The 30 best true crime podcasts of all time, ranked

Quality true crime podcasting includes everything from acclaimed investigative series to more light-hearted fare.

The true crime landscape is flooded with podcasts. With hundreds of choices for your listening pleasure (or terror), what’s a true crime aficionado to do? The answer: Find cold, hard proof of which shows unpack cases better and keep you hooked longer. Here, Entertainment Weekly presents our ranking of the best true crime podcasts, from twisted deep dives to ongoing comedy/crime hybrids with years of library content. Read on to solve the case of what you should listen to next! 

30. My Favorite Murder

My Favorite Murder
My Favorite Murder

For more than eight years, Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark have told stories of murder, mayhem, and other true crimes. They never expected their instant success; early episodes are pretty lackadaisical on fact-checking, and there were plenty of growing pains. Luckily, the comedians took valid criticism to heart and evolved to cover more crimes against marginalized people, get researchers on the payroll, and donate to organizations advocating for victims and reform. They’ve also never stopped being funny, which is important to the loyal “Murderinos” tuning in every week.

Listen to My Favorite Murder here.

29. Father Wants Us Dead

<p>Father Wants Us Dead</p>

Father Wants Us Dead

The List murders are, to borrow a phrase, particularly heinous (insert Law & Order “dun dun” sound here). In 1971, in a quiet suburban New Jersey town, an accountant named John List killed his wife, his mother, and his three children before disappearing. It took 18 years and a feature on America’s Most Wanted to catch the fugitive, but List died in prison in 2008 while serving multiple life sentences. This deep-dive podcast is meticulously reported by Rebecca Everett and Jessica Remo, who interviewed more than 50 people involved with the case as they tried to make sense of the senseless.

Listen to Father Wants Us Dead here.

28. A Very British Cult



When you look at the big picture, it’s easy to tell that Lighthouse, a life-coaching and mentorship group, was actually a money-sucking cult intent on keeping members in the fold through blackmail, bullying, and emotional manipulation. But for the vulnerable people lured by promises of “life optimization” and fulfillment, it wasn’t clear at all. Like the proverbial frogs in a pot, each realized far too late that leader Paul Waugh and his acolytes had nothing to offer but abuse. Host Catrin Nye even confronts Waugh in the final episode, ending the satisfying series on a cathartic high note.

Listen to A Very British Cult here.

27. To Live and Die in L.A.

<p>To Live and Die in LA</p>

To Live and Die in LA

Rolling Stone journalist Neil Strauss first heard of Adea Shabani when her family reached out, hoping he’d write a story on the missing aspiring actress. Using his years of investigative skills and a few volunteers (including Incubus guitarist Mike Einziger), Strauss systematically tracks the complicated lives of the missing down rabbit holes you don’t see coming. This four-year project also chronicles the strain on Strauss and his then-wife Ingrid De La O, a reminder of the real people behind the mics. This is a classic mystery pod made better by the involvement of the families and the quality of the journalism.

Listen to To Live and Die in L.A. here.

26. Scamanda

<p>Lionsgate Sound</p>

Lionsgate Sound

Cancer scams just feel more nefarious than other schemes. The moral vacancy it takes to not only convince people you have a terminal illness, but then take their money? It’s jaw-dropping. So get ready to keep that jaw on the ground, because the story of Amanda C. Reilly blogging about her “cancer” for seven years while collecting trips, gifts, and cash will infuriate you. In the end, despite her carefully cultivated Christian mommy blogger aesthetic getting her out of some close calls, Reilly learned a valuable lesson when she finally got caught: If the IRS got Capone, they’ll get you, too.

Listen to Scamanda here.

25. Bone Valley



The best true crime indicts institutions that fail people they should be serving. And that criteria makes Bone Valley one of the very best of its kind. Leo Schofield served a horrifying 35 years for the 1987 murder of his wife… despite evidence pointing to another suspect and the detailed confessions of that real killer. Pulitzer Prize winner Gilbert King, his researcher Kelsey Decker, and the Florida judge who risked his career to bring the case to them painstakingly prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, how judges and prosecutors would rather fight to keep an innocent man in prison than let him go. Oh, and they accidentally solve another murder in the process.

Listen to Bone Valley here.

24. Crime in Sports

<p>Crime in Sports</p>

Crime in Sports

Sports and crime have been a winning combination for millennia — there’s even evidence that competitors in ancient Greece were offered bribes to throw the Olympic games — so this podcast, hosted by comedians Jimmie Whisman and James Pietragallo, is an absolute natural. Covering crimes in every weight class, from lightweight autograph scams to heavyweight murders, each episode is a knockout.

Listen to Crime in Sports here.

23. The Coldest Case in Laramie

<p>Serial Productions</p>

Serial Productions

To manage expectations, know that this podcast does not solve the 1985 murder of college student Shelli Wiley — and that’s precisely the point. When New York Times reporter Kim Barker goes back to her childhood hometown to find out why the cop briefly accused of the crime hasn’t been prosecuted, you expect to hear another story about the corrupt thin blue line. Instead, she discovers a far more complex reality explaining why cold cases remain frustratingly difficult to solve.

Listen to The Coldest Case in Laramie here.

22. Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen



What first strikes you when listening to this almost-too-bonkers tale is the sheer chutzpah of Hargobind Tahilramani, the international con artist who scammed dozens of victims into believing he was some of Hollywood’s biggest power players, including Amy Pascal and Wendi Deng Murdoch. The pod details the crimes, which start out bizarre and only get more disturbing as they go, but also traces Tahilramani’s life from Indonesia to California to the U.K., trying to figure out where his schemes began and why.

Listen to Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen here.

21. The Kids of Rutherford County

<p>The New York Times/Serial</p>

The New York Times/Serial

For over a decade, it was well known in Rutherford County, Tenn., that any kid who went in front of Judge Donna Davenport was probably going to get jail time, even for “offenses” as small as cursing or hair-pulling. When 11 children were arrested in 2016 for merely watching an after-school fight, the viral video made national news and triggered a chain of events exposing years of corruption. Serial and ProPublica teamed up for this four-parter, where a judge who gleefully broke the law — along with her supporters — devastated the lives of hundreds of Rutherford County’s youngest.

Listen to The Kids of Rutherford County here.

20. RedHanded



A true crime podcast, hosted by two women, who tell each other about grisly murders, kidnappings, and serial killers? You may shrug, but it’s a classic format for a reason — and it works when the hosts are fun British besties Suruthi Bala and Hannah Maguire. For seven years, these true crime vets have kept audiences hooked with the strength of their personalities, the depth of their research, and the depravity of the crimes they talk about, cementing a worldwide fanbase that loves getting caught… red-handed.

Listen to RedHanded here.

19. Earwitness



In 1995, Toforest Johnson was convicted of murdering a deputy sheriff on the strength of a witness who claimed to have heard Johnson confess while on a three-way phone call (kids, ask your parents). That “earwitness” changed her story multiple times, there were no eyewitnesses, no physical evidence, and Johnson had an alibi. So why is he still on Alabama’s death row? This is a frustrating, confusing, fascinating example of how difficult it is to prove someone is innocent once they’ve been deemed guilty.

Listen to Earwitness here.

18. The Pirate of Prague

<p>Apple Podcasts</p>

Apple Podcasts

Scammers who take advantage of rich people are just more fun, especially when there are briefcases stuffed with cash and dinners that cost more than the average car. By all accounts, Viktor Kožený is a charmer, one who convinced dozens of wealthy people and companies to invest millions in an Azerbaijani oil company. His scams netted him enough cash to go on the run from both U.S. and Czech law enforcement — and thankfully also provided plenty of material for investigative journalist Peter Elkind to create this podcast.

Listen to The Pirates of Prague here.

17. Beyond All Repair



If you love twisty, gasp-out-loud true crime, then this is your next binge. NPR reporter Amory Sivertson took three years to investigate the story of a woman sent to prison for murdering her mother-in-law on the basis of testimony by her own brother. It’s a gripping tale of a horrific slaying, family dysfunction, and decades of conflicting evidence that will have you saying “WTF” at the end of every episode. Best of all, it concludes with a definitive answer.

Listen to Beyond All Repair here.

16. Dr. Death



Based on one’s extensive research watching Grey’s Anatomy, it seemingly takes a lot of work to become a surgeon. So why was a Dallas neurosurgeon allowed to literally maim dozens of patients? Dr. Death explores both the conditions that keep an incompetent doctor in the surgical suite and the ways our often-blind respect for medical professionals keeps victims from speaking out. The first season was a monster hit, leading to a TV series on Peacock starring Joshua Jackson, but other seasons of the pod are equally great at exploring the doctors who seem to think the saying is, “Do a bunch of harm.”

Listen to Dr. Death here.

15. The Retrievals

<p>Serial Productions</p>

Serial Productions

When nearly 100 women reported agonizing pain during their egg retrieval procedures, the Yale Fertility Center dismissed their concerns. That is, until a nurse was caught replacing fentanyl with saline solution. This co-production of Serial and The New York Times covers the stunning case but also seeks answers to larger questions about how women are treated in medicine, the fertility industry, and what constitutes suffering.

Listen to The Retrievals here.

14. Sweet Bobby

<p>Sweet Bobby</p>

Sweet Bobby

The term “catfishing” wasn’t even coined until 2010, and by that time London radio presenter Kirat Assi had already been corresponding with Bobby for a year. It would take until 2018 for the truth to come out — and it’s a whale of a tale. This six-episode series stands out for its empathy toward Assi and other catfishing victims, who are often blamed for their own heartbreak. Instead, hearing Assi’s story may make you wonder how easily you’d be hooked.

Listen to Sweet Bobby here.

13. Ridiculous Crime



For parents, one of the scariest parts of true crime is your phone accidentally connecting to the car speakers right in the middle of a graphic description of decapitation. So how do you enjoy true crime with your kids around without potentially scarring them for life? Enter Ridiculous Crime. These stories are tweens-on-up appropriate, with murder-free tales of scams, capers, heists, and escapes. Hosts Zaron Burnett and Elizabeth Dutton keep the tone light and zippy, making this an ideal family podcast for summer listening and long car rides.

Listen to Ridiculous Crime here.

12. And That’s Why We Drink

<p>And That's Why We Drink</p>

And That's Why We Drink

And That’s Why We Drink is where crime and the paranormal comedically meet. Friends Em and Christine entertain each other as much as they entertain us, telling the stories that make them want to pour another round. Ghosts, murder, aliens, kidnapping, demonic portals, haunted houses, possession… you name it, they’ve drank to it. If you want a spooky flavor to your crime, pick up a glass and join the party.

Listen to And That’s Why We Drink here.

11. Morning Cup of Murder



Sometimes, you don’t want a whole pot of murder… just a cup will do. That’s where Korina Biemesderfer comes in. This daily podcast details a crime, usually a murder, that took place on this day in history. Biemesderfer gives enough detail to satisfy but keeps her storytelling to the advertised cup length, so episodes are typically less than 10 minutes. If you find yourself wanting a second helping, that’s no problem either; there are almost 2,000 entries in the library just waiting to be chugged.

Listen to Morning Cup of Murder here.

10. Your Own Backyard

<p>Your Own Backyard</p>

Your Own Backyard

For years, musician Chris Lambert drove past the same fading billboard: a picture of a smiling, 19-year-old college student named Kristin Smart with a plea for information on her whereabouts. The memory of that billboard nagged Lambert for years, so in 2019 he launched the podcast that would eventually lead to a conviction for Smart’s murderer. It’s a thrilling story that includes the full involvement of Smart’s family, who never stopped looking for answers.

Listen to Your Own Backyard here.

9. S-Town

S-Town Podcast
S-Town Podcast

This is a true crime podcast that sounds like a great American novel. It starts with a tip about an unsolved murder in a tiny Alabama town but ends up being about John B. McLemore, a local clockmaker who is lonely, funny, fiercely intelligent, creative, mean, possibly rich, and definitely a mass of contradictions. It’s not the story that NPR reporter Brian Reed intended to tell when he first set off to S—t town (as McLemore called his hometown), but as he says, “I think trying to understand another person is a worthwhile thing to do.” Millions of podcast listeners agree.

Listen to S-Town here.

8. Bear Brook

<p>Bear Brook Podcast</p>

Bear Brook Podcast

This true crime story has everything: A serial killer cold case, intrepid reporters, stumped police, a librarian turned amateur detective, and oh, just for fun, new DNA genealogy technology that changed law enforcement forever. When New Hampshire Public Radio host Jason Moon turned his reporting on the bodies found in barrels at Bear Brook State Park into a podcast, he had no idea it would be the key to solving murders going back almost 40 years.

Listen to Bear Brook here.

7. Up and Vanished


Payne Lindsey began as a documentarian and his non-fiction storytelling skills are put to good use here, where he and his team investigate missing person cases. Each season focuses on one woman who, you know, up and vanished. But it’s not just evidence and interviews. Traveling from Georgia to Colorado to Montana and, in the current season, Alaska, Lindsey painstakingly reconstructs these women's lives and makes them whole people for the audience, incriminating how easily society lets them go.

Listen to Up and Vanished here.

6. Dirty John

<p>Los Angeles Times</p>

Los Angeles Times

The only thing you don’t learn about abusive con artist John Michael Meehan in this podcast is why he got the nickname Dirty John in college — but after you listen, you’ll probably have some theories. Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Christopher Goffard only takes six episodes to tell the story of how Meehan wormed his way into a Newport Beach woman’s life and the deadly consequences that followed, making this a satisfyingly quick binge that’ll leave you plenty of time to watch the limited series adaptation streaming on Netflix.

Listen to Dirty John here.

5. Root of Evil

<p>Root of Evil</p>

Root of Evil

This companion podcast to the TNT limited series I Am the Night (starring Chris Pine as a disgraced reporter, get into it) has a few things that elevate it over other dives into the 1947 murder of Elizabeth Short, more commonly known as the Black Dahlia. It’s hosted by Yvette Gentile and Rasha Pecoraro, the great-granddaughters of the most likely killer, Dr. George Hodel. Their family connection gives them access to people and evidence that no one else has, and it also gives them a unique empathy for both Short and Hodel’s other possible victims.

Listen to Root of Evil here.

4. Invisible Choir

<p>Invisible Choir</p>

Invisible Choir

The true crime genre has sometimes been accused of sensationalizing atrocities, but not Invisible Choir. Instead, host Michael Ojibway details violent tragedies through the lens of victims and the lingering effects on survivors. Murder often destroys not just victims’ lives, but the lives they touched, and this podcast shines a light on the way a community remembers and recovers.

Listen to Invisible Choir here.

3. In the Dark

<p>APM Reports</p>

APM Reports

Who watches the watchmen? Madeleine Baran and her team do. The Peabody Award-winning reporters “investigate the investigation” of high profile cases, like the bungling sheriff's department that left the kidnapping and murder of Jacob Wetterling unsolved for decades, or the malicious prosecution of Curtis Flowers that saw him tried for the same murder six times. While the podcast hasn’t aired since its special report on COVID-19 in 2020, the seasons we do have are an evergreen true crime junkie’s dream.

Listen to In the Dark here.

2. Serial

<p>Serial/This American Life</p>

Serial/This American Life

Do you remember where you were on December 11, 2014? When host Sarah Koenig announced, “Next time, on the final episode of Serial,” suffice to say it was a seismic moment in the medium. Podcasts had been popular before, but this investigation into Adnan Syed, who was imprisoned for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, is where true true crime podcast fanaticism was born. While other seasons haven’t caught the same fervor as Serial’s first go-around (or spawned their own SNL parody), each outing is a beautifully constructed, empathetic deep dive that keeps you hooked.

Listen to Serial here.

1. Criminal



For 10 years, Phoebe Judge has told “stories of people who’ve done wrong, been wronged, or gotten caught somewhere in the middle.” Besides having the smoothest, most luxurious narration in the medium (petition to make Judge the voice of the NYC Subway system forthcoming), the former NPR journalist brings an honest curiosity to the stories she covers, which are always more about the people than the crime. Her thoughtful questions raise the bar on hosting, whether she’s interviewing law enforcement and journalists, academics and scientists, or often, the criminals at the center of the story.

Listen to Criminal here.

Read the original article on Entertainment Weekly.