Prosecutor: I'll ask you again, Dr. Venkman, why were you digging the hole? And please remember you're under oath. Peter Venkman: There are some things in this world that go way beyond human understanding. Things that cannot be explained. Things that some don't even want to know about! That is where we come in. Prosecutor: So what you're saying is that the world of the supernatural is your exclusive province? Peter: Kitten, I think that what I'm saying is that: sometimes, shit happens, someone has to deal with it, and who you gonna call?
A small band of concerned but "average" citizens who have taken it upon themselves to deal with the threat(s). The ones who survive long enough can also graduate to Hunter status or become an Occult Detective. May opt to Help The Helpless.
A quasi-governmental Agency or Secret Society which both deals with the threat(s) and actively strives to keep the citizenry at large ignorant. Often headed up by Da Chief, with a Cowboy Cop protagonist who has been newly recruited from the local police force.
In Devil Hunter Yohko, Yohko's best friend, Chigako, appoints herself as her manager and starts by trying to promote her as a professional demon slayer, by taking out an ad in the paper. She also tries to make recordings of Yohko's battles, to showcase her abilities, in order to build Yohko's reputation. Though it usually ends up putting Chigako in harm's way, or simply makes Yohko's job more difficult.
The titular character of Hell Teacher Nube, Meisuke "Nube" Nueno, is a very well-known and respected exorcist. Even though Japanese folklore already gravitates towards him, his school (Doumori Elementary,) and his students, people from far and wide seek him out to keep him from having too much free time. Also, his father is a world-renowned warrior monk and spiritualist; his fame is so great the media constantly hounds him and he even has fanclubs among Nube's students.
By the end of the manga, Nube has moved to another town, leaving the responsibility to protect Doumori to Tamamo and Izuna.
The Tendo Dojo of the Ranma ½ universe seems to be the standard place to go in Nerima for demon and ghost sightings. It's stated that battling such things is the responsibility of the "true martial artist," whatever that is. note In Fanon, it's one of two options: Either it's an excuse for Genma and/or Soun to make Ranma do it, or Ranma honestly believes it is something he must do. Note that the two options are not mutually exclusive...
Specific example: "Mystery of the Marauding Octopus Pot" Filler story, from both manga and anime. Ranma, Soun and Genma are hired to come to a seaside village and deal with a living octopus pot that has been stealing all sorts of things, namely food and women's underwear. Soun and Genma promptly take to their private room and lounge around eating seafood, while Ranma, expressing disdain for their attitude, goes and uses his Gender BenderCurse to stake out the women's baths in order to lure out the lecherous monster. It turns out to be Dirty Old ManHapposai, raiding the village to care for a beautiful moocher (anime version) or because he's a dick (manga).
The Hellsing Organization fights a secret war to protect Queen and Country from Vampires... with Dracula as their best agent.
Shibuya Psychic Research from Ghost Hunt, as well as the various other exorcists/investigators who often accompany them.
First Squad, a Russian counter-occult special force consisting of five teenagers, set during World War II. Only one of them lasts more than fifteen minutes into the first film, but luckily she can channel the ghosts of her comrades.
Rental Magica is about a "magical problem solving" business, and it started with hunting a runaway "dog", then many of other missions were—or ended up being—about fighting some or other monster (when it wasn't about fighting some crazy wizard).
Ga-Rei Zero-, two anti-paranormal organizations consist of the Ministry of Defense's Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters, staffed by actual Self-Defense Forces officers/soldiers/staff with a few agents who have the ability to detect and see spirits while using weapons and military equipment that have been customized to fight demons. The other is the Ministry of Environment's Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division, consisting of agents who can see supernatural entities while relying on custom-made anti-demon weapons and equipment. Both anti-paranormal organizations have access to vehicles that can be used for traveling around Japan such as Chinook helicopters permanently posted to the PDCH while the SDCD has access to Humvees.
The B.P.R.D. and their most famous agent, Hellboy, fall into the third variation of this.
Doctor Strange is the go-to guy for dealing with most supernatural threats in the Marvel Universe, and people often come directly to him to deal with their supernatural problems.
Peter Vincent in Fright Night, although he gets dragged into it unwillingly.
Just like in the comics, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense in Hellboy.
The Frog Brothers in The Lost Boys. Teenage vampire hunters, they state "We're dedicated to a higher purpose. We're fighters for truth, justice, and the American way."
Men In Black takes the "secret government agency" approach, with the titular agency having the dual role of protecting the Earth from malevolent aliens and keeping those benevolent aliens living on the planet from being discovered.
The Boys from Bad Taste. Not to be confused with the comic of the same name by Garth Ennis.
In the Dead Gentlemen series Demon Hunters, the aforementioned Hunters of Demons are the Brotherhood of the Celestial Torch - an official branch of Heaven that deals with Hell's agents. "You've heard of Hell's Angels? Well, we're... Heaven's Demons."
Beowulf. The eponymous hero takes on the demon Grendel, Grendel's mother, and eventually a dragon; not in self-defense but because he wants to.
Most investigators in the Cthulhu Mythos either die or go insane just by learning about the cosmic horrors. However, several stories feature characters who actively fight back against the Mythos. One is Derleth's Professor Shrewsbury, another is Policeman-turned-occult hunter Inspector Legrasse (yes, the same one that turns up in Call of Cthulhu). Brian Lumley wrote about both Occultist Titus Crowe and the Wilmarth Foundation, both dedicated to stopping the various Mythos threats.
The title character of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is actually running a hustle to bank on people's credulity, not quite a 'concerned citizen'. Yet he manages to get into, and solve, mysteries the only solution to which are supernatural agents.
Harry Dresden. To quote his Yellow Pages ad: "Harry Dresden—Wizard. Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment."
If you need a cop, call 911. If you need a miracle, call Harry Dresden.
"Who is he going to call! We're the wizards around here."
The Aurors of the Ministry of Magic in the Harry Potter universe.
The Aurors are mostly magical law enforcement (they apprehend dark wizards) however the books mention many other departments of the Ministry of Magic that deal with magical creatures and spirits for the sake of the Wizarding (and Muggle) community.
One Star Wars novel, Destiny's Way, gives us this quote.
Well, what happens if you need a diplomat who can also practice philosophy, fight with a lightsaber, and levitate small objects? Who else are you going to call but us?
Labyrinths of Echo by Max Frei has the protagonist working in the "Minor Secret Investigations Forces". They deal with magical crime (you don't send normal policemen against an insane wizard capable of blowing up a city block or raising a cadaver army) and variety of dangerous monsters—and sometimes one leads to another. As to the ghosts, they are rarely lucid, thus some end up as targets; on the other hand, the best-performing branch (in a bustling port city at that) of Secret Investigations itself is composed entirely of mages' ghosts.
Van Helsing in Dracula, though originally as a consultant on abnormal medical phenomenon rather than a vampire hunter. Luckily, he also happens to be the latter, too, and formally initiates his 5 new friends into a team of vampire busters.
Green's Hawk & Fisher fantasy tale The God Killer features the God Squad, a special unit of Haven's police force who deal with supernatural phenomena and entities.
Jakub Wędrowycz is an amateur exorcist, and yet one of the most effective experts in his profession in the world. The setting also includes traditional priest exorcists, while Jakub is just an old drunkard who makes a living by making moonshine, but he's not any less effective - though his methods rely less on religious rituals and more on Crazy Awesome blunt force (well, that and some Ritual Magic).
A couple of short fantasy novels, Ogre Castle and In The Sea Nymph's Lair, featured a wizard-and-apprentice team who specialized in exorcising the many, many ghosts left behind by a recent war among archmages.
Repairman Jack has been pushed into this role by the machinations of the Otherness and the Ally, although he'd far rather be "fixing" mundane problems for his customers. He doesn't advertise his services against supernatural threats, but people keep referring anyone with that kind of problem to him anyway.
Witchers alter themselves physical discipline, meditation and alchemy to be develop the enhanced abilities and magic to fight monsters. Though they traditionally do this for a fee, the fee is at their discretion and can be suited to what the employer can afford; for example expecting gold from lords and kings, but saving a peasant's farm for a home-cooked meal.
Actually spoken by Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) in one episode.
Also, in the Alternate Universe, where the freaky "laws of physics are falling apart" kind of events are so common and powerful they couldn't be kept in secret from the public anymore, the Alt-Fringe Division actually has a specific emergency number for these events, so, in case you see a blackhole-like vortex in your neighborhood, call 711.
Long before the Columbia Pictures version, Filmation (usually an animation company) created a live-action series called The Ghost Busters which starred Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, who both previously starred in the sitcom F Troop. It would go on to inspire Filmation's later animated series (called simply, Ghostbusters), which was created when the Columbia version became a hit (well, there's a bit more to it than just that, but you get the idea).
Good Vs Evil
The Sixties TV series The Invaders featured a lone Concerned Citizen fighting alien infiltration. Just as he started to gain some helpers, the show was canceled.
Detective Nick Burkhardt from Grimm is a cop and ALSO the latest in a line of slayers of fairy-tale-type creatures. Although rather than slaying them, he mostly tries to reason with them, or arrest them if they've committed a crime.
The trope is enormously popular in tabletop games in general.
The Ghostbusters RPG (and its Even Better Sequel Ghostbusters International) casts the players as owners of a local Ghostbusters franchise; busting ghosts for clients, fending off the EPA and desperately trying to wriggle out of spurious fees that the main office thinks up to drain money from the players' coffers.
The players in the RPG Call of Cthulhu usually fall into the "concerned citizens" category, unless they work for the modern day agency Delta Green.
1st edition Chill had the Societas Argenti Viae Eternitata (SAVE), an organization similar to the Hoffman Institute, below.
The Conspiracy X RPG features government agents versus aliens.
The Eldritch Society in Cthulhutech is a non-governmental version three, who suffer the small problem that the government currently wouldn't distinguish them from the real nasties, due to their use of the supernatural in their hunts (arguably quite justifiably, their main weapons are summoned organisms that eat the hosts half the time and merge with them the other half) and their fear that the government is too cult corrupted to be trusted.
Department-7 from d20 Modern often falls under this trope though its exact layout depends on the campaign in question, but it always deals with whatever the campaign at the time revolves around. It's layout depends on what campaign the characters are participating in. In Shadow Chasers and Urban Arcana, it deals primarily with supernatural threats (The difference between the two settings is whether or not the players are supernatural.) In Agents of Psi it has a charter for Psionic agents.
Similarly, the Hoffman Institute from Dark*Matter investigates strange phenomena. Both Department-7 and the Hoffman Institute (may) exist in the same continuity.
The d20 Modern SRD also has an organisation called the Fraternal Order Of Vigilance, which inverts this trope by being more of a hate group.
Deadlands features posses of concerned citizens making the West safe from fear and creatures of the night.
The Imperium Warhammer 40,000 faces daemons, aliens, and mutants as daily (and serious) threats, to the point that two branches of the Inquisition, the Ordo Malleus and Ordo Xenos specialize in hunting down and destroying daemons and aliens, and have their own specialized military forces-the Grey Knights and Deathwatch, respectively. The Sisters of Battle also qualify to an extent.
The Ordo Hereticus (the third branch of the Inquisition) is responsible for hunting down cultists, mutants and... well.. heretics.
The Crab Clan of Legend of the Five Rings is dedicated to protecting Rokugan from the dread corrupting supernatural forces of the Shadowlands.
Little Fears features concerned citizen monster hunters still in grade school.
The Troubleshooters of Paranoia exist for the purpose of rooting out Commie mutant traitors. Hope no one finds out they are Commie mutant traitors...
In Shadowrun, Ares Macrotechnology maintains a number of tactical military units dedicated to finding and eradicating bug spirit nests.
The Old World of Darkness had a number of hunter groups, with one particular type of hunter getting their own gameline in Hunter The Reckoning. The new WoD has Hunter: The Vigil, a game allowing for the creation of virtually any hunter type. On top of that, the default gametype for nWoD is playing as normal humans — given the setting, these are most likely either Concerned Citizen hunters (who may graduate into the Vigil, and thus become slightly more organized and effective concerned citizens with the potential to become something more)... or Supernaturals-to-be back when they were still normal.
Orpheus plays very strongly into this trope as well; people can hire ghostly agents who can communicate with restless spirits, or, depending on the circumstances, fumigate them.
Geist The Sin Eaters also uses elements of this. Sin-Eaters tend to be a bit more lax about the Masquerade than other supernaturals, and some of them pass themselves off as ghost hunters, mediums, and exorcists in order to get a better handle of the ghostly ecology of their respective city.
The eponymous shop from Devil May Cry hunts demons and devils for a fee. Apparently the business has been confused for a more generic We Help the Helpless outfit before, hence Dante having a password that only those really needing demons slain would get. The Order of the Sword from the fourth game is supposed to act this way for the island of Fortuna, but it is eventually shown to be somewhat dubious. It has been suggested, at least in the questionably canon expanded materials like the novels, that there are other little demon-hunting outfits in the universe.
Gabriel Knight, the archetypical Chosen One example for this category. Because he's the last surviving Schattenjäger ("shadow hunter"). The second game mentions that in the past Schattenjägers used to belong to categories 2, 4 and 5, being a group of pretty average people (if you forget a large library and a single powerful talisman), some sort of religious order (but definitely not monks), in a world that still believed in supernatural. Also there are other organizations with similar objectives, like Brazilian religious order Manos Del Sol ("Men of the Sun"), it's just that Gabriel doesn't know about them.
In the X-COM games, you play the third type. The entire organisation, that is.
In Luigi's Mansion, Luigi himself is charged with the capture of the many Boos in the eponymous mansion in order to rescue Mario, though this may be subverted, since it turned out that it was all just a trap from King Boo.
Moreover, the Poltergust 3000 he wears makes him slightly resemble an actual "Ghostbuster".
Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has Luigi and Professor E Gadd actually start up a proper ghost hunting business after the Dark Moon shatters and the ghosts turn 'evil'. Including the whole 'journey to multiple different mansions' thing.
In the Elite Beat Agents and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan world, whenever somebody is in desperate need, they shout out, "Heeeaaallp!" The Agents/Ouendan then arrive to help the helpless... help themselves... with music and dance moves. The helpers in this case are part of a semi-governmental agency, making them the third type.
In RuneScape, when talking to one of the goblins in the goblin temple, it may say that it sometimes hears a ghost. You have several options for the next line, two of which are, "I ain't afraid of no ghost!" and "Who you gonna call?"
The main character in Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is an agent of a private "ghoul buster" service, advertised in the back of a tabloid magazine. He's hired by Elvira to investigate her haunted castle; he arrives only after the real crap begins...
Discussed by Junpei in Persona 3, where he and the other protagonists are members of a club dedicated to wiping out the Shadows plaguing the city.
Junpei: It’s like we should have our own theme song, y’know? “Who you gonna call? Shadowbusters!”
Averted in Touhou, as the main character and youkai exterminator, the shrine maiden Hakurei Reimu often solves the various incidents that happen in Gensokyo without anyone else knowing that she did. That probably explains why she doesn't get that many donations...
In the Metroid series, Samus Aran is the go-to girl for the Federation if the Space Pirates prove too much, the titular aliens are on a rampage, Space Marines go missing, or they just need a species exterminated or a planet blown up.
Data East's unreleased Neo Geo game Ghostlop starred a team of professional ghost hunters named Bruce and McCoy. The characters and their associated gameplay were later incorporated into Magical Drop V.
In the Zokusho multi-verse the Wayward Cross is somewhere between type 2 and 3.
Riff in Sluggy Freelance ran a good business selling information and especially weapons to vampire hunters from Alaska, where the nights are longer. One of his clients, Arminius, was The Hunter, but not always as successfully as he liked.
Whateley Universe: The "Goobers" at Whateley Academy, training to fight supernatural evil under the auspices of Reverend Englund and the leadership of Buffy-wannabe Nightbane. Of course, whenever they go up against Carmilla (twice in earnest so far plus at least once in the simulators), they keep getting their heads handed to them...
A parody of the Ghostbusters films, The League of S.T.E.A.M. fall into the second variety. They even parody the TV commercial from the first Ghostbusters film in a short.
Danny Phantom has quite a few over the course of its run: Danny and his friends, Jack and Maddie, the Masters Blasters, the Extreme Ghostbreakers, the Guys in White, and the Groovy Gang and the Scaredy Cats.
Family Guy parodies this in one episode where the Griffin house is haunted. Reporter Tom Tucker, who's covering the story, delivers this line, followed by his partner sighing and saying "Ghostbusters?" Tucker looks at her and says "No, Diane, their insurance company. That's just stupid what you said."
There was also a special called Scooby Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, where Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy hire the Boo Brothers, ghost exterminators who are ghosts themselves. ("It takes one to catch one in this business," they claim.)
Also parodied in an episode of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends. When Bloo's cold cause's the inhabitants of the house to believe the house is haunted, Coco picks up a phone. Wilt asks "Who you gonna call?", which leads to Coco saying "Co-coco!" in a way reminiscent of the Ghostbusters' theme song. To which Wilt replies "Nah, they went out of business years ago."
As mentioned previously, when the Columbia version became a hit, Filmation made an animated series (called simply Ghostbusters) that was based on their previous live-action series (which predated the Columbia version by nine years).
Dexter's Laboratory Dexter mentions this trope while trying to flush the ghost of his deceased goldfish.
In The Smurfs episode "Smurfing For Ghosts", Peewit looks for Papa Smurf's help to get rid of some unwanted ghosts in Quarrel Castle, but gets instead Brainy and Clumsy, who are both armed with vacuum cleaner-type devices that are designed for capturing ghosts. At the end of the episode, as Brainy and Clumsy head back to the village, Brainy asks Peewit, "Who are you gonna smurf?", and Clumsy answers, "Autosmurfers".