Entertainment
9.5k voters

The Best Reality Competition Series

Updated February 23, 2021 64.0k votes 9.5k voters 407.6k views117 items

List RulesVote up your favorite reality shows with a competitive game angle. No quiz shows or traditional game shows.

These are best reality TV competition series, ranked by fans and critics. Reality shows are among the most-watched programs on TV, and they are easy to produce due to their low production costs, lack of staff, and quick turn-around. Early programs like Survivor and Big Brother gained international audiences who loved watching real people compete for money and fame. High-pressure situations, 24/7 filming, and clashing personalities ensured frequent drama and excitement as alliances and enemies were created and destroyed.

In recent years, more generic reality competition shows have given way to more specialized contests. Dance competition series range from So You Think You Can Dance and Dancing with the Stars to Dance Moms. Travel shows are favorites, as are fashion competitions, talent and singing shows - from American Idol to The Voice to The X Factor - which are consistently among the highest rated programs on TV - ever.

In that spirit, it's time to get competitive. Vote for your favorite reality competition shows to move them up the list. You can also customize and rank your own list by clicking Rerank. Then, check out which reality shows are airing new episodes in 2020.

Photo:
...more
  • Survivor1
    2,888
    1,118

    Survivor

    Jeff Probst

    Premiered2000

    Genres (Tv)Reality Competition, Gameshow

    Amazon buy button

    More Survivor 

    The Best Survivor Contestants That Ever PlayedReal Survivor "Game Changers" You Would Have Liked To See Play Instead

  • The Challenge2
    1,544
    652

    The Challenge

    T.J. Lavin, Johnny 'Bananas' Devenanzio

    Premiered1998

    Genres (Tv)Game show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More The Challenge 

    MTV 'The Challenge' Drinking Game#13 of 50 The Best MTV Original Shows

  • The Amazing Race3
    2,096
    975

    The Amazing Race

    Phil Keoghan

    Premiered2001

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More The Amazing Race 

    The Most Hateful Amazing Race Teams of All Time#13 of 45 The Best Travel TV Shows

  • Big Brother4
    1,994
    1,161

    Big Brother

    Julie Chen, Phil Proctor

    Premiered2000

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Big Brother 

    The Best Big Brother Contestants of All Time#157 of 267 The Best TV Shows Returning In 2021

  • Hell's Kitchen5
    1,132
    783

    Hell's Kitchen

    Gordon Ramsay, Jean Philippe Susilovic

    Premiered2005

    Genres (Tv)Reality Competition, Cooking show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Hell's Kitchen 

    The Best Seasons of 'Hell's Kitchen'#12 of 36 The Best Current Fox Shows

  • American Ninja Warrior6
    637
    244

    American Ninja Warrior

    Matt Iseman, Jenn Brown

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Special Interest, Live action, Documentary, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More American Ninja Warrior 

    What It's Really Like To Compete On 'American Ninja Warrior'#7 of 29 The Best "American" TV Shows

  • Face Off7
    1,048
    747

    Face Off

    McKenzie Westmore

    Premiered2011

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Face Off 

    The Best Face Off Winners, Ranked#47 of 82 The Best Syfy Original Shows

  • Ink Master8
    617
    374

    Ink Master

    Dave Navarro, Chris Nunez

    Premiered2012

    Genres (Tv)Reality Television, Reality Competition

    Amazon buy button

    More Ink Master 

    The Best Ink Master Winners, Ranked#5 of 39 The Best Creative Skill Reality Series Ever

  • Chopped9
    624
    514

    Chopped

    Ted Allen, Alex Guarnaschelli

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Game show, Food, Cooking show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Chopped 

    12 Things You Didn't Know About Competing On 'Chopped'#19 of 48 The Best Current Shows You Can Watch With Your Mom

  • Project Runway10
    1,156
    959

    Project Runway

    Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum

    Premiered2004

    Genres (Tv)Reality Competition, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Project Runway 

    The Most Memorable Project Runway Looks#99 of 220 The Greatest TV Shows for Women

  • RuPaul's Drag Race11
    1,587
    718

    RuPaul's Drag Race

    RuPaul, Michelle Visage

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More RuPaul's Drag Race 

    The 15 Most Controversial Eliminations From 'RuPaul's Drag Race'All Winners of RuPaul's Drag Race, Ranked

  • The Voice12
    1,142
    1,136

    The Voice

    Adam Levine, Blake Shelton

    Premiered2011

    Genres (Tv)Talent show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More The Voice 

    The Best The Voice Winners, Ranked#466 of 640 The Best TV Shows To Binge Watch

  • America's Next Top Model13
    1,051
    770

    America's Next Top Model

    Adrianne Curry, Yoanna House

    Premiered2003

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More America's Next Top Model 

    Behind-The-Scenes Stories From 'America's Next Top Model' That Prove This Show Is Out Of Control#4 of 32 The Best UPN Shows

  • Top Chef14
    817
    713

    Top Chef

    Emeril Lagasse, Gail Simmons

    Premiered2006

    Genres (Tv)Cook-off, Cooking show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Top Chef 

    #76 of 129 The Best Shows Currently On The Air#94 of 166 The Best TV Shows Returning In 2020

  • The Great British Bake Off15
    169
    60

    The Great British Bake Off

    Sue Perkins, Mel Giedroyc

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Special Interest, Game show, Cooking show, Home improvement

    Amazon buy button

    More The Great British Bake Off 

    25 Reactions To The New Season Of  'The Great British Baking Show' That Are Worthy Of Star Baker#13 of 29 20+ Recent British TV Shows You've Been Missing This Whole Time

  • Whodunnit?16
    249
    181

    Whodunnit?

    Gildart Jackson

    Premiered2013

    Genres (Tv)Reality Competition

    Amazon buy button
  • The Circle17
    146
    67

    The Circle

    Michelle Buteau

    Premiered2020

    Genres (Tv)Reality TV

    Amazon buy button

    More The Circle 

    #217 of 870 The Best New Shows That Have Premiered in the Last Few Years#267 of 456 The Best New Netflix Original Series of the Last Few Years

  • Cupcake Wars18
    324
    321

    Cupcake Wars

    Candace Nelson, Florian Bellanger

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Cooking show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Cupcake Wars 

    #20 of 36 The Best Current Food Network Shows#76 of 85 The Best Cooking TV Shows of All Time

  • Iron Chef19
    172
    163

    Iron Chef

    Masaharu Morimoto, Hiroyuki Sakai

    Premiered1993

    Genres (Tv)Cook-off, Food, Cooking show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button
  • Fear Factor20
    940
    1,081

    Fear Factor

    Joe Rogan

    Premiered2001

    Genres (Tv)Game show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button

    More Fear Factor 

    #253 of 339 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years#20 of 428 The Best Reality TV Shows Ever

  • Solitary21
    148
    147

    Solitary

    Steven Gee, Nikki Knight

    Premiered2006

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Amazon buy button
  • Nailed It!22
    100
    64

    Nailed It!

    Nicole Byer, Jacques Torres

    Premiered2018

    Genres (Tv)Reality competition, Food

    Amazon buy button

    More Nailed It! 

    The Best Episodes of 'Nailed It!'#15 of 70 The Best Shows on Netflix to Watch When You're Stoned

  • Cake Boss23
    345
    387

    Cake Boss

    Buddy Valastro

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Family Film, Reality television

    Amazon buy button
  • The Great Food Truck Race24
    280
    299

    The Great Food Truck Race

    Tyler Florence, Chris Hodgson

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Game show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button
  • Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge25
    173
    183

    Jim Henson's Creature Shop Challenge

    Melissa Doss, Russ Adams

    Premiered2014

    Genres (Tv)Game show, Reality television

    Amazon buy button