We consider theories describing the dynamics of a four-dimensional metric, whose Lagrangian is diffeomorphism invariant and depends at most on second derivatives of the metric. Imposing degeneracy conditions we find a set of Lagrangians that, apart form the Einstein-Hilbert one, are either trivial or contain more than two degrees of freedom. Among the partially degenerate theories, we recover Chern-Simons gravity, endowed with constraints whose structure suggests the presence of instabilities. Then, we enlarge the class of parity violating theories of gravity by introducing new "chiral scalar-tensor theories". Although they all raise the same concern as Chern-Simons gravity, they can nevertheless make sense as low energy effective field theories or, by restricting them to the unitary gauge (where the scalar field is uniform), as Lorentz breaking theories with a parity violating sector.