Whenever I get into a conversation with someone about my love of true crime, horror movies, conspiracy theories, other weird macabre sh*t, I always wonder where exactly I got it.
Was it the countless Goosebumps books I would read, then re-read, then re-read again? Or was it the after elementary school hangouts when my BFF Katelyn and I scared the living daylights out of ourselves listening to “Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark” on audio cassette from the library?
Whatever it was, I’ve loved anything & everything creepy for as long as I can remember. It definitely freaked my parents out for a bit (I distinctly remember my mom asking why I had 3 books on different serial killers) … but hey, turns out I’m not the only one!
People LOVE true crime — just look at any media. Television, documentaries, docu-series, movies, books, annnnnnnd podcasts!!
I’ve gotten pretty deep into podcasts since starting my work commute, and I’ve probably logged 100+ hours of listening — mostly true crime, of course. Without further ado, here are my favorites so far 🙂
#1 // My Favorite Murder
I love this podcast so much that I’ve started re-listening to it. It’s that good.
Karen Kilgarif and Georgia Hardstark are two ladies who LOVE true crime. Each podcast episode, they each describe a different case, adding their own commentary and (would you believe it) COMEDY with it. Now, the comedy isn’t at the expense of the victim, or meant to be disrespectful, and they are suppeeer clear about that. Instead, it’s more like they’re making as much light as one can about some seriously f*cked up stuff.
Karen and Georgia are admittedly a little valley girl-esque, and so their voices and candor might be a little grinding at first, but stick with it because the content is INCREDIBLE. They even have “Mini-sodes” where they read hometown murder stories that people send to them via e-mail! It’s easy listening, and a lot of fun.
I started from Episode #1 and caught up… and it was sooOoOo cool listening to how this little podcast grew a HUGE fanbase… and now the women travel all over the world doing live shows! There is no doubt next time they have a show in Boston, I will beeee there.
#2 // Serial
Serial was the first true crime podcast I listened to – and I even did a full post about it that you can read here!
And if you don’t feel like reading (you lazy lil pup!) – Season 1 centers around the 1999 murder of Baltimore high school student Hae Min Lee and the questionable innocence of her convicted killer: her ex-boyfriend Adnan Syed. As evidence is revealed and pulled apart, every single episode will make you change your mind on his guilt. Soooo good.
Season 1 was/is a HIT in podcast land and beyond. It broke a ton of download records, and was credited to be podcasting’s big break into mainstream media in 2014.
Season 2 dives into the controversial story of Bowe Bergdahl — the American soldier who left his post in Afghanistan in 2009 and was captured and held by the Taliban until his release in 2014. Although not as popular as Season 1, I found this season to be soooo so interesting as it wasn’t so much of a mystery, but a more informative look at all the working cogs of the U.S. government & the war in Afghanistan that I had never, ever known before.
#3 // S-Town
A spin-off of Serial, S-Town made me have full blown discussion with myself in my car as I was listening… and, I can admit, I cried a bit. I absolutely TORE through this series– even sitting in my car outside of my house just to finish an episode.
There’s A LOT of twists and turns in this story, and I really don’t want to give too much away, so I’m taking the description from the podcast’s website:
“John despises his Alabama town and decides to do something about it. He asks a reporter to investigate the son of a wealthy family who’s allegedly been bragging that he got away with murder. But then someone else ends up dead, sparking a nasty feud, a hunt for hidden treasure, and an unearthing of mysteries of one man’s life.”
Freakin’ nuts, man.
#4 // Dirty John
I lied. This podcast ALSO had me yelling and talking to myself in the car. This story is WILD. Manipulation, greed, secret marriages, family discourse, fake names, and murrrrrrderrrr.
Quick summary: A wealthy middle-aged woman with a history of tumultuous relationships meets her (seemingly) Prince Charming. But (duh) this “prince” is not quite what he seems…
Little soap opera-y, but maybe that’s why it’s so damn good.
#5 // Heaven’s Gate
Love cults. HUGE cult girl.
I started this podcast on a whim, and became enamored with the narrator, the story, the music, the people… It’s a must if you’re into the psychology of cults (like me).
Heaven’s Gate was (is?) a cult that is most remembered for their 1997 mass suicide in their San Diego mansion. The 39 members, including their leader, ate some drug-laced pudding and laid down to meet the aliens.
That’s right, aliens.
I really loved this podcast because they took their time to humanize the members of Heaven’s Gate, their families, how/why they joined, and all the details of what the cult believed. Soooo well produced/written/researched.
Honorable mentions (kinda)
A Killing on the Cape & A Murder on Orchard Street by ABC News
Essentially each of these are an episode of 20/20 Dateline in podcast form. Not bad by any means, but not nearly as compelling as my top 5 up there.
I reeeeeally like the content of this one – cult psychology again – but I find the hosts to be pretty boring. Or maybe not boring… but rather the way they talk sometimes sounds like I’m listening to an infomercial. Kinda fake and too pre-planned. I’m not a fan, but maybe you will be!
Last Podcast on the Left
Ugh, didn’t want to include this one but its worth a mention (although not an honorable one). Don’t quote me on this, but I’m pretty sure LPOTL is one of the top downloaded podcasts ever. Kinda concerning, kinda understandable. Strangely, my ladies from My Favorite Murder seem to be fans of this podcast, although I’m truly not sure why.
I don’t want to rag on it too hard because they really do an incredible amount of research into their cases/subjects… soooo if you can withstand 3 men with the humor of 13 year old boys (toilet humor, sex, ridiculously annoying accents, general stupidity), then this is your cup of tea. I’ve been able to get through a handful of episodes, and at times a joke does lands with me that makes me chuckle, but I have had to turn it off at times because I was so disgusted. Again, maybe not for me, but maybe for you.
I would recommend Caustic Soda, instead – 3 guys with way more intelligent humor, and equal amounts research and interesting content.
Thanks for reading! Do you have a true crime podcast you love that’s not on this list? Leave a comment below so I can listen!!