20 Scary Podcasts That Will Keep You Up at Night
Get ready to experience spine-tingling horror from these scary podcasts that will keep you up and haunt your dreams.
Our editors and experts handpick every product we feature. We may earn a commission from your purchases.
One of the coolest things about podcasts is how versatile they are. There seems to be a podcast for everyone, whether you’re into news, history, or music. Some people love to binge the best comedy podcasts, while others can’t get enough of the best true crime podcasts or the smartest podcasts. And if you’re a fan of horror, don’t worry—there’s plenty of scary podcasts for you to listen to.
If you’re looking for the best podcasts that tackle spooky tales, the paranormal, and downright scary stories, you’ve come to the right place. From creepy VHS tapes to docudramas with shocking twists, this list of scary podcasts will be sure to keep you up all night—with the lights on. If you’re new to listening in general, here’s how to listen to podcasts for free.
The NoSleep Podcast
If you’re looking to never have a good night’s sleep ever again, this is your go-to scary podcast. Based on the r/nosleep subreddit, The NoSleep Podcast began in 2011 after members started transforming written horror stories into audio experiences complete with a full team of people at the helm. If you’re new to this award-winning podcast, never fear as The NoSleep Podcast has you covered. Of course, while you’re able to start at the beginning with the very first episode, they have a curated list of episodes from each of their seasons so you can get a sampler of the experience. For example, in the first season, they recommend starting with episodes 3, 10, and 12 while in the fourth season they recommend episodes 15 and 25. With a selection of products like mugs, stickers, and sweatshirts, this horror fiction podcast will send you nightmares as you sleep asleep as well as while you’re awake.
RELATED: The 35 Scariest Movies of All Time
Welcome to Night Vale
Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, this podcast is about a small fictional desert town called Night Vale, where each episode is created like a community update. If you’re not sure where to begin this twice-monthly fiction podcast with more than 150 episodes, two novels, and other fun things, Welcome to Night Vale has it sorted with a selection of their favorite episodes, including A Story About You which is, actually, about you, the listener. There’s a fun, comedic element to this podcast so you’ll have a laugh along with being a bit frightened. There’s also Good Morning Night Vale, which explores on a deeper level different episodes of Welcome to Night Vale.
Alice Isn’t Dead
With a creepy title like that you know this podcast is going to be good. From the team that created the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, Alice Isn’t Dead is a serial fiction podcast about a truck driver’s search across America for the wife she thought was dead. Alice Isn’t Dead isn’t only a podcast—it’s also a novel of the same name and there’s a TV show adaptation. Alice Isn’t Dead has plenty of stories to keep you up at night wondering what really happened.
If you’re looking for good first-person stories that will leave you with chills down your spine and waiting for dawn, this is a scary podcast for you. Created by Soren Narnia, who is also the sole author, Knifepoint Horror is a minimalistic production that leaves room for imagination…or nightmares. Music by Kevin Macleod (unless otherwise noted, as the site notes), weaves narration and sound together into episodes of suspense and waiting. A few of Knifepoint Horror‘s most popular episodes are on YouTube, including the popular and terrifying episode, “staircase.”
After five years away, Jonathan Barker hears odd voices telling him to “return home” to his actual home, Melancholy Falls, New Jersey. He heeds the call and finds that weird things have been happening in his absence and continues to happen after his return. With the help of his hometown friends, he begins to unravel why he was called home. Created by Jeff Heimbuch, Return Home is an award-winning serialized audio drama that pulls you into this fictional story with a creative, immersive audio experience full of suspense and even some comedic elements.
You might want to take a seat for this one…and turn on the light. Created by friends from NYU film school Zack Akers and Skip Bronkie, Limetown is a fictional podcast about journalist Lia Haddock who’s determined to find out what happened to Limetown, a town constructed around a neuroscience research facility and formerly home to more than 300 people. After a 911 call and three days later when police finally gain entry through the town’s gates, everyone has vanished and Limetown, Tennessee is officially a ghost town. While Limetown is fictional, it’s inspired by true events. However, when listening to the podcast, you might begin to think there’s a real Limetown, Tennessee…
The Black Tapes
Paul Bae and Terry Miles are the creators and writers of the podcast The Black Tapes, a fictional docudrama hosted by Alex Reagan, a Pacific Northwest Stories journalist who looks into the downright spooky Strand Institute. The award-winning podcast is so popular that there are podcast spinoffs and a TV show in development. If you want something a little less creepy, try one of these motivational podcasts that will inspire you.
After listening to this podcast, you’ll never look at VHS tapes again. From creators Nick Braccia and Michael Monello, Video Palace follows Mark Cambria, a video collector who watches a mysterious white VHS tape newly in his possession. After Mark begins talking in an unknown language in his sleep, he and his girlfriend Tamra find themselves in the middle of a conspiracy and the search of a video store with a chilling past.
RELATED: The Best Fiction Podcasts
Nightlight: A Horror Fiction Podcast
Horror writer Tonia Thompson created the Nightlight podcast in June 2018 and brings horror stories written by Black authors and performed by Black actors to life. You can start from the very first episode about the horror novel Dread Nation by Justina Ireland or jump around to various stories on intergeneration trauma, zombies, haunted houses, and more.
RELATED: The 25 Scariest Books of All Time
Clarion graduate Christopher Reynaga is the creator, writer, and director of Point Mystic, a fictional podcast told in the style of a news program, with a side of in-depth storytelling and eerie horror brought to life by Marguerite Croft, who manages story editing and development. A cast of interesting characters, in-depth discussions, magical realism, and improvised conversations work together to bring a variety of topics, including important topics like racism and colonialism, to life.
Within the Wires
From the creators of Welcome to Night Vale, Within the Wires is another immersive fiction podcast with standalone stories and a different focus for each of the five seasons, the most recent of which being “Voicemail,” which launched on August 25, 2020. The choice is yours on whether to start from the very beginning or perhaps start with season 3. Written by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, the first series “Relaxation Cassettes” takes shape as a nameless medical inmate (you) who listens to a relaxation audio course created by The Institute. The soothing yet eerie narration by Janina Matthewson combined with original music from Mary Epworth creates a spine-tingling, unnerving effect for you as the listener. As you progress through the relaxation cassettes—along with the podcast—more is revealed and you’re left wondering what you got yourself into. Do you feel yourself relaxing? Can you truly trust the narrator? Only time will tell. If you want to use your podcast time to stay informed, try one of these political podcasts that are full of information.
Halloween Unmasked is the podcast for you if looking behind the scenes at a classic horror story is more your cup of tea. Film critic Amy Nicholson reviews everything behind the Halloween movie franchise, covering everything from John Carpenter’s original Halloween from 1978 to four decades later in 2018. While these podcasts may terrify your children, here are some of the best podcasts for kids that they will absolutely love.
The Moonlit Road
This scary podcast is for fans of ghost stories and folktales. The Moonlit Road tells multiple spooky stories from the American South. The storytellers lure you in from the very beginning and make you wonder, “What’s next?” Plus, the episodes tend to be on the shorter side (some are just five minutes long), so you can listen even if you’re short on time.
Ghosts in the Burbs
Ghosts in the Burbs is a fictional podcast that dives into the ghosts and monsters that haunt the people of Wellesley, Massachusetts. A woman named Liz Sower brilliantly hosts the eerie podcast that tells some of the creepiest stories you’ll hear. One of the most chilling episodes is “The Rake,” which tells the horrifying story of a deadly humanoid creature—fair warning, you may not be able to sleep after listening. Other episodes discuss the Legend of Sleepy Hollow and the Grey Ghost. To get the most out of this creepily entertaining podcast, start from the beginning and binge the episodes in order. If you prefer reading these creepy tales, you can read them on the Ghost in the Burbs blog.
Chilling Tales for Dark Nights
The name of the podcast is pretty self-explanatory. Chilling Tales for Dark Nights is a fictional horror podcast that acts out a new creepy tale each week. The voice acting in this podcast really makes the scary stories come to life—so much so that you’ll want to keep the lights on when listening. You’ll be on the edge of your seat (and possibly hiding under the covers) by the end of your first episode.
The narrators of scary podcasts can make or break the show, and Horror Hill‘s narrator, Jason Hill, does a spectacular job of bringing creepy stories to life. Horror Hill is an audio storytelling podcast that’s actually spun from Chilling Tales for Dark Nights. Hill narrates hand-picked chilling stories from authors and delivers them in ways that’ll chill you to the bone. These scary stories (and Hill’s eerily perfect horror narration) will stay with you for some time…especially after you turn the lights off.
The Magnus Archives
The Magnus Archives is one of the best scary podcasts to listen to. Need proof? Check out its more than 6,500 reviews on Apple Podcasts and its 4.9/5 star rating. This weekly fictional horror podcast chronicles the archives of the Magnus Institute, a place that researches the strange, unknown, and mysterious. Intrigued? If so, start listening—there are more than 250 episodes to get lost in, making this one of the best podcasts for road trips.
Fictional horror stories are pretty scary—but some of the scariest tales come from real-life experiences. Spooked, which is presented by Snapped Judgement and WNYC studios, features true stories of the supernatural. Can you make it through an episode without getting spooked? You have 48 episodes to test your nerves—good luck. While you can’t listen to this podcast on Spotify, check out these podcasts on Spotify that you’ll want to add to your list.
Let’s Not Meet: A True Horror Podcast
Firsthand accounts of chilling situations are on their own level of scary. If you’re into true horror stories, Let’s Not Meet: A True Horror Podcast is for you. Each week, host Andrew Tate reads real-life chilling stories submitted by those who experienced them. You’ll be hooked (and a little jumpy) after listening to just one episode. Start listening now…with the lights on.
Next, read on to learn how getting scared can actually be good for your health (yep, you read that right!), and the difference between Amazon Music and Spotify.
- Forbes: How Lore Accidentally Became a Hit Podcast