50 Fascinating True Crime Podcasts You Need To Hear

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Your next binge listen obsession, from art heists to kidnapping and cults. Fulton County Police

We’re currently in a golden age of podcasts, and it’s fair to say that true crime podcasts have helped fuel this boom.

Independent true crime podcasts, such as Criminal and Generation Why, kickstarted the trend back in the early 2010s. However, it was the 2014 NPR-produced Serial that really changed the game. Examining the case of convicted murderer Adnan Syed, it had millions of listeners eagerly awaiting each installment. The show won a Peabody Award, and awakened a true crime obsession in millions of listeners.

Since Serial broke new podcasting ground with its immersive focus on a single case, a number of standalone true crime series have tried to replicate its success. The 2017 podcast S-Town, also made by NPR, set a new record when it was downloaded over ten million times in four days.

It’s not just single-case podcasts that are proving a success. My Favorite Murder, a weekly true crime podcast hosted by two comedians, which began in 2016, consistently floats around the iTunes U.S. top 20 podcasts list. The hosts have gone on sold-out world tours doing live show renditions of their discussions, which explore political solidarity and mental health issues as well as true crime.

As of writing, more than half of the top ten entries on the U.S. iTunes chart are about true crime. There’s a number of reasons why it remains such a popular genre. Madeleine Baran, host of the podcast In the Dark, told Rolling Stone that the podcasts let the listener into “the mind of the psychopath – a deviant, crazed individual. There’s a weirdness to it, a curiosity with it, but there’s also something about it that’s relatable.”

However, some view the genre with distaste, seeing it as nothing but voyeurism into other people’s misery. The nature of podcasting—anyone can make one and upload it—means the market is already saturated with grizzly tales vying for your time, and not all are of good quality. Poor sound, lurid descriptions and questionable commentary are just some of the pitfalls which true crime podcasts can descend into.

There was even a parody true crime podcast released in 2018 called A Very Fatal Murder, which sent up the sensationalism and cliches that the genre has already inspired in its short existence.

However, there are still plenty of excellent true crime podcasts being produced, covering everything from art theft to Watergate. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, or if you’re a true crime devotee looking for their next binge listen, we’ve compiled a list of fifty top-notch true crime podcasts, which manage to keep the listener gripped throughout.

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Dirty John — Standalone series, investigation
L.A. Times journalist Christopher Goffard examines the disturbing case of "Dirty John" Meehan, a shady character who gets into an abusive relationship with a woman named Debra—a relationship that ended in disaster. The intelligent and through investigation was so popular that it topped iTunes podcasts charts around the world.
Number of seasons: One. Number of episodes: Six.
Wondery / Los Angeles Times
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Serial — Three seasons, investigation
The addictive 2014 podcast that started the global mania for true crime. The first season of Serial examined the complex case of the 1999 murder of Hae Min Lee, in which there seemed to be much evidence but no conclusive proof of what happened. The following two series stepped away from the whodunnit intensity of the first, and went on to examine an American army deserter and the court system in Ohio.
Number of seasons: Three. Number of episodes: 25+ (ongoing).
NPR
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Someone Knows Something — Ongoing series, investigation
Canadian filmmaker and writer David Ridgen has a unique style of storytelling. With an eye for descriptive detail, he approaches each story with a that which allows his subjects to fully open up to him. Over five seasons, he’s tackled cold cases from across Canada; the current season focuses on the 1986 rape and murder of Kerrie Ann Brown in Manitoba.
Number of seasons: Five. Number of episodes: 34+ (ongoing).
CBC
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Casefile — Ongoing series, factual
Lead by a gravel-voiced anonymous Australian host, Casefile is meticulously researched, sharply produced and never sensationalist. It always manages to find the strangest cases from around the world and nails the fascinating details that make true crime such an addictive genre. Number of episodes: 90+ (ongoing).
Casefile
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The Teacher’s Pet — Standalone series, investigation
Telling the unbelievable story of the disappearance of a Sydney housewife and the subsequent actions of her predatory husband, this podcast has a haunting injustice at its core. Not so much a whodunnit than a ‘how did he get away with it,’ it’s impossible not to be enraged on behalf of all the women involved in this tale.
Number of seasons: One. Number of episodes: 14.
The Australian
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Dr. Death — Standalone series, investigation
Don't listen if you have any surgery planned. This podcast looks at what happens when an out-of-control surgeon is allowed to bounce around medical establishments, botching operation after operation, without any consequences. It’s an indictment on the American medical system, as well as on the man at the centre of the unbelievable story.
Number of seasons: One. Number of episodes: Eight.
Dallas County Sheriff’s Department
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Gladiator: Aaron Hernandez and Football Inc.— Standalone series, investigation
Even if you hate sport, this look at the late football star Aaron Hernandez is utterly fascinating. The podcast unravels how a promising talent ended up a convicted murderer. How much did the culture of pro football enable Hernandez to commit his crimes, and how much of his failings were linked to head injuries?
Number of seasons: One. Number of episodes: 5+ (ongoing).
Jim Rogash/Getty Images
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S-Town — Standalone series, investigation
This gorgeously-crafted podcast feels more akin to literature than most true crime. It follows the life of a singular man in small-town Alabama, who is convinced a murder has taken place. It was so popular that it was downloaded more than 10 million times in the first four days of its release in 2017—a record.
Number of seasons: One. Number of episodes: Seven.
NPR
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Slow Burn — Two seasons, investigation
This whip-smart podcast from Slate finds the lesser-known angles and stories within hugely famous political scandals. Season one looks at Watergate and season two at the impeachment of Bill Clinton, revealing that there’s still so much more to learn about these seismic political moments.
Number of seasons: Two. Number of episodes: 20.
Getty Images / Handout
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Uncover— Two seasons, investigation
Season one of the thoughtful CBC Radio podcast examines the cult NXIVM through one woman’s journey into, and out of, the abusive group. Season two, which is about to be released, will look at the largest unsolved mass murder in Canada, when a bomb on a plane killed 52 people.
Number of seasons: Two. Number of episodes: 7+ (ongoing).
Jemal Countess/Getty Images
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The Dream — Standalone series, investigation
The Dream tells the fascinating story of the rise of pyramid schemes and multi level marketing in America. Host Jane Marie is funny, smart and never patronizing to the vulnerable communities targeted by MLM schemes. She comes from one herself, and often has friends and family tell their stories about being sucked into the exploitative systems, which often mask themselves in the rhetoric of faith and community.
Number of seasons: One. Number of episodes: 8+ (ongoing).
Little Everywhere / Stitcher