The longest-running ghost-focused paranormal reality television show at 27 seasons, Ghost Adventures, has been on the air since 2008 and has since become one of the best paranormal reality TV shows to date. Starring Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Jay Wasley, Billy Tolley, and formerly Nick Groff; the show followed the group of three-to-four men as they toured the world's most haunted locations and spots, captured evidence, and tried to prove to the audience whether these places were truly haunted or not. Throughout regular episodes and timely specials, to new incarnations such as Ghost Adventures: House Calls, the crew has fascinated its audience with its evidence of the supernatural and more.
Update July 5, 2023: This article has been updated with even more scary episodes of Ghost Adventures and its new streaming home on Max.
From lackadaisical episodes such as the "La Purisma Mission," to more terrifying episodes such as the "Preston Castle" adventures, to getting full-on attacked by the paranormal in the "Pennhurst State School,"the four have encountered some truly terrifying and ghostly spirits and experiences in the show's 280 episodes and specials. Here are the scariest episodes ranked.
12 Cecil Hotel
This two-hour special sees the Ghost Adventures team investigate the infamously haunted Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles. If you have heard of this hotel or seen the recent Netflix docuseries, then you already have a sense of how spooky and mysterious this hotel is.
The team encountered their usual paranormal happenings, such as unexplained scratches, until Bagans investigated the room where serial killer Jack Unterweger stayed in 1991, all by himself. This led to the water faucet unexplainably turning on by itself. Without the dark and mysterious history of the hotel, this Ghost Adventures special is still very spooky and among the scariest episodes of the show.
11 Preston Castle
The season two opener of the show took the original Ghost Adventures crew to Preston Castle in Lone, California. Originally a reform school for troubled youth, Preston Castle had its fair share of crime and troubles, including the murder of beloved housekeeper Anna Corbin, by two of the juveniles. It also brought the show so many pieces of ghostly evidence. A camera captured a shadowy figure walking down the hallway after hearing a loud scream.
One of the clearer EVPs (electric voice phenomena) hears a spirit tell the crew to "get outta here." But, perhaps the scariest part of the episode is when Zak becomes seemingly possessed by the ghost of Anna Corbin. Talking to what looks like himself, extreme emotions of sadness, and more; Zak believes he experienced a partial possession. With so much evidence from one place, it's hard to deny the fear caused by Preston Castle.
10 The Harrisville Farmhouse
In the 2019 Halloween special for the series, Zac and his fellow ghost hunters head to Rhode Island to investigate the notorious Perron family haunting at the Harrisville farmhouse, the paranormal hotspot featured in the spine-tingling horror film The Conjuring. The infamous 300-year-old house is believed to harbor a dark and demonic entity that targeted the unsuspecting family and continues causing chaos, with the site allegedly having seen numerous suicides and murders. In the thrilling episode, the guys experience unsettling physical pain, with Aaron even complaining about his chest and feeling an evil energy in the dwelling.
Zac also felt extremely sick while on the premises, expressing how he felt both dizzy and agitated during the lockdown, a feeling that would stick with him long after he left the location. He revealed in a follow-up interview on the special, "There were things going on with me that just seemed out of the norm. It really, I believe, made me sick. I had anxiety and panic levels that were just so unusual...I never felt possessed, but I felt like something was drawing the life out of me."
9 Waverly Hills Sanatorium
In a pulse-pounding episode of the fourth season, the guys head to Louisville, Kentucky, to visit the Waverly Hills Sanatorium and explore its somber history as a former hospital that once housed countless tuberculosis patients during the early 1900s. Many visitors claim to hear anguished screams and ominous footsteps, as well as doors slamming shut by themselves, and some have even witnessed ghostly apparitions while exploring the abandoned hospital.
In their investigation, the gang checks out the notorious fifth floor and captures sounds of people walking through the corridors and an EVP saying what sounds like "remember me?". The crew also recorded the voice of a young child responding to Zac when he asked the spirit to come towards him, hearing the response "that would be evil" on their equipment. Their rem pod was constantly going off when the trio addressed the unseen presence, both fascinating and frightening them due to its seemingly intelligent nature.
8 Return to Bobby Mackey's
Countless urban legends, rumors, and spooky stories have circulated around the mysterious Kentucky nightclub Bobby Mackey's Music World, and while none of these claims have ever been proven, it has still been deemed "the most haunted nightclub in America." According to its owner, country singer Bobby Mackey, the site originally served as a slaughterhouse in the 19th century before being turned into a roadhouse, though there is speculation that Satanic rituals were conducted on the land. The GA crew first ventured to the haunted nightclub in the series premiere, and the guys later claimed that evil spirits followed them home.
They made their highly-anticipated return in season four and experienced extreme paranormal occurrences, with the gang having captured frightening EVPs saying horrifying things like, "I'm gonna kill Zak" and "that's because it's the Devil." Zak, Nick, and Aaron also heard growls and witnessed eerie apparitions, and once again Zak had to fight off a possession while at the site. The episode is so scary and unsettling that Zak had to have an exorcism performed on him and was told never to return to Bobby Mackey's Music World.
7 Curse of Ranch Island
Once again fearless leader Zac is confronted by a demonic and powerful presence while investigating the Las Vegas communal compound Ranch Island, where the spirit of a man who committed suicide allegedly dwells and targets the vocal investigator. The crew feels intense cold spots, and Zac believes the trapped supernatural being is trying to possess him during the lockdown, as he feels immense emotional duress throughout the episode and becomes progressively erratic and angry.
The gang managed to capture a shadow in a full spectrum photo that they also try to debunk later to prove its authenticity and quiet naysayers, and Zac is even forced to walk away from the filming due to feeling extremely dizzy and nauseous due to the negative energy on the property. The episodes in which Zac is facing an inner struggle with an entity have become some of fans' favorite, as they can't help but shiver over the terrifying forces the crew face during each investigation.
6 Demon House
A full-fledged documentary, rather than a single episode, Demon House has cemented itself as one of the freakiest locations ever visited by the Ghost Adventures crew and one of the scariest entries into the series. Back in 2014, host Zak Bagans bought a haunted house in Gary, Indiana, most known for the bone-chilling case of the Ammon hauntings (a family was terrorized by demons, unexplainable masses of flies, etc., with over a thousand pages of official documents detailing the disaster).
Faced with a loud, horrific growl in the middle of the night, shadows walking through the house, and one sitting on the doorframe, and even a quick possession, the documentary added even more evidence to the house's list of paranormal activity. Bagans eventually had the house torn down in 2016.
5 Pennhurst State
The history of Pennhurst State is one of tragedy. The residents were all horrifically abused, meaning one can understand why the paranormal entities that haunt the school and hospital would be restless and why they weren't fans of the Ghost Adventures team investigating them. Any old abandoned hospital is creepy, but the team were not ready for what was to come.
This episode sees many unexplainable moving objects; a rock is thrown at Zak, but most notable was a coat hanger was also hurled at Zak after a voice is heard saying "hit." Again, this cannot be explained, leaving the audience and the team speechless.
4 Hell Hole Prison
Its official name is the Yuma Territorial Prison (nicknamed "hell hole" due to the intense heat), and possibly one of the most active places the Ghost Adventures crew has visited. With the common occurrence of unexplainable noises, disembodied voices, and voices actually heard clearly through the EVP recorder; what makes this episode scary is all the apparitions the crew caught on camera.
Aaron Goodwin caught two, a floating orb constantly following him and a tall shadowy figure making its way into the courtyard. But the most infamous one is when cameras capture a group of apparitions on the band stage as if they were playing instruments and performing for our protagonists. Though friendly, it is still terrifying to see.
3 Poveglia Island
In season three of the spine-tingling series, the ghost-hunting gang head oversees the notorious Poveglia Island to investigate the spooky paranormal occurrences happening on the small island located near Venice, Italy. Poveglia has long since been considered a hot spot for supernatural phenomena and is considered one of the most haunted places in the world, as it was a magnet for the dying and deceased. The crew was essentially stranded on the island throughout the duration of the investigation, being stuck there from dusk until dawn.
The episode is now famous among Ghost Adventures fans due to paranormal investigator Zak Bagans seemingly becoming possessed during the lockdown, as he began to feel extreme anger towards both Nick and Aaron. His behavior progressively became more aggressive to the pair, and Zak would later claim to have lost control of his own actions and thoughts during the ordeal. While the crew caught other evidence like EVPs, disembodied voices, and apparitions, witnessing Zak lose control of himself from a malevolent outside force was downright terrifying for viewers.
2 El Rancho Hotel
After hearing news that employees were quitting en masse due to a rise in paranormal activity, the Ghost Adventures crew made their way down to the El Rancho Hotel to investigate. The ghosts and spirits didn't even wait until nighttime to make their appearances, as before the lights even went out, the cameras captured a shadowy head poking its head outside a door frame to look at the crew.
Along with reports of a demonic ritual happening at the hotel, feelings of uneasiness and possible semi-possession hit the crew, and even brought one of them close to tears. It's easy to see why the employees were quitting, given all the evidence in this episode.
1 Route 666
Another Halloween special, the "Route 666" episode sees the crew travel to not one but two haunted locations: The infamous DeSoto Hotel (one of their many visits to the location) and the heart-pounding Goatman's Bridge. First, at the DeSoto Hotel (known for its history of devil-worshipping rituals), the crew gets all sorts of unexplainable occurrences, such as loud knocks and audible footsteps; three visible apparitions standing together; and one of the X-cameras being ripped off of the wall. The hotel would burn down soon after their visit. It's at Goatman's Bridge, however, where things get truly terrifying.
Ashley seems to get possessed by some sort of demonic entity, calling out for it, and then gets audibly assaulted by an unseen force, leaving a mark on her head. The Bridge greets the entire crew with harm, with Zak feeling like he was being strangled, and Aaron is thrown nearly twenty feet by something. Along with capturing a pair of free-floating red eyes at the entrance to the forest, Goatman's Bridge became one of the most active locations explored by the Ghost Adventures crew, and perhaps the scariest.
Ghost Adventures is available to watch on Max and the Travel Channel.