Film / Ghostbusters (1984)

Dr. Ray Stanz: Are you troubled by strange noises in the middle of the night?
Dr. Egon Spengler: Do you experience feelings of dread in your basement or attic?
Dr. Peter Venkman: Have you or your family ever seen a spook, spectre or ghost?
Ray: If the answer is "yes," then don't wait another minute. Pick up the phone and call the professionals...
Ray: Our courteous and efficient staff is on call 24 hours a day to serve all your supernatural elimination needs.
The 3 founding Ghostbusters in their first TV ad.

Mad Science 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 admitted to being more of a skeptic. As such, in addition to the excellent comedy and memorable characters Ghostbusters has been found to appeal to skeptics.

Three parapsychology professors (earnest, forthright, and curious Dr. Raymond Stantz, sarcastic schemer Dr. Peter Venkman, and detached academic Dr. Egon Spengler) have finally succeeded in discovering proof that ghosts exist! Unfortunately, as they return they discover that they have been 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 as paranormal investigators and exterminators. 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, with cellist Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver) — who becomes Peter's Love Interest — as their sole client. As they begin researching her case, the number of ghosts in New York City increases 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. Dana is abducted and possessed by the malevolent entities in her apartment. 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. While waiting for a meeting with the mayor, Ray and Egon explain the phenomena are centered on Dana's apartment, which was designed by a cult from the early 20th century to attract spirits and bring about The End of the World as We Know It.

The Mayor decides to let the Ghostbusters try. Worst case scenario is they're wrong and nothing bad happens. Best case scenario is they're right and he becomes a hero for trusting them. The Ghostbusters climb to Dana's penthouse, take on the Ancient Sumerian deity in the form of a hundred-foot tall marshmallow man, and win by breaking their own most serious rule.

A sequel starring most of the original cast was released five years later. For more on the sequel, see the Ghostbusters II page.

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, having been written by Aykroyd and Ramis, and being described as being the third movie by Aykroyd.

The prospect of an actual third movie with the original leads evaporated completely with Ramis' sudden death in 2014, though his unfortunate demise did not stop the movies leading to the formation of a larger expanded universe.

In 2014, plans for a Continuity Reboot were announced, directed by Paul Feig. For more details, see the Ghostbusters (2016) page.

As publicity for the 2016 version, the first film was re-released in theaters with a "behind the scene" sneak peek of the new film.


"Venkman! What happened, are you okay?" "...he troped me.":

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     Ghostbusters General 
  • '80s Hair:
    • Ghostbusters: People with pink, blue, and big hair are all seen milling about through New York city in various scenes, particularly at the climax.
    • Ghostbusters 2: The saleswoman at the Orrefor's fine crystal store seen in the montage.
  • Admiring the Abomination: Ray and Egon are regularly enthralled or intellectually intrigued by the pandimensional beings they deal with, which contrasts with the deadpan or mundane approaches from Peter and Winston.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • To some degree. Our main characters include Winston, Peter, Ray, Louis, Dana, Janine... and Egon. While Egon is an actual name of Teutonic origin (meaning "formidable" or "mighty with a sword"), it sounds a little bit out of place surrounded by more common names.
    • The cast has this, too! Ernie, Bill, Dan, Rick, Harold, Annie... and Sigourney.
  • 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.
    • In the same in-universe ad, Egon looks down before stepping forward and back, looking for his mark.
  • 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.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished:
    • Played straight: Dana Barret. Despite being possessed in the first movie and dealing with empathic slime in the second, the worst she gets is a little dusty and her hair mussed.
    • Played with: Peter Venkman. Venkman gets slimed once very lightly, and is the only Ghostbuster to end up not covered in ectoplasmic toasted marshmallow when Stay Puft is defeated. Winston, Egon, and Ray all get Covered in Gunge repeatedly throughout both movies. note 
  • Berserk Button: Slimer really doesn't take well to being called ugly...
  • Big Applesauce: Considered one of the quintessential New York City films. The last line of the first film summarizes it perfectly:
    Winston: I LOVE THIS TOWN!!!
  • Big Bad: Gozer in 1, Vigo the Carpathian in 2 and Ivo Shandor in the video game.
  • Big Damn Heroes: In the second movie, the Ghostbusters arriving via skylight to stop Oscar being turned into a new host body for Vigo the Carpathian.
  • Big Eater: Uh, Slimer. (Called "the Green Ghost" in the first movie and was officially named "Peanut", but given the name "Slimer" in the cartoon and the credits of the second.) The cast thought of him as the ghost of John Belushi.
  • Bowdlerise: In reverse. In the 80s, commercials for the first movie ended with Venkman 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.
  • 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.
    • The Series also features in LEGO Dimensions, with the Level Pack including a condensed version of the first film as a playable level- although in this case, as a consequence of Lord Vortech's plans to conquer the multiverse, General Zod is the villain who's wreaking havoc.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Ray and especially Peter, who both have Ph.Ds, in Physics and Parapsychology/Psychology respectively. Ray is more childlike, but Peter is full-on childish. Both of them are, despite Peter's professions to the contrary, 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.
  • 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.
    Venkman: Yeah... we can do more damage that way.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: To the point where it's standard operating procedure...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: The Ghostbusters are an odd bunch of mad scientists.
  • 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 Religious Weirdness: The church does not want to take an official position on the paranormal events happening in New York in either movie.
    • In the first movie, multiple religious figures are seen praying: Priests, Nuns, Rabbis, and an Imam.
  • 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.
    • Word of God is that Egon and Ray are legitimate practitioners of their field (albeit Egon is far better at it) while Peter didn't believe in the supernatural until he was confronted with it.
  • 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.
  • Five-Man Band: The Ghostbusters naturally form an organized team to combat the Ghosts of NYC.
  • Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Crossing the streams. They are warned never to do it, and it becomes their Finishing Move.
  • Foreshadowing: In the "eggs frying on the counter" scene, among Dana's groceries can be seen a bag of "Mr. Stay Puft" marshmallows.
  • 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.
    • During the "Ghost Fever Grips New York" montage, a bearded bystander in blue notices the man-on-the-street reporter talking about the Ghostbusters and sways for a few moments before making a hand sign and moving on.
  • Gate Guardian: Zuul (who looks like a large demonic dog) is the Gatekeeper of the dimensional portal that Gozer the Gozerian arrives through. It's (her?) counterpart, Vinz Clortho, The Keymaster, also looks like a giant demon dog.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: It has several of these moments. Arguably the best known one was in the first movie there was that part when a woman is half asleep on her couch. Suddenly she hears strange sounds from the fridge and she says very blatantly, "Oh shit!"
    • 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."
  • Just in Time: As the Busters realize they are broke and about to go out of business, Janine gets a phone call.
    Janine: Hello, Ghostbusters. Yes, of course they're serious. You do? You have?... WE GOT ONE!
  • Leitmotif: The Ghostbusters have one when they're going around the city outside of work.
  • 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.
    • It took until 2016 for a real licensed pinball table to be released, Stern's Ghostbusters.
  • 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.
  • Magnetic Plot Device: In all three films, the only reason New York appears to be swimming in ghosts is because something is empowering them.
    • In the first, 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.
    Ray: The whole building is a huge super-conductive antenna that was designed and built expressly for the purpose of pulling in and concentrating spiritual turbulence. Your girlfriend, Pete, lives in the corner penthouse of Spook Central.
    • In the aftermath, things quieted down so fast that the whole thing was written off as a mass hallucination - which everyone save them accepted - the 'Busters couldn't get enough business to stay open, and they were even slapped with a restraining order keeping them from practicing as paranormal investigators or eliminators. Only when Vigo's painting was shipped to the MOMA - and he began turning the city's bad vibes into his "mood slime" - did things start up again.
    • In the reboot, the whole plot only happens because one of the 'Busters' rivals builds a machine to amp up supernatural activity.
  • 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 Man, 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.
  • Muggles Do It Better: the title characters are Science Heroes who take on ghosts and extraplanar creatures. Furthermore, they are able to because they are able to study them scientifically and develop effective weapons that are relatively easy to use.
  • Mundane Made Awesome: Part of the joke of the franchise is that dealing with supernatural entities like ghosts, otherworldly demons and Lovecraftian Eldritch Abominations becomes, once the Ghostbusters have come along and applied a little practical science to the matter, basically a form of glorified pest control.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Ray gets this a lot.
    • He chooses Gozer's destructive form as Stay Puft.
      Peter: Did you choose anything?!
      Egon:: No.
      Peter: Did you?!
      Winston: My mind's a total blank.
      Peter: I 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.
    • Venkman's antagonism towards Peck spurs him to come back with a warrant, specifically to cause as much trouble as possible. The clash was probably going to happen anyway, but Peter makes it a personal feud.
  • 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 through 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." (This was allegedly a Throw It In by Murray which Ramis seamlessly responded to.)
  • Not Quite Dead: Justified since this is a franchise about ghosts. Also notable in the account of Vigo's death.
    Ray Stantz: He didn't die of old age, either. He was poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered.
    Peter: Ouch.
    Ray: There was a prophecy. Just before his head died, his last words were "Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I'll be back."
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: Venkman's ghost-sniffer, also known as the "Bacharach Chemical Sniffer," which is used primarily for detecting gas leaks. This also carries over into the guys' Homemade Inventions (a kitchen colander with wires and things on it, for one).
    • The ectoplasm was made from methylcellulose ether, a thickening agent used in processed foods.
    • The "marshmallow" goo was actually shaving cream. More than 50 gallons was dumped on William Atherton, almost knocking him to the ground.
  • One-Winged Angel: Ghosts who take human form as a disguise are usually provoked into taking monstrous forms.
  • 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: Although they're more like a decontamination crew than detectives or investigators.
  • Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Proton packs, which are "positron colliders" (or sometimes "unlicensed nuclear accelerators") that shoot particles from "neutrona wands".
  • Punch-Clock Hero: Pretty much all of the Ghostbusters, sans Ray, became heroes to earn money. However, they start to outgrow this a little.
  • Puny Humans: Inverted in that Science Hero mortals scientifically learned about the nature of the supernatural, ranging from simple ghosts to gods, develop practical and easy to use weapons against it and totally clean its clock!
  • 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 reasonably skeptical of the claims of apocalyptic supernatural phenomena, 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.
    Ray: First of all, Mr. Mayor, it's a great pleasure to see you again. And we'd like to say that almost 50% of us voted for you in the last election.
    Mayor: I appreciate that.
    • 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 .
    • In the cartoon, the Ghostbusters temporarily convert their gear to allow them to catch criminals for bounties, but the premise remains the same.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man by the villains, and The Statue of Liberty by the heroes.
  • Romanticism vs. Enlightenment: Standing out from a lot of the occult horror genre movies of its time, Ghostbusters is very pro-Enlightenment-esque. MovieBob says it best in a Youtube episode of "Really That Good" on this movie at the 19:14 mark.
  • 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: Three scientists and one academic student (Zeddemore, who gets a Doctorate later) face an ancient god with nothing but high technology equipment based on intensive scientific research of their supernatural opponents' nature, and totally kick their asses.
  • Science Is Useless: 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 are used to trap ghosts.
  • 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."note 
      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?
      Dr Ray Stantz: [Beat] ...How 'bout a little music?
      Winston Zeddemore: [nods] Yeah.
    • 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!
      Peter Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria!
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
    • After the interview with Dana Barrett:
      Peter Venkman: I'll take Miss Barret back to her apartment and check her out.
      [Dana Barret looks up confused]
      Peter Venkman: I'll go check out Miss Barret's apartment. OK?
  • 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.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight:
    • One of the buildings of New York becomes the portal to a hell dimension and nobody seems to notice or care.
    • Louis Tully is pinned against the window of a fancy restaurant, then apparently devoured by a dog-like hellbeast the size of a horse. The patrons give this gruesome event a cursory glance, then carry on like nothing happened.
    • Though, given how New York is depicted in these films, this is perfectly "in-character".
  • 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 (as in, making this announcement during a mayoral meeting where everyone else in the room, including the mayor himself, is well aware of the supernatural crisis), 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?: If there's somethin' the neighborhood....who you gonna call? Trope NAMER!! If there's somethin' weird, and it don't look good, 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: When Venkman comes to visit Dana, he 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?

    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.
  • The Alleged Car: Ecto-1 is an ancientnote  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...
    • To clarify: $4800 in 1984 dollars is $11,000 in 2016 dollars.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Gozer appeared female when "she" first came in, 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.
  • 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?!
    Peter: No!
  • Apocalypse How: Attempted. But where do you slot the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man in the scale?
  • 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."
  • 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!
  • Art Deco: Dana's apartment building, as pointed out by Egon. In Real Life, however, it's shorter and doesn't have the spire at the top, where the climax takes place—the spire was made using a scale model.
  • 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.
  • Bad Ass Boast: After turning into the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Gower wreaks havoc as he comes up to the building. Peter doesn't take that very well:
    Peter: Nobody steps on a church in my town!
    (Funny because two doors down from the NYC building is a church.)
  • 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!
    • This is brought back near the end of the movie when the protagonists come face to face with the film's Big Bad.
      Peter: Whatever it is, it has to get by us!
      Ray: Right.
      Peter: GO GET HER, RAY!
  • 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. If they'd been kicked out of their college just a few weeks earlier, they would have gone out of business. Oh, and New York would have become the epicenter of the apocalypse.
    • In the Sedgwick scene, the Concierge mentions that the 12th floor of the hotel has had paranormal activity for years, and that it only recently began becoming troublesome again. He only called when it became such an issue that the guests were noticing and questioning.
  • 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.
    • Per Louis Tully, there is a nearby drugstore that delivers. That is a very upscale part of New York, and Venkman is a doctor.
  • Creator Cameo: Director Ivan Reitman provides the voices for Slimer and Zuul. Producer Joe Medjuck crosses in front of the camera in the library.
  • Cthulhumanoid: The legless howling ghost that emerges from the subway has a "face" made of tendrils.
  • Deadpan Snarker:
    • Venkman 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 by the Gatekeeper and Louis Tully by the Keymaster. They turn into demon dogs.
  • Destroyer Deity: Gozer The Destructor has visited the world several times, and apparently visited several other dimensions and laid waste to them. It does seem to give the world a fairly sporting chance to pick their destruction, which proves it's undoing during 1984 when the form it assumes is the Staypuft Marshmellow man.
  • Deus Sex Machina: It's heavily implied that the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper have sex in order to unlock the portal into our dimension and bring forth Gozer.
  • 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. This 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 and acts in a more provocative manner.
  • Evil Slinks: Sigourney Weaver performs this trope as well as one who is human possibly can while she portrays the Zuul-possessed Dana.
  • 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: From what the Keymaster says (and the Ghostbusters later discover), Gozer is required for some reason to take on a form familiar to the inhabitants of the world it intends to annihilate.
  • Fridge Horror: In-Universe example. Winston and Ray are driving back from their latest job;
    Winston: Hey Ray. Do you believe in God?
    Ray: : Never met him.
    Winston: Yeah, well, I do. And I love Jesus's style, you know. ...Hey Ray. Do you remember something in the bible about the last days when the dead would rise from the grave?
    Ray: I remember Revelations 7:12; "And I looked, and he opened the sixth seal, and behold, there was a great earthquake. And the sun became as black as sack cloth, and the moon became as blood."
    Winston: "And the seas boiled and the skies fell."
    Ray: Judgement Day.
    Winston: Judgement Day.
    Ray: Every ancient religion has its own myth about the end of the world.
    Winston: 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?
    Long pause
    Ray: ...How 'bout a little music?
    Winston: Yeah.
    • Also a literal example of Fridge Horror, when Dana first encounters Zuul.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: In-universe, the "roasted dog hair" crack Ray makes when they find the dog monsters, one of which was Dana, burned up. He immediately remembers this and quickly apologizes to Peter.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Gozer the Destroyer. He seems to be called "the Destroyer" because that's all humans really know about him: that he destroys things whenever he comes to Earth.
  • G-Rated Sex: Played with. Dana, once possessed by Zuul comes on to Peter with such phrases as: "Take me now, sub-creature" and "I want you inside me". However, nothing comes of it because Venkman drugs her to keep her unconscious while Zuul has possession of her body. Once Peck has the containment unit shut down, she wakens, and waits for Vinz Clortho's arrival. In the person of Louis Tully he arrives. The two share a long, hot kiss, before ascending to the pillar. It is subtly implied, even though the next time we see them they're still dressed, that Dana and Louis, while possessed, had sex. Vinz is lying weakly on the platform, but his belt is unbuckled. There's also the Gatekeeper/Keymaster titles the possessing entities went by. (As in: he (ahem) unlocked her)
  • Gameshow Host: Dana compares Veckman to one.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: Louis is chased by the Gatekeeper, Vinz Clortho, 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?"
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ivo Shandor, worshipper of Gozer. Shandor was the architect for the building where Gozer himself/itself first enters our world, and led a cult dedicated to him. Of course, Shandor himself has passed away by this point, but was significant enough to become an important mention while the Ghostbusters are locked up as the previously mentioned architect, since he was the one who had brought all the necessary elements for Gozer's return together while he was still alive. Years later, when Shandor returns and releases Gozer only for the Sumerian god to come back in a weaker Stay Puft form (leading to his second defeat), the ghost of Shandor decides to become a god himself using an also-previously-established mandala spread throughout New York, as well as become the ghost behind the ghosts to most, if not all of the Ghostbusters's deadlier ghost enemies in the 2009 Ghostbusters game. Oh, and the name he chooses for his Destructor form like Gozer's (except minus the Stay Puft)? The Architect.
  • Hand Signals: Egon communicates with these a couple of times in the film:
    • The first time he tells Peter with finger gestures against his face, disguised as cleaning himself up, to charge the hotel $4000 for capture and containment, and $1000 for other services.
    • The second time, he emphatically warns the entire business that when Peck shuts off the containment unit, there will be a terrible explosion; he throws both hands up and mouths "BOOM" to emphasize his gesture.
  • Hellhound: The Terror Dogs, Zuul and Vinz Clortho.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Ray gets this when he ends up conjuring the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man as the creature to end the world.
    Peter: Ray has gone bye-bye, Egon. What have you got left?
    Egon: Sorry, Venkman. I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
  • 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 poltergeist activity, 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 checks the P.K.E meter and 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.
  • Invisible to Normals: People dining in the restaurant apparently can't see Vinz Clortho advancing on Louis; they just see some weird guy screaming with his back against the plate-glass windows and (being New Yorkers) ignore the obvious lunatic. During the "Magic" sequence, nobody on the streets seems to notice the lights gushing upwards from the explosion at the Ghostbusters' firehouse or the psychokinetic vortex above Dana's building.
  • Ironic Echo: Near the end of the movie Venkman tells Ray to Get her!
  • Irony: Try as he might to attract the attention of a disinterested Dana, poor Louis Tully has no luck getting into her pants until both of them are possessed by evil transdimensional entities.
  • 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 I, 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: No, Goddammit! Look, this wasn't here…
    Peter: (holding a piece of salami) 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. While Venkman certainly didn't help matters by being as uncooperative as possible, Peck's smug attitude (and repeatedly referring to Peter as Mr. Venkman and not Dr. Venkman) showed he wasn't really looking to play nice either.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • Despite his attitude, and the fact that he's essentially the personification of government overreach in America, Peck, as the head of environmental safety, is entirely right to be concerned about people using unregulated and potentially dangerous equipment. Even the Ghostbusters admit their tech isn't exactly safe. Peck loses points because he's clearly biased in his attempts to have the Ghostbusters shut down, and he sails right over the line when he shuts off the containment unit despite being explicitly told by the designers that it will explode without power, and further by the ConEd technician (the closest thing Peck has to an expert) who says that he recognizes just enough of the hardware to know he doesn't feel comfortable screwing with it.
    • The college administrator who tosses them off campus at the start of the film is an example as well. He obviously doesn't like the future Ghostbusters for what he sees as questionable science, but at this point in the film they only actually confirmed any of their theories on the same day he's kicking them out, and Venkman's Establishing Character Moment gives ample reason for the administrator to want the group off campus.
  • 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 (while the existence of such is a contentious issue in real-life). Such as the fact that Egon already had built/bought a PKE meter suggesting someone had detected the energy previously, however their world appears to have the same amount of belief and skepticism as here.
  • Long List: Ray's list of repairs the Cadillac needed and Egon's similar list of problems with their building.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When asked where the stairs go, Venkman says, "They go up."
  • Meaningful Background Event: Overlaps with Foreshadowing. When Dana first described Zuul to the Ghostbusters, she was subject to a test involving a makeshift headpiece and a monitor that displays her human image. When Louis Tully, after becoming possessed by Vinz Clortho, is subject to the same test, the monitor shows an image of a Terror Dog, signifying their true/upcoming form.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: In the climax, Ray screws up majorly twice - first by nearly getting his team zapped off the tower by confessing to not being a god and later Gozer tells the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the Destructor. Ray thinks of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man (whom he believes to be totally harmless), whereupon Gozer (reading Ray's mind) assumes the form of the Marshmallow Man and wreaks havoc.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: All hell breaks loose on New York City when Jerkass Walter Peck brings out the paperwork ordering the containment unit to be shut down, believing it to be a dire environmental hazard.
  • Noble Demon: Vince is the Keymaster charged with opening the gates of Armageddon, and he's pretty destructive in terror dog form. In Louis' body, however, he's fairly affable and curious about the world he finds himself in. He also seems to have a moral code, displayed when he encounters a horse in "slavery."
    Coachman: Hey, he pulls the wagon, I make the deals. You want a ride?
    Vince: <growls at the driver as his eyes flash red, turning to whisper to the horse> Wait for the sign, then all prisoners will be released. <screams at the driver as he runs away> You will perish in flames! Gozer will destroy you and your kind!
    Coachman: What an asshole.
  • 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.
    • Alternatively, the Ghostbusters' reaction to Stay Puft.
      Egon: LOOK!
      Ray: No! It can't be!
      Peter: What is it?!
      Ray: It can't be!
      Peter: What did you do, Ray?!
      Winston: Aw, shit!
      • And again when Stay Puft turns to face them with its maniacal grin …
        Winston: Oh, no.
        Peter: Mother pus bucket…
    • When Walter Peck turns the containment grid off, the result is an Oh, Crap! combined with a This Is Gonna Suck. The electrician even says, "Oh, shit!" while Egon makes a little "kaboom" motion with his hands.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Egon, of all people, tries to start a fistfight with Peck while insulting his mother, after Peck's stupidity causes a catastrophe and Peck blames it on the Ghostbusters.
  • 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, releasing all of the ghosts trapped.
  • 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.
      • Justified by Ray's childlike excitement; to him Ecto-1 is a Cool Car. He also mentions he has been literally working himself to exhaustion until they hire Winston.
    • 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!"
    Venkman: "… let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown."
  • 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.
    Peck: I want this man arrested! These men are in violation of the Environmental Protection Act, and this explosion is a direct result of it!
    Egon: Your 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!
  • Product Placement: And how. Nestle Crunch, Nabisco Wheat Thins, Sunshine Cheez-Its, Oscar Meyer, Budweiser, Bud Light and Hostess Twinkies are all prominently displayed in Dana's and the Busters' kitchens. Miller High Life gets an actual Shout-Out when Venkman triumphantly says, "It's Miller Time!" when they think they have easily dispatched with Gozer.
    • They initially wanted to use the Pillsbury Dough-boy as Gozer's final form but couldn't get the rights; Pillsbury didn't want their lovable mascot portrayed as a world-destroying villain. Thus was born the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
    • And all the Coca-Cola products seen- Coke, Diet Coke, and Tab- are because, believe it or not, Coca-Cola actually owned Columbia at the time! (But unlike Sony's current ownership, it was never referenced on theatrical movies or on video; the TV division (and subsequent acquisitions, such as Merv Griffin Enterprises) did have the byline.)
  • Raised Hand of Survival: Dana Barrett is changed into a dog demon by Gozer. After Gozer is destroyed the demon's stone body is found. Her hand breaks out of the body, showing that she's still alive inside it.
  • 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-two 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.
    Dean Yeager: Doctor... Venkman. We believe the purpose of science is to serve mankind. You however seem to regard science as some kind of dodge... or hustle. Your theories are the worst kind of popular tripe, your methods are sloppy, and your conclusions are highly questionable! You are a poor scientist, Dr. Venkman.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning
    • Gozer's dog demons Zuul and Vinz Clortho both have glowing red eyes.
    • After Tully is possessed by one of the dog demons, his eyes flash red when he becomes angry. Dana Barrett's eyes also become red after she is possessed.
    • While in his female human form, the evil deity Gozer the Gozerian has red eyes.
  • Running Gag: Louis locking himself out of his apartment.
  • Shackle Seat Trap: Dana's abduction by Zuul is facilitated by an armchair that sprouts actual, demonic arms to grab her.
  • 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.
  • Snobs Versus Slobs: The aftermath of the fight to catch Slimer in the Sedgwick hotel. The concierge/hotel manager is assuring the swanky old rich lady that her Midnight Buffet will be ready. Once the Ghostbusters emerge, slimy, sweaty, and holding a smoking trap, the concierge refuses to pay when advised how much it will cost. He quickly agrees once the Ghostbusters indicate that if he doesn't pay up, they will simply put the apparition right back where they found it.
    • Walter Peck, Dean Yeager and Dana's colleague from the orchestra also qualify. The latter's only crime being a "stiff" who talks with big words and uses nasal spray.
  • 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…
  • Something Else Also Rises: A subtle and easy-to-miss one. When Possessed!Dana and Possessed!Louis finally meet up, they share a passionate kiss before ascending to the rooftop; we then see the Ghostbusters later arrive at the foot of the building, the sky darkens and they are nearly swallowed up by an earthquake; in other words, the earth moves.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance:
    • During the sequence where the ghosts escape the containment unit and start terrorizing the city, a pop ballad titled "Magic" by Mick Smiley is played.
    • The "monster movie"-style music (masterfully scored by Elmer Bernstein) 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...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sweet Tooth: Egon has one, that he's apparently trying with limited success to overcome. After the library ghost, Peter teases him with a Nestle Crunch bar before giving it to him as a reward and telling him he's earned it. Later, Egon is seen eating a Twinkie and using it to describe the paranormal activity to Winston.
  • Tablecloth Yank: Venkman does this in the hotel ballroom, destroying everything except the centerpiece.
    Venkman: The flowers are still standing!
  • Tailor-Made Prison: All of the ghosts who get captured get placed into the nuclear-powered Containment Unit. Instant Catastrophe? Turn off the Unit.
  • Team Hand-Stack: The Ghostbusters do this just before entering the building to fight Gozer. They do another one when they think they've won, until Egon tells them that things are about to go From Bad to Worse.
  • Thanks for the Mammaries: Several arms burst out of Dana's chair before dragging her off to be possessed by Zuul. Among these, one of the hands is planted firmly on her chest.
  • 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 Dumb to Live: Ray denies being a god when Gozer questions him, as a result he and his friends are almost killed.
  • 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.
  • Understatement: Egon is prone to these. He says "bad" when what he means is "catstrophic".
    Egon: Something important I forgot to mention. Don't cross the streams. It would be ... bad.
  • Unusual Euphemism: "Mother pus bucket!"
    • "I am the Keymaster!" "I am the Gatekeeper."
  • Voice of the Legion: Zuul, when Venkman makes it angry.
  • Weapons That Suck: The ghost trap has some kind of astral suction function.
  • Wham Line: "...I couldn't help it. just popped in there..."
  • 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. Sparks briefly reveal their human skeletons. After they become Terror Dogs, the sparks reveal the demonic monster's skeletons.
  • 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!"). Better yet, respected city officials like the City Fire Chief and the Archbishop of New York support the Ghostbusters' case with rational observations of the bizarre phenomena plaguing the city that defies any explanation other than the Busters' (while the Archbishop supports the Ghostbusters he states the rest of the clergy are still trying to reach a consensus). 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.