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In case you didn't already know, "American Idol" is coming to an end.

Back in January, the beloved Fox singing competition kicked off its final season and with the series finale airing tonight, we can't help but feel a bit nostalgic. For the last 15 years, we've watched the Ryan Seacrest-hosted show take on a life of its own by discovering some of the biggest chart-toppers around. There'd (likely) be no Kelly Clarkson without "Idol." There'd (likely) be no Adam Lambert without "Idol." There'd (likely) be no Jennifer Hudson without "Idol." You get where we're going here.

In honor of the reality competition's series season, iHeartRadio has decided to take a walk down memory lane to revisit some of the friendly (and sometimes too cruel for school) faces that helped these hopeful newbies become media-trained superstars. 

Check out all the "American Idol" judges throughout the years!

simon cowell

Simon Cowell

"Idol" Years: 9 

You can't talk about "American Idol" without talking about Simon Cowell. He's one of the show's OG, and to be frank, was a major necessity for its 2002 debut. No one could understand why he was so honest (and sometimes blatantly rude) with contestants, but his opinions seem pretty tame compared to what you might find nowadays amongst YouTube comments.

paula abdul

Paula Abdul

"Idol" Years: 8

There's no denying that Paula Abdul makes for some amazing television. After years of appearing as the nice and friendly judge (compared to Mr. Cowell), the former pop singer took on another role: the wacky judge. All jokes aside, Paula served as the motherly shoulder that contestants leaned on when dad reacted with his no-nonsense honesty.

randy jackson

Randy Jackson

"Idol" Years: 12

Out of the original trio, Randy Jackson offered up the longest contribution to the "American Idol" judging panel. The music producer served up that sort of cool uncle factor that left you with an honest and, most importantly, useful critique of contestants. He left after season 12.


Ellen DeGeneres

"Idol" Years: 1


When you think back to Ellen DeGeneres' role on "American Idol," it probably doesn't make sense. It didn't really make sense back then either. TV's favorite daytime comedian didn't really have the musical expertise or background to be giving singing hopefuls any sort of advice. Still, she had some colorful whit to bring to the table.

kara dioguardi

Kara DioGuardi

"Idol" Years: 2

Singer/songwriter Kara Dioguardi joined Ellen DeGeneres on her season of "Idol." While she definitely had the chops to conjure up pop lyricism, she's usually looked at as one of the lowest of the lows for the singing competition.


Jennifer Lopez

"Idol" Years: 3

It's hard to say who saved who here. "Idol" saw a brief rejuvenation when J. Lo walked on to the show. And yet, it also gave her the platform to breathe some new life into her own career. As one of the last standing judges on the show, La Lopez has become a warm shoulder for contestants and viewers alike. She'll send the show packing in its final season.

steven tyler

Steven Tyler

"Idol" Years: 2

After Paula Abdul left the show, there was a void for some colorful personality, and the Aerosmith frontman surely filled that role. However, Steven's role on the show reportedly started to hinder the band, so left after two seasons. 

mariah carey

Mariah Carey

"Idol" Years: 1

You'd think that choosing one of the most iconic voices of the last couple of decades would have happened sooner after Simon's departure. Nah, Mariah joined "Idol" in 2013 and spent a majority of her appearances on the show engaging in a back and forth spat with Nicki Minaj. After a few episodes, it just became old.

nicki minaj

Nicki Minaj

"Idol" Years: 1 

In an attempt to snag a younger demo, "Idol" asked this Young Money honey to hop aboard the judge's panel after promising MC the only female seat. While she surely brought her exuberant personality to the table, it sometimes didn't arrive on time. Nicki was up to 15 minutes late for some of the show's live episodes in 2013.

keith urban

Keith Urban

"Idol" Years: 2

Here's another one of your final "Idol" judges. Since his debut as a judge in 2014, the superstar has offered up a low-key demeanor alongside his country charm. Plus, you have to give him credit since he was on the sidelines for all the Mariah vs. Nicki beef. 

harry connick jr

Harry Connick Jr.

"Idol" Years: 2

Harry Connick has often been praised for bringing his own knowledge and craft into play when judging "Idol" contestants. He's been with the show for the last two seasons and will be by Urban and Lopez's side for the final season.

Photo: Getty Images