Wars Lost And Won: An Analysis of The Most Legendary Battles in Reality TV History

While confrontation can be uncomfortable in our day-to-day lives, it’s a pivotal thread in the rich tapestry of American reality television. Feuds are essential to our viewing experience, as whose side we fall upon when it comes to any given scandal indicates our values, moral compass, and world view to the rest of our community. For example, we could ascertain that an individual who advocates for Kourtney Kardashian’s beliefs in her decades-long feud with younger sister Kim Kardashian is most likely a lazy hippie or a fake humanitarian hoe. 

Reality TV stars employ a variety of mental and physical tactics during battle. Common strategies include leaking damaging information to tabloids, refusing to attend their rival’s major life event (e.g. baby shower, wedding), or filing a bullshit lawsuit. 

Some of the most memorable feuds in our culture include Real Housewives NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak, where a cockroach plays a central role in their lore; Jersey Shore‘s Snooki Polizzi and Angelina Pivarnick; which reminded us to remove earrings before engaging in acts of violence; and C.T. Tamburello and Adam Kline, who made us fear that The Challenge would get prematurely canceled due to second-degree murder. 

In this chapter of our Reality TV Textbook, we’ll travel through the annals of time to explore the most vitriolic clashes in reality television history. We’ll determine who has left an indelible mark on our society, and whose 15 minutes have faded, pitifully, into oblivion. 

Lauren Conrad vs. Heidi Montag: You Know What You Did!

Image Credit: MTV

The Battle: Every girl relates to losing a best friend to a garbage can with a semi-functioning penis, AKA the only qualifications many of us demand when it comes to selecting boyfriends. 

Heidi and Lauren were thick as thieves at the start of The Hills, but tensions started to brew in season 2 when Spencer Pratt, famed famewhore and instigator, entered the scene. 

After getting promoted for being pretty and famous at Teen Vogue, Lauren confides in her new manager, canonical girlboss Whitney Port, that there’s a rumor going around about a sex tape between Lauren and her ex-boyfriend, Jason. (Never trust a J name!) 

She believes that Heidi, who just moved in with Spencer, planted the rumors, leading her to decline an invite to their housewarming party. But of course, the producers orchestrate a run-in between the now-fractured friend group at a club night. 

Though Heidi tries to mend things with a passed note like a seventh grade girl, Lauren isn’t satisfied. On their way out, Spencer (who, years later, admitted to starting the rumor himself) urges Heidi to confront Lauren, and Lauren formally ends their friendship with the iconic line, “You know what you did… You’re a sad, pathetic person.” 

The Victor: Lauren may have won the battle, but Heidi won the war. Honestly, Lauren should’ve taken a page out of Kimberly’s book and leaked that frickin’ tape — her holier-than-thou, goody-two-shoes image was so boring, and I have no idea what producers saw in her or why they chose to build multiple reality franchises around her. But maybe that’s harsh… maybe she was a trendsetter, in that she pioneered the phrase, “Go girl, give us nothing.” 

Teresa Giudice vs. Melissa Gorga: You Drank The Fucking Kool-Aid  

Image Credit: Bravo

The Battle: The most potent feuds span decades, and Teresa and Melissa have been at each other’s throats for more than 20 years since becoming sisters-in-law and later begrudging castmates on The Real Housewives of New Jersey

From discarded Christmas cookies to cheating accusations, Teresa has always had it out for Melissa, but Melissa and her husband Joe Gorga haven’t been afraid to fight back (sometimes literally… we’ll never forget our two meatball Joes going head-to-head to avenge their wives’ honor). 

When Teresa and her Joe went to prison for fraud (a classic Housewives plotline), there was a brief and beautiful reconciliation between Teresa and Melissa, who put their differences aside in the name of family. They even started a short-lived, ill-fated pizza restaurant together! If business class taught us anything, it’s to start a company with someone with whom you have a very tumultuous history. 

Things inevitably soured on a girls’ trip to Mexico, where the new friends found each other on opposite ends of an explosive cast fight. From there, Melissa was a no-show at Teresa’s second wedding, and, later, at a mozzarella-making party (sure), Melissa refused to reconcile. 

At the season 13 reunion, the duo formally “canceled” their “sister-in-lawness,” but will continue to cash in on that sweet Bravo money for season 14. 

The Victor: Do reality stars get 401Ks? If they do, the 401K is the winner. 

Christine Quinn vs. Everyone: Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen, Too Many Bitches in this Office 

Image Credit: Netflix

The Battle: When Selling Sunset began, Christine Quinn was quick to position herself as a Samantha Jones-meets-Lisa Vanderpump HBIC. She had support from a core alliance of Mary, the office favorite, and boy-bosses Brett and Jason, which made her evil forcefield initially appear impenetrable. 

As the seasons progressed, Christine’s aggressive antics (remember the Chrishell Two-Faced tonic?) and self-aggrandizing lies (pretending her and Emma’s mutual ex had proposed to her) start to make her a less and less viable friend, and her relationships start to disintegrate one by one, leaving her alone on Chair Purse Island. 

In a classic Cady and Regina switcheroo, by Christine’s last season, Chrishell has fully replaced her as the O Group queen bee, which sends Christine into a tailspin. She jokes that she doesn’t get listings anymore because she isn’t “fucking her boss” like Chrishell, and attempts to bribe one of Emma’s clients to stop working with her, leading to her ultimate dismissal. 

The Victor: Everyone (except Netflix): Creating a real estate utopia where everyone sings campfire songs and no one rolls their eyes when you ring the closing bell like a lunatic is probably lovely for the cult of the O Group, but does absolutely nothing for our collective mission of increasing Netflix shareholder value. Those guys need bigger yachts, and they need them NOW!

Kim Kardashian vs. Kourtney Kardashian: You Stole My Fucking Wedding Country 

Image Credit: Hulu

The Battle: While Khloé has somehow managed to avoid much of the core Kardashian sister drama by sticking to her dumbbells and her Candy Crush ads, older sisters Kourtney and Kim would 1,000% never be friends if they weren’t related, and/or forced to be lifelong business partners by an uber-successful, long-running TV show. 

Kim and Kourt fight about everything, but despite their immense wealth, when you strip back some of the bougie layers of their arguments, they usually boil down to universal sister squabbles. 

Arguing about whether to include candy with food coloring at a 2-year-old’s Candyland-themed birthday party is not too different from upper middle class Connecticut moms fighting about how Tommy’s gluten-intolerance wasn’t respected at the MDW pool party. Getting heated about who has first dibs on a relationship with Rick Owens or Dolce & Gabbana is, at its core, the same as when you screamed at your 11-year-old sister for stealing your Aeropostale babydoll tee for the 6th grade dance. 

When things reach a boiling point, Kim usually opts for surface-level insults (“You’re the least interesting to look at,” “Maybe if you had a fucking business that you were passionate about you would know what it takes to run a business but you don’t so don’t even act like you know what I’m talking about”), causing Kourtney to retreat into hatred, assassinating Kim’s character with lines like, “You’re a distraught, very evil human being” and “It’s disgusting to be related to you.” 

Most notably, in 2020, the cameras captured Kim and Kourtney’s legendary slap battle, after Kim made one dig too many at Kourtney’s poor work ethic. The most injured party? Khloé’s white walls, which were then covered in KKW Beauty Body Foundation.  

The Victor: Kim is more successful, but Kourtney is “happier”? I dunno, for such a self-actualized person who is “just living life” with Trav and screaming at her nannies, that “fucking fake humanitarian hoe” is still always the first to find first-world problems to be miserable about. 

NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak: Close Your Legs to Married Men

Image Credit: Bravo

The Battle: As the wise Taylor Swift once said, “All of my enemies started out friends,” which is exactly what happened between Real Housewives of Atlanta stars NeNe Leakes and Kim Zolciak. 

A rift first spawned between the duo in the show’s early seasons, when NeNe vocally disapproved of Kim dating a married man, referred to as “Big Poppa.” No one should ever be intimate with a man named Big Poppa, questionable marital status aside! 

They’d spar constantly over the next decade, then make up, then ring into Watch What Happens Live to call each other trash box hookers. 

Their rivalry took a deeper turn when Kim’s 21-year-old daughter Brielle visited NeNe’s home and took a video of a cockroach she found in the bathroom, which NeNe then clarified on social media must have fallen out of Brielle’s “funky pussy.” 

In their elder years, the frenemies have seemingly buried the hatchet, but send a couple cameras and a round of stiff martinis to their retirement home, and who knows what could happen. 

The Victor: Kim. She got to leave an ensemble show for an eight-season spinoff, which is the ultimate power move. 

Snooki vs. Angelina: Hold My Earrings, Please! 

Image Credit: MTV

The Battle: Fans of Jersey Shore could tell from the first day the soon-to-be-famous roommates entered the Shore house that Angelina and Snooki would not be two meatballs in a pod. Angelina immediately deemed Snooki a slut because of her “trashy” bikini, which is a bold statement from someone who just walked in with her clothes in literal trash bags. 

The house quickly turned against Angelina, the self-appointed “Kim Kardashian of Staten Island,” when she didn’t take her responsibilities at the Shore Store seriously, and was rude to the group’s boss, Danny. (She needs to strip herself of that Kim K title, because we all know this behavior is completely antithetical to Kimberly’s “get your fucking ass up and work” ideology.) 

After a series of quarrels in season 2, culminating in Vinny calling Angelina “Rob Kardashian” post-hookup, Angelina decided to leave the house, but not before a dirty little hamster wrestling match with Snooki. 

The rivals engaged in two rounds of drunk slapping matches, and despite Snooki’s brazen overconfidence, even her poof couldn’t save her from the limited wingspan of her “T-rex arms.” 

The Victor: Angelina put up a more Iron Claw-worthy performance during the tussle, but she did miss out on several key earning years by leaving the show so early in its tenure. 

C.T. Tamburello vs. Adam King: I Will Smash His Head in and Eat It 

Image Credit: MTV

The Battle: Remember the good old days when the producers would let contestants fully beat the shit out of each other on The Challenge? That was when the magic happened. 

Challengers C.T. and Adam first began feuding during their reality TV debuts on The Real Word: Paris. After a drunken night out, a belligerent, bandana-clad C.T. accused Adam of not having his back after he started hitting a patron who gave him “attitude” at the bar (?), and then started shoving him like a lion batting around a mouse before eating it. 

After graduating to The Challenge house, the rivals got into it again on The Duel II, when Adam told C.T.’s on-again-off-again love of his life Diem that C.T. hooked up with another woman. Adam was overconfident in a verbal altercation with C.T., falsely believing that the room full of dudes surrounding him would be able to break up their fight and save his ass, so he poured a beer over C.T.’s head. C.T. socks little Adam in the face, and not even five grown men, including production, can restrain him. He goes ballistic, punching a hole in the door Jack Torrance-style before chasing down Adam in the parking lot, where, foaming at the mouth, he delivers the terrifying line, “I will smash his head in and eat it.” 

The Victor: I’m not condoning beating up little guys, but Adam had short king syndrome and overplayed his hand! C.T. is a psychotic polar bear (the most deadly bear) on steroids, so maybe don’t throw a drink at him — MTV isn’t Bravo, you’re going to get decapitated! 

Abby Lee Miller vs Kelly Hyland: Get. Your. Finger. Out Of My Face.

Image Credit: MTV

The Battle: Pittsburgh dance mom Kelly had been well-acquainted with the mercurial Abby Lee Miller since they were kids — Abby was Kelly’s dance teacher, and, for some inconceivable reason, adult Kelly decided to enroll her young daughters Brooke and Paige in 80 hours a week of dance training with this known truculent narcissist. 

Over the course of Dance Moms, Kelly and Abby cursed each other out on the reg — after leaving the show, Paige Hyland even sued Abby for throwing a chair at her when she was pissed that Kelly hadn’t gotten its rubber stoppers in time. 

Abby constantly made derogatory remarks about Kelly’s kids (where was the ALDC HR department??), and this reached a boiling point backstage at a competition when Kelly accused Abby of plotting to replace Brooke with newcomer Kalani. 

Abby gets in Kelly’s face, calls her a “dingbat,” and then starts snapping her teeth at Kelly like a rabid rottweiler. Kelly slaps Abby and pulls her hair before the pair is separated and Abby calls the police, later pressing charges for assault. (Of note, when describing Kelly to the 911 operators, she notes Kelly’s “cool and trendy” haircut, the only nice thing she ever said about her.) 

The Victor: When you’ve spent a year in jail for tax fraud, the only cast members who will still speak to you are JoJo Siwa and ViViAnne, and your number one prodigy shaded you beyond repair in a Cosmo interview, it’s hard to call you a victor of anything. 

Emma Sharpe
Emma Sharpe
Emma Sharpe is a New York based writer and marketer. She's a Kardashian apologist and finds a Survivor metaphor for every life situation. You can find more of her pop culture ramblings at