Ghostbusters Ending Explained And How It Leads To Ghostbusters: Afterlife

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" is coming to theaters on November 19, 2021, picking up the original franchise that began with "Ghostbusters" in 1984. Since the sequel appears to be capitalizing on the events of the first movie, including the return of Gozer the Gozerian and a tiny revival of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, it might be time to refresh your memory about the ending of the original movie in order to be fully prepared when the apocalypse rolls around again.

The Set-Up

In the original "Ghostbusters," New York City is overrun with a plethora of spooks, specters, and ghosts, which is good news for the paranormal extermination business that's just been created by Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis). But the trio that captures ghosts has been running on fumes as the amount of paranormal activity spikes in the city, so they bring in Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson) to help out. However, they have another problem.

Though Egon has created a containment unit in which to keep the ghosts they've caught with their trademark proton pack streams, that unit is nearing capacity, and supernatural energy is still surging across the city. It appears that much of that energy is coming from the apartment building of Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver), who encountered a dog-like creature in her refrigerator. Eventually, she becomes possessed by this entity, who identifies itself as Zuul, The Gatekeeper. Meanwhile, her awkward neighbor Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) has been possessed by another dog-like creature, who identifies as Vinz Clortho, The Keymaster.

When Peter arrives at the apartment of Dana Barrett, he finds that she's been possessed. Back at Ghostbusters headquarters, the police have brought in the possessed Louis Tully for examination. Egon believes bringing these two together would be extraordinarily bad. Unfortunately, when a bullish agent of the Environmental Protection Agency shows up to shut down the potentially hazardous containment unit for ghosts, Tully/Vinz Clortho escapes in the ensuing chaos of ghosts being released back into New York City, and The Gatekeeper and The Keymaster are able to unite while the Ghostbusters are taken to jail, having been blamed for the supernatural explosion inside their firehouse headquarters.

In jail, we learn that Louis and Dana's apartment building was designed by a man named Ivo Shandor, the leader of a cult who worshipped a Sumerian shape-shifting god known as Gozer the Gozerian. The building was meant to function as an antenna to attract and concentrate spiritual energy to summon Gozer and bring about the apocalypse, and now that The Gatekeeper and The Keymaster have reunited to allow Gozer to arrive, it just might happen. But not if the Ghostbusters have anything to say about it.

Ghostbusters Ending Explained: Cross the Streams

After convincing the mayor of New York City that they're the only people who can stop this supernatural apocalypse, the Ghostbusters head to the rooftop of the apartment building where Louis and Dana have turned into Gozer's dog-like creatures, known as Terror Dogs. On the rooftop, an elaborate gate has opened to another dimension, and Gozer appears as a red-eyed woman in a sparkling body suit with flat-top haircut. 

After evading the Ghostbusters proton pack streams that are used to capture ghosts, Gozer disappears and makes the team choose the form of the destructor that will bring about their demise. Ray, trying to think of the most harmless thing imaginable, thought of a mascot called the Stay Puft Marshmallow man, a puffy marshmallow sailor who looks too happy to destroy a city. But he gets downright monstrous when blasted and toasted by the Ghostbusters proton streams.

The Ghostbusters are left without any idea of how to stop the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, and Gozer is nowhere to be seen. Suddenly, Egon has an idea. Though he previously instructed the rest of the Ghostbusters that they should never "cross the streams" of energy generated by the proton packs they use to catch ghosts, he thinks that it might generate enough energy to destroy the dimensional gate and stop the apocalypse from being unleashed. 

Knowing that this could kill them, all four of the Ghostbusters bring their proton streams together to make one huge stream of energy, and it blows up the dimensional gateway, eviscerating the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, Gozer, and the Terror Dogs, and leaving the building, surrounding block, and the Ghostbusters team covered in marshmallow fluff.

But what about Louis and Dana? Though it initially seems like they might have died in the ensuing blast, the two unfortunate humans actually reverted back to themselves and survived. The Ghostbusters saved the city and the citizens celebrate their victory in the streets. 

How Does This Lead into Ghostbusters: Afterlife?

When "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" rolls around, it's been around 35 years since the events in New York City. For what it's worth, there is a "Ghostbusters II," but it doesn't seem like it will have much of any narrative relevance in "Afterlife." The Ghostbusters aren't together anymore, and Egon Spengler has been living in a farmhouse in a small town called Summerville in Oklahoma. However, he hasn't been resting and relaxing. It appears he's been investigating some suspicious supernatural activity that appears to have ties to Ivo Shandor's cult and the summoning of Gozer the Gozerian. 

Whatever Egon was investigating results in him meeting his demise. His death results in his old farmhouse being passed on to his estranged daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) and grandkids Phoebe (Mckenna Grace) and Trevor (Finn Wolfhard). When they discover all of Egon's old Ghostbusters gear and research, they soon realize that they might be the only ones who can finish the work he started, which means trying to save the world from the supernatural phenomena relating to New York City's "Manhattan Crossrip of 1984," the events of the original "Ghostbusters" movie that have now largely been forgotten by the public or deemed as a hoax.

As for the original Ghostbusters team, we're not sure where they rest of them are (though Ray seems to still be running his occult book store), but they're all supposed to appear in this movie in some capactiy.

If you haven't seen it, watch the most recent "Ghostbusters: Afterlife" trailer below and see how other elements of the original "Ghostbusters" are coming back:

"Ghostbusters: Afterlife" arrives in theaters on November 19, 2021.