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Ghostbusters: How to revisit these comedic old haunts in chronological and release order

Never mind who you gonna call, how are you gonna do it?

Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire
Image credit: Sony Pictures

There’s no small amount of irony in the fact that Ghostbusters — an off-beat comedy made almost 40 years ago by a group of SNL alumni — is a series that can’t really stay dead. As audiences thrill to the first teaser for the next installment in the franchise, 2024’s Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, let’s be honest: it’s time to go back and see if you are, in fact, afraid of no ghost.

Here’s how to watch the entire Ghostbusters franchise, from start to finish… in all its incarnations.

How to watch the Ghostbusters franchise in release order

The Ghostbusters franchise is relatively small when it comes to output to date (although it still spans three different timelines; keep reading) — which makes a comprehensive listing particularly easy, even if it does span film and television, thanks to the animated spin-off(s) from the original movie. Are they canon? You’ll find out soon enough. The full Ghostbusters line-up is:

How to watch the Ghostbusters franchise in chronological order

Here’s where things get a little more complicated. There are no less than three timelines in the Ghostbusters franchise. The main canon consists of the following movies:

  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • Ghostbusters II (1989)
  • Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)
  • Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

However, the first movie also led to the animated Real Ghostbusters series, which itself had a spin-off: 1997’s Extreme Ghostbusters, which lasted but one season. For those who are wondering: yes, there was a cartoon called Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters, but that was simply a retitling of main Real Ghostbusters series from the fourth season onwards. (Slimer did appear in his own segments during episodes of this era; does that count as a separate spin-off…? Surely not.) Anyway, the animated timeline looks like this:

  • Ghostbusters (1984)
  • The Real Ghostbusters (1986-1991)
  • Extreme Ghostbusters (1997)

Entirely separately, there’s the timeline of the 2016 Paul Feig-directed reboot of the franchise, which consists of only one entry, unfortunately:

  • Ghostbusters (AKA Ghostbusters: Answer the Call) (2016)

Wait, is that it?

Actually... no. Dan Aykroyd's character from the Ghostbusters series actually appears in an entirely different movie altogether, although it's one that's thematically appropriate. He shows up in 1995's Casper - yes, as in "The Friendly Ghost" - as someone who can't help with the Ghostly Trio. As he says as he departs the manor with some speed, "Who you gonna call? Someone else!"

Does this count as canon? Almost certainly not - but it makes for a fun completist fact.

Where can I watch the Ghostbusters franchise?

Currently, in the US, the first two Ghostbusters movies can be found on Peacock here and here, while Ghostbusters: Afterlife is available via Starz. Everything else can be found for rent or purchase on Amazon via the links in the Release Order section… with the exception of Extreme Ghostbusters, which doesn’t appear to stream legally in the US at all, oddly enough…

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Graeme McMillan avatar

Graeme McMillan

Staff Writer

Popverse staff writer Graeme McMillan (he/him) has been writing about comics, culture, and comics culture on the internet for close to two decades at this point, which is terrifying to admit. He completely understands if you have problems understanding his accent.