I am trying to categorize some media and I am having trouble finding a name for shows that mix documentary / investigatory style with (openly) fictional / pseudo-scientific / speculative content.

The list below includes a few examples, and given their styles I'd rather not put them in the same "Documentary" collection alongside Planet Earth and Ken Burns films. Is there an accepted or industry term for these types of shows?

  • In Search Of (1977)
    • Documentary approach
    • Discusses paranormal, myths, "controversial" topics (e.g. modern-day witchcraft practitioners)
  • Unsolved Mysteries (1987)
    • Documentary / dramatization approach
    • Discusses documented and anecdotal stories / events / crimes
  • Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction? (1997)
    • Dramatization approach
    • Depicts some real, some fictional stories (without any substantiation for the "real" stories)
  • Creepy Canada (2002)
    • Dramatization approach
    • Paranormal event reenactments
  • Ancient Aliens (2009)
    • Documentary approach
    • Mixes historical fact with contemporary conjecture
  • 1
    Based on you description they seem to be very close to docufiction, but I'm not entirely sure if this term can be be applied to all of them. I think the main problem with finding a common term here is that they differ too much between each other regarding the amount of fictional elements they contain, meaning each of them can be placed somewhere else on the scale from real to fictional (fake) documentary. Feb 17, 2020 at 16:21
  • 1
    Well... Most torrent sites list them under Reality TV. That's actually about as accurate as it gets, because they're TV shows about real-life events. Feb 17, 2020 at 16:23

1 Answer 1


According to IMDB, genres of these shows are:

  • In Search Of - Documentary, Mystery
    • Unsolved Mysteries - Documentary, Crime, Drama, Mystery, Thriller
    • BB:FoF - Mystery, Thriller, Fantasy, Horror, Sci-Fi
    • Creepy Canada - Documentary
    • Ancient Aliens - Documentary, History, Sci-Fi

However, there is also the "Plot Keywords" section, which says:

  • In Search Of - N/A
    • Unsolved Mysteries - unsolved mystery, murder, reenactment, unsolved crime, based on true story
    • BB:FoF - supernatural power, psychotronic series, fiction, anthology, fact or fiction
    • Creepy Canada - paranormal phenomena, psychotronic series, supernatural power, reenactment
    • Ancient Aliens - pseudohistory, pseudoarchaeology, pseudoscience, ufology, folklore

From this I think we could call them something like "Paranormal Documentary", "Pseudoscience Documentary", "Unsolved Mysteries" or some such. These are technically documentaries, as they do cover real events to a degree. Personally, I like the description Paranormal Documentary!

  • I think you should use blockquote for citations, not your whole posts. Feb 20, 2020 at 15:18

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