Survivor Oz Top Ten's return again this Wednesday to a computer screen near you! Over the past twenty-seven seasons, we have seen a total of sixty-two different Survivor finalists, including five who have sat at the Final Tribal Council more than once. But which finalists were the most likeable, the most entertaining, the best players, or had the best story overall? Ozlet Clay Shirley has the answers, after carefully assessing the Final Two and Final Three from each season and coming up with a list of ten that he deems to be the best in Survivor history. Do you agree with his choices? Read on and join the discussion below!
10. Danni Boatwright and Stephenie LaGrossa – Guatemala
When Stephenie LaGrossa returned to Survivor after becoming a fan favourite during her stint on Palau, few people could have predicted that she would make the finals as the more villainous of the two. Still, Stephenie spent the season creating an image of herself that was wildly different from the “heroic” Stephenie we knew from Palau. Meanwhile, Danni Boatwright was there all season playing a smart, quiet game, all the while being exponentially more charming and likable than LaGrossa. To top things off, when it came to the Final Tribal Council, Stephenie imploded, resulting in a near blow out victory for underdog Boatwright. We had witnessed a hero turn villain and then pay the price for it.
9. J.T. Thomas and Stephen Fishbach – Tocantins
Friends from early in the game, J.T. and Stephen made a great pair. A terrific balance of brains, brawn, charm, and wit, J.T. and Stephen were a city mouse and country mouse working together better than anyone else out there. When the two finally arrived at Final Tribal Council, it seemed like a reasonably even match, with both Stephen and JT being great players who were well liked. J.T., however, dominated the votes, annihilating Fishbach, who was left without a single vote. While J.T.’s victory was well earned, Fishbach’s lack of any votes is a tragedy. One of the best matched duo’s in Survivor history, their Final Tribal Council should have been closer than it was.
8. Kim Spradlin, Sabrina Thompson, Chelsea Meissner – One World
When it comes to all female finalists, none come close to the ladies of One World. These three girls had a tight alliance from early on and stuck with it until the end. All three women were strong, smart, beautiful competitors who stood head and shoulders above their initial female tribe mates. While Kim is regarded as of the best winners of all time (and rightly so), people tend to overlook Sabrina, who I believe is one of the most underrated players of the past few years. These three serve as a perfect example of the kinds of female contestants Survivor needs to be casting more often.
7. Denise Stapley, Mike Skupin, Lisa Whelchel – Philippines
While some may question the game play of Skupin and Lisa, every member of the Philippines Final Three had a terrific story. Lisa was not only a former child star who had fallen on hard times, but she overcame a breakdown at the start of the game and the status of being an outcast. Skupin had returned to Survivor for the first time since he fell in the fire in Australia and was able to “fulfill” his game. Denise survived the doomed Matsing and attended every single Tribal Council, always leaving unscathed. Their three separate journeys are incredible and it’s a Final Tribal Council made even better in that the right person won.
6. Brian Heidik and Clay Jordan – Thailand
Many consider Brian Heidik going to Final Tribal with Clay Jordan to be the first instance of someone utilizing the goat strategy. I disagree with this mindset because I believe a goat to be someone who is taken to Final Tribal because they have absolutely nothing to stand on, are highly disliked, or both. If someone brings a goat, they are relying more on that castaway’s failures than their own triumphs. That is very different than simply bringing someone you know you can beat because you know you have the votes, which is exactly what Brian Heidik did. In my opinion, this is much, much more impressive than simply bringing along a goat. Clay Jordan himself was no slouch, giving a solid performance at Final Tribal Council and receiving three votes in the process. Together these two make one of the best and most underrated Final Two in Survivor history.
5. Sandra Diaz-Twine, Russell Hantz, Parvati Shallow – Heroes Vs. Villains
While I’m not putting this at the top of the list, I do believe this trio consists of the three best players to ever make up a Final Three. Between two past winners and the greatest strategic player to never win, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains ended with three expert players who navigated their way through one of the most epic games of Survivor ever played. Parvati was an early target yet still nearly won twice, while Sandra kept her head low and ultimately pulled off an incredible upset. Meanwhile, Russell employed the same techniques he used in Samoa with similar results. Ultimately, Russell’s path of destruction led to both his and Parvati’s downfall and thus the Queen was crowned.
4. Todd Herzog, Courtney Yates, Amanda Kimmel – China
One of the most surprising Final Three of all time, this season’s finalists included a tiny, gay Mormon flight attendant, a bitchy New York waitress and a sack of potatoes named Amanda. Fortunately, Todd and Courtney had enough personality and game play to overcome their lackluster counterpart and still make the list. Todd, singled out from the start as a potential threat, cleverly maneuvered his way through one obstacle after another, including losing two close allies to a switch up and a botched Idol discovery, while Courtney, one of the weakest physical players of all time, beat the odds and found herself at the Final Three and gave a surprisingly solid performance. Still, Todd’s performance remains the greatest of all time, while Amanda’s ranks as one of the worst.
3. Yul Kwon, Ozzy Lusth, Becky Lee – Cook Islands
Again, there’s a bit of a dud in the group, but the showdown between Yul and Ozzy is one of the greatest battles of “brain versus brawn” the show has ever seen, (for now). Yul, who truly possessed both brain and brawn, played one of the smartest games of all time and made it look remarkable easy at the same time. Few people, if any, have ever played the game with as much straightforward confidence as Yul Kwon, who seemed to use his intellect to break apart the game and simply proceed in what he deemed was the most logical choice in every situation. For Ozzy, however, the game proved a chance for him to utilize his physical prowess and seemingly innate ability to adapt to the elements. While Ozzy’s legacy has changed of late, originally Survivor had never seen someone quite like him: someone who climbed trees with ease and confessed to feeling right at home in nature. When the time came for the Final Tribal Council, it became a real question of what should be valued more: the ability to survive or the ability to strategize? In the end, brains won out and Yul took home the victory by one vote, while Becky was completely ignored, just as she is in this article.
2. Tina Wesson and Colby Donaldson – The Australian Outback
Easily one of the greatest duos in the history of Survivor, Tina and Colby made an unlikely pair that absolutely dominated in Australia. Colby, with his all-American good looks and outstanding physical prowess, became the poster boy for Survivor, while Tina showed the world just what a middle-aged mother was capable of. The Final Tribal Council between Tina and Colby is one of the best of all time, as well as one of the most debated. Tina and Colby showed that anyone could make it to the end in Survivor, regardless of age, gender, physicality, or anything else. They would be the absolute quintessential Final Two, if it weren’t for the number one spot on this list.
1. Richard Hatch and Kelly Wigglesworth – Borneo
The greatest Final Two of all time is also the first. On one side you have Richard Hatch, one of the game’s biggest personalities, whom everyone was sure would be one of the first to go. On the other side, you have Kelly Wigglesworth, who ultimately played the part of Hatch’s pawn. Members of the first ever Survivor alliance, Richard and Kelly showed the world how to play the game, as well as the potential dangers of Final Tribal Council. Richard and Kelly were both maligned, as is now common practice, and we saw just how to handle a Final Tribal (or how not to handle one). It was a clear example of someone who deserved to win and someone who did not. Richard Hatch cracked Survivor before anyone else and his presence alone makes this the greatest Final Two of all time.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!