10 Best Reality TV Shows Of All Time, According To Ranker (2023)

By Benny Adams

After much debate, reality TV fans are taking matters into their own hands and ranking the best reality TV shows of all time.

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Reality TV has been a dominant force in entertainment for decades due to its wide range of genres giving viewers from all demographics a guilty pleasure to enjoy. Shows like The Bachelor and Keeping Up With The Kardashians, though different, attract the masses and fall under the scope of popular reality TV. But now, fans want to know what reality series is the greatest of all time by placing their votes onRanker.

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From competition and culinary shows to educational and travel shows. This list proves that multiple genres of reality TV have the potential to be the best of the best, whether it's because of the drama, the storyline, or the reality stars themselves.


Wipeout (2008-2014)

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Wipeoutaired on ABC and featured contestants competing in a total of four obstacle courses. The top 3 or 4 players who clear all 3 rounds then make it to the final round AKA the wipeout zone, where the winner won $50,000 and the title of Wipeout Champion.

This was the type of reality series that the entire family could enjoy, and it was so successful because this a was competition series with a comedic twist. The obstacle courses were intense yet fun to watch because the contestants tried their hardest to finish but sometimes fell short by getting knocked off by some type of prop like a giant bee. The series was so successful that in 2021 a reboot was created and currently airs on TBS.

Big Brother (2000-)

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This series takes mind games to a whole new level. Hosted by Julie Chen Moonves, contestants live in a house while competing in challenges to win certain advantages. But that's only the beginning, along with facing unexpected Big Brother twists, each week someone gets eliminated and the last person standing wins a massive cash prize.

Big Brotherwas the first reality TV series of its kind. It was the first show to take people and place them in a house while cutting them off from everything happening in the outside world. For example, in 2016 while the rest of the world learned that Donald Trump was elected president, the remaining six contestants had no idea until Julie announced the news and viewers got to see their raw reaction.Big Brotheris also successful because the brains behind the show listen to the fans. The latest season cast a majority of people of color after the show faced a backlash of not having enough people of color participating during past seasons.

Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmares (2004 -2014)

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Ramsey's Kitchen Nightmaresfollowed chef Gordon Ramsey as he visited failing restaurants in hopes to improve them with his knowledge of the culinary world. After giving his expertise, and getting these restaurants back up to par he would revisit them a couple of months later to see if they were still holding up.

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Fans never knew what they were getting themselves into when it came to how bad the restaurants were or Gordon's reaction to the restaurants, and that's why this was such a popular show. One example is when Gordon was shocked at how inappropriate the staff was to its customers. In 2006 the series earned the international Emmy for best non-scripted entertainment. series, The series was also such a hit that an American adaption of the show was created calledKitchen Nightmares.

Project Runway (2004-)

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Project Runwayfollowed contestants as they competed against one another to make the best clothes under time constraints. During the finals, the last 3 designers are instructed to prepare a complete fashionextravaganza that will be presented at New York Fashion Week. The winner is awarded $100,00 to start their own clothing line.

This was one of the first shows that opened the door to a new genre of reality TV, which was fashion. Being able to see every day people show their true talent to the world was inspiring for many not only because viewers were able to see these contestants live out their dream, but the Lifetime series educated fans while watchingthese garments get put together. The show was such a success that it has over 30 international adoptions.

Shark Tank (2009-)

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Each episode ofShark Tank features different entrepreneurs as they pitch their company or product to investors in hopes that they will invest in whatever they are pitching. Sometimes the meeting will go great and "the sharks" agree to invest, other times it's the complete opposite where their sale isn't effective and they're let down subtly or sometimes in a brutal manner.

This is a show that focused mainly on business and drama and that's why so many viewers watched. However, more importantly, even though this was a business reality series. it was geared to everyone whether it was fashion, sports, or technology. Fans got a front-row seat on what happens behind closed doors when someone is making a business pitch.

MythBusters (2003-2018)

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MythBusterswas a show that tested out popular myths to prove if they were a myth or the real deal. Many of the myths focused on mechanical effects in film or television. For example, if a car catches fire does it explode immediately? These were all tested out by a team that recreated what the myth alleged.

Who doesn't like finding out if an old myth is true or not? One of the best things anyone can get from watching TV is learning something, and Mythbusters was a reality show that educated the masses. Even after ending, the series was so popular it was brought back in 2017 for 2 seasons on The Science Channel.

MasterChef (2010-)

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Mixing food with a little bit of drama can never go wrong, and that's exactly what MasterChef is about. A group of chefs would come together and compete against one another as they get tasked with cooking different dishes. In past seasons contestants have drama with other contestants, and Gordan Ramsey himself.

There are many cooking reality shows out like MasterChef, but what makes this series stand out from the rest is that amateur chefs are competing instead of professional chefs. This gives fans a more realistic connection with the show because the people they are watching are just like them.

Hell's Kitchen (2005-)

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When it comes to putting cooking skills to the test contestants onHell's Kitchengo above and beyond. Hosted by Gordon Ramsey chefs are divided into two teams who compete for the chance to be the head chef or the executive chef at a restaurant Gordon Ramsey chooses.

The format ofHell's Kitchenis brilliant because it uses progressive elimination to narrow down the contestants.Ramsey's challenges are also so intense that they leave viewers on the edge of their seats, like the "Taste It Now Make it Challenge", where the chefs try a meal that Gordon Ramsey makes and they have to recreate it using memory alone.

The Amazing Race (2001-)

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For 32 seasonsThe Amazing Racehas enticed fans as normal people race around the world as they follow clues and navigate through foreign areas. This, all in hopes to be the first pair to make it to the final leg of the entire challenge and win one million dollars.

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For a series to be on for decades and show no sign of slowing down, it shows that this reality show is doing something right. Fans loveThe Amazing Racenot only because each season they get to see different cultures around the world but also because the contestants on the show are entertaining, captivating, and keep the series fresh (for example, when other reality show contestants fromBig BrotherorSurvivorcome on to compete).

Survivor (2000-)

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Survivor follows several castaways as they live on an island in hopes to be the sole survivor and the winner of one million dollars. Throughout the series, their mental game is put to the test as they try to figure out who they can trust to help them get further in the game.

Survivor paved the way for shows likeBig BrotherandThe Amazing Raceand continues to dominate in the competitive reality TV realm being nominated for 63 Emmy awards. What makesSurvivorso special is that not only have fans grown up with this show but they wereintroduced to lifelong fan favorites like Parvati Shallow and Cirie Fields.

NEXT: 10 Best Reality TV Shows Of The 90s


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