Reality TV The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts  

Ranker TV
Originally by
61.2k votes 9.2k voters 130.6k views 46 items

List Rules Late night TV talk show hosts, past and present.

The all-time greatest late night talk show hosts have entertained us for years as we drift off to sleep. These hosts are charismatic, often hilarious and sometimes controversial. One thing they are not: They are never boring. From the early days of late night television to the current crop of late night hosts, this list includes some of the biggest names in the entertainment industry. Vote for the late night talk show hosts you enjoy the most, and vote down any that you believe are the most annoying TV hosts ever. You can also rerank this list in any order you like, and, if you have a favorite host who isn't listed: add them!

Let's face it: All late night TV hosts are not created equal. It takes a special skill set to continually present us with fresh, interesting information. We like our witty celebrities and comedians, so is it any wonder that some names on this list are also among the funniest people of all time? Stephen Colbert, Conan O'Brien and Jon Stewart are all excellent examples of hosts who possess that rare wit and the ability to think quickly (because in late night, you never know what will happen). And certainly, one of the most most famous late night talk show hosts of all time, Johnny Carson, was one of the most intelligent, likeable and genuinely funny people ever to grace the small screen.

If it seems like the late night TV talk show hosts field is dominated by men, it is, but there are a few notable exceptions. Comedian Chelsea Handler has carved out a nifty little niche for herself with her E! show 'Chelsea Lately.' And back in the day, Joan Rivers was actually a really great regular 'Tonight Show' permanent fill-in host. Unfortunately, Rivers' own late night TV talk show, 'The Late Show Starring Joan Rivers,' (circa 1986 on FOX), didn't fare well at all.

And then, of course, you've got the highly publicized and totally ridiculous late night TV host drama: 'The Tonight Show' showdown involving Jay Leno and Conan O'Brien. Late night television is big, big business, and the resulting conflicts that arise certainly reflect that fact.
list ordered by

1
3,615 1,609
Conan O'Brien is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Conan, Late Night with Conan O'Brien, Andy Barker - Photo Via: Shutterstock

2
2,225 1,003
Johnny Carson is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, Space Ghost, The Tonight Show

3
2,147 1,369
David Letterman is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Everybody Loves Raymond, The Drew Carey Show, Late Show with David Letterman

4
1,879 1,351
Craig Ferguson is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Drew Carey Show, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson, Doc Martin - Photo Via: Shutterstock

5
1,913 1,593
Jimmy Kimmel is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Crank Yankers, Win Ben Stein's Money - Photo Via: Shutterstock

6
1,861 1,303
Jon Stewart is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, The Larry Sanders Show -

Leaving the Daily Show in 2015  

Photo Via: Shutterstock

7
2,126 1,277
Stephen Colbert is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, Late Show with David Letterman - Photo Via: Shutterstock

8
2,177 1,993
Jimmy Fallon is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
30 Rock, Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon - Photo Via: Shutterstock

9
1,517 949
John Oliver is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Trioxin245 added The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, Important Things with Demetri Martin - Photo Via: Shutterstock

10
1,004 712
Graham Norton is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Let's Dance for Comic Relief, The Graham Norton Show, I'd Do Anything - Photo Via: Shutterstock

11
1,145 1,837
Jay Leno is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, The Tonight Show - Photo Via: Shutterstock

12
786 553
Ed Sullivan is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Ed Sullivan Show

13
640 610
Steve Allen is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
LaurieM added The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson, The Tonight Show, What's My Line?

14
1,037 712
James Corden is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Gavin & Stacey, Gavin and Stacey, The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder - Photo Via: Shutterstock

15
690 846
Seth Meyers is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
nmcompton444 added Saturday Night Live, Late Night with Seth Meyers, Saturday Night Live Weekend Update Thursday - Photo Via: Shutterstock

16
649 1,214
Bill Maher is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Real Time with Bill Maher, Vice, Politically Incorrect - Photo Via: Shutterstock

17
487 498
Jack Paar is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Jack Paar Tonight Show, Bank on the Stars

18
509 542
Dick Cavett is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Dick Cavett Show, Time Was - Photo Via: Shutterstock

19
384 703
Tom Snyder is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, O'Grady, Science Court

20
459 759
Arsenio Hall is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
The Real Ghostbusters, The Apprentice, The Arsenio Hall Show - Photo Via: Shutterstock

21
385 487
Dennis Miller is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
lemonhead added Monday Night Football, Dennis Miller Live, Dennis Miller Live - Photo Via: Shutterstock

22
365 915
Chelsea Handler is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Are You There, Chelsea?, Chelsea Lately - Photo Via: Shutterstock

23
245 673
Craig Kilborn is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
VanessaHawelu added The Daily Show, The Late Late Show with Tom Snyder, The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn

24
228 511
Bob Costas is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
clash1977 added Inside the NFL, NBC Sunday Night Football, Costas Now - Photo Via: Shutterstock

25
447 421
Trevor Noah is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts
Trevor Noah