The best thought provoking podcasts for 2021

The best thought provoking podcasts for 2021
Source: Pexels, Magda Ehlers

If you’re looking to add something different to your daily routine, checking out some of the best thought provoking podcasts will keep you entertained and educated. From relative obscurity 15 years ago to something that many of us partake in listening to every day, podcasts are a popular medium these days that has only become more popular since the pandemic. From the combined charts of Spotify and Apple Podcasts (two of the most popular places to listen), here are the best thought provoking podcasts that are the most popular so far in the United States this year.

Against the Odds

Showcasing the incredible resilience of human beings, this immersive series from Wondery shares survival stories from across the world. These are times when people beat the odds and pushed their limits to make it out alive.

Armchair Expert

Actor Dax Shephard interviews celebrities and experts about their lives, struggles and shortcomings that led them to growth and betterment. It’s often noted as one of the best interview podcasts with notable and noteworthy guests.

The Bible in a Year

Acting as a guide to the Catholic Bible, Fr. Mike Schmitz reviews its texts in 365 episodes that include commentary, reflection and prayer along the way. This podcast from Ascension follows a reading plan developed from “The Great Adventure Bible Timeline.”

Call Her Daddy

Brought to life from the team at Barstool Sports, a millennial-focused sports media company, Alex Cooper and friends talk about their lives, relationships, sex, social scenes, embarrassing moments and more every Wednesday.

Crime Junkie

Since 2017, Ashley Flowers and Brit Prawat, two ladies from America’s heartland, have been bringing true crime stories to the ears of millions of listeners, and the podcast is still going strong every week.

The Daily

From “The New York Times,” host Michael Barbaro brings 20-30 minute stories that expound on popular topics of the moment with a quick brush of general news at the end of the deep dives. Like the title suggests, you can count on this podcast for fresh episodes every day.

Dateline NBC

If you’re a fan of the long-running and popular NBC true-crime mystery, documentary and investigative series, then you will love the “Dateline NBC” podcast which simply brings current and classic episodes of the TV show to podcast form.

The Joe Rogan Experience

Found exclusively on Spotify, this podcast by comedian Joe Rogan is typically accompanied by YouTube footage of interviews and features his often outrageous chats with various famous people.

The Journal

Short for “The Wallstreet Journal,” this podcast brings to life the most important stories of the day explained through the lens of business by hosts Kate Linebaugh and Ryan Knutson.

Last Podcast On The Left

On the air for the past 10 years, “Last Podcast On The Left” is one of the longest running true-crime podcasts around. Its mission is to cover the world’s horrors, both real and imagined.

The Let’s Find Out ASMR podcast

In a new genre of podcasts meant strictly to help you relax, the mission of this podcast is to help you fall asleep while listening to something calm and interesting. It covers topics from science, philosophy, history, math and more.

Mommy Doomsday

From the creators of Dateline, NBC News tells the story of Lori Vallow whose two children disappeared in 2019 leading to the exposition of her involvement in both their disappearance and a Doomsday cult of sorts.

My Favorite Murder

This podcast was groundbreaking and game-changing for its creation of a whole new podcast genre of true-crime/comedy podcasts. Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark tell true-crime stories to one another and their audience with humorous reflections sprinkled throughout.

Morbid: A True Crime Podcast

Strictly for true-crime devotees, this podcast covers serial killers, unsolved mysteries, spooky history, paranormal happenings, conspiracy theories and more.

NPR News Now

This is just the news delivered hourly in a quick 5-minute broadcast from the hosts you trust at NPR. You can always count on this podcast for a dose of unbiased factual news all day.

Office Ladies

Two of the main stars of the US version of the hit TV show “The Office,” Jenna Fisher and Angela Kinsey breakdown each episode of the office with behind-the-scenes insight that fans love.

Pardon My Take

Another podcast from Barstool Sports, this podcast is twice weekly and features popular hosts talking about sports and whatever’s going on at the moment.

Renegades: Born in the USA

One of the most anticipated podcasts of the year is a Spotify-exclusive that features conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen reflecting on their lives, music and their love of America, challenges and all.


From three popular actors – Jason Bateman, Sean Hayes and Will Arnett – “SmartLess” brings these personalities together with a mystery guest brought by one of them each week for an improvised and authentic conversation.

Stuff You Should Know

With more than 1500 episodes, this podcast covers a huge range of topics from food, social movements, theories, drugs, weather and history. There’s a ton to catch up on and learn about from this one.

This American Life

What started as a weekly public radio program is now also a podcast that focuses on telling eclectic stories from around the country. Host Ira Glass brings journalism and storytelling together in a way that people have been listening to and loving since 1995.

Unraveled: Long Island Serial Killer

Investigation Discovery brings this recent podcast to your ears that reviews the case from more than 10 years ago of 11 bodies found on the coast of Long Island. Hosts Alexis Linkletter and Billy Jensen review the investigation and bring light to this famous unsolved case.

Unsolved Mysteries

From the original creators of the unforgettable TV show, “Unsolved Mysteries” comes this podcast featuring host Steve French who presents all-new unsolved mysteries from abductions to deaths to paranormal encounters.

Up First

For the news you need in a period of 15 minutes or less, NPR brings you “Up First,” featuring the three biggest stories of the day.

Unlocking Us with Brené Brown

Researcher and bestselling author Brené Brown explores ideas, stories, experiences and media showcasing the human experience from struggles to triumphs.

With so many different types of podcasts gaining popularity these days, you certainly won’t be bored looking for something great to listen to. Whether you are into news, entertainment or even self-improvement, these best thought provoking podcasts have you covered. Check one of these shows out whenever you’re looking for your next great listen.

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