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'Dateline' has given audiences a peek at some of the strangest, scariest, dirtiest crimes. Here’s the strangest episodes to watch.

The freakiest ‘Dateline’ NBC episodes ever

NBC’s Dateline has gone through a lot of cosmetic changes over the years. Originating as a magazine-style show, the series does more true crime stories. If you’ve been on Netflix in the past few years, it’s no surprise Dateline moved on to appeal to a new crowd. 

True crime stories are what bring eyes to some of the most disturbing cases American police have ever had to work on. Whether it’s looking at the worst of the worst in terms of criminals, shining a light on people who thought they were doing the right thing, or just focusing on crime, true crime appeals to a large crowd.

So Dateline has survived nearly 30 years on NBC, giving audiences a peek at some of the strangest, scariest, dirtiest, or just the most insane crimes admitted across the US. But with nearly 30 years of stories to tell, you may just want to start with the crimes that have left an impact on viewers. So here’s the strangest Dateline episodes you should start with. 

“Over the Edge” 

This 2018 episode is definitely a lot more simple compared to other crimes, but just as strange. A couple went hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park, but unfortunately, the wife fell off a cliff to her death. As cops looked into the crime, suddenly the clues aren’t adding up to make this look like an accident, and the husband becomes a suspect. Is he guilty? You have to see it for yourself. 

“At the Bottom of the Stairs”

A young Massachusetts woman is found at the bottom of her basement stairs by first responders. She appears to live on her own, so how did she end up on her face? Definitely one of the more mysterious episodes of Dateline, because you won’t call the twist. 

“Deadly House of Cards”

Imagine if you received an email from a close friend saying they were moving to Costa Rica with their significant other with no further explanation. You try to reach them by cell, but you get an alert saying the phone’s been disconnected. Johnny Altinger’s friends were in a very similar situation when Altinger sent out his emails and then refused to pick up the phone. But the missing person’s case quickly turned into a game of fact or fiction. 

“Death of a Golden Girl”

As an NYE treat, Paula Sladewski flies to Miami with her boyfriend to go clubbing downtown to celebrate the new year. The two depart separately from the club, but the next morning, only one of them is alive. Paula’s body is found in a burning dumpster. This is just a bizarre case, no matter how you think it’s going to turn out. 

“Return to Game Night”

While there is an episode called “Game Night” that first recounts this crime, “Return to Game Night” is not only a recap but also a continuation. Betsy Faria is found dead in her home, and as police try to solve her grisly murder, it slowly becomes a game to find the answer. 

“House on Pitch Pine Crescent”

This feels like the plot of a bad horror film, but it’s entirely true. A family becomes terrified of their home as relatives start falling dead one by one over the years, all within the same home. Haunted houses are nothing new, but this is taking that to the next level, and not in a good way. 

“Jonestown: An American Tragedy”

Maybe this is cheating since everyone knows the story of Jonestown, but it’s still an episode of Dateline that aired. The episode talks with those who witnessed the mass suicides, as well as the reporters who helped get the truth out about what Reverend Jim Jones was really doing with the Peoples Temple. 


This episode is not for those with a history of domestic abuse, but it’s a terrifying episode and what makes it so freaky is that there are abusers that think like this. A woman’s ex-husband goes on a killing spree, murdering six people. But the six people he murders all had some kind of role in their divorce. 

“At the Bottom of the Pool”

When an up-and-coming internet celebrity is found dead in her swimming pool, fingers first get pointed at her husband. But as the investigation continues, it becomes clear the clues are a bit more watery than expected. When the crime looks like it’s the husband and then it turns away from him, it’s always interesting to see if it ends up circling back to him or if it is an outside party. 

“The Outlook”

Two young ladies are left for dead on a beach in Texas with gunshot wounds on their bodies. While the cops find a man they think is the guilty party, a twist ends up throwing the police back on the trail for the real murderer. This is not the open and shut case you’d expect it to be at the beginning. 

Dateline airs at 10pm EST on NBC, with Sunday episodes returning after the Super Bowl airing at 7pm.

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