We love curling up with a spine-tingling tale, from creepy thrillers and chilling stories recommended by Stephen King to supremely scary audiobooks. So it should come as no surprise that we also love scary podcasts – which is why we gathered a slew of our favorite spooky listens to keep you enthralled for the entire witching season.
12 Very Scary Podcasts to Listen to in the Dark
Dim the lights and press play… if you dare.
The NoSleep Podcast
By Creative Reason Media
The NoSleep Podcast is an anthology horror fiction podcast that’s been terrifying listeners for over a decade. The podcast began as a forum on Reddit, where users shared frightening stories and otherworldly accounts. Eventually the idea of creating a podcast based on the forum’s best story submissions was proposed – and NoSleep was born. We find it incredibly cool that this scary podcast is a community-driven endeavor; David Cummings, NoSleep’s showrunner, has been with the series from the beginning, and the show sources all its spooky content from a dedicated following of fans and emerging writers, some of whom, such as Dathan Auerbach of Penpal fame, have gone on to become notable horror authors. With 18 seasons under its cloak and a wealth of bonus material, NoSleep is sure to keep you listening long into the night.
By Marc Sollinger and Dan Powell
You may know Archive 81 as the buzzy supernatural horror series released on Netflix in January 2022. While that television adaptation lasted just one season, the original Archive 81 podcast includes three compelling seasons plus two spin-off miniseries, giving you plenty of freaky fodder for a fright-filled evening. The podcast uses a found-footage approach to tell the story of Dan, an audio archivist who’s hired to sort through a stack of old audio interviews recorded at an eerie apartment building. Needless to say, things get creepy right quick. Archive 81’s voice actors are engaging, its swirling story-within-a-story pulls you in, and its sound design is fantastically scary.
Unwell: A Midwestern Gothic Mystery
By HartLife NFP
Unwell is a scary podcast that will leave you feeling… well, unwell. It will also leave you entertained and thoroughly creeped out in the best way possible. The horror fiction series, set in Ohio, interweaves conspiracy theories and the paranormal with a twist of family drama to top it all off. Its narrative centers on a woman named Lillian Harper who moves back to her family’s old boarding house to care for her ailing mother and soon uncovers a twisted mystery. The compelling series is currently four seasons long and has collected a number of awards and accolades, including being named the Best Podcast or Online Audio Drama at the 2021 BBC Audio Drama Awards.
By Southern Gothic Media
Many haunting tales are set in the South — from bewitching horror narratives to beguiling Southern mysteries. If you enjoy a chilling Southern yarn, then you’ll scream over this true-life podcast that explores the dark legends and ghost stories of the South. Southern Gothic was created by a brother–sister team who grew up in Mississippi and are clearly intrigued by things that go bump in the night. The podcast explores mysterious cases throughout the South, from the Mothman sightings of West Virginia to Florida’s haunted St. Augustine lighthouse. Each episode presents a self-contained investigation, which is great if you’re hungry for a stand-alone helping of scares.
By REI Co-op Studios
You likely know REI as purveyors of outdoor wear and camping equipment. But did you know they also produce a slate of podcasts? Among REI’s audio offerings is Camp Monsters, which centers on bizarre sightings and encounters in the wilds of North America that one might share around a campfire. Stories include a woman who senses a creature beneath her feet while ice fishing in Idaho, and confrontations with the Jersey Devil in the Pine Barrens of New Jersey. These are frightening stories but generally not too scary for kids — REI even released coloring pages to accompany a few of the episodes!
By Snap Judgment LLC
Hosted by Glynn Washington, Spooked is the acclaimed spin-off podcast of his Snap Judgment that explores real-life encounters with the supernatural — as told by the people who lived through them. There are more than 100 episodes of frightening fun for your perusal, and because the spooky first-person accounts on Spooked are self-contained, you can dive in and out of an episode or binge-listen entire seasons until your dark heart’s content. Some episodes even have multiple stories packed inside, delivering double the scares per sitting.
The Black Tapes
By Pacific Northwest Stories and Minnow Beats Whale
The Black Tapes is a thrilling horror fiction podcast that’s up there with some of our favorite dark mystery and suspense books. It’s a serialized docudrama, requiring a bit more investment than podcasts that offer stand-alone episodes. Still, the commitment is worth it, especially if you’re a fan of twisted psychological thrillers and the supernatural. The podcast employs an investigative journalism format reminiscent of Serial to tell the story of Alex Reagan, a journalist who crosses paths with a paranormal investigator named Dr. Richard Strand. Together the pair begin exploring Strand’s collection of unsolved paranormal cases, known as the Black Tapes.
13 Days of Halloween
By Grim & Mild and iHeartRadio
Christmas gets 12 days of merriment according to the beloved English Christmas carol, and Hanukkah has eight nights and days. So why shouldn’t Halloween have more than one day of celebration? It is, after all, the most darkly delightful of all the holidays — and we won’t debate it. Enter Aaron Mahnke’s 13 Days of Halloween, an annual podcast that’s more treat than trick. Now entering its second season, 13 Days of Halloween drops its episodes daily in the days leading up to All Hallows’ Eve. The show uses surround sound technology and famous voice-acting talent to deliver its fantastical horror narratives. The first season stars Keegan-Michael Key as The Caretaker who leads listeners through a creepy boarding house. The upcoming second season features Hocus Pocus legend Kathy Najimy.
Alice Isn't Dead
By Night Vale Presents
Alice Isn’t Dead was adapted into a bestselling novel in 2018, but this acclaimed podcast is where it all began. Created by Joseph Fink of Welcome to Night Vale fame, Alice Isn’t Dead is a compelling multilayered narrative that’s equal parts horror and suspense. It centers on Keisha, a truck driver whose wife disappeared years ago and is now presumed dead. But Keisha is convinced that her wife’s still alive and begins searching for her across the country — giving us creepy towns, serial murderers, paranormal activity, and even government conspiracies.
The Magnus Archives
By Rusty Quill Ltd.
The Magnus Archives is a sprawling, down-the-rabbit-hole-style scary podcast that’s perfect for listeners who love intricate narratives and twisting, turning plots. The series centers on the Magnus Institute, a fictional organization dedicated to investigating supernatural phenomena. Jonathan Sims serves as the organization’s head archivist, who begins unraveling the many bizarre cases and frightening occurrences that lurk within the institute’s collection.
The Fountain Road Files
By Richard MacLean Smith
The Fountain Road Files is a horror fiction podcast from 2020 that plays with fact and fiction and is sure to get under your skin. The fictional narrative centers on Ben, who was found dead in May 2020 under mysterious circumstances after going silent for days. Though there was evidence of an attack, police ruled his death as self-inflicted. But when Ben’s mother uncovers audio recordings her son had been keeping during the COVID-19 pandemic, she releases them into the world. The podcast is six episodes long, with each episode focused on one of Ben’s terrifying audio journal entries. Richard MacLean Smith, the creator of hit paranormal podcast Unexplained, is behind this chilling and immersive listen.
The Strange and Unusual
By Alyson Horrocks
In The Strange and Unusual, creator and host Alyson Horrocks invites us on a beguiling journey into history’s darkest corners, exploring the folklore and superstitions of the past as she examines humanity’s sinister side. In some episodes, Horrocks leads investigations into real-life nightmares, from the Axeman of New Orleans to the Victorian era’s obsession with death. In other episodes, she serves up readings of classic English ghost stories. Throughout, the host enhances her show with input from guest experts and discussions of societal issues surrounding each case. The result is a transfixing listen that’s just as engaging as it is hair-raising.