11 Real Ghostbusters Cartoon Episodes To Watch Before Frozen Empire

Joey Esposito
TV Movies
TV Movies Horror Animation

On March 22, the Ghostbusters return to the Big Apple as a new supernatural threat known as the Death Chill puts all of humanity on the brink of a new Ice Age in the Jason Reitman-produced Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire. In the lead up to the film, there’s been a lot of chatter about the influence of the beloved cartoon series, The Real Ghostbusters, on the new flick. The stars of the film have mentioned it, and even director Gil Kenan told Empire, “We wanted to bring that show’s looseness and fearlessness to this movie. I think it’s going to surprise people just how big this film is.”

The Real Ghostbusters sprang from the success of the 1984 original Ghostbusters movie, premiering in 1986 and running for seven seasons until 1991. The voice cast didn’t include the stars from the movie, but the show’s imaginative monsters, perfect balance of fun and scares, and, of course, its massively successful toy line helped evolve the Ghostbusters franchise from a huge hit supernatural comedy film to bonafide ongoing pop culture juggernaut.

In anticipation of Frozen Empire, and with a new trailer giving us a big glimpse at the film, we’re compiling a list of some favorite Real Ghostbusters episodes that might serve as a fun primer for the new movie. Whether it’s because of its connections to the film canon, its extreme spook-levels, or because they’re just plain fun, we recommend firing up these eleven episodes to get ready for the next ghostbusting adventure.

Buy The Real Ghostbusters now on Prime Video

Mr. Sandman, Dream Me a Dream

(Season 1, Episode 7)

It wouldn’t be a true Ghostbusters setup if all of New York City wasn’t under threat by some supernatural entity. In this early episode, the guys square off with a rogue Sandman who threatens to put the city to sleep for 500 years and cause all of their dreams to come to life.

This one is a great showcase for Winston, as he’s left alone to sort the situation out after the other guys are put under Sandman’s spell. Plus, we get to see Janine slingin’ some proton particles—more on that later! And good luck getting the show’s royalty-safe take on “Mr. Sandman” out of your head.

When Halloween Was Forever

(Season 1, Episode 8)

In one of the first truly terrifying episodes of the series, “When Halloween Was Forever,” an entity called Samhain, the spirit of Halloween itself, escapes its ancient prison and threatens to cast an eternal Halloween over creation by stopping time itself. Samhain’s design is a little bit Grim Reaper, a little bit Pumpkinhead, and it was seared into the brains of children everywhere.

As a bonus, the episode gives a fun Cliffs Notes version of the history of Halloween. The Ghostbusters are a natural fit for spooky season, and this episode leans into it by making sure the boys are busier than ever before.

Take Two

(Season 1, Episode 10)

Hollywood finally comes knocking for the Ghostbusters in this fun, borderline meta, episode. The public exploits of the Ghostbusters is obviously blockbuster gold, so the guys head to LA in order to consult on the production of a movie about their adventures.

Unfortunately for tinseltown, the Ghostbusters’ proton packs have accidentally been put into storage after being mistaken for movie props, and things go awry when the ghost that haunts the movie studio is awakened and possesses a giant robot prop and attacks. Thanks to Egon ’s ingenuity, the boys are able to track down their gear, trap the ghost, and get the movie made… even if Venkman isn’t thrilled about the actor who plays him.

Citizen Ghost

(Season 1, Episode 11)

Definitely the most mind-blowing episode to see as a kid, “Citizen Ghost” is the connective tissue between the original movie and Real Ghostbusters. Through the framing device of an interview with a TV reporter, the story picks up from their defeat of Gozer as we learn how they rebuilt the firehouse, why they’ve got new uniforms, and how Slimer got his name and came to live with them.

The episode also uses the change of uniform as a clever plot point; the suits from the movie had absorbed so much psychokinetic energy, Egon ordered them destroyed. But thanks to Peter’s short attention span, he forgets, and soon enough the guys find themselves battling spectral versions of themselves as the old suits come alive. It’s a fun bridge between the movie and cartoon canon, elevating both in the process.

Knock, Knock

(Season 2, Episode 1)

There aren’t a ton of Real Ghostbusters episodes that could work just as well in live-action, but the fantastic “Knock, Knock” is one of them. This one feels like something we’d see in a Ghostbusters flick; subway workers accidentally open the Doomsday Door—essentially a gateway to Hell—and evil runs amok across New York City.

There are apparent connections to Gozer in that the Doomsday Door also has Sumerian origins, and the Ghostbusters even voluntarily walk into Hell, knowing they might not come back. The stakes are high in this one, to say the least—blockbuster-level high!

Cry Uncle

(Season 2, Episode 6)

It’s not necessarily the strongest episode of Real Ghostbusters, but “Cry Uncle” does hold some interesting connections to the movie canon. In this one, we meet Egon’s Uncle Cyrus, who we learn is also a brilliant scientist but thinks Egon’s ghost-chasing is unscientific nonsense, and convinces him to return home to the Midwest to help run a research lab. Obviously, things go wrong and Cyrus accidentally sets Mr. Stay-Puft loose from the containment unit, resulting in his realization that Egon’s work is, indeed, pretty important.

What’s the most interesting about this episode is that it canonically ties Egon to the Midwest, where he winds up living in solitude prior to the events of Ghostbusters: Afterlife. Plus, given the focus on the Spengler family in Afterlife and Frozen Empire, it’s kind of neat that we get to meet yet another member of this super intellectual clan.

The Thing in Mrs. Faversham’s Attic

(Season 2, Episode 31)

Peter Venkman isn’t the most, let’s say, emotionally available member of the Ghostbusters crew. However, this episode goes a long way toward giving him more depth than he typically gets credit for. The Ghostbusters are hired by the elderly Agatha Faversham, who is hearing noises in her attic, and Peter agrees to take the job free of charge because she reminds him of his own mother, a relationship for which Peter seems to hold some lingering regrets.

The Ghostbusters uncover an emotional history of the Faversham family—Agatha’s father accidentally unleashed a demon in their attic in an effort to conjure a better life for his daughter. It’s one of the rare Ghostbusters stories that really takes advantage of using the inherent bittersweetness surrounding the death of loved ones. Perhaps some of the DNA of this episode was infused into the emotional core of Afterlife.

Janine Melnitz, Ghostbuster

(Season 2, Episode 35)

In that epic Frozen Empire issue of Empire, Janine Melnitz herself, Annie Potts, confirmed that longtime under-appreciated Ghostbusters employee Janine is finally suiting up for action in the new movie, which we’ve now also gotten a look at in the film’s second trailer. “It turns out Janine is quite capable – as most women tend to be when given the chance,” Potts told Empire. But Real Ghostbusters fans know it’s not the first time Janine’s done so, and one particular episode is a Janine showcase from start to finish.

The Ghostbusters are dealing with Gozer-levels of spectral activity in New York—so busy, in fact, they can’t help Janine with her haunted apartment—eventually getting trapped in another dimension by an ancient god called Proteus. Janine hardly blinks at donning the gear and rescuing the guys (with Slimer’s help, naturally), and even considers starting her own business until she’s offered a raise that’s definitely long overdue. Whatever they’re paying her, it’s still not enough.

Cold Cash and Hot Water

(Season 2, Episode 39)

Another episode that gives us a little family background on one of our protagonists, this one is also a bonus as it pertains to the chilly setup of Frozen Empire—the guys head to Alaska! Here, we once again meet Peter’s con artist father (first introduced in the episode “Venkman’s Ghost Repellers”), where he discovers the demon Hob Anagarak trapped in ice and hopes to turn it into a must-see attraction.

Things don’t go as planned, and Peter is left to deal with the disappointment of his scheming father yet again. It’s really fun to see where Peter inherits his charisma from, if not his ethics. As a little bonus, this episode also has some explicit references to Janine’s crush on Egon that we saw in the first film—a real ship before we had the term “shipping” to describe it.

Egon’s Ghost

(Season 2, Episode 60)

For Ghostbusters fans, seeing Egon’s ghost in Afterlife was no doubt an emotional moment—but if you were able to conjure a memory of this episode of Real Ghostbusters, perhaps it formed an emotional callus to help numb you to the pain, if only slightly. In this episode, Egon is accidentally vaporized while trapping a ghost, his molecular structure becoming destabilized, effectively turning him into a living ghost.

Things only get worse as Egon completely disappears, prompting the rest of the team to head into the Netherworld to rescue him. The lengths they go to rescue their friend only reiterates their bond, making the events of Afterlife all the more heartbreaking in context. Some other fun bits from this episode: we finally get to see a cartoon version of the Terror Dog, and Janine full-on smooches Egon once he’s returned to the land of living.

Partners in Slime

(Season 5, Episode 6)

Similar to “Citizen Ghost” in that it does some legwork connecting the films to the cartoons, “Partners in Slime” is more subtle about it, and is the first instance of the events of Ghostbusters II entering Real Ghostbusters.

The plot of the episode itself is silly even for the cartoon’s standards, featuring a ghost called Poso who is trying to make himself the “ghostfather”—more or less a mob boss of all East Coast ghosts. But more importantly, it establishes that the battle with Vigo occurred a year prior to this episode and even introduces the psychoactive slime from Ghostbusters II.

writer / karaoke monster / total sellout