"We're ready to believe you!"A genre with characters who specialize in investigating reports of paranormal activity - in other words, Occult Detectives. The paranormal occurences can be a hoax or the real thing. When actual supernatural forces are in play, the characters can either be no physical match for them, or they can fight the supernatural on equal terms, either physically, or technologically. According to the Ghostbreakers website the genre is in fact Older Than Feudalism starting with the letter To Sura by Pliny the Younger.
— Advertising slogan of the Ghostbusters
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Karas: Kure and Sagisaka work as Shinjuku's sole paranormal police task force, making them a bit of a joke to the rest of the police.
- Ghost Hunt: Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
- Phantom Quest Corp., a.k.a. Yuugen Kaisha, is exactly what it sounds like: a privately run agency that investigates the paranormal and the supernatural. Many of their assignments are commissioned from U Division's Detective Karino, as a personal favor to Phantom Quest's president, Ayaka Kisaragi.
- Ghost Talkers Daydream: Misaki Saiki has had the ability to see spirits, since childhood, and eventually learned she was a mediumnote . As such, spirits are naturally drawn to her. She doesn't have a firm of her own, so she accepts assignments from the Livelihood Preservation Group, as an exorcist. But she mainly does it so the spirit in question will move on and leave her alone.
- YuYu Hakusho started out this way in the beginning, but quickly dropped the paranormal mystery aspect of the series in favor of paranormal action.
- Tasogare Otome X Amnesia: The Paranormal Investigation Club tends to function this way, more so in the manga.
- The Blue Clan, Scepter 4 in K is a supernatural police division, tasked with cases involving Strains, the series' rogue supers. Inverted in that the main character is an Ordinary High-School Student who's been framed for a murder, on the run with both Scepter 4 and the Red Clan after him. A lot of the side materials have them clashing (in more ways than one) with the Red Clan, who are essentially a superpowered street gang.
- Doctor Thirteen, the Ghost Breaker. A die-hard skeptic, originally every haunting he investigated turned out to be fake, but then Thirteen started teaming up with The Phantom Stranger and became part of the DC Universe, and his skepticism has been played for laughs ever since. Depending on the Writer he may or may not have some kind of unconscious Anti-Magic power that turns actual supernatural monsters into mundane things.
- Hoax Hunters is about a group of paranormal experts who investigate supernatural activity — and cover it up by using their TV show to present it all as a hoax or a tall tale that got out of hand. They have an obscure connection to the government, and have been operating in some form for decades.
- The Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) of the Mignolaverse, former employer of Hellboy, is an entire government agency dedicated to paranormal investigation.
- Wynonna Earp belongs to the 'Black Badges': a secret division of the U.S. Marshal Service charged with investigating and stopping crimes committed by supernatural beings.
Films — Live-Action
- Ghostbusters — "Who you gonna call?" Although they're more like a decontamination crew than detectives or investigators.
- The Facts in the Case of Mister Hollow revolves around an unseen investigator researching a Mystery Cult that worships Greco-Roman death-goddesses, exploring whether the cult and its gods are real.
- The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson.
- The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
- New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear
- Many of the Cthulhu Mythos stories start with this — a scholar or academic type investigating a legend or occult artifact.
- Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles crosses into this territory with the mysterious and apparently otherworldly hound roaming the moors.
- The standard plot of the Carnacki the Ghost-Finder stories by William Hope Hodgson, a contemporary of Conan Doyle. Particularly notable for the fact that he regularly investigates both hoaxes and genuine supernatural menaces, in roughly equal proportion.
- In the Kitty Norville series, Kitty is successful, a rising star in the radio culture. Her radio show, The Midnight Hour, has become an overnight sensation, providing outre music, observations about the bizarre, and call-in radio advice for the loners, the odd, and the unusual. Initially she doesn't investigate the supernatural herself, merely research, discuss, and theorize about it, but as time goes on she ends up having to to some degree in order to protect herself and those she cares about from the various supernatural threats she encounters. She also meets an actual cable TV show in book six, Paradox PI, that is very much modeled after Ghost Hunters.
- Morris and Chastain Investigations.
- The Dresden Files. The trope title is even part of Harry Dresden's yellow pages ad. A running deconstructive conceit of the series is that while the Muggles call in Harry to investigate weird stuff, the Fey and other creatures call on him to investigate mundane things like murder, theft, missing persons etc.
- Haunted (1988)
- Lockwood & Co.
- There's a growing subgenre that brings national governments, and all their messy history, into matters. The occult world is cloaked in secrecy but a potent source of power—themes that parallel espionage fiction. Two notable works in the "occult intelligence" subgenre are Tim Powers' Declare and Charles Stross's The Laundry Files.
- Vampirocracy, in which Leon Ragnarson, Vampire Hunter, runs a paranormal private investigation firm and lends his expertise to the police in matters of supernatural crime, all under a recently-established vampire-run government.
- Shadow Police follows a group of London police officers investigating hidden London's paranormal threats.
- Becoming Human: Does it count if it is the paranormal doing the investigating themselves?
- Buffy the Vampire Slayer: Exactly What It Says on the Tin
- Buffy's spinoff, Angel: A vampire as the head of a team of private investigators in LA.
- Cheo Yong involves a Korean police officer solving crimes with the help of the ghosts he can talk to.
- "Reality" TV series about the concept include:
- The Dead Files, whose spin is that, separately, a medium reads the site of the haunting and a detective investigates the history of the site and the clients, and then combine their findings during the reveal to the client(s).
- Destination Truth: A "reality" TV series. Usually half of the episode segments feature a haunting investigation while the rest deal with cryptids. In an effort to distinguish itself from other paranormal shows, Destination Truth focuses investigating more exotic and interesting locations like the Great Wall of China or the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
- Ghost Adventures and its Spin-Off Paranormal Challenge on the Travel Channel.
- Ghost Hunters and its Spin-Off shows Ghost Hunters International and Ghost Hunters Academy on the Syfy Channel.
- Ghost Hunting with... was a series in the UK hosted by Yvette Fielding in which she takes a group of celebrities to haunted locations throughout Britain. The episodes tended to have slightly more comic results from the celebrities' reactions.
- Ghost Brothers, whose main selling point was that the three leads are black. As one of them lampshaded in the trailer, "Why is everybody white?"
- FreakyLinks: The crew of the eponymous website investigates alleged paranormal phenomena and posts the results on the internet.
- Friday the 13th: The Series: The heirs of an antique dealer who sold cursed items chase around trying to get them back.
- In The International Sexy Ladies Show in the UK, sexy ladies (what else) go to a haunted house, where the first thing they do is strip down to their undies. Invariably, it's too scary and they all run back to the bus without dressing.
- Kolchak: The Night Stalker: In both incarnations Carl Kolchak is a reporter who investigates crimes involving the supernaturla and super science.
- In Psi Factor the Office of Scientific Investigation and Research (O.S.I.R.) investigates the paranormal.
- Psych: Constantly, and always a red herring. Obviously the police aren't going to go through the trouble of consulting a psychic Amateur Sleuth unless something really wacko is going on.
- Secret Investigation Record aka Joseon X-Files
- Special Unit 2: A series about a secret division of the Chicago Police Department that deals with paranormal crimes. The rest of the police department is completely in the dark about what SU-2 is.
- Supernatural has the protagonists investigating everything from ghosts to witches to vampires to demons.
- Torchwood: Top secret, beyond the government, funded by the crown alien investigators and weapons stockpilers (based on a rift in space in time in the middle of the craziness that is Cardiff in the Whoniverse to boot).
- The X-Files: Many many episodes. Of course, the FBI is supposed to investigate things, but they happen to keep throwing two specific agents at certain cases.
- YUP's Toppatakkeja Ja Toledon Terasta has a song where the main character detective gets important information from a living severed head stored in a closet with a cassette recorder.
- The Magnus Archives is narrated by the archivist of an institute dedicated to academic research into the paranormal. He works through the archive of statements people have given about alleged experiences, and he and his assistants investigate those they can. However, many in the Magnus Institute prefer ivory-tower academia to the legwork of actual investigation, and they like think of themselves as serious scholars rather than silly ghost-hunters. Conversely, other paranormal investigators regard the Institute as a joke.
- Call of Cthulhu: Pretty much the whole point of the game is paranormal investigation.
- Chill has an organization called S.A.V.E. dedicated to this trope, and it is assumed the characters are members of, or at least associated with the organization.
- Dark Matter, a modern-day setting of Conspiracy Theories and Paranormal Investigation.
- Similarly in the Conspiracy X you investigate all matter of paranormal occurrences along with alien threats.
- Alone in the Dark: Carnby investigates the paranormal in the second, third, and fourth games in the series.
- Clive Barker's Undying: Patrick's current profession is paranormal investigator. Despite possessing the Gel'ziabar Stone and knowing some magic, he's rarely come across anything that couldn't be explained by mundane causes. Until now.
- One of the passengers on the Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon is the host of a Paranormal Investigation TV show, and apparently does believe in ghosts.
- The trailer for Resident Evil 7: biohazard follows three men who enter a decrepit bayou mansion believed to be haunted. Seeing as this is Resident Evil, however, things go horribly wrong when they run into the other kind of undead.
- In The Consuming Shadow, the player character has a limited time to stop an Eldritch Abomination from invading the world. You must travel through England and Wales to gather clues in order to accurately identify the threat (there are three gods: the invading god, another one who is helping the first, and a third one who is helping you), research the correct ritual to banish it, then actually perform the ritual in Stonehenge. A "Ministry of Occultism" offers advices (usually in the form "you should investigated [town]") and limited help. Three of the four available character classes (The Scholar, The Wizard, The Ministry Mannote ) are common archetypes of occult detectives.
- Vampire Cheerleaders: The Paranormal Mystery Squad, like Phantom Quest, is exactly what it sounds like. Stephanie and co. hunt and eliminate cryptids for a living, just as her parents did before their untimely demise. By vol.3, they begin to capture and detain cryptids instead, as a result of Stephanie coming to accept that all cryptids weren't inherently evil.
- Adler's Watch features two girls named 23 and Sam who investigate reports of paranormal monsters across Austin, Texas.
- In Hanna Is Not a Boy's Name, the title character and his partner are paranormal private eyes.
- Autumn Bay: Stephen, Callie, and Adam investigate weird stuff around the titular city, which Stephen then blogs about.
- Storywisher: Fi is constantly dragging her cousin Ben around, looking for evidence of the supernatural in Little Bootle.
- LISDEAD has hints of this, especially around the investigation of 'His' powers.
- Part of Marble Hornets is Jay looking through tapes of his friend Alex getting stalked by a tall creature with no face.
- The Boo Review is based around this trope but with a bit of a comical edge.
- The Cartoon Man begins with an investigation into the disappearance of an occultist animator. Various supernatural phenomena take place in his apartment, causing the main character to start transforming into a cartoon.
- Venturian Tale: Johnny Ghost and Johnny Toast.
- All Scooby-Doo all the time. Mystery Inc. seems to specialize in this kind of thing.
- The Looney Tunes film Daffy Duck's Quackbusters is a compilation of classic shorts with the bridging story that Daffy Duck opened a Paranormal Investigation service to rid other people of ghosts like the one who has been plaguing him and taking his money.
Daffy: You say the Loch Ness Monster is living in your jacuzzi?
Daffy: Well, call Roto-Rooter!
- The Real Ghostbusters
- The 1937 Disney animated cartoon Lonesome Ghosts featuring Mickey, Donald and Goofy as Ghostbusters.
- On Invader Zim, eleven-year-old Dib aspires to being a paranormal investigator, and is the only person to realize that Zim is an alien. Other paranormal investigators appear in the series (Bill, the Swollen Eyeballs), but they tend to be fairly useless.