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The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made 

Ranker TV
Updated January 21, 2020 451 votes 27 voters 50 items

List Rules The competitive reality television series that historically have kept you on the edge of your seat as the contestants compete to win.

The best reality competition TV shows ever aired are some of the most exciting and competitive series to watch on television, but which are the most exciting of all time? Determining which competitive reality series is the most exciting isn't an easy task given the plethora of options available, but this list might make it just a bit easier. These days, with the use of digital streaming, more and more shows people have forgotten are being rewatched, checked out for the first time, or even remade into new classics for new generations to enjoy, but which of these reality competition shows is the best of them all in terms of excitement?

Would something newer like The Masked Singer land higher on the list than a classic reality competition series like the original American Idol or The Voice? For a reality competition series to be truly exciting, it has to be the kind that depicts a competition with dire consequences for failure, or a seriously huge prize for the winner. The only way to find out which is the most exciting series is to vote up your favorite reality competition series below, but remember, this list is all about excitement! Which series is more exciting than the one below it?

Don't forget to add your favorite reality competition show to the list if it's missing and vote for your favorite below!

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list ordered by
1
American Idol is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Simon Cowell, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest

Premiered: 2002

Number of Seasons: 11

Number of Episodes: 438

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

American Idol is an American singing competition series created by Simon Fuller and produced by 19 Entertainment, and is distributed by FremantleMedia North America. It began airing on Fox on ...more
2
Cutthroat Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Alton Brown, Simon Majumdar, Jet Tila

Premiered: 2013

Network: Food Network

Just how far is a chef willing to go to win a cooking competition? Cutthroat Kitchen hands four chefs each $25,000 and the opportunity to spend that money on helping themselves or sabotaging ...more
3
The Masked Singer is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Nick Cannon
The Masked Singer (Fox, 2019) is an American reality competition series based on the South Korean show King of Mask Singer. Hosted by Nick Cannon, the show features celebrities singing in a ...more
4
The Great Food Truck Rac... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Tyler Florence, Chris Hodgson, Lance Kramer

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 20

Network: Food Network

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
5
America's Got Talent: Th... is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Simon Cowell, Mel B, Howie Mandel

Premiered: 2019

Number of Seasons: 1

Network: NBC

America's Got Talent: The Champions (NBC, 2019) is a reality television series and a spinoff of America's Got Talent. Notable contestants from previous seasons and from other international ...more
6
America's Got Talent is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Nick Cannon, Howie Mandel, Sharon Osbourne

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 14

Number of Episodes: 349

Network: NBC

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
7
Iron Chef is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, Hiroyuki Sakai

Premiered: 1993

Number of Episodes: 302

Network: Fine Living Network, Food Network, Fuji 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
8
Hell's Kitchen is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Gordon Ramsay, Jean Philippe Susilovic, Scott Leibfried

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 141

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

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
9
Dancing with the Stars ... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Tom Bergeron, Carrie Ann Inaba, Bruno Tonioli

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 16

Number of Episodes: 292

Network: CTV Television Network, American Broadcasting Company

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
10
American Ninja Warrior ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Matt Iseman, Jenn Brown, Akbar Gbaja-Biamila

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 4

Number of Episodes: 26

Network: G4

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
11
The Voice is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Adam Levine, Blake Shelton, Carson Daly

Premiered: 2011

Number of Seasons: 17

Number of Episodes: 437

Network: NBC

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
12
Top Chef is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Emeril Lagasse, Gail Simmons, Padma Lakshmi

Premiered: 2006

Number of Seasons: 10

Number of Episodes: 136

Network: Bravo

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
Survivor is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
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
14
MasterChef is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
MasterChef Gordon Ramsay, Graham Elliot, Joe Bastianich

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 3

Number of Episodes: 53

Network: Fox Broadcasting Company

MasterChef (Fox, 2010) is an American competitive cooking reality show based on the original British series. A nationwide search for the best home cooks in America where one of 50 hopefuls will ...more
15
The Amazing Race is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 21

Number of Episodes: 241

The Amazing Race is a reality television game show in which teams of two people, who have some form of a preexisting personal relationship, race around the world in competition with other teams. ...more
16
Cupcake Wars is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made

Premiered: 2010

Number of Seasons: 7

Number of Episodes: 80

Network: Food Network

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
17
Chopped is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Ted Allen, Alex Guarnaschelli, Marc Murphy

Premiered: 2009

Number of Seasons: 13

Number of Episodes: 155

Network: Food Network

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
18
Food Network Star is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Bobby Flay, Giada De Laurentiis

Premiered: 2005

Number of Seasons: 8

Number of Episodes: 72

Network: Food Network

Food Network Star (Food Network, 2005) is a reality television series. A contest to find a well rounded great chef with a unique point of view and hosting type of personality to host their own
19
Fear Factor is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Joe Rogan

Premiered: 2001

Number of Seasons: 6

Number of Episodes: 142

Network: NBC

And be sure to check out our list of all Fear Factor episodes, ranked.

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
20
The Taste is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Anthony Bourdain, Nigella Lawson, Ludo Lefebvre

Premiered: 2013

Number of Seasons: 1

Number of Episodes: 8

The Taste (ABC, 2013) is an American cooking-themed reality competition series. 16 contestants are put in team and individual cooking challenges with the help of mentors Anthony Bourdain, ...more
21
American Gladiators is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Mike Adamle, Joe Theismann, Todd Christensen

Premiered: 1989

Number of Seasons: 7

Network: USA Network, Spike, ESPN Classic

American Gladiators is an American competition television program that aired weekly in syndication from September 1989 to May 1996. The series matched a cast of amateur athletes against each ...more
22
Big Brother is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Julie Chen, Phil Proctor, Clayton Halsey

Premiered: 2000

Number of Seasons: 14

Network: CBS

Big Brother 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. The series follows a group of contestants, known as ...more
23
The X Factor (UK) is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made

Number of Seasons: 9

Number of Episodes: 264

Network: ITV2, ITV, UTV, STV, ITV, + more

The X Factor is a British television music competition to find new singing talent, contested by aspiring singers drawn from public auditions. Created by Simon Cowell, the show began in 2004 and ...more
24
Food Network Star Kids ... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Tia Mowry, Donal Skehan
Food Network Star Kids (Food Network, 2016) is an American cooking competition television series presented by Tia Mowry and food critic Donal Skehan. The series is a spin-off of Food Network
25
Spy Games is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Competition Shows Ever Made
Mia Kang

Premiered: 2020

Network: Bravo

Spy Games (Bravo, 2020) is an American competitive reality television series. Contestants from all walks of life and from all over the country live together in close quarters while putting their ...more