Starting all the way back in 2002, “American Idol” blasted onto our TV screens and quickly became the number one show in the country. Even though the series held that title for seven years, Fox announced the end of the series in 2016 after 15 seasons. Luckily ABC brought the show back in 2018, refreshing our love and healing our pain. Over the past 18 years an array of judges have sat at the panel helping to decide who will be the next “American Idol.” Set the course for memory lane as you take a look back at our worst-to-best rankings of “American Idol” judges over the years, including Simon Cowell and Katy Perry.
The original trio of Simon, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson sat at the judges’ table for eight seasons before Paula departed. Simon followed her a year later, while Randy stuck it out as a judge until Season 12. This group helped discover some of the most famous “American Idol” superstars of all time, including Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson and Adam Lambert.
Some of the other judges who took part in Fox’s original 15-year run were Kara DioGuardi (Seasons 8-9), Ellen Degeneres (Season 9), Steven Tyler (Season 10-11), and Nicki Minaj and Mariah Carey (Season 12). The final trio of Keith Urban (Seasons 12-15), Harry Connick Jr. (Seasons 13-15) and Jennifer Lopez (Seasons 10-11, 13-15) really found a groove working together the last few years, until the show was shockingly canceled in 2016.
When ABC revived “American Idol” in 2018, they started fresh with Katy, Lionel Richie and Luke Bryan. These three are currently on their third season at the judges’ table, with Katy known for her wild and crazy antics, Lionel bringing a breadth of experience and Luke being a friendly face.
While the judges continue to change, there has been one constant throughout the entire 18 seasons of “American idol”: host Ryan Seacrest. He was there from day one alongside Brian Dunkleman, and has appeared in every installment since.