Borneo- Richard Hatch.
He created the game as we know it. (I have a feeling he would have a fairer chance if he returned now than what he had in All-Stars)
Australia- 3-way tie Colby Donaldson, Elisabeth Filarski, Jeff Varner.
Who didn't want to see Colby(the star of the season) and "America's Sweetheart" Elisabeth return? Varner had good confessionals and was actually pretty manipulative. (He started the famous Alicia/Kimmi fight)
Strategic mastermind. One of the ultimate alliances with Zohn and Buchanan. Lex's Brain/Social/Brawn skills combined with Ethan's Social/Brawn skills and Big Tom's Brawn/Social skills to create the perfect storm. Strong showing in All-Stars (can't trust B.R.) but a true star in his original.
Marquesas- Tie between John Carroll/ Hunter Ellis
Carroll very strong strategically. Possibly would have won if his alliance mates weren't so stupid and revealed the pecking order. Hunter Ellis. Hunter is simply a badass. 'Nuff said.
Thailand- Brian Heidik
No question. One of the most dominant games played by a winner up until Redemption Island, with the exception of Tom Westman in Palua. The beauty of Mr Freeze's game is that noone playing with him realized he had an alliance with each one of them.
The Amazon- Rob Cesternino
The smartest player never to win. Let's face it. Rob C impacted the game of Survivor more than anyone since Hatch and he did it WHILE keeping all of us at home entertained. A phenomenal player that continually switched the game up to further himself WHILE keeping himself liked by the jury. He truly knows this game inside and out. He was denied the money that would have been his by falling off the balance beam at the final challenge. He would have won against ANY of the final 6, and that was not by coincidence, but by skillfully pulling the strings the entire game. He came into All-Stars with arguably the 4th biggest target on his back, behind Hatch, Tina, and Colby, (and the freshest in everyone's mind) and was unfortunately deemed too dangerous to play with by his tribe. He deserves to come back for a 3rd shot at the title. If anyone deserves it it is him.
Pearl Islands- Tie Jonny Fairplay/ Burton Roberts
Burton is a Beast in challenges and strong strategic player once he returned as an Outcast. Honorable mention- Andrew Savage. (Fairplay DID dominate this season, but after Micronesia? eehhh I've seen enough.)
All-Stars- Big Tom
How can you pick someone to come back based purely on their performance in this season? It isn't easy. Good players went early. Some never earned the title of All-Star to begin with. Many did worse than in their original due to the weak players targeting the strong players. Out of everybody in this season, the one I would like to see return BASED ON THEIR PERFORMANCE IN ONLY THIS SEASON was Big Tom. He did his best to give us some levity and keep it light in one of the darkest seasons this show has ever seen.
Vanuatu- Chris Daugherty
Pulled out a stunning victory from the jaws of defeat as one lone man standing against a tribe of man-haters. Okay.., they weren't ALL manhaters. But Ami was. :)
Palua- tie Tom Westman/ Stephenie Lagrossa
Tom led his Koror tribe UNDEFEATED against the horribly inept Ulong, guilt-tripped his only legitimate competition into quitting on Day38,and proceeded to win the game. Just fell on the wrong side of the numbers in HvV. I couldn't wait to see Stephenie back after this season, but when she returned as StepheME in Guatemala it became clear that we had all been fooled by a VERY generous edit her first time around. Seen enough of her after Guatemala. And after her shameful self-centered 6-Day game in HvV, I can only say that I hope and pray we've finally seen the end of StepheME LaGROSSa!
Guatemala- Gary Hogeboom AKA Gary Hawkins
Long before it was the norm for Survivor producers to shamelessly cast famous pro athletes to try to suck in extra viewers, there was this guy. Yes, way back before the Jimmy Johnsons, Jeff Kents, and Brad Culpeppers, there was a quiet,.. likable, ..humble, ..down-to-earth FUCKING BADASS named Gary Hogeboom, aka Gary Hawkins. He came in with a plan to keep his past a mystery, and played one hell of a game. He had the respect of everyone in the game, a good all-around competitor who simply fell on the wrong side of the numbers. But not before making Survivor History. Let's not forget that Gary Hogeboom was the first person to EVER find and play a Hidden Immunity Idol, and without a clue! (sorry Russell) I'd love to see him return for another shot. I know most people will put Rafe here, but honestly the only reason I would want to see Rafe return is to see him try to climb the rope jungle-gym over water again. Priceless!
Panama Exile Island- Terry Deitz
Dominated his tribe premerge, dominated the challenges postmerge, and succeeded in making Aras look like a jealous bitch,which probably isn't easy to do because Aras seems to be a damn good guy. One challenge away from a million dollars. Can't believe he hasn't been brought back. Honorable mention- BobDawg.
Cook Islands- Yul Kwon
Yul is one of the smartest players to ever play the game, and also extremely likable and VERY strong in challenges. The only reason he isn't remembered as much for his challenge strength is because he is overshadowed by his alliance mate Ozzy. Who wouldn't be? Definitely deserves another season to play.
Fiji- Alex Angarita
Underrated now, but in the game he seemed to be a force to be reckoned with. Made sure to be nice to Cassandra and Dreamz premerge when the rest of the tribe was alienating them, after the swap took out loose cannon Rocky, finally tired of Lisi's shit and cut her loose, and postmerge skillfully manipulated the ousting of Michelle Yi at the unfair half-a-tribe surprise tribal council (even tho i loved michelle) right at the tribal council. Smart, likable, and fought to the bitter end (climbing that pole without using the pegs? The guy had heart.) His big mistake was in trusting Dreamz, "A True Traitor". (that line still cracks me up) And to top it all off, he used the line "Riddle Me This, Dreamz" in his FTC questioning.
China- Tie- Todd Herzog and Courtney Yates
Todd was the first superfan to win the game, and he played very cleverly. He knew he didn't have the strength but also knew he could beat them with strategy and likability. And I wanted to see Courtney come back just for her one-liners. I can't believe Probst called her out at the live reunion for her "Denise sucks at life" remark. Fucking Denise! And Courtney still managed to get the last laugh by flipping Jeff the bird on live television. Legendary!
Micronesia- Parvati Shallow
Fucking gorgeous and one of the best players of all time. This time she combined her mastery of flirtation and sex appeal that she already had in Cook Islands with strong manipulation and strategy to make her the winner over Train-Wreck-at-Final-Tribal Amanda.
Gabon- Kenny Hoang
Seemed to grow up before our eyes each week from a shy little boy to a strategic mastermind. And he was very likable. I'd love to see him get another shot.
Tocantins- Stephen Fishbach
The Wizard. Maybe it's because Tocantins is one of my favorite seasons, or maybe it's because I'm a huge fan of the Survivor Know-it-Alls on Rob Has a Podcast, but whatever the reason I think Stephen is one of the top 20 best players of all time. He and JT dismantled Coach's tribe even tho Coach's tribe had a superior numerical advantage. Fishbach also skillfully played several alliances against each other, (including the famous Exile Alliance) directing the game the way he wanted it to go while keeping himself at the center. Very personable, extremely intelligent, (his immunity challenge win by memorizing the symbols as numbers was incredible) and well-spoken. He knows the game inside and out, and his only problem was JT kept winning the immunities so he couldn't take him out before Final Tribal. Had Stephen sat with anyone else he probably would have won. And few Finalists can make that claim. We want more Fishy!
Samoa- Russell Hantz
Has anyone ever played their first season harder or more aggressive than Russell Hantz? Polarizing but riveting player. He needs a break from the game for a while tho, and us viewers need a break from him.
Heroes vs Villains- Parvati Shallow
In her 3rd time playing Survivor, she took the sex appeal from her first season, strong strategical gameplay she mastered in her second season, and combined it all this time with physical dominance in challenges. A true Great Player! I'm aware she doesn't want to return but I'd still love to see her return. Honorable mention: Sandra. Could she do it again? My personal feeling is this second win has left her exposed and her target is too big now... but who knows?
Nicaragua- Marty Piambo
Another very strategical player, albeit polarizing. You're either the kind of fan who loves him or you hate him. Guess which one I am? :)
Redemption Island- Tie-Phillip Sheppard and his great great grandfather Jessum Herring
Yeah, I know Phillip was (A) a larger-than-life character that got on A LOT of people's nerves and (B) was Boston Rob's goat. But hell, the guy was HILARIOUSLY entertaining! His final tribal council performance ALONE was PRICELESS in how offensive it was to the jurors. Honestly, I can't help but laugh just picturing him sitting there dressed as a Native American (complete with feathers provided to him by the spirit of his ancestor) and fighting with the jury members (I came out here to kick a little ass, and that's exactly what I did!) (The hell with you! The hell with you!) (Well, you sound like a little whiny child.) (You know what? Say your piece but don't tell me what I'm going to do! SAY YOUR PIECE but don't tell me what I'm going to do!) That is good solid comedy right there. It's a miracle Boston Rob could keep a straight face thru the whole thing. I'll admit it, even though I'm a huge fan of the game and survivor strategy... I wanted to see Phillip Sheppard return SOLELY for entertainment value alone! And let's get real here.. who are my alternatives from this lackluster season? Boston Rob for a 5th time? No thanks!
South Pacific- Jim Rice
A fan of the game, Jim was one of the few that was willing to make a play against the returning Ozzy premerge. Good confessionals. I think he would be fun to watch again. Note: Whoever answers Brandon Hantz here should be very, very ashamed of themselves.
One World- Kimpossible Spradlin
Most dominant first game played by a woman, ever. She is beautiful, smart, athletic, likable,. the list goes on and on. Could anyone of her cast sitting next to her at the end win against her? I don't believe so. True it didn't seem like she had much competition this season, (when Colton is ur top competition, u know u've got it made) but that isn't her fault. Would love to see her play in an all-star season.
Philippines- Jonathan Penner
The guy proved what a master storyteller he was this time around. He made a huge mistake that cost him the game, but I never get tired of seeing Penner play.
Caramoan- The Specialist Phillip Sheppard
Before this season I thought he was only there for my entertainment and no strategical value to the game of Survivor except as a goat for someone else to drag to the end. But he was actually a big player this season, though I know not everyone agrees. It took two immunity idols plus a necklace just to take him out. Had he made it to the end this go-around, I'm not so sure he would have been as easy to beat as last time. I'd love to see The Specialist and operator of Stealth-R-Us Phillip Sheppard make a third appearance in a future season. Again, I'm not claiming he was the greatest player this season, just the one I most want to see return.
Blood vs Water- Ciera Easton
Much like Kenny from Gabon, the gorgeous Ciera had a slow start but one hell of a finish, with tremendous growth as a player in between. She wasn't afraid to make tough moves, and was a part of some of the biggest moments of the season. Honorable mentions- Hayden and Vytas.
Cagayan- Tony Vlachos
Made several big moves and had some great soundbytes. He played hard and aggressive but was able to get the jurors' votes in the end, something Russel Hantz has twice failed to accomplish.