In Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, Eddie is a fictional Californian private detective hired by comic-book star Roger Rabbit to investigate the workings of Roger's corrupt employers, the DeGreasey Brothers. When Roger is found dead, and his final words having been censored out, Eddie is soon sent on the case of tracking Roger's murderers. This first incarnation of Eddie is a heavy smoker, has a beard and is active when the book is set (1981), rather than the later, more accepted incarnation of the character.
Before Bob Hoskins was cast, many A-list actors were up for the role including Eddie Murphy and Harrison Ford who was Spielberg's choice but demanded too high a price. Bill Murray was also in consideration for the role, but ended up not having the opportunity to participate. This regret would lead him to participate in another animation/live-action hybrid film: Warner Brothers' Space Jam.
Eddie has a hard-boiled disposition, coming across as stubborn and cynical. He initially harbors a general distaste for Toons, since his brother, Teddy, was killed by one; since his death, Eddie stopped taking cases for Toons and began drinking heavily. Despite this, he retains his street smarts as well as his knowledge of Toon rules and culture.
Prior to Teddy's death, both brothers were (as shown in pictures) to be extremely fun-loving, and would do anything for a laugh. They were the only known humans who could ever out-funny a Toon.
Underneath his gruff exterior, Eddie proves to be a loyal comrade (aiding Roger in his time of need, despite his own reservations), and harbors a soft spot for his girlfriend, Dolores. By the film's end, he gives up drinking, is finally at peace with Teddy's death when he defeats the evil Judge Doom, and has reconciled with the Toons.
Eddie and his brother, Teddy, were sons of a Barnum and Bailey circus clown (shown by the pictures on their desk in the film), who joined the police force; they graduated from the LAPD in 1925. They eventually started their own private investigation service, Valiant & Valiant, in 1934, working largely on Toon cases such as the kidnapping of Donald Duck's nephews in 1937, and clearing Goofy of accusations of espionage in 1940 (both seen as newspaper clippings in Eddie's office).
However, during another investigation in the early 1940s, he and Teddy were chasing the unknown Toon form of Judge Doom, who was robbing the First National Bank of Toontown (the home of all the Toons), but during the chase, Doom dropped a large grand piano on them from 15 stories up, Eddie survived, only with a broken arm, but Teddy was killed. After his death, Eddie showed a great dislike for Toons, turned to the bottle, and disappeared from the public eye, refusing to take any more cases involving Toons.
Since turning to alcohol, Eddie became a subject of ridicule among the police force, due to being a former member of Los Angeles' Finest.
In 1947, R.K. Maroon of Maroon Cartoons summoned Eddie to his office to discuss recent problems with his #1 Toon star, Roger Rabbit. He asks Eddie to investigate a possible rumor that Roger's wife, Jessica Rabbit, is having an affair behind Roger's back. Maroon hoped it would help Roger focus on his job as Maroon was already deeply over-budget with Roger's latest cartoon due to Roger being unable to focus on his work, as Eddie witnessed when Roger botched another take, frustrating both his co-star, Baby Herman, and the director. Eddie tells Maroon that the job will cost $100 since he won't have to enter Toontown to accomplish the assignment. Maroon agrees to the price, paying Eddie half now, and the other half once he finishes the assignment. Afterwards, before he heads out to accomplish the job, Eddie paid a visit to the Pacific Electric Red Car Trolley Terminal Bar to ask his on/off girlfriend Dolores if he could borrow her camera. While there, one of the regular customers, Angelo, has a little fun poking Eddie about still taking on Toon cases. When he goes too far and starts laughing about it, still angry over Teddy's death at the hands of a Toon, Eddie snaps, kicks Angelo's stool out from under him, and then grabs him by the chin before he can recover to give him a very, stern warning:
- “Get this straight, meatball. I...DON'T...WORK...FOR TOONS!!”
Eddie storms out afterwards, and as Angelo asks Dolores what his problem is, Dolores tell the patrons that a Toon killed Teddy by dropping a piano on his head. The other patrons quickly lower their heads in respect at learning of the death of one of Los Angeles' Finest and the other member of Valiant & Valiant.
That night, Eddie arrives at the club that Maroon mentioned was where Jessica worked. After gaining entry from Bongo the Gorilla, who was the bouncer for the club, Eddie enters the main showroom in the middle of a performance by Donald Duck and his rival, Daffy Duck. Eddie sits down to enjoy the two ducks, only to have his shirt ruined as the guest at the table next to him intentionally squirts ink on it and giggles in enjoyment afterwards. Eddie threatens to stick the pen up his nose, only for the other gentleman to reveal the stain vanishing as it's Disappearing Ink and apologizes. Eddie then realizes the gentleman is Marvin Acme, owner of the Acme Corporation and Toontown. After reciting his motto, Acme offers his hand to Eddie, only to give him a shock of his still-biggest seller, the Acme Hand Buzzer. Eddie takes it in stride as he sits down again and orders a drink from the Penguin Waiter that comes to serve him, warning him to make sure there's ice in the drink and not take his "scotch on the rocks" order literally. Afterwards, Eddie continues to watch Donald and Daffy perform their act, ending when Donald blasts a hole in his piano from Daffy's with a Toon cannon, and both ducks, along with their pianos, are yanked off-stage by a pair of Toon hooks due to ruining their act once more, though it still gets a round of applause and laughter from the audience, with Marvin telling Eddie that Donald and Daffy will never finish their act if they keep bickering and fighting like that to amuse the crowd. Eddie ignores that as the Penguin Waiter returns with his drink, but finds that they still put a rock in it and took him literally, to his annoyance. However, his attention is soon drawn when he recognizes the voice of Betty Boop, working as a cigarette salesgirl at the club since Toons went to color, putting her out of work, but she still shows she's got it as she recites her catchphrase, garnering a smile from Eddie as he's glad to see she still got it.
However, Eddie's attention is soon drawn to the stage again as the men in the audience begin to applaud wildly with cheers and howls, especially Acme. When Eddie asks Betty why, Betty tells him that "Mr. Acme never misses a night when Jessica performs". Eddie assumes Acme has a thing for rabbits, but when Jessica emerges from behind the curtain to reveal herself to the crowd as she sings "Why Don't You Do Right?", Eddie is stunned by her appearance.
- “She's married to Roger Rabbit?!
Yeah, what a lucky girl.”
- ―Eddie and Betty Boop
After Jessica's performance, Eddie tails Acme to where he spots Marvin entering Jessica's dressing room to congratulate her. As he peers into the room through the keyhole in the door, he's caught by Bongo and swiftly thrown out by the irate bouncer, warning him never to show his face there again. Despite being exiled from the club, Eddie spots a window into Jessica's room and is still able to eavesdrop on her conversation with Acme, along with taking pictures of them as Acme is heard saying "pattycake" repeatedly, while Jessica is heard moaning in excitement. Eddie is left stunned by what he sees.
Back at Maroon Cartoons, Roger soon learns of what Eddie witnessed, and is beside himself in grief in thinking Jessica is cheating on him. Eddie and Maroon try to console him, but it does little to cheer Roger up. However, after Roger goes through an allergic reaction to drinking human alcohol that results in damaging Maroon's office, he swears to Eddie that he and Jessica would be happy again, before shooting out of the office through the window, to Eddie and Maroon's shock. Eddie returns to his office that night to look over some of the pictures developed from the camera film, including some of him, Dolores, and Teddy when on vacation.
Eddie is soon shocked awake from a hangover-induced sleep the next morning by L.A.P.D. Lt. Santino, who reveals that Marvin Acme was murdered last night and Roger is the prime suspect of the case.
Arriving at the Acme Factory, Eddie is momentarily distracted by seeing Toontown on the other side of the factory's wall, before having to backup with Santino as Yosemite Sam flies over the wall and crashes down in front of them with his rear end on fire. As Sam extinguishes it in a puddle of rainwater and relaxes, Santino takes Eddie into the factory to oversee the investigation that the L.A.P.D. are conducting regarding Acme's death and Roger being the prime suspect. Santino momentarily leaves Eddie to speak with Jessica, who's in the office being interviewed, leaving Eddie to be teased by some of the other officers and detectives regarding his alcohol consumption lately following Teddy's death. Ignoring them, Eddie speaks to the investigator scraping paint off the rope attached to the safe dropped on Acme, before turning to find Jessica standing there in front of him, before she angrily slaps him and tells him off, hoping he's proud of himself and the pictures he took that now have indicted her husband as a criminal before she storms out, to the shock of other officers. However, as Acme's corpse is taken away on a gurney, the officer walking backwards knocks over a crate of Toon shoes, causing them to burst out and scatter all over the place. In the confusion that follows as officers and other investigators work to round the shoes up, one slips away and causes one of the officers carrying away Acme's corpse to cause his side of the gurney to collapse, causing Acme's hand buzzer to fall off onto the floor. As Eddie goes to pick it up, the end of a long black cane pushes the trigger on it just as Eddie's hand closes around it, causing it to shock Eddie, before he looks up to see the ominous face of Judge Doom glaring down at him. Santino quickly arrives to save Eddie from being charged with stealing evidence from the crime scene by the judge, but when Doom asks for the hand buzzer, Eddie is more than happy to oblige as he gives Doom as dose of his own medicine with shocking him with it. Doom cracks a smile, thinking Eddie's sense of humor has not faded, but Eddie retorts that he was not hired by a Toon, he was hired by Maroon. Doom assures that he already knows about it, and the fact that Roger mentioned that he and his wife would be happy after seeing the photos of Jessica with Acme. After telling Eddie off by saying to Santino that "from the smell of him, I'd say it was the booze talking", Doom assures that Roger won't get far as his men would find him, cuing the arrival of the Toon Patrol in their L.A.P.D. paddy wagon.
After the Toon Patrol crash their vehicle, Doom asks if Eddie knows where Roger is, but Eddie feigns ignorance. Doom is not pleased with Eddie and his taking of this case so lightly, but his attention is soon drawn to the Toon shoe that escaped earlier, now cuddling up against Doom's shoe. Doom puts on a long rubber glove as he tells Eddie that he's been trying to reign in the insanity in Toontown by making Toons respect the law, before grabbing the shoe and taking it over to the Toon Patrol's vehicle. Out of earshot of Doom, Eddie asks Santino how Doom got to be a judge, and Santino reasons that Doom spread a bunch of cash around Toontown that bought the election for him. It is then Eddie asks about the large drum can the Toon Patrol had in their paddy wagon, and as Doom flings off the lid to reveal the bubbling hot concoction underneath, Santino reveals it to be Doom's surefire way to kill a Toon: A mixture of turpentine, acetone, and benzene, aptly dubbed "The Dip". With that, Doom executes the helpless Toon shoe, leaving Eddie in shocked disbelief as Santino looks away in distress. Once it's over, Doom confronts Eddie again, warning him that "this is how we handle things down in Toontown", and hope he of all people can agree with it.
Eddie returns to his office later to find Baby Herman outside of it, who tells Eddie that Acme left his will behind to entrust Toontown to the Toons should anything happen to him. Eddie sees that Acme had the will on him when playing pattycake with Jessica, but brushes it aside thinking its not his problem now. However, he changes his mind upon discovering Roger hiding out in his office to escape Judge Doom and the Toon Patrol. Eddie teams up with Roger to find the killer, resulting in them trying to hide Roger in a secret room at the Terminal Bar where Dolores worked. Eddie later runs into Jessica in his office, asking for his help, where she reveals that she was forced into playing pattycake with Acme under the threat of Maroon firing Roger and blacklisting him from ever performing in Hollywood again. Dolores comes upon Eddie and Jessica around that time, and is furious with Eddie, thinking he was cheating on her. However, once outside the building where Valiant & Valiant was located, Eddie tries to cheer Dolores up with planning another trip to Catalina Island, but Dolores reveals the real reason she came to his office: Cloverleaf Industries recently put the highest bid out for Toontown, and if Acme's will fails to show up by midnight that night, Toontown would be Cloverleaf's property to do with as they please. Eddie is stunned to learn Cloverleaf is buying up Toontown alongside the Red Car Trolley, but is forced to forget about it when he and Dolores hear Roger performing in the Terminal Bar.
Soon enough, Judge Doom and the Toon Patrol arrive looking for Roger, but none of the patrons are willing to give Roger's location up thanks to Roger's earlier entertainment before Eddie intervened. Doom manages to lure Roger out, but Eddie is able to prolong Roger's demise by convincing Doom to allow Roger a final drink. However, this causes Roger to suffer another allergic reaction to the alcohol, giving Eddie time to overpower the Toon Patrol, save Roger, and escape, busting Roger's fellow Toon, Benny the Cab, out of the Toon Patrol paddy wagon. After a harrowing chase involving the Toon Patrol and two L.A.P.D. motorcycle cops, Eddie, Roger, and Benny manage to give them the slip. During when they were hiding out in a movie theater after escaping the Toon Patrol, Eddie comes clean about his past by telling Roger of Teddy's death by the hands of a Toon, allowing Eddie and Roger to make amends for Eddie's earlier mistreatment of Roger and create a strong friendship between them.
Learning from a newsreel of Maroon having recently sold Maroon Cartoons to Cloverleaf Industries, adding on to what Dolores told him earlier about Toontown and the Pacific Electric Red Car Trolley, Eddie finds the connection he was looking for regarding Acme's murder, and heads to the studio to confront Maroon. After Maroon finds Roger's love letter (actually Acme's will) and snatches it from Eddie, when he returns it in anger, Eddie sprays him with seltzer water and decks him before dragging him to his feet and forces him to confess to Cloverleaf's intentions. Running Maroon's tie through the film projector, Eddie learns that Maroon could only sell his studios if Acme agreed to sell his property to Cloverleaf first. When Acme refused, Maroon planned to blackmail him with the pattycake pictures. He had no intent to see Toons destroyed. When Eddie demands info on that, Maroon pleads that if he confesses he's a dead man, but as Eddie fires up the projector again, Maroon concedes and only gets as far as telling Eddie that if Acme's will does not show up by midnight, "Toontown is going to be land of the free...", before a gun Eddie barely notices peering out from behind the blinds aiming his way fires on him and Maroon, striking Maroon several times before missing Eddie with the remaining shots and quickly retreats. When Eddie recovers, he sees Maroon dead from the wounds he suffered, and then spots Jessica fleeing the scene. After watching her car depart the studios, seeing no sign of Roger and realizing something's happened to him, Eddie gives pursuit of Jessica, tailing her until she enters the tunnel leading into Toontown itself.
Despite his hatred of Toons and trepidation to set foot in Toontown again, Eddie pulls out his trusty Toon revolver he was given by Yosemite Sam, along with its Toon bullets, who are more than happy to see action again and happily load up into Eddie's gun. After firing one of them to shatter his empty bottle of alcohol after dumping out the remaining contents to signify him giving up the bottle and returning to action with taking Toon cases, Eddie heads into Toontown. He ends up crashing into the back of Jessica's car while distracted by some Toon hummingbirds, which had crashed into a pile of Toon junk itself. Spotting what appears to be Jessica in an upstairs apartment window, Eddie heads up via an elevator manned by Droopy, suffering some of the effects of Toontown's Toon logic in the process. However, the Jessica he thought he saw is revealed to be the ugly Lena Hyena, who immediately charges Eddie to give him a kiss, forcing him to take shelter in the men's room to hide from her, only to find that the entire restroom is gone, leaving him dangling in midair before plunging towards the ground. He momentarily stops his fall grabbing hold of a clothesline, but Tweety ends up sending Eddie falling once more, this time running into Mickey Mouse and his rival, Bugs Bunny, who Eddie pleads for an extra parachute from, but Bugs, being the stinker that he is, gives Eddie a bag that contains a spare tire instead. Luckily, Eddie's potential splatter on the Toontown street is prevented when he is saved by Lena, who gives him a kiss like she wanted before, and his struggling to escape her sends him tumbling up the street. As Lena approaches to smother him again, Eddie's quick thinking in redirecting the street's center line into the side of a building leads to her knocking herself out cold.
- “Toons...gets 'em every time.”
Hearing footsteps in the nearby alleyway, Eddie carefully makes his way in, being momentarily distracted when his shadow pardons him for sneezing. However, Eddie soon hears Jessica behind him, aiming a revolver at him, and throws his hands up in surrender, not noticing another shadow with the same long-barreled gun that murdered Maroon taking aim at Eddie as he turns to face Jessica. Jessica quickly warns Eddie to look out behind him before she fires and causes the owner of the shadow aiming at Eddie to topple backwards, dropping his firearm. Eddie quickly turns his Toon revolver on Jessica and orders her to drop her gun, which she does, before showing him Maroon's murder weapon, and revealing that it was Judge Doom who pulled the trigger. She arrived at the studio to try and stop him, but was too late to do so.
- “That's right! You'll never stop me! You're dead! You're both dead!
- ―Judge Doom and Eddie
Eddie fires on Doom with his Toon revolver, but Doom ducks down a side alley, resulting in Eddie's Toon bullets taking off in the opposite direction. With no other option left, Jessica and Eddie return to where Jessica and Eddie crashed their cars, only to find Eddie's gone, along with Roger, whom Jessica explains that she knocked out with her frying pan and put in the trunk of her car for protection back at Maroon Cartoons. Eddie soon sees a path of carnage up the nighttime street behind them, and figures it must have been Roger. However, the Toon Patrol paddy wagon soon appears heading up the street towards them, and as Eddie tries to direct Jessica towards Gingerbread Lane, he summons Benny, who helps them escape back down the tunnel from Toontown, only for Doom to be waiting with a vat of Dip, which causes Benny to spin out and crash, knocking him out cold and flinging Eddie and Jessica to the ground. The Toon Patrol arrive shortly afterwards, and Doom has Eddie and Jessica captured and taken to the Acme Factory.
Once there, Doom reveals that with it being 15 minutes to midnight, and still no sign of Acme's will, Toontown will be legally his soon enough. When Doom announces his intent to retire soon, Eddie guesses it involves Cloverleaf Industries, and Doom reveals himself to be the sole stockholder before revealing his ultimate weapon to wipe Toontown off the face of the Earth, The Dip Machine. He then goes on to explain how he stumbled on a little plan the Los Angeles City Council was discussing recently, something called a "freeway". Eddie is stunned Doom went to all this trouble with murdering Maroon and Acme just for the freeway, but as Doom envisions what it will look like, Eddie scoffs at the idea by mentioning how people could take the Pacific Electric for cheap, only for Doom to bring up that he bought the Red Car as well to dismantle the trolley fleet, forcing people to use their own cars instead. Roger soon arrives and has the judge at gunpoint, but Greasy is able to knock him out with a ton of bricks, literally, and Eddie is forced to watch helplessly as Roger and Jessica are tied up, the Dip Machine is activated, and it looks like Doom has won. However, when Doom trips on some fake eyeballs, leaving the Toon Patrol laughing their heads off, Eddie tries to make a move to stop them, but Doom warns Sergeant Smarty of his intent, and Smarty keeps Eddie at gunpoint, under orders from Doom to shoot him dead once Roger and Jessica are Dipped.
However, as Smarty backs Eddie towards a large calliope machine, Eddie manages to start it up, playing The Merry-Go-Round Broke Down, as he puts his old clown tricks from his time with his father and Teddy in the circus to good use in getting the Toon Patrol to literally laugh themselves to death. As for Smarty, Eddie is able to kick him in the groin, sending him right into the Dip Machine's reservoir, dissolving him. However, just after Eddie diverts the Dip Machine's water cannon away from Roger and Jessica, he is forced to face Doom in combat, soon being pinned to a metal drum can by a Acme Toon Magnet as Doom prepares to crush him with an Acme steamroller. Eddie escapes thanks to an Acme Portable Hole, and when Doom tries to punch Eddie with a hand covered in Acme Glue, Eddie dodges, leaving Doom to get his hand, then his foot, stuck on the still-moving steamroller's front roller while Eddie deactivates the Dip Machine.
However, Roger soon has Eddie look over as, despite being squished by the steamroller, Doom survives, revealing himself to be a Toon as well. Eddie realizes that "that lamebrain freeway idea could only be cooked up by a Toon", only to soon discover to his horror that Doom is the same Toon who murdered Teddy, and is now out to kill him as well. Eddie tries to flee, but Doom is too quick, tossing Eddie aside before restarting the Dip Machine, sending Eddie flying across the factory floor, then moving in for the kill with his arm as a large, razor-sharp Toon buzzsaw. Eddie dodges Doom's first lunge as he goes for a Toon mallet that contains a spring-loaded boxing glove, rolls away to dodge the second, but as Doom prepares for a third lunge, Eddie raises the mallet and lets it fly, but while Doom easily sidesteps the attack, the glove ends up hitting the Dip Machine's Main Drain Valve, opening it and sending a rush of Dip flying at Doom, who barely has time to react in horror before he's sent flying by the initial blast as the Dip drains rapidly out of the Dip Machine and floods the floor of the factory, saving Jessica and Roger, but leaving Doom surrounded by his own concoction, which soon begins to do to him what he had done to so many Toons before that dared to cross his path, dissolving and killing him, allowing Eddie to avenge Teddy's murder once and for all.
The now-emptied Dip Machine itself is destroyed after breaking through the wall to Toontown as it is broadsided by a Toon train, and after Eddie washes the Dip flooding the floor of the factory down the drain with the factory's emergency fire hydrant system, he brings Roger and Jessica down and frees them. As Eddie looks over at Toontown with pride at saving it from certain destruction, his attention soon turn to the front of the factory as Benny and the L.A.P.D. arrive, including Dolores and Lt. Santino. Eddie helps clear up Roger's innocence as he presents the rope used to murder Acme and what's left of Doom's human disguise to Santino, thus vindicating Roger, before Mickey, Minnie, Goofy, Pinocchio, Snow White, Bugs, Daffy, and many other Toons emerge from Toontown to look over Doom's remains and wonder what kind of Toon he really was. Soon enough, when Dolores points out an ink stain on Eddie's clothes that Acme sprayed him with back at the Ink and Paint Club, when Roger reveals it to be Acme's Disappearing/Reappearing Ink, Eddie realizes that the love letter Roger wrote for Jessica is Acme's will, written in the same ink, and has Roger read it just as what Acme typed reappears, thereby entrusting Toontown to the Toons, and protecting it from further threats.
As the Toons celebrate, Roger wonders if Eddie's days of hating Toons are over, but while Eddie thinks so, Roger decides to test him by giving him a shock of Acme's Hand Buzzer. When Eddie shows contempt afterwards as he glares at Roger, everyone braces for the worst, only for Eddie to pick Roger up and give him a big kiss, revealing that his days of hating Toons are gone for good now that Teddy's death had been avenged, and together with Dolores, Roger, and Jessica, Eddie heads into Toontown as the other Toons follow after singing "Smile Darn Ya Smile".
According to Roger Rabbit: The Resurrection of Doom, Eddie has given up drinking, but now tends to consume jellybeans quite a bit.
In the non-canon sub-sequel set after the film, Who P-P-P-Plugged Roger Rabbit?, Eddie is adamant to no longer take any Toon cases but is forced to do so when Baby Herman, Roger Rabbit's costar, is found dead.
- Eddie's hard-boiled attitude seems to derive from Dick Tracy or other such detectives. In the 1988 film, he was made to portray the film noir detective character usually found in Humphrey Bogart or Alan Ladd, while maintaining the Dick Tracy attitude.
- Although little or nothing is heard about the methods employed by Teddy, the items on his side of the desk in shots of the Valiant & Valiant office suggest that he was based more on Sherlock Holmes, judging by the tobacco pipe and magnifying glass on his desk.
- Eddie looks like a composite of Peter Falk of the TV series Columbo and film private eye Philip Marlowe, wearing a shiny brown suit and beat-up fedora above a craggy face.
- Eddie's character is somewhat different in the movie. Rather than being a smoker, he is an alcoholic and having no facial hair whereas, in the novel, he has a beard.
- It should be noted that Bob Hoskins is British and has a Cockney accent, and Eddie was raised in California.
- In early screen tests for the film, Disney veteran Pete Renaday portrayed Eddie.
- Eddie is similar to Lucky Piquel in Bonkers.
- Although Eddie is the overall protagonist and has bigger plans, Roger drives the plot and is more iconic than him.
- Before Hoskins was cast, several other actors were considered for the part of Eddie.
- Harrison Ford was Spielberg's original choice to play Eddie, but he was too expensive for the part.
- Chevy Chase was the second choice to play the character, but was not interested.
- Bill Murray was also considered for the part, but due to his method of receiving offers for roles, he missed out on it.
- Eddie Murphy was also considered for the role, but reportedly turned down the role, and later regretted it.
- Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson, Sylvester Stallone, Wallace Shawn, Ed Harris, Charles Grodin and Don Lane were also considered.