Big Brother: 12 Must-Watch Seasons, Ranked

Big Brother: 12 Must-Watch Seasons, Ranked

Reality competition series Big Brother has had some truly memorable moments over the seasons, from Dan’s Funeral to Kaysar’s surprise backdoor eviction, Zingbot’s visits, hilarious OTEV competitions, numerous showmances, and epic rivalries, like that time when Josh walked through the house banging pots and pans to purposely annoy his foes. Needless to say, every season is a pretty wild ride.

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To date, there have been an impressive 26 seasons of the American version of the show, including normal seasons as well as All-Star and Celebrity editions. And while some die-hard fans might argue the first seasons were the best since there were no known strategies on how to play, others find that some in the middle of the pack were the most entertaining.

Updated on April 7th, 2022 by Anthony Farese: Big Brother continues to be a staple of reality television, with another three seasons airing over the past two years, including special All-Star and Celebrity seasons. While the best Big Brother season remains hotly debated, the last few seasons have made the question even harder, being historic seasons in their own right for different reasons. With season 24 coming in the summer of 2022, fans continue to discuss the show as they prepare for another summer of drama and fun.  

12 Season 23 (2021)

An overhead view of The Cookout alliance from Big Brother with their hands together.

Season 23 was a historic season for Big Brother. After being plagued by issues of diversity since its inception, season 23 featured the most diverse cast in show history, and the first-ever Black winner in Xavier Prather. The Cookout alliance ran the game, making it all the way to the final six together before being forced to fend for themselves.

The season was historic for those reasons, but also had other factors going its way. The chaotic week one Head of Household reign by Frenchie set the tone for a wild season, with fan favorites such as Tiffany Mitchell and Derek Xiao also making fun television.

11 Season 5 (2004)

This was a shorter season, starting with just thirteen houseguests and several evictions per week in some cases, making it the first season to use the Double Eviction.

Season 5 marked the first time that only six houseguests would compete in the Power of Veto competition, making the backdoor, or “six-finger,” plan easier to pull off. This season also included the twin twist where Adria and Natalie would switch places in the Diary Room for the first four weeks and were never discovered. This season also sprung another surprise on houseguests: Michael Ellis and Nakomis Dedmon discovered they were actually biological siblings. Overall, there was a lot of drama, scheming, and secrets that made this season a thrilling watch.


10 Season 14 (2012)

This is the season that introduced twelve new houseguests along with four returning players who would serve as coaches, including fan-favorites Dan Gheesling, Janelle Pierzina, Britney Haynes, and Mike “Boogie” Malin. But while they were initially only supposed to help the new players from the sidelines, the coaches ended up being able to compete as well.

It was an “old guard versus new guard” season that saw Ian Terry beat out one of the best to ever play the game for the win. Nonetheless, Dan Gheesling, who still made runner-up, entertained with his usual scheming, including the way he betrayed and blindsided Danielle. In the end, though, Ian’s passion for the game and rise from underdog to winner made for an exciting watch.

9 Season 18 (2016)

Big Brother 18 cast members all posing in the backyard pool

The most exciting thing about this season was how, after an entire summer of scheming, manipulating, and running the house, Paul Abrahamian — one of the best players to have never won the game — still lost out to Nicole Franzel. It was a historic win as well, making her the first female to ever win the game against a male houseguest in the final two.

This season saw both new and returning players, including fan-favorites Da’Vonne Rogers and James Huling as well as Franzel, who originally played in season 16, and Frank Eudy from Big Brother 14.

8 Season 17 (2015)

Steve Nolan became yet another underdog to win the game this season, which featured fan-favorites Da’Vonne, Vanessa, and James and brought back the twin twist with Liz and Julia, who both ended up getting the chance to play in the house together since no one publicly figured out they were two different people switching back and forth.

There were plenty of showmances that season, including Liz and Austin and Shelli and Clay, both of which might be considered among the most cringe-worthy couples of the show. This season was also historic in that it welcomed the first transgender houseguest, Audrey. This was the second season to feature the Battle of the Block competition as well.

7 Season 16 (2014)

Season 16 introduced fans to Derrick Levasseur, who gave BB legends Dr. Will Kirby and Dan Gheesling a run for their money as not only the best male player ever but the best player, overall.

Derrick was a police officer in real life who knew a thing or two about going undercover, but he kept his occupation a secret, effectively going undercover in the house as well. Throughout the entire season, he quietly pulled strings while remaining the most popular person in the house. His name was never mentioned to go on the block, and his strong friendship with Cody helped get him the win. It’s a masterclass season for fans who love the strategy part of the game, and was also thoroughly entertaining thanks to other houseguests like Frankie Grande and Donny Thompson.

6 Season 3 (2002)

Going way back to the beginning, season 3 took place before various aspects of the show had been truly hashed out — players and fans alike were still learning the game. This made things far less predictable than in later seasons.

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In this season, Lisa beat Danielle in the final two mainly because the jury was bitter after seeing Danielle’s Diary Room sessions and the way she manipulated and spoke about them. In fact, it was this perceived unfair loss that led the show to change things so the jury would be sequestered until after the vote. It also included some notable moves like Marcellas winning the Power of Veto and not using it on himself, which was one of the worst, if not the worst-ever Veto plays in the game.

5 Season 8 (2007)

Dani Briones and Evel Dick Big Brother

This season featured one of the show’s most intense twists: three houseguests were secretly let into the house and hid in a room while they observed the other 11 players. But each of the three had a tumultuous connection with someone who didn’t know they would be there. The most notable of these relationships was between Dick Donato and his estranged daughter Daniele.

This was also the season that saw Eric become America’s Player and be forced to make moves dictated by fans, which impacted not only his own game but the impact of the game on the whole. It was fun, nonetheless, to see him try to pull pranks and convince people, and himself, to do things when he didn’t really agree with them. The intense battles between Dick and Jen made for some gossip-worthy scenes as well.

4 Season 2 (2001)

Big Brothre's Will and Mike

It’s not surprising that one of the first seasons would rank among the must-watches since there was an element of surprise. Moves like the backdoor or the pawn hadn’t yet been introduced. And this is the season that one of the best to ever play the game, Will Kirby, won, thanks in part to Chilltown, his tight alliance with Mike “Boogie,” one of the most popular and strongest alliances ever forged on the show.

This season introduced the Head of Household, the ability to discuss nominations, and the jury vote versus the public. It updated the game from a game of popularity and being likable to America, to a game of strategy and manipulation. Having the conniving Will on this season was the best thing that could have happened for the show.

3 Season 7 (2006)

Big Brother 7 All Star Cast

Five years after helping his friend Will to a win, Boogie managed to inch out his own win in the first-ever season to bring back returning players with an All-Star season. It was a big season with 14 houseguests in all, including Will, Janelle, Kaysar Ridha, and Danielle Reyes, but the public got to vote on six houseguests they wanted to return, which eventually became eight due to so many votes.

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It was the first season to feature the Coup d’Etat power and the random draw of the Power of Veto players to avoid biased picks. Dr. Will almost repeated as champion, coming in fourth before being betrayed by Janelle in one of her best moves.

2 Season 22 (2020)

After a whole fourteen seasons passing, production decided to do something special for their COVID-19 delayed season, returning the All-Star format for a reprise. Janelle and Kaysar were the two “old school” players to return, while more recent legends such as Tyler Crispen, Keesha Smith, and Memphis Garrett returned, with Cody Calafiore eventually unanimously defeating Enzo Palumbo on finale night.

Seeing a cast of so many fan favorites all in one setting made for an exciting watch from start to finish, with Cody pulling off a dominant season reminiscent of his season 16 partner in crime, Derrick Levasseur.

1 Season 4 (2003)

Referred to as the X-Factor season, paranoia was running high as soon as the first eight houseguests arrived, they were told that the five remaining people to join were all ex-lovers.

The first season with a sequestered jury and the Diamond Power of Veto that let the winner not only save a nominee but also name their replacement, season 4 was action-packed and filled with drama. It was the first season to feature people who knew one another outside of the house and the first to include two people in the finals who had never had an eviction vote cast against them. It’s also a memorable season because it’s the first to feature an Asian winner, Jun.

NEXT: 10 Things Big Brother Could Borrow From The Amazing Race 

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About The Author

Christine Persaud
(1107 Articles Published)

A professional writer and editor with 18+ years of experience, Christine, now a freelance writer/editor, is a self-professed TV fanatic with tastes that vary considerably from comedies to dramas, sci-fi, and more. She can usually be found binging a new show at night, coupled with a glass of red wine. With a long history writing in the field of consumer tech, she now also writes on topics from entertainment to parenting, lifestyle, marketing, and business. She resides in Toronto, Ontario in Canada with her husband and young son.

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