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Best Reaction Videos (& Why They're So Popular)

Want to learn how to create engaging reaction videos and learn about the different reaction videos you can make? Here is the blog post for you!
Lisa Harroy
Creator Partnerships Lead
Last Updated:
December 26, 2023
Reviewed by
Ortal Hadad

If you’re not up-to-date on YouTube trends, reaction videos might be a complete mystery to you.

But don’t worry: Riverside’s here to break it down for you. Watching people react to what they’re watching can be side-splittingly funny (or heart-warming!).

Don’t just take our word for it though: keep reading to watch the best reaction videos and learn why they’re so popular.

What’s The Deal With Reaction Videos?

  • Reaction videos show people’s raw reactions to everything from music videos and movies to challenges and video games.
  • The subjects vary: some people record their own reactions, while others film other people, including kids’, teens’, and grandparents’ reactions. You can do both easily, in high quality, and without using too much bandwidth with Riverside. Our software allows you to upload your chosen audio and video files to your virtual studio. It then records everything in separate files to ensure studio-quality reaction videos that are ready for post-production.
  • Watching someone react to something - whether funny, emotional, disgusting, or scary - is seriously engrossing. Even scientific studies suggest that the existence of mirror neurons in our brains makes us enjoy and empathize with watching other people’s emotions. That could help explain why we find them so addictive!
  • There’s an enormous market for reaction videos, with some getting tens of millions of views and high engagement. Recording a reaction video could be a great way for your content to reach new audiences.

Reaction Videos: A Brief History

Reaction videos have evolved from a long-standing popular feature on Japanese variety shows. They were then made popular on YouTube in the early 2010s, kicked off by the “Kids React” videos on the comedy duo Fine Brothers’ channel now known as REACT

The concept has also become popular on TV, with millions of weekly viewers watching Gogglebox show people’s live reactions as they watch other television shows.

What Are The Best Reaction Videos?

For this article, we’ve selected our favorite YouTube (and TikTok) videos with high views and engagement and represent different types of popular reaction videos.

One thing remains consistent throughout: they show authentic, relatable reactions. Often, the more extreme the reaction, the more popular the video! To get the best reactions, content creators use the following techniques:

  • Make sure that it’s HD. With the plethora of HD cameras, including on smartphones, there’s no reason for your reaction video to be of poor quality. If you’re recording remotely and between two people or more, you can use Riverside to record HD reaction videos between you and other people.
  • Make sure the person reacting hasn’t seen the content before. They might react to a new YouTube video from their favorite (or, for a really dramatic reaction, least favorite) content creator, a music video, or a big moment in TV or film. Riverside’s Media Board feature allows you, as the host, to preview your chosen clips without revealing them to your guests or audience to guarantee an authentic reaction when you’re recording.
  • Emphasize a contrast in reactions. Record young kids reacting to old videos or grandparents reacting to current trending videos (with consent, of course!). You don’t have to be a fan of video games to enjoy watching Elders Play & React to Grand Theft Auto V.
  • Make it personal. Many content creators choose to film their reactions to their viewers’ comments, creating a touching reaction video - provided the comments are kind! 
  • Make it relatable. Others film themselves reacting to their old videos and photos, inciting audience empathy. For example, watching someone cringe at their old haircut and what they’re saying, you can’t help but do the same.
  • Make it unpredictable. Some of the funniest reaction videos show people reacting to TikToks or other social media videos. These are particularly effective if the content is strong, like an amazing life hack or - even funnier - a truly disgusting food recipe.
  • Gamify it. Combine two popular content genres: reaction videos and challenge videos. Challenge your reaction subjects to not laugh, not smile, or not get scared when watching a particular video.
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With that said, let’s take a look at some great examples of the best reaction videos and what makes them so popular:

Reacting to Movies, TV & Music Videos You Haven’t Seen Before

First Reaction to Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody

YouTuber No Life Shaq shares his reactions to songs and music videos he hasn’t heard before. His videos are often reactions to his favorite genre: hip-hop. However, videos of him reacting to famous rock songs for the first time, like the above reaction video Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, have also become some of his most popular uploads.

  • Gives another dimension to your content. Unlike listening to the newest song from his favorite artist, this contrasts the type of music Shaq’s usually into, so his reaction is unpredictable.
  • Makes audiences see the content in a new light. So many viewers of reaction videos like Shaq’s have commented that they’ve seen a song they’ve heard a thousand times in a whole new way thanks to their reaction.
  • Gives viewers what they want. Shaq does reaction videos to songs like Bohemian Rhapsody per his fans’ requests. There’s no better way to know that your content will do well than that.

Reaction Contrasts: Grandparents Reacting to Current Videos & Kids Reacting to Old Videos

Elders React to Nicki Minaj

REACT’s Elders React series shows older people reacting to current cultural phenomena, from video games to viral memes to, in the above case, Nicki Minaj’s music videos.

  • Gets extreme reactions. Let’s be honest, that’s the reason anyone’s doing this. Elders reacting to 1940s swing music definitely wouldn’t get the same reaction! And a millennial who’s grown up with Nicki Minaj is unlikely to react strongly to the strong language, suggestive dancing, and almost-nudity in her videos. Picking the right audience for the right content is key.
  • Keeps the audience guessing whether or not the elders will like the video. The great thing about showing multiple people in a reaction video is you can cover a range of different reactions: positive, negative, and in-between.

Kids React to Adult Jokes in Kids’ TV Shows

The Kid’s React series was the first REACT series and shows young children reacting to different videos, both scary and funny, like the above example.

  • People love cute videos. Whether it’s little kids or adorable animals, cute videos are always going to be popular. A surefire way to reach a big audience is having cute subjects, like this video of babies being scared of toys, which has 55 million views.
  • Gives viewers a unique insight into what kids think. It’s unpredictable, and that’s always hilarious - you never know what they’re going to say. Plus, if you get the joke, it’s doubly funny to watch this reaction video.

Reacting to TikTok Videos

Tega Reacts to a Burnt Pan Cleaning Hack


If you haven’t watch Tega’s reactions to TikTok life hacks and recipes, you’re seriously missing out. Tega Reacts uses TikTok Duets to record her reactions as she’s watching the videos, but you could just as easily use recording software like Riverside to create the same side-by-side video effect.

  • Uses niche content the viewers haven’t seen. Because she reacts to niche TikTok videos, likely, her viewers will also be watching the content for the first time. They get to experience her reaction as well as whatever happens in the video first-hand.
  • Genuine, unpredictable reactions. There are countless how-to and DIY videos on TikTok and across social media. Some of them are life-changing hacks, and some of them make you wonder how the content creator has made it this far. Genuinely not knowing the outcome of these videos makes them even funnier.
  • Coins a catchphrase. Fans know to listen out for Tega saying “continue” when she approves of the video. Having a unique, identifiable catchphrase or a particular move that viewers see in your video reactions gives them that incentive to watch your next video, to see if it’ll get the same reaction from you. 

You can even save an audio file of your catchphrase, or additional sound effects like clapping and drum rolls, and add them to your recording via Riverside’s Media Board to give your reaction video extra dimension.

Challenge Reactions

Innuendo Bingo with Will Ferrell

Challenges like this are so popular because as fun as it is to see other people laughing, it’s also really entertaining to watch them try - and fail - not to laugh. UK radio show BBC Radio 1’s popular version of the “try not to laugh” challenge ran for over 13 years before Covid made spitting a mouth full of water over an opponent inadvisable.

They should have just used Riverside to record remotely because REACT’s remote version is equally entertaining!

Try to Watch This Without Laughing Or Grinning

  • Adds extra value to the reaction video. Making reaction videos into challenges gamifies them and gives viewers an extra reason to watch.
  • Uses a selection of content. It’s so much easier to find videos to react to if you don’t have to worry about the viewer not having seen them before. Plus, doing a selection of different clips means appealing to more people’s sense of humor.

Kids React to The Cinnamon Challenge

Watching peoples’ reactions to challenging videos is equally entertaining. Especially if it’s kids reacting, for the many reasons we included earlier in this article. It’s funny to watch the viewers cringe, laugh, and be shocked by the content.

  • Records a group of people reacting rather than just an individual. As in REACT’s video of Adults Reacting to Hot Ones, this means the viewer gets to see a whole range of emotions, meaning there’s a great chance of them empathizing with at least one of them.
The Riverside virtual studio allows you to record yourself, as host, and your guests on screen together so your audience can see all your reactions at once. Sign up today to start recording group reaction videos!

Reacting to Your Own Old Content & Your Viewers’ Comments

Billie Eilish Reacting to Kids Reacting to Billie Eilish

Yes, you read that title right. In the style of Macauley Culkin wearing a t-shirt of Ryan Gosling wearing a t-shirt of Macauley Culkin and so on, reaction videos also have their Inception moments. 

  • Shows viewers you value them. Just like taking their requests into account when choosing what to react to, doing videos reacting to their comments shows them how much you value their support.
  • Recycles your existing content. It’s incredibly time-consuming to create brand new content all the time, so uploading and reacting to your older video files is a great way to re-use and re-promote them to your newer followers.
  • Creates an emotional connection. It’s hard not to cringe when watching someone else cringe. But equally, watching content creators get all nostalgic reacting to their old videos is touching and makes you want to go back and look at your old posts too! These YouTubers Reacting to Their First YouTube Videos harness the power of that emotional connection.

Things to Remember When Making Reaction Videos

Let’s wrap up all this new knowledge about what makes the best reaction videos so popular with some key takeaways:

  • Be authentic: viewers want to see your genuine reactions. Unless you’re challenging yourself not to laugh at something you know you find hilarious, pick a video you’ve never seen before to get an authentic reaction.
  • Go big: get the biggest reaction you possibly can, that’s why people are watching you! Whether that means reacting to content that contrasts with your or your subjects’ usual tastes, or choosing a video you know is destined to shock, scare or make people laugh.
  • Pick whose reaction you’re recording. For challenges or showing demographic groups of people reacting, you need to film multiple people’s reactions. For other types of reaction videos, you can record yourself, others, or both. Whichever you choose, you can record them all in studio quality wherever you (and they) are with Riverside.
  • Take fan requests: it’s a no-brainer to get feedback from the people watching your videos. Plus, this helps you save time choosing what to react to next - they decide for you!
  • Hook your viewers: pick a catchy title, choose a thumbnail that makes people want to watch, and make sure the video intro hooks the audience.
  • Be wary of copyright: YouTube is on the ball with cracking down on copyright violations, so make sure to check out their policies before uploading to avoid your video being taken down.

Record Your Reaction Videos with Riverside

Inspired to create your own reaction video now? They’re a great way to offer added value to your fans and generally have some fun. Plus, they’re really simple to make. 

is the easiest way to record studio-quality videos wherever you are. Upload your chosen content to your virtual studio and film your and/or others’ big reactions as it plays live. Everything gets recorded locally ensuring high-quality, synchronized visuals and audio ready to upload to your chosen platform.

Just make sure to protect your equipment if you’re doing a laughing challenge!

Ready to start recording your own reaction videos? Sign up on Riverside today.
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