THE LISTS: Top 10 lines from ‘Ghostbusters’

Posted by · 12:22 pm · June 9th, 2009

GhostbustersAs I briefly noted yesterday, “Ghostbusters” has just celebrated the 25th anniversary of its June 8, 1984 release.  The film went on to make considerable box office dollars and launched the post-SNL careers of Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, along with co-stars Harold Ramis and Ernie Hudson, further into the stratosphere.  Okay, well, Hudson’s career never really took flight, but still.

The anniversary is certainly not going by unnoticed.  Sony is prepping the Blu-ray release of the film for next week while Atari, Inc. is all set to launch the heavily anticipated cross-platform video game on June 16.  I knew I wanted to do something special for the site, but I just couldn’t come up with the right idea.  Then it hit me.

In my view — and this is, of course, quite the disputed opinion — “Ghostbusters” is the most quotable movie of all time.  And it’s not just the one-liners that have me howling every time I give the flick another look (which understandably dominate the list below), but it’s the thoroughness of the comedy.  Witness, for instance, Egon Spengler’s (Harold Ramis) description of the consequences of “crossing the streams,” or the way Louis Tully (Rick Moranis) rifles off the particulars of Ted and Annette Fleming’s fiscal business at a dreary clients’ party.  It is, quite frankly, one of the most ingenious comedy screenplays ever assembled.

So…why not a list of the film’s 10 best lines?

This quickly became a painful process.  I ended up with at least a dozen lines that, on another day, might have made the list.  Annie Potts’s “I’ve quit better jobs than this,” or Hudson’s sincere, “That’s a big Twinkie.”  I wanted to give a shout-out to “Let’s run some red lights” and “Somebody blows their nose and you want to keep it,” and especially a personal favorite that hits my funny button more firmly than others: “I looked at the trap, Ray.”  Not to mention “Yes it’s true, this man has no…,” well, you get the picture.  But you have to whittle it down, and so I have.  On to the list.

And Happy Birthday, “Ghosbusters.”

Ghostbusters10. “Nobody steps on a church in my town!”
One would think the epic battle with Gozer the Destructor (in the guise of the mammoth Stay Puft Marshmallow Man) at the end of the film would at least slow down the clever zingers in favor of amping up action, suspense and overall spectacle, but no sir.  The lines keep on coming and the 10th entry on our countdown is one of a slew that Bill Murray spits out effortlessly throughout the piece.  You’re never short a few chuckles when the actor belts out his disapproval of Gozer’s destruction of a sacred chapel en route to wiping out his paranormal police squad.

Ghostbusters9. “Tell you what.  I’ll take Ms. Barrett back to her apartment and check her out…I’ll go check out Ms. Barrett’s apartment.”
One of the things that makes “Ghostbusters” such a fresh and lively piece of comedy is the improvisation and commitment to keeping the best possible lines and takes.  Case in point: this off-the-cuff Freudian slip Murray slides in when Peter Venkman first meets — and clearly begins to fall in love with — the spiritually tormented Dana Barrett (Sigourney Weaver).  As a kid, one must admit, it didn’t click (I was three!), but hearing my parents crack up certainly made me curious.

Rick Moranis in Ghostbusters8. “I taped ’20 Minute Workout’ on my machine and played it back at high speed so it only took 10 minutes.  I got a great workout.”
Rick Moranis’s first and only appearance on our countdown, as pesky, nosy neighbor Louis Tully, ranks as one of the moments that always stands out as a howler for me.  Here is a character that, if the visual cues of a geeky accountant who works out in high-waters aren’t enough for you, will surely have you in the aisles with his numerous quips.  There are plenty of lines to choose from his exhausting exchange with Dana — consider his unorthodox solution to her TV volume issue.  But this one stands out.

Harold Ramis in Ghostbusters7. “Print is dead.”
One of two lines on the countdown that could successfully serve as an appropriate T-shirt or bumper sticker design (the true test of longevity, no?), Harold Ramis’s casual, nonchalant but ever-so-overly-sincere delivery is what makes it memorable (and hilarious) for me.  The prescience of the line is also quite intriguing, to say the least.  Some might prefer “I collect spores, molds and fungus,” part of the same exchange with Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) that immediately follows, but I beg to differ.  This line is quintessential Egon, suffering no fools.

(from left) Harold Ramis, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd in Ghostbusters6. “You’re right.  No human being would stack books like this.”
The ghost-busting trio’s first “job” as it were, stalking the hallways of the New York Public Library (the interior of which was filmed at USC’s Doheny Library, oddly enough) on the hunt for a “free-floating, full-torso, vaporous apparition,” offers plenty of subtle and on-the-nose remarks alike from each of our principal actors.  And some don’t even pick up on Dan Aykroyd’s, “Listen!  You smell something?”  But when it comes to a spookily assembled column of books amid the eerie rubble of a poor librarian’s close encounter in the film’s introductory scene, Murray offers this quip that just cracks me up every time.

Bill Murray in Ghosbusters5. “Back off, man.  I’m a scientist.”
So we come to T-shirt/bumper sticker #2, and chronologically speaking, the first zinger of the film to pop up on our countdown.  The line, spoken by Murray, comes after an unexpected query regarding the menstruation cycle of the librarian mentioned in entry #6 and is a favorite for many fans of the film.  I like it for the way it feeds into Murray’s character.  Described by his Columbia Dean later as someone who views science as a “dodge,” he will indeed lean on those numerous degrees if it means a little more respect and esteem.  Or, at the very least, free reign to have his fun.

Sigourney Weaver in Ghostbusters4. “Take me now, subcreature.”
I always forget this remark by a Gatekeeper-possessed Dana Barrett until I’m watching the film again.  Without fail, it cracks me up every time.  When Peter Venkman shows up for his date with the Ghostbusters’ first client, he can tell from the start something’s not right.  Dana’s apartment is a wreck, ooze is dripping from everything and she has clearly been taken by some malevolent force.  “There is no Dana, only Zuul,” is right around the corner, but when Weaver casually drops in our #4 line in the way of seduction, it strikes just the right balance.

Bill Murray in Ghostbusters3. “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together…mass hysteria!”
The top three lines on our countdown are, for me, the top tier of “Ghostbusters” hilarity.  And the first in that echelon goes to the closing quip of a rant in the mayor’s office following the EPA’s shut-down of the group’s protection grid, which houses all of the incarcerated souls they’ve “busted” throughout the film.  As Ray, Egon and Winston begin describing the on-coming end of days to His Honor (a pitch-perfect David Margulies), Murray chimes in with this knee-slapper.  It might be too easy a choice for some but I think it’s classic “Ghostbusters.”

Ernie Hudson in Ghostbusters2. “Since I’ve joined these men, I have seen shit that’ll turn you white!”
Earlier on in the very same scene, Ernie Hudson strolls up to the mayor and gives his blue-collar, no nonsense take on the proceedings and delivers this multi-layered line that is probably the funniest moment of the film for me.  I say multi-layered because it both plays with race and has a fortunate cut-away to actor John Ring (as the New York Fire Commissioner) that lifts the material way, way off the page.  It’s also, let’s face, a perfectly delivered line.  With added emphasis on “shit” and “white,” it has a rhythm that carries the humor across splendidly.

(from left) Bill Murray and Ernie Hudson in Ghosbusters1. “Ray, when someone asks you if you’re a god you say, ‘Yes!'”
It is, to my mind, one of the greatest movie lines ever.  And it was the first line that ever cracked me up for its cleverness when I was a kid.  Ernie Hudson takes the top two spots on my list as Winston Zeddemore, regular Joe Schmoe who comes to the Ghostbusters looking for a job.  “If there’s a steady paycheck in it, I’ll believe anything you say,” he says in an earlier scene.  His list-topper, however, comes during the film’s climax after Gozer, in its “nimble little minx” form, asks of Ray, “Are you a god?”  Always the honest simpleton, Ray responds, “No.”  Lightning bolts coursing from its fingertips, Gozer screams, “Then DIE,” leaving Winston to deliver the goods.  Comedy gold.

We covered most of them, but what are your favorite lines from “Ghostbusters?”  When did you first see the film?  Do you love it?  Hate it?  Cut loose in the comments below!

→ 44 Comments Tags: , , , , , , , | Filed in: The Lists

44 responses so far

  • 1 6-09-2009 at 12:31 pm

    Bridgeman said...

    “Yes, it’s true. This man has no dick.”

  • 2 6-09-2009 at 12:36 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Probably my #11. A bit too easy, but a great line to be sure.

  • 3 6-09-2009 at 12:41 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    “No human being would stack books like this” is #1 for me. Followed closely by “Aim for the flat top”.

  • 4 6-09-2009 at 1:08 pm

    Guy Lodge said...

    Is this the most specific list we’ve ever had? Love it.

    It’s also a sharp reminder to me that I haven’t seen “Ghostbusters” in, oh, maybe 16 or 17 years. I should fix that.

  • 5 6-09-2009 at 1:08 pm

    JimmyBoots said...

    “Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown”

  • 6 6-09-2009 at 1:24 pm

    Bill said...

    “The kids love us.”

    “What did you do Ray….”

    (Piano keys) “They hate this.”

    “The flowers…are still standing!”

  • 7 6-09-2009 at 1:26 pm

    P-Dawg said...

    Rick Moranis saying “that of a giant Slor!” always gets me. Ditto for the “this chick is toast!” line. Great list, though.

  • 8 6-09-2009 at 1:26 pm

    JimmyBoots said...

    This are my personal favorites in no particular order.

    “Why worry? Each one of us is carrying an unlicensed nuclear accelerator on his back.”

    “We’ve been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft’s okay! He’s a sailor, he’s in New York; we get this guy laid, we won’t have any trouble!”

    “Mother pus bucket!”–This one is definitely going on a t-shirt

    “Don’t cross the streams.”

    “We came, we saw, we kicked its ass!”

    “Generally you don’t see that kind of behavior in a major appliance.”

    “If I’m wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail – peacefully, quietly. We’ll enjoy it! But if I’m *right*, and we *can* stop this thing… Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters.”

  • 9 6-09-2009 at 2:18 pm

    tony said...

    Yes its really easy but -“Yes, its true. This man has no dick.” is easily my favorite

    “I’m the keymaster, are you the gatekeeper?” gets me everytime

    I order you to cease any and all supernatural activity and return forthwith to your place of origin or to the nearest convenient parallel dimension.

    and lastly after the question regarding where those stairs go


  • 10 6-09-2009 at 2:19 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Actually, it’s: “They go up.” :)

  • 11 6-09-2009 at 2:52 pm

    Bernard said...


    Not enough love for the comedic genius of the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man – these slay me.

    I tried to think of the most harmless thing. Something I loved from my childhood. Something that could never ever possibly destroy us. Mr. Stay Puft!

    We’ve been going about this all wrong. This Mr. Stay Puft’s okay! He’s a sailor, he’s in New York; we get this guy laid, we won’t have any trouble!

  • 12 6-09-2009 at 3:20 pm

    Bill said...

    I’d nominate Caddyshack, Hot Fuzz, and Pineapple Express for any future list of most quotable movies…

  • 13 6-09-2009 at 3:36 pm

    head_wizard said...

    “Go get her Ray”

    “Thanks Ray that should handle it”

  • 14 6-09-2009 at 4:01 pm

    Speaking English said...

    I’ve never seen this film.

  • 15 6-09-2009 at 4:11 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    English: I…I…I just…I….

    Do me a favor? Go rent it? I’ll buy it for you and send it your way, actually. Email me an address. I’m dead fucking serious.

  • 16 6-09-2009 at 5:45 pm

    Chad Hartigan said...

    I watched it again recently thanks to the Roku. God bless that thing.

  • 17 6-09-2009 at 5:53 pm

    Seany P said...

    (In a deep voice)
    “There is no Dana only Zuul.”
    “What a lovely singing voice you must have.”

    “That’s a big twinkie.”

  • 18 6-09-2009 at 7:09 pm

    Sound Designer Dan said...

    Man at Elevator: What are you supposed to be, some kind of a cosmonaut?

    Venkman: No, we’re exterminators. Someone saw a cockroach up on twelve.

    Man at Elevator: That’s gotta be some cockroach.

    Venkman: Bite your head off, man.
    Dr Ray Stantz: [Entering elevator] Going up?

    Man at Elevator: I’ll take the next one.

  • 19 6-09-2009 at 8:05 pm

    Mike said...

    “Sorry, we thought you were someone else.” after zapping the cleaning lady

    “Must be some cockroach…Bite your head off.”

  • 20 6-09-2009 at 9:10 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Mike: The better line from your first example is the cleaning lady’s reply.

  • 21 6-09-2009 at 10:20 pm

    Vito said...

    Grab your stick!


    Heat ’em up!


    Make ’em hard!


    Let’s show this prehistoric bitch how we do things downtown… THROW IT!

  • 22 6-11-2009 at 3:49 am

    Nick said...

    “It’s outrageous… I WON’T pay it!”

    As said by snooty hotel manager. I hard it find not to say this whenever the bill arrives in a restaurant.

  • 23 6-11-2009 at 8:24 am

    Flax said...

    “Mother Puss Bucket” is a personal fav of mine, but 1 line that gets overlooked CONSTANTLY happens at the book stacking scene.

    RAY: “Listen… smell something?”


  • 24 6-11-2009 at 9:16 am

    Dan said...

    “Ok, who brought the dog?”

  • 25 6-11-2009 at 10:36 am

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Flax: I mentioned that one in #6. That line cracks me up every time.

  • 26 6-11-2009 at 11:52 am

    Fapos said...

    When they are firing up their weapons:


  • 27 6-11-2009 at 12:07 pm

    Kristopher Tapley said...

    Fapos: Good call!

  • 28 6-11-2009 at 1:14 pm

    Sam said...

    Louis Tulley

    “Yes, have some”

  • 29 6-11-2009 at 3:44 pm

    Josh said...

    my personal fave is the cleaning ladies reply after her cleaning cart gets zapped
    “What the hell are you doin?”

  • 30 6-11-2009 at 5:22 pm

    Chad said...

    Guys, guys, you’re all forgetting one of the biggest:

    Winston: “Tell him about the Twinkie.”

    Venkman: “What about the Twinkie?!”

  • 31 7-03-2009 at 8:23 am

    Diane said...

    “Where do these stairs go?” “They go up.”

  • 32 7-14-2009 at 7:15 am

    Jody said...

    My favorite –

    Peter: Ray has gone bye-bye Egon. What have you got left.

    Egon: Sorry Peter…I am terrified beyond the capacity for rational thought.

  • 33 8-13-2009 at 1:07 pm

    derek clem said...

    I read every comment hoping not to find my Dad’s favorite line… and then I find that Chad beat me to it. My Dad and I still quote it to this day!

    Winston: “Tell him about the Twinkie.”

    Venkman: “What about the Twinkie?!”

  • 34 7-30-2010 at 6:50 am

    Steve said...

    As an academic, this is my tops:

    Ray (to Peter, after they’ve been tossed from their university research center): “You’ve never been out of college. You don’t know what it’s like out there. I’ve worked in the private sector; they expect results!

  • 35 3-30-2011 at 11:02 pm

    David Bjerre said...

    I saw this when I was 10. My cool cousins took me. Loved the film, but had nightmares for weeks about the ghosts!

  • 36 5-09-2011 at 2:53 am

    largeR said...

    Not to nitpick, but “doe ray…. Egon” is actually from ghostbusters 2, although it would be in my top 10 lines from that movie. “Yes its true, this man has no dick” makes me laugh still but its the off camera “well that’s what I heard” that venkman delivers right after that absolutly kills it. And “I’ve always wanted to do this…and the flowers are STILL standing” is probably #2

  • 37 11-07-2011 at 12:31 am

    Dave G said...

    Are you ok? Who are you guys? We’re the Ghostbusters! Who does your taxes?

  • 38 2-07-2012 at 3:16 am

    ridethelapras said...

    “That’s a big twinkie” is funny, as well as the whole twinkie exchange.

    The funniest part though, is when Peter, who wasn’t even part of the conversation, responds to “Tell him about the twinkie” with “What about the twinkie” in complete deadpan. As if Egon had already used this twinkie metaphor before.

  • 39 7-07-2013 at 9:22 am

    Peter said...

    “I feel like the floor of a taxi cab.” Best line from egon in the whole film. :)

  • 40 7-13-2013 at 11:57 am

    Daniel Moskowitz said...

    Peter in the hallway of the hotel on seeing Slimer…

    Peter: “Come in, Ray.”
    Ray: “Venkman! I saw it! I saw it! I saw it!”
    Peter: “It’s right here, Ray. It’s looking at me.”
    Ray: “He’s an ugly little spud, isn’t he?”
    Peter: “I think he can hear you Ray.”

  • 41 3-11-2014 at 6:55 am

    brent said...

    my personal favourite,

    I think this building should be condemned. There’s serious metal fatigue in all the load-bearing members, the wiring is substandard, it’s completely inadequate for our power needs, and the neighborhood is like a demilitarized zone

  • 42 8-07-2014 at 4:24 pm

    Chuck said...

    Let’s split up…….yeah good idea….we can do more damage that way……

  • 43 10-06-2014 at 6:58 pm

    Pete said...

    “Some asshole brought a cougar to a party”