Gripping, suspenseful podcasts that have a definite resolution
September 22, 2019 8:35 PM   Subscribe

I'm tired of listening to podcasts that end with an unsatisfying conclusion. I want something that has lots of surprising twists & turns, but concludes with all the loose ends tied up.

The first season of Serial is a good example of exactly the type of podcast that I don't want to listen to. It's an interesting story, I suppose, but it ultimately left me frustrated and confused -- because I still didn't know who killed Hae Min Lee.

On the other hand, Dirty John was great, because it really held my interest, and it ended in a completely unambiguous fashion.

Both of my examples have to do with true crime, but I'd certainly be willing to consider other sorts of podcasts, like historical events, or strange natural phenomena, or scientific breakthroughs, or the like.
posted by alex1965 to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
S-Town (from the same folks that did Serial maybe, I forget) fits most of this requirement. I mean, as much as you can expect. If you want EVERY loose end tied up then I don't know what to tell you because life isn't like that from my experience but it didn't leave me feeling lost at the end.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:38 PM on September 22, 2019 [6 favorites]

AJC's Breakdown follows a case from start to finish each season, and avoids the "did he or didn't he?" of most true crime. It stands out from the crowd because it's hosted by a legal reporter who has a deep understanding of criminal justice and storytelling.
posted by mikek at 9:25 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Case Closed has what you're looking for in terms of true crime.
Crimetown also fits the bill to a large extent.

Slow Burn gives another look at key political history - Watergate & The Clinton Impeachment - so there's a definite conclusion there.
posted by brookeb at 9:43 PM on September 22, 2019

And if you like Slow Burn, Bag Man. History is here to help!
posted by inexorably_forward at 9:55 PM on September 22, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bear Brook sounds right up your alley. It's true crime and spooky af. A really gripping story about how they tracked down a serial killer.
posted by speakeasy at 10:02 PM on September 22, 2019 [4 favorites]

In The Dark Season One is very well done and has a definite conclusion. Also true crime. It’s mostly about the failures of law enforcement in finding a kidnapper and killer who was not apprehended for decades.
posted by charmedimsure at 12:11 AM on September 23, 2019 [3 favorites]

Casefile! The majority of episodes they catch the bad guy. There is probably a list of which episodes they don't catch the bad guy in somewhere. I also hate true crime where they don't catch the bad guy, so reading this thread with interest!
posted by Mistress at 3:28 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Futility Closet. Short, interesting stories of all types. Plus a great puzzle at the end. The Ross' won't leave you hanging, they tie everything up nicely.
posted by james33 at 6:08 AM on September 23, 2019 [1 favorite]

Bear Brook, seconded. There are a few things you don't know by the end but the major question is solved.
posted by jessamyn at 9:49 AM on September 23, 2019

Dr. Death, maybe? The "why" isn't clear by the end but I also don't think that was the point. I found it gripping in a CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT HAPPENED kind of way.
posted by quiet coyote at 3:03 PM on September 23, 2019 [2 favorites]

OMG "Cold" is so good - and it ties up what it can, but life is messy.
posted by tristeza at 8:04 PM on September 23, 2019

Response by poster: Just to add to the list, in case anyone searches for this topic: "The Thing About Pam" was an excellent podcast and fits my criteria.
posted by alex1965 at 4:12 PM on October 3, 2019 [1 favorite]

American Scandal is worth a listen. It's kind of a twist on the true crime motif.
posted by toxic at 9:17 PM on September 3, 2020

Seconding In The Dark (also their other seasons), Bear Brook, S-Town and Crimetown.

Missing & Murdered: Finding Cleo definitely fits your bill (and is rightfully award-winning).

For a variation in terms of setting and theme other than straightforward crime, The Shrink Next Door is pretty gripping, as is This Land, a historical journey with a singular resolution.

The Last Days of August is a fascinatingly rich investigation, but I'm not sure it ties enough knots for you; White Lies, Murderville, Thunder Bay and Last Seen, also, maybe.
posted by progosk at 2:52 AM on September 4, 2020

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