The best true crime podcasts

The best true crime podcasts offer chilling insights into humanity

Blue Ella planar magnetic headphone review
Bill Roberson/Digital Trends
True crime has long been a popular genre in print and television, but since the runaway success of Serial in 2014, true crime has exploded in the podcasting world as well. What draws people to stories of deception, theft, and even murder? Is it a thirst for adrenaline? A way to cope with the horrors lurking in the world? Whatever your reasons for listening, we combed through the many true crime podcasts out there, assembling a list of the very best.

For those looking for different fare, we also put together a list of the best podcasts in general.

Crimetown

best true crime podcasts crimetown

For many Americans, organized crime may seem like a relic of a distant past. The past informs the present, however, and as Crimetown shows, the roots of organized crime run deep in some cities. In season 1, hosts Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier take listeners on a fascinating tour of Providence, Rhode Island, a small city with a surprisingly large mafia presence. Each episode tells a different chapter in the city’s sordid history, tied together by two giants: Mob boss Raymond Patriarca and Mayor Buddy Cianci. Crimetown is a polished, confident production, which should come as no surprise given that its creators also worked on HBO’s The Jinx.

Serial

best true crime podcasts serial

The show that brought podcasts into the mainstream (and won a Peabody Award), Serial follows journalist Sarah Koenig and the show’s staff as they investigate a single story over the course of a season. The show’s serialized nature gives the storytelling an added dramatic weight, as episodes often end on revelations that leave listeners wondering where the next episode will go. Season 1 examines the case of Adnan Syed, a prisoner serving time for the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Hae Min Lee, but who claims to be innocent. Season 2 explores a more recent story, the capture and negotiated release of U.S. Army soldier Bowe Bergdahl, who was eventually charged with desertion. Serial is unique not just for its production values — Koenig and her fellow producers originally worked on This American Life, and that experience shines through in the audio — but for its insight into the journalistic process; as episodes are recorded as the investigation progresses, so listeners hear Koenig and company grappling with new evidence.

In the Dark

best true crime podcasts in the dark

A Peabody Award-winning podcast, In the Dark follows the story of the abduction of Jacob Wetterling, whose disappearance in 1989 prompted a federal law implementing sex offender registration. Wetterling’s fate was unknown until 2016, when a man confessed to killing him. The first season of In the Dark follows Madeleine Baran’s exploration of the case, with a focus on the police investigation, and the ways in which it changed society and law enforcement — a distinct approach to the true crime genre.

Casefile

best true crime podcasts casefile

Many true crime podcasts have a decidedly American bent, but as Casefile demonstrates, murder is a global phenomenon. Produced out of Australia, Casefile tells crime stories from around the world, using creepy music and sound design to unsettle listeners. Episodes touch on a variety of topics, including serial killers and kidnappings gone wrong. The content is disturbing, but despite Casefile’s dramatic flourishes, it never feels ghoulish.

Swindled

best true crime podcasts swindled

While murders and kidnappings make for enticing stories, some of the biggest crimes in history are carried out not by men with knives or guns, but men in boardrooms. Swindled explores the world of “white collar” crime, which, although nonviolent, can be devastating for people and even communities. Each episode investigates a different case, such as an attempt to rig a lottery or an environmental disaster caused by a company recklessly dumping toxic chemicals. The stories are remarkable and often enraging.

My Favorite Murder

best true crime podcasts my favorite murder

Murder is depressing. Listen to enough stories of people murdering people and strewing their limbs around in strange patterns, and it takes a toll on you. Thankfully, My Favorite Murder adds a dash of levity, making even the most gruesome crimes fun to hear about. Hosts Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark both have backgrounds in comedy, and they have a lively rapport, with the podcast often veering into improv. The show recognizes that humor has its limits, however, treating the victims in its stories with appropriate gravity. While the juxtaposition of murder with laughs may seem odd, many find it therapeuticMy Favorite Murder is a delightfully macabre addition to any true crime podcast rotation.

Dirty John

best true crime podcasts dirty john

Having worked as a crime reporter and novelist, Christopher Goffard has experience with the darker elements of humanity and a knack for storytelling. Both of those qualities are on display in Dirty John, a six-episode series (and accompanying written feature) in which Goffard tells the story of Debra Newell, a 59-year old interior designer who meets a man named John Meehan on a dating site. Meehan comes on strong, but Newell falls for him, even as her daughters suspect something is off. Goffard interviews Newell and her family, among others, constructing a multifaceted narrative that may surprise listeners. It helps that Goffard has a measured, professional voice, making Dirty John feel at times like an audiobook.

Ponzi Supernova

best true crime podcasts ponzi supernova

In 2008, news broke that Bernie Madoff, a respected stockbroker and former chairman of NASDAQ, had been running a hedge fund that was essentially a giant Ponzi scheme, a revelation that blossomed into one of the biggest financial scandals in decades. What possessed Madoff to commit the crimes that led to his 150-year prison sentence? Steve Fishman goes straight to the source to find out in Ponzi Supernova, interviewing Madoff and the people in his life to construct a portrait of the man who became one of the greatest villains in modern finance.

The Grift

best true crime podcasts the grift

Author and psychology expert Maria Konnikova delves into the world of con artists with her podcast The Grift, which provides a detailed look into the minds of people who run scams. Each episode focuses on a different con artist, running the gamut from card sharks and art forgers to even a cult leader. The Grift lays out not just the art of the con, but what makes people susceptible to such schemes.

Wearables

Leak suggests Fitbit may soon release another 'swim-proof' fitness tracker

Fitbit is reportedly launching another fitness tracker -- the Fitbit Charge 3. The new wearable is expected to include a touchscreen display, connected GPS, the ability to reply to text messages, and more. Here's everything we know about…
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Movies & TV

Out of TV shows to binge? Our staff picks the best flicks on Hulu right now

From classics to blockbusters, Hulu offers some great films to its subscribers. Check out the best movies on Hulu, whether you're into charming adventure tales or gruesome horror stories.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix in August, from ‘Arrested Development’ to ‘Dark Tourist’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Movies & TV

The best movies on Netflix in August 2018, from ‘Blue Valentine’ to ‘Jurassic Park’

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, subdued humor, or anything in between.
Mobile

We found out which Sony Xperia phones will get Android 9 Pie in 2019

Android 9.0 Pie has been released. But is your phone getting Android 9.0 Pie, and if so, when? We've done the hard work and asked every device manufacturer to see when their devices would be getting the update.
Product Review

From its stunning screen to its slick S-Pen, Samsung's Note 9 is a masterpiece

It’s jaw-dropping how much tech Samsung has fit inside the Galaxy Note 9. It’s one of Samsung’s largest phones ever thanks to its 6.4-inch screen, and the S Pen is better than ever.
Mobile

Google may finally create its first flagship store in Chicago

Google is reportedly nearing an agreement on a lease for its first flagship retail store. The store will be located in Chicago, and will presumably be where the company shows off Google Pixel phones and other hardware.
Home Theater

The best MP3 player you can buy (and four alternatives)

Want to go for a run, but your phone is weighing you down? No worries. Can't fit your whole music library on your smartphone? Don't sweat it. Check out our list of the best MP3 players, and find one that works for you.
Mobile

Google confirms it still tracks users who turn Location History off

Google is tracking your location -- even when you tell it not to. According to an investigation by the Associated Press, Google services store location data, regardless of whether privacy settings claim otherwise.
Mobile

Is your smartphone frozen? Here's how to reset your iPhone

You can do a lot with an iPhone, but if you ever run into an issue with it, the first thing you should do is restart it. In this guide, we tell you how to reset your iPhone, and explain how it differs from a factory reset.
Mobile

The HTC U12 Plus is now available in color-shifting Flame Red shade

HTC has released some pretty great flagship phones in the past few years, and it's now aiming to follow up with another one. After plenty of rumors and leaks, the company has finally taken the wraps off of the new HTC U12 Plus.
Home Theater

Crazybaby’s Air 1S true wireless earbuds won’t make you look like a dork

Audio technology company Crazybaby has launched the Air 1S true wireless earbuds, offering considerable connectivity improvements over previous models while retaining the sleek style and supreme comfort.
Mobile

A subway passenger may have snagged a shot of the upcoming Pixel 3 XL

It hasn't been too long since Google launched the Pixel 2, but it's already gearing up for the next iteration, the Google Pixel 3. Here's everything we know about the upcoming phones so far.