After the invention of podcasts in 2004, they never really saw much change in the years shortly after. While podcasts certainly grew in popularity and listenership, the aim of podcasts remained essentially the same for the following decade - until sometime around 2012, at least. It was then the scripted (or fiction) podcasts came to rise. In the time since, scripted podcasts have become a wonderful thing, and the latest podcasts even giving audio books a run for their money.
You see, before television, Americans and the rest of the world had audio dramas when radio was still our main outlet for entertainment. Then TV came in and ruined everything for radio. A half-century later, however, the idea of audio dramas returned in the form of scripted podcasts. So the question is: which of the most popular scripted podcasts are best? Featuring Gimlet podcast series Homecoming, starring Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer, and Sandra, starring Kristen Wiig and Ethan Hawke, this list of fiction podcasts has comedy, mystery, and horror.
Check out the list of scripted podcasts and be sure to vote up your favorites, and vote down any podcast stories you're not a fan of.
Wolverine: The Long Night
Following a string of mysterious deaths in Burns, AK, Special Agents Sally Pierce and Tad Marshall arrive to investigate. They soon find there’s more going on than meets the eye.
Cast: Celia Keenan-Bolger, Ato Essandoh, Richard Armitage, Scott Adsit, Bob Balaban, Zoe Chao, Andrew Keenan-Bolger, Brian Stokes Mitchell
Ten years ago, over 300 men, women, and children disappeared from a small town in Tennessee, and no one ever heard from again. American Public Radio reporter Lia Haddock asks the question once more, "What happened to the people of Limetown?"
Homecoming centers on a caseworker at an experimental facility, her ambitious supervisor, and a soldier eager to rejoin civilian life - presented in an enigmatic collage of telephone calls, therapy sessions, and overheard conversations. The result is an innovative, immersive audio experience - a mystery unfolding across the 12 episodes of Seasons 1 and 2.
Cast: Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, David Schwimmer, Amy Sedaris, and David Cross
The Bright Sessions
The Bright Sessions is a science fiction podcast following a group of therapy patients. But these are not your typical patients - each has a unique supernatural ability. The show documents their struggles and discoveries, as well as the motivations of their mysterious therapist, Dr. Bright.
Cast: Julia Morizawa, Lauren Shippen, Briggon Snow, Anna Lore, Charlie Ian, Ian McQuown, Alex Gallner, Andrew Nowak, Alex Marshall-Brown, Phillip Jordan, Alanna Fox, Reyn Beeler
WOLF 359 is a radio drama in the tradition of Golden Age of Radio shows. Set onboard the USS Hephaestus space station, the dysfunctional crew deals with daily life-or-death emergencies, while searching for signs of alien life and discovering there might be more to their mission than they thought.
Cast: Emma Sherr-Ziarko, Michaela Swee, Cecilia Lynn-Jacobs, Zach Libresco, Noah Masur, Michelle Agresti, Scotty Shoemaker, Ariela Rotenberg
Digital Sky Podcast
A scripted podcast and visual podcast series in the tradition of anthology series like Black Mirror and The Twilight Zone, season one of Digital Sky told independent stories about impossible apps, artificial intelligence, dangers hackers, and crazy stalkers.
Cast: Anna Brisbin, Zeno Robinson, Eric Martsolf, Georgina Storm Waite, Chris Guerra, David Wallace, Sydney Heller, Stephanie Wong, Eric Artell, Erica Rhodes, Olivia DeLaurentis, Cooper Johnson, Dylan Saunders, Jenna Larson, Joe Basile, Tim Street, Donna D'Errico, George Aivaliotis, Jonathan Freeman, Susan Segal, Tessa Netting, Bridget Phetasy, Maz Siam, Ryan Leslie Fisher, Sam Lucas Smith, Chris O'Brien, Denise Hoey, Mark Prendergast, Chelsea Javier, Robert Van Guelpen, Christine Barger, Morgan Harvill, Nick Antonyan, Zeno Robinson, Katarina Otter, Noah Baron, Hannah Pilkes, Harry Holmes, Joshua James, Rachael O'Brien, Caitlin Thorburn, Hannah Forcier.
Welcome To Night Vale
Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale, featuring local weather, news, announcements from the Sheriff's Secret Police, as well as reports of mysterious lights in the night sky; dark, hooded figures with unknowable powers; and cultural events. Check out the best episodes here!
Cast: Aliee Chan, Meg Bashwiner, Desiree Burch, Kevin R. Free, Marc Evan Jackson, Kate Jones, Hal Lublin, Dylan Marron, Jasika Nicole, Flor De Liz Perez, Jackson Publick, Molly Quinn, Retta, Symphony Sanders, Lauren Sharpe, Wil Wheaton, Mara Wilson, Erica Livingston, Christopher Loar
Helen’s always dreamed of ditching her hometown, so when she lands a job at the company that makes Sandra, everyone's favorite artificial intelligence, she figures it’s the next best thing. But working behind the curtain isn’t quite the escape from reality Helen expected.
Cast: Kristen Wiig, Alia Shawkat, Ethan Hawke, Christopher Abbott, Avi Rothman
Alice Isn't Dead
A truck driver searches across America for the wife she had long assumed dead. In the course of her search, she will encounter not-quite-human serial killers, towns literally lost in time, and a conspiracy that goes way beyond one missing woman.
Cast: Jasika Nicole
Hosted by Deadhead, a friendly (and frightening) skeleton, this podcast version of the YouTube series shares horror stories of the supernatural, creepy, and macabre. Deadtime Stories mixes fiction with glorified (or gore-ified) true stories, submitted by real fans, for the creepy tales that have everything that's great about ghost stories.
Marsfall follows some of the earliest colonists to settle on Mars in the year 2047. Each episode continues the story from a different character’s perspective. Led by their fearless commander Jacki O’Rania, and assisted by the colonial artificial intelligence unit ANDI, they strive to make a home on the Red Planet while exploring its deeper mysteries.
Balancing tension and humor, this sci-fi audio drama reinvents the radio play for the 21st century.
Cast: Shannon Lovley, Aba Woodruff, Anya Zicer, Aramis Martinez, James Fouhey, Stephanie Hsu, Merissa Morin, Sergey Nagorny, Hannah Safford
The Truth makes movies for your ears: short stories which are sometimes dark, sometimes funny, and always intriguing. Each story is different, and usually 10 to 20 minutes long. The Truth has also released a short series called Songonauts, covering the struggles of a band and their magic drum machine, which happens to transport the band into their own songs.
Cast: Diana McCorry, Becca Schall
The Big Loop
From QRX, Michael Kim presents otherworldly stories from around the globe. Every season features six distinct episodes highlighting the strange, wonderful, and often harrowing experiences of those living on the outer edges of the known world.
Cast: Joanna Gaskell, Briggon Snow, Charles Demers, Alex Rose, Moisés Chiullan, Lauren Shippen, Julia Morizawa, Anna Lore, Dave Rudden, Lee Shorten, Tara Pratt
Unwell, a Midwestern Gothic Mystery
In this audio drama, Lillian Harper moves to the small town of Mt. Absalom, Ohio, to care for her estranged mother Dorothy and discovers conspiracies, ghosts, and a new family in the house's strange assortment of residents.
Dark Ages is a humorous scripted podcast that smashes high fantasy and workplace comedy genres into an hour and change once a month. The show features a full cast, robust audio design, original music and a promise of the highest of jinks.
Synopsis: High fantasy. High culture. Low attendance. For the staff of the Rivercliffe Museum of Mostly Natural Histories, the only thing harder than attracting patrons is suffering each other.
My Favorite Murder
My Favorite Murder is a weekly true crime comedy podcast hosted by American comedians Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Kilgariff is best-known for her work on Mr. Show and Ellen. Her stand-up routine includes singing and playing guitar to original comedic songs.
Many also know her for her podcast Do You Need a Ride? (DYNAR) with Chris Fairbanks. Hardstark co-hosts the shows Drinks With Alie and Georgia, as well as Slumber Party with Alie and Georgia.
Cast: Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark