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Filmation's Ghostbusters (1986)
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Western Animation / Filmation's Ghostbusters
Just to set the record straight, these guys came first... mostly. (The Bowery Boys' 1946 film Spook Busters was made under the Working Title of Ghost Busters .)
In 1975 Filmation created a series for CBS called The Ghost Busters, starring F Troop veterans Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch , as well as Bob Burns in a gorilla suit (yeah, this show was kind of odd). For this low-budget live-action series, Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch and Bob Burns played Jake Kong, Eddie Spencer, and Tracy note When you hear the names "Spencer Tracy and Kong", you'd probably think of the famous actor and a gorilla named Kong. Nope... the gorilla's name is Tracy who would receive a message from the mysterious, unseen "Zero" who would inform them that some spook or other was up to mischief, and the Ghost Busters would have to stop it. Hijinks would ensue as the Busters and the Ghosts would use every trick you could think of (and even some you wouldn't) to outwit each other. For fifteen episodes the show ran on a rather "random" style of humor and was finally laid to rest, reportedly out of a desire by the studio to devote their efforts to the popular The Secrets of Isis .
Fast forward to 1984. Columbia Pictures wanted to make a movie about a team of "paranormal investigators and eliminators," which they wanted to call, surprise surprise, Ghostbusters . The characters, setting and unique aspects of the storyline were completely unrelated to the Filmation series, but well into production, Columbia learned that Filmation already held a trademark on the name. After some negotiation, Columbia was able to license the name. With the movie going on to become a massive blockbuster, they decided to cash in with an animated series . At the time, Filmation had become an animation powerhouse thanks to their successful He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoons. They were very close to striking a deal to work with Columbia on the project, but when that didn't pan out, they thought they could cash in with their own show.
So we got the animated Ghostbusters . A sequel to the live-action series, this starred the sons of Jake Kong and Eddie Spencer (who have the same names as their fathers). Tracy is back too, though he neither looks nor acts anything like his live-action counterpart. Nevertheless, dialogue indicates that this is the same gorilla.
The new series followed the premise of its forebear and had the same style of humor, but there were significant alterations: the setting had changed — the Ghostbusters now worked out of "Ghost Command" in which they kept some ghosts as pets, had technology that verged on the blatantly magical such as a talking car that could fly through space and travel through time , and even a backdoor to some sort of alternate dimension, which they went into in every episode to " get into uniform ." The biggest change, though, was that they now had a nemesis, a sort of ghost-robot thing named Prime Evil, who operated out of "Hauntquarters" — an elongated house situated at the end of time or something — and commanded a legion of paranormal baddies. The mysterious "Zero" from the 1975 series was never mentioned; instead usually the GBs would either be contacted by someone (usually their reporter friend Jessica Wray) or else just realize something is up and take initiative.
Like its forebear, Ghostbusters animated only lasted one season. This time, the cause for failure was clearer: kids tuned in thinking that this was the show with those four guys with the Proton Packs, and it wasn't (that was The Real Ghostbusters ). Also, like the live-action series, Ghostbusters runs on a "random" style of humor, which isn't to everyone's tastes.
Both the live-action series and the cartoon are available in their entirety on DVD.
"Let's trope, Ghostbusters!"
Tropes common to both series include:.
- Bag of Holding : Tracy's Ghost Kit contains whatever our heroes need to deal with the ghosts.
- Disintegrator Ray : The Ghost Dematerializer zaps ghosts and sends them back to the great beyond.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot : The first show had villains like ghost vampires, a ghost werewolf, a ghost mummy and a ghost yeti. The cartoon had "ghost robots," whatever that means, like Scared Stiff and Prime Evil, who's also a ghost-robot- wizard . Then there's Scarechrome, who's a ghost-pirate-cyborg...and there was almost Tex Hex , a ghost-cowboy.
- Public Domain : Both series borrows a lot from classic mythology, literature, and sometimes film.
- Screeching Stop : They do this all the time, especially on their way to the Transformation Sequence .
- Silly Simian : Tracy the Gorilla is one of the heroes, while also providing some slapstick thanks to his primate nature note Tracy's presence comes from the tradition of Bowery Boys-era spook-shows, which sometimes saw a man in a gorilla suit menace the heroes .
Tropes particular to the live-action series include:
- Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti : The last episode featured the ghost of the Abominable Snowman.
- Birthday Episode : "A Worthless Gauze" took place on Kong's birthday and had Spenser and Tracy plan a surprise party for him.
- Black Box : Nobody understands how the Dematerializer works.
- Character as Himself : "Tracy 'trained by' Bob Burns".
- Defanged Horrors : All of the ghosts and monsters our heroes faced were severely nerfed in some way: Dr. Frankenstein is saddled with an incompetent monster; the Wolfman acts like a big puppy when transformed; the Mummy sprays dust everywhere and is deathly afraid of moths. Not so much "defanged" as "had all of their teeth pulled out."
- Demonic Dummy : The Phantom of Vaudeville had one that was not at all threatening or even scary . In a cute plot twist, the Phantom himself turned out to be the dummy, and the dummy was the Phantom .
- Disintegrator Ray : Their standard ghost-busting gadget, the Dematerializer. Amusingly, none of them really knew how it worked .
- "Do It Yourself" Theme Tune : Yes, that's Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch singing the opening theme.
- Eldritch Location : Two of them: the graveyard where the ghosts materialized and the nearby castle which they'd then use as their base of operations.
- The Fool : Spenser, to the point where the ghosts revolved their plans around him. For example, Dr. Frankenstein planned to make his monster more obedient by granting him the brain of "the world's most gullible fool."
- Ghostly Goals : Fulfilling these is the main motivation of the ghosts the Busters deal with. Unfortunately for all involved, said goals tend to be unethical at best and malicious at worst.
- Glamour Failure : The Witch of Salem attempts to trick Spenser using a spell to appear as a gorgeous woman, but the glamour doesn't appear to work on animals since Tracy only sees her true, ugly witch form.
- Hurricane of Puns : Dear God . Sometimes they were genuinely (so bad they were) funny; sometimes they were groan-inducing. Example: when faced with Count Dracula, Kong muses that they'll need a stake to defeat him. Tracy reaches into the Ghost Kit and produces a steak . Kong says, "No, a wooden stake ." Tracy raps against the T-bone — it is, in fact, a wooden steak .
- Jekyll & Hyde : A very weird example in the form of Jekyll and Hyde showing up as separate ghosts. Hyde is represented as a boorish caveman.
- Last-Name Basis : (Jake) Kong and (Eddie) Spenser. The former's first name wasn't even given in the original series.
- Lethal Joke Character : While the Mummy was in no way lethal , the dust he spewed from his bandages could diffuse the Dematerializer's beam. In addition, any touch from the Mummy could mummify anyone else, leading to hijinks.
- After the theme song plays, the show opens with a comedy bit at the Ghost Busters office. Spenser and Tracy will eventually do something to anger Kong, who will send them to go pick up their next assignment from Zero...
- ... along the way Tracy's atrocious driving will cause some kind of hijinks...
- ...and the message will self destruct in Tracy's face.
- Spenser trying to fight the temperamental filing cabinet to get a mission critical file. Actually factored into the Wolfman episode as the titular Wolfman tried and failed to obtain an amulet from the ever shifting drawers.
- Only One Name : Kong and Spenser usually refer to each other by last name. Kong's first name is only given in one episode, and Spenser is never actually referred to by first name. It isn't revealed until the cartoon sequel, where their sons, Jake Jr. and Eddie Jr., go by their first names instead.
- Only Sane Man : Kong is portrayed as a straight man to the more comedic and ineffectual Spenser and Tracy.
- Portrait Painting Peephole : The criminal Mr. C from "The Canterville Ghost" spies on our heroes through a portrait with eyeholes.
- Special Guest : Perhaps the best way to describe this show is Supernatural In the Style of the 1960s Batman TV show.
- Spell My Name With An S : Is it "Spencer" or "Spenser"? The opening credits have it the first way, but the door on their office has it the second way (For what it's worth, the actor whose name the gag comes from had it the first way too).
- Theatre Phantom : The villainous "Phantom of Vaudeville" and his ventriloquist dummy, Elmo, may be a reference to the Phantom, as both are masked, and, as Kong notes, "the only way to send a Phantom back is to unmask him."
- The Tape Knew You Would Say That : Zero is somehow able to respond to Spenser's remarks even though he only contacts the Ghost Busters through recorded messages.
- This Page Will Self-Destruct : Spenser and Tracy would go to a store to pick up a secret message from Zero, once the message was played, it would always blow up in Tracy's face.
- Two-Headed Coin : Spencer tries to win a coin toss with Tracy on who drives in one episode with one. Tracy wins by flipping Spencer into the wall.
- The Voice : Zero is only heard from the recorded messages informing the Ghost Busters of their assignment and never appears physically. Who he is/what he represents (Like, is there a nationwide organization of Ghost Busters and this is just one group?) is never gone into either.
- Weaksauce Weakness : A corollary to the Defanged Horrors aspect. Played with in the Phantom of Vaudeville: our heroes get rid of him by unmasking him, but this also means that the Dematerializer doesn't work on him.
- Who You Gonna Call? : Oddly enough, the original 1975 series isn't the Trope Codifier . Our heroes received messages from their boss, Mr. Zero, in a parody of Mission: Impossible .
Tropes particular to the animated series include:
- 65-Episode Cartoon : The cartoon lasted 65 episodes.
- Abnormal Ammo : The Ghost Gummer, Spectre-Snare, Bubble Blaster, Fright Freezer are all weapons with bizarre ammunition.
- Adaptational Badass / Intelligence : The fathers sure aren't the slapsticky duo they were ten years before. Kong can be seen all-but-effortlessly hefting a steel beam to make Scared Stiff crash on a mine cart — In the very first episode .
- Alliterative Name : The weapons listed above in Abnormal Ammo are all alliterations.
- All Trolls Are Different : "Father Knows Beast" has the ghost of a troll king break free of his can and plot to convert the people of Scotland into an army of trolls to conquer with. They're depicted as monstrous humanoids with disproportionate features like giant noses, hands and feet complete with warts. Tracy is even turned into one.
- Amazing Technicolor Population : The purple-skinned people of Futura's era.
- Amplified Animal Aptitude : Tracy the gorilla was a scientific genius in this series, when the original live-action show was average by human standards at best.
- Amusement Park : The episode "Rollerghoster".
- And I'm the Queen of Sheba : "Pretend Friends" has Ansabone receive a call from the President of the United States. Ansabone infers that he doesn't believe the President is who he says he is when he retorts that he is the King of Transylvania.
- And Knowing Is Half the Battle : Taken somewhat to extremes, even for a Filmation property. Each episode would end with a lecture, which would then be repeated (sometimes verbatim) in the moral at the end of the episode.
- Animated Adaptation : This cartoon is based on the 1975 live action series.
- Anything but That! : The ghosts sometimes say this to Prime Evil's punishments.
- Awesome Backpack : The Ghost Packs, which commonly served as Bags of Holding .
- Bad Boss : Most of the head honcho-type ghosts are pretty abusive and harsh to their minions.
- Badass Boast : Jake gives one to Prime Evil at the end of "That's No Alien". Jake : You don't scare us, Prime Awful. We'll be ready for you past, present, or future!
- Badass Normal : John Guardian in the episode "The Looking Glass Warrior".
- Barefoot Cartoon Animal : Belfry the bat doesn't wear shoes, unlike his fully clothed siblings.
- Be Careful What You Wish For : In the Halloween Episode , Kong and Spencer recall how cute their sons were as kids and say they wouldn't mind seeing that again. By this point, though, the boys and Tracy were turned into children by a witch working for Prime Evil.
- In "Prime Evil's Good Deed," Belfry stands up for Prime Evil when Ansabone and Shock Clock make fun of the ghost. In return, when Big Evil attacks Ghost Command, Prime Evil demands that he leave Belfry alone, and even attacks Big Evil with the Bubble Blaster (said act being the good deed that restores his powers).
- In "Belfry Leads the Way", two of the mole people are spying on the Ghostbusters to determine whether they're good or evil. When one of them falls from her perch, Jake tends to her injuries, convincing her that he and his comrades are trustworthy.
- Be Yourself : The Aesop of the episode "The Way You Are" - Eddie's wish of being a smart and strong hero is granted, but upon learning that his friends are worried sick about him, he decides that he'd rather be himself than some unknown hero.
- Big Bad : Prime Evil is the main villain.
- Black Magician Girl : Apparitia and Mysteria fight using magic. Futura counts as one too, when the writers remember she's also a magic-slinger.
- Bowdlerize : One episode takes everybody back to the Salem Witch Trials. Instead of being burned at the stake or hanged, the punishment for being accused of being a witch is that the person is tarred and feathered and chased out of town.
- Bratty Half-Pint : Even if one does not regard Belfry as such, Brat-A-Rat is professedly one. Corky, Jessica's nephew, is another one of these.
- Broad Strokes : The continuity is not very consistent, both internally and with the 1975 series. For instance, Jake and Eddie's fathers the original Ghost Busters are shown to have a Sentient Vehicle of their own in "Father Knows Beast" in spite of having an ordinary car in the original live-action show, while Belfry is shown to have relatives living in present day in spite of the Five-Episode Pilot establishing that he's from 100 years in the future. Somewhat justified in that the Ghostbusters can travel through time.
- Bubble Gun : A favorite in the boys' arsenal of weapons is a gun that shoots bubbles.
- Butt-Monkey : Eddie on the 'busters' side frequently suffers misfortunes, Scared Stiff for the ghosts.
- By the Power of Grayskull! : Eddie gets one in "The Way You Are": "Stand back, creatures of darkness and night, here comes the hero of Blackstone to make all alright!"
- Chained Heat : "The Bind That Ties" sees Eddie handcuffed to the ghost of the week. Since the handcuffs were made by Tracy explicitly to use on ghosts, they're stuck with each other until Tracy can finish making a key. Through this, the two reach an understanding.
- Chekhov's Gun
- Comical Angry Face : Prime Evil often does a humorous glare whenever he's vexed at his minions' incompetence.
- Cool and Unusual Punishment : Prime Evil regularly inflicted these on his minions. He'd blast Scared Stiff to pieces, chain up Sir Trance-A-Lot and pour water on him to make him rust, force Apparitia to sew Airhead back together, or stuff Haunter into his pith helmet.
- Cool Car : The Ghost Buggy is a sentient car that can turn into a plane.
- Cool House : Ghost Command. Also Hauntquarters.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive : Mr. Smythe, the human villain in "The Battle for Ghost Command".
- Covers Always Lie : In the back cover of the 2016 DVD "Ghostbusters Prime Evil", Jessica Wray the reporter is portrayed as a Sixth Ranger to the Ghostbusters and is seen using a Ghost Dematerializer which she only used once in the episode "The Sleeping Dragon".
- Cowardly Lion : Eddie was never as eager to fight Prime Evil's minions as Jake or Tracy, but he was always there when they needed him. He was also something of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass , as in at least one episode he wreaks so much havoc on Hauntquarters by himself that Prime Evil promises to call off his current Evil Plan if the other Ghostbusters will come and get Eddie.
- Creator Cameo : As in most other Filmation cartoons, Lou Scheimer voiced several characters, most notably Tracy the gorilla. He also voices Ansabone and Fibface.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass : Eddie. There are many episodes where he shows that he can be a good Ghostbuster, especially when Jake isn't around. Indeed, this could also be said about the ghosts, who are much the same way when Prime Evil isn't breathing down their necks.
- Crying Wolf : In "The Girl Who Cried Vampire", a young futuristic girl fakes a ghost attack to amuse herself, but it results in nobody but Eddie believing her when she says the two new people at the colony are vampires. Luckily, the other Ghostbusters realize that maybe she's telling the truth, and save the day.
- Cthulhumanoid : Mr. Squid, an Affably Evil ghost from beneath the sea. Despite his appearance, he sounds like Droopy from Tex Avery 's cartoons.
- Cyborg : Prime Evil has some cybernetics on his ghostly self, and it's presumably where the static in his voice comes from.
- A Day in the Limelight : "Father Knows Beast" for the fathers. An old enemy of theirs (Slort the troll) escapes captivity and wants revenge. With Jake and Eddie on the ropes, the original duo saddle up.
- Deadpan Snarker : Ghost Buggy was constantly making insulting remarks, usually about Tracy. Their answering machine, "Ansabone" would likewise always make some remark every time it took a message.
- Dem Bones : "Scared Stiff" was a skeletal robot ghost — and, of course, Prime Evil, at least from the neck up, was an example.
- Depending on the Writer : Lots and lots of things. For instance, in "A Friend in Need" the ghost Big Evil is Prime Evil's rival. In "Prime Evil's Good Deed" he's written as Prime Evil's boss.
- Detect Evil : Jake's ghost-sniffin' nose twitches whenever a specter is near.
- Deus ex Machina : Seemingly spoofed with Fuddy, Merlin the wizard's sidekick, who Jake can mystically ask for help during the night of the full moon. Fuddy's still an apprentice after 150 years, and Jake never gets what he asks for. Sometimes it turns out to be useful anyway, though.
- The Drag-Along : Eddie frequently tries to chicken out of missions, only for the others to drag him with them against his will.
- Dress-O-Matic : The Transformation Sequence involves one, as Jake and Eddie go through a machine that puts them into their Ghostbusters clothes.
- Early-Installment Weirdness : "Statue of Liberty" seems to have been one of the first episodes finished: The voice track sounds exactly like a recording in places (even on the DVD release!), and Apparitia's character and appearance hadn't been quite nailed down (she has an oddly Estelle Winwood -like voice rather than the Mae West characterization she usually shows). It even opens with the boys testing a "new" weapon that'd been established as existing in the first episode, before they even knew about stuff like their transformation chamber and talking car.
- Elevator Gag : Continually with the Skelevator.
- Elmuh Fudd Syndwome : Haunter, the "Bwitish"...er, British colonial hunter ghost. note He's also based on comedian Terry-Thomas . . Mocked by Prime Evil in one episode when Haunter claims that Prime Evil had interrupted his "midnight tea bweak". Prime Evil : TEA BWEAK??!!
- Enemy Mine : On more than one occasion do the Ghostbusters have to team up with Prime Evil to defeat an even eviler ghost, Big Evil.
- Episode Title Card : The cartoon had title cards for the episodes.
- Even Evil Has Standards : In "The Princess and the Troll" when one of Gimghoul's minions asks if he will put a spell on Princess Gwendolyn with his scepter in order to force her into marrying him, Gimghoul replies, "I find such crude methods distasteful."
- Evil Brit : Haunter, again.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good : In one episode Prime Evil has to team up with the Ghostbusters to defeat his rival, Big Evil. He can't wrap his head around the idea that they'll just help him against a bigger threat without being extorted into it, or backstabbing him while he's vulnerable, because that's what he'd do. And that's what he does.
- Evil Is Petty : Several of Prime Evil's evil plots revolve around taking out perceived sleights to his and other ghosts' image.
- Evil Overlord : Prime Evil clearly falls into the category of being a villain obsessed with conquering his opposition.
- Evil Sorcerer : Prime Evil is also a villain with magic powers.
- Brat-A-Rat is somewhat similar to Imp from She-Ra: Princess of Power , being an obnoxious, blue lackey constantly hanging around the Big Bad and mocking the underlings. However, whereas Hordak was protective of Imp, Prime Evil has no problem abusing Brat-A-Rat.
- Expressive Mask : Prime Evil's face is amazingly flexible for a skull.
- Fade Around the Eyes : At the end of the opening, Brat-a-Rat slaps Scare Stiff away and the screen fades to black, showing only his teeth as he laughs.
- Fat and Skinny : Eddie and Jake are respectively obese and thin.
- Fight Dracula : The Ghostbusters take on the infamous vampire in "Shades of Dracula".
- Five-Episode Pilot : The series began with a five-part episode.
- Flying Saucer : A fairly common feature on the show. Haunter's pith-helmet could expand to the size of a VW Beetle and function as one of these.
- Forgotten Phlebotinum : To be expected in a show where the writers basically made things up as they went along, but this even extends to the guys' signature weapons at times! For instance at the end of "Maze Caves" Scarechrome shows up and blocks the way out. Instead of just taking him out with one of their various anti-ghost guns, Jake decides the best thing to do is break off a stalagmite for an impromptu sword fight.
- Fountain of Youth : "Back to the Past" had Jake, Eddie, and Tracy made five years old as part of a scheme to scare them into not wanting to be Ghostbusters once the spell wore off and they became adults again.
- Fully-Dressed Cartoon Animal : Belfry's siblings.
- Gadgeteer Genius : Tracy invents all the team's equipment. Yes, Tracy the gorilla.
- Ghost Planet : A staple of the series.
- Ghost Ship : As sailed by Long John Scarechrome.
- Ghost Town : Shows up once or twice, most notably in "Eddie Takes Charge."
- Giant Spider : Apparitia creates one to attack Belfry in "Belfry Leads the Way", complete with web.
- Goofy Print Underwear : Jake and Eddie are seen in boxers with ghost-face patterns on them in the process of the Transformation Sequence .
- Great Big Book of Everything : The Ghostbusters' Manual. Infuriatingly, it is never mentioned again after the first episode.
- Great White Hunter : Haunter is the ghost of a stereotypical British safari hunter.
- Surprisingly, averted in at least two episodes. Though oil is a plot point in each, conservation of oil isn't the aesop. Especially bizarre in the episode about a "ghost" dragon that fed on oil, was melting the North Pole, and was defeated by his fire being extinguished. That episode's aesop? A complete non sequitur about fire safety.
- "The Bind That Ties" played it straight. Construction workers are tearing down trees in a jungle for a resort, so a ghost guardian emerges and attacks them. Eddie ends up in Chained Heat with the guardian and while he does sympathize with him after learning his motives, he still chastises him for endangering lives. Eddie proposes a compromise: build the resort among the trees, so that they can be preserved, the workers can do their jobs, and any visitors can learn to appreciate trees.
- Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal : Tracy the gorilla wears pants.
- Halloween Episode : The episode "Back to the Past" took place during Halloween.
- Haunted Headquarters : Both Ghost Command and Hauntquarters.
- Haunted House : Again, both Ghost Command and Hauntquarters.
- Haunted Technology : Nearly all the equipment in the office was some form of haunted skeleton, although the effect is much closer to Pee-wee's Playhouse than Poltergeist . The live-action series had this too, with a TV that sprayed water when a nautical-themed show came on and a filing cabinet with a mind of its own.
- Headless Horseman : Obviously, the episode "The Headless Horseman Caper." Subverted in that he isn't headless — he does have a head, but Prime Evil thought he'd be scarier if he were , so the Horseman stuck his head into his costume. When the head does pop out, it resembles a green-skinned, orange-haired Edgar Allan Poe .
- Heel–Face Turn : In "Second Chance", the Tooth Scaries change for the better and decide to stop being trouble-making punks.
- Hellevator : The Skelevator, again.
- Hoist by His Own Petard : The slimy Mr. Smythe, owner of a waste processing plant, is on the business end of this trope in '"The Battle For Ghost Command." He and his people have been illegally dumping toxic waste into the sewer that not only drives ghosts crazy with hunger but also causes the Ghostbusters' equipment to go completely haywire. When the ghosts come to eat the plant and all of its waste, all of Ghost Command's equipment (including the phone) is so thoroughly bonkers that the Ghostbuster don't learn about Smythe's situation until after they manage to clear out the waste causing the trouble. And by that time, the attacking ghosts have reduced the waste processing plant to rubble.
- Hollywood Hacking : The episode "Knight of Terror" involved this.
- Humiliation Conga : Prime Evil often suffers humiliating defeats, but "Outlaw In-Laws" might have been the worst of it. He had Belfry kidnapped in order to amplify his sonic scream so that it could be used against humanity, but then his obnoxious sister and even more obnoxious nephew arrive for a visit. They not only prevent him from completing his plan, but they reveal an embarrassing nickname to his underlings, the nephew keeps pulling pranks, and they cause Belfry to get free (which ultimately results in the bat getting into the amplifier and trashing most of Hauntquarters).
- I Choose to Stay : "The Looking-Glass Warrior" has Jessica's uncle, professional soldier John Guardian, fighting insect-like robots called Invertroids who kidnap humans into their "Lost Dimension" in order to possess their bodies and invade the Earth. In the end, John decides to stay in the Lost Dimension to explore it and prevent the Invertroids from trying to reach Earth again.
- I Don't Like You And You Don't Like Me : Never said , but certainly implied between Jake and Headless in "The Headless Horseman Caper." Justified, too: Many years ago, Headless and other ghosts caused the failure of Jake's great-grandfather's gold-mine.
- Incredible Shrinking Man : "Little Big Bat" had Prime Evil trick Belfry into using an amulet to shrink Jake, Eddie, and Tracy.
- In the Future, Humans Will Be One Race : By Futura's time it looks like "purple" has become the single ethnicity.
- In Name Only : This cartoon had no connection with the 1984 movie, though the popularity of the latter inspired the Revival of the 1975 series in animated form.
- Inept Mage : Fuddy.
- Inside a Computer System : "Cyman's Revenge".
- Intrepid Reporter : Jessica Wray.
- Jet Pack : The Ghost Packs can transform into jet packs called "Buster Thruster Packs." And no, that's not code for anything.
- The Klutz : One of Eddie's primary traits; he just keeps causing accidents left and right. This proves to be a major source of irritation for Prime Evil when Eddie is kidnapped and brought to his headquarters. Jake fully expects Eddie to cause havoc, and Eddie ultimately decides to run with it.
- Large Ham : Prime Evil, of course.
- Laughably Evil : Prime Evil and his bungling minions can be prone to humorous antics at times, Depending on the Writer .
- Leeroy Jenkins : In "Belfry Leads the Way", Belfry repeatedly charges in to get the bad guys without any preparation or backup, forcing his teammates to go after him.
- Losing Your Head : Scared Stiff often had his head fall off.
- Magic Knight : Sir Trance-A-Lot could put his opponents to sleep with his magical Trance Lance.
- Magic Music : Floatzart.
- Heroes: Prime Awful; Prime Weevil; Prime Juicehead , etc.
- Villains: Ghostbunglers; Ghostblisters; Ghostbummers, etc.
- Meaningful Name : Futura lives in the future.
- Merchandise-Driven : Subverted. Schaper's toyline didn't last as long as that of The Real Ghostbusters ; also, every single thing that was made as a toy also appeared on the show (however, several things that appeared on the show didn't make it into the toyline).
- Minion with an F in Evil : The Headless Horseman, who was so not-scary Prime Evil came up with the headless thing trying to make him moreso. He still only enjoys scaring people if it means they're having fun.
- Mirror-Cracking Ugly : In "The Princess and the Troll", the prince who's been turned into a troll at one point causes a mirror to shatter after looking at it.
- Monster of the Aesop : Occasionally subverted — an oil-drinking dragon melting the polar ice caps is not called out as a Monster of the Aesop, making it technically the subtlest Aesop in the series.
- Ms. Fanservice : Futura. And then some.
- Musical Assassin : Floatzart, again.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands : There are a ton of gimmicks at the heroes' disposal which activate more or less at random and have somewhat unpredictable effects (invisibility also conferring immateriality, for instance). The most powerful and reliable weapons — like a ghostbusting tactical nuke — only show up once.
- Nerf : The Dematerializer is a bit downgraded from its original form, since it has zero effect on certain ghosts (namely Prime Evil) and the Busters also deal with living or inorganic villains working with the ghosts from time to time.
- Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot : Most if not all of the ghosts are mashups of one or more different concepts.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup : Tracy's inventions are so unique that it's impossible to recreate them. Originally, this was to have been the case for the Dematerializer, but in the series proper, all three Ghostbusters carry Dematerializers!
- Non-Human Sidekick : Belfry the bat (and a boatload of haunted appliances) fills the position of a sidekick of a different species for the heroes, Brat-A-Rat for the villains.
- No-Sell : This is why Just Shoot Him doesn't work on Prime Evil. The Busters try using the Dematerializer on him in their first encounter, but he ignores the shot entirely.
- Old Faithful : Featured in "Belfry Leads the Way". During their attempt to conquer a race of mole people who live underground, Prime Evil and Apparitia wind up standing directly beneath the geyser. The Ghostbusters defeat Prime Evil by maneuvering him into getting caught up in the blast. Also used as the setting for Belfry's Aesop epilogue.
- Our Ghosts Are Different : The "ghosts" included a werewolf ghost and a robot ghost. Most of the enemy "ghosts" behaved an awful lot like corporeal monsters or regular animals, such as dinosaur "ghosts" and a few dragon "ghosts."
- Outside-Context Problem : The villains in "The Looking-Glass Warrior" are robots instead of ghosts, so the Dematerializer has no effect on them.
- A Pirate 400 Years Too Late : The Ghostbusters had to deal with the likes of Long-John Scarechrome, a cross between this and a Space Pirate . Heck, any ghostly pirates seen in the show embodied this trope.
- Plot-Driven Breakdown : The Dematerializer could take out most of the villains with one shot, which became a little problematic with the Genre Shift from slapstick -comedy more to action -comedy. For that reason it tended to get broken, lost or flat-out forgotten so all the problems weren't resolved in thirty seconds. Moreover, what it did and didn't work on was kind of fuzzy. Generally if a villain were one of the main group of bad guys, he could be dematerialized (Fangster and Scared-Stiff, werewolf and robot respectively, are both ghosts). If the villain were a non-ghost and showed up only once, he was safe. Prime Evil was an exception, as he was simply too powerful for the Dematerializer's blasts to affect.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad : Prime Evil's "Usual Gang of Idiots".
- Reasonable Authority Figure : The Ghostbusters to most of the kids (and quite a few fellow adults) on the show. If their parents say "there's no such thing as ghosts," they know instinctively that there are grownups who know that ghosts exist and will take them seriously. Interestingly, the Filmation and Columbia Pictures franchises share this in common: in the '84 movie, the police turn a possessed Louis over to the Ghostbusters.
- Reformed, but Rejected : In "The White Whale", Time Hopper initially refuses to see Captain Ahab as anything but an evil ghost, even though he has long set aside his grudge with Moby Dick and become friends with the whale. She comes around eventually.
- Retired Badass : After the Five-Episode Pilot , Kong and Spencer have left the business to their sons, but on occasion, they show they still have their busting chops.
- Reused Character Design : The vampires Victor and Vampra from "The Girl Who Cried Vampire" are blatant reuses of the character designs for Drac and Bella La Ghostly from Sabrina and The Groovie Goolies . Drac's bat transformations from Groovy Ghoulies are reused as well.
- Revival : This cartoon was a continuation of 1975 series, more or less.
- Rube Goldberg Device : As featured in the Transformation Sequence . Tracy was also fond of these.
- San Dimas Time : Seems to be in effect, if only because there's only one "future" the heroes routinely travel to.
- The series begins with Prime Evil being trapped in a cave by our heroes after encountering Eddie, Jake, and their fathers. After being stuck there for 100 years, he tricks Belfry into releasing him and starts using time travel to plan his revenge against our heroes.
- "Father Knows Beast" has a boy in Scotland accidentally free a ghostly troll king named Slort, who had been imprisoned in an urn by Jake and Eddie's fathers 40 years prior to the episode's events.
- Secret Legacy
- Sentient Vehicle : Both Ghost Buggy and Time Hopper.
- Sequel Series : The cartoon is a continuation of the 1975 live-action series.
- Serious Business : For Prime Evil the idea that humans can derive pleasure from being scared is enough to make him fly of the handle of the Hauntquarters and short-circuit. For him fear should be genuine submission and only a means of enforcement and domination.
- Shout-Out : The Ghostbuggy's overall shape, red paint job and incessant backbiting and bellyaching owes more than a passing debt to My Mother the Car . Its transformations, though, are pure Chitty Chitty Bang Bang .
- Sick and Wrong : There's an episode in which Prime Evil must do one good deed in order to gain his powers back. Upon hearing this, he muses, "How disgusting."
- Sidekick Ex Machina : The Ghostbusters would be completely screwed without Tracy around.
- SkeleBot 9000 : Scared Stiff — and Prime Evil, at least from the neck up, resemble skeletal robots.
- Sonic Scream : Belfry's "Belfry Blast".
- A literal one in the form of an episode featuring the ghosts of Captain Ahab and Moby-Dick , who had become friends in the afterlife. Y'know, 'cause Moby-Dick is now... a ''space whale''.
- Spin-Offspring : Two of the protagonists (Jake Kong Junior and Eddie Spencer Junior) are sons of protagonists (Jake Kong Senior and Eddie Spencer Senior) of the series it spun from.
- Stable Time Loop : In "Frights of the Roundtable", the Ghostbusters borrow Excalibur from King Arthur . In "The Secret of Mastodon Valley", they go back to prehistoric times. In order to defeat the Ghost of the Missing Link, they place the sword in a mountainside to cause an avalanche. In doing so, the Ghostbusters accidentally place the sword in the stone that King Arthur pulls it from.
- Status Quo Is God : The Ghostbusters get rid of evil spirits with a gun called the Dematerializer that sends ghosts to limbo...for a while, so they can be back whenever another script calls for them to be around.
- Stealth Pun : Jessica's last name is Wray, and she's the Love Interest for Jake Kong . Not only that, one of the other major characters is a gorilla.
- Stock Footage : Footage of minor scenes are frequently reused. The Transformation Chamber sequence is a particularly notable example.
- Suddenly Speaking : Tracy still never gets out a proper sentence, but in this show he can suddenly manage to growl out a basic "no problem" or "okey dokey".
- The Stool Pigeon : The posture that is most often seen employed by Brat-a-Rat is pointing with his pointer finger towards whoever of the unfortunate souls of his cohorts, that managed to upset Prime Evil in some way.
- Surrounded by Idiots : Prime Evil's minions probably became ghosts because they were Too Dumb to Live .
- Talking the Monster to Death : One of Jake's favorite tactics when fighting a villain too powerful to just zap away: taunting them until they get so mad they make some kind of fatal mistake.
- Team Pet : Belfry the bat serves as a mascot of sorts for the heroes.
- Taken for Granite : "The Sleeping Dragon" featured a dragon with stone soldiers who turned people to stone. Medusa of course also does this when she shows up in "A Friend in Need".
- Tempting Fate : "He Went Brataway" had Brat-A-Rat lie to the others about being left in charge while Prime Evil was away, which led to (among other things) a good chunk of their base being destroyed. When Scared Stiff explained what happened, Prime Evil left to go punish Brat-A-Rat. Scared Stiff expresses relief for not getting abused for once, only for Prime Evil to come back and zap him for listening to Brat-A-Rat in the first place.
- Time Travel : A recurring plot point thanks to Futura, the purple-skinned Ghostbuster from the future, and her Time Hopper vehicle is that the heroes travel through time.
- Timey-Wimey Ball : Time travel is safe, common, and highly resilient to change. Traveling back or forward in time is about as casual as going out of country. This is all because the Ghostbusters are paranormal gunslingers: they show up, get rid of the ghost, and get back to their normal time period before they can do any damage.
- Title Theme Tune : The complete lyrics: "Let's go, Ghostbusters! Let's go! Let's go, Let's go!"
- Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth : Prime Evil kidnaps Eddie to use as bait to trap Jake and Tracy. Jake, however, knowing Eddie very well, decides not to act. At Hauntquarters, Eddie's natural klutziness causes severe problems for all the inhabitants there. It got so bad that Prime Evil wound up calling Jake and begging him to take Eddie back. note This is similar to the She-Ra episode "Flowers for Hordak", where Hordak kidnaps Cloud Cuckoo Lander Perfuma, and ultimately begs the Great Rebellion to take her back.
- Transformation Sequence : The boys getting on their ghostbusting gear. One of Filmation's favorite methods for avoiding new animation, and pretty long even for them; unedited the sequence lasted over a minute and a half in a show with 22-minute episodes. Mind you, it was a pretty kickass sequence.
- Transforming Mecha : The Ghost Buggy, aka GB.
- Undying Loyalty : When Big Evil briefly overthrew Prime Evil, Haunter was the only one to stand with his old boss. Puns aside, considering Haunter's the only rival Scared Stiff has for sheer volume of Bad Boss abuse, that's pretty impressive.
- Verbal Tic : Prime Evil punctuates his speech with what sounds like radio static.
- Villain Respect : At the end of the Five-Episode Pilot , Prime Evil begrudgingly admits that the boys are worthy adversaries. Of course, it makes him hate them even more.
- Villainous Breakdown : Prime Evil tends to fly into a rage whenever his plans go south.
- Villains Act, Heroes React : A standard approach for shows like these: villains hatch a scheme, protagonists find out about it and try to stop it. "Witch's Stew" sees Prime Evil actively trying to exploit this. He sets up a haunting solely to lure the team into a trap so that he can steal and destroy the Dematerializer.
- Vocal Dissonance : Prime Evil is a powerful cybernetic sorcerer ghost, but his voice sounds more like Dan Backslide 's senile father than anything intimidating.
- Voice Changeling : Belfry's cousin Beauregard is able to imitate people's voices. He demonstrates this by mimicking Prime Evil's voice in "Country Cousin" and Jake Kong's voice in "Whither Why".
- Walking Shirtless Scene : Tracy never wears a shirt.
- What the Hell Is That Accent? : Count Dracula's accent in "Shades of Dracula" wavers between Transylvanian and Italian.
- Worth It : When Prime Evil's sister dropped by for a visit, an annoying nickname for him ("Itchy") was revealed. Scared Stiff laughed himself silly and used the nickname to Prime Evil's face. He got blasted to pieces, but he said it was absolutely worth it. It's the happiest he ever was in any episode.
- Wrong Genre Savvy : In "Father Knows Beast", Slort wants revenge against the Ghostbusters, but Jake and Eddie have no idea who he is. Because time travel is so frequent on this show, Jake initially thinks they've fought him at some point in the future, and he's come back for revenge. It's only when told Slort fought the Ghostbusters decades ago that Jake realizes he means their fathers.
- "YEAH!" Shot : The heroes do this on a regular basis.
- You Are Better Than You Think You Are : Eddie often has to learn not to sell himself short.
- You Don't Look Like You : Eddie and Jake's fathers are supposed to be Spenser and Kong from the original live-action series, but they have some noticeable inconsistencies in appearances. For instance, their clothes are completely different colors, Kong, Sr. has an 8 on his shirt instead of a 5 note the symmetrical 8 allowed animators to "flip" Kong's cels and thereby cut down on having to redraw him , and they both look a bit younger than they did in the live-action show.
- You Have Failed Me : Prime Evil says this to his flunkies quite often . He also acts on it on a regular basis, whether by blasting Scared Stiff to pieces or stuffing Haunter into his Pith Helmet.
- You No Take Candle : Air-Head Mummy talk this way.
- You Will Be Spared : Two kids unwittingly release a ghost bent on revenge against the family of one of them. He spares the kid as thanks.
Futura in the pillory.
Filmation's Ghostbusters has a scene with a pillory.
Example of: Stock Punishment
Alternative Title(s): The Ghost Busters , Filmations Ghostbusters
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A squad of supernatural investigators are Earth's only defense against an evil ghost wizard and his minions. A squad of supernatural investigators are Earth's only defense against an evil ghost wizard and his minions. A squad of supernatural investigators are Earth's only defense against an evil ghost wizard and his minions.
- Marc Richards
- Peter Cullen
- Alan Oppenheimer
- 25 User reviews
- 6 Critic reviews
- 1 nomination
- Jake Kong Jr. …
- Eddie Spenser Jr. …
- Prime Evil …
- Apparitia …
- Tracy the Gorilla …
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- All cast & crew
- Production, box office & more at IMDbPro
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Did you know
- Trivia According to Lou Scheimer , he received a call from a horrified viewer who assumed Tracy the Ape was a substitute for " Ghostbusters (1984) "'s Winston Zeddemore.
Jake Kong , Eddie Spencer : Let's go, Ghostbusters!
[slaps each other five high on the ceiling and then run into the Skelevator]
- Crazy credits The Filmation logo appears with a musical chime, and the "Presents" title is a scrawl rather than in a typeface.
- Connections Edited into WPIX, Filmation: Bust the Baddies Win the Goodies (1986)
User reviews 25
- Apr 11, 2001
- How many seasons does Ghostbusters have? Powered by Alexa
- September 8, 1986 (United States)
- United States
- Filmation's Ghostbusters
- Filmation Associates
- Tribune Broadcasting Company
- See more company credits at IMDbPro
- Runtime 25 minutes
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The Complete History Of The Real Ghostbusters, The Animated Series You Probably Forgot About
When it comes to beloved pop culture staples, 1984's "Ghostbusters" is right up there, a film with a little bit of everything. The Ivan Reitman-helmed horror-comedy spawned sequels and an extended franchise that has seen a few new feature film entries in recent years. Even before those, "Ghostbusters" remained a consistent presence in the public consciousness thanks to its memorable characters and catchy theme tune. For some children who grew up in the 1980s, their first exposure to the world of the Ghostbusters was the animated series "The Real Ghostbusters."
Released in 1986, "The Real Ghostbusters" follows Peter, Ray, Egon and Winston as they embark on madcap supernatural adventures. Along for the ride is secretary Janine Melnitz and Slimer, a gross little specter who essentially operates as the gang's pet and mascot. This crowd-pleasing cartoon was a wild ride at times, but, for as vibrant and captivating as it could be, the history behind "The Real Ghostbusters" is just as interesting. So grab your proton packs because this is the complete history of "The Real Ghostbusters," the animated series you probably forgot about.
It's called The Real Ghostbusters because of two guys and their ape
You might be wondering why the "Ghostbusters" cartoon was called "The Real Ghostbusters" and not "Ghostbusters: The Animated Series" or something like that. It probably has something to do with the fact that CBS produced a live-action kids show called "The Ghost Busters" in the 1970s. "The Ghost Busters" follows two paranormal investigators and their gorilla companion as they hunt and deal with ghouls, using their Ghost De-Materializer to send them back to the netherworld. Columbia had already started shooting "Ghostbusters" when it found out about this, and a number of less-catchy alternatives were considered, including "Ghoststoppers" and "Ghostbreakers." The issue still hadn't been settled when it came to filming a scene in which members of the public chant "Ghostbusters" in the street. "I got on a payphone and called Burbank and said, 'You guys have got to clear that name,'" producer Joe Medjuck told Vanity Fair .
The name belonged to a production company called Filmation, who allowed Columbia to keep the name "Ghostbusters" in exchange for $500,000 and 1% of the profits. They didn't think to include potential animated spin-offs in the discussion, and when "Ghostbusters" became a hit, both Columbia and Filmation decided to make cartoons based on their properties. Filmation founder Lou Scheimer told The Trades that he wanted to team-up with Columbia to make a cross-over, but he couldn't get enough support. "Our parent company then, Westinghouse, said, 'Oh, we don't need them.' And I said, 'Bad idea. I think we need them. Because they'll have one, we'll have one, and nobody will know what's going on.' And as it turned out, that's essentially what happened."
It was almost more like the movie
During the development of "The Real Ghostbusters," a short test film was made to provide a sample of what the series would be. This isn't an uncommon practice in the world of animation. The test short for "Batman: The Animated Series" has all the hallmarks that the show would become beloved for and the design of Batman doesn't change. That's not the case with the "Ghostbusters" cartoon. Clocking in at about four minutes, the test short for "The Real Ghostbusters" is a bit different from the eventual series.
The short sees the boys contend with a bunch of different ghouls, with appearances from previously established ghosts like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man and the franchise's eventual mascot Slimer. It also showcases some new ghosts and creatures that the series would feature via its monster-of-the-week format. The feeling of the eventual series is there, but the main difference between the short and the show is that the Ghostbusters all look different from each other in the final product.
Rather than all wearing beige, the Ghostbusters wear clothing of various shades, presumably to help younger viewers tell them apart. The designs were all just different enough that they were distinct from their live-action variants. One major change is animated Egon having blonde hair. There is also Winston's lack of a mustache, and Venkman's lack of resemblance to Bill Murray .
Some of the voice cast still get fan mail
An animated series lives and dies on the quality of the voice acting. In the case of "The Real Ghostbusters," producers assembled a talented team of actors for the main cast. Providing the voice for Ray Stanz and Slimer, as well as countless other ghouls on the show, was the voice acting veteran Frank Welker, perhaps best known for his portrayal as Megatron on "Transformers." Next up, we have Janine Melnitz, the Ghostbusters' snarky secretary, voiced here by Laura Summer, best known as Patamon from "Digimon Adventure." According to Melnitz, she simply copied her mother's New York accent. "It wasn't as extreme as Janine's but she really spoke like that, so it was a very easy slip for me," she told Source Elements .
Stepping into the boots of Winston Zeddemore was talk show host and comedy legend Aresnio Hall. Then we have Maurice LaMarche, the man behind the Brain from "Pinky and the Brain," as the Ghostbusters' resident tech whizz Egon Spengler. According to LaMarche, he still gets fan mail from viewers all these years later. It has "tremendous staying power," he said in an interview included on the DVD release of "The Real Ghostbusters." The actor believes the show is living on because people who were kids at the time are now showing it to their own children and reliving their childhoods in the process. Last but certainly not least is Lorenzo Music — the animated voice of Garfield — as Peter Venkman.
The toy line was a big part of the show's success
You can't talk about "The Real Ghostbusters" without discussing the successful toy line. The 1980s saw a tsunami of cartoon-inspired action figures, dolls, and play sets. From "Transformers" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" to "My Little Pony," there were a number of popular franchises in the toy stores. Back then, toy sales were a huge deal for a franchise. "Television programs that feature heroes and villains drawn from the toy-store shelf or developed in conjunction with the marketing of toys, once banned by Federal regulations, are booming in the free-market era of the current Federal Communications Commission," The New York Times reported in 1986. "Mattel's 'He-Man' line of toys, for example, featured in its own television series, brought in an estimated $350 million in sales last year."
Among these successful brands were the toys produced by Kenner for "The Real Ghostbusters," which were just as creative as the show itself. Today, the action figures and proton pack play sets are collectors items and can fetch thousands of dollars on the market. A can of colored ectoplasm in mint condition will set you back $2,000, per Good Find Toys . Kenner's "The Real Ghostbusters" toy line is remembered so fondly that Hasbro decided to bring it back in 2021. Its so-called Ghostbusters Kenner Classics line debuted with six figures: Peter, Ray, Winston, Egon, the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, and, of course, Slimer.
Changes to Janine's design caused some behind the scenes drama
In the late 1980s, ABC was keen to compete in the kids market, and the network wanted to make sure it was getting the most out of its cartoons. Execs turned to the Q5 Corporation, a consultancy firm that used cold, hard data to inform marketing decisions. They decided that Janine was not child-friendly enough, and the character got a major overhaul. Initially, the Ghostbusters' secretary was presented in a very mature way, with decade-appropriate hair, pointy glasses, and a feisty attitude. Come Season 3, gone were her sharp glasses and more angular hair, replaced by a softer and more gentle design. The new design was "warmer" according to Jennie Trias, ABC's vice president of children's programs, but not everyone agreed with the changes.
Speaking to the Los Angeles Times in 1987, story editor J. Michael Straczynski said that Q5 wanted them to "knock off all the corners" when it came to Janine's look. "Janine was a strong, vibrant character. They wanted her to be more feminine, more maternal, more nurturing, like every other female on television." He went on to call Q5 "a truly insidious organization" and accused it of making tone deaf decisions. "I think they reinforce stereotypes — sexist and racist. I think they are not helping television, they are diminishing it." Straczynski has not softened his stance over the years. In 2018, he went into more detail about Q5's overhaul of Janine in a tweet , claiming that the character's iconic pointy glasses were axed because the firm's research showed that sharp things scared kids. "I said show me your data. They fell back on High Priest logic, PhDs etc."
Some voice actors were swapped out
Going hand-in-hand with her Q5-ordered redesign, Janine's original voice actor Laura Summer was replaced with Kath Soucie, the woman behind Maddie Fenton on "Danny Phantom" and Mom from "Dexter's Laboratory." Janine's transformation was so jarring that the writers of the show came up with an episode titled "Janine, You've Changed." The episode provides an in-universe explanation for Janine's altered voice and appearance. It's revealed that Janine had been using a fairy godmother — later revealed to be an evil entity — to change her looks via supernatural means.
Janine wasn't the only character who was voiced by more than one actor over the course of the show's seven seasons. Venkman's voice actor Lorenzo Music was swapped out for David Coulier from "Full House" fame toward the end of Season 2 (Coulier later reprised the role in "Extreme Ghostbusters"). Winston also had a change in voice actor, going from Arsenio Hall to Buster Jones in Season 4. Jones also played Blaster on "Transformers," making him an important figure in '80s pop culture.
Slimer takes centerstage
Alongside the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Slimer is the most recognizable ghost in the "Ghostbusters" canon by a wide margin. Speaking to Bloody Disgusting , special effects artist Steve Johnson confirmed that the Slimer seen in the film was inspired by the late John Belushi. The role of Venkman was written for Belushi, but he died before the film was made. His friends on the cast thought that this would be a great way to honor him, even if it meant a total overhaul at the last minute for Johnson. "I'd been working for six months sculpting hundreds of Slimer variations, and they finally said, 'Make him look more like Belushi,' and I said, 'What the f*** are you talking about?'"
It might have sounded like an odd request, but it was clearly the right call, as viewers reacted well to Slimer and the green ghost quickly became the unofficial mascot of the franchise. Slimer's increased popularity led to progressively more screen time dedicated to him on "The Real Ghostbusters," especially in the show's later seasons. The show cemented this elevated status by changing its name to "Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters" in Season 4. This new name and format brought with it an additional 30-minute segment that usually had three short Slimer cartoons in it.
The creators were given a lot of freedom at first
In the early days of "The Real Ghostbusters," the creative team had a lot of freedom when it came to the content of the show, which was part of the appeal for them. "I loved it enormously, because it was really an opportunity to cut loose and be very obscure, to bring all the classics of science fiction, fantasy, and horror to a genre for kids," writer and editor J. Michael Straczynski told IGN , adding that he even touched upon some serious topics in his episodes. "I did stories about child abuse, and more serious stories about older characters — it was great. It was a great opportunity."
This all changed when ABC brought in consultants who advised against anything even remotely edgy — and we're not just talking about Janine's glasses. All the characters needed to have "identifiable roles," Straczynski explained. "Peter is the con-man, Egon is the brains, Ray is the builder, and they said, 'Make Winston the driver.' Winston being the Black guy." Straczynski refused to go along with this and threatened to walk away if the powers that be failed to side with him. They were adamant about the changes, and Straczynski made good on his threat, walking away from his beloved show. "I always tell people that when I work for them, I have very few rules: I don't lie, I don't bulls***, and I never ever bluff. If I say I'm going to go, I'm going to go."
If you or someone you know may be the victim of child abuse, please contact the Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline at 1-800-4-A-Child (1-800-422-4453) or contact their live chat services .
There's a lesser-known sequel series
"The Real Ghostbusters" went off the air in 1991, leaving the animated part of the franchise dormant for over half a decade. In 1997, a new animated series called "Extreme Ghostbusters" came out, a spin-off from "The Real Ghostbusters" that followed the next generation of busters. In "Extreme Ghostbusters," we learn that the original Ghostbusters team is no more, having gone their separate ways following the end of the original show. The firehouse is abandoned aside from Egon, who has remained to take care of Slimer, monitor the containment unit and teach a class about the supernatural at a local NYC college.
When there's a surge of ghostly activity in the city, Egon recruits four of his students to be the new Ghostbusters. The new squad includes an occult expert named Kylie Griffin, a burnout named Eduardo Rivera, a paraplegic athlete named Garrett Miller, and a tech whiz named Roland Jackson. Sadly the series didn't last beyond one season, but it is still remembered as a curious time capsule of the late-90s.
You Know Who To Call Part 1: A Detailed History of the 'Ghostbusters' Movies, Cartoons, Comics, and Merchandise
You Know Who To Call Part 1: A Detailed History of the GHOSTBUSTERS Movies, Cartoon THE REAL GHOSTBUSTERS, Comics, and Merchandise.
If you missed You Know Who to Call Part 2, click here .
“Okay, so, she’s a dog.” And yes, they, “conjured up a hundred-foot marshmallow man, blew the top three floors off an uptown high-rise, and ended up getting sued by every city, county, and state agency in New York. Yeah, but what a ride.” If quotes like these don’t ring a bell, it’s because time has silenced the echoing bell that once brought a team of exterminators to assemble for action in an old ambulance. If it sounds crazy, maybe it was, but they were ready to believe you. Since falling out of business, less and less may have come to believe in them. The Ghostbusters cleaned suites and streets of paranormal activity. The Ecto-1 may need a jumpstart, but let’s take a ride down memory lane after the jump.
It’s May 8, 2013, as I begin to write this. If it was circa 1984, it would be officially known: a) that George Orwell was a little too pessimistic when writing his signature book; and b) that as of today it is exactly a month until Ghostbusters arrives in theaters. Ghostbusters wasn’t based on any source material. It was based on something a little rarer: original material.
The concept was inspired by Dan Aykroyd's own fascination with the paranormal and it was conceived as a vehicle for himself and friend John Belushi, another fellow Saturday Night Live alumnus and the other half of The Blues Brothers. Tragedy struck early on to curtail that plan. Akyroyd was sitting in a production office, at 150 Fifth Avenue on March 5, 1982, writing a line for Mr. Belushi’s character when he received the call: his dear soul man was dead in Los Angeles. The news hit fans, friends and family hard. But as always, the show must go on. It had to go on as ideas of passion never loosen their grip.
“We’re ready to believe you." - The Ghostbusters
As written by Aykroyd, his concept was different from what was eventually filmed. In the initial version, a group of Ghost Smashers traveled through a mix of space, time and dimensions combating the paranormal which engulfed the environment wherever they arrived. The actor-to-be-known-as-Stantz pitched his story to director Ivan Reitman. You can maybe imagine Reitman nodding at points and then saying how he likes the basic idea, followed by a dreaded, “But…” Sure enough, he immediately saw the budgetary impossibilities in the first draft. At his suggestion, Harold Ramis, who Reitman had worked with on Stripes , was brought on to skillfully ground the fantastic elements of the high-concept premise. Aykroyd and Ramis hammered out the script over three weeks in a Martha's Vineyard bomb shelter in the summer of 1982.
Casting had to be set. With Belushi dead, the role of Peter Venkman went to former Saturday Night Live cast member and current rising star Bill Murray, who Retiman had earlier worked with on 1979’s Meatballs . Rising star Eddie Murphy ended up being too busy with Beverly Hills Cop to put in any teamwork on Ghostbusters . As for Louis Tully, who was originally conceived as a conservative man in a business suit played by comedian John Candy, commitment issues lead the way for Rick Moranis to step in and provide a new beat of nervous, geeky comic humor. Gozer would end up being filled by a skin-tight-costumed Yugoslav model by the name of Slavitza Jovan, replacing the original plan of Ivo Shandor as a slender man in a suit played by Paul Reubens. But while Jovan triumphed with her figure, her voice and accent didn’t cut it. The demonic voice of Gozer was provided by Paddi Edwards in the final cut.
The changes and polishing of the plan for the movie didn’t stop in the casting department. Over in the storyboarding room, the Ghostbusters wore SWAT-like outfits and riot squad helmets with movable transparent visors, and used wands instead of Proton Packs to fight the ghosts. All came together when the film score was composed by Elmer Bernstein, notable for his use of synthesizers and, his 1980’s staple, the ondes Martenot. So with all that, could anyone have confidently predicted which way the movie would go with moviegoers? It did well with test audiences, but it’s always the box-office that is the final and ultimate test. Roberto C. Goizueta, the then chairman of Coca-Cola, which owned the studio, was skeptical of Ghostbusters digging itself into a gold mine after a cost of $30 million. Sure, it was a movie not closed off to segments of the market, as all ages could enjoy the movie, but there was a consensus with critics that big effects largely ruined comedies. Add to that, Columbia Pictures hadn’t had a hit since 1982’s Tootsie . Only half the paranormal-exterminating team was familiar to audiences, so would anything change in 1984 with an action-comedy mesh? Let’s visit the weekend after Ghostbusters’ release day: June 8, 1984. Theaters are open and accepting patrons. What will the weekend and beyond hold in store?
“We got one!” -Janine Melnitz
Specifically: a $13.6 million take on opening weekend, a studio record of $23 million in its first week, a #1 position at the box-office for five consecutive weeks, grossing $99.8 million in that time. After seven weeks at the top of the leader board, it was finally knocked to second place by the debut of Prince's Purple Rain . But by then it had grossed $142.6 million, second only to Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom as the year's top moneymaker. Then came a reversal of direction in the box-office race: Ghostbusters regained the top spot the following week.
The movie went on to gross about $229 million at the domestic box-office, making it the second highest-grossing film of 1984, behind only Beverly Hills Cop . That figure put it within the top ten highest-grossing films of all-time. A re-issue in 1985 gave the film a total gross of $238.6 million, officially surpassing Beverly Hills Cop and out-sliming all to make Ghostbusters the most successful comedy of the 1980’s with earnings of $238.6 million domestically.
Assisting the film’s triumph was its theme song written and performed by Ray Parker, Jr., and sparking the catchphrases, “Who you gonna call?” and, "I ain't afraid of no ghost." The song was a huge hit, staying #1 for three weeks on Billboard's Hot 100 chart and #1 for two weeks on the Black Singles chart. The music video with Ray Parker Jr., directed by Ivan Reitman and starring actress Cindy Harrell, had its fair share of celebrity cameos with the likes of Chevy Chase and even John Candy popping in to answer, “Ghostbusters!” The song earned Ray Parker Jr. an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Song. It lost to Stevie Wonder’s I Just Called To Say I Love You from The Woman In Red, but it won hearts and minds in pop culture and an iconic status in history crossing the fields of music and film.
Ghostbusters propelled all of the film’s stars to a new level of fame and brought an undermined genre respect. Luckily for us, the movie thoughtfully combined sly humor and blockbuster special-effects by taking each seriously, a skillful task, and having fun with them both like a delicate ballroom dance between dramatic bulls. The use of adults made the suspension of disbelief quite easy for all ages in America put under the spell of Ghostbusters in 1984. There was a maturity put to this wide-eyed dream of ridding rooms of ghosts for a living that adolescence could never capture and a juvenile mind could latch on to. Yes, kids became pseudo-scientists when the details of the wondrous technology used by the Ghostbusters served to be accessible. All was able to be understood like a researcher explicating his groundbreaking invention and his or her peers following the process that is so theoretically simple and yet so practically provoking. Every child growing up loved instances that left it up to them to teach Mom and Dad about topics to which parents had only ignorance to offer. While fractions were just being taught at school and sex education was still a few years off, nuclear devices were something the kids could excel in.
So during dinnertime, it played out as a little boy, for instance, illustrating a blueprint of the Ghostbusters’ primary tool-of-trade on his dinner plate with mashed potatoes, snap peas and evil Brussels sprouts as the paranormal culprit, while simultaneously educating:
“The Proton Pack consists of a handheld Neutrino Wand, also commonly referred to as a Proton Gun, connected by hose to a backpack-sized nuclear accelerator. A particle accelerator propels said particles to high speeds and contains them in well-defined beams. And so, the pack functions like a complex mobile positron collider, smashing high-energy positrons together to generate an excess amount of charged protons. The blasting component fires the by-product of this process in the form of a positively-charged stream of protons that polarizes the negatively charged energy of a ghost, allowing it to be held in the stream like a lasso. The proton streams produced by the devices are semi-controlled; meaning they are concentrated in direction, but still volatile. Beware as unpredictable effort will still be needed to wrangle your entity into an optimal position to finish the job. Operated by a remote pedal, the complimentary unit known as a Ghost Trap emits a force field that vacuums the apparition into the confines of the trap to be held indefinitely. Practice makes perfect, but congratulations: you’re on your way to becoming an honorary Ghostbuster. Oh yeah, and an important safety tip: don’t cross the streams. Crossing the streams can result in total protonic reversal; causing all life as we know it to stop instantaneously and every molecule in a user's body to explode at the speed of light. As I said: important safety tip.”
All of to which Mom and Dad would freeze in shock with their mouths possibly gaping and their eyes certainly popping. Or they’d maybe squeeze my cheek and stir the hair on my head like a pooch. Parents are adorable that way: how little they’ve always comprehended about the goings-on of an aspiring Ghostbuster.
As for the suspicious gold mine, the franchise burgeoned as a bonanza. Produced by Columbia Pictures Television, DiC Enterprises, and Coca-Cola Telecommunications for a limited time until it was folded into Columbia, The Real Ghostbusters was an animated take that ran from September 13 of 1986 to 1991. “The Real,” was added to the title after a dispute with Filmation and its Ghost Busters property, which had been a live-action show from 1975. When Columbia Pictures started producing the film Ghostbusters , it neglected the fact that Filmation had already produced a live-action comedy series with that same name in 1975. Columbia agreed to license the name from Filmation for $500,000 plus 1% of the profits. As per Hollywood accounting practices, Filmation would never get anything from the profits because there were none as far as the balance sheet was concerned.
After the movie came out, there was some room to reteam in the cartoon world. Filmation mistakenly never asked for the animation rights as part of their early settlement, but Filmation and Columbia tried working together to produce a cartoon based on the feature film. The proposed deal eventually fell through and a duel began. Columbia moved forward with DiC Enterprises and Filmation tried to capitalize on their own by creating their cartoon entitled Ghostbusters, which was based on their live-action show. Columbia retaliated by proceeding to name their cartoon show The Real Ghostbusters to directly distinguish it from the Filmation show. Both shows premiered in September of 1986 only a few days apart. Filmation got the lead with a date of September 8, but most people were unfamiliar with the original show more than a decade old at that point and saw Filmation’s product as a copy. Columbia had won. Filmation’s Ghostbusters lasted for 65 episodes from September to December 5, 1986. The Real Ghostbusters continued the adventures for years of the famous paranormal investigators, their secretary Janine Melnitz and their mascot ghost, with a much-expanded presence from the movies, Slimer.
The show had a considerable list of talent behind it who made well-known careers. Joseph Michael Straczynski acted as writer and story editor on The Real Ghostbusters for a period of time. He’s written many comic books since, won a Hugo Award, and scripted numerous shows, having also won an Eisner Award. He wrote 2009’s The Changling starring Angelina Jolie and directed by Clint Eastwood. Ernie Hudson was the only original actor to audition to voice his character, but he would end up losing the part to talk-show-host-to-be Arsenio Hall. Without a noted background, Ernie Hudson had been sidelined from much of the marketing and promotional materials early on for the movie. The studio went with focusing on the first three actors for posters more often than not. Arsenio Hall continued the role of Winston Zeddemore until Buster Jones ( Transformers ) took over voicing duties in Season 4 until the very end. Egon Spengler was voiced by Maurice LaMarche ( Futurama ), Ray Stantz/Slimer by Frank Welker ( Animaniacs ) and Louis Tully by Rodger Bumpass ( SpongeBob Squarepants ). Lorenzo Music ( Garfield And Friends ) and Laura Summer voiced Peter Venkman and Janine Melntiz respectively for the first two seasons until Kath Soucie ( Handy Manny ) took over Janine and Dave Coulier ( Full House ) managed Venkman from Season 3 to 7.
Although the Ghostbusters concept was tinkered with, the finalized show did feature many tie-ins from the films. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and Walter Peck made appearances with Gozer mentioned repeatedly. The uniforms, from beige to color-coded, character looks and containment unit were redesigned, and Slimer was reframed from a bad ghost to a lovable resident and friend explained in one episode, although he would still continue to be a pesky character. In the third season, some of the character designs were modified a little further in shape, style or size in regards to Ray Stantz, Slimer and Janine Melnitz. At the start of the series' third season in 1988, it was re-titled to Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters . The opening was completely redone to revolve around slimy apparition. Eventually the episodes were expanded from their original half-hour format to last an hour, and the overall feel of the show was changed in exchange for a more youthful and lighter tone.
The Real Ghostbusters on its own spawned comics and a popular toy line of figures and role-playing gear manufactured by Kenner that would run for years alongside the show. The toys were expansive and kept Ghostbusters alive. Ironic that the animated show had a more impressive list of toys than the movie itself did, but it was around longer. Heck, Heinz even had a canned pasta soup branded after it that stayed in production well into the 1990’s past the stamina of original scripted material. The franchise wasn’t one spawning film after film. But with so much success on screens in multiplexes originally and then homes, Columbia Pictures was thirsty for a sequel. Its principals and creators were a little less enthusiastic at first. This wasn’t a franchise thought of from the start as a continuous stream. The first movie was designed to be conclusive, had supercharged success and no one wanted to run its legacy into the ground. Eventually, the writers went back to work, the cast began signing on to have some more fun and Ivan Reitman came back to direct. The gang was back.
In 1989, audiences revisited the Ghostbusters. After exorcising Gozer from Central Park West and escaping the gooey onslaught of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, they had ended up being sued for the destruction they were blamed to have wrought; they went through bankruptcy, and a Federal restraining order forbidding them from performing any more ecto-exterminations. Egon Spengler was now back at Columbia University, Ray Stantz was running an occult bookstore and Peter Venkman was the host of a cheap paranormal-themed talk show. Ray and Winston Zeddemore were also doing events and parties under their business’ brand on the side, but their popularity wasn’t what it used to be. Youngsters barely knew who they were. Dana Barrett broke off her romance with Dr. Venkman and had a baby who would become the primary focus of Vigo The Carpathian.
Anticipating a second tsunami of fandom, a major marketing and merchandising push was implemented on all fronts to exploit the glory of 1984. With coloring books, comics and kids meals, nothing was off-limits as video games were released as late as 1990. Holding on to the first theme song, a fresh one was also co-written by Ray Parker Jr. and recorded by Run–D.M.C. Though an attempt to be hipper amongst a growing rap movement, it wouldn’t make as big of a splash in pop culture as Ray Parker Jr.’s hit.
The second film turned in an extravagant profit after starting its run by making more than double what the original did on opening weekend and ending with about $215 million at the worldwide box-office. International audiences boosted their dollar value contribution by double from the original go, but the film nonetheless ended up pale in comparison to the original like the customers themselves that make the call for the Ghostbusters. The final tally at home for Ghostbusters II was a little over $112 million, healthy like an Olympian, but less than half of the first movie’s domestic take. Did the June 16 th release not do the movie, set near New Year’s, any favors? Was the film just a less-exciting companion that didn’t offer much except replacing Stay Puft with the Statue Of Liberty in the finale? Maybe too much was left on the cutting room floor: like a deleted segment that had Ray Stantz possessed and maniacally driving the Ecto-1 to kill, only to eventually be socked by Winston Zeddemore and have the car skid into a tree. They did use some shots of that driving sequence in the montage after the court scene. Or was the franchise just naturally grinding slower after saturating the marketing for half a decade? Take your pick.
More video games were released well into the early 1990’s. The Real Ghostbusters continued original business on ABC until September 28 th of 1991 after seven seasons and, with the subseries Slimer, 147 episodes. Then syndication took full control. Mr. Aykroyd was eager to start on a third film and has teased it for decades that followed, but his first drafts of a screenplay failed to drum up much excitement behind the scenes. From that point on, the brand went from fading to languishing.
“You're more like a game show host.” -Dana Barrett
Merchandising and licensing has been a widespread part of the Ghostbusters franchise. It’s difficult to say what has kept the brand visible. Has it been cult-classic fans’ sizable, and thus, profitable need to be satisfied or products that keep popping up and keeping it alive by hoping to spark a massive retro-resurgence? Maybe a little of both.
Personally, I was raised a little after Ghostbusters was in its prime. Having been born in 1988, it wasn’t until 1990 that I really began having any memories start piling up, so I caught the tail-end of it all. I’m a child of the 80’s who grew up in the 90’s. Having grown up in the 90's I ran on TV reruns and films of the 80’s that channels liked repeating because new movies were expensive or impossible to air, and the 1980’s were older and not too old. It’s repetition that really made 1980’s entertainment classic entertainment. It had hit a mature standard in visual effects and style, and home audiences ran with it. It felt comfortable. You have no idea how frustrating it was to growing up hooked on a franchise that wasn’t having toys being produced in the same volume as before. Then in the summer of 1997, I swear I thought my eyes to be deceiving me: advertising for something called the Extreme Ghostbusters to start on September 1? How ridiculous, but no, this was TV, it had to be true. It was.
The decision to create a ne
w Ghostbusters TV show was taken seriously in commitment in an aim to reinvigorate a lucrative franchise. The team that helmed Extreme Ghostbusters consisted of many producers and writers that had done work on The Real Ghostbusters . As a result, the show was conceptualized as an explicit sequel to its predecessor. Rather than a series reboot, the makers opted for a realistic passage of time. This was the genius of the show and really was a hook for old fans, bringing it credibility. The updated and darker tone was reflected by the use of a gritty, rock-inspired variation of Ray Parker Jr.'s original song as the opening theme written by Jim Latham.
Set years after the end of The Real Ghostbusters , lack of supernatural activity had put the Ghostbusters out of business once again. Each member had gone their separate way, except for Egon Spengler, vocally reprised by Maurive LaMarche. He had left it to himself to become a slave to the old days, living in the firehouse to monitor the containment unit, furthering his studies and teaching a class on the paranormal at a local college. When ghosts began to reappear, Egon was forced to recruit his lone four students as the new Ghostbusters. The new four consisted of Kylie Griffin, a gothic occult expert; Eduardo Rivera, a cynical Latino slacker; Garrett Miller, a young paraplegic athlete; and Roland Jackson, a square and studious African-American machinery whiz. Rounding out the cast was Janine Melnitz, the Ghostbusters' previous secretary returning to her old job, and Slimer.
Unlike Egon, Janine Melnitz had new voice pedigree fill her shoes. That job was given to Pat Musick ( An American Tail ). The rest of the cast was seasoned in their own regards too. Slimer was brought vocal life by Billy West ( Space Jam ). The team itself had Tara Strong ( The Real Adventures Of Johnny Quest ) as Kylie Griffin, Jason Marsden ( Boy Meets World ) as Garrett Miller, Rhino Romano ( Sailor Moon ) as Eduardo Rivera and Alfonso Ribeiro ( The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air ) as Roland Jackson. The show explicitly tied in with episodes from The Real Ghostbusters . But most notably was the two-part season---and subsequently series---finale, which featured the original Ghostbusters getting back in the saddle to team up with their successors. The original voice cast returned in its entirety.
But I was talking about merchandising, wasn’t I? Well, you can’t talk about Extreme Ghostbusters without talking about merchandising. The toy line from Trendmasters made this show notable. They were expecting a heavy-hitter on their hands with this show. While no one got that, die-hards received a respectable extension of toys. Within the series, the tools of choice were upgraded. The Proton Packs and, most obviously, the Particle Thrower were changed to accommodate a loading of proton charges that would eject when they were empty. A spare canister would hang from the back of the pack for such a situation. In order to correlate with the augmented proton charge, the ghost trap also had to be adjusted. The size increase resulted in one person being in charge of the pack, with Kylie Griffin carrying it on her back and handling a smaller Proton Pistol.
What worked in the series’ equipment-wise didn’t result in an amazing toy equivalent from Trendmasters. Both the Proton Pack and Ectoplasmic Containment Unit With Positron Blaster turned out flimsy to carry, work with and wear. The Ecto-1 was more successfully a nice throwback, but it’s really the action figures that were the highlight. The wheelchair-bound character of Garrett Miller didn’t make it past the prototype stage upon the first series release. Egon, Roland, Kylie and Eduardo got their shot in the limelight equipped in the usual gear alongside higher-priced variants labeled as deluxe editions with lights, sound effects and oversized blasting equipment. The smaller versions, unlike the deluxe ones, each came with an identical ghost trap, an individual ghost miniature and shooting action. They were vibrant and substantial. Trendmasters aimed for a third tier of figures, Extreme Ecto Edition, to include: Eduardo with a Ghost Blastin’ Buster Bike and Roland’s Ghost Grabbin’ Gyro-Copter. Neither got a widerelease and their releases in the UK and not North America became an online bit of trivia afterward.
Because Ghostbusters aren’t much without ghosts to bust, four separate and larger ghouls were released to accompany the other figures: Slimer, Sam Hain, Mouth Critter and Ghost House. All of them, although pretty foremost, had their share of consistent design defects. Was something bound to give if they were going to look as good as they did? The impact of those defects on the whole was minimal. Slimer was oversized with a spinning action and missiles in the shape of food that didn’t quite work as projectiles. The shooting items were too heavy and could never get major distance. Sam Hain was interesting as it was a known character in the franchise bible that never appeared in the story arcs of Extreme Ghostbusters, only in the opening introduction. The figure held a marvelous whip and a heavy pumpkin on its head with a spring that never worked much either to stay on fully or launch wonderfully. The Mouth Critter worked better with an opened mouth protruding from the top that shot a projectile unless it got caught between the teeth for you. The House Ghost had an unreliable shooting eye that didn’t have the problem of blasting unsuccessfully. On the contrary, it might shoot off prematurely on its own. The inner mechanism didn’t quite latch on perfectly. You were better off just loosely inserting the eye while on display. On the upside, this was the only toy to come with its own bottle of ectoplasm.
Despite the flaws of the paranormal portion of characters, all the figures were of a durable plastic and detailed beautifully for display even if they didn’t necessarily excel in their individual action functions. The translucency found in some of the ghosts and the packs of the deluxe figures were fun and worked excellent when light filtered through them. They embodied the original spirit and could easily work alongside your old figures as the next generation. As for the old team, they didn’t get their shot at new casts for toys. From series to shelf, Extreme Ghostbusters was a lovely homage that deserved a longer run. It would end there after 40 episodes on December 4, 1997.
The very first comic book series based on the franchise was The Real Ghostbusters . The rights to the property were shared by NOW Comics and Marvel Comics, with the former publishing in North America and latter publishing in Europe through their Marvel UK imprint. NOW Library, NOW Video, and NOW Comics started in late 1985 as a sole-proprietorship, which would in 1987 be officially labeled under the umbrella of Caputo Publishing, Inc. The comic book division specialized in purchasing the right to publish comic books of recognized characters. In 1986, the year NOW Comics published its first titles, it purchased the comic book rights to Speed Racer . At the time, it was a virtually dead 1960’s intellectual property. NOW Comics paid $1,000 advance on royalties. In June of 1987, the first issue of Speed Racer sold 75,000 copies in two printings. The company knew how to play the game it seemed.
The Real Ghostbusters was another hot property that Marvel or DC would have been happy to take on, but it was NOW Comics that ended up with the permission slip and that certainly helped the company’s further monumental success. The comic book was like a direct translation of its animated cartoon basis and didn’t stray off from a foundational standpoint. The unknown was left to discover through story. The souls of the characters in their individually-colored jumpsuits carried through. Venkman was still the sarcastic mouth of the group; Spengler was the socially-inept brains; Stantz the innocent heart; and Zeddemore the religion of the group. By August of 1988, the Real Ghostbusters comic entered a ruthlessly competitive battleground of dominant rivals. DC had its Batman: Year One and future industry demigod Todd McFarlane had already begun his contribution to the canon of The Amazing Spider-Man . With a pin-up poster in every magazine, a sturdy card stock above the industry standard and coloring formulas, the product was of an obviously elevated standard. That unique standard wasn’t oblivious. It was managed with an issue price of $1.75, above the norm that ranged from below a buck to $1.50, matching the consumer cost of some premium series from major league publishers.
With Ghostbusters under its belt and great credit to it, in a four-year period since inception, Caputo Publishing grew from a one-man operation with annual sales of $110,000 to a multi-million dollar Illinois corporation with presence in a dozen countries. Not a barker’s dozen, mind you: 12 countries. NOW Comics eventually earned the #3 position in the vast comic book world with a market share of 3% behind the veterans of Marvel’s 45% and DC’s 25%. Sound small? Well, think of it as 3% of a billion dollars. Three percent may not seem much when you read it like that, but it’s still three million in those terms. NOW Comics produced almost 1,000 publications since 1986 until the end. Caputo Publishing was also intensive with their cross-promotional ventures such as The Real Ghostbusters cereal from Ralston Purina and the Ecto-Cooler branded Hi-C fruit drink from Coca-Cola with Slimer on the label. The licensed drink would prove lucrative beyond the run of the show and comics, outliving the dead into the 1990’s.
The Ghostbusters publishing history has been sporadic. It started off in 1988 and ceased operations in the 1990’s as NOW Comics may have grown too fast for its own good. After excelling as an upstart, a downswing occurred and the company hiccupped, filing for bankruptcy in 1991, postponing the continuation of The Real Ghostbusters comic until near the end that year. The company got an infusion of millions and renamed itself the NOW Entertainment Corporation. It would struggle until its eventual demise in 1994; two years after The Real Ghostbusters ended its run in December of 1992.
Then in 2004 via new-kid-on-the-block 88MPH Studios, to coincide with the 20 th anniversary of the franchise, Ghostbusters: Legion was launched as a four-issue mini-series. But 88MPH Studios didn’t have the same Midas touch. With the hype that came with five promotional pieces of artwork, the mini-series was nonetheless plagued with delays of months between the first and second half of issues. Another complaint was the heavy use of variant covers. There were 13 different covers across the four issues, with the first issue alone having six different ones. Ghostbusters: The Zeddemore Factor was originally intended as a 0 issue to have been released before Ghostbusters: Legion , but it was instead rebranded as one-shot story released at the San Diego Comic-Con as a convention exclusive to help promote the comic at the stall of 88MPH Studios.
An ongoing series beyond Ghostbusters: Legion was announced and planned with covers penciled and colored, but licensing and financial difficulties had it ultimately go into indefinite hiatus. Long enough without a single bit of news in the marketplace, it was eventually cancelled by default. The following synopses have survived through the magic of copying and pasting from the now defunct 88MPH Studios website:
Ghostbusters Monthly #1 - In June 1984, GHOSTBUSTERS exploded into theaters and captivated a generation. Twenty years later, the boys are back in a brand-new ONGOING comic book series. Now that they’ve saved the world twice, the Ghostbusters want to go global…but that’s easier said than done. Meanwhile, a dead man is wandering the streets of New York and something wicked stirs in the Central Park Zoo. Old foes, new enemies and trusty unlicensed nuclear accelerators, this exciting first issue has it all. Because even after two decades, you know who to call. Ghostbusters Monthly #2 - Romance is in the air as Egon and Janine go out on their first official date, and with Peter playing the role of Cyrano things are bound to get interesting. Meanwhile, Winston goes solo, Louis gets an unwelcome visit from an old friend, and Ray takes a trip to a dark, dangerous place…the library. Ghostbusters Monthly #3 - With the powerful ghost known as Ahriman making trouble and Vinz Clortho back for an encore, the Ghostbusters find themselves racing from one disaster to the next. And that’s before things get really bad. It turns out there's one thing worse than having two evil spirits rampaging through New York; when they get together.
Where the 88MPH Studios project failed in marketing and production, it succeeded in showing what was possible. The artwork and writing were a modern take on the franchise, updating the old characters for a new time with a fresh style. Sure, 88MPH Studios went out of business, but so had the Ghostbusters twice before.
Look for the second part of a detailed history of the GHOSTBUSTERS in the coming days.
- View history
Prime Evil was the self appointed leader of ghosts. Prime Evil resided at Hauntquarters somewhere in the Fifth Dimension/Ghost Limbo .
- 1 Personality
- 2 Appearance
- 4 Abilities
- 6 Appearances
Personality [ ]
He was by all accounts a nasty, evil ghost with a dominating personality. He sometimes made an extremely harsh electrical static sound while he spoke. Prime Evil tended to be petty and unforgiving and had no tolerance for failure with his underlings. He was also known for creatively punishing said ghostly minions' failures in delightfully karmic ways. For example, in "The Headless Horseman Caper," Fangster receives Vampire Fleas for his failure. At other times, though, he'd simply zap them to a pile of dust.
Appearance [ ]
Prime Evil looked like a cyborg version of Skeletor in flowing, scarlet robes. He had a Jacob's Ladder in lieu of actual teeth; it sparked when he's especially angry.
Several episodes depict Prime as being nothing more than a robe with head and arms attached!
History [ ]
He drove Jake Kong family to close a mine they had (from episode " The Headless Horseman Caper "). Prime Evil's first encounter with the Ghostbusters happened as the Senior Ghostbusters were training the next Ghostbusters in the mine. Prime Evil ended up trapped in the mines locked vault 100 years along with Brat-A-Rat . However, he eventually managed to get out after lying to Belfry by telling him he was a trapped bat.
Abilities [ ]
Prime Evil is described in Our Buddy Fuddy as one of the greatest wizards who ever lived, second only to Merlin . His powers are indeed great; in most episodes he's completely immune to the Ghost Dematerializer . He's even shown to have the power to rematerialize his henchmen who've been affected by the weapon, although he often chooses to delay doing this out of sheer spite.
- In the original concept sketches, Prime Evil was designed as a more traditional Grim Reaper-type figure, or at least strongly inspired by Mumm-Ra from Thundercats .
- Prime Evil has an overbearing sister named Prime Ordeal (Who calls him "Itchy") and a bratty nephew, whom his sister only refers to as " Snookums ".
Appearances [ ]
I'll Be A Son of a Ghostbuster (Part I)
Frights of the Roundtable (Part II)
No Pharaoh At All (Part III)
The Secret Of Mastadon Valley (Part IV)
The Ones Who Saved The Future (Part V)
Wacky Wax Museum
Statue of Liberty
The Ransom Of Eddie Spenser
Eddie Takes Charge
A Friend In Need
No Mo' Snow
Prime Evil's Good Deed
The Headless Horseman Caper
Banish That Banshee
He Went Brataway
Runaway Choo Choo
My Present To The Future
The Beastly Buggy
Belfry Leads The Way
Going Ape (mentioned only)
The Haunting Of Gizmo
The Sleeping Dragon (mentioned only)
Our Buddy Fuddy
Train To Doom-De-Doom-Doom
The Princess And The Troll (mentioned only)
Tracy Come Back
That's No Alien
Knight Of Terror
The Girl Who Cried Vampire
Little Big Bat
Really Roughing It
The Bad Old Days
The Curse Of The Diamond Of Gloom
The Bind That Ties
Like Father Like Son
The Fourth Ghostbuster
Whither Why (mentioned only)
A Cold Winter's Night
Father Knows Beast (mentioned only)
Back To The Past
The Haunted Painting
The Way You Are
Gallery [ ]
- 1 Ghostbusters Character Guide
- 2 Prime Evil
- 3 Long John Scarechrome