Where Does NeNe Leakes Rank Among Real Housewives Returns?

After two seasons away, NeNe made her triumphant return to the Bravo reality show

By Chris Harnick Nov 06, 2017 5:28 PMTags

With a bloop, NeNe Leakes returned. And what a welcome return it was. NeNe is back full-time on The Real Housewives of Atlanta for season 10, her first time picking up the peach as a full-time cast member since season seven. NeNe previously returned as a guest in season eight and was completely absent from season nine.

She wasted no time mixing it up, and continued to mix it up on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen. After watching a clip reel of her costars shading her, NeNe responded. Many of the barbs—or shade—was about her looks.

The Official Ranking of The Real Housewives

"[Porsha Williams] saying I look different, she does too. She's gained a lot of weight," NeNe told Andy Cohen. As for Sheree Whitfield saying she wouldn't tell NeNe anything, NeNe said she would tell her something: "That wig is a no."

Where does NeNe's return rank among other Real Housewives stars making their way back to their shows? Check out our ranking below.

15. WORST: Kelly Bensimon (Real Housewives of New York seasons 2-4, guest in season 6-7)

Kelly and her jellybeans gave us Scary Island during the third (and quite possibly best?) season of RHONY, but she was part of the big shakeup following season four and left the show with Jill Zarin, Cindy Barshop and Alex McCord. She reappeared at a fashion show with Aviva Drescher, Luann de Lesseps and some of the other ladies in season six. She wore a mask, but nothing special really happened. She popped back up in season seven during Luann's Ladies' Night Out, coming face-to-face with Bethenny Frankel, but fans hoping for a redux of Scary Island were sadly disappointed when Bethenny immediately left, blaming Lu for not mentioning Kelly would be there.


14. Taylor Armstrong (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills seasons 1-3, recurring)

Taylor showed up in season four, but in season five she was there alongside Adrienne Maloof and Camille Grammer at Kyle Richards' White Party for an OG RHOBH reunion. Unlike her fellow RHOBH returnees, Taylor didn't really add much to the scenes/season.

13. Kathy Wakile (Real Housewives of New Jersey seasons 3-5, "friend" in seasons 6-7)

Kathy joined the show in season three as part of the post-Danielle Staub era. Her family drama with Teresa Giudice fueled much of the show, but she left the series after season five only to return to show viewers Kevin Jonas was building her new house (huh?, react to Teresa's legal problems, and get told by her cousin that she wants nothing to do with her anymore. Ouch.

12. Adrienne Maloof (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills seasons 1-3, recurring)

Adrienne had her fair share of drama over her three seasons, including a particularly ugly fight with Brandi Glanville. She returned for Kyle Richards' White Party in season 5 and had a sitdown with Brandi to clear the air and put all the nastiness between them to bed. She later showed up to listen to Kim Richards' problems and host a magic show/product lunch/???. Her tense sitdown with Brandi and "magic show" worked in her favor.

11. Lydia McLaughlin (Real Housewives of Orange County seasons 8 and 12)

After a one-and-done season where her pop-smoking mother made more of an impact than her and a four-year absence, the sparkles and rainbows-obsessed Lydia has returned full-time for the current season of RHOC. She's attempted to play peacemaker between the endlessly feuding Vicki Gunvalson and Tamra Judge, and she's proven to have more of a backbone than the first time around, standing up to Shannon Beador's steamrolling tendencies, but the jury's still out on whether this return was warranted after all.

10. Jacqueline Laurita (Real Housewives of New Jersey seasons 1-5, 7, "friend" in season 6)

Jacqueline returned to the fray not even a season after she left and filmed with Teresa Giudice's cousin and former cast member Kathy Wakile. Viewers got to see how her son Nicholas was doing and how Jacqueline reacted to Teresa's legal woes and prison sentence. She added an even more emotional backbone to a crazy (and at times boring) season. She then returned full-time the following season, went to war with Teresa and Melissa Gorga in an especially nasty way and lost quite a bit of fan goodwill. She did not return for season eight.

9. Jill Zarin (Real Housewives of New York City seasons 1-4, guest in season 9)

After four seasons that saw the audience completely turn on her following her nasty friendship break-up with Bethenny Frankel and four seasons away, Jill popped up as a guest, hosting Luann de Lesseps and Dorinda Medley at a "bullying lunch" (whatever that is) in season nine as the former Countess was preparing to marry her now ex-husband Tom D'Agostino. The whole thing was mostly a non-event, though Jill did utter one epic line that pretty much summed her whole appearance up: "I miss it. I'm not going to lie. I kind of miss the gossip." We know you do, Jill. We know.

8. Lauri Waring Peterson (Real Housewives of Orange County seasons 1-4, "friend" in season 8)

Lauri didn't get an orange when she returned in season eight, but boy did she make a splash. One of the original Real Housewives, Lauri returned with rumors about Vicki. They involved a threesome, because of course. The former friends clashed, naturally and her rumors were the fuel to a lot of the drama fire.

7. Jeana Keough (Real Housewives of Orange County seasons 1-5, a "friend" in season 6, a guest in seasons 7, 10, 11 and 12)

Jeana is no stranger to viewers, but the most memorable return appearance she had was in season six when she was on the receiving end of Tamra Judge's wine. That's why she's ranked so high. Everybody loves Jeana, with or without wine all over herself.

6. Dina Manzo (Real Housewives of New Jersey seasons 1-2, 6, guest in season 4)

Dina had a big exit where she told Danielle Staub she was done. Then her real-life family feuds took hold of the headlines and she wasn't seen again until season four at an event for Teresa Giudice (she said she didn't think cameras would still be there). Once her sister Caroline Manzo exited the show for her own spinoff, Dina returned as a Housewife fulltime for season six where she tried to keep the peace amongst the ladies, date while still living with her husband and support Teresa.

5. Camille Grammer (Real Housewives of Beverly Hills seasons 1-2, recurring after)

Camille did not have a good first year. No sir. However, year two was better, but she called it quits with the show as a fulltime Housewife after that. But thanks to her real-life friendships with many of the women on the show, Camille has graced audiences with presence on multiple occasions. This year she did Yolanda's scavenger hunt with the women, listened to Kyle Richards' problems and attended Adrienne Maloof's magic show (or whatever that was supposed to be). Whenever Camille returns good things (sometimes dramatic) happen.

4. Danielle Staub (Real Housewives of New Jersey seasons 1-2, "friend" in season 8)

We never expected Danielle Staub to receive an invitation to return to RHONJ, especially as an ally to Teresa Giudice, who once threw a table at her and then chased her off the stage at a reunion taping. But here we are, with the former full-time Housewife back on the scene as a "Friend of the Housewives" in season eight. Having only seen one episode as of press time, we're all still a little in the dark on what to expect from Danielle this time around, but if the season's supertease is any indication, she won't be lacking in the fireworks department.

3. NeNe Leakes (Real Housewives of Atlanta seasons 1-7,10, guest season 8)

Oh, the shade! NeNe starred in seven seasons of the Bravo hit before turning in her peach. She returned as a guest in season eight, but was entirely absent from season nine. She reclaimed her peach in season 10 and wasted no time stirring the drama pot. Welcome back NeNe!

2. RUNNER-UP: Luann de Lesseps (Real Housewives of New York seasons 1-5, 7-9, "friend" in season 6)

Countess Luann wasn't a fulltime member of the show in season six, but she sure was around a lot and it turned into her best season yet! She was relatable, funny and most important: real. She got her apple back for season seven and already had a signature line: "Be cool. Don't be all…uncool." This new Countess Luann was totes cool, but didn't last very long as seasons eight and nine saw her fall in love with, marry and then ultimately divorce Tom D'Agostino, all while her fellow co-stars warned her with bad news that was always about Tom. Here's hoping for a return to Cool Countess in season 10!

1. BEST: Bethenny Frankel (Real Housewives of New York seasons 1-3, season 7-9)

Her talk show and marriage both failed, so Bethenny returned to what she knows best: The Real Housewives. In her three seasons back, we've seen a tougher Bethenny, a more closed-off Bethenny, as she struggled with her health, her crushing and ugly divorce, and any co-star who dared step to her. (We're looking at you, Ramona Singer!) But her trademark humor has also been on display. And watching her fall in friend love with fan-fave Carole Radziwill has been nothing sort of a delight. Bethenny is back with a vengeance, y'all!

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The Real Housewives of Atlanta airs Sundays, 8 p.m. on Bravo.

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