With 38 seasons under its belt, Survivor has had a revolving door of interesting cast members, from the strategic and manipulative, to villains, to those who stirred up controversy, and others who remained quietly in the background. Among the many players who have appeared, there have been some seriously strong females. Some actually won the game while others had their games cut short when they were deemed serious threats.
As we gear up for the upcoming 39th season, wait to find out what former winners will be returning for the 40th season, and prepare for seasons 41 and 42, which are reportedly already casting, here’s a ranking of the 10 best female Survivor players of all time.
10 Jerri Manthey
From Survivor: Australian Outback, then returning for Survivor: All-Stars and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, Manthey was the original female Survivor villain. She was opinionated and started fights, but she also played strategically, voted out alliance members, and managed to talk her way out of getting voted out numerous times. She made it all the way to fourth place on Heroes vs. Villains.
Even though she was so universally disliked that she was booed off stage during the All-Stars reunion, it’s players like Manthey who make the game fun and interesting to watch. And that’s why she deserves to be on this list.
9 Kass McQuillen
Poor McQuillen got a bad rep, even nicknaming herself “Chaos Kass” when she played in Survivor: Cagayan and Survivor: Cambodia (Second Chance). But it’s hard to deny that she was thoroughly entertaining to watch, even if you loved to hate her.
She played aggressively, was highly sarcastic, and flipped alliances when she needed to. But it was this unpredictability that helped get her to third place. However, her strategy and the fact that many other players disliked her meant she didn’t get the win.
8 Andrea Boehlke
Appearing in Survivor: Redemption Island, Survivor: Caramoan (Fans vs. Favorites), and Survivor: Game Changers, Boehlke often doesn’t get the credit she deserves for playing a pretty solid game each time. She was able to win her way back into the game on Redemption Island after being voted out and ended up placing fifth.
She learned from her mistakes and played more strategically the second time around, but it was her stealth skills at blindsiding tribemates that led to others voting her out simply because they were fearful of what she could do, and just how good she was.
7 Ciera Eastin
Another three-timer, Eastin appeared on Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Survivor: Cambodia (Second Chance), and Survivor: Game Changers. Her biggest move in the game was tearfully voting out her own mother, which while some might consider being cold-blooded, was her only option to stay in the game.
She did manage to then wreak havoc in the game, even though she only ended up placing fifth, and was voted out first in Game Changers. But for her guts alone, we give this girl props.
6 Amber Mariano
Known as Amber Brkich when she first played in The Australian Outback, then again when she returned for All-Stars, Mariano doesn’t get the credit she deserves, even though she won the game. She became romantically involved with fellow player Rob Mariano (to whom she is now married), and together, they made their way to the top-two.
Since Rob had all the blood on his hands from hurting a lot of people, Amber was awarded the prize by the jury. Still, she was a strong part of their unbreakable couple alliance and deserved the win for knowing who to form the bond with and staying strategically behind him while he took all the shots.
5 Aubrey Bracco
A fan favorite, Bracco is one of those players viewers cheered on. She appeared in Survivor: Koah Rong, Survivor: Game Changers, and Survivor: Edge of Extinction and actually placed second the first time, fifth the second, but 15th the third.
Deemed a threat given her intellect, strategic gameplay, likability, and ability to speak eloquently and persuasively, no one wanted to sit beside her in the finals. And for good reason. While she did get blindsided with an idol and advantage in her pocket, which is a big no-no in Survivor, she also had the most insightful and entertaining on-camera confessionals.
4 Kelley Wentworth
Known affectionately by her tribemates as “Wentworth,” she appeared in Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Survivor: Cambodia (Second Chance), and Survivor: Edge of Extinction. But she wasn’t ever able to squeak out a win. In Blood vs. Water, she was left to fight alone when her dad was voted out early.
Being voted out early the first time (she placed 14th) actually helped her gameplay the second time around, as tribemates didn’t view her as a threat. So while they underestimated her, she showed how she’s a true strategic mastermind, finding immunity idols, setting up blindsides, and saving herself. She only finished fourth, but she played a solid game.
3 Sarah Lacina
Successfully keeping the fact that she was a cop a secret for the entire game when she appeared on Survivor: Cagayan was seriously impressive. But even more so was when Lacina returned for Survivor: Game Changers, where everyone knew who she was, and still managed to pull out a win.
As if in an undercover sting operation, she did a complete 180 of her strategy to play a totally different game the second time around, being more aggressive while also more social. Other returning players could learn a thing or two from her about adapting.
2 Sandra Diaz-Twine
A list of the best female players on Survivor would not be complete without Diaz-Twine who not only won the game but remains the only person ever to win twice, male or female. What’s more, she was not a physical threat in competitions, didn’t help out much around camp, and often ran her mouth off. Yet she won both Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains and returned a third time in Survivor: Game Changers.
While some might call her a “floater,” sitting behind-the-scenes while other players picked one another off, it’s hard to justify this since she was always vocal, ruffled feathers, and played a role in whoever was voted out. She really was a Survivor mastermind, which is why she will be returning for the latest season as a mentor for a new cast of players, alongside “Boston” Rob Mariano.
1 Parvati Shallow
When you think Survivor and “best female players,” immediately Shallow’s name comes to mind. Considered to be one of the best players of the game ever, never mind just female players, she created the all-female Black Widow Brigade, then worked her charm and flirtatious nature to her advantage to manipulate other contestants.
This led her to win Survivor: Micronesia after playing first on Survivor: Cook Islands. She also returned a third time to play in Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, where she again made it to the finals.