Entertainment
633 voters

The Best Reality Dramas

Updated March 4, 2021 5.6k votes 633 voters 29.8k views63 items

The best reality dramas include programs that keep viewers interested with compelling stories and fascinating characters. Yes, reality dramas are technically reality TV, but they aren't silly. They're often serious, sometimes dangerous and always entertaining. This list includes some of the best dramatic reality shows ever on television, so be sure to vote for your favorites. You can also add any outstanding reality dramas that are missing, and rerank the lists to suit your taste!

Many television dramas are popular because they have great, scripted story lines. Not so with reality TV dramas: These are reality shows that manage to keep viewers glued to their televisions with real life happenings. Examples of these kinds of shows include the Discovery Channel's documentary-style reality TV drama Deadliest Catch, the History Channel's Ice Road Truckers and MTV's reality drama series Teen Mom.

And things don't always turn out well on these shows: In 2010, while filming Deadliest Catch, boat Captain Phil Harris became gravely ill. Cameras continued to roll, and Harris later died from complications of a massive stroke.

Some of the best reality dramas on television are medical in nature. Examples include ABC's NY Med, TLC's Trauma: Life in the E.R., and A&E's Emmy-winning addiction program Intervention. These programs follow real-life events in major hospitals and chronicle the journeys of people who are trying to overcome potentially deadly addictions.

What is your favorite reality drama? Again, vote for the shows you like the most, vote down any you think aren't worthy and remember to rerank if you're so inclined.
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  • Ice Road Truckers1
    251
    103

    Ice Road Truckers

    Alex Debogorski, Thom Beers

    Premiered2007

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    Ice Road Truckers (History, 2007) is a reality television series. It features the activities...  more
  • Dirty Jobs2
    160
    67

    Dirty Jobs

    Mike Rowe, David M. Barsky

    Premiered2003

    Genres (Tv)Educational television, Documentary, Reality television

    Dirty Jobs was a TV series on the Discovery Channel in which host Mike Rowe is shown...  more

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  • MythBusters3
    134
    81

    MythBusters

    Jon Lung, Brian Louden

    Premiered2003

    Genres (Tv)Non-fiction, Special Interest, Educational television, Science, Documentary

    MythBusters is a science entertainment television program created by Peter Rees and produced...  more

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  • True Life4
    133
    92

    True Life

    Serena Altschul

    Premiered1998

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    True Life (MTV, 1998) is an American documentary television series. Each episode follows a...  more
  • Swamp People5
    132
    101

    Swamp People

    Troy Landry, Jacob Landry

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Swamp People (History, 2010) is an American reality series that follows the day-to-day...  more

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  • Deadliest Catch6
    119
    93

    Deadliest Catch

    Rick Quashnick, Sig Hansen

    Premiered2005

    Genres (Tv)Drama, Documentary, Reality television

    Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel, 2005) is an American reality television series. It...  more

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  • Pawn Stars7
    104
    87

    Pawn Stars

    Rick Harrison, Richard Harrison

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    Pawn Stars (History, 2009) is an American reality television series that chronicles the daily...  more

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    #45 of 199 The Best Reality Shows Currently on TV#21 of 33 The Best 2000s Reality Shows

  • Teen Mom8
    132
    118

    Teen Mom

    Farrah Abraham, Maci Bookout

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    Teen Mom (MTV, 2009) is an American reality television series and a spin-off of 16 and...  more

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  • Cops9
    101
    91

    Cops

    Andrew Fincher, Joe Guay

    Premiered1988

    Genres (Tv)Crime Fiction, Documentary, Reality television

    Cops (Fox, 1988) is an American documentary-reality legal series and one of the...  more

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  • Undercover Boss10
    96
    91

    Undercover Boss

    Mark Keller

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    Undercover Boss (CBS, 2009) is an American reality television series, based on the British...  more

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  • 48 Hours11
    45
    45

    48 Hours

    Maureen Maher, Peter Van Sant

    Premiered1988

    Genres (Tv)News magazine

    48 Hours is an American documentary/news magazine television series that airs on CBS. The...  more

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    #7 of 66 The Best Newsmagazine TV Shows & Series#236 of 312 The Best Shows of the 1980s, Ranked

  • The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills12
    98
    119

    The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills

    Yolanda Hadid, Kim Richards

    Premiered2010

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    The Real Housewives (Bravo, 2010) of Beverly Hills is an American reality television series...  more

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  • 16 and Pregnant13
    101
    128

    16 and Pregnant

    Drew Pinsky, Weston Gosa Jr.

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    16 and Pregnant is an American reality television series that debuted June 11, 2009, on MTV....  more
  • The Hills14
    81
    107

    The Hills

    Heidi Montag, Audrina Patridge

    Premiered2006

    Genres (Tv)Reality

    The Hills (MTV, 2006) is an American reality television series created by Adam DiVello, and a...  more

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  • Survivor15
    72
    100

    Survivor

    Jeff Probst

    Premiered2000

    Genres (Tv)Reality Competition, Gameshow

    Survivor is a reality game show produced in many countries throughout the world. In the show,...  more

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  • Duck Dynasty16
    66
    97

    Duck Dynasty

    The Robertson Clan

    Premiered2012

    Genres (Tv)Comedy, Reality television

    Duck Dynasty (A&E, 2012) is an American reality television series. It portrays the lives of...  more

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  • Intervention17
    64
    95

    Intervention

    Jeff VanVonderen, Candy Finnigan

    Premiered2005

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    Intervention (A&E, 2005) is an American documentary television series created by Sam Mettler....  more

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    #13 of 26 The Best Reality Medical Shows#10 of 46 The Best Movies and TV Shows About Heroin Addiction

  • Trauma: Life in the E.R.18
    60
    89

    Trauma: Life in the E.R.

    Chip Demarest, Andy Michaels

    Premiered1997

    Genres (Tv)Special Interest, Reality television

    Trauma: Life in the E.R. is a medical-based television reality show that formerly ran on TLC...  more

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  • Big Brother19
    14
    23

    Big Brother

    Julie Chen, Phil Proctor

    Premiered2000

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    Big Brother (CBS, 2000) is a television reality game show based on an originally Dutch TV...  more

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  • Hoarders20
    69
    107

    Hoarders

    Matt Paxton, Robin Zasio

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Documentary, Reality television

    Hoarders (A&E, 2009) is an American reality television series that depicts the real-life...  more

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  • The Osbournes21
    10
    19

    The Osbournes

    Ozzy Osbourne, Sharon Osbourne

    Premiered2002

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    The Osbournes (MTV, 2002) is an American reality television program. It features the domestic...  more

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  • Terrace House22
    9
    18

    Terrace House

    Reina Triendl, Yoshimi Tokui

    Premiered2015

    Genres (Tv)Reality television, Variety show

    Terrace House (Netflix, 2015) is a Japanese reality television show franchise consisting of...  more
  • First Responders Live23
    First Responders Live (Fox, 2019) is an American documentary-reality television series created...  more

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  • Shark Tank24
    7
    18

    Shark Tank

    Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran

    Premiered2009

    Genres (Tv)Game show, Reality television

    Shark Tank (ABC, 2009) is an American reality television series created by Mark Burnett, and...  more

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  • The Real World25
    53
    95

    The Real World

    Jamie Chung, Steven Hill

    Premiered1992

    Genres (Tv)Reality television

    The Real World (MTV, 1992) is an American reality television program inspired by the 1973 PBS...  more

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