A Grown-Up’s Guide to the Ghostbusters Franchise

The cast has changed across various media, but the central premise has remained much the same. In Ghostbusters, the question of “What happens to us when we die?” has transformed to “How would we deal with unruly, malevolent spirits?” 

Since its debut, this series has leaned into the comedic elements of the afterlife, but that doesn’t mean that it's free of genuinely moving moments or spirits that instill terror in its viewers. The balancing act that the first film strikes made it difficult to equal. But there are several great entries in the canon. 

Extreme Ghostbusters (1997)

If you see the word “extreme” in a title, chances are the property was released between the years 1997-2002. Case in point: Extreme Ghostbusters, an animated series that originally aired via the BKN block in the late 1990s. 

The Real Ghostbusters (1986)

This series underwent several changes over its time on the air, with a name change to Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters a few years in. For anyone looking for a nostalgic show that pays significant tribute to the series on which it is based, you can’t go wrong with this cartoon. 

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

This film goes in a different direction than the reboot by leaning into the legacy of the first two movies, which is both its strength and its weakness. Regardless, it’s a fun, family-friendly film about kids fighting ghosts and forgotten legacies finding new relevance, making it an essential watch for fans that may have found themselves wondering what happened after the credits rolled in Ghostbusters II

Ghostbusters II (1989)

Utilizing the backdrop of 1980s New York, the supernatural threat here quite literally feeds off unpleasantness. This may not have offered substantial enough commentary to make these observations wholly successful, but the attempt is made, and it’s a worthy one.