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Ghost Ship

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"These trade ships, East Indiamen... not much keeping them above water, but planks of wood and the grace of God. Only surprise about the Obra Dinn? It's come back... Empty."
Boat Puller, Return of the Obra Dinn

This article is about the trope. For the film, go here.

The main characters receive a Distress Call or randomly come across a (seemingly) deserted vessel and have to figure out what happened and where everybody went. The derelict boat, ship, submarine, or, in science fiction, spaceship may have signs of a bloody Last Stand. Tension mounts as the would-be rescuers search the ship for survivors and clues. Anchor chains in the hold clank in the waves. They find the Captain's log book, but the writing trails off to a panicked scrawl on the last page. Maybe there's claw marks or blood on the floor...

Then they run across exactly what happened to the crew when the monster/alien/evil entity leaps out and starts killing them one by one. Their first response is to send their own distress call to their base, but their radio is mysteriously broken. The rescuers who are most curious to explore the dark, creaky cargo hold die first. A Big Dumb Object from Alpha Centauri may be involved. And sometimes there are actual ghosts.

The Ghost Ship trope heavily recycles Haunted House tropes. Like a Haunted House, the boat itself may seem alive, with a mind of its own, the "wind" closes the steel fire doors behind you- and likely will not reopen until its time for the next set of schmucks to take the bait. There are probably cobwebs everywhere and creepy mementos. A rescuer finds the records of people who've sailed in or owned the ship before and learns of some disturbing history and at least one Dark Secret (it was a slave ship, used by Nazis, etc).

Fantasy and horror settings that include undead are likely to feature one of these at least occasionally. In these cases it's not always a mystery how the ship has gone so long without foundering or running aground... just because there's no living crew doesn't mean there's no crew at all, and the "ghost" descriptor may prove very literal.

Compare Derelict Graveyard.

If you're looking for otherworldly ships with tattered sails crewed by the damned, see Flying Dutchman. For other forms of supernatural transportation, see Ghost Train. A potential archetype found in this setting might be a Creepy Old-Fashioned Diving Suit.

See also Send in the Search Team and Late to the Tragedy. Not related to shipping two dead characters, nor to Seven Seas Entertainment's adult-oriented manga marque.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders: One sequence has the main characters boarding an apparently derelict steamer, with the only passenger being an orangutan. The steamer is actually the orangutan's Stand, Strength. The ape is extremely intelligent by lesser-primate standards and not too fond of people.
  • Mega Man NT Warrior: In the first Beach Episode, Lan and others encounter a ghost ship while out in the ocean that captures Tory and Masa. They later found out the ghost ship is under the control of viruses taking the form of a hologram.
  • One Piece:
    • Thriller Bark, which is basically a floating Haunted House that serves as the base for Gecko Moria and his flunkies. It's mostly filled with zombies, but one of Gecko's crew, Perona, has ghost-like powers granted by the Horo-Horo Fruit.
    • The ship they found Brook on might be a straighter example: it's a normal, but very old and deserted ship. Except for the walking skeleton. Who promptly gets an invite to Luffy's crew. He accepts.
  • Pokémon: The Series: "A Shipful of Shivers" features a rather literal "ghost ship" — a formerly sunken ship whose only inhabitants are the Ghost Pokémon who raised it from the sea floor.
  • Queen's Blade Rebellion: Captain Liliana's ship can fly and has an Undead Pirate Crew (herself included despite not looking undead).
  • Soul Eater has the ghost ship Nidhogg, captained by the Flying Dutchman himself.

    Card Games 

    Comic Books 
  • Doctor Who: In the TV Comic episode "A Stitch in Time" the Third Doctor has to book passage on the Mary Celeste when the TARDIS mistakenly is put aboard as cargo. A misunderstanding (time bomb / time machine) causes the ship to be abandoned, the lifeboat is then swamped by a freak wave
  • Wonder Woman Vol 1: In #115 Wonder Woman investigates a mysterious fleet of ghost ships, which were brought to the surface from their resting places on the ocean floor by a strange current.

    Fan Works 
  • Eternity: Years before the War started, the Abyssals were testing the waters. This in turn resulted in many Ghost Ship sightings and rumors, one of which nearly started World War III with the abyssified USS America swimming in Russian waters.
  • Left Behind forces Crichton and Chiana to work on helping the abandoned Leviathan Rohvu recover after they're left behind by the rest of Moya's crew (due to the Moya crew leaving with other versions of Crichton and Chiana on board); at one point Crichton accidentally breaks a piece of Rohvu and Rohvu doesn't notice because he's in so much pain already after two cycles with Kaarvok and the Xarai eating bits of him.
  • Remnants: The multi-group alliance ends up finding and exploring the wreck of a long-crashed Forerunner cargo ship. Unfortunately, it's not quite vacant; it's filled to the brim with hostile Promethean Crawlers.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series fanfic Something Wicked This Way Comes has a missing starship appear out of nowhere a decade after it vanished. The Enterprise crew, on going to investigate, finds only corpses first. To make things worse, one of the investigative team happens to be the former first officer of the missing ship.
  • Star Wars: Ascendancy: Early in their voyage, the crew of the Chimaera come across a large Celaphid starship floating abandoned within an asteroid field. Thrawn deduces from its damaged hull that the ship had been ambushed by Space Pirates and made a Blind Jump into the asteroid field to escape. Noticing the vessel's jettisoned escape pods, he theorizes that the original crew abandoned ship and perished when their pods crashed into the surrounding asteroids. Ezra and a few squads of Stormtroopers are sent to scavenge the ship after the Chimaera's scans pick up a much-needed supply of coolant onboard. Inside the derelict spacecraft, the search teams find the floor covered with puddles of grey ooze that they speculate is Alien Blood. It's actually the Mnggal-Mnggal, a highly sadistic Blob Monster that infects and hijacks the bodies of other living beings. It's implied the Celaphids had been transporting samples of the Mnggal-Mnggal for use as a bio-weapon when it broke free and killed the crew. Ezra and Ayer barely escape with their lives after the creature starts picking off the Stormtroopers one by one.
  • The Thirteenth Tribe: Invoked in the interlude of the same name, when Commander Kirov leads teams aboard the derelict and depressurized Eridanus, complete with empty corridors, dead bodies and a final log entry from the ship's previous commander.

    Films — Animated 
  • In The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, the protagonists get lost in a storm and crash their airship into the Heironymus, a derelict fishing vessel. When they come aboard to investigate, they find claw marks in the walls, the discarded husk of a large insect, and a pile of human bones in the refrigeration hold.
  • In The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists, one of the ships Pirate Captain attempts to plunder turns out to be a ghost ship, which promptly disappears while Pirate Captain is still standing on it, causing him to fall into the ocean below.
  • Starship Troopers: Invasion Two Mobile Infantry squads are dispatched to investigate the disappearance of the John A. Warden, only to find it adrift with the crew dead... but no bugs to be found. Once power is restored to the ship, the bugs come out of hiding and swarm.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The derelict ship in the original Alien. Monster, obviously.
  • Aniara: What Aniara eventually becomes. The penultimate section of the film is titled Sarcophagus.
  • The Black Hole is about a Ghost Ship IN SPACE! The crew discovers the USS Cygnus devoid of its people, except for the Captain and his crew of robots. Except that many of the robots are the zombified remnants of the original crew!
  • The Dark Side of the Moon (1990): Docking with an old NASA shuttle near the dark side of the moon brings Satan on board.
  • Death Ship: The eponymous vessel, which turns out to be a Nazi prison vessel sailed by the murderous ghosts of its crew.
  • Deep Rising: A mercenary crew prepares to board a mega-luxurious cruise liner in the South China Sea, only to find empty blood-soaked halls when they run in guns blazing. They soon discover that a few hours before they arrived the ship was attacked by a huge monster, which then tries to add them to the menu as well.
  • Event Horizon is all about a Ghost Ship, basically a Haunted House IN SPACE, except it's being haunted by Hell itself.
  • Ghost Boat centres on a ghost submarine, which surfaces in the middle of the Black Sea forty years after being reported lost in action, In Working Order but completely empty. It is put back to sea with a crew of modern-day Royal Navy submariners, with the only survivor (played by David Jason) of the original crew on board as well. They retrace the ship's original course as closely as possible, whilst the sole survivor starts to regain his memories of the last few weeks before the boat was lost and he was found floating in his life jacket with a bad concussion. Then things start getting weird... The crew start seeing ghostly German warships and aircraft, and entries in the ship's logbook start appearing where there'd previously been none. The crew start to act increasingly like the WW2 crew, and eventually David Jason's character has to sabotage the sub when the actions of the possessed captain threaten to start World War III. The sub sinks with the captain and David Jason aboard... and later is found drifting again, this time looking as battered as a sub abandoned for 40 years should, and with no sign of the bodies of the captain or Jason.
  • Ghost Ship is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. The ship is actually a demonic trap designed to corrupt people who board it, and then kill them so that they go to Hell.
  • Last Sentinel (2023) is set on a tiny sea fort on a Flooded Future World. The crew of the fort was supposed to be relieved three months ago. They detect the relief ship drifting nearby, fully stocked with supplies but with no-one on board. This starts an argument with their commander over whether they should use the ship to abandon their post and return home, while the CO would prefer to strip the ship for parts and try to find out what happened to the missing crew.
  • Pandorum starts this way but the main characters quickly find out that the ship is filled with murderous creatures with a taste for human flesh. Of course, they're not the worst that's on the ship.
  • Sunshine: The crew comes across a distress signal from one of these. They would ignore it if not for the fact that their own mission was a consequence of its unexplained disappearance and its cargo could be of immense assistance to them. Everything that goes wrong thereafter, whether by accident or malice, stems from this well-meaning decision.
  • Supernova: Big Dumb Object makes people younger, or something, ... until it blows up.
  • Triangle: The bulk of the movie plays on the Aeolus, a deserted cruise liner stuck in time, its crew and passengers long gone.
  • Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie: The Ghost Galleon, which is covered in cobwebs when the Rangers first board, and even has a few skeletons on the deck.
  • Virus: A Russian satellite tracking ship, the Akademik Vladislav Volkov, picks up a signal from space station Mir, which turns out to be a virus from space. Yeah.

  • Alex Benedict: The central mystery of Polaris revolves around a spaceship that abruptly went out of communication and was later found completely empty. All the shuttles and spacesuits were still aboard, the airlocks were still sealed, and the computer had no record of what happened.
  • The goldonder Aniara in Harry Marinson's eponymous epic becomes one after 24 years in the deep space.
  • The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga: Ice Forged: After magic suddenly ceases to work properly across the world, a sailing ship drifts into the harbor of Velant with only a few corpses aboard. The Apocalyptic Log reveals that the food preservation spells on the ship's stores failed and the entire crew went mad due to ergot poisoning. The protagonists fix the ship up and sail it back to Donderath to figure out what's going on.
  • Boojumverse: In The Wreck of the Charles Dexter Ward, a sci-fi Cthulhu Mythos story by Elizabeth Bear and Sarah Monette, a Sapient Ship and its crew have been killed off and its crew "re-animated" by a Mad Scientist. Turns out the leader of the "rescue" team knows all about this — his fellow crewmembers are not so happy, and decide to put a stop to things before they become the next experiments.
  • Break of Dark, a short story anthology by Robert Westall, features a ghost plane. It returns from a bombing raid intact but with no one alive except the pilot, who's unresponsive and continues to go through the motions of flying it, even after he's been hospitalized.
  • Dead Silence has the Aurora, a ghost ship in space! Notable for being a luxury liner meant to cater to the ultra wealthy. It was even built explicitly to look like a sea ship, in an attempt to appeal to potential passenger's sense of nostalgia and pageantry.
  • Deltora Quest 3 has Laughing Jack's ship, the Lady Luck. After he captured Red Han's daughter Verity and began to argue with his crew over who owned their treasure, Jack vowed that it would be theirs if they took the oars, and that he himself would never take a single coin. Verity's Toran magic and Jack's own sorcery cursed the crew to be consigned to the oars for all eternity, and their bodies perished when Jack killed Verity and her blood touched the ocean. Ever since then, the ship has wandered the Toran coast; time passes more slowly on board and Laughing Jack's quarters are enchanted to trap visitors unless they play and solve his games, less they be consigned to the oars. Lief later thinks the ship is stalking them after leaving it, but it's later hinted that it's following Jack.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe: Two short stories feature the Mary/Marie Celeste (spelling varies).
    • In the Doctor Who Annual 1970 story The Mystery of the Marie Celeste the Second Doctor and Jamie McCrimmon find that the people aboard are abducted by Arcturans. The Doctor manages to save them only for the people aboard the ship to be eaten by a sea serpent.
    • In the Daleks Annual 1976 story Timechase two time travellers come to the MC while pursued by Daleks, in a manner not entirely dissimilar to "The Chase," below.
  • Dracula: The Demeter runs aground at Whitby with all the crew missing except the captain, whose corpse is found lashed to the helm. However, a ship's log is found which provides clues as to what happened aboard the vessel.
  • The Ethics of Madness: The climax of the story sees Hooker fleeing from known space in a ramscoop ship, with Loeffler in pursuit. Their flight takes them out of the mapped galaxy, and then out of the galaxy entirely, with autodocs keeping them alive over millennia even as increasingly ingrained habit turns Hooker into an almost robot-like being. Eventually, 120,000 years into the chase, a stray thought — the first original thought that he has had in centuries — drives Hooker to angle his ship to get a better look at Loeffler, and he realizes that his pursuer has been dead ever since a laser exchange at the very start fried his life support, although he had the time to program his autopilot to try to ram Hooker's ship. The long pursuit has been driven entirely by a wrecked vessel following a last directive chasing an increasingly will-less and robotic man, and, when the ships grow close enough for the magnetic field of Loeffler's ship to kill Hooker, all that's left is a pair of ghost vessels chasing each other in the intergalactic void.
    Two empty ships drove furiously towards the edge of the universe, all alone.
  • The Ghost Pirates: Jessop spies what he assumes to be the pirates' ship under the water. There is also a scene where they spy another ship passing by but they can't contact it, implying the Mortzestus has become one as well.
  • The Grain Ship: The abandoned grain ship that the narrator hears a commodore discus without knowing how or why the ship was abandoned.
  • The History of the Galaxy: In several novels, characters find derelict ships that have long been abandoned by the crew. In most cases, these are colony ships from the Great Exodus period of human history, when hundreds of these left Earth using an untested and unreliable method of Faster-Than-Light Travel.
    • In one novel, a military officer from Earth is sent by his superior to find the location of the Alpha, the first extrasolar colony ship that disappeared minutes after engaging its engines. He manages to find the ship drifting through a nebula with not a soul aboard. He then gets attacked by a strange cyborg-like creature. Based on the captain's log, he finds out that the colonists were forced to make planetfall on an inhospitable world nearby, leaving the ship adrift in the nebula to gather hydrogen using its Bussard collectors. The cyborg is from a classified military project of that time.
    • Another novel has the Confederacy of Suns find a derelict planet. Unfortunately, despite being nearly a billion years old, the automated defenses are still functional.
  • I'm In Love With the Villainess has a ship full of undead threaten to ruin the summer holidays of the protagonist, Rei, not to mention murder and destroy her hometown, and the summer villa of her love interest, Claire.
  • The Lost Fleet: Any human who goes aboard the captured Kick superbattleship gets an extremely creepy feeling of being surrounded by the ghosts of the dead Kick crew. The feeling only increases the longer one spends aboard the ship. The only way to counter the panic is to stay in groups. This also helps to keep the ship out of Syndic hands, whose boarding parties try to capture the ship, only to run away in terror. As the Dancers later reveal, the effect is intentional, but not to keep humans out but to keep isolated Kicks comfortable, as they are used to being in close proximity to others of their kind and feel alone and exposed otherwise.
  • Malazan Book of the Fallen: In Assail, news of a massive gold find causes thousands of fortune seekers to sail for the mysterious continent of Assail. Many try to reach the gold fields by sailing through the Dread Sea, not realizing that the sea was produced when the glaciers of a magical ice age retreated north and it is still infused with enough magic to drive most people insane. Crew members feel a compulsion to jump overboard, and soon you have a lifeless ship drifting in the middle of a fog covered sea. Later arrivals discover these ghost ships and the ensuing dread and paranoia only drive them insane faster. By the end of the novel the sea has hundreds of ghost ships floating in it.
  • The Oregon Files: In Plague Ship, the crew of the Oregon come across an derelict cruise ship. The passengers and crew have been infected with a highly contagious hemorrhagic virus that stops just short of liquefying its victims, which kills everyone save one survivor.
  • Out of the Storm by Rick Kennett: A bomb-damaged minesweeper is found adrift during WW2 and is towed back to base by a salvage team, who experience various spooky events. At the end of the story the protagonist witnesses the minesweeper in a dry dock after the war, awaiting being broken up for scrap. Arrayed on the prow are ghosts of the minesweeper's crew, grimly facing off with a harridan who's shrieking madly at them...
  • Overlord (2012): The Katze Plains have been a designated battleground for centuries, to the point where undead spawn constantly there. There's even a flying ghost ship that is said to appear and later shows up having been enthralled by Ainz offscreen.
  • Septimus Heap: When Septimus and his friends climb aboard the Cerys in Syren, at first it looks deserted — but it turns out that pirates have imprisoned the entire crew in a safe room below deck.
  • Sphere: Big Dumb Object grants uncontrollable psychic powers.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • When the planet Alderaan embraced pacifism after the Clone Wars, it put all of its war material on an automated cruiser called Another Chance and sent it and its three escort frigates on a long patrol from system to system, until such time Alderaan's leadership sent a recall order. After Alderaan's destruction, stories began circulating about Another Chance being sighted in Alderaan's debris field, called the Graveyard, leading the Empire, Rebellion and third parties to hunt for the ship and its weapon cache. Unbeknownst to most, an Alderaanian exile did succeed in recalling Another Chance, and its stockpile did much to help the Rebellion during the hard times after the Battle of Yavin, but the Rebels kept this quiet so that the Empire would continue wasting resources searching for the ship. Years later, one of Another Chance's escorts, the automated war frigate Valiant, became the deciding factor when Rogue Squadron found itself ambushed in the Graveyard - Alderaanian pilot Tycho Celchu was using an IFF code from Another Chance, and the Valiant attacked using his targeting data.
    • The Katana Fleet, also known as the "Dark Force," was a task force of two hundred Dreadnaught-class heavy cruisers launched in the waning days of the Republic, with advanced automated systems so that the ships required fewer crew than usual. Unfortunately the living crew members contracted a hive virus before the fleet's maiden voyage, went insane when the disease struck them all at once, slaved their ships' navigation systems together, and sent all two hundred dreadnoughts on a Blind Jump to parts unknown. For decades the Katana Fleet was the subject of legends and ghost stories, and the target of treasure hunters, until the events of Dark Force Rising, when the New Republic and a resurgent Empire began a race to see who would recover the ships and gain an advantage in the Galactic Civil War.
    • In Death Troopers, an Imperial bioweapons project Gone Horribly Wrong causes zombie outbreaks on two Imperial starships: the Star Destroyer Vector and the prison barge Purge. The Virus responsible broke out aboard the Vector ten weeks prior and spreads to the Purge when the latter docks with the former. Because the contagion is sentient, the Vector is still somewhat functional, with the zombies—controlled as a Hive Mind—using its tractor beam to capture other ships and infect their crews. In the end, only four people from the Purge (Han Solo and Chewbacca among them) survive, leaving both vessels adrift in the Unknown Regions.
  • Sten: In one of the novels, Sten's friend and her crew find a ghost ship. She discovers something important — and vanishes, as does her ship, the ghost ship, and everyone on them. Despite hours of searching, nothing is found of them and no explanation is given.
  • Terran Trade Authority: Space Wreck: Ghost Ships and Derelicts of Space, is entirely on this subject.
  • "Three Skeleton Key", a short story by George G. Toudouze, is about a derelict ship running aground and discharging a Swarm of Rats, which invade a nearby lighthouse. It was famously adapted as an episode of the '50s radio series Escape, narrated by Vincent Price.
  • Universal Monsters: As in the original novel, Dracula's presence is first hinted at when father and son duo Ralph and Todd Gentry, out for some late-night fishing, find an abandoned ship, covered in blood with its only occupant a wolf (who turns out to be a shapeshifted Dracula).
  • Warhammer 40,000 Expanded Universe:
    • In Ragnar's Claw, the Space Wolves are sent to clear a space hulk, a conglomeration of dead ships, asteroids and wreckage fused together over the eons that floats in and out of warp without visible control.
    • In The Emperor's Finest, Ciaphas Cain helped clear a space hulk alongside the Reclaimers Space Marine chapter. It was infested with purestrain Tyranid genestealers, who proceeded to carve their way through the Space Marines' Terminator armor — the biggest, baddest powered armor a living Marine can wear — without any real trouble.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Episodes of Air Crash Investigation have been dedicated to the case of Helios Airways Flight 522 and the death of Payne Stewart (see 'Real Life').
  • Blake's 7:
    • The Liberator is first discovered adrift in space after the crew abandoned ship during a space battle. It is protected by a defense system that lures intruders with hallucinations of absent friends or family.
    • In "Time Squad", the Liberator receives a Distress Call from a tiny spacecraft with a crew in suspended animation. They revive and attack the Liberator crew, having been conditioned to protect its cargo against all intruders.
    • In "Killer", an obsolete deep space exploration vessel turns up at a Federation base. When they retrieve the corpse of the pilot, it revives and attacks the doctor doing the autopsy, breaching quarantine and spreading a deadly plague throughout the base.
    • In "Sarcophagus", the crew encounter an alien vessel containing the corpse of a dead woman. Turns out she's Not Quite Dead, surviving as an Energy Being who takes over Cally and then the Liberator.
  • The Bridge (2011): The second season begins with a ship colliding with the titular bridge, which proves to be completely deserted apart from a group of young people chained up in the hold, who have been infected with plague.
  • The Cape, a short lived 90's series about NASA astronauts, had an episode where a satellite repair crew encounters a derelict Soviet spacecraft from a failed moonshot attempt — with her two crew members still aboard.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In the First Doctor serial "The Chase", the Mary Celeste is a waypoint. It's revealed the crew was killed by Daleks.
    • "The Wheel in Space": The Doctor and Jamie land on an abandoned spacecraft and are picked up by a team from a nearby space station, the Wheel, tasked to find out what had happened to it.
    • "The Ark in Space": The Doctor, Sarah and Harry, having landed in a ship where roomfuls of people are in suspended animation and there is a giant insect corpse in a cupboard, are forced to figure out what is going on. The space station reappears in "Revenge of the Cybermen".
    • "The Stones of Blood" has a space law enforcement ship drifting in hyperspace inhabited only by two crazed "justice machines" after the rest of the crew and imprisoned suspects died of starvation or old age. A supervillain that it was pursuing deliberately trapped it.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace": The Doctor, Rose and Mickey land on a ship with technology that appears to be made out of human parts, and a portal to pre-revolutionary France.
    • "The Curse of the Black Spot": The spaceship on the other side of the portal from the pirate ship, where the Siren comes from. Its alien crew was killed by an Earth virus, and the Siren, as the ship's medical hologram, hasn't had much to do since.
    • "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship" has a Silurian spaceship inhabited only by its dinosaur cargo and a lone depraved Space Pirate who airlocked the entire crew.
    • "Wild Blue Yonder" has a space ship lost on the edge of the universe itself whose last known activity was the airlock door opening and closing three years ago, occasionally changes itself, is devoid of life signs, has a mysterious voice reading alien words, an old rusted robot walking slowly down a corridor, a mysterious banging noise with no clear origin, and a pair of Eldritch Abominations who can copy the appearance and memories of everyone on board.
  • Farscape has the Zelbinion in "PK Tech Girl", a battleship that was abandoned by most of its surviving crew after being badly damaged in a battle, and Rovhu in "Eat Me", a prison Leviathan that became a house of horrors after the cannibalistic serial killer that it was a Tailor-Made Prison for escaped.
  • Firefly: "Bushwhacked" has a crippled ship attacked by Reavers, occupied by a sole survivor who got turned into one. There’s also a novel on finding such a ship, appropriately entitled Ghost Ship
  • JAG: "Ghost Ship". Aboard a decommissioned Naval vessel, inspectors discover the skeleton of a missing aviator. Harm and Mac investigate.
  • MacGyver (1985): "Ghost Ship". While mapping some wilderness in Alaska, MacGyver discovers an abandoned ship. On it, a Russian stowaway tells him that the crew were all scared off, by Bigfoot!
  • The NCIS episode "Chimera" takes place aboard an abandoned "black ship", the USNS Chimera, with Team Gibbs trying to determine why the crew decided to Abandon Ship. They get a clue when they find a sailor who died from viral hemorrhagic fever and suspect that everyone feared an outbreak. In reality, the death was set up to hide the secret on the Chimera: a recovered Soviet nuclear warhead that the Russians will stop at nothing to get back.
  • Power Rangers Lost Galaxy: "The Rescue Mission". Commander Stanton sends a boarding party to investigate a derelict spaceship with a dangerous secret.
  • Sanctuary: "Icebreaker". Henry and Declan lead a team to rescue a crew of a Russian icebreaker and the abnormal passengers.
  • SeaQuest DSV: "Knight of Shadows" — underwater ghost ship, even. When Bridger is hurled across his quarters by an unknown force, it leads the seaQuest to find a hundred-year-old sunken ship where the spirits of those who perished there haunt its ancient hull, one of which possesses Dr. Westphalen.
  • Stargate:
    • Stargate SG-1: Descent is about the team investigating Anubis' mothership, hovering ominously above Earth with no detectable life signs on board.
    • Stargate Atlantis: "Rising" with Atlantis itself abandoned beneath the sea, "Aurora" with the titular Aurora floating deep in space, "The Daedalus Variations" with a copy of the Daedalus itself popping into reality, and taking the team for a ride.
    • Stargate Universe: A recurring theme throughout the series, both with the main setting, Destiny, and other ships out there.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In "The Thirty-Fathom Grave", the submarine 714, which was sunk by the Japanese in 1942, is seemingly haunted by its crew.

  • "Derelict", more widely known as Fifteen Men on a Dead Man's Chest. Where the titular derelict turned out to be a ship with all crew slaughtered by each other, over a hold-ful of Spanish gold and silver. Most of the song is something between a still-life painting and "English for Coroners".
  • "Dawson's Christian" describes a space-age version of this trope in the form of the eponymous Christian. A spaceship crewed by an Ace Pilot and his fearless crew is destroyed in a heroic Last Stand against an enemy force during an interstellar war. It was a three-to-one battle, and though the Christian was apparently destroyed so thoroughly that no trace of it was ever found, all of the enemy ships were cut to shreds. Yet still, they say that the wrecked Christian roams space with shields glowing red and beam weapons brighter than any other, destroying pirate ships before they can prey on the innocent and then fading from sight.

    Other Sites 
  • Ravensblight is sufficiently close to the coast that sailor's tales are often heard in the taverns, one being that of the Banshee, a vessel that disappeared after sailing from Boston under the command of Nathan Starch, only to be sighted by whalers off the Australian coast in 1884, and several times since; including one when a Norwegian fishing vessel tried to recover her, retrieving, at the cost of three of their crew, letters, diaries, and the captains log, which only contained the single entry "IT SHALL BE MINE." The ship had been somewhere Man shouldn't go and brought back treasures that were not to be disturbed. The ship disappeared again in the fog, despite being tied on.
  • SCP Foundation, SCP-1260 ("HMS Tiresias"). The HMS Tiresias is a former British Royal Navy frigate that sails the oceans without a crew. If anyone comes on board, a fog starts appearing around the ship after twenty minutes and completely surrounds the ship after 35 minutes. At 45 minutes the fog dissipates and the ship has disappeared. It travels to an unknown ocean with a pitch black sky and other ghost ships sailing in it. The people aboard die one by one and when they're all dead, the ship returns to our world again.
  • SCP-787 is a ghost airliner.

  • Cool Kids Table: The Wreck obviously has this, since the game system is titled "Ghost Ship Enyo".
  • Jemjammer: The fifth episode, "Ghost Ship", naturally has one. It's manned by skeletons.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Dungeons & Dragons mentions the Ship of One Hundred, a pale white caravel that travels the cold, acidic seas of Porphatys, fifth layer of the prison plane of Carceri. It moves about on the layer, picking up passengers, empty save for exactly one hundred stone sarcophagi in its lower deck and hold. No one's sure what's inside them because whenever someone announces an intention to check, the caravel is next seen completely empty of passengers. For this reason, any petitioners or planar travelers using the ship to get around strongly discourage the curious from messing with the vessel's cargo.
  • Ironsworn presents a Quest Starter about a ship that newly arrives in the Ironlands and is grounded in the Barrier Islands—decades after it was supposed to arrive. The Ironsworn can then swear to uncover the passengers' fate. As Ironsworn is a Dark Fantasy, it's likely the passengers at this point are either gone or transformed—like into the Sodden.
  • Numenera: The Vlerryn is a prior-world spaceship infected by an artificial machine mind named Mozck, which began to transform the ship and the crew to its own needs. Before it could completely succeed, the last survivor managed to send the ship through the mouth of a massive artifact called the Vendav Ring, which burned both out of the Vlerryn, leaving it derelict.
  • Pathfinder:
    • Bone ships are undead horrors shaped like ghastly vessels made out of bone and sinew, animated by the souls of dead sailors and sea creatures that can swarm forth as ghostly boarders and able to grow cannons that fire shards of bone. Their creations are usually rooted in maritime disasters where entire ships' crews are lost at once, their spirits eventually assembling the undead vessel from the bones of marine life, but others are created by tremendous blood sacrifices or the wills of evil gods. Regardless of their origin, they stalk the seas like wolves as they hunt down other vessels, trailing their quarries for days on end and in some cases even crawling overland to pursue fleeing prey.
    • The Skull and Shackles adventure path sees the players encounter the ghost ship Deathknell, a whaler that sank with all hands on deck due to its cruel captain Whalebone Pilk's obsession with hunting an elusive pod of whales. Now a rotting ship crewed by zombies and Pilk's own undead husk, the Deathknell is bound to stalk and hunt living ships until her captain has claimed the skull of 1,000 victims — fifty for each of the sailors he led to their deaths. Once that has happened, the undead crew will render Pilk down into oil, after which the Deathknell will sink to its final rest.
    • According to the elves of the Mordant Spire, the pirate vessel Mistmourn, which gained infamy for its raids on elven shipping, returned from the depths after it was sunk and continues to prowl the sea even with its crew long gone.
  • Pirates Of The Spanish Main: A piece type. Usually belonging to the Cursed faction, though with a few amongst the Pirates and British, they have the power to move through islands and not much else.
  • Res Arcana: The Ghost Ship is a demon in the form of an abandoned ship. Its abilities let you pay 1 Life essence to place an artifact from your discard pile, or spend 1 Death to get 1 Gold.
  • Rocket Age has the Sky Queen, a space ship rumoured to be possessed by some strange Jovian gas being, that supposedly patrols the skies of Jupiter, attacking ships.
  • Warhammer 40,000 has all kinds of dark fun with this concept:
    • FTL travel in the setting involves traveling through what is basically Space Hell, so ships use barriers called Gellar Fields to try to keep the crew from being eaten (or worse) by daemons during voyages. When those fields fail, the ship may reappear in realspace without a crew, or an entirely different crew. This is why Event Horizon is considered by the fanbase to be a prequel of sorts to 40K, as the film's premise and execution is very close to how this would happen in the game's fluff.
    • If a ghost ship isn't recovered and is lost to the Warp, it may merge with other derelict ships or various detritus and become a Space Hulk, an unnatural conglomeration of several vessels that drifts across the galaxy and in and out of realspace. They're greatly feared since they're often infested with Orks, Genestealers, or worse, but depending on the ages of their component ships, Space Hulks can also contain immensely valuable technological relics. For both reasons, the Inquisition is keen on investigating Space Hulks whenever they appear, a task that usually falls to the Space Marines.
  • Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay 2nd Edition: One necromancy ritual can raise a shipwreck as an unnatural vessel that sails at an even speed, ignoring local weather and its own seaworthiness, manned by the undead shades of its former crew.

    Theme Parks 

    Video Games 
  • The Adventures of Rad Gravity: Halfway through, your spaceship is damaged in an asteroid field, and to find spare parts you must search an abandoned ship.
  • AMC Squad has a mission in Episode 2 called "Ghost Ship," and it takes place on a prototype airship developed by the Earth Attack Force. Micky boards it via a nearby EAF research facility in Spain and discovers that it is possessed by the Abyss, thanks to a precognition brain being used as a slingshot device through the Abyss as a form of FTL travel. The mission is a Whole-Plot Reference to Event Horizon.
  • Analogue: A Hate Story: The player is a space detective hired to investigate the fate of a generation ship drifting in space with no human alive.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: A readable Story Breadcrumb details that a decrepit ship had been sighted around Harbor Town, taking any ship that comes across it before vanishing.
  • Baten Kaitos: Lyude's side-mission involves going to investigate the appearance of a Ghost Ship identical to the Goldoba from before, which houses wandering specters all calling out to Lyude, including ghosts of his commanding officer, his siblings, and Almarde. The repeated lines of dialogue several say almost sound like a Madness Mantra. In the end, it turns out to be caused by a parasitic being from another dimension that feeds off the suffering of others.
  • Bravely Default: A lighthearted example appears, as might be guessed from the ship's name, in the form of the SS Funky Francisca. The ghosts are completely harmless, serving to fill in minor details in the backstory of other characters, and the only threat is the ship's single living crewmember, Barbarossa. He tries to kill you, but is good-natured about it. Even after you defeat him, his spirit continues to captain the ship.
  • Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and its remake feature a stage set in and around a ghost ship. Worth noting is the painting that comes to life and flies around the room — if it touches you, you're dead! There's also one in Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow, which is mostly scenery.
  • Chrono Cross: Double subverted. The party while sailing through dense fog runs across a ship that is known as a ghost ship and decides to rest, but quickly finds that it's in fact a pirate ship using the legend as a deterrent. After being taken prisoner the party finds out that another ship has arrived directly adjacent, an actual ghost ship... with actual ghosts.
  • Cold Fear: The first half takes place on a Russian whaler called The Eastern Spirit. At first it seems deserted. Then you encounter the panicked survivors who open fire on you. Then you encounter what they're panicking about.
  • Cryostasis is made of this. A lone meteorologist finds himself on a derelict Soviet nuclear icebreaker, missing for over a decade. The ship is completely frozen, and the crew are either dead and perfectly preserved by the cold, or dead and somehow mutated into ice monsters. The player character also sees both ghosts and flashbacks of events as everything was going to hell aboard.
  • Deadnaut: Every ship you come across is of this variety.
  • Dead Space:
    • Dead Space: The U.S.G. Ishimura is essentially one huge Ghost Ship.
    • Dead Space 3: The SCAF fleet in orbit over Tau Volantis is comprised entirely of these.
  • Defense of the Ancients: Captain Kunkka summons a ghost ship that sails across the ground, leaving a trail of rum that protects allies from damage, then crashes and stuns enemies. In the words of his DotA 2 incarnation: "Now that was a failboat".
  • Destiny 2: During the Presage mission, you board the Glykon, a Cabal spaceship that had disappeared alongside Mars and then reappeared in the Tangled Shore. The whole ship is infested with plant-like spores and filled with Scorn.
  • Dino Crisis 3: The U.N. Ozymandias, a spaceship that had disappeared centuries earlier. Patrick, along with Sonya and Jacob, encounter mutants based on Dinosaur genetic codes.
  • Dragon Quest: The series has had several ghost ships. Dragon Quest III and Dragon Quest Monsters 2 had ships that still sailed with an undead crew. Dragon Quest VI had a sunken ship you could explore once you gained the ability to travel underwater.
  • Duskers: You roam the universe full of these, and very little else. Except they are not as empty as they may seem.
  • The Elder Scrolls: There's legend of the Crimson Ship. During the 2nd Era, the Knahaten Flu ravaged Tamriel, with the Kothringi (a tribal race of silver-skinned menfolk native to the Black Marsh) being among the hardest hit. Despite their primitive culture, they were skilled sailors, so a small group of their people boarded the Crimson Ship and sailed away from the Black Marsh to find refuge. They were denied by almost every other nation in Tamriel. Hammerfell, home of the Redguards in western Tamriel, was the last to deny them shelter. With no other choice, the Crimson Ship sailed west into the open ocean. According to Redguard legend, sailors later supposedly found the ship with all aboard having died. Every year, they memorialize this as the "Day of Shame", in which no Redguards leave their homes, believing that the Crimson Ship will return to take revenge. (According to other sources, the Crimson Ship was never seen again after it sailed west, and none who have seen it have ever returned alive.)
  • Endless Ocean has a large derelict pirate ship which transports the player to and from Ship's Rest, an area with a giant sunken ship that is "haunted" by a very large and pissed off shark.
  • Etrian Odyssey III: The Drowned City: A sidequest has the player's party characters look for a Ghost Ship sailing around Tortuga Island (one of the locations found in the explorable sea), and defeat it in a battle.
  • Final Fantasy:
    • Final Fantasy VIII: Squall and Rinoa end up on a spaceship that was abandoned for 17 years and overrun by regenerating alien monsters. The ship is in full working condition, and they clear it of alien monsters and claim it their own with relative ease.
    • Final Fantasy V: Early on, your party ship is set adrift and end up in a ship graveyard. Naturally, you have to navigate through several derelict ships to reach land, fighting several undead enemies along the way.
  • FTL: Faster Than Light: Losing all of your crew but with your ship intact is one way to get a Game Over, with this trope being invoked in the resulting text:
    All crew members have died. Your ship will continue to drift for eternity, or until looters destroy it.
  • Granblue Fantasy: One boss shares a name with (and is inspired by) the real-life Mary Celeste. Clearly evident in its base form, Celeste is a ghastly spectral airship which later on reveals a humanoid body and the ability to emit fog in its Omega version.
  • Grand Theft Auto: Unintentionally invoked in Grand Theft Auto III and Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. Boats would spawn in waterways just like land vehicles, but due to a programming quirk, they wouldn't have drivers (unless they were part of a mission) and would just sit eerily still in the water as if something happened to all the boaters.
  • Grandia features a deserted ship with a heavily "undead" atmosphere, although the characters find out that the Big Bad of the ship is just a 'regular' (giant, magic-wielding) squid. This is actually truer to the trope as described here, since they discover what got the crew, rather than undead versions of the crew themselves.
  • Hardspace: Shipbreaker: A late-game ship type is Ghost Ships, which were recovered by LYNX after the Machine God attacked the ship's original owners. Ghost Ships come covered in barnacle-like AI Nodes that absolutely must be destroyed with the cutter or thrown into the furnace in order to salvage whatever they're attached to. The moment a Node is destroyed, they'll all try to control the ship's subsystems in an attempt to hinder or kill the Shipbreaker, and won't stop until all the AI Nodes are destroyed.
  • .hack//G.U.. During a quest, three characters are in an empty room where usually there are some NPCS. One character mentions nervously that it's "just like the Mary Celeste."
  • Homeworld: A mission has you investigate a ghost ship. While it ignores strike craft, it will immediately take over any capital ship that gets within range. When you have no ships in range of its effect, it looks like a derelict in a mass of other derelicts. As an extra bonus, amongst those other derelicts is a missile destroyer — which was extremely effective at taking out strike craft. However, if you spam it with enough fighters, (that is to say, shield your salvage corvettes from the missiles using a meaty fighter), you can salvage that missile destroyer, giving you strike-fighter superiority several missions earlier than normal.
  • Jet Force Gemini: At one point, Vela reaches the Spacestation, a wrecked vessel that has been stranded in outer space for a long time. Aside from the Tribals that need to be rescued and some optional pickups and goodies, it has a low level of importance (no Ship Part is found here, as the one Vela can find on her way here is in Goldwood, the preceding world).
  • The Last Story: A haunted shipwreck located in the Vono Islands is visited. One of the crew members who perished when the ship wrecked was Yurick's father.
  • The Legend of Zelda:
    • The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: Link gets aboard on the fabled "ferry to the other world" in the Shadow Temple, crewed by Stalfos. Made creepier by the fact that it doesn't sail on water, but on air, and it sinks when it meets the goal line.
    • The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker features a Ghost Ship that sails around certains islands from the Great Sea depending on the phase of the moon: Crescent Moon Island during full moon, Diamond Steppe Island during waning gibbous, Bomb Island during third quarter, Spectacle Island during waning crescent, Five-Star Isles during waxing crescent, Star Belt Archipelago during first quarter, and Greatfish Isle during waxing gibbous (the new moon phase is never seen in-game). Diamond Steppe Island happens to be the place where Link can find the chart that allows him and the King of Red Lions to enter the Ghost Ship and look for the Triforce Chart that lies within. Interestingly, though the ship itself is harmless, some Fishmen are horrified by it, while others talk enthusiastically about it.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Phantom Hourglass, the direct sequel to The Wind Waker, has a literal ghost ship which is called the Ghost Ship. It sails around abducting people and stealing their life force, and is overrun by deadly ghostly enemies called Reaplings as well as the Diabolical Cubus Sisters. It serves as the fourth dungeon in the game.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword: The Sandship is not haunted, but evokes the feel of a ghost ship because of its derelict appearance and absence of any souls aboard, except for a couple of bats and a miniboss. Once he's defeated, the ship can be reverted to an earlier state via a time displacement field, bringing the crew and the monsters back to life.
  • The Legend of Dragoon has the Queen Fury crashing into a phantom ship filled with undead enemies, and where some important information about the Black Monster is learned.
  • Lufia II: Rise of the Sinistrals: One appears as an actual boss fight.
  • Man of Medan from Supermassive Games uses the basis of the Ourang Medan (see more under Real Life) story for part of its plot.
  • Marathon: The first action level of Marathon: RED has you investigate a Pfhor ghost ship, which turns out to be infested by The Virus.
  • Mass Effect:
    • Mass Effect: The MSV Worthington. You find a ship adrift in space, with only basic life support functioning. Fusion cells scattered around the ship are rigged to explode if you get too close, and in one room you find a brain-dead man hooked up to a life support machine. By listening to audio logs, you can piece together the story that the man, Jacob, was exposed to vacuum for too long and died, but his biotic girlfriend Julia slowly went mad from grief, and killed everyone else on board when they tried to take Jacob off life support. Which is when she appears behind you and tries to kill you.
    • Mass Effect 2 has two: The MSV Estevanico, which crashed on Zanethu about a year before the events of the game. Even though it's a fairly recent wreck, it's falling apart and it's also extremely creepy. And we also have the dead Reaper. Abandoned for what's estimated to be 37 million years, and the people who found it quickly went crazy due to being indoctrinated. The level also counts as an almost literal ghost ship, since even though the ship is all but dead, dead gods still dream.
  • Metroid: Comes up with regularity in the series:
    • Super Metroid has a wrecked ship, complete with flooding, electrical discharges, ghosts, and weird bouncy things. It also houses the phantasmagorical Phantoon as its main boss.
    • Metroid Prime: The game begins with Samus investigating a distress signal from the wreckage of the Pirate frigate Orpheon.
    • Metroid Fusion: The Biologic Space Labs station is the backdrop for the whole game.
    • Metroid Prime 3: Corruption: Samus is sent to the wreckage of a Federation carrier (Valhalla) lost in battle. In retrospect, it was probably a better idea not to, but it's the only way to clear the game as it provides the Pirate Code that grants access to The Very Definitely Final Dungeon.
  • Morpheus: The Herculania, stranded in northern Greenland. Bonus points that the actual ghosts of its passengers are still roaming the ship.
  • Mystery Case Files: There's one in 13th Skull, although it only appears briefly during the finale. If you shelled out for the Collector's Edition, most of the bonus gameplay is on that ghost ship.
  • Ni no Kuni. The party has to fight a cursed pirate crew on a ghost galleon during one part of the game. The crew, understandably, are all reanimated skeletons. After the pirate captain is defeated, he and his crew go to the afterlife.
  • No Man's Sky: A space variant occurs in the Desolation update, where you can encounter abandoned freighters drifting in space. Each one's teeming with various hazards as well as some hostile creatures that made themselves at home. The objective is to salvage logs as well as tools to upgrade an owned freighter.
  • Ōkami: The "Sunken Ship" level, complete with Chest Monsters, ghosts that keep floating towards you even on the brush screen, the phantom heads of previous bosses that fly straight into the camera in an apparent attempt to eat your face, Spikes of Doom, a completely inexplicable giant hand that tries to squash you, and a couple of crab-demons living on a pile of bones that turn into an enormous armored shark. The ship returns in Ōkamiden with a twist: You travel to the past just before it gets attacked. You have no idea when this will happen, only that it will.
  • Prominence: The Letarri Colony Ship Laeril became this when its crew evacuated before the nearby sun unleashed a titular phenomenon that short-circuited the ship's computers and sent it drifting towards the sun. With you being the only one left on board, it's up to you to fix the ship and complete the colonists' mission, one way or another.
  • Quackshot Starring Donald Duck has the Viking Ship, which is inhabited by ghostly enemies. The Viking Leader tasks Donald, who is searching for the Viking Diary that will lead to King Garuzia's treasure, with taking out the Head Ghost inside the ship, who serves as the level's boss. To access the inside of the ship, Donald needs the Viking Key, which he can recover in the South Pole by using the Scepter of Ra to melt the ice block it's in. Once Donald defeats the Head Ghost, the Viking Leader will reward him with a green plunger that he can use to latch onto flying birds.
  • Ratchet & Clank:
  • Republic Commando: The middle third of the game is set on a ghost ship, the RAS Prosecutor. After a couple of levels of wandering through a mostly deserted ship you discover the reason why it's filled with dead clones and start shooting the problem.
  • Resident Evil:
    • Resident Evil Gaiden is set entirely on a ship; the Starlight, where all of the passengers were turned into zombies roaming around.
    • Resident Evil: Gun Survivor: The first part of Resident Evil: Dead Aim takes place on the cruise ship The Spencer Rain. By the time Bruce McGivern gets there to help, everyone's dead. Then they get back up...
    • Resident Evil: Revelations: The main setting is the SS Queen Zenobia, a seemingly abandoned cruise ship adrift in the Mediterranean Ocean.
  • Return Of The Obra Dinn is all about how the titular ship became one. In 1802, the ship set sail from England, but never reached its destination. It was declared lost at sea after no contact with the ship had been made for six months. Five years later, the ship mysteriously reappears with no explanation, and the player is tasked with finding out what happened to the ship.
  • Rogue Galaxy had a ghost ship level, which was also the Bonus Dungeon in that particular game, available only after the main story. It even had a special guest NPC.
  • Scribblenauts: A tattered blue ship can be summoned by typing "ghost ship" or "wreckage", and it can be ridden like other aquatic vehicles.
  • The Secret World: The first dungeon, the Polaris, is one of these. It crashed near the New England area in the first part of the game, and carried some of the creatures that are found in that area.
  • Sonic Rush Adventure has the Haunted Ship stage, culminating in a boss battle against a robotic pirate.
  • Space Griffon VF 9: Imagine if a Tyranid Tyrant manifested into an ever-evolving monster by not only understanding but controlling and absorbing energy from The Warp, enough to inflict long-distance mind control and mutation upon your fellow soldiers, and change the Genestealers to rogue machines and Body Horror Silent Hill creations. There's a reason why you'll brick the toilet with this game despite the fact it places you in a vaguely familiar transforming mecha. Though, a good half of it IS atmosphere. If you aren't really 'feeling' it, it just won't affect you as much aside from the long-range powers thing.
  • Star Ruler: Ships that lose power from generator destruction, run out of fuel, or suffer crew death (or in the case of a computer controlled ship, power loss) will go derelict and drift off into deep space. Derelict ships can be reclaimed, so long as the equipment needed to run it is still in working shape.
  • Starship Titanic: The titular ship, due to a premature launch (basically had its moorings cut while the crew finishing out the interior was on break), is populated solely by the robot support staff and an obnoxious parrot belonging to one of the decorators. Oh, and a flock of starlings in one of the upper chambers.
  • Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic II – The Sith Lords: The Republic Navy frigate Harbinger arrives at the Peragus fuel depot during the prologue apparently manned by nothing but corpses. According to the ship's Apocalyptic Log, the Sith vessel the assassins came from was no different. Then, there's the Ravager, which, while not really a ghost ship, it's got the look of one, and its crew is made up of zombies, with an actual ghost/Humanoid Abomination for a captain.
  • Stationfall: The cause of the station's emptiness turns out to be an alien artifact that corrupts and controls technology; if you lose, it duplicates itself and spreads the copies throughout human space.
  • Stellaris: Several anomalies involve coming upon ghost ships as you explore the galaxy. Sometimes you can study their designs and earn some research points, while in one case you may learn too late that a ship's crew fell victim to a Hate Plague that spreads to your science ship and ends in its destruction. And with the Leviathans DLC you might stumble upon the Automated Dreadnought, a titan-class vessel that can hold off entire fleets by itself, and has been guarding a single system for millions of years on an automated patrol, with the mummified remains of its crew still at their battlestations.
  • Suikoden IV: Suitably for being mostly set at sea, the game has a Ghost Ship level. A notable difference is that the player has to chase it down on the open sea by following clues, rather than happen upon them by chance as part of the story.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
    • Super Mario World: The entrance to the Valley of Bowser is protected by a ghost ship, that appears deserted at first, but then suddenly the room fills up with ghosts. It's all but stated, at least in the manual, that it may well be one of the flying ships used by Bowser's minions in Super Mario Bros. 3.
    • Super Mario Galaxy: There's one located in the underground area of Deep Dark Galaxy. It is there where Kamella, previously found and fought in Space Junk Galaxy, reappears for a rematch.
    • New Super Mario Bros. U: The Ghost House level in the Sparkling Waters world, as well as the one in World 6 of Super Mario 3D World, are actually ghost ships (though the latter is still represented by a Ghost House diorama in the overworld map).
    • Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars: Mario and company have to explore one of these to retrieve the Star Piece that landed in the ocean.
    • Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door: Cortez the Ghost Pirate, resides in his dilapidated ship. After re-obtaining his red stone, his ship rises from the waters.
    • Paper Mario: The Origami King: Mario searches for and finds the Princess Peach, a cruise liner that has sustained major damage, though not enough to sink the ship; and all of its passengers are missing, and what few crew members remain are so traumatized that they're unable to speak. It turns out that the ship had been attacked by Gooper Blooper under King Olly's control.
  • Sword of the Stars has the aptly named Alien Derelicts, which are actually broken-off sections of a larger craft. Bear in mind that even so they still are larger than player-buildable dreadnoughts... and their weapons are still active. Subverted in the sequel, in which the Derelicts are revealed to be broken down pieces of Power Armor used by the Suul'ka.
  • Tales of Vesperia: On the way to Nordopolica, the group has to trespass the Atherum, appropiately called the Ghost Ship, as it is somehow stopping their boat from sailing.
  • Thief: Deadly Shadows: The Abysmal Gale from is important to the game's main storyline and the MacGuffins related to it. And you'd better not ask what happened to its crew...
  • Tomb Raider II has several levels taking place in a sunken luxury liner beneath the sea and you explore the insides of it for an important item. Naturally the ship is full of wildlife that will try to kill you, along with cult members who are also seeking the object you're trying to find.
  • Trials of Mana at one point in the game has you boarding a ship to get to the next continent. Strangely, no fee is charged (unlike almost every other boat ride) and when you go to sleep, you wake up to find the ship is actually a ghost ship. By the way, the boss ghost is very difficult to beat (most of the time he's out of reach of your weapons in the original game, and he tends to whirl around as an attack in the remake) and before fighting him, one of your party members turns into a ghost too and becomes unable to fight. While killing the boss does save the ghosted party member by way of Shade, it also sinks the ship and dumps the lot of you on Beuca Island.
  • Uncharted: Drake's Fortune has this with the U-Boat found in the Amazon rainforest, however Nate doesn't get to figure out what happened to it until much later in the game, only noting that the Captain was "ripped to shreds" and assumed that the boat must have gotten stuck up the river during flood season. Turns out that the U-Boat was visiting the Amazon looking for the literally cursed El Dorado statue, and the crew was killed by a zombified victim.
  • Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines: The Elizabeth Dane , whose crew was wiped out while carrying the game's central MacGuffin, leaving only an Apocalyptic Log and a lot of blood.
  • Warframe has a number of ghost ships, both plot relevant and otherwise.
    • The Orokin Derelict map consists of ancient Orokin ships and space stations, adrift, abandoned, and long since overgrown and overrun by Infested. They cannot be accessed normally like other missions; instead, players have to craft 'keys' using navigation data looted from normal missions.
    • The Eris map is an entire Derelict Graveyard of ghost ships overgrown and overrun by Infestation, though this is a much more recent development.
    • On the story side, the Chains of Harrow questline begins with the Tenno investigating a mysterious transmission that leads to a Grineer ship floating in space without power and with the entire Grineer crew (and the Red Veil agents that boarded it) inside dead. It turns out to be the work of the local Eldritch Abomination, the Man in the Wall, who starts attacking the player with ghostly apparitions resembling the dead crew.
    • Much more significant is the Orokin colony ship Zariman 10-0, which was supposed to establish the Empire's first out-of-system colony. Its trip into the Void is what first attracted the Man in the Wall's attention to humanity, and resulted in the creation of the Tenno.
  • Wild ARMs features this as a level. You must defeat this ship before Bartholomew wil let you use his. The remake expands upon this by implying this is where the other Holmcrosses ended up via the ship being a complex super-ARM that only Rudy, the last of them, is able to activate.
  • The Witness: There's a derelict ship stationed in the northeast section of the island, accesible through a back door in the keep which leads a path across the cliffs. The game doesn't explain how it ended up in that state. It's somewhat empty, as it doesn't have any laser-related puzzles, containing only a few optional things such as an audio log, a discarded panel with a triangle puzzle and several environmental puzzles. However, what makes it creepy, apart from the feeling of abandonement, is the strange noises that can be heard in the cabin. They are merely dripping water and the ship creaking, and they're involved in one particular sound puzzle that's also found there, but the fact that no other part of the game features such sounds is quite disturbing.
  • Xenogears: The heroes explore a drifting ship whose crew was attacked and killed by the seemingly undead monsters called Wels. At one point, when they turn on the showers and a spray of red fluid pours out, prompting one of them to react with a horrified "what happened on this ship?" — but then it turns out that it's just rusty water.
  • Yokai Hunter Shintaro have a level titled "Forbidden Ship", set on a haunted ship filled with skeletons, hostile Yokai, and Kappa occasionally popping out the water.

    Web Comics 
  • Schlock Mercenary has the Post Dated Check Loan, an old superdestroyer that Tagon's Toughs bought cheap. Turns out that the reason it was so cheap was because it was haunted, and the screams of damned souls had driven the AI insane. They don't have to fight any monsters or ghosts, and they manage to get the AI and ship into working order relatively swiftly.

    Web Original 
  • Bed Time Stories Youtube Channel has the story of the SS Ourang Medan, a Dutch freighter found with all its crew dead, and mysteriously sinking not too long after being found.

    Western Animation 
  • The Babaloos encounter an abandoned, apparently haunted ship in one episode of Season 2. The “ghost” haunting it is actually another Animate Inanimate Object like them (a boot, to be specific).
  • In Danny Phantom, all the adults of Amity Park suddenly "disappear", going on a mysterious cruise, leaving all the kids to party and The Hero left pondering the mystery behind it. It's caused by a pirate ghost, complete with a literal Ghost Ship.
  • Hilda: A quest to uncover secret information about Ahlberg leads Hilda to The Draugen Ship, a ghost ship that can both fly and sail on land.
  • The Lloyd in Space Halloween special. Nothing on the abandoned space station but the four main characters and a demonic hungry alien.
  • The Looney Tunes short "The Phantom Ship", starring the forgotten characters Beans the Cat and Ham & Ex.
  • Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!: In the very second episode, "A Clue For Scooby-Doo," the gang tracks down the disappearances of yachts to an area called "the Graveyard of Ships." And of course, several times they've encountered ghost pirates and their crews.
  • Transformers
    • The first two episodes of Beast Machines more or less applied this plot to the entire planet.
    • Transformers: Cyberverse: While in Unspace, the gap between Spacebridges, the Autobots encounter another Ark nearly identical to their own, but missing its crew. They learn their fate when the ship disintegrates as a side-effect of staying in Unspace for too long.
  • The Venture Bros.: Double Subverted when the cast is retrieving a crashed experimental aircraft from the ocean floor, only to be boarded and attacked by ghost pirates. They find out pretty quickly (after Brock kills one) that the ghost pirates are just normal pirates pretending to be ghosts, but then the experimental aircraft actually turns out to be a ghost ship, complete with ghost pilot... who isn't really interested in doing anything other than floating around and screaming.

    Real Life 
  • One maritime legend claims that in 1840, a whaling ship called the Hope came across the Jenny, a schooner, completely frozen in ice in the Antarctic Drake Passage. Everybody on board, including the captain and his wife, had frozen to death; the Captain's final log entry, dated January 17, 1839, revealed that they had been trapped for 71 days before they all succumbed to hunger and the cold. While variations of the story have been reprinted over the years, no evidence has ever been found to corroborate the tale, and most scholars concede that it is likely a work of fiction.
  • The Mary Celeste was found adrift near the Strait of Gibraltar in 1872. The Canadian brigantine Dei Gratia found her in a dishevelled but seaworthy condition, under partial sail, with plenty of provisions onboard and with her lifeboat missing. The ship's papers and navigational instruments were also gone, though the captain and crew's personal belongings were undisturbed, and the last entry in the captain's log was dated ten days earlier. The cargo hold had some minor flooding, and it was later discovered that nine barrels of industrial alcohol the ship was transporting were empty. The ten people (eight crew and two passengers) who had been aboard when the ship sailed were never found. Wild theories as to why are still tossed around, such as mutiny or attack by pirates. The Dei Gratia captain, David Morehouse, knew the captain of the Mary Celeste, Ben Briggs, and had dined with him the night before the Celeste left on its voyage. This lead to some speculation that perhaps Morehouse had been involved in the disappearance of the crew, possibly to profit from the salvage claim for finding the ship, though no evidence of this was ever found.

    A book has suggested that fumes from the barrels of industrial alcohol in the ship's hold started to overcome the crew as they were becalmed. To escape the fumes, everyone got into the dinghy to wait for the wind to pick up and blow away the fumes, and somehow the rope came undone. Especially sad because the two passengers were the captain's wife and child. Another, more plausible theory was given at the time by an experienced sea captain (who had even commanded the Mary Celeste a few years earlier) once he'd checked the weather records and the ship's manifest. The barrels the alcohol was stored in were notorious for losing up to 10% of their contents by evaporation on the run she was on. Normally, the cargo hatches were left open to allow this to be ventilated out, but the weather was bad on most of that run and so the hatches were sealed. When opened during a patch of good weather, enough alcohol vapor could have been present to cause a worrying rumbling sound as it vented off.

    Knowing how potentially dangerous a fire and explosion with such a cargo was, the ship's occupants might have gotten in the ship's boat and stood off at the end of a line to wait for things to calm down (or blow up). In this instance, they would have taken the ship's papers, charts, and navigational instruments with them in case the ship did blow up, and these were all missing from the ship when it was found. If the weather turned too rough to return to the ship, they would have had no choice but to wait and hope it got better. Apparently, it didn't, and the line parted under the rising stress of the bad weather and rough seas.
  • The lesser-known, but even stranger case of the Carroll A. Deering, a sailing ship found abandoned off North Carolina's Diamond Shoals in 1921. This case received massive media attention and even a government investigation, over reports of the ship being followed by a mysterious freighter before the crew's disappearance, along with a rash of other missing ships around the same time. Wild Mass Guessing over whether the ship was lost to hurricanes, hijacked by pirates, rumrunners or Soviet agents, victim of mutiny, disease or poison continues to this day.
  • Even even stranger is the case of the Baychimo, a cargo ship which was abandoned after being trapped in Arctic pack ice in 1931. The ship became dislodged from the ice and spent the following 38 years drifting around Alaskan waters, sometimes sighted and occasionally boarded by Inuit and salvagers. She was last seen in 1969.
  • Easily one of the creepiest of all time is the 1947 Dutch merchant ship Ourang Medan, which was discovered by two American vessels in the Pacific after receiving a radio message from the ship that ended in an ominous "I die". In the ship, the crew found the crew's corpses in a frozen state of terror (including their dog) and pointing at something with no visible injuries on their bodies. The ship was also in fine condition and for some reason, an unnatural chill emanated from the still-burning boiler room. The crews prepared to tow the Orang Medan to shore, but the ship mysteriously exploded and sank shortly afterwards. Theories range from leakage from an illegal cargo of toxic chemicals, to inevitable UFO claims, to supernatural attacks by ghost pirates. However many believe the story was simply a hoax, as no records of any ship with that name exist beyond repetitions of the spine-chilling tale.

    What makes the tale even more dubious is that there is no reference to the ship in Lloyd's Shipping Register (a register of every merchant ship above 100 gross tonnes, first published in 1764, made to help merchants check and see what sort of shape a ship they are thinking of hiring is in), and there are no records of it being registered in any nation, including the Netherlands. One recent researcher concluded the story was a hoax after discovering a nearly-identical story (albeit in a different part of the Pacific Ocean) published in English newspapers a few years earlier, and that the same man (an Italian writer named Silvio Scherli) claimed to be a witness to both events.
  • The merchant vessel Joyita was found adrift in the South Pacific in 1955. She was partially submerged and listing heavily to one side, from flooding later determined to come from a fractured cooling pipe. She was 600 miles off course, and her 16 crew and 9 passengers where nowhere in sight. The life boats and dinghy were missing, as were 4 tons of the ship's cargo. Inside, an open doctor's bag was found, containing used instruments and bloody bandages. The ship's radio was tuned to international distress channel, but further inspection later determined the radio had faulty wiring, restricting its broadcast range to just 2 miles. The ships' logbook, sextant, mechanical chronometer and other navigational equipment, as well as all the firearms kept in the boat, were missing. Bizarrely, the ship's starboard engine had been covered with mattresses, as if to plug a leak — even though her hull was completely sound. A later investigation found the vessel was in a poor state of repair, but determined that the fate of the passengers and crew was "inexplicable on the evidence submitted at the inquiry." The Joyita had 640 cubic feet (18 m3) of cork lining her holds, making her virtually unsinkable, thus investigators were completely baffled as to why the crew would voluntarily abandon the ship. No trace of the passengers or crew was ever found, and the case remains unsolved to this day. The Joyita is sometimes referred to as "the Mary Celeste of the South Pacific".
  • In 2006, an abandoned tanker was found drifting off the coast of Queensland. Its engines were inoperable, and it sported a broken tow line (suggesting that she had broken loose during transport). Even though there were no signs of foul play or illegal activity, the ship had eerily been stripped of all its identifying markings, and wasn't registered to any port. She was eventually named the Jian Seng. She was never claimed, and it's still unknown where she originated from or why she was adrift (though a large quantity of rice found below deck suggested that she was being used as a supply ship for fishing vessels).
  • In 2007, the catamaran Kaz II was found deserted with the engines running and all the life jackets still on board. Like the Mary Celeste, the three crew members were never found. What was found was a video camera containing footage of said crew members conspicuously not wearing said life jackets whilst up on deck, making their probable fate fairly easy to guess.
  • The Lyubov Orlova, a Yugoslavian cruise ship which became the subject of a brief media frenzy when The Sun falsely claimed that it was infested with man-eating rats and was about to run aground on the British coast, which just happened to be the plot from an episode of Suspense starring Vincent Price.
  • Since 2015, a flotilla of wooden boats has washed ashore in Japan with their decaying crews still aboard. The Korean writing on one the boats (which read "Korean People's Army") and the clothing of the deceased suggests that they were civilian defectors who were fleeing North Korea's oppressive regime. However, that doesn't explain why the occupants of one ship appeared to have been decapitated — or why another contained six human skulls.
  • In another instance, according to an urban myth, a few teenagers rented a pleasure yacht, sailed out into the open sea, and all jumped into water for a swim - but forgot to loosen a ladder to climb back on board. As a result, they all ended up drowning as they couldn't mount the boat's slick walls from the water. Naturally, the boat was found before the teenagers. This plot was used for the indie movie Adrift (2006).
  • In 2013, a boat washed up on shore in Long Beach, Washington. The only living thing on board was a tropical fish that was not native to the area. The authorities were rather confused until they cleaned the hull and found a Japanese name and registration number, at which point they realized that the boat had been pushed out to sea during the 2011 Japanese tsunami and had picked up the fish sometime during its aimless journey.
  • The Russian vessel, УЛАНnote  roughly translated to mean "lancer", was said to have been spotted wandering off the coast of Walvis Bay, Namibia in southwestern Africa.
  • There have been three cases of ghost planes in the past. In all cases, the aircraft cabin depressurized, causing the pilots to lose consciousness, leaving the plane to fly on autopilot for some time until the plane ran out of fuel and crashed.
    • For one, there's Helios Airways Flight 522, which lost contact with air-traffic controllers and was intercepted by Greek fighter jets, which found that everyone on the plane except a flight attendant was unconscious. After a failed attempt by the flight attendant to make a mayday call, the plane ran out of fuel and crashed. It was determined that an incorrect setting on the cabin pressurization panel caused the pilots and passengers to succumb to hypoxia.
    • Similarly, in 1999, a Learjet carrying PGA golfer Payne Stewart lost pressurization and remained on autopilot long after the crew and passengers lost consciousness, flying for four hours and more than 1,500 miles before running out of fuel and crashing in South Dakota.
    • In Australia in 2000, a private aircraft suffered a similar fate to the Learjet, depressurizing and flying all the way from Western Australia to northwestern Queensland before crashing.
  • There have been several instances of ghost fighter aircraft that managed to regain control through sheer physics alone and keep flying after their pilots ejected. By far the most famous example of this is the case of the "Cornfield Bomber", an F-106 Delta Dart which was caught in a flat spin during a training flight in 1970. After the pilot did everything he could to try to stop the spin, he determined that recovering the plane was impossible, and ejected. The ejector seat's mechanism managed to exert enough force on the aircraft to arrest the spin, pushing the nose downward enough and lightening the plane enough for it to gently descend back to the ground and land gear-up in a cornfield. Miraculously, the plane suffered so little damage in the incident that it was easily recovered, repaired, and continued to fly for 18 more years before earning a well-earned spot in the National Museum of the United States Air Force.
  • Prior to the discovery of the wrecks in modern day, Inuit stories of the Franklin Expedition ships fit with this. In particular, one story tells of a band hacking into the side of one of the ships with an axe, finding it abandoned. Inside one of the cabins, however, they found a mysterious body, so large that it required five men to lift it, and with front teeth “as long as an Inuit’s finger”. note  The ship would sink when the ice around it melted causing the ship to flood through the axe hole. Based on its supposed location, the ship is believed to be the Erebus, which was found in the area in 2014.
  • In 1969, the Teignmouth Electron, one of the competitors in a solo nonstop around-the-world yacht race, was found adrift and deserted. Subsequent investigation found that sole crew member Donald Crowhurst had apparently suffered a mental breakdown during his eight months at sea and faked his voyage. He's presumed to have committed suicide, but his body has never been found.
  • In 2016, the Sayo (spelled Sajo in some sources) was found adrift. There was a crew member, Manfred Fritz Bajorat, on board, but he had died about a week before he was found, with his body being mummified by the salty air and the dry conditions of the inside of the yacht. As his still-seated body was slumped next to a radio and the yacht's logbook, no foul play was suspected; this was confirmed at autopsy, which found that he had died from a heart attack.