Ghostbusters Analysis

Story Analysis Description

*Analysis based off work of Robert McKee, Joseph Campbell and Syd Field

*Special thanks to Movieclips for their clips below


ProtagonistPeter Venkman
DesireConscious:Achieve fame
Unconscious:Be a hero
Conflict LevelsInner:Arrogance, Lust
Personal:Dean, Ghosts, Dana,
Extra-Personal:Social hierarchy,
CharacterCharacterization:Sleazy entrepreneur
True Character:Caring lover
DesireConscious:Conquer the world
Conflict LevelsInner:
CharacterCharacterization:Evil god
True Character:
DesireConscious:Escape Gozer
Conflict LevelsInner:
Personal:Gozer, Peter
CharacterCharacterization:Brass New Yorker
True Character:
DesireConscious:Destroy the Ghostbusters
Conflict LevelsInner:
Personal:Peter, Mayor
CharacterCharacterization:Stuck up prick
True Character:
Principle of
NegativeInvalidationNegation of NegationFake validation
We succeed through our beliefs when our character is


Inciting IncidentThe team are fired from the
Act One ClimaxPeter agrees to help Dana.
GAPDana is unimpressed with
Peter and the team still lacks
validation from the city.
Progressive ComplicationsPeck and Gozer emerge as threats.
MidpointDana is captured.
Act Two ClimaxThe Ghostbusters gain the mayor’s backing and set out to save Dana.
Act Three ClimaxGozer is defeated.
ResolutionThe team are treated as heroes.


Status Quo & Inciting
The librarian is attacked and the
Ghostbusters investigate. They are
fired from the university.
Predicament & Lock In
The team considers their options
and decide to go into business for
themselves. Peter decides to help
First Obstacle & Raising
the Stakes
Peter helps Dana with her case and the team’s resources are depleted.
Slimer is captured.
The team gets more and more busy, and Dana is captured.
Subplot & Rising Action
Louis is possessed and Peck
harasses Peter. The protection grid
is shut down.
Culmination/End of
Act Two
The Ghostbusters are arrested and Peter schmoozes the mayor to get
them released.
New Tension & Twist
The Ghostbusters face Gozer and a giant Stay Puft Marshmallow man.
The Ghostbusters cross the streams and stop Gozer. Dana is saved.


Peter, Ray and Egon are teaching
and searching for ghosts.
The trio are kicked out and forced
into business for themselves.
The Ghostbusters trap Slimer.
The team recruits Winston and
Peck becomes an enemy.
Dana is possessed.
ORDEALThe ghosts are released and the
Ghostbusters arrested.
REWARDThe Ghostbusters learn that the
apocalypse is near, and they have
the strength to stop it.
ROAD BACKThe team travels with the NYPD to
face Gozer.
RESURRECTIONThe Ghostbusters survive crossing
the streams and save Dana.
RETURN WITH ELIXIRThe Ghostbusters return to the
people as conquering heroes.


HEROThe Ghostbusters, Peter
ALLYWinston, Janine
HERALDDean Yaeger


1. Self-revelation,
need, and desire
Self-Revelation: We can save the world
Psychological Need: Prove themselves
Moral Need: The world needs us
Desire: Gain validation
2. Ghost and story
Ghost World: History of trying and
failing to gain
Story World: Cutthroat business
world that doesn’t
believe in ghosts
3. Weakness and need
Weakness: Greed
Need: Love
4. Inciting event
Inciting event:The trio are kicked out of the university
5. Desire
Desire:Establish the
6. Ally or allies
Ally or allies:Janine, Ray, Egon,
7. Opponent and/or
Opponent and/or
What is Zuul and why
is it after Dana?
8. Fake-ally opponent
Fake-ally opponent:
9. First revelation and decision: Changed
desire and motive
Revelation: The Ghostbusters can
indeed catch ghost
Decision: Drain every ounce of money from NYC
Changed desire and
Prosper from ability to catch ghosts
10. Plan
Plan:Use technology to
catch ghosts and
figure out what is
hunting Dana
11. Opponent’s plan
and main
Plan:Possess Dana and
Counterattack: Strike in the dark
12. Drive
Drive:Peter pushes himself
to save Dana because he loves her
13. Attack by ally
Attack by ally:
14. Apparent defeat
Apparent defeat:The ghosts are
released from the
protection grid
15. Second revelation
and decision:
Obsessive drive,
changed desire and
Second revelation: Dana has turned into
the gatekeeper
Decision: The Ghostbusters
need to regroup
Changed desire and
Figure out plan to
save Dana
16. Audience revelation
Audience revelation:The Key Master and
Gate Keeper meet
17. Third revelation
and decision
Third revelation: The end of the world is coming
Decision: The Ghostbusters
decide to save the city
18. Gate, gauntlet, visit to death
Gate: The apartment
GauntletThe Ghostbusters
stand in front of the
apartment building
Visit to Death:The Ghostbusters are
swallowed up by the
19. Battle
Battle:The Ghostbusters face Gozer
20. Self-revelation
Self-revelation:The Ghostbusters can push aside their
checkered past and
save the city
21. Moral decision
Moral decision:The Ghostbusters will put themselves on the
line to save Dana and
the city
22. New equilibrium
New equilibrium:The Ghostbusters are


Being a typical archplot, there are couple of very straightforward themes to “Ghostbusters” as well as several underlying themes that can be gleaned. In an archplot, there is not a lot of internal conflict, the story more focused on an external villain, in this case Gozer, as well as the typical love plot, Peter and Dana. Inherent in this structure are the common themes of the strength of the heroes, based on their convictions, overcoming evil, as well as the charisma of the protagonist winning the affections of love. There is a slight twist in the film because the Ghostbusters are not action stars. They’re science nerds and schlubs. Overcoming the city’s general disregard for them is key to finding the strength to defeat Gozer. So in a way, a theme of the film is that science, not brawn, not elitism, is the key to discovering inner strength. Similarly Peter does not win over Dana because of his strength or smarts, but because of his heart. He puts himself on the line for her, gaining her affection by his devotion, the ultimate measure of a previously very self-centered man.

Another key aspect of the film is its reverence to New York City. The city serves as a backdrop for the Ghostbusters struggles in many ways. They are not so much removed from the city as much as a part of it trying to make their way. Much like Peter attempting to woo Dana, the team is trying to woo their home into believing them. The city then is a metaphor for the validation of their pursuits, all the different types of people, poor and rich, religious and punk, brought together by the unity of the Ghostbusters’ message.

You could easily draw other interpretations from the film based on various intricacies of the plot: the idea that elitism is a detriment to scientific progress, that the entire film is nothing but a mirage based on the consumption of snack foods (Cheez-Its, marshmallows), that the process of starting an independent business is an essential American enterprise, or my personal favorite, that the entire film is an exploration of the burgeoning male sexual psyche. The Ghostbusters are in many ways similar to adolescent boys, obsessed with toys, geeky. Only Peter shows any interest in women, and in that respect, he fails to gain their affection. You combine that mentality with the phallic imagery of the proton packs, the allure of Dana when she is possessed, Gozer’s representation of itself as an ethereal woman and the climax, when a bunch of men use their sticks against an open doorway leading to an explosion that covers them in white goo, and you can see how the plot can be construed as a metaphor for the male orgasm.

Of course, as with all film, there are a myriad of other explanations and interpretations, some thought of by the filmmakers, many not, that can enhance a film’s viewing. For “Ghostbusters”, considering its archplot, it is impressive nevertheless that there are so many different interpretations that can be drawn from it, one of the reasons for its continued longevity.


  • The Team
    • Value: Validation
  • Peter and Dana
    • Value: Love
  • Gozer
    • Value: Destruction
  • Peck
    • Value: Ego


Scene #1Librarian Attacked
DesirePut books away
AntagonistThe Gray Lady
TPThe Gray Lady ghost attacks her
RoleOpening Scene
AnalysisThe introduction of the film sets a
serious manner right away. Though
this is a comedy, the plot ensuing
will be handled with care and the
danger will be very real. Little
moments of the books flying
between shelves build up the
anticipation of the first attack. The
score also helps to add dramatic
Scene #2Venkman’s Electric Shocks
DesireImpress woman
AntagonistStudent, Other Guy, Ray
TPRay convinces Peter to go to the
RoleIntroduction to Peter, Ordinary
AnalysisPeter is introduced as a
smooth-talking, manipulative
charlatan. His credentials as a
scientist are immediately thrown
out the window as he falsifies his
experiment’s results to attract the
attention of his female participant. We realize that not only is he a
scam, he’s a player, using his
scientific gifts for personal gain.
But being Bill Murray, he’s able to
pull it off in a charming manner,
essential so we are not repulsed by him. As the story progresses, we
will realize that there is a hole in
Peter’s soul, an avoidance of
attachment that he is trying to fill
with a search for fame and women. That quest will be fulfilled by his
love for Dana.
Scene #3Egon Introduction
ProtagonistEgon, Ray, Peter
DesireDiscover cause of library attack
AntagonistMystery of Gray Lady
TPEgon discovers the ghost
RoleIntroduction of Ray and Egon and
the Ghostbusters’ plight
AnalysisWe had a slight introduction to Ray in the last scene, but now we really get the dynamic of the relationship between the three. Egon is the
brain, Ray is the heart and Peter is, well, the mouth of the group. They
look, talk and act like outsiders,
science nerds different from
everyone else. Throughout the film, we will see them continuously cast
as different from the norm with
their snacking, obsession with
technology, lackadaisical dressing
and jovial attitudes. The
bureaucracy they deal with is
uptight, sharply dressed, angry and clean shaven. Even Dana is far
more presentable in her dress and
views. They are classic outsiders,
but with a tilt towards a more
technological, dedicated scientist
sense. What they seek in hunting
the paranormal is validation in
their obsessive desires. For Peter,
he wants fame from his pursuits.
For Egon, an advancement of
technology. Ray, being the heart of
the team, really symbolizes the
hopes for validation. They’ve
obviously been looked down upon
for years, judged as poor scientists. Though we view the team with an
amount of humor, we sympathize
with this primal need for
validation, especially against a
callous, unfeeling bureaucracy.
Finding a ghost would prove to the world that their pursuits have not
been in vain. That’s why they strive
for the Gray Lady so intently.
Scene #4The Library Investigation
ProtagonistPeter, Ray, Egon
DesireFind the Gray Lady and confirm
their paranormal research
AntagonistThe Grady Lady
TPThe trio have their pants scared off
RoleConfirms existence of ghosts and
sets character’s on path
AnalysisMuch like the opening scene, the
combination of score, framing and
sound heightens the tension. A
random stack of books in the
middle of a walkway. A drip of
slime from a card catalog matched with an eerie music note. The
falling of a bookcase with a loud
thud. The material is handled
seriously and the humor is built
out of the characters. You can
replace Peter with Indiana Jones
and reformat the plot to make an
action movie. Or replace Ray with
Father Merrin from “The Exorcist”
and craft a horror story. It’s a
tribute to Ivan Reitman and co. that they realized that you handle the
plot seriously and build the comedy out of the characters, particularly
their reactions and interactions
with each other. Seeing the team
completely clueless as to what to do next when they find the Gray Lady
highlights how far their ambition
has led them, but not their sense.
Peter smashing Egon’s calculator is
funny because it’s his reaction to a
serious situation. And Ray’s plan of
“Get Her!” makes no sense, further
driving up the comedic aspect. For
the team, their encounter with the Gray Lady opens a gap in their plan of gaining acceptance. For all
intensive purposes, they fail to
adequately document, present or
handle the situation. The
conclusion of the film, a showdown against an apocalyptic Sumerican
god, shows their internal growth
from cowards to heroes.
Scene #5Realizing the Potential
ProtagonistPeter, Ray, Egon
DesirePlot next moves
TPTeam decides to tell university and put forward plan to catch a ghost
RoleNew course of action
AnalysisAfter being scared shitless, the
thrill of the encounter flourishes.
Ray spews off idea after idea. Egon
crunches all the data. Peter can’t
stop smiling at “Get Her!” Finally,
after years of implied ridicule,
their search for the paranormal
has been justified. Now what to do? For Egon, the answer is clear:
capture a ghost. Even Peter, who
has had no end of mocking Egon,
can’t help but reward him with a
candy bar. Their struggle for
validation however, is far from
Scene #6Kicked Out of the University
DesireImpress University
AntagonistDean Yaeger
TPYaeger calls Peter a fraud
RoleInciting Incident
AnalysisThe Inciting Incident of the film
sets the Ghostbusters on course to
prove themselves. After being
called out as frauds and fired from
the university, the team has been
thrust out into the open world and will need to learn how to flourish
and to prove their mettle.
Scene #7Peter’s Plan
DesireFigure out next course
TPPeter convinces Ray to go into
business for themselves
RoleNext course of action
AnalysisPeter and Ray try to determine
what to do next. Peter tells him that he believes that fate has intervened to force them into business for
themselves. Whether or not he
believes that is up for debate.
Knowing his character, he could
just as easily be spit-mouthing to
find the easiest path to fame, but
Ray, rather apprehensively, buys in. This choice will dictate the rest of
the film’s action.
Scene #8Selling Ray’s House
DesireConvince Ray he’s made a good
AntagonistRay’s indecisiveness
TPEgon tells Ray how much the
interest is worth
RoleTrio Act One Climax, Risk
AnalysisAs the trio takes their first step
towards independent business,
their first action carries risk.
If their plan fails, Ray will be
financially ruined. It adds to the
stakes for the characters. By taking concrete steps towards creating the Ghostbusters, the team reaches
their Act One Climax.
Scene #9Buying the Firehouse
ProtagonistThe trio
DesireSecure a location
AntagonistReal estate
TPRay loves the house
RoleNext step
AnalysisThe next step in the trio’s
burgeoning business venture is
securing a location. But just as the
path to securing financing was a
comedic jaunt, so is the purchasing of their location. For the trio,
everything is a disaster. It adds to
the comedy as well as the
endearment of the characters. We
laugh at them as well as
empathize because we’ve all been
there in terms of ventures that just seem to keep going off the tracks.
Scene #10Dana Attacked
DesireClean up
TPGozer shows up in the fridge
RoleDana Inciting Incident
AnalysisWe are introduced to Dana, a
professional, strong-willed woman. Louis is also introduced, the polar
opposite of Dana, a dweeby
schmuk. The contrast between
them brings with it comedy as
Louis tries to gain Dana’s attention, despite her obvious lack of interest
in him. This lack of connection
makes their later possession and
coupling all the more strange. Like much of the city, Dana brushes off
the Ghostbusters after she sees
their ad. Like the city, she brushes
them off. Then her eggs start to
cook on the counter and an evil dog appears in her refrigerator. This
inciting incident throws her life out of balance and sets her on the path
to finding answers to what haunts
her. Gozer is introduced here as
well, its inciting incident taking
place offscreen. More of it will be
revealed later in the story.
Scene #11Buying the Car
ProtagonistRay and Peter
DesireCheck out the car
AntagonistThe car
TPPeter realizes the car’s cost
RoleFurther attempts at growing the
AnalysisAgain, the trio fails to adequately
grow their business in a successful way. Ray’s car is a dump. Peter’s
reaction produces the comedy as
these guys continue to struggle
with the core aspects of
Scene #12Dana’s Story
DesireHelp Dana
AntagonistGozer Mystery, Dana
TPPeter decides to go to Dana’s
RoleAct One Climax
AnalysisFirstly, we are introduced to Janine, a fun side character who doesn’t
have a plot of her own, but serves
as another avenue to imbue
comedy into the story. She is also
another example of the turmoil the Ghostbusters go through in starting their business. For a professional
entrepreneur, you don’t really
want someone like Janine manning your phones. Then Dana walks in,
with a large overcoat, completely
out of her element. For Peter, the
hole in his heart is represented by
his desire for women. When Dana
walks through the door, he
immediately latches onto her as
another outlet. He is unaware that what he lacks in life can not be
cured by an insatiable sexual
appetite, but must be confronted by being a hero. His whole life, he’s
been a schmooze, never going
above the call to prove himself.
Dana, with her mystery directly
involving his field, represents an
opportunity for him even though
he doesn’t realize it yet. Egon and
Ray, with their mind-reading
equipment and snacks and
unprofessional demeanor, further
exemplify the lovable scientist slob.
Scene #13Peter Investigates Dana’s
DesireImpress Dana
TPPeter decides to win Dana over
RolePeter Commitment and Risk
AnalysisPeter searches Dana’s apartment,
but finds nothing. His focus
however, is always on Dana, and
his desire to impress her. He claims he’s in love with her, an obvious lie
in an attempt to woo her over, but
she brushes him off. While his
students are relatively easy to
impress, now he’s dealing with a
grown-up, tough woman, someone
immune to his charms. In a way,
she challenges him to evolve. Only when Peter proves himself as a
hero and not a fraud, can he win
her over. There is now risk for
Peter because he has put himself
out there and can not go back.
Scene #14The First Call
ProtagonistThe Trio
DesireLook over their options
TPThe Ghostbusters get a call
RoleStarting to gain acceptance
AnalysisFor the trio up to this point, their
venture has been nothing short of a disaster. A condemned venue. A
beat up car. One customer. And
their magnificent feast is the last of the petty cash. One can sense that
they might be near the end of the
line. Then there’s a phone call and
hope has returned again. Now can
they actually succeed?
Scene #15The Sedgwick Hotel
ProtagonistThe trio
DesireCapture Slimer
TPCapture Slimer
RoleCrossing the First Threshold
AnalysisThe Ghostbusters emerge as a team for the first time, launching
themselves into their first
investigation since the Gray Lady.
The hunt is a struggle: a maid’s cart
is destroyed, Peter gets slimed, an
entire ballroom is upended. Again,
the use of comedy is used to
highlight just how far out of their
depths the team is. But they
persevere and succeed, reveling in
the glory of finally catching a ghost
and announcing to the world that
they are indeed correct.
Scene #16Music Montage
ProtagonistThe Trio
DesireImpress the world
TPThe Ghostbusters get national
RoleTrio Midpoint
AnalysisThrough the now famous musical
montage, we see the Ghostbusters
succeed across the city. While there are still plenty of skeptics, their
fame escalates and their
association with the city grows as
well. They no longer need to worry
about their finances, reaching their
midpoint as it appears as though
their goal of validation is near at
Scene #17Winston Hired
DesireGet job
TPRay hires Winston
RoleTests, Allies and Enemies
AnalysisDue to their success, the
Ghostbusters have gained enough
notoriety and have a large enough workload to hire more staff.
Winston is something of an odd
character for the narrative,
appearing halfway through the
film, but he serves as a kind of
everyman to this trio of strange
scientists. The characters are able
to explain things to him and in so
doing explain things to us as well.
He also serves as a foil for the trio
to play off, his straight manner
contrasting with their strange
science speak. Perhaps most
importantly, it shows us that a
Ghostbuster could be any of us. We can fit in with this team. His goal is
not validation nor to fill the void in
his life, but to just make a living.
When the apocalypse rears its
head, he steps up to the challenge,
taking our everyman sense with
Scene #18Peter Getting a Date
DesireGet a date
AntagonistDana, the Stiff
TPDana agrees to date
RolePeter growing
AnalysisPeter, though achieving fame and
success, is still dealing with that
inner void. He wants Dana. He tries to impress her with his knowledge
about her case, but she needs more. He tries to finagle a date out of
their conversation and she pushes
against him. The use of the fellow
musician nearby acts as a foil and
another example of the stiff, lifeless individual the Ghostbusters are
fighting against. Viewing him as
competition for Dana’s affections is humorous and further escalates
Peter’s desire for her. Here is
another bureaucrat standing in his way, judging him. Dana accepting
his date gives him hope that maybe
indeed he can find love.
Scene #19Walter Peck
DesireInterrogate Peter
TPPeter threatens Peck
RolePeck Act One Climax
AnalysisPeck’s Inciting Incident takes place off screen, setting him off on a
quest to shut down the
Ghostbusters. Perhaps he thinks
they are charlatans trying to take
advantage of the public. Perhaps
he doesn’t like their cavalier
attitude, just like Dean Yaeger. Why he wants to eliminate them doesn’t really matter. Just like Iago hating
the Moor, Peck hates the
Ghostbusters. He represents the
authoritative bureaucracy present
at the university and the Sedgwick
Hotel. For the Ghostbusters to
succeed, they’ll have to overcome
the skeptical authority figure one
way or another.
Scene #20The Twinkie
ProtagonistEgon and Ray
DesireShare information
TPEgon talks about the twinkie
RoleRaising the stakes
AnalysisThis scene serves to raise the stakes on the characters. While we know
they’ve been catching ghosts for
awhile now, we haven’t yet realized
just how many ghosts there have
been. Egon explaining that the
kinetic ghost energy has surged
illustrates that something large is
Scene #21Zuul Awakens
TPZuul Awakens
RoleGozer Act One Climax
AnalysisAgain, the supernatural elements
are handled with the upmost
seriousness. Between the dramatic score, the momentous lighting
against a thunderstorm and the
sound of cracking rock as the
demonic dog emerges from the
gargoyle, the scene is genuinely
frightening. It portends to
imminent danger for our heroes.
As Gozer initiates its plan for global destruction, this scene serves as its Act One Climax.
Scene #22Dana Taken
DesirePossess Dana
TPDana taken
AnalysisDana is absconded in a horrifying
scene, arms grabbing her out of her armchair, a demon dog sucking her
into a nearby doorway. It’s a
strangely rape-ish scene, with the
arms groping Dana, holding her
down. Zuul has taken her, and
Peter’s mission becomes all the
more dire. This is the midpoint of
the film as Gozer has acted swiftly
to take Dana, throwing Peter and
the Ghostbusters’ potential success into turmoil.
Scene #23Louis Taken
DesirePossess Louis
TPLouis is captured
RoleGozer plan continues
AnalysisLouis is taken in a much more
comical manner than Dana. Dana is a much more sympathetic
character so her capture is treated
as horrific. Louis, meanwhile, is a
dweeb, with plenty of tax jokes
before Vince Clortho chases him
around town. But the creature is
still frightening, the film balancing
the horror and comedy elements
quite well. Again, the stuffy
bureaucrat is made fun of as Vince
possesses Louis before an uncaring,
fancy restaurant.
Scene #24Peter Finds Possessed Dana
DesireHelp Dana
TPDana floats over the bed
RoleEscalation of Peter and Dana
AnalysisDana is now an ethereal demon,
the lighting on her completely
changed, her eyes dark, an orange
sheer outfit. Whatever she has
become, she is dangerous. For
Peter, he has the opportunity to
have sex with her, something he’s
always wanted, but turns her
down. This is not necessarily an
escalation into his character as
having sex with a possessed
woman is beyond creepy, but it
does demonstrate his devotion to
her. He promised her that he was
going to prove himself to her. Now
he has to in order to save her.
Scene #25Louis Arrested
DesireFind the Gate Keeper
TPLouis is arrested
RoleContinuation of Gozer’s plan
AnalysisLouis is crazy, possessed like Dana, but in a very different way, again
comic, but with a slightly sinister
tone. He’s talking to horses, scaring old ladies and generating laughs,
but when his eyes glow red, there’s an eerieness. Seeing what has
happened to him, we compare his
possession to Dana’s. Whereas
Dana has been changed to a
seductress, an inversion of her
character, Louis has been changed
to a crazy person, an escalation of
his character. The difference
between them highlights that the
supernatural force after them is
pretty freaky.
Scene #26Egon Investigates Louis
DesireDiscover what’s wrong with Louis
TPEgon determines that something
dangerous is afoot
RoleThe tension builds
AnalysisLouis, again, brings out the comedy of the situation, but Egon’s
questions and worries, especially
when he learns about Dana,
illustrate that something bad is on
the horizon.
Scene #27Ray and Winston Discuss Judgment Day
DesireUnderstand the apocalypse
TPRay realizes the dead have been
rising from the grave
RoleDeepening stakes
AnalysisOne my favorite scenes in all of
film is just these two characters in a car, talking about their work. For
Ray, he’s investigating the
blueprints of Dana’s apartment
building. For Winston, he’s trying
to gain perspective into their work.
When they both realize that the
raising of the dead is a sign of the
apocalypse, Ray’s reaction signifies the seriousness of their journey.
Perhaps the end of the world is
coming. And seeing how Dana and
Louis have been possessed, it
seems all the more plausible for us,
the audience. The stakes have been
raised to their highest level yet. The film could have cut this scene and
it wouldn’t have mattered to the
narrative, but the rising stakes add
all the more perspective and
deepen the audience’s involvement
into the story even more.
Scene #28Peck Unleashes Protection Grid
DesireShut down Ghostbusters
AntagonistJanine, Egon, Peter
TPThe protection grid is shut off
RolePeck Act Two Climax
AnalysisPeck, being the prick that he is,
marches into the Ghostbusters
headquarters believing himself to
be the hero, shutting down a
renegade group of charlatans. His
manner is brash and arrogant, his
desire obviously motivated not by
ethics but by ego. Peter is unable to tame his anger and will need to
find another way to stifle the
bureaucracy. As the ghosts are
unleashed on New York, the
Ghostbusters are arrested and the
situation looks dire.
Scene #29Ghosts Run Rampant
TPNYC is helpless
AnalysisSeeing all the different designs for
ghosts is fun though of course, they
are harbingers of the apocalypse.
Dramatically, everything is total
chaos as the Ghostbusters are in
jail and the city vulnerable to the
myriad ghosts unleashed.
This is the darkest point of the
story as the Ghostbusters have not only lost their credibility, but their
freedom. The city is gripped in
terror, and Dana has lost the
struggle against her possession.
There appears to be no hope.
Scene #30The Team Plots in Jail
ProtagonistThe Ghostbusters
DesireUnderstanding depths of situation
TPEgon announces that the end of the world is close
RoleNew plan
AnalysisFor the team, they are still trying to understand what exactly is
happening. Egon explains that
Dana’s building was the sight of
primordial rituals designed to
destroy the world and now it looks
like it might happen. The camera
zooms right into Egon’s face as he
explains, dramatizing the moment.
That the entire scene takes place in
front of a selection of NYC’s petty
criminals also in jail highlights how
the city is really a character in the
story, this time represented by
them. They don’t interact with the
scientists, but they listen and
Scene #31The Gate Keeper and Key Master
DesireFind the Gate Keeper
AntagonistGate Keeper
TPLouis finds Dana
RoleNext step in the apocalypse
AnalysisAfter searching the streets, Louis
walks back into the apartment
building and finds Dana. Vince and
Zuul are reunited and make their
way to the top of the building to
summon Gozer. The scene is again
handled straight, with dramatic
music, lightning and strong wind.
There are now two concurrent
courses of action driving the plot:
Zuul and Vince trying to bring
Gozer into this dimension and the
Ghostbusters trying to break out of
jail to stop Gozer. Each of these
plots builds in opposition to the
other, creating conflict and tension.
Scene #32The Mayor Gets On Board
DesireSave Dana and the world
AntagonistThe Mayor, Peck
TPThe Mayor sides with the
RoleAct Two Climax, Peck Act Three
AnalysisThe Ghostbusters now face their
ultimate validation test: the Mayor, a no-nonsense non-believer. Peck
urges him to put the team back in
jail while the Ghostbusters try to
convince him that the world is on
the brink of armageddon. All the
stuck up, collared bureaucrats
from the team’s past are
represented in this moment. Will
they get their validation after all
this time? Peter is able to schmooze the mayor and now the team enters
into their ultimate ordeal. They
may be validated, but saving the
world is an entirely different
challenge. This is the second act
climax, propelling the team into the third act with the goal of stopping
Gozer and saving Dana. This is also
the third act climax for Peck as his
goal to defraud the team ends
in failure.
Scene #33The City Cheers
ProtagonistThe city
DesireWelcome the Ghostbusters
RoleBuild up the Ghostbusters
AnalysisThe city has served as a character
throughout the story. Its conclusion comes at this moment, with their
full embrace of the Ghostbusters.
Though they’ve viewed them with
skepticism and even anger, at this
moment, with the world on the
line, they’re supporters. No longer
quacks dismissed by a university or
con men trying to get a score,
they’ve been recognized as
potential saviors.
Scene #34The Streets Erupt
DesireKill the Ghostbusters
TPThe Ghostbusters emerge alive
RoleDeath and rebirth
AnalysisThe apartment building stretches
all the way up the screen, an
imposing monolith that illustrates
the challenge ahead of the team.
The ground rumbles and shakes
and then opens up, swallowing the Ghostbusters whole. In part of
classic mythological structure, the
hero must die before being reborn,
full of newfound wisdom or power
to take on their nemesis. This scene
completes that evolution for the
team, giving them added strength
to charge into the building and take on Gozer.
Scene #35Gozer Enters
ProtagonistThe Ghostbusters
DesireStop Gozer
TPGozer disintegrates
RoleUltimate Conflict
AnalysisThe situation is handled seriously
as the interdimensional doorway is opened and Louis and Dana are
transformed into evil dogs. In one
of his few non-humorous moments
in the entire film, Peter calls out for Dana before she is transformed,
revealing his deep feelings for her.
This mission for him is not just to
save the world, but to save her and
in so doing purge the hole in his
soul. Gozer reveals itself and the
Ghostbusters match up against it.
Just like the Gray Lady, they don’t
really know what to do. At first,
they are manhandled by electric
beams. Then they are evaded when they attack back. Then Gozer
disappears. All too easily. This is
false hope as the Ghostbusters have not faced their ultimate challenge
yet, a challenge that will test their
fortitude and dedication.
Scene #36The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man
ProtagonistThe Ghostbusters
TPThe Ghostbusters decide to
sacrifice themselves
AnalysisGozer transforms itself into a giant,
killer marshmallow man. The
Ghostbusters attempts to fend it off are met with a gust of flames.
There appears to be no hope. All
that’s left is one option: crossing
the streams, a form of possible
self-sacrifice to save the city and
Dana. This is the choice that will
determine whether or not the
Ghostbusters will achieve their
quest. Though externally validated, they must prove to themselves that they are heroes in one last ultimate act.
Scene #37Cross the Streams
ProtagonistThe Ghostbusters
DesireStop Gozer
TPThe team crosses the streams and
closes the door
RoleAct Three Climax
AnalysisThe Ghostbusters take the ultimate act, crossing the streams and
destroying the top of the building
as well as the Stay Puft
Marshmallow Man. The score
swells, wind blows in the team’s
face, bright lights flash on the
screen. It’s a very dramatic ending
that brings the characters to their
logical endpoint from the
narrative’s start; they started as
unvalidated scientists who ran
away from the Gray Lady to the
city’s heroes who stand up to an
interdimensional god. Now the
audience is left to wonder if they
have survived.
Scene #38Saving Dana
DesireSave Dana
TPDana is pulled out from the demon dog wreckage
RoleDana Act Three Climax
AnalysisAfter a long pause, we discover that the Ghostbusters, despite being
covered in fluffy marshmallow
puff, have survived. But they fear
Dana is lost, a burnt demon dog
corpse nearby. Peter is devastated, his hopes for love with Dana
seemingly dashed. But she
emerges, the team pulling her out
of the rubble. Brought back from
the dead, just like Peter, they are
each transformed. Dana now views Peter as an individual worthy of
her love. He said he would prove
himself, and he did. This brings to a
close Dana’s storyline as the ghost
plot threatening her ends and
Peter’s value is proved.
Scene #39Heroes
ProtagonistThe Ghostbusters
DesireCelebrate victory
AnalysisThe Ghostbusters return to the
people of New York, heroes. They
soak in the moment and then
simply go back to the firehouse.
Back to science. Back to work.
They’re belief in their work has
been validated and they can
continue forward with a stronger
self of themselves and their


“Ghostbusters” earns its status as a classic comedy film through its strong characters, dedication to taking its subject seriously and timely humor.

There are four values at stake throughout the story: destruction/salvation, validation/rejection, love/abandonment and ego/selflessness. For the Ghostbusters, their quest for validation leads them into a do-or-die matchup where destruction becomes the key point. And for Peter, his need for love equates with his ego, highlighting how his lack of compassion could turn him into someone like Peck. These values dictate how the characters act and serve as a deeper investigation into the team, culminating in their controlling idea: We succeed through our beliefs when our character is strong. By proving their character, their beliefs gain acceptance from the rather venomous world of New York.

The characters each build out of a stereotype to become their own. While Egon is a nerd, he is very much unique in the formation of his speech pattern, the way he carries himself, the way he reacts to certain situations. Peter is a cad, but a lovable one, built out of little moments of humor and a childish innocence. Ray’s eagerness is infectious, his determination highlighted by his hand gestures and bizarre facial expressions. In a world of stiff bureaucrats, they stand out and distinguish themselves.

If I had to venture a criticism in the narrative, it is that Peter’s story, while it works well, lacks much depth or finesse. Peter starts the narrative as a rather crude charlatan and he is still pretty crude at the end of the film, albeit changed having faced death and saved Dana. There aren’t any real moments of self-reflection where Peter considers his emotions and decides to change them. It’s the same for the team. The decision to face Gozer isn’t much of a decision at all. Some hesitancy would have served to build more growth into the characters.

Having said that, “Ghostbusters” is a film that doesn’t want to dwell too much on personal stakes or great inner change. It’s about the external journey. The way the film builds tension, from Dana being possessed, to Louis being chased, to the various discussions about the apocalypse, is masterful. And then the ending features a great twist, the Minotaur of the film a giant marshmallow man, hilarious and terrifying.

The blending of the humor and the terror is one of the film’s key attributes. The filmmakers realized, just as in “The Bride of Frankenstein”, humor and horror are two sides of the same coin and can be balanced off of each other.

And the movie’s ability to appeal to kids garnered a lifelong fanbase. In many ways, the Ghostbusters are rather adolescent, full of life, fun, dedicated to adventure. The “parental” world is stiff and unrelenting, drab and dour. They wear suits and look down on fantasy and experimentation. It’s easy for a kid to see themselves as a Ghostbuster, not only capturing ghosts and going on adventures, but also sticking it to the man. As a child, watching “Ghostbusters” can be a transformative experience, a release into a fantastical world where the outcasts, the dweebs, the rebels, are the heroes.


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