14.7k voters

The All-Time Greatest Late Night Talk Show Hosts

Updated March 30, 2021 84.4k votes 14.7k voters 192.3k views35 items

List RulesVote up your favorite late night TV talk show hosts, from the 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: 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.

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).

Certainly, one of the most most famous late night talk show hosts of all time, Johnny Carson, was one of the most intelligent, likable and genuinely funny people ever to grace the small screen. He is one of the beloved old late night talk show hosts.

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 carved out a nifty little niche for herself with her former E! show Chelsea Lately. And back in the day, Joan Rivers was actually a really great regular Tonight Show permanent fill-in host. 

Vote up the late night talk show hosts you enjoy most, and vote down the ones that you believe are the most annoying TV hosts ever. Then check back to see if your favorites topped our list! 

  • Photo: whittlz / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Conan (2010-present)

    The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien (2009-2010)

    Late Night with Conan O'Brien (1993-2009)

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    • Photo: Metaweb / CC-BY

      The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson (1962-1992)

      The Jonny Carson Show (1955-1956)

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        My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman (2018-Present)

        Late Night With David Letterman (1982-1993)

        The David Letterman Show (1980)



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        • The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson (2005-2014)

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