Now that we have four Ghostbusters movies, it’s time to take a look at all the main villains that span the franchise. Ghostbusters (1984), Ghostbusters II (1989), Ghostbusters: Answer the Call (2016), and Ghostbusters: Afterlife (2021) all feature supernatural entities of all shapes and sizes, many of which have become as iconic as some of the human characters.
Whether it’s a creepy oil painting that has the soul of an ancient sorcerer trapped inside, a giant anthropomorphic marshmallow, evil hellhounds that can cause a genuine fear of refrigerators, or a Sumerian demigod who’s definitely a fan of Ziggy Stardust, there’s “something strange” in every single one of the movies. So, who ya gonna call?
Well, that would be us, because we’ve decided to rank all the main Ghostbusters villains from worst to best. We’ve already ranked all the Ghostbusters, so now it’s time to put on your proton packs and light ’em up, because every single entry on this list don’t look good!
If you ain’t afraid of no ghost, then read on and find out how we’ve ranked all the main Ghostbusters villains…
7. Ivo Shandor — Ghostbusters: Afterlife
To much surprise, Ivo Shandor (JK Simmons) appears in the flesh in Ghostbusters: Afterlife. The Gozer worshipper is mentioned in the original film, and is the main villain in “Ghostbusters: The Video Game” (2009), so it’s fair to say that he’s a pretty important character in Ghostbusters lore.
So why is his role in the latest sequel ridiculously short-lived, when he’s even played by such a well-known actor? Seeing him wake from his century-long slumber in the Gozer temple is actually pretty unsettling, but within seconds, Gozer (Olivia Wilde) tears him in half like a piece of paper, which is one of a few things fans don’t like about Ghostbusters: Afterlife.
6. Rowan — Ghostbusters: Answer the Call
Critiquing a villain such as Rowan (Neil Casey) from Ghostbusters: Answer the Call isn’t always easy, largely because he’s one that’s of the dual-faced variety, or triple-faced, if you count his brief time possessing the body of useless secretary Kevin (Chris Hemsworth).
His human-counterpart isn’t much to write home about, as he’s nothing more than a modern-day Ivo Shandor, obsessed with bringing about the end of humanity, except without the interesting motivation (humanity being too sick to survive). But at least the giant Ghostbusters logo-version of Rowan looks pretty cool, which is one of a handful of things the Ghostbusters reboot gets right.
5. Gozer — Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Seeing Gozer (Slavitza Jovan in the original/Olivia Wilde in Ghostbusters: Afterlife) so low might leave you looking like you’ve seen a ghost. While responsible for iconic lines like “Are you a god?” and bringing about the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man, we still think Gozer leaves a lot to be desired.
There’s no denying that Gozer looks very cool, with the scales and spikes and that retro flat-top, but the truth is that we don’t really see the demigod do all that much (not unless you count the destruction the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man causes in New York City). Gozer might be an iconic villain, but their time in both the original film and the 2021 sequel is criminally short-lived,
4. Janosz Poha – Ghostbusters II
While Janosz Poha (Peter MacNicol) isn’t the main Ghostbusters II villain, he does, for the best part of the film, act on behalf of Vigo the Carpathian (played by Wilhelm von Homburg, and voiced by Max Von Sydow), who, until the final act, is trapped inside an oil painting. In fact, Janosz possesses many qualities that Vigo doesn’t!
He’s quirky, funny, and above all, he’s very creepy in a few scenes, with his two visits to Dana Barrett’s apartment (Sigourney Weaver) being among them (especially the one in which he poses as a ghostly nanny and kidnaps Dana’s baby, Oscar!). Janosz is, of course, being possessed by Vigo, but Peter MacNicol delivers a hilarious performance as both ‘versions’ of the character.
3. Vigo the Carpathian — Ghostbusters II
It wasn’t easy placing Vigo the Carpathian above Janosz Poha, but the fact is that, despite being trapped inside a painting for most of the movie, the ancient sorcerer is very unsettling. But it isn’t just the painting that’s creepy — it’s the backstory we get from the Ghostbusters.
They explain that, upon being decapitated centuries ago (after being killed in many other ways, but to no avail!), Vigo’s severed head spoke the words, “Death is but a door. Time is but a window. I’ll be back!” The third act’s physical version of Vigo might not be that great, but we think he’s at his most frightening when he isn’t moving!
2. Terror Dogs — Ghostbusters and Ghostbusters: Afterlife
Okay, who brought the dog?! We toyed with the idea of splitting the Terror Dogs into two entries, with one being those from the original film, and the second being the Ghostbusters: Afterlife versions. However, ultimately, we don’t think there’s a great deal of difference between the two portrayals (except for some CGI, of course).
With that said, while it’s the Keymaster and the Gatekeeper in both movies (AKA “Zuul” and “Vinz Clortho”, respectively), Gozer’s minions are, without argument, at their most terrifying in the 1984 classic. Perhaps it’s the old-school special effects, but either way, the Terror Dogs definitely deserve second place.
1. Stay Puft Marshmallow Man — Ghostbusters
Many pedantic fans will most likely point out the fact that the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is Gozer, as he’s a manifestation of the demigod, inadvertently brought about by Ghostbuster Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd). But for all intents and purposes, the Stay Puft is also a Ghostbusters villain in his own right, and is generally considered an entirely separate entity.
So, is he at the top because he has been immortalized through all sorts of Ghostbusters merchandize over the decades? Nope — we actually think there’s something pretty nightmarish about him! Yes, he might rock that friendly smile, but we’re not fooled, and to quote Egon Spengler (Harold Ramis), he terrifies us beyond the capacity for rational thought!
Jason Reitman‘s Ghostbusters: Afterlife is now available to add to your collection. The movie stars franchise newcomers McKenna Grace (Phoebe), Finn Wolfhard (Trevor), Lucky (Celeste O’Connor), Logan Kim (Podcast), Carrie Coon (Callie), and Paul Rudd (Gary Grooberson).
The long-awaited sequel also features cameos from original Ghostbusters Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), and Winston Zeddemore (Ernie Hudson), as well as Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) and Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver). Sadly, Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) doesn’t appear.
All five original actors also appeared in the 2016 reboot Ghostbusters: Answer the Call, alongside Melissa McCarthy (Abby Yates), Leslie Jones (Patty Tolan), Kristen Wiig (Erin Gilbert), and Kate McKinnon (Jillian Holtzmann). However, they played completely different characters, as the reboot isn’t canon with the other three Ghostbusters movies.
How would you rank the main villains in the Ghostbusters movies?