Whether you believe in the paranormal or not, there’s no denying that the popularity of reality TV shows featuring paranormal investigations has skyrocketed over the years. From its humble beginnings in the early 2000s, up until today, viewers tune in each week to see what evidence of otherworldly beings these shows can conjure up. With seemingly hundreds of paranormal investigation shows at our fingertips, we break down the 10 best of all time, so you know what to watch next.
10 The Holzer Files (2019)
One of the most popular parapsychologists of all time was Hans Holzer. The Austrian-born ghost hunter wrote more than 120 books on the supernatural, and investigated hundreds of cases, with the most famous one being the Amityville Horror case in 1977.
In 2019, paranormal investigator Dave Schrader, medium Cindy Kaza, and tech guru Shane Pittman began The Holzer Files, which reopened some of Holzer’s old case files with the help of his daughter, Alexandra. Airing on The Travel Channel, the show took a deep dive into Holzer’s historic cases, which ranged from spirits aboard The Queen Mary, to the Surratt Tavern in Maryland, where John Wilkes Booth first stopped after murdering Abraham Lincoln. Though it only lasted for two seasons, The Holzer Files was a top-notch paranormal investigation show, if for nothing more than to hear the voice of Holzer himself on some old tape recordings.
9 Paranormal Lockdown (2016)
Would you be able to spend 72 hours locked down in some of the most haunted locations in America? That’s the entire premise behind Paranormal Lockdown, which aired on both Destination America, and TLC between 2016, and 2019.
Featuring paranormal investigators Nick Geoff, and Katrina Weidman, the pair would confine themselves to various locations for three days at a time, using everything from spirit boxes to EMF detectors to try and communicate with the dead. It differed from other paranormal investigation shows, as most teams only spend a night in any given location, whereas Nick and Katrina believed that the longer you were in a certain place, the more activity you’d be able to uncover. In most cases, they were right.
8 Destination Truth (2007)
Known as somewhat of a real-life Indiana Jones, Josh Gates introduced the world to Destination Truth on June 6th, 2007. The series followed Gates and his team as they traveled the world investigating claims of the paranormal in exotic locations such as Papua New Guinea, Cambodia, and the Philippines.
While each episode usually features two investigations, Destination Truth managed to pack a lot into its short segments, diving into the history of a location, and interviewing witnesses who claimed to experience ghostly encounters. Also dealing in cryptids, the team would often find themselves hunting such mythological creatures as Bigfoot, the Chupacabra, and even werewolves. Combining humor, history, and extensive research, the show was a paranormal version of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations, and though it ended in 2012, it can still be seen these days on Max.
With paranormal investigation shows covering a wide variety of locations and topics, it’s nice to see one that focuses on a single entity. In this case: Bigfoot. When it premiered in 2019, viewers of Expedition Bigfoot were taken on a wild ride as researchers Mireya Mayor, Bryce Johnson, Russell Acord, and Ronny Le Blanc set foot in the Oregon wilderness in search of the elusive creature.
Starting their journey in Oregon, the team went to the mountains of Kentucky for season two, and the Olympic Peninsula in Washington for season three. With each season covering a three-week investigation, we get a lot of information thrown at us in easy-to-understand bites that uncover compelling proof that Bigfoot might just exist. While the team has yet to come face-to-face with the cryptid, perhaps we’ll get a sighting when season four premiers August 30th, and they travel to Alaska next.
6 The Dead Files (2011)
What do you get when you take a former NYPD homicide detective, and pair him with a physical medium? You get The Dead Files, which premiered on September 23rd, 2011, and is still running today, with season 16 set to premiere on September 7th, 2023.
Featuring Steve DiSchiavi, and Amy Allan, The Dead Files is unique in its own right, as while Steve is conducting interviewers with homeowners that claim to be experiencing paranormal activity, and doing extensive research on the location, Allan goes into the homes at night to see what her medium abilities can uncover. The two never intertwine until the end of their separate investigations, and reveal what they found out to the people they’re helping. Though, sadly, Amy Allan departed the show on June 29th, thankfully, medium Cindy Kaza will be stepping up to the plate next to lend her abilities to the series.
5 Kindred Spirits (2016)
Starring paranormal investigators Adam Berry, and Amy Bruni, Kindred Spirits hit the airwaves on October 21st, 2016, and is hopefully set to enter its eighth season, though no official word has come down from The Travel Channel.
While the first two seasons of Kindred Spirits featured Adam and Amy visiting private residents to conduct their investigations, a feature that made the show feel more intimate than most, later seasons have seen the pair branch out to investigate more famous locations such as Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, and Salem, Massachusetts, while still helping families along the way. In season four, famed psychic medium, Chip Coffey, joined the cast, and can be seen popping in from time to time to offer his expert guidance.
4 The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch (2020)
Any fan of the paranormal has heard of Skinwalker Ranch. The infamous location in Utah is known for its claims of UFO activity, cattle mutilations, cryptids, and even portals to other dimensions. Its history of playing host to the paranormal has intrigued people for more than 50 years, and in The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch, we get a first-hand look at this amazing property that spans over 500 acres.
Featuring the likes of aerospace engineer Travis Taylor, Brandon Fugal, who owns the ranch, and security chief Bryant Arnold, we’re treated to an array of experiments that have uncovered everything from radiation anomalies to unexplained lights in the sky. Relying heavily on science, The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch is a wonderful look at not only the technology that goes into investigating such a location, but the people behind it as well. In 2023, the series expanded its horizons with the series, Beyond Skinwalker Ranch, which takes investigators to other ranches across the country that are also experiencing paranormal activity, to see if there’s some sort of connection to Skinwalker Ranch.
3 Destination Fear (2019)
Airing from 2019 to 2023, Destination Fear explored the limits of what fear does to the human mind. Dakota Laden, his sister, Chelsea Laden, and his friends Tanner Wiseman, and Alex Schroeder all piled into an RV to cross the country and explore some of the nation’s most haunted locations.
While no one other than Dakota knew where the team was headed next, when they got to their destination, each member would camp out alone in different areas, and see what effects they experienced throughout the night. With such locations as the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, and the Winchester Mystery House being explored, it was a perfect mix of the paranormal, and history. Though the series ended back in January 2023, the team launched a Kickstarter to fund their new YouTube show, Project Fear. With a goal of $65,000, they ended up raising more than $300,000 to fund the new series.
2 Expedition X (2020)
Josh Gates is a busy guy, so he can’t possibly do every investigation on his own, no matter how many team members he brings with him. Hence, the creation of Expedition X, which is a spinoff of another Gates show, Expedition Unknown.
While Josh does appear at the beginning of each episode, the show centers mainly on biologist, Phil Torres, and TV personality, Jessica Chobot, whom Gates sends out to investigate claims of the paranormal, and various cryptids. The pair have a Mulder/Scully dynamic going on, with Chobot being the staunch believer, and Torres approaching things from a more skeptical, and scientific perspective. It works well here, as episodes see them investigate everything from the Mothman, to the Bell Witch. With a sixth season having recently started, we can look forward to seeing Torres and Chobot play off one another for at least a little while longer.
1 Ghost Hunters (2004)
Often called the grandfather of paranormal reality shows, Ghost Hunters is attributed with starting the craze all the way back in 2004. Though MTV’s Fear debuted a few years earlier, Ghost Hunters took the nation by storm when it debuted, and things have never been the same since.
Featuring Grant Wilson, and Jason Hawes, who together founded The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS), the original season one cast also consisted of Steve Gonsalves, Donna LaCroix, Brian Harnois, and Andy Andrews. Since then, various investigators have come and gone, but the core of the show remains the same: head to a location, collect evidence, and present findings. It’s since helped spin off five separate series, and in the annals of paranormal investigation shows, Ghost Hunters goes down as perhaps the best of all time.