Monday, May 16, 2011

Survivor Season Rankings - Updated with Redemption Island

Here's my rankings of Survivor Seasons.

My goal is to rewatch each season during the summer and possibly revamp these ratings. In some cases it's been 8 years since I last saw them, so it's worth the review.

(6/2 Update: At the suggestion of commenter Scott, I'm leading off with a non-spoiler list which is just a list of the seasons. After that is a list with a bit of discussion with each season, along with the winner of each season. If you havent seen each season, stop after the first list.)

Ranking summary:

1. Survivor: Borneo (Season 1)
2. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Season 20)
3. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Season 16)
4. Survivor: Pearl Islands (Season 7)
5. Survivor: Samoa (Season 19)
6. Survivor: Amazon (Season 6)
7. Survivor: Palau (Season 10)
8. Survivor: China (Season 15)
9. Survivor: Australian Outback (Season 2)
10. Survivor: Cook Islands (Season 13)
11. Survivor: Tocantins (Season 18)
12. Survivor: Africa (Season 3)
13. Survivor: Redemption Island (Season 22)
14. Survivor: Gabon (Seaon 17)
15. Survivor: Panama (Season 12)
16. Survivor: Fiji (Season 14)
17. Survivor: Guatemala (Season 11)
18. Survivor: Vanuatu (Season 9)
19. Survivor: All-Stars (Season 8)
20. Survivor: Marquesas (Season 4)
21. Survivor: Nicaragua (Season 21)
22. Survivor: Thailand (Season 5)


1. Survivor: Borneo (Winner: Richard Hatch)

The original can never be duplicated.

2. Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

In this case, familiarity helps. Knowing each of the players going in and how they were likely to play set some expectations. The season lived up to it and more. The casting of players and characters was fantastic. The winner was a bit disappointing, but the lead to the final tribal was great.

3. Survivor: Micronesia — Fans Vs. Favorites (Winner: Parvati Shallow)

A lot of blind sides, the single stupidest move in Survivor history and some interesting characters introdued. Awesome season. Though I'm a bit frightened at the similiarities between this and the Ruins III.

4. Survivor: Pearl Islands (Winner: Sandra Diaz-Twine)

Rupert. Johnny Fairplay. The season that Survivor became fun to watch for reasons beyond the actual game.

5. Survivor: Samoa (Winner: Natalie White)

Putting aside the jury vote, this season was a win simply because of Russell. His play reinvigorated the show and the game.

6. Survivor: Amazon (Winner: Jenna Morasca)

The first season where alliances were fluid. The game was played in a much different manner than before, with votes moving continually.

Oh, and chocolate and peanut butter.

7. Survivor: Palau (Winner: Tom Westman)

The first season where we saw a true dominant tribe. Then came Stephanie's survival for 2 weeks, then Tom's bold move to threaten to tie a vote to get people on side with him. Very underrated year.

8. Survivor: China (Winner: Todd Herzog)

It has James' stupid non-play of a hidden immunity idol, Todd wearing his bad deeds, and Amanda's first final tribal council failure. A pretty good year.

9. Survivor: Australian Outback (Winner: Tina Wesson)

The beginning of the Jeff Probst/Colby Donaldson bromance. Also the first ever major strategic blunder, though it was at least done out of some sense of loyalty. What ever happened to Elisabeth anyway?

10. Survivor: Cook Islands (Winner: Yul Kwon)

Two of the most likable players in Yul and Ozzie. It also had the funniest Survivor moment, when Sundra and Becky "battled" to build fire. Taking 90 minutes to do so. After being given matches 30 minutes in.

11. Survivor: Tocantins (Winner: J.T. Thomas)

The year of Coach! Also, a great blindside of Tyson.

12. Survivor: Africa (Winner: Ethan Zohn)

Oh Kelly. If only Brandon hadn't have gone into business for himself, we would have had the first momentum swing post-merge ever, and you might have stuck around longer. Also notable for Lex getting eliminated in the Fallen Comrades competition even though he answered a question correctly. That earned him (and Big Tom) 2nd place money.

13. Survivor: Redemption Island (Winner: Rob Mariano)

The Boston Rob show gets up her because of Boston Rob's hilarious confessionals, his running of the show from start to finish and Phillip's wackiness. In an unrelated note, if Rob didn't win I would have rated it lower.

14. Survivor: Gabon (Winner: Bob Crowley)

Even with the fake hidden immunity idol, Susie almost won. 'Nuff said.

15. Survivor: Panama (Winner: Aras Baskauskas)

The Terry year, where his loss of the final immunity challenge (under questionable means) ended up giving us Aras as a winner. Awesome for Terry's dominance, not so awesome for everything else.

16. Survivor: Fiji (Winner: Earl Cole)

Yau Man and Earl were the stars of the season. The have/have not twist and the inevitability of Earl winning once Dreamz refused to hand over immunity to Yau Man were the downfalls.

17. Survivor: Guatemala (Winner: Danni Boatwright)

Stephanie gets a second chance and turns into a mean person. Still an attractive person, but a mean person nonetheless. And then she loses to Danni.

18. Survivor: Vanuatu (Winner: Chris Daugherty)

Probably the most difficult to place. Chris's victory when outnumbered 5-1 and with not winning immunity was impressive, but the show was horrible before that.

19. Survivor: All-Stars (Winner: Amber Brkich)

It gave us Boston Rob and Amber as a power couple, but it also gave us the biggest farce of a final council before Samoa. And the overriding theme of the previous winners didn't deserve tostay around becaue they had already won was anoying and uncomfortable.

20. Survivor: Marquesas (Winner: Vecepia Towery)

This should rank higher. It gave us Boston Rob, whatshername being carried to the island like Cleopatra, and the first shakeup of the status quo. But it was the most frustrating final two ever, with both not really deerving of being there.

21. Survivor: Nicaragua (Winner: Judson "Fabio" Birza)

It was a tedious season until Fabio went on his immunity streak. By breaking up the boot order, Fabio rode to victory, and gave us a likeable winner, which puts this slightly ahead of...

22. Survivor: Thailand (Winner: Brian Heidik)

Oh, the tediousness. We were just waiting for the end so Brian could win and watching was like watching a death march to the end. Cool final challenge though.

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Anonymous Dano said...

We can thank season 1 for the success of the franchise, but it just doesn't hold up. There was a dude who voted based on the alphabet for christ sakes. Horrendous season from a strategy standpoint. the pagong people had NO clue what was happening.

I like your list for the most part, but to me Panama is a hugely underrated season and Nicaragua was pretty entertaining throughout and certainly leaps and bounds more entertaining than Marquesas or Vanuatu, which you have ranked higher. I think with some time you'll end up putting it above those two.

2:32 AM  
Blogger Jason said...

Thanks for the comments Dano.

Regarding Season 1's vote, need I remind you that Phillip got a vote this season simply because he said he liked Ralph? :) (And Courtney got two votes in China?)It is the beauty of the game that you don't know how the jury will vote.

With that said, this is part of the reason why I want to go back to watch these seasons. I really like the first season, but I should see how it holds up to some of the middle seasons (which are the ones that I haven't seen in a while.)

Panama definitely loses a bit for the Terry ouster, leaving us Aras as an underwhelming winner. I do value Marquesas highly because of the first ever flip, plus some of the antics pre-merge (Sarah being carried as though she was Cleopatra, Boston Rob and the Robfather character.) And Vanuatu does benefit from Chris Daughtry's comeback, though that's a bit similar to Fabio in Nicaragua.

What I didn't like about Nicaragua is the amount of time I spent yelling at almost everybody for being stupid when they had no reason to be, plus some of the characters being a bit ugly in retrospect. At least this season people had an excuse of Rob being dominant.

4:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jason - I love your rankings, but I have no idea why you felt compelled to put the winner in BOLD right next to the end of the season?

The people who would be most interested in your rankings would be people that haven't watched every single season, like myself. Actually, most people haven't seen all 22 seasons. We might look and see, for example, that you have Season 16 ranked 3rd, and say to ourselves "Ooh, I need to go back and watch that season .. it sounds good." However, you've sort of ruined that by putting the winner of ever season right next to the title. Maybe you would consider removing those names? I don't think their presence is necessary. As it stands, I can't actually read your list because I don't want the 10 seasons I haven't seen given away to me.

Thanks, Scott

5:38 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Scott, thanks for the post. The reason why I included the winners on the post is that I thought it would help people to remember the season better. And to be honest, I hadn't consider the possibility that somebody would be looking at my rankings without having seen all the seasons.

What I have done is place a summary list at the top of this post. It contains no spoilers or anything, just a list of the seasons. Hope this works for you to look at my list without finding out the winner.


8:27 PM  
Anonymous Scott said...

Hey, thank you Jason! That was a great solution.

1:38 AM  

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