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Western Animation / The Real Ghostbusters

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"Who ya gonna call?"

Within a few years, Columbia Pictures decided there was money in an Animated Series based on the supernatural comedy Ghostbusters (1984) and the further adventures of its four paranormal investigators. Columbia partnered with DIC Entertainment to make it happen.

The problem was that there was already a Filmation cartoon in development called Ghostbusters, a sequel to the 1975 live-action series The Ghost Busters about a pair of noir-style detectives (and their gorilla?) who battle supernatural forces. Filmation's Ghostbusters was a flop, the victim of mistiming: kids were upset that these guys weren't the 'real' Ghostbusters. In response, DiC launched The Real Ghostbusters, both to distinguish it from the Filmation property and to imply that the Filmation Ghostbusters were phonies. The two animated series debuted in the same year, furthering the confusion.

The main characters from the film (with the notable exception of Sigourney Weaver's character) are all present. To get around having to buy the rights to Bill Murray's likeness et al., the mortal characters are each given new faces: Egon has a spectacular blond pompadour, Ray is a stocky redhead, Winston is clean-shaven, and Venkman is overhauled to make him into a devilishly handsome twenty-something instead of a middle-aged, balding Bill Murray. Janine's April O'Neil-esque makeover was so steamy, her hair color, makeup, and hipper clothes were incorporated into the live-action Ghostbusters II. Aside from their new color-coded uniforms and slightly-redesigned equipment (their old ones were damaged in the fight with Gozer), the team retain their personalities, at least in the beginning. Slimer, the unintelligible green ghost who "slimed" Venkman in the first film,note  was included in the regular cast as a comic relief Non-Human Sidekick.

The cartoon focuses on the day-to-day busting that the movie relegated to a montage in the manner of a Police Procedural; there is no over-arching villain or hint of larger forces at work, although some of the ghosts come back for a second try. Not all the ghosts and other supernatural entities are evil: On occasion, the heroes "bust" the ghosts simply by helping them complete their Unfinished Business, while others enlist the Ghostbusters' help or actually want to be busted, as the Ghostbusters' containment unit approximates 'resting in peace' enough to satisfy them.

Voice actors include Lorenzo Music as Venkman, Dave Coulier as Venkman in later seasons, Arsenio Hall as Winston, and Maurice LaMarche as Egon, Frank Welker (as Ray and Slimer), and Laura Summer as Janine (in early seasons), eventually replaced by Kath Soucie. The writers included J. Michael Straczynski, David Gerrold, Bob Schooley, and Mark Mc Corkle.

Despite the mega-success of its first few seasons, things began to fall apart during the build-up to Ghostbusters II. Thanks to invoked Executive Meddling, the cartoon was renamed Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters (executives had fallen in love with the cuddly cartoon version of Slimer) and the show's horror was downplayed and replaced by slapstick humor, while Janine's appearance and personality were softened. Later episodes would incorporate trappings from the second movie, including the Mayor's injunction against the team. Louis Tully returned as a supporting character at this time.

Data East released an arcade game based on the show in 1987, and Activision published a Game Boy version in '93. Funnily enough, both games were dolled-up installments.

In 1997 it received a Sequel Series, Extreme Ghostbusters, with a new team and Egon as their mentor.

Starting in February 2021, the series was uploaded to the official Ghostbusters YouTube channel.

The Real Ghostbusters provides examples of:

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    Tropes A-M 
  • 65-Episode Cartoon: A daily Syndicated edition aired in the Fall of 1987. Averted due to the fact that it aired concurrently with the ABC Saturday morning episodes.
  • Abhorrent Admirer: Slimer to Janine on occasion. He clearly finds her attractive enough to repeatedly kiss her on the lips, but her grossed-out reaction says it all.
  • Absurdly High-Stakes Game:
    • "Night Game" has a baseball match between the forces of Good and Evil with the fate of a human soul on the line.
    • "The Devil To Pay" has a demonic game show between the Ghostbusters and the devil host with the fate of the guys' own souls on the line (and an all-expense paid trip to Tahiti).
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade: In the episode "Boo-Dunit", Peter triggers a booby trap in the form of a suit of armor that drops a heavy ax, cleaving a wooden desk neatly in two. While the others investigate the desk's contents, Peter drops a stack of papers on the ax, and the blade splits them just as easily on their way down to the floor.
  • Accidental Time Travel:
    • Occurs in "It's About Time," when a faulty ghost trap sends the Ghostbusters plus Slimer all back to 1959. Unfortunately they tear a hole in the time fabric in the process, allowing a Ghost Invasion through to terrorize a completely unprepared New York.
    • In "Xmas Marks the Spot", the Ghostbusters end up accidentally walking into Victorian Britain via a temporal rift.
  • Accordion Man: Used in "Stay Tooned", where Sammy K. Ferret flattens his guest into an accordion-like form by dropping an anvil on her head and then plays her like a real accordion.
  • Acid Reflux Nightmare: In the episode "Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Ghost?", the ghost of Olivia Stewart's uncle Horace mentions that rarebit always gave him the strangest dreams.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • Peter's love-hate relationship with Slimer is very similar to Garfield's relationship with Odie. Both Peter and Garfield are voiced by Lorenzo Music.
    • In "Victor the Happy Ghost," Peter refers to The Bob Newhart Show as his favorite TV show. Lorenzo Music co-created the series.
    • The episode "Ghostbuster of the Year" (a Whole-Plot Reference to Citizen Kane) seems to have been produced solely to showcase Maurice LaMarche's impersonation of Orson Welles (which he would later put to good use as The Brain).
    • In "A Fright at the Opera", before the Diva selects Peter as her bodyguard, she states "I hate Mondays". Lorenzo Music's (Peter's voice actor) most famous role, Garfield, also has a distaste for that particular day.
    • In "Kitty-Cornered", one of Slimer's wishes results in a shape-shifting toy robot called a Transmogrifier being brought to life, with Ray Stantz gushing over how cool it is. Ray Stantz and Slimer were both voiced by Frank Welker, who voiced Megatron, Soundwave, Wheelie, and others in The Transformers.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: In "Stay Tooned," Peter and Egon can't help but make some wisecracks when Winston got turned into a cartoon dog. Winston is not impressed.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Pretty much everyone in the core cast:
    • Peter Venkman is slimmer, far-younger looking, and has a nicer jawline than Bill Murray. He also has a lush mop of hair, unlike Bill's notcibly receding hairline.
    • Egon Spengler is far more conventionally attractive than Harold Ramis.
    • Winston Zeddmore is younger, slimmer and generally better-looking than Ernie Hudson.
    • Janine Melnitz. While Annie Potts was by no means unattractive, she definitely was not the taller, bustier, redheaded bombshell seen in the series.
    • Notably averted with Ray Stantz. The cartoon counterpart is noticibly heavier, with a round face. Surprising, since Dan was widely considered the best-looking of the bunch.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Egon becomes blond. Ray and Janine both become redheads.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Compared to the films, we actually got more of a look into the personalities and histories of the main cast, as well as some actual character development for one-time characters. Ernie Hudson expressed dismay that while his live-action Zeddmore was a Token Minority, the Winston in the animated series had real Character Development.
  • An Aesop:
    • "Janine, You've Changed" has a rather blunt moral about not needing to worry about your appearance and weight and whatnot and trust that people will like you just the way you are.
    • "The Bogeyman is Back" boils down to there's nothing wrong with admitting being scared.
    • "The Halloween Door" makes a point on how people who aim to fight what they consider morally-wrong are often at risk of becoming just as bad or even worse than the evils they claim to oppose.
  • Aesop Amnesia: In the earlier seasons, Peter had to learn more than once that Slimer wasn't so bad or useless.
  • All Myths Are True: With an occasional subversion, pretty much every myth or legend is shown in the series to have at least some basis in reality.
  • Amusement Park of Doom: In "The Bogeyman Is Back", the titular villain turns an ordinary amusement park into one of these. He makes it specifically to produce Nightmare Fuel by the ton, complete with monster clowns, alien geometries, mirror monsters, and a roller coaster from Hell.
    • "Ghostworld" was one, too.
  • Amusing Alien: Slimer, even though he's a ghost rather than a proper "alien".
  • And a Diet Coke: Peter has a ton of junk food in his bed, and one bag of health food chips.
    Peter: See? Living proof I don't just eat fast food!
    • Ironically, the "health food" turned out to be anything but, giving all four of the Ghostbusters a severe ghost allergy.
  • Angrish: Slimer can completely lose his tenuous grasp of the English language when he's angry or terrified, such as when he spots a legion of Heck House ghosts massing to attack and tries to warn Peter with a string of gibberish.
    Peter: What's that, Lassie? A tree fell on Ranger Bob?
  • Animation Bump: The episodes that are done by TMS Entertainment, notably for Kazuhide Tomonaga's "The Halloween Door". The Slimer segments are also more fluidly animated (if not simplified, design-wise) than the rest of the show. note 
    • Some season 2 episodes, such as "Knock Knock" and "Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster" are of higher quality than others in the season.
    • The Grundle resembled the kind of characters that wouldn't be seen until the late 90s.
  • Animesque: Like many cartoons from The '80s, it was produced in America but animated by many Japanese studios (like Toei Animation, TMS Entertainment, Anime R and KK C&D Asia just to name a few). The design is reminiscent of My Neighbor Totoro or anything done by Hayao Miyazaki, and visual tropes such as face faults, Sphere of Destruction and kaiju-style monsters often show up.
    • The American production company didn't care about character designs, so they left it to the Japanese animation studio, with the stipulation that they don't look like the actors from the film. They ended up liking the designs they got back.
      • Although the initial test animation pilot used to sell the show had different character models: Peter looked a bit closer to Bill Murray, Ray was fatter and Winston had a rounder face (the latter two examples being seen in the action figures). Additionally, they all wore beige jumpsuits as seen in the movies - in the finished series only Ray would wear the beige jumpsuit while the other three received color coded jumpsuits (probably to make it easier to differentiate them for the audience and animators). Ray also had the odd habit of riding on top of the Ecto-1 rather than inside it.
      • The suits were ultimately justified in the Episode "Citizen Ghost", which had them change out of the brown suits right after fighting Gozer because they had absorbed loads of psychokinetic energy in the battle.
    • Not only the animation but also the sound effect design was done by the Japanese studios; the Proton Pack's iconic charging up sound in particular can be heard in various Anime even up to this day.
    • For a pretty good example of the show at its' most Animesque look no further than the whole of the episode "Ragnarok and Roll"; not only is the design of the original characters pretty on par for 80's anime, but so is the dramaturgy, the flute music, the cuts, the expression and the destruction.
  • Anime Hair: Egon has a naturally forming pompadour that resembled this trope.note 
    • Also, appropriately enough, in "Attack of the B-Movie Monsters", where they go to Japan to fight Exactly What It Says on the Tin, they all get anime hair from being exposed to static electricity.
  • Arbitrary Skepticism: Played with. Non-regulars will sometimes express disbelief in the supernatural, only to be quickly proven wrong. However, there are times where the Ghostbusters fall victim to this. In "Poultrygeist," Peter initially dismisses the idea of a werechicken - after having already encountered bonafide werewolves.
    • They all four fall victim to this in "If I Were a Witch Man." Peter and Slimer laugh when Winston asks about them doing witches and goblins, and Egon actually goes on a rant in Ecto about them selling out their principles
    • In "The Boogieman Cometh" Vankman states he can get behind the idea of Ghosts, but not the Boogieman. He is later proven wrong
    • In "The Scaring of the Green," Egon finds the notion of a Four-Leaf Clover providing luck absurd, as opposed to ghosts, monsters, ancient curses or magic.
    • In "The Cabinet of Calamari", Egon dismisses the concept of magic. Seriously now, Egon.
  • Artistic License – Linguistics: The ghost of Halloween, Samhain, has his name pronounced "Sam-hain" rather than the proper Gaelic pronunciation "Sah-win". This would seem to be a case of Sadly Mythtaken (i.e. a pagan holiday being demonized for a Christian audience) except that the imagery (jack-o'-lantern head) and overall personality (Dark Is Evil) have more in common with the modern-day conception of Halloween as a dark, scary, sinister holiday (when it isn't all about parties and candy) than as a pagan holiday in honor of the dead and the ending of the year. So the mispronunciation may be intentional--because this is the ghost of what people have come to associate with Halloween, rather than its original meaning. On the other hand, the later installments of the Halloween film franchise did the exact same thing and the writers may have been using that as a reference. This pronunciation is also used in Supernatural.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: "Play Them Ragtime Boos" features the group being transported back in time to the Cenozoic Era right in the middle of the ocean, where a hungry Megalodon eyes them for dinner. While the time period is accurate to a point, and the Megalodon does first show up with a giant fin cutting through the water, when the creature is actually shown under the water, it looks less like a giant shark and more like a Mosasaur.
  • Ascended Extra: Janine as she had several episodes centered around her.
  • Ascended Fanboy: Winston in "Night Game" and "Boo-dunit," where he gets to play baseball and work on his favorite author's last mystery novel, respectively.
    • He also gets to be The Watson to Sherlock Holmes himself in "Elementary, My Dear Winston."
    • Ray as well. He gets to team up his favorite comic book and animated characters, respectively, in "Captain Steel Saves The Day" and "Who're You Calling Two Dimensional".
  • Ate the Spoon: In If I Were a Witch Man Ray mixes up an anti-possession potion and ladles it into a glass jar with a metal spoon. He doesn't get very far before most of it vanishes with a volatile hiss, leaving him holding the smoking handle.
  • Author Tract: J. Michael Straczynski wrote "The Halloween Door" as a huge Take That! to the Moral Guardians who kept complaining about the show and the Animation Age Ghetto he felt was coming as a result.
  • Awesome Backpack: The Proton Packs are the ultimate in badass backpacks.
  • Awful Truth: Averted when Egon reveals he discovered just how many ghosts there are in Heck House; instead of saying something like You Do Not Want To Know, he has no qualms whatsoever about relaying information that would terrify anyone in their right mind.
    Egon: By way of comparison the Watley House in Arkham had thirteen, the Vincent Mansion had ten, and the most haunted house on record, the Crowley House in London, had twenty-five.
    Peter: OK Egon, so tell us, how many ghosts are in this house?
    Egon: Two-thousand four-hundred and thirty-six.
    Slimer: Yaaaahhhhhh! <flies out of the room, smashing through the wall>
    • On the upside, it did get a terrified Slimer to stop clinging to Peter's leg.
      Peter: Good job!
      Egon: Wait 'til you get my bill.
  • Bad Boss: Plenty of ghostly and demonic overlords viciously oppress their followers. Then there's Mr. Tummel from "You Can't Take It With You", a human tycoon who wants to use a transportation beam to send his fortune to the afterlife ahead of him. He gleefully reneges on his promise to not use his device if there are any side effects and has the scientist who created it thrown out the front door. Later, the Ghostbusters find Tummel's butler, gardener, and French chef locked in a closet, and they reveal that Tummel is planning to send them through the portal against their will so they can continue serving him.
  • Badass Boast: Professor Moriarty gives a good one in the episode "Elementary, My Dear Winston".
    Moriarty: You think you're dealing with some petty ghost? I am the Napoleon of Crime!
  • Badass Bookworm: Played straight with Egon and Ray. Subverted with Peter in that, while he has his doctorate, any ghostbusting equipment he builds tends to be unreliable at best. This is a nod to the movie, as Peter's PhD's were in psychology and parapsychology, not any technical field(Egon, and to a lesser extent Ray, were the techies). By the time of the new video game, Winston becomes this trope when he acquires a doctorate of his own.
  • Bankruptcy Barrel: "My Left Fang" featured this in a visual gag where the mayor of the German town laments the disappearance of their ghosts by saying that "coffers are bare" without money from tourists coming to see their ghosts. We then see a bunch of coughing men in their underwear, one of them wearing a barrel.
  • Baseball Episode: "Night Game." Good and evil spirits always do battle on a specific area of land on a certain anniversary. Finding a baseball field there this time, they agree to play baseball. As he was there upon their arrival, Winston gets to play short-stop for the good team. The stakes are for the fate of one human soul: Peter's.
  • Bed Sheet Ghost: While staying the night in Heck House, Ray tumbled down the laundry chute into a basket of dirty linen, which promptly transformed into several angry ghosts and gave chase. Ray managed to shut them inside an electric dryer, turning it on for good measure.
  • Belly Dancer: A chubby dancer named Little Egypt shows up in "Drool, the Dog-Faced Goblin".
  • Berserk Button: Never insult Albert Einstein when Egon is within earshot, as Vladimir Pavel Maximoff learned the hard way in "Russian About".
  • Big Applesauce: The Ghostbusters were based in New York City, where most of the hauntings took place, although they would also travel to other parts of the U.S. and other countries in some episodes.
  • Big Bad: Averted. Unlike almost every action cartoon of its time, which would feature the heroes fighting the same big bad in every episode, the Ghostbusters almost NEVER fought the same ghost twice. Part of this was because it would kind of defeat the purpose of busting ghosts if they just came back every week, and also because the writers felt it gave the show more variety.
    • In later seasons, the network decided they wanted the boys to have a recurring nemesis, which led to the creation of "Ghost Master", the supposed ultimate lord of ghosts. Unlike most other ghosts on the show, who were content to wreak random havoc, Ghost Master actively tried to destroy the Ghostbusters by sending hostile ghosts to kill them. Or that was the plan, anyway, but the writers must have gotten sick of him pretty quickly, as he only showed up a couple of times and was ultimately busted.
    • Samhain also considered them to be his enemies, though they were only required to fight him once a year.
    • Most any ghost that was previously busted appeared again later in some capacity. Most were barely a threat anymore, perfectly content to sit around and play cards for eternity, and only put up a fuss if an outsider (usually Slimer) encroached on their turf. Some (like Gozer/Stay-Puft) were reformed baddies, perfectly friendly and willing to lend a hand if need be. The Sleaze, a Canon Immigrant from the Slimer! shorts, was neither, and in fact had a brother named Glob who was an even worse Magnificent Bastard than he. Even Obstructive Bureaucrat extraordinaire Walter Peck, who first appeared in the original film, got a callback in "Big Trouble With Little Slimer".
    • Professor Dweeb started as a recurring bumbling foil for Slimer in his own series of shorts and later migrated to the mainstream cartoons, where he is only moderately more threatening.
  • Big Bad Wannabe: Several ghosts weren't content to simply cause trouble and instead had total conquest on their minds. The Ghostbusters busting them right away is what plays the trope straight. Samhain is probably the most notable example, given his loyal and willing followers. Watt and Hob Anagarak also qualify, as they wanted to raise undead armies and conquer.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: In "20,000 Leagues Under the Street", the Ghostbusters face an Ancient Egyptian insect god named Apshai, who amasses an army by enlarging ordinary insects into gigantic minions.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Slimer and a group of teenagers are cornered by a huge mob of barrow wights, before the Ghostbusters smash the door down and charge in. Cue the asskicking.
  • Big Eater: Slimer is shown to have a tremendous appetite and often eats a buttload of food in one sitting, carried over from his first appearance in the movie chowing down on room service food.
  • Big, Thin, Short Trio: Some episodes featured a trio of ghosts where one was huge and obese, one was very thin, and one was very short.
    • "Ghosts R Us" has the Ghostbusters fight a ghostly family of three named Slug (the short father), Snarg (the skinny mother), and Zunk (the fat kid).
    • While Egon, Ray, Peter, and Winston are busy fighting a giant imp monster in "Janine's Day Off", Janine and her temporary replacement have to deal with a fat ghost, a skinny ghost, and a short ghost accidentally beamed into the Firehouse who start wreaking havoc once they get their hands on a proton pack.
    • The titular pizza-loving troublemakers from "The Mean Green Teen Machine" consists of Guggenheim (big), Chicoloni (thin), and an unnamed third member (short).
  • Birthday Episode:
    • "Slimer, Come Home" takes place on Winston Zeddemore's birthday, the conflict starting when Slimer runs away after Peter Venkman chews him out for devouring Winston's birthday cake.
    • The Slimer! short "Cash or Slime" has Slimer go shopping to get a birthday present for his friend Chilly Cooper.
  • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Scattered throughout the series, but most evident in the episode "Station Identification," which casts the Monster Clown head of TV network WBOO as the Monster of the Week.
  • Bittersweet Ending: "Drool, the Dog-Faced Goblin" (where the Ghostbusters are forced to capture Drool along with the shape-shifting phantom, but they and Madame LaFarge take consolation in the fact that Drool will likely be happy among his own kind in the Containment Unit) and "Egon's Dragon" (where Egon is forced to make the dragon that's imprinted on him go into an eternal slumber, but is relieved to see the dragon sleep peacefully). Also, at the end of "Ghostworld", Egon has recovered from his cold, his coworkers and Slimer are no longer possessed, and the ghost who was possessing them has been locked up. On the other hand, the rest of the Ghostbusters, plus Slimer, have now caught Egon's cold.
  • Blackmail: When Bassingame, a phony spiritualist, winds up agitating the dormant spirits in the home of Ray's aunt, causing them to nearly wreck the place. Once the Ghostbusters resolve the issue, Bassingame had the nerve to demand payment for his "services", then smugly reminds the aunt of the contract she signed with him, which exempts him of any responsibility of whatever damages that might have been incurred. However, Peter and Ray turn it around by threatening to drop off all the ghosts they had just trapped at Bassingame's residence if he doesn't pay for all the damages himself.
  • Blind Without 'Em: Egon in "Scaring of the Green" after a lion knocks off his specs.
    • Also seen in "If I Were a Witch Man" when one of Kestrel's Demons steals his glasses
      Egon: Nail him, Winston, I can't...I can't see him!
    • It appears that It Runs in the Family. Egon's uncle Cyrus was similarly blind without his glasses, which became a problem since he didn't believe in ghosts, and his glasses broke during a Bust where the gang were trying to convince him they were real.
  • Borrowed Biometric Bypass: Wat tries to open the containment unit by possessing Peter and having him open it.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In "Who Are You Calling Two-Dimensional?", when the Ghostbusters are sucked into a cartoon world. Winston asks Ray since they're in a cartoon, then where's the audience? Ray replies by pointing at the screen, where Winston proceeds to press his face on it while calling out if anyone's there. Coming back, Egon asks what happened, and he replied that "they changed channel".
  • Breakout Character: Slimer. Got his own series and his name added to the series' title.
  • Broad Strokes: How the series treats the events of the movies. The guys battled Gozer and Vigo, just not exactly the same way as in the movies. The movies are treated as fictionalized versions of the "real" story. (See also Celebrity Paradox, below)
  • Broken Aesop: "Janine, You've Changed" actually has a very valid lesson: don't alter your appearance just to impress others, just Be Yourself. One small problem, though: Janine isn't how she originally was—her appearance and voice are still altered. So Janine saying she likes herself just as she is rings a little hollow.
  • Broken Pedestal: The episode "Sea Fright" has Ray Stantz admire a treasure hunter named Max Pilopolous, but lose respect for his hero because of how rude he was when the Ghostbusters asked to borrow the treasure he recently found to try and capture the ghost pirates plaguing New York.
  • Bullying a Dragon / Mugging the Monster: The Ghostmaster's second and final appearance, "Revenge of the Ghostmaster", began with him beating up a gang of punks who dared to insult his appearance and try to mug him.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: "The Boogieman Cometh" averts this and is very unnerving about it.
    The Boogieman: [to Egon] I remember you.
  • Butt-Monkey: Most of the slapstick and physical comedy was provided via Peter, which he hated immensely...but the other members of the team found hilarious.
  • By the Lights of Their Eyes: Used in an interesting fashion in "Knock Knock". The Ghostbusters went onboard a possessed empty train and suddenly the lights went out. They figured out they were alone since the only things that could be seen were four pairs of eyes, but when the lights came back again they found themselves surrounded by a bunch of undead, skeletal passengers with no eyes whatsoever that can see them perfectly well.
    • Used again in an interesting fashion in "Moaning Stones", where the Ghostbusters retreat from an army of reanimated museum skeletons into a dark closet. They could all see each other's eyes in the pitch darkness, plus an extra pair of large glowing red eyes...
    Winston: That was close...
    Ray: (counting the eye pairs) Two, four, six, eight... ten...? uh... fellas...?
    Peter: I don't mean to alarm anyone, but I keep coming up with an extra pair of eyes. Anyone got a match?
    (Egon lights a match, then turn to see the skeletal saber-tooth behind them)
  • By Wall That Is Holey: When haunted girders threw a large hunk of building at the team.
  • Cannot Cross Running Water: This, as a weakness of vampires, was a plot point in "No One Comes to Lupusville", which dealt with a feud between a clan of werewolves and another of vampires. It was also a key plot point in "The Headless Motorcyclist" featuring the Headless Horseman from the Sleepy Hollow legend.
  • Canon Immigrant: A couple from the Slimer short toons made it to the main series late season: The insufferable Professor Dweeb made three appearances - looking not too different from his toon presentation. One appearance was "The Slob," which brought back the odorrific ghost Sleaze as the McGuffin for his older brother Glob.
  • Cardboard Prison: Generally averted, as the Containment Unit was actually pretty secure. When a ghost did manage to escape, it was usually because another ghost opened the Unit from the outside to let them out. A few episodes centered around various ghosts and demons trying to open the Unit to free all the captive spirits (such as "Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood"), while on a few occasions Egon or Slimer would actually go into the Unit to retrieve another ghost they actually wanted to free.
    • It's mentioned that after the Gozer incident they upgraded the containment unit to be larger (in the movie it was mounted on the wall while here it takes up most of the basement) and more resilient.
    • The threat of the containment unit shutting down, on the other hand, cropped up several times - like where the city power grid and the containment unit's backup generator became possessed, leading Peter to quickly improvise a backup backup generator made from a bike, and Ecto 1's generator, with Janine pedaling for dear life (and being forgotten about at the end of the episode).
    • There are also indications that the guys learn from past mistakes. In "Halloween 2½", two goblins are able to open up the Containment Unit within moments of trying. In "Elementary, My Dear Winston," we see a mechanism has been installed to force a time delay to give the guys time to get down there to halt the process.
  • Cartoonland Time: A family of ghosts starts up a phony ghostbusting business that outsells the Ghostbusters on the same day they started it up.
  • Cast from Hit Points: In "Citizen Ghost", the ghostly doubles of the Ghostbusters use packs that fire charged ectoplasm. Using them drains their own energy, so the more they fire the harder it becomes for them to maintain coherence.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Occurs several times. One of the most prominent examples takes place during The Haunting of Heck House. After Ray uses the house wiring to turn the place into one big ghost trap, Egon casually points out a problem with the plan while Peter, Winston, and Slimer hold the doors shut against a legion of ghosts battering their way in.
    Ray: Alright, that oughtta do it. Here we...
    Egon: (calmly interrupts) We're about to turn the place into one big ghost trap, and we're inside it.
    Ray: (replies calmly) So?
    Egon: So...we don't know if humans can survive inside a ghost trap.
    Ray: know, you're right!
    Peter: Guys!
    Egon: We'll have to leave the mansion.
    < A ghost's claw reaches through the splintered door, getting a piece of Winston's pant leg before he jerks it away>
    Ray: But...uhhh...we can't leave, the door's bricked up.
    Peter, Winston, and Slimer: Guyyyyyyyys!
    <Ray and Egon turn and look before going back to their conversation, still casual as ever>
    Egon: I guess we'll have to hope it disrupts the energy enough to break out.
    Ray: Yeah, I suppose you're right. Whelp, here goes!
  • Celebrity Paradox: Averted: Bill Murray and the other actors from the films still exist in The Real Ghostbusters universe, and they even play the same movie roles. Lampshaded when Venkman comments that Murray "doesn't look a thing like me".
    Winston: Murray, Aykroyd and Ramis? Isn't that a law firm?
  • Characterization Marches On: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. In "Cry Uncle" (and the original intro and the unaired pilot), he's depicted as a malevolent ghost. In all other appearances, he's actually quite benign and acts as an ally twice - considering the guys and Slimer his friends. He doesn't even mind being trapped in the Containment Unit. (The change may be justified and Lampshaded in "The Revenge of Murray the Mantis" by Peter saying, "He's all better now... we think.")
  • Christmas Episode/Yet Another Christmas Carol: In "Xmas Marks the Spot", the team accidentally busts Scrooge's ghosts and changes history. They then have to go back and fix the mess they made. The whole affair turns out to be the ghosts' Batman Gambit to teach Peter the value of Christmas. Ironically, it crosses over with It's a Wonderful Plot, as the changes caused turn the town essentially into Pottersville.
  • Clip Show: The series' single clip show episode was "Deja Boo," where Professor Dweeb captures Slimer and uses a machine to see his memories. The episodes footage was recycled from were "The Copycat", "Halloween II 1/2", and "Sticky Business". There was also an hour-long cut of the episode that used clips from the same episodes in the half-hour version in addition to the episode "The Two Faces of Slimer".
  • Color-Coded Characters: As the page image indicates, each of the guys has different colored uniforms, despite the movie showing them all wearing the same color. The show justifies this by having them replace their marshmallow covered suits after fighting Gozer. The meta reason, according to Word of God, was that this was done to make it easier to tell them apart when shown at a distance; that it helped to make the toys more distinct from each other was a happy bonus. Janine gained a pink jumpsuit during her stints as an auxiliary Ghostbuster.
  • Comic Books Are Real: Well supernatural energy can make comics into something real.
  • Competence Porn: In the earlier seasons, every 'buster got a chance to come up with the plan or have the insight to capture the episode's ghost. This faded as Seasonal Rot and Flanderization set in, though there were still flashes of this in specific episodes.
  • Competition Coupon Madness: In the Slimer! short "Dr. Strangedog", Slimer eats enough Freaky Flakes cereal that he has 100 box tops to exchange for the Super Duper Spy Kit he wants.
  • Conforming OOC Moment: Most of Egon's Not So Stoic moments involve him being part of a group reaction:
    • In "Ghosts R Us", he joins in with the other Ghostbusters smiling upon receiving chocolate. Downplayed, since he has been known to like chocolate.
    • In "Mrs. Rogers' Neighbourhood", he joins in with his coworkers and Slimer excitedly lunging for the phone when it rings, then with Winston, Ray, and Slimer in cheering and punching the air.
    • He laughs along with his friends in "Janine's Genie" when she chooses an old-fashioned lamp as her prize.
    • He gasps alongside the rest of the Ghostbusters in "Ghostbuster of the Year" upon seeing a huge mansion.
  • Con Man: Peter's father Pops is one, which doesn't exactly thrill Peter—especially when Mr. Venkman starts trading on the Ghostbuster name for his cons.
    • Coattail-Riding Relative: More specifically, the elder Venkman uses his son's ghostbusting fame to move into selling phony "ghost repellers," claiming that he taught his son everything he knows about the supernatural. Later, he and another scam artist inadvertently resurrect an ancient demon. In both instances, Peter and his colleagues reluctantly step in to save him from himself...and to save his victims.
  • Contrived Coincidence: In the episode "Slimer, Come Home," Ray tries using this to his advantage.
    Egon: Why aren't you looking for Slimer?
    Ray: I'm trying out a new theory of mine. Have you ever noticed that when you go looking for someone, you almost never find them? I figured that if I stay in one spot for long enough, everyone I've ever met in my life will come to me sooner or later.
    Egon: Ray, just so you know, that's the most ridiculous thing I ever-
    Woman Ray Stantz! Hello!
    Ray: Hey, that's Mrs. Milligan, my second grade teacher. Hi, Mrs. Milligan!
    Egon: Ray, I think one of us needs a nice, long vacation.
  • Continuity Nod: On a few occasions when we see the inside of the containment unit, we can see some of the ghosts the boys busted in earlier episodes. There are also more than a few references to their adventures depicted in Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II, most often in the earlier seasons that Peter uses defeating Gozer as a pickup line. It never works.
    • The boy in "The Grundel" is said to have kicked Mrs. Faversham's cat.
      • Ironically, when the show was rebranded as Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters and featured many reviled changes, Continuity Nods actually improved; particularly with regard to the movies. Among other things, the Ghostbusters reminisce about their first case when they visit New York Public Library, Zuul is in the new intro, Vigo and the psychokinetic slime from the second movie are mentioned, and Louis is added to the cast.
      • The episode-long flashback of how Slimer came to be the Team Pet starts with the 'Busters returning home from their defeat of Gozer the Gozerian, still in their original khaki jumpsuits covered in marshmallow gunk.
      • The changes were made in the series to capitalize on the popularity of the second movie. In turn, the second movie itself recognized that the Ghostbusters were a big hit with children, thanks in part to the cartoon. The adult humor was toned way down, while Slimer (identified by the name which the cartoon had given him, and redesigned to look more like his cartoon self) made a cameo as a bus driver.
    • In The Halloween Door, the disaster of the first movie happens all over again. Ray is a great distance away from the firehouse when it blows up, but he knows it when he hears it.
    Ray: I've only heard it once before, but that sounded like a containment unit exploding!
  • Cool Car: The Ecto-1.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: An episode entitled "The Collect Call of Cathulhu" [sic] paid an extensive - and surprisingly accurate - homage to the Cthulhu Mythos of H. P. Lovecraft.
    • This was later revisited in the episode "Russian About" where they fight a monster which looks like Yogg'Saron, in the Soviet Union.
    • The entity from "Ragnarok and Roll".
  • Covered in Gunge: The guys get slimed on a regular basis.
    • Used as the main weapon of the Peoplebusters in middle-season episode "Flip Side."
  • Crazy-Prepared: Ecto-1 gets dropped into a body of water with the guys inside, which would be a problem — until they activate the inflatable raft on the bottom of the car which both floats them to the surface and allows them to hydroplane back to dry land.
    • In "The Two Faces of Slimer," after facing off with a troublesome spook, Peter tells the others to utilize "Plan 55-A."
  • Creepy Family: Several examples:
    • An Addams family expy in the Mycawbs in episode "Loathe Thy Neighbor" (although the daughter looks more like Marilyn Munster).
    • A family of tourist ghosts in "Transcendental Tourists"
    • A cute baby ghost being searched for by her much more menacing parents in "Baby Spookums"
    • The Grungys, a parody of The Simpsons in "Guess What's Coming to Dinner"
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Al Capone and his competitors are still at war in the ghost world, but although their finger guns and other weapons can't really hurt each other (those that get shot transform into goofy forms for a second or two before turning back) they keep at it anyway. Ray and Egon discuss it after taking cover in the middle of their firefight.
    Ray: I don't get it...they're firing but it doesn't seem to hurt 'em!
    Egon: I suppose that's all they knew how to do in life, so that's all they know how to do now!
  • Cutting the Knot: The crew find a locked chest where Ray attempts to open it by picking the lock with a hairpin. As he fiddles with it, Peter simply shoots the lock with his proton gun, opening the chest.
  • Dancing Theme: The ending, where the move in question was taken from the original Ghostbusters theme music video. The only person missing from the music video's line-up is musician Ray Parker Jr himself.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Not all the supernatural beings the Ghostbusters encountered were evil; some wished merely to rest in peace, and others needed the Ghostbusters' help against entirely human villains.
  • Dartboard of Hate: In at least one episode Venkman had one of this cop who kept hassling them.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Janine gets several episodes like this, most notably "Janine's Genie" and "Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster". "Janine, You've Changed" might be one of the most hilarious meta-examples in the entire medium.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Peter and Janine, just like in the movies. Egon gets in on the act pretty regularly, too.
    Peter: Egon, I just had a thought.
    Egon: You had a thought?
    Peter: Yes.
    Egon: Here. Have a cookie.
    Peter: Why?
    Egon: It's how they train seals, Peter. Unfortunately, I'm all out of fish.
  • Deal with the Devil:
    • "Chicken, He Clucked" features a man who hates chickens so much that he wants to make a deal with a demon to get rid of them. Embarrassed by being summoned for such a silly request, the demon gives him the power to send anything away as a compromise. Soon, every chicken on Earth is sent to another dimension and (after annoying the man) so are the Ghostbusters. The demon agrees to help the Ghostbusters, though, because his colleagues found out about the deal and won't stop mocking him. The demon reveals a loophole that the Ghostbusters manage to exploit to cancel the deal.
    • Done by accident by Ray and Winston in "The Devil to Pay" where they unknowingly sign a contract that had them soul-bound to take part in a demon's game show where they have to play for their lives. They win, but the demon tries to pull a fast one—leaving them to die in the final challenge. After escaping, Peter threatens bodily harm to the demon host to give them the all-expense-paid trip for four to Tahiti he promised them, which he had no choice but to grant.
  • Death by De-aging: In "Three Men and an Egon", Egon gets caught in the proton beams along with a ghost that ages in reverse, causing them to exchange aging processes. As a result, Egon begins to de-age from an adult to a baby at an alarming rate. Ray, Peter, Winston and Slimer have to find the ghost and reverse the process before Egon disappears.
  • Death Glare: "Slimer, Come Home" has one.
    Ray: (about Slimer's farewell letter) Janine, you can read this?
    Janine: I'm a secretary; I can read anything. Someone wanted him to go.
    (Egon and Winston angrily glance at Peter, who looks confused)
  • Defeating the Cheating Opponent: Enforced in the "Night Game" episode. A war between the forces of Good and Evil is played as a game of baseball, with the fate of a human soul on the line. The Busters go in to rescue Winston, who is playing on Team Good. At one point, the Busters note that Team Evil is cheating, and the umpire replies "Evil cheats; that's why we call them 'evil'" to the Busters. Only Team Good is not allowed to cheat; if they do, then Team Good loses. Winston and Team Good still win the baseball game anyway in spite of Team Evil cheating, and the human soul is spared.
  • Demon/Devil Distinction: "The Devil to Pay" establishes that there are many demons (which may be "minor" or "major") but only one Devil. This is revealed when Winston says that he's sold his soul to the Devil, and Egon corrects him that Dib (who they all sold their souls to) is only a minor demon, not the Devil.
  • Demonic Possession:
    • The Wicked Witch Kestrel possessed at least two people, including Egon.
      (After Kestrel has been exorcised)
      Peter: You feeling OK?
      Egon: Actually...I feel like...I need a looooong shower.
    • There were also some minor spooks in "Janine, You've Changed" that took over vases and...scarier things:
      Peter: They get into things, make them real big, and attack us. So what can they get into that's that bad?
      (Cue demonic swarm)
      Peter: Yaaaaaaahhhh! Cockroaches!
    • Wat in "Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood" forcefully possesses Peter in order to use his body's prints and voice to unlock the containment unit.
    • Averted with Vanna in "The Cabinet of Calamari". Due to her spaced out mannerisms and Egon not detecting any traces of ghostly possession on the PKE meter, he deduced she was hypnotized.
  • Denser and Wackier: The Slimer! shorts were typically more zany and cartoonish than the regular episodes, complete with having a more simplified art style.
  • Devil, but No God: The heroes have visited quite a few hellish dimensions and fought demons from them, but if a heavenly version of the afterlife exists, it has never been seen.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: When don't they?
    • Slimer does this to Samhain twice. In "When Halloween Was Forever," after Samhain demands that he renounce the Ghostbusters and join him, Slimer blows raspberries in his face. In "Halloween II 1/2," as part of the Ghostbusters' plan to stop Samhain, Slimer slimes him in the face.
    • In "The Halloween Door," the little girl Emma essentially does this to Boogaloo.
      Emma: (laughing) You're funny.
      Boogaloo: Wh-what's wrong with you? Aren't you afraid of me?
      Emma: Nope.
    • Ironically, in the episode where they confront the actual Cthulhu, they don't try this; they just open fire.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The aforementioned "Collect Call of Cathulhu", although it was specifically stated that the Ghostbusters only managed to banish Cthulhu, rather than truly harming him.
    • Appropriately, though, the Ghostbusters only managed to do so by reading H. P. Lovecraft's original story. (Lampshaded by saying that Lovecraft researched the Necronomicon for story ideas.)
      • They also required a force of nature to do so; Cthulhu was unharmed by anything they themselves could throw at him and took a couple of lightning bolts to defeat.
    Winston: Cthulhu? I've heard of him. He's bad, right?
    Egon: He makes Gozer look like Little Mary Sunshine.
  • Disappeared Dad: Peter's dad apparently spent more time on his cons than being at home with the family. It's a sore point for Peter, especially in "X-Mas Marks the Spot."
    • Winston was also found to suffer this. He and his father had a falling out when he became a Ghostbuster rather than stay in construction. The two did patch things up on-screen, though.
    • It's curious that Egon's mother appears in two episodes, but there's never any mention made of his father.
  • Disguised in Drag: When the boys need to go undercover to investigate spectral readings at Lewiston Girl's Academy, Ray is disguised as a male janitor and Winston as a male substitute coach. Egon and Peter draw the short straws and have to "blend in" as students.
    Peter: Do I have too much eye-shadow?
    Egon: The problem is the color, Peter, it has to compliment your lip gloss. I have a color chart...
    Peter: Forget it! Winston and his bright ideas. I just wish he had to wear these pantyhose; they're murder, man!
    • Venkman wears a tutu and wig when he needs to stand in for the Ghost of Christmas Past.
  • Disney Death: Slimer in "Big Trouble With Little Slimer".
  • Dramatic Irony: In Knock Knock, as they're trying to stop the end of the world underneath New York, the Ghostbusters wonder if they'll be on the news, but ultimately shrug off the idea given their track record. For once, the news IS wondering where they are.
  • Driven to Madness: One of Ray's former paranormal studies professors investigated Heck House, becoming the only one to spend half the night there and survive, but at a cost.
    Ray: <sadly> He was a...brilliant man.
    Winston: Was? What's he do now?
    Ray: Drool a lot...
    Winston: Got it.
    • Ray and Winston themselves come pretty close when they go.
      Egon: What's wrong with them?
      Peter: I dunno, I think they saw something upstairs.
      Ray: <frozen in wide-eyed shock> ...and had two-hundred eyes, I know...I...I counted...
  • Eek, a Mouse!!: "Stay Tooned" has a scene where Janine gets scared by a cartoon mouse and a cartoon cat chasing each other and leaping out of the TV set. Before she gives the full details to the Ghostbusters, they initially think that she was frightened by a regular mouse.
  • El Spanish "-o": Used in Spacebusters when Janine tries to drive her point home to Winston in three languages.
    Janine: I'm positive. You have had no calls this morning.
    Winston: I don't understand...
    Janine: Then Winston, let me put it this way: El telefono no ding-a-ling-a pour vous, capisce?
  • Eldritch Abomination: Not only the aforementioned C(a)thulhu, but also the Mee-krah, a horrible octopus-like entity who awakened every few millennia and left complete destruction wherever it went (it is said in the episode that the Gobi and Sahara deserts were results of its activity). It fed upon the spiritual energy of ghosts, who practically begged to be captured by the Ghostbusters.
  • Eldritch Location: Many of the dimensions the Ghostbusters get sucked into, the Bogeyman's domain and the New Jersey Parellelogram (an Expy of the Bermuda Triangle) being two prime examples.
  • Episode Title Card: Seasons 1-4 had them, but seasons 5-7 superimposed the episode title with the first scene.
  • Erotic Dream: Cut short in "Mean Green Teen Machine." Egon demonstrates his dream-reader on a sleeping Peter, who fantasizes about romancing Kim Basinger as Batman. After a Kissing Discretion Shot Egon unplugs the machine. Peter wakes up to the firehouse alarm and immediately gets a ribbing from his giggling compatriots.
    Winston: We've got a call, Caped Crusader.
    Peter: But I was right in the middle of a sensational dream!
    Winston: Yeah...
    Ray: You sure were!
  • Every Man Has His Price:
    • When a lawyer arrives at the firehouse with a proposition to "clean up" Heck House, Egon and Ray refuse. Before they can leave, the lawyer stops them in their tracks with just three words.
      Egon: We've faced demons, monsters, Gozer, multi-dimensional invasions, but there is nothing that will get me within a mile of Heck House.
    • Another more benign example occurs in "Sticky Business" when the heroes are trying to raise money for an orphanage. The president of the company that makes Stay Puft marshmallows asks to borrow Mr. Stay Puft for an advertising campaign, and they don't think it's a good idea... They all change their minds when he says how much he'll pay them.
    • Then there's this exchange in "No-One Comes to Lupusville":
      Winston: Forget it. I've seen enough movies to know that you don't mess with vampires unless you know what you're doing. We don't.
      Gregor: That is unfortunate. I could have made it eminently worth your while...(pulls out a chest laden with gold)
      Winston: However, I am a fast learner.
    • In "Loathe Thy Neighbor" the heroes are hesitant to take the Micawbs' case, seeing as the Micawbs are stranger than most of the ghosts they tend to bust. Then Mr. Micawb says that cost is not an option and they'll pay any price; the guys change their mind quickly.
  • Everyone Hates Mimes: Mimes are listed in Ghost Master's Book of Annoying Beings, one page after the Ghostbusters.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Alan Favish and Charles Faversham found that out the hard way.
  • Evil Knockoff:
    • "Citizen Ghost" had the heroes fighting evil spectral doubles of themselves caused by ectoplasmic energy combining with their original beige jumpsuits, which had been contaminated by their fight with Gozer.
    • A Corrupt Corporate Executive creates a robotic ghost eliminator in "Robo-Buster" by making copies of design specs for the team's equipment. Only his version seemingly destroys ghosts, which Egon states is fundamentally impossible. And then is proven correct when all the dispersed ghost energy recombines into a really nasty (and humongous) specter.
  • Exorcist Head: Dixie does this in "Til Death Do Us Part".
  • Explosive Instrumentation: Everything from proton packs to PKE meters and calculators, though Egon's Homemade Inventions seemed to be the most volatile.
  • Explosive Overclocking: In "Ragnarok and Roll" when their best shot doesn't even dent the being trying to bring about the end of the world, Egon says this is the only option.
    Egon: There's only one way. We'll have to set our proton packs on simultaneous overload.
    Ray: Oh great, Egon. We do that and it'll take Jeremy out all right. And the building. There'll be a blast crater half a mile wide!
    Winston: And since we'll have to keep hold of 'em until they blow, to make sure they aren't turned off...oh man.
    Egon: We take out everything within a quarter mile, ourselves with it, and hope it's enough to destroy him too before he can destroy the rest of the world.
    • The Ghostbusters also wire their packs to overload to power up a bomb and take out the Boogeyman, though they don't intend to go with it on that occasion.
  • Expy: A few are noted in the Take That! section, but to sum up:
  • Eye Catch:
    • On the first two ABC seasons, the "No Ghost" logo, underneath the shows' title, flipped around to announce that the show was back. This bumper was always used to start Act 2, and Arsenio Hall voiced him.
    • The Syndicated episodes had a big "No Ghost" logo running towards it, one flipped around, one scared, one sawing, and one whistling. Usually, Frank Welker voiced the "No Ghost", but some of them had Arsenio Hall voicing them.
    • After the show became Slimer! And The Real Ghostbusters, the eyecatch was now Frank Welker saying that the show was back. The half-way bumper for hour-long broadcasts were narrated by Welker in his normal voice, and in his Slimer voice.
  • Failed Attempt at Scaring: The ghost of a dead gangster tells the Ghostbusters they'll never take him alive. They point out he's already dead. He acknowledges that, then makes a hideous, ghoulish face to try and scare them. Their response?
    Venkman: You don't scare us Vinny. Take away those supernatural powers and you're just another two-bit dead hood.
  • Familial Foe:
    • After failing to kill Ichabod Crane centuries before "The Headless Motorcyclist," the Headless Horseman/Motorcyclist has made regular attacks on Ichabod's son, distant niece, and other family members.
    • In "Scaring of the Green," every St. Patrick's Day where there's a fool moon, the current head of the O'Malley clan is Dragged Off to Hell by a bog hound as punishment from a leprechaun who was vengeful after being robbed by a family member.
  • Family-Friendly Firearms: Averted and played straight. Some ghosts of gunslingers can merely use Finger Guns to fire. A few other ghosts and human authority figures are seen wielding firearms.
  • Fanservice:
    • "The Devil In The Deep" took place on an exceptionally hot day, leading Janine to show up to work in a revealing bikini. Howewer nobody of the gang pay attention to this and talk normally with her as usual.
    • There was also an episode where Janine was in the shower, carefully showing only her face and legs and carefully avoiding the rest. Ghosts begin to bug her and she spends the next few moments running around in nothing but a towel. As the scene ends, Janine walks off screen and the towel is suddenly thrown off as she's out of frame.
    • That's not counting all the times the guys are shown shirtless, in the shower, or even just in their boxers.
  • Fat Bastard: There are several unpleasant and overweight characters on the show.
    • The syndicated episodes occasionally had the Ghostbusters confronted by an obese cop named Lieutenant Frump, who was very mean to them.
    • The episodes "Short Stuff" and "Revenge of the Ghostmaster" featured the Ghostmaster, a tremendously fat and powerful ghost who wishes to destroy the Ghostbusters.
    • The Slimer! shorts frequently had Slimer having to avoid capture by Professor Norman Dweeb, an eccentric scientist who is a little on the chunky side and obsessed with proving he's smarter in the field of paranormal studies than the Ghostbusters.
    • "Partners in Slime" had a morbidly obese gangster ghost named Pozo as the villain, who vaguely resembled Jabba the Hutt in mafia duds.
  • Finger Gun: Used by the ghosts of the Earps and the mobsters in Al Capone's ghost world.
  • Fire-Breathing Diner: In "Treasure of the Sierra Tamale", Slimer breathes fire after eating some spicy burritos.
  • First-Name Ultimatum: "SLIME-ERR!!!"
  • Flash Back: As part of an Evil Counterpart episode, it showed the team discarding their old, evil-marshmallow-encrusted uniforms and building replacements for the equipment damaged in the first film's climax. And as a result of being encrusted with ectoplasm, the originals then became the team's ghostly Evil Twins.
  • Follow the Chaos: In "Stay Tooned," Sammy K. Ferret can't quite keep his reality warping cartoon powers in check when he enters the real world.
    Peter: (frustrated) No sign of the little runt anywhere.
    Winston: (also feeling it) With a million hiding places in this town, we'll never find him.
    Egon: On the contrary, Sammy should be easy to locate. We just have to follow his trail (pointing out the parts of New York City Sammy already turned into cartoon characters).
  • Forced Transformation:
    • "Poultrygeist" featured Egon turning into a werechicken.
    • In "Short Stuff," a spell accidentally turns Peter into a mouse. The change lasts only a few moments, though.
    • In the episode "Stay Tooned", Ray, Egon and Winston are turned into cartoon animals as a result of TV cartoon character Sammy K. Ferret gaining ghost-like powers and entering the real world. Interestingly, in Ray's case, it gets combined with a slow Painful Transformation, whereas Winston and Egon transform right away.
  • Forceful Kiss: Slimer likes giving these to Janine - naturally, since it leaves her mouth covered in ectoplasm, she’s less than enthused. It’s enough of a Running Gag that it features in the first opening.
  • Fountain of Youth: In the episode "Three Men and an Egon," an incident with a ghost causes Egon to begin regressing, and threatens to reduce him to nothingness unless the process is reversed.
  • "Freaky Friday" Flip: In "Slimer, Is That You?", a mishap with one of Egon's inventions causes him and Slimer to switch bodies. Egon wants to fix this ASAP before Slimer "eats [his] body into a butterball coma".
  • Foreseeing My Death: In "Future Tense," once Ray is able to convince the rest of the Ghostbusters their new TV can see the future, they plug it in to see what it forecasts next. Unfortunately, the next prediction shows them fighting a water elemental on the firehouse roof in a lightning storm, showing "The End" on screen before dissolving into static. Luckily for them, the water elemental that had been growing like a "supernatural fungus" in their new TV the whole time was Not So Omniscient After All, and the prediction becomes a Self-Defeating Prophecy.
    Peter: What happened?
    Winston: Yeah, what's it mean, "The End?"
    Ray: I think we just witnessed...our own deaths!
    <Slimer begins to sob, crying into Peter's chest>
    Peter: <pats Slimer comfortingly> Well the good news is we can see the future but the bad news's gonna be real short!
  • Foul Medicine: In "Ghost World", Egon catches a cold, and his mother tries to cure him by feeding him an old remedy from her husband's side of the family. The remedy is a blend of chicken soup, orange juice, tea, prune juice, and garlic. When Egon drinks it, he jokes that he's lucky to have survived it, and when Peter, Ray, Winston, and Slimer catch his cold, she tries to make more of it for them.
  • Four Is Death: The four ghost cowboys in "Ghost Fight at the O.K. Corral".
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Ray: sanguine, Peter: choleric, Egon: melancholic, Winston: phlegmatic
  • Funny Photo Phrase: In "Three Men and an Egon", the Ghostbusters have a group photo and Winston asks them to say, "Ghostbusters!". However, no one does — Peter and Ray remain silent, and Egon, who had turned into a baby, just blows a raspberry.
  • Fur Against Fang: The plot of "No One Comes to Lupusville".
  • Fur Is Clothing: The Slimer! short "Cruisin' for a Brusin'" had a gag where Bruiser barked so loud that Fred's fur came off to reveal boxer shorts.
  • Fusion Dance:
    • The episode "Slimer Come Home" featured a massive poltergeist who was absorbing the energy of many smaller ghosts to increase its power, while "Robo-Buster" pitted the boys against a colossal ghost that had been created by the dissipated energies of dozens of smaller ghosts broken up by Robo-Buster's modified proton beams.
    • In "The Slob", the Sleaze and his brother the Glob were able to merge into a more powerful ghost called the Slob.
  • Geek Physiques: Averted by the two geekiest Ghostbusters. Ray is, at worst, only a bit overweight, while Egon is quite fit.
  • Genius Loci: In "Egon's Dragon", Egon's ancestor Zedekiah tried to use magic to restore water back to his well in the 1700's, only to summon the spirit of the well, which took the form of a dragon (the term "Genius Loci" is referenced directly). In Zedekiah's case, it was the size of a horse, and was put back to sleep after it started stealing his neighbor's livestock as presents for him. When Egon accidentally awakens it in the current day, it's grown to the size of a house, and is bringing Egon Rolls Royces and cruise ships. Egon ends up a little reluctant to bust the dragon, because he knows it's just trying to impress its "Daddy".
  • Genre Savvy: The Ghostbusters, natch, but not always enough to avoid close calls. In "No One Comes to Lupusville," when told they don't know if proton packs will work on vampires, Winston wants to leave. "I've seen enough movies to know you don't face vampires without knowing what you're doing, and we don't." The promise of a hefty payment causes him to ignore his better judgment.
  • Ghost Invasion: In the episode "You Can't Take It With You," a dying billionaire builds a machine to open a portal to the afterlife so he can take his vast fortune with him. Unfortunately, this causes a rupture in the separation between the human and spirit worlds, causing ghosts to invade the land of the living.
    • In "It's About Time" the Ghostbusters accidentally travel back to 1959, tearing a hole in the time fabric and allowing ghosts to invade The '50s.
  • Ghostly Animals: The Rollerghoster was a group of ghostly circus animals who took 10 people hostage and can animate an amusement ride. It consists of an elephant, a horse, a bear, a snake, a monkey, and a gorilla.
    • Another episode had Simon Quegg's cruelty manifest as a powerful horse spectre and buggy bonded to him.
  • Ghost Pirate: The boys had to deal with a crew of these who invaded New York to recover their buried treasure after it was discovered and put on display in a city museum.
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • Overlapping with Something We Forgot: In "Killerwatt", Janine is left to run a pedal powered generator when the power goes off. Fast forward—monster defeated, power back on, heroes are celebrating, but "Wait—we forgot to tell Janine to stop, she must still be pedaling the generator.. nah she'd have figured out she can stop by now right?" Gilligan Cut to Janine STILL pedaling.
    • In "Beneath These Streets"
    Peter: "Yeah, I'm not going on a wild goose chase at this hour. Mama Venkman didn't raise no fools!" (cut to the Ghostbusters searching in the sewers)
    Winston: (to Peter) "Say, Fool!"
  • Girliness Upgrade: Janine went from a snarky secretary with a stereotypical Jersey Girl accent (Egon referred to it as an "annoying Brooklyn Accent" in Janine, You've Changed) and hairdo with triangular glasses to a softer spoken woman with straight hair and round glasses over the series, thanks to Executive Meddling from ABC, but also started going out in the field as a Ghostbuster herself.
  • Glad I Thought of It: The Slimer! short "The Dirty Half-Dozen" has Goolem take credit for Zugg's idea when he suggests that they lure Slimer into a trap by holding the Ghostbusters prisoner.
  • Glamour Failure: Dixie has some ghost-like traits in "Til Death Do Us Part", but she looks human.
  • Glass-Shattering Sound: Used in the Slimer! short "Slimer's Silly Symphony", where Slimer at one point asks his friend Chilly Cooper if she can sing. When she shows her ability to sing, her singing causes several glass objects around her to shatter.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Comes up quite often, involving threats that far outclassed the Ghostbusters' equipment. Usually this required releasing larger entities like the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man or Explosive Overclocking of their equipment.
  • Gone Swimming, Clothes Stolen: In "Surely You Joust", the Ghostbusters disguise themselves in order to take Orlox by surprise by taking armor from some ghost knights while they're bathing in a river.
  • Grail in the Garbage: In one episode, Ray finds himself in possession of the shears belonging to the Three Fates, finding them on the ground just as he needs to cut something. He keeps them, forcing Clotho to chase him all over New York to try to (discreetly) get them back, because she's the one who dropped them in the first place. As far as he can tell, they're just a pair of scissors, but they're really awesome scissors.
  • Grand Theft Me: Happened to Egon most of the time, the two best-known cases being:
    • "If I Were A Witch Man", being possessed by a witch-like ghost.
    • Another time was in "Egon on the Rampage", when his soul was sucked out due to a machine malfunction, and a demon escaped and took his body for a ride, turning him into a purple Hulk expy.
    • The demon Watt possessed Peter in "Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood" in an attempt to open the Containment Unit.
    • Everyone including Janine and Slimer (don't ask) except Egon gets possessed in "Ghostworld".
  • Gratuitous Spanish:
    • In "Something's Going Around", Slimer answers the phone with "Ghostbusters, se habla Espanol?" Later on, Peter exclaims "¡Que pasa!" when Slimer gets up in his face and makes it swell—A reaction to ectoplasmic energy caused by eating some strange chips given to them by a ghostly doctor.
  • Great Big Book of Everything: Tobin's Spirit Guide, Egon's go-to resource for learning more about the Monster of the Week.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • There is the infrequent reference (such as in "Chicken, He Clucked," "Hanging by a Thread" or "The Devil to Pay") to a Satan or "Lord of evil"-type character.
    • Gozer could also be considered an example since the show featured several instances of the Ghostbusters mentioning him and the possibility for him returning.
  • Greed: Mr. Tummel in “You Can’t Take It With You” is a miserly old man who is so greedy he plotted to send all his money into the ghost world so that he could take it with him after death. This causes ghosts to flood into the real world, which doesn’t concern him as long as he gets to keep his fortune.
  • Halloween Episode: Four examples:
    • "When Halloween Was Forever": A pair of ghosts free Samhain, the Spirit of Halloween, whose goal is to create a permanent Halloween night.
    • "Halloween 2½": Samhain is freed from the Containment Unit and tries to again achieve his goal, while also seeking revenge against the Ghostbusters.
    • The Slimer! short "Sweet Revenge": Slimer plans to go trick-or-treating with his friend Fred the Dog, having to watch out for his nemesis Professor Dweeb attempting to capture him as usual as well as Goolem and Zugg seeking revenge against the spud for sending them to the South Pole.
    • "The Halloween Door": Seeking to end Halloween forever, a Moral Guardian steals Ghostbuster tech to use for his machine. Doing so, however, breaks an ancient, ghostly contract—allowing hordes of supernatural terrors to invade New York City. The only one not to feature Samhain, a choice on JMS's part owing to the previously mentioned Author Tract.
  • Haunted Headquarters: The Ghostbusters share their home with thousands of entities they've caught. Although the ghosts are isolated in their basement containment unit, there's always the threat of a jailbreak that can turn the firehouse into Spook Central.
  • Haunted House: Several, with Heck House as the great-granddaddy of them all.
    Egon: That place chews up paranormal investigators like Slimer goes through jelly beans.
  • Haunted Technology: One episode featured a ghost trapped in a vat of molten steel. Every object made with the ghost's steel wound up coming to life and wreaking havoc.
    • Basically all the ghosts in "Killer-Watt" are possessed appliances and power tools.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Invoked in "The Halloween Door" after Dr. Crowley turns on his anti-Halloween machine and finds to his horror that Fairweather was a demon all along, manipulating him to break the Halloween contract.
    Fairweather: You forgot The First Rule of Fanatics: When you become obsessed with the enemy, you become the enemy!
  • Headless Horseman: "The Headless Motorcyclist" featured a descendant of Ichabod Crane cursed by a headless apparition on a motorcycle who chases her.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Slimer and Stay-Puft (Although in the latter's case, whether he was good or evil could be Depending on the Writer). Robo-Buster also counts once Egon reworked its proton guns so they fired the same types of beams as the Ghostbusters' weapons and it helped our heroes clean up the mess its creator had caused.
  • Hell on Earth: Heavily implied to be the result of breaking the Halloween contract in "The Halloween Door." While it could qualify as a Ghost Invasion the invaders are explicitly stated to be demons, not ghosts.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: The title character of the episode "Drool the Dog-Faced Goblin" did this to save a group of humans that were trapped by a murderous shape-changing phantom. Drool's biting the phantom forced it to let up on its attack and gave the Ghostbusters time to zap it, but Drool was caught by the proton beams too and couldn't escape. When the boys hesitated about using the traps for fear of taking Drool with the phantom, he told them to go ahead and do it.
    • There have been a few of episodes where the boys themselves very nearly have to pull a Heroic Sacrifice to save the world. Fortunately, they always seem to get a reprieve.
  • Hidden Depths: Given the way he behaves, you'd almost forget that Peter has a doctorate. He actually comes up with several good plans against ghosts, such as capturing Nexa (a primordial god). He's also a softie at heart, which could lead one to consider that he actively employs a Jerkass facade.
  • Historical In-Joke: An Amelia Earheart-alike is stranded in another dimension.
  • Hollywood Density: The ending of "You Can't Take It With You" has not just paper money falling from the sky on the Ghostbusters but also gold bars. In reality, gold is very heavy. Falling gold bars would make dents in the ground and would be heavy to lift.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The boys did this to themselves when they became the Crimebusters. After they nailed the Crimelord and destroyed his rackets, they essentially put an end to all the criminal activity in New York and ran themselves out of business. Fortunately, that was about the time when ghosts began crawling out of the woodwork again...
    • Egon also has a tendency to do this to himself whenever he gets too complacent about his own genius. Lampshaded by himself in at least one episode.
      Egon: Sometimes I think the universe just waits for me to get cocky.
  • Hunk: Peter, surprisingly.
  • Hybrid Monster
  • Hypocritical Heartwarming: Peter comes to Slimer's defense in "When Halloween Was Forever":
    Peter: Leave him alone! Nobody picks on the spud but me!
  • Ignored Expert: Ray's aunt invites him and the other Ghostbusters to her house for a seance by a sketchy "spiritualist", who is actually a con artist. Despite her nephew and his friends' extensive knowledge of dealing with spirits, she chooses to trust the con artist's methods, waving off the Ghostbusters' warnings. It went as well as one would think.
  • Imagine Spot: Peter conjures up a whole music video in "Banshee Bake a Cherry Pie?"
  • Implied Death Threat: From Egon of all people, played for laughs in "Who are you Calling Two-Dimensional?" after Peter mocks his latest backfired experiment.
    Peter: "Incalculable value to science," eh Egon?
    Egon: Peter. Do you know how to set your proton pack on explosive overload?
    Peter: No.
    Egon: I DO.
    Peter: ...... Now that I think about it, it was a good effort, Egon. A really, really good effort. Heh, science would be proud.
  • I'm Not Afraid of You: The team's mantra: "If you're not afraid, then it can't hurt you".
  • Incredible Shrinking Man: In "Short Stuff", the Ghostbusters get shrunk by one of the Ghostmaster's bounty hunters. They then spend the remainder of the episode trying to evade the bounty hunter while Janine and Slimer look up a spell to return the Ghostbusters to normal size.
  • Informed Species: In "Stay Tooned", the Ghostbusters confront a slapstick cartoon character named Sammy K. Ferret. In spite of the Species Surname, Sammy looks more like a fox than a ferret.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: Walt Fleischman from "Who Are You Calling Two-Dimensional?” is a caricature of his voice actor Don Messick.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Venkman, at times. One notable example is in "Citizen Ghost", where Egon catches Peter mindlessly answering "Check" to each of Egon's queries of how every part the Containment Unit is by asking how the transwarp drive is. When told that there isn't a transwarp drive, Peter reasons that if there isn't a transwarp drive, then the Containment Unit can't malfunction and is therefore in top condition. Egon replies that he's going to avoid talking to Peter for at least a week.
  • In the Blood: Winston is a possible example. In a previous life, he was an African shaman who battled supernatural monsters. He's doing it again in 20th century New York, only now he uses proton packs and ghost traps instead of magic spells.
  • It's a Wonderful Plot: Kinda, sorta, as an unreformed Scrooge turns London into his version of Pottersville.
  • It's Personal: Egon says this word for word when Peter asked him why he took on the job of taking on the Boogieman. He states the Boogieman was the reason why Egon immersed himself in the supernatural.
  • I Want My Mommy!: In the episode "Look Homeward, Ray", Alan Favish can be heard yelling "Mommy" while being chased by the Winged Puma of Morrisville.
  • Jekyll & Hyde: Slimer undergoes this in "The Two Faces of Slimer", where an ectoplasmic leak from the Containment Unit causes him to transform into a larger, uglier, and more vicious ghost (dubbed "Big Green" by the Ghostbusters) whenever he goes to sleep.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Peter Venkman, period. He complained the most, got freaked out the most, and was somewhat of a douche at times, but if any of his friends, or even any civilians were in danger, he'd be the first one to jump into it to save them.
    • This is particularly evident in his relationship with Slimer. Peter would normally yell at or threaten Slimer if he was being annoyed. However, Peter was not one to tolerate anyone harming Slimer, as seen in "Citizen Ghost." ("You zapped my little buddy!")
  • Jerkass Has a Point: On the other hand, as mean as Peter can be towards Slimer, the fact is that Slimer eats every scrap of food he sees without a second thought, up to the point of stealing it out of someone's hands, as well as the fact he gets slime on everything he touches, does make Slimer a rather annoying pet. Despite the fact Slimer is intelligent enough to speak and understand things, he never seems to try to improve his behavior even when acknowledging he crossed the line.
  • Jewish Mother: Egon's mom. Not explicitly stated, but the stereotype is there, right down to feeding him a special mix of chicken soup, tea and a bunch of other stuff, when he falls ill with the cold. When the other boys fall sick in the same episode, just as she's about to leave, she decides to stick around until they're back to full health. Also does the, "my son the suchandsuch" thing frequently.
  • Joker Jury: "Jailbusters" has the ghostbusters kidnapped into the Ghost World and facing a trial for their "crimes" against the ghost kind.
  • Jump Scare: The episode Knock Knock is filled with random nonsensical horror right out of Dark Souls, and this lends itself to a large number of these that largely disappear after the scare is done:
    • We have a mysterious woman who's just standing there with her back to the camera while the Ghostbusters survive a monstrous living train. Arriving at the stop, the figure just continues to stand there. When the Ghostbusters approach her, offering their help, she turns around, revealing a skeletal face, laughs at them insane, grows to giant size, then explodes.
    • Egon finds a stone that basically explains the plot of the episode... and after they've walked away and left, the camera zooms in at the stone... a face appears on it and it begins laughing evily. Cue commercial break.
    • Then they spot normal looking humans shackled to a skeletal boat, who tirelessly row. A well dressed skeleton with a cane and binoculars repeatedly comments on seeing dirt again and again. The rowers beg how all they've seen for centuries is dirt. The captain says not to row so fast, after all, they've got all eternity. At this point, the Ghostbusters pretend they didn't even see it.
  • Justified Title: The show was called "The Real Ghostbusters" to legally distinguish itself from Filmation's Ghostbusters, due to Filmation owning the rights to the title "Ghostbusters". The slightly awkward title was justified in-universe in an episode where it was explained that the live-action movie was based on the exploits of the animated-characters, hence making them the "real" Ghostbusters.
    • A much earlier episode had 3 ghosts running around claiming that THEY were the Ghostbusters, hoping to discredit the business- which also justified the title in-universe.
  • Kangaroo Court: In "Jailbusters," the guys are kidnapped to the Ghostworld and put on trial for crimes against ghostkind.
    Ray: I'd say we have two chances for a fair trial: zilch and none.
  • Kill and Replace: In the "Citizen Ghost" flashback, the doppelganger ghost take the form of the Ghostbusters, and also try to take their spot by killing off the originals.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: When Egon uses a homemade dream-reader to show Ray, Winston, and Slimer a blissfully unaware Peter's fantasy, we see a brief shot of a city skyline on the monitor before the "camera" turns to show their reactions to what we can't see.
    Ray: Hey, isn't that Peter in a Batman suit?
    Winston: And that's Kim Basinger!
    Slimer: Ooooh! Ewwww, mushy...
    Egon: <shakes his head to dis-enthrall himself> I...ahem...think we've seen enough. <unplugs the machine>
    Peter: <still asleep, hugging a pillow> Oh, come on Kim, don't leave! We're both Scorpios!
  • Knight Templar/Well-Intentioned Extremist: The titular antagonist in "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream" and Jeremy in "Ragnarok and Roll". Robo-Buster was this too, but his way of dealing with ghosts was unknowingly creating something worse.
  • Knight of Cerebus: While the show was usually light-hearted in nature, there were many episodes featuring a ghost that was truly sinister, serious, and far more lethal than most threats the boys in gray faced. Notable examples include the Boogieman, who scared the living daylights out of children For the Evulz, and the Grundel, who's M.O. was corrupting kids to transform them into members of his own kind. One example that really stands out, though, is Mee-Krah from the episode "Standing Room Only". The episode in question was from one of the Lighter and Softer later seasons, but Mee-Krah was an Eldritch Abomination that sought to devour every ghost it could find and had caused an alarming swath of destruction before the Ghostbusters succeeded in destroying it.
  • Known by the Postal Address: The 'Busters are called to investigate a haunted house, which Winston says is likely to be the real thing, unlike previous false alarms, because the address is 1313, 13th Street.
  • Lampshade Hanging: Winston and Ray get up to a bit of this in "Ain't NASA-Sarily So", where they meet a spaceship crew that are blatant stand-ins for the cast of Star Trek: The Original Series:
    Winston: (upon meeting the crew of Space Station Galileo) "Do these people look familiar to you?"
    Ray: "I was just about to ask you that!"
  • Large Ham: Quite a lot of the ghost villains speak loudly and energetically, but the one that stands out the most is the Master of Shadows from "Slimer, Is That You?"
  • Laser-Guided Karma: When Ray's Aunt Lois hired Phony Psychic Dr. Bassingame to hold a seance in her house, he angered the very real Domovoi spirits that lived in it. The Domovoi ran amuck and the Ghostbusters had to trap them before they wrecked the whole house. The Ghostbusters forced Dr. Bassingame to pay for the repairs to Lois's house by threatening to unleash the Domovoi on his house instead. One of the Domovoi who escaped the Ghostbusters also hitched a ride on Bassingame's car as he left.
  • Last of His Kind: "Surely You Joust" had the Ghostbusters help out a ghostly dragon who states that she is the last of her kind. An evil wizard named Orlox intends to use her heart to create a magic potion enabling him to conquer the Realm of Fantasy, but the Ghostbusters help the dragon defeat him.
  • Last-Second Joke Problem:
    • At the end of "Ghostworld", all the characters who'd been possessed have been exorcised, Egon (who'd had a cold) has recovered, and the ghosts and their demon leader have been caught... however, the final scene reveals that the rest of the Ghostbusters (and Slimer, somehow) have caught Egon's cold.
    • "Something's Going Around" ends with the Ghostbusters' supernatural ailments cured and the ghosts caught. Unfortunately however, Janine has to stay at the firehouse while her apartment is being renovated and the Ghostbusters and Slimer are made to wait in line outside the bathroom while she takes a bath.
  • Leitmotif:
    • The main theme tends to play whenever the Ghostbusters are doing something particularly impressive.
    • Slimer has his own theme, which mainly plays when he does something stupid.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: The Ghostbusters' proton beams don't faze Cthulhu at all, but they eventually get the idea to focus their beams on a nearby metal rollercoaster track. The sheer amount of electricity surging through the metal framework is enough to hold Cthulhu in place, attracting the lightning bolts to send him back to his infernal prison, although it's specifically mentioned that they only imprisoned the monster, rather than destroying him.
  • Like a Surgeon: In the episode "Three Men and an Egon",' after Egon gets turned into a baby, the other Ghostbusters treat his subsequent diaper change like they're doing surgery.
  • Limited Wardrobe: Surprisingly averted. The show focused on their job, so the boys were often in uniform, but they were often shown out of uniform as well, and appeared in multiple different outfits, both formal and casual. They were even shown to own multiple pairs of pyjamas.
    • Janine (at least initially) had a realistically varied wardrobe, and would make an attempt to dress properly for the occasion (saving her tank top/mini skirt combo for regular days at the office, perhaps in an attempt to impress Egon, and dressing more conservatively when she has to say, visit the boys in the hospital or have dinner with her family).
  • Living Dream: The Sandman's MO; he puts his victims to sleep, and their dreams come to life. Three of the Ghostbusters fall victim to this: Ray dreamed of a giant pizza (which fell on and covered Ecto-1), Peter dreamed of driving a solid gold car while being showered with all sorts of awards and prizes, and Egon dreamed of... Albert Einstein.
    • Winston managed to devise a plan based on this by having Janine fall victim to the sleep, where she dreamed herself as a Ghostbuster, assisting Winston to capture the Sandman and awaken everyone in the city.
  • Louis Cypher: "The Devil To Pay" played with this, where the Ghostbusters encountered a demonic game show host named Dib Devlin, who tries to get their souls. It is clarified that Dib is actually a minor demon and not the Devil per se.
  • Luxury Prison Suite:
    • The Boo York Peoplebusters have their own containment unit. It's actually quite pleasant inside, simulating sunny green fields, shady trees, and singing birds.
    • Since everything in Boo York is reversed, it could imply that the interior of the Ghostbusters' containment unit is similarly pleasant for the ghosts they catch. (It is implied in one episode that a ghost who hates noise would be happy in there; convincing it to surrender is a problem, because even the sound of talking makes it angry.)
  • Madness Mantra: Winston after he realises he signed a contract with a demon that might forfeit his soul in "The Devil to Pay".
    Winston: (horrified, and in a Creepy Monotone) I have sold my soul to the devil. I have sold my soul to the devil. I have sold my soul to the devil.
    Ray: Actually, Winston, Dib is a minor demon, not the devil per se.
    Winston: ... I have sold my soul to a minor demon. I have sold my soul to a minor demon...
  • Manchild: Ray is a more realistic version of this trope, in that he's fully mature but also possesses a childlike idealism and enthusiasm for life. This actually helps the Ghostbusters lure the Boogieman once they figure out a way to trap the monster.
  • Man of a Thousand Voices: Frank Welker (Ray, Slimer, numerous ghosts), Maurice LaMarche (Egon, the Umpire in "Night Game", numerous other ghosts), Laura Summer (Janine and occasional female ghosts).
    • Kath Soucie was the second voice for Janine and did a number of supporting voices, as well.
  • Married to the Job: Much like firefighters, the Ghostbusters are on-call 24/7, so it can be tough to maintain outside relationships.
    Janine: Ghostbusters are heartbreakers, kid. Don't get too close to 'em.
  • Meaningful Name: Ray gave Slimer his name "just to annoy Peter."
  • Merchandise-Driven: Despite being a 1980s cartoon series, and despite the fact Kenner had a MASSIVE line of toys to tie in with the cartoon... not really. Early series toys were based mostly on the initial test pilot with some changes to match the final product, leading to oddities like a fat Ray and "Green Ghost" being evil instead of a toy of Slimer, as well as the only toy of Stay-Puft being a measly 6" tall. Very few toys made their way into the cartoon and not many toys based directly on the cartoon were produced. Furthermore, the toys relied on a lot of oddball gimmicks which the show never bothered with. The Ecto-2(a small helicopter) did show up a few times, although the animated version sat two people instead of one. Janine received a few toys though only one had a proper animation model face. Louis Tully got a few figures after Ghostbusters II and his introduction into the series. Slimer did not get a proper toy until later on when he was released with his own proton pack, and roughly twice the size he should've been to be to scale. Poor Samhain didn't get a toy until Extreme Ghostbusters (in which he never appeared) came around (and he was off-model).
    • Speaking of which, the Extreme Ghostbusters toys sort of subverted some of this by being closer to the animation. Two major ghost toys were in actual episodes and Slimer got two toys- one rather large, another as a pack-in accessory. Garrett was never made as the toy line ended due to poor sales before a second series was made.
    • We did not finally see new tie-in toys until many years later when Mattel released them in a series based on 1970s Mego toys. The 4 Ghostbusters are based on their animation models, a proper Janine figure in suit with proton pack was made, and an actual Samhain figure was produced, along with a proper scale Slimer.
  • Mirror Universe: Our heroes once ventured into a parallel dimension where ghosts were the normal inhabitants, and the living were the ones that haunted them. This universe was protected by the Peoplebusters, who zapped living humans and trapped them in a "containment unit" that replicated the conditions of our own world.
    • This led to their undoing, as the overwhelming negative energy of the flip side prevented the Ghostbuster's weapons from functioning outside the unit, but when they found a way out and the Peoplebusters gave chase...
  • Missing Mom: Peter's mother is implied to have died, and he is more serious than usual whenever the subject of her comes up.
    • "The Thing in Mrs. Faversham's Attic" practically waves on the audience's face that Peter's mom died and he regrets not having spent more time with her when he still had the chance. This leads to a tearjerker ending where Peter returns to Mrs. Faversham's place to visit the old lady, as she is completely alone in the world, just as Peter's mother was before she died.
  • Missing Reflection: In "No One Comes to Lupisville", Egon notices that their "hosts" don't have reflections.
  • Mistaken for Own Murderer: In "Poultrygeist", when a woman named Maude turns into a "were-chicken", her husband believes it ate her. Later, she lays an egg, which hatches into another were-chicken, which bites Egon and he turns into a third were-chicken, causing Peter to think Egon was eaten.
  • Monster in the Ice: In "Cold Cash and Hot Water", Jim Venkman finds one of these in Alaska; it turns out to be Hob Anagarak, a very powerful demon encased in a block of black ice. The black ice can't be melted except with the use of special magic spells.
  • Monster of the Week: While some antagonists would return for another go at the Ghostbusters or at least an occasional cameo in the Containment Unit among the other imprisoned ghosts, the majority of episodes had the Ghostbusters facing a different supernatural threat that is never seen again after they defeat it.
  • Monster Town: "No One Comes to Lupusville" features a town that has been conquered by vampires. When the Ghostbusters free the original inhabitants from the jail, they turn out to be werewolves. A Mêlée à Trois rapidly commences between the Ghostbusters, the werewolves, and two factions of vampires (the rulers of the town and a benevolent group that has been trying to live in peaceful isolation).
  • Mr. Alt Disney: Walt Fleishman in the episode "Who're You Calling Two Dimensional?" seems to be a cross between Walt Disney and Max & Dave Fleischer (hence the name), with some of his characters resembling Tex Avery's.
    • He is also voiced by Hanna-Barbera mainstay, Don Messick.
  • Mr. Fanservice: A few episodes portray Peter as rather buff.
  • Ms. Fanservice: It wasn't all the time, but there are several instances of Janine in skimpy outfits or playing with her shoes, and in "Janine Melnitz" Ghostbuster" there's even a scene of her in the shower. In another episode, Janine shows up to work in only a bikini due to a heat wave hitting the city.
  • Mundane Solution: When attempting to break into a skyscraper from the roof, Ray suggests rappeling off the side and crash through the window. He, Egon, and Winston barely manage to get in safely. Peter, however, surprised the others when he suddenly entered through the safety of the stairwell. He simply picked the rooftop door lock.
  • Mundane Utility: Slimer's ectoplasm makes great hair gel, though Peter wasn't all that happy about getting the treatment.
  • Mystical White Hair: When Ray gets pulled into a ghost dimension temporarily then flung back into the Earth realm, his hair turned white and stood on end. It reverts by next episode.
  • Mythology Gag: "Egon's Ghost," "The Copycat" and "Jailbusters" feature terror dogs similar to Zuul.
    • In "Buster the Ghost," as in the first movie, the guys' TV commercial ends with them saying, "We're ready to believe you."
    • "I Am the City" recalls a memorable moment from the first movie (though uses Peter instead of Ray):
      Marduk: Are you going to stop me?! Are you gods?!
      Peter: Uh—
      Winston: (covers Peter's mouth) Yo, don't you say a word.
    • The episode "Partners in Slime" featured an appearance by the mood slime from the second movie, albeit colored yellow instead of pink. However, the slime turned pink like it was in the film at the end of the episode.

    Tropes N-Z 
  • Naked People Are Funny: In "Sea Fright", Captain Jack Higgins' crew steal the clothes off a cowboy. He's only seen from the waist up, but a woman ends up shrieking at the sight of his state of undress.
Cowboy: Ma was right. I should've never left Houston.
  • The Name Is Bond, James Bond: Peter Venkman pulls this off in the episode "Jailbusters".
    Peter Venkman: The name is Venkman. Peter Venkman.
  • Nature Tinkling: Brought up in "Camping It Up", when Slimer tells Winston that he has to go and Winston informs him that there are no bathrooms in the great outdoors and that he'll have to relieve himself behind a tree.
  • Needle in a Stack of Needles: When a ghost kidnaps Egon and the others go out to look for him, it's a difficult prospect.
    Ray: See anything suspicious?
    Peter: Suspicious? In Lower Manhattan? At nearly midnight? Naaaah!note 
  • Never My Fault: Dr. Crowley in "The Halloween Door" winds up accidentally releasing a horde of demons upon Earth because of his idiotic self-righteous bid to rid society of Halloween. When it is resolved, not only does the bastard refuse to take responsibility for what he caused, he uses the event as an excuse to "redouble his efforts and try again".
  • Never Say "Die": Usually averted, as some cases explicitly involved ghosts of dead people. Played straight with "Egon's Ghost," where Word of God acknowledged that they had to tip-toe around the subject as best as possible.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Paul Smart is a Corrupt Corporate Executive who steals the Ghostbusters' technology and tries to run them out of business by using their weapons to create a ghostbusting robot called Robo-Buster, stating that Robo-Buster could destroy ghosts rather than just capture them. Unfortunately, all the ghosts zapped by Robo-Buster simply have their energies dissipated, and all this ectoplasmic power simply combines into one gigantic ghost that threatens to destroy the whole city.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: An old miser on his deathbed uses a machine to transport all his wealth to the spirit realm in order to take it with him once he dies, not caring that in doing so, he's releasing hundreds of ghosts on the world. The Ghostbusters use his greed against him to make him overload his equipment in an attempt to transport his entire building to the spirit world because "there might not be any hotels there". He succeeds in transporting the building, but it also caused the spirit gate to pull back all the ghosts released before shutting. Oh, and because of the huge volume of the building, all the money the miser transported wound up being brought back to Earth again.
  • Nice Kitty...: When the shapeshifting Monster of the Week in "Drool, the Dog-Faced Goblin" transforms into a giant cockroach, Peter slowly backs away from it, saying that he loves cockroaches and always does nice things to them, like leaving dirty dishes in the sink and never cleaning the counters.
  • Nightmare Face: The giant Eldritch Abomination in the sky in "Ragnarok 'n' Roll" was a horrific disembodied face.
  • Nobody Touches the Hair: Venkman doesn't like having his hair messed up. A Running Gag in the episode "Jailbusters", for example, has him whine "I hate that" whenever anyone tousles his hair.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The Ghostbusters encountered stand-ins for celebrities ranging from Walt Disney to Agatha Christie to Casey Jones to Harry Houdini. Some of them were ghosts who needed the boys' help to complete their Unfinished Business, while others were innocent victims who needed to be rescued.
    • Unlike others in the cast, Maurice LaMarche was purposefully impersonating Harold Ramis. He was actually asked not to during his audition, but LaMarche couldn't think of any other appropriate way to do it. Fortunately, casting liked what they heard and hired him.
    • Dave Coulier's Peter was his Bill Murray impersonation from his act.
  • No-Gear Level: "Play Them Ragtime Boos" where the guys run into a ghost on vacation and have to figure out how to save the day without their weapons.
  • Non Sequitur, *Thud*: A giant Al Capone forces Slimer to swerve the car he was driving, slamming it into a lamppost and ejecting Peter from the backseat. He lands hard on the pavement several yards away, and Egon rushes over to check on him.
    Egon: Peter! Peter, are you alright?!
    Peter: I'm fine dad...can I borrow the car for the prom tonight? I promise I'll bring it back in one piece this time...<thud>
  • Nonstandard Character Design: Professor Dweeb and his dog Elizabeth look quite out of place when they appear in anything other than the Slimer! segments.
    • One scene in "The Slob" alone makes it clear that he has the standard four fingers for cartoon characters - even though that's not the case for other human characters.
  • Noodle Incident: In "The Haunting of Heck House" Ray and Winston are the only ones to go upstairs to their rooms and wind up regretting it, discussing it later in the dining room.
    Ray: ...and tried to grab me.
    Winston: I don't wanna remember, eat your dinner.
    Ray: Yeah, I'll eat my dinner, good idea. <picks up a sandwich with green lettuce> It was green, Winston...
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: In "Standing Room Only," because it never occurs to Peter Venkman to take notes or draw up plans for your invention.
  • Not a Morning Person: Peter. He habitually sleeps in, and the one time he is shown getting up early, he can only mumble something that vaguely resembles "coffee." Or "cookie." Egon's not sure.
  • Not Helping Your Case: A good example in "Ragnarok n' Roll"
    Cindy: (she and the other Ghostbusters look at a crater in the street caused by an exploding PKE meter) Is all of your equipment this dangerous?
    Peter: Oh no no no. Well, actually, it is. But we're all very well-trained. We haven't blown up a house in... days.
    • In "Adventures in Slime and Space" when Slimer gets broken into thousands of tiny Slimers, Ray calculates how long it will take for them to come back and reassemble himself.
    Ray: Slimer can't keep shattering forever. Past a certain point, he can't get any smaller! All we have to do is wait, and all the little Slimers will come home!
    Winston: How long?
    Ray: Oh... about four hundred and twelve years.
    Peter, Egon, Winston, and Janine: Four hundred and twelve years...!?
    (Peter, Egon, Winston, and Janine sigh in relief)
    Ray: Four THOUSAND one hundred and twenty years.
  • Not So Above It All: Egon has these moments, often in regards to Peter.
    "Really, Peter, such trivial things should be beneath you. Besides, it was my turn this time."
  • Now Which One Was That Voice?: The end credits only list the names of the voice actors and do not clarify which characters they voiced. In fact, the credits didn't acknowledge any actors outside of the main cast until the series was retooled as Slimer! and The Real Ghostbusters. The original voice acting call sheets for the series were eventually posted by fansite Spook Central, finally making this an aversion.
  • Number of the Beast: In "The Devil to Pay"
    Egon: "Not yet. You still have a way out. You and Ray simply have to win his game show."
    Ray: "According to my data, the odds are only 666,000,000 to 1 AGAINST us."
    Egon: "See? I told you you had a chance."
  • Odd Friendship: The Ghostbusters and Slimer.
    Reporter: Isn't it a bit strange for a bunch of Ghostbusters to have a ghost living with them?
    Peter: Strange, weird, eccentric, sick - that about covers it.
  • Off-Model: Happens constantly. The fact that several animation studiosnote  had a hand doesn't help one bit.
  • Oh, Crap!: Twice over after Cthulhu himself is summoned. First, the Ghostbusters try blasting him and cause only minimal damage, which heals up immediately anyway. When the Ghostbusters try again, Cthulhu looks directly at them.
    Winston: Uh-oh! I think we made it mad!
    Egon: RUN FOR IT!
  • Omniglot: In addition to having multiple doctorates, Egon is fluent in Sumerian, Russian, English, Japanese, American Sign Language, and Troll.
    Winston: Can you read Sumerian?
    Egon: In my sleep, underwater, and with the lights off. Of course I can read Sumerian!
  • Only in It for the Money: Peter Venkman is usually the member most likely to only care about getting paid for busting ghosts, to the point of complaining whenever Ray tries to pressure him into taking care of supernatural disturbances free of charge, but there are occasional exceptions.
    • One of the exceptions to Peter's unwillingness to work for free is in "You Can't Take It With You," where after they trick a miser into putting his building into the Netherworld, gold and cash rain down on them. Peter, after an evil grinning look to the other Ghostbusters, reluctantly doesn't take the riches (the cops show up not too long after).
    • Yet another case of Peter willingly making an exception in getting paid is in "The Thing in Miss Faversham's Attic." The old woman doesn't have much money, and Peter assures her that "it'll only cost [her] a smile." He admits later that she reminds him of his mother; his voice has a tinge of sadness and regret.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: After being freed from the Containment Unit in "The Slob", the Sleaze is revealed to desire revenge against Slimer, to the point that he doesn't want anyone else to capture the spud. The Ghostbusters end up using this to their advantage when they have Professor Dweeb pretend to capture Slimer in order to manipulate the Sleaze and the Glob into separating from their merged Slob form in order to make it easier to trap them.
  • Only Sane Man: Every Ghostbuster has these moments throughout the series, but Winston being The Everyman meant he usually led the pack.
    Winston: Sometimes I think between the four of us we don't have the brains God gave a doorknob.
  • On One Condition: In The Haunting of Heck House the Ghostbusters stood to inherit millions of dollars as long as they stay in the most haunted house on Earth for a night—without their proton packs. To defeat the house they have to use the wiring inside to turn it into one big ghost trap. Unfortunately the house is SO haunted that spiritual energy takes up most of the structure, so it collapses in on itself and they're forced to leave it or be crushed inside. Sadly, the lawyer sees this before time runs out, and is forced by the will to deny them the cash since there was no self-preservation escape clause provided in the will; they HAD to stay in the house even if doing so killed them.
  • Open Mouth, Insert Foot: Peter is usually the prime suspect, like in "Ragnarok N' Roll".
    Cindy: When we broke up, Jeremy tookit pretty hard. He went a little... well...
    Peter: Nuts? Bonkers? Monkeys? Loopy? Loony? Crackers?
    Egon: I think we get the idea. Go ahead. Pay no attention to him. We never do.
  • Origins Episode: "Citizen Ghost" consists mainly of flashbacks that take place shortly after the events of the movie and explain why the Ghostbusters wore multi-colored jumpsuits, why the Containment Unit is larger and a different design, and how Slimer came to be their ally.
  • Orphaned Punchline: In Rollerghoster, Egon tells a joke over a plate of spaghetti.
    Egon: So then he says, "Where's my hydrogen cyanate?" Imagine his surprise when it turned out to be cadmium chloride!
    <Ray and Egon laugh, but Peter and Winston don't>
    Peter: We've gotta get this boy on the David Letterman show.
  • Our Banshees Are Louder "Banshee Bake a Cherry Pie?" featured a banshee named Shanna O'Callahan posing as a rock musician who intended to utilize her fame to ensure that her voice causes destruction and chaos on a vast scale.
  • Our Werebeasts Are Different: The episode "Poultryergeist" features werechickens, who infect human beings through their bites. Egon turned into one when he became infected.
  • Paranormal Investigation: Well they have to figure out what they're busting before they whip out the proton packs.
  • Phony Psychic: Dr. Bassingame is a thoroughly sleazy example of this trope, a fake medium who claimed he could talk to spirits. His meddling with the supernatural often caused disaster, and the Ghostbusters had to clean up his messes.
  • Pity the Kidnapper: In "The Ransom of Greenspud", three ghosts kidnap Slimer and try to use him as leverage to get the Ghostbusters to free their boss Spiderlegs from the Containment Unit. Until the Ghostbusters come to Slimer's rescue and capture the ghosts holding him hostage, Slimer drives the three ghosts crazy with his demands for food.
  • Plague Episode:
    • In "Nothing to Sneeze At", all of the Ghostbusters catch the flu, leaving Slimer in charge.
    • Downplayed in "Ghost World"— for most of the episode, it's just Egon who's sick (with a cold), but at the end, Venkman, Ray, Winston, and even Slimer, have caught his cold.
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: A few episodes introduced these to deprive the Ghostbusters of their equipment to force them to think their way out.
  • Poltergeist: There are alot of poltergeists in episodes like "Slimer, Come Home" and "Cry Uncle".
  • Portrait Painting Peephole: A portrait of a woman with moving eyes is seen at one point in the episode "Boo Dunnit".
  • Postmodernism: "Take Two" is about the actual Ghostbusters (1984) movie being based on the Ghostbusters in this series, when they fought Gozer.
  • Post-Modern Magik: Part of the premise, and especially apparent when the Ghostbusters have to get creative against a supernatural enemy (such as charging up a roller coaster rail to briefly turn Cthulhu into a lightning rod).
  • Post-Victory Collapse: At the end of "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream," Winston falls asleep (while Janine can't blame him; everyone else had been sleeping thanks to the Sandman) after having to stay awake the entire episode.
    • Sleep Cute: Slimer cuddles up the sleeping Winston and goes to sleep himself, with the others going, "Aw..."
  • Potty Emergency:
    • Slimer has two potty emergencies in "Camping It Up". The first happens when the Ghostbusters start driving to the campsite, which has the Ghostbusters chide him for not going before they left. The second happens a little while after they've set up camp and has Winston inform Slimer that he'll have to go behind a tree.
    • Slimer has to go to the bathroom when the Ghostbusters return from their vacation in "Guess What's Coming To Dinner", his suffering exacerbated when the Ghostbusters find that the lock to the front door of the Firehouse has been changed by a family of ghosts moving in.
  • Power Levels: From 1-7 is standard, though there's always a few "stronger than Gozer" beasties that pop up from time to time.
    • Among others, Cthulhu and the antagonist of "Ragnarok and Roll" were stated to be so far off the scale nothing the Ghostbusters have can so much as scratch them.
  • The Power of Rock: The Ghostbusters used this & specially tuned instruments to defeat Malachi, a ghostly jazz trumpet player and his band.
    Winston: "Egon, are you sure this is gonna work? Malachi's music is pretty powerful."
    Egon: "We'll match his rhythms with something even more primal and powerful: Rock & Roll."
  • Powering Villain Realization: In both encounters with the Boogeyman, the demon's nature on feeding on the fear of his victims is turned against him. In his first episode, the Carter kids decide that they aren't going to be afraid of him anymore, casting out such insults as his head is too big and he looks stupid. This allows the Ghostbusters to get past him and temporarily seal him in his own dimension. In his second appearance, a near fatal fall off of the World Trade Center has Egon in a state of primal fear, though he refuses to admit it. This allows the Boogeyman to free himself from his dimension, as Egon was one of the Boogeyman's former victims. But when the Boogeyman decides to go after the Junior Ghostbusters, Egon goes into Papa Wolf mode, his anger and outrage overpowering his fear. He is thus able to free himself and his fellow Ghostbusters from the restraints that the Boogeyman had put them in, and whip up a plan to convert the Boogeyman from demon to ghost so that they could trap him in the Containment Unit once and for all.
  • Punny Name: What was the scientific name of the creature that changed Janine's appearance? Makeoveris Lotsabucks.
  • Rage Against the Author: A partial example occurs with cartoonist Walt Fleischman, who becomes trapped in his cartoon world when it becomes real. Walt is kidnapped by his villains, who plan to make him suffer all the slapstick abuse he put them through (Quite literally - they've counted precisely how many times he's dropped them down trap doors, hit them with pies, and so on, and are shown keeping track of how many times they've now returned the favor, and how many more they need to do). It's only a partial example because, when the Ghostbusters enter the cartoon world to save Fleischman, his heroes are more than happy to help them save dear old "Uncle Walt".
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Ghostbusters themselves.
  • Readings Are Off the Scale: Invoked in various forms by Egon when the Monster of the Week is particularly powerful, usually followed by the PKE meter sparking, smoking, and/or exploding.
  • Real Men Wear Pink: Downplayed; the guys aren't over-the-top macho men, but they're far from In Touch with His Feminine Side as well:
    • Egon's pink shirt, and the salmon-pink trim on his blue overalls. Also, his love of opera. He's practically fanboying in "A Fright at the Opera."
    • Peter wore a pair of pink bunny slippers while suffering from a ghost allergy, though he may have borrowed them from Janine given that he was sleeping in her apartment. He's also a huge fan of stuffed animals (including a stuffed Stay-Puft that he still sleeps with).
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Averted since they do use their super-science equipment to make money. There was even "Ghost Busted", the episode where the guys became crime-fighters during a severe drought in ghost work, and made more money than they did busting ghosts. That same episode also demonstrated one of the reasons the trope exists; the guys did so well, they effectively made NYC crime free, running themselves out of business. Thank goodness for the Reset Button.
  • Refugee from TV Land: During one episode, a comic book superhero was brought into the cartoon world and thought the Ghostbusters were supervillains.
  • Retool: After the first network season, aspects of the show were changed to try to make the show more appealing, such as more Slimer scenes, making Janine more motherly, and... making the ghosts something other than ghosts.note 
  • Reverse Polarity: This stock fictional science technique was used quite often.
  • Ridiculously Alive Undead: Slimer is a ghost, yet in "Ghostworld", he somehow catches a cold off Egon. It's also shown that Slimer can use the bathroom when he suffers from bathroom emergencies in "Camping It Up" and "Guess What's Coming to Dinner", and in "The Boogeyman is Back", he sleeps and later claims to be thirsty. He claims to be thirsty again in "Three Men and an Egon".
  • Right for the Wrong Reasons:
    • In "A Ghost Grows in Brooklyn", Ray is right when he says that plants respond to music, however, he thinks it's because they have feelings. Actually, the plants are just responding to the soundwaves and it's not an emotional response.
    • In "Poultrygeist", Peter thinks the farmer just imagined the were-chicken because he watches "too many horror films". While the were-chicken is real, the farmer really does watch horror films.
  • Right Out of My Clothes: Used in "Flip Side", where Egon, Ray, and Winston at one point run into a pair of ghosts moonbathing while fleeing the Peoplebusters. The two ghosts are so frightened by the sight of humans that they leap into the air in fright, leaving their bathing suits behind.
  • Rogues Gallery: Downplayed. Villains like the Boogeyman, the Grundle, and Samhain returned for a second round with the Ghostbusters, even if they didn't exactly form a rogues gallery. Many C-list ghosts also reappeared, to prevent the animators from having to create new ones from scratch every episode.
    • Even the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man got a reapperance.
  • Rogues Gallery Showcase: The retooled intro for Slimer And the Real Ghostbusters featured a number of enemies from earlier seasons, such as Samhain, being zapped by the Ghostbusters.
  • Running Gag:
    • Slimer kissing Janine on the lips, much to her disgust. Prominently features in the first opening to the show and reappears in “Killerwatt” and “Something’s going around”.
    • Peter trying to use the fact that he defeated Gozer as a pickup line. It never works.
    • “Jailbusters” has Venkman getting annoyed by people messing with his hair.
  • The Sandman: A sinister Sandman appeared in an episode, who wanted to put the entire world to sleep, creating a city populated by slumbering people and dreams run amok.
  • Say My Name: It's not the technology that gives away the decade the show was made so much as the characters' habit of saying each other's name just about every time they address each other.
  • Screw the Rules, They Broke Them First!: Defied in Night Game, where the forces of Good face the forces of Evil in a baseball game; Team Evil is clearly cheating, but Team Good is still beholden to the rules. Peter and Ray try to cheat on their behalf by blasting Evil's pitcher, but Egon stops them, because the Umpire told them there were no neutrals in this fight, so whether they knew it or not, they were on Team Good's bench. If they cheated, Good loses.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: In "Adventures in Slime and Space," Peter, Winston, Janine, and even the mayor of New York all contemplate moving to Pittsburgh as millions of tiny Slimer clones leave goop all over New York City.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Quite a few episodes involved the Ghostbusters battling a supernatural being that was imprisoned for years before being recently freed.
    • In "The Boogieman Cometh", the Ghostbusters defeat the Boogieman by using a Ghost Bomb to seal him within his own realm. The Boogieman eventually breaks free in "The Boogieman Is Back" by feeding on Egon's fear after Egon was shaken from nearly falling to his death during a mission.
    • "When Halloween Was Forever" introduced Samhain, pumpkin-headed personification of Halloween, who was trapped in some ancient ruins from Ireland until he was set free by a pair of goblins. Those same goblins later free Samhain from the Containment Unit in "Halloween II 1/2".
    • Janine obtains a magic lamp in "Janine's Genie", the titular genie actually playing Janine for a sap so that he can use her to free the other ghosts imprisoned in the dimension he hails from.
    • "Knock, Knock" had the Doomsday Door, which loosed legions of ghosts and demons on New York City because of some construction workers ignoring the door's warning of "Do not open until Doomsday".
    • The titular creature in "The Thing in Mrs. Faversham's Attic", who was summoned decades ago by Mrs. Faversham's father and bound to the attic in an attempt to keep the entity from causing any harm.
    • "Apocalypse - - What, Now?" had the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, who were sealed inside a book called the Codex of Saint Theopilus until Peter accidentally bought the book at an auction and Janine opened the book after bringing it with her on her lunch break by mistake.
    • The episode "Hard Knight's Day" has Sir Breuse sans Pitie, who was imprisoned within a tapestry by Merlin.
    • "Cold Cash and Hot Water" had Peter Venkman's father and Dr. Bassingame free Hob Anagarak, an ancient demon who was imprisoned in a block of magic black ice.
    • "Moaning Stones" featured The Undying One, a bone demon who was sealed away by the three Moaning Stones of Tangalla and was freed when the stones were united and struck.
    • The antagonist of "It's a Jungle Out There" was an animal demon named Rall, who was imprisoned in a statue of himself.
    • In "The Joke's On Ray", Ray Stantz inherits a joke shop from his uncle Gaylord, which had a trunk containing a pair of mischievous imps among its inventory.
    • "If I Were a Witch Man" had the Ghostbusters summoned by a town called Lewiston to defeat Kestrel, a ghostly witch who was imprisoned in a crystal ball three centuries ago by an ancestor of Egon.
    • "Busters in Toyland" had a greedy demon named Lothgar, who was imprisoned in an enchanted clock and attempted to trick Louis Tully's nephew Lawrence into taking his place.
    • The Containment Unit Mk2 itself qualifies as an example. Over the course of the series its storing away millions of angry ghosts and demons. If it explodes and they escape, the end result won't be pretty. To its credit, it's a significant improvement over the original Mk1, in that it cannot get overcrowded and overflow, but it is still a machine that requires constant repair and maintenance.
  • Sequel Episode: The show would occasionally follow up episodes.
    • "The Boogieman Cometh" was followed by "The Boogieman is Back".
    • "When Halloween Was Forever" was followed by "Halloween II 1/2" and "The Halloween Door".
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • In "Ain't NASA-Sarily So", the Ghostbusters traveled to a space station to deal with a ghost. However, in "Spacebusters" (which came a few seasons later), Winston mentions that he's always wanted to go into space.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: In "It's About Time" the Ghostbusters thwart a Ghost Invasion in 1959 and return to find that their firehouse, once slated for demolition to make way for a new expressway, has been declared a national monument to the firefighters that repelled the invasion and can't be touched.
  • The Shadow Knows: In the episode "Mrs. Rogers' Neighborhood", Peter gets possessed by a ghost/demon. His shadow when under its effect resembles the creature's shape (which by the way looked like a cross of a T. rex and a mole rat).
  • Shared Family Quirks:
    • Peter's father is a Con Man, and while Peter himself isn't usually a con man, he has scammed people in the past.
    • Egon's uncle Cyrus is a scientist like him, and apparently there have been other scientists in the family tree. Egon also has an ancestor named Zedekiah who had experience with the supernatural (accidentally creating a dragon) while Egon himself is a ghost hunter.)
  • She Is Not My Girlfriend: Janine takes Egon to meet her parents, and later, on a tour of her old neighborhood, but when Venkman teases him about his "da-ate", he insists it wasn't a date. Despite letting Janine cling to his arm both times...
  • Sherlock Can Read: A very literal example in "Elementary, My Dear Winston", when Sherlock's spirit starts referring to the team by name without being introduced... because their names are printed on their jumpsuits.
  • Ship Tease:
    • "Janine, You've Changed" is packed with it for Egon and Janine. This crops up a little earlier as well (carrying forward what was in the original movie) but that episode stops just short of making them an Official Couple. It was even the last episode JMS wrote for the show, and you have to wonder if he was trying to give longtime fans some payoff...
    • The tease even went on to Extreme Ghostbusters as Egon and Janine (as well as Slimer) are the only original members of the group remaining to help with the new blood. Extreme Ghostbusters had several moments that blatantly imply and Egon and Janine are in a relationship, but are remaining private about it.
  • Shout-Out: One of the outros features the Ghostbusters dancing in a similar way as the 1984 Ray Parker Jr. music video.
    • On the other hand Ray Parker Jr. played a major role in the music for the first two seasons of the cartoon show. He wrote the songs that played in the chase scenes (the duo Tahiti performed then). He did the whining guitar solos for the background music. He even sung and reorchestrated the theme song for the intro and outro, playing the guitar along with the band.
    • In the episode "Ragnarok and Roll", there's a scene where the villain of the episode says 'magic words' to gain power. These words are "Ash nazg durbatuluk, ash nazg gimbatul, ash nazg thrakatuluk agh burzum-ishi krimpatul. Khazad-dûm!" The first sentence contains the words inscribed on the One Ring as read in the tongue of Mordor from The Lord of the Rings. "Khazad-dûm" is the Dwarven name for the Mines of Moria.
    • One throwaway line mentions a guy named Samsa who's been possessed by a cockroach.
    • In "The Grundel," the Ghostbusters whistle the Inspector Gadget theme.
    • As noted in Too Dumb to Live below, the Doomsday Door in "Knock, Knock" warns the city workers "Do not open until doomsday!", a probable reference to the Outer Limits episode "Don't Open Till Doomsday".
    • The episode "Dairy Farm" has the boys and Ray's cousin Samantha barricading themselves in a farmhouse to escape a horde of zombies. The episodes original title was "Dairy Farm of the Living Dead".
    • The Bogeyman looks a LOT like The Joker if he were a mutated monster.
    • One of the show's funniest shout outs is in the second episode dealing with the Old Ones. Some cultists are trying to summon up one of the Old Ones with a special chant. What's the chant?
    • And then there's the episode "Ain't NASA-Sarily So", which has a host of shout-outs to Star Trek, including - but not limited to - a Scottish chief engineer, an African-American communications officer, and Dr. Venkman mentioning that the crew of Space Station Galileo have been "out exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations."
    • In "Revenge of Murray The Mantis", when Egon calculates the amount of psychokinetic energy the titular creature is packing, the parade organizer asks what it means:
      Peter: It means if Darth Vader were willing to loan us the Death Star we might have a chance. Might.
    • In "Ghostbuster of the Year," Egon shouts, "Cowabunga!" (but not without some hesitation) before jumping onto the sled.
      • Since the TV version of Ninja Turtles started after this episode and introduced the use of this phrase, it's unlikely to be a reference to that.
    • In "The Headless Motorcyclist," Egon mentions "reversing the polarity of the neutron flow".
    • In "The Mean Green Teen Machine", Winston's dream depicts him as the bald captain of the Starship Exercise.
    • In "The Collect Call of Cathulhu", Winston tells Peter "You knew the job was dangerous when you took it", a common line from the Super Chicken segment of George of the Jungle.
    • In "Knock, Knock", in what doubles as a bit of a Creator In-Joke, Japanese animation company Ajia-Do's name can be seen on a manhole cover during the initial rampage of the subway graffiti.
    • Poso, the ghost gangster from "Partners in Slime", is named after Mario Puzo, the writer of The Godfather. Poso does want to become the "Ghostfather".
  • Shown Their Work: And not just the Cthulhu Mythos. Whenever a ghost from another culture, such as Samhain, appears, you can be sure to check off the references to the original story.
  • Showdown at High Noon: In"Ghostfight at the O.K. Corral", the Ghostbusters have a classic face-off against four ghost Cowboys in the middle of an old west town. Only difference is it's a shootout with proton streams and ethereal beams instead of bullets.
  • Siren Song: The drownies—pale, waterlogged corpses of humans who drowned and then recovered and now reside in the Zee. They're explicitly described as siren-like in the way their eerie singing causes Zailors a strong urge to jump from their ships to join their number.
  • Skepticism Failure: Winston mentions in one episode that he didn't believe in the supernatural when he first became a Ghostbuster, and only applied with the organization because he was having trouble finding a job. Actually seeing the supernatural makes him a believer.
    • This is a Call-Back to the original movie, where it's obvious that he's only humoring the Ghostbusters during his job interview:
      Winston: If there's a steady paycheck in it, I'll believe anything you say.
  • Slime, Snails, and Mutant Tails: Like many late 80s cartoons, The Real Ghostbusters used repulsive slimy creatures to appeal to kids.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Prof. Dweeb thinks he's a better scientist than the Ghostbusters, but he's actually a bumbling fool who always fails in his plans to capture Slimer.
  • Somber Backstory Revelation: "The Boogieman Cometh"; while Egon isn't a Jerk, per se, he is The Stoic and typically more interested in the scientific aspect of everything, rather than any emotional ties. Until he hears the tale of two young children who explain that they're being terrorized nightly by the Boogeyman. After some prompting, Egon reveals to his fellow Ghostbusters that as a child, he himself was terrorized by the Boogeyman, which spurred his interest in the supernatural to begin with.
  • Something We Forgot: In the episode "Killerwatt", Janine pedals a bike generator to power the containment unit. Later on, the ghost is defeated and the Ghostbusters are in an impromptu parade. They wonder if Janine is still pedaling, then dismiss the idea as ridiculous; Gilligan Cut to Janine still pedaling.
    • Also in the episode "Deadcon", the Staypuft Marshmallow Man was released to attend a ghost convention held (without permission) in a hotel which was currently having a costume party. Later, the 'busters exhausted every trap they had to capture all the ghosts. They then realize that they had forgotten one BIG thing... Gilligan Cut to the Staypuft Marshmallow Man still at the hotel, who even won an award for "best costume".
  • Sore Loser: Dib the demon tricks Ray and Winston into signing a contract where they are soul-bound to play in his hellish game show where losing means death. When the guys actually win, Dib gets angry and tries to kill them anyway. The Ghostbusters managed to escape, and Peter threatens physical harm on Dib if he doesn't keep his word of giving them an all-expense paid trip to Tahiti.
  • Space Whale Aesop:
    • "Janine, You've Changed": Don't try to change yourself to impress your crush, or else a demon will possess you.
    • "The Boogeyman is Back": Admit when you're scared, or the Boogeyman will emerge, wreak havoc on your city, kidnap you, and try to kill three children.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Pops Venkman, who was introduced as a Posthumous Character in the novelization of the original Ghostbusters film.
  • Specs of Awesome: Egon wears them.
  • Spin-Off: Slimer! In addition to his increased role here, Slimer received his own show in 1988. The series had 15 minute episodes (later edited into a two shorts format for reruns) and boasted a more cartoony atmosphere aimed at a younger audience. The Ghostbusters and Janine regularly appeared, but Slimer had his own cast of characters to interact with (some of them are shown in the Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters intro and Professor Dweeb appeared in three episodes here). It lasted one season.
  • Spoofs "R" Us: The first episode is called "Ghosts R Us", after a rival ghostbusting franchise formed by three ghosts.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: Slimer in the later seasons. See Spotlight-Stealing Title, below.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: The later Slimer and the Real Ghostbusters.
    • Just to hammer it home, for the new intro that accompanied the new title, Slimer shouts at the end, "And me! And me!"
  • Super-Sargasso Sea: The Land of Lost Objects.
  • Stingy Jack: The recurring ghost villain Samhain.
  • St. Patrick's Day Episode: "The Scaring of the Green" takes place around St. Patrick's Day and focuses on leprechauns, a stolen pot of gold, a curse, and a Bog Hound.
  • Stylistic Suck: Crops up in "Take Two." What the producer claims is the inside of the Containment Unit looks like a set reused from a previous sci-fi movie.
  • Suddenly Shouting: From Egon of all people:
    Peter: Any more suggestions?
    Egon: Yes...CHAAAAAAAAAAARGE!!!!
  • Superman Substitute: The titular superhero of the episode "Captain Steel Saves the Day" is a rather obvious pastiche of Superman, with his codename a blatant allusion to Supes' nickname the Man of Steel, his costume being colored blue, red and yellow and having a cape, having most of the same powers, a secret identity by the name of Curt Clint being a play on Superman's secret identity as Clark Kent (along with similar means of using only glasses as a disguise) and his archenemy Dr. Destructo being a clear analogue to Lex Luthor, right down to wearing armor that bears a resemblance to what Luthor wore in the comics at the time.
  • Surprise Jump: Ray falls victim to this trope in "Look Homeward, Ray".
  • Taken for Granite: After the ghostly wizard Orlox is captured in "Surely You Joust", his two minions turn to stone.
  • Take That!: The show's title is a pretty obvious shot at Filmation's Ghostbusters. Also, in the episode "Spirit of Aunt Lois", the fraud medium is dressed almost exactly like Jake Kong, the leader of the "other" 'busters.
    • There were many Take Thats against other popular animated shows of the period: for example, in one episode the Ghostbusters' HQ was visited by a family of ghosts that looked like grotesque versions of The Simpsons. Another episode featured a group of Totally Radical reptilian humanoids, and another one where TV characters came to life had, among the others, a dumb brute from planet Petunia.
    • In Banshee Bake a Cherry Pie, a banshee planned to use her concert broadcast all across the continent (even New Jersey) to wreck everything on a larger scale. Egon comments that if that happens, it could be the end of America as they know it, then adds they could afford to lose New Jersey.
  • Team Pet: Slimer, along with the Heel–Face Turn Stay Puft.
  • Theatre Phantom: In "A Fright at the Opera," the New York Metropolitan Opera House does have a Phantom, but he never appears until the end of the episode. The guys only met him in passing, just as he was about to vacate the opera house: The appearance of the ghostly Valkyries was too much, even for him!
  • Theme Music Power-Up: The main theme often plays during an episode's climax and the Ghostbusters are about to save the day.
  • These Are Things Man Was Not Meant to Know: Played for Laughs when Egon attempts to study Slimer's physiology for science. The radiation scanner he uses reveals only that Slimer has just gorged himself on uncooked corn kernels, which promptly explode and flood the lab to overflowing with popcorn. When Janine asks what happened, Ray (atop a pile of popcorn) replies, "We discovered that there are some things Man was not meant to know!"
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: This happens in the opening sequence; Winston is about to eat, but the siren goes off, and he leaves, leaving the sandwich on the table. (It isn't truly wasted, however; Slimer gobbles it up.)
  • This Is a Work of Fiction: The cartoon disclaims any resemblance to persons "living, dead, or undead".
  • Three Shorts: The Slimer! spin-off had either two (7 and 14 minutes each) or three shorts (7 minutes each), with an episode of The Real Ghostbusters sandwiched in between the hour-long block. In season 5, the hour-long block would sometimes feature a 14-minute episode (there were twelve of them total), a full-length one, and a Slimer! cartoon.
  • Tickertape Parade: The ending credits.
  • Title Drop: A few times, most triumphantly in "Citizen Ghost":
    Ray: Say goodnight, fellas, cause the Real Ghostbusters are here to stay!
    • The first episode, "Ghosts Я Us", was something of an establishment as to why they're called The Real Ghostbusters, when a rival ghost busting group tries to put them out of business.
    Janine: No mam. This is the REAL Ghostbusters! Not Ghosts 'R Us!"
  • Toilet Humor: Not in the show itself, but the Kenner toy line included a haunted toilet called Fearsome Flush.
  • Tome of Eldritch Lore: The Neconomicon and The Nameless Book both appear.
    Peter: I don't see what all the fuss is about. It's just a book!
    Ray: And an atomic bomb is just a couple of rocks slammed together.
  • Too Dumb to Live: The city workers digging for a new subway tunnel in "Knock Knock"; they stumble across a Door of Doom that warns them not to open it until the end of the world. They open it anyway, because they refuse to let a talking door tell them what to do, and release Hell on Earth.
  • Too Spicy for Yog-Sothoth: A massive water elemental demon swallows our heroes whole and it looks like the end... until he makes a disgusted face and spits Peter out. Needless to say, Peter was insulted.
    • "Chicken, He Clucked": A man with an unusual hatred of chickens summons a demon to get him to rid all the chickens on the planet. The demon was baffled at such a request since this is the first time someone didn't ask for something extravagant, so he instead gives him the power to make anything vanish. The man uses his newfound power to transport all the chickens in the world off the planet and into another dimension. The demon started to get constant ridicule from his fellow demon employees for making a deal over something so stupid. He decided that a soul wasn't worth this hassle and was reduced to asking the Ghostbusters for help to cancel the contract before his reputation is shot forever.
  • Trapped in TV Land: A few episodes featured this, including "Who're You Calling Two-Dimensional?" "Stay Tooned" inverted the trope: Sammy K. Ferret, a cartoon character, is freed from his show and enters the real world. His Toon Physics prove extremely dangerous, and even mutate the population of New York (including Ray, Winston, and Egon) into "toon" animals.
  • Trivial Tragedy: The episode "Captain Steel Saves the Day" opens with Ray bawling in despair. His friends naturally think that something catastrophic has happened, like the return of Gozer or the destruction of the ghost storage, but Ray says "it's worse than that", explaining that his favorite comic book has been cancelled.
  • Uncle Pennybags: Stay Puft Marshmallows president Marty Tillis from the episode "Sticky Business", who got to borrow the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man from the Ghostbusters for a commercial by offering to pay them the money they needed for the children at the hospital and even offered to let the children watch the commercial being filmed.
  • Unexpected Inheritance: One episode involved Ray inheriting a castle in Scotland from a distant relative he barely knew. The castle is haunted.
  • Unfinished Business: Some of the ghosts weren't evil, and the Ghostbusters could get rid of them just by helping them accomplish their goals.
  • Unknown Rival: Professor Dweeb thinks he's the most brilliant scientist in town and that the Ghostbusters are feeble-minded. He wants to one day outdo them at their own game. They never even met him until "The Slob" and when they do, they consider him an annoyance more than anything else.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: In "The Ghostbusters in Paris", a janitor in the Eiffel Tower winds up accidentally breaking a device which kept a multitude of ghosts locked in the tower. Because of that, Paris gets flooded with ghosts.
  • Utility Magic: When Al Capone pulls the busters into his ghost world their proton packs refuse to work. An opposing mobster explains that "their place works on science, this place works on magic. The two don't mix, but we can fix that." Utility Magic is so commonplace in their reality magical objects are mass produced.
    Mobster: Here, try these.
    Egon: What are they?
    Mobster: Magic Crystals.
    Egon: Get outta here!
    Mobster: Read the label!
    Egon: "Magic Crystals. Manufactured by Magic Crystals Inc. Satisfaction guaranteed or your money back..."
  • Van Helsing Hate Crimes: On one memorable occasion, a vampire who had taken to eating synthetic blood and posed no threat to humans hired the Ghostbusters to help him deal with an overzealous vampire hunter.
  • Vengeful Vending Machine: In "Transcendental Tourists", Slimer tries to get a milk carton from a vending machine. Much to his frustration, the vending machine refuses to work, so he resorts to using his ghostly powers to phase through the machine and consume a carton of milk from the inside.
  • Viewers Are Morons: Done in-universe when Corrupt Corporate Executive Paul Smart displays Robo-Buster's apparently superior ghostbusting abilities by seemingly destroying ghosts rather than just capturing them the way the Ghostbusters do. Egon protests that Smart's claims are impossible, because ectoplasmic physics don't work that way, but no one at the press conference where Smart is showing off Robo-Buster understands what he's talking about, and they don't believe him.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Several of the ghost villains would do this before the Ghostbusters busted them. Notable examples include the Master of Shadows shocked and confused at the revelation that Slimer and Egon had switched minds in "Slimer, Is That You?" and Sammy K. Ferret going into a Laughing Mad fit and insisting that he is still funny in "Stay Tooned".
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Peter and Janine are Type 2.
  • Vocal Evolution:
    • Originally, Maurice LaMarche performed as Egon by speaking in a deeper voice, that made him sound more like Harold Ramis. The pitch in his voice was raised higher afterwards.
    • Originally, Frank Welker performed as Slimer by speaking in unintelligible gibberish, not unlike his voicework in Germlins. When the show changed after the first ABC season and Syndicated episodes, Slimer began speaking full sentences intelligently.
  • Wacky Frat Boy Hijinx: One episode had the team sent to bust the ghosts of an unruly frat seeking revenge for being expelled. The Ghostbusters eventually convince them that they've talked the dean into graduating them, all they need to do is pose for some graduation pictures on a set of bleachers they've planted traps beneath.
  • Waking Non Sequitur: At the end of "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream", Egon wakes up and attempts to continue an imaginary conversation with Albert Einstein, but stops when he notices people are staring at him.
  • Weaksauce Weakness: The aforementioned ghost in "The Headless Motorcyclist" was practically unstoppable, relentlessly chasing his targets and trying to bomb them with flaming cyclist helmets. However, when the Ghostbusters trick him into driving onto a bridge over a river by camouflaging it with a hologram of a normal street, the ghost is instantly paralyzed. Capture went without a hitch.
  • Weaponized Landmark/Famously Mundane, Fictionally Magical:
    • "The Ghostbusters in Paris" revealed that the Eiffel Tower was actually a Steampunk ecto-containment grid.
    • On a slightly lesser scale, the statue of Atlas at Rockefeller Center in "Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster".
  • We Help the Helpless: The Ghostbusters' clients have included everyone from elderly women who live alone to families and business owners to Detroit auto companies and the French government.
    • Though they operated a business and were often paid, the Ghostbusters would just as often have cases without any chance of payment.
      • When Mrs. Faversham (a woman that reminds him of his mother) explains she doesn't have much money to pay them, Peter says the only payment they require is a smile.
      • Averted in "Xmas Marks the Spot", when Ebenezer Scrooge refuses to pay the Ghostbusting bill, Peter actually threatens to release the ghosts again. Sure, its Scrooge, but he's still an elderly man plus they didn't know it was him and it was Christmas. The Ghostbusters not knowing it was him actually worked in his favor, if we consider what they did once they learned.
      • In "The Boogieman Cometh," two kids terrified of the Boogieman want to hire the guys and offer up their piggybank. Peter shakes it and only hears loose change, but he says it qualifies for their new rate.
      • Basically anything that could potentially lead to the end of the world, the Ghostbusters will resolve regardless of payment, such as in "Ragnarok n' Roll" and "You Can't Take It With You".
        Peter: Well hey, we can do a freebie every now and then. Let's get up there!
  • Weird Science: The cornerstone of the Ghostbusters franchise.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Sandman, in "Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream," is one. His race is responsible for helping people around the world sleep, but he's so fed up with humanity's warring and fighting that he decides that putting everyone in a five-hundred-year slumber is the only way to bring peace to the planet. Of course, his methods make sleeping people's dreams come to life, but initially, those dream-creatures, for the most part, weren't trying to hurt anyone; it was only after the Ghostbusters annoyed the Sandman that he turned the beasts into nightmarish monsters.
  • We Will Meet Again:
    • The Ghostmaster vows to get even with the Ghostbusters at the end of "Short Stuff" after they capture all of the ghosts he sent to catch them.
      Ghostmaster: You win this time, but you haven't seen the last of me! I'll be back! I'll be back!
    • The Slimer! short "The Dirty Half-Dozen" ends with Goolem and Zugg being sent back to the South Pole, with both ghosts promising that they'll get even with Slimer the next time they return to New York.
    • At the end of "Slimer Streak", the Player states that the Ghostbusters have won this time, but he'll be back to play another game with them. Unlike the Ghostmaster, Goolem, and Zugg, the Player never appeared again in spite of promising his revenge.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: As often as the show likes to make callbacks to the movies, it pointedly avoids making any mention of Dana Barett.
    • Interestingly enough, the Marvel UK comics based on the show featured Dana as The Unseen — she would never actually appear, but Peter would sometimes mention her, and he would occasionally be seen preparing for a date with her. (The Norwegian translation of the comic featured a surprisingly witty lettercolumn where Peter answered the kids' letters, and the kids would sometimes ask why Dana Barett never appeared in the comic. Peter's answer varied — "She's too beautiful to appear in the comic," "Because my personal life can't interest anyone," "I asked but I think she's too shy.")
    • However, there was a comic adaptation of Ghostbusters II which used The Real Ghostbusters designs, which meant that the cartoon design for Dana was created specifically for that. Like the other stars of the movie, she did not look like her actress.
    • Lita, an odd girl in "No One Comes to Lupusville" who took a liking to Egon, informed them of the truth about the town they're in. She helps them out in exchange that they get her out of town. In the end, the Ghostbusters flee from the town to escape the ensuing chaotic fight between the vampires and werewolves. Lita was then revealed to have stowed away, sitting on the back of Ecto-1, but was never seen again after the episode.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: One episode deals with an enormous multitude of ghosts coming to find the Ghostbusters not to harm them but to find refuge against a creature that eats ghosts and destroys everything around itself. Eventually, the Ghostbusters think of a plan to defeat it but need to lead it somewhere, which they do by emptying their storage tanks and throwing hundreds of ghosts who only wanted to be kept safe at it to be eaten. Nobody gives sacrificing all these ghosts a second thought, but then again the Ghostbusters series as a whole rarely hits upon showing ghosts much compassion.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Delivered upon release from containment by the Three Ghosts of Christmas.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: "Citizen Ghost", which details how Slimer came to live at the firehouse.
    • "The Haunting of Heck House", where Peter Venkman tells a class visiting the Firehouse on a field trip about how he, Egon, Ray, and Winston had to spend the night in Heck House.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: "Ghostbuster of the Year", which the team are asked to capture the ghost of a Charles Foster Kane Expy, complete with "Rosebud" and Maurice LaMarche doing his Orson Welles inmpression.
  • Who You Gonna Call?: Well, OBVIOUSLY.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?:
    • Peter can stare down murderous ghosts, spirits and phantoms without fear, but he will Freak Out at the sight of a cockroach.
    • Egon can stare down Cthulhu and other powerful beings without wincing but the Boogeyman is enough to almost shut him down out of pure fear. While it's true that Egon was tormented by the Boogeyman as a child, there is a serious difference between it and Cthulhu. Egon handled himself very well in facing his childhood fears in "The Boogieman Cometh." He was freezing up in "The Bogeyman is Back," but he was coming off a nearly deadly fall off the World Trade Center. His fear grew because he wouldn't accept it, which Bogey later exploited.
  • A Wizard Did It: When Egon explains the legend of Hob Anagarik in "Cold Cash and Hot Water".
    Egon: When the humans came, Hob attacked them. They defeated Hob, sealed him in a block of black ice, and sank him to the sea bottom. With the fire demon gone, the heat went out of the land, the snow started, and the north became cold.
    Ray: The Ice Age.
    Egon: Essentially, yes.
    Winston: Where'd the humans get that block of ice if the land was hot?
    Egon: Magic, of course.
    Winston: Oh... of course...
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: One of the more character-driven episodes "Ragnarok and Roll" deals with Jeremy, a man angry at the world over breaking up with his girlfriend, Cindy, and vowing to bring about the end of the world. He nearly succeeded as he brought Ragnarok into full swing and the Ghostbusters were unable to stop him. Had Cindy and Jeremy's companion, Dy Tillio, not talked sense into him, the Ghostbusters were ready to detonate their proton packs in an attempt to stop Jeremy and the end of the world.
  • World of Snark: The driving force behind lots of the show's dialogue.
  • Writer Revolt: "Janine, You've Changed," in which J. Michael Straczynski gave an In-Universe explanation for Janine's Fanservice Pack, which was mandated by the network. It didn't have any lasting effect on her appearance, but an effort was made, at least.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: In "The Boogieman Cometh," a ghostly gangster tries using supernatural shape-shifting to scare the willies out of the Ghostbusters and make them run away. Would've worked if it had been anyone but these four guys. Other ghosts tend to try the same kind of thing with the same results.
  • Yet Another Christmas Carol: In "Xmas Marks The Spot", the Ghostbusters go back in time somehow and accidentally bust the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, preventing Scrooge from ever learning his lesson and thus ruining Christmas in the present day. The team tries to play the role of the spirits for Scrooge themselves while Egon tries to rescue the real ones from the containment unit.
  • You Can See That, Right?: Peter has seen plenty of bizarre occurrences, so it takes quite a bit to astound him. However, in "Elementary My Dear Winston" when a real Sherlock Holmes recruits Winston as a temporary Watson, magically dresses him in an appropriate outfit, generates a car out of thin air, and drives away with him through the firehouse wall, it defies belief.
    Peter: Did we see that, or has my brain finally snapped like a twig?!
  • You Don't Look Like You: Mild case, but obviously, the animated Ghostbusters don't resemble their motion picture counterparts. This is because the producers wanted to avoid rights fees. Also the more famous the actor, the less his character resembles him. An episode about someone making a biopic about the Ghostbusters used real footage from the movie to lampshade this.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: In "Future Tense" Ray has quite a bit of trouble convincing the rest of the Ghostbusters that their new TV predicts the future, mostly because it only does so in the wee hours when they're trying to sleep (and they think he's watched so much of it he's rotted his brain).
    Egon: You have to cut back on the TV time, Ray; you're starting to lose touch with reality.
    Ray: But it was real! I saw it, we were all there!
    Peter: And you were the scarecrow, and you were the tin man.
    Winston: Face it Ray, you fell asleep in front of the tube and had a bad dream.
    Slimer: Poor Ray...
  • Your Favorite: Janine brings Egon some mushroom soup when he's in hospital. Could possibly also be considered Through His Stomach.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: In "Elementary, My Dear Winston," Sherlock Holmes, Doctor Watson and Moriarty appear as ghost-like beings even though they weren't real people. Egon theorizes that the sheer and consistent belief of fans all over the world enabled this.
    • Cartoonist Walt Fleischman not only unwittingly brings his cartoon characters to life, he becomes trapped in their world. His villains kidnap him, and when the Ghostbusters enter the world to save him they recruit his heroes to help them.


Catching Copycat

In order to catch the shapeshifting Copycat, the Ghostbusters trick the metamorph into transforming into Slimer, and then, after double-checking which was the real Slimer, trapped it.

How well does it match the trope?

4.75 (8 votes)

Example of:

Main / TrickingTheShapeshifter

Media sources: