully content with their situation (most likely because they are outcasts), and want out. The three are seen after the graveyard towards the end of the ride, trying to hitchhike a ride out. Even if they are denied, they will still get in the Doom Buggies and stalk the visitors, presumably following them even after they leave the mansion.
During the Haunted Mansion Holiday overlay where the mansion is visited by the characters from The Nightmare Before Christmas, the Hitchhiking Ghosts are replaced by Oogie Boogie, Lock, Shock, and Barrel. The narration tells that the trio tried to sneak a ride on Jack Skellington's sleigh, but were left behind.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts appear as minor antagonists in the Haunted Mansion miniseries of the 2016 comic book series Disney Kingdoms by Marvel Comics. In the series, the ghost of Captain Bartholomew Gore shows off his dark magic to protagonist Danny Crowe by transforming the three into monstrous creatures, which attack Danny. After the Captain's spell is broken, the three return to normal and actually take a liking to Danny, who they follow home after he escapes Constance Hatchaway.
All three Hitchhiking Ghosts appear in the interactive mobile game Ghost Post, often talking with each other and complaining how the Great Unraveling, an enigmatic event that makes it impossible for ghosts to leave the mansion grounds, has ruined their way to follow "foolish mortals" home. The three would voice concerns and support for the Committee of Wandering Ghosts, which has contacted the outside world for help.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts rarely ever appear in Disney Parks outside of the Haunted Mansion, but sometimes appear as face characters during special events, such as the Haunted Mansion's 40th anniversary celebration.
Disney Crossy Road
All three ghosts appear in Disney Crossy Road, but Phineas has the name of Professor Phineas Plump, and Ezra has the name of Ezra Beane. Phineas is a common character, but Ezra and Gus are secret ones that can be unlocked.
House of Mouse
The Hitchhiking Ghosts appear as regular guests in the House of Mouse. In the episode "House Ghosts", they are freed from a crate by Pete and proceed to team up with the Lonesome Ghosts, the Hatbox Ghost, the Executioner, the original Bride, and skeletons to perform Grim Grinning Ghosts and scare the daylights out of Pete, chasing him around while mentally tormenting him.
Mickey's House of Villains
The Hitchhiking Ghosts also appear as supporting antagonists in Mickey's House of Villains. After being released from their crate by Cruella De Vil, the Ghosts proceed to help in the villains' takeover by possessing the projector flying around, scaring everyone away gathering the heroes and corralling them into the kitchen along with the Card Soldiers.
They are later seen watching the final battle between Mickey Mouse and Jafar. After Jafar is defeated, they flee with the other villains.
The Haunted Mansion (2003 film)
The Hitchhiking Ghosts make a brief appearance in the 2003 live action film based on the ride. They first appear in the graveyard as the Evers family rides by, trying to hitch a ride. They appear a moment later in the hearse, startling Jim Evers. Thinking they are invisible, Phineas and Gus begin arguing over how Jim can see them.
The Hitchhiking Ghosts have appeared in many pieces of Haunted Mansion and Disney Villain merchandise, such as pins, figurines, statues, and clothing.
Ezra appeared in some Disney XD station IDs, where he encounters and scares Star vs. the Forces of Evil protagonists Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz.
Phineas is the plump ghost with the top hat and trench coat, carrying a piece of luggage. He has a round, fat face and a hunched back. He is usually the one seen to the far left, and is the medium-height one of the group.
Ezra is the tallest of the group and usually stands in the center. He too wears a trench coat as well as a bowler hat, witch he removes while hitchhiking. He is extremely thin and skeletal, with a bony face and bugged-out eyes. His face resembles that of the Hatbox Ghost and the Ticket Taker in Disneyland Paris' Phantom Manor.
Gus is the smallest of the group and usually stands on the far right. He is a dwarf with torn clothing, a ball and chain around his leg, and an extremely large and bushy beard that reaches all the way down to his knees.
They are often seen as the ride's unofficial mascots.
In 2011, the Hitchhiking Ghosts' effects were updated. Instead of simply sitting in the Doom Buggy with guests, the ghosts mess around and play with the guests, even stretching and warping their bodies.
In the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive attraction, they have their own spell card called "The Haunted Mansion's Happy Haunting Grounds". It was only available to guests that attended Mickey's Not-So-Scary Halloween Party in the fall of 2013.