Season 1: The one with Kelly Clarkson
The troubled history of American Idol begins in the summer of 2002, when it premiered on Fox under the then-lengthier title American Idol: The Search for a Superstar. Paula Abdul, Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson were the original judges, with Ryan Seacrest and Brian Dunkleman standing in as the resident talking heads/hosts.
Not getting off to a smooth start, that inaugural season's first marks of disgrace appeared as allegations of vote rigging -- spurred by Nikki McKibbin outlasting favourite Tamyra Gray -- and revelations that 100 phone hackers had been able to place as many as 10,000 votes a night from a single phone line. Meanwhile, "A Moment Like This" crooner Kelly Clarkson was crowned Idol champ and is, still to this day, considered "the most successful contestant around the world".