Paranormal television

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Paranormal television is a genre of reality television. Its scope comprises purportedly factual investigations of paranormal phenomena, rather than fictional representations found in such shows and movies as The Ghosts of Motley Hall, Ghostbusters, Scooby-Doo and Rentaghost.


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 Daniel Defoe is a well-known example. Local TV news programs in the UK and USA have featured ghost stories since the 1960s. Paranormal television arose from this tradition.

The earliest TV show devoted exclusively to the paranormal was One Step Beyond which broadcast 96 episodes on the ABC network from 1959 to 1961. The stories were promoted as being based on actual real-life experiences, including historically well-known events such as sinking of RMS Titanic, the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, and the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

It was followed 15 years later by In Search of..., hosted by Leonard Nimoy which ran for six years from 1976. Rod Serling was originally slated to host the series, but he died in 1975. 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.

Ghostwatch, a fictional news broadcast about a haunted house in the UK that aired in 1992, created controversy when a majority of viewers believed the televised show was real.

Discovery Channel started to explore the genre with some success from 1996. The Fox Broadcasting Company had a news-style oriented show, Sightings, that was hosted by Tim White and this show lasted for six years. MTV's Fear premiered in 2000, establishing the visual look and editing style followed by most paranormal reality television show. In 2002, the British satellite channel Living TV launched the ghost-hunting series Most Haunted. 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 followed the investigators of Para-Projects as they teach members of the public how to become paranormal investigators themselves.[citation needed]


Noting the recent trend in reality shows that take the paranormal at face value, The New York Times Culture editor Mike Hale[1] characterized ghost hunting shows as "pure theater" and compared the genre to professional wrestling or soft core pornography for its formulaic, teasing approach.[2]

Los Angeles Times staff writer Ed Stockly wrote that "the paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre that has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes Ghost Hunters, Destination Truth, Ghost Adventures, Ghost Hunters International and a few others" promises to "take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise."[3]

Writer Diane Dorby proposes that paranormal reality TV shows provide "plausibility structures" that people use for "interpreting the meaning and experience of death".[4]

According to science writer Sharon A. Hill, "Paranormal reality TV shows are designed as entertainment for the curious, not science documentaries to discover truths. If the tempo is too slow it will be sped up by giving "reality" a boost".[5]


Program Original Run Years (Premiere–Finale) Original Channel/Network
6ixth Sense with Colin Fry 2002-2003 Living TV (UK)
111: A Nelson Number 2007-2008 NTV (BANGLADESH)
Ace of Wands 1970-1972 ITV (UK)
Afterlife 2005-2006 ITV (UK)
Alien Mysteries 2013 Discovery Channel (Canada)
America's Haunted Castles 2005 Travel Channel
America's Psychic Challenge 2007 Lifetime
Ancient Aliens 2009–present History
Ancient Mysteries 1994–1998 A&E
Ancient Secrets National Geographic Channel
Ancient X-Files 2010 National Geographic Channel
Åndenes Makt (Power of the Spirits)
(Official site)
2005–present TVN (Norway)
Animal X 1997-2002 Discovery Channel
The Antiques Ghost Show 2003 Living TV (UK)
Apparitions 2008 BBC One (UK)
Artemis 81 1981 BBC (UK)
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious Universe 1995 ITV (UK)
Arthur C. Clarke's Mysterious World 1980 ITV (UK)
Arthur C. Clarke's World of Strange Powers 1985 ITV (UK)
Badi Dooooor Se Aaye Hai 2014–present SAB TV (India)
Bantuek Lueklab 2011–present Channel 5
Miracle Channel (THA)
Beast Hunter 2011 National Geographic Channel
Beast Legends 2010 Syfy
Beasts 1976 ITV (UK)
Bedlam 2011-2012 Living (UK)
Being Human 2008-2013 BBC Three (UK)
Being Human 2011-2014 Syfy (USA)
Space (CAN)
Beyond 2005-2007 Space (CAN)
Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction 1997–2002 Fox
Beyond Reason 1977-1980 CBC Television (CAN)
Bhoot Aaya 2013-2014 Sony Entertainment Television (India)
Sony Entertainment Television Asia
Bishaash 2010-2011 BTV (BANGLADESH)
Catweazle 1970-1971 ITV (UK)
Celebrity Ghost Hunt 2011 Biography Channel
Celebrity Ghost Stories 2009–2014 Biography Channel
Celebrity Paranormal Project 2006-2007 VH1
The Champions 1968-1969 ITV (UK)
Chi and Me 2004-2006 Zee TV (India)
Children of the Stones 1977 HTV West (UK)
Chiller 1995 ITV (UK)
Chills (UK)
Chomrom Khon Hua Luk 1995–1997
Channel 5
Chua Mong Pissawong 2003–2006 Channel 7 (THA)
The Clifton House Mystery 1978 HTV (UK)
The Conspiracy Show with Richard Syrett 2011–2016 Vision TV (CAN)
Creepy Canada 2002–2006 OLN (CAN)
Crooked House 2008 BBC Four (UK)
Crossing Over with John Edward 1999–2004 SyFy
Cuarto Milenio 2005 Cuatro (TV channel) (SPA)
Dark Matters: Twisted But True 2011-2012 Science
Dark Skies 1996-1997 NBC
Dead Ernest 1982 ITV
Dead Famous 2004–2006 Living TV (UK)
The Dead Files 2011–present Travel Channel
Dead of Night 1972 BBC Two (UK)
Deadly Possessions 2016–present Travel Channel
Decoding the Past 2005-2008 History
Deep South Paranormal 2010-2013 Syfy
Demons 2009 ITV (UK)
Derek Acorah's Ghost Towns 2005–2006 Living TV (UK)
Destination Fear 2012 (CAN)
Travel Channel (USA)
Destination Truth 2007–2012 Syfy
Diamond Eyes: The Series 2017–present MONO29 (THA)
Encounters: The Hidden Truth 1994-1996 Fox
Enigma (CAN)
Exploring the Unknown 1999 Saban Entertainment, Fox Kids
The Extraordinary 1993–1996 Seven Network (AUS)
Extreme Ghost Stories 2006 ITV1 (UK)
Extreme Paranormal 2009 A&E
Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files 2010–2012 Syfy
The Fades 2011 BBC Three
Fear Files: Darr Ki Sacchi Tasvirein 2012-2014 Zee TV (India)
Feminine Masculinity 1999 TVB Jade (HK)
Fenómeno 2000 RTP2, Mínima Ideia (POR)
Finding Bigfoot 2011–present Animal Planet
Fortean TV 1997–1998 Channel 4 (UK)
Future Fantastic 1996 BBC (UK)
Ghost Adventures 2008–present Travel Channel
Ghost Adventures: Aftershocks 2014 Travel Channel
Ghost Asylum 2014–present Destination America
Ghost Hunt 2005–2006 TV2 (New Zealand) (NZ)
The Ghost Hunter 2000-2002 BBC One (UK)
Ghost Hunters 2004–present Syfy
Ghost Hunters Academy 2009–2010 Syfy
Ghost Hunters International 2008–2012 Syfy
Ghost Lab 2009–2011 Discovery Channel
Ghost Mine 2013 Syfy
Ghost Stalkers 2014 Destination America
Ghost Stories 1997–1998 FOX Family Channel
Ghost Stories 2009–2010 Travel Channel
Ghost Story 1972-1973 NBC
Ghost Story 2006 (UK)
The Ghost Talk 2016 Amarin TV (THA)
Ghost Trackers 2005-2008 YTV (CAN)
Ghosthunters 1996-1997 Discovery Channel Europe (UK)
Ghosthunting With... 2006-2011 ITV2 (UK)
Ghostland Tennessee 2013 Animal Planet
Ghostly Encounters 2005–2011 Viva/W Network (Canada)
The Ghosts of Motley Hall 1976-1978 ITV (UK)
The Girly Ghosthunters 2005 Space (CAN)
Glitch 2015–present ABC1 (AU)
Gravity Falls 2012-2016 Disney Channel
Disney XD
Great British Ghosts 2011-2012 Yesterday (UK)
The Green Man 1990 BBC One (UK)
Hangar 1: The UFO Files 2014-2015 H2
Harry and the Hendersons 1991-1993 Syndication
Haunted 1967-1968 ITV (UK)
Haunted 2002 UPN
The Haunted 2009–2011 Animal Planet
Haunted Collector 2011–2013 Syfy
Haunted Encounters 2012 Biography Channel
Haunted Highway 2012–2013 Syfy
Haunted History 1998–2008 History Channel
Biography Channel
Haunted History 2013 H2
Haunted Homes 2004-2010 ITV (UK)
(America's) Haunted Hotels 2001–2005 Travel Channel
Haunted Houses: Tortured Souls & Restless Spirits 2005 Biography Channel
Haunted Lighthouses of America 2006 Travel Channel
Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories 1991–1995 CBS, UPN
A Haunting 2005–2007
Discovery Channel
Destination America
The Haunting of... 2012-2016 Biography Channel
Haunting: Australia 2014 Syfy
Haunting Evidence 2005-2008 Court tv
High Spirits with Shirley Ghostman 2005 BBC Three (UK)
History's Mysteries 1998-2006 History
I'm Famous and Frightened! 2004-2005 Living TV (UK)
In Search of... 1976–1982, 2002 Syndication
Sci Fi Channel
In Search of Aliens 2014 H2
Investigations of the Unexplained 2007 Travel Channel
Is It Real? 2005-2007 National Geographic Channel
I Wouldn't Go in There 2013 National Geographic Channel
James Randi: Psychic Investigator 1991 ITV Granada
Jane Goldman Investigates 2003 Living TV (UK)
Jekyll and Hyde 2015 ITV (UK)
Joe Rogan Questions Everything 2013 Syfy
Journey to the Unknown 1968-1969 ABC (UK)
Kagewani 2015 Tokyo MX
BS11 (JAP)
Kagewani: Shō 2016–present Tokyo MX
BS11 (JAP)
Khon Uad Phee 2010–present Channel 7
Channel 5 (THA)
Killer Contact 2013 SyFy
Kindred Spirits 2016–present TLC
The Last Dragon 2004 Channel 4 (UK)
Lawrence Leung's Unbelievable 2011 ABC1 (AUS)
Leap in the Dark 1973, 1975, 1977, 1980 BBC Two (UK)
Living with the Dead 2008-2009 Living (UK)
Lizzie Dripping 1973-1975 BBC One (UK)
Lost Tapes 2008-2010 Animal Planet
The Lowe Files 2017 A&E
Megalodon: The Monster Shark Lives 2013 Animal Planet
Mermaids: The Body Found 2011 Animal Planet
Mermaids: The New Evidence 2013 Animal Planet
The Mind Beyond 1976 BBC Two (UK)
Miracles and Other Wonders 1990s
Miss Morison's Ghosts 1981 ITV (UK)
Miti Lee Lab 2000–2003 Channel 7 (THA)
Mitimeud 1987–1990 Channel 7 (THA)
Miti Meud Klung Keb Phee 2017 Channel 7 (THA)
Moo Night 2015–present Channel 9 MCOT HD
Thairath TV (THA)
MonsterQuest 2007–2010 History
Monsters and Mysteries in America 2013–2015 Destination America
The Moon Stallion 1978 BBC One (UK)
Most Haunted 2002–2010, 2013–present Living (UK)
Paranormal Channel (UK)
Travel Channel (USA)
Really (TV channel) (UK)
Most Haunted Live! 2002–2010 Living TV (UK)
Paranormal Channel (UK)
Travel Channel (USA)
Most Haunted: Midsummer Murders 2007 Living TV (UK)
Most Terrifying Places in America 2009–2010 Travel Channel
Mostly True Stories?: Urban Legends Revealed 2002-2004 TLC
MTV's Fear 2000–2002 MTV
Mue Prab Sam Pa Wa Sri 2013–present Thairath TV (THA)
Mulberry 1992-1993 BBC One (UK)
My Ghost Story 2010–2013
Biography Channel
My Ghost Story Asia 2012– Biography Channel (Asia)
My Haunted House 2012–present Biography Channel
Mysterious Journeys 2002-2007 Travel Channel
Mystery Hunters 2002–2009 YTV
Mystery Hunters India 2012-2014 Discovery Kids (Asia) (India)
Mystery and Imagination 1966-1970 ITV (UK)
MysteryQuest 2009 History
(Official site)
2011–present RTV Oost (Netherlands)
The New Worst Witch 2005-2007 CITV (UK)
The Next Step Beyond 1978-1979 Syndication
Nostradamus Effect 2009 History
The Oaks Trilogy 2011, 2013, 2016 ITV (UK)
The Omega Factor 1979 BBC One (UK)
The One 2008-2011 Seven Network (AU)
One Step Beyond 1959–1961 ABC
The Other Side 2014–present APTN (CAN)
The Othersiders 2009 Cartoon Network
Out of the Unknown 1965-1971 BBC Two (UK)
The Owl Service 1969-1970 ITV (UK)
Paranormal? 2005 National Geographic Channel
Paranormal Challenge 2011 Travel Channel
Paranormal Cops 2010 A&E
Paranormal Lockdown 2016–present Destination America
Paranormal Outlaws 2009 Discovery Networks
Paranormal Paparazzi 2012 Travel Channel
Paranormal State 2007–2011 A&E
Paranormal State: The New Class 2010 A&E
Paranormal Witness 2011–present Syfy
Pardon My Genie 1972-1973 ITV (UK)
The Past Hunters 2015–present YourTV (UK)
Patrick Macnee's Ghost Stories 1997
Penda's Fen 1974 BBC One (UK)
Penny Dreadful 2014-2016 Showtime (USA)
Sky UK (UK)
Phenomenon 2007 NBC
Project U.F.O. 1978-1979 NBC
Proof 2015 TNT
Proof Positive 2004 Sci Fi Channel
Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal 1996–2000 Syndication (CAN)
Psychic Detectives 2004–2008 Court tv
Psychic Kids 2008–2010 A&E
Psychic Witness 2005 Discovery Channel
The Queen's Nose 1995-2003 BBC One (UK)
Raaz 2009 Rohi Tv (Pakistan)
Randall and Hopkirk (Deceased) 1969-1970 ITV (UK)
Randall & Hopkirk (Deceased) 2000-2001 BBC One (UK)
Rentaghost 1976-1984 BBC One (UK)
Rescue Mediums 2006-2011 W Network (CAN)
River 2015 BBC One (UK)
The River 2012 ABC
Sanctuary 2008-2011 Syfy
Sapphire & Steel 1979-1982 ITV (UK)
Sasural Simar Ka 2011 Geo Kahani
Colors TV (India)
Scare Week
(Teasers/Previews at youtube)
2013 Beat 102 103
Scared! 2012–present Staten Island Community Television
Scariest Places on Earth 2000–2006 ABC Family Channel
Scary...But True 2001 Syfy (USA)
Chiller (USA)
School Spirits 2012 Syfy
Sci Fi Investigates 2006 Sci Fi Channel
Scream Team 2001 Living TV (UK)
Sea of Souls 2004-2007 BBC One (UK)
The Second Coming 2003 ITV (UK)
The Secret of Crickley Hall 2012 BBC One (UK)
BBC America (USA)
The Secret Saturdays 2008-2010 Cartoon Network
Secrets & Mysteries 1988-1989 Syndication
Shadows 1975-1979 ITV (UK)
Shadow Chasers 1985-1986 ABC
Shadow Chasers 2017 Made in Bristol (UK)
Sightings 1992–1997 Fox
Sinbad 2012 Sky 1 (UK)
The Sixsense 2014–present CTH
Online Media (THA)
Sky 1975 ITV (UK)
The Sleep of Reason with Steve Bell 2007 Studio Universal
So Haunt Me 1992-1994 BBC One (UK)
Spine Chillers 1980 BBC One (UK)
Spine Chillers BBC Three (UK)
Spøgelsesjægerne (DEN)
Spook School 2007–2008 Unexplained Channel
Antix Productions (UK)
The Spooks of Bottle Bay 1993-1995 CITV (UK)
The Stone Tape 1972 BBC Two (UK)
Stranded 2013 Syfy
Strange but True? 1993–1997 ITV (UK)
Strange Universe 1996-1998 UPN, syndicated television
The Successor 2007 (Israel)
Supernatural 1977 BBC One (UK)
Supernatural 2005-2006
The WB
The CW
Taken 2002 Sci Fi Channel
Tales of Mystery 1961-1963 ITV (UK)
That's Incredible! 1980–1984 ABC
Thriller 1960-1962 NBC
Thriller 1973-1976 ITV (UK)
True Horror with Anthony Head 2004 Discovery Channel (UK and Ireland) (UK)
Truth or Scare 2001–2003 Discovery Kids
Turn Out the Lights 1967 ITV (UK)
UFO Abductions 1991
UFO Files 2004-2007 History
UFO Hunters 2008-2009 History
UFO Hunters 2008 Sci Fi Channel
UFOs Declassified 2015 History (CAN)
The Unexplained 1996-2000 A&E
The UneXplained 2011-2012 Biography Channel
Unexplained Canada 2006 Space (CAN)
The Unexplained Files 2013-2014 Science
Unexplained Mysteries 2003–2004 Syndication
Unsealed Alien Files 2011–present History
Unsolved Mysteries 1987–1997
Weird Travels 2001–2006 Travel Channel
Weird U.S. 2004-2005 The History Channel
Weird or What? 2010–2012 Discovery Channel
History Television (CAN)
The Well 2009 BBC Two (UK)
Witch Hunt 1967 BBC Two (UK)
The Witches and the Grinnygog 1983 ITV (UK)
World's Scariest Ghosts Caught on Tape 1990s ABC
Worlds Beyond 1986-1988 ITV (UK)
The Worst Witch 1998-2001 CITV (UK)
Wrestling With Ghosts 2017- ASY TV
Wuh kya hai? (also written as Woh kia hai? etc.) 2009–present Express (Pakistan)
The X Creatures 1999 BBC

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Mike Hale, Editor, The New York Times". New York Times Knowledge Network. Retrieved 4 October 2010. 
  2. ^ Hale, Mike (December 10, 2009). "Consigning Reality to Ghosts". The New York Times. Retrieved 7 January 2010. 
  3. ^ "TV Skeptic: 'Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files' looks at the real 'Battle of L.A.' -". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2011-07-14. The show is a part of the paranormal/supernatural-investigation subgenre that has cropped up on cable television over the last few years, which includes “Ghost Hunters,” “Destination Truth,” “Ghost Adventures,” “Ghost Hunters International” and a few others. Each promises to take a skeptical approach in its investigations and to rely on science to confirm or disprove paranormal claims. So far not one has been able to consistently keep that promise. 
  4. ^ Olu Jenzen; Sally R. Munt (23 March 2016). The Ashgate Research Companion to Paranormal Cultures. Routledge. pp. 76–. ISBN 978-1-317-04218-1. 
  5. ^ Sharon A. Hill (8 December 2017). Scientifical Americans: The Culture of Amateur Paranormal Researchers. McFarland. pp. 53–. ISBN 978-1-4766-7247-2.