Just to set the record straight, these guys came first... sort of. (The Bowery Boys had their own Ghost Busters film in 1946.)In 1975 Filmation created a series for CBS called The Ghost Busters, starring F Troop veterans Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, as well as Bob Burns in a gorilla suit (yeah, this show was kind of odd). For this low-budget live-action series, Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch and Bob Burns played Jake Kong, Eddie Spencer and Tracy (When you hear the names "Spencer Tracy, and Kong", you'd probably think of the famous actor and a gorilla named Kong. Nope... that was Tracy) who would receive a message from a the mysterious, unseen "Zero" who would inform them that some spook or other was up to mischief, and the Ghost Busters would have to stop it. Hijinks would ensue as the Busters and the Ghosts would use every trick you could think of (and even some you wouldn't) to outwit each other. For fifteen episodes the show ran on a rather "random" style of humor and was finally laid to rest.Fast forward to 1984. Columbia Pictures wanted to make a movie about a team of "paranormal investigators and eliminators," which they wanted to call, surprise surprise, Ghostbusters. The characters, setting and unique aspects of the storyline were completely unrelated to the Flimation series, but well-into production, Columbia learned that Filmation already held a trademark of the name. After some negotiation, Columbia was able to license the name. With the movie going on to become a massive blockbuster, they decided to cash-in with an animated series. At the time, Filmation had become an animation powerhouse thanks to their successful He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoons. They were very close to striking a deal to work with Columbia on the project, but when that didn't pan out, they thought they could cash-in with their own show.So we got the animated Ghostbusters. A sequel to the live-action series, this starred the sons of Jake Kong and Eddie Spencer (who have the same names as their fathers). Tracy is back too, though he neither looks nor acts anything like his live-action counterpart. Nevertheless, dialogue indicates that this is the same gorilla.The new series followed the premise of its forebearer and had the same style of humor, but there were significant alterations: the setting had changed—the Ghostbusters now worked out of "Ghost Command" in which they kept some ghosts as pets, had technology that verged on the blatantly magical such as a talking car that could fly through space and travel through time, and even a backdoor to some sort of alternate dimension, which they went into in every episode to "get into uniform." The biggest change, though, was that they now had a nemesis, a sort of ghost-robot thing named Prime Evil, who operated out of "Hauntquarters"—an elongated house situated at the end of time or something—and commanded a legion of Toyetic baddies. The mysterious "Zero" from the 1975 series was never mentioned; instead usually the GBs would either be contacted by someone (usually their reporter friend Jessica Wray) or else just realize something is up and take initiative.Like its forebearer, Ghostbusters animated only lasted one season. This time, the cause for failure was more clear: kids tuned in thinking that this was the show with those four guys with the Proton Packs, and it wasn't (that was The Real Ghostbusters). That, and Ghostbusters runs on a "random" style of humor, which isn't to everyone's tastes. Some people also didn't like how Aesop-heavy the cartoon was.Even so, there is a small following of people who love this series, and even consider it "the True Ghostbusters." You can find a haunt for such people here.Both the live-action series and the cartoon are available in their entirety on DVD.
And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Taken somewhat to extremes, even for a Filmation property. Each episode would end with an Anvilicious lecture, which would then be repeated (sometimes verbatim) in the moral at the end of the episode.
Cool and Unusual Punishment: Prime Evil regularly inflicted these on his minions. He'd blast Scared Stiff to pieces, chain up Sir Trance-A-Lot and pour water on him to make him rust, force Apparitia to sew Airhead back together, or stuff Haunter into his pith helmet.
Cowardly Lion: Eddie was never as eager to fight Prime Evil's minions as Jake or Tracy, but he was always there when they needed him. He was also something of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, as in at least one episode he wreaks havoc on Hauntquarters by himself. To the point where Prime Evil promises to call off his current evil scheme if the other Ghostbusters will come and get Eddie.
Creator Cameo: As in most other Filmation cartoons, Lou Scheimer voiced several characters, most notably Tracy the gorilla.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Eddie. There are many episodes where he shows that he can be a good Ghostbuster, especially when Jake isn't around. Indeed, this could also be said about the ghosts, who are much the same way when Prime Evil isn't breathing down their necks.
Cthulhumanoid: Mr. Squid, an Affably Evil ghost from beneath the sea. Despite his initially-frightening appearance, he talks in a Truman Capote-sounding voice.
Deadpan Snarker: Ghost Buggy was constantly making insulting remarks, usually about Tracy. Their answering machine, "Ansabone" would likewise always make some remark every time it took a message.
Even Evil Has Standards: In "The Princess and the Troll" when one of Gimghoul's minions asks if he will put a spell on Princess Gwendolyn with his scepter in order to force her into marrying him, Gimghoul replies, "I find such crude methods distasteful."
Evil Brit: Haunter, the British colonial hunter ghost. He's also based on comedian Terry-Thomas.
Evil Is Petty: Several of Prime Evil's evil plots revolve around taking out perceived sleights to his and other ghosts' image.
Flying Saucer: A fairly common feature on the show. Haunter's pith-helmet could expand to the size of a VW Beetle and function as one of these.
Funday Pawpet Show: In this clip at about 10:05, the opening credits run as Poink explains the series to Yappy. Oddly enough the music is the Ray Parker Jr movie/Real Ghostbusters theme...and it fits in with the animation like a glove.
Gadgeteer Genius: Tracy invents all the team's equipment. Yes, Tracy the gorilla.
Green Aesop: Surprisingly, averted in at least two episodes. Though oil is a plot point in each, conservation of oil isn't the aesop. Especially bizarre in the episode about a "ghost" dragon that fed on oil, was melting the North Pole, and was defeated by his fire being extinguished. That episode's aesop? A complete non sequitur.
Haunted Technology: Nearly all the equipment in the office was some form of haunted skeleton, although the effect is much closer to Pee-Wee's Playhouse than Poltergeist. The live-action series had this too, with a TV that sprayed water when a nautical-themed show came on and a filing cabinet with a mind of its own.
Headless Horseman: Obviously, the episode "The Headless Horseman Caper." Subverted in that he isn't exactly headless—he does have a head, but Prime Evil thought he'd be scarier if he were, so the Horseman stuck his head into his costume. When the head does pop out, it resembles a green-skinned, orange-haired Edgar Allan Poe.
I Don't Like You And You Don't Like Me: Never said, but certainly implied between Jake and Headless in "The Headless Horseman Caper." Justified, too: Many years ago, Headless and other ghosts caused the failure of Jake's great-grandfather's gold-mine.
Meaningful Name: Futura lives in the future. Wait, our future is her present so this doesn't make sense at all.
Maybe her parents are fans of classic cars? (Well, it would be a classic to them.)
Minion with an F in Evil: The Headless Horseman, who was so not-scary Prime Evil came up with the headless thing trying to make him moreso. He still only enjoys scaring people if it means they're having fun.
Monster of the Aesop: Occasionally subverted—an oil-drinking dragon melting the polar ice caps is not called out as a Monster of the Aesop, making it technically the subtlest Aesop in the series.
New Powers as the Plot Demands: There are a ton of gimmicks at the heroes' disposal which activate more or less at random and have somewhat unpredictable effects (invisibility also conferring immateriality, for instance). The most powerful and reliable weapons—like a ghostbusting tactical nuke—only show up once.
Our Ghosts Are Different: The "ghosts" included a werewolf ghost and a robot ghost. Most of the enemy "ghosts" behaved an awful lot like corporeal monsters or regular animals, such as dinosaur "ghosts" and a few dragon "ghosts."
A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: The Ghostbusters had to deal with the likes of Long-John Scarechrome, a cross between this and a Space Pirate. Heck, any ghostly pirates seen in the show embodied this trope.
Plot-Driven Breakdown: Since the Dematerializer could take out most of the villains with one shot, it tended to get broken or lost so that all the problems weren't resolved in thirty seconds. Moreover, what it did and didn't work on was kind of fuzzy. Generally if a villain were one of the main group of bad guys, whether he were a ghost or not he could be dematerialized. If the villain were a non-ghost and showed up only once, he was safe. Prime Evil was an exception, as he was simply too powerful for the Dematerializer's blasts to affect.
Reasonable Authority Figure: The Ghostbusters to most of the kids (and quite a few fellow adults) on the show. If their parents say "there's no such thing as ghosts," they know instinctively that there are grownups who know that ghosts exist and will take them seriously. Interestingly, the Filmation and Columbia Pictures franchises share this in common: in the '84 movie, the police turn a possessed Louis over to the Ghostbusters.
Space Whale Aesop: Dispose of your trash properly or your equipment will be devoured by ghosts!
A literal one in the form of an episode featuring the ghosts of Captain Ahab and Moby-Dick, who had become friends in the afterlife. Y'know, 'cause Moby-Dick is now...a ''space whale''.
Spin-Offspring: Two of the protagonists (Jake Kong Junior and Eddie Spencer Junior) are sons of protagonists (Jake Kong Senior and Eddie Spencer Senior) of the series it spun from.
Status Quo Is God: The Ghostbusters get rid of evil spirits with a gun called the Dematerializer that sends ghosts to limbo...for a while, so they can be back whenever another script calls for them to be around (but see Wild Mass Guessing for a theory about that).
Time Travel: A recurring plot point thanks to Futura, the purple-skinned Ghostbuster from the future, and her Time Hopper vehicle.
Timey-Wimey Ball: Time travel is safe, common, and highly resilient to change. Traveling back or forward in time is about as casual as going out of country.
Title Theme Tune: The complete lyrics: "Let's go, Ghostbusters! Let's go! Let's go, Let's go!"
Toyetic: Subverted. Schaper's toyline didn't last as long as that of The Real Ghostbusters; also, every single thing that was made as a toy also appeared on the show (however, several things that appeared on the show didn't make it into the toyline).
Transformation Sequence: The boys getting on their ghostbusting gear. One of Filmation's favorite methods for avoiding new animation. Mind you, it was a pretty kickass sequence.