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Every Season Of Alone Ranked From Worst To Best

The History Channel's hit docuseries "Alone" is a survivalist's survival series. There are no councils, no alliances, and no roses to reward contestants for making it week to week — but there are occasionally some grouse. Each season of "Alone" pits contestants against each other, the elements, and their own minds to see who can survive in the harsh wilderness the longest. The winner takes home a hefty cash prize, and likely a new taste for tree bark.

Competitors bring a tiny trove of survival gear with them, but aside from their tools and camera packs, the players are going it alone. They don't even know how much of a lead they have over the others. Producers monitor contestants with periodic health checks, and reserve the right to pull underweight or injured contestants for their own safety. Each contestant also gets an emergency GPS system to allow them to "tap out" when the going gets too tough — which is really saying something, based on how tough these players are.

"Alone" made its debut in 2015, and has survived — nay, thrived — in fans' hearts and minds ever since. With killer environments and compelling characters in every season, it's hard to pick a favorite. Still, only the strong survive our ranking system, which is based on thousands of audience votes over at Episode Ninja. Grab your ferro rod and a pot full of tiny fish to enjoy while you read through every season of "Alone," ranked worst to best.

10. Season 10 - Reindeer Lake, Saskatchewan

Let's start with last things first. Season 10 of "Alone" premiered in 2023, and is set in the rugged Canadian wilderness between Saskatchewan and Manitoba. This isn't necessarily the worst season of the show — but it's had far less time to trap fans and store them up for the long, hard winter. Fans are still building up a taste for the newer seasons of "Alone." While middle seasons feature more seasoned survivalists in comparison to the earliest episodes of the show, the later seasons have a mix of serious hobbyists and semi-professional survival-heads.

However, one contestant on Season 10 isn't a professional survivor, per se — unless you count the world of fashion. Melanie Sawyer was a model before she turned her energy to teaching foraging and wilderness survival skills — and before she created a sewing needle from the underwire in her bra to patch up her mouse-eaten sleeping bag.

Alan Tenta, another strong contestant, taught secondary school in Canada before taking on the challenge of being schooled by Reindeer Lake. Season 10 of "Alone" is full of interesting characters who aren't the average survivalist, including Tarcisio "Taz" Ramos Dos Santos, a musician and homesteader. Taz built his own guitar while alone — which is impressive, even if it could only really play one note.

9. Season 9 - Nunatsiavut, Labrador

While the physical survival challenges in each season of "Alone" are brutal, there might be nothing more treacherous for contestants to deal with than the landscape of their own minds. Emotional struggle, isolation, and anxiety are all turned up high in Season 9 of "Alone" — and the wet, snowy, heavily forested (and bear-infested) landscape of northeastern Canada can't have helped.

This 2021 season featured a slower pace, high emotional stakes, and lots of reflection. Many contestants openly missed their families, and struggled to make adequate calories per day. Some contestants tapped out when they were so close to winning the season. There was a lot of heartbreak in this season of "Alone" — and also, the threat of polar bears. Hunger and near-starvation were a major factor in this season, which makes watching Season 9 both thrilling and a bummer.

In addition to extreme hunger in Season 9, illness plagued the contestants, as well as the threat of hypothermia if they chose to fish in freezing cold waters. While this season was strikingly beautiful, it's a fairly grim watch. It will also make you look at your water glass in a whole new (and maybe not so great) way — or at least appreciate the fact that your dinner options go beyond a sip of water and a nibble of jerky.

8. Season 5 - Redemption: Selenge Province, Mongolia

"Alone" has shifted its format only a few times in all of its years on air. A major shift occurred in 2015, for Season 5: Redemption. Contestants who didn't win previous seasons were brought back to compete again, this time in Selenge Province, Mongolia — near the Khentii Mountains. Legend has it that Genghis Khan himself is buried in this north-central Asian mountain range.

Season 5 premiered in 2015, and featured returning contestants such as Randy Champagne (Season 2), Britt Ahart (Season 3), and Larry Roberts (Season 2). Watching this season to see if past favorites could stick it out a second time to win had audiences hooked — but not more hooked than Carleigh Fairchild (Season 3), one of the strongest contenders in Patagonia. Tough as nails and rugged as ever, she was prepared to be a contender for the win in "Alone" Season 5.

But when she caught a big fish days into her season, her hand caught the fish hook — all the way into her skin. Fairchild tried everything to get it out, even stabilizing her hand on a wood plank to try and remove it with her knife. Ultimately, she tapped out to save herself from a deeply infected wound, with even doctors struggling to remove the hook. Fairchild is a fan favorite, so even her short stay in Season 5 makes it worth watching — and worthy of a spot higher up on the list.

7. Season 8 - Grizzly Mountain: Chilko Lake, British Columbia

Starvation is a serious threat in every season of "Alone," but it really takes the non-existent cake in 2020's Season 8. Getting enough calories is on every contestant's mind in Season 8, and even harder to achieve at the high elevation of Chilko Lake. This season, instead of just battling the elements and isolation, contestants also battled being pulled by producers due to malnutrition.

While the volcanic mountains and glacier-fed Chilko Lake location are visually stunning, turns out watching people starve to death doesn't exactly make great TV. While some fans found this season too brutal (or even brutally boring), the scarcity of resources made the highlights of the season extreme — and extremely memorable.

Clay Hayes never seems too rattled by the harsh conditions of Chilko Lake. But when he takes a shot at a black-tailed deer with his longbow, Hayes isn't sure he got a good hit. He nervously stalks the deer, looking for blood in the grass as a sign that his aim was true. Miraculously, it was, and Hayes ends up bagging a 130-pound beast. He takes it back to his shelter to get it prepared and packed away from hungry grizzly bears, promptly eating the deer's heart first. "Buck heart fried in buck fat," Hayes coos to the camera. He even gets to see a rainbow after his meal. However, as of this writing, Hayes has not yet developed his own wilderness cooking show. It's only a matter of time.

6. Season 4 - Lost and Found: Quatsino, British Columbia

Quatsino Sound is tucked away in northern Vancouver Island, only reachable via water entry or seaplane. The wilderness and Pacific Ocean are absolutely beautiful — and, for contestants in 2017's Season 4 of "Alone," devastatingly cruel. For one duck killed by a thrown hat, this season was perhaps the most cruel of all.

Season 4 featured a dramatic change in the show's format. Instead of challengers having to face the wild alone, seven pairs of family team members fought for survival. While this lent players some advantages in building shelter and outwitting isolation, the team rule meant that if one player got pulled or tapped out, the other team member would be out of the running as well. This meant for unbalanced teams at times, putting undue stress on father/son relationships, husband/wife dynamics, and teams of brothers.

Team members were also dropped off at separate points 10 miles apart, and had to find each other using rudimentary instruments. Teams also had to share gear between them (the standard "Alone" 10-item limit) and would also share the $500,000 prize. Are those rules fair? No. But neither is Mother Nature. Most teams tapped out early due to injury or the wise impulse to not ruin their relationships forever, even for a cut of the prize money.

5. Season 6 - The Arctic: Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories

"Alone" Season 6 featured an even colder climate, more starvation, and a whole bunch of jokes. Even though almost all of the cast of this 2019 season tapped out because of starvation, food poisoning, or losing too much body weight, one thing the contestants didn't lose was their sense of humor. It makes the season a sick joy to watch.

Nikki van Schyndel stuffed a rabbit to use as a grotesque teddy bear. When she wasn't making toys that would even make Chucky blush, van Schyndel was accidentally injuring herself non-stop. Tim Backus had many skills to boast about and sass for his hippie-ish co-stars — but then had to be evacuated after four days for a broken ankle. Nathan Donnelly, a strong contender, ultimately had to tap out when his shelter burned down — and he had to survive the night while he waited for rescue.

The true comedy star of "Alone" Season 6 was Jordan Jonas. Jonas made impressive kills of a moose and a wolverine, and even tossed off a chill "I killed a wolverine with an axe," to his wife when he saw her. But Jonas's true skill was in vamping for the camera, like when he invented "a delicacy" of bone marrow ice cream, complete with multiple characters and descriptions of his culinary process. It must be seen to be believed — though we will leave the taste-testing entirely to Jordan Jonas.

4. Season 3 - Patagonia, Argentina

Earlier seasons of "Alone" tend to be fan favorites because the focus is as much on the cast and how they entertain themselves as much as it is on the wilderness challenges. Every season involves a good amount of watching contestants lose body weight and struggle to maintain decent shelter, but the early seasons especially highlight the players' backstories, philosophies, and desires. This could make certain departures devastating — and other near-descents into madness absolutely charming, hilarious, or just plain terrifying.

"Alone" Season 3 debuted in 2016, and contestants were dropped in lake regions across the Andes. Foraged foods, fish, and small fowl were the main food sources this season, though none were exactly plentiful. Dave Nessia managed to stockpile a significant amount of small fish, but was too wracked with starvation to actually remember to eat them. Carleigh Fairchild was medically evacuated for her body mass index (BMI) dropping too low, yet managed to stick it out for 86 days.

While many contestants stuck it out for over 50 days this season, tap outs for missing family were common. Some contestants made missing family a key element of their own survival — along with carving wood. Zachary Fowler carved chopsticks, wooden spoons, and even a fish-topped wizard staff. "Everybody's getting a spoon for Christmas!" he shouted — when he wasn't showing off his rad staff to the camera. This season had so many players to really root for — you'll want to carve a wooden spoon for them all.

3. Season 7 - Million Dollar Challenge: Great Slave Lake, Northwest Territories

The ante was upped in a big way in "Alone" Season 7. Instead of competing for the usual $500,000 prize, players had to survive for 100 days in the wilds of Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories to win one million dollars. The 100-day challenge was new, and the rule meant that there could be multiple winners if players lasted the full stretch — or that no winner would take home the big prize.

Debuting in 2020, Season 7 is one of the most grueling seasons of "Alone" in existence. Surviving the Arctic on a full belly would be hard enough, but the players this season had to make do with foraged foods, porcupines, and mushrooms stolen from squirrels. Starvation struck down almost every competitor, especially those who stuck things out for over 40 days. The extreme nature and big prize made "Alone" Season 7 compulsively watchable — but so did the attitudes of the major players.

Shawn Helton might have lost key equipment, but he also made a hot tub out of an old boat. Callie Russell kept her positivity up all season, and even dressed as a porcupine for Halloween. When Amós Rodriguez's shelter was surrounded by wolves, he joked to the camera that "that was no bunny." And of course, Roland Welker's rock house shelter and musk ox kill were epic enough on their own to put Season 7 in the top five seasons of "Alone."

2. Season 2 - Port Hardy, British Columbia

Personality traits were as prized as survival skills in the earliest seasons of "Alone," for better or worse. Colorful characters were chosen for the cast based on their ability to handle the wild — and seemingly sometimes for their unpredictability when it came to those skills. Starvation has always been a major risk in "Alone," but the first two seasons also showed just how mentally taxing the challenge could be on competitors.

Season 2 debuted in 2016. Fear, injury, isolation-induced panic, and missing home tapped many contestants out. Desmond White went home within hours after seeing signs of a bear. Mary Kate Green lasted days longer, only to be medically evacuated after accidentally slicing herself with an axe.

Another bear scare spooked Tracey Wilson. She got between a mama bear and her cubs, and yelled at the bears in order to buy herself a way out. Though Wilson survived, she ultimately tapped out after the incident triggered some PTSD. And then there was Larry Roberts, known by many fans as "Sweary Larry" for his intense bouts of swearing when things didn't go his way. While some viewers found his behavior hilarious, others found his temper scary. Roberts would later return in Season 5, where he discussed how his earlier bout on the show made him seek out support, and get more involved with other bushcraft groups. Though he is a polarizing character, he is also a fan favorite.

1. Season 1 - Port Hardy, British Columbia

Is it really any wonder that the first season of "Alone" is also considered the best? The 2015 debut season was shot in the wilds of Vancouver Island. Only men were allowed to compete (eyeroll, History Channel) and the show was raw in every sense of the word. Players went into the competition with 10 items in their packs and high hopes of taking home $500,000 — but with no previous seasons to watch for tips, tricks, and overall strategies. 

Fear was the number one reason contestants tapped out in Season 1, and only four of the 10 contestants made it past the 30-day mark. The competitors were also total characters, and their Season 1 moments are still some of the most memorable of the series to this day. Brant McGee thought he could filter saltwater through moss, and ended up getting ill, paranoid, and hallucinatory. Josh Chavez joked about fighting bears — but ended up tapping out 12 hours into the season after a bear scare. 

Alan Kay had humor and heart for days — and could deliver the heck out of a monologue. Whether philosophizing about the pure energy of his favorite snack, the limpet, musing on his desire to eat a slow-moving hiker, or literally reciting Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" from memory, the man sure knew how to keep things light. He also knew how to catch fish with an inverted water bottle. That's a survivor fans can get behind — and a season that takes home the big prize.