the true crime wave

52 Great True-Crime Podcasts

All week long, Vulture is exploring the many ways true crime has become one of the most dominant genres in popular culture.

It started with Serial: Hae Min Lee disappears after school one day. Her classmate and ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed is arrested for her murder. He says he’s innocent. And the entire country couldn’t get enough. By last year, there were over a quarter billion downloads of the podcast. We were primed and ready for a true-crime podcast explosion.

And it happened so fast, it’s been hard to keep track. Fortunately for you, we dug deep and listened to hours of tape to find the absolute best of the bunch. Here’s a handy guide to 52 great true-crime podcasts worth adding to your queue.

If you want to focus on one story

Serial season one
The pod that started it all, Serial’s first season deals with the disappearance and murder of high school senior Hae Min Lee in 1999 — and the subsequent conviction of her classmate and ex-boyfriend, Adnan Syed, for her murder. Reporter and host Sarah Koenig follows up on thousands of documents and trial testimony while also talking to everyone she can find, resulting in reams of research that raise even more questions about what really happened. The podcast’s immense success even led to a popular spinoff, Undisclosed, that continues to follow Syed’s battle to prove his innocence.
Episodes: 10 in season one
Length: 1 hour or less

Missing and Murdered
The first season centers on the unsolved 1989 murder of Alberta Williams in British Columbia, following reporter Connie Walker as she meets with the person who sent her the tip in the first place. Season two shifts its focus to Cleo, a young Cree girl who was apprehended by child welfare workers in Saskatchewan in the 1970s. Her family tells a different story, however, of how she was stolen, raped, and murdered.
Episodes: 18 over two seasons
Length: 1 hour or less

From the same producers as Serial, S-Town quickly became the podcast everyone was talking about. Its single season follows John, a man who despises his Alabama town and wants someone desperately to investigate the scion of a wealthy family who’s been going around town saying he got away with murder.
Episodes: 7
Length: 1 hour

Dirty John
Debra Newell is a successful interior designer who meets the titular John. He’s handsome, available, and just back from a year serving with Doctors Without Borders. Then things start to unravel. You’ll be hooked from the start.
Episodes: 6
Length: 1 hour or less

Season one explores the dark underbelly of Providence, Rhode Island, where organized crime and corruption once ran rampant. Didn’t expect a Godfather-style saga of alliances, betrayals, heists, mobsters, and crooked cops from this sleepy New England state? Prepare to be shocked. Season two, focusing on a new city (the sleuths of Reddit seem to think Detroit), will be released in fall 2018.
Episodes: 18, plus 7 bonus episodes
Length: 1 hour or less

West Cork
Presented as an Audible Original from Amazon, it’s no surprise that this audiobook meets true-crime podcast saga was a hit. What we know: Sophia Toscan du Plantier was found murdered on the edge of her property in Ireland, just days before Christmas in 1996. But things just begin there. Follow along with journalist Sam Bungey and producer Jennifer Forde as they try to solve this brutal mystery.
Episodes: 1
Length: Almost 8 hours

In the Dark
In season one, you’ll learn about Jacob Wetterling, an 11-year-old boy who was kidnapped in rural Minnesota. Picking up 27 years later, reporter Madeleine Baran reveals major concerns with how law enforcement mishandled Jacob’s abduction — and how this failure fueled nationwide anxiety around stranger danger, not to mention the creation of the sex-offender registry. The lauded second season takes a different path with the case of Curtis Flowers, a black man who, over the past two decades, has been tried six times for the same crime — and has maintained his innocence throughout. A great dive into the annals of the justice system.
Episodes: 17 over two seasons
Length: 1 hour or less

A Killing on the Cape
From ABC Radio and 20/20, A Killing on the Cape offers a chilling look at the 2002 murder that rocked an idyllic Cape Cod town. Fashion writer Christa Worthington was found stabbed to death with her 2-year-old daughter unharmed by her side, and after a three-year search, the entire community was under suspicion. Ultimately, Worthington’s garbage man was convicted of her murder and rape — but it doesn’t end there.
Episodes: 6
Length: 1 hour or less

Someone Knows Something
David Ridgen follows a different case each season, starting with the mysterious 1970s disappearance of a 5-year-old Ontario boy. Ridgen is incredibly thorough and his sensitive Canadian approach sets Someone Knows Something apart from the pack. He knows the questions you want to ask and isn’t afraid to ask them. Worth noting: Season four offers a fascinating, well-reported deep dive into a mail bomb murder.
Episodes: 36 over 4 seasons, plus a few short updates
Length: 1 hour or less, although a few tip just over an hour

Up and Vanished
The entire series of Up and Vanished focuses on the unsolved disappearance of Tara Grinstead. Host Payne Lindsey examines the 11-year-old case — the largest case file in Georgia history — and re-interviews persons of interest in the case to see whether there’s something that was overlooked.
Episodes: 25 with many additional follow-up episodes
Length: 1 hour

Atlanta Monster
From the creators of Up and Vanished and HowStuffWorks, Atlanta Monster turns an eye to one of the darkest moments in the city’s history: The 1979–81 Atlanta Child Murders, a two-year period that saw the disappearance and murder of over 25 black children and young adults.
Episodes: 10 with a few additional follow-up episodes
Length: 1 hour

Reporter Amber Hunt digs into the murder of 23-year-old Elizabeth Andes, who was found dead in her Ohio apartment in December 1978. Incredibly well produced and researched, it’s Cincinnati’s Serial. Season two, just released, focuses on the murder of a prison minister.
Episodes: 17 over two seasons
Length: 1 hour or less

Death in Ice Valley
Combining two powerhouses, BBC World Service and Norwegian NRK, this series offers a spectacularly dark look into the Isdal Woman, an unidentified woman found in the icy wilds of Norway in 1970. Prepare for constant chills and plenty of mood.
Episodes: 10
Length: 1 hour or less

If you want to feel like you’re chatting with friends

My Favorite Murder
Hosted by friends Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark, MFM breaks down the duo’s (yes) favorite murder that week. They kick off each episode with a check-in on the world of true crime and each other, putting you right there on the couch with them (and Elvis the cat). Conversational and not too serious, it’s by far one of the most successful of its type.
Episodes: 122+ with 77 additional hometown murder mini-sodes
Length: 1 hour or more

Last Podcast on the Left
One of the longer running true-crime podcasts, hosts Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski offer in-depth dissections of each crime, frequently calling out their concerns. It’s like hanging out with really well-informed pals who aren’t afraid to yell “That seems suspicious!” mid-case. The two-part Casey Anthony series is a great place to start.
Episodes: 325
Length: 1 hour or more

Wine & Crime
Knowledgeable but lighthearted coverage of a variety of criminal-justice-system topics, but the real hook: this trio of lovely women from Minnesota perfectly pair their true crimes with wines. Always fresh but still respectful, Wine & Crime leaves you feeling informed but not too icky.
Episodes: 75
Length: 1 hour or more

White Wine True Crime!
Hosted by comedians Kari Martin and Caitlin Cutt, this one’s best if you want to be literally drinking wine while you binge. The show explores each case without making light of the subjects, presenting crimes you know (and many you don’t) in their unique way. Additionally, the L.A.-based duo also like to cover other popular true-crime series — their episodes on Netflix’s The Keepers are worth a listen.
Episodes: 95+
Length: 1 hour or more

What Did You Do?
Buddies Charneil and Dee don’t hold back as they talk over the crimes that you’ve likely never heard about in towns around the U.S. The hosts are incredibly refreshing, and they’ll have you walking around telling people to “be better.”
Episodes: 14+
Length: 1 hour or more

True Crime Garage
The pinnacle of best-friend vibes. The premise is delightfully simple: two friends in their garage, drinking beer, talking true crime. Recommended episodes: the Lululemon Murder and the Lauren Spierer case, parts one and two.
Episodes: 223
Length: 1 hour or more

If you just want the facts, ma’am

Serial Killers
Just like the name suggests, Serial Killers is about serial killers. Using both real recordings and voice actors, this podcast feels more like an audiobook than your standard podcast — and it’s terrifying.
Episodes: 68+
Length: 1 hour or less

Cults devotes two episodes to every cult, ensuring a thorough story each time. Not only do they cover the outfits that you already know about, like the Branch Davidians, but also the lesser known one that will make you question everything you thought you knew. (Also, shoutout to some other Parcast titles worth listening to: Female Criminals and Conspiracy Theories.)
Episodes: 44
Length: 1 hour or less

Casefile True Crime
The tag line: “Fact is scarier than fiction.” So true! With an anonymous Australian host leading you deep into each case, you won’t be able to walk away without chills. Working in its favor: incredible research and top-notch production.
Episodes: 89
Length: 1 hour or more

Sword and Scale
What sets this apart from most of its peers is its inclusion of primary documents like 911 calls, witness evidence, and interrogation tapes, which all help to tell a fuller story.
Episodes: 115+
Length: 1 hour or more

The Mind of Madness True Crime Stories
If you’ve been reading this list and have started wondering, “What the hell is going on in these killers’ minds?,” this is exactly the podcast for you.
Episodes: 22+
Length: 1 hour or more

Generation Why
Hosts Aaron and Justin deliver fact-filled but approachable discussions of some truly horrific moments throughout history — and they cover more than murder, too, with subjects ranging from Brock Turner to Jeffrey Dahmer to the Scream Murder. Highly addictive.
Episodes: 278+
Length: 1 hour or more

True Crime Historian
Host Richard O Jones brings long-forgotten cases back into the present, retelling them with an eye toward what makes them important, then and now.
Episodes: 248+
Length: 1 hour or more

If you’re a procedural junkie

The tag line for this podcast says it best: “True stories from behind the yellow tape.” Each season explores real stories told by homicide detectives. Incredibly raw, emotional, and not for the light of heart.
Episodes: 22 over 3 seasons
Length: Less than 30 minutes

Court Junkie
Perfect for people interested in the forensic-science aspect of some of American true crime’s most interesting cases. What gives this podcast its special sauce is that it tends to focus on contentious cases where guilt or innocence is not so simple to answer.
Episodes: 54+
Length: 1 hour or more

Real Crime Profile
This podcast has an actual retired FBI agent on it. What more do you really need to know? Okay, a little more info: They also focus on the behavioral profiles of its cases. Call it a highbrow Criminal Minds.
Episodes: 131+
Length: 1 hour or less

Small Town Dicks
The show that insists small-town USA can produce some big-time crime. Each episode features the detectives who broke the case and real-life audio. Not sold? Well, the show is also anchored by identical-twin detectives Dan and Dave.
Episodes: 30+
Length: 1 hour or less

Crime in Color
Host Keyerra will bring you weekly episodes featuring cases involving people of color, always keeping the victims, the survivors, and the wrongly convicted in sight. Needless to say, these stories are important, and more of them should be heard.
Episodes: 31+
Length: 30 minutes or less

If you want only unsolved cases

Unsolved Murders: True Crime Stories
If it wasn’t obvious, Unsolved Murders is all about unsolved murders. Brought to you by Parcast, it follows a format similar to its other titles (see: Cults) in which stories are broken out into two parts, all with incredible detail and in-depth research. The big difference: Unsolved Murders takes on an old-school-radio style, with storytelling aided by acted-out bits of dramatization. Think War of the Worlds meets Serial.
Episodes: 97+
Length: 1 hour or less

The Vanished
The Vanished is absolutely heartbreaking. But the missing-persons series is an incredible service that allows listeners to submit their own stories, thus humanizing the worst moment in someone’s life. Bring your tissues.
Episodes: 129+
Length: 1 hour or less

The Fall Line
The Fall Line is focused on missing, marginalized people from Georgia; this is an America’s Most Wanted–style podcast for the masses. The show aims to shed light on those who are gone and bring public attention back to their cases. From the very first episode, listeners will find themselves running an emotional gauntlet.
Episodes: 16, episode 2 is starting soon
Length: 1 hour or less

If you want international crimes

True Crime Asia
Hosted by Singaporean-American writer Melissa Powers, True Crime Asia presents baffling crimes from across the continent.
Episodes: 6
Length: 30 minutes or less

They Walk Among Us
The award-winning biweekly U.K. title features cases that range from horrific to bizarre.
Episodes: 48
Length: 1 hour or less

Curtain highlights the racism faced by indigenous Australians in the justice system by closely exploring the case of Kevin “Curtain” Henry, who was accused of murder in 1992. The podcast regularly pulls back at points to give a broader view of issues specific to the country.
Episodes: 55+
Length: 1 hour or less

Australian True Crime
The tagline: “Think nothing ever happens in your town?” Sold.
Episodes: 57+
Length: 1 hour or less

Canadian True Crime
Our great northern neighbors keep their focus on “honouring and respecting victims and survivors,” which, honestly, can’t be said about all the other podcasts on this list. Give it a shot.
Episodes: 30+
Length: 1 hour or more

If you want celebrities and musicians

When your industry’s motto is “sex, drugs, and rock and roll,” you can only imagine what kind of true-crime fodder is happening behind the scenes. Imagine no more: Disgraceland is here to fill your musical true-crime needs. Plus: Host Jake Brennan knows what really went down between Biggie and Tupac.
Episodes: 11+
Length: 1 hour or less

Hollywood & Crime
Hollywood & Crime specializes in cases from Hollywood’s golden age, including what might be the most complete investigation of the Black Dahlia, with 26 episodes fully dedicated to what’s probably Hollywood’s most notorious murder. But don’t fret, the team still goes deep on other Tinseltown crimes.
Episodes: 40
Length: 1 hour or less

Crime in Sports
Even if ESPN isn’t your homepage, there’s something here for you. Hilariously presented, this one offers wild romps in the world of sports, including some truly ridiculous crimes. Suggested starting point: the episodes about NASCAR driver Jeremy Mayfield’s wild career, amazingly titled “The Murdering, Gunslinging, Honor Student Gang Banger.”
Episodes: 118+
Length: 1 hour or more

Case Notes
Tim Lihoreau brings you the darkest and weirdest stories from music history, starting right with episode one — about how Joseph Haydn’s head was stolen from his grave.
Episodes: 6+
Length: 1 hour or less

If you need a break from all the murder

If you’re interested in true crime, want variety, and only have time for one podcast, then Criminal is for you. Every episode is expertly researched and presented in a no-nonsense straightforward manner. It’s true-crime storytelling at its best, taking you beyond just the police reports and sensational headlines.
Episodes: 91+
Length: 30 minutes or less

Pretty Scary
Conspiracy theories, ghosts, aliens, and amusement park disasters — all in one place. Hosted by comedians Adam Tod Brown, Caitlin Cutt, and Kari Martin (Cutt and Martin also host White Wine True Crime), Pretty Scary takes a look at all those downright weird happenings from the crime blotter. Occasionally there’s a murder or two thrown in there, but most episodes go outside of the traditional true-crime arena.
Episodes: 33+
Length: 1 hour or less

Darknet Diaries
You’ve binged all of Black Mirror, and you know what the bad side of technology can look like in the future. But what about right now? Darknet Diaries delves into the cybercrimes that are happening right under your nose. Some of these may hit a little too close to home: Cover your laptop camera, throw that iPhone in the river, and hang out in that weird no-reception corner or your home.
Episodes: 17+
Length: 1 hour or less

Rather than spending all its time on murders, this unique podcast focuses more on compelling tales of deceit, corruptions, and all-around bad people. And it’s brought to you by reporters, resulting in journalistic investigations with clean storytelling.
Episodes: 202+
Length: 1 hour or less

A show that takes you inside the (considerably busy!) world of corporate crime and white-collar greed.
Episodes: 14+
Length: 1 hour or less

The Grift
The perfect binge if the Ocean’s series are among your favorite movies, The Grift takes deep dives into the world of con men, forgers, and fakes.
Episodes: 10
Length: 1 hour or less

Pretend Radio
Have you ever thought about becoming someone else? These are the true stories of people who pretend to be people they aren’t. It’s definitely one of the more unusual podcasts around.
Episodes: 21+
Length: 1 hour or less

If you love ‘American Vandal’ (or fake true crime in general)

A Very Fatal Murder
From the brilliant minds at the Onion (so you know it’s good), this one wins for the best podcast name.
Episodes: 6
Length: 30 minutes or less

Is it real? Is it fake? Okay, fine, it’s not real, but don’t let that deter you from this thrilling crime story. Limetown uses faux public-radio-style storytelling that makes it feel very real — oh, and season two returns this year.
Episodes: 6, plus multiple extra one-minute shorts
Length: 1 hour or less

52 Great True-Crime Podcasts