Skip to main content

Main Area

Main

Best and worst talk shows in TV history

  • Best and worst talk shows in TV history
    1/ Sixteen String Jack Productions

    Best and worst talk shows in TV history

    From news and political commentary to gossip and tabloid fodder, talk shows have been entertaining viewers with a wide range of topics for decades. The variety of styles and formatting is endless—there are late-night talk shows with funny opening monologues, morning programs with goofy stunts, cable news shows with heated political debates, and daytime talk shows featuring sensational family dramas.

    As a collection of brand new talk shows debuts this year hosted by prominent celebs such as Kelly Clarkson, Alec Baldwin, and Hasan Minhaj, Stacker would like to tip its hat to the best—as well as the worst—talk shows throughout history. To come up with the list, Stacker relied on IMDb data, using its rankings to order shows. Included are English-language programs released in the U.S.; anything before 1990 required a minimum of 250 votes for consideration whereas shows after 1990 needed a minimum of 2,500 votes.

    Read on to see the complete list of the talk shows, beginning with the lowest-ranked programs and moving up to those with the highest ratings.

    ALSO: Lifetime movies ranked best to worst

  • #77. The 700 Club
    2/ Christian Broadcasting Network

    #77. The 700 Club

    IMDb rating: 2.0

    Years: 1966–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Aired on the Christian Broadcasting Network every weekday for nearly 40 years, the conservative religious talk show is one of the longest-running television programs in history. It stars evangelical host Pat Robertson, a former Southern Baptist minister and 1988 presidential candidate, who leads emotional episodes filled with gospel music, sermons, group prayers, and interview segments.

  • #76. Last Call with Carson Daly
    3/ NBC Studios

    #76. Last Call with Carson Daly

    IMDb rating: 2.8

    Years: 2002–

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    “Last Call" debuted in 2002 as NBC’s post-show encore to the “Late Night With Conan O’Brien." Carson Daly’s program began as your standard in-studio variety show featuring interviews and a house band. The current iteration of the show, which is in its 17th season, features host Carson Daly taking to the streets of Los Angeles and other cities in documentary-style interviews and musical performances.


     

  • #75. The View
    4/ American Broadcasting Company

    #75. The View

    IMDb rating: 2.8

    Years: 1997–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Conceived by legendary broadcast journalist Barbara Walters, “The View" is a daytime talk show featuring a panel of women debating the day’s most topical issues. The panel is intentionally comprised of women of varying ages, backgrounds, and political orientations with the goal of unpacking tough social and political issues. The original hosting panel included Meredith Vieira, Star Jones, Debbie Matenopoulos, and Joy Behar.

  • #74. Fox and Friends
    5/ Fox News

    #74. Fox and Friends

    IMDb rating: 3.4

    Years: 1998–

    Typical episode length: 180 min

    Fox and Friends is a conservative morning talk show hosted by Steve Doocy, Ainsley Earhardt, and Brian Kilmeade. Recurring segments include “Normal or Nuts," in which a psychiatrist answers viewer questions posed on social media; and “So Sue Me," which features a trial lawyer weighing in on current events. President Donald Trump, who is reportedly a fan of the show, in 2017 called it the “most influential news show."


     

  • #73. The O'Reilly Factor
    6/ U.S. Air Force // Wikicommons

    #73. The O'Reilly Factor

    IMDb rating: 3.5

    Years: 1996–2017

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Hosted by political commentator Bill O’Reilly, “The O’Reilly Factor" was a long-running cable news program on Fox News. The conservative and often bombastic host was known for his controversial takes on subjects. In one of the show’s more infamous episodes, fellow talk show hosts Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg walked off set after O’Reilly declared that “Muslims killed us on 9/11." The show ended in April of 2017 after a string of sexual assault allegations emerged against O’Reilly.

  • #72. Bill Nye Saves the World
    7/ Bunim-Murray Productions

    #72. Bill Nye Saves the World

    IMDb rating: 3.5

    Years: 2017–

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    “Bill Nye Saves the World" is a Netflix-produced talk show featuring mechanical engineer and science educator Bill Nye (formerly of PBS' “Bill Nye The Science Guy"). Nye asks guests probing questions about science and participates in lab experiments. Fans say the show “inspires awe in its viewers as opposed to lecturing them," while critics accuse it of being “lame“ and “corny."

  • #71. Wendy: The Wendy Williams Show
    8/ Debmar-Mercury

    #71. Wendy: The Wendy Williams Show

    IMDb rating: 3.6

    Years: 2008–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    This celebrity news and gossip talk show, hosted by the straight-shooting and sometimes cheeky Wendy Williams, begins with a "Hot Topics" segment where the host weighs in on the latest tabloid dramas. Following that, Williams rotates through various feature segments that include guests interviews, man-on-the-street bits, and audience Q&As involving advice about relationships and other issues.

  • #70. The Talk
    9/ CBS Productions

    #70. The Talk

    IMDb rating: 3.7

    Years: 2010–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “The Talk" is a daily program on CBS that features a panel of women discussing news topics and expressing their opinions about current events as seen through the lens of motherhood. The show, modeled after the popular British talk show “Loose Women," was created by “Rosanne" star Sara Gilbert and is co-hosted with comedian Sheryl Underwood, music manager Sharon Osbourne, and rapper-musician Eve.

  • #69. The Jay Leno Show
    10/ Air Force

    #69. The Jay Leno Show

    IMDb rating: 3.7

    Years: 2009–2010

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    The Jay Leno Show“ was a poorly received late-night show that ran for a brief four-month stint between two incarnations of its much more successful counterpart, “The Tonight Show With Jay Leno." The program was conceived as an attempt to keep Leno at the network amid a late-night feud and contract issues with Conan O’Brien. The program included your standard opening monologue, celebrity interviews, musical performances, and comedy sketches. In 2010, Entertainment Weekly listed the failed show #1 on its list of “TV's 50 Biggest Bombs Ever.“

  • #68. Jerry Springer
    11/ Multimedia Entertainment Inc.

    #68. Jerry Springer

    IMDb rating: 3.8

    Years: 1991–2018

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    An early pioneer of sensational tabloid talk shows, “The Jerry Springer Show" features ordinary people confronting romantic partners, friends, spouses, and family members in a salacious manner about scandalous topics. Especially notorious guests have included a man who was married to a horse, a mother-daughter dominatrix team, and a woman who claimed she’d broken a world record by sleeping with 251 men in 10 hours. While new episodes are no longer being produced, reruns and unaired episodes are still played regularly.

  • #67. The Rosie O'Donnell Show
    12/ Dan Cox // Flickr

    #67. The Rosie O'Donnell Show

    IMDb rating: 3.9

    Years: 1996–2002

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Created and produced by comedian Rosie O'Donnell, the playful and sometimes goofy talk show involved interviews, audience gags, comedic segments, and musical performances from the house band “The McDLTs." One of the more popular segments was a bit called “Kids Are Punny," in which O’Donnell read jokes on air that were mailed in by children.


     

  • #66. Dr. Phil
    13/ Harpo Productions

    #66. Dr. Phil

    IMDb rating: 4.0

    Years: 2002–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Once a recurring consultant on “The Oprah Winfrey Show," Phil McGraw launched his own program in 2002 in which the prominent psychologist offers his advice on marriage, finance, weight loss, parenting, and various mental health topics. Over the years, the tabloid talk show has grown increasingly sensational. Memorable guests have included a mother-daughter sugarbaby team, a woman who thought she was pregnant with baby Jesus, and the internet-famous “Cash Me Outside" girl who now goes by the rap name Bhad Bhabie.


     

  • #65. The Tyra Banks Show
    14/ Bankable Productions

    #65. The Tyra Banks Show

    IMDb rating: 4.1

    Years: 2005–2010

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    This lively daytime talk show, which aired in the mid-aughts with supermodel host Tyra Banks, offered viewers an eclectic mix of pop culture commentary, relationship and body image advice, celebrity interviews, and wacky in-house stunts. Segments on the show included noteworthy moments like Banks teaching the audience how to burp, stripping down to her just her underwear, and burning bras with her audience.


     

  • #64. Maury
    15/ MoPo Productions

    #64. Maury

    IMDb rating: 4.3

    Years: 1991–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Another tabloid-style talk show, Maury (originally titled “The Maury Povich Show") deals with themes including teen pregnancies, infidelity, serial cheaters, pornography addictions, strange diseases, bizarre phobias, alcoholism, domestic violence, and other sensational topics. The show’s most common theme is paternity testing, with titles that have included “You Stole My Sperm … But That’s not My Baby," and “Swinging Gone Wrong! Which Many Is My Baby Dad?"


     

  • #63. Hannity
    16/ Fox News Channel

    #63. Hannity

    IMDb rating: 4.4

    Years: 2009–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    This conservative Fox News show hosted by political commentator Sean Hannity is comprised of an opening monologue followed by news clips, political analysis, and panel discussions of current events. The charismatic host—a self-professed Trump supporter who’s been accused at times of being a “mouthpiece" of the administration—isn’t afraid of controversy. He’s received praise and criticism for his promotion of conspiracy theories including birtherism, Uranium One sales, the murder of Seth Rich, voter fraud, deep state anti-Trump efforts, and numerous Hillary Clinton theories. He also received pushback in 2017 for defending Fox News CEO Roger Ailes amid sexual harassment allegations.

  • #62. Live! With Kelly
    17/ WABC

    #62. Live! With Kelly

    IMDb rating: 4.7

    Years: 1983–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    For 35 years and running, “Live! With Kelly And Ryan" (originally titled “Live With Regis And Kathie Lee") has been entertaining daytime viewers with the hosts‘ coffee table chat, goofy skits, and outlandish on-the-street sketches. The show, broadcast locally until 1988, first featured Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford. Kelly Ripa joined in 2001 after Gifford’s departure. In 2011, Philbin announced his retirement and Ripa has had two permanent co-hosts including Michael Strahan and current star Ryan Seacrest.


     

  • #61. Good Morning America
    18/ American Broadcasting Company (ABC)

    #61. Good Morning America

    IMDb rating: 5.0

    Years: 1975–

    Typical episode length: 120 min

    Ever since its debut in the mid-’70s, ABC’s “Good Morning America" has been vying with NBC’s “Today" to take over as the top morning news show. The show, which is currently hosted by Robin Roberts, George Stephanopoulos, and Michael Strahan, nudged its rival into second place several times over the years, particularly after Diane Sawyer came on board in 1999. Part of the program’s schtick has been airing from unique locations such as the White House, the Pentagon, the Vatican, and the Tower of London—“Good Morning America" was even the first to host a live program from a wartime aircraft carrier.


     

  • #60. Today
    19/ NBC News

    #60. Today

    IMDb rating: 5.1

    Years: 1952–

    Typical episode length: 240 min

    Coming in just slightly higher in ratings than “Good Morning America" is “Today," a four-hour morning news program which precedes GMA by about 20 years. The first two hours of the show, currently co-anchored by Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb, are dedicated to news summaries and weather reports. The next two hours are essentially their own shows with different hosts under the same umbrella. In 2017, co-anchor Matt Lauer was fired after sexual harassment allegations surfaced. Eleven months later, Megyn Kelly’s third-hour show was canceled after remarks she made condoning blackface.


     

  • #59. The Oprah Winfrey Show
    20/ Harpo Productions

    #59. The Oprah Winfrey Show

    IMDb rating: 5.1

    Years: 1986–2011

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Oprah Winfrey, who was born to a low-income teenage mom in Mississippi, began her career as a local news anchor on TV in Nashville and Baltimore before landing a morning talk show in Chicago. She is worth $3 billion today and considered one of the most powerful people in the world. Her talk show, which aired for 25 years, focused on outreach and self-improvement with segments covering relationship advice, family therapy, educational segments, book clubs, interviews, and charity promotions.


     

  • #58. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno
    21/ Big Dog Productions

    #58. The Tonight Show with Jay Leno

    IMDb rating: 5.3

    Years: 1992–2014

    Typical episode length: 62 min

    “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno“ aired on NBC for 22 years save for a brief intermission in 2010 when the host stepped away to do his own show, which proved much less successful. Leno replaced long-time host Johnny Carson and spent most of his career competing against his NBC rival David Letterman in the same time slot. The late-night format included a funny opening monologue followed by guest interviews, comedy skits, and musical performances.

  • #57. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore
    22/ Busboy Productions

    #57. The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore

    IMDb rating: 5.6

    Years: 2015–2016

    Typical episode length: 22 min

    This short-lived Comedy Central talk show was a spinoff of “The Daily Show" featuring Larry Wilmore who’d held a recurring role as that show’s “Senior Black Correspondent." Wilmore’s program started out strong, but ratings dropped sharply after Jon Stewart left “The Daily Show." Recently, the host has been involved as a producer for ABC’s “Black-ish“ and co-creator of HBO’s “Insecure."

  • #56. Larry King Live
    23/ Cable News Network (CNN)

    #56. Larry King Live

    IMDb rating: 5.7

    Years: 1985–2010

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “Larry King Live" was an evening news show that ran on CNN for 25 years, making it the network’s longest-running program. More than a million viewers tuned in each night to watch the easy-going host interview politicians, celebrities, athletes, diplomats, and heads of state. In the show’s final episode, which garnered more than 2.24 million viewers, there were surprise appearances by President Barack Obama, former President Bill Clinton, Barbara Walters, Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric, and others.

  • #55. The Steve Wilkos Show
    24/ Jwhite456 // Wikicommons

    #55. The Steve Wilkos Show

    IMDb rating: 5.7

    Years: 2007–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “The Steve Wilkos Show" is a morbidly sensational tabloid talk show similar to “The Jerry Springer Show" and “Maury." The host, who began as head of security on Springer’s show, was given his own program after his "Steve to the Rescue" bit proved popular with audiences. The program’s shocking episodes often deal with confronting alleged criminals about domestic abuse, child abuse, and sexual violence with episodes like “I Know You Burned My Baby" and “If I Don’t Hit Her, She Don’t Listen."


     

  • #54. The President Show
    25/ 3 Arts Entertainment

    #54. The President Show

    IMDb rating: 5.7

    Years: 2017–

    Typical episode length: 21 min

    This Comedy Central show, which spoofs the Trump administration, features Peter Grosz as Vice President Mike Pence and Anthony Atamanuik as President Donald Trump. Each episode starts out with a mock press conference followed by live and pre-taped skits in the “Oval Office," “Mar-A-Lago," or on-location at various places as the hosts interact with the public in character.


     

  • #53. Meet the Press
    26/ NBC News

    #53. Meet the Press

    IMDb rating: 5.8

    Years: 1947–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “Meet The Press" is a morning news talk show on NBC that’s been running since 1947, making it the longest-running show on television. Currently hosted by political commentator Chuck Todd, the program bears little resemblance to its 1940s incarnation though it still features news analysis and deep dives such as Todd’s "Data Download" segment. Every U.S. president since John F. Kennedy has appeared on the show, along with infamous world leaders such as Fidel Castro.


     

  • #52. The Young Turks
    27/ tytvault // Wikicommons

    #52. The Young Turks

    IMDb rating: 5.8

    Years: 2005–

    Typical episode length: 120 min

    “The Young Turks" is a popular, controversial YouTube news program on the TYT Network. It features Turkish host Cenk Uygur, a Republican-turned-“independent progressive," and Ana Kasparian, a progressive commentator who’s pointed to their willingness to “criticize both sides, whether they’re democrats or republicans."


     

  • #51. Fashion Police
    28/ E! Entertainment Television

    #51. Fashion Police

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    Years: 1994-2017

    Typical episode length: 30 min (2010–2012); 60 min (2012–2017)

    Originally aired as “Fashion Review" in 1994, this snarky celebrity gossip show called out the rich and famous for their poor fashion choices, among other faux pas. “Fashion Police" aired on the E! Network and was hosted by comedian Joan Rivers (as well as co-hosts and successors Melissa Rivers, Giuliana Rancic, George Kotsiopoulos, and Kelly Osbourne). Recurring bits included segments such as “Starlet or Streetwalker" and “360 Degree Glam Cam."


     

  • #50. The Rachel Maddow Show
    29/ IMDb

    #50. The Rachel Maddow Show

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    Years: 2008–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Hosted by liberal pundit and political commentator Rachel Maddow, this MSNBC talk show covers breaking news stories, current events, and political analysis using a combination of monologues, guest interviews, and panel discussions. Maddow started out as a radio host, gaining early fame in the late aughts for her ultra-progressive show on the Air America network. She’s been a harsh critic of President Trump, and in 2017 was the most-watched cable news show among anti-Trump viewers.


     

  • #49. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee
    30/ Jax Media

    #49. Full Frontal with Samantha Bee

    IMDb rating: 6.0

    Years: 2016–

    Typical episode length: 21 min

    Full Frontal with Samantha Bee" is a comedic news talk show on TBS that satirizes current events through a liberal and sometimes edgy lens. The late-night show has been nominated for dozens of awards and won an Emmy in 2017 for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. It has also been the subject of several controversies including a time when advertisers pulled out after Bee called Ivanka Trump a four-letter word on air.


     

  • #48. The Tom Green Show
    31/ JD Lasica // Flickr

    #48. The Tom Green Show

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    Years: 1994–2000

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    The Tom Green Show" was a popular, stunt-based variety show in the mid- and late-‘90s that featured the host pulling pranks on strangers and inviting guests to his studio for interviews and shock comedy bits. Tom Green was known for outlandish stunts that included sucking on a cow's teat and throwing plastic baby dolls at passing cars. One of his gags involving a dead moose was even referenced by rapper Eminem in his 2000 hit “The Real Slim Shady." The show stopped production in 2000 when Green was diagnosed with testicular cancer.


     

  • #47. Chelsea Lately
    32/ Borderline Amazing Productions

    #47. Chelsea Lately

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    Years: 2007–2014

    Typical episode length: 22 min

    “Chelsea Lately" was an adults-only, late-night comedy talk show on E! that featured celebrity interviews, gossip, roundtable discussions, and one-liners from her assistant Chuy Bravo (actor Jesus Melgoza). During the show’s seven-year run, Handler was known for her bold attitude and willingness to ask highly personal questions, often giving her guests a hard time like when she told Justin Bieber he smelled like Doritos.


     

  • #46. Late Night with Seth Meyers
    33/ Broadway Video

    #46. Late Night with Seth Meyers

    IMDb rating: 6.1

    Years: 2014–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Comedian and “SNL" vet Seth Meyers took over the “Late Night Show“ for Jimmy Fallon in 2014, becoming the fourth host of the long-running NBC franchise. In his first four years at the helm, Meyers hosted more than 750 episodes and created “A Closer Look," a monologue segment in which he offers humorous political analysis and commentary.

  • #45. Chelsea
    34/ Netflix

    #45. Chelsea

    IMDb rating: 6.2

    Years: 2016–2017

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    After a brief hiatus following her signoff from “Chelsea Lately," comedian Chelsea Handler launched a new show on Netflix in 2016 that ran for two seasons. Unlike the E! program, which focused primarily on celebrities and tabloid fodder, her second show had a more serious tone that suited her correlated documentary, “Chelsea Does." The show was not renewed for a third season, and Handler announced she would be focusing on activism and writing books.


     

  • #44. The Arsenio Hall Show
    35/ Arsenio Hall Communications

    #44. The Arsenio Hall Show

    IMDb rating: 6.4

    Years: 1989–1994

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “The Arsenio Hall Show" was a late-night talk show in the early ‘90s known for its opening act in which the announcer would hold a 10-second-long “Oooooo!" in “Arsenio" as the host rushed onto the stage, pumping his fist in the air and beginning his monologue. A selection of audience members (dubbed the “Dog Pound") would also pump their fists and yell, “"Wuff, Wuff, Wuff." The high-energy show featured comedy skits, musical performances, and guest interviews. Bill Clinton’s famous saxophone performance—a moment that turned the polls in his first presidential runs and is often credited as helping him win—took place on Hall’s show.


     

  • #43. The Late Late Show with James Corden
    36/ Fulwell 73

    #43. The Late Late Show with James Corden

    IMDb rating: 6.5

    Years: 2015–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    After Craig Ferguson stepped down in 2014, James Corden took over the “Late Late Show," becoming the fourth host of the CBS franchise. The British host’s interview style is similar to UK talk shows wherein he interviews everyone at once and forgoes his desk, typically wheeling his chair around to sit next to his guests by the couch. The show is best known for his “Carpool Karaoke" sketches, where he invites famous people to sing in an automobile with him.


     

  • #42. The Merv Griffin Show
    37/ NBC

    #42. The Merv Griffin Show

    IMDb rating: 6.7

    Years: 1962–1986

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    In the nearly quarter-century that his show was on the air, Merv Griffin interviewed more than 5,000 guests, offering viewers intimate discussions and more in-depth conversations than many talk shows of the time. The host aimed to have a wide variety of guests in each episode, mixing politicians with comedians, actors, scientists, artists, and other types to keep things interesting. Famous guests included Rosa Parks, Timothy Leary, Whitney Houston, Gore Vidal, and Andy Warhol.


     

  • #41. The Man Show
    38/ Jackhole Industries

    #41. The Man Show

    IMDb rating: 6.8

    Years: 1999–2004

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    Aired on Comedy Central for five years, “The Man Show" was a raunchy, often controversial talk show program hosted by Adam Carolla and Jimmy Kimmel that spoofed and celebrated stereotypical male exploits. A group of scantily clad women (the “Juggy Dance Squad") opened the show and regular bits included "The Monkey Bar," where chimpanzees did human tasks, and "Wheel of Destiny," where prizes included “Adam Pees on Your Wallet" and “Wheelbarrow of Porn."


     

  • #40. Jimmy Kimmel Live!
    39/ ABC Studios

    #40. Jimmy Kimmel Live!

    IMDb rating: 6.8

    Years: 2003–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    The same year Jimmy Kimmel left “The Man Show," ABC launched “Jimmy Kimmel Live!," which is currently the network’s longest-running late-night talk show. The program follows a standard late-night format with an opening monologue and celebrity guests; however, Kimmel is especially prone to recurring skits and gags. These include things like “Mean Tweets," in which celebrities read nasty tweets fans have posted; and “Hey Jimmy Kimmel, I Told My Kids I Ate All Their Halloween Candy," in which parents pretend to steal their kids' candy and record their reactions.


     

  • #39. Late Show with David Letterman
    40/ Worldwide Pants

    #39. Late Show with David Letterman

    IMDb rating: 6.9

    Years: 1993–2015

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    David Letterman was the original host of CBS’s “Late Show" franchise, launching the series after leaving NBC where he’d been doing “Late Night with David Letterman" for more than a decade. The host, often dubbed the “King of Late Night," was known for unconventional, often absurdist, humor and his infamous “Late Show Top Ten" lists. As CNN’s Todd Leopold wrote: “Dave dropped things off tall buildings. He put on suits made of Velcro and Alka-Seltzer. He made stars of deli owners, book publicists, and minor staff members. If the bits weren't polished, all the better: it made for more laughter, sometimes the uncomfortable kind."


     

  • #38. Inside the NFL
    41/ HBO Sports

    #38. Inside the NFL

    IMDb rating: 7.0

    Years: 1977–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    This weekly sports talk show has aired since 1977, first on HBO and then on Showtime. The series is currently hosted by sportscaster James Brown, retired Giants quarterback Phil Simms, retired quarterback Boomer Esiason, and former linebacker Ray Lewis. The program features highlights of the week’s main games, roundups, recaps, news, and current events.


     

  • #37. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon
    42/ Broadway Video

    #37. Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

    IMDb rating: 7.0

    Years: 2009–2014

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Prior to Seth Meyers and after Conan O’Brien, Jimmy Fallon spent several years holding the reins at NBC’s “Late Night Show" franchise. The former “SNL" comedian brought the well-received house band The Roots to the show, and often incorporated musical comedy numbers into his sketches. During its run, the show was nominated for six Emmys, one of which it won for Outstanding Short Form Picture Editing.


     

  • #36. The David Letterman Show
    43/ Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff // Wikicommons

    #36. The David Letterman Show

    IMDb rating: 7.1

    Years: 1980

    Typical episode length: 90 min

    Prior to his hugely successful late-night career, David Letterman hosted this morning talk show program that only ran for a few months. Although the show was a flop, Letterman managed to leverage the cancellation to his advantage. He used its final three weeks to launch a “Have the David Letterman Show in Your Own Home" contest. It was wildly popular—and the following year, NBC paid him $1 million to agree to not work with another network while they figured out what to do with him.


     

  • #35. The Mike Douglas Show
    44/ Westinghouse Broadcasting Company

    #35. The Mike Douglas Show

    IMDb rating: 7.2

    Years: 1961–1982

    Typical episode length: 75 min

    This daytime talk show, hosted by one-time Big Band singer Mike Douglas, ran for over 20 years, showcasing a mix of light-hearted conversation, musical performances, and interviews rooted in the week’s top news events. It had moments of controversy, such as a guest who got in hot water after satirizing First Lady Jackie Kennedy, but overall it was a fairly tame, good-natured variety program.


     

  • #34. Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show
    45/ Time Telepictures Television

    #34. Ellen: The Ellen DeGeneres Show

    IMDb rating: 7.2

    Years: 2003–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “The Ellen DeGeneres Show" is a fun and often goofy daytime talk show featuring comedy sketches, celebrity interviews, games, prizes, musical performances, giveaways, charity promotions, and recurring gags. Popular ongoing segments include “Oh Hair No!," in which fans send in photos of haircuts gone wrong; “This Plus That," where audience members dance to offbeat sound effects; and “Just KID-ink," in which Ellen presents silly drawings by children. The show has won 59 Daytime Emmy Awards and 17 People's Choice Awards.


     

  • #33. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert
    46/ CBS Television Studios

    #33. The Late Show with Stephen Colbert

    IMDb rating: 7.4

    Years: 2015–

    Typical episode length: 41 min

    When David Letterman retired after more than 20 years hosting the show, comedian Stephen Colbert took over the reins at NBC. Already well-known for his work on “The Daily Show" and its spinoff “The Colbert Report," the show was fairly well-received out of the gate. Its ratings climbed even more once Colbert shifted to a more political approach. The Trump administration proved to be a boon to ratings: These days, the program regularly spoofs the White House and its top officials.


     

  • #32. The Jeselnik Offensive
    47/ Central Productions

    #32. The Jeselnik Offensive

    IMDb rating: 7.5

    Years: 2013–2013

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    Hosted by stand-up comedian Anthony Jeselnik, this short-lived Comedy Central talk show featured an edgy opening monologue that often involved sensitive, potentially offensive issues. Monologue references during the program’s run included a park named after a Ku Klux Klan founder, and a joke about a mass shooter attempting to beat someone’s murder record. Recurring segments included “Elderly Shaming, What's their problem?" and “Defending your Tweet."


     

  • #31. The Jim Jefferies Show
    48/ Nugget Productions

    #31. The Jim Jefferies Show

    IMDb rating: 7.5

    Years: 2017–

    Typical episode length: 21 min

    Jim Jefferies' weekly satirical talk show on Comedy Central spoofs news and current events, breaking down the headlines from the week and analyzing them with humor. The opening episode, titled “Worldwide Racism," included an analysis of President Trump’s alleged authoritarian tendencies, dissected Holland’s controversial Black Pete tradition, and unpacked the current state of racism in the United States.
     

  • #30. Late Night with David Letterman
    49/ Carson Productions

    #30. Late Night with David Letterman

    IMDb rating: 7.5

    Years: 1982–1993

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Before the “Late Show," David Letterman spent 11 years at NBC. There, he established his late-night voice and carved out a name for himself. It was here he debuted his famous "Top Ten List" (later to become CBS’s “Late Show Top Ten“) and performed recurring skits like “Stupid Human Tricks" and “Viewer Mail."


     

  • #29. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon
    50/ Broadway Video

    #29. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon

    IMDb rating: 7.5

    Years: 2014–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    In 2014, Jimmy Fallon left NBC’s “Late Night Show" to take over “The Tonight Show" after Jay Leno’s second departure. On top of Fallon’s infamous "Lip Sync Battles" and other musical bits, the host likes having his guests play live family games such as charades, Pictionary, and Catchphrase. He is also prone to nostalgia sketches and has hosted several cast reunion episodes including “California Dream" and “Saved By The Bell."


     

  • #28. Real Time with Bill Maher
    51/ Bill Maher Productions

    #28. Real Time with Bill Maher

    IMDb rating: 7.6

    Years: 2003–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Real Time with Bill Maher" is an HBO program hosted by liberal comedian Bill Maher who began his career on Comedy Central’s “Politically Incorrect." The charismatic, often bombastic host, who’s been outspoken about his support of pot legalization, atheism, and animal rights, is best known for a recurring segment called “New Rules," in which he makes humorous commentary about the week’s news events. Maher has been the subject of numerous controversies, including a major flap in 2017 when he used the N-word on air.


     

  • #27. Soul Train
    52/ Cornelius-Griffey Entertainment Inc.

    #27. Soul Train

    IMDb rating: 7.9

    Years: 1971–2006

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    This musical variety show, which launched in the early ‘70s and ran all the way up until 2006, featured music and dance performances by artists rooted primarily in R&B, soul, pop, and hip-hop. In its 35-year run, the show was often called the “black American Bandstand," although its original host and creator Don Cornelius refuted the title, saying the show was for everybody. It held the title of America’s longest-running first-run, nationally syndicated program until 2016 when “Entertainment Tonight" took over that title.


     

  • #26. Eye on Entertainment
    53/ Eye on Excellence Productions

    #26. Eye on Entertainment

    IMDb rating: 7.9

    Years: 2005–

    Typical episode length: varies

    Eye on Entertainment" is an interview-based in which host Dawna Lee Heising talks to members of the entertainment industry in an attempt to shed insight into their common traits. The focus is primarily on independent film and television stars with guests such as Gregory Blair, Adam Steigert, Ron Becks, and Edwin Garcia.


     

  • #25. Tucker Carlson Tonight
    54/ Fox News Channel

    #25. Tucker Carlson Tonight

    IMDb rating: 7.9

    Years: 2016–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Hosted by conservative political commentator Tucker Carlson, this Fox News talk show features a mashup of political analysis, current events, panels, guest interviews, and monologues by the host. Carlson, who is also the co-founder of the right-leaning website “The Daily Caller," is hugely popular among fans though he’s also garnered criticism from others for presenting what his detractors call racists points of view.


     

  • #24. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman
    55/ RadicalMedia

    #24. My Next Guest Needs No Introduction with David Letterman

    IMDb rating: 8.0

    Years: 2018–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Just a few years after retiring from late-night TV, mega-popular host David Letterman launched this Netflix series, in which he interviews world leaders and other major celebrities with an intimate, personal approach. While the show is occasionally humorous, it has a much more subdued tone than his late-night work. Discussions tend to probe his guests more deeply and intelligently.


     

  • #23. Da Ali G Show
    56/ Four by Two Films

    #23. Da Ali G Show

    IMDb rating: 8.0

    Years: 2000–2004

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    Da Ali G Show," which ran for one season in the U.K. before getting picked up by HBO, was a satirical show wherein host Sacha Baron Cohen assumed fake identities and interviewed real-life people. Cohen used three personalities for his pranks: streetwise gang leader Ali G, who lived in his grandmother's garage; Kazakh reporter Borat Sagdiyev, son of Asimbala Sagdiyev and Boltok the Rapist; and flamboyant fashion lover Brüno Gehard, a gay fashion journalist who wanted to become the “biggest Austrian superstar since Hitler."


     

  • #22. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien
    57/ Ryan Olsen // Flickr

    #22. The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien

    IMDb rating: 8.1

    Years: 2009–2010

    Typical episode length: 62 min

    Conan O’Brien in 2009 was promoted from NBC’s “Late Night," which he’d been hosting since 1993, to the network’s premiere program “The Tonight Show"—a position he’d allegedly been promised back in 2001. Six months later, however, O’Brien left the show amid a network feud with Jay Leno.


     

  • #21. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee
    58/ Sony Pictures Television

    #21. Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee

    IMDb rating: 8.1

    Years: 2012–

    Typical episode length: 20 min

    Hosted by longtime funnyman Jerry Seinfeld, “Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee" is a low-key Netflix series (originally on Crackle) where the host invites fellow comedians to drive around in vintage cars with him and eat food or drink coffee at nearby cafes. It has been nominated for two Emmys and won three Producers Guild of America Awards.


     

  • #20. Conan
    59/ Conaco

    #20. Conan

    IMDb rating: 8.1

    Years: 2010–

    Typical episode length: 42 min

    After the flap with NBC and Jay Leno, late-night host Conan O’Brien permanently separated from his long-time network and migrated to TBS where their version titled “Conan" has lived on since 2010. The 60-minute program is similar to its predecessors albeit for a younger audience, with a monologue followed by celebrity interviews and a musical guest.


     

  • #19. Sneak Previews
    60/ WTTW National Productions

    #19. Sneak Previews

    IMDb rating: 8.2

    Years: 1975–1996

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    “Sneak Previews" was Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert’s first film-review show, which ran on PBS. The critics, who had a rocky relationship in their early years, discussed the latest movies each week, dissecting what they did or didn’t like. At the end of each episode, one of the critics would sign off by saying, “See you at the movies." The show continued after the pair left in 1982, though it never held the same degree of popularity.


     

  • #18. Pardon the Interruption
    61/ Delaywaves // Wikicommons

    #18. Pardon the Interruption

    IMDb rating: 8.2

    Years: 2001–

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    “Pardon the Interruption" (often simply referred to as “PTI") is a popular ESPN sports talk show hosted by Tony Kornheiser and Michael Wilbon. The funny and animated co-hosts debate the day’s top news stories in sports, arguing over key players and delivering impassioned opinions about football, baseball, basketball, hockey, and other sports.


     

  • #17. Late Night with Conan O'Brien
    62/ Broadway Video

    #17. Late Night with Conan O'Brien

    IMDb rating: 8.2

    Years: 1993–2009

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    Prior to his TBS show “Conan," the popular late-night comedian spent 16 years performing on NBC’s “Late Night" franchise after its original host David Letterman moved to the network’s “Tonight Show." O’Brien’s humor was goofy and often edgy, with lots of wacky stunts and silly sketches. The host spent time riffing with his house band’s Max Weinberg and frequently did skits with Amy Poehler before she joined “SNL."


     

  • #16. SportsCenter
    63/ ESPN

    #16. SportsCenter

    IMDb rating: 8.3

    Years: 1979–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “SportsCenter" is ESPN’s flagship sports program that airs up to 12 times a day under different editions, offering viewers up-to-date clips of major highlights from games, score reviews, and general sporting news. There are currently more than three dozen anchors that host the show’s various iterations, including long-timers John Anderson, Linda Cohn, Suzy Kolber, David Lloyd, Rece Davis, and Trey Wingo.


     

  • #15. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson
    64/ Worldwide Pants

    #15. The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson

    IMDb rating: 8.3

    Years: 2005–2015

    Typical episode length: 40 min

    The third incarnation of CBS’s “Late Late Show" franchise, Craig Ferguson followed in the footsteps of his predecessors Tom Snyder and Craig Kilborn. The late-night show, which ran for a decade with mostly positive reviews, featured a funny cold open that often include his animatronic skeleton sidekick Geoff Peterson, followed by guests, music, sketches, gags, and other offbeat humor.


     

  • #14. The Ricky Gervais Show
    65/ Wildbrain Entertainment

    #14. The Ricky Gervais Show

    IMDb rating: 8.3

    Years: 2010–2012

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    The Ricky Gervais Show" was an animated version of the host’s popular British radio program of the same name. Gervais, who is perhaps most famous for being a co-creator of “The Office," performed the show with fellow comedians Stephen Merchant and Karl Pilkington. It was essentially a cartoon that followed a casual, comedic conversation between the three men, facilitating jokes along the way.


     

  • #13. Good Mythical Morning
    66/ Mythical Entertainment

    #13. Good Mythical Morning

    IMDb rating: 8.4

    Years: 2012–

    Typical episode length: 12 min

    “Good Mythical Morning" is a YouTube variety show starring comedy duo Rhett and Link (aka Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal). The two comedians, who’ve also produced numerous viral videos and a 10-episode IFC series called “Commercial Kings," have been uploading the morning talk show five days a week since 2012. The show currently has more than 14 million subscribers and more than 4.4 billion video views.


     

  • #12. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson
    67/ Carson Productions

    #12. The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson

    IMDb rating: 8.4

    Years: 1962–1992

    Typical episode length: 105 min

    The original “King of Late Night," long before David Letterman came onto the scene, Johnny Carson took over the “Tonight Show" for Jack Paar in 1962. Carson helmed the megalithic talk show for 30 years. The comedian, who was prone to light-hearted jokes and friendly, sophisticated humor, launched dozens of comedic careers including Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Ellen DeGeneres, Joan Rivers, and others.


     

  • #11. The Dick Cavett Show
    68/ Daphne Productions Inc.

    #11. The Dick Cavett Show

    IMDb rating: 8.5

    Years: 1968–1986

    Typical episode length: 90 min

    “The Dick Cavett Show," which recorded several different versions for various networks and time slots, was humorous yet also often politically charged, pairing guests with different views or covering controversial topics. In one notable episode 1968, Christine Jorgensen, the first widely known trans woman to have sex reassignment surgery (now called gender confirmation surgery), walked off the show when he asked about her relationship with her wife.


     

  • #10. At the Movies
    69/ IMDb

    #10. At the Movies

    IMDb rating: 8.5

    Years: 1982–1990

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    After leaving “Sneak Previews" in 1982, Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert moved to Tribune Entertainment where they starred in “At the Movies." On this syndicated network show, the pair featured a segment called "The Dog of the Week" in which they discussed the worst movie of the last seven days. The duo left in 1986 amid a contract dispute, and the show continued for several more years with film critics Rex Reed and Bill Harris.


     

  • #9. The Colbert Report
    70/ Busboy Productions

    #9. The Colbert Report

    IMDb rating: 8.5

    Years: 2005–2015

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    After Stephen Colbert’s enormously popular recurring role on Jon Stewart’s “The Daily Show," Colbert got his own spinoff in 2005. “The Colbert Report" ran for almost 10 years before the comedian left to go host the “Late Show" on CBS. The news satire program was built around a fictional political pundit who was highly uninformed and prone to senseless arguments. Colbert stayed in character through improv sketches and when he interviewed guests.


     

  • #8. The Daily Show
    71/ Ark Angel Entertainment

    #8. The Daily Show

    IMDb rating: 8.5

    Years: 1996–

    Typical episode length: 22 min

    Although “The Daily Show" was originally hosted by comedian Craig Kilborn, it was his successor Jon Stewart who made it most famous with his quick wit and sharp political commentary. Now hosted by Trevor Noah, a fellow comedian who began as a recurring contributor, the satirical news show includes monologues, news roundups, political analysis, and guest interviews. Comedy Central said the goal of Noah’s tenure has been to recalibrate the program for a “new, younger generation."


     

  • #7. The Joe Rogan Experience
    72/ IMDb

    #7. The Joe Rogan Experience

    IMDb rating: 8.6

    Years: 2009–

    Typical episode length: 180 min

    The Joe Rogan Experience" is a podcast that’s also available in video format in which the standup comedian hosts friends, celebrities, and other guests to discuss a wide variety of topics from entertainment to politics. The strong-willed host has been criticized at times for giving a platform to conspiracy theorists and alt-right points of view. Controversial guests have included Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, and Steven Crowder.


     

  • #6. Siskel & Ebert
    73/ Buena Vista Television

    #6. Siskel & Ebert

    IMDb rating: 8.6

    Years: 1986–2010

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    Following their departure from “At the Movies," Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert went to Buena Vista Television where the pair developed “Siskel & Ebert" (originally “Siskel & Ebert & the Movies"). It was here that the pair became a common household name and created the famous “Thumbs Up" rating system. Ebert’s Chicago Sun-Times colleague Richard Roeper joined the show in 2001 after Siskel died of a brain tumor.


     

  • #5. Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis
    74/ Funny or Die

    #5. Between Two Ferns with Zach Galifianakis

    IMDb rating: 8.6

    Years: 2008–

    Typical episode length: 4 min

    This quirky online talk show features Zach Galifianakis sitting awkwardly between two potted ferns while exchanging antagonistic jabs with his guests. The short-form sketches, which are uploaded to Funny Or Die and typically last five or six minutes, often become viral videos. Notable guests have included Hillary Clinton, President Barack Obama, Bruce Willis, Brad Pitt, Jimmy Kimmel, Justin Bieber, and Bradley Cooper.


     

  • #4. Inside the Actors Studio
    75/ In the Moment Productions Ltd.

    #4. Inside the Actors Studio

    IMDb rating: 8.7

    Years: 1994–

    Typical episode length: 65 min

    For more than 20 years, host James Lipton has been interviewing some of Hollywood’s most famous actors as part of “Inside the Actors Studio." The show began as a televised seminar for students of the Actors Studio Drama School where Lipton serves as dean emeritus. The Bravo show, which was the network’s flagship program, has been nominated for 18 Emmys, one of which it won for Outstanding Informational Series Or Special.


     

  • #3. The Grand Tour
    76/ W. Chump & sons

    #3. The Grand Tour

    IMDb rating: 8.7

    Years: 2016–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “The Grand Tour" is a British motoring show on Amazon Video hosted by Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond, and James May. The three hosts began producing the show after Clarkson was suspended from their previous BBC show “Top Gear" amid racism complaints and other ongoing issues. In each episode, they travel to a different destination to drive cars and discuss motoring and other auto-related topics.


     

  • #2. The Beat with Ari Melber
    77/ MSNBC Network

    #2. The Beat with Ari Melber

    IMDb rating: 9.0

    Years: 2017–

    Typical episode length: 60 min

    “The Beat with Ari Melber" is a cable news talk show hosted by MSNBC’s chief legal correspondent. The popular show was a key factor in the evening ratings surge the network enjoyed in 2017, blending sharp political analysis with guest interviews and panel discussions. Memorable guests have included former White House Chief Strategist Stephen Bannon, former Trump aide Sam Nunberg, and U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren.


     

  • #1. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver
    78/ Sixteen String Jack Productions

    #1. Last Week Tonight with John Oliver

    IMDb rating: 9.0

    Years: 2014–

    Typical episode length: 30 min

    This satirical late-night news show on HBO features comedian John Oliver, a one-time correspondent and fill-in host for “The Daily Show." The program begins with Oliver performing a humorous and sometimes critical recap of the week’s biggest news events. From there, the show morphs into a panel discussion broken up by funny segments and comedic sketches.

2018 All rights reserved.