Best Survivor Alliances Ever: My Ranking

24 Feb

[This has been edited to reflect the end results through Season 36.]

In the Tribal Council of Wednesday’s Episode 2 of Survivor One World, several members of the women’s tribe admitted that they wished they could go back and choose their alliances over again. If you’re in a bad alliance your chances to win the game are very poor.

All of this got me thinking about previous seasons: which have been the best alliances in the history of Survivor?

I quickly established ground rules.

–       The minimum prerequisite to be considered was all alliance members finishing in the top 4. Getting to the top 4 should be the goal of any alliance, and anyone who promises to take an ally to the finals is almost always lying. And rightly so – once you make the final immunity challenge, the alliance has served its purpose, and winning the game should be the only goal.

–       I didn’t consider any of the all-star seasons since pre-existing relationships factored into all of those. I know the Battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton, but I’d hate to think the seeds of a Survivor alliance had been sown at a TGI Friday’s months before the show.

–       Also, I ruled out any repeating players. Yes, Boston Rob formed a great group in Redemption Island but he had the advantage of competing for a fourth time.

–       An alliance formed early in the game has to withstand the most adversity, so I was most impressed by those.

On to the list.

#10 Yul, Ozzy, Sundra, and Becky (Cook Islands)

This group beat the odds with an amazing run.

Finish: Yul 1st, Ozzy 2nd, Becky 3rd at the finals, with Sundra finishing 4th as the last voted out.

Why They’re Not Higher: They weren’t an alliance from the beginning of the season unlike some ranked ahead of them.


#9 Kim, Chelsea, and Sabrina (One World)

This day-one alliance ended up as the game’s final three.

Finish: Kim 1st, Sabrina 2nd (getting two votes at the finals), Chelsea 3rd

Why They’re Not Higher: They were literally the only alliance in the game! Very weak competition that season.

#8 J.T. and Stephen (Tocantins)

The unlikely duo of the good ol’ boy and the Ivy Leaguer teamed up from the start of the game and made it all the way to the finals. They had help from Taj (4th place) for most of that time, but I didn’t include her as part of the alliance since she didn’t seem privy to the guys’ deliberations.

Finish: J.T. 1st, Stephen 2nd (not getting a single vote at the final two)

Why They’re Not Higher: J.T. shouldered much more of the burden in the social game (Stephen started at his feet in most of the group conversations). Then there’s the fact nobody ever even tried to take them out, though of course that is a tribute to them in some ways.

#7 Wendell and Domenick (Ghost Island)

Just when you thought game-long alliances were dead (nobody from the ten-season stretch of 26-35 made this list), these two revived the art form.

Finish: Wendell 1st, Domenick 2nd. They tied in the actual jury vote, but then Laurel, the third finalist, was charged with the tiebreaking vote.

Why they’re not higher: They both seemed to have idols the entire game, sometimes multiple idols, which made them safer throughout than a lot of these other alliances.

#6 Earl and Yau-Man (Fiji)

It’s amazing that this ultra-boring season could give us the top 10 of anything, but how could you not love the game being won by a black man in his 30s teaming up with an Asian in his 50s! And the older man is the one of the two who could win challenges!

Finish: Earl 1st, Yau-Man 4th (when Yau Man didn’t win the last immunity Earl wisely voted against him).

Why they’re not higher: The overall dullness of the season works against them, and Earl was effective but not memorable.

#5 Malcolm and Denise (Philippines)

Thrown together as the only two competent members of a weak tribe, these two made it all the way to the final four before severing the alliance because each was the biggest threat to the other. Denise became the first player to be at every tribal council for an entire season.

Finish: Denise 1st, Malcolm 4th

Why They’re Not Higher: Nobody ever really tried that hard to get rid of either one of them, their season was not as dramatic as some ranked above them, and Malcolm did way more than Denise did.

#4 Russell and Natalie (Samoa)

The tribe that went to the merge down 8-4 eliminated 7 of their opponents in a row, one of the most incredible runs ever. Their tribemate Mick finished third.

Finish: Natalie 1st, Russell 2nd

Why they’re not higher: Not exactly an even alliance, as this was Russell’s show all the way.

#3 Danni and Rafe (Guatemala)

The sportscasting gal from Tonganoxie, KS, allies with the gay wilderness guide. They rack up six individual immunity challenge wins between them. They promise to take each other to the finals, but there’s a big moment when Danni wins the final immunity and Rafe releases her from the promise. She votes him out and takes Stephenie instead.

Finish: Danni 1st, Rafe 3rd.

Why they’re not higher: Staying under the radar early was a key to their success, but I’m more impressed by the alliances that had an impact throughout the season.

#2 Tom and Ian (Palau)

It will be hard to ever top the drama of the final immunity challenge, with these two enduring for 12 hours until Ian felt guilty and gave up, with Tom voting him out on the spot and dispensing with tribal council.

Finish: Tom 1st, Ian 3rd

Why they’re not higher: They were in a strong group from the start, and it seems like they had fewer threats to withstand during the game than some other alliances.

#1 Todd and Amanda (China)

What a team – they formed their alliance in Episode 2 and were often shown strategizing throughout the game. They teamed up to find an idol and engineered the memorable blindside of James who had two idols. But the main reason I have them #1 is that they were both so good. I have Amanda in my top players of all time list, but Todd was just as devious, and it’s impressive that he was able to beat her out to win that season.

Finish: Todd 1st, Amanda 3rd

The tribe has spoken.


6 Responses to “Best Survivor Alliances Ever: My Ranking”

  1. poop August 23, 2012 at 8:11 am #

    Kenny and crystal was one of my favorites also

  2. Brian November 16, 2012 at 1:34 am #

    I think Leaving JT and Steven from Tocantins was a mistake… they ran down the other tribe and showed what a strong 2 can do.

    • bbachelorblog June 4, 2017 at 10:53 pm #

      When I first wrote this, I had not yet seen that season. That oversight has since been rectified and they are on the list!


  1. Survivor: Game Changers Final Thoughts | Barry's Reality Blog - May 27, 2017

    […] my best players of all time list. As a returning-player season, nobody was eligible for my best alliances of all time list. And much as I was tempted to add J.T. to my list of the the worst of all time, he did have another […]

  2. Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers Final Thoughts | Barry's Reality Blog - December 27, 2017

    […] Sorry, this year’s most successful alliance, Chrissy and Ryan, did not make my best alliances of all time list. […]

  3. Survivor: Ghost Island Final Thoughts | Barry's Reality Blog - June 7, 2018

    […] But you can use this link to see if someone finally made a dent in my best alliances of all time list. […]

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