Talk about the longest-running reality shows, and the mention of Survivor is a must!
The show started in the year 2000 on CBS, and as of today, it has completed 42 seasons. Yes, you heard it right. The 22-year franchise is the longest-running adventure-reality show ever. Love it or hate it, we promise you cannot ignore it.
With every new season, Survivor further spices up things and gameplay elements. What’s good about this reality show is that the competition television series maintains its traditional format of separating competitors within Tribes. Each of its episodes narrates its challenges across all the areas of survival. They maintain their camps, strategize against competitors, perform challenges, succeed in them, and survive the dreaded Tribal council.
All the 42 seasons of the show have been hosted by Jeff Probst. Now the fans cannot imagine the show without him. No matter where the makers film it or who the contestants are, watching the show keeps you on the edge of your seat.
What are the Best Survivor Seasons?
As of now, Survivor has completed 42 seasons and a whopping 617 episodes. Fans are hoping for the show to continue. Want to know the best seasons of Survivor? We have curated a list.
Season 15: China
Survivor: China, season 15 of the show, is touted as one of the best seasons of the reality show by a large audience. The three finalists, Amanda, Todd, and Courtney dominated the whole season with their alliance and friendship. Even the fans couldn’t stop themselves from raving about their kinship at the Final Tribal Council.
This season’s level of play was incredible too. James was voted out with two idols in his pocket, and Jean-Robert was blindsided and outlasted by his bitter viral, Courtney.
Season 25: Philippines
The credit for transforming the show and introducing the tri-tribe content goes to Season 25: Philippines. This series was the seventh to feature returning castaways. Interestingly, three of the returnees in this season were all medically evacuated in their previous seasons.
In the 25th season of Survivor, the starting tribes included Tandang, Kalabaw, and Matsing. The most interesting part of the show was its Sole Survivor, Denise Stapley. She holds the record of being the oldest female winner, and she deserves the title. This season is a must-watch.
Season 33: Millennials V. Gen X
Millennials V. Gen X is believed to have one of the closest casts in the history of the reality show. The group of castaways even managed to maintain their friendship outside the show. They did not let any grudge or hard feelings hinder their voting in the Final Tribal Council.
David, Adam, and Jay became the masterminds of the show and the likable cast coupled with them. This particular part made the season worth watching. Other moments in the show that gave the audience a memory to cherish include Adam’s story which reached its full circle by the last episode. He was crowned a Sole Survivor after sharing some private details. Adam and his mother wanted to play the game together. However, because of her mother’s cancer, he had to participate in the show alone.
The season deserves to be on the list of best Survivor seasons of all time.
Season 7: Pearl Islands
The seventh season was set in the Pearl Islands close to Panama. It lasted for 39 days and included 16 castaways for the title of Sole Survivor. The season was a treat to watch as the castaways were passionate about their purpose of executing their plans. Some contestants in the show would do anything to survive.
One of the instances includes that of castaway Johnny Fairplay. He faked his grandmother’s death to gain sympathy from his Tribe. To talk about this season more, there was a shocking twist that brought two castaways back for another shot for the title of Sole Survivor. The whole arrangement was a treat to watch.
If only we had social media back in 2007, the audience would rave about this season on the networking sites.
Season 28: Cagayan: Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty
It is one of the most watched and loved seasons in the history of Survivors. It started with three tribes, the contestants separated by their previous traits. The Brains dwindled, thus losing most of the immunity challenges before the tribes were combined into two.
The two tribes then shuffled the undefeated one, thereby making way for some new alliances to emerge. This attempt also paved way for numerous blindsides. Some players were seen navigating through different alliances to try and vote out the people they did not like or viewed as a threat. This season featured many memorable and entertaining moments.
Season 31: Cambodia: Second Chance
Season 31 of the reality show happens to be one of the most talked-about seasons of Survivor among all the fans. Why? Because this time it spiced things up by giving all its fans the chance to vote.
The introduction of voting by the audience resulted in making it one of the most gripping seasons to grace television. The fans had the chance to choose their favorite contestants – all returning castaways who were eliminated in the previous seasons. There were organized voting blocs before each vote too.
All these twists, turns, and introduction of new features added many strategic complexities. The castaways boasted their fair degree of strategic prowess and innate allure, thus making it a season to remember.
Season 16: Micronesia: Fans V. Favorite
Our list of Survivors’ best seasons will be incomplete if we do not include Micronesia. The sixteenth season of the reality show saw fans competing against their biggest role models – the previous players of the show.
The new dynamic that the makers added to the show led to a conclusion that the returning contestants were much better at planning, plotting, and surviving the games than their fans. The old castaways, Parvati, Amanda, and Cirie shone, and how! They took the control of the game, formed the Black Widow Brigade, and made it to the end all on their own terms.
The three ladies did whatever it took to win the show, and after three consecutive seasons where the winners were male, they established that Survivor is not just a man’s game and women, too, have high odds of winning it.
Season 20: Heroes vs. Villains
The audience calls Heroes vs. Villains the best all-star and overall season. There are many reasons why they brag about this particular season of Survivors. For starters, the cast of this season was incredible. It comprised players from every era of the show to fit the roles of hero and villain archetype, which made the show all the more interesting to watch.
When all the contestants were left together on one island, there was a lot to explore – iconic alliances, heart-breaking eliminations, and everything in between. Fans didn’t like when Cirie Fields was voted out before the merge for the first time in her career.
This season of Survivor also crowned the first two-time Survivor winner, thus creating history. You cannot ignore the fact that numerous Survivor fans love this season over others.
Season 40: Winners at War
It was the 20th anniversary and 40th season, and the makers decided to celebrate the same. Thus, they included a cast full of returning members in the hope of another shot of winning. Winners at War is one of the most celebrated seasons of the show.
This time, the audience also saw a twist that came into play with fire tokens. The makers introduced an economy where the players could buy items and advantages with enough tokens. This season also brought back the Edge of Extinction. It is where the players could stay for a chance to get back into the game.
We couldn’t have overlooked the return of the classic challenges in the 40th season of the show. There were many other things to watch; shifting alliances, blindsides, and whatnot!
Season 37: David and Goliath
Season 37 of the show created quite a buzz among all the Survivor fans. The two starting tribes of this season were divided by the degree of success each member had in life. For this reason, David’s tribe included all the underdogs, while there were overachievers in Goliath’s tribe.
Watching the two tribes competing against each other was fun. During the beginning of the season, Tribe David struggled and lost its numbers quickly. However, it managed to cope phenomenally. They still merged with pretty even numbers. Owing to some hidden immunity idols and advantages, the tribe stayed afloat. The alliances of their competitors did not affect them one bit.
This season was full of luck and strategy. Towards the end, it successfully managed to thrill both the new and old viewers of the show.
Season 27: Blood vs. Water
In the 27th season of the show, the makers tried to mix things by introducing a twist called Blood vs. Water. In this season, ten former castaways competed head-to-head with their loved ones in the game for a whopping $1 million. This twist came as a bummer for all the castaways. Consequently, it created many legendary moments in the history of the show.
Ciera Eastin ended up voting out her own mother. Rupert Boneham, the favorite of all the fans, removed himself from the game for his dear wife. Candice and John Cody went off on ex-NFL player, Brad Culpepper. Season 27th of Survivors also resulted in Tyson Apostol’s win proving that he was not only about humor and his coming timing but about surviving too.
Season 1: Borneo
When Survivor debuted in 2000, nobody had thought it would come such a long way. The first season, Borneo, has its own charm. Thus, it had to be there on the list of the best Survivor seasons.
It was because of the first season that Survivor became such a big hit worldwide. Borneo helped the show gain its footing. Unlike the old gimmicks and modern reality shows, Borneo proved time and time again that the show can remain entertaining regardless of its plain and straightforward format.
The first season had many things that the audience had not seen previously. There were Immunity Challenges and Tribal Councils. The game was also quick enough to introduce trends that other seasons followed. Some of these trends were the merging of tribes and a Summit where the Tribe Ambassadors could choose a camp location. The culture of the jury-based Final Tribal Council also began with the first season.
Season 13: Cook Islands
The thirteenth season became infamous for a theme so controversial that it ended the whole thing quite literally. The makers split the whole cast into four starting tribes and divided them by race. Yes, you heard that right.
The twist in the show was heavily criticized by the viewers. The tribes ended up swapping and merging after a couple of episodes. But once the makers ditched the theme, the audience welcomed the season and enjoyed watching it.
The whole season became more watchable and less uncomfortable. The audience would not judge it anymore. The Cook Islands season of the show also featured the first appearance of many Survivor icons, including Ozzy Lusth, Parvati Shallow, Jonathan Penner, and Yul Kwon.
Season 17: Gabon
The makers aired the seventeenth season of the show in 2008. It is one of the most underrated but best seasons of the show. So, what brought this season to the list of the best Survivor seasons of all time?
Gabon has been the most entertaining Survivor season. The number of antagonists and loose cannons in the season made it the center of entertainment for all the viewers. Randy Bailey became the most disliked character of all time. The audience despised him and how! This season was loaded with drama and some memorable scenes. The pin-up model Jessica Sugar Kiper created all the drama. On the other side, the audience enjoyed the social awkwardness of the former professional Super Smash Brothers player, Kenny Hoang.
This season also featured many hilarious voting confessionals from all the castaways, including Crystal Cox. The season produced the oldest Survivor winner of all time, Bob Crowley.
Season 19: Samoa
This season marked a memorable time in its history, for it introduced the viewers to the most controversial contestant of all time, Russell Hantz.
Russell was a ferocious player who played his game with ruthlessness and took no prisoner attitude. Survivor: Samoa is the same season to mark a transition from an old-school way of playing to a new and shrewder one. As a result, the contestants kept their loyalty, performance, and keeping up with the tribe at bay and focused more on eliminating big threats, voting blocks, and stealth moves. Hantz successfully found two individual hidden immunity idols without any clues. He played with his foot on the gas pedal the whole season.
In this season of Survivor, the audience also got to see the sparked heated debates of the Final Tribal Council on the right way to play-making big moves and backstabbing and being socially aware of other people’s feelings. There were many moments. In short, this season of the show was nothing less than iconic.
Season 3: Africa
The third season of the show focused primarily on the people than what strategy they would make to survive on the show. It was too straightforward to be an early season. However, it managed to shine like others on the list.
One of the factors that made the third season a part of our list is the location where it was shot. The makers chose the most remote location and a likable cast to give a good dose of entertainment to the audience. This season brought with it some level of comfort for the viewers.
The contestants were nice people whose main goal in the show was to perform well to survive. By the end of the season, many people were convinced that it was the best season of all.
Season 18: Tocantins
The eighteenth season was more about characters than strategies or locations. As you watch this show, you will find it is full of the funniest and most ridiculous contestants. Many of them left such a lasting screen presence that the makers invited them for the second, third, and even fourth shots. Survivor: the Tocantins is known to have the best cast on the show so far.
All the contestants in this season were loved by the viewers. The audience despised no one. Beyond that, they were entertaining just as much. The few instances on the show became moments to cherish. From the hilarious confessionals from Taj and Tyson to the delusional nature of Sandy and Coach, and the bromance between JT and Stephen, each contestant managed to bring something to the table.
Season 29: San Juan Del Sur
If you are a new Survivor fan, you may wonder why this one is on the list of the best Survivor season, for it may appear tricky to any new viewer. This season included a twist that made it different from other seasons.
The season featured ten pairs of loved ones who competed against each other. Thus, do not get surprised if you find brother-sister, boyfriend-girlfriend, husband-wife, or even parents-kids competing against each other while watching the show. The makers made the show more interesting by throwing a curve ball at the players. They have to worry not only about themselves and their own games but their loved ones too.
Now how would one care about themselves and the person they are competing against simultaneously? This factor made the season entertaining and unique to watch. This season also featured many fun endgames in recent memory. The season started on a slow note; however, it slowly built up the pace. Do not miss the end of this season. It is compelling and wholly satisfying to watch.
Season 32: Kaoh Rong
Another enjoyable season of the show to add to your Survivor watch-list is its 32nd season – Kaoh Rong. You will love it to the fullest, especially if you are a new fan of this show. It aimed to create one of the strongest distinctions between the heroes and villains of the season in the show’s history.
There is no doubt which players are which. There are many complex characters and their questionable motivations, which make it fun to binge. The heroes in the show are loveable, and you will end up rooting for them. You will find the villains cartoonish and hate their appearance on the screen.
It features a tug of war between the good and the evil. All these elements of this season make it one of the bests to be created by the makers.
Season 4: Marquesas
The fourth season, Marquesas, became an instant buzz among Survivor fans. The castaways came ready to compete, manipulate, and strategize their way to earn a cash prize of million dollars. It was for the first time when several contestants showed up on the island to grab an opportunity to earn the cash prize and make a big name for themselves.
According to many viewers, this season was ahead of its time for many reasons. Thus, even if you go down the records of the show and pick this season to watch, you will not get an old-school vibe. Some moments in the show were even better than in its newer seasons. But beware, you will also spot many homophobic and sexist comments sprinkled throughout its runtime.
Will You Watch Survivor?
After airing so many seasons and episodes and completing 22 years, one thing is sure – there is something for everyone to enjoy about this show. If you plan to catch up on the show but do not have enough time to watch all the 42 seasons, we have already listed the best ones to choose from. Pick your preference and enjoy!