If you’ve experienced The Case Against Adnan Syed, you probably want to find the best podcasts like Serial.
Serial, the podcast that lives at the intersection of unsolved murder, wrongful conviction, race, class, and gender has been downloaded over 100 million times, and won a Peabody award.
If for some reason you haven’t heard it, please stop reading this right now and go listen to it.
If you have listened to it, and want more justice-focused true crime, keep reading because we’re here to count down the top 15 podcasts like Serial.
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Atlanta Monster stopped releasing new episodes in 2019, but the story and its situations are just as relevant now. This multi-part series from HowStuffWorks and Tenderfoot TV is dedicated to investigating the serial murders of black children from impoverished neighbourhoods that gripped the city of Atlanta from 1979 to 1981. It’s a painful chapter in American history that’s important to understand, which still raises questions today.
Atlanta Monster comes in at number 15 in our list of best podcasts like Serial.
Wrongful Conviction features intimate conversations with men and women who have spent years in prison for crimes they maintain they didn’t commit. Some have been exonerated, others have not. Host Maggie Freleng is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and podcast host, and her life’s dedication to the criminal legal system and social issues shines out. If you need to hear stories from people whose lives have taken the worst possible turn, this is it.
Wrongful Conviction comes in at number 14 in our list of best podcasts like Serial.
Now into its sixth season, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Breakdown podcast meticulously dissects true crime cases in near-real time. Each season follows a different court case for different crimes; murder, arson, or most recently, the Fulton County investigation of Donald Trump. Breakdown’s presenter, Bill Rankin, is a seasoned court reporter, and it shows. He and his team delve deep into the facts and critically analyse what can be concluded from them. There is also a healthy focus on the legal system and how various interests are sought to be balanced to achieve justice. Breakdown is undoubtedly a professionally produced, even-handed podcast that is well worth your time.
Breakdown comes in at number 13 in our list of best podcasts like Serial.
In October 2005, Tara Grinstead, a 30-year-old high school teacher disappeared after leaving a friend’s barbecue. Since her disappearance was reported, there has never been a confirmed sighting of Tara, and no persons of interest were identified until February 2017. The audio, particularly the interviews, can be difficult to hear, but the presenter, Payne Lindsay circles back and ensures that the listener catches pertinent details. Getting a fresh take on Grinstead’s disappearance was always tough, given the level of press coverage the case has received. But Lindsay achieves it in Up and Vanished by seeking to crack the tough veneer of small town Ocilla, Georgia, and speaking directly to those involved rather than focusing on old case files. This podcast continued in seasons 2 and 3 to investigate the disappearance of other women, and Payne Lindsay has gone on to make Atlanta Monster and more.
Up and Vanished comes in at number 12 in our list of best podcasts like Serial.
Three indigenous children, all living on the same street in the small Australian town of Bowraville were killed within a five month period. Jay Hart was charged and stood trial for two of the murders but was acquitted on each occasion. In Bowraville, Dan Box, a crime reporter from The Australian investigates the crimes and confronts the tormented history of race relations between Australia’s legal system, law enforcement, and the media, and Australia’s first peoples. This podcast stopped releasing new episodes, but it’s a must-listen.
Accused, created by two Cincinnati Inquirer investigative reporters, Amber Hunt and Amanda Rossmann, focuses on one cold case a season. They interview witnesses, read through case documents, and try to find leads that others may have missed. They examine unsolved murders, mysterious deaths, and, most recently, possible wrongful incarceration. Unfortunately, their paper’s parent company, Gannett, had to cease production and lay off employees inin December of 2022. As of this writing, the fate of this podcast depends on their audience and their Patreon. If this sounds like your cup of tea, start downloading it now.
Accused comes in at number 10 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
Stories of missing and exploited children are terrifying. Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo is worse because it’s about a wide-reaching moral failing on the part of people who should have been protecting this 11-year-old Cree girl. Now, her relatives don’t know who murdered her, where she’s been buried, and if anyone was ever charged. The CBC’s investigation into “The Sixties Scoop,” and this look at a family in Little Pine First Nation who kept searching for their sister, is unforgettable.
Missing and Murdered: Finding Cleo comes in at number 9 in our list of best podcasts like Serial.
Empire on Blood investigates the double murder conviction of Calvin Burari, a showy, mink-wearing, crack dealer from the Bronx. Since his conviction in 1995, Burari has professed his innocence, and he’s had at least one high-profile lawyer (Myron Beldock) in his corner. Download and listen to journalist Steve Fishman tell this compelling wrongful conviction tale.
Empire on Blood comes in at number 8 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
It took 27 years for law enforcement in Minnesota to solve the case of the disappearance of Jacob Wetterling, even though the man who would finally admit to the crime was sitting under their nose the whole time. Season 1 of In The Dark tells the story of Jacob’s disappearance and explores how badly the police bungled their duties to solve the case. Season 2 examines the case of Curtis Flowers, a man tried six times for the same crime, and who fought for justice for 20 years. This series has won Peabody, Polk and DuPont awards for excellence; don’t let this one slip by.
In The Dark comes in at number 7 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
Felonious Florida tells the story of Florida’s dark side; the Casey’s Nickelodeon Murders, human trafficking cases, The Killer Clown of Wellington, and more. Wondery and The South Florida Sun Sentinel present stories beyond the theme parks and beaches that will chill any hot day.
Felonious Florida comes in at number 6 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
Bigger than a podcast. Death in Ice Valley investigates the unsolved mystery of who the Isdal Woman was and how she died. Here are the basic facts: in November 1970, two girls find a woman’s body in the Isdalen Valley in remote Norway. Surrounding the deceased were a number of scorched items (paper, water bottles etc.). The circumstances of her death remain completely unknown as does her identity. With that setup, Death in Ice Valley doesn’t hide from falling into the traditional mystery pod genre, but the podcast isn’t the end game for investigative journalist, Marit Higraff and British BBC documentary maker, Neil McCarthyit. Death in Ice Valley is not the project, the real project is solving the mystery, and the podcast is one of the tools investigators have deployed to help them to do so. Download and discover if you can help solve it.
Death in Ice Valley comes in at number 5 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
Did David Bain gun down all five members of his family on 20 June 1994? Or was it David’s father, Robin, who was discovered, deceased, with the other four murdered family members in their home in Dunedin, New Zealand? In Black Hands, Martin Van Beynan seeks to answer those questions in this ten-part series. Anchoring the investigation is the analysis of David Bain’s conviction for the mass murder after a trial in 1995 and subsequent acquittal following a second trial in 2009. The depth of experience gained by Van Beynan’s during his time as a court reporter is evident in his presentation and analysis of the evidence. Overall, it’s a comprehensive and engaging pod that is well worth a listen.
Black Hands comes in at number 4 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
After producing seven seasons of this CBC series, David Ridgen and the team at Someone Knows Something know how to produce and present pods that aren’t just about true crime, they’re about the search for justice. Missing children and young women, letter bombs to homes, confronting the Klan, and the abortion wars are just some of the topics these seasons visit, question and hold up to make a larger picture of wrong vs. right.
Someone Knows Something comes in at number 3 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
An exceptional true-crime story of deception, seduction, and survival that masterfully leaves the listener wondering, who did what to whom? Until the last episode in the six-part series. Presented by the Los Angeles Times and hosted by journalist Christopher Goffard, Dirty John is a captivating true story of Debra Newell’s ill-fated brief marriage to John Meehan. Fans of hosts staying out of the story will love this podcast. Goffard resists the urge to inform listeners of his views and leaves the story to be told predominantly by Debra Newell and two of her daughters, Jacqueline and Tarra.
Dirty John comes in at number 2 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.
S-Town, from the creators of Serial and This American Life, promised a tale of small-town corruption, hidden treasure, and murder. By the end of the third episode, S-Town expanded into a story about journalistic integrity, why people get excited about true crime, who has the right to tell a story, and how. Go ahead and listen to S-Town if you haven’t yet, and ask yourself what podcasts can do.
S-Town comes in at number 1 in our list of the best podcasts like Serial.