2021 marks the 40th anniversary of MTV. It’s hard to believe that MTV first graced us way back in 1981 when “Video Killed the Radio Star” was the channel’s first-ever music video.

In the years following, MTV experienced its share of the limelight. As successful as the channel eventually became, don’t get it twisted: MTV still had its fair share of struggles in its early years. Most people didn’t know or care about music videos, and many conservative cable TV providers wouldn’t even carry the channel. 

But within a few years of the channel’s release, MTV hit a stride. MTV raised the profile of stars like Madonna, and then-president Bill Clinton made several on-air appearances which we’re *pretty* confident helped the channel’s rankings skyrocket. 

Then MTV began its foray into the world of reality TV, and Americans everywhere got hooked on MTV originals like Jersey Shore, The Hills, True Life, and of course, our beloved MTV Cribs

Although MTV may no longer be in its heyday, Americans are still curious about its timeless hits. As lovers of TV, we wanted to find out just how timeless MTV hits are. Using Google Trends data, we found out which MTV classics Americans searched for most in 2010, 2015, and 2020. (Plus, we nailed down which TV shows were searched most in each state because that’s just how much we care.)


  • In 2010, nearly a third (27%) of all search volume for MTV originals was for The Challenge, an extreme challenge game show with a mega cash prize up for grabs at the end. The show is still running despite debuting in 1998. To date, the show has 36 seasons.
  • In 2010, 24% of search volume for MTV originals was for the animated series Daria. The PG-13 animated sitcom ended in 2002, but we suspect peoples’ interest in the series spiked in 2010 due to a reboot teaser released in January 2010.
  • Soon after 2010, Beavis and Butt-Head became the only MTV classic to peak in search popularity over two consecutive months: October 2011 and November 2011.


  • Americans’ search interest for MTV classics peaked in 2014. After that, search queries for the channel’s classics decreased year after year beginning in 2015.
  • The Hills may have ended in 2010, but it’s clear that in 2015, plenty of Americans wanted to weigh in on the Lauren-Heidi saga. 14% of all search queries for MTV classics that year were for the Cali-based “reality” TV series (IYKYK). In the same year, the Weeknd released the song “The Hills,” which people initially believed was related to the MTV series (pssst: turns out it wasn’t).


  • Americans searched for Teen Wolf the most of any MTV original show in 2020. In the same year, the show’s main actor (and hunk), Tyler Posey, threw fans into a frenzy when he tweeted at MTV his desire for a reboot (which the entire cast backed him on). 
  • Search volume for Awkward spiked in 2020, likely thanks to Awkward’s Instagram announcement that fans could relive Sadie’s “you’re welcome-s” and Jenna Hamilton’s —dare we say, god-awful—swoop bangs on Hulu.
  • Fans also had a lot of questions about Catfish: The TV Show in 2020. 22% of all search volume from 2020 was for the MTV love drama series. Catfish: The TV Show made headlines in 2020 for its first-ever virtual season premiere (a.k.a. virtually-produced season).

Here’s How We Got Our Numbers

To find the most-searched MTV original show in 2010, 2015, and 2020, we analyzed Google Trends data for each respective year to get a state breakdown detailing which shows Americans in each state searched for the most.

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