This list just wouldn't be complete without a reality show, and "Survivor" is the granddaddy of the genre. Sure, you could go with "Candid Camera," "Big Brother" or "COPS," but since blowing away its bigger-budget competition in its first U.S. broadcast in 2000, "Survivor" has been the reality show that every other reality show wishes it could be. (OK, maybe not "American Idol," but that's a whole different game.)
The formula for "Survivor" -- double-plus hardship, double-plus scheming, double-plus competition and double-negative clothing -- has in some form and to some degree become the formula for every reality show thereafter. And all without needing to pay a scriptwriter (or so they want us to think, anyway)!