Fictional podcasts have very quickly risen to prominence in recent years thanks to some of the fantastic stories told within.
No longer are podcasts reserved for non-fiction discussions and celebrity hosts.
The Night Vale podcast is a wonderfully experimental podcast that takes the form of a series of local community radio updates for the fictional desert town of Night Vale.
It features incredible metatextual elements, such as weather reports, and police reports, as listeners are invited to piece together the mystery of Night Vale.
Want to join this crazy town and discover its secrets? Join me as I take you through some of the best episodes of the series! Read on below!
Table of Contents
Episode 1 – Pilot
Of course, you should make a point of starting your journey to Night vale via the pilot episode that kick-starts the prevailing mystery at the heart of the town.
If you want to get going in Night Vale, you first need to have the scene set for you.
This introductory episode is perfect for setting the tone for the rest of the series so that you will know what to expect.
But also so that you will be better surprised when the unexpected does show up as well!
This episode will introduce you to all the characters you need to know and some of the strange landmarks and businesses.
And locations within the small town of Night Vale that you will soon be getting to know.
The crux of the first episode is the newly constructed dog park and the eldritch gods that seem to watch over it.
Instantly, intrigue is set up, and you’ll have yourself wondering just what is lying beyond the seams of this sleepy town.
Episode 2 – The Glow Cloud
Don’t worry; it’s not just the first few episodes worth listening to!
However, I believe that the first two episodes are crucial to enjoying the rest of the series to the fullest. Thus, it has landed itself here on this definitive list!
The titular object in question, the ‘Glow Cloud’, is a popular recurring element in the series that is introduced here.
Residents of Night Vale find themselves enamored by this strange glowing cloud that makes its way occasionally across Night Vale.
What lies beyond it? Why is it glowing? Why does it keep returning?
As if Night Vale’s supernatural woes were not weird enough, the cloud also pelts residents with animals.
One of the most critical animal characters introduced here is Khoshekh the Cat.
Khoshekh is found somehow floating through the men’s bathroom at the Night Vale radio station! Who is this cat? And why can he fly?
This is a perfect episode for getting to know the crucial elements of the series and the core characters just a little bit better.
Episode 33 – Cassette
Unsurprisingly, this ominously named episode contains a strange cassette, which lead character Cecil discovers.
Cecil’s interest is instantly piqued upon finding the cassette, and he plays it.
The cassette contains a message from his 15-year-old self, clearly intended as a time capsule.
The strangest thing is that Cecil has no recollection of recording the cassette whatsoever!
This episode serves as fantastic character building for Cecil, as we get to know a little more about his past.
And his time in Night Vale lends us a much deeper appreciation for who he is as a character.
We also learn a little more about the history of the town of Night Vale as we learn about specific landmarks and stores opening up for the first time.
For instance, we hear about the opening of Big Rico’s Pizza, a restaurant that plays a much more significant part in other series episodes.
This is a genuinely haunting but delightful episode of Night Vale full of character and world-building that you would not want to miss.
Episode 100 – Toast
The 100th episode celebration serves as a further exploration of the town of Night Vale as we listen to a whole host of residents talking about the town and their experiences within it.
This helps you build an even greater mental map of the town and where everyone fits into it.
The episode takes place during a wedding, hence the name, and this allows it to take on a different structure, as we instead listen to numerous speeches and toasts from various characters.
Due to the more extensive list of characters in this episode, there is also a much larger voice cast, including talents like Wil Wheaton, Felicia Day, and Kate Jones.
This episode’s unusual structure makes it feel very unsettling throughout the runtime, which is perfectly within the show’s wheelhouse!
Episode 26 – Faceless Old Woman
If just the idea of a creepy, faceless woman isn’t enough to unsettle you, then this episode will have you feeling exactly that way.
Cecil makes a very cryptic public announcement on his show to the residents of Night Vale.
He mentions a faceless older woman who lives in their homes. He says she is always there and just out of the listener’s sight.
If this doesn’t have you looking over your shoulders or hiding under bedsheets, I’m unsure what will! Later on in the episode.
The faceless older woman in question also makes her statement via the show as she attempts to tell her side of the story.
This helps create a surreal blend of comedy and horror that works so perfectly that you’ll be cowering in fear one moment.
And then laughing from the sheer absurdity of it all. It’s genuinely fantastic.
Episode 14 – The Man In The Tan Jacket
Similar to the faceless old woman, this episode features a creepy central mystery surrounding a cryptic figure spotted across the town of Night Vale.
The man in the tan jacket is described as having an unremarkable face, and thus his only distinguishing feature is the tan jacket he dons and the small briefcase he lugs along with him.
This episode also features the first mention of the faceless old woman, which makes this episode a double whammy of creepiness!
And you may not know you ever wanted it. Still, this episode’s perfect blend of political satire and deeply unsettling creepiness will very quickly help it to become a favorite of yours.
It’s a masterclass in blending horror, mystery, and satire into one tightly woven yarn!