Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

TV Shows You Didn't Realize Were Based On Podcasts

Television networks are always looking for the next big thing, which entails increasingly searching for different and new source material. The landscape has gotten so competitive that they've moved beyond books, comics, video games, and even old TV shows. The latest medium to become an emerging well of content is podcasting. While audio programs in general have been around for decades, podcasts — particularly those providing dramatic stories, fiction and nonfiction alike — have exploded in recent years, and television has definitely taken notice.

Especially among streaming platforms like Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Hulu, and Apple TV+, podcasts are being translated to the screen more and more. This includes true crime documentaries, scripted dramas, and even interview shows, which are now mined as potential sources for the latest hit TV series. The re-emergence of the audio drama — once wildly popular on terrestrial radio long before the creation of podcasts — has led to companies like Gimlet Media and Wondery to seek out new audio content and then license it for live action.

Today, there are more than a few TV series that originated as podcasts, but you might not realize it. Some even feature major movie stars and come from acclaimed producers. So, plug in your earbuds and take notice — we've found 12 great shows that you didn't realize were based on podcasts.


Debuting on Amazon Prime in 2018, the prestige thriller "Homecoming" is headlined by big screen icon Julia Roberts. It tells the story of Heidi Bergman, a social worker who realizes she can't remember the last few years of her life. Somehow, she draws a blank on her entire time working for Homecoming — a shadowy government-funded care facility designed to help returning military veterans reintegrate into society. When she goes looking for answers, she discovers a conspiracy that reveals Homecoming to have far more sinister motives than they claim.

What you might not know is that "Homecoming" is based on a podcast from two years earlier written and produced by Eli Horowitz and Micah Bloomberg. A scripted psycho-thriller, it features a surprisingly star-studded voice cast that includes Catherine Keener in the lead role alongside Oscar Isaac and David Schwimmer. Lauded for its brutal and uncompromising critique of both the mental health industry and the military industrial complex, "Homecoming" was also praised for its inventive production. "Thanks to its innovative audio techniques and nuanced voice acting, 'Homecoming' manages to straddle the line between shocking thriller and believable conspiracy," read a 2017 review from IndieWire.

Eventually, "Mr. Robot" creator Sam Esmail helped bring it to the screen, with Bloomberg and Horowitz returning to script many of its episodes. Both the podcast and live-action series unfold through non-linear narratives and will keep you guessing from start to finish whether you're watching or listening.

The Shrink Next Door

Not every TV series based on a podcast has its origins in scripted audio drama. In 2019, a true crime podcast from journalist Joe Nocera titled "The Shrink Next Door" became the top-rated podcast on Apple's charts for three weeks and won the 2020 Webby Award for best documentary. It reveals the startling and disturbing true story of Martin Markowitz, a wealthy but otherwise unassuming man whose entire life is taken over by his therapist, Isaac "Ike" Herschkopf. Over time, "Dr. Ike" inserts himself into a position of power at Markowitz's company, isolates Markowitz from his friends and family, and even begins living in his home.

The podcast unfolded in a series of sit-down interviews with Markowitz and his friends and family, who revealed an unsettling story to Nocera, who hosted each episode. The story made its way to Apple TV+ in 2021, courtesy of "Veep" and "Succession" producer Georgia Pritchett and directors Michael Showalter ("Search Party") and Jesse Peretz. 

The eight-episode miniseries stars Paul Rudd as Dr. Ike, Will Ferrell as Martin Markowitz, and Kathryn Hahn as his sister Phyllis. While the live-action adaptation didn't reach quite the same level of acclaim or popularity, audience reviews were strong. Both Rudd and Ferrell garnered praise for their performances, which are a step away from their more ordinary comedic roles.

Alex, Inc.

Like "The Shrink Next Door," the single-season sitcom "Alex, Inc." is also derived from a documentary podcast, this time the 2014 title "StartUp" from Gimlet Media. The series recounts the beginnings of different businesses and start-ups and talks to a variety of industry professionals and entrepreneurs. Though the podcast ran for an impressive 93 installments, it's kind of self-referential during its first batch of episodes, which tell the story of how Gimlet Media came to be. Its second group of episodes focuses entirely on the history of a dating company before the show settles into a story-a-week format. 

Eventually, though, "StartUp" was picked up to become a TV comedy with a premise loosely based on the creation of the podcast itself. The show stars Zach Braff of "Scrubs" fame as the titular Alex Schuman, a husband and father who quits his job as a radio reporter to start a podcasting company. "The Good Place" star Tiya Sircar plays his wife and lawyer, and the show chronicles their ups and downs as they struggle to establish their new company and fight to break through to success. In addition to the challenge of finding the right programming and the normal rigors of starting a business, they must also contend with personal problems too. While plenty of people find Braff likeable, the series was met with mixed reviews, though audience ratings seemed to split with the critics. 


A Netflix original supernatural thriller, "Equinox" is a Danish miniseries that you might not have heard of unless you're regularly scouring the streaming site for top-rate dramas from around the world. Even if you have seen it, you might not realize it's based on a 2018 podcast titled "Equinox 1985." When it came to Netflix, the production was overseen by Danish TV vet Piv Bernth, who produced the 2007 Danish series "Forbrydelsen" which was later remade as "The Killing."

Like the audio drama on which it's based, the series introduces Anna, a young woman whose sister went missing, along with a busload of her fellow students, decades earlier. Anna had a premonition of her sister's death not long before, and in the present, Anna begins experiencing similarly disturbing visions once more, and she believes they are related to that dark day. But when she receives a strange message from the lone survivor of the incident, she becomes determined to finally get to the truth. But what she finds is her own startling connection to the tragedy that throws her entire world upside down.

As is typical for Danish thrillers, "Equinox" is full of captivating thrills, twists, and turns. The Guardian awarded the series three stars, comparing it to the likes of "The Ring," "Stranger Things," and even a little bit of "The Da Vinci Code," while complimenting its stark tone and eerie atmosphere.

Dirty John

The true crime podcast "Dirty John" was launched in 2017, ran for 16 episodes, and became an instant hit with more than 10 million downloads in just six weeks after its first release (per Junkee). The series' first batch of episodes focuses on the case of Debra Newell, who sparked a romance with the effortlessly endearing John Meehan on a dating website for middle-aged singles that culminated in their marriage. But the story took a turn when Newell discovered that Meehan isn't who he claimed to be, as disturbing evidence of another life came to light. 

What follows is a tragic tale that explores a dark web of misogyny, domestic abuse, and murder, and goes in directions you might not expect. Based on a true story, the podcast was translated to the screen a year after its debut by Alexandra Cunningham, a writer who'd worked on "NYPD Blue," "Prime Suspect," and "Chance." The star-studded cast features Eric Bana in the role of Meehan, Connie Britton as Newell, and Juno Temple as Newell's sister Veronica.

A second season, meanwhile, tells an entirely different story that isn't covered on the podcast. In this retelling of an incredible true crime story, Christian Slater and Amanda Peet play Dan and Betty Broderick, the central figures in a high-profile case in which Betty Broderick goes on trial for her ex-husband's murder.


In the early days of the current podcasting boom, comedian Marc Maron launched his series "WTF with Marc Maron." He began the series to replace his then-recently canceled terrestrial radio show "Breakroom Live with Maron & Seder." In fact, the podcast's earliest episodes were recorded by Maron himself, and entailed breaking into his former radio show's Park Avenue office building under the cover of night and sneaking guests up through a freight elevator, as he revealed in an interview with The New Yorker. 

He managed to move into his home garage for later episodes and interviewed various guests, most often fellow comedians like Kevin McDonald, Carlos Mencia, Kevin Smith, and Robin Williams, in some seriously hard-hitting discussions. In 2013, Maron began starring in the sitcom "Maron," which is very loosely based on the podcast, where the comedian plays an exaggerated version of himself. In addition to Maron, a parade of big stars pop up in guest appearances playing themselves, including Aubrey Plaza, Patton Oswalt, Andy Dick, Ken Jeong, and Denis Leary.

In addition to just being downright funny, the series is cynical in a charming way. It's got laughs, as well as a strong message, too. The show was a modest hit, airing for four seasons on IFC, and came to a close in 2016. Meanwhile, "WTF with Marc Maron" continues weekly to this day.

Dr. Death

True crime isn't just one of the most popular genres in the podcast medium, it also seems to be the favored source material when television creators are looking to podcasts for ideas. In 2021, Peacock released "Dr. Death," a medical mystery and psychological horror-thriller. The podcast version, released in 2018, totals 35 episodes spread across three seasons, with each year telling a fascinating and horrifying story of gruesome, malicious medical malpractice. 

The first season of the TV adaptation landed in 2021 with Joshua Jackson ("Fringe") as Texas surgeon Christopher Duntsch, whose patients all seem to leave his operations with mysterious and unforeseen crippling after-effects. Christian Slater, Grace Gummer, Alec Baldwin, and AnnaSophia Robb round out the supporting cast. Season 2, meanwhile, adapts the third season of the podcast and centers on Paolo Macchiarini (Edgar Ramirez), another surgeon accused of breaking his ethical oath and engaging in vile, manipulative tactics, this time surrounding research fraud. It also follows his controversial relationship with journalist Benita Alexander (Mandy Moore), who helps bring his crimes to light.

A solid cast, an enthralling story, and its true crime origins helped propel "Dr. Death" to rave reviews. Most critics lumped their lauds on lead star Joshua Jackson, who gives a chilling performance as the twisted Duntsch. The series was given high marks by The Hollywood Reporter for highlighting the dark side of the medical system.


Horror anthology shows have been steadily gaining in popularity on television, with favorites like "American Horror Story," "Them," and Guillermo del Toro's "Cabinet of Curiosities" helping grow the genre in recent years. When Amazon Prime wanted something new of their own, they turned to the popular urban legend podcast titled "Lore." Created in 2015, the series has released over 200 episodes and counting, with each installment exploring urban legends, disturbing historical tales, and other stories of the macabre.

Like the podcast, the TV series, which lasted two seasons and 12 episodes, dramatizes one new tale with each entry. Brought to life by executive producers Gale Anne Hurd ("The Walking Dead") and Glen Morgan ("The X-Files"), the series features mostly lesser-known cast members supported by a handful of bigger names like Robert Patrick and Alicia Witt. The debut episode dramatized the vampire legend of Mercy Brown, while other Season 1 episodes cover everything from werewolves and spiritualists to cursed dolls and fairy folklore. 

The second season goes further, exploring more well-known and legendary stories with episodes centered on the Burke and Hare killings — two medical doctors who turned to grave robbing and mass murder to further their science — as well as the story of Elizabeth Bathory, the 17th century noblewoman rumored to be a serial killer. Though it never achieved quite the long-lived success that the podcast did, "Lore" delighted audiences with sickening stories full of spooks, scares, and plenty of blood.


Part true crime, part political thriller, the podcast "Slow Burn" is produced by online magazine Slate and has run since 2017. Each season of the podcast covers a different political controversy or scandal, including the Watergate affair, the Iraq War, the Rodney King riots in Los Angeles, and the legal battle over abortion rights. It even veers into celebrity scandal during its third year, exploring the sometimes-violent rivalry between rappers The Notorious B.I.G. and Tupac Shakur. Because of its multi-episode season format, "Slow Burn" is able to delve deeper into details than other documentaries typically have time for.

Over the years, "Slow Burn" has seen multiple TV adaptations, the first of which was 2020's six-part documentary of the same name. Two years later, "Gaslit" arrived, and used the podcast's first season examination of the Watergate affair, told mostly from the perspective of Martha Mitchell — wife of U.S. Attorney General John N. Mitchell — with a cast that includes Julia Roberts, Sean Penn, Dan Stevens, and Shea Wigham. Acclaim from critics followed, but that wasn't the last instance of the "Slow Burn" podcast influencing television.

In 2021, according to Deadline, "American Crime Story" used the podcast's coverage of the Monica Lewinsky scandal to help craft its third season entitled "Impeachment." That year's dramatic retelling starred Clive Owen as Bill Clinton, Beanie Feldstein as Monica Lewinsky, Edie Falco as Hillary Clinton, and Cobie Smulders as right-wing gadfly Ann Coulter.

The Dropout

One of the biggest scandals in tech in the last decade happened at Theranos, the biotechnology firm founded by Elizabeth Holmes. It made national news and rocked multiple industries when it was revealed that Holmes — who became a media sensation after she was named the youngest and wealthiest self-made billionaire by Forbes in 2015 — was guilty of massive fraud. The story quickly became the subject of movie rumors with director Adam McKay and actress Jennifer Lawrence in talks. But first it became the basis for the true crime podcast, "The Dropout" in 2019.

In 2021, development began on a TV miniseries based on the podcast, which was spearheaded by Elizabeth Meriwether — creator, writer, and director of the Zooey Deschanel sitcom "New Girl." A year later, the eight-episode series released on Hulu with Amanda Seyfried starring as Holmes and "Lost" star Naveen Andrews as Sunny Balwani, her boyfriend and Theranos' Chief Operating Officer. Laurie Metcalf, William H. Macy, Stephen Fry, Sam Waterston, Anne Archer and Michael Ironside also starred.

Well-received by critics and audiences, "The Dropout" earned Meriwether her first Primetime Emmy Award nominations, including for outstanding writing and best limited series. In fact, the series proved so good, and Seyfried so impressive, that Jennifer Lawrence reportedly dropped plans for the movie, uninterested in trying to top it according to New York Times reporter Kyle Buchanan.


While "Alex, Inc." chronicles the entrepreneurial efforts that led to the founding of new businesses, and "The Dropout" tells of an executive's disastrous fall from grace, the podcast "WeCrashed: The Rise and Fall of WeWork" does both. The audio documentary explores the founding of the infamous co-working space company that was an overnight sensation, as well as its collapse. After being valued at billions upon billions of dollars by 2019, WeWork made a failed attempt at a public offering, and was plagued by corporate scandals, as reported by Reuters.

In 2020, it was announced that Apple Studios had inked a deal to base a new series on the podcast (per Variety) and a year later, superstars Jared Leto and Anne Hathaway signed up to play WeWork founder Adam Neumann and his wife Rebekah. The series debuted in 2022 and focuses as much on the romantic relationship between Adam and Rebekah as on the turmoil faced by their burgeoning business. As their love blossoms, their small start-up grows into a massive, international brand that seems unstoppable, until the rug is pulled out from under them.

Reviewer Nick Allen of RogerEbert.com gave the series three and a half stars. He applauded everything from "its sharp directing to fascinating performances to clever writing [that] immerses us in this saga and then has the derring-do to sell it to us as a love story."

Archive 81

A scripted supernatural thriller podcast, "Archive 81" used a clever "found footage" premise and meta narrative. The story centers on Dan, an audio archivist who finds a series of disturbing interviews with a dangerous cult conducted by a woman named Melody Pendras in the 1990s while organizing a library of audio tapes for a new job. Soon, Dan begins to believe that he can help save the woman on the tape, who met a gruesome end decades earlier. But when Dan goes missing, some of the tapes show up at the house of his friend Mark, a podcaster who ostensibly made the tapes available to the public.

The show ran for three seasons, and in 2020, Netflix announced they'd picked up the series, with plans to adapt it for live action through horror director James Wan's production company. Mamoudou Athie and Dina Shihabi star as Dan and Melody, and on its release in early 2022 the show was a massive hit. Reviews cheered it on as a chilling excursion into a bizarre mystery, where Dan had been reimagined as a conservator who reconstructs a series of damaged video tapes, and Melody a documentary filmmaker investigating a deadly fire.

A big hit for Netflix, "Archive 81" landed in the top 10 most-streamed programs on the platform, according to Variety. Yet despite the network's claims of its popular status, the series was unceremoniously canceled in March, not long after its debut.