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Remember The Real Ghostbusters cartoon? Looks like it was a major inspiration for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire

We try not to remember '80s cartoons if we don't have to

The Real Ghostbusters screenshot
Image credit: ABC

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While the Hollywood trend of giving the entire plot away in the trailer doesn’t show signs of stopping, it is nice to know that there might still be a few surprises for fans when we finally see Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. The cause of the new ice age we see in the trailer hasn’t been revealed, but its origins might lie in The Real Ghostbusters animated series.

Shortly after the first trailer for Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire landed, star Kumail Nanjiani made a suitably vague post on social media. He claimed that The Real Ghostbusters, the animated series that aired from 1986 to 1991, was “a reference point for this movie” and that the “filmmakers wanted to make a long episode of the animated series.”

Looking back at The Real Ghostbusters 173 episode run, there tend to be two different kinds of episodes. Many are silly misadventures of the Ghostbusters crew – who are all voiced by different actors than their live-action counterparts – while a surprising number of them involve the team saving the world from a spectral apocalypse.

Nanjiani doesn’t mention if he was referring to specific episodes from the cartoon or the general vibe it had. If we had to guess, we think the inspiration for Frozen Empire might lie in a combination of two episodes from season two of The Real Ghostbusters. The first is “Knock, Knock” in which a group of subway engineers open a door to Doomsday and unleash an army of demons on New York, while the second is “Ragnarok and Roll” which sees a flute bringing about a more Norse-themed apocalypse.

Unfortunately, The Real Ghostbusters has aged about as well as most cartoons from the 1980s... which is not very well at all. The animation and production values were generally low, and the network constantly meddled in everything from plots to character designs. However, one of the show’s strengths, and possibly what the team behind Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire is trying to recreate, was its light-hearted take on the end of the world. At its best, the Ghostbusters franchise is all about approaching the apocalypse, whether it is in the form of a 50-foot-tall marshmallow man or a surly door buried beneath New York City, with an inappropriate amount of laughter.

When there's something weird... in your neighborhood... let Popverse be your spiritual advisor in all things Ghostbusters. Not only do we have the correct Ghostbusters watch guide for your macabre movie marathons, but we'll even let you know how to cosplay a Ghostbuster and how to visit Ghostbusters HQ in NYC.

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The Real Ghostbusters

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Trent Cannon


Trent is a freelance writer who has been covering anime, video games, and pop culture for a decade. (He/Him)