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The Most Exciting Reality Shows Ever Made

Updated January 14, 2021 685 votes 44 voters 1.5k views69 items

List RulesOnly 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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  • Deadliest Catch1
    24
    11

    Deadliest Catch

    Rick Quashnick, Sig Hansen

    Premiered2005

    Deadliest Catch (Discovery Channel, 2005) is an American reality television series. It... more on Wikipedia
  • Cops2
    19
    12

    Cops

    Andrew Fincher, Joe Guay

    Premiered1988

    Cops (Fox, 1988) is an American documentary-reality legal series and one of the... more on Wikipedia
  • Dirty Jobs3
    12
    6

    Dirty Jobs

    Mike Rowe, David M. Barsky

    Premiered2003

    Dirty Jobs was a TV series on the Discovery Channel in which host Mike Rowe is shown... more on Wikipedia
  • Jackass4
    14
    11

    Jackass

    Johnny Knoxville, Bam Margera

    Premiered2000

    Jackass is an American reality series, originally shown on MTV from 2000 to 2002, featuring... more on Wikipedia
  • Kitchen Nightmares5
    9
    7

    Kitchen Nightmares

    Gordon Ramsay

    Premiered2007

    Kitchen Nightmares (Fox, 2007) is an American reality television series based on the British... more on Wikipedia
  • Ice Road Truckers6
    13
    12

    Ice Road Truckers

    Alex Debogorski, Thom Beers

    Premiered2007

    Ice Road Truckers (History, 2007) is a reality television series. It features the activities... more on Wikipedia
  • River Monsters7
    11
    11

    River Monsters

    Jeremy Wade, Daniel Göz

    Premiered2009

    River Monsters is a British and American wildlife documentary television programme produced... more on Wikipedia
  • First Responders Live8
    First Responders Live (Fox, 2019) is an American documentary-reality television series created... more on Wikipedia
  • The Critical Hour9
    8
    9

    The Critical Hour

    Thomas M. Scalea, Talat Chughtai

    Premiered2003

    The Critical Hour is a medical reality TV show about real medical emergencies. Similar in... more on Wikipedia
  • Dog the Bounty Hunter10
    7
    11

    Dog the Bounty Hunter

    Leland Blaine Chapman, Lyssa Rae Chapman

    Premiered2004

    Dog the Bounty Hunter is an American reality television series on A&E which chronicles Duane... more on Wikipedia
  • North Woods Law11
    6
    9

    North Woods Law

    Charles Parnell, Glen Annis

    Premiered2012

    North Woods Law is an American reality television series that debuted on March 11, 2012, on... more on Wikipedia
  • Swamp People12
    6
    9

    Swamp People

    Troy Landry, Jacob Landry

    Premiered2010

    Swamp People (History, 2010) is an American reality series that follows the day-to-day... more on Wikipedia
  • Naked and Afraid13
    Naked and Afraid is an American docudrama series that airs on the Discovery Channel and... more on Wikipedia
  • Trauma: Life in the E.R.14
    4
    6

    Trauma: Life in the E.R.

    Chip Demarest, Andy Michaels

    Premiered1997

    Trauma: Life in the E.R. is a medical-based television reality show that formerly ran on TLC... more on Wikipedia
  • Ax Men15
    6
    11

    Ax Men

    Thom Beers

    Premiered2008

    Ax Men (History, 2008) is an American reality television series. The program follows the work... more on Wikipedia
  • Pit Bulls & Parolees16
    5
    9

    Pit Bulls & Parolees

    Tia Torres, Tania Torres

    Premiered2009

    Pit Bulls & Parolees is an American reality television series on Animal Planet which confronts... more on Wikipedia
  • Yukon Men17
    6
    11

    Yukon Men

    Pat Duke

    Premiered2012

    Yukon Men is an unscripted American cable television series aired on the Discovery Channel. It... more on Wikipedia
  • Ghost Hunters18
    8
    13

    Ghost Hunters

    Jason Hawes, Steve Gonsalves

    Premiered2004

    Ghost Hunters is an American paranormal reality television series that premiered on October 6,... more on Wikipedia
  • Nightwatch19
    6
    12

    Nightwatch

    Gavin Istre, Dan Flynn

    Premiered2015

    Nightwatch (A&E, 2015) is a reality series that follows the men and women who keep the... more on Wikipedia
  • Survivorman20
    6
    12

    Survivorman

    Les Stroud

    Premiered2004

    Survivorman is a Canadian-produced television program, broadcast in Canada on the Outdoor Life... more on Wikipedia
  • Man vs. Wild21
    8
    14

    Man vs. Wild

    Bear Grylls, Will Ferrell

    Premiered2006

    Man vs. Wild, also called Born Survivor: Bear Grylls, Ultimate Survival, Survival Game, or... more on Wikipedia
  • American Loggers22
    American Loggers is a show on Discovery Channel. The show follows the Pelletier family from... more on Wikipedia
  • Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice23
    5
    11

    Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice

    Mike Donovan, Anthony Duarte

    Premiered2019

    Smiley Face Killers: The Hunt for Justice (Oxygen, 2019) is an American crime docuseries... more on Wikipedia
  • Alaska State Troopers24
    5
    11

    Alaska State Troopers

    Marc Graue, Jared Noll

    Premiered2009

    Alaska State Troopers is an American documentary television series that airs on National... more on Wikipedia
  • Ghost Adventures25
    6
    15

    Ghost Adventures

    Zak Bagans, Aaron Goodwin

    Premiered2008

    Ghost Adventures is an American television series about the paranormal that premiered on... more on Wikipedia