The Right Way to Watch the 'Ghostbusters' Movies in Order (2024)

Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts all make an appearance.

By Marisa LaScala
The Right Way to Watch the 'Ghostbusters' Movies in Order (1)

In 1984, Ghostbusters was the movie that wasn't afraid to ask, "What if ridding your home or business of evil supernatural beings was just like getting a New York City plumber to come out and fix a leak?" The idea of paranormal scientists — played by some of the era's funniest actors — dressed in coveralls like regular joes and heading out to solve the city's paranormal problems (while being dogged by the EPA) was comedy gold. No wonder that, 40 years later, we still have Ghostbusters movies.

The newest entry in the franchise, Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, comes out in theaters on March 22. This one sees multiple generations of paranormal investigators going against something called the Dark Chill, which threatens to leave the city in a deep freeze. But how many Ghostbusters are there again? And how do the young ones connect to the old ones?

If you're looking to refresh your knowledge of all the lore, here's how to watch all the Ghostbusters movies in order. (Yes, even the one that's largely ignored.) The good news is that, for the most part — with one big exception — the timeline has been straightforward. There's no prequels or anything that would suggest you'd watch them in any order other than the release order.

When it comes to how to stream them, they're a little all over the place — there's not one go-to destination at the moment where you can stop by and watch all of the Ghostbusters films for one low price. The '80s movies are on Hulu, but the newer ones are not. And, since Sony doesn't have its own, dedicated streaming service (the way Universal has Peaco*ck and Disney has Disney+), they could be bounced around at any moment. So if you're a Hulu subscriber, make sure you watch those older movies before they leave the site. (Oh, and this piece only covers the movies, but if you're fans of The Real Ghosbusters animated TV series, you can find it on Apple TV, while 1997's Extreme Ghostbusters is on The Roku Channel.)

Looking for more great movies to watch? Check out these Good Housekeeping guides:

Indiana Jones Movies in Order | Marvel Movies in Order | Spider-Man Movies in Order | Lord of the Rings Movies in Order


Ghostbusters (1984)

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The original Ghostbusters film, as directed by Ivan Reitman, sets the tone that strikes the balance between spooky and silly. In it, three "parapsychology" professors — Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd) and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis) — open a business where they use tech they invented to rid New York City of ghosts. They get in over their heads, though, when they run afoul of a demonic god and its minions, which have been summoned to a New York City apartment complex.



Ghostbusters II (1989)

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After the events of the previous film, the Ghostbusters are disbanded — until someone discovers a river of slime beneath the city that's spreading bad vibes throughout the population, bringing an entity named Vigo the Carpathian back to life. But can the crew get the City to cheer up in order to send the sorcerer back to where he came from?



For Completists: Ghostbusters (2016)

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After nearly 30 years without a Ghostbusters movie, we get this all-female installment — often referred to now as Ghostbusters: Answer the Call — which is more reboot than sequel. It lives in a continuity apart from the other films — in fact, Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Ernie Hudson, Sigourney Weaver and Annie Potts all make cameo appearances as characters other than their original Ghostbusters roles. But for those who want to scratch every Ghostbusters movie off the list, this one has plenty of laughs to recommend it, with a cast anchored by Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones.


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Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021)

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A new generation of Spengler takes up the proton packs — both in front of and behind the camera. Ghostbusters: Afterlife is directed by Jason Reitman, the son of Ghostbusters director Ivan Reitman, and follows the grandkids of Egon as they discover the truth about what their grandfather did for a living. It's also the first one to take place outside of New York City, with the Spengler family taking up residence at a farmhouse in Oklahoma (and driving the iconic ECTO-1 through corn fields).



Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024)

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Ghostbusters old and new unite, with Bill Murray, Dan Akyroyd, Ernie Hudson and Annie Potts donning their old coveralls once again to help the young Spenglers and their cohort. This time, they're back in NYC, trying to stop a dark power known as the Death Chill from freezing the city into oblivion. It comes to theaters on March 22.


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The Right Way to Watch the 'Ghostbusters' Movies in Order (8)

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The Right Way to Watch the 'Ghostbusters' Movies in Order (2024)


The Right Way to Watch the 'Ghostbusters' Movies in Order? ›

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

What order should you watch Ghostbusters? ›

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

Do you need to watch all of the Ghostbusters movies? ›

While it is not necessary to watch the previous movies to comprehend the new Ghostbusters movie, they can provide additional context, references, and a deeper appreciation for the franchise as a whole. If you are a fan of the Ghostbusters series, watching the previous movies will enhance your overall experience.

Which Ghostbuster movies are canon? ›

↑ According to Eric Reich, of Ghost Corps, during private email correspondence with Ghostbusters Wiki Administrator Mrmichaelt on the day of December 5, 2021, the original movie canon now consists of only Ghostbusters, Ghostbusters II, and Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Do I need to watch Ghostbusters to understand afterlife? ›

While “Afterlife” is packed with callbacks to the original film, “Ghostbusters II” gets largely sidelined. There's no mention of Vigo or the walking Statue of Liberty, but there is one notable reference to the 1989 sequel.

Which Ghostbuster movie should I watch first? ›

You should start with the first Ghostbusters movie, which was released in 1984. – How many Ghostbusters movies are there? There are a total of five Ghostbusters movies including the 2016 reboot.

Is Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters: Afterlife connected? ›

Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a 2021 American supernatural comedy film directed by Jason Reitman from a screenplay he co-wrote with Gil Kenan. It is the sequel to Ghostbusters (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989), and the fourth film in the Ghostbusters franchise.

Why is there no Ghostbusters 3? ›

Plans for a third Ghostbusters film began during filming of the second one, but Harold Ramis was unsure about it because of the main cast's ages and how difficult it was to get them all together. In addition to that, Bill Murray wasn't interested in coming back for another film.

Who were the 4 original Ghostbusters? ›

Peter Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore are four Ghostbusters who are part detectives and exterminators who chases ghosts who terrorize the city and the people of New York.

Is the 2016 Ghostbusters canon? ›

Ghostbusters (2016) -While not exactly canon, it is a movie that caused an uproar. It has an all new cast of female SNL stars. Ghostbusters: Afterlife (if it happens) -The direct continuation of the original Ghostbusters. It takes place 30 years after Ghostbusters II.

Did Ghostbusters 2 not happen? ›

Despite the relative failure of Ghostbusters II, a second sequel was pursued through to the early 2010s. Following the mixed reviews and financial underperformance of the 2016 series reboot, the series returned to the original films with Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) and Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire (2024).

Is Ghostbusters 2 no longer canon? ›

Now that the Statue of Liberty possession has been referenced by Ghostbusters: Frozen Empire, it is officially confirmed that Ghostbusters 2 is canon and was canon back when Afterlife came out. The 2021 franchise revival simply did not include as many overt connections to the 1989 film.

Which Ghostbuster is Egon? ›

Egon Spengler, who had been played by the late Harold Ramis back to the big screens for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Is Ghostbusters: Afterlife better than the original? ›

While a lot of these changes worked in its favor, Ghostbusters: Afterlife was far from perfect. The reboot occasionally felt too rooted in the past, and it took most of the movie's lengthy runtime to reintroduce the franchise's original heroes.

What was the last Ghostbusters movie? ›

Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) - IMDb.

How scary is Ghostbuster Afterlife? ›

There are a few mild jump scares and some frightening looking ghosts. The two adult main characters get possessed by a demon, after which which they turn into dog-like beasts that speak in a demonic voice and have red eyes.

How long between Ghostbusters 1 and 2? ›

Set five years after the events of the first film, the Ghostbusters have been sued and put out of business after the destruction caused during their battle with the deity Gozer the Gozerian. When a new paranormal threat emerges, the Ghostbusters reunite to combat it and save the world.

Were there 4 Ghostbusters? ›

Dr. Peter Venkman, Dr. Ray Stantz, Dr. Egon Spengler and Winston Zeddemore are four Ghostbusters who are part detectives and exterminators who chases ghosts who terrorize the city and the people of New York.

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