The Best True Crime Podcasts
Ideal listening for at home. With the doors locked...
There was a time when admitting to a fascination with the macabre or showing an interest in a deep-dive into a serial killer’s murders and motivations might have raised an eyebrow or two – and led to several of your friends, ahem, socially distancing themselves from you. But ever since the release of Serial Season 1 (not familiar? Read on…), the true crime genre has been at the forefront of the podcast culture revolution. To get you started, here are our favourite true crime podcasts of all time.
The Best True Crime Podcasts
True Crime podcasts tend to fall into two categories when it comes to format. There are long-form deep-dives and weekly shows that touch on a number of cases or crimes. The former can be binged like your favourite Netflix show, immersing you in a (pretty horrifying) world for as long as you can stomach it without coming up for air. Serial series one aired in 2014, and can be held pretty much solely responsible for kick-starting the true crime podcast tidal wave. A spinoff of This American Life, the first season dives into the murder of Hae Min Lee and the potential guilt or innocence of her convicted murderer Adnan Syed. Serial is so impactful, this first season recently resulted in a reopening of Hae Min Lee’s case and an overturn in the conviction. Season 2 then focussed on Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl an American soldier charged with desertion after being held by the Taliban for five years, and season 3 explores cases within the Justice Center Complex in Cleveland.
LISTEN: Serial is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Google, Spotify, and on the website. serialpodcast.org
The Coldest Case In Laramie
New to the true crime podcast roster, from the creators of Serial, The Coldest Case In Laramie zooms in on an unsolved murder case. Laramie, Wyoming, 1985: 22-year-old Shelli Wiley is found stabbed to death in her flat, which was then set on fire. Two arrests later, the police can only find dead ends. That is until 2016, when a police officer is arrested – but charges, again, are quickly dropped. New York Times reporter Kim Barker hosts, with the podcast idea developing in lockdown when Barker refamiliarised herself with the case, having first heard of it as a teenager when the case initially unfolded.
LISTEN: The Coldest Case In Laramie is available to listen to on all the major podcast streaming sites. nytimes.com
The Doorstep Murder
A limited series initially of six episodes, The Doorstep Murder is a BBC Sounds podcast presented by Fiona Walker delving into the murder of Alistair Wilson, one of Scotland’s most baffling unsolved cases. Two follow-up episodes have also been published in the wake: one featuring Alistair’s son, Andrew, discussing his father’s murder for the first time; and another exploring the police’s new proposed motive for the murder.
LISTEN: The Doorstep Murder is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, BBC Sounds, and Spotify. bbc.co.uk
My Favorite Murder
It’s murder, but with a smile. This writer’s favourite of the murder-y bunch, this long-running true crime podcast is fronted by the hilarious and likeable duo Georgia Hardstark and Karen Kilgariff. Each week they pick a murder each (although some weeks it’s a building collapse or air disaster for some light relief) and tell each other (and us, the listener) the story with a good dollop of humour and charm. Sure, a few of the facts are muddled (that’s what corrections corner is for), but they have a much more victim-sensitive approach than many others and have managed to build one of the most positive, all-inclusive fan communities in the podcast world.
LISTEN: My Favourite Murder is available to listen to on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Wondery. myfavoritemurder.com
If you like your listening with less murder, this could be the true crime podcast for you. ABC’s award-winning podcast, The Dropout, has since been adapted into a limited series by Disney, starring Amanda Seyfried in the leading role. Delving into the backstory of Elizabeth Holmes – founder of Theranos who became the world’s youngest self-made billionaire in 2015 – the series was originally published in early 2019 with six episodes around 40 minutes long, featuring interviews with former employees, investors and patients, as well as portions of deposition tapes. Then in 2021, when Elizabeth was on trial, the show returned for a second season, The Dropout: Elizabeth Holmes on Trial.
LISTEN: The Dropout is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. abcaudio.com
One of the biggest British true crime podcasts out there, Red Handed is presented by two friends Hannah and Suruthi, who each week dive into one case for a detailed overview of what happened, and how. If you can stomach all the gory details, this well-researched murder-pod is the one for you.
LISTEN: Red Handed is available to listen to on Spotify. redhandedpodcast.com
Lucy Worsley’s BBC Sounds podcast investigates the crimes of Victorian women, analysing them from a contemporary feminist perspective. Each of the 10 episodes (which are just under 30 minutes long) focuses on a different crime, from poisonings to axe murders. Perfect for fans of the BBC’s You’re Dead To Me.
LISTEN: Lady Killers is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, BBC Sounds and Spotify. bbc.co.uk
Rather than focusing solely on murder cases, Criminal (which has been running since before Serial first aired) is a weekly dive into a specific element of the criminal justice system, made accessible through an engaging first person story, beautifully told by radio host Phoebe Judge (known for her incredibly soothing voice). From tax evaders to plane hijackers, there is a platform for all, with light-hearted stories mixed among incredible two-or-three-episode series telling unbelievable intertwined tales of murder and mayhem. One that springs to mind (everytime there is a noise overhead) tells of a woman who discovered a man had been living in her attic unnoticed for months.
LISTEN: Criminal is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. thisiscriminal.com
From Tortoise Media, Sweet Bobby was a live investigation when the podcast was initially released, exploring the relationship between Bobby and Kirat, a successful marketer who also has a weekly slot on a local radio show. Presented by Alexi Mostrous, Tortoise’s investigations editor, and featuring a range of interviews, Sweet Bobby is tricky to explain without spoilers – a truly mind-boggling true crime podcast. But trust us: it’s seriously addictive, throwing some of our UK laws (or lack thereof) into question.
LISTEN: Sweet Bobby is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. tortoisemedia.com
If you prefer a one-story deep dive, there are plenty of good ones to choose from, including Dr Death, S-Town and Teachers Pet, all of which are well worth a listen. But Dirty John is one of the best, telling the story of Debra Newell, who was duped by coercive con artist John Meehanis. If you didn’t make it through the TV series (this podcast came first and is better), give this a go instead. The plot twists and turns are almost too unbelievable to work on screen, but told through a series of interviews, the podcast captivates the listener, while bringing to light the difficult-to-cover and important topic of coercive control and domestic abuse.
LISTEN: Dirty John is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts, Audible and Spotify. podcasts.apple.com
Death in Ice Valley
From BBC World Service, Death in Ice Valley investigates a Norwegian cold murder case – involving an unidentified body – which has remained unsolved for almost half a century. Spearheaded by Norwegian investigative journalist Marit Higraff, the podcast was released in 2018, following Higraff’s extensive research into the case.
LISTEN: Death in Ice Valley is available to listen to on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. bbc.co.uk
Featured image: Dev Abhiram on Unsplash
You might also like...