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Series / Paranormal Witness

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Paranormal Witness is an American paranormal reality television series that features eyewitness accounts from everyday people who claim to have experienced paranormal activity. The series premiered on September 7, 2011, on Syfy. New episodes air Wednesdays at 10pm EST.

Tropes include:

  • Alien Abduction: "The Abduction". If one believes that it truly happened, then at least we know that aliens are benign creatures.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • The titular guy in "The Bad Man". A pedophile victim of a Vigilante Execution, who still wants to hurt children.
    • Ben Vedere in "The Tenants". Abusive husband and parent, and sexual pervert, who died in the house from a heart attack while in the bathtub.
  • Bigfoot, Sasquatch, and Yeti: "Watched in the Wilderness" deals with a sheriff's deputy being stalked and hunted by a very aggressive bigfoot in the Cascade mountains.
  • Being Watched: A common phenomenon in Haunted House episodes. The living often feel the presence of the ghosts and think they are being watched before they can see them.
  • Blatant Lies: At the end of "The Tenants", the Exorcist claims to have cleansed the house, but it is clear from his body language and the still present bizarre phenomena that he didn't believe it himself.
  • Breather Episode: "Ghost in the Garden". It's only a little girl ghost and nothing overly freaky happens. Even at the end the owners of the house have come to tolerate and even appreciate the spirit's presence. They also suspect that the ghost is a deceased member of their family and that she appears as a child because her childhood was the happiest time of her life, and this is a comforting idea for them.
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  • Cat Scare: In "Watched in the Wilderness", the deputy walks on an unsuspecting deer while being chased by a bigfoot.
  • Creepy Child: The child ghosts in "The Bad Man". Particularly the boy, who has very dark eye bags and very pale skin, and is dressed in black.
  • Dark Is Not Evil:
    • 'Nick' in "The Good Skeleton" is the ghost of a dead motorcyclist and is perfectly benign, but still looks like a mutilated body from when the crash that killed him.
    • The Creepy Child ghosts in "The Bad Man" only want to warn and protect the living from him.
  • Daylight Horror: Many episodes show paranormal phenomena at night, but many others happen during the day.
  • Deal with the Devil: The episode "The Contract" deals with the fallout from someone making one of these via an online RPG.
  • Domestic Abuse: Ben Vedere, the Big Bad in "The Tenants", abused his wife and possibly his children.
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  • Donut Mess with a Cop: In "Trumbull County UFO", some police officers working a night shift meet at a donut shop for an informal briefing. Both officers interviewed for the episode describe this as very cliché, but Officer Meloro points out that nothing else in the area is open at that hour.
  • Driven to Suicide: "The Tenants". Ben Vedere's wife, Amelia, hanged herself in the basement of their house after years of being physically and sexually assaulted by him. She can still be heard being abused by Ben years later, so she might still be there, being tormented by him.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: In "Watched in the Wilderness", the deer shows no fear of the human, but runs away as fast as it can when it smells the bigfoot.
  • Evil Tainted Place: In “The Dark Pond” the Big Bad was less of the resident ghosts and more an evil pond, as strange as it sounds. Turns out a couple of deaths in the area had managed to spiritually poison the area, manifesting a dark force that is the cause of the sinister happenings in the episode.
  • Fate Worse than Death: If you believe ghosts are physically trapped entities instead of echoes of the living, then Amelia Vedere is still in that house, long after she committed suicide, and is still being brutalized by Ben with no signs of end.
  • Feathered Fiend: During the exorcism in "The Tenants", a large number of black birds appear from nowhere and start flying around the Haunted House.
  • Good All Along: In episodes with "good" ghosts, the living encounter them before the "bad" ghosts and fear them before they get the whole picture.
  • Guardian Entity:
    • The ghost nicknamed 'Nick' in "The Good Skeleton" functions as one for the family, acting as the young daughter's imaginary friend, he warns them about the malign 'Bad Skeleton' and eventually drives it away to protect them.
    • The children ghosts in "The Bad Man" warn the living about the titular character.
  • Haunted House: Many an episode focuses on one of these.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: In a few episodes, the ghosts of the week are merely a result of crimes committed by truly awful living people.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Some ghosts definitely carry shades of this depending how grotesque or unnatural they are, but some entities like the Angel Of Death and the Harpy fit this to the hilt, as they adopt human or humanoid forms at one point or another but everything about them is an enigma at best.
  • Hollywood Exorcism: "The Tenants" has two, both requested by the titular people to cleanse their house. In the first one, a priest throws holy water and holds a crucifix while telling the entities to leave, until something pushes him and destroys the crucifix. In the second, another priest tries to conjure the entities so they can talk to a medium, but he doesn't succeed. While he is calling for the entities, a flock of black birds start circling around the house and landing on nearby trees, squaking.
  • Imperiled in Pregnancy: Downplayed in "The Tenants". The plot is kickstarted when the main couple's previous landlady throws them out due to her policy of "no children, no animals". However, she's already given birth by the time weird stuff starts happening at their new house.
  • It Can Think: In "Watched in the Wilderness". The bigfoot is seemingly as surprised at first of coming across the deputy as he is, but it runs away as soon as he reaches for his gun. Later on, the deputy realizes that the bigfoot has switched to hunting him, and knows to keep out of his line of sight.
  • It's Probably Nothing: Many of the characters dismiss signs of paranormal activity this way at first, thinking they're just imagining things, or they're overly tired, or they're not used to the noises that their new house makes, or that a creepy occurrence at night is just a bad dream.
  • Jacob Marley Apparel: Ghosts are always portrayed as cadaveric... even when the witnesses don't describe them as such.
  • Last of His Kind: By the time of "The Tenants", Ben Vedere's daughter Myra is an old, crazy woman living alone in the house and the last surviving member of the Vedere family.
  • Macabre Moth Motif: In "The Saint of Death", black moths are a warning that something bad is going on (this is part of Mexican folklore).
  • Mad Woman In The Attic: Downplayed with Myra Vedere. The main characters know that she is living in the house when they buy it, but are told that she will be taken to a retirement home before they move there. Unfortunately, her family is still there...
  • My Car Hates Me:
    • "Watched in the Wilderness". The deputy reaches his car with the bigfoot in tow and tries to drive away, but the car's engine refuses to start for several seconds.
    • In "The Bad Man", Brenda is driving her son home on a cold winter night when her car stalls and refuses to restart. Fortunately, they get a ride home from a friendly woman who just happened to be driving by and stopped to ask if they were okay.
  • Never Found the Body: The titular character in "The Bad Man" disappeared years before and only his burned out van was found in the woods.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: There are several episodes where we never do get even a basic idea of what exactly is causing the paranormal activity. This makes it even scarier.
  • Not Me This Time: In "They Are Mine", Stacie is talking on the phone and gets startled by a loud thumping noise that turns out to be her roommate Lindsay jumping rope in her bedroom. Later, Stacie hears a very similar noise and yells at Lindsay to knock it off, but this time Lindsay was reading a book and making no noise whatsoever.
  • Not-So-Imaginary Friend: In many episodes, children start interacting and seeing ghosts before the adults, who rule it as the children playing with imaginary friends.
  • Our Werewolves Are Different: The creatures from "The Wolfpack" are never seen in the light, and the family interviewed never speculates as to what they were, just that they could stand on two legs and that they had some form of tapetum lucidum, but the show makes the assumption that they're werewolves.
  • Please Wake Up: In "The Good Skeleton", the Vuono family's dog is hit by a car and killed. When their young daughter Azha sees the dog, she starts petting him on the head and calling his name. While recounting this, her father Thomas says, "I don't think she understood the concept of death."
  • Poltergeist: Commonly seen in Haunted House episodes. The ghosts often manifest themselves by moving or throwing objects before making themselves visible to the living.
  • Real After All: In "The Bad Man", the mother dreams that a Creepy Child is pricking her toes with a clothespin to get her attention. When she wakes up, she finds the pin at the foot of her bed.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: A lot of Haunted House episodes end with the victims just moving elsewhere.
  • Supernatural-Proof Father:
    • Interesting variation with the husband in "The Tenants". He starts experimenting phenomena long after his wife and thinks that the Hollywood Exorcism is nonsense, but is "converted" after he hears what he thinks is Ben Vedere beating his wife. However, he refuses to be scared by the ghosts afterwards. When (whom he assumes is) Ben tries to open a door, the husband ties the handle so it can remain in place, and calls the ghost weak and a pervert.
    • In "Brooklyn Haunting", the husband refuses to believe that his wife Elaine and their daughters are experiencing paranormal activity in the house. When Elaine tries to talk to him about her fears, he angrily dismisses them as nonsense and this contributes to the eventual breakup of their marriage. In contrast, the man Elaine starts dating after the divorce believes her when she says the house is haunted and later admits to having some spooky experiences himself.
  • Vigilante Execution: The titular "The Bad Man" was a pedophile who was driven by locals into the forest and "made disappear".
  • Wrong Side of the Tracks: The apartment Chris rents in "The Saint Of Death" is in a run-down Ciudad Juarez neighborhood where drug-related violence is common. It's strongly implied that a drug-related murder (or possibly a series of them) is the reason his apartment is haunted.