Paranormal Investigation

"We're ready to believe you!"
Advertising slogan of the Ghostbusters

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 Ghostbreakers website the genre is in fact Older Than Feudalism starting with the letter To Sura by Pliny the Younger.


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     Anime and 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.

     Comic Books 
  • Trese
  • Paranormal Mystery Squad
  • Charles Fort
  • 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.
  • 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.


  • 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.
  • Paranormalcy
  • 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.

     Live Action Television 
  • 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.
  • 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 like Ghost Hunters or Ghost Adventures, Destination Truth focuses investigating more exotic and interesting locations like the Great Wall of China or the Angkor Wat temple in Cambodia.
    • Other "reality" TV series include:
    • The aforementioned 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.
  • 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: Both incarnations. A reporter.
  • 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 dealt with paranormal crimes. The rest of the police department was completely in the dark about what SU-2 was.
  • "'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.
  • In Psi Factor the Office of Scientific Investigation and Research (O.S.I.R.) investigates the paranormal.

  • 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.


     Tabletop Games 

     Video Games 

     Web Comics 

     Web Original 
  • LIS_DEAD 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 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.

     Western Animation 
  • 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?
    [rolls eyes]
    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.