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The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time 

Ranker TV
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Updated October 17, 2019 5.1k votes 571 voters 7.7k views 53 items

What are the best late night talk shows you always stay up to watch? This list compiles the names of the greatest late night talk shows in the history of television. Everyone knows that each host is different for every franchise; take the Tonight Show franchise, for instance. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno is a very different show from The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien. Additionally, we all know that each show by the same host is different too; The Jon Stewart Show on MTV is vastly different from The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on Comedy Central (owned by MTV), not to mention The Daily Show with Trevor Noah or even with Craig Kilborn.


Screw soap operas -- "late night talk" is the most drama-filled genre in all of television. Read a book by Bill Carter to hear the secrets behind the greatest late night talk shows (and the worst) ever aired. Even with a rich history that dates back to Steve Allen, there is always breaking news on the late night talk show front. Conan births Pete Holmes, Fallon usurps Leno, and Seth Meyers usurps Fallon. But will Kimmel usurp Letterman? And if you love these shows, check out the current late-night lineup.

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1
Late Night with David Le... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1982

Actors: David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Jerry Seinfeld

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 1819

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Late night television

Late Night with David Letterman is a nightly hour-long comedy talk show on NBC that was created and hosted by David Letterman. It premiered in 1982 as the first incarnation of the Late Night ...more

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#158 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #263 of 296 The Greatest Sitcoms in Television History #74 of 483 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time

2
Late Night with Conan O'... is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1993

Actors: Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, Joel Godard

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Late night television

Late Night with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show hosted by Conan O'Brien that aired 2,725 episodes on NBC between 1993 and 2009. The show featured varied comedic material, ...more

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#188 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #107 of 483 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time #63 of 169 The TV Shows Most Loved by Hipsters

3
The Tonight Show Starrin... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1962

Actors: Johnny Carson, Ed McMahon, Skitch Henderson

Number of Seasons: 30

Number of Episodes: 4531

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Late night television

The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is a talk show hosted by Johnny Carson under The Tonight Show franchise from October 1, 1962 through May 22, 1992. It originally aired during late-night. ...more

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#41 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #129 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #133 of 396 TV Shows That Only Smart People Appreciate

4
The Late Late Show with ... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2005

Actors: Craig Ferguson, Shadoe Stevens, Josh Robert Thompson

Number of Episodes: 1000

Network: British Broadcasting Corporation, CBS

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Comedy, Late night television

The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson is an American late-night talk show hosted by Scottish American comedian Craig Ferguson, who was the third regular host of the Late Late Show franchise. It ...more

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#185 of 578 TV Shows Canceled Before Their Time #294 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time

5
Late Show with David Let... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2011

Actors: David Letterman, Paul Shaffer, Alan Kalter

Number of Seasons: 19

Network: CBS

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Comedy

Late Show is an American late-night television talk and variety show on CBS. Late Show with David Letterman first aired in August 1993 with host David Letterman, who previously hosted Late Night ...more

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#191 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #65 of 158 Shows with the Best Freakin' Series Finales of All Time

6
The Colbert Report is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2005

Actors: Stephen Colbert, Jay Katsir, Jon Stewart

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 464

Network: Comedy Central

Genres (Tv): Satire, Talk show, News, Parody, Comedy, + more

The Colbert Report is an American late-night talk and news satire television program hosted by Stephen Colbert that aired on Comedy Central from October 17, 2005 to December 18, 2014 for 1,447 ...more

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#68 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time #84 of 217 The TV Shows with the Best Writing

7
Conan is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2010

Actors: Conan O'Brien, Ginnifer Goodwin, Andy Richter

Number of Seasons: 2

Network: TBS

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Comedy

Conan is a late-night talk show airing each Monday through Thursday on TBS in the United States. The hour-long show premiered on November 8, 2010, and is hosted by writer, comedian and performer ...more

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#748 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #1,284 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

8
Jimmy Kimmel Live! is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2003

Actors: Jimmy Kimmel, Cleto Escobedo III, Dicky Barrett

Number of Seasons: 11

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Comedy, Late night television

Jimmy Kimmel Live! is an American late-night talk show, created and hosted by James "Jimmy" Kimmel, and transmitted on ABC. The nightly hour-long show made its debut on January 26, ...more

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#679 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #388 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

9
The Late Show with Steph... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
The Late Show with Stephen Colbert 2015

Actors: Stephen Colbert, Jonathan Batiste, Stay Human

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Talk-Show

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert (CBS, 2015) is an American late-night talk show hosted by Stephen Colbert.

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#505 of 594 The Best TV Theme Songs of All Time #998 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #1,015 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

10
Last Week Tonight with J... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2014

Actors: John Oliver, David Kaye, Noel MacNeal

Network: HBO

Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO, 2014) is an American late-night talk and news satire television program hosted by comedian John Oliver. The half-hour-long show takes a satirical look at ...more

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#441 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #67 of 101 The Best TV Spinoffs

11
The Tonight Show with Co... is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2009

Actors: Conan O'Brien, Andy Richter, Jerry Vivino

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 146

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Comedy, Late night television

The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien is an American late-night talk show that featured Conan O'Brien as host from June 1, 2009 to January 22, 2010 as part of NBC's long-running Tonight Show ...more

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#1,117 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #248 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

12
The Daily Show is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1996

Actors: Jon Stewart, Trevor Noah, Hasan Minhaj, John Oliver, Stephen Colbert, + more

Network: Comedy Central

Genres (Tv): Satire, Talk show, News, Parody, Comedy, + more

The Daily Show (Comedy Central, 1999) is an American late-night talk and news satire television program. Described as a fake news program, the show draws its comedy and satire from recent news ...more

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#695 of 779 The Best TV Shows to Binge Watch #48 of 281 The Best Cult TV Shows of All Time Jon Stewart's Most Entertaining Feuds Ever

13
The Graham Norton Show ... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2007

Network: BBC One

Genres (Tv): Talk show

The Graham Norton Show is a British comedy chat show broadcast on BBC One in the United Kingdom. It was shown on BBC Two from February 2007 to May 2009 and has been on BBC One since October ...more
14
Ranker Video
2014

Actors: Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Steve Higgins

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 1

The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show hosted by Jimmy Fallon on NBC. The show premiered on February 17, 2014 and is produced by Broadway Video and Universal ...more

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#247 of 483 The Funniest TV Shows of All Time #28 of 52 The Best Feel-Good TV Shows The Best Musical Guests on 'The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon' in 2020

15
The Late Late Show with ... is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2015

Actors: James Corden, Reggie Watts

Genres (Tv): Comedy, Talk-Show

The Late Late Show with James Corden (CBS, 2015) is an American late-night talk show hosted by James Corden. The fourth iteration of The Late Late Show, the talk show features popular segments, ...more
16
Late Night with Seth Mey... is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2014

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 1

Late Night with Seth Meyers is an American late-night talk show that airs at 12:37 am Eastern/11:37 pm Central on NBC in the United States, Monday through Thursday. The hour-long show premiered ...more

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#975 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows #5 of 26 The Best Satrirical News Programs

17
The Jon Stewart Show is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1993

Actors: Jon Stewart, Howard Feller

Network: MTV

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show

The Jon Stewart Show is a late night talk show hosted by comedian Jon Stewart. The program premiered on MTV in 1993 as a thirty-minute daily program. At the end of its first season, MTV's ...more
18
The Arsenio Hall Show is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1989

Actors: Bill Murray, Arsenio Hall, Burton Richardson, Michael Wolff

Number of Episodes: 1248

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Late night television

The Arsenio Hall Show is an American late-night talk show created and hosted by Arsenio Hall. There are two separate programs that have been titled The Arsenio Hall Show, both airing in ...more
19
Tom Snyder On CNBC is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
looksharp added Tom Snyder On CNBC
20
Late Night with Jimmy Fa... is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2009

Actors: Jimmy Fallon, The Roots, Steve Higgins

Number of Seasons: 4

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show, Comedy, Late night television

Late Night with Jimmy Fallon is an American late-night talk show that aired weeknights at 12:35 am Eastern/11:35 pm Central on NBC in the United States. The hour-long show, which premiered on ...more

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#200 of 383 The Best TV Shows of The Last 20 Years #1,280 of 1,328 The Best Guilty Pleasure TV Shows

21
Real Time with Bill Mahe... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2003

Actors: Bill Maher, Arianna Huffington, Andrew Sullivan

Number of Episodes: 138

Network: HBO

Genres (Tv): Satire, Talk show, Comedy

Real Time with Bill Maher (HBO, 2003) is an American talk show series created by Bill Maher. Bill Maher hosts a panel of guests who discuss current events in politics and the media.
22
The Dick Cavett Show is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1968

Actors: Leigh French

Network: American Broadcasting Company

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show

The Dick Cavett Show was the title of several talk shows hosted by Dick Cavett on various television networks, including: ABC daytime originally titled This Morning ABC prime time, Tuesdays, ...more

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#743 of 2,298 The Greatest TV Shows Of All Time #126 of 245 The Very Best Shows That Aired in the 1960s

23
Tonight Starring Steve A... is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
1954

Network: NBC

Genres (Tv): Talk show, Variety show

Tonight Starring Steve Allen is a talk show hosted by Steve Allen. It was the first version of what eventually became known as The Tonight Show. Tonight was the first late-night talk show, as ...more
24
Lights Out With David Sp... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
2019

Actors: David Spade

Network: Comedy Central

Genres (Tv): News, Satire, News satire

Lights Out With David Spade (Comedy Central, 2019) is an American satire news television series. Comedian David Spade offers his take on pop culture and current events through the eyes of social ...more
25
The Dennis Miller Show ... is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Late Night Talk Shows of All Time
looksharp added The Dennis Miller Show
NBC