Ray: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment. Mad Science
Egon: I blame myself.
Peter: So do I.
Ray: Well, no sense in worrying about it now.
Peter: Why worry? Each of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.
takes on occult terror and wins hilariously in the greatest Lovecraftian
comedy of the 1980s, which went on to spawn a popular franchise
One of the defining elements of the movies (and the rest of the franchise as a whole) is that the characters examine the paranormal with the scientific method and combat it with technology, rather than other similar stories where the characters have to combat the supernatural with magic or more arbitrary urban legends. Dan Aykroyd
and Harold Ramis
(who play Ray and Egon, respectively) were responsible for the premise and original script, Aykroyd himself being an avid believer in the paranormal while Ramis has admitted to being a skeptic. As such, in addition to the excellent comedy and memorable characters Ghostbusters
has been found to appeal to skeptics.Ghostbusters
Three parapsychology professors (earnest, forthright, and curious Dr. Raymond Stantz, sarcastic schemer Dr. Peter Venkman, and detached academic Dr. Egon Spengler) are fired from their positions at Columbia University in New York City
. Facing dire prospects in finding new collegiate employment, Venkman has a brainstorm: go professional. In their last investigation they devised a method of actually capturing and containing ghosts. They set up Ghostbusters, a company providing scientific exorcisms. At first business is slow, but then the number of ghosts in New York City starts increasing exponentially.
The Ghostbusters soon become household names, and become so busy they recruit a fourth team member, Naïve Newcomer
and token black guy
Winston Zeddemore, but they realize that the surge in ghosts is portentous. Investigations show that phenomena are centered on the apartment of Peter's love interest Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver
), which was designed by a cult from the early 20th century to attract spirits.
Before they can act, petty bureaucrat
Walter Peck shuts down the Ghostbusters' containment unit, releasing all the ghosts they had trapped and inadvertently unleashing Armageddon in the form of Gozer
, an ancient Sumerian deity.Ghostbusters II
Less than five years later, the City of New York somehow decided the events of the first film were all just a publicity stunt and sued the heroes, who went bankrupt and have gone on to more mundane jobs: Ray and Winston are performing as Ghostbusters in uniform for birthday parties, Peter is a cable TV host discussing the paranormal, and Egon is doing sociology research. But then the ghosts start returning, and soon the Ghostbusters are back in business. Top of their list is investigating a strange river of slime in an abandoned subway tunnel that seems to thrive on negative emotions and produce new ghost hauntings.
Meanwhile, at the museum where Dana works, her boss becomes a Renfield
for the ghost of Vigo the Carpathian
, an ancient tyrant trapped in a painting
. Vigo has Dana's infant son Oscar kidnapped, intending to take over the child's body
When the Ghostbusters finally figure things out and arrive on scene, the museum is cocooned by the slime they were investigating and maintained as a physical manifestation of the negative emotions of New Yorkers.
These films lead to a larger expanded universe.
A third movie had been stuck in Development Hell
for more than a decade. Aykroyd was gung-ho about the prospect and told anyone who'd listen that he had a script all ready to go; on the other hand, Murray was decidedly more skeptical after the Executive Meddling
on the second film. Ghostbusters: The Video Game
(2009) was touted in some circles as a spiritual sequel, with so many returning cast members
, being set in the same continuity as the movies and having been written by Aykroyd and Ramis. The prospect of a third movie with the original leads evaporated completely with Ramis' tragic death. However, the director Paul Feig (of Freaks and Geeks
fame) announced in 2014 that he would helm a third Ghostbusters
movie, this one focusing on a group of four women in the titular roles. No plot or casting details have been released yet, nor any information on if it is a Revival
or a Continuity Reboot
But for now…WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
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- Always Chaotic Evil: Apparently all spirits capable of interacting with the physical plane are malicious or at least mischievous. The least harmful ghosts the 'busters encounter are only benign until someone gets their attention, like the library ghost. This makes indiscriminately locking them up in the containment system more justifiable.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Egon, Janine and Louis. The cartoon runs with this, giving Egon a Jewish Mother who feeds the boys soup when they get sick.
- Ammunition Backpack: The Proton Packs probably count, since all the particle accelerating takes place in the Pack.
- Author Appeal: Aykroyd's fascination with ghosts and the supernatural is well known. Thus leading to the dream sequence …
- Autobots, Rock Out!!: Their theme music alone is good enough for this trope.
- Awesome Backpack: The proton packs.
- Bad Bad Acting: In the Ghostbusters' TV ads. In the first film, Peter, Ray and especially Egon read their lines in a very stilted manner. In the second film, Janine and Louis do this in their new commercials.
- Badass Boast:
- "Who you gonna call?"
- "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!"
- In the first movie, when they confront Gozer: "Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!"
- The franchise's motto is used for this in the second movie during the courtroom scene: "Sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who you gonna call?"
- They get two after busting the Scoleri brothers.
Ray: Two in the box!
Egon: Ready to go!
Peter: We be fast
All: And they be slow!
- Also in the second film, after exiting the courtroom: "We're the best, we're the beautiful, we're the only Ghostbusters!"
- Badass Crew: A crew of Badass Bookworms.
- Big Bad: Gozer in 1, Vigo the Carpathian in 2 and Ivo Shandor in the video game.
- Big Damn Heroes: Invoked in the first film; as part of their deal with the Mayor to stop what's happening, Venkman manages to wrangle a huge police/National Guard escort for Ecto-1 as if it was the presidential limo or something, thus making the Ghostbusters look like The Cavalry to the assembled hordes waiting on for Judgment Day on the streets. Venkman himself milks the moment (and the crowd) for all it's worth.
- In the second movie, the Ghostbusters arriving via skylight to stop Oscar being turned into a new host body for Vigo the Carpathian.
- Considering they rode The Statue of Liberty to the scene specifically for the moral boost it would give the assembled New Yorkers to weaken the slime shell surrounding the museum, they might've taken the "Big Damn Heroes" trope a tad literally.
- Big Eater: Uh, Slimer. (Called "the Green Ghost" in the first movie, but given the name "Slimer" in the cartoon and the credits of the second.)
- Bowdlerise: In reverse. In the 80s, commercials for the first movie ended with Veckman saying "We came, we saw, we kicked it's a—" cut to logo. Now on just about any cable channel allows him to say 'ass'.
- Trailers for the 30th Anniversary keep this, certainly as an homage to the earlier censoring.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ray and especially Peter, who both have Ph.Ds, in Physics and Parapsychology/Psychology respectively. Both are extremely childish and, especially in Peter's case, fairly unprofessional.
- Butt Monkey: Several.
- Louis Tully, who has doors shut in his face, doors locking him out, and other comical misfortune.
- Ray Stantz, because he's a goof.
- Walter Peck, hereafter known as "dickless".
- The student involved in the ESP test that was repeatedly shocked.
- Built With LEGO: In 2014, six years after LEGO Rock Band featured the theme song, an official LEGO set was approved via LEGO Cusoo, featuring Egon, Venkman, Ray, Winston, the Ecto-1, and Slimer.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Egon is a master of this, usually as a way of flatly commenting that he's scared out of his mind despite being overly calm and talking plainly.
Venkman: Okay, Ray's gone bye-bye. Egon, what've you got left?
Spengler: Sorry, Venkman, but I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
- He manages Casual Danger Laughter in 2. Ray and Peter laugh nervously while waiting for the Scolari Brothers to strike, and Egon chimes in with a monotone "Ha. Ha ha."
- Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Despite being a major character in both movies, Dana Barret almost never shows up in spin-offs, being absent from both The Real Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters: The Video Game and the IDW Ghostbusters comic book. She may get a brief mention, if she's lucky.
- Complete Immortality: Almost all ghosts that are not at least a Class 7 are this, which is why they get trapped and sent into the containment unit.
- Cool Car: The Ecto-1, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance, refurbished and tricked out with Science!
- And based on Ray's mention of it needed new brake pads, it has a front disk brake conversion, too.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Don't cross the streams. It would be bad.
- Destructive Saviour: The Ghostbusters are very effective at capturing ghosts, but their primary weapons, the proton packs, are terribly inaccurate and burn through whatever they hit when they miss (which is often). That's not even getting into the larger threats, which tend to end up leveling city blocks before the Ghostbusters stop them. Gozer blew up the top few floors of a high rise building as a consequence of stopping her.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Why yes, yes they do… right before arming the proton packs.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Oh yes. Gozer the Gozerian gets beaten by crossing the streams. They also fight what are expressly described as "Deity" ghosts in the game.
- Eccentric Exterminator: Our protagonists.
- Extranormal Prison: Their containment unit holds all the ghosts they capture.
- Fan Film: Has inspired a whole slew of fan films based on the idea of Ghostbusters becoming a franchise business and organized in other cities. This includes Freddy Vs. Ghostbusters, The Denver Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters SLC.
- Fantastic Science: Two of the three original characters, Ray and Egon, are legitimate paranormal researchers that channel their knowledge into the business of "paranormal investigations and eliminations." Peter for his part is both a psychologist and parapsychologist, so he contributes the human relations and Only Sane Man elements.
- First Name Basis: The Mayor and the Archbishop of New York have this with each other. The Mayor is taken aback when Peter tries to invoke this with him as well.
- Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Crossing the streams. They are warned never to do it, and it becomes their Finishing Move.
- For Science!: Generally the reason why Egon runs oddball experiments.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Ray is sanguine, Peter is choleric, Egon is melancholic, Winston is phlegmatic.
- Freudian Trio: Peter as The Kirk, Egon as The Spock, and Ray as The McCoy.
- Funny Background Event: After blowing up the poor housemaid's cart, while they stand around talking, you can see her trying to spritz out the fires they started with a bottle of cleaner.
- During the cutscenes in the video game, The Rookie can be seen reacting to the situations in humorous ways, especially when Mr. Stay Puft first appears.
- During the Kitschy Local Commercial, you can see Egon continuously looking down at the marks he's supposed to stand on.
- When Peter is informing the hotel manager about the cost of their operation, Egon is subtly flashing him hand signals about how much to charge; this can usually only be seen in widescreen presentations, as other cuts tend to crop out Egon from the frame.
- When they're investigating the library ghost, Ray freezes and says "Listen! Do you smell something?" Behind him, Peter draws back, then rolls his eyes and shakes his head.
- Gate Guardian: Zuul (who looks like a large demonic dog) is the Gate Keeper of the dimensional portal that Gozer the Gozerian arrives through. Its (her?) counterpart, Vinz Clortho, The Keymaster, also looks like a giant demon dog.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: An awful lot of swearing and sexual innuendo for a family comedy. Not to mention Demonic Possession, heads on pikes, and all the other horror.
- Not to mention the fairly obvious symbolism of the key and the gate.
- "Bustin' makes me feel good"... Oh.
- Ghostly Goals: Usually of the highly destructive variety.
- Harmless Villain: Vigo becomes this in the Ghostbusters video game. The best he can do is insult you and try and make you feel uncomfortable.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Venkman.
Venkman: "Type somethin', will ya? We're payin' ya for this stuff. And don't stare at me, ya got the bug-eyes. …" (pauses) "Janine, sorry about the bug-eyes thing, I'll be in my office."
- Licensed Pinball Tables: For a franchise ripe with licensing potential, it took 30 years before an official Pinball table was released. And even then, Ghostbusters Pinball was made by digitally retheming an existing game, Gottlieb's Haunted House.
- There are also rumors that The Party Zone was intended to be a Ghostbusters pinball game, but was changed when a licensing deal could not be reached.
- Lovable Coward: For all his charm and bravado, Peter Venkman is not the bravest of men. With a few exceptions any acts of heroism on his part will usually be very very reluctant ones. That said, he will step up to the plate if necessary; he just won't be very happy about it.
- Mad Scientist: Mostly Egon, but a little bit in Ray as well. Capitalism and a general sense of the good of mankind steers this towards positive and constructive directions.
- At the end of the first movie, after rescuing Louis, he asks him if he'd like to donate a sample of his brain tissue, which Louis, still dazed, agrees to.
- Magic Versus Science: Ghosts and gods vs scientists with nuclear accelerators; the scientists win.
- Mascot Villain: Slimer is a partial example. He starts off as a Starter Villain in the first movie, but by the time he became a true mascot in the animated adaptations he became the Team Pet and sidekick. A more fitting (in and out of universe) example is the Stay-Puff Marshmallow, or rather, Gozer the Gozerian, who took the form of the Stay-Puff Marshmallow Man in a bid to start The End of the World as We Know It.
- The Merch: In-universe examples. In the first film's credits, there are kids waving Ghostbuster logo t-shirts. Ghostbusters II has the gang offer branded thermal mugs and balloons in their commercial.
- Monochrome Apparition: Most of the human-esque ghosts are depicted in one colour.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ray gets this a lot.
- He chooses Gozer's destructive form as Stay Puft.
: Did you choose anything?! Egon:
: No. Peter
: Did you?! Winston
: My mind's a total blank. Peter
didn't choose anything! [Beat, then everybody looks at Ray]
- Knocking out all the lights in New York in the sequel. Ray is quite the klutz.
- Later, when they're about to call the final battle a victory, he looks into the painting and gets possessed by Vigo.
- In the first film, Venkman could have avoided the entire conflict with Peck if he didn't act like an asshole to him.
- Night-Vision Goggles: A slightly modified set of actual night vision goggles is made to be the "ecto goggles" and part of the Ghostbusting gear, supposedly allowing them to see ghosts who have turned themselves invisible. It's seen on everyone in the first movie, used memorably by Ray in the hotel and seen briefly a few times in the second movie. The game makes it into a major gameplay mechanic in tracking down ghosts.
- Non-Action Guy: Rick Moranis' character, Louis. Though he does take a level in badass in the second movie.
- Noodle Incident
- Mentioned in the first film is that time Egon tried to drill a hole in his head. This is an actual procedure, called 'trepanation', which is sometimes claimed to confer psychic powers. "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me." (Which was allegedly a Throw It In from Harold Ramis.)
- Not Quite Dead: Justified since this is a franchise about ghosts. Also notable in the account of Vigo's death.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The worst kind of nonbelievers.
- Walter Peck from the first movie ignores the very real paranormal phenomenon around him in favor of his insistence that it's all a scam. His actions in service of this belief directly trigger Gozer's arrival. Then he blames everyone but himself and has them arrested.
- Hardemeyer takes this role in the sequel. He has the Ghostbusters committed to avoid bad press for the mayor.
- Peck is back as the city official appointed as a liaison between the Ghostbusters and the mayor in the video game.
- Occult Detective: This is essentially what the Ghostbusters are.
- Oddly Small Organization: The scientific ghost-fighting security agency for the entire New York area is three (later four) men in an old firehouse. Franchise rights are briefly discussed but nothing ever comes of it in the films.
- One-Winged Angel: Ghosts who take human form as a disguise are usually provoked into doing this.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: In the series, "ghost" seems to be a catch-all term for incorporeal creatures, including both the spirits of the dead and extraplanar creatures that were never alive to begin with.
- Paranormal Investigation: A comedic version of this genre.
- Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Proton packs, which are "positron colliders" (or sometimes "unlicensed nuclear accelerators") that shoot particles from "neutrona wands".
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Ghostbusters themselves; a cynical scientist, a mad scientist, a goof scientist, and someone looking for a steady paycheck.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Lenny the Mayor fills this role to some extent in the first two movies. He's a rather cynical politician whose public image and chances of re-election / further political office are never far from mind, and is as reasonably skeptical of the claims of apocalyptic supernatural phenomena as any reasonable person probably would be, but when suitably convinced of their claims ultimately proves to be a fairly staunch ally. However, it is suggested that between the first and second movies, he either had them publicly thrown under the bus, or didn't do much to stop it from happening.
- By the time of the game, he seems to have been replaced with a more straightforward example of this trope; the current mayor got elected on a pro-Ghostbuster platform, and now has the city covering their collateral damage.
- Red Alert: Of the "Emergency Squad Scramble" variety, the first time a call comes in.
- Reed Richards Is Useless: Played with. On one hand the Ghostbusters do use their tech to make money for themselves, the game has established them as contractors to New York on the verge of franchising, and they obviously help people out with it, but the potential other uses for their tech goes ignorednote .
- Rent-a-Zilla: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man by the villains, and The Statue of Liberty by the heroes.
- Sassy Secretary: Janine "I've quit better jobs than this!" Melnitz, although it varies by production. In the first film, she is a no-nonsense girl who snaps at Peter while crushing on Egon. In the second film, she's paired off with Louis and becomes super-nerdy.
- Science Heroes: The Ghostbusters use science to bust the supernatural, becoming heroes in the process.
- Science Is Bad: Inverted; the Ghostbusters' scientific methods always prove to be the only effective way of dealing with the supernatural, and the only use for other schools of thought is to provide info on what they're dealing with.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Ghostbusters' containment grid in the first film and Vigo's portrait in the second.
- Shown Their Work: The films are very, very thoroughly researched as side-effect of Aykroyd's own interest in the paranormal. For instance, Peter's treatment of the Zuul-possessed Dana is based on advice from exorcists and psychiatrists for dealing with cases of possession and DID, respectively (i.e. you are never supposed to let the other personality remain in control; this is why he keeps insisting on talking to "Dana", and tries to ignore Zuul). In addition, all of the books Egon and Ray mention actually exist.
- Signs of the End Times:
- Part I
Winston Zeddmore: Do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?
Ray Stantz: I remember Revelations 7:12. "And I looked as he opened the 6th seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood."
Winston Zeddmore: And the seas boiled and the skies fell.
Ray Stantz: Judgment Day.
Winston Zeddmore: Judgment Day.
Ray Stantz: Every religion has its myth about the end of the world.
Winston Zeddmore: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that maybe the reason we've been so busy lately is 'cause the dead have been rising from the grave?
- Part II
Peter Venkman: Or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
Mayor: What do you mean, biblical?
Ray Stantz: What he means is Old Testament biblical, Mr. Mayor. Real wrath-of-God-type stuff. Fire and brimstone coming from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!
Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes! Volcanoes!
Winston Zeddmore: The dead rising from the grave!
- Played for Laughs after the firehouse blows up:
Vinz Clortho: This is it! This is the sign!
Janine: Yeah, it's a sign alright: "Going out of business".
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Straddles the line; the funniest moments and the scariest are often one and the same.
- Smarter Than You Look: Although Venkman comes off as a cynical slacker who doesn't seem to get the gist of things as times, it's obvious that he has just as much knowledge of the supernatural as Ray and Egon.
- Soul Jar: To a certain extent, the containment grid could be considered a very sciency version of one of these.
- Spiritual Successor: Dan Aykroyd's failed attempts to get Ghostbusters 3 done led to Evolution.
- Techno Babble: Brought to the point of art form: PKE valence. Focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm. Total protonic reversal. And etc.
- That Came Out Wrong: While Peter is checking her apartment, he goes to the bedroom. Dana, without considering the implications, says "Nothing ever happened in there." Peter quips, "What a crime." Dana realizes her mistake, but instead chooses to focus on Peter's atypical attitude for a scientist.
- Theme Tune: When there's something strange in the neighborhood
Who You Gonna Call?? Ghostbusters!
- This Is Gonna Suck: In both films:
- I— When Walter Peck is about to shut off the containment system, the 'busters deliberately place themselves near the stairs so they can easily flee when all hell breaks loose. Also Venkman's later line "I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it!"
- II— In the courtroom, when the mood slime is about to explode, they slowly take cover under their table.
- Token Minority: Winston. He shows up midway through the first film and joins the Ghostbusters, being the only main black character in either film.
- Vanity License Plate: The Ectomobile has ECTO 1 on its tags.
- Weapons That Suck:
- Technically speaking, the real weapon the Busters use against the ghosts are their traps, which suck the ghosts in and hold them until deposited in the protection grid. All the proton packs are intended for is to snare ghosts in the proton stream and position them above the trap. That's also why Busters didn't need the proton packs to capture the jogging ghost; all they had to do is place the trap in his path and open it when he stepped over it.
- The one exception to this are the final villains at the end of both movies. This may be explained by the fact that unlike the vast majority of ghosts Vigo and Gozer are at least semi-corporeal and, as we saw with the maid cart while they where initially catching slimer, a tightly focused stream from a proton pack can be highly destructive. Other non-corporeal ghosts can be restrained by it or in the case of relatively weak ghosts scattered into ambient PKE (psycho kinetic energy) but it would be possible to destroy a corporeal entity assuming it isn't a god or superpowered with PKE.
- Weirdness Censor: Despite the rampant evidence to the contrary, Peck insists the Ghostbusters are frauds deluding people with chemicals and "a cheap, electronic light show." Indeed, Peck has zero evidence to back up his claims, having arbitrarily decided that they must be frauds. Had the case gone to court normally, the Ghostbusters would have won the case hands-down. In the second movie, several characters continue this attitude, which makes one wonder what they thought of the very public attack involving the very gigantic and very real Stay Puft Marshmallow Man and the very gooey remains he left behind.
- What the Hell, Hero?: "What did you do, Ray?"
- Who You Gonna Call?: Trope NAMER!!
- The Worf Barrage: The proton packs never work against the Big Bad, or at best are a mild annoyance, which force the team to resort to different strategies to beat them.
- Gozer dodged the first shot and just vanished the second time. Upon transforming into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, getting shot did little more than knock him down and set him on fire, arguably making him even more dangerous.
- Vigo is briefly annoyed by the packs, brushing away the beams and paralyzing the team in the process. He has to be weakened by a Care Bear Stare/Combined Energy Attack in the form of happy, singing New Yorkers, which was the only way they were able to enter the building anyway. The final barrage of mood slime and proton packs also seems to hinge largely on the former, though the packs do provide the final push that wins the day.
- The games introduce three major modifications (complete with a secondary fire mode) to the classic backpack and most of the ghosts have a weakness to one of them: basic particle stream, dark matter generator, slime blower and meson collider. The idea is if one ghost is shrugging off any one of your attacks you can switch them up.
- Above the Influence: In the first Ghostbusters, Venkman comes to visit Dana and finds she is possessed by Zuul, which makes her want to sleep with the Keymaster. He refuses, since she isn't in her right mind.
Zuul/Dana: Do you want this body?'
Venkman: Is this a trick question?
Zuul/Dana: I want you inside me.
Venkman: *laughs* Go ahead — no, I can't. Sounds like you got at least two people in there already. Might be a little crowded.
- Absurdly Long Stairway: The Ghostbusters have to climb 20 flights of stairs for the confrontation with Gozer, due to the elevators being out of service.
- Adorable Abomination: Gozer, in his/her/its Stay-Puft form.
- Vinz Clortho's childlike naiveté and enthusiasm for Gozer's coming makes him kinda lovable.
- Ambiguous Gender: Gozer appeared female when "she" first appeared, despite being referred to by male pronouns in texts used for research. The Keymaster did claim that Gozer could - and has - taken numerous forms in the past, so he/she could probably have looked like anything, male or female.
Winston Zeddemore: I thought Gozer was a man!
Dr. Egon Spengler: It's whatever it wants to be.
- Truth In Theology: Gozer, as a deity, would be a pure spirit, and would exist outside the mortal confines of sex or gender.
- Analogy Backfire: Peter tries to tell Ray that being fired from the university isn't so bad, because "Einstein did his greatest stuff while he was working as a patent clerk."
Ray: Do you know how much a patent clerk earns?!
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Played with. While Peter is certainly a believer in the paranormal, he has a bit more practical sense than Ray and Egon, who are willing to believe anything is supernatural related. "Right, no human being would ever stack books like this."
- The Alleged Car: Ecto-1 is an ancient ambulance/hearse that we're introduced to with Ray listing off the numerous things they'll have to fix. Remarkably, they do.
Ray: Everybody can relax, I found the car. Needs some suspension work and shocks and brakes, brake pads, lining, steering box, transmission, rear-end...
Peter: How much?
Ray: Only $4800.
*Venkman looks shocked*
Ray: Maybe new rings, also mufflers, a little wiring...
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
Dr. Egon Spengler: Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes …
Winston Zeddemore: The dead rising from the grave!
Dr. Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together … mass hysteria!
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: "Get ready … get ready … GET HER!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!"
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!" Ironically, Stay Puft was described as a '100 foot marshmallow man'.
- Audience Surrogate: Unlike the others, Winston doesn't have a Ph.D. in anything; he's just an average Joe looking for a steady paycheck.
- Bathos: Evoked at the end of the first movie. The city is being destroyed by an evil god, yes, but it's in the form of a giant, smiling, sailor hat-wearing guy made of marshmallows.
- Beautiful Condemned Building: Despite its numerous flaws, Ray falls in love with the old firehouse.
- Blasphemous Boast: Averted (and lampshaded).
Winston Zeddemore: When someone asks you if you're a god, YOU SAY YES!
- Bloody Horror: During the scene in the mayor's office where people are describing the weird events going on in New York City, one man says "The walls in the 53rd Precinct were bleeding."
- Brand X: Stay-Puft Marshmallows.
- Brick Joke: Ray has a rather underwhelming plan to catch the first ghost seen in the movie.
Ray: Ready … GET HER!
- The Cameo: The music video for the titular theme features many recognizable faces, like Chevy Chase, John Candy, and Danny DeVito.
- The film itself features cameos from the likes of Ron Jeremy, Reginald Vel Johnson (Carl Winslow), Larry King, Casey Kasem, Roger Grimsby, Joe Franklin, and even Ivan Reitman, the director (as the voice of Zuul/Slimer).
- Captain Obvious:
Ray Stantz: Hey, where do these stairs go?
Peter Venkman: They go up.
- Contrived Coincidence: The three get fired and form a ghost-busting business just as a malevolent god-entity intends to enter our world.
- Converging Stream Weapon: What you get when you cross the streams (besides a massive life-threatening explosion).
- Cosmic Horror Comedy: This is a story about a doomsday cult deliberately building an Eldritch Location in order to perform bizarre rituals in order to summon an Eldritch Abomination, which was worshiped as a god in ancient Sumer, from another dimension to destroy the world. A team of paranormal investigators stumble onto the plot, and, well, you know the rest.
- Crazy-Prepared: Venkman proves to have fast access to 300 cc's of Thorazine, which implies that he carries it around with him or can find it offscreen in less than a few minutes. 300 cc's is a lot. The novel clarifies this by implying that he found it in Dana's apartment. Which only raises the question of what Dana, a professional musician, is doing with more than half a pint of a prescription anti-psychotic normally not available in individual containers larger than an ounce or two.
- The novelization said it was Valium.
- Creator Cameo: Director Ivan Reitman provides the voices for Slimer and Zuul.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Venkman is an artist of this trope. He gets to play this along with Only Sane Man, in that he's continually snarking on his fellows' more outlandish ideas.
- Dana Barrett shows shades of this when Peter compliments her on her cello playing:
Peter Venkman: You're the best one in your row.
Dana Barrett: Thank you. [beat] You're good; most people can't hear me with the whole orchestra playing.
- Janine, upon seeing a police officer at the door:
"Dropping off or picking up?"
- Dean Bitterman: Dean Yeager inadvertently starts the Ghostbusters by firing them from their cushy academic jobs.
- Demonic Possession: Dana Barrett and Louis Tully by the Keymaster and the Gate Keeper. They turn into demon dogs.
- Dope Slap: Peter Venkmann to Ray Stanz, and vice versa.
- Dummied Out: Elmer Bernstein wrote a complete score for the film, parts of which in the final version got replaced by the songs from the soundtrack instead. Thus, several up-beat versions of the Ghostbusters Theme slipped into obscurity.
- Eldritch Abomination: This is what Gozer was implied to be. Parodied with the final form Gozer takes, which is the cuddly and cute Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Peter Venkman: Well, there's something you don't see every day.
- Eldritch Location: Gozer's dimension, as glimpsed through the fridge portal.
- Erotic Dream: Ray has one where he imagines a ghost girl giving him... um, moral support. was originally part of a Deleted Scene where Ray and Winston are on a case at a haunted fort where the ghost girl had been greeting other male visitors.
- Establishing Character Moment: Venkman is first shown giving an ESP test to two students in which a wrong answer is followed by an electric shock. Because one of his test subjects is an attractive female student, Venkman keeps zapping the other (male) subject regardless of who gets the right answer. This reveals Venkman as a Jerk Ass and a man who thinks with his groin. The sharp-eyed will note that the male test subject seems to be getting the answers right after complaining of the shock. Note the look on Venkman's face as he gets it right, and the look of horror on the subject's face as Venkman reaches for the button…
- Everybody Smokes: Perhaps not everybody, but the amount of smoking in this movie (especially from the lead characters) would never happen in a modern Hollywood film unless it's a period piece.
- Evil Makeover/Evil Is Sexy: When Dana gets possessed by Zuul she dresses in a more provocative manner.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Say it with me: "There is no Dana, only Zuul."
- Fog Feet: The library ghost.
- Foreshadowing: In the scene where the eggs in Dana's groceries start cooking themselves while still in the box, a bag of Stay-Puft marshmallows can be seen right next to them. An advert for the marshmallows also shows up on the side of a nearby building during the scene in which the ghosts are released from the containment unit.note
- "Don't cross the streams."
- Larry King during the media montage telling his audience that some authorities suspect the Ghostbusters are staging the ghost appearances themselves.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Played with when Gozer offers the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the Destructor.
- Fridge Horror: In-Universe example. Winston and Ray are driving back from their latest job, when the former asks: "Hey Ray? Do you remember something in the Bible about how, in the last days, the dead would rise from the grave?"
Ray: Well, every civilization has its own myth about the end of the world.
Winston: Myth? Ray, has it ever occurred to you that the reason we've been so busy lately is that the dead have been rising from the grave?
Ray: How 'bout a little music?
- Also a literal example of Fridge Horror, when Dana first encounters Zuul.
- Gameshow Host: Dana compares Veckman to one.
- Glass Smack and Slide: Louis is chased by the Gatekeeper, Vinz Glortho, and attacked by him until he slams face first into the window of a restaurant and slides down, screaming. On the other side of the glass are a bunch of swanky, upscale diners who glance up briefly, then go back to exactly what they were doing.
- Godzilla Threshold: It is incredibly important not to cross the streams but by the time Gozer is about to reincarnate and bring about the End of the World as We Know It they figure "what the heck?"
- Hellhound: The Terror Dogs, Zuul and Vinzclortho.
- Heroic BSOD:
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Ghostbusters had only just figured out the significance of Zuul, Gozer, Ivo Shandor, and Dana Barret's apartment building by the time of the final confrontation. Dana, their first customer, only came to them when she did because she saw their commercial on TV, and she only saw them on TV because it was on when she got home. It is implied that it was on when she got home because of paranormal activity in her apartment (along with the eggs and the doomfridge). If Zuul coulda just dialed it back on the poltergeisting, Gozer would have been triumphant. (To make it even more ironic, it is doubtful that anyone, Zuul, Gozer, or the heroes, even realized this.)
- Hope Spot: For a moment, it looks like they've vaporized Gozer and all's good with the world. Then Egon chimes in with "Ray, this looks extraordinarily bad." Cue Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Averted in the first film, as Venkman was utterly foiled in his attempt to reach Dana.
Zuul (in Dana's body): There is no Dana, only Zuul!
Peter: What a lovely singing voice you must have.
- I Love This Town: Winston Zeddmore, covered in molten marshmallow, triumphantly shouts this line as a summation of the good time the audience had watching this kick-ass movie.
- Ironic Echo: Near the end of the movie Venkman tells Ray to Get her!
- ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Dana carries a bag of them (including celery stalk) into her apartment.
- It Has Been an Honor: In conjunction with using the Forbidden Chekhov's Gun.
Peter: See you on the other side, Ray.
Ray: Nice working with you, Dr. Venkman.
- It Is Beyond Saving: In the Back Story told by Egon, Ivo Shandor believed society was "too sick to survive" after he experienced World War One, which is why he wanted to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
- It Was Here, I Swear: Dana sees a temple and terror dogs in her fridge. Later, she brings Peter to investigate:
Peter: (peeking inside) Oh, my God … Look at all the junk food!
Dana: Oh, dammit! Look, this wasn't here…
Peter: (holding a piece of bologna) You actually eat this?
Dana: Look, this wasn't here! There was nothing here! There was this … space! And there was a building or something with flames coming out of it, and there were creatures writhing around, and they were growling and snarling. And there were flames, and I heard a voice say "Zuul"! It was right here!
Peter: Well, I'm sorry, I'm just not getting any reading.
- There's also a bit of a Take That in that scene, against Coca-Cola (there's a Coke can very visible in the fridge because they owned Columbia at the time (although movies never showed it, the TV logo had a Coca-Cola byline), which is lampshaded on the DVD commentary).
- It's Personal: Venkman alludes to this while the guys are busting Slimer.
Venkman: Maybe now you'll never slime someone with a positron collider, huh?!
- Jerkass: Walter Peck is a rude, self-important, power-tripping, blame-throwing, jerk.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Despite his attitude, Peck, as the head of environmental safety is entirely right to be concerned about people using dangerous, untested nuclear devices that could likely cause disasters if anything goes wrong. Points which the Ghostbusters themselves also have. It's when he shuts off the containment unit without thinking of the risks or consequences that he really goes too far.
- Jerkass Genie: Gozer. He puts it to those nearby to choose the form of the destroyer. Its size, however, is at his discretion.
- Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Walter Peck had a point being concerned about the environmental safety of the Ghostbusters' facility, considering Egon had parallel concerns of his own. However, Peck barging in with a court order, ordering the containment grid turned off despite the warnings of the Busters and the reticence of a Con Ed technician and arresting the Busters for the resulting explosion on spurious charges puts him beyond the pale.
- Kitschy Local Commercial: The commercial the Ghostbusters put out. It has no music, the characters are wooden and it looks like it was shot for about 5 bucks.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre:
Dana: That's the bedroom … but nothing ever happened in there.
Peter: What a crime.
- Let's Split Up, Gang: In the hotel.
Peter Venkman: Yeah, we can do more damage that way.
- Like Reality Unless Noted: We are supposed to assume this world is like our own, excepting there is an actual scientific, verifiable evidence of the paranormal (something our world is lacking). Such as the fact that Egon already had built/bought a PKE meter suggesting someone had detected the energy previously, however people act just as skeptically there as here.
- Long List: Ray's list of repairs the Cadillac needed and Egon's similar list of problems with their building.
- Magnetic Plot Device: The reason New York is practically swimming in ghosts is because Dana Barret's high-rise apartment building is essentially a supernatural magnet. Ivo Shandor, the leader of a cult of Gozer worshipers, designed it specifically to give Gozer a doorway into our world. It also neatly explains just where the vast majority of the unleashed ghosts went, since the building used them as a power source.
- Mathematician's Answer: When asked where the stairs go, Venkman says, "They go up."
- Ms. Fanservice: Now we already know Dana Barret is physically attractive, but once she gets possessed by one of the Terror Dogs she becomes EVEN MORE smoking hot than she was.
- Muggles Do It Better: See Magic Versus Science. Ancient god, meet unlicensed nuclear accelerator.
Peter: Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!
- Naïve Newcomer: Subverted by Winston, who adjusts to his new job very quickly.
- Nerd Glasses: Louis Tully in both movies. Janine gains a huge pair of Harry Potter specs in the sequel, to match her animated counterpart (and make her a more plausible romantic match for Louis).
- Never My Fault: Walter Peck condemns the Ghostbusters for causing the explosion he himself had caused, in spite of their warnings.
- Never Recycle a Building: Even though it's a major deathtrap in the middle of New York City, the abandoned firehouse remains conveniently available until Venkman et al need a place of business.
- The Not So Harmless Punishment: When Gozer demands that the Earth choose the shape of its destroyer, Ray immediately thinks of The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, being the one thing that he believes could not possibly ever hurt us. Unfortunately, that's not quite so.
- Oh, Crap: The look on Mr. Stay Puft's face when the Ghostbusters cross the streams.
- Personal Arcade: In the first night of the franchise, the guys' upper-level loft includes two arcade video games (Missile Command and Star Castle) and a Star Gazer pinball machine next to the fireman's pole.
- Pillar of Light: Rises over the city when the ecto containment unit explodes.
- Plot Time: It's a good idea to use the MST3K Mantra for those of us who pay attention to time:
- As Dana walks in to ask for help Ray is working on the Ecto-1, which is unpainted. She and Peter leave to check out her apartment. After that scene the three are eating Chinese with the last of the petty cash and speaking as if the Dana incident had only just happened and was a failure. Then they get their hotel call and the Ecto-1 is ready to roll - completely fixed and painted.
- Tully mentions before Dana's incident that he's having a party coming up in two weeks. He throws a party on the night Gozer arrives. In between, the Ghostbusters do a variety of jobs and become a major media sensation, seemingly spanning a few months at least. It's unclear if Tully's party is supposed to be the one he's talking about in the beginning of the film or a second one.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: Venkman gets two of these in rapid succession
Venkman: (after having nearly been flung off a building by Gozer's Electrofingers-of-Death)
"All right … this chick is toast
- Precision F-Strike: The containment grid's shut down, and ghosts are streaming into the atmosphere in a pillar of blinding light. What drives home how bad the situation isn't the ensuing montage, or that a possessed man escapes in the crowd. It's that what's happening is enough to tip Egon over into angrily insulting Peck's mother.
- Winston gets a good one in on the Mayor:
Winston: Mr. Mayor, I was a lot like you, but since I joined up with these men I have seen shit that will turn you white!
- Raised Hand of Survival: Dana Barrett is changed into a dog demon by Gozer. After Gozer is destroyed the demon's charred body is found. Her hand breaks out of the body, showing that she's still alive inside it.
- Reactionary Fantasy: The film has been described as a reactionary fantasy where the major realistic villain is Walter Peck, a Strawman of a government bureaucrat who barges into a small business and his interference causes disaster.
- Reality Ensues: The Ghostbusters have their Big Damn Heroes moment, arriving to cheering crowds at Dana's apartment building. Cut to them dragging themselves and their heavy gear up twenty-plus flights of stairs.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dean Yeager tells Venkman off resoundingly as he evicts them from the university, calling he and his team frauds and shysters. It's clear he's been relishing the notion for some time.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: The terror-dogs have glowing red eyes, as does Louis when he's possessed by one of them.
- Running Gag: Louis locking himself out of his apartment.
- Shared Mass Hallucination / Scooby-Doo Hoax: Invoked by Peck, who accuses the Ghostbusters of being frauds that use nerve gas to make people believe they're seeing ghosts, and then "put on a light show" to get rid of them.
- Signature Team Transport: Ecto-1.
- Snub by Omission: When Peter Venkman introduces his team at the library:
Roger Delacorte: I'm Roger Delacorte. Are you the men from the university?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Yes, I'm Dr. Venkman, Dr. Stantz, Egon…
- Soundtrack Dissonance: The "monster movie"-style music that plays during Stay Puft Marshmallow Man's entrance is (intentionally?) Played for Laughs when juxtaposed with Mr. Stay Puft's smiling face. However, he does turn to face the Ghostbusters a few minutes later...
- Styrofoam Rocks: At the end, when debris is falling from the top of the skyscraper, in one shot you can see a rock, which had supposedly tumbled from several hundred feet in the air, fall straight down and bounce off of a wooden police barrier.
- Tailor-Made Prison: All of the ghosts who get captured get placed into the nuclear-powered Containment Unit. Instant Catastrophe? Turn off the Unit.
- The Stinger: There's an inter-credits scene set right after the events of the movie, where Slimer emerges from the New York streets and proceeds to charge at the audience, emitting a horrible wail.
- This Cannot Be!: Ray's reaction at seeing the Stay-Puft monster.
- Throat Light: Zuul's throat (in terror-dog form) emits a bright light when Dana sees it in her refrigerator.
- Trust Me, I'm an X: "Back off, man, I'm a scientist."
- The Tunguska Event: A throw-away line near the end has Ray telling Louis that he was part of the biggest crossover event since this, implying that it was a ghost thing.
- Too Soon: In-universe example. After they defeat Stay-Puft and save the world, the examine the "corpses" of the devil dogs Dana and Louis became. Ray mentions it smells like "barbecued dog hair", then remembered Peter's attachment to Dana, and apologized profusely. Fortunately, Dana and Louis were rescued shortly after.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: The scene wherein the Ghostbusters are heading up to the floor of their first real assignment. "Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back." Cue the other two shuffling comedically away in the tight space.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Mother pus bucket!"
- "I am the Keymaster!" "I am the Gatekeeper."
- Voice of the Legion: Zuul, when Venkman gets it angry.
- Weapons That Suck: The ghost trap has some kind of astral suction function.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The 'busters get their initial capital by mortgaging Ray's family house at an absurd interest rate. We never learn whether they earned enough money fast enough to save it from being foreclosed.
- Widescreen Shot: Ramis joked that he got cut out of most of the standard screen broadcast.
- Particularly in the 4-shot where the Ghostbusters are walking and talking with the hotel manager. Cropping Ramis out of the shot leaves the manager neatly flanked by the other two, and since Ramis doesn't speak during the shot …
- X-Ray Sparks: Shown when the lightning strikes Dana and Louis atop Gozer's temple.
- You Have to Believe Me: Inverted; when they finally get to see the Mayor, despite the apparent lunacy of the things they're suggesting the Ghostbusters — while still stressing the urgency of the situation to him — nevertheless present their case in a fairly calm, reasonable and level-headed manner (even if they do succumb to the dramatic at one point: "Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!"). On the other hand Peck, who on the surface has the more rational case (that these people are conmen), nevertheless comes across as twitchy, touchy, a bit irrational and clearly nursing a grudge, prone to exploding into violence (albeit after being provoked by Venkman) and on the whole rather shifty and unreliable.
- Your Mom: Egon's response to Walter Peck's blockheadedness.
- '80s Hair: The saleswoman at the Orrefor's fine crystal store seen in the montage.
- As You Know: Zed's infodump to Ray explaining how the Ghostbusters went out of business after the first movie.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: The Statue of Liberty.
- Babies Make Everything Better: At least that's what the writers thought.
- Baby Carriage: In the opening scene of the second film, with a more ghostly version used in a later scene.
- Badass Boast:
Venkman: We're the best … we're the beautiful … we're the only … Ghostbusters!
- Beat Them at Their Own Game: The Ghostbusters are able to charge the slime with positive energy, making it an effective weapon against Vigo. And as a bonus, bring the Statue of Liberty to life to rally the New Yorkers.
- Big Applesauce: Mocked near the end by Venkman, who asks why any being would want to return in 1980s New York, rather than sunny Southern California.
- Big Bad: Vigo
- Big Blackout: Ray accidentally causes one in the second film.
- Body Surf: Vigo's goal. He attempts to take over Oscar's body, but once foiled, he decides Ray works just as well. Cue sliming.
- Bottomless Magazines: The slime blowers expend far more slime than the tanks could be reasonably said to carry. Possibly justified by the fact that the evil version of the slime demonstrates itself to be self-replicating in the courtroom scene, so the good version could do the same.
- Brooklyn Rage: The source of the Big Bad's power.
- And what is the best way to overcome Brooklyn Rage? The spirit of goodwill brought on by New Years Eve and the spirit of patriotism as symbolized by the Statue of Liberty.
- Canon Immigrant: In a recursive sort of way. Slimer was in the first movie, but wasn't given a name and he was basically a bad-guy caught by the Ghostbusters. He was turned into a good-guy regular character and given a name in the cartoon series, which is where he becomes a Canon Immigrant in the second movie: the first time we see Slimer in the sequel, he's hanging around inside the Fire Station headquarters chowing down on some food, implying that even the live-action guys have adopted him. The only other scene we see him in, he's shown helping Louis, which again implies that Movie Slimer, like Cartoon Slimer, is now a Team Pet.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Vigo the Carpathian: "Now is the dawning of the season of evil" and etc.
- Care Bear Stare: The good slime is charged with positive feelings. It's harmful to evil ghosts and if turned on humans it turns them into love freaks.
- The Cassandra: Milton Angland, the author who appears on Peter's show at the beginning of the second movie and predicted the world would end on New Year's Eve that year. That almost comes true, though nobody ever sees or speaks of him again.
- Chekhov's Music: "Higher and Higher" in the second movie. Ray and Egon show us that the slime happens to really like Jackie Wilson's version of the song early on in the movie. A cover version is used later on in the movie to empower the slime, thus mobilizing Libby.
- Chekhov's Gun: Egon is first seen in the movie conducting an experiment on whether negative emotions could have an impact on the surrounding environment. Enter "mood slime"… And then see the mood slime itself take control of a major landmark.
- Combined Energy Attack: When the 'busters use the collective goodwill of New York to break through the slime shield on the museum.
- Darker and Edgier/Sequel Escalation: The horror got ramped up, compared to the first one. It wasn't enough that Oscar was stolen away, for example - it had to be on a building ledge, at Venkman's apartment after they were attacked in their own home.
- The spirits themselves were genuinely terrifying (the Ghost Train in particular), and then imagine what prolonged exposure to the Mood Slime does...
- Demonic Possession: Janosz Poha, Ray Stantz, and (almost) Oscar.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Vigo paralyzes the Ghostbusters with a blast of energy, then steps past them to take Oscar. Lacking any other options, Venkman crawls toward Vigo and starts mocking and insulting him.
- The Dreaded: Vigo's titles when he was alive included "Vigo the Cruel", "Vigo the Despised", "Vigo the Torturer", and "Vigo the Unholy".
Venkman: Wasn't he also "Vigo the Butch"?
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Ghostbusters saved the world, but five years later, they're thought of as "two-bit frauds and publicity hounds." They also apparently got shafted when it was time to clean up Gozer's mess. Ray and later Peter comment on this.
- Emotion Eater: Vigo feeds on anger in order to strengthen himself. The Ghostbusters counter this by bringing the Statue of Liberty to life to inspire the spirit of patriotism in the New Yorkers.
- Extra-Strength Masquerade: The giant demonic marshmallow man and plague of ghosts from five years ago everyone remembers and even had physical evidence of was all the world's most elaborate hoax. Obviously. Though there is a great deal of truth in this, after all, people will often only believe what they ''want'' to believe.
- Expospeak Gag: This exchange:
Dr. Peter Venkman: Hey Egon, how's school? I bet those science chicks really dig that large cranium of yours?
Dr. Egon Spengler:
I think they're more interested in my Epididymis
- Failed a Spot Check: Dana. She misses that the water for a bath has suddenly gone silent.
- Flat Earth Atheist: The number of people in the movie who claim not to believe in the supernatural a mere five years after a prehistoric deity marched through downtown Manhattan is staggering.
- Justified in that Peck convinced everyone that the Stay Puft Man was a marketing ploy, and the explosion that closed the portal was the Ghostbusters misusing pyrotechnics, leaving them on the hook for all the damages caused by saving the world.
- Foreshadowing: The psychic predicting the end of the world at the beginning of the movie.
- When Vigo is brainwashing Janosz, his portrait changes to shows the old subway tunnel with mood slime flowing down the support pillars.
- Funny Foreigner: Janosz Poha. Except not really.
Dr. Peter Venkman: Johnny...where in the hell are you from anyway?
Dr. Janosz Poha: (with Slavic accent) De Upper Vest side...?
- Fur and Loathing: A woman is attacked by her haunted coat.
- Giggling Villain: The Scoleri brothers.
- Hanging Judge: Stephen "The Hammer" Wexler. Not only does he have a very unprofessional rant about how he wishes it were still legal to have people burned at the stake but he doesn't seem to have been too concerned with whether or not the Scoleri brothers were actually guilty.
- Historical In-Joke:
- History Marches On: When the Titanic is shown arriving in port, it has a huge hole in the prow.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Ghostbusters use a positively-charged version of Vigo's slime to animate the Statue of Liberty, which allows them to bypass the slime barrier surrounding the Manhattan Museum of Modern Art. The slime blowers are then key to incapacitating Janosz and the possessed Ray without hurting them. When Vigo is forced back into the painting, the slime blowers are the only weapon that visibly hurt him.
- Jerkass: Egon with his hilariously cruel experiments, including fooling a couple into thinking they are there for marriage counseling and watching them from behind a two-way mirror, then making them wait for hours and slowly pushing up the temperature.
- Just Train Wrong: Egon identifies the ghost train that runs over Winston in the subway tunnel as one that derailed in 1920, despite it looking much more like a train from fifty years before that.
- Large Ham: The judge, especially during his "BURNED AT THE STAKE!!!!" rant.
- Laser-Guided Karma: The Judge who launches into an extremely unprofessional and sadistic rant against the Ghostbusters after he initially finds them guilty — the bad karma this creates within the vicinity of the "mood slime" results in bringing back the Scolari Brothers, sibling criminals he tried and sentenced to death for murder. He is then forced to rescind the order to get the Ghostbusters to help him.
- The Prosecutor (played by the late Janet Margolin) as well, given her rude treatment of the main characters during the trial, which results in her getting hauled out upside down by the Scolari Brothers.
- Magic Skirt: The prosecuting attorney is lifted by her leg by a ghost, but her skirt stays up the entire time. (The novelisation of the movie says that she was struggling to keep her skirt from rolling over.)
- Medium Awareness:
- The updated Ghostbusters sign with the ghost giving the "two" sign. The movie revolved around their comeback after five years of inactivity, so a redesigned logo might seem fitting. It was also their second run as ecto-exterminators. Furthermore, the "two" sign is better known as the V Sign, "V for Victory," from World War II. So the logo is the Ghostbusters' Take That to the authorities that shut them down after the first movie. The fact that it is holding up two fingers is coincidental (at least from the story point of view). Combining these two, V is the Roman numeral for 5.
- Monumental Damage: After the positive slime wears out, the Statue of Liberty can be seen collapsed on the street. However, the credits show the Statue restored to its original state (with the Twin Towers dominating the background.)
- My Death Is Just the Beginning: Invoked by Vigo when his head died: "Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I'll be back."
- Not Now, Kiddo: As the judge is passing sentence, Ray sees the slime bubbling furiously. The Ghostbusters attempt to warn the judge, but promptly get silenced. So they take cover before it explodes with the Scoleri Brothers' ghosts emerging.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The Ghostbusters while posing as construction workers.
- Omnidisciplinary Lawyer: Averted and lampshaded. Louis Tully specifically warns the main quartet that he doesn't know criminal law. Sure enough, he botches the defense and the judge rules against them. It's only the timely appearance of ghosts (thereby proving to the disbelieving judge that ghosts are real) that get the Ghostbusters off the hook. To his credit, Tully does help play legal hardball at that moment to force the judge to rescind the restraining order.
- One Thing Led to Another: And the next thing Louis knew, he and Janine were having sex!
- OOC Is Serious Business: Louis takes the guys their gear and tells them about what's happened when they're released from Parkview. While Ray and Egon are talking about Vigo possessing Oscar, Peter looks dead serious, is totally silent, and has his jumpsuit and elbowpads on before the others have even finished zipping up. And when they're walking out, he's a good six feet in front of them.
- Pair the Spares: Janine, who spent most of her screen time in the first film fruitlessly flirting with Egon, hooks up in this film with Louis.
- The Power of Rock: The Ghostbusters use the positive emotions evoked by good ole rock to power the slime.
- Primal Fear: The sheer number of things Dana has to go through as Oscar is repeatedly manipulated, snatched away, and almost possessed…
- Rasputinian Death: The team recounts the death of Vigo the Carpathian:
: Vigo the Carpathian. Born 1505, died 1610. Peter
: 105 years old, he hung in there, didn't he? Ray
: He didn't die of old age, either. He was poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered. Peter: Ouch.
- Reality Ensues / Weirdness Censor: Despite saving the world in the first film, the Ghostbusters are bankrupt and regarded as frauds just five years later, with all the ghost sightings being chalked up to a toxic leak causing mass hallucinations, due to the explosion of the containment system.
- The Renfield: Janosz, who was played by Peter MacNicol, who also played the Renfield in Dracula: Dead And Loving It.
- Sequel Reset: Peter and Dana have split up, only to rekindle their relationship. The Ghostbusters were sued out of business, only to get it going once again. They are interfered with by an Obstructive Bureaucrat until the Mayor asks for their help. Though it's believable that the people of New York would try to fool themselves into believing it was all a hoax.
- Mad Magazine made a point of underlining this in their spoof of the movie, with Winston asking Egon why it is that they're right back where they started in the first movie even after having saved New York. Egon rightly points out the trope and all the reasons movie sequels do this.
- Shout-Out: At a party where Ray and Winston were performing, when they asked Who You Gonna Call?, the kids answered "He-Man".
- Sinister Subway: Home to an Afterlife Express, which is a Call Back to an offhand comment in the first film, when a reporter informs viewers that his grandmother used to tell ghost stories about a spectral locomotive.
- As another example of Shown Their Work, in searching for the source of the supernatural energy spike which caused little Oscar's runaway Baby Carriage at the start of the movie, the Ghostbusters discover the fictional Van Horne station filled by the river of slime. This is a reference to Beach's Pneumatic Railway which was built beneath Broadway and later shut down by Boss Tweed, and the movie depiction even resembles some of Beach's designs with its tile walls and mosaic frescoes. (Interestingly, while the Manhattan Museum of Art was also fictional, the building used for its facade, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House near Battery Park, is within a mile of the original tunnel's location.)
- Square/Cube Law: In spite of the general Rule of Cool and Applied Phlebotinum, the law gets a brief nod during the Statue of Liberty scene…
Winston: Can't you go any faster?
Ray: I'm afraid the vibrations would shake her to pieces. We should have padded her feet…
- Theme Tune Cameo: Ray and Winston try to sing the GB theme song at a birthday party for "ungrateful yuppie larvae", but sadly, they're shouted down by their cries for He-Man.
- Weaponized Landmark: The Statue of Liberty.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Apparently Winston has an aversion to rats.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: After the proton packs fail to make a dent in the slime shell covering the museum.
Ray: You know, I just can't believe things have gotten so bad in this city that there's no way back. I mean, sure, it's messy, it's crowded, it's polluted, and there are people who would just as soon step on your face as look at you. But come on! There's gotta be a few sparks of sweet humanity left in this burned-out berg. We just gotta find a way to mobilize it!
- You Have to Believe Me: A certain amount of this helps Hardemeyer in getting the Ghostbusters committed, and in the psychiatrist not believing a word they said. Even Dana, despite the slime covering them, doesn't seem to respond well.