Top 10 Reality Show Moments That Left Us SPEECHLESS
VOICE OVER: Phoebe de Jeu
WRITTEN BY: Lindsay Haley
Many reality TV shows are almost built to shock viewers, but these moments left us speechless. For this list, we'll be looking at reality scenes notable for shocking, infamous, or downright bizarre displays that had viewers at a loss for words. Our countdown includes Tristan Cheats from “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (2007-21), Tyra Loses It from “America's Next Top Model” (2003-18), The Catfish Cousin from “Catfish: The TV Show” (2012-), and more!
Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Reality Show Moments That Left Us Speechless. For this list, we’ll be looking at reality scenes notable for shocking, infamous, or downright bizarre displays that had viewers at a loss for words. Did we miss any wild moments you'll never forget? Sound off in the comments!
#10: “Snakes and Rats”
Plenty of high-stakes Final Tribal Councils have resulted in passionate and tense jury moments. But way back in the first season, contestant Sue Hawk delivered what is widely regarded as the series’ best and most unforgettable speech. Addressing the finalists, the fourth-place finisher held nothing back as she compared the final two to unbecoming animals—a snake and a rat. She vehemently described Richard as the reptile who preyed on others, and Kelly as the rodent who deserved to be eaten by the predator. All these years later, Sue’s jaw-dropping last words still go down in “Survivor” history as one of the most savage displays from a scorned jury member.
#9: Million Dollar Genius
“Who Wants to Be a Millionaire” (1999-2021)
During the quiz game show’s debut season in 1999, an incredible contestant made history. An episode introduced John Carpenter, who breezed through trivia questions Regis Philbin fired off. Carpenter was easily able to advance throughout the competition without using any of the show’s lifelines up until the end. When presented with the million dollar question, he opted to use his “Phone-a-Friend” to seemingly ask for help. But Carpenter really just used the lifeline as an opportunity to tell his dad that he knew the answer and was about to become a millionaire. He was crowned the franchise’s first ever top-prize winner and stunned the world in the most epic way possible.
#8: The Catfish Cousin
“Catfish: The TV Show” (2012-)
Nev has seen some crazy things while trying to expose truths about suspicious online profiles. To this day, the episode in which he helps Antwane remains one of the wildest. After being contacted by Antwane’s cousin Carmen, Nev and Max set out to find Tony, the online persona Antwane had been in a relationship with for three years. Despite never meeting IRL, Antwane was hopeful the persona was real. In a shocking twist, Carmen revealed she was pretending to be Tony all along. She justified her catfishing by saying Antwane should have never poked fun at her weight. The petty three-year plot to get revenge on her cousin left us at a complete loss for words.
#7: Somethin Smells
“Flavor of Love” (2006-08)
Flavor Flav and a group of women competing for his affections were anything but boring. Many contestants surprised us with their outrageous personalities, but one named Tykeisha Thomas, aka “Somethin,” gave us the ultimate reality shocker. In the middle of an elimination ceremony, Somethin felt the urge to go number two but couldn’t make it to a bathroom in time. So she literally took care of business on the steps. Though the defecation was thankfully not shown on camera, we did get to watch Flav and the other ladies’ reactions to the putrid smell. We understand that calls of nature can sometimes sneak up on you, but Somethin’s accident was certainly not something we can relate to.
#6: Tristan Cheats
“Keeping Up with the Kardashians” (2007-21)
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve by now heard of Tristan Thompson’s repeated cheating on Khloe Kardashian. When news of his most infamous affair broke, we watched it play out as Kim learned of the story during a confessional taping. She talked to her sisters about Tristan’s betrayal, which was made even more shocking due to Kylie’s then-best friend, Jordyn Woods’ involvement with the NBA player. To make things more dumbfounding, it was later revealed in the Kardashians’ new Hulu show that Tristan had cheated once again. This time, he got someone else pregnant. Even though we easily keep up with the family in real time thanks to constant media coverage, we were still left stunned while watching the events unfold.
#5: The Prosthetic Leg
“The Real Housewives of New York City” (2008-)
At the center of “RHONY” Season 6 was Aviva, the housewife who couldn’t seem to win over her co-stars. After enduring a season of gossip and doubts surrounding her medical condition, Aviva had reached her boiling point. While at a public event, she whipped out x-rays to prove her claims, but this wasn’t enough to silence the relentless housewives. So naturally, to send a clearer message about her realness, Aviva slammed her prosthetic leg on the table. Even crazier was her decision to throw the leg across a room filled with speechless guests. It is undoubtedly one of the franchise’s most memorable scenes that continues to astound us no matter how many times we rewatch.
#4: The Retracted Proposal
“The Bachelor” (2002-)
After over twenty-five seasons, Bachelor Nation is aware of bachelor tendencies to change their minds after making final decisions. The first to do so most infamously was Jason Mesnick, who broke life-altering news to his winner in a highly controversial manner. Following a proposal to Melissa Rycroft, Jason appeared on “After the Final Rose” to explain he was actually still in love with his runner-up. Not yet aware of the revelation, Melissa was brought out to sit with her fiancé. Jason then broke up with her on live national television, leaving viewers in a state of sheer disbelief. Melissa inevitably gave the bachelor her ring back, marking the end of an extremely painful-to-watch ordeal.
#3: Flipping Out
“The Real Housewives of New Jersey” (2009-)
Many housewives routinely astound us, but Teresa Giudice is in a league of her own. From the moment we met the Jersey spitfire, she proved she is not one to conceal her emotions. In the Season 1 finale, Teresa and her fellow castmates sat at a dinner table to discuss a controversial book written about the token villain, Danielle Staub. Unimpressed with Danielle’s explanation for the book’s contents, Teresa challenged her to give better answers. But when Danielle defensively responded, it was evident that a switch was flipped, among other things. Teresa unleashed a fit of shouting, maligning, and slamming before infamously flipping a table. The moment solidified her status as one of the franchise’s—and reality TV’s—most shocking stars.
#2: Tyra Loses It
“America’s Next Top Model” (2003-18)
As “ANTM’s” famous host, Tyra Banks typically remained composed when eliminating contestants. But Tiffany challenged her in a way no model had before. After Tyra gave Tiffany final words of wisdom and told her to pack her bags, she was unhappy with the way the model handled her elimination. Seemingly unbothered, Tiffany laughed it off and was prepared to exit the competition. But Tyra wasn’t about to let her leave without expressing her disappointment in the model’s attitude. She deviated from her professional demeanor and emotionally screamed at Tiffany. The result was an unforgettable reality TV moment that left us just as speechless as the other models who witnessed the outburst.
Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
Sonic Boom, “Jerseylicious” (2010-13)
Rival Hairstylists Throw Down in the Middle of a Sonic Parking Lot
Finale Fiasco, “RuPaul’s Drag Race” (2009-)
Asia O’Hara’s Butterflies Tragically Fail to Cooperate
The Bravo Backhand, “Vanderpump Rules” (2013-)
Suspicions Over Relations With Her Ex Prompt Stassi to Slap Kristen
The Gosselins Separate, “Jon & Kate Plus 8” (2007-17)
To Put a Stop to Endless Arguing, Jon & Kate Decide to Split
Millionaire Mitchell, “The Challenge” (1998-)
Ashley Keeps the Million-Dollar Prize for Herself Instead of Splitting It With Her Partner
#1: Bar Punch
“Jersey Shore” (2009-12)
With a cast of provocative and rowdy “guidos” and “guidettes,” it was inevitable that “Jersey Shore” would produce endless jaw-dropping moments. Surprisingly, the most shocking of them all came not from one of the fist-pumping stars, but at the hands of a random bar-goer. In Season 1, Snooki and the gang were out partying when things took a wild turn. Amidst a dispute about shots, the bar-goer brutally punched Snooki in the face. The assaulter was promptly confronted by the protective roommates and arrested. The moment left Snooki scared and injured and the world utterly appalled. Resorting to violence is inexcusable, but it was especially unwarranted and disturbing in this case.