Day 39. The day that all Survivor players hope to see. Being treated to a nice feast is a great way to start the day but things become even more intense as the day goes. Soon, the remaining contestants, whether final two or final three, will face the jury – the very people they voted out – to plead their case for why they are the best and most deserving of the million dollar Survivor grand prize.
Early on in the show’s history, seasons of Survivor ended with a final two being questioned by the jury. Since Survivor: Cook Islands, most seasons of Survivor have ended with a final three.
Final threes are often a mix of players. Some have players who have won several immunity challenges. Some have players that have found more than one hidden immunity idol. And some have players that are friends with everyone at tribal council – including Jeff Probst! Many final threes display a mix of these attributes.
A few weeks ago, we looked at the best final twos in Survivor history. While there were some hard pairs to leave off that list, this list was even more difficult. There are many good groups that make it to the end, but these are the very best. These are the Top 5 Best Survivor Final Threes!
5. Survivor: One World
Survivor: One World is not a very good season. In fact, it is one of my least favorites. There is no denying how good this final three is though.
On paper, one might think that Kim is the only good player from the group. It makes sense – Kim won 7-2-0 and is widely seen as one of the best winners. But let’s give some credit to second and third place.
Both Sabrina Thompson and Chelsea Meissner played much better games than they are given credit for. Those two, along with the eventual winner of the season, Kim, began an alliance very early on in the game. The all women Salani alliance is one of the more successful alliances in the show’s history.
All five women from the alliance made the final seven and three of the women made the final three. Although Kim is given most of the credit, as she should, Chelsea and Sabrina still have a lot of agency throughout the season. Both women had moments where they could have turned on their alliance but didn’t.
We can’t talk about how good this final three is without talking about Kim. Kim played the most dominant game ever seen from a newbie. She had her alliance on lock from day one and was always the one making decisions. She basically got to determine the final three of the season (put another way: the two people who would lose to her) as many people were vying to get to the end with her.
This final three is one of the best and a bright spot in a pretty bad season.
4. Survivor: Cambodia
Survivor: Cambodia is one of the most competitive seasons in the show’s history. For one, it was a second chance season. The cast consisted of 20 returning players. They had only played once and none of them had ever won. They were all hungry for the win. In addition to that, the cast was voted on by fans of the show. This only added to the pressure to perform well. The eventual final three did just that.
Jeremy, Tasha, and Spencer came into the season as notable threats to win. All three had played within the last couple of seasons and all three were seen as big players on their original seasons.
During their time on this season, Tasha and Spencer found themselves in a new position: The majority. For nearly all of their previous game together, the two were on the outs and hanging on by a thread. This time, they were consistently on the right side of the votes and fully in the know of what was happening.
Additionally, Spencer was able to evolve a bit, as a person, and open up more to show a more vulnerable side. It was a real moment of growth, the likes of which we don’t see very often on the show.
The real star of the final three, of course, is the winner, Jeremy. Jeremy was a force to be reckoned with on his previous season and was voted out not long after the merge. Learning from his mistakes, Jeremy employed the “meat shield” strategy this season. Despite being a big threat, he made sure that there would always be a bigger threat than him. This strategy was impressive and led to a 10-0-0 win.
3. Survivor: Kaoh Rong
Back when it aired, many fans were disappointed with the ending of Survivor: Kaoh Rong. Over the years, there has been a bit of a reversal in how it is viewed.
The three finalists – Michele, Aubry, and Tai – are all notable for their roles in the season.
Tai was a great social player. Despite this, he had a reputation of flip flopping. Nonetheless, he made one of the most notable moves of the season when he prevented Scot from making a super idol, thus saving him. It was a shocking and brutal move.
Aubry was a strategic force, often underestimated before ultimately outsmarting her opponents. Many of whom were seen as villains of the season.
Michele coasted through the first half of the game, not having to survive any tribal councils. But then found herself in the minority after the merge. During the second half of the game, she flexed her social muscles and won some immunity challenges on her way to a shocking win against Aubry.
All three of these players had some sort of agency – whether it was coming up with plans, making prominent decisions, or winning challenges when they needed to. It is not often referred to as one of the best final threes in Survivor history but it absolutely should be.
2. Survivor: Winners at War
It should come as no surprise that the most epic season, featuring the most epic cast, is high on our list. With a cast consisting of all winners, it was going to be near impossible to be completely disappointed with the final three of this season.
It is easy to look at the final three – Tony, Natalie, Michele – and immediately call them an all time great final three. But let’s look at the season and dive into what really makes them compelling.
The #1 reason this trio is so unique is that they each got to the end in a totally different way.
The third place finisher, Michele, played from the bottom all season. She was rarely in the know and was just trying to survive – three days at a time. Though she came up short, utilizing her social game, Michele achieved her goal of proving that she was a worthy winner.
In second place, we have Natalie Anderson. Natalie was voted out first in the season but thanks to the Edge of Extinction, she returned to the game on Day 35. Natalie survived harsh conditions, brutal challenges, and beat out some of the best the game has ever seen to return to the game.
Finally, our winner, Tony. After winning Survivor: Cagayan, Tony began Survivor: Game Changers guns blazing and was promptly voted out. In Winners at War, Tony played the first half slow and steady, making great social connections, then at the merge, turned up his strategic and sneaky side again. He also dominated in challenges – especially impressive since he had never won a challenge before the season.
These three were already great players but getting to the end of a season stacked with legends solidified their positions in the Survivor Hall of Fame.
1. Survivor: Heroes vs Villains
How did we get a final three this good? When you have an all-timer cast, you are bound to end up with an all-timer final three. Let’s break it down:
First, you have the third place finisher, Russell Hantz. Say what you want but he plays the game and he plays it hard. He was a true game changer in terms of playing an unabashedly villainous game.
The fact that he came back right after his first season and made the final three again, with the same evil, tooth-missing grin was shocking. Sure, the cast knew nothing about Russell coming in. They knew he was a villain but quickly had an idea of what he was like. Yet, they kept him around until the end.
Next, we have the runner-up, Parvati Shallow. Similarly to Russell, the last time we saw Parvati, she played a straight up villainous game. She came into her second season wanting to prove herself and she did.
What makes her run in Heroes vs Villains so impressive is that they knew what Parvati was capable of. When she won Survivor: Micronesia, some were wondering how she even made the cast. Despite people being weary of Parvati all season, she managed to make it all the way to the end again.
Finally, we have the Queen herself, Sandra Diaz-Twine. Many people underestimated Sandra. She laid low sometimes, drew lines in the sand at others, and played with people she despised, if it meant getting to the end. Despite being a former winner, she was never seen as a threat, unlike Parvati. She was the biggest threat of them all, making it to the end and being crowned the winner of Survivor: Heroes vs Villains, as part of the #1 Best Survivor Final Three of all time!