A Definitive Ranking of Every 'American Idol' Finalist Ever


The 14th season of American Idol comes to an end this week, though you'd be forgiven for not knowing. Ratings for the once-mammoth reality show have been on the decline for years, hitting a new low this season. Monday morning, Fox sounded the alarm: Idol is being canceled, and next year will be its last. 

Yet in its darkest hour yet, it's best not to remember Idol as it is, but as it once was. It's been an incredible run, including eight years spent as America's most-watched program. It was once so huge that other networks scheduled their promising new shows as far away from it as possible. More than that, American Idol will forever be the show that launched Carrie Underwood, Jennifer Hudson, Adam Lambert and original Idol Kelly Clarkson. That's certainly nothing to sneeze at.

Of those past contestants, however, which ones stand out? As Idol's reduced audience waits to hear which of the final three — Jax Cole, Nick Fradiani or Clark Beckham — will be the next American Idol, we've ranked each American Idol finalist from the past 14 years. This includes anyone who made it to the finale of their season, as well as Cole, Fradiani and Beckham. Who's on top? It's not hard to guess.

1. Kelly Clarkson

Season 1 winner

2. Carrie Underwood


Season 4 winner

3. Jordin Sparks

Season 6 winner

4. Candice Glover

Season 12 winner

5. Adam Lambert


Season 8 runner-up

6. Phillip Phillips

Season 11 winner

7. Jena Irene

Season 13 runner-up

8. Fantasia Barrino


Season 3 winner

9. Crystal Bowersox

Season 9 runner-up

10. Jessica Sanchez


Season 11 runner-up

11. Katharine McPhee

Season 5 runner-up

12. Scotty McCreery


Season 10 winner

13. Kris Allen

Season 8 winner

14. David Cook


Season 7 winner

15. Clay Aiken

Season 2 runner-up

16. Bo Bice

Season 4 runner-up

17. Kree Harrison


Season 12 runner-up

18. Blake Lewis

Season 6 runner-up

19. Ruben Studdard

Season 2 winner

20. Lauren Alaina


Season 10 runner-up

21. Jax Cole

Season 14 finalist

22. David Archuleta

Season 7 runner-up

23. Diana DeGarmo

Season 3 runner-up

24. Nick Fradiani

Season 14 finalist

25. Clark Beckham

Season 14 finalist

26. Justin Guarini


Season 1 runner-up

27. Caleb Johnson

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Season 13 winner

28. Taylor Hicks


Season 5 winner

29. Lee DeWyze

Season 9 winner