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The Best Non-fiction TV Shows 

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Updated April 14, 2020 1k votes 171 voters 34.5k views 99 items

List Rules Shows near the top must be only the best Non-fiction TV series.

The very best non-fiction shows on television, ranked from best to worst. This list of the greatest non-fiction shows also includes pictures from the shows when available. Popular non-fiction TV shows have been a staple of television for years, so there's often debate about what the most entertaining non-fiction show of all time is. Don't let your favorite non-fiction television programs in history get to the bottom of the list- be sure to vote them up so they have the chance to reach the top spot. The list of non-fiction television shows below includes information like the program's cast, creator and premiere date when available.

The list you're viewing is made up of many different shows, like Watchdog and FYI.

This list answers the questions, "What is the best non-fiction show of all time?" and "What are the greatest non-fiction shows?"
Data-driven recommendations based on voting from over 40 million monthly visits to Ranker. Try the free app
list ordered by
1
MythBusters is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Jon Lung, Brian Louden

Premiered: 2003

MythBusters is a science entertainment television program created by Peter Rees and produced by Australia's Beyond Television Productions for the Discovery Channel. The series is transmitted by ...more

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2
The Joy of Painting is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Bob Ross, Ben Stahl, Steve Ross

Premiered: 1983

The Joy of Painting is an American half-hour instructional television show hosted by painter Bob Ross which ran from January 11, 1983, until May 17, 1994. In each episode, Ross taught techniques ...more

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3
Trauma: Life in the E.R.... is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
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

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4
Ripley's Believe It or N... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Bruce Campbell, Dean Cain, Marie Osmond

Premiered: 1949

Ripley's Believe It or Not! (Travel Channel, 2019) is a documentary and pseudoarchaeology TV program based on the newspaper feature of the same name. The original series aired in 1949 and has ...more
5
Destination Truth is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
mac1949 added Josh Gates, Gabriel Copeland, Mike Morrell

Premiered: 2007

Destination Truth was a weekly American paranormal reality television series that premiered on June 6, 2007, on Syfy. Produced by Mandt Bros. Productions and Ping Pong Productions, the program ...more

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6
Secrets & Mysteries ... is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Edward Mulhare

Premiered: 1988

Secrets & Mysteries was a television series which originally aired in syndication from 1988 to 1989. It was hosted by acclaimed Irish actor Edward Mulhare and dealt with topics of a ...more
7
Beyond Belief: Fact or F... is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
lalispeter added Jonathan Frakes, Don LaFontaine, James Brolin

Premiered: 1997

Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction is an American television anthology series created by Lynn Lehmann, presented by Dick Clark Productions, and produced and aired by the Fox network from 1997 to ...more

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8
Ancient Aliens is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
lalispeter added Ancient Aliens Robert Clotworthy, Giorgio Tsoukalos, David Childress

Premiered: 2010

Ancient Aliens (History, 2010) is an American television series that presents hypotheses of ancient astronauts and proposes that historical texts, archaeology, and legends contain evidence of ...more

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9
Haunted Lives: True Ghos... is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Jared Rushton, Stacy Keach, Marianne Muellerleile

Premiered: 1991

Haunted Lives: True Ghost Stories was an American paranormal anthology television miniseries that originally broadcast from May 15, 1991 to November 28, 1995, on CBS and UPN. This short-lived ...more

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10
The Awful Truth is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Michael Moore, Karen Duffy

Premiered: 1999

The Awful Truth is a satirical television show that was directed, written, and hosted by filmmaker Michael Moore, and funded by the British broadcaster Channel 4.
11
Biography is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Joan Lunden, Peter Graves, David Hart Smith

Premiered: 1987

Biography is a documentary television series that had three original runs, twice on CBS and the current on A&E then The Biography Channel then FYI. It was originally a half-hour filmed ...more

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12
American Experience is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
MarySSpiegel added David McCullough, David Ogden Stiers, Michael Murphy

Premiered: 1988

American Experience is a television program airing on the Public Broadcasting Service Public television stations in the United States. The program airs documentaries, many of which have won ...more

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13
Fact or Faked: Paranorma... is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
mac1949 added Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files Austin Porter, Jael De Pardo, Ben Hansen

Premiered: 2010

Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files is a paranormal investigation series produced by Base Productions that began airing July 15, 2010, on SyFy. The show follows a team of investigators, led by ...more

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14
Juvies is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Juvies

Premiered: 2007

Juvies is an MTV television show following minors in the Lake County, Indiana Juvenile Justice Complex. The series' first and only season debuted on MTV in February 2007, and has re-aired ...more
15
It's Effin' Science is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
It's Effin' Science

Premiered: 2010

It's Effin' Science was an American television show on G4. It was hosted by Angie Greenup, Marc Horowitz and Chad Zdenek and produced by Renegade Productions. Filming was based in Los Angeles, ...more
16
Psychic Detectives is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Psychic Detectives

Premiered: 2004

Psychic Detectives or Psychic Investigators is a television program produced by StoryHouse Productions for Court TV, as of 2006 in its 5th season. The program documents real-life cases of ...more
17
American Masters is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Julianna Margulies, Laura Linney, William Hurt

Premiered: 1986

American Masters is a PBS television show which produces biographies on artists, actors and writers of the United States who have left a profound impact on the nation's popular culture. It is ...more
18
Celebrity Poker Showdown... is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Dave Foley, Kevin Pollak, Phil Gordon

Premiered: 2003

Celebrity Poker Showdown is a celebrity game show on the cable network Bravo. It was a limited-run series in which celebrities played poker, and ran eight tournaments during its five-season run. ...more
19
Watchdog is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Anne Robinson, Lynn Faulds Wood, Matt Allwright

Premiered: 1980

Watchdog is a BBC television series that investigates viewers' reports of problematic experiences with traders, retailers, and other companies around the UK. It has had great success in changing ...more
20
Eyewitness is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Eyewitness Philip Glenister

Premiered: 1994

Eyewitness is a natural history television series produced by BBC and DK Vision. The series is based on the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness Books series of children's books. Oxfordshire native Guy ...more
21
Campus PD is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Campus PD

Premiered: 2009

Campus PD was an American television show on G4. Campus PD was produced by Cineflix Productions. The show was similar in style and tone to the show COPS. Unlike COPS, Campus PD focused ...more
22
Most Haunted is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
mac1949 added Yvette Fielding, Ciarán O'Keeffe, Derek Acorah

Premiered: 2002

Most Haunted is a British paranormal reality television series. The series was first shown on Living TV between 25 May 2002 and 21 July 2010, a new online edition aired on 31 October 2013 with ...more

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23
Book TV is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows

Premiered: 1998

Book TV is the name given to weekend programming on the American cable network C-SPAN2 airing from 8 a.m. Eastern Time Saturday morning to 8 a.m. Eastern Time Monday morning each week. The 48 ...more
24
Patrick Macnee's Ghost S... is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Patrick Macnee
Have you ever felt a strange presence around you, or heard a thump in the night…or gotten a chill for no reason at all? Hosted by Patrick Macnee, this spine-tingling series investigates various ...more
25
The Real Hustle is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Best Non-fiction TV Shows
Jessica-Jane Clement, Alexis Conran

Premiered: 2006

The Real Hustle is a British television series created by Objective Productions for BBC Three. The show demonstrates confidence and magic tricks, distraction scams and proposition bets performed ...more