Bitumen and heavy oil are energy resources with high viscosities, high densities, and high metals and heteroatoms content. This paper reports a bibliometric survey to investigate the historic trends and the future pattern of heavy oil and bitumen recovery and upgrading worldwide. It evaluates research outputs and their impact on the topic from 1900 to 2020. Data were extracted from Web of Science (WoS), vetted using Microsoft Excel, and visualized using VOSViewer. Globally, the study identified 8248 publications. Canada had the highest research output and was also widely cited, and the highest-productive countries are the United States from 1900 to 1970, Canada from 1971 to 2000, Canada from 2001 to 2010, and China from 2011 to 2020. The keywords frequency suggests that most research on heavy oil and bitumen focuses more on viscosity reduction, rheology, asphaltenes, enhanced oil recovery methods, and upgrading. These are the top five most productive institutions in the field: University of Calgary > China University of Petroleum > University of Alberta > Russian Academy of Sciences > China National Petroleum Corporation. The Universities of Calgary and Alberta are, however, the most frequently cited and most impactful, with respective citations and h-indexes of 10367 (50 h-index) and 8556 (47h-index). The future of heavy oil and bitumen depends on crude oil price, the economics of transportation alternatives, climate change policies and technologies, while the design of robust and low-cost catalysts would guide in-situ catalytic upgrading.