Ranking every Survivor winner (from first to worst)
Ranking Every Survivor winner (from first to worst)
We asked Survivor Nation to rank all 34 winners from first to worst and then tabulated the responses. Where will your favorites rank? Read on as we present the results of our Survivor Winners Fan Poll, as voted on by you, the viewers!
1. Parvati Shallow — Survivor: Micronesia (Season 16)
While black widow Parvati did not get the most first-place votes in our fan poll (keep reading to find out who did), she still pulled out an easy mathematical victory by taking the most top 5 rankings of any winner for her victory in the first Fans vs. Favorites season. Amazingly, she may have played even better in a losing effort for Heroes vs. Villains, cementing herself for many as not only the best winner, but best all-around player ever.
2. Richard Hatch — Survivor: Borneo (Season 1)
He set the template for how to play the game, introducing the word “alliance” into the reality television lexicon. Hatch was strategically two steps ahead of everyone else and the fact that he figured it all out without any model to go on speaks volumes as to his savvy. The first-ever winner actually came in sixth place in terms of first place votes in the fan poll, but his high volume of overall top five votes launched him into the number 2 spot behind Paravti.
3. Sandra Diaz-Twine — Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Season 20)
Sandra’s second winning outing was deemed greater than her first by fans, and she certainly played a more aggressive game, trying like hell to get Russell out before beating him (and Parvati) at the end. The queen stayed queen.
4. “Boston” Rob Mariano — Survivor: Redemption Island (Season 22)
The fourth time was the charm for Boston Rob as he finally took home the title of Sole Survivor in a dominant performance in Nicaragua. Fans were split on him while voting, however. While Rob scored the highest number of first place votes (19.2 percent of his votes came there), he also had a higher than expected negative rating, perhaps being punished by fans who felt he had too big of an advantage playing for a fourth time on a tribe full of star-struck newbies. Let the debate continue!
5. Sandra Diaz-Twine — Survivor: Pearl Islands (Season 7)
The only person to ever win Survivor twice scores her second top-five finish in our fan poll. Sandra’s “anyone but me” strategy has been imitated often but never equaled.
6. Kim Spradlin— Survivor: One World (Season 24)
My personal pick for best single-season performance ever came in sixth in the fan vote. While Kim certainly did not sport as flashy a personality as the folks who placed above her, she was a true triple-threat in terms of strategy, social skills, and challenge performance. She is also the top finisher in our poll among people that only played the game one time — a testament to her memorable outing. (Note: The top 6 vote-getters accounted for 69% of the first place votes.)
7. Tony Vlachos — Survivor: Cagayan (Season 28)
Easily the most aggressive Survivor winner ever, Tony moved the game into another gear with his play in Cagayan. He’s a bit of a love-him-or-loathe-him type (I personally count myself among the former), but fans rewarded his all-out style and refusal to ever play it safe.
8. Tom Westman — Survivor: Palau (Season 10)
Much like Kim in One World, Tom dominated in all three aspects of the game, including leading his pre-merge tribe to a perfect record in immunity challenges. And while fans may not have given him as many top five votes as the folks above him on this list, everyone seems to respect the firefighter’s gameplay: He received the least amount of last place votes.
9. Yul Kwon — Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13)
Yul’s smarts were on display even before the game began as he was the only player to figure out the tribes-divided-by-race twist just by looking at his fellow contestants. He then put his keen insight to good use, leveraging his hidden immunity idol when down in numbers to make Jonathan Penner flip sides, setting up his brain vs. brawn final against Ozzy. (Oh yeah, and Becky.)
10. J.T. Thomas — Survivor: Tocantins (Season 18)
The argument could be made that J.T.’s utter dominance in Tocantins was just as complete as Kim or Tom’s, as multiple people from the opposite tribe sabotaged their own game because they were so enamored with him. However, the unanimous winner received a shockingly low percentage of first place votes (1.2 percen) in the fan poll. Even though he was only supposed to be judged on this one season, did some fans downgrade him because of his big swings and misses that happened later in Heroes vs. Villains (handing an idol over to someone on the other tribe) and Game Changers (telling someone from the other tribe who they were voting for at a joint Tribal Council)?
11. John Cochran — Survivor: Fans vs. Favorites (Season 26)
A polarizing figure in our poll, Cochran — who also won his season unanimously — received more first-place votes than Tom, Yul, and J.T., but also was subject to twice as many last place votes than the three of them combined. Average it all out, and he ends up at the number 11 spot in our fan ranking,
12. Todd Herzog — Survivor: China (Season 15)
He gave perhaps the best final Tribal Council performance ever, but the China champ still could not crack the top 10 in our fan poll. In fact, the majority of Todd’s votes came in the 19 spot, where 9.5 percent of fans placed him.
13. Ethan Zohn — Survivor: Africa (Season 3)
He may not be considered the greatest Survivor winner ever, but the cancer survivor is probably the most universally liked and respected. Bearing that out, the Africa champ received the second fewest number of last place votes.
14. Tyson Apostol — Survivor: Blood vs. Water (Season 27)
The court jester from Tocantins and Heroes vs. Villains proved his strategic chops when he chopped down the Baskauskas brothers, who appeared primed to take over the game in Blood vs. Water. And he still found time to cause mischief, becoming a founding member of the Coconut Bandits. Tyson was placed most often in the 11 spot, getting 8.7 percent of his votes there, but a low percentage of top-five finishes pushed his total ranking down to 14.
15. Jeremy Collins — Survivor: Cambodia - Second Chance (Season 31)
The Cambodia champ’s votes were spread out more evenly than any other winner. In fact, he received 4 percent of his vote in each of the six through 13 spots. He also confirmed the theory that the best way to win Survivor is to make Stephen Fishbach your island BFF.
16. Tina Wesson — Survivor: The Australian Outback (Season 2)
For years, Tina had enjoyed a reputation as a rock-solid winner, even though many argued her best move was merely being taken to the end by Colby (who could have easily beaten Keith had he selected the chef instead). But her stature seems to have taken a bit of a hit in the poll. In fact, the slot she was voted in at the most by fans was a surprisingly low 29, with 5.6 percent. Still, Tina retains enough fans of her social game to enable her overall ranking to almost crack the top 15.
17. Denise Stapley — Survivor: Philippines (Season 25)
She attended — and survived — every single Tribal Council of the season, a remarkable achievement. However, it wasn’t enough to do better in our fan poll. Denise actually lands smack dab in the middle of our poll at 17th. Most of Denise’s votes fell squarely in the middle as she had very few high or low placements — mirroring her solid if unspectacular performance on the island.
18. Natalie Anderson — Survivor: San Juan Del Sur (Season 29)
A late bloomer, Natalie game’s caught on fire after alliance-partner Jeremy was cut loose. The twin made bold moves down the stretch, enabling her to come in 18th in the fan ranking.
19. Sarah Lacina — Survivor: Game Changers (Season 34)
Sarah lived up to the season’s theme, taking the lessons of her old Cagayan nemesis Tony and completely changing her own game. It was an impressive outing that nobody saw coming (which is why everyone out there trusted her when she told them she would never betray them). While Sarah received a large share of fourth place votes (6.4 percent), fan dissatisfaction with the season may have pushed her overall ranking down.
20. Earl Cole — Survivor: Fiji (Season 14)
He may have been a less-than-dynamic winner in a less-than-dynamic season, but Earl controlled the game from the start during the show’s first — but far from last —trip to Fiji. He also was the first person to ever win by a unanimous vote, winning 9-0-0 over Cassandra and Dreamz. Fans were less impressed, however, as he got the most votes all the way down at the 32 spot (6.6 percen). On the bright side, at least he did not give somebody a car and get absolutely nothing in return.
21. Jenna Morasca — Survivor: Amazon (Season 6)
Everyone focuses on Jenna’s social game, with many forgetting that she actually won four individual immunities, including the key last endurance one. But with so many other powerhouse champions in the mix, her ending up in the 20s is a pretty predictable result.
22. Chris Daugherty — Survivor: Vanuatu (Season 9)
Chris went from the bottom to the top of the tribe and then somehow got the women he had overthrown to vote for him and hand him the money. But the Vanuatu champ could not perform similar jujitsu in the fan poll, landing himself outside the top 20.
23. Aras Baskauskas — Survivor Panama: Exile Island (Season 12)
Hopefully we don’t have to call the Whambulance due to Aras being upset about his ranking. Is the Panama champ being docked by fans who feel challenge dominator Terry Deitz — who went out on a final immunity contest that some felt impossible for a man of his size to win — deserved the million dollars instead, or do they just feel he was not that great? In perhaps the biggest shocker of our fan poll, Aras scored the least amount of first-place votes out of everyone.
24. Sophie Clarke — Survivor: South Pacific (Season 23)
I always thought that Sophie did a better job than people give her credit for. True, Coach was the victim of a bitter jury, but Coach brought that on himself by forming religious and social bonds that were so close that anyone could have predicted the blowback that followed when he then broke those bonds. Sophie was more than happy to sit back and let him take the heat, a smart move even if she did not garner a lot of heat in our fan poll.
25. Brian Heidik — Survivor: Thailand (Season 5)
If you are grading solely on controlling a game from start to finish, then you could make a case that Brian Heidik gave one of the most dominant and complete performances in Survivor history. He charted the course and controlled the vote, kept people in line via various final two deals, and swept the last three individual immunity competitions. But clearly other aspects of the former soft-porn star/used car salesman made voters uncomfortable, and helping their argument would be the fact that Brian could only beat a seemingly perfect goat in Clay by a single vote. Fan disenchantment with the Thailand victor can be seen in the fact that he received more than three times as many bottom five votes in our poll as he did top five.
26. Mike Holloway — Survivor: Worlds Apart (Season 30)
Mike finished on a pretty epic run, winning five of the last six immunity challenges, and playing a hidden immunity idol the one time he didn’t. Of course, he also made an inexplicable food auction blunder along the way that could have derailed his entire game had he not gone on that crazy winning streak.
27. Danni Boatwright — Survivor: Guatemala (Season 11)
Danni did not have the wild discrepancy in voting placement that many other winners did, with 53 percent of her votes coming in the 19-29 range, proving the majority of fans view her Guatemala victory — in which she rode an unlikely alliance with Rafe (until she cut him at the final 3) all the way to the end— in similar middle-to-lower-end-of-the-pack territory.
28. Amber Brkich — Survivor: All-Stars (Season 8)
Amber may have been punished by voters who felt the more deserving player (future husband Boston Rob) was punished by bitter jury members in All-Stars. Then again, this season gave her both a million dollars and a huge, happy, healthy family, meaning she could also be considered the biggest Survivor winner ever.
29. Adam Klein — Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X (Season 33)
Proving that there was no recency bias among voters, the season 33 champ came in at a surprisingly low 29th in the fan vote. In fact, more than 1 out of 10 voters put Adam in the bottom spot as worst winner ever. (Only one other player got more last place votes.) All of this, even though he won by a perfect score of 10-0-0 over Ken and Hannah.
30. Bob Crowley — Survivor: Gabon (Season 17)
If this were a ranking of best fake immunity idol winners or buffs-into-bow-tie fashionistas, then Bob would be certainly much, much higher on the list. As it is, he’ll have to settle for the million dollars and continuing to be the reigning title-holder of Oldest Survivor Winner Ever.
31. Vecepia Towery — Survivor: Marquesas (Season 4)
I have personally always found Marquesas to be an underrated season, but the main complaint people — including Jeff Probst — seem to have against it is that it was an underwhelming final two. Judging by Vecepia’s placement here, it seems the majority of fans in our poll agree with that assessment.
32. Natalie White — Survivor: Samoa (Season 19)
Perhaps the most heavily-debated winner ever for her victory over Russell, Natalie got the third most last-place votes on our list. Almost 1 in 10 voters placed her in the bottom spot.
33. Michele Fitzgerald — Survivor: Kaôh Rōng (Season 32)
Like Cochran, this was another love or loathe winner, and the extremes in fan voting were pretty jarring. If this poll were just based on first-place votes, Michele would have actually come in 11th place. But fans that feel she was merely rewarded by a jury who was bitter about getting outplayed by Aubry also weighed in with great numbers, dragging her all the way down to the 33rd spot.
34. Jud “Fabio” Birza — Survivor: Nicaragua (Season 21)
The season ranked as the worst ever by yours truly also gets the worst winner ever designation from fans, who clearly were not impressed by Fabio’s cluelessness-as-a-strategy approach, or his three straight immunity wins to close the season. Fabio not only had the most last place votes, but the most second-to-last place votes as well — both by a wide margin. Still, he got the million dollars and we didn’t, so…