Over the last few years, the world has developed a fascination with true crime. There’s something about twisted stories of malice, greed, murder, mystery, and fraud that we find irresistible. The narrative-style of these stories make them perfect for podcasting.
Since the success of Serial, (one of the biggest and best true crime podcasts of all time), the true crime genre has exploded. They come in all kinds of formats: Some are long-form stories that feel like audiobooks that walk you through a mystery. Others are less formal, where the hosts and experts provide off-the-cuff commentary, insight, and humor.
The 23 Best True Crime Podcasts
Ready to explore some powerful podcast episodes based on real crime, intrigue, scandal, and even murder? Here’s our list of the best true crime podcasts. If you’re starting a podcast, these shows make great inspiration.
True crime is a big category. It doesn’t necessarily have to involve murder. Believed is a sobering Michigan Radio podcast that examines the years of sexual abuse conducted by US Olympic gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar. It includes commentary from some of the survivors and their parents.
For nearly 20 years, an unidentified suspect murdered a dozen people – mostly female sex workers – and left their bodies along the Long Island Ocean Parkway. This podcast chronicles the events of that gruesome killing spree, including commentary from police, family members, and people in the community.
3. 74 Seconds
This Peabody-winning Minnesota Public Radio podcast started in 2016 to tell the story of the first police shooting to go to trial in the state: the death of Philando Castile. They break down the events of the shooting second-by-second and explain the societal context surrounding the death and subsequent trial. This show takes an honest look at policing, justice, and race in America.
4. Fruit Loops
This unique true crime podcast discusses serial killers of color, who tend to be either ignored or misrepresented by traditional media coverage, including heavy-hitters cases such as Christopher Dorner and the Night Stalker. They intertwine stories of crime with keen analysis of racial and gender issues. Hosts Wendy and Beth have infectious personalities and razor-sharp banter that will entertain you for hours.
This true crime podcast follows the story of the serial killer who threatened Toronto’s Gay Village, where men disappeared for eight years with no suspect until an arrest in 2018. This case is interesting because it was largely ignored by traditional media due to the races and sexualities of the victims.
6. The Unseen
The Unseen is a UK true crime podcast that covers missing people and unsolved cases. Each episode uses a clever narrative arc to tell a compelling story. It’s full of facts and details, but very little speculation and gore. It’s a respectful way to recount the stories of people who deserve to be heard.
7. The Dream
The Dream belongs on our list of the best true crime podcasts because it focuses on a unique niche of crime. It dives deep into the world of pyramid schemes and MLMs (multi-level marketing companies) that typically prey on women, convincing them to invest huge sums of money they will never recover. The victims don’t die on this schow, but their stories are still quite tragic.
This radio documentary podcast out of South Africa deals with the unresolved assassination of Dulie September, an anti-Apartheid activist. It’s a heart-wrenching look into the life and work of an activist who was effectively erased from the history books, and a cautionary tale about government espionage and political intrigue.
In 2017, two teens, Liberty German, 14, and Abigail Williams, 13, were found dead near a hiking trail in Delphi, Indian, after missing for a day. Police released an eerie, short audio clip with only three words – “down the hill” – that they believe belonged to the only suspect. But to this day, they’ve never identified the voice. This podcast unpacks the full story.
No list of the best true crime podcasts would be complete with S-Town. This podcast recounts the investigation of a potential killer in Alabama. But there’s far more to this small town murder than you would expect. It doesn’t follow the same format as a typical true crime podcast, but you’ll have to listen to it yourself to hear why.
11. American Scandal
Not all of the best true crime podcasts involve murder. American Scandal examines scandals in politics, business, medicine, sports, and more, chronicling the prosecutions of several high-profile people.
Serial is the quintessential true crime podcast. It’s the one that started them all. If you love true crime, you’ve probably checked this one out already. But if you’re new to true crime, it’s important to put this one on your list.
13. Dr. Death
Dr. Death chronicles the terrible escapades of Christopher Duntsch, a Texas neurosurgeon who seriously botched more than 30 cases, leaving his patients seriously injured or dead in a span of less than four years. This podcast is great for fans who like medical drama. But be warned! Along with an examination of the deep issues plaguing the medical sector, there’s a lot of blood.
Criminal is a variety true crime podcast that delves into the minds of criminals. It tries to understand why they behave the way they do and how their behavior impacts the world. Host Phoebe Judge tells poignant and compelling stories. Some episodes have feature interviews with victims, incarcerated culprits, victims, and historical scholars.
15. The Dropout
The Dropout chronicles the story of Elizabth Holmes of Theranos and her “revolutionary” blood-testing machine that turned out to be nothing but lies and fraud. This podcast explores her meteoric rise and swift fall. Episodes contain commentary from people close to the matter and audio clips from Holmes’ trial. This is a fascinating look into one of the biggest business cons of all time.
16. Up and Vanished
In this podcast, investigators hope to find details on cold cases that weren’t popular in their time. They recount the stories of people who quite literally vanished without a trace. The first season investigates an 11-year cold case of the disappearance of a Georgia high school teacher. Season two looks into the disappearance of a mother in Colorado.
This true crime podcast addresses a subject you probably never knew was an issue: the wrongful convictions of Indigenous people in Australia. Hosted by Amy McQuire, an Indigenous Darumbal reporter, and Martin Hodgson, an advocate for Indigenous prisoners, this serial tells the story of accused murderer Kevin “Curtain” Henry. They discuss the case in the context of cultural and systemic racism in the Australian justice system.
18. Root of Evil
Root of Evil unpacks one of the most infamous unsolved cases in American history. Sisters Rasha Pecoraro and Yvette Gentile investigate their great grandfather, George Hodel. Hodel is suspected to be the killer of Elizabeth Short, also known as the Black Dahlia. It’s full of eerie details and shocking secrets that will hold your attention for hours.
This is another one of our best true crime podcasts that doesn’t deal with murder and abuse. In this show, hosts Seena Ghaznavi and Justin Williams delve into the world of fraud. They explore psychic hotlines, bookkeeping shenanigans, and other deceitful behavior people engage in to get rich.
20. Dirty John
Dirty John is a true crime classic that’s based on reporter and host Christopher Goffard’s series of investigative L.A. Times articles. This series chronicles the life of sociopath John Michael Meehan and his abuse of Debra Newell and her daughters. This compelling show was downloaded more than 10 million times. It inspired a narrative TV adaptation and a Dateline NBC episode.
Hosted by two mental health professionals, this podcast mixes true crime stories with comedy and some insightful social commentary. Their goal is to help readers see the connection between crime and mental health. They cover big cases, such as the Jesse James Hollywood murders and the Green River Killer, but in a fun, light-hearted way.
In 2018, journalist Neil Strauss was asked by a family to investigate the disappearance of a missing Hollywood actress. Despite his safety fears and threats on his life, he’s releasing a shocking podcast that exposes drama, affairs, and suicide in Hollywood. This wild story is addicting!
23. Pretend Radio
Pretend Radio sounds like a fiction show, but it actually recounts the stories of people who pretend to be someone they are not. These are fascinating tales of con artists and the mentally unwell, a unique blend of crime and psychology. Seriously, some of these audio interviews are strange. This is one of the best true crime podcasts because it’s just so innovative.
What Do You Think Are the Best True Crime Podcasts?
That’s our list of the best true crime podcasts in 2020. They’re full of interesting stories, tragic experiences, and compelling drama. Do you have a favorite show? Tell us which shows you think are the best true crime podcasts in the comments.
Still browsing for more great podcasts to add to your routine? Check out some more of our roundups:
- 15 Best Interview Podcasts Of 2020
- The Top Health And Wellness Podcasts To Stay Motivated [Updated June 2020]
- The Top 20 Fiction & Nonfiction Storytelling Podcasts [Updated May 2020]
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