FLASHBACK: The 'American Idol' Judges Whose Guidance and Bickering Made the Show Must-See TV

by Raphael Chestang 3:49 PM PDT, April 07, 2016
Playing FLASHBACK: The 'American Idol' Judges Whose Guidance and Bickering Made the Show Must-See TV

ET is revisiting some of the best and worst moments the American Idol judges have had over the course of 15 memorable seasons.

During the show's tremendous run, there were many times when the judges snagged bigger headlines than the contestants -- and the original judges, Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson -- even had some fun on ET.

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"I'm in the position most women, in fact all women, would envy," Abdul told ET in 2004 from her comfy position sandwiched in between Simon Cowell and Randy Jackson under the bed sheets.

In 2002, Cowell explained his straight-talking demeanor with less-than-stellar Idol hopefuls.

"We're always being told off by the producers: 'You can't say this. You can't say that,'" Cowell shared. "I said, 'Fine. Go hire some robots.'"

Abdul's sometimes-ditzy side garnered attention on the show as well, but she definitely raised the most eyebrows when she thought a contestant gave multiple performances during one taping in 2008.

Shortly after the mishap, host Ryan Seacrest came to Abdul's defense, saying, "The rumors: they're not true. She's part of our family, and we love her, so a round of applause for Paula."

After Paula left the show in 2009, reportedly due to a dispute over money, there was a revolving door of judges.

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Ellen DeGeneres joined the show in 2010, but only stayed for one season, calling the experience "one of the worst decisions" she had made in her career.

When Cowell also left to tend to The X Factor, the vacancies at the judges' panel were filled by Steven Tyler and Jennifer Lopez. While the judges didn't always agree, they nevertheless remained respectful and loving, though the 2013 crew seemed to experience a major rift between judges Mariah Carey and Nicki Minaj.

"If she calls me something that begins with a 'B' and ends with an 'itch,' I rebuke it," Carey said during one round of auditions.

With the squabbles came a dip in ratings until Lopez made her return the following season. In 2011, Lopez told us saying goodbye to contestants was the most difficult part about judging.

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"I really do see myself in them," J.Lo said at the time. "I really do know what they're going through and it hurts."

One last contestant will be dismissed Thursday when the series finale airs at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.