For the longest time, the study, capture and exorcism of ghosts have often been seen not as a Science Fiction or even Science Fantasy career, so much as a job populated entirely by either consecrated members of The Vatican or freelance warlocks paid for their banishments.
This state of affairs lasted until 1984, when a Horror Comedy film called Ghostbusters showed its heroes using Mad Science to deal with ghosts. Not only was the movie a smash hit, it created a franchise that has endured for decades. And when a franchise is that popular for that long, many other works will reference it with affectionate humor, allowing it to enter the hallowed realm of Stock Parodies.
To qualify as Real Spoofbustersnote , the characters should meet two specific criteria.
- They often wear jumpsuits, signifying that their profession is just that; a profession, similar to an electrician or a plumber.
- While for the longest time combating supernatural phenomena used either magical (enchanted swords, chicken's feet, talismans) or religion implements (holy water, crucifix, sacred rights), the Spoofbuster instead forgoes older superstitions favor of the knowledge and skill of a Science Hero. Geiger-counters that react to ectoplasm, chemical isotopes that make demons violently ill, and of course a bootleg proton-pack; a (probably unlicensed) nuclear accelerator strapped to their backs similar to a backpack. They can come in many settings; they can suck up the ghosts like a vacuum, spray out anti-ectoplasmic solutions, shoot streams of energy that can explode every molecule in your body at the speed of light should they be crossed and a dozen other contrived doo-dads and what-have-you's to get the job done.
Note that it's not necessary for ghosts to be the target of a Real Spoofbuster, as this trope is about the "busting" part of the equation. Still, it often crosses over with Demon Slaying, Hunter of Monsters, Occult Detectives and other fields of Paranormal Investigation.
- Brief from Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt wears a green jumpsuit and carries around a backpack that doubles as a vacuum cleaner throughout most of the series. The shout-out is intentional.
- A scene example appears in Shimoneta, in which after becoming a nymphomaniac, Anna Nishikinomiya starts to chase Tanukichi Okuma wanting his male member with diverse objects, one of them a vacuum cleaner that uses as backpack trying to "absorb" Tanukichi's stuff (while he clings to a pipe outside the building).
- Episode 9 of the Pop Team Epic anime features a brief scene of Pipimi and Popuko wearing familiar suits and backpacks to suck away a gang of rowdy teens.
- Weirdest of all is an appearance by Ray Stantz and Egon Spengler in Tokyo ESP as a pair of penguin kidnappers.
- Daffy Duck's Quackbusters is a Compilation Movie which has Daffy inherit a fortune with the stipulation that he must use it for good works. When he doesn't, his millionaire benefactor returns to haunt him, which kicks off the premise of the movie: Daffy hiring fellow Looney Tunes to help him get rid of ghosts and monsters.
- Caesar the Exterminator (Christopher Walken) in MouseHunt. While he doesn't hunt ghosts (specializing in vermin and rodents instead), he wears a Ghostbusters-like jumpsuit, a heavy tech backpack and a set of goggles, and he takes hunting the troublesome mouse every bit as seriously as the Trope Namers take ghost hunting. Which doesn't save him from that damn unexpectedly clever and tenacious mouse.
- John Goodman's exterminator Delbert in Arachnophobia. Notable because MAD Magazine's parody, A Knack For Phobias, points out that the look "didn't hurt Ghostbusters."
- The exterminator in The Borrowers, whose insecticide foam ("burns on contact!") is administered with a Slime Blower in all but name.
- The "Zap 'Em!" exterminator in Men in Black: Outlandish van (with a cockroach on top)? Check. Blue-collar uniform and demeanor? Check. Memorable logo? Check. Backpack with a wand attachment? Check. And then Edgar stuffs the wand down the man's throat, leaving him to choke on his own poison gas!
- In the 2016 Ghostbusters remake, the girls are annoyed by an in-universe ghost hunting show called Ghost Jumpers.
- The Diff'rent Strokes episode "A Haunting We Will Go" has Arnold and Sam wear makeshift Ghostbuster outfits and proton packs while exploring what they think is a haunted house. They even get slimed by the house's owner.
- This sketch on Short Ribbs has Patty Maloney as the leader of "Host Busters". Instead of paranormal entities, they take down smarmy daytime talk show hosts. Their target is an expy of Geraldo Rivera.
- Bone Busters: Fancy jumpsuits, gadgets that fire electrical bolts, a skeleton in a "No" sign...It's all there. As the cherry on the cake, their costumes look like the "Fright Features Peter" figurine!
- In the cooperative card game Sentinels of the Multiverse, in team villain mode, the mutant Rat Man Plague Rat is put on an Explosive Leash by Evil, Inc. company RevoCorp. Rather than Evil Minions of his own, his deck consists of various RevoCorp handlers... who inevitably lose control of him and get eaten.
- The handlers themselves dress in green jumpsuits, carry an assortment of gadgets, and the card art for each of the four types is based on one of the original team: the RevoCorp Analyst is skinny with glasses like Egon, the Neutralizer is cheerful and pudgy like Ray and also wearing what look like Ecto Goggles, the Restrainer is balding with a five o'clock shadow like Peter and has on a pseudo-proton pack, and the Tanker is black, has a mustache like Winston, and is wielding what is clearly a slime blower.
- The quote for the "RevoCorp Backup" card is even "Aaahhh!!! Who are we going to call?!"
- In the Luigi's Mansion games, Luigi (of the famous Super Mario Bros.) winds up having to hunt ghosts despite his cowardice in a massive haunted mansion (which was a trap for him and Mario) with the help of Professor E. Gadd and his patented Poltergust 3000, a back-strapped vacuum designed to suck up ghosts of all shapes and sizes. And he already wears plumbers' overalls, so he matches the blue collar image of the basic trope already.
- The Sims 3 added the "ghost hunter" career with its "ambitions". Ghost hunters have to capture or exorcise ghosts using various gadgets.
- The Yo-kai Watch Blasters spin-off of the Yo-Kai Watch video game series is a beat 'em up game with heavy references to the Ghostbusters series. So heavy, it had to actually be modified in the Western release to tone them down for copyright reasons. The original Japanese name was Yo-kai Watch Busters, Jibanyan and Komasan had Ghostbuster-like jumpsuits in their Blaster forms, and Whismellowman, named Whisped Cream in the dub and looking more kaiju-like, was originally a Stay Puft Marshmallow Man parody.
- The Arcade Game Tumblepop is all about this: Two partners travel together all over the world chasing ghosts and monsters with their vacuums.
- Laser Ghost, a Sega cabinet shooter whose cabinet art and gameplay mimicked Ghostbusters. Even the monsters looked like something you'd see on The Real Ghostbusters.
- Ghostbreakers in Ghost Master. The earliest printing of the game even included a discount coupon for the 1999 DVD release of Ghostbusters.
- Ghost Control Inc. allows players to sign on with teams of not-Ghostbusters. It's a turn-based Affectionate Parody of (and improvement on) David Crane's original Ghostbusters game from 1984.
- In the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) episode "End Times", Donatello builds the team a set of ghost-fighting equipment similar to the proton pack in order to combat Kavaxas and his hoard of evil spirits spilling out from the Netherworld.
- In the Johnny Bravo episode "Hold That Schmoe", Johnny is kicked out of his own attic, when he tries taking a rare comic in there, by a ghost haunting it. When he gets Carl's help, they dress in uniforms Carl made from his mom's dress that he claims are designed for ghost-hunting, being equipped with strap-on particle beams. Johnny comments how they don't exactly look like the same guys in the movie.
- Danny Phantom: In "The Million Dollar Ghost", Danny encounters groups of ghost hunters that parody well-known franchises. One pair are known as "The Extreme Ghostbreakers", parodying Extreme Ghostbusters.
- In the Muppet Babies (1984) episode, "Bug-Busting Babies", Gonzo leads the babies into a team called the Bug Busters to catch the bug messing up Scooter's computer program. The episode also spoofs the Ray Parker Jr song from the 1984 movie, and features Bug Busters and a car similar to the Ghostbusters and their Ecto-1.
- The Tiny Toon Adventures Halloween special "Tiny Toons' Night Ghoulery" has Furrball dress up in full Ghostbusters gear to take on the ghost of Sneezer. And it is surprisingly accurate for a ten-second gag, right down to the barrel that pops out of the wand.
- The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper has a pair of faux Ghostbusters to do the "Who you gonna call? ...someone else" bit from the movie.
- Histeria! had a Song Parody of the Ghostbusters theme called "Trust Buster", the nickname Teddy Roosevelt earned for breaking up big business at the turn of the 20th Century. The kids wear jumpsuits; Teddy wears a proton pack and blasts Corrupt Corporate Executives with green lasers.
- In The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy, this is how the title characters became friends, with Billy donning a proton pack and brown jumpsuit and catching Grim in a muon trap.
- Robot Chicken has MythBusters' Jamie Hyneman and Adam Savage investigate the myth of whether or not masturbation causes blindness by driving to a kid's house in Ecto-1 and catching him like a ghost.
- The brown jumpsuit-clad Ghost Harassers, a parody of Ghost Hunters, appear as a still image in a brief TV ad on Gravity Falls.
- The 1987 Beverly Hills Teens episode "Ghost Story" is an early example of this trope, as several characters use homemade ghostbusting equipment to deal with an alleged haunting at the Teen Club Castle.
- One episode of Mighty Mouse The New Adventures had a segment titled "Don't Touch That Dial!" that featured several parodies of other cartoons. Among them "The Real Gagbusters", who were choppily-animated generic anime characters (probably a reference to the fact that RGB was animated by Japanese companies) with proton packs and futuristic jumpsuits with a parody of the "no ghost" logo on them. As their name implied, they were stoic and humorless, and tried to bust with their weapons the funny cartoon characters including Mighty Mouse himself.
- Bonkers: "When the Spirit Moves You" had Bonkers and the gang try to chase the Lonesome Ghosts; Prof. Ludwig von Drake put together a proton pack to help catch them. They even donned similar costumes to the 'Busters.
- Inspector Gadget had "Ghost Catchers," a pair of MAD agents who would send out tangible holograms as "ghosts" to haunt people, and then they would show up and dispel the ghosts with guns that fired rancid cooking oil (!) and charge money.
- In an episode of Dexter's Laboratory titled Filet of Soul, has Dexter and DeeDee trying the to hunt down the ghost of their pet fish; With Dexter having his own proton pack-like device.
Dexter: Who ya gonna call?