Surely everyone has seen or at least heard of the cult great comedy film “Ghostbusters” from 1984. The animated spin-off series “The Real Ghostbusters,” which debuted in 1986, came after this movie.
Spin-offs of big movies were quite the rage at the time, but few of them managed to survive for more than one or two seasons at most. The Real Ghostbusters was one of the few exceptions in the pool of animated series at the time because it adhered to the Ghostbusters’ central tenet and produced a programme that audiences found entertaining.
It ran from 1986 to 1991 for seven seasons and was undoubtedly one of the best animated series of the 1980s. Today, we will delve into everything that surrounds this amazing programme and fill you in on all the details of The Real Ghostbusters!
What was the show all about?
The Real Ghostbusters, an animated spin-off series based on the renowned Ghostbusters movie released in 1984, made its debut in September 1986. The storyline followed the life of the original Ghostbusters as they embarked on adventures in New York City to catch ghosts and spirits. It was created by Joe Medjuck and Michael C. Gross.
The Ghostbusters squad also included a mascot named Slimer, a secretary named “Janine,” an accountant named “Louis,” and other members. The four Ghostbusters were among the characters that Maurice LaMarche, Dave Coulier, Frank Weller, and Arsenio Hall provided voices for. Produced by Columbia Pictures Television, The Real Ghostbusters has 130 episodes over the course of around seven seasons.
It debuted on the ABC Network, and each episode lasted roughly 22 minutes. Later, as the series gained some fan attention, another spinoff series called “Slimer!” was also launched, and this one was devoted entirely to the Ghostbusters mascot “Slimer.” Wang Film Productions created this episode, which lasted for roughly 13 episodes.
Exploring the first few episodes and the overall story arc
The first episode of the programme, titled “Ghosts ‘R Us,” opens with a pan of New York City. The Ghostbusters, made up of Egon, Ray, Winston, and Peter, drive up to a large crowd that has gathered outside a chocolate factory. The audience scatters as it begins to shower chocolates, and the Ghostbusters prepare to enter the structure and begin their investigation.
They are followed by their mascot “Slimer,” and Egon uses their radar gadget to identify several beings. Ray takes the initiative as they break into the building. One of the monsters aims a chocolate slab at him, and Ray ends up with chocolate spread all over his face and clothes.
There are two more ‘class-five’ monsters in the place, and they seem to be a family of monsters that have taken control over the factory’s chocolate machines. The Ghostbusters warn them to give up, but the monsters continue to attack them with chocolate and find the whole thing quite funny. The Ghostbusters then use their machines to trap the monsters, and the factory’s owner gives them a year’s supply of chocolate to express his gratitude.
The Ghostbusters then return to their base and greet their secretary ‘Janine’ while she reads some papers on her desk. They gift her the box of chocolates, but Janine opens it to find no chocolates. Slimer apparently ate away all of the chocolates, and the Ghostbusters reprimand him for his actions.
While the Ghostbusters go to bed, Slimer makes his way to the fridge and causes quite a commotion as he steals some food. The noise wakes Winston from his sleep, and he looks around while Slimer hides in a corner. Though Winston does not catch him, Slimer accidentally pushes a lever against a wall that briefly turns the containment unit off. The family of ‘class-five’ monsters manages to escape, and they devise a plan to run the Real Ghostbusters out of business.
One of these monsters attacks the hospital, while the other two show up as saviors of the people. When the Ghostbusters reach the scene, the two disguised monsters have already captured the troublemaker, and they introduce themselves as the service called ‘Ghosts ‘R Us.’ They tell the Ghostbusters that they will be hearing a lot from them from now on and then drive away while the original team tries to make sense of the situation.
Ghosts R’ Us start stealing the Ghostbusters’ business, and their customers soon start going to the new group instead. The Ghostbusters then get a call from a hotel that requires their help and reach the location. However, they are frustrated to find that Ghost R’ Us has once again solved the problem before them. These monster parents in this family would stage the presence of ghosts themselves and then make a show of trapping their monster son in a box to prove to the people that they have gotten rid of the problem.
The Real Ghostbusters rack their brains trying to figure out where they have seen the members of ‘Ghost R’ Us’ before when they get a call from Janine. She tells them that three ghosts are missing from their system according to their devices. Peter says that this is impossible since none of the ghosts can escape unless they turn the containment unit off.
Next to Peter, Slimer fidgets nervously in his seat as he is scared that they will discover that it was his fault that the ghosts had escaped. Peter also realizes that class-five monsters who have escaped resemble the ‘Ghosts R’ Us’ team, and he finally realizes that Slimer probably set them free.
In the meantime, Janine gets a trick call from the monster family, who ask the Ghostbusters to come to help them at an old toy factory in Brooklyn. They intend to unleash the class-seven phantom known as ‘Turlax’ and are optimistic that the Ghostbusters will fail to capture him. However, they accidentally set a class-10 ‘Full-Magnitude’ free.
While the Ghostbusters reach the scene, the family of ghosts tries to run away from Full Magnitude, who is now assembling a giant body made of toys. Peter and Winston try to capture this monster while he takes form in this host body constructed out of toys and steps out into the city. In the meantime, Egon and Ray capture the family of ghosts at Brooklyn Bridge by using the Ecto-1.
Peter and Winston set their machines to ‘power overload’ and use the Ecto-2 to capture this monster. Slimer uses his bodily slimes to slime the bridge, which causes the monster to trip and fall into the water. Finally, the Ghostbusters use their machines at full power to disperse him, and they successfully capture the ghost while the toys in his host body fall to the ground.
As the episode ends, the crowd cheers them on, and the Real Ghostbusters successfully restore their position as the number one ghost-capturing service.
In the second episode titled ‘Killerwatt,’ a power blackout in New York leaves the Real Ghostbusters in a tough spot without their machines. While the news reports power failures across the city, a worker comes across a ghost on the electric line. Back at the Ghostbusters headquarter ‘Firehouse,’ Ray cooks them a meal, but the Ghostbusters secretly feed it to Slimer when Ray looks away. In the meantime, they get a call from the city’s mayor to take care of ghosts at a departmental store.
The Ghostbusters arrive at the place and see the building surging with electricity. They also detect a significant psychic disturbance, and it seems that the ghosts have sabotaged the mall’s electrical wiring. The electrical appliances inside the store seem to be working on their own accord, and they even try to attack the Ghostbusters. They finally spot the ghosts and initially struggle to control them. However, they finally defeat them, and Peter starts trapping the ghosts. Finally, the Ghostbusters capture all the spirits, and normalcy is restored at the departmental store.
They return to the Firehouse and transfer the ghosts to the Containment Unit. However, the power goes out again, and the Ghostbusters are worried that the ghosts will all escape. Egon reassures them that he installed a backup generator and that the ghosts will not be able to escape. A spirit then possesses the electrical wiring of the generator and runs away with the whole generator.
The Ghostbusters scramble to use manual methods to keep the electricity running and use the Ecto-1 generator to generate electricity before the Containment Unit blows up. Peter also sources a bicycle, and Janine pedals the bicycle’s wheel that is linked with the Ecto-1’s generator to create electricity. The Ghostbusters are relieved when the power turns back on, while Egon detects psychic turbulence in the city’s power lines. They leave for the power lines in the Ecto-1 car while Janine continues pedaling the cycle to keep the power from running out.
However, the Ecto-1’s battery has run out since they left the generator back at the Firehouse. They step out of the car and spot a power plant not too far away. In the meantime, Slimer starts tinkering with the Ecto-1, and the vehicle loses balance as it starts rolling down the slope.
The Ghostbusters hang onto the car’s roof, and Peter hits the emergency brakes to finally bring the vehicle to a stop at the very last minute. While the team catches their breath, a monster known as ‘Killerwatt’ shows up and introduces himself as the leader ghoul. They end up getting into a tiff with Killerwatt, resulting in the Ecto-1 getting possessed by electricity. Their car then crashes into a pole, and the Ghostbusters decide to follow Killerwatt as he walks towards the power plant.
In the power plant, the Ghostbusters learn that Killerwatt and his clan of ghosts are feeding on the power plant’s electricity to become stronger. Winston proposes a plan to shut down the plant’s electricity generators, but Killerwatt lunges into an attack in order to prevent them from switching off the generators. However, Slimer turns the switch off, and Killerwatt slowly becomes weaker by the second as the ghost leaves the host body. The Ghostbusters then use fire to trap his ghoul, and Slimer turns the generators back on. The city’s power returns once again, and the blackout crisis comes to an end.
The city arranges for a parade in order to express their gratitude towards the Ghostbusters, and they happily ride their Ecto-1 around the city along with the mayor. However, Ray then realizes they have not returned to the Firehouse in a while, and Janine is still pedaling the cycle to keep the electricity flowing in their containment unit.
The third episode is titled ‘Mrs. Roger’s Neighborhood’, wherein the Ghostbusters get a call from Mrs. Rogers, who complains that her house is haunted. The group isn’t very enthusiastic about this case since such cases often turn out to be false alarms. Nevertheless, they set out in their Ecto-1 to investigate the house and find that their P.K.E. meter is giving strong signals of spectral activity and psychic forces in the house.
The Ghostbusters advise Mrs.Rogers to go to their headquarters for her safety, and Ray drives her back in the Ecto-1. The rest of the Ghostbusters look around the house, and a strange entity makes faces at Winston through a painting when he isn’t looking. Even the kitchenware seems haunted, but it returns to normal the second Egon enters the room. Peter makes a bill for this visit, concluding that there is nothing wrong with the place. Just then, he starts hearing strange noises and assumes that the other Ghostbusters are talking to him. A door opens up, and Peter gets pulled through the door while a strange voice says, ‘Wat.’
Egon refers to his Spirit Guide notes and finds out that a Wat is a demon from the underworld who also intends to take control of the living world.
In the meantime, Ray and Mrs. Rogers reach their headquarters, and Janine offers to give her a tour of the place. She also shows her their containment unit and tells her that only the four Ghostbusters can access this unit. A strange shadow of a monster tries to attack Janine, but it leaves her alone when she mentions that she cannot access the containment unit. Mrs. Rogers also has a pet canary that takes the form of a monster and scares Slimer.
At the house, Egon’s P.K.E. meter gives him a strong signal around Mrs. Roger’s closet. He concludes that she is Wat, and they realize that the whole thing is a trap. Ray also returns to the house, and he reunites with the group. The Ghostbusters then face many monsters, and finally, they fight most of them. They then rush back to the Firehouse and ask Janine about Mrs. Roger’s whereabouts.
She tells them that Mrs.Rogers had some ideas about fixing the place up, and the Ghostbusters spread out as they try to locate her. Peter gets possessed by Wat, and he tries to fight off the demon in his body. The Wat takes Peter towards the containment unit, and intends to free all the ghosts trapped within the machine. Egon comes up with the idea that could set Peter and Wat apart, but it requires precision while adjusting ‘electro-metabolic’ frequencies.
If they mess this up, Peter is at risk of blowing into pieces, but he gives them the heads-up to go ahead with the plan anyway. In the meantime, Mrs. Rogers’s canary ‘Precious’ appears by Peter’s side and tries to get him to open the containment unit.
However, Slimer defeats the monstrous bird, and Jaine then traps the bird in one of their ‘Trap’ devices. Egon’s plan also works, and they manage to separate Wat from Peter. While Peter returns to his usual self, the Ghostbusters put Wat into a Trap. On a different side of the city, Mrs. Roger’s haunted house collapses and then blows itself up as everything is restored to normal. As the episode comes to an end, Peter declares that he is done with such cases of haunted houses.
In the next episode, titled ‘Slimer, Come Home, the Ghostbusters have a tough time capturing a group of poltergeists who have been plaguing the city. These poltergeists are led by ‘Ghash’ and have already managed to defeat the Ghostbusters on more than one occasion. The Ghostbusters return to the Firehouse and are dejected over losing to Ghash once again, but they soon cheer up since it’s Winston’s birthday.
They have arranged a surprise party for him, and Winston is quite touched by this gesture. Janine brings the birthday cake, but Slimer impulsively eats it whole in just one big gulp. Though Winston is a little surprised, he lets it go and claims to be on a diet anyway. However, Peter scolds Slimer quite harshly for eating the cake. Later that night, Slimer is quite hurt and decides to leave this place forever. When Janine returns to the Firehouse with some donuts, she finds a note that Slimer has left behind.
She wakes the Ghostbusters, and everyone except Peter sets out to look for him. In the meantime, Slimer runs into the poltergeists and follows them to their headquarters. Peter also decides to sneak out and search for Slimer, and though Janine catches him, she lets him go.
In the meantime, Egon realizes that Slimer could be a potential target for the poltergeists since they need one more recruit to become unbeatable. On a different side, Ghash welcomes Slimer to the group and trains him to appear more frightening. Peter then runs into Slimer while he is out on a walk with Ghash, and he contacts the other Ghostbusters.
They break into Ghash’s headquarters while the monstrous poltergeist is absorbing all the ghosts in his body to become more powerful. Slimer does not wish to be absorbed by Ghashs, but he has no option but to comply. The Ghostbusters set Slimer’s frequency on their throwers and manage to pull him out of Ghash’s body. They then capture Ghash and all the ghost entities in the body and rush back to the Firehouse to trap them in the Containment Unit.
Later on, the Ghostbusters throw a ‘welcome home party for Slimer, and he once again gulps the whole cake away. However, this time the Ghostbusters reveal another backup cake, and the episode ends on a happy note.
Finally, the show’s fifth episode was titled ‘Troll Bridge,’ and it dealt with a bunch of trolls that took over the city. The episode begins with one single troll traveling through the sewers and emerging from a manhole within the city. This troll does not wish to stay with his group and has managed to escape from them as he makes his way around the city.
Soon after, a group of trolls take control over the ‘Queensboro Bridge,’ and the Ghostbusters are called in to take care of the problem. As they travel to the Bridge, Egon refers to ‘Tobin’s Spirit Guide’ and learns that there is a fair chance that their Proton Streams will either turn them to stone or make them stronger and bigger. Peter is quite interested in meeting these trolls and volunteers to communicate with him.
He waves a white flag at the trolls, but the leader of the trolls eats the flag. It is Egon who then speaks to the trolls in their language, and he learns that they are here in search of a lost member of their group. The troll leader tells the Ghostbusters to bring the lost member to him within 12 hours, or he will send Fireflies to destroy the place.
The Ghostbusters then set out to search for the lost troll, and they split up to search for him in Times Square and near the Holland Tunnel. Finally, Ray realizes that the missing troll is drawn toward music, and they find him dancing away at Club Kat. They get their hands on him and learn that he doesn’t want to return to his group. In the meantime, the Troll Leader starts attacking the city. He first targets the Empire State Building, and the Ghostbusters deal with the trolls as well as the Fireflies’ attack.
The Ghostbusters then pay someone to make a statue of the missing troll and return it to the Troll Leader. They tell him that they accidentally shot at the troll, which turned him to stone. The leader believes him, and he takes the statue with him as the trolls leave the city. The Ghostbusters then send the lone troll to one of Peter’s friends in Chicago, who is notoriously known for throwing parties.
In this way, the Ghostbusters worked together to get rid of ghosts and spirits with some help from Slimer and Janine.
Some of the memorable characters on the show
The core team of Ghostbusters consisted of four men: Egon Spengler, Ray Stanz, Winston Zeddmore, and Peter Venkman.
Egon Spengler’s character was tweaked a little bit in the show, and he had blonde hair. He wore a grayish-blue jumpsuit and was a skilled scientist responsible for creating a lot of their equipment that helped them capture ghosts. Egon’s family originated from a background in witchcraft, and he once succumbs to using these methods to defeat a spirit named ‘Al Capone’ when all their scientific equipment fails.
In one of the episodes, we learn that a supernatural monster stalked Egon in his childhood, and this monster hid in Egon’s closet and fed on his fears. After countless interactions with this monster known as Boogieman, Egon was motivated to learn more about the paranormal world, leading him to join the Ghostbusters. Later, Egon faces Boogieman twice and defeats him during both these encounters. He also always carries a copy of ‘Tobin’s Spirit Guide,’ which helps him identify the ghosts and their weaknesses.
Ray Stanz’s appearance was short and stout, and he also had ginger hair in this animated series. He wore a beige jumpsuit and was quite an enthusiastic group member. Ray was an expert scientist in paranormal history and always had explanations for various paranormal phenomena. He was also quite skilled in metallurgy and often helped Egon design the machines to catch the ghosts.
Winston Zeddmore wore a light blue suit in this animated series, and he was the only Ghostbuster who was not a scientist. This often causes him to doubt his abilities in the group, but he always proves to be an integral member of the Ghostbusters. Later on, it was revealed that Winston was the reincarnation of the shaman, ‘Shimu Buku.’
Peter Venkman wore a brown suit in the series and was the unofficial leader of the Ghostbusters. Venkman had a Ph.D. in parapsychology, the study of psychic phenomenons. Though he held many academic degrees, Peter was the most street-smart member of the group, and he can be quite witty and cynical at times.
Janine Melnitz works as a secretary to the Ghostbusters, and she keeps tabs on all their clients. In this series, Janine is the youngest daughter of a middle-class family, and she lives in Brooklyn. In some episodes, Janine used a proton pack and joined the Ghostbusters on their ghost-busting adventures. Janine harbored a crush on Egon, though he was somewhat unaware of this crush initially.
In the show’s sixth season, a demon disguised as a fairy godmother feeds on her insecurities and frustration over not getting Egon’s attention. The Ghostbusters finally realize the changes in her appearance and behavior after Slimer points them out. Egon then confesses his feelings to her, and ultimately, the demon can no longer feed off Janine’s feelings, and she returns to her usual self.
The Ghostbusters also had a mascot, ‘Slimer,’ a slimy green ghost also called as the ‘Onion Head Ghost.’ Earlier, Slimer was marketed as the ‘Green Ghost’ while releasing merch, but later on, this character garnered quite some attention and was renamed ‘Slimer.’
Marvelous Verdict: Among the coolest 80s shows!
The Real Ghostbusters was one gem of a show from the 80s, and it is definitely one of the coolest spin-off animated series based on a movie. The show did not change the base premise of the original Ghostbusters movie but instead picked off right where the movie stopped. Fans were thereby quite content with the Real Ghostbusters series, as it was an adventure-packed extension to the cult-classic film.
The show’s animation and voice effects were incredible, and the voice actors also did a commendable job bringing these characters to life. However, there was some riff regarding the voice actor for the character of Peter Venkman, and Bill Murray, who played this character in the live-action, had complaints regarding the voice acting.
As a result, Dave Coulier replaced Lorenzo Music as the voice actor for this character. Other changes in the voice-acting cast included Laura Summer getting replaced by Kath Soucie as Janine and Buster Jones replacing Arsenio Hall as Winston Zeddmore.
The show also had a catchy main theme, as well as a spooky soundtrack that matched the overall vibe of the show. The show’s writing was quite creative and original, and every episode had the perfect balance of comedy and terror. Fans especially liked how the show incorporated characters from cartoons, fairy tales, and mythological tales, thereby ensuring that the show had a rich plotline.
There were mentions of the Headless Horseman and the Bogeyman, among other such characters. Especially in the first few seasons, many episodes were based on urban myths and legends and were wonderfully executed. The storylines were interesting throughout all seven seasons of the show, and they captured the attention of both kids and adults alike.
To sum it up, The Real Ghostbusters was undoubtedly one of the best animated series of the 80s. The show was a neat package of comedy, adventure, myths, and lores, all set against a spooky background, and it was a total hit with the viewers. Though it is essentially a spin-off, the series has its own charm, and it stands out on its own!