RuPaul's Drag Race Top 20 Queens

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Nine seasons. Three All-Stars off-shoots. 113 queens. That's a whole lot of charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent, mama.

But not all RuPaul's Drag Race queens are created equal. 

With All-Stars 3 currently airing on new network home VH1 and the franchise's landmark season 10 just around the corner, we thought the timing was right to open the library and read these queens to filth to determine which of Mama Ru's girls deserved to be in our Top 20. Why? Because reading is fundamental. (And also, because any opportunity we get to talk about Drag Race as "work," we'll take it.) 

Which queens made the cut and which had to sashay away? It wasn't easy narrowing this down. The sheer magnitude of talent among the amazing drag queens that RuPaul has introduced the world to is truly a force to be reckoned with. This show hasn't spawned an industry unto itself, complete with a yearly weekend-long fan convention, for no reason. And as you take a look at our list, you'll notice that simply winning a season wasn't enough for some queens to make the cut. 

As the show has evolved and grown, so too has the talent, making it harder and harder for those early queens to edge their way in. Not that they're not trailblazing and legendary in their own right. It's just that, when you're whittling the list down to 20, you've got to make some cuts somewhere.

So without any further ado, it's time to put your reading glasses on and find out which of Mama Ru's girls made our Top 20—and which one came out on top. 

RuPauls Drag Race, Peppermint, Season 9


Season 9 runner-up Peppermint (real name Agnes Moore) more than lived up to her nick name "Lip Sync Assassin," honey. She did knock three of her sisters out of the competition in sudden death lip syncs, after all. Thanks to her unwavering positivity, the warmth she brought to the competition, and her place in Drag Race history as the first already out trans woman to fight for the crown, she was the season's true Miss Congeniality. (Sorry, not sorry, Valentina fans.)

RuPauls Drag Race, Adore Delano, Season 6


It's no secret that season six runner-up Adore Delano (real name Danny Noriega) struggled with her "hog body" on many a runway, but she still proved to be one of the show's more memorable queens, nearly snatching the crown in what's unofficially considered the best season of Drag Race ever. Between her sisterly bond with Bianca Del Rio, her delightful sense of humor, and her vocal talent (Noriega competed on season seven of American Idol out of drag), she more than earned her spot in the Top 20. It would've been higher, too, if she hadn't quit All-Stars 2 in the very first episode.

RuPauls Drag Race, Violet Chachki, Season 7


There's no denying that season seven is one of the weaker recent seasons of Drag Race and its winner, Violet Chachki (real name Jason Dardo), proves that. Though she basically snatched the crown in the season's very first episode with her sickening dual runway outfit reveal, the fashion plate never really proved she was much more than that. If that rumored all-winners season of All-Stars ever comes to fruition, she'd have her work cut out for her.

RuPauls Drag Race, BenDeLaCreme, All-Stars 2


Thanks to her unrelenting effervescence and unforgettable performance as Dame Maggie Smith in Snatch Game, BenDeLaCreme (real name Benjamin Putman) had the title of season six's Miss Congeniality on lock. But she was often too in her own head and proved to be a touch too similar to drag sister (and season five winner) Jinkx Monsoon to really pop. However, the fact that she's slayed every competition in the currently-airing All-Stars 3 thus far proves that she shouldn't be counted out just yet.

RuPauls Drag Race, Raja, Season 3


One of the few pre-season four queens to earn a spot in our Top 20, season three winner Raja (real name Sutan Amrull) and her editorial eye for fashion could not be ignored. She helped drive home the idea that drag could be something more than just female impersonation. With Raja, more often than not, it was damn art.

RuPauls Drag Race, Jinkx Monsoon, Season 5


Water off a duck's back, right Jinkx Monsoon? Season five's narcoleptic (yes, really) winner (real name Jerick Hoffer) managed to overcome the powerful and, at times, cruel Team RoLaskTox to snatch the crown and prove that comedy queens can win this competition. And her Snatch Game performance as Grey Gardens' Little Edie is one of the series' best.

RuPauls Drag Race, Trixie Mattel, Season 7


OK, hear us out on this one. Trixie Mattel (real name Brian Firkus) and her nightmarish approximation of a Barbie doll may have left everyone slightly confused during her first season, but in hindsight, we all let that overshadow her fierce wit and intellect. As she rose to fame as one half of the hosting duo for Drag Race production company World of Wonder's web series UNHhhh, she proved that she's just flat-out hilarious and her performance thus far on All-Stars 3 has only bolstered her place in the upper echelon of Drag Race queens.

RuPauls Drag Race, Shangela Laquifa Wadley, All-Stars 3


Halleloo! You didn't think we'd look over Shangela Laquifa Wadley (real name D.J. Pierce), now did you? The only queen to compete in not one, not two, but three seasons of Drag Race (including the currently airing All-Stars 3), Shangela is undeniably one of the series' unforgettable legends. Her arrival in season three—jumping out of a giant gift-wrapped box—and the looks on all the other queens' faces as it happened is a must-see.

RuPauls Drag Race, Courtney Act, Season 6


One third of season six's holy triumvirate (along with Adore Delano and Bianca Del Rio), Courtney Act (real name Shane Jenek) is one of the fishiest queens to ever compete on Drag Race. (For the uninitiated, "fish" is a drag term reserved for those who truly look like biological women. It's a good thing.) She sometimes stood in the shadows of Adore and Bianca, but Courtney and her singing voice (Jerek competed on the first season of Australian Idol—in drag) are a star in their own right. And hearing her say her name in her Australian accent lets you know that there's some sly wit hiding underneath all that fishiness.

RuPauls Drag Race, Shea Coulee, Season 9


Shea Couleé (real name Jaren Merrell) may have stumbled in the season nine finale, failing to deliver any of the theatrics that her sisters Peppermint and Sasha Velour did, but there's no denying that she slayed her season. With four challenge wins and an unforgettable performance as Blac Chyna in "Kardashian: The Musical," it seemed like the season was hers to lose. Ultimately, she did, ensuring she'd never crack the Top 10.

RuPauls Drag Race, Sasha Velour, Season 9


Why is season nine winner Sasha Velour (real name Sasha Steinberg) in the Top 10, you ask? We direct you to her not one, but two STUNNING Whitney Houston lip syncs in the season finale. Enough said. We'll never listen to "So Emotional" or look at rose petals the same way again.

RuPauls Drag Race, Latrice Royale, Season 4


As season four's Miss Congeniality, plus-size queen Latrice Royale (real name Timothy Wilcots) entered into the competition with over two decades of drag experience under her belt—and it showed. If a bit staid in her artistic ambition, Latrice was never not entertaining, especially when she was taking us to church with her reminder that "Jesus is a biscuit" and to "let him sop you up." And just try not to laugh while watching her performance during the "Queens Behind Bars" challenge. Say it with us now: "Get those nuts away from my face!"

RuPauls Drag Race, Detox, Season 4


Has any queen in Drag Race history ever served up more stunning looks than season five's Detox (real name Matthew Sanderson)? Her head-to-toe greyscale make-up at her season's finale, where she upstaged the final three by a long shot, is EVERYTHING. And her performance in All-Stars 2, aside from the unnecessary reemergence of RoLaskaTox, proved even more that she's a fierce queen.

RuPauls Drag Race, Bob the Drag Queen, Season 8


Thorgy Thor may have loved to complain that season eight was "The Bob Show," but that's because Bob the Drag Queen (real name Christopher Caldwell) completely outpaced everyone competing against her. Bob was the whole package and her series-first decision to play not one, but two different celebrities in Snatch Game (Carol Channing and Uzo Aduba) all but solidified her win. 

RuPauls Drag Race, Chad Michaels, Season 4


Chad Michaels is a freaking legend and if Sharon Needles hadn't competed against her in season four, she'd have walked away with the crown easily. Hell, the All-Stars format was essentially invented so that RuPaul could give the expert Cher impersonator a crown of her own. If that's not Top 10 material, we don't know what is.

RuPauls Drag Race, Alyssa Edwards, Season 5


Alyssa Edwards (real name Justin Johnson) has competed for the crown twice now, and twice she's come up short. But that hasn't stopped her from becoming one of the franchise's most memorable queens. Her rivalry with Coco Montrese lead to some of season five's juiciest drama and most hilarious one-liners courtesy of the tongue-popping queen. "Girl, look how orange you f--king look, girl," ranks up there as one of her best. But who can forget her priceless reaction to Jade Jolie's insinuation that she's carrying some back fat? Say it with us now: "Back rolls?!"

RuPauls Drag Race, Katya, Season 7


In a perfect world, Katya (real name Brian McCook) would've been handed the crown she so clearly deserved in season seven. There are few queens in Drag Race history who've displayed as much innovation, wit and talent as Katya. (Like, only the three above her on this list, TBH.) She routinely stole the show during her time on All-Stars 2 and though she didn't win, her rap during the legendary performance of "Read U Wrote U" will stand the test of time as one of Drag Race's best performances. 

RuPauls Drag Race, Sharon Needles, Season 4


When Sharon Needles (real name Aaron Coady) arrived on the scene in season four, her "genderf--k" horror-show style of drag completely changed the idea of what was possible and permissible on Drag Race. Though she routinely faced attacks from season villain Phi Phi O'Hara, who told her to go back to Party City "where you belong," she got the last laugh, thanks to her genuine warmth, wit and artistry. She helped to revolutionize the show, though her performance in the final "Glamazon" music video challenge proved she was also capable of melding her unique vision with Mama Ru's eleganza approach to drag, elevating her to the crown and her spot on this list.

RuPauls Drag Race, Alaska, Season 5


Hieee! In season five, Alaska (real name Justin Honard) proved just how perfect she was for this competition. There was her hilarious fragrance commercial parody for "Red For Filth..." Her wig-snatching performance in the "Reading is Fundamental" challenge. Her creation of Lil Pound Cake. She lost the crown to Jinkx Monsoon, but then she returned for All-Stars 2, newly sober and ready to win. And boy did she. Between her unbelievable Mae West in Snatch Game and her second stand-out commercial parody, she more than proved why she's one of the all-time greats. Sure, her elimination choices deserve all the side-eye in the world, but none of them take away from her killer performance and her place in the Drag Race Hall of Fame.

RuPauls Drag Race, Bianca Del Rio, Season 6


Did you expect anyone else? In the history of Drag Race, there's no one who even comes close to season six winner Bianca Del Rio (real name Roy Haylock). She is, without a doubt, one of the funniest queens to ever vie for the title of America's Next Drag Superstar, but underneath all that sarcasm and sass, there lies a heart of gold. Not threatened, she took Adore Delano under her wing, mentoring her throughout their season, all the while slaying competition after competition. Her Snatch Game performance as Judge Judy was one of her riskiest moves that paid dividends (Judge Judy is one of RuPaul's biggest idols), her rapping in the "Oh No She Betta Don't" team challenge had us crying tears of laughter, and her work in the final "Sissy That Walk" music video proved this comedy diva is one hell of an eleganza queen as well. If that all-winners season of All-Stars ever does happen, there's no doubt that she's the one to beat.

Can we get an amen?

RuPaul's Drag Race All-Stars 3 airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on VH1.

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