Watchworthy

The Best Reality Competition Series 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated June 24, 2020 78.6k votes 8.6k voters 379.9k views 157 items

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

The 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.

Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
Survivor is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Jeff Probst, Rob Mariano, Rupert Boneham

Premiered: 2000

Survivor is a reality game show produced in many countries throughout the world. In the show, contestants are isolated in the wilderness and compete for cash and other prizes. The show uses a ...more
2
The Amazing Race is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Phil Keoghan

Premiered: 2001

Genres (Tv): Reality television

The Amazing Race (CBS, 2001) is a reality competition tv show created by Elise Doganieri and Bertram van Munster. Teams of two people race around the world in competition with other teams.
3
Big Brother is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Julie Chen, Phil Proctor, Clayton Halsey

Premiered: 2000

Genres (Tv): Reality television

Big Brother (CBS, 2000) is a television reality game show based on an originally Dutch TV series of the same name created by producer John de Mol in 1997, taking its name from the character in ...more
4
The Challenge is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
T.J. Lavin, Johnny 'Bananas' Devenanzio, Aneesa Ferreira

Premiered: 1998

Genres (Tv): Game show, Reality television

The Challenge is a reality game show on MTV that is spun off from the network's two reality shows, The Real World and the now cancelled Road Rules. It features alumni from these two shows, in ...more
5
Face Off is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Reality television

Face Off is an American reality television game show on the Syfy cable network in which a group of prosthetic makeup artists compete against each other to create prostheses such as those found ...more
6
Hell's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Gordon Ramsay, Jean Philippe Susilovic, Scott Leibfried

Premiered: 2005

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

Hell's Kitchen (Fox, 2005) is an American reality competition television series based on the British series. World renowned chef Gordon Ramsay puts aspiring young chefs through rigorous cooking ...more
7
Project Runway is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Tim Gunn, Heidi Klum, Nina Garcia

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Reality Competition, Reality television

Project Runway (Bravo, 2004) is an American reality television series created by Eli Holzman. Model Heidi Klum hosts contestants as they compete with each other to create the best clothes and ...more
8
The Voice is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Carson Daly

Premiered: 2011

Genres (Tv): Talent show, Reality television

The Voice (NBC, 2011) is an American reality television singing competition hosted by Kelly Clarkson, John Legend, Nick Jonas, Blake Shelton, and Carson Daly. Based on the original The Voice of ...more
9
Fear Factor is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Joe Rogan

Premiered: 2001

Genres (Tv): Game show, Reality television

If you love this show, we have a list of the best of all Fear Factor episodes.

Fear Factor is an American stunt/dare reality game show. It originally aired between 2001 and 2006, when it was cancelled. It was later revived in 2011, only to be cancelled again on May 13, ...more
10
Chopped is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Ted Allen, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy

Premiered: 2009

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

Chopped is an American reality based cooking television series created by Dave Noll and Michael Krupat, with executive producer Linda Lea, and hosted by Ted Allen that pits four chefs against ...more
11
American Ninja Warrior ... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Jess Neary added Matt Iseman, Jenn Brown, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila

Premiered: 2009

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

American Ninja Warrior is a sports entertainment competition spin-off of the television series Sasuke, in which competitors try to complete a series of obstacle courses of increasing difficulty ...more
12
Top Chef is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Emeril Lagasse, Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi

Premiered: 2006

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

Top Chef is an American reality competition show on the cable television network Bravo, that first aired in 2006, in which chefs compete against each other in culinary challenges. They are ...more
13
America's Next Top Model... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Adrianne Curry, Yoanna House, Tyra Banks

Premiered: 2003

Genres (Tv): Reality television

America's Next Top Model (UPN, 2003) is an American reality competition television series create by Tyra Banks. Several women compete for the title of "America's Next Top Model", ...more
14
America's Got Talent is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Nick Cannon, Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne

Premiered: 2006

Genres (Tv): Talent show, Variety show, Reality television

America's Got Talent is an American reality television series on the NBC television network, and part of the global British Got Talent franchise. It is a talent show that features singers, ...more
15
Ink Master is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
ChrissyBaker added Dave Navarro, Chris Nunez, Oliver Peck

Premiered: 2012

Ink Master is an American reality competition on Spike in which tattoo artists compete in challenges assessing their tattoo and related artistic skills. They are judged by noted tattoo artists ...more
16
RuPaul's Drag Race is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
RuPaul, Michelle Visage, Santino Rice

Premiered: 2009

Genres (Tv): Reality television

RuPaul's Drag Race is an American reality competition television series produced by World of Wonder for Logo. RuPaul plays the roles of host, mentor, and source of inspiration for this series, ...more
17
The Biggest Loser is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Bob Harper, Alison Sweeney, Jillian Michaels

Premiered: 2004

Genres (Tv): Game show, Reality television

The Biggest Loser (NBC, 2004) is an American competition reality show that was rebooted on USA Network in 2020. The show features obese people competing to win a cash prize by losing the highest ...more
18
Dancing with the Stars ... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Tom Bergeron, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli

Premiered: 2005

Genres (Tv): Sports, Sports film, Reality television

Dancing with the Stars is an American dance competition show airing since 2005 on ABC in the United States, and CTV/CTV Two in Canada. The show is the American version of the British television ...more
19
Cake Boss is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Buddy Valastro

Premiered: 2009

Genres (Tv): Family Film, Reality television

Cake Boss is an American reality television series, airing on the cable television network TLC. The show follows the operations of Carlo's Bake Shop, an Italian American family-owned business in ...more
20
So You Think You Can Dan... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Mark Thompson, Nigel Lythgoe, Cat Deeley

Premiered: 2005

Genres (Tv): Talent show, Interactive television, Game show, Reality television

So You Think You Can Dance is an American televised dance competition show that airs on Fox in the United States and is the flagship series of the international So You Think You Can Dance ...more
21
Cupcake Wars is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series

Premiered: 2010

Genres (Tv): Cooking show, Reality television

Cupcake Wars is an American reality competition series which premiered on June 13, 2010 and aired on the cable television network Food Network. The cooking show is hosted by Justin Willman and ...more
22
Whodunnit? is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series

Premiered: 2013

Genres (Tv): Reality Competition

Whodunnit? is a murder mystery reality competition television series broadcast on ABC. The series premiered on June 23, 2013, and concluded its first season on August 18, 2013. The series is ...more
23
Top Chef Masters is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Top Chef Masters Gail Simmons, Ruth Reichl

Premiered: 2009

Genres (Tv): Cooking show, Reality television

Top Chef Masters is an American reality competition series that airs on the cable television network Bravo, and premiered June 10, 2009. It is a spinoff of Bravo's hit show Top Chef. In the ...more
24
Iron Chef is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
charlesminorversion1 added Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Hiroyuki Sakai

Premiered: 1993

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

Iron Chef is a Japanese television cooking show produced by Fuji Television. The series, which premiered on October 10, 1993, is a stylized cook-off featuring guest chefs challenging one of the ...more
25
The Great Food Truck Rac... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Reality Competition Series
Tyler Florence, Chris Hodgson, Lance Kramer

Premiered: 2010

Genres (Tv): Game show, Reality television

The Great Food Truck Race is a reality television series that originally aired on August 15, 2010, on Food Network, with Tyler Florence as the host. It features competing food trucks. The fourth ...more