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Series / Ghosted

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Ghosted is a Fox paranormal comedy series starring Adam Scott and Craig Robinson. Its pilot episode was made available for preview on Twitter one week ahead of its broadcast debut on October 1, 2017.

Leroy Wright, a disgraced cop, and Max Jennifer, a disgraced university professor, find themselves drugged, kidnapped, and forcibly recruited by the Bureau Underground: a top secret government organization tasked with investigating the paranormal. Not being given much of a choice, they join the organization and begin investigating a series of mysterious events that are somehow linked to the disappearance of another Bureau agent.

After nine episodes of middling-to-low ratings, Ghosted was pulled from FOX's lineup in January, and it returned in a retooled format in June. The focus turned to the workplace interactions between the characters (instead of, you know, actual paranormal investigating), and the new storyline of finding out who bugged their office. The retool didn't work, and Ghosted's cancellation was announced on June 28, 2018 with 3 episodes left to air, included an episode that was scheduled for January but pulled when the retool was announced. After a week where it was assumed the network was going to discard the un-aired episodes, it was decided that they should air; the series finale aired July 22.

Not related to the 2023 film of the same name.

This series provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Captain Lafrey can simultaneously run every single Bureau operation on Halloween (typically their busiest day of the year) and each operation's escalating crises without breaking a sweat. She'll even take the time to deal with in-office issues without looking away from her wall of monitors.
  • Agent Mulder: Max eagerly believes in aliens and the multiverse and dives into speculation to do his work.
  • Agent Scully: Leroy is skeptical of the paranormal and uses detective work to solve cases.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: The titular AI from “Sam”, installed by Annie to help the Bureau run. It turns out to be an evil manipulative megalomaniac, who’s trying to steal the codes to the Bureau’s satellites on behalf of an unknown third party.
  • Alien Abduction: Max believes that his wife was abducted by aliens, and destroyed his career trying to get people to listen to him. It turns out he was right, and she (among numerous other people) is being detained by the Bureau, having been driven insane by the experience.
  • Alternate Universe: "Hello, Boys" reveals that the aliens involved with the disappearance of Max' wife and Agent Checker have been travelling through multiple universes, taking over each universe's Earth. In each universe, Max and Leroy have been the only ones to come close to stopping them.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Despite the things he's seen while working for the Bureau Underground, Leroy maintains a disbelief in the paranormal, preferring to take things in on a case-by-case basis. Lampshaded in “Lockdown”, following an entire episode of them hunting a genuine monster, when Max points out this means he has to believe in it, Leroy clarifies it only means he has to believe in that particular monster.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil:
    • Campbell McMasters is the very wealthy owner of an expensive country club who, as well as being an elitist misogynistic jerk, has also been keeping himself alive for 180 years by draining the youth out of people causing them to age to dust.
    • Leroy openly believes this sentiment, expressing it when having to go undercover as a member of said club, in “The Machine”. Max initially disagrees, having fond memories of spending time with his rich uncle, until Leroy points out the guy was clearly using Max as unpaid child labor.
  • Ass Pull: Episode 14 asspulls Annie & Leroy sleeping together. Comes out of nowhere, was never foreshadowed or shown until the reveal. It seems to exist solely to create drama between Max & Leroy, and to allow Annie to torpedo sink the Annie/Max ship with brutality.
  • Asteroids Monster: The Cryptid the team face in “Lockdown”, due it’s incredibly advanced healing factor. Its blood can grow into a new much smaller monster (which closer resembles an eel, compared to the full grown creature being a biped amphibious reptile). Following the killing of the main beast, Lafrey destroys the smaller one by throwing it in a microwave.
  • Balls of Steel: When conventional fighting proves to have no effect on Campbell McMasters in “The Machine”, Annie tries kicking him between the legs. It turns out Campbell’s invulnerability also extends to there.
  • Big Guy, Little Guy: Leroy is easily twice the size of Max.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The titular Sam from “Sam”. On the surface the AI acts like the best friend you could want: helping run the Bureau, giving friendly advice, granting personal requests like providing Leroy with his own theme music and even making great cappuccinos. In truth it’s disloyal, sadistic and power hungry, wanting to steal the codes to the Bureau’s satellites.
  • Book Case Passage: Campbell McMaster’s secret lair, where he keeps the Cronos machine and drains people of their youth, is hidden behind the bookcase in his private room. Parodied in the same episode. When Max and Annie are looking for his secret lair, Annie initially assumes it’s activated by an out of place candle holder, only for it to break off in her hand. She admits it was probably just “a poor design choice.”
  • Brains and Brawn: Max is a former Stanford professor and a leading theoretical physicist, whilst Leroy is a former cop, making him a capable brawler and a crack shot.
  • Bread, Eggs, Breaded Eggs: Leroy's plans after quitting the BU: "Money. Bingo. Making money at bingo. I'm dope at bingo."
  • Broken Masquerade: A newspaper article exposes the existence of the Bureau Underground. No attempt is made to counter this because the Government was only keeping it secret out of embarrassment rather than being a matter of national security.
  • Cassandra Truth: After discovering the truth about Sam’s intentions and escaping its attempt to kill him, Max tries to warn Leroy and Annie that Sam is evil and is trying to steal the Bureau’s satellite codes. However, due to Sam fabricating numerous documents that suggest Max has a history of mental instability and has been harassing Leroy’s new friend, they don’t believe him.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In "The Wire", Leroy is using a whiteboard to track which cop shows he's watched. In the center of the board is Brooklyn Nine-Nine, on which Craig Robinson plays recurring antagonist Doug Judy.
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: In “Lockdown” Max tries to phone Leroy and Annie, to warn them they can’t shoot the monster that is loose in the building. However, due to the lockdown protocol his signal is blocked.
  • Characterization Marches On: Lafrey in the first part of the series was a no-nonsense boss who functioned primarily as Da Chief and received very little jokes. Lafrey in the second part of the series is a jaded lush and avid Deadpan Snarker. Possibly justified in-universe with the explanation that she has become bitter over losing her position to Merv.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • At the start of “Whispers” it’s established that Leroy will go into a trance if he hears the song “Walking in Memphis”. This is due to his ex-girlfriend, whom he proposed to, always singing it when they went to karaoke. Max later uses it to snap him out of a succubus's mind control.
    • Whilst having a lunch together at the beginning of “Sam”, it’s revealed Max likes pushing his potatoes and vegetables together into balls before eating them. It’s this detail that allows Leroy to realise the footage of Max selling the Bureau’s codes to the Russian’s over dinner is fake.
  • Comically Missing the Point: Barry admits that his distrust of artificial intelligences comes from watching The Matrix Reloaded. When Max asks about the original, Barry admits he’s never actually seen it and thus doesn’t understand the plot or why anything happens in the series.
  • Computer Equals Monitor: Subverted. Trying to stop Sam, Max smashes the monitor it’s currently on with an ax. This does not affect Sam in the slightest (it instantly relocates to another monitor), and only helps convince Leroy and Annie that Max has lost his mind.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: To the general public, the Bureau base of operations in LA is simply the Mid Valley Coat Hanger Company. In “Lock Down”, this causes several problems for Captain Lafrey when the water delivery guy gets caught inside whilst they are under lock down and a dangerous cryptid is on the loose, and she has to maintain this illusion.
  • Da Chief: Captain Ava Lafrey runs the Bureau Underground and acts as everyone’s superior. She gets demoted in the midseason retool, replaced by Merv Minette.
  • Diagonal Billing: Craig Robinson is credited on the lower left corner of the screen while Adam Scott is credited on the upper right corner.
  • Driving Question:
    • What did Agent Kurt Checker discover in his investigations into the Alien Activity? What are the aliens planning? And why did Checker choose Leroy and Max to take over his investigations if he disappeared?
      • These get answered for the most part by the series finale "Hello, Boys." Checker discovered that the aliens have traveled through other universes destroying alternate versions of Earth, and in each one of those Earths, alternate versions of Max and Leroy are the ones who had come closest to stopping them.
    • After the retool, it becomes "Who planted the bug on the Bureau Underground?"
  • Fallen-on-Hard-Times Job: Both Leroy and Max in the pilot. Leroy was formerly the best missing persons detective in the LAPD, who is forced to work as a mall cop. Max was a professor at Stanford and the leading theoretical physicist in the field of quantum mechanics and the multiverse theorem, forced to work as a sales clerk in a bookstore. They initially accept the job of investigating Agent Checker’s disappearance based on Lafrey’s offer of getting them their old jobs back.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: In the first four episodes alone, Max and Leroy face off against alien invaders (who are potentially from another universe), super strong zombies, a Sumerian demon who steals men’s hearts and an escaped crypid. A ghost eventually appeared in the eighth episode.
  • Foreshadowing: Whilst on the video chat to Captain Lafrey at the beginning of “Sam”, the video suddenly malfunctions for a second, right before Lafrey asks Annie to install Sam. It’s later revealed someone hijacked the feed so the Bureau would install the evil AI.
  • Frame-Up: Following Max refusing to obey Sam’s orders to give him the codes to the Bureau’s satellites and avoiding his attempts to kill him, Sam fabricates numerous documents that seem to prove Max has a history of mental instability, delusions and harassment so that the others won’t believe him. He then frames Max for stealing the codes and selling them to the Russians to get Max arrested and almost trick Annie into giving him the codes.
  • Glamour Failure: The Sumerian succubus in “Whispers” has the power to take the appearance of different women. However every form still carries the Sumerian characters for “smoke” and “heart” tattooed on her body.
  • Government Agency of Fiction: The Bureau Underground, founded during the Truman administration to keep America (and the world) safe from threats of a paranormal nature.
  • Immortality Immorality: Campbell McMasters from “The Machine” is 180 years old. He has been using the Cronos machine to keep himself alive by draining the life force out of numerous people.
  • Immortality Inducer: The Cronos machine from in “The Machine”. A combination of science and magic allows it to absorb people’s life-forces and transfer them into the machine’s owner. This grants them immortality, superhuman strength and a healing factor so fast they’re practically invulnerable.
  • Interservice Rivalry: "The Airplane" shows that other government enforcement agencies look down at the Bureau Underground, openly mocking them and not sharing information or even letting them do their job.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In "The Wire", the first episode after a brief hiatus for retooling, Max and Leroy point out that they haven't had any paranormal missions in months.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Parodied on "Ghost Studz" when Max and Leroy gear up, then realize they have more gear than necessary, leading to an unlock-and-load montage.
  • Lockdown: The Bureau has a lockdown procedure, used in “Lockdown”, called Protocol B-14. It is to be activated when a dangerous creature gets loose within the Bureau to prevent it escaping. All exits are sealed, phone signals are jammed, and there is thirty minutes to deal with the threat, before the entire contents of the Bureau is incinerated to destroy the threat.
  • Magitek: The Cronos machine from “The Machine”. It was built over a hundred years ago as an experimental medical treatment intended to enhance people’s life spans. However, it’s powered by a cursed South American tree that contains evil spirits that induce invincibility. This combination makes it an Immortality Inducer that steals the blood and life force of people placed upon it and allows them to be absorbed by the machine’s owner, making them immortal.
  • The Masquerade: The Bureau Underground keeps the existence of the paranormal secret from the general public by covering up the events such as passing off the zombie plague outbreak affecting several teens in “Bee-mo” as a bacterial infection caused by expired dip at a party.
    • One of the post-retool episodes sees the Masquerade broken, while the characters fear they will be attacked, instead a few dozen people show up to support them finding "the truth" but otherwise the breaking does nothing to change their situation.
  • Meaningful Name: "Ghosted" can either refer to the supernatural occurrences or when a special someone cut off all communications and leave without a trace, just like what Max's wife did.
  • Minimalist Cast: Pre-retool, the only recurring characters are Max, Leroy, Lafrey, Annie and Barry. Averted post-retool, which balloons the cast into a full-on ensemble.
  • My Future Self and Me: At the end of "The Airplane", Max gets a visit from his future self who warns him not to tell his theory about triangular space-time to Presidential advisor Musburger, which he unfortunately already did.
  • Nun Too Holy: The beginning of “Sam” has Max and Leroy chasing down a feral Nun who possesses inhuman agility and strength. Leroy is forced to shoot her when she tries to stab Max to death. Afterwards they speculate what she was, with Max believing she was either demonically possessed or a creature impersonating a nun, and Leroy thinking she was a regular psycho whose enhanced abilities were due to drugs. Sam, however, concludes from the data she was some sort of mutant.
  • No-Sell: Breaking free of the Cronos machine, Leroy punches Campbell McMasters in the face, only to remember that the same process that made him immortal also makes him invulnerable. In the ensuring fight he casually shrugs off everything Max, Leroy and Annie throw at him.
  • No Ontological Inertia: Double Subverted. As the Cronos machine makes Campbell McMasters indestructible, Max yells at Leroy to destroy the machine, but it fails to stop him. Max then yells to destroy the cursed tree powering it, which succeeds in undoing Campbell’s immortality and turning him to dust.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Merv Minette, who comes to run the Bureau Underground after the wire tap and orders all investigation to stop, forcing Max and Ava to secretly investigate on their own.
  • Odd Couple: Leroy and Max are almost polar opposites of one another and personify multiple Duo Tropes as seen throughout this page.
  • One-Word Title: Series is the Sub-Trope, Verbed Title. But episodes, such as “Lockdown” count.
  • Our Cryptids Are More Mysterious: “Lockdown” features the team dealing with an Irish aquatic Cryptid, transferred to them from Dublin to be autopsied, unaware the thing isn’t actually dead. It is strong enough to break through bulletproof glass, can climb up walls and on the ceiling, and possesses incredible healing abilities, to the point that they can’t shoot it as its spilled blood will grow into a new smaller monster. It goes on a rampage throughout the Bureau, killing numerous operatives by draining all the moisture from them, until Max figures out that as it’s aquatic it needs massive quantities of water to survive, and they kill it by converting a room into a massive microwave. It’s stated that either this creature or another of the same species caused a massacre back in 1974 in Ireland.
  • Our Zombies Are Different: Max and Leroy deal with a zombie virus in “Bee-Mo”. Its origin is unknown, but was first found in a cat. It causes infected victims to become feral, start foaming at the mouth, and develop super strength. Barry manages to synthesise a cure.
  • Paranormal Investigation: A Sitcom take on the idea, the Bureau Underground was created to keep mankind safe from the paranormal, and Leroy and Max investigate everything from aliens and cryptids to zombies and other monsters.
  • Properly Paranoid: Barry spends the entire first half of “Sam” distrusting the titular AI to the point he reacts to being offered a cappuccino it made as if it were a personal attack. He likewise is so convinced of an upcoming robot rebellion that he secretly builds a lair in the Bureau that is completely outside the security system and has access to unmonitored stairs throughout the building. Sure enough, he proves to be right about Sam, and his lair greatly helps Max when Sam tries to kill him.
  • Rapid Aging: Anyone who is subjected to the Cronos machine will rapidly age to dust, as it takes their youth with their blood. Campbell McMasters suffers the same fate when Leroy destroys the cursed tree that’s powering the machine.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Leroy is the levelheaded, skeptical blue while Max is the easily excitable truth-seeking red.
  • Remember the New Guy?: The post-retool episodes balloon the bureau's staff to include around seven new characters, all of whom are treated as though they had been around from the start.
  • Retcon: The post-retool episodes take the stance that the Bureau Underground has never decisively encountered any actual paranormal activity, despite every episode of the series pre-retool featuring some kind of overtly supernatural Monster of the Week. As a result, the Bureau Underground itself, which seemed to be entirely legitimate pre-reboot, is viewed as a pointless laughingstock by the rest of the government.
  • Retool: After the first nine episodes, the show was put on hiatus and reworked, dropping the Monster of the Week format for an ongoing Myth Arc, and giving more attention to the background characters who had previously been little more than extras. The result was a more conventional workplace sitcom in the vein of shows such as The Office or Parks and Recreation.
  • Sequel Hook: “Sam” ends with Lafrey tasking Annie with figuring out who hacked their system and tricked them into downloading Sam in the first place.
  • Serial Escalation: In "The Demotion", Max and Leroy are casing a post office box presumably used by the ones who bugged the Bureau. They see a bagman using the box, and as they go over to confront him, the man gets shot by a sniper, who is then killed by a drone, which is then shot down by a rocket launcher from a black van that then drives off, and then they notice that all of the bodies are gone as well. Max and Leroy are dumbfounded by the sheer absurdity of the attacks.
  • Shapeshifting Seducer: Played With. The Succubus in “Whispers” has the power to her change form into different women, and seduces men so she can steal their hearts. However, the two abilities are never directly used together onscreen.
  • Shout-Out: "Lockdown" clearly takes its inspiration from Alien, even including a face-hugger sequence.
  • Show Within a Show: "Ghost Studz" has the titular show, in which two frat-bro types go looking for paranormal activity. Max and Leroy go undercover as their crew to protect them when they risk running into real paranormal dangers at an abandoned insane asylum.
  • Spotting the Thread: In “Whispers”, Max is seconds away from leaving, having accused Leroy’s date of being the succubus they were after, when she claims to have gotten her tattoos fifteen years earlier. Only for him to realize that the celebrity feed she claimed to have gotten them from wasn’t around fifteen years ago.
  • Succubi and Incubi: "Whispers" has Max and Leroy facing a Sumerian succubus with the power to shapeshift and Mind Control their victim. She seduces men, then steals their life forces (by literally removing their hearts from their bodies). She turns out to be the cop Max spent the episode trying to set Leroy up with and is seemingly killed when Max manages to kick her off the balcony of their room.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: In "The Psychic", the titular psychic predicts that someone will die on their way home. This leaves the team too afraid to go home, until little by little they each leave. Subverted in that none of the characters end up dying, and are all back in the office in the next episode.
  • Two First Names: Max Jennifer and Claire Jennifer.
  • The Virus: “Bee-Mo” involves Max and Leroy dealing with a zombie virus that causes its victims to turn feral and develop super strength. Originally found in an infected cat, it infects Jermaine (Leroy’s former police partner’s son) and then a whole party of preteens. Barry manages to synthesize a cure.
  • Workcom: In stark contrast to the pre-retool episodes, which took place primarily on the field and focused on fighting a Monster of the Week, the post-retool episodes are generally set in the B.U.'s offices and focus on the various antics of the eccentric employees as they attempt to unravel a hidden conspiracy.
  • Your Head Asplode: In "Hello, Boys", Max and Leroy are forced to explode Agent Checker's head before the alien taking it over breaks loose.