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Paranormal Investigation

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

A genre centered on characters who specialize in investigating the paranormal and the supernatural. In other words, works featuring Occult Detectives. After all, who else are you gonna call?

Depending on the case, or the series in general, the paranormal activity can either be a hoax or the real thing. When actual supernatural forces are in play, the detectives may need to consult a specialist to combat it, or they might deal with it themselves through esoteric means, such as: occult magic, enchanted weapons, and the like.

Closely related to Who You Gonna Call? and often involves Demon Slaying.

According to the 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 & 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.
  • 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 Talker's 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.
  • Sailor Moon: Ittou is a member of the Sci-Fi Club at his school, to which he reports any UFO sightings. In fact, after witnessing Mamoru healing himself and Luna talking to Usagi, he thinks that their group might be aliens.
  • 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.
  • Ghost Sweeper Mikami: The Ghost Sweepers (GS) exist as a profession of private exorcists for hire, in response to the problems caused by homeless spirits who continue to roam in the world of the living. The titular protagonist is one, serving only the highest bidders to survive in the cut-throat corporate world.

    Comic Books 
  • 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.

    Fan Works 
  • In the Discworld of A.A. Pessimal, a group of four urban Witches take on a paranormal investigation at a suburban house in Ankh-Morpork. They carry out the exorcism of some quite nasty disembodied spirits and earhbound ghosts, by pointing out there are indeed some scary things walking unafraid in the psychic ether in this house. And they're us! An hour or so later, the premises have been exorcised to within an inch of their Afterlife and the Witches point out that there is no longer a haunting problem.
  • In Warning Letter, the Japanese Task Force are eventually forced to that the Kira and Phantom Thieves investigation has become this, given that the former is killing people via seemingly supernatural means and the latter invoking an extreme Heel Realization.

    Films — Live-Action 

  • C.T. Phipps has multiple installments of these:
    • The Bright Falls Mysteries is about a young weredeer shaman (named Jane Doe, natch) who functions more like an Occult Detective in a small town in rural Michigan. There are numerous horrid secrets and occult happenings within.
    • The Morgan Detective Agency deals with an alcoholic private detective who also does work as a bounty hunter in a city run by vampires as well as possessing a large populace of other supernaturals.
    • Straight Outta Fangton is a series about a vampire convenience store clerk who is always investigating the occult happenings around New Detroit.
  • Many of the Cthulhu Mythos stories start with this — a scholar or academic type investigating a legend or occult artifact.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Haunting of Hill House: The main plot is kicked off when a group of people are recruited by an expert in paranormal research to stay in a Haunted House and try to see if they can observe any supernatural phenomena.
  • 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.
  • Though he calls himself a "psychic doctor," Miles Pennoyer uses his extensive training in the mystic arts to solve mysteries pertaining to malign supernatural events distressing his patients. In his work he crosses paths with ghosts, vampires, necromancers, mages, and changelings.
  • Shadow Police follows a group of London police officers investigating hidden London's paranormal threats.
  • Sherlock Holmes: The Hound of the Baskervilles crosses into this territory with the mysterious and apparently otherworldly hound roaming the moors.
  • Undead Girl Murder Farce has a disembodied head, a half-demon demon slayer, and a maid solving supernatural cases across Europe in the end of the 19th century.
  • 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.
  • 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 TV 
  • Paranormal Anthologies about this include:
  • Becoming Human: Does it count if it is the paranormal doing the investigating themselves?
  • Buffyverse:
  • Cheo Yong involves a Korean police officer solving crimes with the help of the ghosts he can talk to.
  • Choujin Bibyun is a Toku superhero series about a Power Trio investigating attacks by Youkai, and then beating them up.
  • "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.
    • Destination Fear: A Travel Channel series which premiered in 2019 centered around the team of Dakota Laden, his sister Chelsea, their childhood friend Tanner Wiseman and cameraman Alex Schroeder. The show mostly focuses on Dakota's interest in the psychological impacts of experiencing paranormal activity. The team get around via an RV, and the location they are about to go to is hidden from the others until they are nearly there. The show is executive produced by Ghost Adventures host Zak Bagans, who Dakota worked with several times prior. People tend to view Destination Fear as being more down-to-earth, genuine and even more well-edited than other paranormal shows.
    • 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 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?"
    • Paranormal Home Inspectors features both a psychic and a normal home inspector. Each episode features first the home inspector giving mundane explanations for "mysterious happenings"note  then the psychic talking the ghosts that haunt the place and trying to connect with them. Then there's the night vision investigation segment, which is usually unintentionally hilarious as they try to milk suspense out things like a door that the inspector had already demonstrated doesn't latch properly opening on its own.
  • 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.
  • Fringe: The Fringe division of the F.B.I. investigate paranormal happenings around the country.
  • Ghosted: Is a Sitcom take on the idea. Leroy Wright and Doctor Max Jennifer work for the Bureau Underground, which was created to keep mankind safe from the paranormal. Together they investigate alien’s, crypid’s and other monsters.
  • Grimm: A Portland police department detective named Nick, is a Grimm. He is a historical hunter of cryptids called Wesen. He and his friends hunt these creatures down.
  • Haven's early seasons are like this before the Genre Shift into more Lovecraft Lite. A typical episode would involve Audrey investigating a strange crime caused by someone's Trouble.
    • Parodied, however, in season 4's "Shot in the Dark," when two wannabe ghost hunters arrive in Haven to investigate a mythical creature that turns out to be a creation of that seasons' Big Bad. They're portrayed as bumbling and incompetent, but they do have some handy equipment that helps Audrey and the gang, and one of them makes another appearance in season 5 with some more helpful equipment.
  • 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.
  • Lost Tapes: this is part of the premise of Death Raptor, in which a pair of investigators look into apparent demonic activity around a church which turns out to have a "mundane" explanation, and Poltergeist, where a whole team try to help a family whose son may be exhibiting psychic powers only to learn that it's actually a violent haunting. A few other episodes have shades of the genre by being investigations into something that turns out to be paranormal, but these are the only two episodes involving legit, recognized paranormal investigators as character.
  • Many of the investigations conducted on Mystery Hunters are based around looking whether alleged paranormal activity is indeed paranormal.
  • Amelia from Power Rangers Dino Fury wants to be one, and is always pitching stories to her boss Jane involving ghost sightings or cryptids. She finally gets permission to work on one in the premier. Funnily enough, Amelia works for a media company called BuzzBlast, and her character is almost definitely inspired by BuzzFeed Unsolved.
  • 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.
  • Things That Go Bump, an NBC pilot that never made it to series, focused on the paranormal division of the New Orleans PD.
  • 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).
  • Twin Peaks: F.B.I. Agents investigate a murder in the town of Twin Peaks and are faced with paranormal overtones.
  • Ultra Q and its reimaginings Ultra Q Dark Fantasy and Neo Ultra Q all use such characters as their protagonists, and often with The Professor to help them out.
  • Ultraman Orb has the Something Search People (SSP), made of Naomi, Jetta, and Shin. They investigate all sorts of bizarreness around Tokyo that usually turns out to be the work of a kaiju or an alien. But in the process, they end up caught in the middle of Ultraman Orb/Gai's struggle with Jugglus Juggler.
  • Warehouse 13: Secret Service agents in charge of Warehouse 13 hunt down paranormal artifacts
  • 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 Terästä 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.
  • The Thrilling Adventure Hour "Beyond Belief" episodes feature Frank and Sadie Doyle; toasts of the upper crust, headliners on the society pages, and, oh yes, they see ghosts. A typical episode features the Doyles enjoying an activity, usually drinking, only to encounter some form of paranormal threat that they have to deal with, if only because it's the quickest way to get back to their drinking.
  • Pacific Northwest Stories and the Public Radio Alliance:
    • The Black Tapes features Alex Regan as she works with paranormal investigator Richard Strand, playing the Agent Mulder to his Agent Scully as they investigate cases Strand was, at the time, unable to conclude to his satisfaction.
    • TANIS starts out as Nic Silver looking to investigate mentions he's encountered of a place called Tanis, thinking he's found the world's last true mystery. As he investigates, things begin to focus on an Eldritch Location that has caused death, misery, and insanity to all who've wandered through it and in people who seek to either limit, exploit, or worship the powers involved.
    • RABBITS begins more grounded in reality, focusing on Carly Parker investigating the mysterious disappearance of her friend Yumiko. That search involves Carly in an Alternate Reality Game that truly does involve alternate realities by the end.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Beyond the Supernatural revolves around paranormal investigators (or just plain unlucky ordinary folks) stumbling upon supernatural mysteries and cases that they must survive and solve. Most enemies encountered in the game are otherworldly monsters or alien entities but more mundane horrors can appear as well if the GM feels like it.
  • 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.
  • In Conspiracy X, you investigate all matter of paranormal occurrences along with alien threats.
  • Dark Heresy, by dint of its parent universe, can turn this way in any given investigation. While purely human motives or aliens could draw the attention of an Inquisitor, there's always a decent chance that the Acolytes might find something mysterious and supernatural. It doesn't help that the daemon-worshiping cult that they might find themselves trying to take down, might be able to actually summon daemons, given the proper expertise and resources.
  • Dark•Matter (1999), a modern-day setting of conspiracy theories and paranormal investigation.

    Video Games 
  • Alone in the Dark: Carnby investigates the paranormal throughout the series, often finding documents in each area detailing of what he's dealing with.
  • ANNO: Mutationem: The agency where Ann and Ayane work at looks into the occult and inexplicable phenomenon. The head of the agency, Raymond, mentions how he's on the search for a Mad Doctor wearing a plague mask.
  • 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.
  • Conrad Stevenson's Paranormal P.I. involves investigating residences and public areas based on reports of strange unexplained occurrences and finding evidence of paranormal activity, from unnatural cold spots and electromagnetic fields to photos and audio recordings confirming the presence of ghosts at the location. Different types of entities behave and respond to the player in different ways, so it's essential to understand exactly what you're dealing with, and since these entities are naturally tied to the history of the places they haunt, learning about the location's past is often also required to conclude cases.
  • Control: America Overnight presents itself as an off-the-books spot to share supernatural stories most of the listeners would say the government would suppress, making it especially ironic that it is secretly a government-supported operation to do exactly that.
  • One of the passengers on the Nancy Drew: Last Train to Blue Moon Canyon is the host of a paranormal investigation TV show, and apparently does believe in ghosts.
  • In Resident Evil 7: Biohazard, Ethan finds a videotape showing three men who enter the 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.
  • Phasmophobia is a very scary game where you and friends play as paranormal investigators. The ghosts all use a fairly sophisticated AI with no scripting, so every ghosthunt is very different. Players can even use voice chat to communicate with the ghost through a Spirit Box, and the ghost reacts accordingly (giving consistent answers to questions like age, gender, how they died and their emotional state).
  • Mario Party 8: Spoofed in the minigame Specter Inspector. Two dueling characters have to enter a deep-dark mansion similar to the eponimous building of Luigi's Mansion. The hall they explore is played in first-person perspective with flashlights, and the characters have to check objects and furniture to find mooks (Fly Guy, Flutter, Piranha Plant, etc.) hidden there. If a character unveils a ghost instead, they'll be startled and briefly incapacitated. Whoever manages to find three mooks first wins; if five minutes pass and neither character managed to find three mooks, the minigame ends in a tie.
  • Mario Party: Island Tour: The minigame Peep a Peepa takes all characters onto a haunted ghost ship overrun by Peepas. The objective is to move the 3DS to look around the ship and illuminate the appearing Peepas to defeat them. The longer a character exposes a Peepa with light for, the more points they'll receive. After 30 seconds, whoever scored the highest wins.

    Visual Novels 
  • In Paramedium, the Paramedium Guild is called out to investigate hauntings and the like. They can charge ghosts with specific offences, like police might — for example, non-hostile occupancy of a house gets ghosts a six-year sentence, or less if they don't resist arrest.
  • Tokyo Twilight Ghost Hunters has you playing a group of high-school ghost-hunters for hire.

    Web Comics 

    Web Original 
  • 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.
  • The narrator of Crossing Kevin's Crossing moved to the titular town specifically to investigate strange occurrences.
  • Achievement Hunter has Achievement Haunter, a semi-Affectionate Parody in which the group actually do go ghost hunting. However, they've emphasized that they're quite skeptical about the existence of ghosts and mainly do it for fun and to troll each other, with the show's tone falling along the lines of Buzzfeed Unsolved.
  • Echo Rose features the protagonist trying to investigate the death of a ghostly woman that keeps showing up.
  • The Bumps in the Night segment on The Proper People combines paranormal investigation with the channel's main focus, urban exploration. The hosts are both skeptics of the paranormal, but decided that going on the occasional ghost hunt was worth a shot, since even if they found nothing, they'd still have an exploration video to show for it.
  • Homestar Runner seems to really like parodying this trope:
    • Bubs claims "paranormal investigator" as one of his many questionable professions (along with "normal investigator").
    • The Strong Bad Email "ghosts" has Strong Bad and the Cheat check out Strong Badia at night in response to being asked if it had any ghosts, and end up awakening the ghost of Strong Bad's old computer.
    • The 2016 Halloween cartoon briefly featured Strong Bad (in-character as "Sharpdene"... don't ask) and Strong Sad doing some ghost hunting, with Strong Bad carrying some sort of electronic device he claims found evidence of the Poopsmith's ghost.
    • And then there's The Homstar Runner Mysfit-steries, which is just a straight-up parody of Scooby-Doo, featuring teenage versions of Homestar, Strong Bad, Strong Mad, and Marzipan as investigators of... the mysterious (even though Strong Bad doesn't believe in mysterious).
  • The SCP Foundation is a top-secret organization which specializes in investigating all kinds of anomalous/paranormal/supernatural phenomena, and collecting as information about them as possible. The Foundation employs countless secret agents to find and capture these SCP anomalies so they can be secured and contained at various research facilities, where scientists study these SCPs in order to get a better understanding of how they work, and continue keeping them locked away from the outside world.
  • Sam and Colby are a duo of best friends who post paranormal investigation videos on YouTube, becoming much more serious about it in 2019 and now doing it pretty much full time.
  • Unwanted Houseguest: In the Debunked music video a Paranormal Investigator visits Aberfoyle.

    Western Animation 
  • All Scooby-Doo all the time. Mystery Inc. seems to specialize in this kind of thing.
  • The Mr. Men Show: Mr. Nosy and Mr. Small run a ghost hunting service in "Full Moon".
  • 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 1937 Disney animated cartoon Lonesome Ghosts featuring Mickey, Donald and Goofy as a trio of ghost hunters who are baited into a haunted mansion by three bored ghosts with no one to scare.
  • 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.
  • Gravity Falls: Dipper and Mabel investigate all sorts of paranormal activity in the town of Gravity Falls. In addition, Dipper plans to create his own paranormal investigation show when he grows up. Season 2 reveals that It Runs in the Family with the introduction of their Great-Uncle Ford Pines.
  • Phantom Investigators features the titular team of four 12-year-old paranormal investigators, with three of the four having supernatural powers themselves.
  • City of Ghosts features a team of kids who go around Los Angeles to find and interview ghosts to learn their stories and about the neighborhoods they inhabit.