Say Cheese and Die!
One boring afternoon in Pitts Landing, his home town, Greg and his friends, Shari Walker, Michael Warner, and Doug “Bird” Arthur dared each other into exploring the Coffman House, an old abandoned house reputed to be haunted, and believed to be occupied by a creepy old homeless man who was known to the local kids as "Spidey".
When they went into the basement, Greg accidentally uncovered a secret compartment in the wall, and opened it, showing a hidden cabinet shelf; on the shelf was a strange camera — the kind that snaps instant pictures. He used it to snap a picture of Michael posing on the basement stairs, when suddenly the railing gives way and his friend takes a nasty fall. Luckily Michael came off with only a sprained ankle, but then the friends heard Spidey returning, and they just barely escaped in time before he caught them. It is then that Greg realized that he still had the camera, but neither he nor any of the others were willing to go back to return it. Then he notices the picture he has taken with it depicts Michael falling through the stairway railing, which happened after the picture was taken, not during.
This lead to a series of weird incidents involving the camera during which Greg realized that the camera not only can predict the future through the pictures it takes, but somehow causes them to happen, and the events it foretells are always disastrous. When he took a picture of his father's new car, it is depicted as totaled from an accident, which happened while his father is driving it (although his father survived with a broken arm and ribs, along with a slight concussion). Later, he snapped Shari's picture at her birthday party, and although he had aimed it directly at her, her image was no where to be seen; then later she mysteriously vanished, only to reappear with no memory of where she's been after he ripped up her photo in despair.
When he realized that he is being stalked by Spidey (who was trying to get the camera back), Greg with Shari in tow decided to return the camera back to the Coffman House and leave it in the secret hatch where he found it.
But at the house, he and Shari are trapped in the basement by Spidey, who confirmed Greg's belief about the camera, saying it was the result of a curse brought about because he had stolen it from the man who created it. Despite the fact that the camera has destroyed his life, Spidey was determined to keep it a secret, and told Greg and Shari he intended to keep them prisoners in the basement in order to keep them from telling others about it. During a struggle between him and Greg, Spidey has his picture accidentally snapped by Shari, and died of fright (as depicted in the photo). Greg and Shari escape from the Coffman House and sent an anonymous tip to the police about Spidey's death, hoping that this will be end of the whole affair — unaware that two local bullies, Joey and Mickey, have found the cursed camera.
Say Cheese and Die — Again!
Greg Banks recounted the story of his encounter with the Camera as an essay for his English class, which he needed to pass in order to visit his cousins in Yosemite, California. But his mean teacher, Mr. Saur, refused to give him a passing grade, as he insisted that the essay had to be based on a true experience, and of course he didn't believe Greg's story about a camera that can predict the future. Despite the advice of Shari, Bird, and Michael, Greg decided to visit the Coffman House once more and retrieve the Camera to show Mr. Saur, hoping that by proving that it really can predict the future his teacher will have to pass him. Teasing from classmates about the camera motivates Greg all the more.
At the Coffman House, Greg discovered that a new family has purchased the house and thrown everything in there out, but among the debris he discovers the Camera, and when a young boy named Jon from the family tried to take it from him, Greg accidentally snaps his picture with it, which resulted in the boy having a carpenter's nail through his foot (as pictured in advance in the photo). The next morning, Greg ran into Shari, who tried to stop Greg from showing the camera, and in the struggle, they end up snapping each other's picture, which resulted in Greg gaining weight and becoming very fat while Shari finds herself wasting away. Greg's situation worsens as Mr. Saur cruelly mocks him in front of the class and embarrassing, angering Greg greatly. Greg's solution is to have his big brother Terry, who works at a photo shop, to take a negative of the photos, which reversed the effects and returned him and Shari to their normal shapes and sizes. Greg then decided to have revenge on Mr. Saur for not believing his story, being unfair by giving him an "F", making fun of him and embarrassing him in front of the class. Greg afterwards took the camera to Mr. Saur, who to his horror decides to prove if its powers are true by snapping a picture of him and the rest of the class. The results were completely unknown.
Greg is a kid who likes to have a good laugh with his friends. But sometimes he always ended up being the sensible one in the group (which he disliked because he felt everyone always made fun of the sensible one). But he proved to be a lot more brave and daring than Michael and Bird put together, and wouldn't stand for any nonsense from anyone who tried to pick on him. He thought Terry could be a real straight-arrow at times.
Greg can also be pretty stubborn when he makes a decision, even if it involved doing something dangerous. However, he does do his best at being careful with what he is doing. Greg chooses honesty and doesn't like lying to anyone, as it makes him feel bad for doing so. He is really close to his friends, and enjoys having fun and joking around with them.
In Say Cheese and Die!, Greg is said to be interested in cameras, and has an inexpensive automatic camera that takes OK snapshots, but is saving his money for a really good camera with lots of lenses; he usually browses camera magazines and studies the different models, picking out the ones he wanted to buy. Sometimes, he daydreamed about going to all kinds of places and taking pictures of what he saw there (such as mountaintops and hidden jungle rivers), and becoming a famous photographer.
It’s also revealed that Greg thinks his automatic camera is too crummy and that his photos came out either too light or too dark and everyone in them had glowing red dots in their eyes.
Greg is thirteen years old, Caucasian, athletic and good-looking with blond hair, flashing gray-green eyes and a wide friendly smile.
Television and film
- Although Greg's exact age is not given in Say Cheese and Die!, he indirectly reveals he is 12 years old in the sequel Say Cheese and Die — Again!. Greg mentions that his 16-year-old brother, Terry, is four years older than he is.
- Greg is one of four protagonists that was played by two different actors in the television series.
- Greg is one of two characters that did not narrate their first stories, the other being Carly Beth Caldwell.
- In Say Cheese and Die Again TV episode, Patrick Thomas (as Greg) wears prosthetics and a fat suit when Greg becomes obese.