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Who You Gonna Call?

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"When things get strange, when what goes bump in the night flicks on the lights, when no one else can help you, give me a call. I'm in the book."

All kinds of Things That Go "Bump" in the Night seem to plague the media. It seems you can't throw a TV remote without hitting ghosts, vampires, The Legions of Hell, aliens, or some other type of monster. Fortunately, wherever there are monsters, there's likely to be people who hunt them, and they ain't afraid of no ghosts.

These folks tend to come in a number of distinct varieties:

  1. The Chosen One, who is also often the Hunter of Monsters.
  2. A small band of concerned but "average" citizens who have taken it upon themselves to deal with the threat(s). The ones who survive long enough can also graduate to Hunter status or become an Occult Detective. May opt to Help The Helpless.
  3. The Freelanced Professional, someone who's been in the business of hunting and fighting vampires, werewolves, wizards, and aliens for a long time, usually was part of the former at some point. Often a Hunter or Occult Detective. Not really a part of any organization (might be loosely) that hunts them, but usually has a network of friends, experts, and allies to help him out.
  4. A quasi-governmental Agency or Secret Society which both deals with the threat(s) and actively strives to keep the citizenry at large ignorant. Often headed up by Da Chief, with a Cowboy Cop protagonist who has been newly recruited from the local police force.
  5. Priests and Nuns who kick ass who worship a Deity or at least follow a religious paradigm that does not approve of such blasphemies.
  6. In The Unmasqued World, government-sanctioned (or possibly non-sanctioned) Cape Busters or the Mutant Draft Board (in variants tilted towards supernatural horrors rather than metahumans) may be called in to deal with it.
  7. A Paranormal Investigation team who investigate ghosts and spirits. Their equipment consists of digital thermometers, cameras, camcorders, EMF meters (to detect paranormal activity) and voice recorders (to record EVP).

Of course, Muggles don't tend to be aware of the existence of the threat, so types 1-5 are often perceived as kooks, often of the Agent Mulder brand. Still, if there's something strange in your neighbourhood...

See also Creature-Hunter Organization and Paranormal Investigation. Compare Occult Detective and often related to Demon Slaying. If they're good enough, they may boast We Do the Impossible.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • In Devil Hunter Yohko, Yohko's best friend, Chigako, appoints herself as her manager and starts by trying to promote her as a professional demon slayer, by taking out an ad in the paper. She also tries to make recordings of Yohko's battles, to showcase her abilities, in order to build Yohko's reputation. Though it usually ends up putting Chigako in harm's way, or simply makes Yohko's job more difficult.
  • First Squad, a Russian counter-occult special force consisting of five teenagers, set during World War II. Only one of them lasts more than fifteen minutes into the first film, but luckily she can channel the ghosts of her comrades.
  • In Ga-Rei -Zero-, two anti-paranormal organizations consist of the Ministry of Defense's Paranormal Disaster Countermeasure Headquarters, staffed by actual Self-Defense Forces officers/soldiers/staff with a few agents who have the ability to detect and see spirits while using weapons and military equipment that have been customized to fight demons. The other is the Ministry of Environment's Supernatural Disaster Countermeasures Division, consisting of agents who can see supernatural entities while relying on custom-made anti-demon weapons and equipment. Both anti-paranormal organizations have access to vehicles that can be used for traveling around Japan such as Chinook helicopters permanently posted to the PDCH while the SDCD has access to Humvees.
  • Shibuya Psychic Research from Ghost Hunt, as well as the various other exorcists/investigators who often accompany them.
  • Haruhi Suzumiya: This is, technically, the intent of the SOS Brigade. Thanks to their leader they tend to make things much worse whenever they actual get a case.
  • Ghost Sweeper Mikami: The titular character runs an agency dedicated to exorcise ghosts that cause trouble, although she has her fair share of run-ins with various supernatural beings, including vampires, werewolves and many others. She's said to be the best at this job, although she only takes works that net her a hefty amount of money.
  • The titular character of Hell Teacher Nube, Meisuke "Nube" Nueno, is a very well-known and respected exorcist. Even though Japanese folklore already gravitates towards him, his school (Doumori Elementary,) and his students, people from far and wide seek him out to keep him from having too much free time. Also, his father is a world-renowned warrior monk and spiritualist; his fame is so great the media constantly hounds him and he even has fanclubs among Nube's students.
    • By the end of the manga, Nube has moved to another town, leaving the responsibility to protect Doumori to Tamamo and Izuna.
  • The Hellsing Organization fights a secret war to protect Queen and Country from Vampires... with Dracula as their best agent.
  • In the Nasuverse the Burial Agency and the Magus Association's Enforcers are the main agencies that police the supernatural. Their main jobs are containing Dead Apostles, eliminating rogue magi, and maintaining the Masquerade by hypnotizing or killed any muggle witnesses. When demons were more common, several clans in Japan were dedicated to hunting them.
  • This is the purpose of the Hero Association in One-Punch Man. Their effectiveness varies a lot though.
  • Phantom Quest Corp. is a for profit organization that'll take any case dealing with the paranormal, or the supernatural. Incidentally, the show's intro just happens to be their ad!
  • The Tendo Dojo of the Ranma ½ universe seems to be the standard place to go in Nerima for demon and ghost sightings. It's stated that battling such things is the responsibility of the "true martial artist," whatever that is. note 
    • Specific example: "Mystery of the Marauding Octopus Pot" Filler story, from both manga and anime. Ranma, Soun and Genma are hired to come to a seaside village and deal with a living octopus pot that has been stealing all sorts of things, namely food and women's underwear. Soun and Genma promptly take to their private room and lounge around eating seafood, while Ranma, expressing disdain for their attitude, goes and uses his Gender Bender Curse to stake out the women's baths in order to lure out the lecherous monster. It turns out to be Dirty Old Man Happosai, raiding the village to care for a beautiful moocher (anime version) or because he's a dick (manga).
  • Rental Magica is about a "magical problem solving" business, and it started with hunting a runaway "dog", then many of other missions were—or ended up being—about fighting some or other monster (when it wasn't about fighting some crazy wizard).
  • YuYu Hakusho: Yusuke and friends provide a Demon Slaying service.
  • The Sumeragi Family of onmyouji, as portrayed in Tokyo Babylon, will deal with anyone's paranormal issues if hired, to the point that the current head of the family is so busy he can't attend school on a regular basis.
  • The DWMA forces in Soul Eater deal with supernatural threats, usually involving demons or witches. If any other organizations are involved, we don't see them.
  • The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a group of Psychopomps for hire, who speak to the dead and help fulfill their last wishes in exchange for payment.

    Comic Books 
  • The B.P.R.D. and their most famous agent, Hellboy, fall into the third variation of this.
  • Doctor Strange is the go-to guy for dealing with most supernatural threats in the Marvel Universe, and people often come directly to him to deal with their supernatural problems. And since he's the Sorcerer Supreme, it's pretty much in his job description. Or Brother Voodoo or Magik if Strange isn't around.
  • Hack/Slash: a comic book about a former Final Girl who becomes a slasher-hunter.
  • Atomic Robo: Robo starts out as a type three who either gets recruited to deal with assorted mad science nonsense or stumbles on it of his own accord, then later starts a business to do it with more reliable backup. Later in his career, the appeal has kind of worn off for him, and he repeatedly grouses that all he wants to do is just regular science, but no, he has to keep running around putting out everyone else's fires and getting beaten half to scrap while doing so.
    Robo: I have got to restructure my life so I spend more time reading abstracts and less time punching dinosaurs.
  • The DCU has a ton of people on hand to deal with this sort of thing. Doctor Fate, The Phantom Stranger, John Constantine, Zatanna hell, even Batman.
  • 2000 AD's Caballistics, Inc. Also Devlin Waugh.
  • So your planet is about to get devoured again. Who you gonna call?
  • In cases of victims of psychic attacks, Professor Charles Xavier is usually the only expert in the Marvel Universe who can treat such casualties.
  • In AXIS, this ends up being Hobgoblin's big shtick as he realizes that Good Feels Good and he turns self-help guru.
  • The Vampirella comics have featured different variations of this trope:
    • The main character herself is a vampire who protects humans from supernatural threats. She is often aided by demon hunter Adam Van Helsing and the wizard Pendragon.
    • During the 90s, Vampirella was allied with the Danse Macabre, an organization that fought supernatural threats with considerably more extreme measures. They were unfortunately wiped out by the villainess Nyx, who also killed Vampirella herself.
    • Vampirella: The New Monthly introduced the comic's Church Militant variant of this trope called the Sisterhood, an organization of nuns who fought the supernatural.
    • A later run in the early 2000s introduced the World's End Circus, a covert branch of the FBI tasked with fighting supernatural threats.
  • As noted in the Western Animation tab, the Scooby-Doo gang don't wind up facing actual ghosts and the mysteries they stumble upon are usually unintentional. This is inverted in the Gold Key comic of Scooby, as starting with issue #14 the gang became ghost breakers for hire.
    Scooby: (thought balloon) Oh, brother...get in the newspapers for solving a few mysteries and pretty soon your services are in high demand.

    Fan Works 
  • In Child of the Storm, it becomes something of a Running Gag for one character or another to have Xavier recommended to them as either a teacher or more frequently, a therapist, since he's pretty much the only therapist in the superhuman community - though as Harry points out when this is lampshaded, he's also the best.
    • MI13 tend to be the ones who are called in to handle superhuman and/or supernatural nonsense in Britain, to the increasing disgruntlement of the Ministry.
    • Harry Dresden is the man who investigates the weird in Chicago as part of his Occult Detective shtick, though even SHIELD sometimes turn to him for his near-unrivalled skills as a supernatural tracker.
      • His later teacher and girlfriend Wanda Maximoff is suggested to have spent most of the last decade and a half dabbling in this too.
  • "Who Ya Gonna Call?" was a 1988 fan story for the Doctor Who fanzine Time Log that paired the sixth Doctor and Peri with the Ghostbusters. They're both investigating strange goings on in Arkham, Massachusetts, although the Doctor resolutely refuses to believe in ghosts.
  • In a Missing Trailer Scene for the Halloween Episode of Calvin & Hobbes: The Series, Calvin claimed he was going to call the Ghostbusters, but Hobbes called him a fool as it was their busiest night.

    Films — Animation 
  • Beowulf: "I'm here to kill your monster."

    Films — Live-Action 
  • "If there's something strange... in your neighborhood... who you gonna call?" "GHOSTBUSTERS!" Probably the most well-known "concerned citizens" example who are formerly parapsychologists. Although they're also making money off it and for that reason, they encourage the muggles finding out.
  • The Ghostbusters were spoofed briefly in Casper, when Ghostbuster Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd's character) got run out of the haunted mansion by the Ghostly Trio, he told the new owners:
    "Who you gonna call? Someone else!"
  • Peter Vincent in Fright Night (1985), although he gets dragged into it unwillingly.
  • Just like in the comics, the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense in Hellboy.
  • The Frog Brothers in The Lost Boys. Teenage vampire hunters, they state "We're dedicated to a higher purpose. We're fighters for truth, justice, and the American way."
  • Men in Black takes the "secret government agency" approach, with the titular agency having the dual role of protecting the Earth from malevolent aliens and keeping those benevolent aliens living on the planet from being discovered.
  • The Boys from Bad Taste (not to be confused with the comic of the same name by Garth Ennis), who respond to threats from outer space.
  • In the Dead Gentlemen series Demon Hunters, the aforementioned Hunters of Demons are the Brotherhood of the Celestial Torch - an official branch of Heaven that deals with Hell's agents. "You've heard of Hell's Angels? Well, we're... Heaven's Demons."
  • The title character in The Exorcist.
  • The Church in John Carpenter's Vampires.

  • Beowulf: The eponymous hero takes on the demon Grendel, Grendel's mother, and eventually a dragon; not in self-defense but because he wants to.
  • R.S Belcher's The Brotherhood of the Wheel has the titular Brotherhood protect humanity from supernatural threats and psychopathic killers. Additionally, the FBI has the real-life special taskforce "Highway Serial Killings Iniative" to investigate and keep under wraps serial killer packs, such as the Finders and the Zodiac Lodge, who use the highways to hunt.
  • The title character of Carnacki the Ghost-Finder functions as this, and more than anything else resembls a cross between the Ghostbusters and Sherlock Holmes.
  • Conan the Barbarian: Conan has often been hired or recruited to kill a supernatural threat. While some civilized folk aren't impressed with his superstituous ways, he's built a long resume of knowing how to kill monsters.
  • Most investigators in the Cthulhu Mythos either die or go insane just by learning about the cosmic horrors. However, several stories feature characters who actively fight back against the Mythos. One is Derleth's Professor Shrewsbury, another is policeman-turned-occult hunter Inspector Legrasse (yes, the same one that turns up in Call of Cthulhu). Brian Lumley wrote about both occultist Titus Crowe and the Wilmarth Foundation, both dedicated to stopping the various Mythos threats.
  • In Cyrion by Tanith Lee, the titular character is a master swordsman, all-around genius and amateur sleuth in a Sword and Sorcery world. Cyrion's famous for solving problems involving the supernatural.
  • In Darker Than You Think, Dr. Mondrick's Humane Research Foundation appears to be an ordinary group of researchers but was actually founded to study and fight shapeshifters. All but one member of the Foundation is killed, but it's implied that he may try to create another more secret organization.
  • The title character of Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency is actually running a hustle to bank on people's credulity, not quite a 'concerned citizen'. Yet he manages to get into, and solve, mysteries the only solution to which are supernatural agents.
  • Parodied, along with every other existing trope ever, in Discworld. This particular trope gets its turn in Reaper Man:
    "Who is he going to call! We're the wizards around here."
  • Van Helsing from Dracula originally acts as a consultant on abnormal medical phenomena rather than a Vampire Hunter. Luckily, he also happens to be the latter as well, and formally initiates his five new friends into a team of vampire-busters.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • To quote Harry Dresden's Yellow Pages ad: "Harry Dresden—Wizard. Lost Items Found. Paranormal Investigations. Consulting. Advice. Reasonable Rates. No Love Potions, Endless Purses, or Other Entertainment." (Ironically, Harry did have to resort to doing a birthday party at least once to make ends meet.) If you need a cop, call 911. If you need a miracle, call Harry Dresden. (In fact, he gets a fair number of calls from the cops — most usually from Karrin Murphy.)
    • There's also the Knights of the Cross, though you don't usually call for their help so much as they show up at exactly the right moment to save the day. Working for the Almighty gives you a good sense of timing.
    • To a lesser extent, the Paranet. They're a grassroots group of minor magical talents and those in the know who banded together for mutual protection, colaborative work, and to spreading information within their community. They don't have access to the elite Wizard-level knowledge or power, but having been helped organized by one helps. Arguably, their greatest asset is the ability to use the internet to communicate and operate, without having the magical juice to break the machine they're using to access it.
  • Forest Kingdom: The Hawk & Fisher spinoff series' book 3 (The God Killer) features the God Squad, a special unit of Haven's police force who deal with supernatural phenomena and entities.
  • Ghost Finders features ghost-hunting investigators from a government-affiliated agency called the Carnacki Institute.
  • Harry Potter: The Aurors of the Ministry of Magic are mostly magical law enforcement (they apprehend dark wizards). The books mention many other departments of the Ministry of Magic that deal with magical creatures and spirits for the sake of the Wizarding (and Muggle) community.
  • Jakub Wędrowycz: Jakub is an amateur exorcist, and yet one of the most effective experts in his profession in the world. The setting also includes traditional priest exorcists, while Jakub is just an old drunkard who makes a living by making moonshine, but he's not any less effective, though his methods rely less on religious rituals and more on blunt force (well, that and some Ritual Magic).
  • In the Jules De Grandin stories by Seabury Quinn, the eponymous famous expert and Master of All Occult Detective will solve your supernatural problems (and the occasional mundane case) for money or pro bono — and if it's an especially heinous criminal, Jules will happily give him a horrible death.
  • The protagonist of Labyrinths of Echo works in the "Minor Secret Investigations Forces". They deal with magical crime (you don't send normal policemen against an insane wizard capable of blowing up a city block or raising a cadaver army) and variety of dangerous monsters — and sometimes one leads to another. As to the ghosts, they are rarely lucid, thus some end up as targets; on the other hand, the best-performing branch (in a bustling port city at that) of Secret Investigations itself is composed entirely of mages' ghosts.
  • There are plenty of these agencies in Lockwood & Co., which is set in an Alternate Universe where hauntings have become rampant.
  • A couple of short fantasy novels, Ogre Castle and In The Sea Nymph's Lair, feature a wizard-and-apprentice team who specialize in exorcising the many, many ghosts left behind by a recent war among archmages.
  • In Pact, Andy and Eva — two local witch hunters in the small town of Jacob's Bell — are supplied and trained by a loose organization of Canadian hunters of the supernatural based out of Montreal.
  • Repairman Jack: Jack has been pushed into this role by the machinations of the Otherness and the Ally, although he'd far rather be "fixing" mundane problems for his customers. He doesn't advertise his services against supernatural threats, but people keep referring anyone with that kind of problem to him anyway.
  • Rivers of London: The Folly are a long-established covert unit of the Metropolitan Police who specialize in "magical crime".
  • Grettir from The Saga of Grettir the Strong makes a habit of dispatching undeads and trolls.
  • Shadow Police is about a group of cops who initially get drawn into the occult while investigating a gangster who has turned to black magic.
  • Real Life firefighter Sean Grigsby's Smoke Eater novels feature an elite force of high-tech dragon-fighters, called to action by the emergence of man-eating incendiary reptiles from the depths of the Earth.
  • One Star Wars novel, Destiny's Way, gives us this quote.
    "Well, what happens if you need a diplomat who can also practice philosophy, fight with a lightsaber, and levitate small objects? Who else are you going to call but us?"
  • The Witcher: Witchers alter themselves with physical discipline, meditation and alchemy to develop the enhanced abilities and magic needed to fight monsters. Though they traditionally do this for a fee, the fee is at their discretion and can be suited to what the employer can afford; for example, expecting gold from lords and kings but saving a peasant's farm for a home-cooked meal.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Angel: Despite being the Trope Namer for We Help the Helpless, most of the time Angel was involved as a Chosen One. Early on he followed visions sent by Powers That Be. Prophecies tended to replace the visions as a motive force later, prompting fate-al conflict on all sides.
  • One episode of Beetleborgs featured a "Dr. Buster Zapper", a ghostbuster-like phasm hunter hired by Trip and Van to capture Flabber. In reality, he was a Snake Oil Salesman who didn't know squat about real ghosts.
  • Batman was literally called via the Bat-phone in the 1960s' television series, and usually to battle only bizarre supercrime.
  • Blue SWAT, where the main organization of the same name is a police unit dedicated to conducting anti-alien black ops.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer: While Buffy is the chosen one type, she can also team up with a gang of "concerned citizens" to stop the forces of evil (like vampires and demons) into taking over Earth and killing the innocent.
    • Theoretically backed by a Secret Society, and in one season an official government Agency turns up as well. The phrase itself is lampshaded in "The Killer in Me":
    Buffy: No, it's not a book thing. It's a phone thing.
    Spike: Who you gonna call? [beat] God, that phrase is never going to be usable again, is it?
    Buffy: Doubt it.
  • Every time someone has a problem may call El Chapulín Colorado by saying always the same Catchphrase: "Oh, ¿y ahora, quien podrá defenderme?" [Aw, and now, who could defend me?]. These problems often include supernatural creatures or aliens.
  • Charmed: The Charmed Ones, of course, but when they need to get rid of evil spirits that plague the manor, they call upon the services of a witch doctor. He is actually described as someone who gets rid of the Things That Go "Bump" in the Night.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The Doctor is the freelance professional (or "ancient amateur") variety. They tend to show up based on the whims of their sentient time machine, but a handful of people know how to contact them on purpose. Lampshaded in "Army of Ghosts", where the Doctor quotes this title. Called by name again in "Last Christmas".
      • The Twelfth Doctor is much more overtly conscious of playing this role than some of his predecessors were. In "Extremis" he calls himself to warn of the Monks' impending invasion of Earth.
        The Doctor: I'm doing what everyone does when the world is in danger: I'm calling the Doctor!
    • UNIT, especially in the Third Doctor era, where he was grounded on Earth for a significant period and worked as their advisor against alien threats. They continue to show up intermittently to this day.
    • The revival has other groups that try to track the Doctor specifically. Both fall under the "concerned citizen" status. Neither has a huge survival rate once the other alien horrors start showing up.
  • The Doom Patrol (2019) episode "Sex Men" sees the eponymous group basically as a sex-theme version of the Ghostbuster, trying to keep the world safe from sex-based extinction. They arrive at the Doom Ptrol's doostep after Elasti-Woman's immodest orgasm summons a demon capable of such a thing.
  • Fringe: Covert government agency.
    • Actually spoken by Walter Bishop (played by John Noble) in one episode.
    • Also, in the Alternate Universe, where the freaky "laws of physics are falling apart" kind of events are so common and powerful they couldn't be kept in secret from the public anymore, the Alt-Fringe Division actually has a specific emergency number for these events, so, in case you see a blackhole-like vortex in your neighborhood, call 711.
  • Long before the Columbia Pictures version, Filmation (usually an animation company) created a live-action series called The Ghost Busters which starred Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, who both previously starred in the sitcom F Troop. It would go on to inspire Filmation's later animated series (called simply, Ghostbusters), which was created when the Columbia version became a hit (well, there's a bit more to it than just that, but you get the idea).
  • Every ghost hunting program ever like Ghost Hunters and Ghost Adventures. The paranormal investigators may be "concerned" citizens who investigate ghosts, but at least they have their equipment like EMF meters to monitor ghostly activities, voice recorders to record EVP ghosts produce and video cameras to film supernatural occurrences.
  • Detective Nick Burkhardt from Grimm is a cop and ALSO the latest in a line of slayers of fairy-tale-type creatures. Although rather than slaying them, he mostly tries to reason with them, or arrest them if they've committed a crime.
  • The Invaders (1967) featured a lone Concerned Citizen fighting an alien infiltration. Just as he started to gain some helpers, the show was canceled.
  • The Enigma Corporation in Lost Tapes are a security firm who deal with the unexplained. The two veteran members seen are both Genre Savvy and completely badass, surviving three supernatural monster attacks and even defeating an Aztec God. Rookie or non-combat trained members are normally Red Shirts, however.
  • In The Sarah Jane Adventures, Sarah Jane Smith and her friends are also concerned citizens. Sarah doesn't trust MIB-agencies like UNIT and Torchwood to deal with things sensibly ("Too many guns").
  • Supernatural: The hunters are a very loosely-organised network of freelance humans who've made it their mission in life to track down and kill supernatural menaces. Rather than being called, they tend to show up on witnesses' doorsteps while posing as regular authorities in order to get more info.
  • Torchwood was established by Queen Victoria to deal with the supernatural threats to her empire, following an encounter with the Doctor and a werewolf. While she resolved to never speak of such incidents, she intended to be prepared for them. However, they are laughably unprepared to fight the Daleks and Cybermen, and wiped out in the first story they appear in. Then one branch of it is brought back and gets its own series. Since it's led by Captain Jack Harkness, they actually get things done.
  • The X-Files: Agents Scully and Mulder are FBI agents called on to solve the X-Files, the FBI's cold case files, deemed unsolvable due to possible supernatural elements.

  • The titular Magnus Institute openly asks people with supernatural experiences to give a statement explaining their experiences. Many people come in looking for help or information, but the Institute never actually helps them in any way— in fact, the statements are used to feed the Beholding, the eldritch fear god that the Institute serves, and anyone who gives a statement will have a recurring nightmare of their experience for the rest of their lives, and those are the ones who get off easy.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Ghostbusters RPG (and its Even Better Sequel Ghostbusters International) casts the players as owners of a local Ghostbusters franchise; busting ghosts for clients, fending off the EPA and desperately trying to wriggle out of spurious fees that the main office thinks up to drain money from the players' coffers.
  • The players in the RPG Call of Cthulhu usually fall into the "concerned citizens" category, unless they work for the modern day agency Delta Green.
  • 1st edition Chill had the Societas Argenti Viae Eternitata (SAVE), an organization similar to the Hoffman Institute, below.
  • The Conspiracy X RPG features government agents versus aliens.
  • The Eldritch Society in Cthulhutech is a non-governmental version three, who suffer the small problem that the government currently wouldn't distinguish them from the real nasties, due to their use of the supernatural in their hunts (arguably quite justifiably, their main weapons are summoned organisms that eat the hosts half the time and merge with them the other half) and their fear that the government is too cult corrupted to be trusted.
  • Department-7 from d20 Modern often falls under this trope though its exact layout depends on the campaign in question, but it always deals with whatever the campaign at the time revolves around. It's layout depends on what campaign the characters are participating in. In Shadow Chasers and Urban Arcana, it deals primarily with supernatural threats (The difference between the two settings is whether or not the players are supernatural.) In Agents of Psi it has a charter for Psionic agents.
    • Similarly, the Hoffman Institute from Dark•Matter (1999) investigates strange phenomena. Both Department-7 and the Hoffman Institute (may) exist in the same continuity.
    • The d20 Modern SRD also has an organisation called the Fraternal Order Of Vigilance, which inverts this trope by being more of a hate group.
  • Deadlands features posses of concerned citizens making the West safe from fear and creatures of the night.
  • The Imperium Warhammer 40,000 faces daemons, aliens, and mutants as daily (and serious) threats, to the point that two branches of the Inquisition, the Ordo Malleus and Ordo Xenos specialize in hunting down and destroying daemons and aliens, and have their own specialized military forces-the Grey Knights and Deathwatch, respectively. The Sisters of Battle also qualify to an extent.
    • The Ordo Hereticus (the third branch of the Inquisition) is responsible for hunting down cultists, mutants and... well.. heretics.
    • Of course, given their methods, you may not exactly WANT to call them. When you do, it's a tell-tale sign that things have gone horribly awry.
  • The Crab Clan of Legend of the Five Rings is dedicated to protecting Rokugan from the dread corrupting supernatural forces of the Shadowlands.
  • Little Fears features concerned citizen monster hunters still in grade school.
  • The Troubleshooters of Paranoia exist for the purpose of rooting out Commie mutant traitors. Hope no one finds out they are Commie mutant traitors...
  • In Shadowrun, Ares Macrotechnology maintains a number of tactical military units dedicated to finding and eradicating bug spirit nests.
  • The Old World of Darkness had a number of hunter groups, with one particular type of hunter getting their own gameline in Hunter: The Reckoning. The new WoD has Hunter: The Vigil, a game allowing for the creation of virtually any hunter type. On top of that, the default gametype for nWoD is playing as normal humans — given the setting, these are most likely either Concerned Citizen hunters (who may graduate into the Vigil, and thus become slightly more organized and effective concerned citizens with the potential to become something more)... or Supernaturals-to-be back when they were still normal.
    • Orpheus plays very strongly into this trope as well; people can hire ghostly agents who can communicate with restless spirits, or, depending on the circumstances, fumigate them.
    • Geist: The Sin-Eaters also uses elements of this. Sin-Eaters tend to be a bit more lax about the Masquerade than other supernaturals, and some of them pass themselves off as ghost hunters, mediums, and exorcists in order to get a better handle of the ghostly ecology of their respective city.
    • The fangame Genius: The Transgression has the Karnackis, a group of Geniuses who do this, named after the original Carnacki if misspelled.
  • Many of the secret societies of 7th Sea are dedicated to hunting the supernatural.
  • Bureau 13: Stalking the Night Fantastic has a top secret U.S. government agency hunting paranormal monsters.
  • GURPS:
    • GURPS Black Ops had a top secret agency called "The Company" that fought supernatural monsters and aliens.
    • GURPS Monster Hunters is Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
    • GURPS Technomancer has "Hellhounds" who hunt demons and undead. Technically, a Hellhound is a member of Leviathan's Cerebus teams, but the term is also used for freelancers such as Eric Keele, Entity Eradicator (who, in the vignette we see him in, is being told by his secretary that the only way they're going to be able to pay for his Depleted Phlebotinum Shells is if he agrees to do a photoshoot for a muscle magazine).
  • In Rippers, the court alchemist and Rosicrucian magician John Dee, using monster dissection research from his ex-partner Edward Kelley, eventually becomes Jack the Ripper who teaches others "Rippertech" to a number of scientists and wizards. Against the threat of monsters and after his other disciples went rogue, "Dr Jack" along with his disciple Dr. Abraham Van Helsing create the "Rippers", a monster hunter organization that alternately forbid and embrace Rosicrucian magic and Rippertech.

    Video Games 
  • ANNO: Mutationem: Raymond's Agency is a firm specializing in occult and inexplainable phenomena such as ghouls or a Mad Doctor wearing a plague mask.
  • All three Secret Societies in The Secret World are Type 3. They all deal with paranormal threats and occult disasters all while controlling the world from the shadows and keeping the truth from the general public. The Illuminati does this to keep themselves in power and maintain the status quo. The Templars believes it's their sworn duty to fight and protect humanity against all evil. The Dragon on the other hand, wants to keep the occult and paranormal activities from mucking up their already planned equations and models. They will sometimes send in one of their agents just to see what will happen.
  • The titular paranormal P.I. from Conrad Stevenson's Paranormal P.I. is contacted to investigate locations around the town of New Eidolon where there are serious suspicions of paranormal goings-on. As the game progresses he also acquires the means to remove all types of ghosts and even demonic entities from said locations.
  • Devil May Cry:
    • The eponymous shop, Devil May Cry, hunts demons and devils for a fee. Apparently, the business has been confused for a more generic We Help the Helpless outfit before, hence Dante having a password that only those really needing demons slain would get. Initially, Dante was the only one slaying demons around, but over time, he later had this gig extended to his allies like Lady, Trish, and Nero. The latter even got his own Devil May Cry sign and placed it on Nico's van.
    • The Order of the Sword from Devil May Cry 4 is supposed to act this way for the island of Fortuna. It's a religious group with knights trained to fight demons, but it's eventually shown to be somewhat dubious as the Order uses demonic powers to enhance themselves.
    • It has been suggested, at least in the expanded materials like the novels, that there are other little demon-hunting outfits in the universe.
  • The Brimstone Society which the titular character from Bloodrayne works for.
  • Gabriel Knight, the archetypical Chosen One example for this category. Because he's the last surviving Schattenjäger ("shadow hunter"). The second game mentions that in the past Schattenjägers used to belong to categories 2, 4 and 5, being a group of pretty average people (if you forget a large library and a single powerful talisman), some sort of religious order (but definitely not monks), in a world that still believed in supernatural. Also there are other organizations with similar objectives, like Brazilian religious order Manos Del Sol ("Men of the Sun"), it's just that Gabriel doesn't know about them.
  • The titular ghost, demon and alien hunting team from Gaia Attack 4 spends the entire game battling various supernatural threats around the world, from hunting poltergeists in a British hotel and battling poltergeists inhabiting an Australian junkyard, before ultimately thwarting an alien invasion in the final level.
  • In the X-COM games, you play the fourth type. The entire organisation, that is.
  • The Sakura Wars series has several Type 4's: the Combat Revues, clandestine government organizations that combat demonic threats with steam-powered Mini-Mecha while masquerading as theater companies. The original series of games have Combat Revues situated in Tokyo, Paris, and New York. Sakura Wars (2019) has a reformed Tokyo-based Revue, as well as new Revues in London, Berlin, and Shanghai.
  • Luigi's Mansion:
    • In Luigi's Mansion, Luigi himself is charged with the capture of the many Boos in the eponymous mansion in order to rescue Mario. Moreover, the Poltergust 3000 he wears makes him slightly resemble an actual "Ghostbuster".
    • Luigi's Mansion: Dark Moon has Luigi and Professor E Gadd actually start up a proper ghost hunting business after the Dark Moon shatters and the ghosts turn 'evil'. Including the whole 'journey to multiple different mansions' thing.
  • Clive Barker's Jericho features a special military force of occult soldiers Defending The Earth.
  • In the Elite Beat Agents and Osu! Tatakae! Ouendan world, whenever somebody is in desperate need, they shout out, "Heeeaaallp!" The Agents/Ouendan then arrive to help the helpless... help themselves... with music and dance moves. The helpers in this case are part of a semi-governmental agency, making them the third type.
  • The main character in Elvira: Mistress of the Dark is an agent of a private "ghoul buster" service, advertised in the back of a tabloid magazine. He's hired by Elvira to investigate her haunted castle; he arrives only after the real crap begins...
  • Discussed by Junpei in Persona 3, where he and the other protagonists are members of a club dedicated to wiping out the Shadows plaguing the city.
    Junpei: It’s like we should have our own theme song, y’know? “Who you gonna call? Shadowbusters!”
  • Averted in Touhou, as the main character and youkai exterminator, the shrine maiden Hakurei Reimu often solves the various incidents that happen in Gensokyo without anyone else knowing that she did. That probably explains why she doesn't get that many donations...
  • Data East's unreleased Neo Geo game Ghostlop starred a team of professional ghost hunters named Bruce and McCoy. The characters and their associated gameplay were later incorporated into Magical Drop V.
  • In Blackwell Convergence, Rosangela decides to set up this sort of business at the end of Convergence and continues it in Deception, complete with business cards and newspaper advertisement.
    • The titular organisation of Unavowed, which takes place in the same universe as the The Blackwell Series, is a more formal take on the tropes, being a secret society who hunt down any supernatural threat preying on the innocent.
  • Shinra from Namco × Capcom and Project × Zone is dedicated to investigating paranormal activity, most of it coming from the Shibuya district. Their rivals include a Nebulous Evil Organisation called Ouma.
  • First Encounter Assault Recon revolves around the eponymous organization, a special unit of the US Army dedicated to fighting paranormal threats to national security, which in the game's case turns out to be a battalion of cloned Super-Soldiers lead by a cannibal psychic.
  • Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters, as the name implies, has you playing a Paranormal Investigation version of this.

    Web Comics 
  • In the Zokusho multi-verse the Wayward Cross is somewhere between type 2 and 3.
  • Riff in Sluggy Freelance ran a good business selling information and especially weapons to vampire hunters from Alaska, where the nights are longer. One of his clients, Arminius, was a Vampire Hunter, but not always as successfully as he liked.
  • Vampire Cheerleaders: The Paranormal Mystery Squad is a privately run organization, much like Phantom Quest. As their name implies, Demon Slaying is their business and they take on cases dealing with the paranormal, in general. At least, until vol.4 where they're disbanded by order of PETM, following Stephanie Kane's abduction.
  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja: Dr. McNinja gets called out to deal with everything from appendicitis to giant lumberjack attacks.
  • In Here There Be Monsters Blaine's group of monster hunters is operating in a town with an enhanced weirdness censor, however they are also the town's Animal Control which works out well because every time they've been called out to deal with something mundane like a racoon it is not a racoon.
  • In Bram & Vlad, you can call Van Helsing & Seward, psychiatrists and vampire hunters (they are descendents of the original Van Helsing and Seward).
    Dr. Van Helsing: Think about it this way: if people believe that they need a vampire hunter, either the people really need a vampire hunter, or they need a psychiatrist.
    Dr. Seward: Conveniently, we are both. We win a job either way, see?

    Web Original 
  • Whateley Universe: The "Goobers" at Whateley Academy, training to fight supernatural evil under the auspices of Reverend Englund and the leadership of Buffy-wannabe Nightbane. Of course, whenever they go up against Carmilla (twice in earnest so far plus at least once in the simulators), they keep getting their heads handed to them...
  • As a parody of the Ghostbusters films, The League of S.T.E.A.M. fall into the second variety. They even parody the TV commercial from the first Ghostbusters film in a short.
  • The SCP Foundation, a solid flavor 4. On bad days they fight to keep A World Half Full half full, but most of the time they tend to the messes made by less dangerous but no less bizarre artifacts and people.
  • How to Hero invokes this word for word in their guide to summoning ghosts.

    Web Videos 
  • The League of S.T.E.A.M. is a Steampunk version of the Ghostbusters, a "paranormal pest control service" in a neo-Victorian setting. The Ghostbusters TV ad from the film is even parodied in a short.
    Whom should you telegram?

    Western Animation 
  • One of the oldest examples is the Mickey, Donald and Goofy cartoon "Lonesome Ghosts", where the trio run a Ghost Exterminator Agency.
  • Naturally, The Real Ghostbusters is an example.
  • When the movie that lends this trope its name became a hit, Filmation made an animated series (called simply Ghostbusters) that was based on their previous live-action series (which predated the 1984 film by nine years).
  • A couple of Bonkers episodes dealt with hauntings caused by toon ghosts. During one of the incidents, Bonkers says the trope name, before he and Lucky shake their heads and say "Nah".
  • Danny Phantom has quite a few over the course of its run: Danny and his friends, Jack and Maddie, the Masters Blasters, the Extreme Ghostbreakers, the Guys in White, and the Groovy Gang and Scaredy Cat.
  • Family Guy parodies this in one episode where the Griffin house is haunted. Reporter Tom Tucker, who's covering the story, delivers this line, followed by his partner sighing and saying "Ghostbusters?" Tucker looks at her and says "No, Diane, their insurance company. That's just stupid what you said."
  • Parodied in the Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends episode "Bloooo". When Bloo's cold causes the inhabitants of the house to believe the house is haunted, Coco picks up a phone. Wilt asks "Who you gonna call?", which leads to Coco saying "Co-coco!" in a way reminiscent of the Ghostbusters' theme song. To which Wilt replies "They've been out of business for years!"
  • Futurama: In "Ghosts in the Machines", Fry is haunted by Bender's ghost, and decides he needs to bust this ghost. Hermes says, "Who you gonna call?" to which Fry replies "Gho—", but gets a dial tone before the operator replies, "The number you have dialed has been lame since 1989."
  • The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy has none other than Hoss Delgado.
  • Looney Tunes: Daffy Duck, Bugs Bunny, and Porky Pig parody Ghostbusters with Daffy Duck's Quackbusters. They even have a tagline:
    "Spooks spooked, goblins gobbled, U.F.O.s K.O.'ed, aliens alienated, vampires evaporated, and monsters remonstrated!"
  • Martin Mystery has the Center as an anti-supernatural/alien agency.
  • Mystery Inc., a.k.a. the Scooby-Doo gang. Subverted in that they very rarely end up dealing with actual spooks, and so often function as more of a We Help the Helpless group. There was also a special called Scooby-Doo Meets the Boo Brothers, where Scooby, Shaggy, and Scrappy hire the Boo Brothers, ghost exterminators who are ghosts themselves. ("It takes one to catch one in this business," they claim.)
  • In The Smurfs (1981) episode "Smurfing For Ghosts", Peewit looks for Papa Smurf's help to get rid of some unwanted ghosts in Quarrel Castle, but gets instead Brainy and Clumsy, who are both armed with vacuum cleaner-type devices that are designed for capturing ghosts. At the end of the episode, as Brainy and Clumsy head back to the village, Brainy asks Peewit, "Who are you gonna smurf?", and Clumsy answers, "Autosmurfers".
  • The Phantom Investigators.
    Daemona: So remember- if you're up to your eyeballs in bioplasm, ectoplasm, or phantasms, don't spasm! Call Phantom Investigators! Where you'll get no sarcasm, just enthusiasm!
  • Hiccup and co. in Dragons: Riders of Berk deal with all sorts of dragon-related problems with their services often requested by Berk's villagers.
  • Discussed in an episode of The Spooktacular New Adventures of Casper, a Spinoff of Casper, which has the characters mysteriously being erased. Casper rings up a hotline, which amongst other things, prompts him to dial 2 if they are being harassed by a Ghostbuster.
  • The main characters of Fangface sometimes do this is an unofficial capacity, with many episodes opening with them being called in by a friend to help settle some supernatural goings on. Other episodes, however, show the gang on vacation and getting roped into the mystery through circumstances.
  • The Cuphead Show!: In the episode "Dead Broke", Cuphead and Mugman decide to raise money to buy ice cream by having their friend Miss Chalice haunt a house, then the cups "catch" her with the victims paying them for their services. Problems arise when they visit a house that's already haunted, with the spirits within wanting to imprison the trio in paintings and take their place.

    Real Life 
  • Easington District Council! Or at least they pay for them.
  • The ones who have been called most often in Real Life to scare away the Things That Go "Bump" in the Night, going back through all of recorded history (and before), are Papa Wolf and Mama Bear. It's part of the job.
    • Domestic dogs have served in this capacity for a very long time too, even back into the days when the strange noise in the night might actually be a sabertooth cat or pack of dire wolves.
  • Though disbanded now, the National Institute for Discovery Science (NIDS) was a group backed by a wealthy businessman that brought together various scientists to investigate reports of the paranormal/supernatural. Their most famous investigation was probably that of Skinwalker Ranch in Utah.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Who Ya Gonna Call



The Psychonauts are international secret agents composed of psychics that handle paranormal threats.

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Main / WhoYouGonnaCall

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