Ghostbusters Is Going Back to Animation, Where It Belongs

There’s something strange streaming...

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: A view of the GhostBusters car at the GHOSTBUSTERS: AFTERLIFE Worl...
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As wonderful and original as the 1984 Ghostbusters is, what transformed the movie into a franchise was an animated spin-off series aimed at kids. In 1986, The Real Ghostbusters brought the adventures of Ray, Peter, Egon, Winston, Janine, and Slimer into millions of homes. While the original film was very much for adults, the show had a more kid-appropriate vibe, even if the various ghosts, ghouls, and demons could be terrifying.

Because no film sequel or spin-off to Ghostbusters ever lived up to the first movie, The Real Ghostbusters remains the only project that ever came close, simply because it did its own thing instead of trying to be a carbon copy. And now, almost four decades after The Real Ghostbusters debuted, Netflix and Sony are bringing the ‘busters back to animation.

Although rumblings of a new animated Ghostbusters have been around for at least two years, Sony Animation recently announced that details about a new Ghostbusters cartoon on Netflix are “coming soon.” While there’s no release date yet, this is a fantastic development for anyone who loves the franchise because of the 1986 cartoon.

The Real Ghostbusters expanded the franchise to wild new places.


Part of what made The Real Ghostbusters an enduring show is that it often felt like a genuine sci-fi/horror series that happened to be for children. Its first showrunner, J. Michael Straczynski, is a genre legend who would later create Babylon 5, and The Real Ghostbusters’ early scripts show off his thought-provoking sensibilities. In “Citizen Ghost,” the Ghostbusters are duplicated by the remnants of Gozer from the first movie, creating, in essence, ghost versions of themselves. In “Xmas Marks the Spot,” the gang accidentally time-travels to 1843 and busts the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, thus changing history. And those are just two random episodes in the first season.

In many ways, an episodic series in which various fantasy and sci-fi stories can be told without the pressure of having to be a big movie is the best format for Ghostbusters. For all the charm of the recent Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, even its staunchest defenders would probably admit it should have been a TV pilot rather than a standalone film. Ghostbusters seems cursed when it tries to go big, which is probably why the relatively small-stakes Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) remains the most well-liked of the new spin-offs.

The potential for a new Ghostbusters animated series is similar. A more humble format, with a variety of stories, could be exactly what the franchise needs. Without the popularity of the 1986 cartoon, it feels unlikely there would have been a Ghostbusters II in 1989. An animated TV series is what expanded the franchise in the first place, and now it looks like it could happen again.

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