"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 locked down from dusk until dawn. Raw. Extreme. These are our Ghost Adventures.
—Zak Bagans, Ghost Adventures opening.
As the show's name implies, Ghost Adventures is a show about three ghost hunters (Zak, Nick, and Aaron) and the events that transpire from their attempts to prove that ghosts are real. Like most paranormal shows, this group actively seeks out places that are reputedly haunted, and spend the night in the area from sundown to sun-up. Unlike most paranormal shows, they really delve into the history of the locations with numerous interviews with a wide variety of witnesses, past employees, and area neighbors. This can take up a quarter to half of the aired episode itself. They inspect both audio and video footage they have captured offscreen and often air results (especially EVPs) during the scenes where they are captured. If they capture video or photographic evidence, they sometimes take them to specialists who examine them and give their thoughts.
Unlike most paranormal shows, they do not have a huge film crew with them. Often it is just them three on location, sometimes with a guest or someone of religious affiliation if they are entering a dangerous place. Each have their own camera as well. Often times their method of choice in getting results is through provocation, basically insulting and daring any entities to appear, make noises, or even physically attack them. They often split up and individually inspect areas alone while recording EVPs as well. This is more general questions than provocation, usually. The former works disturbingly well.
- Abandoned Hospital: Well, duh - abandoned hospitals and asylums are known to be terrifying in broad daylight, let alone the dead of night. What paranormal investigator wouldn't check these places out?
- Adorkable: Zak
YouTube comment: "omg zak is so funny andit was kinda cute too he is such a dork!"
- Aside Glance: Aaron gives some rather amusing looks to the camera when Zak says that they're going to be offering him up to whatever evil spirits they're investigating. Notable are the occasions (there have been at least two) where he's been sent alone into an abandoned prison shower.
- A Storm Is Coming: Several times, their investigation takes place after a flash of severe weather, or as they pointed out, unusual things happening with clouds. The huge storm at Vulture Mine, the random rainstorm in Sacramento (which came after they had talked about Sacramento's history having lots of floods), the tornadoes at the Hale's Bar Marina, which blew away the dock they were standing on just a few minutes beforehand, the "ominous cloud eyes" at the Idaho prison and the contrails forming an X over Poveglia. Two days before they were to investigate Letchworth Village, Hurricane Irene struck New York and trapped them in Manhattan Island.
- Battle Strip: The ghosts of the nuns at Yorktown Hospital are said to hate men with tattoos. So during the investigation, Zak takes off his shirt and shows his. The nuns' reaction upon seeing his tattoo? They reportedly say, "It's sick."
- Berserk Button: If you are a violent ghost and you're known to attack
women, children, the elderly,people who aren't paranormal investigators that know what they're getting into, Zak will not like you.
- Bizarrchitecture: The Winchester Mystery House
- Blatant Lies: In Sacramento Tunnels, the only reason the gang is off to a salt water taffy store is to 'make sure their nutrition levels are high' and getting 'food from the major food groups'
- They also do this when they impersonate historical people like Civil War soldiers.
- Butt Monkey: Aaron is usually the one who shows the most fear of the angry spirits. So, naturally, he tends to be the one to get put in the places where the more violent events have occurred to be used as a trigger object.
- And his birthday is April Fool's Day.
- In the Stanley Hotel, Zak and Nick forced him to wear a wig to see if a ghost would come into his room and kiss him, thinking he was a woman.
- Nick can be this sometimes. Especially with the Washoe Club ghosts. On a revisit to the Washoe Club, nearly every EVP involving Zak and Aaron was about being intimidated by them, while there was about fifteen EVP's about how much they hated Nick.
- And his birthday is April Fool's Day.
- Zak becomes talk show fodder especially after the "incubus incident" at the Ancient Ram Inn.
- Catch Phrase: "This is why we do this." or "This is what we hunt for."
- Cat Scare: At the Moon River Brewery before the investigation started. Probably one of the funniest moments in the series.
- In this case it was a very literal cat scare.
- After Zak hauls ass out of the freaky clown-doll hotel, he steps into the car--and there's a clown-doll in the driver's seat. He promptly screams and falls out of the car.
- Lets not forget the incident during the Yorktown Hospital episode involving Zak and a donkey.
- That donkey near the Bonnie Springs Ranch didn't seem to bother him though.
- Chekhov's Gun: The anointing oil given to the crew in the Bobby Mackey's Music World episode is used after Zak is possessed on Poveglia Island.
- Cloudcuckoolander: Zak. Reading his Twitter feed makes it even more apparent.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Ties with Sound Effect Bleep when ghostly activity kicks up.
- Creepy Basement: The most paranormally active sites are also largely some of the darkest and creepiest places. A lot of them are called "the bad room."
- Creepy Child: Almost every time you hear a child at the site, they never turn out to be normal. Most notably, in the Penhurst State School episode where all signs point to the little girl being malevolent, with only the other spirit(s) to keep her in check.
- Creepy Doll: Zak was given one to disassemble in the Magnolia Lane plantation. It wasn't malevolent in purpose, being intended to help free the tormented slaves' spirits, but it still looked like something from The Blair Witch Project.
- Zak once confessed that the three things that scared him the most were heights, snakes, and creepy dolls.
- Creepy dolls were also noted at the Riddle House, Linda Vista Hospital, and the home/museum of another paranormal investigator they were interviewing. Either dolls have an odd knack for popping up at haunted locations, or the crew likes making a note of them when they edit the episodes.
- The return to the Goldfield Hotel had the trio came across a Clown Hotel, where two of the walls of the front office were literally covered with clown dolls. Needless to say, Zak did not stay in there very long.
- Do Not Attempt: This message popped up when they were at the Vulture Mine, with good reason since the place is MILES from proper civilization, not all of the structures are entirely stable, and then there's two deadly locals - rattlers and scorpions. All this on top of them initially attempting to reach their lockdown in the middle of a thunderstorm and flash flood warnings and ignoring road hazard signs until the cops approached them, requiring them to turn back (though by that point, they'd realized there was no way they would reach the lockdown).
- The warning also pops up both times Zak attempts to face his fear of snakes by picking up a snake. The exact wording of the warning seems to be lampshading the stupidity.
- There were also Do Not Attempt warnings found in the other episodes found in Arizona. The episode in Tombstone, AZ had Zak going down an deep abandoned mine, and a message appears saying that they shouldn't try entering a deserted mine, while the episode in Jerome, AZ had Zak specifically telling us to not try what he did, which was record what a supposed suicide victim probably went through. That portion almost ended his life!!
- Was that the bit where either Nick or Aaron told the others to run like hell out of the mines?
- Do Not Taunt Cthulhu: Inverted only if the ghosts/spirits are those that have been known to harm innocent people during life or mess around with those that aren't paranormal investigators. See above on Berserk Button.
- Double Entendre - The investigation of Rocky Point Manor led to a whole slew of these. The brother of the manor's owner even told Zak, "Enough with the double entendres, dude!".
- Mr. Fanservice: Zak, who has a tendency to rush into things, an indecently muscled body and constantly messy dark hair. In the "Birdcage Theater" episode, Zak felt something touch him around the hip area while they were talking about the town's history of prostitution. Despite having Nick and Aaron with him, and a female employee claiming she got kissed on the cheek once, nobody else got felt up.
- He managed to gain access to the off-limits medical ward of the Trans-Allegheny Lunatic Asylum, just by asking nicely.
- And does he really have to wear so many straight-jackets and strap into every old, rusty torture device he encounters?
- In the "Ohio Reformatory" episode, they bring along a female guest and jokingly refer to her as bait. After something or other happens to Zak (again), she remarks in all seriousness: "Maybe you're the bait."
- Happens again in the Fort Chaffee episode, where a ghost says "I'm here to f**k you." Even the ghosts want him indeed!
- Even the Subtitler Is Stumped: The crew have a hard time understanding one of the people working on a historic trolley in the "Fort Chaffee" episode. The subtitles mainly consist of ?????? and "____________".
- Ghostly Chill: Plenty of times.
- Haunted House: Well, duh.
- Hearing Voices: Several times even without them enhancing the audio.
- Hell Gate: The trio have investigated a couple places that are accredited as portals to Hell, or just overall demonic.
- Hidden Depths: They credit Aaron as the "equipment tech" during the opening, but give credit where it's due: Aaron is just as good at detecting spiritual energy as Zak or Nick.
- Large Ham: Zak speaks like he's the narrator in one of H.P. Lovecraft stories.
- Let's Split Up, Gang!: On occasion when they have to cover multiple spots.
- Loveable Rogue: Zak does stupid stuff on a regular basis, but whenever he crosses the line from "reckless" to "asshole", he always owns up to it and apologizes.
- Mark of the Beast: Has this trope somewhat. After the incident on Poveglia Island where Zak was possessed, he felt an evil part of him want to go back inside the building, where the normal part of him wanted to leave. He was inspired by this event to get a large tattoo on his back of a sort of angel, half being a good angel, and half looking demonic.
- Played a little more straight when the bishop outright said it after Zak showed him video of the three scratches Zak got on his back at Bobby Mackey's, and the bishop said that he'd be performing an exorcism right there.
- Several times, the temperature has been manipulated to read 66.6 degrees.
- Mexican Standoff: Zak, Nick and Aaron shot each other at the Eastern State Penitentiary...using cameras.
- Mundane Solution: How do you get proof that ghosts actually exist? You're going to need a psychic and do lots of elaborate seances that may or may not be self-fulfilling prophecies, right? Or you could just provoke them into doing something and bring an EMP monitor for physical evidence.
- No Indoor Voice: Zak is much louder than most paranormal investigators. Could be Fridge Brilliance considering Zak's voice is perfect for literally waking the dead.
- Oh Crap: "Manifests" in the form of "O-faces" made by Zak and Aaron.
- Orphanage of Fear: The trio investigated the Soldiers National Museum at Gettysburg, previously an orphanage during the American Civil War and run by a sadistically cruel matron.
- Paranormal Investigation: Duh.
- Screamer Trailer: Used just before going to commercial. And if they don't include a shot of a floating white nightgown, usually there's an image of a Creepy Doll with one blank eye socket.
- Or a man (It might be Zak) holding his open mouth up to a bright light bulb.
- Or the CREEPY sliced up disembodied hand.
- Shout-Out: A few, including The Soup (which has poked fun at them), Scooby Doo, Doom, and the Silent Hill movie.
- Sweet Tooth: Aaron and Zak show they have quite a sweet tooth in the Sacramento Tunnel episode. The reason they're there is to get 'nutritional value' for the lockdown, and we see them pile their baskets with sweets. Zak's total rounded to around $36 (although this might also be because he was also getting candy for Nick)
- Rule of Three: Besides the fact that there are three guys on the crew, that number has been somewhat important. While investigating a correctional institute for troubled boys, Aaron received three large scratches on his leg, which scarred. Zak has even said that it was demonic, and the event is referred to a few times later on.
- Zak's back having three scratches at Bobby Mackey's and the scratches staying for three days.
- Tooele Hospital is said to live off this trope.
- Tempting Fate: Oh, Zak. He went so far as to lead a black magic ritual in the Ancient Ram Inn when the person they consulted refused to participate. That night he had a dream where a witch scratched up his face, and he woke up with scratches on his neck.
- It's stated by paranormal experts that what happens when Zak goes around ordering ghosts to prove their existence is only the tip of a large, violent iceberg of results. Meaning that things could get much, much worse than scratches and creepy voices.
- He (and the entire crew) also participated in a voodoo ritual in the Magnolia Lane Plantation.
- When Zak laid on the floor with a axe hanging directly over his face at the Villisca Axe Murder House, taunting the spirit that murdered the family to drop it on him.
- Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Zak has stated that he does not like snakes, clowns, heights, sharks, cockroaches and creepy dolls. This doesn't stop him from climbing up to high places or picking up a wild snake.