Now that we’ve run the gamut of good and bad Survivor seasons in 2018 – 2019, these are the ones you should watch (or re-watch) over the summer.
The Survivor offseason is a lot longer than most are willing to admit in the back of their mind. We have more than 100 days until we get to find out who will be the first to learn lessons on how to play the game from Boston Rob and Sandra Diaz-Twine in Island of the Idols.
However, all that time off between seasons allows fans to catch up on games they’ve missed or the chance to rewatch some of the past glory and relive it once more. As such, we will offer up 20 suggestions for seasons to watch, which we know is a ridiculous ask (that’s basically one season every five days).
Starting from oldest to most recent, these Survivor 2019 offseason rewatch (or watch) list suggestions have important winners, shaped future seasons or are indicative of their time. Let’s jump through history with brief rundowns on seasons you should watch ahead of the season 39 and season 40 cycle!
- Africa: Perhaps the harshest living conditions in the show’s history, Africa provided a great winner, multiple returning players, the introduction of the tribe swap and some classic characters.
- Pearl Islands: An adaptable season with larger-than-life characters, dramatic altercations, the greatest winner in the show’s history,
- All-Stars: The first season that brought back returning players saw multiple quits and regrettable moments but showed us the earliest moments of a blossoming relationship that bloomed into the greatest reality show couple of all time, with ruthless gameplay to follow.
- Guatemala: A greatly underrated season has seen no original returning players yet, but make no mistake; this season’s cast is great, the vistas are remarkable, the challenges memorable, storylines evolved and we saw some great moments.
- Cook Islands: Some of the greatest Survivor players made their start in Cook Islands, but there are some caveats to this truly remarkable season. It was the controversial “divided by race” season (abandoned quickly), and there are some head-scratching twists and overrated powers. However, there are some unique, unforgettable moments that make this a must-watch season.
- Micronesia: Though the deck was stacked against the “fans,” the favorites came to play. We saw one of the greatest alliances ever formed, the biggest underdog story take place and perhaps the dumbest move ever in the history of the show take place. Sometimes, a stick is just a stick.
- Heroes vs. Villains: Easily the greatest season ever, tribes were separated by their perception yet we saw numerous twists and turns of character. These players gamed hard to the end, whether it came from idols or strategic play. However, watching the characters’ previous seasons helps provide context.
- Redemption Island: We’re now at the point where the Edge of Extinction twist was so poorly implemented you have to go back and look at the origins of this style of game. Kicking off the “wacky character arc” era of over-the-top personalities, one of the most skilled winners played with house money that it needs to be dissected even at the cost of your patience.
- South Pacific: You should always check out underrated and underedited winner seasons to get a look at the variety of ways Survivor can tell a season’s story. Some of the most infamous characters played this season, with one redefining how to turn a disadvantage into a strategic play and another falling from grace.
- One World: The most dominant wins of all time came in a unique season where both tribes started out on the same island, creating rare moments of tribal dynamics and survival bartering skills that have yet to be repeated. Though you might be frustrated with some of the characters, you need to check this season out to learn how to earn your status as a legendary winner.
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- Philippines: There has never been a stronger underdog story than we’ve seen in this returning player captain season. Blair from Facts of Life competing against MLB Hall of Fame nominee Jeff Kent is not the weirdest thing about this season, with huge character moments leading to some truly intriguing season narratives.
- Blood vs. Water: Returning players brought their loved ones to compete in a remarkably emotional season, showing the extents in which people will fight for (or fight through) their familial connections to win this game. It single-handedly justified the Redemption Island structure by bringing a sense of finality and hardship to players while accounting for an unparalleled strategic variance.
- Cagayan: Likely one of the best all-newbie casts in Survivor history, Cagayan showed one of the hardest-playing casts ever. Some unbelievable, jaw-dropping moments mixed in with great character development and archetype-spawning players, this season has a little bit of everything.
- San Juan del Sur: This time, the “Blood vs. Water” theme focused on brand new players, yet the lack of star power did not lack in dramatic growth and character-defining moments. This was a character-heavy season, with the hardship of the game taking these brand new players and pushing them far beyond their physical and emotional limits.
- Cambodia: For the first (and only, for now) time, Survivor turned the casting decisions to the audience, asking fans to vote in a cast of one-time players. With players inclined to make their fans proud, we saw some of the hardest-fought gameplay, biggest idol plays and the difficulty of expectations and the hardship of the Cambodian weather.
- Kaoh Rong: Likely the toughest conditions ever to face Survivor players, Kaoh Rong brought back the Brains vs. Beauty vs. Brawn theme. This season saw the most heroic of heroes and scummiest villains humbled by the heat and bugs, seeing the most medically evacuated players ever in a season. Truly dynamic play followed with a “whodunit” winner’s journey.
- Millennials vs. Gen X: Marking the first season in the Fiji era, what could have been a cringe-worthy gimmick saw Millennials vs. Gen X cross the generational gap to create remarkable friendships and engaging characters of all walks of life. Even though it’s a recent season, we’ve seen many returning players start their journey here.
- Game Changers: The most recent “all-star” season threw all the twists and advantages in the world at a group of characters that stretches the believability of “Game Changers.” Big players took a step back while overlooked players stepped up in a huge way.
- Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers: Birthing the forced Final Four fire-making challenge in the most controversial way possible, this season really picks up in the final third at episode 10. The rest of the game is a rollercoaster of mic drops while the first two-thirds gave us great character exploration.
- Ghost Island: The best way to go advantage-heavy is to turn the season into a museum of the show’s past. Ghost Island paid homage to the big moments, idol plays and advantage opportunities of the past while begging the question; can you reverse the curse? Plus, we got an unforgettable finale that made up for underdeveloped characters.
- David vs. Goliath: Harkening back to the show’s greatest seasons ever, David vs. Goliath marries the advantage-heavy nature of the modern game with the character-heavy focus of old-school Survivor to tell an awesome story.
Let us know what we should have included in our Survivor 2019 offseason watch list! We feel like we covered the essentials heading into 2020.