Watchworthy

The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made 

Ranker TV
Updated July 23, 2020 456 votes 41 voters 1.3k views 55 items

List Rules Only reality television series that have historically brought excitement along with the standard drama. Non-competitive reality shows only.

The best reality TV shows ever aired are some of the most exciting series to watch on television, but which are the most exciting reality shows of all time? Determining which reality TV 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 shows are the best of them all in terms of excitement?

Would something newer like Bear Grylls: Face the Wild land higher on the list than a classic survival series like Survivorman - or do both pale in excitement to reality series that follow nerve-wracking professions like Deadliest Catch and Cops? For a reality series to be truly exciting, it has to be the kind that depicts either a situation with real consequences for failure, or realism that truly makes the viewer feel like the people on the show might be in actual danger... because, sometimes, they are! The only way to find out which is the best is to vote up your favorite reality 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 show to the list if it's missing and vote for your favorite below! Remember, no competitive reality series, they bring a different kind of excitement all together and you can vote the most exciting reality competition shows here.

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list ordered by
1
Deadliest Catch is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Rick Quashnick, Sig Hansen, Edgar Hansen

Premiered: 2005

Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel, 2005) is an American reality television series. It portrays the real life events aboard fishing vessels in the Bering Sea during the Alaskan king crab, snow ...more
2
Cops is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Andrew Fincher, Joe Guay, Wayne Anderson

Premiered: 1988

Cops (Fox, 1988) is an American documentary-reality legal series and one of the longest-running television programs in America. It follows the activities of police officers by assigning ...more
3
Jackass is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera, Brandon DiCamillo

Premiered: 2000

Jackass is an American reality series, originally shown on MTV from 2000 to 2002, featuring people performing various dangerous, crude, self-injuring stunts and pranks. The show served as a ...more
4
Kitchen Nightmares is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Kitchen Nightmares Gordon Ramsay

Premiered: 2007

Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, 2007) is an American reality television series based on the British show. Chef Gordon Ramsay is invited by the owners to spend a week with a failing restaurant in an ...more
5
Ice Road Truckers is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Alex Debogorski, Thom Beers, Hugh Rowland

Premiered: 2007

Ice Road Truckers (History, 2007) is a reality television series. It features the activities of drivers who operate trucks on seasonal routes crossing frozen lakes and rivers in remote Arctic ...more
6
Dirty Jobs is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Mike Rowe, David M. Barsky, Doug Glover

Premiered: 2003

Dirty Jobs was a TV series on the Discovery Channel in which host Mike Rowe is shown performing difficult, strange, disgusting, or messy occupational duties alongside the typical employees. The ...more
7
River Monsters is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Jeremy Wade, Daniel Göz

Premiered: 2009

River Monsters is a British and American wildlife documentary television programme produced for Animal Planet by Icon Films of Bristol, United Kingdom. Hosted by extreme angler and biologist ...more
8
First Responders Live is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made

Premiered: 2019

First Responders Live (Fox, 2019) is an American documentary-reality television series created by Dick Wolf. Camera crews follow first response teams in day to day operations and capture what ...more
9
Swamp People is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Troy Landry, Jacob Landry, Bruce Mitchell

Premiered: 2010

Swamp People (History, 2010) is an American reality series that follows the day-to-day activities of Louisiana natives living in the swamps of the Atchafalaya River Basin who hunt American ...more
10
Dog the Bounty Hunter is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Leland Blaine Chapman, Lyssa Rae Chapman, Duane Lee Chapman

Premiered: 2004

Dog the Bounty Hunter is an American reality television series on A&E which chronicles Duane "Dog" Chapman's experiences as a bounty hunter. With a few exceptions, the series took ...more
11
The Critical Hour is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
The Critical Hour Thomas M. Scalea, Talat Chughtai, Lorraine Tremblay
The Critical Hour is a medical reality TV show about real medical emergencies. Similar in format to the TV show COPS, it is shown in the United States by the Discovery Communications's Discovery ...more
12
North Woods Law is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Charles Parnell, Glen Annis, Dan Carroll

Premiered: 2012

North Woods Law is an American reality television series that debuted on March 11, 2012, on the Animal Planet. Set in Maine, the show follows numerous game wardens of the Maine Warden Service ...more
13
Trauma: Life in the E.R.... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Chip Demarest, Andy Michaels, Brian Plaisier

Premiered: 1997

Trauma: Life in the E.R. is a medical-based television reality show that formerly ran on TLC from 1997 to 2002 and reruns are currently airing on Discovery Fit & Health. At its peak, Trauma ...more
14
Ax Men is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Thom Beers

Premiered: 2008

Ax Men (History, 2008) is an American reality television series. The program follows the work of several logging crews in the second-growth forests of Northwestern Oregon, Washington and Montana ...more
15
Yukon Men is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made

Premiered: 2012

Yukon Men is an unscripted American cable television series aired on the Discovery Channel. It is produced by Paper Route Productions and has premiered on August 24, 2012. The series details the ...more
16
Ghost Hunters is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves, Grant Wilson

Premiered: 2004

Ghost Hunters is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on October 6, 2004, on Syfy and was revived in 2019 on A&E. The program features paranormal investigators ...more
17
Pit Bulls & Parolees... is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Tia Torres, Tania Torres, Mariah Torres

Premiered: 2009

Pit Bulls & Parolees is an American reality television series on Animal Planet which confronts the misunderstandings of the Pit Bull breed. The series debuted on October 30, 2009. It ...more
18
Survivorman is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Les Stroud

Premiered: 2004

Survivorman is a Canadian-produced television program, broadcast in Canada on the Outdoor Life Network, and internationally on Discovery Channel and Science Channel. The show aired 5 seasons and ...more
19
Nightwatch is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Nightwatch

Premiered: 2015

Nightwatch (A&E, 2015) is a reality series that follows the men and women who keep the citizens of New Orleans safe during the night.
20
Alaska State Troopers is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Marc Graue, Jared Noll, Daron Cooper

Premiered: 2009

Alaska State Troopers is an American documentary television series that airs on National Geographic Channel and premiered on October 14, 2009. It is narrated by Marc Graue. The show follows the ...more
21
Smiley Face Killers: The... is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Mike Donovan, Anthony Duarte, Kevin Gannon

Premiered: 2019

Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice (Oxygen, 2019) is an American crime docuseries created by Oxygen Media. The series follows retired NYPD Detective Kevin Gannon and his team during an ...more
22
Shark Tank is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Kevin O'Leary, Barbara Corcoran, Daymond John

Premiered: 2009

Shark Tank (ABC, 2009) is an American reality television series created by Mark Burnett, and an entry in the Dragons' Den franchise. Aspiring entrepreneur-contestants pitch their business idea ...more
23
Hoarders is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made

Premiered: 2009

Hoarders (A&E, 2009) is an American reality television series that depicts the real-life struggles and treatment of people who suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder.
24
Ghost Adventures is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made
Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin, Nick Groff

Premiered: 2008

Ghost Adventures is an American television series about the paranormal that premiered on October 17, 2008, on the Travel Channel. Produced by MY-Tupelo Entertainment, the program follows ghost ...more
25
Naked and Afraid is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made

Premiered: 2013

Naked and Afraid is an American docudrama series that airs on the Discovery Channel and premiered on June 23, 2013. Each episode chronicles the lives of two survivalists who meet for the first ...more