Top Five Most Popular Paranormal TV Shows

Accounts of supernatural occurrences have always been common in the print media—the 1705 pamphlet "A True Relation of the Apparition of One Mrs Veal" by the journalist Daniel Defoe being a famous example—and local news programmes in the UK and USA have featured ghost stories since the 1960s.

Paranormal television arose from this tradition.

One of the earliest paranormal TV shows was 'In Search Of...', hosted by Leonard Nimoy which ran for six years from 1976. Rod Serling was actually originally slated to host the series until his death in 1975.

In Search Of... The Ogopogo Monster

In Search Of... explored many paranormal topics, including UFOs, cryptozoological creatures (cryptids), lost civilizations, and other mysteries. Though the subject matter gradually lost popularity, the show gave way to future TV series following the same genre.

Discovery Channel started to explore the genre with some success from 1996.

In 2000, the British satellite channel LivingTV launched the series Most Haunted, which was one of the first most popular ghost hunting shows.

Its success helped spawn other shows on the channel, including Dead Famous and Jane Goldman Investigates, and the channel developed a distinctive identity based on paranormal programming.

The production company responsible for these programs, Antix, also produced two series of Spook School which follows the investigators of Para-Projects as they teach members of the public how to become paranormal investigators themselves.

Other notable shows include Creepy Canada, Proof Positive, America's Haunted Hotels, Ghost Hunters (not to be confused with the earlier European Ghosthunters), and A Haunting. YTV, a Canadian youth-oriented station, has a more toned-down version of similar programming called Mystery Hunters.

Noting the recent trend in reality shows that take the paranormal at face value, New York Times Culture editor Mike Hale characterized ghost hunting shows as "pure theater" and compared the genre to professional wrestling or soft core pornography for its formulaic, teasing approach.

The following shows are considered the most popular top five paranormal TV shows today:

 1.  Ghost Adventures

Ghost Adventures is a weekly American paranormal television series that premiered on October 17th, 2008 on the Travel Channel.

Currently produced by MY-Tupelo Entertainment (a merger of MY Entertainment and Tupelo-Honey Productions), the program follows and stars ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin, as they investigate locations that are reported to be haunted.

Hosted and narrated by Bagans, the show initially airs new episodes on Fridays at 9 p.m. Eastern Time on the Travel Channel. The tagline of the series is: "Can you handle the lockdown?"

Self-considered "raw" and "extreme," the program originally began as an independent documentary television film, which was filmed by the crew in 2004 and produced by 4Reel Productions in 2006. The Sci-Fi Channel first presented 4Reel's Ghost Adventures on July 25th, 2007.

The documentary centers on the trio's investigation of alleged paranormal activity in and around Virginia City, Nevada, which the crew returned to on the third season of the series, and in Goldfield, Nevada.

 2.  Ghost Hunters

Ghost Hunters is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on October 6th, 2004 on Syfy (previously the Sci Fi Channel).

The program features paranormal investigators Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson who investigate places that are reported to be haunted.

The two originally worked as plumbers for Roto-Rooter as a day job while investigating locations at night.

Since the show's success, the series now takes precedence in their lives, but they are still honorary employees with the company and continue to do jobs for them if time permits.

The show is unrelated to the original 1996 Inca Productions show Ghosthunters produced for the Discovery Channel. The format was sold to Pilgrim Films & Television in the United States to become Ghost Hunters.

The only link between the two shows is presenter Ian Cashmore who anchored the UK/Europe show. Cashmore piloted the U.S. show, but chose not to remain part of the U.S. venture after he filmed the promos.

 3.  Ghostly Encounters

Ghostly Encounters is a Gemini Award-winning Canadian paranormal documentary television series that premiered on July 16th, 2005 (2005-07-16) on Viva/W Network.

The program also airs on A&E's The Biography Channel in the United States. The show was created by executive producer Phyllis Platt, is produced by Brian Dennis, and is hosted by Lawrence Chau.

Ghostly Encounters explores Canada's interest in the supernatural. Through a combination of interview and recreation, the series examines the events that lead its subjects to accept or reject occurrences as supernatural, and how the experience helps or hinders them.

Each episode tells stories from two individuals who believe to have experienced something paranormal. The show occasionally breaks this story when warranted and uses only one full 22-minute story in an episode. Each episode is created using a direct-to-camera interview with the storyteller, dramatic re-enactments, and host segments.

Every episode begins with a tease describing the two people's stories in brief. This is followed by the opening credits, which are accompanied by the Gemini Award-winning theme music. After the credits, the first story is introduced by theme using a clip of the subject's interview.

The first host segment follows and introduces the theme of the episode, and the first story to the viewers. The first subject's story is then told using a combination of their interview and dramatic re-enactment footage. Occasionally, b-roll and stock footage are also used in telling the story. At the end of the first story, a brief host segment wraps up the first subject and introduces the second subject in the episode.

The second story follows the same format as the first and ends again with a wrap-up from the host, but this time the host also wraps up the show and includes final comments on the stories and theme of the episode based on the commentary from the experts. The show ends with a final comment from each subject, usually reflecting on the lesson their encounter has given them, followed by the closing credits.

  4.  A Haunting

A Haunting is an American paranormal docudrama anthology television series that originally aired from October 28th, 2005 to November 9th, 2007 on the Discovery Channel.

The program features narrations, interviews, and dramatic re-enactments based on various accounts of paranormal experiences at reportedly haunted and mostly residential locations.

Premiering in 2005, the program had produced four seasons and totaled 39 episodes. It currently airs on the Discovery Channel and Investigation Discovery in the U.S. and on Discovery Science in the UK.

A Haunting originally began as two feature-length specials, A Haunting in Connecticut and A Haunting in Georgia, which were developed by Allison Erkelens, who also served as head writer. The specials were executive produced by Tom Naughton and Nicolas Valcour for New Dominion Pictures.

Based on strong ratings, A Haunting became a weekly series on the Discovery Channel and was produced by Larry Silverman. The series has featured several alleged paranormal encounters, including traditional hauntings, demonic activity, poltergeist attacks, possessions, and cryptic visions.

The series covers incidents from various locations across the United States, as well as four episodes that were set in Canada, England, Ireland, and Taiwan.

Episodes may be set in houses, apartments, farms, commercial areas, and even vast outdoor regions.

Most episodes present several accounts of paranormal experiences through cinematic re-enactments, which are accompanied by commentary from eyewitnesses and investigators themselves.

According to Silverman, the show's writers search for stories and then filter out accounts with enough substantial content.

He has further added that the episodes are strictly based on the accounts of victims, although the Discovery Channel did compel the show's producers to sanitize certain case histories due to their graphic sexual and violent content.

However, Billy Bean, whose real-life experiences were featured in the episode "House of the Dead," claimed that the show's producers had heavily augmented his accounts.

Episodes within the series follow a frequently recurring pattern, in which victims of hauntings begin noticing peculiar incidents that gradually become more frequent and bizarre.

Denial is most often the first reaction. As the situation escalates, however, and every possible conventional explanation is explored and found wanting, they either contact a paranormal investigator, a member of the clergy, or a spiritual medium for assistance.

In some cases, victims are able to successfully resolve their paranormal issues, while in others, victims are forced to vacate their residence.

Certain episodes have also featured commentary from famed demonologist and clairvoyant Ed and Lorraine Warren, who have actually investigated some of the cases featured on the series.

The episode "The Dark Side" was dedicated to the memory of Ed, who died in 2006.

In this world, there is real evil in the darkest shadows and in the most ordinary places. These are the true stories of the innocent and the unimaginable.

Between the world we see and the things we fear, there are doors. When they are opened, nightmares become reality.


 5.  Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files is a paranormal investigation television series produced by Base Productions that began airing July 15, 2010, on SyFy.

The show follows a team of investigators, led by former FBI agent Ben Hansen, who review various videos and pictures, (mostly from the internet), of alleged paranormal activity.

If a particular piece of evidence is deemed intriguing enough to warrant further investigation, they set out to recreate and explain the sighting.

The show has been described as Mythbusters meets Destination Truth. A Variety magazine review says – "Now we know what Fox Mulder would have done after leaving "The X-Files" unit: Get his own reality-TV show!"

Skeptical researchers such as James Randi have criticized the investigating competence of the Fact or Faked team, with Randi citing the Civil War cemetery ghost case from episode 6 in particular.

The examined footage involves an alleged orb and mist captured on a few frames of video, and when the FoF team unsuccessfully recreate it, they conclude it to be paranormal.

By slowing the video down frame-by-frame, something that the FoF team did not take into consideration, the orb and mist are revealed to be a spider on a web.