I was writing an article when I realized I needed a clear idea about when this whole amateur investigation reality-television thing became popular. So, I started a list. (I’m a good Googler.) Here is a list of TV shows (series) that portray the paranormal as real or examine it as possibly real. Some are reality-type shows, some are documentaries. (Therefore, I have also included some shows on here of a skeptical nature.) Some are not wholly paranormal-themed but they contain an element that suggests a particular subject or event is beyond that which is currently accepted in the scientific community. I realize the line can be blurry.

Since one of my areas of interest is how the media promotes a view of science and the scientific to the public, I think the popularity of these shows is important. There is some research into how paranormal/supernatural themed shows affect the public belief in the paranormal, but there is LITTLE to NO research on how reality-type shows affects this or, regarding my interest, how the public perceives the “scientificity” of these shows.

I cataloged 125 shows ranging in premier dates from 1949 to some upcoming ones on the horizon.

Many are available across the world and on DVD and even online. But, I stuck with only English-language shows. I wasn’t out to make a comprehensive list but if you have any additions or corrections, let me know.

I think you’ll notice some trends and copycat shows. Obviously, the proliferation of channels in the 21st century and the need for cheap and plentiful programming became a driving issue. You don’t have to pay amateurs who want a TV deal as much as professional actors. Yet, it presents a new and interesting perspective. And, there are possible ramifications for the public understanding of science.

6 thoughts on “Paranormal-themed nonfiction TV: A list

  1. Clinging to the paranormal is a mundane condition of lonely people, and we’ll always have them, and thus these shows. These shows are selling candy, not truth. I don’t think there is anything for the skeptic or the rationalist to benefit from regarding them each as a ploy for our attention. I don’t jump on Jersey Shore for utilizing the same trick. There’s money to be had in the interest of the paranormal as well as in the interest of debunking the paranormal because both perspectives excite and exercise our imagination. I reserve a lot of Z’s for both, however, because I’m already a skeptic. Ramifications? There are always ramifications for what people believe. Remember the radio broadcast of War of the Worlds?

    I don’t buy any of these shows, but I’ll defend their right to at least each be regarded as a story-teller of the human condition. I’m sure you can find another barrel to fish in, you sound kinda smart and you have the ninnerwebs 😀

    1. Farawaycircus: I disagree that the paranormal is for the lonely. I’ve been fascinated by it since I could read and obviously still am. It’s quite an important area of human culture and we ought to pay attention to it. Not in the form of lame TV fodder though. But my thoughts are that portrayals in pop culture are influential. If you push this as “science” and “truth” when it really doesn’t reach those high bars, that’s problematic.

    1. Yes. Otherwise it would be too hard to get them all. I know there are lots in other countries.

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