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Ray: You know, it just occurred to me that we really haven't had a successful test of this equipment.
Mad Science takes on occult terror, and wins, hilariously, in this hit franchise.
Three parapsychology professors (childlike and curious Raymond Stantz, slick and sleazy Peter Venkman, and detached academic Egon Spengler) are fired from their jobs at Columbia University in New York City. They set up Ghostbusters, a company providing scientific exorcisms. At first business is slow, but then the number of ghosts in New York City starts increasing exponentially.
The Ghostbusters soon become household names, and have to recruit a fourth team member, Naive Newcomer and token black guy Winston Zeddemore, but they realize that the surge in ghosts is portentous. Investigations show that phenomena are centered on the apartment of Peter's love interest Dana Barrett, which was designed by a cult from the early 20th century to attract spirits.
Before they can act, petty bureaucrat Walter Peck shuts down the Ghostbusters' containment unit, releasing all the ghosts they had trapped and inadvertently unleashing Armageddon in the form of Gozer, an ancient Sumerian deity.
Ghostbusters II (1989)
Five years later, New Yorkers have decided the events of the first film were all just a publicity stunt and sued the heroes, who went bankrupt and have gone on to more mundane jobs: Ray and Winston are performing as Ghostbusters in uniform for birthday parties, Peter is a cable TV host discussing the paranormal, and Egon is doing sociology research. But then the ghosts start returning, and soon the Ghostbusters are back in business. Top of their list is investigating a strange river of slime in an abandoned subway tunnel that seems to thrive on negative emotions and produce new ghost hauntings.
Meanwhile, at the museum where Dana works, her boss becomes a Renfield for the ghost of Vigo the Carpathian, an ancient tyrant trapped in a painting. Vigo has Dana's son kidnapped, intending to take over the child's body.
When the Ghostbusters finally figure things out and arrive on scene, the museum is cocooned by the slime they were investigating and maintained as a physical manifestation of the negative emotions of New Yorkers. To counter this, the Ghostbusters animate the Statue of Liberty. Cue final confrontation.
One of the defining elements of the movies (and the rest of the franchise as a whole) is that the characters examine the paranormal with the scientific method and combat it with technology, rather than other similar stories where the characters have to combat the supernatural with magic. Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis (who play Ray and Egon, respectively) were responsible for the premise and original script, Aykroyd himself being an avid believer in the paranormal while Ramis has admitted to being a skeptic. As such, in addition to the excellent comedy and memorable characters Ghostbusters has been found to appeal to skeptics.
In 2009, a video game adaptation was released, written and performed by the original casts, that acts as a third story. Two years after the second movie, the Ghostbusters are doing well. The new mayor rode into office on pro-Ghostbusting legislation: New York directly pays the Ghostbusters for doing their job, and insures all of their collateral damage. In addition, their research on paranormal activity has given them enough cash to develop new technology, which allows them to hire a young intern (the player character) to test it out for them. However, a Gozer exhibit at the local museum triggers a reawakening of the forces unleashed in the first movie...
Because Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were a key part of developing the story, they have stated that this game is in the same Continuity as the movies. Interestingly, there are still some variations to the plot that occur with three distinct versions: a "Realistic" version for the PlayStation 3, X-Box 360 and PC; a "Stylistic" version for the PlayStation 2, PSP and Wii; and a version for Nintendo DS that has totally different gameplay (and doesn't even have the rookie). The console games were very well received and applauded for being a unique and dynamic gaming experience. Tropes relating specifically to the Video Game (especially video game tropes) should go on the page for the game.
The films produced a popular Animated Adaptation The Real Ghostbusters, which had its own Spin-Off, Extreme Ghostbusters. As a rule of thumb, they aren't in continuity with the movies (and the later video game) but are otherwise based on the same story and internal principles that the movies introduced. Any tropes applying to those series belong on those pages.
There was also a Role Playing Game developed by West End Games; set after the first movie, the players were cast as owners/employees of a Ghostbusters franchise in their local community. In addition to ghosts, adventure hooks could feature encounters with other paranormal creatures and incidents, including vampires, aliens, and time-travelers. A revised version of the game, Ghostbusters International, was published in 1989 following the release of Ghostbusters II. It was eventually named as one of "The Millennium's Most Underrated Games" by Pyramid magazine.
There were also computer game adaptations of both movies, but only Tropers over a certain age will possibly vaguely remember it. There was also a comic book series by long-defunct NOW Comics which used the animated series' art style but had its own story lines. IDW Publishing, after a couple of miniseries, is now publishing an ongoing comic series picking up a few years after the second movie. Like the 2009 video game, the comics form a "secondary canon" to the films.
Plans for a third Ghostbusters film were tossed around for years before the death of Harold Ramis ended those discussions. 2016 saw a Continuity Reboot starring an female lead cast (alternatively titled Ghostbusters (2016) or Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) but despite decent critical reviews, it didn't do very well with most audiences and was quietly forgotten.
A new film, Ghostbusters: Afterlife (also called Ghostbusters: Legacy or Ghostbusters: From Beyond in some markets), is set for release in the spring of 2021, taking place in the original continuity some thirty years after Ghostbusters II.
Ray Parker Jr., who performed the film's iconic Theme Tune, was sued by Huey Lewis over the similarity of the melody to that of "I Want a New Drug".
But until then... WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
- Always Chaotic Evil: Ghosts, except for very specific instances in spinoffs and adaptation. The Busters have to be justified in locking these things up for all eternity, after all.
- Their are a few exceptions of course. Slimer reformed by movie 2 and former Mayor Fiorello Laguardia gave some advice to the current Mayor of New York at one point.
- Ambiguously Jewish: Egon and Janine.
- Ammunition Backpack: The Proton Packs probably count, since all the particle accelerating takes place in the Pack.
- Awesome Backpack: The proton packs.
- Author Appeal: Aykroyd's fascination with ghosts and the supernatural is well known. Thus leading to the dream sequence...
- Autobots, Rock Out!: Their theme music alone is good enough for this trope.
- Badass Crew: A crew of Badass Bookworms.
- Big Bad: Gozer in 1, Vigo the Carpathian in 2 and Ivo Shandor in the video game.
- Big Damn Heroes: Invoked in the first film; as part of their deal with the Mayor to stop what's happening, Venkman manages to wrangle a huge police / National Guard escort for Ecto-1 as if it was the presidential limo or something, thus making the Ghostbusters look like The Cavalry to the assembled hordes waiting on for Judgment Day on the streets. Venkman himself milks the moment (and the crowd) for all it's worth.
- In the second movie, the Ghostbusters arriving via skylight to stop Oscar being turned into a new host body for Vigo the Carpathian.
- Butt Monkey: Louis Tully, also Ray Stantz to a lesser extent.
- Bunny Ears Lawyer: Ray and especially Peter, who both have Ph. Ds, in Physics and Parapsychology/Psychology respectively. Both are extremely childish and, especially in Peter's case, fairly unprofessional.
- Casual Danger Dialog: Egon is a master of this, usually as a way of flatly commenting that he's scared out of his mind despite being overly calm and talking plainly.
Venkman: Okay, Ray's gone bye-bye. Egon, what've you got left?
- He manages Casual Danger Laughter in 2. Ray and Peter laugh nervously while waiting for the Scolari Brothers to strike, and Egon chimes in with a monotone "Ha. Ha ha."
- Complete Immortality: Almost all ghosts that are not at least a Class 7 are this, which is why they get trapped and sent into the containment unit.
- Cool Car: The Ecto-1, a 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance, refurbished and tricked out with Science!
- Destructive Saviour: The Ghostbusters are very effective at capturing ghosts, but in the process, they tend to cause thousands (or even millions) of dollars of damage. They did blow up the top few floors of a high rise building.
- Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: Why yes, yes they do...right before arming the proton packs.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Oh yes. Gozer the Gozerian gets beaten by crossing the streams. They also fight what is expressly described as "Deity" ghosts in the game.
- Fan Film: Has inspired a whole slew of fan films based on the idea of Ghostbusters becoming a franchise business and organized in other cities. This includes Freddy Vs. Ghostbusters, The Denver Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters SLC.
- Fantastic Science: Two of the three original characters, Ray and Egon, are legitimate paranormal researchers that channel their knowledge into the business of "paranormal investigations and eliminations." Peter for his part is both a psychologist and parapsychologist, so he contributes the human relations and Only Sane Man elements.
- Five-Man Band: Being scientists, all of the Ghostbusters (save Winston) can double as The Smart Guy.
- Peter (The Hero)
- Ray (The Lancer) - an inversion of the typical hero/lancer dynamic, as Peter is the cynic and Ray the "the heart."
- Egon (The Smart Guy moreso, he is much more socially aloof than the others)
- Winston (The Big Guy, although smarter than his teammates in the common sense area. The game mentions that he has since earned a PhD.)
- Janine (The Chick as the only female of the group. Usually she's The Face and stays at the station finding clients and doing paperwork. On the occasions where Janine is forced to help directly, she's just as good as the guys)
- Slimer (Team Pet)
- Louis (The Sixth Ranger in the second movie, subverted since unlike most characters of this type, he's completely useless. In the game, he's out sick.)
- The Rookie (The Sixth Ranger in the 2009 sequel-game, hired to test new equipment that may explode.)
- For Science!: Generally the reason why Egon runs oddball experiments.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble: Ray is sanguine, Peter is choleric, Egon is melancholic, Winston is phlegmatic.
- Funny Background Event: After blowing up the poor housemaid's cart, while they stand around talking, you can see her trying to spritz out the fires they started with a bottle of cleaner.
- During the cutscenes in the video game, The Rookie can be seen reacting to the situations in humorous ways, especially when Stay-puft first appears.
- Getting Crap Past the Radar: An awful lot of swearing and sexual innuendo for a family comedy. Not to mention Demonic Possession, heads on pikes, and all the other horror.
- Not just innuendo. Dana outright says (though she's possessed by Zuul at the time and therefore Venkman refuses her) "I want you inside me." This is usually cut from TV broadcasts of the movie.
- Ghostly Goals: Usually of the highly destructive variety.
- A Half Dozen Guys in A Basement
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Venkman.
Venkman: "Type somethin', will ya? We're payin' ya for this stuff. And don't stare at me, ya got the bug-eyes...." (pauses) "Janine, sorry about the bug-eyes thing, I'll be in my office."
- Lovable Coward: For all his charm and bravado, Peter Venkman is not the bravest of men. With a few exceptions any acts of heroism on his part will usually be very very reluctant ones. That said, he will step up to the plate if necessary; he just won't be very happy about it. Of course, we still like him, because he's Peter Venkman.
- Mad Scientist: Mostly Egon, but a little bit in Ray as well. Capitalism and a general sense of the good of mankind steers this towards positive and constructive directions.
Peter: Egon, this reminds me of the time you tried to drill a hole through your head. Do you remember that?
- Magic Versus Science: Science wins.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ray gets this a lot.
- He chooses Gozer's destructive form as Stay Puft.
Peter: Did you choose anything?!
- Knocking out all the lights in New York in the sequel. Ray is quite the klutz.
- Later, when they're about to call the final battle a victory, he looks into the painting and gets possessed by Vigo.
- Night Vision Goggles: A slightly modified set of actual night vision goggles is made to be the "ecto goggles" and part of the Ghostbusting gear, supposedly allowing them to see ghosts who have turned themselves invisible. It's seen on everyone in the first movie, used memorably by Ray in the hotel and seen briefly a few times in the second movie. The game makes it into a major gameplay mechanic in tracking down ghosts.
- Non-Action Guy: Rick Moranis' character, Louis. Though he does take a level in badass in the second movie.
- Noodle Incident
- Mentioned in the first film is that time Egon tried to drill a hole in his head. This is an actual procedure, called 'trepanation', which is sometimes claimed to confer psychic powers. "That would have worked if you hadn't stopped me." (Which was allegedly a Throw It In from Harold Ramis.)
- Not Quite Dead: Justified since this is a franchise about ghosts. Also notable in the account of Vigo's death.
Ray Stantz: He didn't die of old age, either. He was poisoned, stabbed, shot, hung, stretched, disemboweled, drawn and quartered.
- Obstructive Bureaucrat: The worst kind of non-believers.
- Walter Peck from the first movie ignores the very real paranormal phenomenon around him in favor of his insistence that it's all a scam. His actions in service of this belief directly trigger Gozer's arrival.
- Hardemeyer takes this role in the sequel. He actually has the Ghostbusters committed to avoid bad press for the mayor.
- One-Winged Angel: Ghosts who take human form as a disguise are usually provoked into doing this.
- Our Ghosts Are Different: In the series, "ghost" seems to be a catch-all term for incorporeal creatures, including both the spirits of the dead and extraplanar creatures that were never alive to begin with.
- Paranormal Investigation: A comedic version of this genre.
- Photoprotoneutron Torpedo: Proton packs, which are "positron colliders" (or sometimes "unlicensed nuclear accelerators") that shoot particles from "neutrona wands".
- Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: The Ghostbusters themselves.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Lenny the Mayor fills this role to some extent in the first two movies. He's a rather cynical politician whose public image and chances of re-election / further political office are never far from mind, and is as reasonably skeptical of the claims of apocalyptic supernatural phenomena as any reasonable person probably would be, but when suitably convinced of their claims ultimately proves to be a fairly staunch ally. However, it is suggested that between the first and second movies, he either had them publicly thrown under the bus, or just didn't do much to stop it from happening.
Ray: First of all, Mr. Mayor, it's a great pleasure to see you again. And we'd like to say that almost 50% of us voted for you in the last election.
- By the time of the game, he seems to have been replaced with a more straightforward example of this trope; the current mayor got elected on a pro-Ghostbuster platform, and now has the city covering their collateral damage.
- Red Alert: Of the "Emergency Squad Scramble" variety, the first time a call comes in.
- Rent-A-Zilla: The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man by the villains, and The Statue of Liberty by the heroes.
- Sassy Secretary: Janine "I've quit better jobs then this!" Melnitz.
- Science Is Bad: Inverted; the Ghostbusters' scientific methods always prove to be the only effective way of dealing with the supernatural, and the only use for other schools of thought is to provide info on what they're dealing with.
- Science Is Wrong: See above.
- Sealed Evil in a Can: The Ghostbusters' containment grid in the first film and Vigo's portrait in the second.
- Shown Their Work: The films are actually very, very thoroughly researched, a side-effect of Aykroyd's own interest in the paranormal. For instance, Peter's treatment of the Zuul-possessed Dana is based on actual advice from exorcists and psychiatrists for dealing with cases of possession and DID, respectively (i.e. you are never supposed to let the other personality remain in control; this is why he keeps insisting to talk to "Dana", and tries to ignore Zuul).
- Signs of the End Times:
- Part 1
Winston Zeddmore: Do you remember something in the Bible about the last days, when the dead would rise from the grave?
- Part II
Peter Venkman: Or you could accept the fact that this city is headed for a disaster of biblical proportions.
- Sliding Scale of Comedy and Horror: Straddles the line quite well; the funniest moments and the scariest are often one and the same.
- Smarter Than You Look: Although Venkman comes off as a cynical slacker who doesn't seem to get the gist of things as times, it's obvious that he has just as much knowledge of the supernatural as Ray and Egon.
- Soul Jar: To a certain extent, the containment grid could be considered a very sciency version of one of these.
- Techno Babble: Brought to the point of art form: PKE valence. Focused, non-terminal repeating phantasm. Total protonic reversal. And etc.
- The Merch: In-universe examples. In the first film's credits, there are kids waving Ghostbuster logo t-shirts. Ghostbusters II has the gang offer branded thermal mugs and balloons in their commercial.
- Theme Tune: When there's something strange in the neighborhood... Who You Gonna Call?? Ghostbusters!
- Throw It In: There are varying accounts of how much of the final films were improvised, from a few select lines to a good majority of the films.
- Token Minority: Winston.
- Vanity License Plate: The Ectomobile has ECTO 1 on its tags.
- Weapons That Suck: Technically speaking, the real weapon the Busters use against the ghosts are their traps, which suck the ghosts in and hold them until deposited in the protection grid. All the proton packs intended for is to snare ghosts in the proton stream and position them above the trap. That's also why Busters didn't need the proton packs to capture the jogging ghost; all they had to do is place the trap in his path and open it when it stepped over it.
- Weirdness Censor: Despite the rampant evidence to the contrary, Peck insists the Ghostbusters are frauds deluding people with chemicals and "a cheap, electronic light show." (Of course, a city official then asks Peck to explain why "the walls in the 53rd precinct are bleeding") In the second movie, several characters continue this attitude, which makes one wonder what they thought of the very public attack involving the very gigantic Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.
- What the Hell, Hero?: "What did you do, Ray?"
- Who You Gonna Call?: The Trope Namer
- The Worf Barrage: Basically the major ghosts of the movies prove to be immune to the normal proton pack capture streams, which force the team to resort to different strategies to beat them.
- The proton packs don't do much against Gozer in his/her Stay Puft Marshmallow Man form. By setting him on fire they may have made him more dangerous.
- Vigo is briefly annoyed by the packs and brushes the team away and paralyzes them. He has to be weakened by a Care Bear Stare / Combined Energy Attack in the form of happy, singing New Yorkers, which was the only way they were able to enter the building anyway.
- The games introduce three major modifications (complete with a secondary fire mode) to the classic backpack and most of the ghosts have a weakness to one of them: basic particle stream, dark matter generator, slime blower and meson collider. The idea is if one ghost is shrugging off any one of your attacks you can switch them up.
- Above the Influence: In the first Ghostbusters, Venkman comes to visit Dana and finds she is possessed by Zuul, which makes her want to sleep with the Keymaster. He refuses, since she isn't in her right mind.
Zuul/Dana: I want you inside me.
- Arbitrary Skepticism: Played with. While Peter is certainly a believer in the paranormal, he has a bit more practical sense than Ray and Egon, who are willing to believe anything is supernatural related. "Right, no human being wouldeverstack books like this."
- The Alleged Car: Ecto-1 is an ancient ambulance/hearse that we're introduced to with Ray listing off the numerous things they'll have to fix. Remarkably, they apparently do.
- Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
Dr Ray Stantz: Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling!
- Audience Surrogate: Winston.
- Attack! Attack! Retreat! Retreat!: "Get ready...get ready...GET HER!!! AAAAAHHHHH!!!!"
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: "It's the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man!" Ironically Stay Puft was described as a '100 foot marshmallow man'.
- Badass Boast: Averted (& lampshaded).
Winston Zeddemore: When someone asks you if you're a God, YOU SAY YES!
- Bathos: Evoked at the end of the first movie. The city is being destroyed by an evil god, yes, but it's in the form of a giant, smiling, sailor hat-wearing guy made of marshmallows.
- Beautiful Condemned Building: Despite its numerous flaws, Ray falls in love with the old firehouse.
- Brand X: Stay-Puft Marshmallows.
- Brick Joke: Ray has a rather underwhelming plan to catch the first ghost seen in the movie.
Ray: Ready...GET HER!
- This is brought back near the end of the movie when the protagonists come face to face with the film's Big Bad.
Peter: Whatever it is, it has to get by us!
Ray Stantz: Hey, where do these stairs go?
- Cosmic Horror: Gozer et al.
- Converging Stream Weapon: What you get when you cross the streams (besides a massive life-threatening explosion).
- Crazy Prepared: Venkman proves to have fast access to 300 cc's of Thorazine, which implies that he carries it around with him or can find it offscreen in less than a few minutes. 300 cc's is a lot. The novel clarifies this by implying that he found it in her apartment.
- Creator Cameo: Director Ivan Reitman provides the voices for Slimer and Zuul.
- Deadpan Snarker:
- Bill Murray, who else?
- Sigourney Weaver's character Dana Barrett shows shades of this as well when Peter compliments her on her cello playing:
Peter Venkman: You're the best one in your row.
- Janine, upon seeing a police officer at the door:
"Dropping off or picking up?"
- Dean Bitterman: Dean Yeager inadvertently starts the Ghostbusters by firing them from their cushy academic jobs.
- Demonic Possession: Dana Barrett and Louis Tully.
- Dope Slap: Peter Venkmann to Ray Stanz, and vice versa.
- Eldritch Abomination: Gozer. Parodied with the final form Gozer takes, which is the cuddly and cute Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
- Eldritch Location: Gozer's dimension, as glimpsed through the fridge portal.
- Establishing Character Moment: Venkman is first shown giving an ESP test to two students in which a wrong answer is followed by an electric shock. Because one of his test subjects is an attractive female student, Venkman keeps zapping the other (male) subject regardless of who gets the right answer. This reveals Venkman as a Jerkass and a man who thinks with his groin.
- Evil Makeover / Evil Is Sexy: When Dana gets possessed by Zuul.
- Fog Feet: The library ghost.
- Foreshadowing: In the scene where the eggs in Dana's groceries start cooking themselves while still in the box, a bag of Stay-Puft marshmallows can be seen right next to them.
- A Form You Are Comfortable With: Played with when Gozer offers the Ghostbusters to choose the form of the Destructor.
- Glad I Thought of It: Peter Venkmann and Dana Barrett.
- Godzilla Threshold: It is incredibly important not to cross the streams. But by the time Gozer is about to reincarnate & bring about the Endofthe World As We Know It they figure "what the heck?"
- Have a Gay Old Time: An unusually recent example: "Somebody brought a cougar to a party and it went berserk."
- Heroic BSOD:
Peter: Ray has gone bye-bye, Egon. What have you got left?
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Ghostbusters had only just figured out the significance of Zuul, Gozer, Ivo Shandor, and Dana Barrett's apartment building by the time of the final confrontation. Dana, their first customer, only came to them when she did because she saw their commercial on TV, and she only saw them on TV because it was on when she got home. It is implied that it was on when she got home because of paranormal activity in her apartment (along with the eggs and the doomfridge). If Zuul coulda just dialed it back on the poltergeisting, Gozer would have been triumphant.
- Hope Spot: For a moment, it looks like they've vaporized Gozer and all's good with the world. Then Egon chimes in with "Ray, this looks extraordinarily bad." Cue Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
- I Am Not Spock: According to the DVD commentary, the first movie ruined William Atherton's life, what with random people yelling "Hey, dickless!" at him on the streets and all...
- "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Averted in the first film, as Venkman was utterly foiled in his attempt to reach Dana.
Zuul (in Dana's body, in an inhuman growling voice): There is no Dana, only Zuul!
- Ironic Echo: Near the end of the movie Venkman tells Ray to Get her!
- It Has Been an Honor: In conjunction with using the Forbidden Chekhov's Gun.
Peter: See you on the other side, Ray.
- It Is Beyond Saving: In the Backstory Shandor believed this about society in general, which is why he wanted to cause The End of the World as We Know It.
- It Was Here, I Swear: Dana sees a temple and terror dogs in her fridge. Later, she brings Peter to investigate:
Peter: (peeking inside) Oh, my God... Look at all the junk food!
- There's also a bit of a Take That in that scene, against Coca-Cola (there's a Coke can very visible in the fridge).
- Jerkass: Walter Peck.
- Kitschy Local Commercial: The commercial the Ghostbusters put out. It has no music, the characters are wooden and it looks like it was shot for about 5 bucks.
- Lampshaded Double Entendre:
Dana: That's the bedroom...but nothing ever happened in there.
Peter Venkman: Yeah, we can do more damage that way.
- Long List: Ray's list of repairs the Cadillac needed and Egon's similar list of problems with their building. Also, Peck's injunctions against the 'Busters.
- Magnetic Plot Device: All of those ghosts concentrating in New York is explained by Ray describing Dana Barrett's high-rise apartment building as being built as a conductor for supernatural energy. The reason why the tower was made like this is that Ivo Shandor, leader of a cult of Gozer worshipers, made the tower so that Gozer would have a doorway into our world.
- Mathematician's Answer: When asked where the stairs go, Venkman says, "They go up."
- Ms. Fanservice: Now we already know Dana Barrett is physically attractive, but once she gets possessed by one of the Terror Dogs she becomes EVEN MORE smoking hot than she was.
- Muggles Do It Better: See Magic Versus Science. Ancient god, meet unlicensed nuclear accelerator.
Peter: Let's show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown!
- Naive Newcomer: Subverted by Winston, who adjusts to his new job very quickly.
- Never My Fault: Walter Peck condemns the Ghostbusters for causing the explosion he himself had caused, in spite of their warnings.
- Never Recycle a Building: Even though it's a major deathtrap in the middle of New York City, the abandoned firehouse remains conveniently available until Venkman et al need a place of business.
- The Not-So-Harmless Punishment: When Gozer demands that the Earth choose the shape of its destroyer, Ray immediately thinks of The Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, being the one thing that he believes could not possibly ever hurt us. Unfortunately, that's not quite so.
- No Social Skills: Egon Spengler.
- Oh Crap: The look on Mr. Stay Puft's face when the Ghostbusters cross the streams.
- Alternatively, the Ghostbusters's reaction to Stay-Puft
- And again when Stay-Puft turns to face them with its maniacal grin...
Winston: Oh, no.
- Pillar of Light: Rises over the city when the ecto containment unit explodes.
- Pre-Ass-Kicking One-Liner: Venkman gets two of these in rapid succession
- Precision F-Strike: The containment grid's shut down, and ghosts are streaming into the atmosphere in a pillar of blinding light. What drives home how bad the situation isn't the ensuing montage, or that a possessed man escapes in the crowd. It's that what's happening is enough to tip Egon over into angrily insulting Peck's mother.
- Winston gets a good one in on the mayor
Winston: Mr. Mayor I was a lot like you, but since I joined up with these men it have seen shit that will turn you white!
- Reboot Discontinuity: The 2020 film ignores the 2016 reboot and returns to the original continuity.
- Shared Mass Hallucination / Scooby-Doo Hoax: Invoked by Peck, who accuses the Ghostbusters of being frauds that use nerve gas to make people believe they're seeing ghosts, and then "put on a light show" to get rid of them.
- Snub By Omission: When Peter Venkman introduces his team at the library:
Roger Delacorte: I'm Roger Delacorte. Are you the men from the university?
- Styrofoam Rocks: At the end, when debris falling is from the top of the skyscraper. In one shot you can see a rock, which had supposedly tumbled from several hundred feet in the air, fall straight down and bounce off of a wooden police barrier.
- Tailor-Made Prison: All of the ghosts who get captured get placed into the nuclear-powered Containment Unit. Instant Catastrophe? Turn off the Unit.
- This Cannot Be!: Ray's reaction at seeing the Stay-Puft monster.
- Trust Me, I'm an X: "Back off, man, I'm a scientist."
- The Tunguska Event: A throw-away line near the end has Ray telling Louis that he was part of the biggest crossover event since this, implying that it was a ghost thing.
- Uncomfortable Elevator Moment: The scene wherein the Ghostbusters are heading up to the floor of their first real assignment. "Why worry? Each of us is wearing an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back." Cue the other two shuffling comedically away in the tight space.
- Unusual Euphemism: "Mother pus bucket!"
- "I am the Keymaster!" "I am the Gatekeeper."
- Voice of the Legion
- Weapons That Suck
- Widescreen Shot: Ramis joked that he got cut out of most of the standard screen broadcast.
- Particularly in the 4-shot where the Ghostbusters are walking and talking with the hotel manager. Cropping Ramis out of the shot leaves the manager neatly flanked by the other two, and since Ramis doesn't speak during the shot...
- World of Snark: Pretty much everyone, bar the wide eyed Ray, is already 120% done with whatever you're saying.
- Working Title: Ghost Smashers.
- Your Mom: Egon's response to Walter Peck's blockheadedness.
- Attack of the 50 Foot Whatever: The Statue of Liberty
- Baby Carriage: In the opening scene of the second film, with a more ghostly version used in a later scene.
- Badass Boast:
Venkman: We're the best...we're the beautiful...we're the only...Ghostbusters!
- Bait and Switch: The Ecto-1 is introduced racing through New York with Ray and Winston discussing the horror they're about to face. They're driving to a kid's birthday party.
- Big Applesauce: Mocked at the end by Venkman, who asks why any being would want to return in 1980s New York, rather than sunny Southern California.
- Big Bad: Vigo
- Big Blackout: Ray accidentally causes one in the second film.
- Body Surf: Vigo's goal. He attempts to take over Oscar's body, but once foiled, he decides Ray works just as well. Cue sliming.
- Bottomless Magazines: The slime blowers appear to have infinite ammunition. Possibly justified by the slime cultures being self-regenerating; this is even vaguely hinted at during the courtroom scene.
- Brooklyn Rage: The source of the Big Bad's power.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Vigo the Carpathian: "Now is the dawning of the season of evil" and etc.
- The Cassandra: Milton Angland, the author who appears on Peter's show at the beginning of the second movie and predicted the world would end on New Year's Eve that year. That almost comes true, though nobody ever sees or speaks of him again.
- Chekhov's Music: "Higher and Higher" in the second movie. Ray and Egon show us that the slime happens to really like Jackie Wilson's version of the song early on in the movie. A cover version is used later on in the movie to empower the slime, thus mobilizing Libby.
- Chekhov's Gun: Egon is first seen in the movie conducting an experiment on whether negative emotions could have an impact on the surrounding environment. Enter "mood slime"... And then see the mood slime itself take control of a major landmark.
- The evil stare that Vigo gives Ray plants the seed for Vigo to temporarily possess Ray towards the end of the film.
- Demonic Possession: Janosz Poha, Ray Stantz, and (almost) Oscar.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: The Ghostbusters saved the world, but five years later, they're thought of as "two-bit frauds and publicity hounds." They also apparently got shafted when it was time to clean up Gozer's mess. Ray and later Peter comment on this.
- Extra-Strength Masquerade: The giant demonic marshmallow man and plague of ghosts from five years ago everyone remembers and even had physical evidence of was all the world's most elaborate hoax. Obviously.
- Expospeak Gag: This exchange
Dr. Peter Venkman: Hey Egon, how's school? I bet those science chicks really dig that large cranium of yours?
- Flat Earth Atheist: The number of people in the movie who claim not to believe in the supernatural a mere five years after a prehistoric deity marched through downtown Manhattan is staggering.
- Foe Yay: Arguably, Ray and Janosz at the end of the movie. The slime they're both covered in lends to the thought.
- Forbidden Chekhov's Gun: Crossing the streams. They are warned never to do it, and it becomes their Finishing Move.
- Funny Foreigner: Janosz Poha.
Dr. Peter Venkman: When in the hell are you from anyway, Johnny?
- Fur and Loathing
- Happy Ending Override: The first film ended with the Ghostbusters finally being hailed as genuine heroes. But as all the ghosts were a sign of the coming of Gozer, they're gone by the time of the sequel with most of New York rationalizing Gozer as nothing but a publicity stunt. The boys in grey were forced out of business and had to take other jobs while Venkman's relationship with Dana fell apart.
- Hanging Judge: Stephen "The Hammer" Wexler.
- Historical In-Joke: Not exactly celebrities, and not that anyone would mind seeing them harmed, but Vigo the Carpathian is a pastiche of Grigori Rasputin and Vlad III Tepes (aka "Vlad the Impaler" aka "Draculea").
- Also a couple when the ghosts swarm New York in the movie. The Titanic finally reaches New York, and the mayor is visited (and berated by) the late Mayor LaGuardia.
- History Marches On: When the Titanic is shown arriving in port, it has a huge hole in the prow.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Ghostbusters use a positively-charged version of Vigo's slime to animate the Statue of Liberty, which allows them to bypass the slime barrier surrounding the Manhattan Museum of Modern Art. The slime blowers are then key to incapacitating Janosz and the possessed Ray without hurting them. When Vigo is forced back into the painting, the slime blowers are the only weapon that visibly hurt him.
- Jerkass: Egon with his hilariously cruel experiments, including fooling a couple into thinking they are there for marriage counseling and watching them from behind a two-way mirror, then making them wait for hours and slowly pushing up the temperature.
- Medium Awareness: The updated Ghostbusters sign with the ghost giving the "two" sign. It doesn't make much sense in the context of the film.
- Or does it? The movie revolved around their comeback after 5 years of inactivity, so a redesigned logo might seem fitting. It was also their second run as ecto-exterminators...
- Furthermore, the "two" sign is better known as the "V" Sign, "V for Victory," from World War II. So the logo is the Ghostbusters' Take That to the authorities that shut them down after the first movie. The fact that it is holding up two fingers is coincidental (at least from the story point of view).
- One Thing Led to Another: And the next thing Louis knew, he and Janine were having sex!
- The Power of Rock: The Ghostbusters use the positive emotions evoked by good ole rock to power the slime.
- Primal Fear: The sheer number of things Dana has to go through as Oscar is repeatedly manipulated, snatched away, and almost possessed...
- Rasputinian Death: The team recounts the death of Vigo the Carpathian:
Egon: Vigo the Carpathian. Born 1505, died 1610.
- Real Life Relative: Ivan Reitman's son and future director Jason Reitman plays the boy at the birthday party in the beginning who tells Ray "My dad says you guys are full of crap", and Jason's sister plays the girl with the puppy in Egon's experiment.
- The Renfield: Janosz, who was played by Peter MacNicol, who also played the Renfield in Dracula: Dead And Loving It.
- Sequel Reset: Peter and Dana have split up, only to rekindle their relationship. The Ghostbusters were sued out of business, only to get it going once again. They are interfered with by an Obstructive Bureaucrat until the Mayor asks for their help. It's these things that hurt the otherwise enjoyable Ghostbusters II.
- Sinister Subway: Home to an Afterlife Express, which is a Call Back to an offhand comment in the first film, when a reporter informs viewers that his grandmother used to tell ghost stories about a spectral locomotive.
- As another example of Shown Their Work, in searching for the source of the supernatural energy spike which caused little Oscar's runaway Baby Carriage at the start of the movie, the Ghostbusters discover the fictional Van Horne station filled by the river of slime. This is a reference to Beach's Pneumatic Railway which was built beneath Broadway and later shut down by Boss Tweed, and the movie depiction even resembles some of Beach's designs with its tile walls and mosaic frescoes. (Interestingly, while the Manhattan Museum of Art was also fictional, the building used for its facade, the Alexander Hamilton U.S. Custom House near Battery Park, is within a mile of the original tunnel's location.)
- Square-Cube Law: In spite of the general Rule of Cool and Applied Phlebotinum, the law gets a brief nod during the Statue of Liberty scene...
Winston: Can't you go any faster?
- Theme Tune Cameo: Ray and Winston try to sing the GB theme song at a birthday party for "ungrateful yuppie larvae", but sadly, they're shouted down by their cries for He-Man.
- Weaponized Landmark: The Statue of Liberty.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Apparently Winston has an aversion to rats.