Self-described as "raw" and "extreme", the program originally began as a independent documentary television film, which was filmed by the crew in 2004 and produced by 4Reel Productions in 2006. The Sci-Fi Channel first presented 4Reel's Ghost Adventures on July 25, 2007. The documentary centers on the trio's investigation of alleged paranormal activity in and around Virginia City, Nevada, which the crew returned to on the fifth season of the series, and in Goldfield, Nevada in which the crew returned to in order to finish their lockdown at the Goldfield Hotel.
Bagans, Groff, and Goodwin investigate reportedly haunted locations, hoping to collect visual or auditory evidence of paranormal activity. Each episode begins with the trio touring the investigation site with its owners or caretakers. These introductions typically include Bagan's voice-overs of the "dark" histories of the places and interviews with people who claim to have witnessed paranormal phenomena at the location. The crew places X's with black or gray tape at the sites of alleged activity and later returns to set static night-vision cameras on these "hotspots."
After completing the walkthrough, the three men plan their strategy and then are "locked down" into the location by themselves ("to prevent any kind of audio contamination") for an overnight ("from dusk until dawn") investigation. During the "lockdown", they use a variety of equipment, including digital thermometers, EMF meter, handheld digital video cameras, digital audio recorders,the Ovilus and infrared night-vision cameras in an effort to document evidence to support paranormal events. On some investigations, the members follow provocative techniques, such as using "trigger objects" and aggressive language, in an attempt to increase their chances of capturing such phenomena. At the end of some episodes, the investigators analyze their audio, photos, and video footage (often with the assistance of "paranormal experts") and present any unexplained phenomena that were captured.
Throughout the series, the crew claims to have captured and experienced various anomalous phenomena, some of which occurred almost simultaneously: equipment malfunctions, like battery drainage; EMF spikes, or fluctuations in electromagnetic fields; sudden changes in temperature (increase, decrease, or both); unexplained noises; electronic voice phenomena (EVPs); apparitions, shadow people, mists, and orbs; physical contact and harm; moving objects; spirit possession; and other phenomena, like responses in an Ovilus and drainage of an EM Pump.
So far, the investigators believe to have experienced and filmed three apparent possessions. Bagans believes that he was possessed twice: first at the Preston School of Industry and second at Poveglia. Groff, who admitted that he had never believed in possessions, now claims that he was possessed once at the Moon River Brewing Company.
The permanent members of the cast and crew are Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin. Zak Bagans:
Zachary Alexander (Zak) Bagans (born April 5, 1977) is an executive producer and editor of the show, working as a wedding DJ before. Born in Washington, D.C., he currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
As a former skeptic himself, Bagans says that his passion for investigating the paranormal resulted from a face-to-face encounter with the spirit of a suicidal woman in his apartment building in Trenton, Michigan, in 2002. Afterward, his life-changing experience caused him to actively pursue capturing video evidence of the afterlife. In the introduction of each episode, Bagans states: "My name is Zak Bagans. I never believed in ghosts until I came face to face with one. So I set out on a quest to capture what I once saw onto video. With no big camera crews following us around, I am joined only by my fellow investigator Nick Groff and our equipment tech Aaron Goodwin. The three of us will travel to some of the most highly active paranormal locations, where we will spend an entire night, being locked down from dusk until dawn. Raw; extreme; these are our Ghost Adventures."
Bagans is known and criticized for his aggressive and confrontational methods used during investigations; however, he maintains that he respects the afterlife and only provokes evil entities in order to elicit responses. In a June 2009 interview with Paranormal Underground magazine, he stated, "I don't want the public perceiving us as the taunting, provocative ghost hunters. We do that only to the bad spirits who we know are attacking the living." Bagans also mentions this concept in various interviews and episodes throughout the series.
In season 3, Bagans summarized his greatest fears while climbing an aged staircase inside a shot tower at the Remington Arms factory: "Heights, snakes,and creepy-looking dolls... those are on Zak's top three I-don't-like list." Zak encountered situations involving these fears in the episodes at Sloss Furnaces, Idaho State Penitentiary, and the Riddle House , respectively. Zak Bagans is currently hosting a spin-off show titled Paranormal Challenge on Travel Channel in addition to Ghost Adventures. He also narrated a 2011 Travel Channel special called Ultimate Travel: Legends of the Parks, about paranormal activities in America's National Parks.
It was announced by the legendary post-industrial/techno band Lords of Acid that Zak Bagans would be in the studio with Chris Vrenna to record vocals for the song called "Paranormal Energy" on their upcoming album.
Bagans wrote a book with Kelly Crigger titled Dark World: Into the Shadows with the Lead Investigator of the Ghost Adventures Crew (Victory Belt, 2011). On September 23, 2011, debuted on the New York Times Best Seller list at number 18.
Nicholas "Nick" Groff (born April 19, 1980) is a co-investigator, co-host, and cameraman on the series. He is also an executive producer and editor of the show. Groff is also the co-founder of the GAC. He was born in San Jose, California, but grew up in New England; today, he and his wife, Veronique, reside in Las Vegas, Nevada, with their baby daughter, Annabelle.
Groff's fascination with and curiosity about the paranormal began in childhood, during which he experienced phenomena that he could not explain. When he was 8, he saw a figure on an old cul-de-sac on Lancaster Road in Salem, New Hampshire. After graduating from Pelham High School, Groff studied film at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where he met his good friend Aaron Goodwin. Following college, Groff became a ghost hunter. After Groff met and befriended Bagans during Groff's wedding in Las Vegas, the two partnered with mutual interests to investigate the paranormal.
One of Groff's most life-changing experiences was being apparently possessed by an entity at the Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah, Georgia. A similarly startling experience was an alleged face-to-face encounter with a female spirit at the Linda Vista Community Hospital in Los Angeles, California.
Aaron Goodwin: Aaron Goodwin (born April 1, 1976) is an equipment technician, camera operator, co-host and a co-investigator on the series. In need of a cameraman for their documentary, Groff introduced him to Bagans to assist them with primary filming and B-roll taping. Originally from Portland, Oregon, he currently resides in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Before joining Bagans and Groff, Goodwin had worked as a camera operator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) and several behind-the-scenes film premieres in Las Vegas. Before his experiences at Virginia City, Nevada, he "never really thought twice about ghosts." Goodwin looks perpetually terrified on the show and now considers himself "a 100 percent – no, a 1,000 percent – believer." Often left alone on "hotspots" within the locations under investigation, Goodwin is often used as "bait" to attract supposed ghostly spirits.
At Preston Castle, the crew claimed that marks which appeared on Goodwin's left leg were similar to those that appeared on Bagan's back during the first Bobby Mackey nightclub investigation.
In a follow-up episode ("Return to Bobby Mackey's" in season 4), Bagans asked Goodwin if he believes that their first investigation of the nightclub in the first season affected his personal life. Goodwin answered that he was "80 percent" sure that the effects of the investigation ended his marriage. He said that he and his ex-wife had nightmares that were related to Bobby Mackey's Music World and spoke of how these nightmares affected their relationship. Aaron also had indicated that his former wife would report to him that she was being attacked by something evil, while Aaron was on the road. According to that series of statements, Aaron indicated that while his ex-wife and he remain best friends, they did end their marriage in an effort to remove her from being affected.
At the Winchester Mystery House, an experiment was set up to communicate with demonic entities at Bobby Mackey's Music World and Washoe Club through very low frequencies, using coil antennae, as well as satellite communication. Due to his nausea and fatigue, along with overall feelings of dread, it was evident Aaron was the prime target of these demonic attacks, and was simultaneously mentioned in multiple EVPs at Bobby Mackey's 2400 miles away during their investigation.
Billy Tolley: Billy Tolley (born January 18, 1973) analyzes the GAC's evidence on site in most investigations. He usually appears if the investigations include guests, or for the viewer to see what all three of the GAC are experiencing at the same time when the three are separated.
- Mark and Debby Constantino
- Mark and Debby Constantino are EVP analysts that have been occasionally brought into lockdowns for brief periods to collect "EVP evidence."
The Real Hollywood Ghost Hunters: Los Angeles-based paranormal investigators headed up by horror film actors Kane Hodder, R.A. Mihailoff, and Rick McCallum. They co-investigated with the GAC in the Pico House Hotel episode.
The 2004 documentary film Ghost Adventures received several awards, including the 2006 Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary at the New York International Independent Film and Video Festival (NYIIFVF). Released on DVD on August 18, 2009, seasons 1 and 2 and the original documentary are currently available at Amazon.com.
Occasionally conducting public investigations with fans and paranormal enthusiasts, the trio has appeared on Maury, Fox 19 News, NBC's Today, and TV Guide Network's Hollywood 411. In 2009, the series won three International Paranormal Acknowledgement (IPA) Awards. In 2010, the program also won two Spooktalkular Parawards.
In the October 30, 2009 Halloween special Ghost Adventures Live at the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, controversy arose when Robert Bess, inventor of the Parabot Containment Chamber (claiming to attract and empower spirits using energy, giving them form), claims to have had an EMF meter knocked violently out of his hand. However, upon investigation of the video, it was found he instead threw it. On the November 6, 2009 follow-up Ghost Adventures Live: Post Mortem, hosts Zak Bagans and Nick Groff admitted to the controversy after they reviewed the video themselves, saying they couldn't find any paranormal explanation for the incident in question.Later, per the shows producer, Joe Townley, the edited version seen during the live show " didn't include" ALL the footage. The before and after of the occurance. Our goal is to protect the leading actors and for them not be discredited by any one with more advanced techniques etc......we had no other choice but to toss him to the way side. If the fans listen to Zak in his opening statement he describes the numerous attacks the Parabot under went before the show aired. Sorry fans but that's show business!