What are the best TV shows and movies about real ghosts?

“Best” is in the eye of the beholder. Also, ghost-related movies are usually different from ghost-related TV shows. So, I use different standards when I talk about them.

In general, when it comes to ghost videos on the big or small screen, I’m very opinionated about this topic.

My favorite ghost-related movies include the 1963 version of The Haunting.

So far, nothing else has measured up to that. Not even close.

Although the marsh scene and the ending spoiled the Daniel Radcliffe movie, The Woman in Black, I thought much of it was compelling.

I like many dramatizations of The Turn of the Screw.

The old Roddy McDowell move, The Legend of Hell House, can seem ridiculously dated and sensational. However, some elements in it are excellent.

It’s one of the more popular ghost-related movies that air on TV around Halloween. Expect some unintended laughs, keep your expectations low, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

My favorite ghost-related TV show was probably the Ghost Lab series by the Klinge Brothers. It seemed the most genuine, though I winced at much of the editing.

When I met them — and got past my starry-eyed fangirl moment — they seemed genuine and had some great ghost insights. (They’re the only ghost hunters I’ve gone fangirl over. So, that says a lot.)

Here are a couple of their investigations, from a YouTube video:

I’ve liked some episodes of Ghost Hunters, mostly because I’m dazzled by the locations they visit.

(Well, to be honest, I’m actually envious of the access they have to great, haunted sites. I just wouldn’t trade my privacy for that.)

In terms of the show itself, I know (and like) many of the cast members, so I am biased… and I’ve seen fewer than a dozen Ghost Hunters episodes.

I just can’t watch friends on TV shows, when they’re edited to look gullible, ignorant, belligerent, or… well, very different than they are in real life.

So, I’ve avoided watching Ghost Hunters.

Ghost hunting on YouTube

I like about 3% of ghost-related videos on YouTube. Maybe less.

The other 97% are so silly, hyped, or badly filmed, I can’t watch. Still, when a YouTube video is good, it can be great.

Entertainment v. reality

In general, most ghost-related movies don’t accurately represent hauntings.

Likewise, ghost-related TV shows are edited as entertainment. They don’t show everything that goes on at haunted places. They don’t realistically portray ghost hunting.

Often, the team’s research was genuine. Then, the footage was edited to amuse or entertain the viewing audience.

Remember: these shows aren’t documentaries. In recent years, instead of pretending they’re “reality” shows, producers call them “unscripted” shows.

If you want to know the truth about ghost-related TV series, look for interviews with former stars of Extreme Paranormal.

They’re no longer bound by the terms of their TV contracts, and they’re talking about what really goes on, behind the scenes. It’s more chilling than the ghosts they’ve encountered.

My answer to this question: The best way to identify good, ghost-related movies and TV shows, is to become a ghost hunter yourself. Soon, you’ll be able to spot what’s real and what’s fake.

What’s the difference between a haunted object and a haunted house?

To be honest, it can be difficult to tell the difference.  Mostly, it’s a case of trial-and-error. The Haunted Collector TV series presented a basic view of what’s involved.

From my experience, the size of the haunting can be a hint.  Characteristics can vary, too.

Haunted houses

Most actively haunted houses have distinct, ghostly phenomena. The ghost may appear in just one room or in a variety of locations throughout the house.  You sense that a spirit is involved.  It’s aware of you.  It responds to what you do, and it’s not the same activity, over and over again.

Other haunted houses might have residual energy. For example, a cold spot may appear every night at about 10 PM. It’s likely to last around 20 minutes. If nothing else happens, it’s probably just ghostly energy stored at the site.

A space clearing can reduce or eliminate that kind of problem.

A haunted object can affect an entire house, too

A haunted or cursed object can affect a small area, a room, an entire floor, or the whole house.

It’s smart to investigate using an EMF meter. See if one object is the focal point of the ghostly activity. Unless an object is magnetized or runs on electricity, it shouldn’t affect your EMF meter.

What to do if you suspect a haunted object

  1. Remove the object.
  2. Take it several miles away.
  3. See if the problems stop.

If everything seems normal (or gradually becomes normal after a week or two), the problem was probably the object.  Don’t burn it.  Contact someone like John Zaffis. He’s an expert in that field. (He’s also very different from how he’s seemed on TV.)

Unfortunately, tests like this require a lot of trial and error. If the house contains more than one haunted object, the process can be nightmarish. (No pun intended.)

In the 19th century and early 20th century, newspapers often talked about haunted and cursed objects. Many people still recognize tales of the curse of the Hope Diamond.

However, that may be all they recall.

Until the Haunted Collector TV series, haunted objects had been pretty much forgotten.

As a result, few ghost hunters know how to find haunted objects. Even fewer are experts in the field.

I have no idea what percentage of haunted houses are actually plagued by haunted objects. It’s too early to guess the impact of haunted objects in this field.

Energy from a ghost and the energy from a haunted object… well, they’re different.  It’s difficult to articulate.

How I detect a haunted object

Old typewriter - can be haunted
Old, everyday objects can be haunted. They don’t have to “look creepy.”

First of all, when I’m near a haunted or cursed object, my reaction is more like, “Uh-oh. Something is not right, here.”

In my head, I can practically hear the shark-is-on-the-way music from the movie, “Jaws.”  I’m uneasy.  I feel unsafe.

Investigating, I usually zero-in on an object.  That’s when I’ll tell the owner to remove whatever-it-is before I return for a more complete investigation.

Haunted houses…? No problem. For me, haunted objects are a different matter.

I absolutely, positively do not like haunted objects. And, among haunted objects, creepy dolls are the very worst… in my opinion, anyway. Some defaced photos and advertising images are a close second.

Where to see a haunted object

If you want a first-hand encounter with haunted objects, go to any old, dusty antiquities museum.

– The Hope Diamond is in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, DC, USA.
– I’m uncomfortable with some objects at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Cambridge, MA, USA.
– Also in the U.S., John Zaffis has displayed his personal collection of haunted objects. Ed & Lorraine Warren — John Zaffis’ aunt and uncle — had a similar collection in a separate museum. I’m not sure if either John’s museum or the Warrens’ collection are open to the public. Check their websites for more information.
– Several buildings at the Tower of London (England) contain objects that I consider haunted.
– The British Museum, London, England (UK) is another place to sense haunted and cursed objects. (And, admission is free.)

Many of those wonderful old items were donated by people who were eager to get the objects out of their homes.  Bad memories or bad energy…?  Beauty (and unearthly energy) may be in the eye (or “gut feeling”) of the beholder.

Note: This is different than diminishing residual energy stored in objects. For fun, a few of us frequent antiques shops to compare notes as we “read” the energy on objects displayed.

Even at museums, it seems like haunted and cursed objects stand out. They may as well have neon arrows pointing to them.

Antiques stores are great training grounds

You can learn to read this kind of energy, so you can spot a haunted object in a client’s home.

Almost every antiques store has at least one haunted object, whether the owners realize it or not.

(I regularly use an EMF meter to confirm my reactions to objects. Weirdly, no one who works at them has ever asked what the EMF meter was, or why I was using it.)

Thrift shops aren’t nearly as good for this kind of research. Their objects rarely have the history — and layers of energy — you’ll find at antiques shops.

To tell the difference between a haunted object and a haunted house, the test can be simple.

If you remove a haunted object from a house, the house settles down in a day or so.

If the house is haunted by a ghost or residual energy, it remains active.

What happens to ghosts when a haunted house burns down?

Do ghosts linger after a haunted house fire? Maybe. I’m fairly certain the ghosts remain, whether a house is there or not.

What happens when a haunted house burns? AnswersMany ghosts seem to be tied to the location rather than the structure on it.

While “green lady” ghosts may actively protect their homes, they may be unique in that kind of attachment.

According to one story about Henniker, NH (USA), the ghost of “Ocean Born Mary” helped the fire brigade at her haunted house’s fire.

A good example of a haunted site — and a related fire — started in November 1942.

That’s when the Cocoanut Grove nightclub in Boston (MA, USA) burned to the ground. That was a tragedy with enormous impact, and it changed building codes across America.

Today, the site of the fire — at what used to be 17 Piedmont Street — is mostly a private parking lot in Bay Village, a residential neighborhood.

Cocoanut Grove fire site
Plaque at the Cocoanut Grove fire site, Boston, Massachusetts (USA).

The parking lot is protected by a strong fence. As far as ten feet from it, ghost hunters still record baffling EMF spikes, eerie EVP, and “hot spots” (thermal). Also, we see interesting, light-related anomalies, even during the day.

I’m not sure the site was haunted before the fire. Since then, it’s one of the most unusual, highly active sites I’ve visited. So, though the original building is gone, it’s definitely haunted… intensely haunted.

The house or the land…?

Now and then, a client asks me about her newly-built (but haunted) house.

Sometimes, it used to be the site of another home or building. The old one either burned down, was torn down, or fell into decay. (More often, the site has a more ancient history, including Native American associations.)

In general, I don’t believe any ghost is injured when the home it’s attached to is destroyed. I’m not sure that it’s “set free” by the fire (or bulldozing, or whatever), either.

In some cases, it appears that the ghost remains at the location. The ghost seems to wait until a new house is built on the same site. Then it may stay, or decide to move on.

I’m not sure what to think of the Amityville Horror House. The evidence is conflicted, at best. However, it seems as if something odd had lingered there, and affected Ron DeFeo.

A few years ago, I researched the house for an Armchair Reader book. I discovered several odd aspects of the story, “hiding in plain sight.”

I don’t believe that haunting will be over until all of the evidence is found, and the true stories told.

When the ghost stays with pieces of the house

I can think of one case where a ghost (or ghosts) remained attached to the physical structure rather than its former location.

Path to Tyng Mansion
Path to the Tyng Mansion site.

That’s the Tyng Mansion in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts (USA). The house was haunted long before it was destroyed by a devastating fire.

(The fire was rumored to be arson.)

What remained at the site — mostly charred building materials — was bulldozed. They pushed the rubble into a slightly marshy field next to the home’s foundation.

(You can visit the site. It’s next to the parking lot at the Boston University Corporate Education Center on Tyng Road in Tyngsboro.)

The remaining foundation of the house seems normal and generally inactive.

Instead, I’ve seen EMF spikes around the overgrown, somewhat marshy, rubble-strewn land next to it. That’s where you’ll see evidence of decaying outbuildings.

You’ll also find what’s left of the house, after a 1982 archaeological team removed everything of historical value. (It’s not a safe place to investigate, due to uneven ground, lots of brambles, and a large overgrowth of poison ivy.)

Other than that, I’ve never investigated a site where the ghost (or ghosts) clung to the actual building instead of the land it had been on.

Why don’t people go ghost hunting in Jewish cemeteries?

Some people are ghost hunting in Jewish cemeteries and don’t realize it.

Star of DavidMany community cemeteries include a section for the Jewish community.

That section might be (technically) a separate cemetery, but you might not notice the sign, if there is one.

One example is in Oakwood Cemetery in Austin, Texas (USA). That section of the cemetery is clearly marked if you’re looking for it.

In other areas, Jewish cemeteries are distinct from other religious, non-denominational, and community cemeteries.

When people choose a cemetery for ghost research, they usually start with one that has ghost stories.

For my experience, most Jewish cemeteries have no ghost stories. Therefore, there is no reason to investigate them.

I’m not sure if Jewish burial and mourning practices bring better closure to the deceased. I haven’t investigated this, in comparison with other religious and cultural practices. However, I know that observing shiva is a deeply meaningful process that allows for necessary grieving.

I have no ghost stories from Jewish cemeteries.

A Beginner's Guide to Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, by Fiona BroomeBy contrast, I have hundreds (or more) from Christian, non-denominational and community cemeteries.

It’s an interesting distinction.

To learn more about haunted cemeteries, start with my book, A Beginner’s Guide to Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries.

Photo credit: GraphicStock.com

Are all really haunted houses scary?

If you wonder if a scary house means it’s haunted, the answer is no.

Old house in EnglandMost haunted houses aren’t scary. Not once you’re used to ghostly phenomena.

Ghosts may startle you or surprise you, but they usually won’t frighten you.

The more locations you investigate, the more you’ll get used to ghosts.

Things move by themselves. You may hear ghostly voices or unearthly footsteps. Objects may seem to move “by themselves.” It’s all part of a normal night of ghost hunting, if you’re lucky.

Even in a really haunted house, ghost hunters spend most of their time waiting for something to happen. I suppose it’s like fishing, except you’re in the dark so there’s nothing to look at.

Eastern State PenitentiarySure, “Dude, run!” moments can occur. Still, experienced professionals are rarely (if ever) frightened, even in the most haunted locations. They may jump a foot or two when something startles them, but that’s different from being afraid.

Scary sites aren’t always haunted.

Haunted sites aren’t always scary.

In fact, once you’re used to ghostly phenomena, haunted houses become interesting.

Fright is not an accurate way to be sure a house is haunted. As ghost hunters, we’re looking for measurable anomalies, not whether a place gives you the chills.

How can you tell if a place is really haunted?

The truth is, nobody can tell if the place is really haunted. We can’t even prove that ghosts exist.

It’s possible that you pass by haunted sites every day.

Investigators can study evidence a location. They can say that it’s not haunted, possibly haunted, or even probably haunted.

An investigator might say that he (or she) believes the site is haunted.  That’s a personal opinion, not proof.

For example, I believe that the following locations are among the world’s most haunted locations.  I’ve investigated all of them and each one gave me chills.

  • Brennan’s Restaurant (New Orleans’ French Quarter, LA, USA). Visual phenomena, even in broad daylight.
  • Columbus City cemetery, Columbus, TX
    Columbus City Cemtery, color streaks & eerie mist

    Columbus City Cemetery (Columbus, TX, USA). Ghost photos and EMF spikes, even during the day.

  • Edinburgh’s underground vaults (Edinburgh, Scotland, UK). Apparitions and heavy residual energy.
  • The Falstaff Experience (also known as Tudor World, Stratford-upon-Avon, England, UK). Apparitions, physical phenomena, poltergeists, and some activity I’ve never experienced anywhere else.
  • Gilson Road Cemetery (Nashua, NH, USA). Physical phenomena, cold spots, hot spots, apparitions (even in daytime), EVP.
  • Golden Fleece Pub (York, England, UK). EVP, physical phenomena, psychic energy.
  • Greycourt State Park (Methuen, MA, USA). EMF anomalies, apparitions in ghost photos, hot and cold spots.
  • The Mount (Lenox, MA, USA). EVP and audible “ghost voices,” EMF spikes, residual energy, excellent for “ghost box” activity.
  • The Myrtles Plantation (St. Francisville, LA, USA). Poltergeist activity, ghost photos, EMF spikes, cold spots, ghostly voices and unexplained noises.
  • Houmas House, Louisiana. Daytime apparitions, indoors and outside. Active outdoors, after dark. (See old servants’ quarters, especially.)
  • The Salem Inn (Salem, MA, USA). EMF spikes. Excellent for Ovilus research. Cold spots and hot spots.
  • The Spalding Inn (Whitefield, NH, USA). Apparitions, EMF anomalies, EVP and audible voices with no explanations. (This hotel was owned by Ghost Hunters’ Jason Hawes and Grant Wilson, and their families. They sold the hotel a few years ago. I’m not sure if it’s still open to visitors.)
  • Hotel Wentworth-by-the-Sea (New Castle, NH, USA). Very convincing apparitions, EVP, light poltergeist activity.
  • Witch House (Salem, MA, USA). Poltergeist activity, objects moving, psychic energy, ghost photos.

It takes a lot to impress me.  Reputation alone isn’t enough.

For example, I’m not convinced that the Lizzie Borden House (Fall River, MA, USA) is haunted by anything more than residual energy. (However, I did see the “ghost cat.” It looked solid enough to be a real cat.)

I’m skeptical of the LaLaurie Mansion (New Orleans’ French Quarter, LA, USA), too. The stories about Madame LaLaurie are largely fiction, especially when they involve a French accent. (She was the daughter of an Irish immigrant. She didn’t have a French accent.)

A deep personal experience can convince you that a site is haunted.  Seek hard evidence before you make a firm decision.

Evidence to look for at most haunted sites:

  • EVP.
  • Unexplained EMF readings.
  • Baffling hot and cold spots.
  • Other measurable evidence, including strange photos.

However, none of that proves that ghosts exist.

When weird things happen at a location, we say that the site is “haunted.” That’s a description, so everyone understands the kinds of unexplained activity at a site.

Dedicated, skeptical critics will almost always find normal explanations. If all else fails, they’ll claim that the ghost hunter’s evidence is a deliberate hoax or the product of mental illness.

(Some skeptics’ rudeness knows no limits. Don’t take it personally; they’re simply bitter and unhappy people, best left alone.)

Are you pretty sure that a site is haunted? Do you have evidence that’s convinced (or nearly convinced) you?

That may be as good as it gets.

The only “proof” is what you’ve experienced for yourself. That’s why I encourage people to go on ghost investigations, to decide for themselves.

Learn what’s normal (but kind of weird), and then see if you can rule that out when weird things happen at haunted sites.

As Sherlock Holmes once said, “When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.”

What’s the difference between a haunted house and one that has paranormal activity?

“Paranormal” means something that’s outside the range of normal.

In other words, all unexplained hauntings are considered paranormal.

However, not all paranormal activity involves ghosts.

Abandoned house - maybe hauntedA house with paranormal activity (but no ghosts) could have demons or faeries.

Its visitors might be creatures from cryptozoology, or aliens.

I suppose vampires and zombies could be in the mix, too. (Yes, I’m being flippant.)

Likewise, a haunted house may have ghosts as well as other entities, including demonic activity.

This is especially true of houses built on Native American sites, such as NH’s Spalding Inn. (That’s the hotel formerly owned by Ghost Hunters’ Jason Hawes & Grant Wilson, and their families.)

I had no doubt that the Spalding Inn was haunted, but at least two ghosts. However, I also saw startling evidence that other entities were there… far more than the “ghost cat” that Jason’s wife (and many others) had seen.

Haunted Tudor World, Stratford-upon-Avon
Tudor World, photo by David Dixon

In the U.K., I’ve seen a mix of paranormal activity at buildings near early Anglo-Saxon cemeteries.

One example: The Falstaff Experience (also known as Tudor World) in Stratford-upon-Avon (England).

It has a wider range of unique phenomena than I’ve witnessed, anywhere else.

I doubt that all of it is ghostly, but — for now — I have no better labels for the weird things that occur during their ghost vigils.

Most investigators default to the term “paranormal” for sites like that. It covers every possibility.

Any site with strange phenomena might be haunted, but it might not be.

It might be a construction issue. It could result from tilted floors, unshielded electrical wiring, or a deep, underground spring.

Never leap to conclusions when a house seems haunted.  It may have nothing to do with ghosts, but still be paranormal.

All ghostly phenomena are paranormal, but not all paranormal phenomena are ghosts.

How can you find a haunted place near your home?

Ask teenagers. They usually know many local urban legends, and some of those tales will point you to actual haunts.

Local historians can be good sources of information, too.

Ask a parent or grandparent, especially someone who’s lived in the community for 20 or more years. He or she may know regional folklore.

Amityville horror houseConsult local newspapers and magazines published around Halloween.

Look for back issues, published years ago. They usually include even more stories about local haunted places.

Regional books may describe ghosts and haunted places in your area. Check your public library and local bookstores.

But keep in mind: many ghost hunting books weren’t well researched. Authors and publishers threw them together to cash in on the popularity of ghost hunting.

To be blunt: A lot of books copy from each other, and simply rewrite stories they found online.

Many websites and forums list haunted locations.

Before taking those sites seriously, verify their stories.

  • Check other credible sources.
  • Double-check historical records.
  • Even famous, “everyone knows” stories can have fatal historical flaws. A little research may point you to the really haunted site… the one that inspired the urban legend.

A Beginner's Guide to Ghost Hunting in Haunted Cemeteries, by Fiona BroomeOf course, if you’re a first-time ghost hunter, I recommend haunted cemeteries, for several reasons.

  • Almost every community has one.
  • They’re free to visit.
  • And, if you find a ghost, the nearby tombstone may tell you the ghost’s name. That makes ghost hunting a lot more real.

My “Beginner’s Guide…” can help you find haunted cemeteries, and plan your first ghost hunt. (I’m updating that book for late 2017 or early 2018.)

Meanwhile, remember that some of the most famous haunted places aren’t so haunted. Often, you’ll encounter more ghosts on your own. They can be close to home. Sometimes very close to home.

Here are some not-so-haunted places places you may have heard of.

  • One of America’s most famous ghosts, Ocean-Born Mary, never lived in the New Hampshire house she supposedly haunts.
  • Tennessee’s “Bell Witch” ghost was probably created by a schoolteacher with ventriloquist skills and secret access to the Bell family home. He had a particular interest in one of the Bell family’s daughters, as well. That can’t explain everything that happened, but the teacher may have been a major culprit in the hoax.
  • New York’s “Amityville Horror” house owners swear that the house is perfectly normal.  (I’m not so sure of that, but if they’re living there with peace of mind… good for them!)
  • In 1992, a Halloween episode of “Ghostwatch” presented an investigation of a London (England) home. The family reported having terrifying, ghostly experiences for nearly a year.  The presentation was convincing. People called the police and claimed “the forces of darkness” were invading.  Yes… it was a hoax.

Generally — especially if you’re a new ghost hunter — it’s best to rely on first-person stories in your community. You’ll find plenty of resources at your public library, and local historians who specialize in “folklore.”

Ley lines and other patterns can lead you to even more haunts. But, that’s an advanced technique. You’d need a lot of research experience — and patience — to use it.

For now, rely on local resources. With them, you should find plenty of good ghost stories and eerie haunted places to investigate, close to where you live.

What makes one house haunted while the house next door isn’t?

The history of most haunted houses explains why they’re haunted.

haunted U.S. Library of CongressEach site was the scene of conflict, power struggles, tragedy and death. (Those are the “big four” when you’re trying to explain a haunting.)

However, many older homes and buildings have similar histories… but no ghosts.

(Skeptics love to point this out, and they’re correct.)

I believe other factors are involved. Unfortunately, we don’t have enough information to be certain.

Historical and geographical patterns of activity may provide some answers.

Austin, Texas

My research in downtown Austin, Texas, revealed patterns that connect — and predict — ghostly activity in that city.

Patterns emerged as I studied Austin’s ghosts. I saw unique factors affecting most (not all) of Austin’s haunts.

Here’s one pattern:  In Austin, buildings constructed with Shoal Creek clay are usually haunted.

  • The haunted Governor’s Mansion includes those bricks.
  • So did the UT Tower, site of the terrible 1966 shootings.

You’ll find a longer list in my book, The Ghosts of Austin.

Those patterns separate Austin’s most haunted buildings from neighboring sites with no ghost stories.

Looking for ghosts around Austin…? Find houses with those bricks, and you’ll find ghosts.

Ley Lines

More often, geographical patterns – usually ley lines (also called “energy lines”) – seem to make a difference.

Two houses can have almost identical histories, but only one of them is haunted.

Why?  As they say in real estate: Location, location, location!

In New Orleans’ French Quarter, I was able to identify haunted locations — the exact spot where hauntings occur — within feet. All I had to do was plot ley lines on a map.

When a History Channel TV producer called me, I was able to tell her exactly where to look. And, when she asked me about grisly tragedies in the area, I could tell her why they happened at those exact locations… why the guy jumped off the hotel at the precise spot where he did.

You just need to know where to look, and how to connect the dots.

Displaced Hauntings

Now and then, I discover a haunted site where nothing notable happened at that location.  A nearby location — one that’s not haunted — was where violence and tragedy occurred.

Haunted Sise Inn, Portsmouth, NHThe Sise Inn in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, is an example.  Some of the staff have reported amusing ghostly phenomena at the Inn.

(My favorite is the recurring, unexplained trail of ice cubes in hallways, leading away from the ice cube machine.)

However, the Sise Inn site seems to have no tragic history.

But, a nearby building has the appropriate history… but no reports of ghosts. Did the ghosts migrate? I have no idea.

I’d like to see more research into displaced hauntings.  Studies could reveal more elements that attract or repel ghostly energy.

We have some answers. We’re still looking for others.

What is the main reason why ghosts haunt houses?

If we take folklore seriously, most ghosts have a story to tell, a wrong to correct, or unfinished business.

eastern state penitentiaryWhen ghost hunters investigate a haunted site, most ghosts seem to fit that profile.

In almost every case:

– The ghost wants something specific to happen before crossing over. Or, the ghost is afraid to cross over for other reasons.

– In some cases, the ghost refuses to believe that he or she is dead. Ask them what year it is, and you’ll usually get the year the person died.

– Or, it’s actually an energy imprint, not a ghost (or spirit) lingering at the site.

A few tales — such as the “green lady” stories of Scotland — offer other explanations. Green ladies remain in homes that they loved. Those are benevolent spirits. They protect the building and the people who live in it. Each “green lady” ghost isn’t trapped in the house. She could leave whenever she wants to. She’s happy to stay there.

Green lady ghosts are like the spirits of relatives. They visit us to check on our safety and happiness.

I’m not sure that I’d call that a ghost. The spirit isn’t trapped in our plane of existence.

By contrast, a banshee may also be a relative of the family it guards. Is the banshee trapped here? Is it a ghost, or — as much folklore suggests — part of the faerie realm? It’s difficult to establish boundaries and precise definitions.

Until we’re sure that ghosts exist, and what they really are, we can’t be sure why they haunt houses… or any other location.