The 13 Greatest Ghosts of Geekdom


?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, Pok?mon 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 Pok?mon Red and Blue.

As the in-game story goes, Team Rocket grunts were dispatched to Pok?mon Tower — the final resting place for Pok?mon — 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 Pok?mon 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


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


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


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.


7) Ghost, Marvel Comics


He may be slightly off his rocker. His personal hygiene, according to the villainess Moonstone, is questionable, but all those pale in comparison to Ghost’s criminal track record; the guy — er, spirit — gets results! Once a diligent employee at Omnisapient Systems, the man who would become Ghost found himself the victim of the company’s insidious machinations, thus planting the seeds of his crusade against the corporate sector… and his bloody revenge against those that wronged him. Like a latter day Jacob Marley, Ghost travels America, seeking out and haunting the corporatist misers that corrupt society — including one Tony Stark (a.k.a Iron Man). Despite his defeat against the armored Avenger, Ghost never gave up on his corporate murder spree, until he eventually found himself at a higher station in life upon his induction into the government sanctioned team of reformed villains, the Thunderbolts.

6) Casper the Friendly Ghost


While most ghosts are content to make the walls bleed or stalk you on reluctant midnight trips to the bathroom, Casper defies social norms and wishes only to befriend the humans his spectral brethren delight giving slight heart attacks to, even if they don’t always reciprocate. For years, fans of Casper’s failed attempts at friendship assumed that he was born a ghost, since neither the comics or cartoon series gave any indication of his previous life or cause of death. That all changed in 1995 when the live-action film shed some light on the enigmatic question that had baffled nerdy philosophers for years. As it turns out, Casper was once a blonde-haired youth that had succumb to a wicked case of pneumonia after he spent the whole day sledding in the bitter cold. While there wasn’t a dry eye in the house that day, fans were finally at ease knowing what exactly had put Casper down for a dirt nap.

5) Gentleman Ghost, DC Comics


Stand and deliver! The dead and dandy highwayman Gentleman Ghost falls into the category of comic book villains that balance charisma and debonairness, as well as committing crimes with the panache of a seasoned showman. Born into a life of abject poverty, and abandoned by his father, James Craddock quickly took to a life of crime as a highwayman upon learning from a gypsy’s premonition that he would become so. Craddock soon traveled to the American West and came into contact with western heroes Nighthawk and his partner Cinnamon. Wrongly accused of sexually assaulting Cinnamon, Nighthawk had Craddock lynched, only to return as Gentleman Ghost. Destined to roam the physical plane of existence until the death of his killers, he learns to his chagrin that Nighthawk and Cinnamon are the eternal reincarnated souls of Egyptian royalty Prince Khufu and Chay-Ara, respectively, and are therefore immortal. The two are later reincarnated as Hawkman and Hawkgirl, whom of which become the targets of Gentleman Ghost’s bitter resentment.

4) Boo, Super Mario Bros. Games


Boos first appeared as minor enemies relegated to fortress stages in 1990’s Super Mario Bros. 3 for the NES under the name Boo Diddlys, but have since become the perennial foes of the Mario Bros. as well as appearing in nearly all subsequent games. Aesthetic-wise, they’re pretty bland, but it’s their habit of closing their eyes and blushing when either of the Mario Bros. stare them down that has become an endearing quality for many video game enthusiasts; for specters with a bloodlust they’re a pretty modest bunch. However, their greatest claim to fame is the fact that they were the first to do what Bowser couldn’t: capture Mario! Sure, Bowser did just that in Mario Is Missing, but — for reasons blatantly obvious — we’re not going to count that and consider it apocryphal. Had it not been for Luigi having the cojones to conquer his fears of the paranormal and take on King Boo, the Boos would have successfully rid the Mushroom Kingdom of its Italian savior!

3) Ghost Rider, Marvel Comics


No, I’m not talking about the Ghost Rider from the movie that was utter cinematic dribble. I’m talking about the original, pen-and-ink Ghost Rider that has been blazing a fiery trail across the Marvel Universe since his first appearance back in the early ’70s. There have been a few characters to take up the mantle “Ghost Rider,” but it’s Johnny Blaze — the second to do so — that’s the most famous; the others being the western hero Carter Slade and Danny Ketch in the ’90s. Blaze became the Ghost Rider when he sold his soul to the demon-like entity Mephisto in order to save the life of his mentor. Upon doing so, his soul was bound to that of Zarathos and gained all the powers that go with — including his trademark flaming skull.

For a character that’s pegged as a loner, Ghost Rider is surprisingly a team player. The Blaze incarnation counted himself among the ranks of the Champions of Los Angeles, a team that consisted of Black Widow, Angel, Iceman, Hercules and Darkstar. As for Ketch, he along with Wolverine, Spider-Man and Hulk came together to form an ersatz Fantastic Four.

2) Slimer, Ghostbusters

I’m pretty sure that when Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis were writing the screenplay for Ghostbusters, they never intended that Slimer would end up becoming the de facto mascot of the entire franchise. Why did audiences everywhere fall in love with the floating wad of green slime reminiscent of a giant booger? Was it its comedic portrayal of the deadly sin of gluttony? Or the fact that his face is synonymous with the veritable drink of the gods: Hi-C Ecto Cooler? Whatever the case, Slimer is here to stay and will be a symbol of pop culture for years to come.

But like Casper, the greatest debate among fans is where he actually came from. The Marvel U.K. Ghostbusters comic series stated that Slimer was once a king named Remils (I know you can figure this out) that indulged his decadent appetite while his kingdom starved. One day while condemning a purported witch to death, the woman cursed Remils and vowed that he would never find peace in the afterlife and roam the Earth forever trying to sate his undying hunger. Another tale suggests that Slimer was the result of a botched cult summoning in the basement of the Sedgewick Hotel. No concrete origin has yet to be made, but here’s hoping that IDW Publishing — the current holders of the Ghostbusters license — will put an end to the speculation.

1) Beetlejuice

It was a tough decision, and while Slimer certainly has the chops to be the greatest ghost of geekdom for obvious reasons, Beetlejuice easily takes home the prize for being played with absolute verve by the legendary Michael Keaton! Disgusting, boisterous and, above all, having a an infinite repertoire of funny one-liners and twisted scares, Beetlejuice is everything a ghost should be and is the ultimate embodiment of Tim Burton’s sense of macabre humor and design. And his spot on this list is well-deserved given the success of the animated series of the same name and a line of toys based on the movie from Kenner. Based on all this, it’s safe to say that Beetlejuice is truly “the ghost with the most.”