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Every America's Next Top Model Season Ranked Worst To Best

It's difficult to remember a time before "America's Next Top Model" hit the airwaves. What started as a simple modeling competition finished as a 24-season titan, an international franchise, and one of the best reality TV shows of the 2000s. Dozens of celebrity judges and guest stars pop up over the course of the mega-hit series, and hundreds of wannabe models try out for the chance to be crowned as America's greatest runway-walker. No matter where they're from, what they've done, or how familiar they are with "smizing," they all face one critical question: Do they have what it takes to be on top?

Although the show ended its run in 2018, "America's Next Top Model" remains a pop culture giant. Its challenges, photoshoots, and makeovers remain infamous, as do its lowest moments, which have faced renewed scrutiny in recent years, according to Vox. Even so, when the show is good, it's golden — and, as many fans of the streaming era have discovered, endlessly rewatchable. Every new season brings a new bunch of models, who pose, grow, fight, and, if they're lucky, succeed. Which slate of episodes is the best of them all? We're here to answer that question by ranking every single "America's Next Top Model" season from worst to best.

24. Season 23

If a TV program doesn't know when enough is enough, it shows. Season 23 of "America's Next Top Model" falls into this trap. Rita Ora steps in as host, and a new panel of judges featuring Ashley Graham, Drew Elliott, and Law Roach catapult onto the screen, in the hopes of finding a new direction for the well-worn series. While this cycle is full of beautiful models, emotional tears, and dramatic makeovers, it's missing the glue that holds it all together: Tyra Banks.

Banks shifts from the main stage to behind the camera for this season, and the lack of her fierce attitude and iconic smizing is a gaping hole. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, Banks explained, "With me creating and owning a significant portion of the show, it's in my best interests to keep it going and to keep it fresh." This might have propelled Ora to hostdom, yet "fresh" is not a word that best describes Season 23. Struggling to find its identity, the show's weekly challenges fade into the generic and forgettable background. Moreover, the format's love of villainy is left firmly in the past. Without staged drama to fall back on, Season 23 entirely misses the mark.

23. Season 19

Season 19 features one of the least-loved gimmicks in "America's Next Top Model" history: A focus on contestants enrolled in college. The series fully commits to the theme with a sorority-style house, pledge casting callouts, and a promotional take on Britney Spears' iconic schoolgirl skirt. Changing the inner workings of a show is always a risk, and sadly, this one doesn't pay off.

Though Banks stays firm as the face of the judging panel, fan favorites Nigel Barker, Miss J. Alexander, and Jay Manuel are all replaced without apparent reason. Replacements Kelly Cutrone and Rob Evans only go on to last for a few short seasons, but that doesn't do much to help Season 19's case. That's not the end of this season's alterations: The classic elimination process is also adapted to fit a public vote. Big ideas land with little reward, marking the start of the show's decline.

22. Season 22

Probably the most forgettable of the mixed-gender seasons, Season 22 of "America's Next Top Model" doesn't have much to say for itself. Banks swaps her trademark long locks for a cropped pixie cut and spearheads a noticeably sparse panel of two regular judges. The beloved makeover episode is mundane enough to fly under the radar, while casting callouts on a rooftop zip wire don't set viewers' interest aflame. The prize of a $100,000 modeling contract no longer feels worth its weight in gold, with this cycle choosing to stick with a questionable scoring system.

As the last season to air on The CW, the cracks in the format are beginning to show. "America's Next Top Model" is obviously on its last legs here, making this season skippable. But Season 22 isn't without its small successes. For the first time since Season 13, all height restrictions are dropped, opening the field to include a larger range of models. Winner Nyle DiMarco is also the first major deaf representation on the program. 

21. Season 14

On a surface level, there's nothing wrong with Season 14 of "America's Next Top Model." The classic elimination staircase can still be seen, while makeovers and go-see challenges still provide drama. Yet if you look closely, there's a distinctly-shaped hole in the judging panel. Miss J. Alexander, whose direct approach to mentoring earned him a large fan following over the years, is nowhere to be found. This absence is keenly felt, no matter what the series does to paper it over.

Season 14 ranks so badly because it's clearly missing any heart or passion. Beyond the major changes to the judging panel, little thought seems to be given to the rest of the season, which relies on previously used destinations and petty gimmicks to get the audience engaged. There are still plenty of tears and tantrums to go around — cue Brenda Arens crying while her hair becomes a bright red mohawk — but the soul of the show is gone.

20. Season 13

When a show has been on the air twice a year for almost a decade, it's time to mix things up. Season 13 of "America's Next Top Model" spotlights models who are 5'7" or shorter, well below industry standard. Unlike future gimmicks, this shtick is fairly understated; Banks' personal connection to the contestants is kept at the forefront of the show. Quirky winner Nicole Fox quickly becomes a stand-out contestant by staying true to her geeky side as she learns to embrace her high-fashion beauty.

While the peaks and pits of action might be mundane — except for the deeply questionable "biracial" photoshoot — the team itself is all love. With the departure of Paulina Porizkova, the judging panel is comprised of the holy trinity of Tyra Banks, Nigel Barker, and Miss J. Alexander. The cycle also has its touching moments, like when Banks plays photographer. Season 13 is a mixed bag, but that's better than nothing.

19. Season 15

As every "America's Next Top Model" fan knows, certain challenges always hold promise. Alongside makeovers and go-sees, the unpredictable runway episode is almost certain to cause drama. Season 15 kicks off with an adrenaline-fueled conveyor belt take on this old favorite, which sees a notable few contestants hit the deck. This is an appropriate beginning for a season full of memorable challenges, from high-profile shoots on Rodeo Drive to the models' attempts to convey emotion while on a rollercoaster. 

Season 15 ditches the most tired tropes of the "America's Next Top Model" format in favor of good old-fashioned modeling. The creative team continues to deliver the thrills of the fashion industry without the insensitivity that marks other seasons. While Miss J. Alexander is very much missed, American Vogue icon André Leon Talley is a solid replacement, and new challenges like the underwater photoshoot are genuinely exciting. So why isn't this season higher in our rankings? It's simple: Even though there isn't much wrong with it, the highs pale in comparison to the rest of the "America's Next Top Model" series. Tellingly, season winner Ann Ward is a name long forgotten in the fashion industry. Not in other fields, however: Ward has continued on to a fine career as an artist and animator.

18. Season 16

The contestants might not be memorable, but Season 16 makes a name for itself by honing in on high fashion. From landfill couture to beauty shoots with bees, the program shifts its focus away from commercial gimmicks to the luxurious world of the runway. Notably, Season 16, like Season 15 before it, swaps out the prize of a spread in Seventeen for one in Vogue Italia in a bid to earn a bit more elite credibility. The results? Not overly different.

The series stays true to the magic of go-sees and makeovers, but neither the pumped-up photoshoots nor the runway critiques feel all that different, let alone elevated. Weekly judging panels lack the warmth of earlier seasons, and a more conservative-looking Banks tries to keep her distance. The competition takes the girls overseas to Morocco, which proves to be interesting, but ultimately lackluster. Still, the beloved makeovers don't let viewers down, especially when 22-year-old Molly O'Connell must withstand having an unfortunate weave sewn into her hair.

17. Season 20

By Season 20, "America's Next Top Model" has learned its lesson regarding gimmicks. This slate of episodes adds male models into the mix, which brings a fresh sense of energy to the competition. As "America's Next Top Model" newcomers, the boys are eager to prove themselves, and promptly do so by walking on a vertical runway suspended over a skyscraper. One contestant almost faints, while another falls flat on his face. Nothing like a baptism by fire to get you settled in.

The sexes are neck and neck until the very end, and model makeovers including body waxing and beard extensions add further excitement. But Season 20 often feels like it's finding its feet. The many new elements in play are as intriguing as they are overwhelming, and occasionally threaten to eclipse fashion as the focus of the show. But Season 20 also brings back the best aspects of earlier seasons, while daring to go further with exciting turntable runways and celebrity interviews. The mixed-gender cast is also easy to root for.

16. Season 24

"America's Next Top Model" was the great-great-grandmother of reality TV by the time Season 24, its final installment, aired in 2018. Thankfully, the show doesn't go out in disgrace. Tyra Banks returns as host, causing long-time fans to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Ashley Graham steps up to the mark to show off her beauty judging chops, while guest stars like Stacey McKenzie keep the show's feet firmly on the floor. Paper Magazine is a fantastic choice for the model's main prize; it more than makes up for the secondary reward of an appearance in the dwindling "America's Next Top Model" app game.

Where the previous decade of seasons fails to offer iconic contestants, Season 24 comes ready with memorable faces. Social media hit Jeana Turner openly embraces her alopecia during makeovers, while Khrystyana Kazakova is actively involved in changing the industry's body standards. Yet even with stunning looks and fun challenges — particularly with the cast of "RuPaul's Drag Race" — there are still tired tropes clinging for dear life. The "Ty-overs" nickname for makeovers refuses to budge, while models' personal hardships are still sensationalized. Erin Green's fake elimination is an especially sour note.

15. Season 21

After a dim stretch of episodes, Season 21 offers a light at the end of the tunnel. With the triumphant return of Miss J. Alexander, this mixed-gender slate of "America's Next Top Model" episodes is back on top. The drama is at full force: Contestant Denzel Wells is accused of being homophobic and given a fake beard during his makeovers. Where unexpected photoshoots have previously been insensitive, the creative team toes the line here with incredible maternity shoots and explorations of the models' heritage. Season 21 also crowns the show's first male winner, with Keith Carlos taking home the prize.

If there's something every "America's Next Top Model" fan loves, it's spotting the rare few contestants who really make it big. This season offers a true star in Winnie Harlow, aka Chantelle Young, who embraces her vitiligo. Though she's gone on to major success, she comes in sixth on Season 21, and claimed on "Watch What Happens Live" that the show didn't do much to kickstart her career. If drama is what you're after, Season 21 has it in truckloads.

14. Season 9

"America's Next Top Model" keeps its focus on an iconic cast in Season 9. Bianca Golden is never afraid to tell it like it is, while Ebony Morgan shocks us all by choosing to leave midway through the competition. Winner Saleisha Stowers makes a name for herself among "America's Next Top Model" legends with her blunt bangs. Challenges keep to a girl-next-door feel, with contestants filming commercials for CoverGirl cosmetics and posing while painted as flowers. If a superfan created a checklist for must-have moments, Season 9 would tick all the boxes.

But while Season 9 is strong, it's not the strongest. "America's Next Top Model" is still a long way from facing its issues at this point, but this season avoids risk. It's nice to get a break from insensitive critique and questionable photoshoots — models work on anti-smoking campaigns and jump off buildings pretending to be gargoyles — but things are a little dull. Moreover, contestant Sarah Hartshorne later told The New York Post that models were only paid $38 per day.

13. Season 11

After Season 11, "America's Next Top Model" morphs into the gimmicky blandness that fans love to hate. But with the show's first transgender representation and budding actors in their midst, the cast of this installment gives us something to appreciate. Unassuming Samantha Potter and Hannah White transform into high-end models in a matter of weeks, while Isis King asserts herself as one of the season's brightest talents. Photoshoot drama comes in the form of Dutch pirate boats and windmill couture, alongside the expected tears at the hair salon. With the addition of Paulina Porizkova, the judging panel is in effortlessly top form.

Winner McKey Sullivan transforms from a wallflower into a fierce model, making her one of the most beloved contestants of the show's entire run. "America's Next Top Model" chooses to stick to its tired villain tropes, however, making Elina Ivanova into a troublemaker for putting her own needs before others'. In this cutthroat season, it's every woman for herself.

12. Season 12

Season 12 arrives ready to fight for its seat at the table. With the number of models reduced to 13, contestants have enough room to leave a real legacy. Doe-eyed Allison Harvard entrances viewers with her waifish looks, only narrowly missing the crown. It's hard to forget Celia Ammerman standing up for herself at eliminations by calling out another model who said she didn't want to be there. Natalie Pack and Aminat Ayinde cause frequent fights in the house, while Ammerman never strays far from the drama. For mean girl value alone, Season 12 is a hit.

As problematic as relying on a villain edit is, it's probably to the show's advantage in this season. The challenges themselves are dull, sticking to the CoverGirl commercials and typical go-see formats. The posing battle tries to add a bit of flavor, but the contestants look incredibly out of place. In terms of fashion, Season 12 is far from revolutionary, with un-themed runways and generic photoshoots. The models — and even Tyra Banks herself — are doing the heavy lifting here. But the results do pay off.

11. Season 17

Hundreds of models had passed through the hallowed halls of "America's Next Top Model" by the time Season 17 was announced. The decision to make it an all-stars season is a smart one, giving viewers a gimmick worth investing their time in. Season 12 sweetheart Allison Harvard stuns in her updated CoverGirl commercial, while the Greek salad bowl photoshoot sees Season 10's Dominique Reinhard sizzle. With each of the girls well-versed in the game ahead, new challenges are brought to the fore, including acting in a fake hospital-themed soap opera, real-time celebrity interviews, and a final runway involving underwater swimming. 

After receiving rough treatment during her time on Season 5, Lisa D'Amato is out to prove that she can win on her own terms in this season. It's incredibly satisfying to see her come back stronger and eventually win the whole thing. But hindsight has changed things considerably. D'Amato went on to become a major whistleblower regarding the show's most exploitative tendencies, publicly criticizing the program and Tyra Banks herself on her Instagram. Furthermore, in an interview with Bustle, contestant Angelea Preston claimed to be the original winner of the season, and to have had the title stripped from her because she'd been previously forced into sex work. It's impossible to enjoy this season without thinking of these injustices, but the former contestants' bravery in speaking out makes fans admire them all the more fervently.

10. Season 18

The most successful of the show's spin-off ideas, Season 18 brings together previous contestants from "Britain's Next Top Model" and American favorites to determine which nation is truly on top. What results is incredibly cheesy and in-your-face, but the British girls bring fresh energy that the show is in need of. Causing fights in the house by throwing eggs at sleeping models, the British women are wild and full of life — but they're also more than capable of bringing their A-game on set. The season is eventually won by Britain's Sophie Sumner, with fellow Brits placing third, fourth, and sixth.

True to the series' reputation, the drama comes thick and fast. Already known for her argumentative nature on Season 3 of "Britain's Next Top Model," Louise Watts causes chaos by storming out of eliminations after taking issue with some of the judge's comments. She chooses not to return to the competition, despite turning out an exceptional photo that week. All in all, though there are some touch-and-go moments, the British models inject newfound fun and silliness into a struggling format.

9. Season 1

Smaller in scale and rough around the edges, Season 1 of "America's Next Top Model" began a completely new chapter in television history. First broadcast on UPN, it features 10 contestants, who compete for a modest modeling contract in a Los Angeles loft. The feel of this season is a far cry from what the show goes on to become, but certain concerns are already present. Comments are made about models' weight and skin color, courtesy of fiery original judges Janice Dickinson, Kimora Lee Simmons, and Beau Quillian.

On the other hand, Season 1 is a rare chance for viewers to see the format stripped back and at its full potential. Though models are still made to pose with snakes and traipse through Europe on go-sees, there's no staged drama, no melodramatic edits, and no showy gimmicks. It's odd to see models attend judge's critiques in full-length ballgowns, but hey, A+ for effort. What results from this scaled-back approach is something raw, enticingly weird, and incredibly entertaining. No wonder Season 1 launched a franchise.

8. Season 10

Season 10 has a healthy dose of everything. Catfights are well-balanced by a sense of sisterly love, and, even more surprisingly, minimal makeover drama takes place. The season does see its fair share of conflict, granted, with model Kimberly Rydzewski quitting only two episodes into the competition. Awkward posing battles are also brutally hilarious, and weekly eliminations are some of the most tearful yet. From loveable Anya Kop to self-assured Dominique Reinhard, the cast has someone for everyone to root for.

Season 10 is also the debut season for judge Paulina Porizkova. For the first time in a while, the judging panel feels settled, offering constructive critiques rather than personal insults. This is such a huge boon, it helps the season skate over some of its weaker moments. Moreover, winner Whitney Thompson is one of the few contestants to have made it truly big outside of the show. 

7. Season 2

Season 2 boosts the number of contestants up to the magic 12, offering viewers some true legends to root for. Episode 1 contains one of the most famous moments in "America's Next Top Model" history, as Jenascia Chakos oversleeps and misses the first photoshoot, despite the other girls promising to wake her up. Later on, viewers get to see the models navigate Milan by Vespa and watch as Shandi Sullivan breaks up with her boyfriend after kissing a male model.

Refreshingly, Season 2's drama isn't all that played up, and even feels genuinely natural. Viewers are flies on the wall of this televised pressure cooker, which the show trusts to be entertaining enough on its own. The judge's panel is a bit more modest, although they're quick to scathe models when things go wrong. There's a unique sense of hope among these contestants: The show is young, and its potential feels limitless. 

6. Season 5

Season 5 is a big, bold turning point for "America's Next Top Model." First off, it's full to the brim with drama and tears. Most prominently, this season contains an infamous makeover meltdown courtesy of Cassandra Whitehead, a former beauty queen with cascading hair. Tyra Banks chooses a Mia Farrow-style crop for Whitehead's transformation, prompting her to leave the show.

The theatrics don't end there: Season 5 lets loose with every trick in the "America's Next Top Model" book. The ensuing chaos of uncontrolled model drama is a guilty pleasure, though some moments are so intense, they're cringe-inducing. Janice Dickinson's plastic surgery shoot is a particular highlight, but Bollywood-style photos stray into cultural appropriation. This is the moment the show becomes its fullest self, and it's impossible to look away.

5. Season 8

Season 8 sits somewhere between two extremes: It openly stereotypes the models in many of its photoshoots, yet it also wants to defy gender expectations. This ends up sending a muddled message, but it also proves to be immensely entertaining. Winner Jaslene Gonzalez's path to success is heartwarming, while endearing runner-up Natasha Galkina is hard not to root for. Brittany Hatch's meltdown after turning up late to go-sees is legendary; the remaining girls struggle to hear critiques over the sound of her shouting. It can all be a bit much, but it also keeps viewers' eyes glued to the screen.

Notably, this season of "America's Next Top Model" has left a complex legacy. In the years following filming, model Renee Alway struggled with addiction and ended up in prison, according to ABC News, making her one of the few reality TV stars to have done jail time. Jael Strauss died in 2018 from metastatic breast cancer. Hardcore fans might remember that Strauss is asked to pose as a corpse after revealing a friend's death — one of many problematic moments in the show's history made even more saddening by her death.

4. Season 7

From drag shoots as celebrity couples to models contracting hypothermia on set, Season 7 is a classic. Runner-up Melrose Bickerstaff assumes the role of villain, unashamed in her ambition and decision to combine her two first names into one. Shy Brooke Miller fills the "all-American girl" mold, while A.J. Stewart edges up the competition as an alternative fashion plate. Season 7 is also the first time we see twins compete, with Amanda and Michelle Babin given separate makeovers to suit their personalities.

This all proves to be a lot of fun. Offensive and clunky gimmicks are thin on the ground, while challenges that showcase models' personalities take center stage. There's even a fresh twist to eliminations, with contestants asked who they think is the weakest out of their competition. With Tyra Banks clearly relishing her role as the series' symbol and host, this season sets a clear benchmark for future shows like "RuPaul's Drag Race" to meet.

3. Season 6

In the season winner Danielle Evans is told to lose her gapped teeth to be successful, it's safe to assume that anything goes. From bald beauty shoots to improvised CoverGirl commercials, the unpredictable energy of Season 6 is exactly what makes it so compelling to watch. Notably, Jade Cole lives on as one of the most iconic contestants of all time. As we all know, thanks to her, this isn't "America's Next Top Best Friend."

Season 6 contains plenty of firsts, from the first overseas trip to South Asia to the first heated on-screen kiss between a model and her co-star. Each episode has a tinge of the unexpected: The models walk a runway in a church, pose on an elephant's back for a razor campaign, and are shocked to see Tyra Banks faint right in front of them (later revealed to be a ruse). It's a wild ride worth sticking around for, with each of the contestants ultimately becoming larger than life.

2. Season 4

It's no secret that "America's Next Top Model" has a problematic history, but Season 4 is truly the eye of the controversial storm. This is the home of the infamous blackface photoshoot, the chaotic teleprompter challenge, and the "We were all rooting for you!" meme. Season 4's crop of models has a hard task ahead of them, and are pushed to their limits to get the best shots possible. Keenyah Hill is cast as an elephant after revealing struggles with her weight, while Kahlen Rondot is made to pose in a coffin after learning of a friend's sudden death. 

There's little tact or morality to be found — which makes the contestants all the more respected and relatable. Moreover, for all its low moments, Season 4 is the first to push beyond the show's accepted limits. No longer content to be solely a fashion show, "America's Next Top Model" starts to fish for major drama, from sexual harassment to arguments after visiting Nelson Mandela's cell. It's a season that has to be seen to be believed, and it sums up "America's Next Top Model" as a whole.

1. Season 3

"America's Next Top Model" reaches its high point in Season 3, which is packed with unique characters, memorable stand-offs, and never-before-seen challenges. The tarantula beauty shoot is one of the best-known episodes of the entire series, sending the girls screaming in different directions. But in truth, Season 3's success lies not in the attention-grabbing drama, nor even the race to the top. Here, it's all about the cast.

Winner Eva Pigford is one of the show's most memorable victors. Her feud with fellow competitor Ann Markley is brutal — but after they lash out at each other, the women go on to become best friends. Third-place model Amanda Swafford also makes "America's Next Top Model" history, as she competes while partially blind and lives with the knowledge that she will one day lose her sight entirely. Runner-up Yaya DaCosta has since transformed into one of the stars of "Chicago Med." Reality TV is loved for its intense stakes, shocking reveals, fierce competition, and unending drama. Season 3 delivers it all in abundance.