When the sun goes down and the darkness gathers, there's just one thing left to do: settle in for a night of spooky entertainment. And what could be spookier than a true ghost story? Luckily, the proliferation of popular ghost hunting shows means that you can see something scary right from the comfort of your own couch. But which show should you queue up first? That's where we come in.
We communed with the spirits to find the best ghost shows you can watch tonight. Some of the shows below bring their haunting narratives to life with vivid reenactments, others employ real-life footage to generate their scares. Each eerie program is sure to leave you questioning every little creak. So queue up one of these ghost shows tonight…and be prepared to sleep with the lights on.
Adapted from Aaron Mahnke’s hit podcast of the same name, this Amazon original series highlights some of the weirdest true stories you could ever ask for, from New England vampire scares to body snatchers to rocket scientist and demonologist Jack Parsons. With Mahnke’s familiar and “coolly mesmeric” voice as the narrator (The Economist), along with dramatic recreations of the chilling events that the show is describing, this spellbinding series visually brings to life the things that you’ve only heard about from the Lore podcast…
These days, there are plenty of ghost hunting and paranormal investigation shows on the air, but with 20 seasons and counting under its belt, the Travel Channel’s Ghost Adventures has to be one of the longest running. Join ghost hunters Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley—along with celebrity guests like Post Malone, Loretta Lynn, and Motley Crue’s Vince Neil—as they travel to the most haunted locales around the world, where they seek out evidence of the supernatural.
Another long-running ghost hunting series, Britain’s Most Haunted takes ample advantage of the storied and ghostly history of the British Isles. Traveling to castles both ruined and occupied, town halls, old manor houses, ancient burial grounds, and even haunted pubs, the team behind Most Haunted brings an expected crop of night-vision cameras and other modern ghost hunting paraphernalia to the home turf of the classic British ghost story in this popular series from across the pond.
The Haunting Of…
With so many ghost hunting shows out there, you need a hook to really stand out these days. For The Haunting Of…, which premiered on The Biography Channel, that hook came in the form of interviewing celebrities who had experienced brushes with the paranormal. The series has since tackled the spine-tingling stories of dozens of celebrities, including Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s own Charisma Carpenter, Kesha, T-Pain, Margaret Cho, Billy Ray Cyrus, and many more!
Illustrator and viral sensation Adam Ellis, whose “Dear David” series of tweets about the ghost he thought lived in his apartment took Twitter by storm and has been optioned for a movie, travels the country investigating haunted locations from Oregon to New Jersey in this extremely of-the-moment series, which incorporates tweets and texts from viewers directly into the show format.
Ditching the “ghost hunter” format, this Czech/American co-production instead finds regular people to recount their experiences with the paranormal. Then, for that added bit of freaky nightmare fuel, the show dramatically recreates the paranormal encounters using actors and special effects. The results are sometimes poignant and always chilling and definitely not for the faint of heart…
Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural
Ryan is a believer, his friend Shane is a skeptic. It’s a winning combo that has been going strong since at least Mulder and Scully on The X-Files. In the hit web series Buzzfeed Unsolved, the two friends investigate everything from Area 51 to haunted houses to true crime stories. If all you want is your ghostly fix, though, the show has been generously broken out into episodes of Buzzfeed Unsolved: Supernatural, which finds the duo exploring haunted lighthouses, aircraft carriers, prisons, and more.
These three former frat brothers (who also happen to be the first all-Black ghost hunting team on television) travel the country looking for haunted locations. The camaraderie and humor among the three friends are what helps to set this show apart from the crowd, making it stand out from its more solemn competition. Which isn’t to say that things don’t get plenty spooky as the trio investigates haunted hotels and ominous plantations.
A haunted house is one thing, but every one of us has probably seen a creepy doll or a sinister-looking painting and thought to ourselves, “Yep, that is definitely haunted.” Host John Zaffis and his family have seen those haunted objects, too, but while most of us probably (wisely) pass right on by, Zaffis and his family actually collect haunted or cursed items to put into their own museum for safekeeping—sort of like that creepy room in the Warrens’ house in the Conjuring movies. If that sounds like your jam, you’ll definitely want to check out a few episodes of Haunted Collector.
One of the most popular of the many ghost hunting shows out there, the aptly named Ghost Hunters follows two men who are plumbers by day and amateur paranormal investigators by night. Co-founders of The Atlantic Paranormal Society, the pair became famous on this long-running SyFy series, which spawned the spin-offs Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy. The show recently moved from SyFy to A&E after 11 seasons on its original channel.
The Dead Files
Instead of the usual crew of paranormal investigators, The Dead Files brings together a retired NYPD homicide detective and a self-proclaimed psychic. The pair investigates crime scenes, cold cases, and paranormal phenomena, first exploring separately using their own particular specialties, then combining their notes and talents in an effort to crack the case. It’s a unique method that often produces “shocking results,” according to BuzzFeed.
For many of us, this is where it all started, right? Sure, Unsolved Mysteries was more likely to tackle stories of unsolved crimes or UFO encounters than haunted houses or ghostly phenomena, but there were still more than a few spooks to be found in the show’s archives, which are available to stream online for those who are brave enough!
As the synopsis warns, don’t watch this one alone! Like Netflix’s Haunted, Paranormal Witness combines firsthand testimony with dramatic reenactments to amp up the scares and offer some freaky visuals that you just can’t get in a more “traditional” ghost show. Combine that with historical documentation, personal photos, and more, and Paranormal Witness is capable of concocting a pretty potent spooky brew. Or, as BuzzFeed puts it, “Scaredy cats beware, this show gets real.”
Featured still from "Paranormal Witness" via Syfy