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Ranking the 8 Best Talent Show Guest Judges of All Time

Samantha Agate

Samantha Agate

Joel McHale the masked singerFox

Every talent show brings on a roster of celebrity guest judges each season to spice up the competition. Some celebrities are awesome in the role of guest judge and are able to establish a huge presence in the talent show circuit. Who is the best talent show guest judge of all time? Let’s rank some of the greatest and most memorable talent show guest judges ever.


8. Quentin Tarantino

It feels like many moons ago that director Quentin Tarantino made his debut as a guest judge on American Idol Season 3. Music is a huge part of all of his Oscar-winning films so it wasn’t such a far-fetched decision to bring him on the show. He famously told Diana DeGarmo that he “didn’t care” that she pulled off all of the notes during her performance. Tarantino did not hold anything back during his time on the show, a lesson other guest judges should take note of. American Idol even brought him back as a guest judge again in Season 8. Tarantino has always been a huge fan of the show. The best guest judges are always celebrities who watch and appreciate the show.

7. Ne-Yo

R&B singer Ne-Yo knows incredible talent when he sees it. He served as a guest judge on Season 11 of America’s Got Talent. Ne-Yo hit his Golden Buzzer for magician Jon Dorenbos after being completely mind-blown by his trick. He even hilariously looked around and underneath the judging table to see how Jon pulled the trick off. This appearance paved the way for Ne-Yo’s talent show judging career. He later sat alongside Derek Hough and Jennifer Lopez on the World of Dance judging panel.

6. Joe Jonas

Joe Jonas served as a guest judge on American Idol in Season 9. Jonas joined Randy Jackson, Kara DioGuardi, and Simon Cowell at the judging table. It was clear that he was a bit nervous at the start and danced around hurting any of the artist’s feelings. After rising to fame on Disney Channel with the Jonas Brothers, Jonas was more than qualified to find the next young talent. He even recognized Todrick Hall‘s “star power” during his audition. It didn’t hurt that literally all of the contestants had a crush on Jonas just like the rest of us at home.


5. Lizzo

Lizzo served as a guest judge on Season 10 of RuPaul’s Drag Race. When RuPaul asked Lizzo how she was feeling, she replied, “good as hell.” These are lyrics to her song of the same name that the bottom two queens ended up lip-synching to. It went down as one of the best lip-syncs of all time as Lizzo bobbed her head to the song. The best part about Lizzo appearing on the show is that she made a music video for her song “Juice” with some of the franchise’s most popular queens.

4. Miley Cyrus

During the Season 11 premiere of RuPaul’s Drag Race, Miley Cyrus went undercover as a member of the staff. Once she revealed her identity, all of the queens were freaking out. She gave them some great advice and later joined the judging panel during the episode. RuPaul’s Drag Race is really all about embracing who you are, something that Cyrus has always done. She danced along as the queens performed her song, “The Best of Both Worlds,” during the lip-sync battle. It was the homage to Hannah Montana we never knew we needed.

3. Chris Hardwick

We have Chris Hardwick to thank for giving Angelica Hale the Golden Buzzer during the Season 12 America’s Got Talent Judge Cuts. Hardwick brought major enthusiasm to the gig. You could tell he was excited to be there and was floored by all of the talents. It’s the same enthusiasm he has for his AMC show, Talking Dead. He was brought back as a guest judge again in Season 13. Hardwick was already a prominent face on NBC, hosting The Wall since 2016. He was the only America’s Got Talent guest judge to ever be asked back for another season.


2. Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga made all of our dreams come true when she posed as a contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 9. The queens genuinely thought she was a Lady Gaga impersonator. Tears were flowing when she revealed her true identity. Lady Gaga judged a runway that was inspired by some of her best looks. The whole episode was just fun and full of life. In a special turn of events, nobody was eliminated from the episode. Lady Gaga definitely worked her magic to keep all of the queens in the competition.

1. Joel McHale

Joel McHale is the ultimate talent show guest judge. McHale is by far, the most unforgettable RuPaul’s Drag Race guest judge of all time. He kept shouting, “Yeah!” during the Season 11 runway which was clearly getting on Michelle Visage’s nerves. It was obvious that he was excited to be there and brought his many years of comedy experience to the show. McHale has always been a frequent guest judge on The Masked Singer. His love-hate relationship with Community co-star Ken Jeong has been a hit with viewers. They bicker like siblings and it is absolutely hilarious to watch. McHale will be brought back as a guest judge for Season 6.

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About the Author

Samantha Agate

Samantha Agate is the Talent Guru here at Talent Recap. Her work has been featured at The Blast. Samantha graduated from Hunter College in 2019 with a degree in Media Studies and a Concentration in Journalism. When she isn't binge-watching reality television shows or binge-eating fried food, she loves hanging out with her friends and family and petting puppies.

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