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Why Dan Aykroyd Thinks His Great-Grandfather Is The Reason Ghost Hunting Shows Are So Popular

The "Ghostbusters" franchise has remained a staple of pop culture since the release of the original film in 1984. That first movie was something of an unexpected hit, grossing $295 million at the worldwide box office (per The Numbers) and garnering a 95% on Rotten Tomatoes. Most of the praise was directed at the visual effects and comedic performances of its principal cast, especially Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, and Harold Ramis. The film would prove popular enough to lead to a sequel in 1989, an attempted reboot in 2016, and a continuation of the original canon in 2021 with "Ghostbusters: Afterlife." Yet another sequel is scheduled for a December 2023 release (per The Hollywood Reporter).

The original concept for "Ghostbusters" came from Aykroyd, who was fascinated with the concept of the paranormal, which he actually believes in (per Vanity Fair). After the popularity of "Ghostbusters," TV reality shows surrounding the concept of ghost hunting became a popular staple of the genre. As it turns out, Aykroyd believes that this trend was started because of his great-grandfather, and his own obsession with ghost hunting and spiritualism.

Aykroyd's great-grandfather kept journals for paranormal research

During an interview on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" in late 2021, Aykroyd, Murray, and Ernie Hudson talked about the history of "Ghostbusters" and what brought them back for "Ghostbusters: Afterlife." When asked about the concept for the original film, however, Aykroyd credited his great-grandfather's fascination with spirituality and the paranormal with helping him come up with the idea. Aykroyd discovered the journals of research that his great-grandfather kept, and used them as inspiration for "Ghostbusters."

During the interview, Aykroyd acknowledges that there's a trend of reality shows centered around ghost hunting and that millions of people around the world are familiar with the paranormal now, especially terms like ectoplasm: "That's all from my great grandfather's work and the movie we all put together. I believe that's true."

It's important to note that ectoplasm was actually coined by physiologist Charles Richet in 1894 (per University of Colorado Boulder). However, it would be hard to deny Aykroyd's claim that "Ghostbusters" and its popularity led to the eventual trend of reality shows centered around the concept, so in that way, he's probably right on the money that his great-grandfather played a large part in it hitting the mainstream.