The 13 Greatest Ghosts of Geekdom

By Steven Romano in Daily Lists, Miscellaneous
Monday, July 18, 2011 at 8:02 am
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In a culture dominated by pirates, ninjas, zombies and robots, it's easy to overlook a denizen of nerd-dom that, at times, seems to always get the short end of the stick in regards to popularity: the ghost. When compared to other creatures of horror, the ghost is perhaps the scariest of all in that they can appear when you least expect it -- typically when you're the most fragile and alone -- cannot be killed by any conventional weaponry and can drive even the sanest of individuals over the precipice of insanity. But just because this is true doesn't mean that all ghosts need to be feared and loathed. In fact, there are some that have become pop culture icons that instill warm feelings of nostalgia in nerds of all kinds whenever they come to mind. From the big screen to comic books, ghosts occupy nearly every facet of geek culture and they show no signs of slowing down in the near future.

Grab a flashlight and throw the blankets over your head, because the 13 greatest ghosts of geekdom are materializing and coming your way!

13) Marowak's Ghost, Pokémon Red and Blue
There are people who would say that Nintendo is the Disney of the video game world, given that both companies have a penchant for creating endearing and memorable characters that have delighted fans for generations. And, having surely leafed through the Disney playbook, Nintendo has the honor of having it's own take on the tragic "Bambi's mom" scene in the form of Marowak's ghost from Pokémon Red and Blue.

As the in-game story goes, Team Rocket grunts were dispatched to Pokémon Tower -- the final resting place for Pokémon -- to hunt Cubone and sell the skulls they wear on their heads for profit. However, a mother Marowak stood in between Team Rocket and their callous profiteering, thus resulting in her death. By now you can imagine the tears welling up in the eyes of small children everywhere, but believe me, things are about to get worse. After having this macabre tale related to the player, you're then expected to ease Marowak's soul by doing the one thing a Pokémon Trainer knows best: puttin' it down in a battle! No prayers or ceremonies, just bombarding the soul of a restless mother with "Water Gun," "Mega Punch," or whatever attack you have at your disposal. It would've been nice to at least reunite Marowak with her child one last time, but then you wouldn't get any experience points, would you?

12) Jonathan Wellington "Mudsy" Muddlemore, The Funky Phantom
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The death of Jonathan Wellington "Mudsy" Muddlemore is neither heroic, tragic or horrific, despite his talk of being a patriot. Quite bluntly, it's downright disgraceful in that he was a victim of his own cowardice! We all know that a bunch of teenagers broke into an 18th century mansion to get out from a thunderstorm, only to free "Mudsy" -- and his cat Boo -- from his imprisonment inside the grandfather clock. But what many fans don't know is how he actually ended up inside there in the first place.

Fleeing for his life from British soldiers, the craven bastard and his cat sought refuge in the clock, and in a cruel twist of irony the two were unable to break free and died within. We can only imagine that this was a slow and agonizing death as the two starved and/or suffocated from the oppressive heat of a July heatwave. This does raise a question, however: wasn't anyone there to hear "Mudsy's" anguished pleas for help or did his fellow patriots decide that he should pay for his gutless behavior with his life? Regardless, his only saving grace is the fact that he shares the same voice as Snagglepuss.

11) Nearly Headless Nick, Harry Potter
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The book-version of Nearly Headless Nick is nothing spectacular to write home about; a memorable character, yes, but not extraordinary enough to merit a spot among characters like Harry Potter or Voldemort. The film-version, on the other hand, gets serious points for being played by Monty Python alum John Cleese! Most of the time, when a member of Monty Python appears in a film, you're guaranteed the undivided attention of every nerd in the room -- and incessant quoting of Monty Python skits there after. But, like "Mudsy" before him, Nick didn't exactly go out in a blaze of glory. Because of a spell gone awry, he was sentenced to decapitation and was a blubbering wreck from his cell all the way to the chopping block. So let the image of a tear-filled Cleese getting hacked at the neck embed itself into your consciousness while we move on to the next ghost on this list.

10) J.E.B. Stuart, The Haunted Tank
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In a plot that sounds like it was thrown together using Mad Libs, the ghost of Alexander the Great summons the spirit of Civil War Major General James Ewell Brown (J.E.B.) Stuart to guide and protect his descendant, Sgt. Jeb Stuart, and his tank crew during World War II. You'd think that having a fountain of military acumen floating over your head is a good thing, but the negatives outweigh the benefits here. For starters, Jeb is the only one who can actually see and hear the ghost of his grandfather, which in turn makes him look batshit insane to the rest of his peers. Secondly, J.E.B.'s soul is bound to his grandson at all times, lending itself to the possibility that the concepts of personal space and private time are virtually non-existent. Add to that coercing Jeb to slap a Confederate flag on his tank, J.E.B. is, in hindsight, more a hindrance than an asset.

9) Starscreams' Ghost, Transformers
Love him or hate him, Starscream -- the '80s original -- is without a doubt one of the most memorable Decepticons, and many fans of the screechy Seeker thought they saw the last of him when he was blasted to dust by a slightly peeved Galvatron in Transformers: The Movie. But you can't keep a good 'Con down since both he and his overbearing delusions of grandeur came back from the dead with a vengeance in the series' third season! Having accosted his former brothers in arms for two episodes, Starscream eventually swore to repair Unicron in exchange for bringing him back in a corporeal form. Regrettably, his new lease on life was cut short when Galvatron ordered his Decepticons to open fire on the traitor, sending him hurtling through the vastness of space. Nevertheless, Starscream reared his ugly head once more in the Beast Wars episode "Possession," where he commandeered the body of the danger-prone Waspinator.

8) Large Marge, Pee Wee's Big Adventure
For many of us who were fans of Pee Wee's Playhouse, it's safe to say that we saw Pee Wee's Big Adventure after watching the show. While the series had pretty horrifying characters in the form of the Salesman and Mr. Knucklehead, nothing could prepare us tots for the Tim Burton-style horrors within the film. The clown surgeon nightmare sequence notwithstanding, the scene where Pee Wee hitches a ride with Large Marge is -- to the mind of a small child -- unbridled terror incarnate. Be honest, when you saw this movie for the first time as a child, were you expecting this: a surly she-trucker who's face twists into a ghoulish clay visage? Of course not, and neither were your Underoos.

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