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 /
34 of 45
Survivor, Richard Hatch
Survivor legend Richard Hatch – (Photo by Stephen Chernin/Getty Images) /

Best Survivor Winners No. 12: Richard Hatch (Survivor Borneo)

Without Richard Hatch, there is no Survivor. Period.

As everybody hit the island and focusing on setting up a place to live, Richard was working on establishing an early, understated leadership role. While everyone was wondering what the best use of time was between challenges, Richard was out providing value as a castaway with his fishing ventures.

While others were thinking about the next challenge, Richard was forming an unstoppable alliance that was capable of advancing to the end. While others were compared to rats, Richard was the snake.

While everybody was playing checkers, Richard Hatch was playing 3D chess. He was simply operating on another level from what the show was supposed to be; what the producers tried to make it be.

Jeff Probst has said it, time and time again, that he thought he might hear about it from an NPR host and receive little fanfare.

By showing familiarity with castaways, providing value to his tribe, manipulating an alliance, and making bold moves on behalf of strategy, Richard Hatch created Survivor. His gameplay may not hold up today, but it’s the basis for what every subsequent winner would do. He is the architect.