10 popular podcasts that inspired TV shows and specials

The podcast

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The podcast “Homecoming” was adapted into a show that critics love.
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Gimlet Media/Amazon Studios

  • In recent years, many popular podcasts have become TV shows or inspired specials.
  • Hit podcasts like “Dirty John” and “Lore” have been adapted into television series.
  • “Limetown” is a haunting fictional podcast with a TV adaptation on Facebook Watch.
  • Visit Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Podcasts have surged in popularity over the past several years, and television producers and screenwriters are definitely taking notice.

The fresh perspectives and engaging storytelling that can make podcasts so captivating has allowed many audio shows to make the leap to the small screen.

Here are a few hit podcasts that have inspired TV shows and specials.


“Lore” is a spooky podcast that was picked up by Amazon Video.

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Pros from shows like “The Walking Dead” have worked on the show.
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Amazon Studios

“Lore” debuted in 2015 and is produced, written, and hosted by Aaron Mahnke. It’s a dark storytelling podcast that combines haunting campfire tales with real folklore and historical events from around the globe.

In 2017, the “Lore” podcast became an Amazon Video show of the same name.

A collaboration between Mahnke, producer Gale Anne Hurd of “The Walking Dead,” and writer Glen Morgan of “The X-Files, the show follows an anthology format as it presents chilling stories from the podcast using both documentary and cinematic footage.


“Dirty John” is a true-crime podcast that became a Bravo show.

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“Dirty John” is based on a true story.
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Bravo / Getty

Created by Wondery and the Los Angeles Times, the podcast “Dirty John” reports on the real-life experiences of successful interior designer Debra Newell, who begins to realize that her husband John Meehan may not be exactly who he says he is.

Hosted by investigative journalist Christopher Goffard, this true-crime podcast quickly rose to popularity after its release in October of 2017.

A year later, “Dirty John” was adapted for a television show of the same name that closely follows the story told in the podcast. Originally airing on Bravo in November of 2018, the TV show stars Eric Bana, Connie Britton, Juno Temple, and Julia Garner.

The second season of “Dirty John” is set to premiere on the USA network in 2020.


“Limetown” is a haunting fictional podcast with an adaptation on Facebook Watch.

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“Limetown” tells a haunting story about a place that basically disappeared.
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Facebook Watch

“Limetown” is a serialized fictional podcast that follows the experience of investigative journalist Lisa Haddock as she attempts to uncover the truth behind the sudden disappearance of an entire town and over 300 people.

The Two-Up Productions podcast aired in July of 2015 and it debuted as a web-television drama on Facebook Watch in October.

Starring Jessica Biel and Stanley Tucci in leading roles, the “Limetown” television series will reportedly closely follow the original story presented in the podcast.


“Comedy Bang! Bang!” inspired a television series that lasted for five seasons.

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The show has ended but the podcast continues.
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AMC Networks/IFC

Earwolf Media’s podcast “Comedy Bang! Bang!” first debuted in 2009 as a radio show and it later became both a podcast and a TV series.

An ongoing project of writer and comedian Scott Aukerman, the podcast features a rotating cast of comedians and entertainers, including Sarah Silverman, “Weird Al” Yankovic, Zach Galifianakis, Jon Hamm, Amy Poehler, and Seth Rogen.

In 2012, IFC released the first season of the “Comedy Bang! Bang!” television series, which is hosted by Aukerman.

The faux talk show features comics and celebrities spoofing late-night television and engaging in surreal comedy sketches.

The show lasted for five seasons, with the final episode airing in December of 2016. The podcast version of “Comedy Bang! Bang!” continues to release new episodes.


“Homecoming” is a hit podcast that has been adapted into a TV series.

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Julia Roberts stars on the TV version of “Homecoming.”
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Amazon Studios

“Homecoming” is a scripted-story podcast created by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg and produced by Gimlet Media.

Released in 2016, the podcast used the voice acting of Amy Sedaris, David Schwimmer, Catherine Keener, Oscar Isaac, and David Cross to tell the enigmatic tale of a caseworker at an experimental facility aimed at helping soldiers re-enter civilian life.

The podcast’s chilling story was translated to the small screen by Amazon and it premiered on Prime Video in November of 2018.

Starring Julia Roberts, Bobby Cannavale, and Stephan James, the show is already a critical hit.

The second season of “Homecoming” is currently in production and will reportedly introduce a new storyline.


“Dr. Death” tells the story of a convicted neurosurgeon and his former patients.

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Jamie Dornan is set to star on the TV adaptation.
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Tim P. Whitby/Getty

“Dr. Death” takes a hard look at the career of former neurosurgeon Christopher Duntsch.

Duntsch has been nicknamed “Dr.Death” because throughout his career he was accused of gross malpractice as well as allegedly maiming multiple patients. He was convicted of intentionally maiming an elderly patient and sentenced to life in prison in 2017.

The podcast was released by Wondery in September 2018 with journalist Laura Beil at its helm.

Shortly after the podcast made its debut, Universal Cable Productions announced it will be adapting “Dr. Death” into a television series.

The series’ cast is set to include familiar faces like Jamie Dornan, Alec Baldwin, and Christian Slater.


“2 Dope Queens” is a talk-show podcast that became a special HBO series.

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HBO aired multiple “2 Dope Queens” specials.
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HBO

Comedians Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson are the minds behind “2 Dope Queens,” a podcast where the hosts chat irreverently about topics like romance, race, feminism, diversity, and beauty.

The podcast premiered in 2016 and frequently hosted celebrity guests, including Jon Hamm, Marc Maron, Nore Davis, and Naomi Ekperigin.

In February of 2018, HBO aired four “2 Dope Queens” specials that featured the duo riffing on timely topics and interviewing A-list stars like Steven Colbert, Sarah Jessica Parker, and Tituss Burgess.

HBO later aired four additional parts of the series in February and March of this year.


The first season of “Serial” helped bring to light a case that would inspire an HBO docuseries.

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HBO credited “Serial” with bringing the case to light.
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HBO

The first season of “Serial” explored the 1999 murder of Maryland high schooler Hae Min Lee and how her ex-partner Adnan Syed was convicted for her murder and sentenced to life in prison plus 30 years in 2000.

Hosted by journalist and radio producer Sarah Koenig, the “Serial” podcast was awarded a Peabody award in 2014 for its exceptional non-fiction storytelling.

The podcast focuses on Syed, who has consistently maintained his innocence over the past 20 years.

Earlier this year, HBO released a four-part special called “The Case Against Adnan Syed,” which covered the same case as “Serial,” adding developments that have occurred since the podcast ended in 2014.

Although this special wasn’t exactly an adaptation of the podcast, HBO credited “Serial” with bringing the case to light and highlighted some of Koenig’s reporting in it, too.


The true-crime podcast “Up And Vanished” was turned into a TV special.

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Oxygen aired a special based on the case covered in the podcast.
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Oxygen

The investigative podcast “Up and Vanished” closely explores the unsolved cases of people who have gone missing.

Hosted by documentary filmmaker Payne Lindsey, the show premiered in 2016 and covered the 2005 disappearance of high-school teacher and pageant queen Tara Faye Grinstead.

The podcast helped spur renewed interest and new arrests in the case, which had been cold for over a decade.

Later, in November of 2018, Oxygen aired an “Up and Vanished” TV special that covered the Grinstead case and Lindsey’s investigation into it.


“Crimetown” is set to be adapted into a TV show.

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In 2017, FX announced it would be adapting the podcast into a series back.
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Gimlet Media

The serial documentary podcast “Crimetown” examines the criminal history and seedy underbellies of major American cities.

First launched in 2016 by hosts Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier, each season of the podcast takes a deep dive into the history of organized crime in a different city.

So far, the show has covered cities like Providence, Rhode Island, and Detroit, Michigan.

In 2017, FX announced plans to adapt “Crimetown” into a television series chronicling organized crime in Providence, Rhode Island.

Stuart-Pontier and Smerling were confirmed as screenwriters for the show – the pair had previously worked together as co-writers on the popular HBO documentary miniseries “The Jinx.”

There is currently no confirmed release date for the “Crimetown” television adaptation and there have not been updates about the show since 2017.

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