I watch very little TV, but I love Survivor. Nineteen seasons in and I’m still obsessed. For those who are similarly afflicted, I present my list of the 12 Best Survivor Votings-Out Of All Time. Obviously, this contains gigantic spoilers–but I’ve omitted anything from the current Samoa season in case you’re not caught up yet. These are presented in chronological order…
JERRI (The Australian Outback). Way back in Season Two, there was a perceived flaw in the Survivor formula: Once the tribes merged, the team with greater numbers would vote out the members of the team with smaller numbers, one by one. Critics shouted “Boooo! This show sucks! We know what’s going to happen for the next four episodes!” And Alicia did indeed get picked off. Then we got an episode devoted to “I can’t believe we’re voting out sweet adorable Elisabeth, before she goes on to become the conservative chick on The View, and keeping the widely despised Jerri! Oh, the moral anguish!” In those innocent days of Season Two, we really thought it was gonna be Elisabeth. But then–WHOA! The moment we’d been waiting for all season, in a complete blindside!
JOHN (Marquesas). The tribes merged. We had a four-strong alliance of John, Tammy, Robert, and Zoe. The other players were scattered into a Paschal/Neleh pair, a Sean/Vecepia pair, and Kathy on her own. The members of John’s alliance knew they were in power, and none of the others seemed to be able to get organized enough to do anything about it. Until the glorious challenge where you answered trivia questions, and each time you got one right, you got to put a strike against another player–three strikes and you’re out. The players were booted out of the challenge in the same order that John’s alliance planned to vote them out of the game, and suddenly the pecking order was exposed! The five joined forces, and John went from the guy calling the shots to the first member of the jury. And he cried in his final words.
SHII ANN (Thailand). Shii Ann hated her teammates, and when the tribes merged, she happily jumped to the other side. Her former teammates fumed. Then, at the immunity challenge, Jeff Probst said “Merge? Oh, my, my, goodness gracious, I certainly hope you didn’t get such a silly idea from little ol’ ME!” Nope, the tribes hadn’t actually merged–they were just living on the same island. And Shii Ann was suddenly very, very, very screwed. (This is probably my favorite moment in all of Survivor, and yet Thailand was overall the worst season.)
CHRISTY (Amazon). The second half of the Amazon season followed a wonderful pattern: Players would find themselves in a power position, get overconfident, and get voted out. This was best exemplified by Christy, who suddenly became a swing vote, and loved the power. She relished it. She refused to commit to one side or another. “Sweat it out, you powerless gnats! Muahahahaha!” (Not an actual quote.) Unfortunately for Christy, when both sides are panicked, it’s pretty easy for them to figure out a common target…
RUPERT (Pearl Islands). Rupert is easily the most beloved player ever to appear on Survivor, which I don’t get. He’s certainly one of the most entertaining, but also the most egotistical and one of the biggest bullies the show has had, most notably during his “WHO VOTED FOR ME??? WHO THE F*** VOTED FOR ME???” temper tantrum after the failed attempt to get rid of him. So I found it supremely satisfying when the inconceivable (to Rupert) happened and he became the second member of the jury.
ROB C. (All Stars). Okay, if you’ve already been on the show, and everybody knows you’re a liar and a schemer, how do you stay in the game a second time? In the case of the other Rob (Boston Rob)…you lie and scheme again and everybody who watched you lie and scheme on national television the first time around completely trusts you. Rob C. was also a liar and a schemer, and even he put his trust into Boston Rob, who cheerfully backstabbed him. This is an All-Time Best moment for me mostly because of Rob C’s sheer PANIC as Jeff Probst read his name. He didn’t actually say “NOOOOOOOO!!!!” but that was the general gist.
LEX (All Stars). Another victim of Boston Rob. So Jerri, who nobody likes and who is the perfect final two opponent, comes up to you and pledges her full allegiance. Then there’s a team swap instead of a merge, but it’s a random draw kind of thing and the teams end up staying the same–except for Boston Rob’s ally/lover Amber, who ends up on the other side. Sucks to be her. What do you do when the most powerful duo in the game has been broken up? Easy, you vote out Amber and then say “Hey, Boston Rob, did you see the way Amber was looking at Colby? Boy, I’d sure hate to think about what they’re doing right now!” OR, you do what Lex did, which is vote out JERRI, hoping that Boston Rob will be grateful that you kept Amber around. I’m sure Boston Rob was grateful, but he still cheerfully voted out Lex. Bonus points for Lex’s reaction when Kathy (who had said that she might give Lex her immunity necklace) decided to keep it for herself. More bonus points for the quantity of scowling Lex did on the jury.
JENNY (Cook Islands). The losing tribe in this pre-merge challenge also received a message in a bottle, to be read after they voted somebody out. The message: “You have just voted out one of your tribemates. You will now vote out another one.” This one makes my list because of the pure EVIL radiated by Jeff Probst after they read the message out loud. In that moment, Probst was like a James Bond villain, maliciously rubbing his hands together at his cruel, cruel scheme. Gotta love it.
EDGARDO (Fiji). My favorite Survivor episodes are the ones that involve gobs of strategizing and complex plans. In this case, Edgardo, Mookie, and Alex were outnumbered, but they DID have the hidden immunity idol and a great plan to use it, which involved fooling the others into thinking that Mookie had the idol, but having Mookie give it to Alex, who would hopefully receive the votes and play the idol. Had the plan worked, it would’ve been an all-time great moment. Unfortunately, the other side foiled their plan by voting for Edgardo instead…and it was still an all-time great moment!
JAMES (China). James was the most likable player in China. He was the biggest physical threat. And, late in the game, he had TWO hidden immunity idols. Two! How can you lose the game if you’re the most likable, the biggest physical threat, and you’ve got TWO immunity idols? Nobody could get voted out with two immunity idols, could they? There didn’t seem to be any possible way he could get blindsided like that. After the votes were cast, James looked down at his bag…and decided not to use them. And in the biggest “Holy crap!” moment of the entire series up to that point (see next entry), James went from having a wildly unfair advantage to being on the jury. D’oh!!!
ERIK (Micronesia). It’s ironic that a season comprised of All-Stars facing off against huge fans of the show featured the biggest blunders. After Ozzy and Jason were voted out in consecutive episodes while holding an immunity idol, we didn’t think there could be any bigger surprises in store, but the biggest jaw-dropper of the series was yet to come. At the final five, with a clear four-woman alliance in place, Erik won immunity. Cirie came up with the ridiculous idea of trying to convince Erik to give the immunity necklace to Natalie. Natalie correctly said “Why would anybody ever do that?” The episode them proceeded to waste our time by showing us their efforts toward a plan that would never, ever work. The women tried to make the case that Erik needed to “redeem” himself for a previous vote and that the only way for him to regain their trust was to give up the immunity necklace. Clearly the editors of this episode were desperate to generate some sort of suspense. And then, at tribal council, Erik gave Natalie the immunity necklace! In fact, that should be in bold and italics: Erik gave Natalie the immunity necklace, as James laughed hysterically from the jury. They didn’t even try to hide the votes–we saw all four women casting their votes for Erik, informing him that he was the stupidest player ever. Overall, no, but in this particular moment, yes.
TYSON (Tocantins). It’s a moment we’ve seen many times on Survivor, but it’s always awesome. An overconfident player knows he certainly isn’t getting voted out. He receives one vote, obviously from the person who’s getting voted out, and smirks. He gets a second vote. The smirk vanishes. Jeff Probst telling us that Tocantins would feature a record number of blindsides was a big fat lie, but this particular one was a fantastic Survivor moment.
And…the two worst!
ANDREW (Pearl Islands). His tribe lost the first three immunity challenges…but then won the next three, leaving the two tribes equal at the merge! But instead of a merge, we got the one moment where the show really screwed up: the “Outcasts” twist. Pouty Lil, who we were glad to see go in the third episode, was voted back into the game. She flipped sides because she was mad at Andrew for not telling her she’d be voted out, and Andrew didn’t even make it to the jury. Boooooo.
IAN (Palau). Ian and Tom were allies from the beginning…and if Ian wasn’t necessarily opposed to the idea of Tom getting voted out, well, that’s part of the game! Tom discovered this, the two had a falling out, and ultimately, it came down to the final immunity challenge, a loooooooong endurance challenge that would unquestionably decide the winner, since Katie didn’t stand a chance. The challenge went on for 12 hours, during which time Tom even tried to cut a deal where he’d take Ian to the final two if Ian stepped down. Then Ian, overcome by guilt, told Tom that he’d quit the challenge if Tom voted HIM out. Tom of course agreed. Jeff Probst, who apparently just wanted to get back to his tent, said “Is there any reason we shouldn’t do the vote right now?” Yes! Give Ian a chance to say “Wow, that was silly of me! I wasn’t thinking right after 12 hours of hugging a post!” and try to change Tom’s mind! Make Tom vote out his long-time ally in front of the jury! But, nope, Tom gave an oral vote right there at the challenge site, and Ian didn’t even get final words. Lame.
BEST FINAL WORDS: Rudy in All-Stars, essentially threatening to have the people who voted against him killed. (“I’ve got friends.”)
BEST QUOTE: “It’s a f***ing stick!” Eliza in Micronesia, when Jason gave her the fake immunity idol that he thought was real.
Okay, so do you agree? Disagree? What are YOUR picks, Survivor fanatics? Comment away!