What Are the Longest Running Reality TV Shows?

Survivor 43
Photo by Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Reality TV has taken over the media landscape in the 21st century. It has gone completely mainstream, with everyone from Michelle Obama to Rihanna admitting they indulge in the genre from time to time.

While not every reality TV show has been a hit, some have developed cult-like followings and have outlasted most scripted shows.

Here are a few of the longest-running reality TV shows of all time:

Keeping Up With the Kardashians (20 Seasons)

Keeping Up With the Kardashians/YouTube

When Keeping Up With the Kardashians came on the scene in the fall of 2007, many people dismissed the show and the Kardashians themselves as a fad. But they couldn’t have been more wrong. Nearly two decades later, the Kardashians have become a household name and KUWTK has solidified its place in pop culture history. The show ended in 2021 when the family voluntarily decided to end the series. They went on to star in a new reality show titled The Kardashians on Hulu.

The Bachelorette (20 Seasons)

Bachelor Nation/YouTube

The Bachelor spinoff The Bachelorette first aired in 2003 with fan favorite Trista Rehn as its leading lady. The show wrapped its 20th season in the Summer of 2023 when Bachelorette Charity Lawson said “yes” to a proposal from Dotun Olubeko.

American Idol (22 Seasons)

American Idol/YouTube

American Idol has been crowning superstars since 2002 and is still going strong 22 seasons later. While not every Idol winner has managed to find mainstream success, a select few have become music legends, including Kelly Clarkson and Carrie Underwood.

Big Brother (25 Seasons)

Big Brother/YouTube

Big Brother premiered in the summer of 2000 on CBS. The first season was a total fever dream but thankfully, the show found its footing in Season 2. In 2023, the show celebrated its 25th season and crowned Jag Bains as the winner with a 5-2 vote.

The Bachelor (28 Seasons)

Bachelor Nation/YouTube

The hit ABC show The Bachelor premiered in March 2002. Alex Michel, a 31-year-old Harvard graduate, was the first man to take on the coveted leading role and Chris Harrison was there to help him along the way. After saying goodbye to 24 eligible bachelorettes, Alex chose to pursue a relationship with 23-year-old Amanda Marsh. Alex and Amanda, like many couples that met on the show, did not end up together. They broke up after nearly a year of dating.

The series has come a long way since it first premiered over 20 years ago. Chris stepped down as the host in 2021, following backlash from an interview he did with Extra, where he defended contestant Rachael Kirkconnell, who had attended an antebellum-themed fraternity formal in college. Former Bachelor Jesse Palmer became the new host in 2022.

Dancing With the Stars (32 Seasons)

Dancing With the Stars/YouTube

Another ABC competition show that has kept viewers entertained for years is Dancing with the Stars. The show began in 2005 and has produced 32 seasons thus far. Actress Xochitl Gomez was the most recent star to take home the Mirrorball trophy.

The Real World (33 Seasons)

MTV Vault/YouTube

Often credited as the first reality TV show, The Real World has produced 33 seasons and forever changed how we view and consume television.

The Amazing Race (36 Seasons)

The Amazing Race/YouTube

Who wouldn’t want to watch a race around the world? The CBS series The Amazing Race premiered in September 2001 and has become a critically acclaimed series. The reality competition show has won 15 Emmys and received 92 nominations.

The Challenge (39 Seasons)

MTV’s The Challenge/YouTube

The Challenge has been on the air since the late 90s. The series first premiered in 1998 and was promoted as a spinoff of the MTV shows Road Rules and The Real World. The reality show pits MTV stars against each other in a series of competitions in exchange for cash prizes.

Survivor (46 Seasons)

Survivor On CBS/YouTube

Season 1 of Survivor premiered in the Spring of 2000. Rhode Island native Richard Hatch became the first Sole Survivor and took home the million-dollar prize. The series has since spawned 45 more seasons, each more dramatic than the last. Season 46 is currently airing on CBS.