With apologies to Star Trek, the afterlife is truly the final frontier — debates over its very existence will likely never be settled, and opinions on whether ghosts are real range from true believers to hardened skeptic. Luckily for the uninterested, whether or not you believe in ghosts is imperative to finding them, according to the Ghost Adventures crew.
Long led by fast-talking paranormal investigator Zak Bagans, the Ghost Adventures team has shifted and developed over the course of the show's 18 seasons into a four-person team of perpetually black-clad believers: Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Billy Tolley, and Jay Wasley. Using audio and visual technology that ranges from the highly scientific to as simple as a handheld recorder, Ghost Adventures has grown in scope and size over its 11 years on air, but remains steadfast in its ongoing mission to prove what many consider to be unprovable: That ghosts exist and the living are capable of communicating with them.
Although Bagans was sick and unable to make it, SYFY WIRE caught up with the rest of the team at San Diego Comic-Con 2019 on Sunday to chat about their show, technology, and, of course, the future of ghost hunting for both them and the world at large.
The Ghost Adventures guys know that for the uninitiated — those with a healthy dose of skepticism on their side — this whole thing seems more than a little ridiculous. That's because, they argue, if you're not open to the idea that ghosts could exist, you're not going to be open to any supernatural proof you happen to stumble upon.
"I think a lot of it has to do with intention, personally," Tolley says. "If you're a closed-minded individual and you say 'ghosts do not exist,' they won't exist to you. You'll find every single reason why they don't no matter what experience comes your way."
"I think everybody today pretty much has ghost hunting equipment in their pocket: cell phones. Digital recorders," Wasley, who's also one of the show's A/V techs, says. "They might not be as great as some stuff, but it's something. If sometimes we're caught in a situation and we're like, 'oh no, we don't have gear, it's back at base,' we'll pull out our phone — we'll take photos, we'll take video, we'll audio record and try to capture [evidence]. We've gotten evidence through cell phone use."
Not that people should always want to find proof. Goodwin, Tolley, and Wasley all insist on how negative an experience it can be, being around some of the dark energy they encounter while filming Ghost Adventures. They all have stories of being overwhelmed, both physically and emotionally, by the spirits they allegedly encounter. And those experiences, they stay, stick with them long after they leave a filming location.
In the show, audiences regularly see the various team members doubling over, stumbling, clutching at their heads, and insisting on physical discomfort and even pain. Detractors will say it's all for show — overacted theater for viewers' entertainment — but the show's stars assert just how real it all is.
Combatting the "scary as hell" with the positive is, for them, imperative.
"You have to find that happy medium to kind of recharge your energy and find something positive to do when we're not filming and not investigating," Wasley says. "[Otherwise] we'd probably all go crazy."
The guys all have ways to combat the negative energy they say sticks with them. Tolley spends time with his family, friends, and pets; Goodwin goes to Disneyland (he's a Club 33 member; Haunted Mansion is his favorite ride).
Because they're all so open to these ghosts and regularly put themselves in haunted spaces — it is, after all, their job — the team seems to always be gathering proof. And while the means through which the Ghost Adventures guys try to collect proof of the existence of ghosts, demons, and other things of the supernatural persuasion has advanced over the years, the team says it's not yet as advanced as it will be in the future.
When talking about the potential of future technology, Goodwin throws out the idea of using holograms to speak with ghosts — for them, the future is limitless.
"We're pioneers," Goodwin says. "The last 10 years of [ghost hunting] shows are just pioneers of the future of what will happen. People will be talking to spirits. I think we're really close to that technology."
Wasley adds that he firmly believes speaking with spirits "will be a regular thing eventually," but agrees that it will take some time and a whole lot more acceptance.
Until that happens, the Ghost Adventures guys will carry on as they always have: together, and with a whole lotta enthusiasm.