As with any reality competition series, Survivor has seen its share of villains throughout its long run. They are cunning, calculated, and will stop at nothing to get their enemies or biggest competition voted out to try and win the game. Villains have done everything from bullying others to lying, and cheating, often boasting about their actions and sinister plots during their private, on-camera interviews.
Some villains, however, are worse than others. Of the whopping 38 seasons that have aired thus far, with the 39th currently underway, here are the 10 best male villains of all time, ranked.
10 Randy Bailey
One of the older competitors, Bailey came right out of the gate on Survivor: Gabon with his grumpiness on full display. He finished eighth on the season but was invited back for Heroes vs. Villains, where his inability to contribute to the tribe during physical challenges led to him being voted out third.
A self-professed blunt, angry, and sarcastic bully, Bailey declared that his only love in life was his recently deceased dog and was convinced he would win the game because he was smarter than everyone else.
9 Tyson Apostol
Playing three times, winning his third time on Blood vs. Water, placing eighth the first time, and 15th on Heroes vs. Villains (where he was, of course, on the villains tribe), Apostol went out of his way to torment fellow competitor Sierra Reed, joined forces with Coach Wade, another villain, and boasted about his prowess in the confessionals.
But he was also a fierce competitor who won a lot of challenges, formed strong bonds, and had control over the game. He eventually, as noted, won. But not without making enemies.
8 “Coach” Benjamin Wade
Known by everyone in the game simply as “Coach,” Wade was often seen meditating on his own as he found inner strength. But when he was around others, he was a show-off who talked himself up, deeming himself a “Dragon Slayer.”
He made it to the finals once, but was runner-up, and played twice more, first placing fifth and being voted out early on in Heroes vs. Villains, where he placed 12th. He betrayed allies and planned to play a game where he could solve everyone’s problems. It (sort of) worked, but he was not able to admit to his mistakes, which cost him a win.
7 Rob Cesternino
Often referred to as the smartest player to have never won by host and producer Jeff Probst, Cesternino played twice, first in The Amazon and second on All-Stars. He would constantly flip-flop among alliances, which worked for a while but only took him to a third-place finish. On All-Stars, he was voted out early on.
He constantly talked about the girls in the game and boasted that the men could easily beat them in challenges. Ironically, it was another villain and fellow Rob, “Boston” Rob Mariano, who orchestrated Cesternino’s eviction in All-Stars.
6 Tony Vlachos
Constantly paranoid, building spy shacks to listen in on conversations, making fake alliances with people, backstabbing, lying, and working his way strategically through the game, Vlachos ended up winning it all on Cagayan.
He would constantly swear on the lives of relatives, with no intention of actually meaning it, and was the driving force behind a number of blindsides. He even convinced his friend Woo Hwang to take him to the finals, when Woo likely would have won had he taken another player (and female villain) Kass McQuillen instead. Vlachos returned to Game Changers, where he was voted out second.
5 Brian Heidik
With a used car salesman attitude, Heidik played with zero emotion, unaffected by who he hurt, upset, or blindsided in the game. Every “alliance” he formed was purely strategic, and he had no interest in making friends.
To Heidik, the game was a business trip, not a game. And his method worked because he won in Thailand, though only by a small margin with the vote 4-3. He came to win and managed to gain the trust of many who he quickly threw under the bus when it served him.
4 Richard Hatch
The original Survivor winner, Hatch, was arrogant and made others uncomfortable by frequently walking around nude. He is the first to develop strategies like the alliance and voting bloc, which have become common in the game today. And he managed to stay in the game despite many disliking him, mainly because of his ability to catch fish for the tribe.
He returned for All-Stars, but only made it to 14th place. Players all knew his M.O. by that time, and no one wanted to see the villain take home another million dollars.
3 Johnny “Fairplay” Dalton
In one of the most despicable moves ever in Survivor history, Dalton orchestrated a plan before even coming into the game to have his friend come during the family visit challenge (if he made it that far) and pretend that Dalton’s grandmother had passed away. Of course, she hadn’t. But his tribemates didn’t know that, and they handed him a win out of sympathy.
He played an overall cut-throat game on Pearl Islands, deceiving his tribemates and starting fights. Still, he made it to third place. He returned again in Micronesia and was first to go out at his own request so he could be home with his pregnant girlfriend.
2 “Boston” Rob Mariano
One of the most popular players ever in the game, Mariano is the only person to have ever played four times. He won Redemption Island, was runner-up in All-Stars (to his on-screen showmance Amber and now wife) and appears in the current season as a mentor and coach.
Mariano played cunningly, calling the shots behind the scenes while rarely getting blood on his hands. He is considered to be one of the smartest and most devious players ever in the game, hence why he was brought back to help coach new players on how to win.
1 Russell Hantz
Arguably the most entertaining player ever on the series, Hantz also has the distinction of being the best villain. He was rude, crass, and trash-talked everyone in his interview sessions. He referred to the women with whom he was aligned, and who seemed to be totally loyal to him, as “dumb,” and boasted about his ability to plant little “Russell seeds” in everyone's’ heads.
Playing three times, including on Heroes vs. Villains, and managing to be runner-up twice, Hantz never won mainly due to his refusal to own up to his actions during jury questioning. Stubborn, arrogant, and brash, he is hands-down the best villain the game has seen to date.