Ghostbusters: Afterlife Ending Explained and After-Credits Scenes Breakdown - IGN (2022)

Full SPOILERS ahead for Ghostbusters: Afterlife.

Much of the third act of Ghostbusters: Afterlife has not been seen in any of the trailers or other marketing materials, a move that has preserved the surprises the finale has in store. Like the recent Star Wars trilogy, Ghostbusters: Afterlife is one giant Easter Egg-laden nostalgia trip, and its third act is where all of those callbacks come to a head.

While the final act settles the past, the film’s post-credits scene hints at the future of the Ghostbusters franchise. Let’s break down — or should we say bust? — the ending of Ghostbusters: Afterlife and its two after-credits scenes.

The film’s young protagonists — Phoebe (Mckenna Grace), her big brother Trevor (Finn Wolfhard), her summer school classmate Podcast (Logan Kim), and Trevor’s crush Lucky (Celeste O'Connor) — head to the abandoned Shandor mining complex where they discover a pit of angry spirits being held in check by proton stream tech installed by the late Egon Spengler (who we saw die in the film’s opening moments).

Egon’s granddaughter Phoebe realizes that her grandfather wasn’t the crazy “dirt farmer” the citizens of Summerville deemed him nor was he the uncaring dad his daughter Callie (Carrie Coon) thought but someone who sacrificed everything — his family, friends, and ultimately his life — to save the world from Ivo Shandor’s final attempt to bring back the god of destruction, Gozer the Gozerian.

They return to Egon’s farmhouse where they discover Callie has been possessed and become The Gatekeeper, the same entity who possessed Dana Barrett in the original 1984 movie. Similar to Dana in that film, the possessed Callie declares: “There is no Mom, only Zuul.” Callie the Gatekeeper asks Podcast if he is the Keymaster before freaking out, smashing through the window, and heading to the butte atop the Shandor mine.

With it up to them to save the world, the kids return to the police station, which is empty because the cops are out responding to the ghost invasion. The kids retrieve their gear and the Ecto-1 that’s been impounded following their arrest by the sheriff (Bokeem Woodbine), who also just so happens to be Lucky’s dad.

Podcast releases Muncher from the trap so it can chew through the cell bars, allowing Podcast and Phoebe to retrieve their ghostbusting gear. Trevor and Lucky commandeer the Ecto-1 and a cop car, everyone suits up, and they head off to the mine to take care of business.

At the mine, the kids meet Gozer (played by Olivia Wilde). Yes, “Flattop” from the original film is back! She’s even seated upon a stone staircase as she was in the ‘84 movie. Ivo Shandor himself (J.K. Simmons in a brief cameo) also awakens from his stasis to praise the return of Gozer and proclaim that she can now help him rule the world. Gozer simply tears Shandor in half.

Callie and her date (and Phoebe and Podcast’s summer school teacher) Gary Grooberson (Paul Rudd), like Dana Barrett and Louis Tully before them, have been possessed and transformed into the terror dog forms of the Gatekeeper and the Keymaster.

While Phoebe distracts Gozer with bad science jokes, Podcast lines up the trap to capture her. The kids trap Gozer’s spectral form, free Callie (but not Gary) from her terror dog form, and race back to Egon’s farmhouse. Phoebe explains that Egon’s land is not a dirt farm but one giant trap engineered to capture all the ghosts from Shandor’s mine and prevent the end of the world.

At the farmhouse, though, their plan to rid the world of Gozer quickly goes sideways. Lucky becomes the new Gatekeeper, equipment is failing and all seems lost when the three surviving Ghostbusters — Ray Stantz (Dan Aykroyd), Peter Venkman (Bill Murray), and Winston Zeddimore (Ernie Hudson) — arrive, Particle Throwers blasting. Together with the kids, the original Ghostbusters eventually get the upper hand of Gozer. It’s during this sequence that the movie fully visualizes what it had only suggested beforehand: Egon Spengler’s ghost!

We first see Egon’s spectral form helping Phoebe aim her Particle Thrower at Gozer and after this, the CG recreation of the late Harold Ramis takes on an even more prominent role. Though he never speaks, Egon’s kindly, smiling ghost fights alongside his old teammates to stop Gozer once and for all. Ray apologizes for not believing Egon years ago and for the friendship-ending rift that caused. Venkman fires off the quips — especially against Gozer — while Winston provides, well, the tools and the talent.

In the end, it takes the whole bunch — the Spenglers, the surviving Ghostbustsrs, and newcomer Podcast — to turn the tide, trap Gozer, and stop the end of the world. Lucky and Gary are freed from their terror dog forms while the ghost of Egon bids a heartfelt goodbye to his family and friends. As he hugs his daughter Callie, Egon’s spirit disintegrates, the remnants fluttering up into the starry night like embers.

Then the following words appear onscreen against the sky: “For Harold” …

The movie closes with the classic Ghostbusters theme by Ray Parker Jr. over an aerial shot heading into New York City, the setting of the original two movies, as sirens wail.

End credits roll … but that’s not the end of the movie.

Movie Sequels That Took Forever

Does Ghostbusters: Afterlife Have an After-Credits Scene?

Yes, it does. Two in fact. A mid-credits scene and a post-credits scene, both of which involve the original Ghostbusters cast.

The mid-credits scene of Ghostbusters: Afterlife is a riff on the original film’s ESP test scene. After the cast credits list a special appearance by Sigourney Weaver, the film cuts to Peter Venkman and Dana Barrett at home. She’s wearing a wedding ring so the assumption can be made they got married sometime after Ghostbusters II.

Dana tests Peter’s ESP ability with the same cards he once used to test his students at Columbia University. And like the unlucky male student in the ‘84 film, Peter is shocked by an electrode when he guesses the wrong ESP symbol on the card. But by the end, Dana keeps shocking Peter until she gets him to admit the cards were marked and he only ever shocked the male students and not the female ones.

Ghostbusters: Afterlife’s post-credits scene sets up another sequel -- one not set in Summerville, Oklahoma but back in the franchise’s home base of New York City. There is a brief vintage scene of Egon (the late Harold Ramis) and Janine Melnitz (Annie Potts) where she gives him her lucky coin from the 1964 World's Fair at Flushing Meadow. This is actually a deleted scene from the original film.

It cuts from Janine handing Egon her lucky coin to her, in the present, looking at it. She’s in the office building of Winston Zeddemore, who has transformed himself in his post-ghostbusting years into a billionaire businessman. The man who began as the blue-collar Ghostbuster is now a one-percenter. Winston explains to Janine that his time with the Ghostbusters convinced him he had the tools and the talent to better himself. Not only did Winston pay many of Egon’s bills but he also didn’t turn the old firehouse headquarters into a Starbucks as Ray said it was. Winston says no matter what he’s achieved since he will always be a Ghostbuster.

We then see Winston arrive at the old Ghostbusters headquarters as the Ecfo-1 finally comes home. (Winston said during the third act that he would take care of the battered, old vehicle.) Winston runs his hand down the car and then walks further into the dilapidated building. The final shot of the movie reveals the Containment Unit in the basement of the firehouse blinking red, an ominous sign that all the psycho-kinetic energy held within it is ready to burst out.

If a sequel to Ghostbusters: Afterlife does happen then will the Spenglers be in it if it’s set in New York City? Did they stay in Oklahoma or did Winston pay off their debts so they could afford to move to New York? Considering how integral Phoebe was to Ghostbusters: Afterlife, it would seem odd to not at least bring her character back for a sequel. And if the film is set in New York, does this mean fans will see Peter, Ray, and Winston suit up yet again to save the day? Time -- and the box office receipts for Ghostbusters: Afterlife -- will tell.

What did you think of Ghostbusters: Afterlife, its ending and end credits scenes? Did all that bustin’ make you feel good? What did you think of seeing Egon’s ghost? Let us know in the comments. And for more, check out our Ghostbusters: Afterlife review and what the Ghostbusters cast had to tell us.

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