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    The 25 Best "Love Island" Contestants Of All Time, Ranked

    If you had told Past Me that I'd be including Toby on this list, I would have laughed in your face.

    Love Island is a neon vortex. Before you know it, the reality dating show has sucked you in with its candy-like storylines and hypnotized you into devoting time and brainpower to watching hot strangers "couple up" for multiple Summer weeks. Well, in my case, it's not limited to Summer, because rewatching and rewatching is how I have chosen to live my life. And you know what? Zero regrets.

    ITV2 / Via giphy.com

    This post is just about Love Island UK.

    As a passionate fan, I have ranked the 25 best Love Island contestants – or Islanders – of all time. When I say "best," I mean the contestants who caused the greatest amount of entertainment. I'm not saying the people listed below are "better" humans than other Love Island humans, I'm saying they're the Islanders who most helped to make the show so damn good.

    ITV2 / Via giphy.com

    Now, I am fully aware that Love Island is heavily edited. I do not know the contestants, and the last thing I would want to do is cause any of them or their loved ones difficulty. Love Island cast members, and crew members, have been plagued with evil, vicious hate and trolling. I am not trying to play any part in that. Please judge this article for what it actually is: a love letter.

    Because Islanders, I am so grateful for the addictive joy each and every one of you has contributed to. You have improved my life, made it so much more fun, especially in the current world that is, to quote John Mulaney, "an on-fire garbage can." My subjective opinions are about the characters you were edited to be, not about who you are (unless you're on the list and the words below are positive, in which case please feel free to take them to heart). If I do cause anyone any kind of harm, I sincerely apologize.

    And know that I would never even be cast on Love Island in the first place; I'm far too removed from my emotions to properly give myself to the experience. Basically, if what I say causes injury, remember you're reading the words of a 21-year old who can't drive. Knock me down every peg.

    Alright! Let's crack on.

    Stay tuned at the end for some honorable mentions.

    25. Chris (Series 5)

    Chris walking into the villa
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    His sense of humor, his tenderness, his self-deprecation, his jawline, and that amazing head of brunette hair made Chris a stand-out despite him only being in the villa for 15 days.

    He gave us the salmon, a series-5-defining way to jump into the pool. He cried because he found true male friends after a whole life of feeling like he didn't fit in. He laid on the kitchen counter when India, the woman he liked, gave more attention to daemon Ovie (we'll get to Ovie, don't worry). Chris had two signature looks: a blue kimono with a towel wrapped around his hair, and sunglasses over eyeglasses with a towel wrapped around his hair. In a construction-themed challenge where the boys were supposed to prove their sexiness, Chris pretended to be the building inspector. To exaggerate by using an overrated word, Chris is an icon.

    However, I can't write about Chris without mentioning a tattoo of his. On one of his pecs there appears to be a white woman in a Native American headdress. Maybe I'm wrong, but that image on this white Englishperson seems a hell of a whole lot like a turducken of appropriation. But it's certainly the most noteworthy tattoo on a show filled with them (although the confusing Frank Sinatra on the thigh of "It's Not Unusual"-loving Liam gives Chris a run for his money).

    On a personal note – and the tattoo would need to be discussed, but assuming there is a valid explanation – Chris is absolutely the Islander I'd couple up with. Like, it is not even a question.

    To use Love Island's vernacular, Chris is 100% my type on paper. 

    24. Olivia (Series 2)

    Olivia in the Beach Hut
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    Unpretentious and inked Olivia felt so much like a nice, pretty friend you just wanted to see succeed.

    Her first two and half weeks were far from joyous, as Olivia was romantically linked to Javi, poessive creep Daniel, future-scary caitiff Terry, and Adam (and Rykard, depending how you look at it, because the two friends did sleep together). So it's safe to say Olivia was not at her peak of happiness and success when gorgeous, gorgeous Alex walked in the door. But that changed quickly – after Alex and Zara hooked up in the hideaway, but, you know.

    Finally, Olivia was happy and seen, in a cool, casual pair. They didn't have the smoothest of rides, but the two were undeniably terrific together. Their bond was promising enough for Olivia and Alex to keep seeing each other, and they got married a couple of years later.

    But Alex is not the reason he and Olivia came in second place on Series 2. He is superb, but Olivia was the heartbeat of the villa, unlike almost any other Islander from the show. Because while each Love Island series has the one contestant who goes on an emotional "journey" – Jess, Camilla, Laura, Amber (Series 5), Siânnise, Toby – and each series has the one contestant who feels like your sister – Hannah, Amber (Series 3), Dani, Amber (Series 5), Demi, Liberty – Olivia is one of only two people to take up both roles. The other ranks higher on this list.

    Love Island Series 1 and 2 have some offensive contestants, but they also have some gems.

    Olivia is a guiding light of the early years.

    23. Montana (Series 3)

    Montana smiling
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    Elegantly, New-York-City gorgeous Montana is the intelligent friend you go to after a breakup when you want to hear about how crappy your ex is.

    She basically spent the first half of her time on Love Island single – a bit of Dom here, a bit of Sam there – and she coupled up with beautiful statue Alex at Casa Amor, so Montana is not on this list because of romance. She is here for two reasons. One, the small reason, is that Montana was Series 3's spiritual guide; she was the character present for advice and wisdom. The second reason Montana's here is her combination of cold-blooded honesty, imperturbable realism, and an unwavering sense of self-worth. It makes Montana both definitions of the word "galvanizing."

    Because of her, I want to be more confident, more badass, more logical in the face of stupid feelings that sometimes need to sit on the back burner. Like Montana, I can do whatever the fuck I want, as long as it doesn't hurt other people's feelings (a line Montana sometimes crossed). I can wear impeccable clothes while eating a bowl of cereal at 8PM and judging those around me. Without overly delicate tones or wording, I can tell friends they need to cut the shit, as long as it comes from love. Basically, Montana lives in the mood board in my mind. She is the paragon of sense my sensibility probably needs to balance the scales.

    Obviously, I am fond of Montana, and that is definitely factoring into her placement here. I want to be her friend.

    But what is Love Island if not a method for gaining imaginary friends?

    22. Wes (Series 4)

    Wes slightly smiling
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    Wes, who's handsome in a suave, I-run-a-business kind of way, was only 20-years old on Love Island, which is shocking considering his face and maturity are 10 years older.

    He was coupled up with Laura for weeks, but then he decided to be with Megan instead without all that much debate. The new duo slept outside together the same night Wes and Laura ended things, because Love Island is not for the weak. But when Megan chose someone else at Casa Amor mere days later, leaving Wes by himself, he didn't give up. He loaded his charm guns and arm guns, got Megan back, and swooped into fourth place with her by his side (we'll get to Megan, don't worry).

    Despite the fact that all that sort of makes Wes sound like a fuckboy, he's really not. He was consistently straightforward and caring, showcasing his vast intelligence time and time again. Wes was attentive as both a loyal friend to the boys, and the girls, and as a focused partner, with an outstanding amount of a little-known quality called "listening." Also, Wes pioneered the phrase, "I'm not unhappy, but, I could be happier," which is a Love Island diamond. I don't care what else he accomplishes in his life (including awesome music), that line should be on Wes's tombstone.

    From making multiple hefty, game-changing romantic moves to creating the "Do-Bits Society" (DBS) – a "society" dedicated to the acknowledgement and discussion of primarily non-intercourse sexual activity, AKA "doing bits" – Wes left a substantial mark on Series 4, one I am thrilled to have.

    Age isn't just a number, but Wes wasn't just a 20-year old, either.

    21. Adam (Series 4)

    Adam talking in the Beach Hut
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    This fucking guy.

    Sure, he's a handsome where even if you're like me and a tailored-bad-boy face attached to a buff, 6'4" body is genuinely not your thing, you get it, but he's the absolute worst. However, Adam provided the main entertainment for the first half of Series 4.

    He hopped from brunette white women to brunette white woman (plus an attempt to get with Megan), and without charm or secret depth. Adam just wanted to hook up with them all. If he'd been upfront, I would have no issue – though maybe don't come on Love Island – but Adam wasn't honest about his trajectory, and to a larger degree than a lack of transparency. His move was to twist the truth and turn the women he wanted to leave into the problem. (Women's Aid validity accused him gaslighting.)

    As a feminist against all forms of emotional abuse and manipulation, like everyone should be, I think Adam has the Ghostbusters symbol over his face. But, as a viewer, lord did he cause popcorn-worthy drama. It's like that famous Kris Jenner line: "When I first heard about Kim's tape, as her mother, I wanted to kill her. But as her manager..."

    Being a young, brunette white woman, I must be on high-alert for Adam. To be clear, I don't mean men like Adam, I literally mean Adam. He'll find every one of us across the globe and inform the one who comes before that he "can't lie, I am attracted to [insert name here]." 

    That's a truth about Love Island: sometimes the ones you'd hate in real life become the ones you love to hate on TV.

    20. Dani (Series 4)

    Dani smiling on the terrace
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    The heavy East London filter that resides over Dani makes this pretty, caring, straightforward Series 4 winner wholly unforgettable.

    Dani coupled up with Jack on day one and they fell madly, beautifully in love. They matched like they had been together for 80 years, like they bickered at the mailbox right before slow dancing at the gas station. I know they did not last on the outside – and I wish them both felicity – but, for purposes of this ranking, as its all about entertainment while watching Love Island, Jack and Dani are one of the best couples on the show. No matter what happened away from the bubble, which is none of my business, Jack and Dani loved each other in the villa. They were a dream.

    So why is she on this list and he is not? No affront to Jack, the pen salesperson I celebrate as a maximum geezer, but Dani had her wings safely pulled around everybody else in the villa at all times. She watched out for her friends while calling them on all the shit she felt passionate about. You would love to have her in your corner, even though Dani lost the plot when she found out Jack's ex was at Casa Amor, but we're just not going to talk about that.

    Because Love Island puts its participants in an isolated environment, the show sees hierarchies, roles, and millions of specific dynamics form under its watch. For example, there can be nerds (Camilla), cool uncles (Teddy), unlikely duos (Jack and Dr. Alex), popular kids (Chris from Series 3), and little brothers (Toby).

    Dani is the mom of Love Island.

    19. Kady (Series 2)

    Kady in the hideaway holding her hands up
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    Elfish and stunning Kady wreaked havoc. 

    She was with Scott for essentially her whole time, but that implies a contentment and/or calm that was never present. Everyday there was a possibility Kady and Scott might yell at each other across the pool, or Kady might get super jealous, or they might break up and then make up and then have sex in front of everyone. They were an unlikeable symphony that was a parasite of Love Island's own making, like radiation poisoning. The mayhem was 70% because of Kady and 30% because of Scott's suspicion and insistence on playing games.

    It would be wrong to say Kady was a loose cannon, because she was both more predictable and less precise than some loose cannon, but that's probably how she felt for her peers. The zenith was Kady's infamous dive into uncouth-times-a-million when she and Olivia were made to stay in the hideaway while their beaus went on dates. I won't go through all of what happened, because we don't have the time, but I will mention three moments: Kady shouted at Tina that she was a "cunt," Kady laid on the floor and yelled, "Fucking Made in Chelsea reject bitch," and Kady mooned everyone. It was bonkers.

    Kady was also part of an altercation that resulted in the shortest-lasting Love Island contestant, a woman kicked out almost immediately after entering the villa because she was violent towards Kady. Kady was not at fault, but her inclusion makes her relevant to this piece of Love Island legend.

    For the lucky contestants fleshed out by the editing, Love Island shows the best and the worst in people, like Montana's logic vs. her mean-ness and Dani's hospitality vs. her leaps of insecurity. Kady's worst was highlighted far more than her best, but that worst had tiers in itself: normal wild Kady vs. stay-away-from-her-forever Kady.

    All you can hope is that your worsts are as entertaining as Kady's.

    18. Kaz (Series 7)

    Kaz smiling
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    Lovely, lovely Kaz, always stylish, has this infectious, confident, energetic kindness. Also, she is ridiculously good in an argument.

    Unfortunately, many Series 7 men were blind. Kaz spent her first days with an uninterested Toby (who we'll get to, don't worry), then she went on dates with the A+ Teddy and the too-bad-to-discuss Danny, both of which did not go anywhere except the aces friendship couple of Kaz and Aaron. Then Tyler walked in, charm, extraversion, and beauty headed straight for Kaz, and she was smitten. Though, quite soon, Tyler forgot she existed at Casa Amor, which was the catalyst for Kaz to couple up with Matthew. In the aftermath, Kaz calmly, clearly, concisely, extremely intelligently ripped Tyler to shreds. 

    But they gravitated towards each other again. Within weeks, Tyler asked Kaz to be exclusive in an homage to Love Actually, because Kaz adores rom coms. The couple came in fourth place, but they should have come in at least third. At least. Kaz was astute, fun, wise, empathetic, suave, and an exceptionally first-rate friend, notably to Liberty. Their friendship was the best relationship of Series 7 by a thousand miles.

    If you think the treatment of Kaz, including how she and Tyler placed fourth as the first entirely Black couple in a finale, does not have to do with racism, gaze inward and see how wrong you are. Love Island is not good to Black women, particularly dark-skinned Black women. Kaz had to swim upstream in a system designed to eliminate her from the show. She isn't on this list because of that, she's here because of her impeccable personality and (somewhat) her drama, but the role racism played in Kaz's experience cannot go unmentioned. 

    During all the fights, snakes, and lesser men vying for superior women, Kaz was battling a much more prodigious war, one she did not sign up for.

    In the end, Kaz slayed the lawless, icy, ever-reigning goliath: Love Island.

    17. Curtis (Series 5)

    Curtis in the heart rate challenge
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    With a boy-next-door smile and an energy my mother perfectly described as "a tenor in a barbershop quartet," ballroom dancer Curtis made so much more of an unforgettable impact than you would have ever expected him to.

    He made Amy his "half-girlfriend" and spent a month with her being the villa's unrelenting advice man before Casa Amor, where his head turned quickly. But because the object of his affections, Jourdan, did not return the sentiment, Curtis stayed with Amy. At the official recouping, in front of basically everyone but his half-girlfriend, Curtis's speech said, in effect, "I guess I'll stay with her." Amy walked back in thrilled to see him single and ready to tell him that she loved him, and I cried in a public library while watching it live on my laptop.

    Then Curtis and Amy went through their horrible, thrilling drama – he was mostly commendably, brutally blunt, once pretty much telling her he could not guarantee he wouldn't cheat. (He also said he didn't cuddle in the morning because, "I also want to be the person that gets up and makes everyone a coffee so everyone's ready for the morning.") After their half-relationship ended, Amy left the show and cemented her place later on this list, and Curtis spent some time loving the attention both Francesca and Maura were giving him. He went with Maura, but both sensational women were supremely out of his league, as was Amy.

    Finally, soon before the finale, Curtis's past advice-giving self made an-all star reappearance. To put it as gently as I can, Curtis told Jordan, an Islander who two days earlier had asked Anna to be his girlfriend, that he should tell India he liked her, before discussing anything with Anna.

    For all of Curtis's drama, hurtful words, and camp-adjacent choices, this was his best moment of all. Famously Mr. Advice weeks earlier advised his friend to cheat.

    It was Love Island's ultimate Chekhov's gun.

    16. Jess (Series 1)

    Jess holding a card in the finale that says, Love
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    After being treated terribly by the men around her, Jess, hands down, deserved be Love Island's first ever victor. She was the confident, flirty, dyed-ginger underdog.

    Succeeding one untruth Jess told while tipsy (though I think it would have happened anyway), multiple men deemed Jess sex material and not girlfriend material, as if women fit into those slots – slots that are offense and rude no matter which one jerkfaces decide you belong in. Jess was left by misogynist baby Josh for the more "proper" Naomi – an undervalued Love Island scoundrel – and, later, beachy-hot Max went with Naomi, too. But Max crawled back to Jess, and she kindly gave him a second chance. They won the show, beating the literally engaged couple, Hannah and Jon.

    The sexism Jess was forced to wade through torpedos your soul, not only because it happened in the first place, but because it happened in the year of our lord 2015. 2015. The same year The Big Short came out, Jess was slut-shamed every second of the day simply for being a woman who talked about liking sex, not that there's ever a reason to slut shame.

    Normally an ever-present attitude of "I think I'm so sexy" really grinds my gears, but Jess grew on me. At first I didn't like her at all, but the more I witnessed her fun nature, loyalty, and humor, the more I found myself rooting for Jess. My outrage at the way she was treated caused me to side with her, too.

    There's a moment in Legally Blonde where Warren says to Elle, "If I want to be a Senator, I need to marry a Jackie, not a Marilyn." It's a point of view for those who don't want to consider the unique complexity inside every woman. We are so easy to make small that way, so easy to beat.

    But while they were busy thinking Jess was just a "Marilyn," she was busy winning.

    15. Amy (Series 5)

    Amy sitting by the firepit
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    She had nearly platinum blonde hair and a bit of a "horse girl" glow, and my god did she go out with class.

    Alright, we'll get there, to that masterful exit, but let us rewind first. Prior to Amy's era of supremacy, I felt the best of her was sweet, principled, and supportive, while the worst of her was insecure, annoyingly negative, jealous of attention being on others, and quick to anger, with a constant undercurrent of bitterly pissed off. But those perceived flaws turned out to make Amy's future valiant choices that much greater to watch. You see, it's thrilling to witness someone prove themselves to be so much more than you thought they were. In front of my eyes, right there on my screen, Amy became 3D.

    She is the one Curtis was coupled up with for a month – you know, his "half-girlfriend." That's right, Amy is the owner of the heart he broke, but that broken heart also made her the creator of one of the best, most painful Love Island quotes we have, "I was coming back here to tell you that I loved you." The way she handled the tragic situation, including how she voluntarily walked out of the villa, in part to save herself the pain of watching Curtis crack on with another, utterly changed my opinion of Amy. 

    Yes, I still think she is everything I thought she was, including negative, and territorial with attention, but Amy is also honest, kind, and immensely brave. What really matters at the end of the day is that when the going got tough, it was Amy's strengths that defined her. Her strengths are who she is.

    When you watch Love Island, you learn that sometimes you're totally wrong about people, whether that be through an overestimation, an underestimation, or something else entirely. So hopefully, I have learned my lesson.

    Never underestimate a "horse girl" brave enough to come on Love Island.

    14. Michael (Series 5)

    Michael speaking angrily while holding a glass
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    Ripped and tattooed Michael was sexy and he knew it – he's too reservedly smooth for me, but, fair. "Fair" before he turned into one of Love Island's best villains, that is.

    For his first month-ish, Michael was favored and set to win with Amber. Then Casa Amor rolled around, he liked Joanna and the less she asked of him more, and Michael spent days creating this narrative where he could dump Amber and make her the baddie. So when the two saw each other again – and she'd chosen him but he'd chosen Joanna – Michael was furious. An illogical sight to behold.

    When Joanna went home 12 days and multiple instances of Michael mistreating Amber later, he didn't leave. Once Amber had gone on a good date with Greg, Michael announced he still liked her. According to him, "I knew that I still liked you, I just kept denying it to myself," which is true, but he also told Amber their conversation would still be happening if Joanna were there, which is a lie. After all, Michael said in that same conversation, "And when I say something, I mean it. Whether I mean it or not, I usually stick by it."

    What really takes the cake is when Amber asked Michael about a moment prior to Joanna going home, when he said something that amounted to, "I've found what I was looking for on Love Island." In response to Amber's confusion about how that could be if he liked herself the whole time, Michael said, "Did you hear me say anything about, like, any specific person?" Amber gasped in shock and laughed at the audacity. She chose Greg.

    In case you weren't sure, Michael's exact quote from the night Joanna left was: "I feel like I came here and I found what I wanted, and now, she's leaving."

    Guys like Michael either go home a hero, or stay long enough to see themselves become the villain.

    13. Shaughna (Series 6)

    Shaughna looking kind of annoyed
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    In a series that lacked some wow factor, lovely-eyed democratic services officer Shaughna – who, by the way, will age like fine wine – did all she could to bring the wow.

    After weeks with the physically-nondescript scaffolder Callum, Shaughna was her year's big victim of Casa Amor when he recoupled with real-life Barbie Molly. In my opinion, Callum never had feelings for Shaughna, but she unequivocally felt for him, so in addition to the pain Shaughna experienced because of the rejection itself, I imagine seeing Callum's obvious adoration for Molly made the hurt so much worse. (Also, I do not understand why any of these couples existed in the first place because Shaughna and Molly are both great and Callum is so forgettable to me it is hilariously baffling that he was a flame for these 10/10 moths, but that is neither here nor there.)

    Even though, unfortunately, Shaughna ended up leaving nearly two weeks before the finale, she was the star of Series 6. Sorry winners Paige and Finn, a solid couple, but Shaughna made herself the real champion with every faultless one-liner, such as, "I need to remember, I came to Love Island to find a boyfriend, not a son," "I'm smart, I'm independent, I work at the fucking council," "I've got a text, not a man," "If Khloe Kardashian can get through 2019, I can get through this," and, of course, her fabled response when Callum walked in with Molly: "Congrats, hun." There is also that amazing moment when Shaughna pulled a chocolate bar she had kept for later out of her top, as true heroes do.

    Shaughna is a model of the sad fact that alpha women, especially those who are not blonde, can have a tough time on Love Island. But those women can also win the reverence of so many, along with a front-and-center spot in the Love Island Hall of Fame and 1.5 million Instagram followers.

    Congrats, hun.

    12. Georgia (Series 4)

    Georgia looking upset
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    Georgia had passion, intelligence, drama (she adored it), sweetness, a beautiful face that gives off a "nice cheerleader" vibe, and, as she liked to say once every ten seconds, Georgia had loyalty.

    She was left single by Josh at the Casa Amor re-coupling when he walked in with Kaz, in the first substantial and permanent alteration caused by the second villa. Georgia's response to the hurt was to argue adeptly and pretend to not know Kaz's name, but she recovered, finding glee with the lovely and underrated Sam. They ended up voluntarily leaving together. Really prior to Sam, however, there was the kiss heard round the world.

    Georgia and New Jack, Laura's guy, kissed twice. Georgia said it was a mutual leaning in and New Jack said she initiated it. Unfortunately for Georgia, she was painfully wrong, but I believe she remembered it incorrectly; I don't think Georgia was lying whatsoever. Why lie about that when the public, incoming contestants, and future versions of your fellow Islanders know the truth? Georgia is many, many, many things, but she's not stupid. (Also, for my money, Laura is responsible for the kiss drama. She's the one who made it a colossal deal.)

    I would guess Georgia coming in at #12 is my most controversial ranking. She was often too much, but as someone who's lived in a kind of similar version of too much my whole life, I get her. And Love Island is a show that requires at least one contestant every year to fill the role of "too much" – Jess, Nathan, Olivia, Maura, Siânnise, Faye – so how can we fault Georgia for giving the people want they want in her own, non-abusive way? Yes, Georgia was loud and stubborn and in possession of more zest than the most prolific lemon grove in the Western Hemisphere, but holy hell did she bring it.

    For better and for worse, there will never be another Georgia.

    11. Tommy (Series 5)

    Tommy smiling
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    While he's considerably physically attractive – chiefly the eyes are special – Tommy's main reasons for being a romantic hero are his earnestness, his innocence, and the sincerity with which he strongly loved Molly-Mae. The man was all in. 

    That's not to say Molly-Mae wasn't, because I believe she was, and the fact that they're still together helps my hypothesis, but the way Molly-Mae's feelings came across was less of a full-body, I'm-sending-you-love-letters-during-the-war kind of thing. And maybe that combination of her put-together-ness and his wide-open-ness is part of why they fit so well; it's like she's the baked potato and he's the fixens. These parents of a stuffed elephant named Ellie Belly were solidly together for most of their time in the villa, with a Casa Amor reunion more romantic than anything in Pretty Woman or The Notebook.

    Tommy's love is 80% of why he's on this list, but there's another 20% to consider, and it's a 20% Molly-Mae, with all of her poise, does not possess. To put it simply, Tommy is an absolute doofus. A how-does-he-get-out-of-bed-without-falling-over doofus. A he-thinks-refreshifies-is-a-word doofus. A for-a-date-he-made-an-openfaced-sandwich-of-cheese-and-mayo-and-ketchup doofus. Tommy could not dance deftly if his life depended on it. His sex face – which I point-blank refuse to hyperlink to – haunts my dreams. His ignorance on how to make peppermint tea warrants at least one dissertation. So even though Tommy didn't cause that much drama most of the time, his combination of doofus-ness and romantic hero makes him #11 material.

    Love Island purports to be a show about love when it's actually about individual growth, friendship, social dynamics, and, in its bones, the choices we make when there are no distractions of the outside world to change or hide who we are. But when the show does do love triumphantly, like with Dani and Jack or Siânnise and Luke T, it does it damn well.

    Tommy is the best example of love in Love Island's history.

    10. Toby (Series 7)

    Toby looking annoyed
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    Toby, a "I guess he's cute, yeah" man who spawned a bajillion memes due to his childish aura, once lost a casual competition and immediately began frustratedly lifting weights in the mirror. I think that sums up who he was for the first half of his run – plus the bottom line that Toby could not stick with a decision to save his life.

    But after pieing Kaz for Chloe, Chloe for Abi, and Abi for Mary, two of which were handled badly, something magical happened: Toby's moment of clarity, or, as he put it, ever the wordsmith, "that was a regret." This sentiment from a guy whose one, single POA in life was to live with no regrets marked the true turn in Toby's transition from villain to parody, from annoyance to joy. I mean, when we were busy thinking Toby was torn between Abi and Mary and the next-time-on revealed that in the following episode, Toby would announce his head was still with Chloe, I got out of my seat, walked into another room, and fully laid face-down on the floor. It was the best moment of Series 7.

    But he and Chloe coupled up again, and with their reunion came Toby's final transition. The 22-year-old left parody (mostly) behind to mature from 12 to 18 and become a little-brother-esque hero you couldn't help but root for. Before I was even able to truly comprehend what had happened and/or how, Toby was one of the wisest male souls in the villa (the bar was low for Series 7). In the end, the sparky couple of Chloe and Toby, two fully-formed-tweens who thoroughly go together, came in second place, which I don't think any of us saw coming six weeks prior.

    I'm serious. If you had told Past Me that I would be including Toby on this list – and in the top 10 no less, higher than Tommy – I would have laughed in your face. But over the course of eight weeks, we got to watch an out-of-his-depth soccer player for a team called Hashtag United(???), who thinks you can, like, mentally choose your shoe size, grow into a kind, loving, present young man.

    That right there is the reason I adore Love Island.

    9. Camilla (Series 3)

    Camilla smiling in the Beach Hut
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    On paper, Camilla was too "good" for Love Island. She was an articulate, calm, classy, beautiful explosive ordnance disposal specialist – she helped dispose of landmines and other explosives – and she would neither confirm nor deny if she had dated Prince Harry. So how did she end up finding her husband on this show?

    The short answer is time and luck. Camilla spent 32 days proverbially kissing frogs named Jonny, sexist sour milk, Craig, Joe from You, and the worst frog of all, loneliness mixed with insecurity, before her inamorato came along. (For the record, it pains me that Jamie just missed a spot on this list. He is my #27.) I am confident Jamie said he went on Love Island for Camilla, and this discerning and soft Calvin Klein model watching the show, seeing Camilla, applying to meet her, getting cast, and the two hitting it off is the luckiest thing in the world.

    And you cannot fault Jamie for liking her that much prior to an introduction. Camilla was so marvelous that Tyla, a woman who went after a guy she was coupled up with, could not find a negative thing to say about her, even though Tyla's ego probably craved it. Camilla was selfless, smart, passionate, respectful, fun, soft, and way too insecure (you're fantastic, Camilla!). She fully gave herself to the ludicrous experience. She was an outspoken feminist, even when it hurt her chances. She was a lovely friend to everyone and did not feel superior to her fellow Islanders, even the ones objectively inferior to her. Plus, and I know it was not always idyllic, but I really liked her and Montana's cerebral friendship.

    After Jamie arrived, Camilla completely blossomed out of her cocoon (not that flowers blossom out of cocoons, but you get the point of my metaphor mixing). Who could forget when she sprayed her crotch with perfume before going into the hideaway? Day-1 Camilla never would have dared.

    Yes, Camilla gained confidence, an outgoing-ness, love, and friends in the villa, but even at the end of the finale, 52 days in, Camilla wasn't like the rest. She is proof that Love Island isn't just meant for personal trainers and Instagram dwellers. 

    It's meant for everyone hot and interesting.

    8. Megan (Series 4)

    Megan biting her finger as she talked to Wes
    ITV

    Physically, Megan is so hot she could murder someone and get away with it by smiling at the lead prosecutor, even if the lead prosecutor isn't attracted to women. Internally, Megan is an agent of chaos, a hub of drama full of contradictions.

    She had no idea what she wanted but knew exactly what she wanted. Everything happened to her and she simply followed along, but she went after each thing she set her mind to. She's a sex-positive feminist hero who doesn't want to be friends with other women and loves to deride them behind their backs. She's shy and quiet but she thrives off of attention. She's so sexy it's her main source of confidence but she participated in the least sexy, cringiest moment in all of Love Island: a semi-naked, 100% stilted "photoshoot." Perhaps her biggest contradiction of all is that despite all of these contradictions, Megan is kind of boring.

    After coupling up and ending things with Eyal, a weed-less stoner who sincerely said "I love green things," one of the funniest Love Island quotes, Megan decided she wanted Wes, who'd been with Laura for multiple weeks. But that didn't stop our Megan, who wore a pair of Laura's shoes when she pulled Wes for a chat and – boom – she had him, just like that. (When Laura wrongly called Megan a "slag," Megan calmly said, "She's slept with more people than me.") Days later, Megan recoupled at Casa Amor, leaving Wes alone, until he came back, and she wasn't sure anymore. When Megan's Casa Amor man, a concerningly controlling guy named Alex, went home, Megan fully went back to Wes. In a moment of bona fide cuteness, she asked him to be her boyfriend just before he was going to ask her a similar question. They placed fourth, but Megan became a star.

    Look, Megan treated Love Island the way it was arguably meant to be treated: like a heist with a goal of stealing Instagram followers from playing-it-safe cuties, like an opportunity to collect fetching men for a trophy case entitled, "fellas who say, 'she's the one who got away,'" like the whole thing was a frivolous game of checkers she'd already won.

    Don't hate the player, hate the game.

    7. Olivia (Series 3)

    Olivia talking in the beach hut
    ITV2

    On Love Island, tall and pretty Olivia was a hot mess. She'd say so herself.

    Her early episodes were mostly spent with Sam – basically a little league player voted class clown – in a pairing so mis-matched I would understand if watching them kiss made you vicerally uncomfortable. Then Olivia and Chris (who we'll get to, don't worry) began walking down their blonde, passionate path, until the late, great Mike arrived with his "I'm a ravishing welder with a gentle spirit in a Nicholas Sparks novel" face. But Olivia and Chris ultimately continued, ending up in third place after a whole lot of drama.

    Through Olivia's time on the show, which lasted from the first day until the finale, three facets of her personality shined through the most: her passion no one will ever put a lid on, her humor worthy of a writers' room ("I'm sat"), and her impeachable approach to confrontation. She would scream and scream and break up with Chris and get back with him and scream and scream. (Oh, and she screamed at other people, too, naturally.) If it hadn't gotten boring after weeks and weeks and a plethora of "Jesus Christ, Olivia"s, she might be placing #2 on this list.

    What's particularly interesting about Olivia for me right now is that I don't know if she's a villain – I say as I write coldly about strangers for the internet's consumption in the comfort of my own home, because I am the real devil here. Unlike, say, Michael, my guess for the reason behind Olivia's behavior makes me want to see her happy. You know, Olivia was so human. She had a clear desire for deep love mixed with powerful, unruly demons from past misery. That certainly doesn't make shouting okay, but it does make the shouter root-for-able. I wanted to see Michael lose, but I wanted to see Olivia earn a win.

    Sometimes Love Island is about seeing someone before they get their shit together, and when that shit includes Olivia's piercing wit and magnetic star power, the potential of a woman who calls herself "the Fuckboy Whisperer" weighs just as much the ruins she causes.

    But, hey, if you're going to cause ruins, at least cause some huge laughs, too.

    6. Liberty (Series 7)

    Liberty smiling at the Casa Amor recoupling
    ITV2

    Liberty is sweetness personified, with an intellect I'm sure others love to miss behind her blonde mane and sunny beauty. I'm sure they miss her inspiring emotional maturity as well.

    Now, I am not here to talk about the man Liberty was coupled up with for her entire time on Love Island, her ex-boyfriend who didn't seem remotely genuine – like, he shouted that Liberty told him she loved him instead of responding and he only told her he loved her when their relationship was on the line weeks later, not to mention his sole reaction to difficulties was to say, "You're my girlfriend," as if that is the answer to everything. Sorry, sorry, I'm back, we're not here for Jake. But the looming threat of Liberty's heartbreak at his hands was present the entire series, so when she ended up leaving him, it was the happiest ending possible. It also broke the normal, final-two mold for long-lasting day-one couples.

    Liberty could just feel that the love she felt for Jake wasn't reciprocated. She wasn't happy anymore, so, while crushed, Liberty choose herself and broke up with Jake two days before the finale, proving how her genuine she was, not that that laughably self-evident fact needed any more proof. After their breakup, Liberty voluntarily left the show (Jake did, too) so as not to take a finale spot from a more meritorious couple. What a wonderful, wonderful person.

    She would have made this list before all of that – though perhaps not ranking as highly – because Liberty is the truest person I have ever seen on Love Island. Her infinite decency warmed the screen each and every time. Once, when one of the women said Liberty was really smart, Liberty responded by saying that everyone is smart in different ways, so while she maybe be booksmart, her friend is smart with hair. Liberty is an angel. Plus, her immediate best-friendship with Kaz was a dyad for the ages.

    After ending things with Jake, Liberty said to Kaz, "You know, I might not have found love, or the love that I thought I had at first, but I found self-love."

    It is one of the best Love Island success stories: the journey between a young woman and herself.

    5. Ovie (Series 5)

    Ovie relaxing
    ITV2

    Ovie is the coolest motherfucker to ever set foot in any building anywhere. He is a 6'8" "oh my god" of a man who's almost always uber relaxed in a bucket hat.

    As a professional basketball player, Ovie was insecure about women being interested in him for his money and status, so he came on Love Island, at least in part, for its cutoff environment where potential romanic partners didn't know about his wealth and achievement. He arrived at Casa Amor and turned Anna's head away from Jordan, but she went back to her former flame after returning to the main villa. (Yes, we all make mistakes, but, Anna, come on.) Ovie had a bit of a slow ride after that, until India showed up and the two became a chill dream. He was so beloved by his country he and India ended up in third place even though he'd only been on TV for a month.

    Basically, in every category, Ovie is out of all of our leagues. From his singing to himself to his sibling-esque friendship with Amber to his lifting India in a full wheelbarrow in that challenge to every time he shouted "Message!", Ovie never failed to make a one-of-a-kind impression. He turned into the center of entertainment in a series chalk-full of it, while consistently keeping his good, geeky character front-and-center. Ovie created multiple world-class memes than I could not succinctly describe even if I tried my dardnest (my personal favorite probably being the yikes with the hand). Since a month of Ovie was so flawless it gave us a best-moments YouTube video this good, I am emphatically jealous of the alternate universe that got a full series of him. As one commenter on said YouTube video stated, "I blame Ovie for my unrealistic expectations of men."

    Love Island contestants can reach legend status through of various means – an arc, villainy, drama, pure goodness – but Ovie is the only one to earn a seat at the table just by having fun and staying true to himself, after showing up in a series already halfway through. That is the power of Ovie.

    When you have what Ovie has, all you need to be a star is a camera and an audience.

    4. Chris (Series 3)

    Chris wearing some glasses
    ITV2

    If you're into blonde popular boys with harmless hotness, Chris is your guy. He is a fun, deeply sincere empathy machine who probably keeps his charming arrogance in a trendy Adidas bag when he's outside the villa.

    He was a gigantic jerk during his early days on Love Island – one time Chris seriously said, "Everybody in this place fancies me," as if he were a victim of his own Jedi-esque attractiveness – and that jerk-ness is confounding when you consider Chris's endless reservoir of goodness we came to know intimately. I do not know if the sudden, inexplicable change occurred because Chris forgot about the cameras, he got comfortable with no-longer-strangers, or he set his sights on Olivia. I understand why you might vote the later, as Chris fell in love quickly and stood by her when he had every right to leave.

    Then there is Chris's friendship with Kem, which is too wondrous and pure to succinctly summarize. Let's just say their relationship is proof soulmates exist. (I am required to mention the moment Chris and Kem shaved their initials into the other's pubic hair, because...yep.)

    Chris was part of a lot of good drama, and, true, that is some of why he's here, in addition to his relationship with Kem, but Chris is also a hilarious joy to observe. He seriously asked, "Do you want me to rap anyone, lift the mood a bit?" He held an eggplant and guessed it was a courgette or asparagus. He spelled Jason Statham "Jason Staythumb." He cried at a plastic baby because he was overwhelmed with how much he adored his brand new faux child they named "Cash Hughes." He didn't know avocados had pits until he saw one and referred to it as a "massive fucking rock" and a "fucking conker." He said he was like a polar bear but didn't know why. He described himself as "not bothered" so many times it circled back into funny, like, seven times over. He asked for garlic in a Mallorcan grocery store by calling it "Garlicio."  A goddamn champ.

    When I find myself in times of trouble, Mother Mary comes to me, speaking words of wisdom, "Do you want me to rap anyone, lift the mood a bit?"

    3. Amber (Series 5)

    Amber smiling and holding a champagne glass
    ITV2

    With her take-no-shit tenor, confident intelligence, steadfast loyalty, and a face medieval kings would start wars to betroth, Newcastle-raised Amber is made for Love Island.

    She is the only contestant to have a three-act structure arc (the template for most movies), making her the one true protagonist the show's ever had, and probably ever will. Amber arrived in the villa on day one. After some episodes of character-establishing set up, she and Michael started getting romantic. Amber kept her cards excessively close to her chest, in classic Amber fashion, but when she initiated their first kiss outside of a challenge, she fully let herself begin falling for him. A few weeks later, we reached her midpoint when Casa Amor appeared and Amber made the decision to stay with Michael, leaving her alone when he choose Joanna. This was literally 52% into the Series (a movie's midpoint happens halfway through). 

    The rejection and revelation of Michael's true colors made Amber tremendously hurt, which led her down a sad, lonely spiral. Interestingly, this part did not culminate in a low point of isolation, it culminated in a low point of Amber debating if she would take Michael back. (I won't rehash how he attempted to come back to her, but dear god.) Would Amber sacrifice her self-worth for Michael, or would she pick herself and the new contestant who liked her, a cool Irish good kid named Greg? She chose Greg and created her final chapter: the incline to the finale. Amber won.

    I would say you can't write this stuff, but I literally do that. (To be fair, the timing of Amber's arc's was a bit off at points, like the end of act one being much less than a quarter of the way in, but who gives a crap?)

    Amber is #3 because of her plot, but I also want to point out how fabulous she was. Extremely funny, honest, caring, self-aware, and engaging, Amber was impossible not to cheer on. Plus, she was an element of two grade-A Love Island friendships: Amber, Anna, and Yewande, and Amber and Ovie.

    No contestant will ever have the arc Amber did, and no contestant was better suited for it.

    All hail Queen Amber, Love Island's main character.

    2. Maura (Series 5)

    Maura looking confused
    ITV2

    Ireland's brilliant, audacious, hilarious daughter Maura is a Parisian pub crawl. She can switch between impossibly hot and impossibly beautiful whenever she pleases, but she often rests on the former.

    Instead of going through her time on Love Island, I'm going to hit you with some standout Maura things: She popularized – invented? – the phrase "fanny flutters."  She found out through her swain that Anna's boyfriend was trying to cheat and Maura got up and told Anna, choosing friendship loyalty over romantic loyalty. At one point she said to Anton, "If we were on the outside, we'd have fucked long ago." The words "Are you 'jolkin?'" left Maura's mouth so much it could have been a catchphrase. She flirted by sucking off a popsicle. She downed a carrot in essentially one bite. When Molly-Mae fell, Maura's response was, "I can't believe you wasted that wine."

    Then there's Maura's best moment, probably the best moment in Love Island history. Before she and Tom were meant to spend the night alone in the hideaway, he said to the boys, "It'll be interesting to see if she's all mouth or not." Maura told him to go fuck himself, and a feminist goddess was officially born. She very generously gave Tom a second chance, but not before making him do various tasks for her, like finding two hairbrushes just for kicks. When Tom blew it again, Maura tore him another new one to keep in the sexist suitcase he rolled out of the villa. Then the next day Casa Amor came around and Maura yelled, "There's gonna be loads of willy!"

    Maura is not without her bad moments, like physically trying to kiss Tommy after he expressed he didn't want to (very not okay), being annoyed when Curtis didn't want to be physical, dumping someone in tandem with Lucie, and rationalizing to herself how she could get with Curtis so soon after being there for Amy without it being morally dubious. But Maura is such a powerhouse that her bad moments become part of a flawed legend.

    Love Island can give us stellar inspirations, like Montana and her realism, or Tommy and his pure love, or Liberty and her self-actualization.

    Maura and her Maura-ness are the greatest inspiration of all.

    1. And finally, Kem (Series 3)

    Kem cheering
    ITV2

    Ah, Kem.

    He is a 5'10" – ahem, 5'7" – firework in the tightest white jeans you ever did see. Buoyant humor, boyish adventurousness, and semi-self-awareness radiate off of him like Essex sunshine. He has the heart of a lion and the hair of a Turkish Disney prince you just know he dreams of playing.

    From the first day of Series 3, Kem was a bright star. That light did nothing but increase as he and Amber, the Islander Kem loved, went through their relationship ups and downs, like Amber's frolic-y flirting, Kem's gift of a symbolic bracelet, and him choosing to recouple with Chyna instead of staying loyal to Amber at Casa Amor (Kem thought they were over and that Amber would be with someone new, too). When the couple ultimately won Series 3, it felt entirely earned.

    On a macro note, Kem is responsible for the first big Casa Amor choice, and therefore he is potentially responsible for the second villa's inclusion in future series. We should be forever grateful.

    In addition to Kem giving everybody haircuts and saying, "Who the fuck is Theo?," a large part of his #1 placement is due to Kem's important role in the finest Love Island friendship we will ever get: Chris and Kem, rappers of a song that gestated in the villa and now confidently exists in the real world, "Little Bit Leave It." (It was Kem's classic phrase.)

    Kem fully gave himself to the show without losing sight of his real life waiting on the outside. He caused drama without being too much. He was hilarious, both purposefully and inadvertently, without being judgy. He was young without lacking a completely formed adult personality. He was pure without being gullible. He was wildly fun without falling into annoying. He was fluttery like a dragonfly without being shallow. He was both predictable and unpredictable without turning into a dangerous mess. Kem was the perfect contestant for this specific show.

    Love Island could go on for 400 more series, all of which I'd watch, and I don't think anyone would ever top him for me. With his cheeky rapping and ever-present vulnerability, Kem wins the crown. He's everything.

    Or, as he'd say, he's the breadstick, the celery, and the carrot.

    If you don't get that reference, watch this. Watch it a million times. Find a way to frame it and put it up in your living room.

    View this video on YouTube

    ITV2

    Honorable Mentions:

    26. Nathan (Series 2)

    27. Jamie (Series 3)

    28. Cara (Series 2)

    29. Jack Fincham (Series 4)

    30. Siânnise (Series 6)

    Plus, shoutout to Anna (Series 5), who is mentioned a fair amount here.

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