Survivor winners: Ranking all 45 Sole Survivors by season

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved
Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved /
1 of 45
Survivor Edge of Extinction episode 8 sunset
Photo: Screen Grab/CBS Entertainment ©2019 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

All 45 Survivor winners ranked by season!

Over 20 years and 43 seasons of Survivor are in the books! Which Survivor winners had the best seasons? It is time to find out!

Survivor has drastically changed over the past few years. The insane number of advantages, twists, and powers such as the Idol Nullifier, Edge of Extinction, and now the Island of the Idols means so much once accounted for is completely random. You don’t know what you’re going to get each time you go out.

On a macro scale, it means there’s a more dynamic road to get to the end of the game. That’s why we’re using this list to celebrate all the Survivor winners, ranking them in order of preference in regards to control of the game, situational awareness, entertainment value, as well as the level to which they outwitted, outplayed, and outlasted the competition. That last factor has never become more relevant than this latest update.

(Content updated December 25, 2023. A previous version of this article was run by its original author Daniel George.)

And here go!

All 45 Survivor season winners, ranked

Chris Underwood voted out Survivor Edge of Extinction
Photo: Robert Voets/CBS Entertainment ©2018 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved. /

Best Survivor Winners No. 45: Chris Underwood (Survivor: Edge of Extinction)

Chris Underwood’s win in Survivor: Edge of Extinction is both remarkable and unimpressive. He lacked agency in his first run through the game, trying to become part of a Kelley Wentworth blindside twice in two Tribal Council rounds only to be thrown under the bus once word came around back to Kelley herself.

Despite being voted out third on the season and lasting only eight days in the standard game, he spent the next 27 days on the Edge of Extinction, catching fish and obtaining an advantage in the first challenge with a chance to return. Even with the benefit of practice and mitigated with extra rope thanks to Keith, he barely lost out to Rick Devens.

It was his second time around on Day 35 that Chris earned his chance back in the game armed with game knowledge and nurturing bonds with the jury that made him overpowered. He used the knowledge of Lauren’s idol (previously a secret only to herself at Final 5) to convince an idol play on him and agreed to work with Devens to receive a two-part idol for the Final Five.

He earned, then subsequently threw away, immunity at the Final Four to take a shot at Devens in making fire, pulling off one of the boldest moves in Survivor fire-making history. However, with a bloated jury that he spent weeks with outside of traditional gameplay, backstabbing and representing their desires to win and legitimizing their struggle, he won a jury vote handily.

Chris Underwood proved himself incapable of winning Survivor without first being voted out, given earned (and unearned) advantages, playing the social game with his fellow non-jury castaways, and without playing a full 39 days. He also provided very little entertainment until the finale, making him one of the most controversial winners in the show’s history.