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Every Season Of The Curse Of Oak Island Ranked From Worst To Best

Oak Island sits at the edge of Nova Scotia, Canada, and for over 200 years it has been rumored to have amazing treasures hidden within. Everything from gold stolen by Captain Kidd, to manuscripts proving the true authorship of Shakespeare's plays, to Marie Antoinette's jewels have been reported to be hidden somewhere in the "money pit," a deep shaft, possibly manmade, discovered in the late 1700s. Excavation efforts have been performed off and on ever since, drawing in prospectors and investors from all over the world, including the interested likes of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and movie star John Wayne.

A story about Oak Island appeared in a 1965 issue of "Reader's Digest," inspiring a lifelong obsession in two young Michigan brothers, Rick and Marty Lagina. In 2005, the now-grown Lagina brothers purchased a stake in the privately-owned island with the intent of finding the treasure once and for all. And in 2014, The History Channel premiered "The Curse of Oak Island," a reality show chronicling the efforts of the Laginas and a dedicated group of treasure hunters, diggers, and historians. For eight-plus seasons, these men and women have dug through dirt and swamp muck for the smallest hints of fortune below, ever convinced that they are drawing closer to a game-changing find.

Let's take a look at the first eight seasons of "The Curse of Oak Island," ranked from worst to best.

8. Season 8

The eighth season features Rick and the crew returning to Oak Island in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, determined to discover the island's original money pit and the treasures which supposedly lay within it. There is a lot going on in this season, from the renewed focus on the money pit, to the discovery of what might be a shipwreck buried in the swamp, to the discovery of a silver deposit deep in the money pit, to a serpent mound that may have been built by the Knights Templar, to the possibility that one of the island's original residents may have had ties to the British crown.

While you would expect so many incidents to give the season a shot in the arm, instead there is a rushed, scattered quality common to many reality shows' COVID-hampered seasons. There is also the unmistakable, encroaching feeling that — after seven full seasons of excavations and near-misses — the show itself is going through the motions. Shipwrecks and silver are just not enough to shake loose the stupor.

7. Season 6

The construction of a coffer dam in Smith's Cove, in order to further excavate the site, provides the framework for Season 6 as crews and heavy machinery invade the island. Under the water, an unusual L-shaped structure is found, bound together with wooden pegs rather than iron bars, though efforts to properly age the structure are stymied.

The crew deals with the death of resident Templar expert Zena Halpern by bringing in several of her collaborators to continue the work of establishing a Knights Templar connection to Oak Island, while runic carvings on stone tablets suggest a possible Viking presence on the island as well. Meanwhile, a cave-in threatens the H-8 shaft, and a potentially major find of human bone fragments and leather is sent in for analysis, only to be identified as slag and plant material, respectively — a deflating disappointment that unfortunately applies to the season as a whole, which would unfortunately be the last for veteran Oak Island resident Dan Blankenship.

6. Season 7

Two large discoveries mark Season 7. The first is what appears to be a stone-paved road underneath one of the Oak Island swamps; the second is a hand-sawn wooden stake which is estimated to have been cut as early as 1705 — nearly 100 years before the discovery of the original money pit. While the war room's new resident historian James McQuiston works to square the new artifacts uncovered with a grand unified theory of Knights Templar, Knights Baronet, Freemasons, and Founding Fathers, researcher D'Arcy O'Connor posits that the treasure came from a shipwrecked Spanish galleon, a theory bolstered by the discovery of metal items likely forged in the Mediterranean.

This season is also marked by absence, as Dan Blankenship, father of Dave and one of the very few permanent residents of Oak Island, passed away after filming on Season 6 was completed. Like the Lagina brothers, Dan had become obsessed with the island after reading about it in the January 1965 issue of Reader's Digest, moving there and eventually roping his son into his treasure-hunting endeavor. His death is a stark reminder of the generations who have come and gone, while the secrets of Oak Island remain.

5. Season 1

The abbreviated Season 1 is just five episodes, chronicling the Laginas' trip to the island and first efforts to excavate with the assistance of father-son treasure hunters Dan and Dave Blankenship. Despite its short length, Season 1 establishes many of the beats and tropes that will define the series moving forward, from the scant finds of sometimes dubious provenance, to the wild theories that put dollar signs in these men's eyes, to the oft—overbearing narration and music effects. The first appearance of Lee Lamb, daughter of failed treasure hunter Robert Restall, establishes the real-life stakes of the Laginas' quest; the guest appearance of a ghost hunting crew in the third episode, on the other hand, is less impactful.

To be fair, many of the finds in this season are remarkable, from the ancient coconut fibers found on the shore of Smith's Cove to the climactic discovery of a single Spanish coin. The discovery scene is framed as a legitimate surprise, as the camera crew scrambles over to see what Marty has pulled from the swamp. The coin is enough to reignite the Laginas' fervor for treasure hunting, and works as an effective cliffhanger for Season 2.

4. Season 3

It's sword season! As the dives and excavations begun in Season 2 continue, treasure hunter Charles Barkhouse presents the team with an incredible find: A remarkably well-preserved Roman ceremonial sword from the 2nd Century AD, discovered off the coast of Oak Island in the 1940s. The sword gets everyone buzzing about the possibility of ancient Roman contact with the Western hemisphere; could it be possible, even, that the intricate underground waterways and booby traps that they believe to be on the island were not just inspired by Roman systems, but actually built by them?

Alas, dreams of the classical world were just that, as a visit to a nearby university reveals that the sword is in fact a 19th-Century reproduction of a Roman sword — still a great discovery for the show, if not exactly world-changing. The season concludes its exploration of not-so-ancient history with a visit from the descendants of the man who originally discovered the money pit in 1799. According to their family history, three boxes of treasure were split between he and his two brothers; a gold cross from one of the chests is presented to the Laginas as proof.

3. Season 2

In Season 2 the Lagina brothers return to Oak Island, energized from the discovery of a Spanish coin dated to the 1600s at the end of the first season. As they up their excavation and diving game, they attempt to plumb the depths of Borehole 10-X, the shaft established in 1971. Greater efforts mean greater danger, however, and the season's climactic dive down 10-X is thwarted by safety concerns over poor visibility.

It doesn't help that the "expert" leading the dive is dubious internet personality J. Hovan Pulitzer, who arrives to Oak Island riding on the theory that no less than the Ark of the Covenant is hidden somewhere on the island. The season delves further into the possible origins of the treasure, as Marty and his son Alex travel to France to consult with author Kathleen McGowan. McGowan believes that the Knights Templar took a horde of gold from a French fortress and hid it in Scotland before making the voyage to the new world. Future seasons would expand these theories into ever more grandiose territory, presenting plenty of other possible scenarios for the treasure's origin.

2. Season 5

The Templar theories are explored further this season, with the crew returning to France and discovering that the English on Zena Halpern's treasure map was mistranslated. A late-season episode recaps the sordid, dubious history of the Knights Templar and their unsubstantiated connection to Oak Island. When Rick Lagina and Gary Drayton find a small lead cross while on a metal detecting expedition at Smith's Cover, Halpern announces that this is not a cross at all, but rather a symbol of the Phoenician goddess Tanit, whom the Templars apparently worshiped

While there may not be spirits residing on Oak Island, the dead still exert a pull on the living. Fred Nolan's son provides the team with Fred's old survey map, but it proves as inscrutable as Zena Halpern's French map. The discovery of a toy gun at one of the sites brings the Restall siblings, Rick and Lee Lamb, back to the island where their father and brother died during an expedition. For Rick, it is his first visit to the island since their deaths, and it's here that the "curse" feels more real than anywhere else.

1. Season 4

At the heart of "The Curse of Oak Island" is the search for things that have been lost for generations. There's a melancholy to such a quest, knowing that these secrets have outlived all who have sought them out. Death and loss hang over the season, first in the death of rival treasure hunter-turned-Season 3 collaborator Fred Nolan. Fred may be gone, but the crew continues to find markers of his decades of work on the island; in a way, he has now become part of the history he spent his life exploring. Two of the McGinnis sisters return to the island with the ashes of the third. It was their family that began the search for treasure that has obsessed so many for so long.

"X" marks the spot in this season, as historian Zena Halpern provides the Laginas with a purported 14th Century French treasure map of the area. Could Oak Island indeed be the final resting place of the Ark of the Covenant, taken from North Africa by the Knights Templar? Despite a dearth of evidence, the crew is unwilling to let the theory go. There is perhaps a lesson there, that some rewards are not worth their time and effort, but wisdom is one treasure that is definitely not hidden on Oak Island.