The Wire, Crime Scene Investigation, Sherlock Holmes and Dexter are some of the most-watched TV series on the planet. They capture your imagination with gory crime scenes and witty investigative adventures. Such series take you on a wild ride through some of the most unimaginable horror stories. However, crime drama lacks an element only true crime podcasts can embody.
You will agree that your perspective about a film instantly changes whenever you see the line 'Based on a true story'. This is because your imagination of the events is suddenly real.
It is not just a story. A true crime podcast feeds you all the details about cruel yet very real and controversial crimes from around the world.
The top crime podcasts fire up your imagination and transport you to the scene of a crime, wheezing you off into a police station interrogation room and to the morgue - all this during your morning commute or while you do the dishes.
Podcasts have established themselves as a unique way to consume content outside of lengthy audiobooks or TV documentary specials.
As you break ground into this vast new world of content consumption, we have created a list that will capture your attention as you binge on the best crime podcasts.
Best true crime podcasts ever
Media giants and private content creators alike have noticed the potential of podcasts and rush to create their own. We have done the research for you and separated the chaff from the seed, here are the best podcasts to listen to:
10. Slow Burn
American history is littered with some of the most controversial stories worldwide, ranging from widely publicized and very private yet invitingly scandalous presidential affairs to unexplained assassinations that are yet to be solved decades later.
Three seasons in and with more than enough stories to choose from, Slow Burn is only just beginning. The first season explores one of the most shocking stories from the seventies, the Watergate Scandal.
Using detailed narration and patient storytelling techniques, Slow Burn tells you all there is to know about the events that took place at the Watergate Complex in 1972. The podcast carefully follows the subsequent investigations while exploring the perspectives and opinions of the people involved.
PBS covered the entirety of the process in the seventies, so this is not a first. However, it is a refreshing new look at a landmark event that ended the presidency of Richard Nixon via impeachment and resignation.
The second season delves into yet another juicy story involving a president; Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky took America for a ride. Similarly, Leon Neyfakh takes you along a detailed exploration of the timeline of all the events.
The third season takes on a new host bringing a different voice to the podcast. Joel Anderson takes you on a season-long tale of the occurrences leading up to the unsolved murders of Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG.
Slow Burn is one of the few good true crime podcasts because it grows on you. One episode after another, you simply want to listen more. Season four might hold more surprises to come.
This is one of the top true crime podcasts you will find on the web. It starts with an email from John B. McLemore to the host of the show, Brian Reed. It is one of the top Peabody Award best true crime podcasts.
In it, John is displeased with the way of life in small-town Alabama where he lives. He tells a story of an unsolved and unsettling murder in the town which he aptly calls S-Town.
Brian Reed travels down South to bring you one of the best true crime stories. He is an excellent storyteller.
S-Town features him and a few of the producers who worked on Serial, another podcast on our list. S-Town brings you face to face with odd individuals that evoke emotions in a way you did not imagine possible.
The story is gripping from the start to the end. Along the way, you will have to remember this is not the plot of a drama show on Netflix but a true-life story.
The mystery of never knowing the name of the town makes it an awesome crime podcast for your free time. Good luck with trying to find the town.
8. Truth and Lies: Jeffrey Epstein
Jeffrey Epstein is a former American financier and convicted sex offender who passed away last year while in jail awaiting sentencing on new charges of sexual abuse.
In 2008, he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 28 months in prison. He served his sentence and returned to a limited life filled with infamy.
ABC explores the rise and fall of Jeffrey Epstein, starting from how he became so wealthy to his decline into perversion and sexual abuse.
It is an all too familiar story told through the eyes of the victims, Chauntae Davies, the Farmer sisters, and Virginia Roberts Giuffre.
Truth and Lies goes one layer deeper and brings to light a twist to the story: Ghislaine Maxwell is a lady that enabled Epstein's sexual abuse, helping lure unknowing women.
7. This Thing of Darkness
This Thing of Darkness is centered around the narration and interviews of Dr. Alex Bridges as she seeks to establish whether or not David, father of Jamie, is fit to stand trial for the murder of his son.
Alex insists she is not investigating the facts of the case, but simply analyzing a patient on behalf of his defense team. Regardless, her work ends up uncovering a host of crucial details that will have your inner detective all ears.
Part 1 ends in a cliff hanger that will have you craving part 2. This is one of few new true crime podcasts worthy of your time.
6. True Crime Obsessed
You have probably heard of Jeffrey Dahmer before, especially if you are a true crime podcast diehard fan.
Are you wondering what is the best serial killer podcast? True Crime Obsessed is one of the best serial killer podcasts.
For more than a decade, Jeffrey Dahmer killed, sexually abused and dismembered the bodies of 17 men in Milwaukee, earning him the name Milwaukee Cannibal.
When he was arrested and the news of all this brought to light, everyone was naturally freaked out. He was sentenced to 16 consecutive life terms.
The extra 15 show just how badly everyone wanted him off the streets. He was murdered in 1994.
Before he died, Dahmer was more than enthusiastic in giving interviews and monologue on his crimes. True Crime Obsessed has one such titular exploration of Dahmer, by Dahmer, aptly named "Dahmer on Dahmer".
Bleak, granted, but TCO is masterful at narration. This dark, twisted story is told in bone-chilling detail but is funny at the same time.
Unlike many other true crime podcasts, the aim here is not to scare you, it's to take you through the most horrifying real-life stories in a way that makes you laugh and listen more and more. TCO: Dahmer on Dahmer is a true-crime podcast like no other.
5. Conviction: American Panic
Sharon Shattuck takes on a new perspective in this true crime podcast. In the 80s, the USA was rocked with the worst case of mass hysteria in history seen to this day.
There were widespread allegations of satanic ritual abuse all over the country with many daycare centers implicated. Naturally, this sent parents into a mass frenzy.
The allegations became even darker when rumors spread about some parents taking part in the ritual abuse and sexual assault of their children. Sharon Shattuck digs up one such story involving Scott and Brenda Kniffen who were accused of child sexual abuse of their sons.
Hairs on the back of your neck will be up when you get to hear recordings of interviews of the children. You may not be a detective, but your intuition will show you there is a lot more to the story than we are told.
Conviction will take you on a trip down memory lane and show you just how shifty some memories can be. Three decades later, how the story is told and how most remember it will have you listening in, leaving your coffee cold.
4. Murder in Pilot Mountain
Social media is the best way to crowdsource help in tracing a lost child or missing a loved one. You can harness the power of the masses and track down the most obscure items using the power of the internet.
Resource persons will come to your aid in spreading the message and accomplishing your goals.
Unfortunately, Ronda Blaylock could not be saved like this on the day of her disappearance on August 26th, 1980. Raised in Rural Hall, North Carolina, 14-year-old Ronda never made it back home after school on that fateful day.
72 hours later, her dead body was found 17 miles away in Pilot Mountain, North Carolina. The trail went cold after that, and the investigation that followed yielded no result.
Chad Tucker digs into the cold case of the disappearance and murder of Ronda Blaylock.
In 2015, a task force was formed in defiance of popular wisdom that such a case had been cold too long to yield any new information. The Ronda Blaylock Taskforce uncovered unexpected witness statements from witnesses more than 30 years later.
An epitome of the best true crime podcast formats, Murder in Pilot Mountain goes through tons of investigative files and pieces together the story through the decades for your easy consumption.
3. Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo
A true crime podcast is both a source of entertainment and information on issues that have affected people at one point or another. Connie Walker, a CBC reporter, hosts Missing & Murdered to reveal the hidden history of systemic oppression embedded in stories of horror.
Cleo Nicotine Semaganis was a child taken as part of the horrendous systemic oppression of indigenous people in Canada. Famously known as the Sixties Scoop, she and many other children of indigenous origin were taken and never seen again.
Connie, who happens to be Cree herself, explores what happened to the children taken from Saskatchewan in the sixties. In her quest, she stumbles upon the answer to the mystery.
Her investigative journalism and voice-over narration trigger your emotions, highlighting the oppression and the role it plays in how this case remained unsolved all along.
Finding Cleo is the second season of Missing & Murdered. The first season shot it into the best crime podcast territory, and the second season stamps its place here.
Victims of sexual assault are misunderstood and blamed for what they underwent too often in messy trials and often publicized court cases. They endure the shame and humiliation without being believed and are forced to live in a nightmare while their abusers walk free.
Little attention is given to how they ended up becoming victims. We may never understand how the perpetrators of such heinous crimes stay on the streets long enough to rack up long lists of victims.
Kate Wells and Lindsey Smith introduce you to victims of Larry Nassar, former USA Gymnastics national team doctor who sexually abused girls and women. They weave a story intricately through interviews and stories as told by the victims.
Victims tell the tale of how they were groomed; through this, you can see how Nassar had created a system around him that could not reveal the reality of his true nature. This allowed him to stay free for so long before the avalanche of cases against him.
The sheer number of victims is high enough to get you infuriated. More than 150 women gave their confessions in his trial, all victims of his sexual predation.
The podcast was released when MeToo was rolling full steam ahead.
The list of true crime podcast royalty would be incomplete without Serial. Serial revived a genre of content creation people had forgotten about: weekly radio shows with great content and good storytelling.
Sarah Koenig, in creating this podcast, not only made a name in true crime podcasts but also triggered an avalanche of dozens of new shows from all around the world.
Sarah Koenig uses long-form audio journalism to walk the line between the failures of criminal investigation systems and the criminal justice system. She dissects many cases and tells stories in a unique and opinionated fashion that you cannot find anywhere else.
Her work is praised by many podcasters and journalists alike. You won't even notice the hours fly by when you begin listening to Serial.
Whether you are a seasoned true crime podcast fan or a newbie looking to explore the genre, this list has something for you. It is a mix of new and legendary true crime podcasts. Give these a try and start your journey into some of the world's most controversial mysteries.