“Survivor” villains have come in all shapes and sizes, with widely differing styles and approaches in playing the game. Some are schemers, others are wily, still others make one unforgivable mistake. And some are just a pain in the ass. The tough question we had to face for this — what constitutes a real villain on “Survivor”? For example, some people think of Benjamin “Coach” Wade as a villain, but we think of him more of a character than anything else. Same thing with “Federal Agent” Phillip Shepherd. And others are simply labelled villains because of their resourceful game play (Boston Rob, Sandra Diaz-Twine). Click through our photo gallery above that ranks the 12 most memorable “Survivor” villains of all time. Do YOUR personal picks match ours?
12. BRANDON HANTZ — Brandon may be the nephew of notorious “Survivor” villain Russell Hantz, but Brandon never played the game the way his cool and calculating uncle did. In “South Pacific,” he appeared to have little strategy, found it difficult to control his sexual impulses and displayed an alarming instability at Tribal Council.
11. ANDRIA ‘DREAMZ’ HERD — On paper, Dreamz was a contestant with a heart-tugging backstory — growing up homeless, sleeping on the streets and becoming a street performers just to earn a few extra bucks. Such grit and determination to survive would seem to make Dreamz an ideal player. But then he started to play the game too hard.
10. ABI-MARIA GOMES — Some villains are liars, others are schemers, while others are back-stabbers. Abi-Maria was just plain annoying. One of those delusional players that felt that the game revolved around them, Abi-Maria soon realized in “Survivor: Philippines” what other players felt about her, but instead of making amends and alliances (which a smart player would do), instead, she attacked.
9. JEFF VARNER — Jeff was one of the few contestants from an early season to get voted in by the fans for the “Second Chance” edition set in Cambodia. He appeared to be a really well-liked player when he was asked back for “Game Changers,” but one desperate move in order to save himself.
8. BRIAN HEIDIK — Arguably the coldest “Survivor” player ever, Brian methodically picked off his opponents one by one, and he brought little joy to the villainy. Though he represented himself as a used-car salesman, it was revealed shortly thereafter that he was actually a soft-core porn actor whose professional name was “Dave Roth.”
7. JERRI MANTHEY — Jerri was the first true villainess on “Survivor,” competing in the series’ second season “The Australian Outback.” Though she was extremely disagreeable at times with her castmates, her antics pale in comparison with the villainy displayed by some competitors over the next 30-plus seasons of the show.
6. COLTON CUMBIE — Colton is widely considered to be one of the most despised contestants ever to play the game. A player whose bigotry knew no bounds — he called one African-American competitor “ghetto trash” and the only a black person in his life he could cite was his housekeeper.
5. JONNY FAIRPLAY — Jonny was one of those “Survivor” villains who seemed to revel in being as bad as he could be. Of course, his most famous moment was in “Pearl Islands” when, during his reunion with his best friend, who reveals to him that Jonny’s first choice as his loved one, his beloved grandmother, had died. It was totally made up, of course.
4. TONY VLACHOS — From the very start of “Cagayan,” New Jersey cop Tony Vlachos was deceptive, presenting himself to most of his competitors as a construction worker. Playing in an over-caffeinated style, Tony was everywhere — finding hidden immunity idols, turning on his alliances and building little spy huts were he could observe his rivals undetected.
3. RICHARD HATCH — The first-ever Sole Survivor, Richard was the focal point of the series’ first sensational season, becoming notorious worldwide for preferring the game naked. When we first encountered “Survivor” in 2000, audiences assumed that it was a straight-ahead game — that the most worthy player would win — but the wily Richard, backed by his alliance, added deception and manipulation to the recipe, and “Survivor” would never be the same again.
2. PARVATI SHALLOW — One of the best competitors ever to play the game, Parvati was voted Sole Survivor in “Micronesia,” placed sixth in “Cook Islands” and second in “Heroes vs. Villains.” Her most delicious moment was on “Heroes vs. Villains” came at the moment when the villains were facing elimination and she surprisingly produced two immunity idols which she bestowed on her team’s most vulnerable players, thus sending a hero home.
1. RUSSELL HANTZ — Of all the people who have played “Survivor,” Russell Hantz is the one competitor who most changed how the game is played. Russell used psychological warfare against his own team by burning their socks or draining out their canteens to manipulate them. He found immunity idols without even a single clue, thus increasing every other player’s paranoia.