3. China (Season 15)
Survivor: China‘s greatest strength undoubtedly lies in its casting as the season was rife with memorable characters, ranging from winner Todd Herzog to the likes of Amanda Kimmel, Courtney Yates (the other two players remaining at Final Tribal Council), Frosti Zernow, Peih-Gee Law and James Clement.
The last of that list, James, certainly gave fans one of the lasting impressions from China. A twist added to the season was that winning tribes would draft a player from the losing to spend time with them after a reward challenge until the next immunity challenge. The drafted player would also be given a clue regarding the location of a Hidden Immunity Idol and would also have to quietly give the clue to another player.
Through this process, James found two idols. He had them both in his pocket, too, when he went to Tribal Council on Day 30. But alas, he chose not to play either and was blindsided in the process with his ticket(s) to safety tucked away in his pocket.
What’s more, China should go down as one of the most fascinating Final Tribal Councils ever. The trio of Todd, Courtney and Amanda made it to the end as an alliance but obviously didn’t make many friends getting there because of that. As such, they all had to make a strong case to win. Herzog delivered a masterclass example of how to sway a jury and was rewarded for it.
All of that is great, but the thing that takes China to this spot on the list is the location. While some fans aren’t keen on seasons that don’t take place on an island, there should be more seasons like China. Rewards adopted the culture of the area and the location was prevalent in virtually every aspect of the show. It’s something small, but it’s enough to make a very good season an all-time great.