If a film is particularly successful – especially when it’s popular with children – more often than not there will be a spin-off television series (and indeed, vice versa). In the case of the brilliant 1984 comedy movie Ghostbusters, that took the form of The Real Ghostbusters cartoon, which originally aired from September of 1986 until October of 1991.
It was a wonderfully written, action-packed and colourful animated series that followed the exploits of the titular team – Peter Venkman, Egon Spengler, Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore – their secretary and receptionist Janine Melnitz, their accountant Louis Tully and their spectral mascot Slimer, as they pursued evil and mischievous spirits around New York (and indeed various other parts of the world, different time periods and alternate dimensions).
Such was the popularity of the show that, if you were a fan of it, you probably think you know everything there was to know about it. However, there are certainly some tidbits that you might not be aware of – and that’s what this article is going to be all about. Here are ten things you didn’t know about The Real Ghostbusters cartoon.
10. Maurice LaMarche Copied Harold Ramis’ Voice
Maurice LaMarche is an extremely accomplished Canadian voice actor whose credits include providing the voice of Brain in Pinky and the Brain, a number of voices in Captain Planet and the Planeteers, G.I. Joe and Tiny Toon Adventures, and various characters in his Emmy Award-winning performance in Futurama. However, he just couldn’t find a voice in his repertoire for Egon Spengler.
So what did LaMarche do to voice the brains of The Real Ghostbusters team? He simply mimicked the voice of the late, great Harold Ramis who, of course, voiced Spengler in the brilliant 1984 live action movie based on the characters.
9. Bill Murray Thought Lorenzo Music Sounded Like Garfield
Bill Murray – Peter Venkman in the 1984 Ghostbusters movie – wasn’t impressed with Lorenzo Music’s take on the character in The Real Ghostbusters cartoon series. He cited the fact that Maurice LaMarche’s version of Egon Spengler sounded like Harold Ramis’ version of Spengler and questioned why, therefore, Venkman sounded more like Garfield (who Music voiced before his death).
In fact, it is believed that Murray had Music replaced by Dave Coulier from season three onwards for this very reason. This has since become extremely ironic because, following Music’s death, Murray has gone on to voice Garfield himself in a couple of live action movies based on the incredibly lazy cat.
8. Winston Zeddemore Was Voiced By Arsenio Hall For 3 Seasons
The majority of The Real Ghostbusters voice cast was made up of people whose main talent is voice acting – the likes of Frank Welker and the aforementioned Maurice LaMarche and Lorenzo Music, for example – but Winston Zeddemore was actually voiced by a much more famous man for three seasons.
Arsenio Hall – famous for hosting The Arsenio Hall Show and for starring in movies like Coming to America – voiced Zeddemore for seasons one, two and three of the show. In fact, Ernie Hudson who played the character in the 1984 Ghostbusters movie even auditioned for the role, but actually lost out to Hall!
7. The Word “Real” Was Included To Avoid Confusion With Another Cartoon
You may think that 1984’s Ghostbusters movie was the first time a media property had used that name, but that’s not the case at all. In 1975, Filmation (of Masters of the Universe fame) produced a live action television show called The Ghost Busters.
Subsequently, in 1986, they also created a cartoon based on the show (probably to cash-in on the success of the 1984 Ghostbusters movie) and, as a result, Columbia Pictures Television had to add the word “Real” to their own adaptation of their live action movie (in fact, Columbia Pictures had to originally come to a deal with Filmation to use the term “Ghostbusters” in their classic 1984 movie!).
6. The Definition Of “Ghost” Became Extremely Loose
Let’s be honest, even in the 1984 Ghostbusters movie, there were skeletons, giant marshmallow people, gods and all kinds of strange creatures for the titular team to combat, but The Real Ghostbusters cartoon took the definition of “ghost” to all new levels of extreme.
There were trolls, demons, physical manifestations of fictional characters (Sherlock Holmes, for example), bizarre creatures with wheels and other contraptions attached to them, three-legged ghosts, two-headed ghosts, plant ghosts, things with tentacles, things with wings and goodness knows what else! People have commented that the Ghostbusters essentially fought anything that was “unreal” – which somewhat contradicts the series’ title, in their eyes.
5. There Were Spin-Off Shows
Given how popular The Real Ghostbusters was and how long it ran for, it might be something of a surprise to you to learn that there were two extremely forgettable spin-off shows from the series that were nowhere near as successful as their parent show.
At the start of season four in 1988, the series was totally renamed to “Slimer! and the Real Ghostbusters” and started to include an extra episode devoted entirely to the Ghostbuster’s green mascot, of which thirteen episodes ended up airing. Then, in 1997, came Extreme Ghostbusters – a show in which a young team of Ghostbusters was led by an older Egon Spengler. It lasted one season, which comprised of forty episodes.
4. It Helped To Establish A New Precedent In Animation Writing
The writing of The Real Ghostbusters was incredibly smart. From the very first episode, when a trio of ghosts attempted to set up a rival ghost-busting service – really? Reversing the premise of the show in the first episode? Impressive! – it undoubtedly set a new precedent in the quality of writing in animated shows.
In fact, an unused script called “Funny You Should Scream” (written by Jina Bacarr) – which was about a “Dr. Teufel” (meaning “devil”) who ran a carnival and trapped children in his Fun House a la Pied Piper – was donated to the “cause” the animation writers were fighting for at the time. They were fighting for recognition to be admitted into the Writers Guild of America. Writer J. Michael Straczynski had to prove to the board that story editing and writing co-existed in the world of animation, just liked it does in standard episodic television writing. This particular script helped to establish a new precedent, resulting in animation writers finally being recognised by the WGA through the Animation Writers Caucus.
3. Venkman & Spengler Were Originally Going To Look Like Murray & Ramis
In some early concept art for The Real Ghostbusters series, the Peter Venkman and Egon Spengler characters were drawn to look more like Murray and Harold Ramis, respectively. However, the animators ultimately changed the look of Peter, and changed Egon’s hair color from brown to blonde, in order to avoid lawsuits for using the actors’ likenesses without obtaining their permission.
Weirdly, Ray Stantz and Winston Zeddemore were never drawn to resemble Dan Aykroyd or Ernie Hudson, respectively. It is more than likely that the people behind the cartoon series didn’t think the pair were big enough names to even warrant entertaining such an idea at the time.
2. It Was Nominated For Emmys
To emphasize just how great a cartoon series The Real Ghostbusters was, it should be noted that it was nominated for two Daytime Emmy Awards during its original airing period. In 1997, it was nominated for Outstanding Film Sound Editing and, in 1991, it was nominated for Outstanding Animated Program – although it did fail to win in either category.
It was also nominated for Best Animation Series at the 1989 Young Artist Awards, but it didn’t win there either. That being said, just being nominated for such prestigious prizes tells you the quality of the production – especially given that caliber of its rivals during the late 1980s and early 1990s.
1. It’s FINALLY Coming To DVD!
Although there have been limited releases of The Real Ghostbusters on modern home media – back in 2009, for example, Time Life Entertainment released the ultimate box set, an extremely limited edition firehouse collection of every single episode of “The Real Ghostbusters”, as well as “Slimer! And the Real Ghostbusters” – they were extremely hard to get hold of and they’re long gone now.
Well, as recently as April the 4th this year (2016), some good news for fans of the show has arrived. Sony Pictures Home Entertainment will release over fifty episodes of the iconic animated series on DVD and Digital on July the 7th, from Ivan Reitman, DiC and Sony Pictures Television. Fill your boots, spook fans!