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Film / Ghostbusters (1984)

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Dr. Ray Stantz: 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...
All three: GHOSTBUSTERS! [555-2368]
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 '80s, directed by Ivan Reitman. It 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 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 (Akyroyd), sarcastic schemer Dr. Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), and detached academic Dr. Egon Spengler (Ramis) — have finally succeeded in discovering proof that ghosts exist! Unfortunately, they also 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 technological 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 that they recruit a fourth team member, Naïve Newcomer and token black guy Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), but they realize that the surge in ghosts is portentous. Dana is abducted and possessed by a malevolent entity in her apartment while her neighbor, nerdy accountant Louis Tully (Rick Moranis), is chased out to Central Park where another evil creature possesses him. Petty bureaucrat Walter Peck (William Atherton) shuts down the Ghostbusters' containment unit, releasing all the ghosts they had trapped and inadvertently allowing the possessed Dana and Louis to meet and unleash 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, the building around 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 Gozer in the form of a hundred-foot tall marshmallow man, and win by breaking their own most serious safety 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 by Aykroyd as basically being the third movie. The prospect of a third movie with all of the original leads evaporated completely with Ramis's sudden death in 2014.

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. In January 2019, a sequel to the second film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife, was formally announced, released in 2021.


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

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    Tropes #–D 
  • 555: The phone number on the Ghostbuster's television ad is 555-2368.
  • 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?

    Zuul/Dana: I want you inside me.
    Venkman: *laughs* Go ahead — no, I can't. Sounds like you got at least two people in there already. Might be a little crowded.
  • Absurdly Long Stairway: The Ghostbusters have to climb twenty-one flights of stairs for the confrontation with Gozer, due to the elevators being out of service.
    Peter: Where are we?
    Ray: Looks like we're in the— the...teens, somewhere.
    Peter: Well, when we get to twenty, let me know. I'm gonna throw up.
  • 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, especially as played by the thoroughly nonthreatening Rick Moranis.
  • Aerith and Bob: Peter, Ray, Winston, and Egon.
  • The Alleged Car: Ecto-1 is an 1959 ambulance/hearse that needs a laundry list of new parts when Ray buys it. Remarkably, they fix it up, and it becomes their Cool Car.
  • The Alleged House: Egon Spengler describes the firehouse that becomes their headquarters as such (they still buy it, apparently at Ray's insistence because he likes the fire pole):note 
    Egon: I think this building should be condemned. There's serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it's completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone.
  • Ambiguous Gender: Gozer appears female when it first comes in, despite being referred to exclusively by male pronouns in texts and Vinz Klortho's tales. 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.
  • Ambiguous Situation: In Venkman's Establishing Character Moment, it's not clear whether or not lying about the female test subject's results is part of the test to frustrate the male test subject and augment the negative reinforcement of the electric shocks. It's also not certain if the male subject's correct response at the end is from psychic abilities or just a lucky guess. It is clear, however, that Venkman is serious about flirting with the woman.
  • 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." note 
    Ray: Do you know how much a patent clerk earns?!
    Peter: No!
  • Another Dimension: The temple of Gozer resides in its own little Pocket Dimension, which Gozer uses to access alternate dimensions in order to destroy New York. This also means that the Ghostbusters are able to cross streams without destroying the Earth, as doing so ends up destroying Gozer's dimension instead.
  • 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 supernaturally-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.
  • Artistic License – History: Gozer is said to have been worshipped as a god by the Hittites, Mesopotamians, and the Sumerians around 6000 BC. But this is more than two thousand years before the start of recorded history, so there is no way for our heroes to know that.
  • Artistic License – Law: Walter Peck gets the cease-and-desist court order in a few days, then barges in with a police captain demanding everything be shut off immediately. In reality, it would take far longer to obtain the court order, and the Ghostbusters would have been given a few months to challenge the order as well as get their business in order. Even if it were executed, the police officer would be a sargeant or lower.
  • 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, Gozer 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!
  • Badass Preacher: Downplayed example. As the Ghostbusters are escorted to Dana's apartment building, several religious leaders (including Christian priests and nuns as well as Jewish rabbis) are seen in the crowd chanting prayers and ignoring the excited crowd around them, even as soldiers begin arriving to clear a path for the Ghostbusters. Evidently their first response to seeing the apparent end of the world beginning was to rally right in front of the place and attempt to halt it through prayer.
  • Banishing Ritual: The titular team reverses the polarity of the Hell Gate that brought the Big Bad into our universe, thus sucking it back in.
  • 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.
  • Big Applesauce: The film takes place entirely in Manhattan. According to Ivan Reitman, New Yorkers immediately embraced the film as a quintessential New York movie.
    Winston: I LOVE THIS TOWN!
  • Big Bad: Gozer the Gozerian, an Ancient Evil that travels dimensions to destroy New York.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Dr. Venkman and Dana Barrett kisses in front of the acclaiming crowd just as the credits start to roll along with the iconic theme tune.
  • Bizarro Apocalypse: Discussed when the Ghostbusters promise the Mayor that if they aren't released to stop Gozer, New York is going to experience some "real Wrath-of-God type stuff," and pull out whatever sounds worst:
    Ray: Fire and brimstone raining down from the sky! Rivers and seas boiling!
    Egon: Forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes...
    Winston: The dead rising from the grave!
    Venkman: Human sacrifice, dogs and cats livin' together... mass hysteria!
  • Blasphemous Boast: Averted:
    Winston Zeddemore: When someone asks you if you're a god, YOU SAY, "YES!"
  • Blatant Lies: With the company's first customer (besides Dana).
    Janine: ...Of course, oh, they'll be totally discreet! [hangs up] WE GOT ONE! [slams the alarm button] [Ghostbusters roll up speeding in a very strange-looking vehicle with siren and lights blaring, then barge in loudly announcing their presence and what they're there for]
  • 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."
  • Bowdlerise: The TV edit has actual alternate jokes for some of the lines that wouldn't make the cut before the watershed (rather than hasty looped lines), such as replacing Venkman's "It's true, your honor, this man has no dick!" with "It's true, your honor, this man is some kind of rodent, I don't know which." YMMV about whether or not this defangs the film's humor.
  • Boy Meets Ghoul: Ray meets a feminine ghost in a dream he's having.
  • Brand X: Stay-Puft Marshmallows.
  • Brick Joke:
    • Ray has a rather underwhelming plan to catch the first ghost seen in the movie, shouting simply, "Get her!" Venkman chastises him for it. In the end, when confronting Gozer, Venkman suddenly shouts, "Go get her, Ray!"
    • Walter Peck: "Forget it, Venkman! You had your chance to cooperate, but you thought it'd be more fun to insult me. Well, now it is my turn, wiseass."
    • Egon: "He wants to shut off the protection grid, Peter."
    • Peter: "You shut that thing off and we will not be held responsible-"
    • Walter: "On the contrary, you will be held responsible! [in the most vicious outpouring of Brooklyn Rage] SHUT IT OFF!"
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • The male ESP test student who gets zapped no matter what his answer. Even when he gets the answer right, Venkman still zaps him.
    • Walter Peck. After having the Ghostbusters arrested, he gets insulted by them in front of the mayor of New York, then thrown out of the mayor's office, and finally doused in melted marshmallow after the team destroys Mr. Stay-Puft.
    • Louis doesn't have very good luck throughout the movie. He keeps getting locked out of his apartment. His clumsy advances on Dana get rebuffed. And then there's that whole "getting possessed by a terror dog" thing.
  • Bystander Syndrome: After Louis is finally chased down by the terror dog outside of a fancy reception in Central Park, people watch him pounding against the glass, screaming, and getting yanked out of sight suddenly...then just turn their heads and go back to eating.
  • The Cameo: The film features cameos from the likes of Ron Jeremy, Reginald VelJohnson (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.
  • Casting Gag: Michael Ensign, who plays the hotel manager, had previously been in the 1982 film adaptation of The Wall as...a hotel manager. Both movies even have their hotels eventually getting trashed by the protagonists.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Many of Egon's lines seem to fall between this and Understatement, often for comedic purposes.
    Egon: (In a calm voice) Sorry Venkman. I'm terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.
  • Civilization Destroyer: Gozer's rampage would naturally decimate any remains of civilization.
  • Clothing Damage: When the arms of the terror dogs spring out from Dana's chair and take her captive, her shirt gets torn and her left breast is briefly exposed for about a second.
  • The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes: While Louis isn't exactly wealthy, he does follow his own financial advice as an accountant. He buys bulk generic medication, bulk products in general, and he classifies the party he throws as a business expense as he invites clients only and considers it promotional.
  • Contrived Coincidence: The Ghostbusters go into business in the exact same city and just a few weeks before a malevolent god-entity just happens to enter our world. Somewhat understandable, as they only realize the potential in a business once they realize the massive ghost problem New York has.
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: A Keymaster-possessed Louis is being held at Ghostbusters HQ under the watch of Egon, who wants to ensure that he and Zuul, the Gatekeeper, don't get anywhere near each other for fear of their joining resulting in a massive catastrophe (summoning Gozer). It just so happens that that very morning Peck comes back with the order to shut off the protection grid. The resulting explosion and release of all the ghosts they had captured gives Vinz plenty of cover to escape. The best part is he doesn't even seem to be trying to sneak away. Rather he more just wanders off down the street and no one bothers to stop him.
  • Converging-Stream Weapon: What you get when you cross the streams (besides a massive life-threatening explosion).
  • Cool Old Guy: The Archbishop, who is on a first-name basis with the mayor, has an approachable demeanor and hears out the Ghostbusters.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: 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 stumbles onto the plot, and, well, you know the rest.
  • Covered in Gunge: The card catalog drawers in the library and the Ghostbusters themselves get covered in ectoplasm to varying degrees. After the fight against Gozer/Mr. Stay-Puft, Walter Peck and all the Ghostbusters except Venkman end up wearing a thick layer of marshmallow glop.
  • Covert Pervert: Alice the librarian is revealed to be one in the novel. She's obsessing over a collection of ancient erotic woodcut carvings found in a locked backroom of the library when the ghost discovers her.
  • 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.
  • Cute Ghost Girl: The ghostly woman Ray dreams about, who turns out to be more of a Cute Ghost Woman than a girl.
  • 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 Zuul the Gatekeeper and Louis Tully by Vinz Clortho the Keymaster. They turn into demon dogs after opening the portal for Gozer.
  • 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 how they want to take their destruction, which proves its undoing during 1984 when the form it assumes is the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
  • Destructo-Nookie: The intercourse between the possessed Dana Barrett (The Gatekeeper) and Louis Tully (The Keymaster), which is supposed to bring about The End of the World as We Know It. The act completely trashes Dana's apartment, to the point of blowing the outside wall out completely and revealing the walled-over stairway to the rooftop (there's a reason this all started in Dana's pad).
  • Deus Sex Machina: It's heavily implied that the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper have sex in order to unlock the portal between dimensions and bring forth Gozer.
  • Didn't Think This Through: When Peter, Ray and Egon see the librarian ghost, Peter asks the other two, "What do we do now?" Ray and Egon look at each other, their faces expressing this trope and Oh, Crap!.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Egon's first scene with Janine has him coming out from under her desk, with her eyebrows raised and a smile on her face. Although it's just Egon was setting up her computer, it's pretty clearly supposed to look like implied cunnilingus.
  • Do You Want to Copulate?: Zuul has no problem with having some side fun when Peter manages to get inside the apartment.
    Zuul/Dana: Take me now, subcreature!
  • Dope Slap: Peter Venkman to Ray Stantz, and vice versa.
  • Double Entendre: "Crossing the streams" was an accidental one, as the Ghostbusters hold their proton accelerators in an interesting place and "crossing the streams" is a slang for two or more guys peeing so that the urine... well, crosses. However, Reitman and Ramis both stated it was just something they had to put in dramatically so the Ghostbusters had to risk death. Hence, the debate on whether they should cross the streams and endanger everyone including themselves.
  • Dramatic Drop: When Ray gets his first good look at Slimer in the hotel, his jaw drops and the cigarette he's smoking hangs from his bottom lip for several seconds before falling off.
  • Dream Sequence: Ray dreams about a ghost of a woman who died at a military fort a century earlier, and then she gives him fellatio.
  • Dude, Not Funny!: After defeating Gozer in the form of the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, the Ghostbusters inspect the damage. As they come across the charred dog demons, Ray comments on it smelling like "barbecued dog hair" then immediately apologizes when he sees Peter looking at them wistfully and remembers that one of those dog demons was Dana. Peter looks back at Ray—but Ray, being covered in marshmallow fluff, looks too pathetic to be mad at.
    Ray: Ohhh, it smells like barbecued dog hair. (notices Venkman) Oh. Venkman. Oh, Venkman, I'm sorry...I'm sorry, I...I just...I just forgot.

    Tropes E–I 
  • Ectoplasm: Ectoplasm takes the form of sticky, viscous slime. The ghost haunting the library in the opening scenes leaves ectoplasm dripping from the card catalogs, which Venkman finds particularly hard to get off his hand. Later, Slimer charges at Venkman and covers him in ectoplasm but leaves him otherwise unharmed, prompting the famous line, "He slimed me!" Still later, when Walter Peck makes his first visit to the firehouse, Venkman shakes hands with him and leaves the stuff on his hand and suit.
  • Eldritch Abomination: This is what Gozer is 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.
  • Elevator Conference: Peter, Ray, and Egon discuss their proton packs during their elevator ride.
    Ray: You know, it just occurred to me that we hadn't really had a successful test of this equipment.
    Egon: I blame myself.
    Peter: So do I.
    Ray: Well, no sense worrying about it now.
    Peter: Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.
  • Erotic Dream: Ray has one where he imagines a ghost girl giving, 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 saying her guesses are correct even when they aren't — and always shocks the male subject even when he gets one right. This reveals Venkman as a Jerkass and a man who thinks with his groin. Note that he tips a little smile and wink to the female student as he reaches for the button after the male's correct guess; after the guy storms out, Venkman asks her to meet with him in private later that evening.
  • 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: When Dana gets possessed by Zuul the Gatekeeper, she dresses and acts in a more provocative manner.
  • Evil Slinks: Sigourney Weaver performs this trope as well as one who is human reasonably can while she portrays the Zuul-possessed Dana.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: Zuul's voice lowers to unhuman levels when she growls, "There is no Dana, only Zuul."
  • Fly-at-the-Camera Ending: The movie ends with Slimer flying straight at the camera, mouth open as if to eat it.
  • Fog Feet: The library ghost.
  • Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: "Don't cross the streams."
  • 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.
    • "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.
    • In the scene which Peter is inspecting Dana's apartment, if you look closely you can see a wooden hand behind Peter when he is sitting on Dana's sofa. This foreshadows the frightening scene which Dana is attacked in the armchair by the terror dogs.
    • During the Ghostbusters' meeting with the mayor, Winston says, "I have seen shit that'll turn you white!" He does in fact end up white, covered with marshmallow goop after the destruction of Mr. Stay-Puft.
  • 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.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus:
    • While Dana is unpacking her groceries during the kitchen scene, there is a pack of Stay-Puft marshmallows in one of the bags.
    • The do not disturb post left on Dr. Peter Venkman's door has a picture of a French maid with the inscription: "Maid, please have this room made up as soon as possible".
    • During the scene where Dana is captured by Zuul, several demonic arms burst out of her chair and hold her down; one hand very clearly gropes her on the left breast. In the original version, her breast actually pops out of her top as she's struggling. It happens so quickly that the censors missed it, and the scene was allowed to air on TV for years.
  • Freudian Slip: Peter Venkman once accidentally mentions an intent to "check out Miss Barrett" instead of "check out Miss Barrett's apartment", because he has the hots for her.
  • Friendly Ghost: The dream ghost in Ray's dream sequence is extremely friendly. While beautiful, she also counts as a cute ghost woman.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • After mistakenly blasting a maid's cart at the hotel, the Ghostbusters take a moment to discuss their next move, while behind them the poor maid is trying to extinguish a small fire with her spray bottle.
    • In a Funny Foreground Event, when Egon and Peck are arguing, Louis/Vinz sniffs Egon's arm and imitates their finger-pointing. It goes back to being an FBE when Egon stands in front of Janine and Louis/Vinz, who is still sniffing Egon's arm.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: Gozer the Destructor. It seems to have that title because that's all humans really know about it: that it destroys things whenever it comes to Earth.
  • Generic Graffiti: The outside of Dr. Peter Venkman's door has the words "Venkman burn in hell" written on it in red paint.

  • G-Rated Sex: The film never outright states that the Keymaster and Gatekeeper have to have sex to open the portal for Gozer, though it lays down plenty of innuendo. First, there's the obvious phallic/vaginal implications of their titles. Dana, when possessed by Zuul, makes some fairly explicit advances on Venkman when she believes he's the Keymaster. When Vinz Clortho does arrive at Dana's apartment, the pair immediately share a passionate embrace before ascending up a secret staircase to the rooftop, but then the film cuts. When it cuts back to them, they lay resting atop a large stone table with their clothes disheveled, and Vinz awakes with a huge smile and his broken belt dangling between his legs.
  • Glad I Thought of It: Dana, getting more and more frustrated with Peter's flippant and flirtatious investigation of her apartment:
    Dana: Dr. Venkman, you came all this way, would you like to check the refrigerator?
    Peter: (beat) I'm gonna check the fridge.
  • Gameshow Host: Dana compares Venkman to one as he flippantly inspects her apartment.
  • Ghost Invasion: Ivo Shandor, the architect of Dana's apartment building, designed it to channel ghosts for the purpose of ending the world. As a result, paranormal activity increases all over New York. Later on, Walter Peck forces the authorities to shut down the Ghostbusters' containment grid, causing all the ghosts they captured to be unleashed on the city.
  • Glass Smack and Slide: Louis is chased by the Keymaster, 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 right back to 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, the Ghostbusters realize that the small chance they'll survive is worth the risk if the tactic succeeds.
  • Got Volunteered: When they face Gozer, Venkman shouts, "Go get her, Ray!" This is Venkman's revenge on Ray shouting "Get her!" when confronted by the librarian ghost.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Ivo Shandor, a worshiper of Gozer. Shandor was the architect for the building where Gozer first enters our world and led a cult dedicated to the entity. Of course, Shandor himself has passed away by this point, but it was significant enough to become an important mention while the Ghostbusters are locked up, as the previously mentioned architect was the one who brought all the necessary elements for Gozer's return together while he was still alive.
  • 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 $4,000 for capture and containment, and $1,000 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.
  • Hate Sink: Walter Peck, a paranoid EPA agent who is nothing but belligerent when demanding to inspect the Ghostbusters' facilities, has them arrested for a disaster he causes by mishandling equipment and claims they're faking the existence of ghosts with hallucinogenic gas and light shows.
  • Hellhound: The Terror Dogs Zuul and Vinz Clortho.
  • Heroic BSoD: Ray gets one 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.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Subverted, as the Ghostbusters are willing to end their lives by crossing the streams to destroy Gozer's gateway, but ultimately survive the entanglement and the resulting explosion. They lucked out on that "slim chance" Egon mentioned.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Ghostbusters had only just figured out the significance of Zuul, Gozer, Ivo Shandor, and Dana Barrett'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, as Venkman is utterly foiled in his attempt to reach Dana.
    Zuul (in Dana's body): There is no Dana, only Zuul!
    Peter: What a lovely singing voice you must have.
  • I Like Those Odds: Peter's sarcastic reaction to Egon recommending they "cross the streams" to beat the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, particularly once he states they just might survive.
    Peter: (smacks Ray) I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it! LET'S DO IT!
  • Ignored Expert: The Con Edison technician Peck brings with him to shut down the Ghostbusters' containment unit realizes that it's not a good idea to mess with the equipment and voices his concerns. Peck tells him he doesn't care about his opinion and orders him to shut it down anyway.
  • Informed Flaw: Egon claims that the firehouse they wind up buying is completely inadequate for their power needs. But from what the audience sees, all of their equipment runs smoothly until Peck interferes with the containment unit.
  • In-Universe Factoid Failure: Ray commits two minor errors. The first is quoting a Bible passage that he identifies as Revelation 7:12; it's actually 6:12. He then says that The Tunguska Event occurred in 1909 when it was 1908.
  • 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.
    • For all of the lovesick Tully's failed attempts to interest Dana, he seems completely apathetic to the attractive blonde woman at his party. But to even the outside viewer, she seems extremely annoyed when his attention isn't on her.
    • Louis Tully gets possessed by the Keymaster, yet it is a Running Gag for him to get locked out of his apartment.
  • ISO-Standard Urban Groceries: Dana carries a bag of them (including celery stalk) into her apartment.
  • It's All Upstairs From Here: During the climax the Ghostbusters have to use the stairs to reach the roof of Dana and Tully's apartment building as the elevator is shut off. It takes them a while as they have to carry their Proton Packs the whole way up.
  • It's Not About the Request: Peter refuses Peck's request to see the containment unit not out of an objection to doing so, but because of Peck's rudeness, disrespect, and almost open accusation of fraud. This will have major consequences later in the movie when Peck uses Peter's refusal as a justification to get a court order to shut down the Ghostbusters.
  • 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'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?!
  • 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.

    Tropes J–O 
  • Jerkass:
    • Peter Venkman is a rude, inconsiderate, sexist, manipulative horndog, and a conniving, cynical businessman to boot. He's only ever nice to his friends and women he wants to lay, and often not even to them. He goes so far as to be outright physically and mentally abusive to the male test subject in his psychic test.
    • Walter Peck is a rude, self-important, power-tripping, blame-throwing jerk. While Venkman certainly doesn'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) shows he isn't really looking to play nice either.
  • Jerkass Genie: Gozer. It puts it to those nearby to choose the form of the . Its size, however, is at its discretion.
  • 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 all warnings.
    • On the flip side, while Peter was a little too rude and flippant about it, he had every right to not acquiesce to Peck's demands. While Peck claimed to be an EPA representative, he showed no credentials that would verify this. Plus, Peck was trying to disrupt the Ghostbusters' operations without any kind of evidence, just cause, or proper warrant and failed to even list any codes or laws that the team was in violation of. All of this, coupled with Peck going out of his way to be antagonistic by refusing to address Peter as "Dr. Venkman" even after Peter politely informed him that's his proper title, makes it understandable why Peter would tell him to take a hike.
    • Dean Yeager is unnecessarily caustic when kicking the future Ghostbusters out of their university, but he's right that they hadn't provided any confirmation of any of their theories, and we've already seen that Venkman's Establishing Character Moment gives ample reason for the administrator to want the group off-campus, since he seems more interested in flirting than the test's actual results.
    • The Sedgewick Hotel Manager initially not wanting to pay $5,000 for the capture and storage of Slimer, given the Ghostbusters easily caused tripled that amount of damage in the ballroom alone, and almost killed a cleaning lady in addition to disrupting a planned event in the aforementioned ballroom.
  • Jokers Love Junk Food: Egon may have been The Comically Serious, but he was a skilled member of the team who built most of their gadgets. He also had a thing for junk food, such as the Twinkie he used to explain the building problem in the containment grid. This carries over to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, where his granddaughter, Phoebe, finds a candy bar wrapper in his old jumpsuit. And her brother Trevor finds a Twinkie in the glove compartment of Ecto-1.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Walter Peck has a point in being concerned about the environmental safety of the Ghostbusters' facility, considering Egon has 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 Ghostbusters are stiff and awkward, 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.
    [Dana has a "Did he really just say that?!" look]
  • Last Day of Normalcy: Opens with Dr. Peter Venkman performing an experiment with his Columbia University parapsychology students before he joins his colleagues, Drs. Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler, in tracking a ghost at the New York Public Library, after which they go back to the university, where they're told by Dean Yeager that they're being dismissed, leading to them establishing their business as paranormal investigators and exterminators.
  • 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 actual scientific, verifiable evidence of the paranormal. The fact that Egon has already built/bought a PKE meter suggests someone has detected the energy previously, however, their world appears to have the same amount of belief and skepticism as ours.
  • Long List:
  • Loony Librarian: The team is called to the New York Public Library to deal with a full body apparition that frightened a living, more typical librarian. On the trail of the ghost, the investigators find spewed catalog cards and piles of strangely-stacked books, eventually encountering a glowing, floating woman in flowing 19th-century dress and a hair bun. She shushes the Ghostbusters before charging at them and scaring them into a hasty retreat.
  • Mathematician's Answer: When asked where the stairs go, Venkman says, "They go up."
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Venkman is introduced conducting a study on the effect of negative reinforcement on psychic powers and using the test to shamelessly flirt with the female test subject. In the final round, the male subject who keeps getting shocked correctly guesses the shape on Venkman's card, but the test halts there, so we don't know if it was a lucky guess or actual psychic powers emerging.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Overlaps with Foreshadowing. When Dana first describes Zuul to the Ghostbusters, she is 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 the true/upcoming form of them both.
  • Mistaken for Undead: Justified in one scene where the Ghostbusters see movement and think it's a ghost, but it turns out to be a cleaning lady, since they know the hotel is indeed haunted.
    Woman: "What the hell are you doing?!"
    Ray: "Sorry, we thought you were someone else."
  • Money, Dear Boy: In-Universe Winston seems to have this philosophy. "If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say."
  • Ms. Fanservice: Now we already know Dana Barrett 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!
  • Mystical City Planning: Ivo Shandor designed a building in New York for the sole purpose of channeling mystical energy in order to open a gateway for Gozer to enter Earth. He then disguised this building as an apartment complex.
  • Naïve Newcomer: Subverted by Winston, who adjusts to his new job very quickly.
  • Negated Moment of Awesome: 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-one flights of stairs. There's a reason buildings weren't typically built past six stories before the invention of elevators.
  • Never My Fault: Walter Peck condemns the Ghostbusters for causing the explosion he himself causes in spite of the warnings from both them and the Con Edison technician.
  • 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 Ghostbusters 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 again later when 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, thereby making sure the city needs the Ghostbusters to fix things in spite of his attempts to shut them down.
  • Noble Demon: Vinz is the Keymaster charged with opening the gates of Armageddon, and he's pretty destructive in terror dog form. In Louis's 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?
    Vinz: [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.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Several, including that time Egon attempted to drill a hole in his head ("That would've worked if you hadn't stopped me.") and the "VENKMAN BURN IN HELL" graffiti we see at the start of the movie.
    • Vinz Klortho rattles of the history of his sect in a series of allusions to bizarre and bloody events. What the hell was the "Rectification of the Vuldranai?" or the "Third Reconciliation of the Last of the Meketrex Supplicants"?
  • Nose Nuggets: When Peter Venkman first sees ectoplasm, he jokes that it looks like snot.
  • 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 anyone. Unfortunately, that's not quite so.
  • Not So Stoic: Egon, normally nerdy and clinical in demeanor, absolutely flips his shit at Peck when he blames the Ghostbusters for causing the containment unit explosion.
  • Novelization:
  • Oblivious to Love: Louis appears to be oblivious to the fact that the statuesque woman at his house party is interested in him. He blithely states that he only invited clients to the party rather than friends. When he fails to give her attention, she pouts and announces that she's leaving. He convinces her to stay by offering to dance with her, but only in hopes of convincing others to join them.
  • Odd Name Out: The main group's first names are Peter, Egon, Winston, and... Ray, who only has one syllable in his name.
  • 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 his 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.
  • Omnicidal Maniac: Ivo Shandor, the founder of the Gozer-worshiping cult that built Dana's apartment building. According to Egon, Shandor concluded after World War I that "humanity was too sick to survive", and his followers attempted to bring about the end of the world to Kill All Humans, themselves included.
  • Ominous Clouds: When the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster summon Gozer, thick, ponderous clouds form over the building that Peter refers to as Spook Central. And when Gozer is disembodied, lighting and thunder boom with Gozer's voice while waiting to choose a One-Winged Angel form (thankfully, Ray limits Gozer with his choice.)
  • One-Winged Angel: Gozer, initially appearing in a female humanoid form, turns into a giant Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man for the second half of his fight with the Ghostbusters. Not the most menacing One-Winged Angel but still a threat to the city purely due to its size.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Egon, of all people, tries to start a fistfight with Peck while dropping a Precision F-Strike (although it may also be heard as him insulting his mother, considering the soundtrack censors it a bit) after Peck's stupidity causes a catastrophe and he tries to blame it on the Ghostbusters.
  • Outranking Your Job: A subtle example—the police officer seen accompanying Walter Peck when he serves his Cease and Desist order wears a captain's insignia. While Peck's ego and the Ghostbusters' celebrity status might explain the personal involvement of mid-to-upper-level NYPD management it still begs the question of why the captain is the only officer present.

    Tropes P–Z 
  • Parental Bonus: An awful lot of swearing and sexual innuendo for a family comedy. Not to mention Demonic Possession, heads on pikes, and all the other horror.
    • Not just innuendo. Dana outright says (though she's possessed by Zuul at the time and therefore Venkman refuses her) "I want you inside me." This is usually cut from TV broadcasts of the movie.
  • Personal Arcade: 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 within.
  • 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.
    • Louis mentions before Dana's incident that he's having a party 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 at the beginning of the film or a second one, but it's implied to be the same one since it's the only party mentioned and the only party shown.
  • Possession Levitation: During her possession by Zuul, Dana becomes very sexually agressive and attempts to seduce Peter. When he continues to reject her advances she gets angry and begins to levitate above her bed, and she even does a full mid-air rotation. Peter later sedates her.
  • 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 gets shut down, and ghosts are streaming into the atmosphere in a pillar of blinding light. What drives home how bad the situation is 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, though this could have been an improvisation.
    • 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 his similarities to the Pillsbury boy.
    • All the Coca-Cola products seen—Coke, Diet Coke, and Tab—are at least partially because, believe it or not, The Coca-Cola Company actually owned Columbia Pictures at the time. (Unlike Sony's current ownership, however, it was never referenced in theatrical movies or on video; the TV division [and subsequent acquisitions, such as Merv Griffin Enterprises] did have the byline.)
  • Raised Hand of Survival:
    • When the Ghostbusters arrive at Dana's apartment building to face Gozer, an earthquake buckles the street and sends them tumbling out of sight amid slabs of asphalt and wrecked police cars. After a long, tense silence, one gloved hand reaches up through the steam and dust and the boys pull themselves up to safety.
    • During their possession, Dana and Louis are transformed into dog demons once they open the portal for Gozer. After Gozer is destroyed, the demons' charred, stone bodies are found. Dana's hand breaks out of the body she's trapped in, showing that she's still alive inside it.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Venkman is sometimes given the Ron the Death Eater treatment for using Thorazine to pacify a possessed Dana, since it seems like he brought a powerful tranquilizer with him on a date. While psychology is not a field of medicine, psychologists can indeed prescribe medication if they've gotten sufficient medical training (as for how he gets it, Louis earlier mentions a nearby pharmacy that delivers to the apartments).note 
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Dean Yeager tells Venkman off resoundingly as he evicts them from the university, calling him 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 its female human form, the evil deity Gozer the Gozerian has red eyes.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: In a movie about ghosts, they throw in the giant Stay Puft Marshmallow Man rampaging through the streets of New York.
  • Running Gag: Louis locking himself out of his apartment. Bonus points for this being the same guy who gets possessed by the Keymaster.
  • Scenery Porn: The shot of the New York City skyline with ethereal streams of ghostly essence streaming across the frame.
  • Secret Message Wink: When Venkman is running the ESP test, the wink that he tips to his female subject right before zapping his male subject pulls triple duty: it tells her he's lying about the other subject being wrong, signals her to play along in his little charade, and is also a subtle way to flirt with her.
  • 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: Discussed 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.
  • Shout-Out: Several very subtle ones, best illustrated by the bleeding walls at the 53rd precinct. There is no 53rd precinct...outside of the early Buddy Cop sitcom Car 54, Where Are You?. The dynamic between Ray and Egon has numerous nods to the Ham and Deadpan Duo protagonists of the series (both Cloudcuckoolanders, in their own way), while the Ecto-1 and the scenes of it tearing through the streets of New York with siren blaring bear a strong resemblance to the namesake car 54. The bleeding walls mention itself is a shout-out to The Amityville Horror (1979).
  • Signature Team Transport: Ecto-1.
  • Skeptic No Longer: Winston is just looking for a paycheck at first and seems unconvinced that the supernatural even exists. He quickly comes to feel otherwise.
    (to the mayor) "Look, I've only been with the company for a couple of weeks, but I gotta tell you, these things are real. Since I joined these men, I have seen shit that'll turn you white."
  • Smooch of Victory: Peter and Dana share one in the end after saving her, Louis, and the whole world from Gozer.
  • Snobs Versus Slobs: The filmmakers deliberately tried to make the Ghostbusters seem like blue-collar people, which is emphasized by their occasional run-ins with higher-class snobs.
    • The drab jumpsuit-wearing Ghostbusters strike quite a contrasting figure with the fancy guests of the Sedgwick hotel. When the Ghostbusters emerge covered in sweat and ectoplasm and bearing the smoking ghost trap, the surrounding hotel staff and guests are visibly horrified.
    • Walter Peck, the somewhat smarmy government stooge who shows up in a nice suit to inspect the Ghostbusters' equipment and finds himself rebuffed by the exhausted and irritable Venkman (who smears ectoplasm on his suit as a further insult).
    • Dean Yeager, the dean of the college, representing established academia, rejects the future Ghostbusters for being too fringe.
    • Venkman dismisses Dana's colleague from the orchestra as a "stiff" who talks with big words, and he makes fun of the man's 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 later see the Ghostbusters 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. Shortly afterward, Dana and Louis are shown lying on a ceremonial table on the rooftop looking exhausted, and Louis's belt is ripped open.
  • 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. Zigzagged, however, as only the song's minor keyed and ethereal sounding second half is used. Hearing the entire song as featured on the soundtrack, with its more classically pop-sounding opening verses and abrupt transition to the section heard in the film, can be quite jarring.
    • 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 moments later...
  • Statuesque Stunner: A relative example. The woman at Louis's party who agrees to dance with him to liven things up is somewhat striking and stands about a head taller than Louis (although he is a bit short, hence the relative part).
  • 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 has supposedly tumbled from several hundred feet in the air, fall straight down and bounce off of a wooden police barrier.
  • Supernatural Floating Hair: The library ghost has this when she transforms, and the ghost Ray dreams about also has it.
  • Sweets of Temptation: Egon uses a Twinkie as an analogy, not for temptation, but still for something dangerous. He says that if a regular-sized Twinkie represents the normal amount of supernatural activity, the amount that's present now would be equivalent to a giant one.
  • 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. For an instant catastrophe, just turn off the unit.
  • Take That!: While venting to Peter after being fired from Columbia, Ray tells him that, unlike universities, private sector companies demand accountability:
    "Personally, I preferred the university. They gave us money and facilities, we didn't have to produce anything! You've never been out of college, you don't know what it's like out there! I've worked in the private sector...they expect results."
  • 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.
  • Team Title: Ghostbusters.
  • 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 Is Gonna Suck: Knowing what will happen when Walter Peck shuts down the protection grid of their storage facility, Egon and Venkman react accordingly and run for it.
  • This Cannot Be!: Ray's reaction at seeing the Stay-Puft monster.
  • Thought-Aversion Failure: During the climax, Gozer demands that the Ghostbusters think about the form it should take to destroy their world, and so they have to avoid thinking about anything. Ray instead thinks about the most harmless thing he can, bringing the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man into catastrophic existence.
  • Throat Light: Zuul's throat (in terror-dog form) emits a bright light when Dana sees it in her refrigerator.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Ray denies being a god when Gozer questions him, and as a result, he and his friends are almost killed.
  • 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.
  • Uncanny Valley:
    • Gozer appears as a human woman... with blood-red eyes and near albino-like skin.
    • Invoked at times when Dana and Louis are possessed. Louis is seen trying to talk to a horse as if he genuinely believed it was a person, then glaring at the buggy driver with glowing red eyes. Dana practically goes into convulsions during Venkman's encounter with her, and the expression on her face when she says, "There is no Dana, only Zuul!" in the Voice of the Legion is a cross between a rictus grin and an animal baring its teeth in a show of aggression. Both characters, in fact, display mannerisms that are more animalistic than human.
  • 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 "catastrophic."
      Egon: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
      Ray: What?
      Egon: Don't cross the streams.
      Peter: Why?
      Egon: It would be bad.
      Peter: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. How would it be bad?
      Egon: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
      Ray: Total protonic reversal!
      Peter: Okay, that's bad. Alright, important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.
    • Venkman has one of his own when the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man shows up.
      Peter: Well there's something you don't see everyday.
  • Unit Confusion: Venkman says of Dana," I just whacked her up with about 300 cc's of Thorazine; she's gonna take a little nap now." It's obvious that cc's, a.k.a. cubic centimeters, was chosen just to sound more medical, but while injected medicine is commonly measured in cubic centimeters, 300cc (10.14421 fluid ounces) is nearly a full can of soda, and is a simply ridiculous amount to be carrying, much less injecting into someone. In fact, it would be impossible to inject that much fluid at once into a healthy body without causing serious health issues.
  • Unusual Euphemism:
    • "Mother pus bucket!"
    • "I am the Keymaster!" "I am the Gatekeeper."
  • Vile Villain, Saccharine Show: Gozer is a disturbing Humanoid Abomination with plans to destroy the world in a relatively light-hearted horror-comedy.
  • 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 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.
    • Egon's research reveals that by the time Ivo Shandor died, his Gozerian cult had amassed nearly 1,000 followers. However, Egon's exposition doesn't reveal their ultimate fates or whether the cult could still be active in the Present Day. Despite Shandor himself subsequently appearing in Afterlife, the fate of his cultists ultimately remains left hanging in the Cinematic Canon (while over in the Expanded Universe, that loose end became very imporant to the plot of 2009 video game).
  • 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, it's not even noticeable unless you've seen the widescreen cut.
    • The Montage with split-screen shots of the Ghostbusters' adventures joined with News and Magazine Covers.
    • The "Go Get Him, Ray!" scene in Pan and Scan looks more like two separate close-ups of Venkman and Ray.
  • Your Mom: Egon's response to Walter Peck's blockheadedness.
  • Writers Cannot Do Math:
    • Egon describes the paranormal activity in the New York area as "a Twinkie 35 feet long, weighing approximately 600 pounds". It is possible for a 600-pound Twinkie to be 35 feet long, but its proportions would need to be significantly different from a standard Twinkie. If the proportions stayed the same, a 600-pound Twinkie would only be 6.4 feet long, and a 35-foot Twinkie would weigh approximately 50 tons.
    • The montage includes a USA Today newspaper with a headline dated Tuesday, October 8, 1984. October 8, 1984 was actually a Monday, not a Tuesday.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Shown when the lightning strikes Dana and Louis atop Gozer's temple. Sparks briefly reveal their human skeletons, and after they transform into Terror Dogs the sparks reveal the demonic monster skeletons instead.
  • 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 that 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 dangerous 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.

"I love this town!"



[Trope Namer] The titular team of paranormal investigators and exterminators introducing themselves in their first TV commercial.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (10 votes)

Example of:

Main / WhoYouGonnaCall

Media sources: