Serial was the hit podcast that really launched true crime as an entertainment genre – and changed the course of justice as a direct result.
It may have started rolling the ball, but Serial is far from the only show that takes a true crime case and turns it into content for our listening and viewing pleasure — with exciting results.
Here, we look at five shows that changed the way we look at the justice system — some even leading to or overturning criminal convictions — while astounding audiences around the world.
Series: One story told week after week
From a brilliant keyboard opening podcast, to hosting Sarah Koenig’s forensic autopsy of the case, this show has captivated audiences since day one, and became a sensation in 2014.
It has pushed the true crime podcast genre into the mainstream and has spawned hundreds of similar casts in its wake. Of course, it’s not done yet.
Eight years after the podcast was first launched, the man at the center of the issue, Adnan Sayed was released from prison His murder conviction was overturned after 23 years in prison.
He has a podcast thanking him for breathing new life into his defense and questioning his conviction of killing his then-girlfriend Hye Min Lee after she was found strangled and buried in a Baltimore park in 1999.
He has always protested his innocence and has been unsuccessfully appealing his conviction for years, but now numerous evidence – including a handwritten letter from witness Asia MacLean confirming Syed’s account that he was in the library at the time of the murder, defective mobile phone data and two other potential suspects who They were not disclosed to his lawyer at the time of the trial – meaning his case is being considered again.
Although his innocence has yet to be declared, he has been released from prison and is currently under house arrest with a tracking device strapped to his ankle.
Prosecutors now have 30 days to decide whether to retry him. Hae Min Lee’s family is exploring options in terms of attractiveness.
Regardless of the outcome, Syed finds himself firmly in the glare of the media once again.
Of course, a new series podcast documents its release, and the ongoing issue is ready for listeners wanting to go back to where they left off in 2014.
Pet Teachers: Australian Podcast Guarantees Conviction
He was a 74-year-old former rugby league player Convicted of killing his wife — nearly 40 years after her death — thanks to a true crime podcast that has re-awakened interest in the cold case.
The Teacher’s Pet – an audio file prepared by journalists from The Australian newspaper – presented a circumstantial case that Chris Dawson had murdered his wife Lynette Dawson, who is also the mother of his two children.
Lynette disappeared off Sydney’s northern beaches in January 1982, but her body was never found.
He denied killing the 33-year-old and claimed that she left the house to get some time for herself. There has been no evidence of Mrs. Dawson’s contact with family or friends since her disappearance.
A 2003 investigation found that Dawson began an affair with a 16-year-old student who moved in with him days before his wife disappeared.
The hit podcast 2018 detailed a turbulent marriage that led to her disappearance and examined the police response to her. It has been downloaded over 30 million times and listened to by at least 60 million people.
Media reports, citing police sources, indicated that the investigation was reopened after the publicity generated by the podcast.
However, the officers insisted that the case be reopened due to “new witnesses coming forward”.
Four months after the last episode of the podcast, Dawson — who chose a trial by a judge rather than a jury trial for publicity about the case — was charged by police with murder.
In August 2022, he was convicted.
The judge said a body of small evidence, including inconsistencies in Dawson’s defense, was compelling and he was convinced beyond reasonable doubt that Dawson caused her death. He will be sentenced in November.
The Jinx: Hot Mic ends with a murder conviction
The New York millionaire was heir to the property Robert Durst Convicted of murder in 2021following the success of the HBO documentary The Jinx.
The show focused on three crimes – the 1982 disappearance of his first wife Kathleen McCormack, the 2000 murder of his longtime girlfriend Susan Berman, and the 2001 murder of his neighbor Maurice Black.
Although Durst was acquitted of Black’s murder in 2001, a conversation captured on the microphone during the filming of the documentary appeared to show his confession to the three murders. He didn’t seem to know he was still on the record.
Durst, who was still wearing a live microphone after meeting him, heard Durst say to himself in the bathroom, “What the hell did you do?…You killed them all of course.”
Although it was later revealed that these quotes had been manipulated for dramatic effect, he was arrested on the eve of the final episode.
He was later convicted of shooting Ms Berman – which prosecutors claimed gave him a false argument regarding his wife’s disappearance – at close range in 2000 at her Los Angeles home.
He was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Durst was accused of his wife’s disappearance shortly after her sentencing but He died in prison in January of this year before his trial for that case began.
The 78-year-old’s fortune is believed to be $100m (£73m) and he was the grandson of Joseph Durst, who founded the Durst Foundation, one of Manhattan’s largest commercial real estate firms.
Lucky: The memoir adaptation that overturned the rape conviction
Man convicted of raping author Alice Sebold of Lovely Bones His conviction was overturned After a producer was making her 1999 memoir Lucky in the movie, she began wondering why the first draft of the script was so different from the book.
In 2021, Judge Anthony Broadwater — who served 16 years in prison — acquitted of raping Sebold when she was a student — an assault she wrote about in her award-winning 1999 memoir Lucky.
Tim Moshianti—who owns a production company called Red Badge Films—signed on as executive producer of the adaptation but became suspicious of Broadwater’s guilt.
After conducting his own investigations, he eventually withdrew from the project and was appointed a private investigator.
Siebold’s diary details her rape as a first-year student in Syracuse in May 1981, and then she saw a black man in the street months later that she was certain was her attacker.
She then went to the police, who indicated that the man she had seen was Mr. Broadwater, who was later arrested.
Sebold failed to identify him on the police list, but was nonetheless convicted of rape in 1982 – with forensic evidence used at the time in a case his lawyer later described as “unwanted science”.
Broadwater was released from prison in 1999 but said the false conviction ruined his life.
will be born later apologize to himsaying, “I am grateful that Mr. Broadwater has finally been acquitted, but the fact remains that 40 years ago, he became another young black man who was brutalized by our flawed legal system. I will forever be sorry for what happened to him.”
The film based on the memoirs of Sebold’s book was later canceled.
Publisher Simon & Schuster and its imprint Scribner have also stopped distributing Lucky in all formats, but said they are “working with the author to consider how to review it.”
Sebold’s 2002 novel, The Lovely Bones, about the rape and murder of a teenage girl seeking revenge for her killer, was turned into a 2009 hit movie starring Saoirse Ronan.
Don’t F*** With Cats: A gruesome Netflix documentary that puts itself on trial
A shocking video of a man torturing and killing two drops has netizens around the world jumping into action to track him down.
The three-part Netflix 2019 documentary Don’t F*** With Cats: The History Of An Internet Serial Killer told that story — making the monster in his heart — Luka Magnotta — famous.
Not only did he kill animals, he went to The killing of Chinese international student Jun Lin. He also posted a video of this killing on the Internet.
The show has gripped viewers since its release, but it has also opened up conversations about the streaming giant giving a platform to a man who shared a video of his atrocities online in order to gain fame. It was something he achieved in a bucket thanks to the documentary.
The creators of the program were aware of this dilemma and addressed it in interviews.
Director Mark Lewis later told a BAFTA audience: “We came up with what we thought was a comfortable situation given the complicity of everyone who reads a crime story in the newspaper and reads a crime novel.
“Crime and murder is something that fascinates us all, and to some extent, it was part of the story that we all – whether filmmakers or viewers – are somehow complicit in this fascination with true crime and murder.”
While the video filmed at the heart of the documentary was not shown to viewers, reactions to the footage gave a good idea of its distressing content, with a senior police officer contributing to tears in the show.
Critics of the show—perhaps the best-known and most disturbing movie about cats—said that it was a thriller, which only made Magnotta famous. It is an undeniable accusation.
However, as documentation of the audience’s power to investigate a crime through careful examination of video frame by frame, and tireless detective work on items seen in the perpetrator’s home, the film somehow comes to redeem itself.
The documentary also shows the family of the student who went to kill him, illustrating the escalation of his crimes.
Magnotta was convicted of the December 2014 murder of John Lane and sentenced to life in prison with ineligibility for parole for 25 years.