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Let's go, Ghostbusters!

Just to set the record straight, these guys came first... sort of.

In 1975 Filmation created a series for CBS called The Ghost Busters, starring F Troop veterans Forrest Tucker and Larry Storch, as well as Bob Burns in a gorilla suit (yeah, this show was kind of odd). For this low-budget live-action series, Forrest Tucker, Larry Storch and Bob Burns played Jake Kong, Eddie Spencer and Tracy (When you hear the names "Spencer Tracy, and Kong", you'd probably think of the famous actor and a gorilla named Kong. Nope... that was Tracy) who would receive a message from a the mysterious, unseen "Zero" who would inform them that some spook or other was up to mischief, and the Ghost Busters would have to stop it. Hijinks would ensue as the Busters and the Ghosts would use every trick you could think of (and even some you wouldn't) to outwit each other. For fifteen episodes the show ran on a rather "random" style of humor and was finally laid to rest.

Cut to 1984. Columbia Pictures wanted to make a movie about a team of ghost busters which would be called, surprise surprise, Ghostbusters. The characters, setting and unique aspects of the storyline were all different, but well-into production, Columbia learned that Filmation already held a copyright of the name. After a legal hassle, Columbia was able to license the name. With the movie going on to become a massive blockbuster, they decided to cash-in with an animated series. At the time, Filmation was an animation powerhouse thanks to their successful He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and She-Ra: Princess of Power cartoons. They were very close to striking a deal to work with Columbia on the project, but when that didn't pan out, they thought they could cash-in with their own show.

So we got the animated Ghostbusters. A sequel to the live-action series, this starred the sons of Jake Kong and Eddie Spencer (who have the same names as their fathers). Tracy is back too, though he neither looks nor acts anything like his live-action counterpart. Nevertheless, dialogue indicates that this is the same gorilla.

The new series followed the premise of its forebearer and had the same style of humor, but there were significant alterations: the setting had changed--the Ghostbusters now worked out of "Ghost Command" in which they kept some ghosts as pets, had technology that verged on the blatantly magical such as a talking car that could fly through space and travel through time, and even a backdoor to some sort of alternate dimension, which they went into in every episode to "get into uniform." The biggest change, though, was that they now had a nemesis, a sort of ghost-robot thing named Prime Evil, who operated out of "Hauntquarters"--an elongated house situated at the end of time or something--and commanded a legion of Toyetic baddies. The mysterious "Zero" from the 1975 series was never mentioned; instead usually the GBs would either be contacted by someone (usually their reporter friend Jessica Wray) or else just realize something is up and take initiative.

Like its forebearer, Ghostbusters animated only lasted one season. This time, the cause for failure was more clear: kids tuned in thinking that this was the show with the Proton Packs and the PKE meter, and it wasn't (that was The Real Ghostbusters). That, and Ghostbusters runs on a "random" style of humor, which isn't to everyone's tastes. Some people also didn't like how Aesop-heavy the cartoon was.

Even so, there is a small following of people who love this series, and even consider it "the True Ghostbusters." You can find a haunt for such people here.

Both the live-action series and the cartoon are available in their entirety on DVD. In addition, the show currently runs on Qubo.

When IDW Publishing began producing Ghostbusters comics, Filmation's Ghostbusters began making small cameos and received a Shout-Out here and there, being established as an Alternate Universe to the Boys in Grey. Though rights issues have sadly prevented a true crossover.

Tropes common to both series include:

  • Public Domain: Both series borrow a lot from classic mythology, literature, and sometimes film.
Tropes used in Filmation's Ghostbusters include:
  • Amplified Animal Aptitude: Tracy the gorilla was a scientific genius.
  • Amusement Park: The episode "Rollerghoster."
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Taken somewhat to extremes, even for a Filmation property. Each episode would end with an Anvilicious lecture, which would then be repeated (sometimes verbatim) in the moral at the end of the episode.
  • Animated Adaptation: Of the 1975 live action series.
  • Awesome Backpack: The GhostPacks, which commonly served as…
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Belfry.
  • Big Bad: Prime Evil.
  • Black Magician Girl: Apparitia and Mysteria. Futura counts as one too, when the writers remember she's also a magic-slinger.
  • Bowdlerize: One episode takes everybody back to the Salem Witch Trials. What happens to you if you're a witch? You're tarred and feathered and chased out of town.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Even if one does not regard Belfry as such, Brat-A-Rat is professedly one. Corky, Jessica's nephew, is another one of these.
  • Broad Strokes: The continuity is not very consistent, both internally and with the 1975 series. Somewhat justified in that the Ghostbusters can travel through time.
  • Bubble Gun: A favorite in the boys' arsenal of weapons.
  • Butt Monkey: Eddie on the 'busters' side, Scared Stiff for the ghosts.
  • Chekhov's Gun
  • Cool and Unusual Punishment: Prime Evil regularly inflicted these on his minions. He'd blast Scared Stiff to pieces, chain up Sir Trance-A-Lot and pour water on him to make him rust, force Apparitia to sew Airhead back together, or stuff Haunter into his pith helmet.
  • Cool Car: The Ghost Buggy.
  • Cool House: Ghost Command. Also Hauntquarters.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: The human villain in "The Battle for Ghost Command".
  • Cowardly Lion: Eddie was never as eager to fight Prime Evil's minions as Jake or Tracy, but he was always there when they needed him. He was also something of a Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass, as in at least one episode he wreaks havoc on Hauntquarters by himself.
  • Cross-Dressing Voices: Susan Blu as Belfry and Erika Scheimer as Jessica's nephew Corky.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Eddie. There are many episodes where he shows that he can be a good Ghostbuster, especially when Jake isn't around. Indeed, this could also be said about the ghosts, who are much the same way when Prime Evil isn't breathing down their necks.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Ghost Buggy was constantly making insulting remarks, usually about Tracy. Their answering machine, "Ansabone" would likewise always make some remark every time it took a message.
  • Dem Bones: "Scared Stiff" was a skeletal robot ghost — and, of course, Prime Evil, at least from the neck up, was similarly roboto-skeletal.
  • Detect Evil: Jake's ghost-sniffin' nose.
  • The Drag Along
  • Elevator Gag: Continually with the Skelevator.
  • Enemy Mine: On more than one occasion do the Ghostbusters have to team up with Prime Evil to defeat an even eviller ghost, Big Evil.
  • Episode Title Card
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Tracy.
  • Evil Brit: Haunter, the British colonial hunter ghost. He's also based on comedian Terry-Thomas.
  • Evil Is Petty: Several of Prime Evil's evil plots revolve around taking out perceived sleights to his and other ghosts' image.
  • Evil Overlord: Prime Evil clearly falls into this category.
  • Evil Sorcerer: Prime Evil is also this.
  • Expy: Dracula is suspiciously similar to Drac on The Groovie Ghoulies, as is Victor from "The Girl Who Cried Vampire."
  • Fetish Fuel Station Attendant: Futura.
  • Five Episode Pilot
  • Five-Man Band:
  • Funday Pawpet Show: In this clip at about 10:05, the opening credits run as Poink explains the series to Yappy. Oddly enough the music is the Ray Parker Jr movie/Real Ghostbusters theme...and it fits in with the animation like a glove.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: Tracy invents all the team's equipment. Yes, Tracy the gorilla.
  • Ghost Planet
  • Ghost Ship: As sailed by Long John Scarechrome.
  • Goofy Print Underwear: The boys have company-issue boxer shorts.
  • Great Big Book of Everything
  • Green Aesop: Surprisingly, averted in at least two episodes. Though oil is a plot point in each, conservation of oil isn't the aesop. Especially bizarre in the episode about a "ghost" dragon that fed on oil, was melting the North Pole, and was defeated by his fire being extinguished. That episode's aesop? A complete non sequitur.
  • Half-Dressed Cartoon Animal: Tracy.
  • Haunted Headquarters: Both Ghost Command and Hauntquarters.
  • Haunted House: Again, both Ghost Command and Hauntquarters.
  • Haunted Technology: Nearly all the equipment in the office was some form of haunted skeleton.
  • Headless Horseman: Obviously, the episode "The Headless Horseman Caper." Subverted in that he isn't exactly headless--he does have a head, but Prime Evil thought he'd be scarier if he were, so the Horseman stuck his head into his costume. When the head does pop out, it resembles a green-skinned, orange-haired Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Hellevator: The Skelevator, again.
  • Hollywood Hacking: The episode "Knight of Terror" involved this.
  • In Name Only: This cartoon had no connection with the 1984 movie, though the popularity of the latter inspired the Revival of the 1975 series in animated form.
  • Inside a Computer System: "Cyman's Revenge".
  • Intrepid Reporter: Jessica Wray.
    • Stealth Pun: Her last name is Wray, and she's the Love Interest for Jake Kong. Not only that, one of the other major characters is a gorilla.
    • Furthermore, her first name is Jessica. Think about that.
  • Jet Pack: The Ghost Packs can transform into jet packs called "Buster Thruster Packs." And no, that's not code for anything.
  • Large Ham: Prime Evil, of course.
  • Laughably Evil: Prime Evil and his bungling minions, Depending on the Writer.
  • Losing Your Head: Happened quite often to Scared Stiff.
  • Magic Knight: Sir Trance-A-Lot could put his opponents to sleep with his magical Trance Lance.
  • Magic Music: Floatzart.
  • Meaningful Name: Futura lives in the future. Wait, our future is her present so this doesn't make sense at all.
    • Maybe her parents are fans of classic cars? (Well, it would be a classic to them.)
  • Monster of the Aesop: Occasionally subverted--an oil-drinking dragon melting the polar ice caps is not called out as a Monster of the Aesop, making it technically the subtlest Aesop in the series.
  • Musical Assassin: Floatzart, again.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands: There are a ton of gimmicks at the heroes' disposal which activate more or less at random and have somewhat unpredictable effects (invisibility also conferring immateriality, for instance). The most powerful and reliable weapons--like a ghostbusting tactical nuke--only show up once.
  • Nice Hat: Tracy's fedora.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Belfry the bat (and a boatload of haunted appliances) for the heroes, Brat-A-Rat for the villains.
  • Our Ghosts Are Different: The "ghosts" included a werewolf ghost and a robot ghost. Most of the enemy "ghosts" behaved an awful lot like corporeal monsters or regular animals, such as dinosaur "ghosts" and a few dragon "ghosts." 
  • Plot-Driven Breakdown: Since the Dematerializer could take out most of the villains with one shot, it tended to get broken or lost so that all the problems weren't resolved in thirty seconds. Moreover, what it did and didn't work on was kind of fuzzy. Generally if a villain were one of the main group of bad guys, whether he were a ghost or not he could be dematerialized. If the villain were a non-ghost and showed up only once, he was safe. Prime Evil was an exception, as he was simply too powerful for the Dematerializer's blasts to affect.
  • Quirky Miniboss Squad: Prime Evil's "Usual Gang of Idiots".
  • Revival: Of the 1975 series.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: The Ghostbusters to most of the kids (and quite a few fellow adults) on the show. If their parents say "there's no such thing as ghosts," they know instinctively that there are grownups who know that ghosts exist and will take them seriously. Interestingly, the Filmation and Columbia Pictures franchises share this in common: in the '84 movie, the police turn a possessed Louis over to the Ghostbusters.
  • Rube Goldberg Device: As featured in the Transformation Sequence. Tracy was also fond of these.
  • San Dimas Time: Seems to be in effect, if only because there's only one "future" the heroes routinely travel to.
  • Secret Legacy
  • Sick and Wrong: There's an episode in which Prime Evil must do one good deed in order to gain his powers back. Upon hearing this, he muses, "How disgusting."
  • Sidekick Ex Machina: The Ghostbusters would be completely screwed without Tracy around.
  • Skele-Bot 9000: Scared Stiff — and Prime Evil, at least from the neck up.
  • Skunk Stripe: Apparitia has one.
  • Sonic Scream: Belfry's "Belfry Blast".
  • Space Whale Aesop: Dispose of your trash properly or your equipment will be devoured by ghosts!
    • A literal one in the form of an episode featuring the ghosts of Captain Ahab and Moby Dick, who had become friends in the afterlife. Y'know, 'cause Moby-Dick is now...a space whale.
  • Spin Offspring: Two of the protagonists (Jake Kong Junior and Eddie Spencer Junior) are sons of protagonists (Jake Kong Senior and Eddie Spencer Senior) of the series it spun from.
  • Status Quo Is God: The Ghostbusters get rid of evil spirits with a gun called the Dematerializer that sends ghosts to limbo...for a while, so they can be back whenever another script calls for them to be around (but see Wild Mass Guessing for a theory about that).
  • Stock Footage: Unfortunately, perhaps the single best-remembered characteristic of any Filmation series.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Prime Evil's minions probably became ghosts because they were Too Dumb to Live.
  • Team Pet: Belfry the bat.
  • Time Travel: A recurring plot point thanks to Futura, the purple-skinned Ghostbuster from the future, and her Time Hopper vehicle.
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: Time travel is safe, common, and highly resilient to change. Traveling back or forward in time is about as casual as going out of country.
  • Title Theme Tune: The complete lyrics: "Let's go, Ghostbusters! Let's go! Let's go, Let's go!"
  • Transformation Sequence: The boys getting on their ghostbusting gear. One of Filmation's favorite methods for avoiding new animation. Mind you, it was a pretty kickass sequence.
  • Transforming Mecha: The Ghost Buggy, aka GB.
  • Verbal Tic: Prime Evil punctuates his speech with what sounds like radio static.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Prime Evil suffers this more than once.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Tracy.
  • Yeah! Shot: The heroes do this on a regular basis.
  • You Have Failed Me: Prime Evil says this to his flunkies quite often. He also acts on it on a regular basis, whether by blasting Scared Stiff to pieces or stuffing Haunter into his Pith Helmet.
  • You No Take Candle: Air-Head Mummy talk this way.