- Susie Smith (Gabon)
One of the sad truths about Survivor is that there are usually a couple players that are meant to be eliminated early on because they aren’t good at challenges, or don’t have a strategic mind. Typically, it’s an older woman. Susie is one of these players. However, this is Gabon, so of course she manages to almost win the season.
Susie is a somewhat entertaining player. She gets made fun of for being bad at challenges, but ends up becoming a huge challenge threat at the merge. Plus, there’s the scene where Susie tells Corinne she was going to vote her out.
I like Susie, but she doesn’t do enough to justify being put higher on this list.
- Abi Maria Gomes (Philippines, Cambodia)
Abi in the Philippines is one of my least favorite characters ever. She fights with RC and makes it perfectly clear to Lisa that she is on the bottom of the tribe. Her bluntness makes no one want to work with her, and she tries to explain that she’s being ostracized because she comes from a different culture. Which, no pumpkin, no. Hell, Lisa and Skupin would rather get rid of her than take her to the Final 3 for a guaranteed win. Also Penner votes for her for no reason, and tells her he’s out of hugs when she tries to say goodbye to him. She was just an unlikeable villain.
In Cambodia, I was shocked anyone would ever want to see Abi in another season or why she would have any fans. Then a few episodes in… I got it, I understood why people would enjoy her. There’s just something so entertaining about how Abi always blows up. Whether it’s not being able to find her bracelet, or because Woo voted for her, twice! I just love how she always has little jabs to get under people’s skin, like when she shouts “You made it to the jury!” when Savage gets blindsided. I also love how everyone keeps Abi around because they know she can ever win. But then she becomes the biggest threat because everyone realizes she will go to the Final 3. She’s just really funny in how emotional she is when everyone else is strategic.
- ‘Boston Rob’ Mariano (Marquesas, All Stars, Heroes vs. Villains, Redemption Island)
Boston Rob is possibly the most recognizable contestant of the entire series, and arguably the best player. So why is he this low on the list? Well, it’s because as a character he doesn’t work.
See Boston Rob only has one shtick; he is this cocky guy that acts like he’s better than everyone else and makes snide comments about his tribe. This works when Rob is an underdog, like in Marquesas or Heroes vs. Villains. Unfortunately, for All Stars and Redemption Island, Rob is in control of the entire game. So he’s not being funny, he’s just kind of a jerk to everybody on the island. It also doesn’t help that on both of these seasons nobody is willing to go against Rob. So everyone is willing to align with Boston Rob, then get pissed off once he backstabs them.
On top of that, Boston Rob is a part of some serious ugly moments from the series. Outing John Carroll to the tribe as some sort of ‘loyalty test’. Also, when Sue quits in All Stars after the Richard incident, he’s the one leading the ‘Ding Dong the Witch is Dead’ cheer. Yeah, this is the guy I want to root for.
I like Rob the most during Heroes vs. Villains. The season manages to highlight why he is such a great player. He’s great at forming bonds with people, good at building the shelter, and great at challenges. Also, once he loses control of the Villains tribe to Russell Hantz, you root for him to try and regain power.
Overall, Boston Rob becomes insufferable to watch once he gets any form of power. Unfortunately this happens in two seasons. And you know what, they’re two of the worst seasons of the show. I think that’s all that needs to be said.
- Ashley Underwood (Redemption Island)
Ashley is a part of Boston Rob’s alliance, and is a zombie for most of the season. But, Ashley has some good moments. She really can’t stand Phillip, and highlights how he’s difficult to live with. But, she is also the last threat to Boston Rob, and he needs to beat her in the FIC, or else he will lose.
Honestly, I confused her with Natalie Tenerelli for the first few episodes. Still, Redemption Island would probably be a lot better if she won.
- Danielle DiLorenzo (Panama, Heroes vs. Villains)
The ‘Captain of Sports’. Danielle is part of the crazy Casaya tribe. Most of her content is related to fighting with Shane, and getting on his nerves. She is pretty much in the background for most of the season, while bigger characters take the front stage.
She returns to Heroes vs. Villains, and is a Villain for some reason. She spends most of the season as Parvati’s second in command. Her big moment is when she fights with Amanda over an idol clue in the middle of a hotel room. In the end, she gets taken out by Russell because he is jealous of her relationship with Parvati.
Danielle isn’t a bad character, but she is mostly upstaged by bigger personalities on both her seasons.
- Dan Lembo (Nicaragua)
Dan is just a completely incompetent player. He has bad knees, so he can’t do well in any of the challenges, and mostly sits out. Sometimes in giant chairs!
On top of that, Dan’s a really rich guy. He brings $1600 shoes into the game, only to have them thrown in the ocean. It’s just so bizarre for this guy to be on the show, that he just makes the season more entertaining.
- Debbie Beebe (Tocantins)
Debbie is a fun presence on Tocantins. Her entire character is trying to have a great time. For example, Brendan and Sierra manage to trick her when they’re looking for an idol, by saying the wanted to have a bonfire, and Debbie just gets excited because the tribe is going to have a bonfire. That’s just plain fun!
Debbie is presented as one of the saner people of the season. However, her 2 biggest allies are Tyson and Coach, and she’s a great foil to both of them. She ends up getting voted out after she tries a little too hard to ally with JT and Stephen. Still, Debbie is a fun character that treats Survivor like a game, which makes Tocantins a great season.
- Russell Hantz (Samoa, Heroes vs. Villains, Redemption Island)
Easily the most polarizing player ever. Russell plays an aggressive game, to say the least. He comes into Samoa wanting to be the villain. He immediately accomplishes this by throwing out his tribe’s water, and burning his tribemember’s socks. Russell also has the (admittedly) brilliant idea that the Hidden Immunity Idols are probably already hidden in camp, so he finds them before anyone gets a single clue. His idols help lead the Foa Foa 4 to a huge comeback at the merge. Along the way, Russell manages to piss off everyone on the opposing tribe.
Russell dominates nearly all the screen time in Samoa, and all of his confessionals relate to two things: 1. He is great at finding idols, and 2. He is smarter and better than everyone else.
He returns the following season for Heroes vs. Villains and has the exact same shtick, of being the smartest ever. Russell goes from being in the minority of the tribe, to seizing power from Boston Rob. Once again, he takes up a lot of the screen time, especially post-merge, where he breaks promises to everyone in the game.
Russell is a love-him or hate-him character. Quite frankly, I hate him. Here’s the thing, I think he’s an interesting and entertaining character in small doses. Unfortunately, for two seasons, the audience has to deal with him shouting, “I’M RUSSELL HANTZ, AND I’M THE BEST PERSON THAT HAS EVER PLAYED THIS GAME, EVER!!!” for 14 episodes.
So why would I put him this high on the list if he’s one of my least favorite players ever. Well here’s the thing. I’d argue that Russell might be the best villain ever, for the fact that he always loses. For both Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains I couldn’t stand Russell and hated to see him succeed. It was those emotions that made watching him get berated at Final Tribal Council, and seeing him lose to ‘less deserving’ players worth it. I can honestly say, that Russell losing made both of these seasons way more enjoyable than if he won, or went home early. Even in his shortest appearance of Redemption Island, it is so satisfying to watch his tribe gets rid of him
I would never say that Russell is a character I like, or even that he’s the best strategist/player (He has no social game). But, I will tip my fedora to Russell as the biggest villain there has been.
- Shirin Oskooi (Worlds Apart, Cambodia)
Shirin has one of the biggest growth arcs in World’s Apart. She starts out as a really, really, annoying superfan. She manages to get on the nerves of her White Collar tribe members by constantly streaking, and being a little too into the monkeys mating.
But, once her even more annoying superfan friend Max gets eliminated, Shirin changes. She bonds with the No-Collar tribe, and eventually becomes Mike’s last ally in the game.
Her story really focuses on Will. He attacks her and says some of the most offensive things ever on the show, about how Shirin has no one in her family that loves her. But, Shirin manages to get her revenge, by denying Will his loved one’s letter.
She returns the following season, but becomes an early boot for playing too hard. A lot of fans really love Shirin, but honestly, I always thought she was too annoying in the pre-merge, that it was pretty hard to appreciate her. Decent character, just not one of my favorites.
- Kellyn Bechtold (Ghost Island)
Kellyn is definitely the winner of ‘unnecessary hate 2018’. Which I don’t think she deserves.
At the start of the season Kellyn has a bubbly personality. She gives off an energy that makes you want to be around her. Even when she tells people she’s voting them out, it comes off less as bullying, and more as an unfortunate situation.
Kellyn plays extremely conservative, and always wants to “trust her gut” to make the safest decision; which is usually voting off the underdog. Even though this is frustrating to watch, Kellyn manages to come off as a likeable personality. Her positivity is really infectious to watch
That is until the early merge where the edit decides that Kellyn is the villain of the season. After that, Kellyn is no longer a decision maker, she’s stamping her feet around camp and yelling about how she “Wants Michael gone! TODAY!”. Or when she says, “We can do whatever the fuck we want, because the guys aren’t here to tell us what to do!” Kellyn as a ‘villain’ isn’t fun, it comes off as childish more than anything.
Still, when Kellyn gets voted out they give her the fallen hero music. Yeah, I’m pretty easy to manipulate. If you put sad music over a contestant crying, I’ll probably call them a great character.
- Ashley Nolan (Heroes v Healers v Hustlers)
I think Ashley might have one of the funniest and most underrated stories in the entire series. Because on paper, every move Ashley makes is correct. However it somehow always blows up right in her face.
Seriously. In the opening minutes, she forms a majority alliance on the Heroes tribe, only for one of her allies to get paranoid and want to vote her out immediately. Then at the tribe swap, her only former tribe member is the guy that wanted to get rid of her
But does Ashley give up? No! She teams up with the swing vote on Levu to take control of the new tribe… only for one of her allies to lose their vote, and the other one to get idoled out.
Still, Ashley manages to get into a power position at the merge, and wants to take out the biggest threat Ben; only for Ben to be eavesdropping on her, and then deciding to go on a warpath until she is voted out.
While all this is going on, Ashley has a look on her face that just says “WTF is happening, and how did my life turn into this!” I know there are a ton of larger personalities on this season, but Ashley’s more subdued reactions and confessionals are way more entertaining to me, and I hope she comes back for a second time
- Sierra Dawn Thomas (Worlds Apart, Game Changers)
Sierra has become somewhat of a meme for appearing on Game Changers, so I’ll try and defend her a bit.
As far as gameplay goes, Sierra is pretty good. Had Mike not run the table in World’s Apart, she could’ve gone to the Final 4 with Will, Dan and Rodney. That pretty much guaranteed her a jury win. Unfortunately, the edit keeps her in the background for most of the season. So she just seems complicit in a lot of the ugliness on this season.
In Game Changers she was running the early post-merge and had Andrea, Aubry and Cirie of all people feeling threatened. That’s impressive no matter how you slice it. Sadly, she gets blindsided after telling Sarah about an advantage she has.
Unfortunately, Sierra’s played twice, and I still don’t have a feel for her personality. Solid player, but only an okay character.
- Corinne Kaplan (Gabon, Caramoan)
I have a feeling that Corinne is the type of contestant people think of when they say they don’t like reality TV. Her first words are “I’m going to talk about people behind their back, I’m going to be a total bitch, and I’m going to make people cry, and I am going to own it!” To be fair, Corinne does exactly this. However, I don’t know if it’s good. She’s mean to Susie, but goes over the line with what she says. Some of her lines are kind of uncalled for. Like when she says “I don’t know if Dan is a former fatty or what.”
She comes back for Caramoan, and her humor is a little better this time because she has targets like Phillip or Brandon Hantz that actually deserve to be roasted.
Still, I think Corinne can best be summarized by her jury speech to Sugar. Her ‘jokes’ are just saying really insulting things to someone else.
Look, Corinne is one of those characters that you either love or hate. I get why she has a lot of fans, but she just isn’t my cup of tea. Instead, I find that her sense of humor works way better in a podcast, than it does on the show. (I’ve only listened to a few episodes, but it is really good, and I would recommend it.)
- Tijuana Bradley (Pearl Islands)
Tijuana starts off strong arguing with locals for supplies, then she becomes a background character. She’s a solid competitor and a decent strategist for the Morgan tribe. However, she gets screwed over by Jonny FairPlay, like most people that season.
- Julie Berry (Vanuatu)
Julie is a fun character in Vanuatu. At the tribe swap, she’s in the minority, but manages to survive by flirting with the guys, especially Sarge. (Julie is a bad influence!) She also has some pretty good gameplay by telling Twila that she was also promised a final 4 deal.
At the merge, she becomes the little sister of the tribe, especially to Leann and Chris. At FTC, she is truly heartbroken that Chris voted her out. Overall, she’s a good character, just not the most memorable from the series.
- Matt Elrod (Redemption Island)
It’s pretty hard to rank Matt, because he has the most unconventional Survivor experience. He was the second person voted out of the season, so he spent the entire pre-merge on Redemption Island. Matt manages to win his way back into the game at the merge…only for Boston Rob to vote him off immediately. Sadly, Matt nearly makes it back to the game to get his revenge; only he loses the final duel.
I guess I like Matt. He seemed like a nice guy, maybe a little too nice. Unfortunately, because he was on Redemption Island the entire game, he was mostly defined by his challenge performance. You root for Matt because he’s an underdog, but that’s really all there is to him.
- Alina Wilson (Nicaragua)
Alina is one of the more likeable people in Nicaragua. But what’s crazy is that no one wants to work with her. She ends up in the minority alliance, which makes her a target for bully Na’Onka.
She has a really funny love-hate relationship with Na’Onka. Na’Onka bullies Alina and throws her under the bus, but Alina keeps comforting her regardless.
I also love the scene right before the merge where Alina tries to give a pep talk to have the Espada tribe stay strong as an alliance; But everyone just rolls their eyes and ignores her.
Alina was a likeable character, that just never had the chance to fit in.
183 . Kat Edorsson (One World, Blood vs. Water)
Kat is a ditz, but I will say this, I’d rather watch someone that is nice but annoying over someone that is just mean every time. Kat may be clueless, like how she doesn’t know what a BLT is, but she is at least nice. She has a great jury speech, and has the whole “Blindsides are fun!” moment.
Her return in Blood vs. Water is brief, but she gets some good moments. Her saying “Oh Hell No!” When Colton yells at her is underappreciated. Plus she has the iconic “Nobody wants to date someone that didn’t make the merge” line. Overall Kat is a character I can get enjoyment out of.
- Nick Maiorano (Kaoh Rong)
Underrated villain from Kaoh Rong. Nick is extremely cocky and full of himself, he’s basically a real life version of Gaston from Beauty and the Beast. He also goes out of his way to hide his emotions, especially during Caleb’s evacuation, or just blindsiding Anna.
As a result, sometimes Nick can just come off as a bit of a dick. However, most of his confessionals are downright hilarious. Like how he’s excited to finally be ‘The pretty girl at the party’. Nick is a great early merge villain, and I want him to return soon
Editor’s note: Nick also has a really good Twitter game.
- Caleb Bankston (Blood vs. Water)
One of the more underrated contestants from Blood vs. Water has to be Caleb. He starts off in Brad’s all-male alliance, and takes control of the pre-merge. Then, he knows exactly when to flip on Brad.
Ultimately, Caleb is a great presence on the show because he is just so likeable. He’s always calm and has a good sense of humor about himself. Even when Jeff takes things a little too far by asking why Caleb is with Colton, Caleb just shrugs it off. He totally gets that this is a game, and he’s just trying to have a great time.
Sadly, Caleb tragically passed away in 2014. My condolences to his friends and family.
- Hali Ford (Worlds Apart, Game Changers)
I kind of love Hali because of how weird she is. Like how she references the Revolutionary War as an example of why flippers can win. Or the time that she tells Jeff she “Didn’t Consent” to a vote, so everyone has to sit awkwardly and have Tribal Council continue.
In both of her seasons, Hali didn’t really accomplish a lot. But, she always had a positive energy about her, and an interesting personality. For that reason, I’m putting her this high up on the list.
- Amber Brkch (Australian Outback, All Stars)
Amber is a solid background character in Australian Outback. She serves as the ‘Nice Girl’ on Ogakor, and Jerri’s sidekick. She has some nice moments, like being upset when her tribe loses the ‘Mountain Dew’ Reward, and trying to give Ogakor a pep talk before the merge. She’s just likeable to have around.
Her return for All Stars is a bit more involved. On Chapera, she is paired with her now husband Boston Rob, and together the two dominate the season. However, while Rob is arrogant, Amber is actually pretty nice.
Amber is one of the few likeable castaways of All Stars, from the way she treats Jenna Morasca during her quit, to not being completely awful to Shii Ann. The post-merge of the season is terrible, but at least Amber isn’t. Also, I agree with Shii Ann; Amber was the best player of the season. She knew how to take control of the game, but not piss off the jury.
I’m putting Amber this high because she managed to be a positive presence on two seasons, which is more than I can say for a lot of returning players.
- Michael “Frosti” Zernow (China)
Mostly a background character in China, Frosti didn’t have a ton of screen time or interesting character moments. But the content he had was great.
Frosti was into parkour, so he was the athletic tribe member of Zhan Hu. He’s also selected to switch tribes and join Fei Long. While on Fei Long he becomes close with Courtney, which is adorable. There’s also a funny scene where Todd and Amanda are trying to get the idol in camp, and Frosti thinks they’re removing wooden shingles. So he decides to help.
Not exactly the most memorable, but on a season with some of the biggest personalities ever, Frosti still manages to stand out and be an enjoyable castaway.
- Darrah Johnson (Pearl Islands)
Darrah is a fun background character in the beginning of Pearl Islands. She’s fills the ‘sweet young girl’ archetype that is present in the early scenes. But what’s funny is that her occupation is a mortician, which is something you don’t expect out of her.
This is pretty much the theme of Darrah’s time on Survivor. Nobody expects it, but she goes on an Immunity Run, and ends up being the biggest threat to win.
Even though Darrah is not as well remembered as some other Pearl Islands castaways, she’s still a fun character that improves an already great season.
- Jason Siska (Micronesia)
Jason is a generic guy that’s athletic but not strategic. He gives generic lines like “We have to keep the tribe strong, and not weak.” However, he makes up for this by having quite possibly the dumbest moments from the series.
He goes to Exile and finds Ozzy’s fake idol, and believes it’s real. So he promises the idol to his ally and can’t believe “IT’S A FUCKING STICK!”. He eventually finds the real idol, then doesn’t play it and gets blindsided. Jason is just a really good trainwreck character.
Next Post: Survivor Contestant Ranking: #175-151