[[quoteright:250:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/GhostwriterTV_3694.png]]
->''"[[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin He's a ghost, and he writes to us]]: [[TitleDrop Ghostwriter]]."''
-->-- '''Jamal Jenkins''', ''Ghost Story''

Surreal, quirky mystery/educational series on Creator/{{PBS}} and Creator/TheBBC from 1992-1995. A group of middle-school kids in Brooklyn, New York are the only ones who can see a benevolent, [[GhostAmnesia amnesiac ghost]], whom they dub Ghostwriter. He can only see and communicate through writing, and he uses his abilities to help the kids solve mysteries. The show never made it clear who Ghostwriter was, or why he chooses to help people. Although some episodes implied that the ghost retained more memories than he claimed to, Ghostwriter's true identity was never revealed. (That is, until [[WordOfGod a 2010 interview]] revealed that he was a runaway slave that was killed while teaching other runaway slaves how to read.)

His abilities, by contrast, [[FunctionalMagic were extremely well-defined]]. For example, when the kids take a comic book as evidence, Ghostwriter can't see anything in it except the speech balloons. His spying often made the perp obvious very quickly, but the kids then had to find other evidence that would be admissible in court -- with a few exceptions. Each mystery was a four-part episode, except for the premiere and "To The Light," which were five-parters.

Presumably because of PBS censorship codes, [[GoryDiscretionShot almost all violence on the show happened off-camera]]. This made the show painfully slow and talky most of the time. But some scenes were truly scary nail-biters. For instance, in the "Who Is Max Mouse?" climax, the only chance the heroes had to solve the case was making a high-stakes bet with the perp, and losing it would result in a guaranteed prison term for one of the kids. In an equally scary arc, one of the kids suffered chemical poisoning from improperly discarded dry-cleaning chemicals near a playground that the characters frequently visited and her friends discover in their research that the effects of this poison are potentially lethal. The villains ranged from eccentrics to raving nutcases, and were fascinating -- too much so, as [[FlatCharacter they made the heroes look bland]]. Some episodes managed elaborate mysteries without any villain at all.

Not recommended for anyone over the age of twelve, but worth seeing just for how the writers managed to come up with tension without much on-screen violence or if you grew up with the show and see well it was back then to now. And keep an eye out for [[SpecialGuest Julia Stiles, Samuel L. Jackson, and Spike Lee in guest roles]].

If you're looking for the trope that could have gone here, see PlayingCyrano. Not to be confused with a ''literary'' [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ghostwriter ghostwriter]], defined by ThatOtherWiki as "a writer who writes books, articles, stories, reports, or other texts that are officially credited to another person" (which frequently overlaps with ExtrudedBookProduct). Also not to be confused with the film ''Film/TheGhostWriter''.

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!!This show provides examples of:
* AdultFear:
** The "Over a Barrel" arc. Your kids helping out in an inner-city community garden can only be good, right? Except when they're getting sick from toxic waste and the government's dragging its heels over cleaning it up.
** "What's Up With Alex" as well. Nothing more frightening for a parent than having to deal with the possibility of your son getting into drugs.
** "Lost in Brooklyn" - in the process, a girl is missing in New York City. And to her, ''this is a completely foreign country''.
* AlliterativeName: Jamal Jenkins.
* AmateurSleuth
* AnAesop
* AnnoyingYoungerSibling: Gabby.
** Casey might count in a way after her introduction. She's only Jamal's cousin but she does act a bit like his little sister.
* BlackAndNerdy: Jamal.
* BreakingBadNewsGently: This is usually the first reaction that the team has when a new kid first sees GhostWriter.
* BondVillainStupidity: Spoofed in one episode.
* BrotherChuck: Craig.
** The second episode (which was Craig's first, and only, appearance) was actually the pilot of the show; producers would later shoot a new premiere episode to better explain the origins of Ghostwriter.
* CantGetAwayWithNuthin
* ChekhovsGun: In the book "Steer Clear of Haunted Hill", the book is set up so that half is a diary written by Alex and the other by Gabby. You must read both of them to solve the mystery so naturally there are examples of this trope. The stand-outs are [[spoiler: a pamphlet detailing the ''3'' chambers in the cave, allowing the Team to find the missing Max, Max eating ''plain'' potato chips while another character was eating sour cream and onion, revealing him to be behind a false trail and a set of maps (an old one Alex got from Max and a newer one Gabby received) holding the key to the missing Rob's location: an old treehouse listed on Alex's map but not Gabby's.]]
* ChekhovsGunman: Tina was around in the first arc, but didn't see Ghostwriter until the second.
* CityOfAdventure: Usually Brooklyn, once London, seeing as the BBC [[InternationalCoproduction co-produced]] the series.
* {{Cliffhanger}}
* ClockDiscrepancy: One of the main characters is accused of burning a one-man run electronic store. His friends were able to prove him innocent when they discover that the store's display clock was running one hour slow, meaning he has an alibi for the actual time of the crime. The store owner, however, doesn't, and he ends up being the real culprit, as he was trying to destroy evidence of a [[DigitalPiracyIsEvil mass videotape duplication system]].
* ContinuityNod: In "To Catch a Creep," the team blackmails Calvin with embarrassing secrets, like the fact that he can't get to sleep without his stuffed booger bat. In "Am I Blue?" Rob calls him "Booger Bat" as an insult.
* CoolOldLady: Jamal's grandma
* CousinOliver: Two of them.
* DancePartyEnding: A few episodes end this way, particularly when a new member joins the team.
* DealWithTheDevil
* DreamSequence
* EducationMama: Tina's parents, who especially won't let Tina's older brother drop out of school to join a band, and scold Tina herself for not helping out enough around the home.
* FeetOfClay: Almost every episode.
* FiveFiveFive: Many phone numbers which prove key to solving cases.
* FiveManBand: Briefly, before cast changes made it moot.
* FiveTokenBand: Played somewhat realistically.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Every episode.
* FunctionalMagic: Ghostwriter's abilities are very precisely defined.
* GettingCrapPastTheRadar: After Jamal's Grandma interrupts his fantasy about the girl he likes, he's reluctant to stand up.
* HollywoodHacking: Who is Max Mouse? To be fair, it's a little more plausible than other examples
* HotBlooded: Alex, at times.
* ImmigrantParents: Alex and Gaby's parents are from El Salvador, and Tina's are from Vietnam.
* InexplicablyAwesome: Ghostwriter is this.
* IntergenerationalFriendship: Rob and Double T, a homeless poet and Vietnam War veteran. Tina and Lana Barnes, a Golden Age movie star. Most of the Ghostwriter team and Jamal's grandma (especially Lenni and Gabi)
* JerkAss: Calvin Ferguson.
* JerkWithAHeartOfGold: Alex.
* JustAKid
* KidDetective
* LeeroyJenkins: Rob has shades of this - he doesn't go in and disrupt a plan so much as he charges into dangerous situations on his own with no backup. Examples: [[spoiler:getting trapped in an abandoned subway tunnel because he didn't tell anyone where they were going,]] [[spoiler:entering a dressing room to find out what an unhinged stunt actress was up to and getting knocked out and tied up for his trouble,]] and finally [[spoiler:going by himself to a gang hideout to look for a friend of his and nearly getting beaten up by the gang members.]]
* MasterOfDisguise
* MilitaryBrat: Rob.
* MissingMom: Lenni's father is a widower.
* MoralityPet: JerkAss Calvin really loves his pet parrot Attila and is devastated when it dies. In fact, losing Attila seems to have been the catalyst to Calvin's [[CharacterDevelopment semi-redemption.]]
* MotiveRant: Played straight and spoofed.
* MultigenerationalHousehold: Jamal's grandmother lives with his family.
* MurderSimulators: One mystery involved a cult of schoolkids who would meet in secret to reenact their favorite arcade game, and had taken to organized theft to feed their addiction.
* NewTransferStudent: Rob, later Hector.
* NoodleIncident: Hector tries to suggest that a hotel that Tina's friend is stuck in might have once had a different name:
-->'''Hector''': When I was living in Puerto Rico, my grandfather told me about this old Hacienda hotel that started going broke. People stopped coming to stay there, and the food got really bad, and there were more animals inside the hotel than outside. (laughs) Once they found this donkey...
-->'''Alex''': Hector, is there a point to this?
* NosyNeighbor: Calvin.
* NotHimself
* OddFriendship: Rob, the shy, bookish son of an Air Force Colonel and Victor, a poor, Hispanic former gang member.
* OfficialCouple: Alex and Tina.
* OneHitWonder: Leif, the electrician when Lenni makes a music video, was teen popstar in the 70s with a [[SillyLoveSongs hit called "Girl".]] It's implied that the success didn't continue because he tried to follow the same formula and refused to branch out.
* OneOfOurOwn: The single most common plot on the show.
* OnlySaneMan: Jamal frequently plays this role. Whenever people start fighting, he's usually the one to attempt to try and make peace.
* TheOtherDarrin: Sometime late in the series, Gaby's actress was replaced.
** Minor characters who were also recast included Calvin, Jamal's dad, Lenni's dad, and Alex and Gabi's mom.
* ParentalBonus: The only question is whether or not it was intentional.
** Jamal on Rob seeing Ghostwriter:
-->'''Jamal:''' ''It was his first time. We all know what that feels like.''
* ParentExMachina
* PromotionToOpeningTitles: For Hector, Rob, and Casey.
* PlayfulHacker: [[spoiler: It's revealed that Max Mouse is actually Janice, who does it because nobody notices her at all.]]
* PlayingWithCharacterType: David Patrick Kelly is best known for playing creepy bad guys (notably in ''Film/TheWarriors''). Here he plays Double T, a homeless man who many characters are afraid of until they learn that he really is a nice guy (and a talented poet).
* PoirotSpeak: Alex and Gaby's family, as well as Tina's.
* {{Postmodernism}}: The anti-finale.
* PutOnABus: Rob moved to Australia.
* QuestioningTitle:
** "Who Burned Mr. Brinker's Store?"
** "What's Up With Alex?
** "Who is Max Mouse?"
* RagtagBunchOfMisfits
* {{Revival}}: 1997's ''The New Ghostwriter Mysteries'', which aired on CBS, replaced the entire cast, and made a number of other changes to the series ([[HeyItsThatGuy Hey, it's that girl from]] ''HarrietTheSpy''!).
* TheRival: Calvin, especially to Alex.
* SesameWorkshop: Produced this show.
* ShellShockedSenior: Rob's homeless friend Double T is strongly hinted to have PTSD from his time in the Vietnam War.
* ShoutOut:
-->'''Gooey Gus''': [[SesameStreet "It's not easy being purple!"]]
* ShowWithinAShow: Gaby is a huge fan of the ''Galaxy Girl'' TV series.
* SixStudentClique
* SixthRanger: Rob.
* SoapboxSadie: Lenni is a [[DownplayedTrope downplayed version]] of this. She never tries to force anyone else to think her way, thus avoiding the usual BrokenAesop about that comes with the trope, but she often speaks out about her beliefs, especially through her music.
* StoryArc: Unusual for a serial kid's show. Every episode would begin with a recap.
* TagalongKid: Casey.
** Gaby was this at first but [[CharacterDevelopment grows out of it.]]
* TechnologyMarchesOn / UnintentionalPeriodPiece: This show is almost ''painfully'' 90s in terms of technology (and fashion). Almost everything that the character(s) do can be handled with cell phones nowadays. (One would wonder what Ghostwriter would do if it happened today)
** FridgeBrilliance: Ghostwriter is shown to be able to write anything while using a computer. He'd be able to communicate freely using cell phones and they wouldn't even need to be on.
* TheyFightCrime
* TimeTravel
** Specifically IntangibleTimeTravel and WriteBackToTheFuture: Ghost Writer is the one doing the {{TimeTravel}}ing, and he carries messages back and forth. Ends up having to take TheSlowPath when he finally got too weak to return to 1993.
* TokenMinority: Subverted; there are actually fewer white characters on the show than minorities. This is [[JustifiedTrope justified]] since it takes place in the ethnically diverse New York.
* TwoLinesNoWaiting
* UnbelievableSourcePlot: the basic premise of the show. The main cast is a bunch of teen [[AmateurSleuth Amateur Detectives]] who are helped by a [[OurGhostsAreDifferent ghost who can cannot see anything but words and can only interact with the world by reading said words and then rearranging letters and words elsewhere to show what he read]]. The team uses the information from Ghostwriter to solve crimes but they also have to collect conventional evidence [[AdultsAreUseless to get adults to believe them]] since telling them that [[YouHaveToBelieveMe a ghost gave them the clue]] is not gonna help the kids or the victim.
* TheUnreveal: Ghostwriter's identity. Though WordOfGod can point out that ghostwriter could be the ghost of [[spoiler: Jamal's great-grandfather Ezra]].
** A 2010 interview revealed that Ghostwriter was a runaway slave who was killed while teaching other runaway slaves to read. Whether he was Ezra is still up for debate, however.
* VerySpecialEpisode: The episode "What's Up With Alex?" centered on Alex being accused of smoking marijuana by his father. It even aired with a warning that the episode would deal with issues that kids would need to ask their parents about for more information when it first aired on PBS. It never re-aired on Noggin.
* ViewerFriendlyInterface: Complete with ''ridiculously'' slow typing.
* ViewersAreMorons: What seemed to be the basis of many plot points/storytelling tactics.
* WhyCouldntYouBeDifferent: Rob's father initially thinks he should be more athletic.
* YouMeddlingKids
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