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Top 10 Scariest Paranormal Documentary Shows

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Nathan Sharp
Even if you don’t believe in the paranormal, there’s no denying that these programs are highly entertaining. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten scariest paranormal documentary shows. For this list, we’ll be looking at the scariest shows regarding the paranormal, which can include anything from aliens to ghosts to unexplained phenomena. However, shows like “Unsolved Mysteries” won’t be included, as those programs largely focus on realistic mysteries and crimes rather than the paranormal, despite having a number of segments devoted to the subject. Written by Nathan Sharp
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Even if you don’t believe in the paranormal, there’s no denying that these programs are highly entertaining. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we’re counting down our picks for the top ten scariest paranormal documentary shows.

For this list, we’ll be looking at the scariest shows regarding the paranormal, which can include anything from aliens to ghosts to unexplained phenomena. However, shows like “Unsolved Mysteries” won’t be included, as those programs largely focus on realistic mysteries and crimes rather than the paranormal, despite having a number of segments devoted to the subject.

#10: “Haunted Collector” (2011-13)

In the over-saturated market that is ghost hunting, “Haunted Collector” takes an original approach to the genre. Like most ghost shows, “Haunted Collector” follows a demonologist, John Zaffis and his family, as they investigate supposed haunted locations. However, Zaffis takes it one step further by attempting to find and remove the location’s “trigger object”, the item that a spirit has attached itself to, and which in turn results in the haunting. Yes, the show is essentially a real-life “Ghostbusters.” Sure, it’s a little odd seeing Zaffis talking to a lamp or another inanimate object, but at least it puts a fresh twist on the tired ghost hunting formula.

#9: “Paranormal Lockdown” (2016-)

“Paranormal Lockdown” is hosted by two veterans of the paranormal field – “Ghost Adventures”’ Nick Groff, and “Paranormal State”’s Katrina Weidman. Despite their somewhat awkward chemistry, their experience makes for an informed and professional dynamic, as they tend to take a more thoughtful approach to their evidence rather than freaking out at the slightest provocation. Rather than a single night, the two spend 72 hours confined to a location, and their lengthy confinement often results in numerous pieces of evidence, however slight or dramatic, and often in broad daylight. “Paranormal Lockdown” is a raw, realistic, and less flashy approach to ghost hunting television.

#8: “Paranormal State” (2007-11)

While most ghost shows follow professional paranormal investigators, “Paranormal State” centers around a university club called the Pennsylvania State University Paranormal Research Society. Since outlines of the episodes were made in advance, and the producers created story arcs for the students, naysayers may feel as if it’s over-produced, or even outright fake. However, regardless of your opinion on its authenticity and flair for the dramatic, there’s no denying that there are numerous entertaining scares to be found. Just don’t take it too seriously, and you may walk away a little unnerved.

#7: “Most Haunted” (2002-10; 2013; 2014-)

“Most Haunted” is undeniably one of the most popular, and certainly one of the longest-running paranormal shows on television. It follows a team of investigators, led by Yvette Fielding, as they explore various haunted locations throughout Europe. While “Most Haunted” has been the subject of various controversies and claims of fakery, it’s nevertheless a very spooky show, and its age alone can certainly attest to its popularity. The crew’s reactions may be on the melodramatic side, and it seems to be more of a ratings chaser than an authentic glimpse into the paranormal, but there’s no denying that it still makes for entertaining and creepy television.

#6: “A Haunting” (2005-07; 2012-)

“A Haunting” is unlike the other shows of its kind, as it’s more documentary than investigative. It tells the stories of various people who were seemingly afflicted by paranormal phenomenon, and has dramatic re-enactments play over commentary from witnesses. Because the show is more cinematic than realistic, the paranormal stories go down far easier, and the show is more easily digestible as entertainment. The production is also far better than most shows that revolve around re-enactments, as the effects are generally believable, and it’s both well-shot and well-acted. Despite possible reservations regarding the stories, “A Haunting” is nevertheless a terrifying glimpse into the unknown.

#5: “Destination Truth” (2007-12)

“Destination Truth” followed paranormal researcher Josh Gates as he traveled to various locations around the world to try and document cryptozoological creatures. While there have been countless shows regarding the possibility of Big Foot or another Monster of the Week, “Destination Truth” tackles the subject with humor and skepticism. Gates and his team are hilarious and scathing, oftentimes disbelieving the outrageous stories. That said, they do find some downright chilling things - even if they’re not mythological creatures - and the show makes for an informative look at various cultures’ superstitions. And let us tell you, some of them believe in some creepy things.

#4: “The Dead Files” (2011-)

“The Dead Files” is a paranormal investigation show with a twist. A medium, Amy Allan, and a retired homicide detective, Steve DiSchiavi, team up to tackle the paranormal at a given location. Amy traverses through the setting while channeling and communicating with the ghosts, while Steve interviews witnesses and gathers historical evidence regarding the location. While it’s true that Amy’s psychic channeling may take some getting used to and will undoubtedly turn a lot of people off, “The Dead Files” is nevertheless one of the more credible and unsettling ghost shows concerning psychics. Is that an oxymoron? Maybe. But it sure is fun.

#3: “Paranormal Witness” (2011-)

The concept here is incredibly generic – people tell their stories of unexplainable and possibly paranormal phenomenon. That’s about it. While the concept is nothing new, “Paranormal Witness” stands above the over-saturated crowd due to its production values and captivating stories. These stories are not only frightening and unsettling, but they can also be highly emotional, which makes for a sensitive viewing experience not found in other paranormal programs. These are scary ghost stories told with a keen directorial eye, and each segment feels like its own satisfying short film. If you’re out of good scary movies to watch, “Paranormal Witness” is certainly worth a gander.

#2: “Ghost Hunters” (2004-16)

No discussion of paranormal investigations is complete without a mention of “Ghost Hunters.” It's undoubtedly one of the most popular ghost shows, and it provided both over a decade’s worth of freaky entertainment and some of the most compelling evidence of paranormal activity ever captured on video. Sure, some people may criticize the show for its slow pace, but that’s what makes it even more authentic and believable – you need the slow episodes to further validate the paranormal occurrences. It, along with “Ghost Hunters International” are some of the most reputable ghost hunting shows, and its realism makes the unbelievable all the more terrifying.

Before we spook you with our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.

“Celebrity Ghost Stories” (2009-14)

“MonsterQuest” (2007-10)

#1: “Ghost Adventures” (2008-)

“Ghost Adventures” is arguably the best, and easily the scariest paranormal show on television, despite its rather eccentric hosts. Following several easily excitable men as they investigate haunted locations with high-end, scientific equipment like infrared and structured light sensor cameras, what results is some of the most incredible evidence ever captured on camera. While some may yearn for the old days when it was just three of them with video cameras, “Ghost Adventures” is still a highly entertaining show that features some of the most compelling proof of the paranormal. Even the skeptics have to admit that these guys have caught some truly incredible evidence.
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