Survivor season 1-31 rankings (with spoiler-free summaries)

In case you missed it, we did an entire podcast series examining every season. You can see those posts and find those podcasts here: Survivor season rankings (Warning: Unlike this list, the podcasts and the posts about them are likely to contain spoilers.)

Even though in our podcast series we discussed with multiple guests why a given season should receive a high or low ranking, the list below was created by taking an average ranking from the opinions of the only two people that matter around here: Andy and John.

Each season is both ranked and described below in spoiler-free fashion so you can happily share the list with newbies to the show (or remain unspoiled on seasons you haven’t seen). And because we’re now posting this as a list, I’m sure we will inspire more comments telling us how wrong we are. You can do that in the comments below, on Twitter (@PurpleRockPod, @purplerockandy, or @purplerockjohn), or on gmail (purplerockpodcast). Please realize before commenting that although we may be polite about it, our basic response will be “Thanks for sharing your incorrect opinion.”

31. Survivor: Nicaragua (season 21)
The season that will hopefully forever remain in last place, Nicaragua is the lowest of lows for Survivor. Terrible casting, a terrible gimmick, and the worst winner ever combine to make a truly horrendous Survivor viewing experience. If this was the first season of Survivor you ever watched, I hope you enjoy whatever it is you do now on Wednesday nights instead of watching Survivor.

30. Gabon (season 17)
Another season with a pretty reprehensible cast that gave you nearly nobody to root for. The gimmick this season was fairly ineffective and useless from a gameplay perspective. Unlike Nicaragua, this season did have at least one enjoyable episode. Other than that, there’s very little to see here.

29. South Pacific (season 23)
There were a few bright spots in the cast of this season, but there were so many unlikable people that you almost forget the enjoyable ones. The two returning players for this season were terrible choices, and the gimmick was every bit as much of a failure here as it was the first time it was used. The winner of this season did exactly what was needed to win, but it didn’t help the entertainment value of the show.

28. Thailand (season 5)
A definite contender for least likable cast of all time, this season also featured an incident that makes for an uncomfortable viewing experience. Thailand did have some memorable challenges- one of which is memorable because the cast is so deplorable- and one of the best final immunity challenges the show has ever had. The winner played a strong game, and some have argued that it’s one of the best games any first-time player has had.

27. Vanuatu (season 9)
This season is particularly hard to review without spoiling anything. The casting was below average on this season, although not horrendously awful. The gimmick/twist for this season was one the show had used before, but it worked fairly well and sets up a narrative for the post-merge game. The issue here is whether you like that narrative and the winner. We don’t.

26. Redemption Island (season 22)
The cast here is below average, though it is supplemented by two returnees that are some of the most popular Survivor players ever. The dominant performance by the winner is why this season stands out, although it makes for generally boring and predictable television.

25. Africa (season 3)
More than anything else, this season suffers because of its location. In the early days of the show, Survivor was much more interested in having its players live in tough environments to prove that they were real “survivors”. Eventually they came around to the idea that the most appealing part of the show isn’t watching people almost die of dehydration and starvation. The cast on this season is generally pretty decent, and probably would have been much better if they weren’t constantly sapped of energy by lack of food and water.

24. San Juan del Sur: Blood vs. Water 2 (season 29)
In a typical Survivor season, there will be players that were essentially cast to be fodder. They are the pre-merge boots that were cast not because they’d be great players, but because they’d fill a certain role the show always casts. This season has a cast that is realistically about 80% fodder. This season gets more interesting after the merge and has an excellent winner, but it’s hard to get past how unappealing this cast is. The production staff probably fell too in love with the Blood vs. Water concept after using it to great effect the first time around, and it led to some poor choices here.

23. Worlds Apart (season 30)
A cast that seemed pretty promising early on quickly disappoints, and the winner becomes obvious fairly early on. This season, like Thailand and All-Stars, also features an incident that is uncomfortable to watch. The reunion episode is awful, saved only by the inclusion of the announcement of the cast for the following season.

22. One World (season 24)
Some might argue that this season features just as much fodder as San Juan del Sur. But the reality is that the cast was made to look like fodder because of the work of one of the most dominant winners the game has ever had. There have also been a surprising number of returning players from this season, whether that honor was deserved or not.

21. Marquesas (season 4)
The season responsible for the name of our podcast gets a few bonus points for that, and for one of the best narrative arcs of the early years of the show. The cast is fairly good, and even some pre-merge boots in this season are memorable. But that narrative arc referenced earlier reaches its conclusion before the end of the season, and once that story has been told the show sort of limps to the finish line.

20. Fiji (season 14)
When mentioning this season on the podcast, we speculated that we could talk for a solid hour about Fiji alone. Does that mean it’s a great season? Clearly not- look where it’s ranked! But it’s also not the worst season. So what would a middle-of-the-pack season do that inspires our fascination? In a word: everything. This season has a pretty terrible cast- with a few stellar exceptions- but it also seemingly throws every possible twist and gimmick against the wall in order to see what might stick. It fails, but it does so in spectacular and interesting ways. It even has one of the best episodes the show has ever had. It is Survivor: Magnificent Failure.

19. Samoa (season 19)
This season is incredibly divisive, and understandably so. It is impossible to think of this season without thinking of one specific player, and your feelings about that player will likely determine how you rate this season. It’s hard to properly judge the cast, because the vast majority of the screen time this season goes to one person. From a gameplay perspective there are interesting things that happen here, with some tricks and strategies we hadn’t often seen before.

18. Guatemala (season 11)
An above-average cast with two returning players from the previous season, and yet nobody originally from this season has ever returned to the show again. That’s a shame, because there are some notable players here. The winner isn’t incredibly dynamic on the show, but does have an interesting path to victory.

17. Caramoan (season 26)
This season didn’t even try to push the “fans vs. favorites” thing, because it’s hard to define a lot of the returning players here as “favorites”. And it’s safe to say that many of the “fans” wouldn’t qualify for that label either. The pre-merge portion of the game is mediocre to awful, but there are some very interesting and memorable episodes post-merge. Also, a few of the returning players are among our favorites, and the winner of this season plays an excellent game.

16. Panama (season 12)
Andy describes this season as “replacement-level Survivor”, which is pretty apt. This is the median season of Survivor, and that’s not meant as disrespect; if a season is better than Panama, it’s a good season. The casting here is good, with one of Survivor’s greatest finds and a few other interesting people that keep the season entertaining. The gameplay is almost more interesting for what doesn’t happen than what does, but the gimmick here is one the show would deploy for several seasons until it ran out of steam in Gabon.

15. The Australian Outback (season 2)
It happened so long ago that it’s hard to judge this season fairly. Strategically, there isn’t anything earth-shattering here; Survivor was still trying to figure out if it was a game or a show about people surviving together. But the cast is good; half of them have come back for future seasons. If you watch it now, you’ll be amazed at what passed as villainy back then. It was a very different era.

14. All-Stars (season 8)
Have you ever heard the phrase “bitter jury” when discussing Survivor? This is where it all started. For the first time, the show brought back returning players for what truly was an All-Star season. The majority of the players this season were wildly popular, and had developed massive egos because of it. This season also features one of the most uncomfortable incidents in the show’s history, and it is not handled well. But despite that, there is some decent gameplay here- just be prepared for a hate-fueled final tribal council.

13. Blood vs. Water (season 27)
This season combines returning players and family members, leading to easy emotion-laden moments that Jeff Probst can use to extract those sweet, sweet tears he needs to sustain his ageless appearance. The cast here is great, despite three players pulled from a very lackluster season (in Survivor’s defense, two of them were cast just to get their partners on the show). The blood vs. water gimmick does lead to some interesting strategy, including the exact situation Survivor producers hoped for when they planned this season. And yes, we realize that the title of this season doesn’t make a lot of sense when you see how the tribes are set up.

12. Borneo (season 1)
How do you rank the first ever season of this show? It’s hardly the same show at this point, with narration provided by Jeff Probst and a general disdain by most of the cast for the concept of voting someone out. But this is also the season that makes Survivor what it is, as someone quickly realizes that Survivor is nothing more than a game. And that realization leads to what has become the one constant strategy in every season of Survivor. This season has an excellent winner, even if you didn’t necessarily feel that way at the time.

11. China (season 15)
A truly fantastic cast, with several players that have returned for future seasons of the show. The winner is excellent, and redeems some mistakes made along the way with a stellar final tribal council. The landlocked location is interesting, but a ridiculously ill-advised twist gets exploited by the players. As much as you will probably hate many of Nicaragua or Gabon’s players, you will probably adore China’s players in equal measure.

10. Tocantins (season 18)
One of John’s personal favorite first-timer seasons, this cast is excellent. It features multiple players that have returned to play again (and this is the most tolerable version of one of those players), and an entertaining mix of personalities. The strategy is slightly lacking and there isn’t any sort of gimmick or twists, but the season makes up for it with comedy and a group of players so likable you probably won’t care much who wins the season.

9. Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites (season 16)
A season that definitely takes the “fans” and “favorites” label more seriously than Caramoan did, Micronesia brought back some enjoyable players from the seasons after All-Stars to play against a group of first-timers. This season is just plain entertaining, with some of the most memorably funny moments in the show’s history. There is also interesting strategy and gameplay. The only reason Micronesia is ranked this low is because Andy thinks the gameplay suffers based on the season’s gimmick.

8. Palau (season 10)
Palau has a lot of things going for it: great challenges, a good cast, an interesting way to start the game, and several great story arcs. All of those factors work into an interesting final episode that make the season memorable and result in an excellent winner.

7. The Amazon (season 6)
An early season of the show that actually emphasized strategy, Amazon also features a player who went on to produce his own Survivor podcast. (Some have even suggested that podcast is nearly as good as The Purple Rock, which is quite a compliment.) The casting here is pretty average, and the winner’s narrative doesn’t quite work, but this season earns its rank based on several memorable moments of both gameplay and comedy.

6. Philippines (season 25)
The Philippines rescued Survivor from a four-season slump by giving us a strong cast and a trio of returning players- one of which we were even happy to see again! There’s an excellent winner, some great storytelling (and narration) along the way, and just enough strategy and scheming to keep you invested in the gameplay.

5. Pearl Islands (season 7)
Originally, this season was ranked fourth on our combined list. But out of fear of recency bias (we first made this list immediately following Cagayan), we edged Pearl Islands up one spot to avoid over-rating Cagayan. We’ve since corrected that. But at this high of a level, it doesn’t matter much. Pearl Islands opens the season with a 15-minute stretch that’s so good you should be hooked immediately. The cast and the way they fit-or don’t fit- with each other leads to some great moments, and even one of the worst twists in Survivor history can’t ruin what is a fantastic season from beginning to end.

4. Cook Islands (season 13)
Most other rankings probably won’t give this season its due strictly because of the gimmick that gives this season its alternate name- Survivor: Race Wars. There are four tribes divided by race in this season, but the greatest impact it had was that it forced Survivor to recruit a more diverse cast. And this cast shines because of it; this season has four players that returned for future multiple future seasons. It also features one of the more compelling narratives the show has ever had, and gives you the rare opportunity to see in-depth strategy talk between players. The finale features a hilarious moment just before proceeding to final tribal council, where the right player is awarded the victory.

3. Cambodia: Second Chance (season 31)
Since this season featured a cast voted in by the fans, the cast is an obvious strength. The gameplay is great as well, with ever-shifting strategies as players jostle for position to make the most of their second shot at the game. There are funny moments, emotional moments, and a convincing and satisfying winner.

2. Cagayan (season 28)
If you’re a newbie (or relative newbie) to Survivor, you probably came to this list hoping for some opinions on which season you should watch. To help you out, I will give you this suggestion: do not watch Cagayan until you’ve watched at least five other seasons first. If this is the first season you watch, you won’t fully appreciate the wild shifts and twists. But once you do watch it, you’ll get to enjoy one of the best groups of new players Survivor has ever had. There is tragedy, comedy, and above all chaos, and it gives us one of the most interesting Survivor winners ever.

1. Heroes vs. Villains (season 20)
An all-star season without the ever-present bitterness of Survivor: All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains brought back some of the most memorable players from the show’s past plus two players from Survivor: Gabon. This season is an all-you-can-eat buffet of amazing moments, including one of the best strategic moves the show has had and one that is often cited as the worst (but which we consistently defend as a reasonable gamble). It also features the sad deterioration and break-up of one of the greatest man-crush relationships mankind has ever known. As with Cagayan, you’ll want to see other seasons before you watch this one so you can appreciate what takes place here.

If you’re new- or relatively new- to watching Survivor, we hope this guide was useful to you. Of course, these rankings are just determined by averaging our own rankings together. If you’d like to see Andy and John’s individual rankings so you can see how much better John’s rankings are, they’re listed below.

SeasonAndyJohn
Heroes vs. Villains11
Cagayan22
Cambodia53
Cook Islands38
Pearl Islands84
Philippines67
Palau412
Amazon710
Micronesia145
China119
Tocantins166
Borneo913
Blood vs. Water1311
Millennials vs. Gen X1015
Australia1219
Panama1814
Caramoan2017
Guatemala1721
Kaoh Rong2216
All-Stars1523
Samoa2318
Game Changers2122
Marquesas1924
Fiji2420
One World2725
Worlds Apart2528
San Juan del Sur2826
Africa2927
Redemption Island2632
Vanuatu3029
Thailand3131
Gabon3330
South Pacific3233
Nicaragua3434

WARNING: People have posted some spoilers in the comments below about these seasons. If you do not want to see those spoilers, do not read the comments on this post. 

John
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John

John is the co-host of the Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. He can get loud too, what the fuck!

Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Cagayan, Pearl Islands, Tocantins, Cambodia
John
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  • Other Scott

    Thoughts on seasons I’ve recently watched (spoilers for those seasons, since this is a spoiler free post):

    China – I’m not as enamored by the cast as everyone else seems to be. To me, all the interesting people were on the hopeless Zhan Hu tribe, and once all those interesting people met their demise there wasn’t a lot left to play out. The game play was tremendously straight forward, and I’m not a Todd fan, apart from his final tribal council. From the Jean-Robert vote on, his strategy seemed to be, “Well, I hope my alliance stays together.” And lunch lady Denise is very likely the worst Survivor player I have ever seen.

    The ending is pretty interesting, just because of how badly Amanda blew it. She could have won about 3 different ways from final 5 on, either by voting Todd out or owning the fact that as sneaky as Todd seemed, he was only in the final 3 because Amanda wanted him to be there. But that’s about the only interesting thing I found with this season.

    Next up was One World, which was good because I figured that it would get me some solid baseline bad Survivor.

    I just got to the merge, Colton has just been evacuated. I thought I would hate this season because I don’t like straight forward Survivor, which I was led to believe this season was. Plus, Colton is every bit as bad as advertised, but it was really interesting to see how people reacted to him. For the most part, it wasn’t, “Man, this guy needs to go,” but “Let’s give this guy power.” I was particularly interested in Jonas’ strategy, which seemed to be, “I think Colton is a good enough strategic player to drag me to the end, where no one will vote for him. So I am going to be the Natalie White of this season and collect my cheque that way.” That’s interesting strategy, and not all that dumb, though it would have helped if Colton was actually a better player. Even if he wasn’t evacuated, I’m pretty sure Kim was going to wipe the floor with him at the merge, so Jonas would be screwed anyways.

    Anyways, One World has been more solid than I’ve been led to believe so far. And I’m curious to see how Kim annihilates the rest of the men, though I have an idea how this is going to go.

    So, through the seasons I’m through, my Survivor season rankings are as follows:
    1. Palau
    2. Amazon
    3. Cagayan
    4. Pearl Islands
    5. San Juan Del Sur
    6. Guatamala
    7. China
    8. Cook Islands (Note: Before Cagayan, this was the only season I watched while it was airing. I wasn’t cheering for Yul and was annoyed by his idol, so that really held back the season and Survivor as a whole for me for a while. I’m going to have to rewatch this and re-evaluate after I’m through the rest. Though there are a lot of Survivor fans who do not like Cook Islands, so who knows).

    Not ranked: Borneo – Because how do you rank Borneo? It’s like comparing apples to hammers.

    Next up, after One World is done, determined by random draw:
    Nicaragua. (I’m perversely excited to see how bad this is.)

    • Oh, please let us know what you think of Nicaragua.

    • “And lunch lady Denise is very likely the worst Survivor player I have ever seen.”

      I got my brother’s girlfriend into China while I was home for Christmas and she developed a fondness for Denise. I did not have the heart to tell her what an exercise in disappointment that would be.

      I did get really confused when she started texting me about what a sweetheart Denise is, because my brain automatically went to Denise Stapely.

  • China is such a delightful cocktail of jerks, assholes, and just downright awful people that it basically becomes Survivor: Seinfeld, and I love it for that. (I’d also kind of like to see the overlap between people who don’t )

    And as far as I’m concerned the location just makes it better. There is no cast I’d rather tell, “you don’t get white sand beaches and blue ocean water, you get a dirty swamp that birds poop in” more than the lovable d-bags of China.

    • *first paragraph was supposed to end with “people who don’t like China and people who don’t like Seinfeld.”

    • Other Scott

      Plus it rained non-stop for like the first 6 days and made their camps into complete mud-pits. I really like the location as well, but that would have been a pretty miserable season to be on.

      I didn’t think it was a bad cast at all, it’s just that you need a really great cast to get through the slog that was the season’s gameplay, and the Fei Long people just didn’t quite do it. If Zhan Hu dominated and I got a season full of Peih-Gee, Sherea, Jaime, Frosti, Crazy Dave, Ashley and Chicken, then wow, that would be something else. Erik was literally the only dud character on that tribe for me, and he’s one of the only ones who lasted into the last couple of episodes.

  • Good work on discussing all the previous seasons, working towards this season.

    As for the rankings itself, there are some issues

    Not sure taking the mean of both ranking was the right approach. Some of the rankings on Andy’s list are way on the left field, while John’s are in more in tune with wider survivor community. Everyone has the right to make his own rankings of course but for example, I saw someone rank Nicargua in their top 5. That’s fine if that ranking is part of a wider group but as one in two, it will skew the rankings too much, like it has here for some seasons.

    – Micronesia. Yeah, it is the most absurd ranking on the list. I was surprised that no one really challenged some of Andy’s arguments against it in the season wrap up for Micronesia. The argument that it should not be placed higher because it had too many weak players or poor strategy does not hold up IMO. Only real bone headed move was Eric’s to give the immunity away. Ozzy’s blindside was just executed really well by Cirie/Parvati. Jason subsequent blindside was also executed perfectly and while Jason clearly was not the smartest cookie in the box, you can’t fault him for trusting his allies from a week ago. People also forget that Alexis and Natalie had targetted Amanda. If that had gone through, those 2 would have stuck together and possibly taken out Cirie or Parvati. Infact you could easily have had a fan final 2 then if not for Amanda-Parvati’s idol play to blindside Alexis. I know with hindsight, you can say that smartest players would have voted for Parvati not Amanda since the latter was on exile island. But when even one of the best strategists of all time in Cirie did not consider that option, you know it was not a howler of any kind. Keep in mind that finding idols in those days was not a walk in park it can be in some of the recent seasons.
    Andy’s argument holds even less water when you see that he has Phillipines high up, which had some poor players reach the merge. In fact I would say on average the bunch who reached the merge in Micronesia was stronger than those who did in Phillipines. Poor players in Pete, Abi, RC, Carter with Skupin and Lisa fluctuating between having good and bad moments. Though their decision not take Abi Marie over Denise and Malcolm to the end was a howler.
    This narrative of Micronesia being a season where some very gullible people got taken to a ride by smart returnees is mostly driven by Erik’s bone headed move. There was good to great strategy at play from every tribal council from merge onwards, which was also good TV. I really struggle to see how anyone can rank it outside top 5 at least. To rank it not even in top half… not sure any such rankings should be given equal credence in a 2 list aggregation.

    • While I generally agree with you that John is the best and Andy sucks, I disagree on Philippines. There are always going to be poor players who make the merge, but they also had some great ones.

      Denise and Malcolm played wonderfully post-merge. Even Penner played well, right up until he blew it by not immediately saying “yes” to a proposed alliance.

      But yes, Andy is wrong on Micronesia. That season is fantastic, and incredibly entertaining.

  • I never said Philippines is poorer for those reasons. I just meant to argue that Andy’s reasons to rank Micronesia lower can also be applied to Philippines. Both had good and bad players reach the merge. I would rank Philippines in my top 10 as well in fact 7th spot on both list seems perfect for it

  • Gabon being 28 is also interesting. I saw the whole season recently since I missed it the first time around after I was checking other rankings and saw it ranked 10th on Survivor Oz!

    That’s way too high but I wonder if being second last is too harsh. I do think production ruined the season a bit with that stupid second swap instead of merge. While the cast was reprehensible, it was entertaining (at least for me) to see Randy and Corrine rant about others. Sugar’s mercurial play also led to some unexpected twists. In the end it suffers since it could never give audience a proper player to root for. Kenny ended up being too arrogant, Crystal was just horrible, Sugar ….crazy etc. In any case, my personal preference would have it above Thailand and may be vywing with South Pacific or Redemption Island for a spot.

    • Rob

      I think a lot of Gabon depends on how much you can stand Sugar. I can’t stand her in any way. She was fingernails on a chalkboard for the entire season. Apart from her, maybe it had the potential to be mediocre at best.

  • So as promise a week ago, my thoughts on the unpleasantness of All-Stars.

    To start off, I’m really really not enjoying All-Stars. This is like the most boring version of all of these players, with the exception of Tina, because there is no boring version of Tina, and Amber, because all versions of Amber are the boring version of Amber. I just got through the Lex vote off and I’m kind of struggling to care at all.

    That said, the thing that I was really dreading with this season, and the thing that almost made me not watch it at all, was the sexual assault. My original intention when I left law school was to work on preventing sexual harassment in high schools, and while that’s not the route I ended up taking it’s still a very important thing to me and I knew from you guys and others that this was not a thing that was handled ideally. I know 2004 was basically another century in terms of how we thought about this kind of thing, but I was still shocked by how confusing the whole thing comes off and a week later I think I’m still trying to figure it out.

    So in order, I kind of just want to go through my reactions to the various stances taken, because, while I expected this to color my reaction to Hatch and Probst, I really didn’t think about how this would change the way I looked at some of the other players.

    So first, Hatch. A lot of this is gonna involve me saying ‘maybe it’s because I watched all of this later and out of order’ but I came away from Borneo really liking Hatch. Yes, he’s weird and offputting, but in a way I find fascinating and feel like I can relate to. When his care item from home is the giant computer printout I was like ‘that’s not weird, that makes perfect sense. this is the community he’s isolated from right now, this is what he wants back.’ I’m not gonna say he’s the survivor I’d most like to have a beer with, because somehow I doubt Hatch drinks beer, but he was the survivor I’d most like to have a nice Scotch with.

    That said, by the time we got to what he did to Sue, I was just so bored with his preening antics on All-Stars that I was almost numb to it. It was like ‘okay, you’re a huge creep, but you’ve kind of proved that already.’

    On the other hand, I was expecting to be way more pissed at Probst than I was. Yes, he completely blew it, but when Sue lashes out at him he seems to genuinely realize he’s blown it and is searching for the right way forward. Could he have done it better? Absolutely. But I’ll give him points because he really does seem to be trying.

    And on that note I’m glad that MOST of the Chaperas plus Shii Ann are decent about it. Yes, Big Tom screws up at the end with his victory dance after Sue leaves, but up until then he seems to really be hurting for her. Boston Rob makes a point of saying he’s not comfortable questioning her reaction, which is not something I expected from a dude like Boston Rob, especially 2 years after he thought trying to publicly out John Carroll was a power move. And Shii Ann, I don’t think she completely gets this empathy thing she hears the hyoo-mahns talking about, but she really is trying, and I’ll give her points for that. It is the only time I’ll give Shii Ann points.

    So that leaves the ugly- Kathy VO and Rupert.

    I’m trying not to dwell too much on Kathy VO. I loved her in Marquesas, although yes, like a lot of the players on All-Stars, this is the off-brand version of her. BUT once the initial shock of her saying she ‘hated [Sue] for putting her anger on display’ wore off, I realized that I probably shouldn’t be that surprised someone like her has not great opinions on this kind of thing, and I can compartmentalize it the same way I do with say a Helen Glover or a Jeff Kent.

    Which brings me to Rupert, which is what really makes me angry. And while yes, I’m pissed at Rupert for the garbage he said, I don’t really blame him, because I think Rupert is an incurious person and kind of a terrible human being. Maybe it’s because I watched him out of order, but even in Pearl Islands I though Rupert was a selfish bully, someone who would use his size and volume to intimidate people and then immediately profess how, ‘oh, no that’s not the real me.’ and then do it again. But straight up for anyone, immediately going to the well of ‘she’s just saying this because she wants a payday’ in response to someone claiming they feel sexually violated is a sign that you are just an awful human being, full stop. ESPECIALLY someone who indulges in as much self-mythologizing as Rupert Boneham. But again, he’s not the one I’m angry about because I don’t expect better from Rupert and I don’t think he knows better. Who should have known better was the show.

    I don’t know whether Sue watched All-Stars. I wouldn’t be surprised if she didn’t. But she might have. And if she tuned in and heard Rupert utter that absolute venom he directs at her, how do you think she felt? There was no value in Rupert’s comments, they added absolutely nothing to the discussion, and the only thing they could was cause more pain. But the show decided that an extra 90 seconds of airtime for their shiniest toy was more important, and more than anything else that’s the biggest screw-up they made.

    • Thank you for posting that. I haven’t watched that season in a few years, but I watched the clips of both the challenge and Sue leaving fairly recently. Sadly, Rupert’s take on the issue is pretty common among fans I’ve seen online. However, I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt because for most of them it’s probably been a long time since they watched and they’re going off foggy memories of what was shown based on how they viewed it at the time. And my initial perceptions when it aired were wrong as well.

      I think I was in college when All-Stars aired, and I thought at the time that Sue seemed to be overreacting. But that’s because I was an idiot college kid, and I was viewing their behavior through the lens of an idiot college kid. Basically, college kids did stupid things involving nudity all the time, and I figured Rich and Sue were just friends engaging in some ridiculous antics. It’s only as an actual adult that I realize Rich and Sue weren’t dumb college kids, they were grown-ass adults.

      Since Richard is now a fairly revered figure in Survivor circles and Sue has understandably chosen to distance herself from the Survivor community, I think perceptions of each of them are skewed. People like Rich, and thus decide that he’s a good person. So their recollection of what happened is altered based on the beliefs they hold about Rich and Sue: He’s a good person so he didn’t do anything wrong, she was an angry and mean woman so she probably was just trying to cash in. (And it’s nearly impossible to convince them otherwise, as this recent New Yorker article noted: http://www.newyorker.com/science/maria-konnikova/i-dont-want-to-be-right) The reality is that Rich is an interesting and entertaining Survivor player and commentator, but what he did in that situation was very wrong. He may be a good person, but good people aren’t immune from bad behavior, and Richard’s behavior definitely crossed a line.

      I’ve also seen comments about how Sue should have quit the challenge right after it happened if she were so offended and violated. For some reason, people can’t accept that not everyone processes everything that happens instantly. My guess is that Sue was bothered by it at first, but didn’t want to let down her team or be seen as whining. But as she thought about it again- probably endlessly throughout that evening and night- she realized how wrong that situation was, how nobody had come to her defense, and how she doesn’t deserve to be treated that way. So the next day, she stood up for herself, which is sadly not the most common reaction. It was uncomfortable to watch, and I think that bothered a lot of people who couldn’t see the events from Sue’s perspective.

    • Rob

      I also recently rewatched it and I mostly thought the players were way worse in their second showing…. except Boston Rob. He was masterful in All Stars. Kathy and Lex were extremely petty (and Lex was a huge hypocrite), but Rob got the last laugh because his performance in All Stars made him a lock to return again. Kathy and Lex probably never will.

      As far as the Sue thing goes, I agree it was handled pretty poorly and I thought Kathy and Rupert were both pretty bad. Rich clearly crossed the line, but I don’t think it was very clearly shown on TV because of the blurring. Production really dropped the ball by even letting him do that challenge naked. In addition to the close quarters on the balance beams, there was an attack zone, where someone would have to wrestle naked Hatch! I was also kind of shocked that Rob C was so dismissive of the whole event in The Evolution of Strategy. It probably has a lot to do with the fact that he personally likes Rich in real life, and doesn’t really care for Sue, but it was a little disappointing to hear.

      • Oh yeah that last dig he gets in about Sue when they’re discussing the reunion show is really disgusting.

    • Assistant Dragon Slayer

      I just finished watching All-Stars for the first time. Not only is the Sue Hawk incident really hard to watch, but incredibly, it doesn’t even rank in the top 5 of things that make this season horrible. I’m kind of amazed that they went back to the all-star well at all, and even more amazed that the two all-star seasons since then turned out so well.

      Watching the original All-Stars did, however, clarify for me my criteria for ranking seasons (I was having trouble ranking one-player-runs-the-table seasons like One World, for example). The bottom line for me is that watching Survivor should be fun. Now “fun” has many different guises–watching one player destroy everybody else is fun, of a sort, and so is watching a bunch of non-strategic idiots make terrible decisions (although neither of these types of seasons is going to rise to the top of my ranking).

      I might not bother posting my rankings (seems kind of pointless in a year-old comment thread), but believe me All-Stars is dead last by a mile.

      • purplerockpodcast

        While this rankings page is one of our oldest, it’s the most-viewed page on our site, and it’s consistently in our top 10 for pageviews each month- even when we have new content. (Which is probably a good sign that we need to update it to account for the seasons that aired since we made this.)

        And the “fun” thing is why Tocantins ranks so highly for me. It may not be all that interesting strategically, but I just enjoyed watching those people.

  • Other Scott

    Just for fun, I averaged John and Andy’s rankings with the rest of the guests. I didn’t follow where they put their gaps and instead got a little creative to try to filter out the fact that some had watched more seasons than others. If you really care about my methodology, I can let you know.

    Anyways, the Purple Rock Podcast and guests ranking of the first 28 seasons (SJDS was not included because it only had the two rankings, but it would check in at number 23)

    1. Heroes vs Villains
    2. Micronesia
    3. Tocantins
    4. Palau
    5. Pearl Islands
    6. Cook Islands
    7. Borneo
    8. Cagayan
    9. Philippines
    10. Amazon
    11. China
    12. Caramoan
    13. Blood vs Water
    14. All Stars
    15. Australia
    16. Panama
    17. Guatamala
    18. Vanuatu
    19. Samoa
    20. Marquesas
    21. Fiji
    22. One World
    23. Redemption Island
    24. Africa
    25. Gabon
    26. Thailand
    27. South Pacific
    28. NICARAGUA

    • Thanks! That’s actually something I wanted to do, but never followed through. I appreciate the help.

      I also like that everyone else corrected for Andy’s terrible ranking of Micronesia and Tocantins. I’m a little disappointed Cagayan and Philippines fell so far, though.

      • Jim

        The main problem is everyone hating Nicaragua for not being strategic. And good job for having Tocantins high. 🙂

  • Adrian

    Hi,

    Great article and it’s nice that is has no spoilers as I have not watched most of those seasons.

    Is there any specific order to watch them in? Other then the tip on Cagayan.

    • My personal advice would be to watch the older seasons in our top 10 first, because they may lose some appeal if you’ve seen the later seasons first.

      Old school Survivor was a different game than what it is now (something that will likely factor into the Second Chance season this fall).

  • Fox

    Bye this list is absolutely horrid but what is to be expected of a site that powervotes for Kelley Wentworth to make it on Second Chances

  • Felixx

    I totally agree. Tocantins is, in my opinion, the best season, and I’m glad you rank it highly. Most people put it around 17 or 18, which is unfair.

    • Zander

      Yessss finnaly someone who agrees with me Tocantins IS Epic

  • Miles

    My personal rankings (without spoilers of course!)
    29. Nicaragua
    28. South Pacific
    27. Fiji
    26. Redemption Island
    25. San Juan Del Sur
    24. Gabon
    23. One World
    22. Thailand
    21. Caramoan
    20. Samoa
    19. Vanuatu
    18. Cook Islands
    17. Borneo
    16. Africa
    15. China
    14. Philippines
    13. All-Stars
    12. Tocantins
    11. The Australian Outback
    10. Guatemala
    09. Blood vs Water
    08. Palau
    07. Panama (Exile Island)
    06. Cagayan
    05. Marquesas
    04. The Amazon
    03. Micronesia
    02. Heroes vs Villains
    01. Pearl Islands
    BTW love the podcast!
    09.

    • Good list. Obviously, we disagree strongly on Cook Islands, but reasonable people are allowed to feel differently about that season.

      • Miles

        Ya I respect the season for its strong gameplay, but I HATE Ozzy, and I also think a lot of the pre-merge boots were pretty forgettable. However, I can see how people love it, and if I want so biased against Ozzy its potentially a top ten season for me.

  • Miles

    Great list! Just out of curiosity, why is Gabon so low? I know it has had split opinions over the years, and many consider it to be bottom ten, while many others consider it to be a top ten. I was once a Gabon hater, but once it got seventh on Survivor Oz and tenth on Survivor Fr34k, I rewatched it to see what the hype was all about. It is now a top five season for me, due to the great cast, great blindsides, and wacky moments. Maybe you should give Gabon another shot. Thanks, love the podcast!

    • andythesaint

      I didn’t like anything about Gabon and it’s the only season John hasn’t seen. I’ll take your word for it that it plays better on a rewatch (this isn’t the first time I’ve heard that), but I have no desire to do so (in fact, until last year, I’d never rewatched a season of Survivor before. I just have a really good memory).

      One thing about me that affects these rankings: I have a very low tolerance for “reality TV” moments that you’d see on other shows. Bickering, awful people doing awful things to each other, that sort of thing doesn’t interest me. And Gabon felt like it had a lot of that with Corinne, Randy, Sugar, etc. Not my cup of tea.

      Thanks for listening.

    • purplerockpodcast

      At some point, I’ll watch Gabon for myself. When I do, it could change Gabon’s ranking pretty dramatically if I actually like it.

  • Miles

    I definitely see the points you are making, mainly because those are opinions are did, and for some of them, still do have. Its very interesting to me the whole reality TV point you made, because I never noticed that until you pointed it out. Here’s my season rankings.
    30. Nicaragua- everything about it sucked
    29. South Pacific- sick of Coach and Ozzy
    28. Redemption Island- only saw BR
    27. Worlds Apart- second chances hogged its time
    26. One World- obvious winner
    25. San Juan Del Sur- horrid cast
    24. Caramoan- fans weren’t fans, favs weren’t favs
    23. Borneo- boring, no strategy
    22. Thailand- cast dumb as rocks
    21. Cook Islands- so many forgettable people
    20. Samoa- aka the Russell show
    19. Fiji- overblown characters
    18. Australia- only three people were playing
    17. Africa- same as Australia
    16. All Stars- the ugly stepsisters of our favs
    15. Marquesas- first season with strategy
    14. Panama- casaya tribe
    13. Palau- korror tribe
    12. Guatemala- most underrated season ever
    11. Blood vs Water- great noobies
    10. Tocantins- jalapoa tribe
    09. Cagayan- second best noobie cast ever
    08. Micronesia- most overrated season ever
    07. Vanuatu- the ultimate Cinderella story
    06. Gabon-the craziness
    05. The Amazon- battle of the sexes theme
    04. Philippines- the other ultimate Cinderella story
    03. China- fei long tribe
    02. Heroes vs Villains- best all around cast ever
    01. Pearl Islands- the definition of a perfect season

  • Wagner

    After much campaigning from some friends, I began Survivor last May and I was hooked but I have to say: for those who want to start watching, start from the very first season and then watch the show evolved to what it is today, sadly I began with Worlds Apart and then I went to Borneo and I couldn’t quite enjoy that much because it was like the game had regressed for me. Even though the strategic moves in Borneo helped shape the game, the show was much more about surviving, personal interactions and culture shock than strategic itself. With that being said, here is my top seasons I’ve watched so far (I’ll try to watch every season until Second Chance premieres and then I may come here to post my full list, also I’m sorry if there is any grammar error, English is not my first language):

    1. Micronesia

    2. Cook Islands

    3. Pearl Islands

    4. Cagayan

    5. China

    6. Vanuatu

    7. Worlds Apart

    8. San Juan Del Sur

    9. Panama

    10. Australian Outback

    11. Fiji

    12. Borneo

    • purplerockpodcast

      How many seasons have you made it through now? Have your rankings changed?

      • Wagner

        I made through 30!!! The only one I haven’t finish watching yet is Thailand (the last episode I saw was the 5×09 and I found the season to be hugely boring).

        My seasons rankings now are like this:

        1. Heroes vs. Villains

        2. Micronesia

        3. Cambodia

        4. Tocantins

        5. One World (I feel like I have to explain myself with this one lol)

        6. Philippines

        7. Cook Islands

        8. Pearl Islands

        9. Cagayan

        10. The Amazon

        11. China

        12. Blood vs. Water

        13. Guatemala

        14. Vanuatu

        15. All-Stars

        16. Samoa

        17. Gabon

        18. Worlds Apart

        19. San Juan Del Sur

        20. Panama

        21. Caramoan

        22. Africa

        23. Australian Outback

        24. Palau

        25. Marquesas

        26. Borneo

        27. Nicaragua

        28. South Pacific

        29. Fiji

        30. Redemption Island

        31. Thailand (easily the worst so far and I have like 6 episodes left still)

        • purplerockpodcast

          That is really, really high for One World. And you obviously rate Borneo much lower than we do, but I imagine our ranking of it is inflated partly due to how we felt about it at the time. But other than that I like your list. I’m interested to hear the One World explanation, though.

          • Wagner

            I think I need to rewatch Borneo, I watched it after a new school season and the character driven aspect and lack of grand moves or huge blindsides may have clouded my judgment. As far as One World goes, I have no idea why I liked it so much but I’ll try to answer: Kim played an amazing game from start to finish, the living in the same beach twist worked great for me and much better than the first attempt on Thailand, there were a lot o huge characters that weren’t really likable but then again, a lot of people love Gabon and Nicaragua for that reason; I just don’t know how to explain, it was just a perfect storm for me where almost nothing should have worked for me, but it did. I plan to rewatch a few seasons this year so I may change a few placements. I hope I made myself clear, English is not my first language so sorry if some of the text is phrased in a wrong way or if it has some mispelling.

          • You write English far better than I write in any other language, so there is no need for an apology. Kim is one of my favorite players, I just think that One World was not a very good season. I’m just glad your answer wasn’t about how much you enjoyed Colton or Troy.

            Your thoughts on Borneo probably won’t change much if you watched again. It is like an entirely different show than what Survivor is now.

          • Wagner

            Thank you for your nice words and I don’t usually say hate because is a strong word, but I just hated Colton that season, in the beginning I could relate to him because of the gay guy that tries to fit in with the strong guys and fails thing, but then he just became mean and ruthless, I was glad he didn’t last long on neither of the seasons he was on.

            As far as Borneo go, it’s the kind of season that you just can’t rank because the show was still figuring itself out; Probst, the producers and the castaways didn’t know what they were doing, that makes this season unique. I just put Borneo near the bottom because I give grades to every episode I watch on a tv show tracker, then I just went back and organize the rank by my average grade and Borneo average wasn’t as good as most of the seasons.

          • Kemper Boyd

            I don’t love Borneo as much as fans who have been in from the beginning either. I think it’s mid level for me.

          • Wagner

            Exactly, I only begin watching Survivor last year, I don’t have the nostalgia of some fans that watched weekly back in 2000 because back then they would watch and think “what will happen next?”. The surprise factor made the season great back then, but now after 31 seasons, that kind of feeling is hard to achieve in a season.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Oh and I agree with John about Kim, she’s one of my all time favourite players but her season is not good.

          • Wagner

            I agree, Kim is an amazing player and one of my favorites too. And I really liked One World, I just can’t explain why, but I did. lol

  • Barbara Anderson

    Where would you rank Worlds Apart?

    • purplerockpodcast

      Great question. We need to update these rankings.

  • Jim

    I don’t completely understand you guys hate for Nicaragua and Gabon. They are amazing seasons for characters, it seems that you guys like seasons with strategic players in the end game, which I don’t need to enjoy a season.

    My personal rankings:

    Heroes Vs Villains

    Tocantins

    Cagayan

    Australia

    China

    Pearl Islands

    Micronesia

    Borneo

    Panama

    Vanuatu

    Philippines

    All-Stars

    Amazon

    Africa

    Marquesas

    Blood vs Water

    Nicaragua

    Palau

    Gabon

    Samoa

    Fiji

    Guatemala

    San Juan Del Sur

    Thailand

    South Pacific

    Cook Islands

    One World

    Caramoan

    Redemption Island

    • andythesaint

      I also hate the characters on Nicaragua and Gabon. Like, as humans.

      • The Penultimate stop

        Corrine, Randy, Marcus, and Charlie are all players I never want to see again. Especially if you saw how they acted in Ponderosa. They were the most bitter jury members too.

  • Other Scott

    More fun with rankings:

    I compared the overall Purple Rock Rankings I did a while back to the RHAP season rankings and made some quick comparisons – I assumed both SJDS and WA would fall somewhere in the low 20s:
    -Compared with the RHAP listeners, the season you guys liked much more than RHAP was Caramoan, which you guys ranked 12 spots higher.
    – The seasons RHAP liked a lot more than you was Africa, which they ranked 7 spots higher than you (assuming WA and SJDS would be ahead of Africa)

    -The season PR liked much more than Rob Cesternino was Cook Islands, which was ranked 18 spots higher than where Rob had it.
    – The season Rob liked much more was Samoa, which Rob had 11 places higher than PR
    (I’m much closer to Rob on both those counts, by the way)

    • andythesaint

      I’ll be honest: I think Caramoan is the one we’re most likely wrong about. The farther away we get from it, I struggle to remember why we thought so highly of it. I know that the middle section was pretty great with the various tribal council shenanigans. And I know that John likes it a lot because he’s a big Cochran fan (I also enjoy Cochran, but I know he wouldn’t come close to my top ten).

      But honestly? I think we’re unfairly influenced by the fact that it was the first season we ran fantasy Survivor, which brought so much fun to the season that isn’t necessarily a result of the season’s strengths or failures.

      PS- We’re totally right about Africa and Cook Islands tho.

      • Other Scott

        It’s tough for me to really comment on this, because Africa and Caramoan are two of the seasons I haven’t seen yet. (To be honest I’m really not that excited to watch either of them. I’m probably more excited to watch Gabon or South Pacific, even though I think they’ll likely be worse seasons). The one thing I’ll say about Africa is that you are much more aligned with Rob who watches seasons in a very similar manner to how you guys or I do. I think a lot of people who like Africa just watch Survivor for different reasons, or at least have things that season that they like that you guys don’t care about.

        Cook Islands is also very tough because it was the only season of Survivor I watched live until Season 28. I couldn’t even remember who Penner was when I got into Survivor fandom, though I remembered the final 4 and Parvati and Adam and vaguely Candace. So trying to compare it to other seasons is near impossible, except for the fact that Cagayan (and really Palau as well, which is the old season I went back and watched after Cagayan ended) got me very deeply into Survivor and Cook Islands definitively did not. So when there’s lots of people come and say it’s a bad season, I can kind of understand it. And it’s in that section of Survivor where I don’t really like how the episodes are structured very much. I’m definitely going to rewatch it once I’ve gotten through the seasons I haven’t seen, and I suspect I won’t particularly like it, but who knows.

        My personal opinion:
        Seasona I’m higher on than you guys:
        Vanuatu, Samoa
        Seasona you guys are higher on:
        China (though I watched China after a stretch of amazing seasons so that may be affecting things), Blood vs Water

  • Assistant Dragon Slayer

    It may be pointless to chime in at this late date, but here is my ranking of the seasons I’ve watched. My biases: 1. I came to Survivor much later than most fans (from Caramoan on), so I don’t have much nostalgia for the early seasons. 2. All things being equal I prefer seasons that are solid strategically yet unpredictable, with characters that are interesting without being overbearing and a “deserving” winner yada yada, but for me what trumps everything is that watching Survivor should be fun. For these two reasons, I’m willing to rank fun but strategically uninteresting seasons like Samoa a bit higher, and unwatchable train wrecks like All-Stars much lower (historical importance be damned). 3. There are no bitter juries, only bad social games. 4. I’ve belatedly come to appreciate agents of chaos like Abi-Maria and Shane Powers, as long as they’re not genuinely terrible people like Colton. 5. Tribe implosions are the best.

    (0) Borneo: Kind of exists outside the ranking system entirely
    1. Pearl Islands–Non-stop fun from beginning to end. Best tribe implosion ever.
    2. China–Also very fun, gains credit for two viable winners going into FTC (until they start talking).
    3. Cagayan–The winner played a hugely entertaining and highly unorthodox game, but would have gotten nowhere without two minions.
    4. Second Chance
    5. Tocantins–Great cast. Epic battle of intentional versus unintentional comedy between Tyson and Coach.
    6. Philippines–Possibly my favorite winner ever. Third-best tribe implosion.
    7. Amazon–The first inklings of “modern” Survivor thanks mostly to Rob C. A negative lesson for the editors in what happens when you don’t provide any “winner’s edit” whatsoever (a lesson they’ve learned all too well).
    8. Panama–Would be near the top if the unlikeliest-winner-ever arc had been fulfilled.
    9. Blood vs. Water–My “league-average” season (hey Andy: “replacement level” means a player is really bad)
    10. One World–Hugely impressive if not necessarily fun, in the same way that a no-hitter is hugely impressive if not necessarily fun. Second-best tribe implosion.
    11. Samoa–There are no bitter juries, only bad social games.
    12. Caramoan–Great post-merge negated by bad pre-merge.
    13. San Juan del Sur–Great winner, strong finish but too little too late
    14. South Pacific–There are no bitter juries, only bad social games.
    15. Worlds Apart–Decent season overall utterly derailed by horrible people.
    16. Redemption Island–What separates this from One World is that One World’s winner only needed one try.
    17. Nicaragua–As I said, chaos and idiocy do not necessarily disqualify a season in my mind, but boy there’s very little to see here (says the former Brenda4evah).
    18. All-Stars–No fun whatsoever.

    • purplerockpodcast

      I was going to welcome you to the site, but I caught the mention of your name change in there.

      Placing Borneo outside the rankings is a clever work-around. But other than that I agree with most of your reasoning and the relative rankings you’ve got here, even if I can’t abide any opinions that have Nicaragua above dead last.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        I just finished Vanuatu. I’m higher on the season than most, apparently. I’d rank it solidly in the mid-tier. I’m guessing there was some Survivor exhaustion in the culture following All-Stars. On paper, the “against all odds” narrative of the winner should be extremely compelling, but the winner’s hard to root for (as is everybody who’s left in the end-game). However, I think the ability not to start flailing when your position in the game looks hopeless, and just let your adversaries fall apart, is an underrated skill. Also, even more than most seasons, Vanuatu is (even from the pre-merge boots) a real encyclopedia of the character traits and game moves that will keep you from winning a winnable season of Survivor.

    • Kemper Boyd

      “Redemption Island–Another no-hitter, but One World’s winner only needed one try.”

      Amen brother. Rob C’s winner rankings doesn’t take times it took playing to win into account but mine does. I have Boston Rob below a few winners in my head because it took the dude 4 tries and one of the worst casts imaginable to do it.

  • corndogshuffle

    So I think now I’ve watched enough to post a reasonable list (haven’t seen every season but I’ve seen 24). Most of the seasons I haven’t seen are the ones that people aren’t super high on, the exception being Amazon. The one season I’m not in love with that everyone (besides my brother) seems to love is well… Heroes vs. Villains. Both of us are also higher on San Juan del Sur than most seem to be. This is probably too many words but hey.

    1. Cagayan – I just think this season has everything that Survivor should have. Great cast, wild shifts, funny moments, fun from beginning to end.
    2. Cambodia – I accidentally came across a spoiler for this season’s winner and I was still surprised on a weekly basis. If this wasn’t the most recent season I would consider placing it above Cagayan. This season was never ever boring.
    3. Palau – Normally I hate when one tribe dominates but the way Koror did their thing was so fascinating it just didn’t matter to me this time. Tom is amazing.
    4. Tocantins – Greatest power duo of all time between JT and Stephen. They are collectively the greatest Survivor ever.
    5. China – Amazing theme and location, great cast, great moments,
    6. Philippines – One of my favorite winners ever. And Penner.
    7. Cook Islands – He may not be the best player, but God do I love Penner. RHAP is low on this season and I’m so glad to find other people who agree with me on the greatness of Cook Islands.
    8. Pearl Islands – No season has ever had a more cohesive theme, and it pays off so well that even one of the worst twists ever actually makes sense. Even Rupert wasn’t too much in this season.
    9. Heroes vs. Villains – I just don’t love this season. And no, I’m not a Russell fan either.
    10. Blood vs. Water – The “rustle feathers” tribal council was absolutely magnificent.
    11. Panama – More Casaya please.
    12. Guatemala – How has this season never had a returnee?
    13. San Juan del Sur – Sometimes i think seasons with “meh” pre merges get the shaft and this is one of those times. I think this season doesn’t get the credit it deserves, especially after SJDS dominated Cambodia.
    14. Borneo – So hard to rank this season as it is a completely different show. Had one of the most interesting rewards ever with Kelly and Jeff going to a bar and watching Survivor.
    15. Australia – I love this cast so much. The lack of strategy wasn’t enough to overcome that.
    16. Micronesia – To me this is the most overrated season by a mile. Feel free to insert any argument you have ever heard as to why this season is overrated, because I probably agree with it.
    17. Samoa – It’s difficult to enjoy a season when the winner doesn’t get an edit, and in this season Natalie’s signature moment may have been bludgeoning a rat. I think the editors wanted to show why Russell lost and that may have been fair, but that doesn’t make for a satisfying conclusion, at least not for me.
    18. Worlds Apart – Sort of the anti-Fiji with a solid pre merge followed by an awful post merge. Watching Mike single handedly destroy the main alliance was interesting.
    19. Fiji – Not a great season, but I do think Fiji is generally underrated. Recovered nicely after the horrendous Haves vs. Have Nots twist.
    20. Vanuatu – I hate boys vs. girls but seeing an underdog winner beat the odds salvaged this season for me.
    21. South Pacific – If this list was based on winners this season would be higher. Sorry Sophie.
    22. Thailand – Brian is fascinating but this season is just so dull and predictable. Although for some reason the Erin boot shocked me.
    23. Nicaragua – Sorry Andy. A season exists that makes it impossible for me to place Nicaragua last.
    24. Gabon – Fuck you Gabon.

    Now I will acknowledge that I never watched a Survivor season as it aired until Worlds Apart, and I’ve watched all of these other seasons since then. I don’t have any Survivor nostalgia, but I do think it’s possible that some of my rankings are thrown off a bit by me not necessarily understanding the game very well the first few seasons I watched. I do generally enjoy the middle third of Survivor (I’ll roughly call it Palau to Heroes vs. Villains) more than early or recent seasons, with a few notable exceptions.

    • purplerockpodcast

      I like the description of Worlds Apart as the anti-Fiji. I’m just annoyed that Andy found someone to back up his claims that Micronesia is overrated.

      Tocantins is so great, though. I’d add Taj into the JT-Stephen dynamic, because I think the three of them together have such a great dynamic and make for the perfect lovable underdogs. One of the reasons I really enjoyed it is that even though that trio were the clear underdogs, they weren’t overcoming awful, unbearable people. They just beat a bunch of crazies who were happy to turn on each other.

      • corndogshuffle

        I’ve always thought Fiji gets a worse rep than it deserves. Obviously I don’t love that season if it’s in the low teens, but I don’t think it’s nearly the worst ever. I wanted to like Micronesia and agree that it’s funny, but the Fans were all colossally stupid, five people (or three, depending on how you count Fairplay/Chet) either quit or were medevaced including three in a row, and more stuff that I don’t want to rant about but it was all just too much for me to truly enjoy.

        Great call on Taj, I can’t believe I left her out of that mix. That Tocantins cast was so much fun to watch and the underdogs vs. the lovably incompetent overlords made it tolerable even if the underdogs had failed, even though it wouldn’t have been as fun. Even thought it didn’t really happen the Exile Island Alliance was one of my favorite subplots ever.

        Moved Heroes vs. Villains up a few spots because after thinking about it I placed that season too low, even for my initial perception of it. I’m certain I’m wrong about that season not being top five but something about my first watch of it just didn’t sit well.

        I also added All-Stars as I just finished watching it. I agree that almost without exception bitter juries come from poor social play, but in all-star format seasons I do think it’s possible for jurors to simply be salty. Like Lex, who had no problem burning bridges as he was just playing the game (I think he said the Brian Heidik line “it’s just business”), but the second Rob had the audacity to play in similar fashion it was the worst thing anyone had ever done. I was surprised by Amber though, she was more of a player than I was expecting based on what I knew going in to this season.

        • Barbara Anderson

          Your description of Tocantins sorta reminds me of Philippines with the underdogs (Denise and Malcolm) and the lovably incompetent overlords (half of Tandang and Carter). Am I reaching on this comparison?

          • No, I think that fits. It’s not a perfect comp, but it’s in the same vein.

          • corndogshuffle

            I also agree. No perfect comparisons in Survivor but there are good ones.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I think you’ve got Micronesia too low, if you don’t like Micronesia what are you watching Survivor for?

        • corndogshuffle

          I don’t think you’re asking me Kemper, but just in case I’d like to clarify that I liked things about every season and would argue that besides my bottom three I like every season more than I dislike it. I haven’t watched One World or Redemption Island yet so my list of unlikable seasons might just grow.

          I know if I’m gonna put Micronesia so low I have to focus on why I don’t like it, but there is definitely a fair amount to like there.

          • Kemper Boyd

            I’m happy to take an answer from anyone friend! Honestly I agree with you, the only seasons I dislike more than I like are Nicaragua and Redemption Island which would be my 31 and 32. But Micornesia has some of the greatest most iconic moments of Survivor and it’s in a fun game with a good winner. That’s a great season of Survivor for me.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            I think that’s something that gets lost in the discussion of ranking Survivor seasons–Survivor is fundamentally awesome! For the most part, “bad” seasons are only bad relative to other Survivor seasons. The only seasons you couldn’t pay me to rewatch are Redemption Island, Nicaragua, and All-Stars (note: I’ll set up a Gofundme page if anybody’s inclined to pay me to rewatch Survivor).

        • You can blame Andy for that one.

          • Kemper Boyd

            Yeah I saw you had it higher. I’m a big fan because for me it was right when I was really getting into the show and it had such big moves and good personalities and the top 3 were all excellent through it. Plus I hate Ozzy so his comeuppance was magnificent.
            Plus it really is one of the more rewatchable seasons, it’s one of my go tos with HvV if I feel like watching the odd episodes.

          • andythesaint

            You can thank me.

        • andythesaint

          Half the cast are morons getting punked by experienced players. It’s the Survivor equivalent of watching the Harlem Globetrotters pound on the Washington Senators. Which is entertaining in its own way, but I’d rather watch a real basketball game.

          Bonus: One quarter of the eliminations that season were a form of quit/medevac. Fun!

          • Kemper Boyd

            I reject this. I REJECT THIS.

          • Assistant Dragon Slayer

            Not trying to play gotcha, but how do you square that with your high opinion of Palau? (I just started watching Palau, but I know where its headed)

          • andythesaint

            Because neither side had a major imbalance going into the game. I have no problem with one side dominating the other, as long as there isn’t a hand on the scale tipping the balance. Ulong wasn’t disadvantaged by the show, they just weren’t as good as Koror.

            I don’t like fans vs favorites as a concept. Experience is SUCH a major advantage in, well, everything. It’s not a case of a superior NBA team playing a weaker one. It’s an NBA team playing a college team.

          • corndogshuffle

            Yeah I don’t mind the favorites role in a season like Guatemala or Philippines or South Pacific/RI (besides the fact that South Pacific had my least favorite returnees ever), but a whole tribe of returning players should only be playing against another tribe of returning players.

  • purplerockpodcast

    We’ve updated! The list now shows our rankings for every season from Borneo to Cambodia/Second Chance.

  • Other Scott

    I’ve seen 20 seasons so far (Actually I’ve seen Borneo as well but it was a while ago and I don’t know how to rank it until I rewatch it). I can rank too. I’m a ranker.

    1. Heroes vs Villains – It’s really everything you can want in a season. All around great.
    2. Samoa – Two seasons, two seasons of Russell. I just like watching him get shown up when he least expects it.
    3. Palau – Fascinating start, and the best 3 episode stretch in Survivor history to finish.
    4. Amazon – This season is probably the best combination of fun and strategy.
    5. Cagayan – Though this season is a competitor for that too, with some additional great storylines. Plus it has Woo 🙂
    6. Pearl Islands – Not as close to the top as for some people because it gets confusing at times, but obviously a great season.
    7. Cambodia – I warmed up to this season eventually. I just needed it to stabilize a little so I could make sense of it, and it did.
    8. Vanuatu – Pretty dull early, but I’m a big fan of collapsing alliance storylines and this one might be the best.
    9. Australia – I just love the characters in this season so much.
    10. San Juan Del Sur – Where it rightfully deserves to be, in the middle. None of this top tier or bottom tier garbage I hear on both sides ;).
    11. Guatemala – There’s editing sketchiness here, but location and characters are a lot of fun and the endgame is at least interesting.
    12. Worlds Apart – I LOVE the pre-merge of this season and to some degree the early merge. I do not love from final 8 on at all.
    13. Blood vs Water – This season just didn’t really click for me like it does for some. Big Monica Culpepper fan though.
    14. Marquesas – This feels low, because BIG THINGS happen, but some of those post-merge episodes are really, really boring.
    15. China – I don’t know, there’s just no gameplay or good storylines here. I like the cast OK but I’m not head over heels for them.
    16. Cook Islands – Watched it a long time ago, wasn’t enough to hook me to the show. That’s enough to earn it the lower reaches of my countdown. Will rewatch though.
    17. One World – It’s not as bad as some people say, but it’s not exactly good.
    18. Panama – I get that it’s funny, I get that Cirie is cool, but nothing interesting happens ever. It’s baseline Survivor, as in everyone does what you expect them to do. Only exception is the 3-2-1, which is 10 minutes of one episode.
    19. Nicaragua – Is Nicaragua. Survivor internet community darling though.
    20. Fiji – I don’t hate anything in Nicaragua, there’s massive sections of Fiji pre-merge that anger me. There’s also a really boring 3 episode stretch post merge just for icing on the cake. The good parts are great, but I just can’t with this season.

    • Fiji’s bad is *really* bad. It’s such a high-variance season. Unfortunately, it spends a lot more time being awful than it does being great.

      • Other Scott

        Yeah, all of those top 18 I find somewhere between mildly pleasant viewing experiences to excellent viewing experiences, and Nicaragua isn’t really unpleasant in any way. When you have stuff that just makes me go “I don’t really want to watch this” it’s going to be hard to escape the bottom.

  • Barbara Anderson

    I think Cambodia is just a touch too high on here, but to each their own.

    • Andy wasn’t as high on Cambodia as I was. But I enjoyed nearly every episode of the season, so even though I was hesitant to put it so high I think it will hold up.

      • Barbara Anderson

        Fair enough. Of course, I have been open with my “like, not love” reaction to Cambodia on this website.

    • Kemper Boyd

      I think it’s about 5.

  • gouis

    People who don’t have Cambodia at around 5th are baffling to me. What else do you want in Survivor!

    • andythesaint

      Maybe just time? We went higher on Cagayan now than we were comfortable going last year.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I think that’s fair, you need a bit of distance to really know if a season is as good as you thought it was fresh.

      • But we knew at the time that Cagayan was one of the best seasons ever. We were just being overly cautious so we didn’t overrate it.

    • Other Scott

      Some people were unhappy with the storytelling and editing.
      (Those people are grumps who will probably never be satisfied with anything a new season gives them, unless that season is San Juan Del Sur)

    • Barbara Anderson

      On the Survivor subreddit, there was a theory floating around that there are two types of Survivor superfans: those who like the seasons with great characters and those who like the seasons with great strategy. Now, I know this is sorta controversial, but I feel like it works for me. I love strategy but only when it involves clearly defined characters. That is my biggest issue with Cambodia-it became too strategy heavy in the post-merge and characters just to fell to the wayside. Part of that problem could be due to the early merge (in regards to numbers), but it just seemed like I had no idea about relationships. Now, I do like this season, but I don’t love it right now. But I do have a tendency to change my mind about this tuff. Right after the season, I disliked SJDS and liked WA and now that opinion has flipflopped, so who knows where I will stand on Cambodia after Kaoh Rong?

      • I split the difference: I disliked both SJDS and Worlds Apart.

        But I have noticed that same sentiment on r/Survivor, and it feels disingenuous. The seasons that people there will often cite as having great characters- SJDS, Gabon, Nicaragua- are actually (to me, of course) just seasons where both the cast and the strategy are terrible. There isn’t a consistent push by the defenders of those seasons to also champion Panama or Tocantins, which actually had great characters and very little strategy.

        Note: I’m not discounting your opinion at all. I think your criticism of Cambodia is understandable. I just think there is a small subgroup within r/Survivor that is roughly the equivalent of the “I liked the band before they went all mainstream” crowd.

        • Barbara Anderson

          I have definitely seen that sentiment on r/Survivor, but I don’t buy into it. I just have a soft spot for characters that I like. That’s why AO is one of my favorite seasons-the strategy is not great but the characters are. That may also explain my undying love for Keith Nale. In fact, without Keith, I probably wouldn’t have gotten back into Survivor.

        • Kemper Boyd

          I think character is an object thing anyway. Fans say “character” to describe a player who is bad that the game but gets a big edit: Coach (was bad in his first 2 times), Phillip, Colton, NaOnka, Fabio, Cochran 1.0. If someone has actual character but is good at the game they don’t get that description see Parvati, Boston Rob, Cochran 2.0.

          • Barbara Anderson

            My own personal definition of characters are people that pop on the screen. I don’t care if they are the best players of all time or not-I just care that they make me care about them and their plight on Survivor.

          • Miles

            Hey, you. Stop stealing all my valid points. Now I have to think of new ones to make myself look/feel smart.

          • Having now seen the first 2/3s of HvV, I can safely say that Parvati 3.0 is a major character who is great at this game.

          • Kemper Boyd

            But if you were to describe her as a player you’d describe how she plays not that’s she’s a “character”.

          • That is true. However, using my personal definition of character (people who make me care about them and their plight on Survivor), she fits perfectly. She is someone that people can easily root for and against because of how much glee she takes at the HvV merge or how she suddenly realizes that her hype from Micronesia is actually well deserved when she receives the second idol.

          • Kemper Boyd

            She’s easily one of the most watchable players which is why she’s the superstar of the show.

          • I will be honest: This is the first time that I have watched a complete Parvati season and she is compelling for sure. I mean I see why some people have issues with her (ie: the Mean Girl thing she has to people not in her alliance), but I think HvV is her playing with that persona, especially in interactions with Probst and in confessionals.

  • Ms_Woozah

    Cambodia Top 5 and Worlds Apart bottom 10 are the new additions? (PS I completely agree.) Did you guys change the order of any other seasons around since you did this originally?

    • Purplerockmatt

      they moved Cagayan up at the least, i think caramoan went down

      • andythesaint

        Those are the significant ones. There was probably some minor changes to a few others.

    • Matt is right that Caramoan moved down, especially after Andy and I were able to make a pretty valid comparison of that season to Fiji (a comparison that involved the words “hot Lisi”, which was shudder-inducing). Other than that, most seasons didn’t move more than a spot or two; even after we all rewatched some seasons last summer our opinions on them didn’t change dramatically.

    • Barbara Anderson

      I noticed that they swapped Borneo and China as well.

      • That was from me moving Borneo down a spot. I believe Borneo and China were tied before, and we’d broken the tie by mutually agreeing that Borneo should be higher. But since I dropped Borneo down, it was no longer a tie.

  • Kemper Boyd

    I will admit my biases 1) Cook Islands is my first Survivor so I will always have it high 2) I am a woman and I find I prefer female winner seasons if it’s a close race between two seasons 3) I prefer a boring pre-merge and crazy post merge than the other way round.

    I would personally have SJDS higher only because it’s redeemed by a great final 4 episodes and winner. If you are willing to have Caramoan so high when they are reasonably applicable in number of interesting episodes (if not nuber of interesting players) I don’t get the disconnect with SJDS. I still think they are both mid level though.

    I don’t think your top 11 can be argued with more than the order, I’d have Palau 11th but that’s me.

    Oh and One World lower for me. Great winner, boring season.

    • corndogshuffle

      Cook Islands was one of the first seasons I watched (Worlds Apart-China-Cook Islands were my first three) and I think part of my love for it comes from that. I know I don’t have a real nostalgic sense for the show in that I’ve been watching for eleven months but that doesn’t mean I won’t feel fondly about seasons like Cook Islands. Plus, it’s just a fun season with some great characters.

      I think the gender point is an interesting one and while personally I don’t care too much about that sort of thing, I get how it would impact someone else’s viewing. I try to be neutral so much from that perspective that men vs. women seasons (well to be fair I’ve only seen Vanuatu) annoy me because I found myself rooting for the male tribe and I don’t like that. I’m glad they haven’t done that format in a while, it can stay gone.

      Great post merge is definitely the way to go. I think pre merge can be fascinating but a great post merge can save a season from a sub par pre merge. That’s why I’m higher on SJDS than most seem to be. The post merge (especially with the emergence of Natalie) was lots of fun.

      I’m fascinated by the biases that people have been posting, I know I have them but I’ve never really thought much about what they are. I’m gonna spend some time on that these next few days.

    • Your reasoning is a big part of why Caramoan fell in our rankings. At the time we originally did them, I was still excited by the fact that Cochran had won and Malcolm had been an entertaining underdog. But the cast isn’t great and the pre-merge is pretty bad.

      The difference with SJDS is that even though both seasons had subpar casts, Caramoan got rid of its worst elements pre-merge. SJDS had so many that they filled up the jury.

      • Kemper Boyd

        I do agree with you there, SJDS got rid of the lovely Val too early plus Dale and Kelley all three I think would have made the post merge considerably better than Alec, Wes and Missy.

  • Assistant Dragon Slayer

    Is it weird that for many seasons, the ranking depends largely on the identity of the winner, even though by definition that’s not relevant while you’re actually watching the season? How far would Cagayan fall in the ranking if Woo wins? What happens to Pearl Islands’ ranking if Lil knows what “cutting a deal” means and Fairplay wins? And of course, does Survivor even last 32 seasons if Wiglesworth wins Borneo?

    • The editing of those seasons would have changed completely based on the winner (with the exception of Borneo). Cagayan edited to show Woo’s march to victory would have been bizarre; I imagine they would have edited it more as Kass’ loss than Woo’s win (sort of a Russell in Samoa redux).

      But the winner thing matters mostly because of the way the stories of the season have to be shaped to make the winner’s game seem coherent. So it’s not necessarily that we’re ranking a season highly because we liked the winner- otherwise I’d have One World much higher- it’s that the winner’s story can affect the other narratives of the season.

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        That’s a great point. I’ve said before that I’m a winner’s edit skeptic (Varner was supposedly getting a winner’s edit, for pete’s sake), but it obviously does exist to some extent when you have to turn thousands of hours of footage into 15 hours of show. If Woo had done the sensible thing, surely Tony would have gotten the Tocantins Coach/RI Philip edit. That’s sad to even contemplate.

  • EmAndScoutInBK

    I already shared my general feelings on twitter – great list. I only have a few things with which I’d disagree. Aside from what I already said about Vanuatu and Africa, it occurred to me that I did not mention how much I hate Caramoan. I can’t stand that season. It’d probably be 2nd to last for me (or at least in that general area).

    • That’s not an uncommon sentiment. We still probably have Caramoan higher than most people do. That’s probably my fault- I enjoyed watching Cochran win, and I’m probably viewing it through rose-colored glasses because of that. And I’m definitely overlooking the fact that Cochran’s win becomes obvious far too early.

  • corndogshuffle

    Thanks to y’all for posting this list by the way, it was a huge help for me as I started watching this show. I live near DC and it looks like we’re gonna be snowed in for a few days, so I’m looking to get Africa done (I just got to the merge) and either Marquesas or Amazon. Or both. I don’t know how much snow there will be.

    • I’ve actually watched all of those within the past year or so. I’d do Amazon over Marquesas, unless you’re the type that prefers to save the best for last.

      • corndogshuffle

        I’m trying to save one top ten season for last (or second to last if I can’t stand it) because I very intelligently left Caramoan, Redemption Island, and One World to last and I’m not remotely excited about any of those three. Except the thing with Dawn’s teeth. And Kim.

        Just finished Marquesas, I didn’t realize the rock draw came when a fire making competition was probably what should have happened. That was sort of a bummer.

        I might do Redemption Island next because I can’t go back to work until Monday (I teach and school is canceled until next week) and I’m gonna watch no matter what because I have nothing better to do.

        • I don’t think we hate Caramoan quite as much as others do, but I will say that the pre-merge is pretty awful.

          I’m glad you got to see the season and the event that gave our podcast its name, though. And yes, it was used incorrectly. I think they were just excited that they finally got to use their new tie-breaker they’d come up with and hadn’t thought it through.

          • corndogshuffle

            Now having seen it, I enjoyed Caramoan more than I was expecting. My very scientific ranking system placed it 17th. The pre merge was bad, but I think it got better after Brandon’s meltdown. That series of Three Amigos TC’s was great. Caramoan had some of the highest highs and some of the lowest lows, so ranking it somewhere in the middle feels fair.

          • So you’ve only got Redemption Island and One World left to watch now?

          • corndogshuffle

            It’s actually One World and Amazon. I decided I had to save Amazon for last. Having seen Redemption Island I’m not sure I would have finished if it was the last season on my list.

  • hornacek

    Australian Outback

    “But the cast is good, with several players that have come back for future seasons.”

    Several? It has 8 returnees, 50% of its cast. The largest number of any season. Not much strategy compared to current Survivor, but a great cast.

    • Yes, several. You know- two, three, eight, whatever.

      • hornacek

        Sorry, I forgot to convert from Canadian to American math.

  • hornacek

    Cook Islands

    “this season probably has the largest group of players that have returned for future seasons”

    Huh? The only returnees from CI are Candice, Penner, Parvati and Ozzy, right? That’s 4, hardly the largest group. Borneo has 6, Australia has 8. There are multiple first-timer seasons where 4 people have returned.

    • I have no idea what you’re talking about.

      (Thank you. Didn’t catch that when I was going back to edit this for the update. It’s updated now.)

  • Dave

    Vanuatu and Gabon are hella low here! And while I understand why some people dislike Nicaragua, placing it last in a world occupied by Redemption Island, Thailand and One World is something I cannot get behind.

    Most of the rest of this list runs more or less in line with standard fan consensus and can therefore be reliably used by a newbie as a guide – barring the extremely high placement of the oft-dismissed Cook Islands, which is solid on first watch and weak on every subsequent one.

    • Just because Nicaragua is the worst doesn’t mean that the other three you mentioned aren’t also terrible.

      The rankings for Gabon are slightly skewed because it’s the ranking of one person (Andy). I’ll likely be watching it after Kaoh Rong airs, and we’ll see if it’s ranking moves. I wouldn’t get your hopes up for it shooting up the rankings, though.

  • Help! if I’m trying to get a friend to watch Survivor by showing them a modern season (15-31), which season should I use?

    • If you’ve only got one shot, I’d go with Cagayan.

  • Pablo Moysés

    One World: “The reality is that the cast was made to look like fodder because of the work of one of the most dominant winners the game has ever had.”

    No, just… no. It was Brian in Thailand and Boston Rob in Redemption Island all over again. Kim is good, but the fact is she played against nobody. I felt like Kim was playing against a cast of 12 year olds clueless about how to play the game, including her 2 sidekicks. Boston Rob is the most overrated survivor player ever, but he at least played against real players on his previous runs. No idea if she will ever play again, but until she have real competition, she’ll never be on the top list of best players along with Parvati, Cirie, Yul Kwon, Tom Westman, Yao Man, Sandra Diaz…

    Btw, to me One World is the worst season of Survivor so far. I thought it would be impossible to be worst than Redemption Island, but I was wrong. When you have a Survivor cast that makes the Thailand cast look like a bunch of geniuses it’s a really bad sign. We’re talking about a group of people that at some point decided to give up tribe immunity so they could vote someone out for “betraying the main alliance” or something stupid like that. We’re talking about a group of men who let a spoiled brat run their tribe. We’re talking about a cast so delusional it made me miss the spoiled racist brat at some point. Not to mention the most annoying cast overall (Colton, Alicia, Tarzan, Kat, Troyzan, Matt). Oh, and the ass kissing from Sabrina, Chelsea and Kat towards Kim were embarrassing to say the least.

  • Miles

    Very interesting rankings! I’ve been curious to see where Cambodia would rank among the fan community (I know it was VERY well received when it aired, but I wanted to see how people would feel after knowing the whole story.) Judging from what I can tell from listening to the podcast and seeing your rankings, you are much more interested with strategy as opposed to characters, correct? Because you have seasons like Cambodia so high and seasons like Nicaragua so low (not that there’s anything wrong with that, I don’t think anyone is arguing Nicaragua is better than Cambodia.) However, I’m interested that there are seasons that you have so low that feature both, mainly Vanuatu, one of my personal favorites. The general opinion of Vanuatu seems to be fairly positive, so I’m just curious; why are you so low on it other than what you said about not liking Chris?

    • andythesaint

      That’s accurate. We enjoy characters as well, but not so much ones that aren’t also passable as players.

      As for Vanuatu, we do think that Chris has become highly overrated and think a lot of what people interpret as him manipulating his way to the top strategically can just as easily be attributed to luck. Also, people tend to play up how overcame long odds without underlining that Chris was one of the big reasons that the men were so down numbers going into the merge. Perhaps if they weren’t so hapless early on, he would’ve been able to play from a position of strength?

      With all that said, neither of us have seen Vanuatu since it aired. Since we are much different viewers now than we were then, it’s the season I’m most willing to concede perhaps being wrong about. I may even rewatch it some day to find out.

      • Miles

        Those are definitely fair points; Chris is a very overrated player I just really like him as a character. I understand where you come from with strategy too; I prefer characters but still want some strategy, hence why I’m not a huge fan of Nicaragua. Thank you for responding I appreciate being able to interact with other fans it’s fun to see different opinions!

        • Well you definitely have the right attitude to fit in here. Welcome to the site!

      • Miles

        Also I’d like to add you’re not wrong I’m a firm believer that everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I hate Cook Islands and you guys (obviously) don’t but I understand and respect where you’re coming from. You probably can’t turn me around on it but I’m willing to listen and at least understand your points.

  • drewman2014

    ‘Panama: Exile Island’ should be ranked much lower. Like ‘Nicaragua’, it was a popularity contest and dividing the tribes by age was a huge mistake. I’d rather sit through a marathon of the ‘Transformers’ movies than sit through that season again. Aras was a forgettable and unlikable winner. He is nothing but a deceitful, selfish and extremely shallow man. Harry Smith, a former correspondent for ‘The Early Show’ told Melinda Hyder that what Aras did to her in the second episode was flat out rude. CBS brought him back for ‘Blood vs. Water’ for no reason at all. He only won for two reasons; the first was because the final immunity challenge was unfair to Terry Deitz and the other was because the majority of players were idiots who fell his disingenuous personality. The players who played alongside him in ‘Blood vs. Water’ saw through him and the same goes for the people who played alongside his brother in ‘Cambodia’.

    I don’t ‘China’ should be ranked that high because it was a very predictable season. Jean-Robert said in the very first episode that Todd was going to be the mastermind in that season and then look what the final result was.

    • Max_Jets

      “Harry Smith, a former correspondent for ‘The Early Show’ told Melinda Hyder that what Aras did to her in the second episode was flat out rude.” Damning. I used to really like Aras, but now I hate him. Cirie was an idiot for being friends with him and now I hate her too.

  • Two questions: 1) John, where would you put Gabon? 2) For both of you, where would you put Kaoh Rong now that you have some distance from the season?

    • We’ll be discussing both of those questions and updating these rankings soon. But as a preview of my perspective:

      1) Pretty low.
      2) I thought it was good, and Cydney in particular was great.

      • I hope Cydney comes back soon. She is such a rare character for Survivor: a WOC who is not a stereotype.

  • Max_Jets

    I should be applying for jobs right now, so what better time to post my season rankings?
    1. Heroes vs Villains – Sometimes I think maybe this season is overrated, even when I do think of great moments like the merge tribal, Rob vs Russell, and the Tyson vote. Then I remember the JT idol story and the whole season feels too good to be true. I prefer the idea of the game “purity” of an all newbie season and some more Courtney confessionals would be nice, but that can’t stop this from being the best season ever.
    2. Cagayan – What’s so great about Cagayan is that even as one person is dominating the game, so many other players are playing great games alongside it that compliment the winner’s game. Delightful cast from top to just above the bottom (sorry Lindsey).
    3. Pearl Islands – Thank you for this season, Lill.
    4. Kaoh Rong – A contender for favorite cast. Everyone here brings something to the table. The medevacs are unfortunate, but even the episodes without tribal are entertaining. The power struggle in the early merge is top notch, and after the season passes its climax the dynamics of the remaining players are interesting enough that it almost doesn’t matter what happens. There are several great tribal councils. The Aubry Cydney duo is one of my favorite alliances. Tai is one of the show’s most dynamic characters. Jason and Scot are great, emotionally complex “villains”, as all villains should be.
    5. Blood vs Water – Tadhana is one of my favorite tribes, which helps to light up the pre-merge portion of the game. The post merge also has several memorable moments, between the rock draw, the Laura vote (fuck the haters, it’s emotional and interesting), and Caleb & Hayden’s attempt to flip the game. The boot order is good, leading to one of the show’s best postmerge casts who all seem to be enjoying themselves.
    6. Micronesia – I know people complain about the unfair nature of fans vs favorites, but the favorites still have to compete with each other and watching them use the fans as pawns is just as interesting to watch from a gameplay perspective.
    7. Philippines – A great cast with an exciting unpredictable post merge. Even when the season is winding down, we still get to watch the Denise and Abi dynamic play out. Biggest complaints are the somewhat dishonest portrayals of Skupin and Artis, but there is enough great stuff to overlook it.
    8. Cambodia – What should have been a top tier season will have to settle for second tier. Some great pre-merge moments, and a delightfully chaotic postmerge with several players playing very hard. Kimmi should have been a main player here, but the edit ignores her, which sucks a lot of suspense from the endgame. Many of the votes here seem completely out of left field, the Wiglesworth one in particular. Why does Joe go home? Apparently for more interesting reasons than were shown. Still a very fun season.
    9. The Amazon – Cringeworthy comments abound and one of my least favorite moments from the show appears here in the peanut butter strip. Rob C also gets a few too many confessionals in at least one episode, but I cannot remember which one. Everything else is great. Yes, even the Jenna edit.
    10. China – A perfect cast and Denise. Peih Gee and Jaime throwing the challenge and the aftermath is one of my favorite Survivor stories.
    11. Guatemala – An underrated season with one of the most exciting wins of the show. Some great blindside reactions and only one postmerge tribal without any intrigue, which is pretty rare. A couple great pre-merge boots, but a few red shirts too. Good cast overall.
    12. Tocantins – Coach, Tyson, and possibly the greatest final 4 of all time.
    13. Palau – Not as fun as I usually like my Survivor, but still great.
    14. Samoa – Could have been a top 5 season, but the editing screwed it. Still a lot of fun.
    15. Marquesas – There’s a couple episodes in the postmerge that are a pretty boring, but the first 2/3rds are phenomenal and it picks up again a bit in the end.
    16. Borneo – The classic.
    17. San Juan Del Sur – The pre-merge isn’t very good, but there has been much worse. The post merge is incredibly exciting and I think would be more enjoyable on a rewatch when you know it’s not heading towards a trainwreck. Some of the characters are a bit bland, but the editing is some of the best in the show. There are several “winner’s edits”, but the real winner is my favorite of the series.
    18. Panama – Casaya <3
    19. Vanuatu – The women’s tribe is great, as is the endgame. The men’s tribe…eh.
    20. Caramoan – Bad pre-merge, good post merge. Dawn is a star this season.
    21. Worlds Apart – I don’t feel like talking about Worlds Apart, but it’s okay.
    22. One World – Not quite as boring as it’s made out to be. Kim’s gameplay is always interesting to watch.
    23. Nicaragua – I prefer this trainwreck to Gabon because there is not one predictable episode in the post merge, the ending/winner is more satisfying, and Holly. Also, I like NaOnka… Survivor is at it's worst when it is either unpleasant or boring. This avoids both of those, but just barely.
    24. Australian Outback – A terrific pre-merge, but the post Jerri episodes are so dull with Tina being the only top tier character in the final 7. The finale is easily the worst finale the show has ever had, and probably my 2nd least favorite episode of the series.
    25. Cook Islands – Redshirts 1 through 6 seemed nice, but redshirts 7 through 10 seemed kind of annoying. Really forgettable cast overall, with only a handful of highlights. A fairly pleasant season, with a storyline that is satisfying but leaves little intrigue in the endgame.
    26. Africa – Bring back Kelly Goldsmith.
    27. South Pacific – I might actually have this too low? South Pacific could have been a great season with a different edit. Sure, it would still have a post merge Pagonging, but YOU ARE WATCHING A CULT. How is that not interesting? Give Brandon a more complex edit and give Albert and Sophie some more screen time and it’s already a lot better. The pre-merge is pretty solid with some entertaining pre-merge boots and some entertaining overplaying from Jim. The merge episode is great and the last two episodes are even better. Brandon’s boot is dark and fascinating to watch. The finale is one of the best the show has done. The final 3 are all great as characters and it ends the way it would have if it had been scripted.
    28. Gabon – Gabon is weirdly entertaining and watchable, but that value wears off towards the end.
    29. Thailand – Actually has a decent pre-merge, but the postmerge is a slog. Clay and Jan are actually pretty funny as characters, but the cast isn’t that interesting overall. I love watching Shii Ann though.
    30. All Stars – Hey look, Shii Ann is back! & she is the only person to root for once the merge hits, other than maybe the legend that emerges from the season. The first few episodes are good, but then we get the worst episode of the entire show when Sue quits. Thanks to some commentary about it from old favorites, we now have less favorites in the cast! Then we have a bit more unpleasantness, and then an incredibly boring slog of a post merge that is only slightly salvaged by Shii Ann’s immunity win. Bad.
    31. Fiji – The show’s worst premerge and a pretty solid postmerge. The social dynamics here feel barely explained, leaving us with some confusing animosity between certain contestants.
    32. Redemption Island – The most uneven playing field and few standouts in the cast leave us with the worst season ever. Doubt it will ever be topped.

    • I enjoyed “a perfect cast and Denise”.