Almost every story puts a spotlight on the hero, but an even better one is told through the eyes of a villain. Villains are cruel, calculated, and devilishly good at creating chaos in the world. But we’re not talking about Disney movies or fantasy fan fiction here, because the “bad guys” exist all around us in reality. From the greatest villains in history, (like Adolf Hitler) to notorious villains that are eerily similar to Norman Bates from Psycho, our top 10 list is going way beyond Behind the Bastards (which delves into some of the worst serial killers, dictators, and human beings in history). So show us your most evil kind of laugh, and prepare to step back in time with our top 10 podcast picks about the most terrible people in history.
#1 Evil Genius with Russell Kane
Despite its villainous name, Evil Genius with Russell Kane doesn’t just talk about the “bad guys” throughout history. Rather, they put a spotlight on many famous faces, including Elvis Presley, Pablo Picasso, and Whitney Houston. Each episode features Kane talking with some friends about the backstory behind celebrities, politicians, and corporate gurus in an effort to answer the following question: What’s the secret behind their genius-level of success?
The Host: Kane does it all. He acts, writes, and tells jokes for a living, but this comedian has also been nominated several times for the Edinburgh Comedy Award. He’s also a collaborator on Stupid Man, Smart Phone.
The Guests: Guests include some of Kane’s friends, like Tom Allen, Colin Murray, Chloe Petts, and Larry Dean.
Why You Have to Listen: For those who love light-hearted and silly podcasts, this one’s for you. Kane and his friends love to laugh and giggle about history, which makes you feel like you’re a part of one big comedy troupe. They even trek into Disney territory by discussing the genius of Walt Disney and Darth Vader.
Listen to Evil Genius with Russell Kane
#2 Most Notorious
Most Notorious is what everyone wants out of a true-crime podcast. It’s rich with knowledge, easy to follow and understand, and deep dives into some of the most compelling criminals. So whether you love Texas gunfighters, cowboys, gangsters, or unsolved murder mysteries, Erik Rivenes takes you on a spooky journey through the darkest moments of history.
The Host: Rivenes studied early American history at the University of Minnesota and used his knowledge to write several books, including The Big Mitt and Ill-Fame. He currently teaches English and continues to study true crime events in his spare time.
The Guests: Past guests have included travel writer Leif Pettersen, author Eric Jay Dolin, and author Tom Wescott.
Why You Have to Listen: Jack the Ripper is pretty well-known, but have you ever heard of the “Blackburn Cult” or the “Gangster Pirate?” Or how about the “Brownout Strangler” serial killer? There’s lots to explore in the Most Notorious podcast, and Rivenes digs up the most famous murder cases, as well as stories that haven’t seen the light of day yet.
Listen to Most Notorious
#3 Villains of History
What makes a villain scary? Does it have to do with how many people they’ve killed? Or does it have to do with how elusive they are in our current society? Cat Alvarado seeks those answers through her comedic style in the Villains of History podcast, where she dissects terrible people in society’s past and present.
The Host: Alvarado is a comedian and actress who studied economics at UC Santa Barbara. She’s participated in numerous comedy festivals, and also makes several appearances on the YouTube series, The Reel Rejects.
The Guests: Alvarado discusses evil villains with comedians like Alex Hooper, Bill Dawes, and Nick Guerra.
Why You Have to Listen: Despite its name, Villains of History talks about a lot of modern “bad guys,” like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby. The podcast is dark, funny, and educational as Alvarado and her friends giggle about cult manipulation, the “Night Stalker,” and Saddam Hussein.
Listen to Villains of History
#4 The Last Podcast on the Left
Does this podcast name sound familiar? Well, if you’re a fan of horror movies (like The Last House on the Left), then you’ll love the fun and creepy charm of The Last Podcast on the Left. Hosted by three guys who have a keen interest in Jack the Ripper, Pee Wee Gaskins, and Israel Keyes, this mysterious podcast ventures into the unknown darkness with a smile.
The Hosts: This podcast is hosted by Ben Kissel, Marcus Parks, and Henry Zebrowski, who can all be described as quirky, funny, and charming. Kissel describes himself as the “skeptic” of the group, while Parks is the polar opposite in personality, as he is a self-proclaimed “gleeful observer of all things ghoulish.”
The Guests: There are no guests on this podcast.
Why You Have to Listen: While this podcast does have a horror vibe to it, Kissel, Parks, and Zebrowski make you feel at ease with a number of silly jokes. Whether it’s making fun of John Wayne Gacy or Gary Ridgeway, The Last Podcast on the Left seamlessly blends comedy and scary stories together for 131 hours of fun.
Listen to The Last Podcast on the Left
#5 Sword and Scale
While Sword and Scale is more of a true-crime podcast, it deserves to be on this list for one big reason: it has a major focus on deadly serial killers and psychologically unstable villains. Mike Boudet, the host of this spooky podcast, also builds drama/suspense in each episode through his storytelling skills and atmospheric music.
The Host: Boudet has a deep love for shows like Unsolved Mysteries and American Greed. He also specializes in audio engineering.
The Guests: There aren’t many guests on this podcast, but one of the more recent ones was Charles Adams from The Truth with Charles Adams show.
Why You Have to Listen: Sword and Scale isn’t for the squeamish, as Boudet delves into true accounts of rape, kidnapping, and violent murders. Each episode also utilizes 911 calls, court documents, and the victim’s horrific perspective of what really happened.
Listen to Sword and Scale
#6 The Dollop
What do you get when you combine two comedians and an American history book? You get The Dollop of interesting historical figures! Granted, this podcast does talk about quite a few “good people” like Marie Dorion, a brave Native American fur trader, but if you dig around, you’ll find many notorious serial killers of history, like notorious robber and conwoman Sophie Lyons.
The Hosts: Dave Anthony is a comedian and an actor who has appeared on The Office, Veep, and Comedy Bang Bang. He has also written for several publications, including Stop All Monsters and SuicideGirls. Gareth Reynolds is also a comedian who brings life to shows on Comedy Central, MTV, and The Travel Channel.
The Guests: Past guests have included Bert Kreischer, Bobcat Goldthwaite, and Patton Oswalt.
Why You Have to Listen: Was Billy Hitler just as bad as Adolf Hitler? And what were those Witches of Finnmark up to exactly? You’ll find all the answers in The Dollop, where Anthony and Reynolds use their humor to make history fun! They also talk about famous kinds of “wars,” such as the Coal Creek War and the Minneapolis Food Cooperative Wars.
Listen to The Dollop
#7 You’re Wrong About
Here’s the thing about the “villain” stereotype. Some of them have killed innocent people, while others are responsible for human and/or drug trafficking. But the idea of a “villain” can also extend to people like Yoko Ono, who is rumored to have broken up The Beatles. Well, in You’re Wrong About, Michael Hobbes and Sarah Marshall make strong cases for people who are simply perceived as the “bad guys” by society, and those who actually deserve such a title.
The Hosts: Michael Hobbes is a journalist and an animator who has contributed to many publications, including HuffPost, NewRepublic, and Foreign Policy. Sarah Marshall is a writer for BuzzFeed and has also appeared on the podcast Community Focus.
The Guests: There aren’t too many guests on this podcast, but one notable name includes Amy Hasinoff, author of Sexting Panic: Rethinking Criminalization, Privacy, and Consent.
Why You Have to Listen: While there is a political spin on many of the episodes, Hobbes and Marshall make the perfect dynamic duo as they discuss Gary Hart, Lorena Bobbitt, and digressions into Jurassic Park.
Listen to You’re Wrong About
The Swindled podcast centers around the following quote: “Money truly is the root of all evil.” In short, it aims to expose money-hungry people like con artists and corporate executives. Why? Because villains don’t always equal serial killers. In fact, the majority of them are in the highest positions of power in corporations and government bodies, and that’s the point that Swindled attempts to make.
The Host: The host of this podcast has chosen to remain anonymous. Instead, he calls himself a “concerned citizen.”
The Guests: There are no guests on this podcast.
Why You Have to Listen: If you studied business or finance in school, then you’re going to love topics like Ponzi schemes, frauds, cheating on Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, and multi-millionaire heiresses. The identity of the host may never be revealed, but he sure knows how to use an engaging storytelling style to put a spotlight on one of the seven deadly sins: greed.
Listen to Swindled
#9 Lions Led By Donkeys
The name says it all. Lions Led By Donkeys is a military-based podcast that puts a spotlight on commanders who seem to be way below the average IQ level. The podcast is smart, funny, and discusses historical figures like Grande Armee, Clint Lorance, and Robert Bales.
The Hosts: Joe and Nick lead the Lions Led By Donkeys podcast with enthusiasm, knowledge, and a humorous attitude. Nick seems to be the more quiet one of the two, while Joe is like that Type A personality friend you’ve always wanted.
The Guests: There aren’t too many guests on this podcast, but one of the more recent ones is Francis Horton.
Why You Have to Listen: Not everyone can lead an army, but you could probably do better than half of the commanders mentioned in this podcast. There’s also a plethora of navy jokes, as well as digressions into other random historical topics.
Listen to Lions Led By Donkeys
#10 The History of WWII
Why is there a history podcast on this list? Because World War II is made up of some of the most heinous villains to date, which includes the likes of Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, and Joseph Stalin. And in The History of WWII, Ray Harris Jr. discusses their rise to power, as well as their inevitable defeat.
The Host: Ray Harris Jr. studied history at James Madison University, and decided to start a World War II podcast after realizing that nobody else was going to do one. He also has a cheery attitude, as well as an authoritative stance on history.
The Guests: Past guests have included author Damien Lewis, writer Wes Tooke, and author Dr. David Stahel.
Why You Have to Listen: This podcast is perfect for those who are fascinated by times of war, historical events, and corrupted leaders. But aside from historical villains, Harris Jr. also discusses other events that happened in World War II, like Operation Landcrab and Pearl Harbor.
Listen to The History of WWII
Villains have helped shape history, and while their actions have led to destruction, deaths, and a number of headaches within society, they are also a source of education for generations to come.
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