From the first teaser trailer of Netflix’s Stranger Things season 2, fans of the series became all sorts of excited to see the quartet of Mike, Will, Dustin, and Lucas decked out in Ghostbusters Halloween costumes, drawing both on viewers’ affinity for the spirit-fighting foursome and the series’ 1980s setting. While season 2 may not possess many explicit references to the beloved comedy/horror film and its sequel (and reboot), the show’s creators pepper the nine-episode run with plenty of subtle nods to the gut- and ghost-bustin’ classics.
Warning: Stranger Things season 2 spoilers ahead!
Latecomers to the Crew
When the D&D-loving group shows up to school dressed as the Ghostbusters, Lucas and Will get into a tiff, as both have showed up dressed as Peter Venkman. Neither wants to be the Winston Zeddemore, as a) he’s not a scientist and b) was a latecomer to the crew. The latter echoes Will’s antipathy to Max and his reluctance to let her join their crew—although his sorrow over losing Eleven last season might have something to do with it as well.
Demogorogon dogs (or, as Dustin refers to them as, demo-dogs) invading from the Upside Down pose a constant threat to our heroes, flooding the town of Hawkins and attacking anyone who threatens to close the portal to the dark dimension. In the original Ghostbusters film, Ray, Peter, and company faced the Terror Dogs Zuul and Vinz Clortho, servants to the invading Gozer the Destructor. Unlike the Ghostbusters and their canine conundrums, however, one of the Stranger Things kids, Dustin, was able to calm at once one of the demo-dogs, with the help of a little bit of nougat.
While holed up at the Byers home in the latter part of the season, waiting while Sheriff Hopper takes Eleven to attempt to close a portal to the Upside Down, Lucas and Max are talking about the craziness flurrying about them, with Lucas comparing it to Judgment Day, something Winston echoes in wake of New York’s uptick in ghost sightings and hullabaloo in Ghostbusters.
Portals to the Other Side
A small thing, but both the Stranger Things crew and the Ghostbusters team have to close portals to the other side—the Upside Down and the Gozer’s domain, respectively—to halt the destruction of the Earth. Both require Hail Mary moves: Eleven using more telekinetic power than she ever has before to close the door to the Upside Down and the Ghostbusters crossing their proton pack streams—a potentially fatal move to the foursome.
One of the biggest challenges in season 2 of Stranger Things is the possession of Will Byers, the Upside Down’s favorite Hawkins kid to torment. After his experience in the Upside Down in season 1, Will has feelings and visions of that dimension, not completely able to shake the darkness that infected him. After confronting the Shadow Monster that looms over Hawkins this season, a tentacle of the Lovecraftian nightmare is forced down Will’s throat, making the Monster privy to everything Will sees. Eventually, Will’s mother Joyce, brother Jonathan, and Nancy Wheeler have to perform an exorcism of sorts—using heat, which makes the Shadow Monster recoil, instead of a crucifix or holy water.
Likewise, Ghostbuster’s Peter Venkman has to confront a possessed innocent in the form of Dana Barrett, who is under the thrall of Zuul, Terror Dog servant to the aforementioned Gozer. Unlike Will, however, Dana has to wait until Ghostbusters’ Big Bad is completely vanquished before she is released from Zuul’s possession.