The Real Ghostbusters is an animated TV show produced by Columbia Pictures Television, which aired on ABC from 1986 to 1991. The cartoon spinoff of the 1984 classic horror comedy The Ghostbusters continued the hilarious ghost-hunting exploits of Peter Venkman, Ray Stantz, Egon Spengler, Winston Zeddemore, and their secretary Janine Melnitz as several supernatural scourges scare the heck out of New York City.
Although the series tends to wear out its welcome in the latter seasons, the most entertaining and rewatchable episodes in the first three seasons are hard to beat. As Jason Reitman’s chilling new sequel Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire heads toward its March 22, 2024 release date, reliving the best episodes of The Real Ghostbusters is an ideal way of preparing for the new big-screen sequel and becoming reacquainted with the iconic heroes and villains who populate the Ghostbusters universe.
From cool cinematic callbacks to hysterically horrifying holidays and more, here are the 10 most amusing episodes of The Real Ghostbusters, ranked.
10 The Thing in Mr. Faversham’s Attic
Season 2, Episode 38
Peter, Ray, Egon, and Winston are summoned to the house of an elderly woman named Mrs. Faversham who has been hearing strange noises in her attic for 70 years. Upon entry into the dark, creaky attic, the Ghostbusters soon happen upon a deadly demon conjured by the woman’s deceased father years prior.
Apart from the unnerving claustrophobia of the upstairs area and subsequent showdown with the supernatural entity, it’s the human elements of the story that stand out the most.
For instance, Mrs. Faversham reminds Peter of his mother, and he accepts the case for free out of the kindness of his heart. Moreover, the Ghostbusters learn that the demon was trapped in the attic by the woman’s father, Mr. Faversham, as a means of protecting his daughter and giving her a better life.
The episode marries the uplifting human spirit with the menace of a supernatural spirit, with the results unforgettably fitting for a horror-comedy cartoon.
9 The Boogieman Cometh
Season 1, Episode 6
In “The Boogieman Cometh,” the Ghostbusters are summoned by a pair of siblings whom the Boogieman haunts. When the fearless foursome enter the children’s house in the middle of the night and order the parents to leave, Egon encounters a petrifying villain from his past.
Egon is familiar with the Boogieman from his childhood, the real one, and uses his experience to help the children escape from harm, leading to a harrowing showdown inside the phantom’s surreal paranormal realm.
Apart from the brilliant blend of humorous jokes and horrifying jolts surrounding the ’80s TV cartoon villain, framing the episode through the lens of children’s fear of the Boogeyman legend makes the episode ideal for younger fans, nostalgic for older ones, and relatable to all viewers.
Moreover, the way Egon’s own childhood vulnerabilities are explored makes his character more likable and sympathetic. Thematically, the lesson about facing one’s childhood fear goes a long way as a valuable teaching moment.
8 Xmas Marks The Spot
Season 1, Episode 13
Staying with the holiday theme, “Xmas Marks The Spot” does everything a season finale should do and then some. The story finds the Ghostbusters tasked with saving Christmas after stumbling into a time portal and meeting Ebenezer Scrooge.
A visit by three Christmas Ghosts ensues, forcing the Ghostbusters to teach Scrooge a lesson and restore the integrity of the holiday, atoning for their own past sins in the process.
The best part of the episode comes when Egon gallantly ventures into the Ecto-Containment Unit and faces all the spirits trapped by the Ghostbusters throughout the season.
The story not only brilliantly riffs on the timeless Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol, but the narrative comes full circle when creatures like Slug, Samhain, Ghash, Wat, Killerwat, the Boogieman and others appear inside the containment unit. It’s a great episode that honors the Christmas spirit while putting a tightly wrapped bow on the entire season.
7 The Revenge of Murry the Mantis
Season 2, Episode 36
In “Revenge of Murray the Mantis,” one of the Ghostbusters’ oldest foes becomes an unlikely ally. The story takes place on Thanksgiving when the annual New York parade is suddenly attacked by a floating green Murray the Praying Mantis balloon. Inside the balloon are malefic spirits who’ve escaped from an ancient morgue and plan to haunt the city to no end. To combat the paranormal attack, the Ghostbusters unleash the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man.
Aside from the epic recreation of the annual Thanksgiving Day Macy’s Day Parade and the brutal aerial attack on its patrons by the Mantis balloon, it’s the kaiju-like titanic clash between Murray the Mantis and the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man that resonates most.
So often, each episode ends with the Ghostbusters saving the day in some capacity. Here, the Ghostbusters are left powerless and call on their one-time enemy to help them defeat the sinister spirits controlling the menacing Mantis.
6 The Devil to Pay
Season 2, Episode 49
In “The Devil to Pay,” Peter convinces Ray and Winston to appear on a game show to win a free vacation to Tahiti. Alas, the Ghostbusters fail to realize that they are being manipulated by a demonic TV host, forcing them to unwittingly compete to save their souls from eternal damnation. The playful episode is highly entertaining and leads to a wildly unpredictable ending that warrants repeat viewings.
With an unforgettable fusion of tension, suspense, genuine laughter, and outstanding animated artwork, the lengths to which the Ghostbusters go to save their souls are a ton of fun to behold.
Many episodes of The Real Ghostbusters get bogged down with exposition and lengthy backstories relating to certain ancient villains, but “The Devil to Play” perfectly encapsulates the absurd silliness that underscored the show’s appeal in the ’80s and ’90s.
5 When Halloween Was Forever
Season 1, Episode 8
Halloween and the Ghostbusters are a match made in hellish delight. In “When Halloween Was Forever,” the spirit of Halloween, Samhain, escapes from an ancient prison and plans to turn the horrifying holiday into a permanent day of terror and torment by stopping time. To prevent a perpetual Halloween, the Ghostbusters must defeat the evil spirit as a horde of young trick-or-treaters litter the streets of New York.
One of only three Halloween episodes featured in The Real Ghostbusters, the festive decorations and holiday iconography bring All Hallows Eve to life with riveting and highly rewatchable results.
Slimer facing the creepy, pumpkin-headed Samhain and his evil minions increases the dramatic stakes and leads to a touching conclusion that underscores the friendship between the Ghostbusters. It’s a fun and frightening episode that puts everyone in the mood for Halloween, a holiday perfectly tailored to the characters.
4 Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster
Season 2, Episode 12
Janine Melnitz finally gets her chance to shine as an empowered equal when her apartment is suddenly haunted by an unknown entity. When Janine asks the Ghostbusters to investigate, they brush off their secretary, citing their busy schedule as the primary reason.
Left to her own devices, Janine overcomes her deepest fears, dons the tan jumpsuit, straps on the Proton Pack, and exorcises the ghoulish presence in her apartment.
For Janine fans especially, the episode is a joy to watch as she reverses roles with the Ghostbusters and heroically rises to save them from a demonic entity known as Proteus.
With the Ghostbusters trapped, Janine teams up with Slimer to rescue the foursome in one of the most compelling redemptive story arcs the character has ever been a part of, be it on the big or small screen. It’s a fantastic episode to watch Janine come into her own and earn her stripes as an unofficial fifth Ghostbuster.
3 The Grundel
Season 3, Episode 10
Arguably the darkest and most disturbing episode of the entire series, “The Grundel” picks up when a schoolboy named Lee asks the Ghostbusters to investigate the strange behavior of his brother, Alec.
Their investigation leads to the discovery of a Grundel, a demonic entity that controls Alex and makes him do bad things. Egon realizes that they must intervene or else Alec will turn into a Grundel himself.
“The Grundel” was the final episode in Season 3 written by venerated scribe J. Michael Straczynski. According to lore, ABC approached Straczynski after the ratings had declined at the end of season 2 and permitted him to write a darker episode.
Straczynski agreed on the condition that no editorial changes would be made to his story. The result remains one of the most unsettling episodes of the vintage ’80s animated series that, while it veers away from comedy, no one will likely forget anytime soon.
2 The Collect Call of Cthulu
Season 2, Episode 32
The Ghostbusters face lethal Lovecraftian horror in “The Collect Call of Cthulu,” a violently visceral episode that takes place in the stygian sewers below New York.
The plot finds the Ghostbusters in search of the Necronomicon, the world’s most powerful spell book, which has been stolen by the offspring and cult of Cthulu. The search leads them to an intense showdown with some of the most mortifying monsters in the entire series.
Beyond mining the mythology of H.P. Lovecraft’s brand of macabre horror, the visual representation of the monsters is downright unsettling, with the claustrophobic sewers adding to the dreadful atmosphere.
The story also has several hints and references to Lovecraft’s work, which gives the episode a ton of replay value. As the finale works its way up to a cool Coney Island confrontation, the Ghostbusters take on the gargantuan Cthulu on a roller-coaster. It’s a moment no fan of the ’80s cartoon will ever forget.
1 Knock, Knock
Season 2, Episode 40
Often considered the best of the best, “Knock, Knock” concerns a subway construction crew opening a portal to hell below New York City.
The door was meant to remain sealed until Armageddon occurs, but when it’s opened prematurely and a surge of ectoplasmic energy unleashes an army of ghouls and ghosts throughout the city, Egon must engineer a plan to contain the vengeful spirits and save the city from oblivion.
In a plot similar to the iconic scenes in Ghostbusters 2, “Knock, Knock” simply feels more germane to the overarching mythology of the characters than any other episode.
It essentially advances where Vigo the Carpathian’s subterranean subway scourge left off in Ivan Reitman’s underrated 1989 sequel, going so far as to explore Egon’s storyline as well. For Ghostbusters movie fans looking for a cartoon recreation of the tone and timbre of “Knock, Knock” is hard to beat.
For more in the world of Ghostbusters, check out this video on fun facts about the cast:
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