Pin It
Thora Birch and Steve Buscemi in Ghost World
Typically a "ghosting" takes place in the 2001 film Ghost Worldvia Pinterest

What the hell is ghosting?

Ever been blanked by an ex with no explanation? We take a look at the best ghostings in film

Have you ever been a victim of “ghosting”? If you haven’t heard of it, ghosting is the term for when somebody you’re going out with one day just isn’t there – like, totally gone. Their clothes aren’t in your flat, you get relegated to voicemail when you try and ring and there’s not even a note. They aren’t dead, you just know it, ’cause your friend of a friend has seen them rainbow their profile pic. What did you do wrong? Weren’t you in love? Now they’re gone forever, but where?

Ghosters fall into two categories – those who can’t handle the heat of a break up and those who need to get out because their lover might be dangerous. We all know splitting up is tough but a disappearing act isn’t the way to do it, you’re going to bump into them again (life just works like that) and you’ll be that bashful, busted ghoster who couldn’t get the words out. Maybe other times you really had to do it, for your safety or their happiness. It got us thinking – what are the most prominent ghostings in pop culture?

LOLITA (1962)

In Vladimir Nabokov’s seminal novel Lolita and the subsequent Kubrick adaptation, his teenage protagonist of the same name pulls off quite the ghost on her sexually deviant, possessive, literary scholar lover Humbert Humbert when she checks in to a hospital in New England. Needing to elude Humbert’s ever-tightening grip, Lolita escapes the hospital without him knowing and doesn’t see him for another two years after he finally tracks her down and discovers she’s had a kid.

While this does qualify as ghosting, it’s also highly necessary – Humbert is a dominating creep with a penchant for young girls. In that situation, ghost the fuck out (GTFO) whatever way you can.


This is some really futuristic ghosting and a particular type – ghosting carried out by both parties. Joel (Jim Carrey) and Clementine (Kate Winslet) both agree to undertake an erasure of their memories to ensure that their toxic relationship has no impact on the rest of their lives. But their love can’t be tamed and they meet each other again in a "new life", with no memory of their previous attempts at love. Joel and Clementine start over in a post-ghost relationship. You don’t see many of these.

HER (2013)

The film’s lonely, introverted protagonist Theodore Twombly (Joaquin Phoenix) finds love in the form of Samantha, an artificially intelligent operating system whom – unfortunately for him – he gets totally ghosted by. Initially everything goes well. The pair become close and, after a while, sexually intimate. Before long they’re in love until one morning when Samantha goes completely silent. Theodore panics, assuming that it’s is result of a technical problem. Samantha does return later on in the film but with the bad news that she is also in love with 641 people. Bummer. Great ghosting but a bad advert for technosexual relationships.


Wim Wenders’ wonderfully cinematic 1984 film Paris, Texas is the story of an amnesiac who shows up in the desert, refusing to speak a word other than “Paris” and his cross-country search to find his lost love. It also explores the consequences of a pretty major ghosting. Turns out this battered stranger was not a nice guy: abusive to his young wife several years prior, he decided to run away from her and disappear completely, hoping she might have a better life without him. What can we learn from this? That ghosting goes both ways – if you’re the one causing harm to someone you love, hit the road before you do lasting damage.


Ghost World is the paragon of ghosting – it’s in the title, after all. In it, Enid (Thora Birch) sets up curmudgeon Seymour (Steve Buscemi) with a date by taking out a personals ad. He finally bags a hot babe named Dana, who shows him the worst date ever by coaxing him into a living room dance lesson to Ashford & Simpson’s “Solid”. Enid is hit with pangs of jealousy as Seymour ghosts her for this bootylicious age-appropriate lady. Just goes to show – move to make your relationship concrete or end up ghosted.