The Top 9 Types of True Crime Podcasts
We all love true crime podcasts, right? It’s one of the most popular types of podcasts in the world – and it’s no surprise since some of the best investigative journalists and storytellers are drawn to sharing through the podcast medium.
I originally started the True Crime Podcasts database to help me find more shows in the specific types of true crime podcasts I most enjoyed; it was hard to know based on any show bio whether I’d like it. Now I’ve built a list of the true crime podcast types that I can categorize every show into – and which you can use to filter and sort when searching for your next true crime podcast obsession.
Below I’ve broken down the list of different show types, so you can understand each one. This will help you discover more true crime podcasts to love using the TCP database. Happy listening!
1. Casefile 🗃
The Casefile type of true crime podcasts is probably the one that really sucked me in – specifically the Casefile podcast, which is aptly named.
I had never heard the clinical, emotionless approach to true crime stories, which gave all of the relevant information to paint a picture of the crime without dabbling into humor, shock, or other sentiments. (It was a great antidote for my early aversions to the “Casefile with Commentary” style.)
This type of true crime podcast isn’t for everyone – but if you’re details obsessed and just want the facts, you’ll probably enjoy this!
Examples of Casefile-type True Crime Podcasts:
2. Casefile with Commentary 💬
Perhaps the most popular type of true crime podcast, Casefile with Commentary has fast become the go-to format for true crime podcasters – especially when the podcast has multiple hosts.
This podcast type takes it to another level, providing both the casefile information and a commentary on the case in one single narrative. This could include the personal observations of the main host and/or the questions and reactions of any other hosts.
Since the hosts play such a pivotal role in determining the emotional tone of the case analysis, you may find that you enjoy a case from one podcast and don’t like the exact same case from another podcast team.
Examples of the Casefile with Commentary Type of True Crime Podcasts:
3. Criminal Analysis 🧠
If your fascination with true crime podcasts comes from a desire to peer inside the minds of those who commit these crimes, you should definitely check out the “Criminal Analysis” types of true crime podcasts.
These podcasts attempt to make sense of what is almost unthinkable: the rationale and behaviors of some of the darkest corners of the human psyche. While almost all true crime podcasts do this to some extent, there are some which focus on this exclusively.
This style of podcast also might not be for everyone – some of these podcasts are hard to listen to and require stretching the boundaries of normal empathy.
Examples of Criminal Analysis-type True Crime Podcasts:
4. Interview Case Analysis 🗣
It took me a long time to articulate exactly what to call this popular type of true crime podcast; in the end, I settled on calling it an “interview case analysis” because it combines interviews (usually with participating family, friends, community members, and law enforcement) with a casefile commentary. However, these episodes are usually more focused on the story than the timeline, which makes them not quite “casefile” podcasts in my mind.
Most podcasts of this type do single episodes of each type, like the casefile style true crime podcasts. Sometimes you’ll find multi-episode or serial shows that tell the story this way too though.
To be honest, I haven’t found anyone who likes true crime podcasts and doesn’t like this style.
Examples of the Interview Case Analysis Type of True Crime Podcasts:
5. Multi-Serial 📚
These next two types of true crime podcasts are among my favorite – and they often overlap with other types on this list.
First up, the multi-serial show, which deploys the serial type of storytelling (literally coined by the ultra-popular Serial podcast) to tell several true crime stories over the show’s duration. Often each story is shared as a season, with a break in between.
If you loved Serial, you like this true crime podcast type. While not every show holds that same incredible standard over multiple seasons, many do and are worth a listen.
Examples of Multi-Serial True Crime Podcasts:
6. Single Serial 📕
Single Serial true crime podcasts are basically the same type as multi-serial ones; they only have one season or story told through the whole duration of the show.
In these podcasts, you’ll find great storytelling and a concise look at a single case or legal issue – designed for a specific number of episodes rather than cramming it all into one or letting the story unravel forever. As these shows are easier to pitch and produce, it’s the most popular type of true crime podcast in the database; Wondery is great at this type of show, which contributes to that.
I love a good single serial, and actually started this whole site to discover more great single serial true crime podcasts (and multi-serial, where I found them)
Examples of Single Serial True Crime Podcasts:
7. Show Commentary 👀
If you love putting on Forensic Files literally every time you’re in a hotel with cable TV (me) and listening to all of those Show Replay true crime podcasts (also me), you might also enjoy the Show Commentary type of true crime podcasts.
In this show type, the host or hosts discuss a true crime show; they may cover the case somewhat clinically (in a casefile style) or add a lot more commentary (like a casefile with commentary). Either way, the goal is to give another look at the true crime TV shows we all know and love.
I only know of one show that’s truly like this: A Date with Dateline. If you know of others that comment on true crime shows or movies, let me know in the comments so I can get them added to the database!
8. Show Replay 📺
As I just mentioned, another type of true crime podcast is the Show Replay – it’s literally the audio version of a true crime TV show. At first, I wasn’t certain about whether I’d like this style because it strips away the visual element of the story which can actually be relevant to the experience. In the end, I found that these podcasts are great for multi-tasking – such as working out or when adding new shows to the database.
Dateline NBC is really good at taking their most popular stories and converting them from show replays into Single Serial podcasts (like 13 Alibis and Killer Role).
Examples of Show Replay-type True Crime Podcasts:
9. Trial Recap ⚖️
Love the “Order” part of Law & Order (which, by the way, has its own Show Commentary podcast, “…These Are Their Stories”) or just that great scene in Legally Blonde, you might love the Trial Recap type of true crime podcasts.
This isn’t a super common true crime podcast type since many cases can’t be recorded or don’t allow journalists to produce content like this as a result, but the ones that do exist are fascinating (examples below). Some single serial shows will do a second season about the court proceedings, such as Gone Cold listed below.
Examples of the Trial Recap Type of True Crime Podcasts:
I don’t include many fiction “true” crime podcasts in the database because I think, well, they aren’t true! However, on occasion I find that one merits inclusion.
One such example is Solve, which requires the listener to pay close attention to try and guess the outcome of the case before the end of the epsisode. (Solve is also heavily inspired by true crimes, which gives it another reason to be included.)
If you know of any other great fiction true crime podcasts that merit inclusion, be sure to let me know in the comments.
There you have it – the top types of true crime podcasts! Which are your favorites? Mine are Casefile (occasionally with Commentary), Interview Case Analysis, and the Single/Multi Serial style. Let me know your favorite types of true crime podcasts in the comments.