10. Adam Shankman, Mary Murphy, and Nigel Lythgoe So You Think You Can Dance
We can all get on the hot-tamale train with Mary Murphy and her mates at the judges’ table here.
9. Carolyn Kepcher and George Ross The Apprentice
Yes, The Donald is always the final judge and he’s the only constant on the show, but there was just something about those early years when these two corporate-world players made their way on camera to judge wannabes like Omarosa.
8. Nina Garcia, Michael Kors, and Heidi Klum Project Runway
It’s always fun to try to guess what they are thinking as the models parade down the catwalk. Even more fun is hearing what they have to say.
7. Piers Morgan, Sharon Osbourne, and David Hasselhoff America's Got Talent
Not to take anything away from Howie Mandel, but there was a special brand of wacky (intentional and not) with this trio.
6. Ben Folds, Sara Bareilles, Shawn Stockman The Sing-Off
Each member of this panel was so incredibly versed in the technical aspects of music that it enabled them to give really insight commentary and as a result, you didn’t hear a lot of repeated and rehashed critiques. Ben Folds gave probably the most intelligent and technically specific musical feedback of any singing-competition judge out there.
5. James Oseland, Gael Greene, Jay Rayner Top Chef Masters
The combined weight of their culinary knowledge is significant… and while watching, you can never, ever forget that. So pretentious, so incredible.
4. Blake Shelton, Christina Aguilera, Adam Levine, Cee Lo Green The Voice
Sure, there’s a lot of spectacle to the show, and the idea of putting a bunch of artists together like this could have gone horribly awry. But what makes it work was that they all had such dynamic, fun onscreen personalities, and even better was the lovely surprise in Blake Shelton.
3. Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli Dancing With the Stars
This trio gets all 10s from us thanks to their attention to detail and ability to embrace the spectacle of it all.
2. Nigel Barker, Janice Dickinson, and Nolé Marin America's Next Top Model
Nigel just oozes sex appeal, Janice was oh so sassy, and Nolé had the most adorable dog named Empress Minnie. Plus, Janice could out-diva host Tyra Banks — a feat in itself.
1. Randy Jackson, Paula Abdul, and Simon Cowell American Idol
What can we say, dawg? For us, Randy, Paula, and Simon were the gold standard of judges and showed how important that blend of personalities really is. When they were good, they were great!