Most of us would cringe at the thought of flying a paraglider over Mount Everest, but it’s just another day at the office for Bear Grylls. The former British Special Air Serviceman, seasoned adventurer, author and downright charismatic fellow makes a dangerous game of stranding himself in remote locations to demonstrate localized survival techniques in Man vs. Wild. Among the reasons we give Grylls top honors: When skeptics questioned his authenticity, Grylls and Discovery responded boldly by showing even more behind-the-scenes footage. Yes, he engages in all sorts of unsavory behavior like, you know, drinking the blood of a yak he’d killed to turn its corpse into a toboggan. But Grylls ultimately strives to teach survival skills for situations we hope never to find ourselves in but, hey, you never know…
Shawn Michaels, World Wrestling Entertainment: A career show-stealer in an industry that thrives on hyperbole, Michaels topped even his own stunts this year during his WrestleMania matchup against Ric Flair when he saluted his longtime idol with the words, "I’m sorry. I love you," before delivering the chin kick that ended Flair’s career.
Don Wildman, Cities of the Underworld, History: As he explores the underground mysteries of major cities across the globe, cable phenom Wildman brings the in-depth historical knowledge that elates History’s core viewers while ratcheting up the unbridled energy that’s made the show a hit with the younger demographic. That’s what we call energizing the base while reaching new viewers.