There are certainly plenty of movie and TV ghosts we don’t want haunting us. The murderous ones boxed up in the glass house of THIR13EN Ghosts? Absolutely not. Slimer from Ghostbusters? He’s a friggin liability. Sleepy Hollow’s Headless Horseman? No, we need our heads, we’re using them for important stuff like overthinking and retaining the lyrics to “Baby Shark” for whatever reason. And god forbid Pipes ever gets past the door.
There are, however, notable pop culture ghosts that wouldn’t make our lives considerably worse. Perhaps they’re genuinely helpful, and wouldn’t be too much of a bother to have hanging around. Or, and we don’t mean to lower the tone, maybe they’re just really, really hot.
The Den of Geek team have decided who they’d prefer to haunt them below. Have a read, then sound off in the comments! We want to hear who you think would be the very best pop culture haunter to waft around the joint while you’re still enjoying the land of the living.
Ghost Capaldi from Doctor Who Series 9
The “base under siege” story is a classic Doctor Who setup, but few examples of this format are as spooky in the NuWho era as the series nine two-parter “Under the Lake/Before the Flood.” Peter Capaldi’s Twelfth Doctor and Jenna Coleman’s Clara Oswald stumble upon an underwater mining facility where the crew have accidentally unleashed a horde of killer, axe-wielding ghosts on the station. The story is part Alien, part Back to the Future, and a hell of a lot of fun, especially when you get to the first episode’s big cliffhanger: after traveling back in time to get to the bottom of what’s causing the ghost attack, Capaldi returns…as a ghost himself!
Capaldi looks so creepy as an eyeless, mumbling specter, but as far as ghosts go, he turns out to be a pretty helpful one and key to saving the station’s few remaining crewmembers before the phantoms can add them to their ranks. Don’t judge a book by its cover, they say, and Ghost Capaldi turns out to be much more than meets the eye. In the end, there are worse spirits to be haunted by than the Doctor. And where else are you gonna find a spirit with such hilariously furious eyebrows? – John Saavedra
The Box Ghost in Danny Phantom
Of all the rude revenants in Danny Phantom’s ghostly rogues’ gallery, the Box Ghost is by far the least threatening. As his name suggests, this specter is largely concerned with boxes … like literally cardboard boxes. Equipped with dorky suspenders and a cartoonish Midwestern accent, the Box Ghost routinely tries to use the power of cardboard boxes to defeat Danny Fenton a.k.a. Danny Phantom and is just as routinely dispatched. And you know what? I love him for it.
Choosing a ghost that is technically an antagonist to haunt me seems like a poor decision on its face. But the Box Ghost is so pitiful that there’s really no threat of harm. In fact, I bet we would find that we have a lot in common. Like him, I hail from the Midwest (though don’t quite have his Fargo-ian patois) and enjoy boxes. Honestly, having a friend that could summon cardboard boxes whenever needed would be tremendously useful. Need help moving? Never fear, the Box Ghost and I have you covered. – Alec Bojalad
Malcolm Crowe from The Sixth Sense (1999)
Even the so-called “friendliest” ghosts tend to come with a lot of drama. I’m sorry that you’re dead, and I’m really sorry that you were seemingly tasked with haunting me (I hope you like Mystery Science Theater reruns). Even still, I don’t need any late-night weeping or attention-grabbing destruction in my day-to-day life. It’s a Tuesday, not an episode of Real Housewives.
That’s why the obvious choice has to be Malcolm Crowe from The Sixth Sense. Not only do you get to hang out with Bruce Willis for the foreseeable future, but your ghost is an exceptional psychologist. Granted, one former patient did kill him, and his other patient largely had to deal with the haunting problems that Dr. Crowe was inadvertently contributing to, but with the absurd costs of mental healthcare in America, I’m not going to turn down the last doctor who regularly makes house calls. – Matthew Byrd
Murph’s Ghost from Interstellar (2014)
Christopher Nolan’s 2014 science fiction epic Interstellar might present as a triumphant foray into the unknown outreaches of space, but it’s ultimately a tale about a father’s love for his daughter. The daughter in question, Murphy Cooper, believes a specter in the film’s early stages is haunting her. Strange phenomena occur in her bedroom, such as books falling from the shelf, dust creating mysterious lines in the sunlight, and a watch ticking in a particular pattern. However, as it turns out, Murph’s ghost isn’t a ghost at all; it’s her father Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) attempting to communicate with her from a fifth-dimensional tesseract, conveying the necessary information to solve the film’s paramount gravity equation.
This is the ideal phantom situation for a multitude of reasons. First, it means your father is Matthew McConaughey, which in itself is alright, alright, alright, but it’s a lot cooler when you realize he’s the NASA astronaut responsible for saving mankind. Second, you have the pleasure of partaking in the universe’s only Morse code puzzle box stretching across time and space. It’s like your daily crossword for physicists. Finally, once the apparition has given you all you need, you get to solve the gravity equation and rocket what’s left of homo-sapiens off a dying planet. Perhaps the aspect where Earth is riddled with blight and dust storms isn’t so hot, but saving your species with your interdimensional father/ghost sure is. – Lee Parham
Ebenezer Scrooge’s Christmas Ghosts
Not me co-opting a Halloween Thing to talk up the far-superior-in-every-way festival of Christmas (Halloween food is terrible, the tunes are all trash, and costumes are for people whose parents left them to cry alone at night as babies.)
Unless you’re in need of severe moral instruction, then the ghosts who visited Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol would be a delight to host. Think about it. Once Jacob Marley and his clanking hell-chains are out of the way, it’s a Christmasapalooza. The clock strikes one and hello! In floats the Ghost of Christmas Past to take you on a tour of that year you unwrapped Disney’s Aladdin for the Sega Genesis and tricked your brother into trading you a Cadbury’s Boost for a packet of Maltesers from your respective Selection Packs (the fool!). Another clock-strike and it’s hey-o to the Ghost of Christmas Present (squidgy, apple-cheeked Muppet version by preference) so he can fly you invisibly around the homes of everyone you know while you judge their tree decorations and snoop on who’s already started day-drinking.
Then finally, it’s Christmas Future time – not to see your own grave, eavesdrop on a bunch of strangers fighting over your bedsheets and bemoaning your wicked ways – but to find out what the hot new toy of Christmas 2030 will be so you can clear the shelves of stock in September and make a mint on eBay. Oh. What was that again about needing severe moral instruction? – Louisa Mellor
Ralph and Sue Dibny, Ghost Detectives
Ghosts are a dime a dozen in comic books, but most aren’t the type that anyone would want around. Deadman never shuts up. Ghost Rider and the Spectre would keep reminding me of my sins (something I do very well on my own, thank you very much), and the Gentleman Ghost would keep stealing my stuff. That said, I would love to spend more time with Ralph Dibny, aka the Elongated Man, and his wife Sue, beloved C-list characters from DC Comics. The abomination that was Identity Crisis tried to sully both characters, but the wonderful 52 storyline brought them back together again in the afterlife.
To be fair, DC never really took advantage of the couple in their ghostly incarnation. They made only a few appearances before the New 52 reboot restored them to their original corporeal form, but I’d like to think they’d be fun to have around. In life, the duo devoted themselves to solving mysteries, with Ralph’s nose twitching whenever he smelled an irresistible caper. Like the Maitlands from Beetlejuice, the Ghost Detectives would be an adorable couple who would take me on fun, but never too dangerous, adventures. Or, at least, they could help me answer the greatest questions of my life, like how to make a budget or where I left my glasses. – Joe George
Pat Butcher from Ghosts (BBC)
There are no greater ghosts than the ghosts from Ghosts. The BBC comedy has become so well-loved over its five series that it’s developed a cult following and even spawned a successful US remake, and its array of eccentric, bickering phantoms is one of the best ensemble casts out there.
So why Pat Butcher (Jim Howick, Sex Education) over all the other spooks? Because he has the biggest heart by miles. Kitty is sweet but her clinginess would grate on me. Julian is a helmet. The Captain’s a bossypants. Fanny is the second mother I definitely don’t need. Thomas is a wet blanket. Robin is so scruffy I feel like I can smell him through the TV. And Mary has that burnt toast smell I could do without.
But Pat is a fellow mega-nerd. King of the dad jokes. And his interests fall squarely in the pastimes of the 1980s, which is a-ok with me. We can watch Top Gun together. We can play Twister. We can eat that classic eighties party delicacy, the cheese and pineapple hedgehog, and indulge in our shared love of beige buffet food. We can call each other wazzocks. There are literally no downsides. – Laura Vickers-Green
Nadja Doll from What We Do in the Shadows
Normally dolls possessed by ghosts or spirits are not my horror cup of tea. I’ve come a long way from the scaredy-cat I used to be, but there are still some things in the genre that are too spooky for me. However, there is one possessed doll that doesn’t give me the creeps or haunt my worst nightmares, and that is the Nadja Doll from the What We Do in the Shadows TV series.
First introduced in season two, the Nadja Doll was created after the ghost of the vampire Nadja’s dead human form decided to stick around and not move on to the afterlife. She has since become a close friend and confidant of Nadja – who better to give you advice than another version of yourself? Even though Nadja’s human spirit can be a little brash and mean at times, she’s also really fun to hang out with and would definitely help me gain some confidence in my life. I don’t really have to worry about her spirit moving from the doll to my body either – she’s already tried that with Nadja and failed miserably. Besides, If you’re going to be stuck with a ghost, it might as well be with the human soul of a vampire who’s almost always down to party. – Brynna Arens
Sir Thomas Sharpe from Crimson Peak (2015)
An original gothic romance tale is a rare occurrence these days, but we can always count on director Guillermo del Toro to bring back old treasures. As such, his 2015 film Crimson Peak peppers in classic tropes of the genre, like breathy proposals and furtive glances, while mixing things up with some really shocking violence. Admittedly, the plot is fairly thin, with American heiress Edith getting taken for a deadly ride by English baronet Sir Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston) and his sister after being promised the potential spoils of their clay mining exploits – but it’s still a winner.
Hiddleston is simply magnificent as the crafty Thomas, weaving us through feelings of lust, hatred, and finally pity, before he becomes a wispy ol’ spirit haunting the grounds of his crumbling abode. I’d go as far as to say he’s the most handsome ghost on this list, too, and why wouldn’t I choose to be haunted by a very handsome ghost if I have the choice? Okay, Thomas did more than a little murder and incest while he was still amongst the living, but who amongst us is perfect? Er, did I mention how handsome he is? – Kirsten Howard
Sam Wheat from Ghost (1990)
I am very scared of ghosts; I’ve never seen one and logic tells me they are pretty definitely not real, but I do not want them anywhere near me…. unless it’s swivel hipped dreamboat Patrick Swayze. As Sam Wheat in the really brilliant Ghost, Swayze was at the peak of his early 90s magnificence (post Dirty Dancing and Roadhouse but just about to make Point Break), his hair is excellently feathered and his shirt is wonderfully billowy.
I, of course, would rather Sam ascends to heaven where he truly belongs, but if he has to stay about for a bit while he solves his murder then I really wouldn’t mind hanging out with Oda Mae Brown (Whoopi Goldberg) and possibly learning the final dance routine from Dirty Dancing with him (I am aware I am merging real Swayze with his character). And I didn’t even mention the potter’s wheel once! – Elizabeth Donoghue
It has taken every fiber of my being not to just request Betelguese himself haunt me. I LOVE Betelguese, the man and the film. He is funny and rude and disgusting and a little bit sexy (I know that’s wrong). But in my heart of hearts I know he’d end up being a colossal pain in the arse after about five minutes. The American football team who die in some sort of crash would be far less trouble and ultimately more fun to have haunting you. They aren’t the brightest, it’s true, but they seem like really nice lads. When we first meet them they are with deceased caseworker Juno whom they keep calling “coach”, and they haven’t yet come to terms with the idea that they’re actually dead. But at the end the six players come to the Deetz’ house to sing and dance with Lydia to “Jump In The Line” and it’s one of the most fun movie endings of all time.
So if the chaps want to pop into my flat as a reward when I’ve written a good article, and have a levitated boogie, then I’m down with that. Also, I don’t understand American football so I might actually use my ghostly haunting to learn the rules of a sport that has always befuddled me. Touchdown! – Rosie Fletcher
Slimer from Ghostbusters (1984)
I get it: Slimer is a green, blobby, rude, and crude little dude. He isn’t even called Slimer in the original 1984 Ghostbusters classic directed by Ivan Reitman. He’s just referred to as “an ugly little spud” by Dan Aykroyd. But then, perhaps that’s because Aykroyd co-wrote Ghostbusters alongside Harold Ramis, and had something else in mind off-screen for the Spud-Man. He’s based on John Belushi, right down to his, uh, gregarious physique.
Maybe it’s just the ‘90s kid in me who grew up watching the original movie to the point of wearing out the VHS, not to mention The Real Ghostbusters cartoon where they keep Slimer s a pet, but the idea of having the ghost of John Belushi hanging out sounds like a lot of fun. You know, just keep the fridge stocked and say goodbye to dry clothes when the little spud comes in for a hug. – David Crow