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The best Survivor seasons ranked – no spoilers, just facts

The best seasons of Survivor test the cast to their limits and – without giving away any spoilers – we think we have narrowed them down to just three.

What makes for good television? This is a question that has plagued both studio executives and fans for decades.

CBS’s Survivor certainly has all of the building blocks of a worth-while competition reality show. In the words of SNL’s Stefon, “It has everything” – a bunch of contestants stuck on a deserted island together.

Unnecessary but entertaining sub-plots and drama, group challenges, solo challenges, punishments, rewards, and oh-so juicy team dynamics to boot.

What makes for a good season of Survivor?

But even though the Survivor franchise has been keeping fans all over the world entertained for a whopping 46 seasons now – there is no denying that some seasons of the show are just better than others.

Whereas the best seasons of the show grip your attention, get you enthralled in the competition and transport you to these exotic island locations alongside the cast, the worst seasons of the show simply fall flat on a competitive and emotional level.

If you are just getting into this long-running franchise (or you simply need another Survivor fix) there is no reason to spend your time watching through a real dud of a season.

Therefore, we have rounded up arguably the top three best Survivor seasons, to guide you on this journey.

But no one likes going to watch the best seasons of a competition show already knowing what is going to happen (or who will go home).

So we have kept this ranking absolutely spoiler-free. And we have done our best to explain why these Survivor seasons are worth your valuable watching time anyway.

The best seasons of Survivor based on the reviews

We cannot claim to give you all the facts about the best seasons of Survivor without mentioning the reviews.

And while our opinions may differ as to the top choices at times, you should know that the most popular seasons of the show, according to online review platforms like IMDb and Rotten Tomatoes, are outlined as follows:

Survivor season IMDb (stars) Rotten Tomatoes
Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains) 8.24 89% Audience Score (100% Tomatometer)
Season 37 (Survivor: David vs. Goliath) 8.27 93% (Audience Score)
Season 40 (Survivor: Winners at War) 8.31 83% (Audience Score)
Season 7 (Survivor: Pearl Islands) 8.44 96% Audience Score (83% Tomatometer)
Season 31 (Survivor: Cambodia) 8.53 83% (Audience Score)
Season 15 (Survivor: China) 7.67 93% Audience Score (100% Tomatometer)
Season 16 (Survivor: Micronesia) 7.88 93% Audience Score (100% Tomatometer)
Season 27 (Survivor: Blood vs. Water) 7.44 91% Audience Score
Season 28 (Survivor: Cagayan) 8.11 98% Audience Score
Season 33 (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X) 7.88 89% Audience Score

Our Top three choices for the best Survivor seasons to date all make an appearance on this list, but they require a tad more explanation.

3. Season 40 (Survivor: Winners at War)

Many things have to come together in perfect harmony to create a really good season of Survivor.

But Survivor: Winners at War, completely blows this notion out of the water. Almost every scene of this season is jam-packed with action, but somehow, it never seems overwhelming.

It is almost impossible to discuss any aspect of season 40 without giving away too much, but what we can say is that the cast makes this season and it is certainly worth a spot on your next Survivor binge-watching list.

Be warned, however, as this season is full of spoilers (so, maybe save it for last on the list).

2. Season 37 (Survivor: David vs. Goliath)

On paper Survivor: David vs. Goliath was a tricky season to pull off. The theme was not exactly as competitive as it had been in previous seasons, the challenges were only so-so, and production had not even planned to throw in any unexpected twists.

However, season 37’s amazing cast turned what could be a mind-numbingly boring season into one of the most memorable Survivor seasons that we have ever seen.

And even if you just tune in to see the kind of pizzazz a bit of creative editing can produce, Survivor: David vs. Goliath is certainly worth the watch.

1. Season 20 (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)

If you plan on following along with pretty much any Survivor discussion online, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains is the first season that you should add to your watch-list.

While we will not tell you exactly what happens, what you should know is that season 20 is like Survivor-meets-Inception in the best way possible. This season also features returning winners, but watching it may just be worth the spoilers.