If there is one podcast that this industry needs to thank, it is ‘Serial’. It is after Sarah Koenig presented her deep investigative take on Adnan Syed’s conviction for the murder of Hae Min Lee that people truly got hooked to binging podcasts. In fact, the ever-increasing thirst of the audience for the true crime genre can also be attributed to this podcast. And there is a good reason behind this insane popularity. The most downloaded podcast in history and the winner of many awards, ‘Serial’ enjoys the gripping narration of Koenig and a well-structured story that keeps you on your toes with every passing episode. What keeps you around for more is the question that nags at you: did Adnan do it? What really happened to Hae?
If you loved Serial and are now suffering because you completed all of it in one go and now have nothing to listen to, then we are here to help you out. Here’s the list best podcasts similar to ‘Serial’. You can find most, if not all, of them on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, or any other app you like to use.
15. Criminal (2014-)
This is no shortage of ghastly crimes in this world. And if you think that dedicating a whole season to just one might be unfair to other mysteries out there, then you should listen to ‘Criminal’. A critically acclaimed podcast, which has easily made it in the several best podcasts lists, it tells a different story in each episode. It is hosted by Phoebe Judge and tackles crimes from note counterfeiting to the wrongful police shooting of black people, from the practice and purpose of grave digging to faking one’s death and getting away with it. You can listen to all episodes of this podcast here.
14. Finding Tammy Jo (2016)
The first step in solving any case is to identify the victim. You found a body; you need to know who it is. How will you move forward otherwise? On the night of November 10, 1979, a woman’s body was discovered in a field near Genesee River. For thirty-five years, she remained a Jane Doe. The police knew next to nothing about her, how would you expect them to solve it? It was only in 2015 that she was finally identified. What happened for all these years then? And what happens now that she has been found? Find the podcast here.
13. Breakdown (2015-)
Before passing the verdict on any case, you need to understand it from every angle. From the accused to the victims, from the ones actively involved in the crime to the one who thinks they saw or heard something. Every piece of evidence, every new information should be scrutinised very keenly to get a proper sense of the events. ‘Breakdown’ does exactly that. In each season, it comes up with a case that seems too bizarre to pass a conclusive verdict on. The arguments of the prosecution and the defendant make it very hard for the jury (which now also includes the listener) to decide something. In this podcast, every detail of such cases is turned inside out to bring the case to a justifiable end. You can listen to all its episodes here.
12. Detective (2015-)
While listening to the stories of cold cases and other crimes where the murderer escaped the grasp of law enforcement, it is very easy to call out their incompetence and to judge them for all the things they didn’t do to solve the case. For someone who has the whole case laid out in front of them, we are oddly judge-y of the cops who go blind into these mysteries. What does it take to solve a murder? What is the professional and personal turmoil that the detectives have to tackle while investigating gruesome crimes? If interested in finding out about this, listen to ‘Detective’. All its episodes are available here.
11. Who Killed Elsie Frost? (2015)
One of the things that keep us engaged while listening to ‘Serial’ is the question: did he do it or not? By the end, the answer still remains vague. What is more staggering is that if he didn’t do it, then who murdered Hae Min Lee? Adnan’s innocence means that the real killer is still out there and no one is even looking for him. This actively puts Lee’s case under “unsolved” category. If you are interested in such cases, then here is another mystery for you. In 1965, 14-year-old Elsie Frost was found dead in an underpass beneath a railway line. Her case still hasn’t met a conclusion, and even the prime suspect died in March 2018. You can listen to all episodes of ‘Who Killed Elsie Frost?’ here.
10. Unsolved (2015-)
If you love watching police procedural shows then you have caught a wrong habit of watching every case meet a proper end. More often than not, a case is never solved. A missing person remains missing. A dead body might have the clues to its killer, but they are never enough to point towards the perpetrator. The worse case is when you know who’s done it, but you can’t prove it! ‘Unsolved’ goes into the depths of such cases and the stories that people have built around them in the absence of a proper explanation. You can listen to the podcast here.
9. Convicted (2018-)
The description of this podcast begins with a statistic. It says that in the year 2017 itself, “139 people were exonerated for crimes they did not commit”. Pay heed to the fact that most of them were either on the death row or were sentenced to life or two in prison. How does a jury convict an innocent person when years later, another can easily grasp the idea that he/she is not the one? How do people survive these wrongful convictions and the battle to prove their innocence, while their life hangs in a balance? Listen to the stories of real people who have been exonerated after serving serious time in prison. You can find all episodes of ‘Convicted’ here.
8. BLACK HANDS- A Family Mass Murder (2017-)
On the morning of June 20, 1994, David Bain called the emergency number and reported that all his family members were dead. This includes his parents, his two sisters and a brother. David was the eldest of all siblings and the only one left alive. A part of the evidence was a typed message on the computer that said: “sorry, you are the only one who deserved to stay.” David was charged for the murders. But he maintained that he didn’t do it. What really happened that day? Who typed that message? Listen to all episodes of this podcast here.
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7. Happy Face (2018)
It is said that most of the times, a crime is committed by the person close to the victim. Be it the murder or sexual assault or kidnapping, the cops first look at the family and friends. Despite this fact, people rarely think about someone in their close circles being a murderer. Melissa Moore was one of those people, and reality hit her hard when she discovered that her father was actually a serial killer. What disturbed her more than the heinous crimes committed by him was the question of whether she has inherited his killer instincts? Is she too a psycho? Listen to her story and that of her father in ‘Happy Face’. You can listen to all its episodes here.
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6. MISSING (2015- present)
Matter can neither be created nor destroyed, right? Everything comes from somewhere, and can’t simply disappear. It will go somewhere else. This reasoning applies to people too. They can’t simply vanish. There must be an explanation for what actually happened, then why aren’t we always able to find it? In this podcast, host Tim Weaver discusses the true meaning of disappearance. Is there is a pattern behind this irregular chaos? What’s the most important thing needed to find someone before their case turns cold? How do things work for the people whose job is to track down missing persons? Find out all about it and more at ‘MISSING’. You can listen to all its episodes here.
5. Someone Knows Something (2016-)
‘Someone Knows Something’ follows a trail of cold cases and tries to find someone who knows something that can help move the investigations forward. The podcast is hosted by David Ridgen, who has made a career out of delving into true crime and trying to solve the cases. His work has even led to reopening of some of them by bringing new information on the table. The series kickstarts with the mystery of a five-year-old boy who went missing on a fishing trip with his father and brothers. The disappearance of Sheryl Sheppard and the brutal murder of two African-American teenagers at the hand of KKK also serve as the subject of its seasons. You can listen to all its episodes here.
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4. Accused (2016-)
If the evidence and facts suggested in ‘Serial’ convince you that Adnan Syed has been wrongfully convicted, and the thought of him paying the price while the killer walks free makes you sad, disgusted and horrified at the same time, then allow me to turn your attention towards ‘Accused’. It isn’t a new thing for an innocent to have their life destroyed just because someone else wasn’t competent enough to do their job. The struggle for justice is long and hard, but the moment one gives up hope is the moment they actually become complicit in the crime. ‘Accused’ tells about the battle of the ones who never gave up. You can listen to all its seasons here.
3. In the Dark (2016-)
An unsolved murder and a man wrongly accused of the murder of four people- these are the stories that ‘In the Dark’ deals with, in its various seasons. The first season follows the case of Jacob Wetterling who disappeared on the night of October 22, 1989, and was later found dead. His case remained unsolved for a whole 27 years. What’s interesting is that one man had been accused of the crime, but was let go due to a technicality. Years later, the same man was found guilty of it. Then there is the case of four people found dead in a store in 1996. A black man was accused and found guilty on the basis of someone’s statement saying that they had seen him there. He is still in jail just because of that one testimony. Why was other evidence that pointed towards his innocence ignored? Find out all about it in this podcast. All of its episodes are available here.
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2. Up and Vanished (2016-)
While ‘Serial’ shares some compelling discoveries in the case of Adnan Syed, it doesn’t give us a proper answer to the mystery that serves as the focal point of its story. We love ‘Serial’, but you know what is better than a podcast that doesn’t provide you with answers? The one that does. ‘Up and Vanished’ is a podcast hosted by Payne Lindsey which investigates the long-forgotten cold cases. Not only does Lindsey open up these mysteries to you, but he also uses his investigative skills to dig up new evidence. His work has helped in moving the cases forward and even crack one of them after a decade of hiatus. You can listen to all seasons of ‘Up and Vanished’ here.
1. Undisclosed (2015- present)
If you are still losing sleep over the fact that the case of Adnan’s guilt or innocence hasn’t yet been resolved, then there is another podcast that might help you with that. However, unlike ‘Serial’, this one goes strongly in his favour. Hosted by Rabia Chaudry, it focuses on the stories of people who have faced wrongful convictions. The first season follows Adnan’s case and tries to convince the audience how he couldn’t have committed the murder. The second season sheds light on the murder of Issac Dawkins and tries to prove the innocence of Joey Watkins, who they believe is wrongfully accused. You can listen to all seasons of the podcast here.
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