In 2016, a giant of the paranormal genre went off the air. After its host, Grant Wilson, left in 2012, Ghost Hunters, a show that every paranormal fan knows if not loves, managed a few more seasons before announcing a hiatus. After 12 years together, The Atlantic Paranormal Society (TAPS) went their separate ways, and Ghost Hunters fans were left scrambling for an explanation.
However, in 2019, three members of the original Ghost Hunters team, Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, and Dave Tango, reunited on Travel Channel with an all-new offering: Ghost Nation. Switching out TAPS for UPRO (United Paranormal Research Organization), they again hit the road to uncover the mysteries of America’s most haunted locations.
With such a beloved and experienced cast, Ghost Nation was set to become the next big thing in paranormal TV. But, after only two seasons, the boys went back to film the second reboot of Ghost Hunters in 2021, leaving Ghost Nation behind. With this slightly confusing U-turn in mind, is Ghost Nation worth your time, or is it simply an interlude in the Ghost Hunters story? Let’s dive in…
Ghost Nation Air Date
Ghost Nation first aired on Travel Channel on October 11th, 2019. The series announcement promised that the boys would return to their roots and help homeowners with their hauntings.
The first episode, “The Boys are Back”, makes good on that promise. The team heads to White Pine, Tennessee, to help a family who’ve seen four full-body apparitions. The episode successfully introduces new viewers to the concept while playing on the nostalgia for longtime fans. It remains one of the first season’s top-rated episodes.
The Creation and Production
With Ghost Hunters having such a huge legacy in the paranormal genre, the cast and crew of Ghost Nation had some big boots to fill. This goes some way to explaining the huge number of people who worked on the series.
Ghost Nation had 35 producers, two of which were cast members Steve Gonsalves and Jason Hawes. The other executive producers, Casey Brumels, Josh Gates, and Brad Kuhlman, have worked together in the past on shows such as Chasing UFOs and The Monster Hunter.
Other producers include:
- Matt Rishavy – Senior Field Producer
- Erin VandeVen – Supervising Producer
- Jonathan Haug – Co-Executive Producer
- Megan Broussard – Associate Producer
- Andrew Wollman – Story Producer
- Margie Genin – Segment Producer
Production management for Ghost Nation included 6 individuals, namely Waydell Walker, the production manager, and Chris Horangic, the executive in charge of production. Series cinematography was mostly handled by Daniel Zagayer in the first season and Alexander Yellen in the second season. Mitchell Espinoza worked as the camera operator for all 30 episodes, and Michael Peebles acted as the audio supervisor.
Regarding post-production, Melissa Swanson and Janie Oliver took on the role of post-production supervisor for seasons 1 and 2, respectively. Andrew Mungoma is the most prominent editor for Ghost Nation, having worked on 23 episodes throughout the entire series run. Nineteen other editors also took up the helm. Finally, Sahil Haider provided visual effects for the series.
Ghost Nation Cast Members
Though TAPS members need very little introduction, if this is your first time seeing them on screen, then here’s a little more about them:
In the grand scheme of paranormal TV show hosts, Jason’s experiences with the supernatural started relatively late in his life. He began seeing apparitions at the age of 20, after a girlfriend ‘manipulated his life force energy’. Two years later, he founded TAPS, and in 2004, he co-created the show Ghost Hunters, which catapulted the SyFy channel to the cable ratings top spots.
As well as appearing in 230 episodes of Ghost Hunters, Jason has lent his investigative experience to Expedition Unknown and Shock Docs. He created Ghost Nation in 2019, reuniting almost all original TAPS lead investigators.
Steve’s interest in the paranormal began in childhood while watching horror movies, a passion he still has to this day. He led his own investigative team as a teenager before joining TAPS in 1996. As well as starring in 220 episodes of Ghost Hunters, he lectures on paranormal phenomena and works with TAPS Paramagazine.
Steve has also appeared in an episode of Shock Docs and two episodes of The Monster Hunter back in 2009. With a fear of flying, spiders, and bugs, Steve has admitted ghosts are probably the only thing he isn’t afraid of. He is the group’s joker, often pulling pranks on his fellow TAPS members during the original Ghost Hunters run.
Unlike other paranormal investigators, Dave first became interested in a world beyond our own through magic. Illusions greatly interested him, which led to his objective attitude when investigating the supernatural. He joined TAPS and became a part of the Ghost Hunters crew from its second season onwards, hoping to help scared individuals get to grips with paranormal phenomena.
His main interest is in the tech side of investigations, as he has always had an affinity for gadgets. Dave appeared alongside the Ghost Hunters team in The Monster Hunter and Shock Docs before he was invited by Jason to join the cast of Ghost Nation.
Primary Focus of the Show
As mentioned, the boys wanted to return to their roots for the first season of Ghost Nation, helping homeowners with hauntings. However, as the series progresses, the hosts take on more prominent locations such as asylums, correctional facilities, and plantations. One unique element of Ghost Nation is that the team often works with local investigative societies to hunt down never-before-seen cases.
After a little bit of banter on the road, the team arrives at the location, presenting a brief overview of the property’s history. After that, we’re introduced to the owners, who explain the kinds of paranormal activity they’ve witnessed and the most active areas. These stories are accompanied by animated recreations and form the basis of the team’s investigation.
Once night falls, the team attempts to contact the paranormal entities at play on the property. To do this, they use night vision, infrared and heat-sensitive cameras, EMF meters, tri-field meters, REM pods, and EVP recorders. They also use Multimeters, which test the charge in electrical systems because spirits often drain batteries.
Unlike a lot of other paranormal TV hosts, the UPRO does try and disprove the evidence they’ve gathered by considering environmental factors. For example, in the first episode, the team discovers that an RC car that the spirit supposedly moved also responds to electrical equipment like walkie-talkies. Similarly, in episode 6, the team finds that a warm spot moving through the house and creating scratching sounds is an animal living in the walls.
After conducting further historical investigations and finding explanations for why spirits may be holding on, the team returned to collect more evidence. Finally, they present their findings to the owners and summarise the episode for viewers. They decide whether the spirits are out to harm the homeowners or whether they’re simply residual entities that the owners needn’t worry about.
Ghost Nation’s Impact on the Paranormal Community
With such prominent name recognition, Ghost Nation and its crew were met with immediate interest that many other paranormal shows rarely experience. The first episode of season 1 had around 600,000 viewers tune in, with the average dropping to around 450,000 for the remainder of the series.
Initial critical reception for Ghost Nation was positive, with reviewers praising the show for taking a scientific approach while maintaining a spooky atmosphere. Catorghost.com highlighted, “The show takes ghost hunting back to its roots with a genuine want and need to help people understand what’s taking place in their homes.” Comicbook.com had similar praise, stating Ghost Nation “offers a much more grounded take in the crowded field of paranormal investigation television.”
Alice Oscura of Dark Alice Reviews also commented that URPO’s “sincerity in trying to bring about a peace of mind to the property owners is to be admired.” She noted that the team based their findings on some “particularly solid historical research on the properties and their owner.” Steve Gonsalves echoed these reviews when discussing the series’ aims, explaining, “It’s not just, ‘Let’s make a TV show and get out.’ We’re really helping people.” Clearly, these ambitions were realized in the eyes of viewers.
The Show’s Seasons and Episodes
Ghost Nation consists of two seasons. Season 1 has 10 episodes overall, while season 2 is double the length with 20 episodes.
The Most Popular and Well-Rated Episodes
The top 10 most popular episodes of Ghost Nation, according to IMDb reviews, are:
- Season 1, Episode 10 – The Apparition of Amelia
- Season 2, Episode 18 – Tavern of Terror
- Season 2, Episode 13 – Do Not Disturb
- Season 2, Episode 1 – The Witching Tree
- Season 2, Episode 17 – School Spirits
- Season 2, Episode 14 – Phantom Fury
- Season 1, Episode 7 – Ghosts from the Battlefield
- Season 2, Episode 19 – Murder at the Asylum
- Season 1, Episode 1 – The Boys are Back
- Season 2, Episode 15 – Lady in Black
Famous Guest Appearances
Over their time in the industry, the Ghost Nation team has worked with various paranormal investigators, some of whom are invited back for this show. Guest appearances in Ghost Nation include:
Shari has been investigating the paranormal since she was 25, after living in a haunted house for most of her early life. She met Jason Hawes at a TAPS event and has remained friends with the crew ever since. She acted as an investigator in the last season of Ghost Hunters before it went on hiatus and joined the Ghost Nation team for the entirety of season 2.
Satori proves that paranormal investigation can be a family business. Following her father Jason’s footsteps, Satori joined TAPS and investigated hauntings with her partner Cody Ray DesBiens. The two are known as The Paranormal Couple. Satori appears in season 1, episode 5, and season 2, episodes 4 and 20 of Ghost Nation. She also makes appearances in the Ghost Hunters reboot.
Controversies and Criticisms
While nostalgic fans were very happy to see TAPS boys back on screen, not all reactions to Ghost Nation have been so positive. Reviewers praised the show for its return to grounded investigations, but audience members seem to find Ghost Nation a slightly dull alternative to Ghost Hunters.
One viewer commented “I can’t put my finger on it, but something about Ghost Nation just doesn’t keep my attention,” while other viewers have been quick to point the finger at the slightly stilted formatting. “Most of the show revolves around recaps of what happened in the previous segment,” another complained, stating “Just humanize this show. What they have now is mostly recaps and discombobulated episodes.”
Mostly, criticism seems to be spurred by sentimentality for the original Ghost Hunters. Countless reviewers have compared Ghost Nation to its predecessor, with one stating “I’m not even through the first episode of Ghost Nation and I am very disappointed…Do yourself a favor, skip Ghost Nation and watch Grant Wilson’s reboot of Ghost Hunters.” Since these negative comments continued throughout the second season, it doesn’t seem like any changes were made to address the criticism.
Though Ghost Nation hasn’t been outrightly canceled, it doesn’t look like the show will be getting any more episodes. This is because, and strap in for this because it gets a little confusing, original TAPS member Grant Wilson, who left Ghost Hunters in 2012, rebooted the show after it went on a hiatus with a new series in 2019, while the rest of the boys filmed Ghost Nation. That reboot of Ghost Hunters ended in 2020, and the Ghost Nation crew went back to Ghost Hunters without Grant for a second reboot that aired in 2021.
Seeing pioneers of paranormal TV return with a new series is intriguing, mostly because not much has changed since their original run. Despite this, the show still manages to be somewhat more entertaining than many of the empty vies for audience attention Travel Channel airs. While the genre has become oversaturated, the Ghost Nation crew brings it back to its foundation with genuine and slightly skeptical investigations.
When this format was new, Ghost Hunters captured the imaginations and fears of its audience. However, it seems that since then, having been exposed to a myriad of other shows doing the same thing, large sections of paranormal audiences have grown tired of the overplayed format and spooky sound effects, no matter how entertaining they first appear to be. While it’s enjoyable to see TAPS crew on screen again, nostalgia isn’t enough to put them back in the top spots, and some new elements were definitely necessary.
Ghost Nation places its focus on ‘scientific’ and methodical investigation of the paranormal, and it’s refreshing to see ghost-hunting teams genuinely try and debunk their findings. The team members are experienced and share some humorous moments between investigations.
However, I don’t think it’s worth switching to Ghost Nation for two seasons when it’s probably more cohesive to simply watch Ghost Hunters from start to finish. Though they were some of the first individuals to bring paranormal investigations to the small screen, many other shows have since improved upon what TAPS created in 2004, building better offerings on their backs.
If you’re a die-hard Ghost Hunters fan, have seen every episode, and want more TAPS content, Ghost Nation is for you. But, if you’re just looking for an investigative paranormal series, there are plenty that will keep you more engaged than this one, namely the Ghost Hunters reboot.