SURVIVOR Now in its 30th season, viewers have tuned in to the reality game show in droves since 2000 to watch ordinary people physically, mentally and strategically duel with each other in order to win $1 million and the title of Sole Survivor.
AMERICAN IDOL The first televised competition show to let viewers vote on the talent themselves, "Idol" may no longer be a ratings juggernaut, but it still proves exciting.
THE BACHELOR Though the actual long-term success rate remains shockingly low, viewers do seem to love the idea of "the bachelor" selecting from a pool of beautiful women in order to find a wife.
PROJECT RUNWAY Even viewers not into fashion can understand this show's appeal: a reality competition that requires its contestants to actually make something to prove they deserve to win.
REAL HOUSEWIVES OF ORANGE COUNTY The originator of the "Real Housewives" brand, "RHOC" showed viewers that being rich doesn't spare people messed-up lives; oftentimes, it actually makes those messes worse.
JON AND KATE PLUS 8 Viewers tuned in to get a glimpse of how an exceptionally large family operates, but they stayed once Jon and Kate decided to divorce.
JERSEY SHORE The housemates show earned record ratings for MTV, due in large part to controversy of how Italian-Americans on the East Coast were portrayed.
THE OSBOURNES At one time MTV's highest rated show, it offered a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a rock legend and his family. Viewers also tuned in to see if Ozzy was ever not stoned. (He wasn't.)
THE HILLS Originally a spinoff of "Laguna Beach," this semi-scripted series initially followed Lauren Conrad's pursuit of a career in fashion, but slowly degenerated into a series of feuds with Heidi Montag.
THE REAL WORLD Before it regressed to the mean, "The Real World" was one of the first reality shows to explore issues facing young adults: sex, religion, death, politics and even AIDS.
AMAZING RACE Combining a physical reality competition with exotic locales most viewers will never get a chance to see continues to prove a winning formula.
DEADLIEST CATCH This fishing boat-based program offers a rarity for viewers: a docu-series about a dangerous profession. Coast Guard rescue squads have frequently been a part of the show.
BIG BROTHER If you throw a number of volatile personalities into a room together, you can bet people will tune in to watch the explosions.
RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE If Tyra Banks could find the world's next supermodel, why can't RuPaul do the same for drag queens?
PAWN STARS It's hard to say what's more appealing: getting a dose of history in everyday artifacts that are brought in for appraisal, or the interactions of the colorful Harrison family that owns the shop.
AMERICAN CHOPPER Centered on the Teutel family and their shop, the series showcased contrasting styles and verbal arguments between Paul Sr. and his son. Arguments drove ratings until Junior's dismissal from the show.
TOP CHEF Fans of good food love this competition show about aspiring chefs cooking their way to the prize money awarded to the winner.
HERE COMES HONEY BOO BOO Described as both offensive and exploitative, this spinoff of "Toddlers & Tiaras" instantly became must-see-TV and made its 6-year-old star a cultural lightning rod.
JACKASS Who wouldn't want to watch a group of friends torture and humiliate each other? Such is the appeal of "Jackass," which spawned three (and a half) movies and an acting career for Johnny Knoxville.
KEEPING UP WITH THE KARDASHIANS Attracting instant notoriety for a sex tape featuring its star, this Kardashian chronicle has proven to be one of the most popular reality shows of the current era.
DUCK DYNASTY Following a Louisiana family made wealthy by their duck-hunting products, the Robertsons became cultural icons for their ZZ-Top beards and frank yet cheerful outlooks.