Fans rank every single Survivor season
Ranking every Survivor season (from first to worst)
We asked Survivor Nation to rank all 35 seasons of the show from first to worst and then tabulated the responses. Where do your favorites rank? Read on as we present the results of our Survivor Season Rankings Fan Poll, as voted on by you, the viewers! And then see how they match up to my own.
1. Survivor: Heroes vs. VillainsSeason 20Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine
This stellar all-returnee season that began with an epic challenge right out the gate (leading to a Stephenie dislocated shoulder and a Rupert broken toe) had twice as many first-place votes as any other season on the list. It also had the most second-place votes as well, running away for an easy win as the fans’ favorite Survivor season ever.
2. Survivor: Micronesia—Fans vs. Favorites≤Season 16Winner: Parvati Shallow
Winner: Parvati ShallowThis nearly flawless half-newbies, half-returnees installment — most famous for Erik giving away his immunity necklace — had the second highest number of first and second-place votes (behind Heroes vs. Villains). It sits at the top of my personal season rankings but will have to settle for second here.
3. Survivor: Pearl Islands Season 7 Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine
The Outcasts twist is one of the most hotly-debated wrinkles in Survivor history, but a great cast — Sandra, Rupert, Jonny Fairplay — has kept this season in viewers’ hearts regardless, making this the highest ranked season among casts with all original players.
4. Survivor: CagayanSeason 28Winner: Tony Vlachos
The highest-ranked all newbie season on my list (not counting the first one), the Brains vs, Brawn vs. Beauty Cagayan was just nipped by Pearl Islands in the fan vote even though it had more total top 5 rankings. It also demonstrates how Survivor can still thrill and excite well into its run.
5. Survivor: ChinaSeason 15Winner: Todd Herzog
The show’s first and only trip to China — which included one of James’ idols just seen on Ghost Island and features one of the most dynamic casts in the show's history — rounds out the top 5.
6. Survivor: BorneoSeason 1Winner: Richard Hatch
The season that started it all and became a worldwide sensation (the finale attracted more than 50 million viewers here in the U.S.) is almost impossible to compare to ones that followed (for example, Sue Hawk’s infamous rat vs. snake speech would be positively tame by today’s standards). Yet that’s exactly what we asked fans to do, and they put it right here.
7. Survivor: The AmazonSeason 6Winner: Jenna Morasca
This was the first season of Survivor where things became truly unpredictable week after week, with one major shake-up after another. It also was the first of the show’s three “battle of the sexes” editions.
8. Survivor: Cambodia—Second ChanceSeason 31Winner: Jeremy Collins
The fans voted in the cast to play this Second Chance season, and the fans voted the season as the eighth best one ever — boosted, no doubt, by weekly images of Stephen Fishbach interacting with nature. It also may have set a strong template with only second-time players, and no three- or fourtimers.
9. Survivor: PhilippinesSeason 25Winner: Denise Stapley
The installment which brought back three medically evacuated players had the most seventh place votes of any season, and ultimately landed in the 9 spot in our fan poll.
10. Survivor: TocantinsSeason 18Winner: J.T. Thomas
The biggest surprise in the top 10, Tocantins was light on voting at the top, but because the season also received very few negative votes, it was able to sneak in here among the other best installments ever. All credit naturally goes to Coach and his sunrise Tai Chi.
11. Survivor: The Australian OutbackSeason 2Winner: Tina Wesson
Survivor’s most-viewed season ever lands just outside the top 10 with perhaps the most balanced voting from top-to-middle-to-bottom — a sign that no consensus truly exists for the season that still must give Colby Donaldson nightmares.
12. Survivor: Panama—Exile IslandSeason 12Winner: Aras Buskauskas
Season 12 ends up in the 12 spot in our fan poll. Did the fans plan that? If so, the fans are mathematical geniuses! Kudos to you, fans!
13. Survivor: PalauSeason 10Winner: Tom Westman
Personally, I found watching one tribe absolutely decimate the other to be riveting viewing, but voters seemed a bit less impressed, only putting the season in which Ulong lost every single immunity challenge into the unlucky 13 spot.
14. Survivor: Blood vs. WaterSeason 27Winner: Tyson Apostol
I’m not a fan of the Redemption Island twist, but voters seemed to agree with me that it definitely worked best and offered up interesting levels of strategy on this season that saw former contestants playing with and against their loved ones. By the way, did you hear that Ciera voted out her mom?
15. Survivor: Cook IslandsSeason 13Winner: Yul Kwon
Fandom is obviously split on Survivor’s infamous race war edition. The season received a higher than expected number of both high-end and low-end votes. Add them all together and the Yul vs. Ozzy showdown lands here.
16. Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen XSeason 33Winner: Adam Klein
The split on season 33 votes was even greater than Cook Islands’, with a lot of top 5 votes, but just as many bottom 5 as well. It appears the Millennials and Gen Xers still can’t along!
17. Survivor: Kaoh RongSeason 32Winner: Michele Fitzgerald
The debate among fans may rage on as to whether Michele or Aubry should have won, but as a collective, fans labeled this installment as middle-of-the road, as in right in the middle of the rankings.
18. Survivor: VanuatuSeason 9Winner: Chris Daugherty
The show’s second battle of the sexes outing was neither as spectacular as the one that preceded it (The Amazon), nor as cringe-worthy as the one that followed (One World). For the most part, fans shrugged their shoulders with their votes at this installment.
19. Survivor: MarquesasSeason 4Winner: Vecepia Towery
Personally, I’ve always been a fan of this season because it was the first time when a minority alliance toppled the majority, but voters were clearly less impressed, putting it into the bottom half of the rankings here. So much for the legend of Sean Rector, I guess.
20. Survivor: AfricaSeason 3Winner: Ethan Zohn
The show’s first trip to Africa was a dramatic change of scenery, but not dramatic enough for fans, apparently. Not even some crazy challenges nor the show’s first ever tribe-swap of players could sway the majority of voters here.
21. Survivor: All-StarsSeason 8Winner: Amber Brkich
There was no way it could live up to the hype. When this aired in 2004, the prospect of winners like Richard Hatch, Tina Wesson, Ethan Zohn, and Jenna Morasca facing off against each other (and other icons like Colby, Jerri, Sue Hawk, and Rupert returning) was positively intoxicating. What ended up happening in this first-ever season to feature returning players, however, was a bit of a letdown. The fans voting in our poll seemed to agree.
22. Survivor: GabonSeason 17Winner: Bob Crowley
Much in the same way there was no chance All-Stars could live up to the massive hype, Gabon was always probably going to suffer a bit coming directly after the extravaganza that was Micronesia. It still has its defenders, however — it got the 12th highest number of first place votes — and I would say I’m kind of surprised Bond-villain-in-the-making Ace Gordon never made another appearance.
23. Survivor: SamoaSeason 19Winner: Natalie White
This is a season I like more than most people, and the proof of that is in the somewhat low ranking here. While people still love to debate the controversial finish, it seems there is not a whole lot else about this season they care to remember or discuss.
24. Survivor: San Juan del SurSeason 29Winner: Natalie Anderson
This installment started slow when it played out on TV, but gained steam as it went along. However the fan voting actually went the opposite way, with a fair amount of high rakings, but then a similarly high negative ranking dragging it down to the 24 spot.
25. Survivor: GuatemalaSeason 11Winner: Danni Boatwright
Gary Hogeboom found the first ever hidden immunity idol in this season that had the opposite voting pattern of San Juan del Sur, with low positives and negatives, but a lot of mid-range rankings.
26. Survivor: Game ChangersSeason 34Winner: Sarah Lacina
This recent edition receives a lot of derision online for choppy story editing and too many bells and whistles overwhelming the normal strategy and social dynamics, but there clearly are some fans out there as Game Changers had the 14th highest number of first-place votes. But not even those numbers could get this out of the bottom third of the viewer rankings.
27. Survivor: CaramoanSeason 26Winner: John Cochran
This was one of the most disastrous pre-merge seasons in Survivor history, featuring a whole lot of unhinged Shemar and Brandon Hantz, and not a whole lot else. Some people (like yours truly) give it points for a much better post-merge performance, but clearly not enough people as it lands way down in the fan rankings.
28. Survivor: FijiSeason 14Winner: Earl Cole
The Have and Have Nots twist was a disaster, and judging by this ranking, fans would rather have not to think a whole lot about the show’s first — but far from last — visit to Fiji.
29. Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. HustlersSeason 35Winner: Ben Driebergen
Fans are still upset about the final five fire-making twist that saved Ben in the game, and that dissatisfaction was reflected in the vote here.
30. Survivor: South PacificSeason 23Winner: Sophie Clarke
Here’s another season I enjoy more than most. In fact, South Pacific was the only installment to get zero first-place votes in the fan ranking. It was also the only installment to get zero second-place votes. (It did get a single third-place vote, however, so yay for South Pacific!)
31. Survivor: Worlds ApartSeason 30Winner: Mike Holloway
And here is the season with the second lowest number of first-places votes, as the self-proclaimed Dirty Thirty could only notch two first-place designations. No doubt a lot of the ugly personal attacks by Dan and Will during the course of the season had something to do with that.
32. Survivor: NicaraguaSeason 21Winner: Jud “Fabio” Birza
The season that takes the bottom spot in my own personal rankings (and whose winner came in dead last in the fans winner rankings) fared at least a little better here. That should be of some solace to defenders of this installment.
33. Survivor: ThailandSeason 5Winner: Brian Heidik
The first almost-universally acknowledged dud in the Survivor franchise actually did have a few good things about it. There was the fake merge. There was that super cool Tribal Council set. And there was…um…um…
34. Survivor: One WorldSeason 24Winner: Kim Spradlin
The edition with perhaps the best single season winner in Survivor history (she got my vote) barely escapes the bottom of the barrel due to an otherwise underwhelming cast. It’s too bad because the One World concept is actually pretty decent and one I wouldn’t mind seeing again. But yeah, this was bad.
35. Survivor: Redemption IslandSeason 22Winner: Boston Rob Mariano
Boston Rob’s fourth (and final?) outing was chosen by fans as the worst Survivor season ever. In fact, Redemption Island had twice as many last place votes as any other season and serves for many as Exhibit A in terms of the creative flaws and overwhelming competitive advantage for when returning contestants play against newbies.