In the world of reality TV, nothing stays the same for long. The stakes need to be raised, drama heightened, and fresh sources of conflict added to the mix. Nowhere is this spirit of reinvention more alive than in Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise. And when we say reinvention, we of course mean recasting -- because sometimes the only way to fix a flailing show is to infuse it with new, claws-out, drama-queen blood. But then there are the precious few who stay, season after season, either because Bravo has anointed them the chosen ones or fans just can't get enough.
The list of original Housewives still on their respective shows is a short yet complicated one, some stars leaving, some leaving then returning, and some being demoted to "friend of the Housewives" status. And while it seems that Housewives come and go every time the wind blows, we did do our best to make this list of original cast members still on their shows as current and complete as possible. (We look forward to it being outdated as soon as Bravo sends out a press release.)
Bethenny's back! The NYC OG makes a triumphant return to Season 7 of "Real Housewives of New York City" tonight, and from the looks of things, the SkinnyGirl tycoon is going to spice things up. Frankel left for other pursuits -- including her own series with ex-husband Jason, "Bethenny Ever After" and her own short-lived talk-show -- but it appears she just can't kick that housewife life. (Except she's not technically a housewife, but that never stopped her before.)
The Real Housewives of Orange County')
Ah, Vicki. RHOC is the original and longest-running of the Housewives franchise, and Vicki is its only remaining Season 1 star. From her drunken "woohoos" to her boredom-induced snoring fits, year over year, she's never let us down. Just don't ask her about Brooks. Never ask her about Brooks.
The Real Housewives of New York')
Over the years, we've come to rely on Ramona saying and doing wildly inappropriate things (Turtle Time!), always with a glass of Ramona Pinot in hand. Her complete and utter lack of filter and under-appreciated talent at inventing storylines has kept her in the game for six seasons, and we have a hard time imagining RHONY without her. We can't wait to see her in action when the show returns.
LuAnn de Lesseps ('The Real Housewives of New York')
OK, so technically LuAnn was demoted to "Friend of the Housewives" status at one point, but the fact that she has appeared in nearly every single episode of Season 6 and she's returning to Season 7 surely qualifies her for this list. Our love for The Countess has ebbed and flowed over the years, but last season it was in full bloom. She isn't taking any crap from anyone and she's eschewing the prim-and-proper for honest candor, and we''re so excited to see this LuAnn back.
The Real Housewives of Atlanta')
The ATL is nothing without NeNe. Sure, there've been plenty of times when she's let her ego get the best of her (ahem, Trump checks), but that's part of her appeal, just like her biting one-liners, eye rolls, and ability to scare Kenya Moore into a corner. #NeNe4eva
Dina Manzo ('The Real Housewives of New Jersey')
After a three-season absence, Dina came back! After having starred in Seasons 1 & 2, Dina left to do her own thing, which included her own show on HGTV. Since that didn't really pan out, she's going back to her roots. When Caroline opted out of Season 6, Dina did her best to fill her sister's mama bear-sized, judgmental shoes.
The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills')
Kim, of "Escape to Witch Mountain" fame, has been through a lot during her tenure on RHOBH: rehab, intense feuding with sister Kyle, a dysfunctional romance, and, of course, a nose job. So it stands to reason that she's stuck through every season. Does her behavior sometimes raise a question mark? Yes. But there's never dull moment with squirrel-feeding, dog-loving, unconventional blouse-wearing Kim.
Kyle Richards ('Real Housewives of Beverly Hills')
Kyle, like her sister, is an actress. Her credits -- aside from her role in RHOBH -- include "The Watcher in the Woods" and "Halloween." Impressive, right? What's more impressive is how long we've been subjected to the ins and outs of her relationship with fellow RHOBH lifer Lisa Vanderpump. While the frenemy storyline is wearing thin, Kyle's family is adorable, and we can always count on her White Party turning into a tornado of trash talking and/or awkwardness. And hair whipping, as illustrated above.
Lisa Vanderpump ('Real Housewives of Beverly Hills')
All hail The Queen of Beverly! Along with her diehard fans, Lisa has her fair share of haters -- some of whom star alongside her on RHOBH. Whether you believe her to be the chess master that Kyle, Kim, and Brandi Glanville claim her to be (checkmate, bitch!), no one keeps the drama alive more than Lisa. You also have to respect the fact that she's the only one of the Beverly Hills Housewives to land herself a spinoff, which is basically a weekly, hour-long commercial for her restaurants. That's a smart businesswoman.
Camille Grammer & Adrienne Maloof ('The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills')
These ladies are lumped together due to the unique circumstances in which they are placed in this list. You see, Adrienne dropped out of Season 4 entirely, and Camille hasn't been a fulltime Housewife since Season 2. Well, both made appearances in Season 5 with the other ladies, filling the void left by fired one-season-wonders Carlton Gebbia and Joyce Giraud de Ohoven.
The Real Housewives of Miami')
OK, admittedly we don't watch RHOM and therefore don't know much about it. What we do know is that Alexia left after Season 1 and came back for Season 3, and some people have opinions about that. We're also sad that Marysol Patten was demoted to Friend status in Season 3 and may no longer be on the show; her mom, Mama Elsa (pictured), may be the most fascinating person on the planet. Also, does anyone know if this show has been canceled yet? Bravo has yet to say one way or the other.
Shout out to RealityTVGIFS for a lot of the GIFs above. Top photo via Getty Images.