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60 Best Podcasts (2024): True Crime, Culture, Science, Fiction

60 Best Podcasts (2024): True Crime, Culture, Science, Fiction

Podcasts are to radio as streaming services are to television, and we are lucky enough to be living through the golden age of both. You can find a podcast about almost anything these days, but with great choice comes great mediocrity—you might need a helping hand to find the podcasts worthy of your ear. Our expertly curated list will entertain and educate you, whether you’re doing the dishes, working out, commuting, or lazing in the bath.

For more advice, check out our guides on how to listen to more podcasts and the best podcasts for kids. If you’re feeling entrepreneurial, read our recommendations on the gear you need to start a podcast.

Updated April 2024: We added several podcasts, including Ologies, The Food Chain, and Bandsplain, plus a new music section. We’ve also removed links to Google’s recently shuttered podcast app.

Table of Contents

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Best Tech Podcasts

The Dropout podcast art

Courtesy of ABC News

The Dropout

Sneak a peek behind the curtain, as this podcast follows the trials and tribulations of Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos, the tech startup that promised to disrupt blood testing but disintegrated in the face of whistleblowers, inaccurate results, and fraudulent claims. John Carreyrou’s reporting broke the scandal, and his book Bad Blood also spawned another interesting podcast. But The Dropout is a refreshingly clear recounting of the sordid tale, with season two tackling the trial.

Darknet Diaries podcast cover art featuring illustration of laptop on fire

Courtesy of Darknet Diaries

Darknet Diaries

Anyone with an interest in hacking and cybercrime will appreciate this investigative podcast from Jack Rhysider. Densely packed and tightly edited, the show covers topics like Xbox hacking, a Greek wiretapping Vodafone scandal, and the impact of the NotPetya malware. Rhysider skillfully weaves informative narratives to unravel some complex issues and keeps things mostly accessible, though it may occasionally get a little too technical for some folks.

Cover art for Your Undivided Attention podcast art

Courtesy of Center for Humane Technology

Your Undivided Attention

Ex-Googler Tristan Harris, whom you may recognize from the Netflix documentary The Social Dilemma, talks with Aza Raskin about the dangers of living your life online. As cofounders of the Center for Humane Technology, they delve into the ethics of Big Tech, unpack the potential pitfalls, and try to imagine ways to harness technology for the good of humanity.

Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast art

Courtesy of Dallas Taylor

Twenty Thousand Hertz

Painstakingly researched, this podcast dives deep into the world of sound to explain everything from those sounds you always hear in movie trailers to car engines, choral music, the Netflix intro, and way beyond. Learn how iconic sounds were created, why certain sounds make us feel the way they do, and how sound enriches our lives in myriad ways.

Other Great Tech Podcasts:

  • WIRED’s Gadget Lab: Want to catch up on the week’s top tech news? Listen to our very own podcast hosted by senior writer Lauren Goode and senior editor Michael Calore.
  • The Lazarus Heist: This captivating investigation starts with the Sony hacks, digs into the involvement of North Korean hackers, and moves on to a billion-dollar cyber theft.
  • Rabbit Hole: What is the internet doing to us? New York Times tech columnist Kevin Roose investigates things like the impact of algorithms on radicalization with a dreamy soundscape backdrop.
  • Reply All: The beautifully paced, always convivial, and sorely missed Reply All dragged us down internet rabbit holes to investigate long-forgotten songs, phone scammers, hacked Snapchat accounts, and Team Fortress 2 bots.
  • Click Here: With a focus on cybersecurity, this podcast unravels tales of hacking, misinformation, cyberterrorism, and more, with interviews and insight from experts in episodes that usually come in under half an hour.
  • Waveform: Laid-back chats about the latest gadgets and developments in the world of tech with Marques Brownlee (MKBHD) and co-host David Imel.

Best Society Podcasts

The Last Days of August podcast art

Courtesy of Audible

The Last Days of August

Jon Ronson brings an inquisitive, empathetic, and slightly neurotic intelligence to bear on fascinating and often surprising tales. Following The Butterfly Effect (only on Audible), which delves into the collision of tech with the pornography industry, The Last Days of August investigates the untimely death of porn performer August Ames. All of Ronson’s other podcasts are equally excellent (we recommend Things Fell Apart and So You’ve Been Publicly Shamed), but this is a great place to start.

Wild Things podcast cover art featuring illustration of neon tiger

Courtesy of Apple

Wild Things: Siegfried and Roy

Famous German duo Siegfried and Roy were a mainstay on the Las Vegas show scene and performed about 30,000 times over five decades with an act that included white lions and tigers. When Roy was attacked live on stage, it made headlines everywhere. This podcast unravels their rise to stardom, touches on their controversial handling of wild animals, and digs into what really happened that fateful night.

Revisionist History podcast art

Courtesy of Pushkin Industries

Revisionist History

In this eclectic mix of quirky stories, Malcolm Gladwell tackles misunderstood events and rarely discussed ideas, veering from subjects like Toyota’s car recall to underhand-throwing basketball legend Wilt Chamberlain, and even the firebombing of Tokyo at the end of World War II. Gladwell freely mixes research and opinion and enjoys challenging conventional views, but every episode serves up facts and stories you have likely never heard before.

Other Great Society Podcasts:

  • Dreamtown: The Story of Adelanto: This story of a small California town that turns to cannabis cultivation to try and revive itself soon descends into chaos.
  • Run Bambi Run: The riveting story of former Milwaukee police officer and Playboy Club bunny Laurie Bembenek, who was convicted of murdering her husband’s ex, despite conflicting evidence, and subsequently escaped prison and fought to have her conviction overturned.
  • Missing Richard Simmons: Ebullient fitness guru Richard Simmons used to be everywhere, and this podcast charts an investigative reporter’s attempts to find out why he disappeared.
  • The Moth: This podcast offers random folks the chance to tell deeply personal stories to a crowd of strangers and reinforces just how weird and wonderful humans are.
  • The Trojan Horse Affair: This tale unpacks the British scandal over an alleged attempt by Islamist extremists to take over a Birmingham school and radicalize its students.
  • Day X: A sobering look at the neo-Nazi specter in modern-day Germany, its possible infiltration of police and government, and a plan involving a military officer and a faked refugee identity.
  • Project Unabom: Delving into the life of Ted Kaczynski, this podcast interviews his brother and recounts the FBI investigation to try to make sense of Kaczynski’s terrifying bombing spree.
  • Will Be Wild: Curious about the January 6 insurrection? This podcast interviews people from both sides, examines the struggles of law enforcement and intelligence under Trump, and charts the anti-government extremism that led to this dark day for democracy.

Best Culture Podcasts

Cover art for The Cost of Happiness podcast art

Courtesy of Imperative Entertainment

The Cost of Happiness: Tony Hsieh

The online shoe store Zappos made Tony Hsieh a billionaire, and this podcast investigates his $350 million investment in the Downtown Project in Las Vegas. His utopian vision of a happy worker village promised to revitalize the depressed heart of Sin City. The experimental community generated much excitement, but the charismatic and eccentric Hsieh soon ran into trouble.

The Superhero Complex podcast art featuring superhero mask

Courtesy of Novel

The Superhero Complex

Part of the way into this investigation of the Rain City Superhero Movement, a real-life group of self-proclaimed superheroes active in Seattle a few years ago, I had to stop listening and check that this wasn’t fiction. The podcast focuses on the arrogant Phoenix Jones, an ex-MMA fighter turned violent vigilante, and his fall from grace. But there is also a fascinating glimpse into the friendlier side of the movement, with some heroes handing out water to homeless folks and helping people in distress.

The Read podcast art

Courtesy of The LoudSpeakers Network

The Read

Brutally honest comedians with chemistry, Kid Fury and Crissle West recap and review the latest pop culture news and offer their opinions on everything. Insightful, funny, challenging, and refreshingly different from the podcast pack, these sprawling conversations run for a couple of hours, covering recent events and frequently touching on social justice, mental health, race, and sexual identity.

Forever35 podcast art

Courtesy of Forever35

Forever35

Like eavesdropping on conversations between relatable besties, Forever35 started as a physical self-care podcast but expanded to discuss mental health, relationships, and any other topic that appeals to LA-based writers Doree Shafrir and Kate Spencer. They go from chatting about serums and creams to seasonal affective disorder and how to deal with a new stepmother as an adult—but always in a fun, inclusive, and down-to-earth way.

Other Great Culture Podcasts:

  • Sounds Like a Cult: Fanatical fringe groups have never been so prevalent, and there’s something more than a little cultish about celebrity stans, multilevel marketing, and marathon runners—just three of the subjects this lighthearted podcast unpacks.
  • Armchair Expert With Dax Shepard: Now a Spotify exclusive, this often funny and always insightful podcast seeks out human truths and sometimes finds them.
  • Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy: Ably hosted by author David Barr Kirtley, this sci-fi fantasy extravaganza digs into fascinating topics with the help of accomplished guests like Neil Gaiman, Brent Spiner, and Steven Pinker.
  • The Allusionist: If you are interested in words, this witty but accessible show will delight you as it charts the evolution of slang, explains euphemisms, and generally celebrates language.

Best True-Crime Podcasts

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Courtesy of Las Vegas Review Journal

Mobbed Up: The Fight for Las Vegas

This fascinating tale, told through interviews with old gangsters, law enforcement, politicians, and journalists, charts the symbiotic rise of organized crime and Las Vegas. The first season recounts the FBI’s attempts to take down the “Hole in the Wall Gang” and reveals the true-life inspiration for movies like Casino. Season two tackles Jimmy Hoffa and the battle to oust the mafia from the Strip’s casinos.

Criminal podcast art

Courtesy of Vox Media

Criminal

Soothing host Phoebe Judge unravels captivating tales with reverence in this polished production about the spectrum of crime. Criminals, victims, lawyers, police, historians, and others whose lives have been altered by crime voice their stories as Judge carefully avoids the sensational and exploitative by respectfully teasing out the heart of each subject.

STown podcast art

Courtesy of WBEZ

S-Town

Give this compelling mystery five minutes and you’ll be hooked. The talented host, Brian Reed, investigates a small town in Alabama at the behest of eccentric horologist John B. McLemore, who claims the son of a wealthy family has gotten away with murder. The script, pacing, editing, music—basically everything about this production—are perfect.

Cover art for Bone Valley podcast art

Courtesy of Lava For Good

Bone Valley

Painstakingly researched, thoughtfully told, and skillfully produced, this true-crime podcast hosted by Gilbert King focuses on a 1987 Florida murder. After an incompetent police investigation and distinctly dodgy trial, Leo Schofield was convicted of killing his wife. Despite fresh evidence and a confession from someone else, Schofield remains in prison.

Chameleon Hollywood Con Queen podcast art

Courtesy of Campside

Chameleon: Hollywood Con Queen

Murder may dominate this genre, but there are other fascinating stories worth telling in the world of crime, like this one, which is about a scammer posing as a Hollywood mogul. This weird, compelling, investigative podcast unwinds a satisfyingly twisty tale that’s mercifully free of blood and violence. The third season, Wild Boys, tells a completely new story, and the fifth tackles hypnotist Dr. Dante.

Other Great True-Crime Podcasts:

  • Cold: Investigative journalist Dave Cawley investigates missing persons cases, starting with the tragic tale of Susan Powell. Well-researched and respectful, this slow-burn podcast is a must for true crime fans.
  • The Thing About Pam: Beautifully narrated by Keith Morrison, this podcast is a rollercoaster ride that gets weirder as it goes on. This case inspired a mini-series with Renée Zellweger playing Pam.
  • Your Own Backyard: This sensitive and meticulous investigation into the disappearance of Kristin Smart from Cal Poly in 1996 uncovered fresh leads for detectives and doggedly fought for justice.
  • Who Killed Daphne: Investigative journalist Daphne Caruana Galizia was murdered by car bomb in Malta, and this podcast delves into her work exposing the unscrupulous elite to identify her killers.
  • The Clearing: The families of serial killers often seek obscurity (understandably), but that means we never hear their stories. That’s something this podcast about April Balascio, daughter of American serial killer Edward Wayne Edwards, rectifies.
  • The Trials of Frank Carson: Police and prosecutors go after the defense attorney who has been beating them in court for years, sparking accusations of conspiracy and one of the longest trials in US history.
  • Sweet Bobby: This British catfishing tale charts successful radio presenter Kirat’s relationship with handsome cardiologist Bobby, and things get impossibly weird.
  • Dr. Death: A gripping podcast that focuses on incompetent or psychopathic (maybe both) ex-surgeon Christopher Duntsch and exposes terrifying institutional failures.
  • Crimetown: Taking a forensic approach to organized crime in American cities, this slick podcast comes from the supremely talented makers of The Jinx.
  • Hunting Warhead: A journalist, a hacker, and some detectives go after a chilling child abuse ring led by a criminal known as Warhead in this tactfully told and thorough podcast.
  • Love Janessa: Catfishing scams are big business, but why do so many use photos of Janessa Brazil? This podcast tracks her down to find out.
  • The Evaporated: Gone With the Gods: Journalist Jake Adelstein dives deep into Japanese culture, pursuing his missing accountant and exploring the mysterious disappearances of thousands of people in Japan every year.

Best Science Podcasts

Ologies podcast art

Courtesy of Ologies

Ologies

Lighthearted, enthusiastic, and endlessly curious host Alie Ward interviews smart people about their specialist subjects. This accessible podcast covers many topics from a scientific perspective and delights in diving down random rabbit holes. Recent episodes have covered the sun, pelicans, and repulsion.

Maintenance Phase podcast art

Courtesy of Aubrey Gordon & Michael Hobbes

Maintenance Phase

The worlds of wellness and weight loss are awash with questionable products and advice, so a podcast to debunk fads and junk science with reasoned argument and research is welcome. It’s more fun than it sounds, thanks to the entertaining hosts, and there’s even a fascinating episode on “snake oil” that recounts the history of health scams.

Hidden Brain podcast art

Courtesy of NPR

Hidden Brain

An absorbing deep dive into human behavior with the help of psychologists, sociologists, and other experts, Hidden Brain is densely packed with informative nuggets. The host, NPR’s accomplished science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, renders complex ideas accessible and offers insight into the inner workings of our minds.

The Infinite Monkey Cage podcast art

Courtesy of BBC

The Infinite Monkey Cage

This whimsical show, hosted by physicist Brian Cox and comedian Robin Ince, poses questions like “Does time exist?”—which are then debated by a diverse panel of three guests, usually a mix of experts and entertainers. Definitive answers are in short supply, but it’s always articulate, enthusiastic, and thought-provoking.

Other Great Science Podcasts:

  • Houston, We Have a Podcast: Anyone interested in spaceflight must give NASA’s official podcast a listen, for interviews with astronauts and scientists.
  • Science Rules!: Bill Nye, the science guy, teams up with science writer Corey Powell to grill experts on all sorts of interesting science-related topics.
  • Stuff You Should Know: Prizing knowledge for its own sake and provoking healthy curiosity, this podcast is comical, charming, and full of interesting conversational nuggets.

Best Economics Podcasts

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Courtesy of NPR

The Indicator

This Planet Money spin-off delivers digestible, fast-paced, well-told stories about business and the economy, tackling topics that range from TikTok marketing to opioid nasal sprays and ticket scalpers. Each enlightening episode comes in under 10 minutes and serves as a quick primer that will leave you feeling well informed.

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Courtesy of Freakonomics Radio Network

Freakonomics Radio

Promising to delve into the “hidden side of everything,” this long-running, data-driven show is hosted by Stephen J. Dubner, coauthor of the Freakonomics books, and it regularly features economist Steven Levitt. It’s a clever mix of economics and pop culture that flows easily and balances entertainment with education, presenting both sides of debates while consulting relevant guests.

Macro Musings podcast art

Courtesy of Macro Musings

Macro Musings

If you long to understand the economy better, this topical show, hosted by David Beckworth of the Mercatus Center, interrogates a diverse line-up of economists, professionals, and academics to bring you invaluable insights. It takes a serious look at macroeconomics and monetary policy, but the guests do a solid job of unpacking complex topics.

Other Great Economics Podcasts:

  • Conversations with Tyler: American economist Tyler Cowen interrogates some of the world’s smartest people in this intellectually challenging interview podcast.
  • Planet Money: This top-notch podcast has entertaining, digestible, and relatable stories about the economy, unraveling everything from health care to income taxes.
  • EconTalk: This no-frills show sees economist Russ Roberts engage in sprawling conversations with writers and academics on a range of economics topics.

Best Business Podcasts

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Courtesy of Wondery

How I Built This

This NPR podcast hosted by Guy Raz explores the stories behind some of the biggest companies in the world from the perspective of the innovators and entrepreneurs who built them. Expect cautionary tales, nuggets of wisdom, and business lessons galore in probing and insightful interviews that reveal a lot about their subjects and what drove them.

The Diary of A CEO podcast art featuring host Steven Bartlett

Courtesy of Steven Bartlett

The Diary of a CEO With Steven Bartlett

Serial entrepreneur Steven Bartlett built a successful business from nothing and is now an investor on Dragons Den (the UK’s Shark Tank). He talks frankly about his own experiences and interviews various CEOs to find out why they started their businesses and how they guided them to success. Sprawling discussions range from personal life challenges and mental health to business strategies and advice.

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Courtesy of TED/Audio Collective

WorkLife With Adam Grant

Expertly hosted by organizational psychologist Adam Grant, this podcast offers practical advice on tackling various issues you are sure to encounter in the average job. The show features interesting psychological perspectives on everything, from how to rethink a poor decision to crafting a great pitch to dealing with burnout. The podcast also boasts insightful interviews with business leaders.

Other Great Business Podcasts:

  • The Pitch: Fans of Shark Tank will enjoy this podcast, which features entrepreneurs pitching investors to secure real money for their startups.
  • Ask Martin Lewis: Personal finance guru Martin Lewis has been helping folks in the UK save money for years and provides straightforward financial advice here.
  • BizChix: This podcast from business coach Natalie Eckdahl is aimed squarely at female entrepreneurs and is packed with no-nonsense expert advice.
  • Teamistry: With a focus on teams and what they can achieve, the latest season of this podcast tells the fascinating story of the supersonic passenger jet Concorde.

Best Celebrity Interview Podcasts

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Courtesy of Adam Buxton

The Adam Buxton Podcast

Consummate conversationalist Adam Buxton is always witty and well prepared, and he has interviewed many interesting people over the course of his long-running show, from Charlie Brooker to Jeff Goldblum. Ostensibly rambling, Buxton skillfully pulls fascinating insights from his interview subjects, bouncing between their personal lives, work, and popular culture with seeming ease.

Life is Short with Justin Long podcast art

Courtesy of Wondery

Life Is Short With Justin Long

Likable actor Justin Long and his brother Christian host this enthusiastic and sprawling interview show, where they chat with guests like Zack Snyder, Kristen Bell, and Billy Crudup. The siblings get sidetracked by nostalgic reminiscences and occasional bickering, which sort of makes the show, but they are always generous and kind to their guests.

SmartLess podcast art

Courtesy of Wondery

SmartLess

Charming and goofy, this conversational podcast stars Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, and Sean Hayes, and they always have a surprise celebrity guest, like Ryan Reynolds or Reese Witherspoon. It is warm, gentle, and often laugh-out-loud funny, but don’t expect challenging questions or bared souls.

Other Great Celebrity Interview Podcasts:

  • WTF With Marc Maron: Self-deprecating, sardonic, supremely skilled interviewer Marc Maron interviews some of the world’s most famous people, from Barack Obama to Paul McCartney.
  • Grounded With Louis Theroux: A soothingly gentle facade belies Louis Theroux’s ability to draw fascinating insights from his subjects with tact and humor.
  • Where There’s a Will, There’s a Wake: Kathy Burke laughs in the face of death, asking guests like Stewart Lee and Dawn French how they’d like to die, what sort of funeral they want, and who they plan to haunt.

Best Sports Podcasts

Sports Wars podcast

Courtesy of Wondery

Sports Wars

Epic rivalries and long-anticipated showdowns are a massive part of the enduring appeal of sports, and this slick production homes in on them. Rivalries like Federer vs. Nadal in tennis and Tyson vs. Holyfield in boxing are unpacked over a few episodes apiece by host Dan Rubenstein, who digs into their backgrounds to understand why some face-offs get so highly charged.

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Courtesy of The Ringer

The Bill Simmons Podcast

This hugely popular sports podcast features fast-paced roundtable conversations with athletes and celebrities that usually focus on the NFL or NBA. Unfiltered opinions, witty remarks, and encyclopedic sports knowledge collide, but this is enthusiastic and accessible enough for casual sports fans to enjoy.

The PosCast podcast art

Courtesy of The Athletic

The PosCast

Primarily focused on baseball, this long-running podcast sometimes covers other sports and often meanders into comical conversations. Guests offer amusing anecdotes, but the chemistry between hosts Joe Posnanski and Michael Schur, who can debate endlessly about any old nonsense, is what makes this show so special.

Other Great Sports Podcasts:

  • Undr the Cosh: Open and honest banter from ex-professional soccer (football) players, as they talk to current pros and recount hilarious on- and off-pitch anecdotes.
  • Around the NFL: This funny, fast-paced look at the National Football League runs through all the latest football news, blending anecdotes and analysis.
  • 32 Thoughts: A slickly produced, insightful dive into all the latest hockey news and controversy from knowledgable hosts who bounce off each other.

Best Music Podcasts

Bandsplain podcast art

Courtesy of Spotify

Bandsplain

We have all asked this question of a movie at some point, but hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas invite guest creatives to engage in heated and hilarious chats about some of the worst films ever. Movies that are so bad they are entertaining, from Face/Off to Junior to The Room, are dissected and thoroughly ridiculed.

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Courtesy of Aquarium Drunkard

Transmissions

This indie podcast is an eclectic mix of interviews mostly with musicians but also with artists, authors, and filmmakers, recorded by the folks at Aquarium Drunkard, which started as a music blog many moons ago. Recommended by WIRED senior editor and podcast host Michael Calore, these passionate, informed, and thought-provoking conversations will take you deep into the underground of popular culture, and may just turn you on to your new favorite tunes.

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Courtesy of BBC

Desert Island Discs

Famous people (recent guests include Cillian Murphy and Delia Smith) pick eight songs, a book, and a luxury item as the only things they can take to a desert island. This wonderful premise offers sometimes surprising insights into the guests as they explain their choices. This legendary podcast started in 1942 and would be equally at home in the celebrity interview section.

Other Great Music Podcasts:

  • Song Exploder: Learn exactly what some of your most-loved tracks are about and how they came to be from the people who wrote and performed them.
  • Lost Notes: Billed as the “greatest music stories never told” this podcast is a blend of music, interviews, and well-researched history that delivers fascinating insights.
  • No Dogs in Space: This sweet, smart, and funny music history podcast delivers biographies of bands like the Beastie Boys, the Stooges, and Joy Division.

Best Movie Podcasts

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Courtesy of Earwolf

How Did This Get Made?

We have all asked this question of a movie at some point, but hosts Paul Scheer, June Diane Raphael, and Jason Mantzoukas invite guest creatives to engage in heated and hilarious chats about some of the worst films ever. Movies that are so bad they are entertaining, from Face/Off to Junior to The Room, are dissected and thoroughly ridiculed.

Kermode and Mayos Film Review podcast art

Courtesy of BBC

Kermode and Mayo’s Film Review

Respected film critic Mark Kermode has an infectious love of movies and an incredible depth of knowledge about the world of film, and Simon Mayo is a veteran radio presenter. Together they discuss the latest movies, interview top-tier directors and actors, and invite views from their listeners. While the podcast ended earlier this year, the duo have a new show called Kermode & Mayo’s Take.

You Must Remember This podcast art

Courtesy of You Must Remember This

You Must Remember This

Diving into Hollywood myths to investigate and uncover the truth about infamous secrets, scandals, and legends from Tinseltown is a compelling premise, and talented creator and host Karina Longworth makes the most of it. Among the best shows are the “Dead Blondes” series, which includes Marilyn Monroe; the run on Manson; and the “Frances Farmer” episode.

Other Great Movie Podcasts:

  • The Director’s Cut: Listen to directors like Benicio del Toro, Steven Spielberg, and James Cameron being interviewed about their latest movies by their peers in roughly half-hour episodes.
  • The Rewatchables: Bill Simmons and a rotating cast of cohosts discuss and analyze beloved movies and dig up interesting nuggets of trivia.
  • Lights Camera Barstool: Reviews, interviews, rankings, and accessible chats about the movies with pop culture debates thrown in.
  • Black Men Can’t Jump [in Hollywood]: This comedic movie review podcast highlights films featuring actors of color and analyzes the movies in depth, with an eye on race and diversity.

Best TV Podcasts

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Dead Eyes

Join comedian and actor Connor Ratliff on his mission to discover why he got fired from Band of Brothers. His amusing and honest account of how his big break went bad, reportedly because Tom Hanks thought he had “dead eyes,” is often very funny. An easy listen, peppered with celebrity guests like Seth Rogen, Elijah Wood, and Zach Braff, Dead Eyes affords listeners an insight into the world of auditions, acting triumphs, and humiliation.

Succession Podcast cover art featuring two characters from HBO's Succession

Courtesy of HBO

HBO’s Succession Podcast

Whether you’re new to this captivating show or a long-time fan, the official podcast affords you a peek behind the curtain as it dissects episodes and explores character motivations. Roger Bennett interviews the main players from the show and then Kara Swisher steps in for the third season to interview the makers and various guests, from Mark Cuban to Anthony Scaramucci, to examine its impact and where it mirrors world events.

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Courtesy of Wondery

Harsh Reality: The Story of Miriam Rivera

Recounting the tragic tale of the exploitative 2004 reality TV show There’s Something About Miriam, this podcast reveals just how cruel reality TV can get. Six young men set up house in an Ibizan villa to compete for the affections of Miriam and a £10,000 ($12,100) cash prize, but the show producers failed to tell them Miriam was trans. It’s a story that ended badly for everyone.

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Courtesy of Steve Schirripa

Talking Sopranos

Hosted by actors from the show, Michael Imperioli (Christopher Moltisanti) and Steve Schirripa (Bobby Baccalieri), this podcast is essential listening for fans. It runs through every episode with big-name guests, most of whom worked on or appeared on the show. It’s candid about the entertainment industry and absolutely packed to the brim with behind-the-scenes anecdotes and insider revelations.

Other Great TV Podcasts:

  • Shrink the Box: Actor Ben Bailey Smith talks with psychotherapist Sasha Bates as they put some of the best TV characters of all time (like Walter White and Omar Little) on the couch for analysis.
  • Obsessed With…: This BBC podcast is hosted by celebrity superfans of various TV shows, including Killing Eve, Peaky Blinders, and Line of Duty.
  • Fake Doctors, Real Friends: Rewatching Scrubs with Zach Braff and Donald Faison is a joyous experience that’s every bit as entertaining, poignant, and silly as the TV show.
  • Welcome to Our Show: A warming dose of nostalgia and comfort for New Girl fans as Zooey Deschanel, Hannah Simone, and Lamorne Morris rewatch the show together.

Best Fiction Podcasts

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Courtesy of The Paragon Collective

Darkest Night

Horror fans will enjoy reliving the last gruesome moments of various corpses that have landed at the mysterious Roth-Lobdow Institute in this deliciously creepy and occasionally gross chiller. Wonderful narration from Lee Pace; acting from the likes of Denis O’Hare, Missi Pyle, and RuPaul; and clever sound design make for a memorably thrilling ride that you just know is going to end badly.

Hello from the Magic Tavern podcast art

Courtesy of Hello from the Magic Tavern

Hello From the Magic Tavern

Thoroughly absurd, this fantasy improv-comedy show is the brainchild of Chicago comedian Arnie Niekamp, who falls through a portal at a Burger King and ends up in the magical world of Foon. The role-playing game and fantasy references come thick and fast, guests play bizarre characters of their own creation, and loyal listeners are rewarded with long-running gags and rich lore.

We Fix Space Junk podcast art

Courtesy of Battle Bird Productions

We Fix Space Junk

Short and sweet episodes of this sci-fi comedy-drama fit neatly into gaps in your day and whisk you away to a nightmare corporate dystopia in a galaxy fraught with evil artificial intelligence and monstrous aliens. Struggling repair technician Kilner gets stuck with a rich murder suspect, Samantha Trapp, after accidentally smuggling her across the galaxy in this polished show with a distinct 1980s feel.

Other Great Fiction Podcasts:

  • Marigold Breach: This intriguing sci-fi tale about a soldier with a sentient AI implant stars Jameela Jamil and Manny Jacinto.
  • DUST: This podcast started as an anthology of audio sci-fi stories from the likes of Philip K. Dick and Ray Bradbury but has changed things up with each new season.
  • The Bright Sessions: The therapy sessions of mysterious psychologist Dr. Bright, bookended by voice notes, form intriguing short episodes, as all of her patients seem to have special abilities.
  • Welcome to Night Vale: This pioneering creepy show is presented as a community radio broadcast from a desert town beset by paranormal and supernatural happenings.

Best History Podcasts

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Courtesy of Vox Media

Nice Try!

Utopian ideals have led to the development of some fascinating communities over the years, and season one of Nice Try! delves into their history, the hope that drove them, and why these communities ultimately failed. Season two moves on to lifestyle technology, from doorbells to vacuums, all designed to help us realize a personal utopia in the ideal home.

Revolutions podcast art

Courtesy of Revolutions

Revolutions

The modern world was shaped by some of the ideas that drove revolutions, and this deeply researched series runs through the English Civil War and American, French, Haitian, and Russian revolutions; Simon Bolivar’s liberation of South America; and more. The writing is concise, the narration is engaging, and host Mike Duncan does a fantastic job contextualizing revolutionary events and characters.

The Memory Palace podcast art

Courtesy of Radiotopia

The Memory Palace

A dreamy, emotional quality elevates these tales of seemingly random moments from the past, expertly told by the eloquent Nate DiMeo and backed by wonderful sound design. These distilled stories serve as historical snapshots of rarely discussed events, and it’s hard to think of another podcast as artful and poignant as this one.

Cover art for Noble Blood podcast art

Courtesy of Grim Mild

Noble Blood

Assured in their divine right to rule over everyone, royal families were often incredibly dysfunctional. Author Dana Schwarz examines tyrannical regimes, murderous rampages, power struggles, and dynasty deaths. The madness of monarchs from various nations is concisely dissected in tightly scripted half-hour episodes that will leave you questioning the idea that there’s anything noble about their bloodlines.

Other Great History Podcasts:

  • Something True: Enjoy utterly bizarre true stories, as every episode of this podcast explores a seemingly forgotten historical footnote.
  • Lore: Spooky and witty, this classic podcast plumbs history to uncover horrifying folklore, mythology, and pseudoscience.
  • Medieval Death Trip: An enthusiastic and well-researched look at medieval times, this podcast offers a witty analysis of the primary texts left behind.
  • Hardcore History: Relatable and endlessly fascinating, Dan Carlin brings history to life with his own riveting narratives on notable events and periods, peppered with facts and hypothetical questions.

Best Food Podcasts

The Food Chain podcast art

Courtesy of BBC

The Food Chain

Learn all about the business, science, culture, and history behind the food we eat with half-hour insights into wide-ranging topics like chocolatiers, the best foods for new moms, or the history of banh mi. Engaging and informative, this is a fun listen that’s perfect to stick on while you whip up dinner.

A Hot Dog is a Sandwich podcast art

Courtesy of Ramble

A Hotdog Is a Sandwich

Whatever side of the titular, age-old debate you stand on (I’m with the British Sandwich Association), this fast-paced, often funny show will suck you in as it poses tough food-related questions and then debates them. Chefs Josh Scherer and Nicole Enayati decide whether American cheese is really cheese, if Popeye’s and In-N-Out are overrated, and what the best pasta shape is.

Gastropod podcast art

Courtesy of Gastropod

Gastropod

If your love of food extends to an interest in the history and science of everything from the humble potato to a soothing cup of tea to ever-polarizing licorice, then this podcast is for you. Knowledgeable cohosts Cynthia Graber and Nicola Twilley talk to experts and serve up a feast of delicious bite-size facts that surprise and delight.

The Dave Chang Show podcast art

Courtesy of The Ringer

The Dave Chang Show

Celebrity chef Dave Chang, whom you may know from his Netflix show, Ugly Delicious, talks mostly about food, guilty pleasures, and the creative process with other chefs and restaurateurs. There is plenty here to satisfy foodies, but some of the funniest moments come when the show covers other random topics, like the perfect email sign-off or wearing shoes indoors.

Other Great Food Podcasts:

  • Out to Lunch With Jay Rayner: This podcast seats you at a top restaurant to eavesdrop on consummate food critic Jay Rayner with a celebrity guest at the next table.
  • The Sporkful: You can learn a lot about people and culture through food, and this podcast proves it by serving up delectable bite-size insights.

Best Health and Wellness Podcasts

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Courtesy of Lionrock

The Courage to Change: A Recovery Podcast

Whether you are struggling with addiction, childhood trauma, eating disorders, or something else, or you know someone who is, this accessible and inspirational podcast can help you examine why. Host Ashley Loeb Blassingame speaks from experience and offers practical advice to help you onto a healthier path. This podcast is honest, insightful, and emotional but ultimately heartwarming and uplifting.

Cover art for Redefining Yoga podcast art

Courtesy of LYT Yoga

Redefining Yoga

Hosted by Yoga leader and physical therapist Lara Heimann, this podcast is a mix of Q&A sessions, interviews with experts, and motivational advice. It focuses on understanding your body and mind, but you will also find practical advice for chronic pain sufferers and different kinds of injuries, explanations on why and how yoga is good for you, and firsthand accounts of the positive impact yoga has on many lives.

Cover art for MyWakeUpCall podcast art

Courtesy of Great Love Media

My Wakeup Call With Dr. Mark Goulston

Each episode sees psychiatrist Mark Goulston interview a notable person about the wakeup call moment that changed their path forever. He encourages them to interrogate what sparked their drive, made them want to be a better person, and led to their success. Some guests are better than others, but the podcast is closing in on 500 episodes, so there are plenty to choose from.

Other Great Health and Wellness Podcasts:

  • The Big Silence: Host Karena Dawn has conversations about mental health with an eclectic mix of therapists, psychologists, and ostensibly successful folks.
  • Spiraling With Katie Dalebout and Serena Wolf: Candid chats about anxiety with advice on how to cope. The relatable hosts are open and honest about the anxious feelings that modern life can evoke.
  • Huberman Lab: Host Andrew Huberman, a professor of neurobiology and ophthalmology at Stanford School of Medicine, interviews various experts to offer advice on optimizing your health and fitness.

Best Comedy Podcasts

Cover art for My Therapist Ghosted Me podcast art

Courtesy of Global Player

My Therapist Ghosted Me

Irreverent Irish chat with comedian Joanne McNally and TV presenter Vogue Williams as they put the world to rights. It feels like eavesdropping on brutally honest best pals as they discuss relationships, work woes, health issues, awkward social situations, and sometimes recent news. The down-to-earth pair liberally dole out a mix of sound and questionable advice that is frequently laugh-out-loud funny.

Wolf and Owl podcast art

Courtesy of Shiny Ranga

Wolf and Owl

Comedians and friends Tom Davis (the Wolf) and Romesh Ranganathan (the Owl) chat aimlessly and expertly poke fun at each other for around an hour. It’s often nostalgic, sometimes offers decent advice for listeners, and is always warmhearted and laugh-out-loud funny.

Why Won't You Date Me with Nicole Byer podcast art

Courtesy of Team Coco

Why Won’t You Date Me? With Nicole Byer

Perennially single stand-up comedian Nicole Byer is every bit as charming and funny here as in Netflix’s Nailed It baking show, but this podcast delves into some adult subjects. Byer is disarmingly open about her insecurities and struggles and seamlessly stirs in vulgar humor. She also hosts hilarious conversations with guest comedians.

Athletico Mince podcast art

Courtesy of Athletico Mince

Athletico Mince

Ostensibly a soccer (football) podcast, this surreal show is brought to life by lovable British comedy legend Bob Mortimer, with support from sidekick Andy Dawson. Tall tales about real footballers, complete with strange voices and fictional personalities, are mixed with songs, silly inside jokes, and rambling conversations. You don’t really need to know anything about soccer to enjoy it.

Other Great Comedy Podcasts:

  • Locked Together: Only on Audible, this show features lockdown chats between comedian pals like Simon Pegg and Nick Frost or Rob Delaney and Sharon Horgan.
  • My Neighbors Are Dead: The wonderful premise of this hit-and-miss improvised show is interviews with lesser-known characters from horror movies, like the caterer from Damien’s party in The Omen and the neighbors from Poltergeist.
Influencers Are Trying to Go Viral by Playing ‘Content Warning’—a Game About Going Viral

Influencers Are Trying to Go Viral by Playing ‘Content Warning’—a Game About Going Viral

Ben disappeared somewhere in the pitch black of the Old World. A handful of streamers gathered to investigate its monster-filled caverns and hallways, only to find their friend had gone missing. “Did Ben die?” one wondered aloud, just before another spotted him with relief in his voice. “I’m not even kidding, it took me,” Ben starts to say. “It carried me a mile underground.” One of his companions interrupts: “Wai-wai-wait, shut up, shut the fuck up, shut up! Tell that story on camera now.”

“Oh, OK OK,” Ben replies, getting into position. Someone shines a flashlight on him. The light hits a gelatinous monster behind him. It yanks him away, again, before he even can finish his sentence. Luckily, his kidnapping is all on camera this time, and content creator videogamedunkey has a potential viral hit on his hands—both in the game, Content Warning, and on his real-life YouTube channel.

In the week since its release, Content Warning—a co-op horror game about trying to film monsters (and survive) to get views on a faux YouTube—has been a runaway hit for developer Landfall Games. In the first 24 hours after it hit Steam, more than 6 million players downloaded it.

Built by a tiny team of five developers in just six weeks, Content Warning has quickly become gaming’s latest trending topic by being a sendup of the very players it was made for: game streamers aiming to go viral and the fans who love to watch them. A perfect meta commentary on how far some influencers will go for a win. Across YouTube and Twitch, where the game’s fans are most visible, everyone just knew what to do: film, film, film.

The team behind on Content Warning sensed they had something special the first time they recorded a video of their expedition and watched it together. “It was instantly hilarious,” says developer Zorro Svärdendahl. It’s not that they’d done anything special—in fact, they’d mostly filmed each other walking behind trees and playing peek-a-boo—but the bones were there. They just had to make the game’s videos punchier.

In the game, players have three days to capture footage good enough to rack up views online, but every time they enter the game’s Old World they’re at risk. Monsters tend to appear suddenly out of the dark, sometimes with jarring screams.

A finished video, which surviving team members gather to watch at the end, typically has a The Blair Witch-ian found footage quality to it—shakey shots taken while running, a lot of screaming, and above all people barking things like “get this on film.” The game’s goofy aesthetic for its SpookTubers, who have figures similar to arm waving inflatables and faces players create by typing emoticons, makes the whole thing all the more entertaining.

Content Warning is part of a long tradition at Landfall Games, which releases a small, silly game every year on April Fools’ Day. One year, it was a “horse-drifting-romance-roadtrip-battle-royale”; for another, it was a parody of battle royale. This year’s title is about the many players who have seamlessly adapted to being influencers. There’s a huge social element at work, where people are role-playing with their friends in the game. Sometimes it’s a YouTuber-type. Sometimes it’s as a news reporter trying to do a very tumultuous interview. People get creative.

A ‘House of the Dragon’ Star Made a Video Game to Grieve His Father

A ‘House of the Dragon’ Star Made a Video Game to Grieve His Father

A decade ago, Abubakar Salim lost his father. That grief lives within him. An actor by trade, with credits in Raised by Wolves and House of the Dragon’s upcoming season, he searched for years for the right medium to work through the hurt. A film. A TV show. Nothing did it justice—until he tried to make a video game. “If you’re really depicting grief in a truthful and honest way, it is so open and chaotic that actually, you can kind of gamify it,” he says.

Salim is the CEO and creative director of Surgent Studios, the developer behind the upcoming Metroidvania game Tales of Kenzera: Zau. The game, set to launch April 23, follows a young shaman, Zau, who has made a deal with the god of death to bring his father back to life in exchange for three great spirits. Its story is a reflection of coping with loss—even its premise is built on bargaining, a common stage for someone dealing with death. The button-mashing, the mask-switching—these are all, Salim says, representative of the madness people can experience.

Games about grief reflect those feelings in many ways. Platformer Gris turns the stages of grief into literal ones as its heroine silently navigates a world that uses color and music to express emotion. What Remains of Edith Finch explores the death of a family by sifting through their things, alongside vignettes dedicated to those lost.

Kenzera has its own methods. Throughout the game, Zau takes time to pause and talk about his feelings. That’s the result of Salim and the game’s developers trying to figure out how the character would be able to restore his health. The solution wound up being quite literal: creating a space where Zau simply sits under a tree and reflects.

Each biome in the game’s world is a reflection of the journey through that anguish. Salim, who grew up playing games with his dad, reflects on something his father used to tell him as a child: “When you’re born, you’re alone, and when you die, you’re alone.” Kenzera’s developers infused that idea into the Woodlands setting, which is meant to evoke a sense of the questioning: “Will I be remembered? Will I be forgotten?”

Stories that Salim’s father told him heavily influenced the game, as did Bantu culture, which he says was done as a form of celebration rather than an effort to educate people. In recent years, games like God of War and Hades have brought new familiarity to Norse and Greek mythology. A game like Kenzera could do something similar for the culture of southern Africa. “It’s to inspire people to see these stories and lean into these stories,” Salim says.

Although Kenzera’s combat has evolved over time, it is influenced by Dambe, a form of Nigerian boxing. Zau swaps between masks to switch up his fighting style—sun and moon masks that represent life and death. In Bantu culture, Salim explains, the two balance each other. “That’s really where the inspiration for these two masks came from,” he says. The sun mask is heat, flame-heavy by nature, while the moon mask has an icier look and feel. Both masks are beautiful and infused with energy, an ode to how other cultures handle death. “Especially within African cultures, [death] is almost celebrated in a way,” he says. “It’s a passing into the new.”

No One Knows What TikTok Is

No One Knows What TikTok Is

“Most of these push notifications went to minor children, and these minor children were flooding our offices with phone calls,” Representative Raja Krishnamoorthi of Illinois told CBS News. “Basically they pick up the phone, call the office, and say, ‘What is a congressman? What is Congress?’ They had no idea what was going on.”

Maybe TikTok won’t rapidly lose its relevance with young people after all.

That’s not what Krishnamoorthi is worried about, but maybe he should be. Not because all of those Gen Zers will one day be able to vote, but because TikTok is their lifeline to the world, and they don’t know what a congressman is. TikTok is where a lot of young people have found their community, their voice, their income. Eradicating TikTok, like the killing off of Vine, rips up a piece of the social fabric.

The Monitor is a weekly column devoted to everything happening in the WIRED world of culture, from movies to memes, TV to Twitter.

Kayla Gratzer, a TikTok creator in Eugene, Oregon, who had a recent viral video about the mysterious pregnancy of Charlotte the stingray, noted that she would “hate to see the time, effort, and love gone into growing their platform be stripped away from them.” (Side note: Without TikTok, I may never know if, or when, Charlotte has her pups.)

There is also something to the notion that some TikTokkers make a living while also being a part of the cultural discourse and zeitgeist. Alex Pearlman, known on the platform as @Pearlmania500, has built a large following thanks to his humorous TikTok rants. When I emailed him about the bill, he noted that, thanks to TikTok, he’d been able to launch a podcast, build a community, and book a nationwide comedy tour. It also provided the income he needed for the birth of his son in December.

“If we had a functioning government,” he wrote. “I wouldn’t have had to yell on TikTok to be able to afford to start a family.”

What happens next with the TikTok bill is something of a mystery. It needs to go to the US Senate, but the timing on that is uncertain. If it passes, President Joe Biden has said he’ll sign it. Steven Mnuchin, the former US treasury secretary, claims he’s assembling a group of investors to buy TikTok if the measure goes through.

Watching all this unfold, I kept thinking about something Norman told me. As a biracial, bisexual person, she’s found a lot of her own corners of TikTok and remains unsure if she could just up and create that on another platform if the app gets blocked. Black people and queer people, she noted, already face censorship, so the question becomes, “Is there a future for me in America? That’s not really about how I am going to pivot on TikTok, but it’s more saying ‘Are there any areas in this country where I can exist?’”

I Found Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Script. ‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Better

I Found Frank Herbert’s ‘Dune’ Script. ‘Dune: Part Two’ Is Better

As with the book, the script begins with the gom jabbar scene between Paul Atreides and Reverend Mother Mohiam, except in this version the Atreides have already made their trek from Caladan to Arrakis. Right after Paul passes his test with the box, the four wise men of Thufir, Yueh, Gurney, and Duncan present Duke Leto with a wounded Fremen and three others assassinated by the Harkonnens.

HAWAT

Assassins! They trapped three of these poor fellows over there beyond the cliffs.

HALLECK

There was a worm. We had to run for it.

You can see the problem: Right off the bat, Herbert is using dialog to discuss action scenes that would be far better to see than to hear about. He’s also introducing concepts left and right (the Bene Gesserit order, the Kwizatz Haderach, sandworms, Fremen, Harkonnens) without giving any context to them.

As in Lynch’s film (and the book itself), we get those lovely inner-thought voiceovers. Duke Leto (Oscar Isaac in Part One) thinks to himself, “We’ve been on this damned planet only two days and already the Harkonnens are at work!” Often these VOs contain psychic conversations between two characters, a technique Villeneuve uses several times in Part Two, as between Feyd (Austin Butler) and Lady Fenring (Léa Seydoux).

The stage-play-esque stretches of barefaced expository dialog continue unabated when Herbert’s script introduces the world of the hedonist Harkonnens, who covet a globe of Arrakis made out of jewels in their Guild Ship decorated with pornographic paintings. Introducing a character not in Villeneuve’s film, they’re shown torturing Wanna with an “agony box” as Feyd essentially videotapes it for Wanna’s husband, Doctor Yueh, so he will do their bidding against House Atreides. She calls them “monsters,” with the Baron articulating, “Of course we are, my dear Wanna. We will do anything to regain our planet and its precious spice … We must rule Dune and the spice. We all need the spice. It lengthens our lives and you Bene Gesserit witches need the spice for your dreams.” Not quite Paddy Chayefsky.

Stilgar arrives at Leto’s Great Hall with a whole contingent (including Mapes, Kynes, and Chani) to extract the water from the dead Fremen using a deathstill. Paul tells his mother, Jessica, that he recognizes Chani from his dreams, prophesying that she will bind him to the Fremen. Stilgar gifts his people’s water to Paul, whom he instantly recognizes as the Mahdi (the messiah of legend, though it is never explained beyond that he may be “the Shortening of the Way”). Duncan joins the Fremen as an olive branch, and Mapes joins the Atreides as a house servant. On her way out of the hall, Chani gives one of those backward glances to Paul that Zendaya does so frequently in the new movies.

After Wanna unexpectedly dies during torture, the Baron plans to use Yueh to kill Paul with a hunter seeker while preserving Yueh’s wife in a “crystallis” (a crystal case). Count Fenring (who will lead the Emperor’s Sardaukar to attack the Atreides disguised in Harkonnen uniforms) arrives at the Guild Ship. Disgusted by Harkonnens and acting only in the Emperor’s interest, he takes the recording of Wanna’s torture to hand off to Yueh.

On Arrakis, the Duke’s remaining soldiers and luggage (including atomics) are delivered, with Gurney playing accompaniment on his Baliset. Herbert was reportedly insistent that the playing of this instrument appear in the film, something which was filmed but cut from Lynch’s film and Villeneuve’s first Dune, but which finally appears in Part Two. Herbert then includes the scene where Duke Leto rescues the carryall crew from the worm, almost beat-for-beat like Lynch’s, though Villeneuve gave the scene more juice by having Paul be nearly killed. One great moment acknowledges the injustice served to the Fremen as two of them (guides) try to board Leto’s ornithopter:

KYNES (VO)

We have no room for them.

PAUL (VO)

There’s a capsule history of the Fremen!

We get a cool scene of Duncan fighting literally back-to-back with Stilgar against a squad of Harkonnen amid the dunes. Stilgar chastises Duncan for using his shield (it attracts the worm), then they capture a Harkonnen who warns them there is a traitor in their midst. The scene where Mapes cuts herself to show fealty to Jessica is there, as is the scene of Paul and Gurney practice-fighting (although sans shields) and the hunter seeker’s attack on Paul.

Because Herbert cannot let much go, we get the banquet scene that has been left out of both theatrical adaptations of Dune because the political machinations it reflects are not essential to the plot (Leto is going to die soon anyway). The banquet winds up eating up nearly 25 pages of the script before it is interrupted by Count Fenring’s attack on the Atreides fortress with the aid of Yueh lowering the shields.