- Domenick Abbate (Ghost Island)
Domenick’s story is told in two parts: Chris Noble rivalry & post Chris Noble rivalry.
During the pre-merge, Dom is feuding with Chris, and most of his confessionals can be boiled down to: “I want Chris voted out ASAP!”, then he would do some crazy idol hunting. As you can tell, this is pretty boring.
For me, Domenick’s real time to shine isn’t when he’s talking about blindsides, but trying to bond with others. In the first episode he tells his tribe about how he lost a lot of weight and started to make right decisions in life. You can tell that there’s a guy trying his hardest to make friends. The scene where he calls Sebastian ‘Sea Bass’ is a great way to describe Dom’s personality; even when he’s trying to be friendly, he can be abrasive.
However, Dom’s at his best when he’s in full ‘Godfather’ mode. Taking an extra long sip of coffee when Kellyn is trying to boss him around, or after Des freaks out, Dom just turns to Laurel and says, “So how are you doing this morning? You doing good?” are both hilarious.
This may be some recency bias, but I think Dom deserves to go this high because by the end of the season viewers get a full understanding of both Domenick the player, and Domenick the person. Unlike most characters in recent seasons, Dom feels like a real person, and not just the “Italian, East-Coast schemer” – archetype of the season.
- Chrissy Hofbeck (Heroes v Healers v Hustlers)
Chrissy is one of the greatest ‘Ice Queen’ Characters the series has had. She could be motherly and sweet, like she was with Ryan & JP. Or she could be the most ruthless person you’ve ever met in your life. Chrissy gets so much satisfaction denying Ben his loved ones visit, I was expecting her to grow a moustache and start twirling it!
But what makes both of these sides of her work is how the edit manages to present her. Chrissy is able to explain how her biggest fear in life is not having any control. That’s why she’s angry once she’s blindsided and put at the bottom of the tribe.
But Chrissy doesn’t just cry over it! Instead, she works twice as hard and wins 4 Immunity Challenges, tying the record for most won by a woman, and allowing her to have control of her own destiny. While watching Chrissy thrive in challenges, you manage to see her gain confidence and happiness as she wins. It’s also great because you rarely get to see the ‘mom’ character be a challenge threat, or a villain. Chrissy manages to do both.
What I love most about Chrissy is how she tries so hard to be this mature, professional woman; but she always has to make a snide remark. From, “I’m outsmarting ‘Ms. Smartypants’” to “And it was such a solid alliance” Chrissy just knows how to throw a little extra shade to make moments even funnier.
Chrissy is a brilliant villain because even if you aren’t rooting for her, you totally understand why she acts the way she does.
- Adam Klein (Millennials vs. Gen X)
Adam starts out as a nerdy superfan that finds himself on the bottom of the tribe early on. When he tries to form alliances with the Millennials, it does not end well. Adam trying to bond with Taylor is cringeworthy because of how much Adam does not fit in.
There’s more to Adam than being a superfan.He explains that his mom has cancer, and he promised he would win Survivor for her. The scene where he and Jay are in the hammock talking about how both of their mothers are sick is heartbreaking.
What makes Adam’s win so satisfying is how unconventional it is. He makes constant mistakes, and ends up on the bottom of several alliances. But in spite of this, he never quits and keeps fighting to stay in the game. When he finally is rewarded for his hard work, it’s exciting to see all of his hard work finally pay off. Nice winner, would love to see him return.
- Lauren Rimmer (Heroes v Healers v Hustlers)
She can throw a softball from center field to home plate, and she’s never trusted a redhead a day in her life: Lauren Rimmer is truly the breakout star of this season.
What makes Lauren great is her no-nonsense personality. While some people try and heighten themselves up to get more screen time, Lauren’s frustrations and annoyances just feel natural in a way few characters ever manage to be. Lines like, “It hurts to vote for you, But you’re aggravating!”
CBS, please make a Blood vs. Water 3 just so we can have Lauren and her sister Sunny in the same season. Trust me, fans will love it.
46.Teresa ‘T-Bird’ Cooper (Africa)
T-Bird is a great character from the early days. On the Samburu tribe, she is the only older tribe member that is able to connect with the ‘Mallrats’.
But T-Bird plays a bigger role in the story once the merge happens. She tries to get the Samburus to vote together, and keeps trying to flip someone from the Boran tribe in order to stay alive. Had Brandon not been a wiener, she probably could’ve gotten to the end. But, T-Bird becomes the last Samburu standing, and keeps fighting to get to the end.
This sounds like pretty standard stuff, but where T-Bird becomes a fan favorite is that she is so sweet while playing. In the first Immunity Challenge, she sings “Tomorrow” from Annie. Or how she gets nervous because she was the only one who voted for Lex and he is on a warpath.
Great character, and it is an absolute crime that she hasn’t returned.
- Devon Pinto (Heroes v Healers v Hustlers)
If Fabio was a strategic mastermind, he might be Devon Pinto.
Devon was the ‘surfer-bro’ archetype of HHH, and was one of the more charismatic cast members of this season. Devon had a way of acting innocent, yet still charming. I remember when he’s introducing himself everyone tells him he has a cool job, and he just says, “Yeah, well… it pays the bills…” (As a twenty-something, I don’t know if I’ve ever related with anything more than that line) Or his most memorable moment; after having his vote stolen he just replies, “That is not an advantage”. These little lines just make you want to root for Devon. What makes Devon work as a character is that he never gets too cocky in his confessionals, like Ryan, Chrissy, Joe etc. He usually manages to be pretty humble
As far as gameplay was concerned, Devon was one of the most interesting players to watch. He comes up with the ‘Secret Spy Ben’ plan, so that his alliance will still have the numbers while being able to spy on an opposing alliance. And, he made the bold move to save himself at the Final 5 with a stray vote. Even though some of these weren’t new strategies, watching Devon just felt refreshing, as if I was watching them for the first time.
The worst part of Devon’s story is how he gets screwed over. After playing a brilliant under the radar game and getting himself into a Final 3 where he likely wins; the fire-making twist is introduced. Even though Devon often made the fire at camp, he just couldn’t get a spark to catch, and becomes the Final Juror when he would’ve won on every other season.
The greatest irony of this whole that you can tell producers didn’t want another ‘fallen angel’ contestant eliminated at Final 4, only to create the biggest one possible in Devon. I see you CBS, and I’m still mad.
- Jenna Morasca (Amazon, All Stars)
What I love about Jenna is that the edit showed her, warts and all. At times she was selfish, too emotional, and a little too snarky. In spite of this, Jenna is still shown as smart, resilient, and a loyal ally. And that’s how most 22-year-old women I’ve met are like. She wasn’t the ‘Golden Child’ that fans wanted, but a real young adult that was doing their best in a stressful situation.
It’s crazy people only remember the bad parts of Jenna’s edit when she was the character brave enough to give up her Immunity necklace to save her best friend, went on a massive Immunity Run, and never tolerated backstabbing. All of those are admirable qualities in my book.
Her departure from All Stars is nothing short of heartbreaking. She quits the game because she’s worried about her mother dying before she gets back, and admits being in the game was a mistake.
Still, I love Jenna. Honestly, I hope there’s some way she returns to the game.
- Andria ‘Dreamz’ Herd (Fiji)
When Fiji first aired, Dreamz was one of the most hated contestants of all time. However, I think enough time has passed that we can take a closer look at Dreamz and his story.
Unlike most other contestants, Dreamz was homeless. Because of this, Dreamz had a unique take on what it meant to live on the island. To Dreamz, island life was easier because there were more opportunities to find food than there were in the city.
In addition, Dreamz was never afraid to speak his mind. He stood up to Rocky’s bullying, and was willing to tell people he was voting for them so he wouldn’t be a ‘snake’.
The problem people have with Dreamz is how he acts at the Final 6 Reward. At the Final 6, Yau-Man promises Dreamz the car he just won, if Dreamz gives him the Immunity Necklace at the Final 4. Dreamz agrees to the deal, but immediately realizes that if he gives up Immunity that he will be voted out at the Final 4. After this realization, Dreamz backs out of the deal and keeps the Immunity Necklace for himself.
Initially, everyone hated Dreamz for going back on his word and saw this as a huge betrayal. However, look at the situation from Dreamz’s perspective. He was homeless and needed the car more than anyone else in the game did. On top of that, he was put in a situation where he would either have to A. Go back on his promise and be labeled a rat on National TV or B. Give up $1 Million that he could use to save his family from poverty. He was in a lose-lose situation, and if you were in the same position as Dreamz, would you really make a different choice?
Dreamz was never the bad guy, he was just put into a difficult situation. I hope as time goes on people come to appreciate him for the unique perspective that he brought to the show.
- Tai Trang (Kaoh Rong, Game Changers)
Tai is definitely one of the biggest characters in recent years. He is this tiny older man on the Beauty tribe because he sees the beauty in everything. He has a lot of sweet moments in the beginning of the season, like raising Mark the Chicken, or his friendship with Caleb.
What’s crazy is Tai is supposed to be the hero, but he finds himself in an alliance with season villains Scot & Jason. After some serious emotional manipulation by Aubry, Tai flips on his alliance. This pays off in epic fashion when he refuses to give Scot his Immunity Idol.
He returns for Game Changers, but just like everyone else on the season, most of his commentary is about gameplay. So there are a lot of confessionals of him looking for the idol, and talking about playing Idols.
Tai is probably the biggest personality the show has seen in years, and this isn’t a bad thing. He’s a guy that is always trying to do the right thing in Survivor, but always gets labeled as dishonest for the way he plays the game, making him a castaway that is easy to root for.
- Eliza Orlins (Vanuatu, Micronesia)
Eliza was the annoying little sister of Vanuatu. She got on everyone’s nerves and was constantly a target for the season because of this. To top it off, she never had any real allies on her entire season, how does that happen? I think Eliza works as a character, because everyone underestimates her, but she still manages to find success. Like the look she gives Ami when she fails to be blindsided. You kind of have to root for Eliza because of how scrappy she is.
Eliza has some great lines, from “You’re like the cockroach that won’t die.” to her Jury Speech where she just goes in on Twila and Chris.
Her return for Micronesia is basically the same. She gets on everyone’s nerves and burns bridges with Parvati’s alliance on the Favorites tribe. However she does give us the iconic line “IT’S A FUCKING STICK” when she has to deal with Ozzy’s Fake Idol. On the plus side, every one of her reactions on the jury are brilliant.
Eliza is a really fun character that makes the middle seasons of the show memorable.
- Denise Stapley (Philippines)
Denise shouldn’t have done well on Survivor for a number of reasons. For starters, she was an older woman, which made her a prime target to boot for being weak. To make things worse, she was on the inept Matsing tribe that never won a challenge.
However, Denise overcame this. She made sure she worked hard in camp, and that she was never the weakest member on her tribe. But what made Denise a great player was her social game. Using her skills as a sex therapist, she was able to listen to her tribe members and make strong connections with them. She was able to understand how people felt, and used that to her advantage. This skill allowed Denise to work her way into any majority alliance whenever she was on the bottom. At times she used her skills to ruthlessly analyze people in the middle of Tribal Council, like shaming Abi Maria for being a selfish person that made camp life miserable for everyone.
Denise is hands down the greatest social player the game has ever seen. But what I really appreciate about her character was how it forced production to tell her story. There didn’t need to be a bunch of confessionals where Denise explains all the advantages she’s using to win. Instead, the edit focused on Denise and her changing relationship with the other castaways. By the end of the season, you got a full understanding of Denise, and how she related with everyone. It makes for one of the most satisfying conclusions on the show.
- Jay Starett (Millennials vs. Gen X)
If you take one look at Jay, you can probably guess the type of contestant he is. A young, cocky guy, that is going to be a villain on the season. And if you watch the first half of the season, you would be right. He forms the ‘Triforce Alliance’ with Taylor and Figgy, which is one of the most obnoxious alliances. Plus, he spreads rumors to try and get rid of Adam for having the reward steal advantage.
But, there’s a lot more to Jay than the surface. While he gives off the surfer bro appearance, he’s actually really smart and funny. Later in the game, you see how much his family means to him at the loved ones visit, and how he respects Adam enough to bring him on the loved ones reward. One of the most heartbreaking scenes is when Jay sits with Adam in the hammock, and Adam reveals that his mom has stage 4 lung cancer.
When he hears this, Jay has to cover up tears because he understands what it is like to have a sick mother, and agrees to play his idol. He knows that he will be put in danger, but he’s willing to sacrifice his own game because he knows what it means to be in the position Adam has been in, and will step aside so someone else won’t have to go through what he has.
In the end, he gets tricked by a fake idol, and gets voted off, leaving the game blindsided but with a smile on his face. Jay leaves the game as one of the most compelling characters in recent years. Jay could go from having complete control of the game, to scrambling at the bottom. He can make you laugh, he can make you cry, but ultimately, he made us want to cheer for him. Great character, and he better return soon.
- Jessica ‘Sugar’ Kiper (Gabon, Heroes vs. Villains)
Alright, Sugar is a fantastic character, and I will hear nothing of the contrary! The entire Gabon season is a huge clusterfuck, and Sugar is at the center of the whole thing.
What’s crazy is that Sugar dominates the entire season; only she is not a strategic player. Instead, Sugar manages to control the game by somehow managing to always be the swing vote, and voting based off of her emotions. Every decision Sugar makes is based off of who she likes more, and who she would rather see win the million dollars. Really, her emotions make Gabon as crazy as it is.
But the reason I like Sugar isn’t because of her gameplay, but rather her story throughout the game. She is chosen to go to Exile Island first, where she immediately finds the Idol. After that, she spends her next four times on Exile in her personal “Sugar Shack”, where she eats all the fruit she wants. During this time, Sugar reveals that the reason she’s on the show is because her father wanted her to do it, and he had just passed away before the show started. Throughout the game, Sugar grows as a person by being forced to survive on her own. Also, I just love how she is only out there to have fun. I mean, just look at the sheer joy she has when she gives Randy a fake idol. The reason it works is because Sugar is just so happy she pulled off a great prank.
Her appearance on Heroes vs. Villains is pretty short. Basically, she annoys her tribe and gets voted off because of it. She does get a badass moment of flipping off Sandra during the first challenge though.
Sugar’s first appearance is one of the best characters on the series. She may let her emotions get the better of her, but there has hardly ever been a character that was as vulnerable, likeable and genuine as Sugar.
- Randy Bailey (Gabon, Heroes vs. Villains)
Randy is just a curmudgeon of a man. To put things in perspective, he’s a wedding videographer that doesn’t believe in love, I think that sums up everything you need to know about him.
When he’s on the Fang tribe, he insults everyone on his tribe for being incompetent. He’s very mean, but the edit sides with Randy’s perspective, so it just becomes funny how awful his tribe is. When Randy gets in the majority alliance, he’s still a grump, but he at least wants to be liked by the Onion Alliance. Randy just goes through the game giving great confessionals where he insults people, especially Crystal.
He ends up being eliminated because he has the master plan to piss of everyone in the tribe so they will vote for him, and he can then play an Idol for himself. The only problem is, he actually has a fake idol.
Randy returns for Heroes vs. Villlains where he’s the same grouch that he always was. Only he gets taken out early for being a challenge liability. Still Randy is one of the grumpiest and funniest characters on the show.
- Keith Nale (San Juan Del Sur, Cambodia)
At the beginning of San Juan Del Sur, Keith looks like he would fit in better on a show like Duck Dynasty. Who would have guessed that this guy would become a fan favorite that nearly won the game twice.
As a character, Keith has a bunch of great moments. Some of my favorites are when he befriends Josh on Exile, or going to a spa for the first time.
It’s also funny how clueless Keith is about the game. He jumps when he sees the Hidden Immunity Idol, and in an iconic moment, ruins his alliance when he says, “Stick to the Plan” at Tribal Council.
But my favorite thing about Keith is his relationship with his son. He starts off not believing in his son, “You’re as mentally tough as that rock.” But he is happy when Wes beats him at a challenge. In the end, Keith grows a new respect for his son before idoling him out.
When he returns for Cambodia, he’s basically the same. Keith has no interest in the strategy portion of the game, he’s just there to meet new people, and compete in physical challenges. He has a lot of great comedy moments, like stealing a tuk-tuk bike on Reward and driving around his friends, or forgetting Tasha’s name after spending 30+ days with her.
What’s crazy is that Keith almost wins not once, but twice. Keith isn’t very good at Survivor. But you know what, that’s okay. In the age of ‘B1G M0V3Z’, watching a genuine guy go on an adventure is one of the most refreshing things to happen to the series in a while.
- Erinn Lobdell (Tocantins)
In case you haven’t been able to tell by now, I am an absolute sucker for the young snarky contestant. Erinn Lobdell deserves credit as being one of the snarkiest contestants in the series run.
Seriously, Erinn gives some of the best confessionals ever. Like the time that she had to give credit to Sierra, “As much as Sierra annoys me to death, and I think she’s so dumb, she’s right! Everything she says is totally true.” Erinn also has some of the best jokes about Coach in the season. “I would not be surprised, if when this game is all said and done, Coach says ‘Gotcha, I’m an accountant, I’ve never left Nebraska’.” She also is one of the few to call out Coach for his BS ‘Martyr Approach’ before going to Exile.
Sure, Erinn is snarky, but there is also a lot more to her character than that. Throughout the season, she is on the outs of the Timbira tribe. At the merge, Erinn flips over to Jalapao and helps them take control of the game.
On top of that, Erinn has a solid growth story arc. She starts off the season as the fish out of water. She is a hairdresser, and a ‘girly-girl’, and doesn’t expect to survive. But, lo-and-behold, she does. At the loved ones visit, she has an emotional connection with her father, as he never expected that she would be able to survive on her own for this long.
Erinn was a great character. She managed to stand out on a season loaded with amazing characters. At the very least, Erinn did give us the best voting confessional of all time (“Dragon Slayed”)
Brief Tirade: As much as I appreciate having JT, Stephen, Coach & Tyson all returning. It is an absolute crime that no women from Tocantins have been given a chance to return. Seriously, Erinn, Taj, Sierra and Debbie are all amazing characters, and at least one of them should have returned by now.
- Sophie Clarke (South Pacific)
Sophie is often described as an ‘Ice Queen’ from her season. This is best seen from how she has a scowl on her face during the Jack and Jill reward. But there is a lot more to her than that.
She’s blunt, like when she corrects Jeff Probst that the Tribal Council wasn’t revealing. She’s also smart and receptive, like how she knows she will go to the Final 5, so she doesn’t want to change the pecking order. But most of all, she’s young so she can come off as entitled. The best example of this is when she yells at Albert to pick up her puzzle pieces during an Immunity Challenge.
All of these qualities make Sophie the perfect mouthpiece for the season, as she calls out the craziness and stupidity of her tribemates. Especially Coach and Brandon. Her comments are also incredibly accurate, like calling Cochran a walking dodgeball target.
She’s a little invisible in the pre-merge, which is fine because all of her best moments come during the end game. For example, yelling at Albert whenever he tries to change up the game. In the end, she defeats two Survivor legends. First, she defeats Ozzy at the FIC, and then beats Coach at FTC, and even calls him a little girl. Her two wins are exciting, because for the first time, a new contestant manages to defeat two great players back to back.
Sophie is a great character that delivers a solid ending to South Pacific. Plus, she also saved us from CBS bringing back to random returnees for each season, so we should really thank her.
- Cydney Gillon ( Kaoh Rong)
In Kaoh Rong, Cydney starts off on the Brawn tribe, easily the worst tribe of the three. At first, she doesn’t want to align with the girls, and teams up with Scot and Jason. But, everyone still wants to team up with her. Alecia even shares an idol clue with her.
Then once the merge happens, she changes up her plans and forms an all women’s alliance once she thinks her allies are replacing her. She delivers a bunch of great lines during the season, like, “You can’t slick a slickster!” Cydney is a smart, strong, and funny competitor that improved the season. Hope she returns.
- Stephen Fischbach (Tocantins, Cambodia)
At the start of Tocantins, Stephen doesn’t fit in as the city guy that lacks survival experience. But, he is able to turn this around. He joins with Taj to form the Exile Alliance. He is also able to win over golden boy JT, and together the two form one of the best bromances in Survivor history. At the merge, he is able to make moves with JT to get the Jalapao tribe to the end of the game. Even though Stephen is a great strategist, he isn’t a boring strategist, but instead this nice guy that feels guilty having to cut people from the game. He even feels bad about having to send Coach to Exile. Ultimately, he is able to get to the end of the game with his best friend. Unfortunately, while Stephen is a likeable guy, everybody in Tocantins loves JT so much that they all vote for him to win.
Stephen returns for Cambodia, where once again he doesn’t fit in with his tribe. He is on the hard working tribe, and can’t keep up. This gets him described as a, ‘Wimpy little, non-leader.’ Stephen also stands out on the season because he is the only one that shows the toll losing the first season takes on someone. The reason he wants to target Joe is because he regrets not taking out the golden boy his first time playing. But it’s this paranoia that makes him a target in the game. He is saved by Jeremy when he is targeted by the Witches Coven. Then in the following episode, he gets blindsided when Spencer flips.
Stephen leaves the game as an enjoyable presence on both seasons he appears by being a great strategist that always gets a little too close in his personal relationships.
Side Note: Met Stephen at a fan event, and he’s also the nicest person in real life. It didn’t factor into the rankings.
- Richard Hatch (Borneo, All Stars)
“I’ve got the million-dollar check written already, I mean I’m the winner. It’s that kind of cocky attitude that makes people really hate your guts.” With that line, the first winner of Survivor was introduced to the world.
Richard had an abrasive personality right from the start. When he first got to the island, he chose to sit in a tree and observe his tribe rather than help. Richard was the first person to realize that Survivor was a number’s game, and he formed the first alliance to take control of the game. He created the blueprint for how to win that every player would follow. Richard knew he was smarter than the rest of the tribe and definitely let it show. As if that wasn’t off-putting enough, Richard spent a decent amount of time on the island naked, which definitely annoyed his fellow tribe members.
It’s simple to label Richard as the villain of the season, but if you dig a little deeper, the answer isn’t as simple. After all, in the words of Rudy Boesch, “[Richard’s] fat, but he’s good”. Rich was the food provider throughout the season, and was often times the only one to get food.
Plus he was charismatic as hell. Richard is so engaging in all his confessionals, you can’t help but like the guy, even when he is conceited. People like Rudy and Sue, two people that did not agree with Richard most of the time, still respected him enough to work with him until the end of the game, and follow his lead in the alliance. Despite the fact Richard was the ‘bad guy’ of the season, he never broke his word to the members of the alliance. In the end, he was rewarded for how well he controlled the game.
Richard’s appearance in All Stars is a bit of a disappointment. He knows he has no chance of winning, so he’s just there to have fun. Richard spends a lot more time naked than he did the first time, and he bites a shark he catches while fishing. But he loses a ton of points and falls out of the top 10 for what he did to Sue. Yeah, I don’t think he was trying to be malicious, but he should’ve known better than to rub against someone else while naked, and it knocks him out of being in the top 10 of this list.
Still, the original Sole Survivor remains one of the most entertaining characters the series has ever had.
- James Clement (China, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains)
James is amazing in his first appearance. He’s the biggest guy that has ever been on the show, but he balances it out by being really funny. James doesn’t tolerate any BS from people (Jean-Robert), so it just leads to a lot of funny interactions between him and everyone in the tribe. Lines like “I bury people” or yelling “No one cares you do Sudoku” are great. James’ downfall of having 2 Immunity Idols that could have saved him, but playing neither is a legendary moment. Only a character as likeable as James could be given that great of a downfall.
His Micronesia appearance is also solid. He’s mostly the comic relief that eats bats and flirts with Parvati. He has to get medevaced during the merge which is unfortunate. But he does give us the line “I have lost my title of dumbest Survivor ever.”
What keeps James from being in the Top 20 is his Heroes vs. Villains appearance. This time around James is just a bully on the Heroes tribe. He’s really mean to Stephenie and Tom. The only positives are that he gives us lines like “Superman in a fat suit” and “Banana Etiquette”.
Still, James is so incredible in his first two appearances, that I have to put him this high up on the list.
- Amanda Kimmel (China, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains)
As time has gone on, I can’t help but feel that people don’t give Amanda the credit she deserves.
In both China and Micronesia, she plays a hard game on Day 1, by having close allies that she can talk strategy with. Amanda is the sweet girl with a cheerful personality that is good at challenges in both seasons. At times this leads to comedy, like when she says “My Mom is going to kill me” when her shirt falls down in a challenge, or when she kills a shark in Micronesia but doesn’t know what to do with it. Amanda is also responsible for some amazing moves on both seasons. She blindsides James when he has 2 idols in China, and plays an idol to save herself at Final 6 in Micronesia. She also doesn’t like when people start behaving poorly, like Todd and Courtney start acting spoiled, or Parvati blindsiding Ozzy. Unfortunately, Amanda is never able to take responsibility for her moves, and as a result ends up losing in both seasons. To more villainous players
She returns as a hero in Heroes vs. Villains, where she wants to stay true to her allies. This leads to her always defending James, and explaining Banana Etiquette to him. After JT gets blindsided she’s stuck with Candice the flipper, strategically inept Rupert, and Colby who had given up 20 days earlier. Still, Amanda doesn’t give up. She fights with Danielle for an idol clue and tries to rally the Heroes together. Unfortunately, she finally gets her torch snuffed for being too big of a threat.
Amanda may be the Charlie Brown of Survivor, but it is hard to compete with her resume. Going to back-to-back FTC’s, and going 108 days without getting her torch snuffed, Amanda deserves credit as a Survivor legend.
- Jonathan Penner (Cook Islands, Micronesia, Philippines)
Easily one of the biggest smartasses the game has ever seen. In Cook Islands Penner has such an abrasive personality that he fights with everyone; from stealing chickens from the Puka Puka tribe, or arguing with Jeff in challenges. What makes things better is that Penner manages to piss off everyone when he mutinies against the Aitu 4, but then flips back to them at the merge. This leads to some great arguments with the other castaways, especially Candice. He is so disliked by his fellow castaways that even his friend Yul votes him out in order to secure jury votes.
He returns for Micronesia as one of the favorites, and is a key voice in the minority alliance. He keeps doing his usual thing, but gets medically evacuated for an infection in his leg. His evacuation is one of the sadder scenes, because you see how badly he wants to stay in the game, even when the medic says he could lose his leg.
His evacuation allows him to return for Philippines where he is the captain of the Kalabaw tribe. He still rubs people the wrong way, which causes his tribe to vote him out. But, he also manages to find an idol to save himself at the merge. Penner is at the bottom, but manages to work his way into the majority alliance by having a personal connection with Lisa. Penner’s exit is possibly the best of the entire series, “Keep your sunny side up… and suck eggs!!!!”
Penner may rub his castaways the wrong way, which makes him a ‘love him or hate him’ character. For me, I love him! He has a natural charisma about him in all of his confessionals that makes you like him, even when he’s a jerk. Also, he is seriously a funny guy. I love Penner, and would watch him on any season.
- Tony Vlachos (Cagayan, Game Changers)
Tony plays an aggressive game in Cagayan. He does everything from lying about his job, to building a shack to spy on his tribe. Tony is also pretty vocal about what he is going to do, like how he is going to blindside LJ, or how he celebrates after blindsiding ‘Cops R’ Us’ ally Sarah. But what’s really crazy is, he wins. Tony is actually able to pull out a win even after everything he pulled over 39 Days.
What makes Tony great is that he’s this charismatic guy with a thick Jersey accent that just keeps doing these crazy things that should get him voted off. You keep waiting for his tribe to finally get sick of him and his paranoia, but it never happens. At FTC, he gets roasted for the lies he told, and swearing on his father’s grave. But, they respect Tony for the game he played and reward him.
He returns for Game Changers, only this time his tribe can’t handle his paranoia, and he gets voted off second.
Still, Tony goes down as one of the most entertaining players on the show, and I hope he returns again.
- Peih-Gee Law(China, Cambodia)
You kind of have to feel sorry for Peih-Gee. She wants to contribute to her tribe and be a leader. However, her personality makes her a target throughout the game. But, she keeps doing her best for Zhan Hu to succeed by trying to build a fire pit, and doing her best in challenges. But her personality comes off as abrasive, and she argues with her tribe members and has a huge fight with James at the tribe swap.
But, Peih-Gee never quits fighting. At the merge, she manages to win a few key Immunity challenges in order to survive. The best Peih-Gee moment comes when she wins a reward challenge and gets to go to visit a Shaolin Temple, where she is able to reconnect with her heritage. Peih-Gee’s appreciation for the reward is one of the best reactions to a cultural reward ever. Her sincerity and underdog status make her standout in one of the best casts ever.
Peih-Gee is so well liked that she is able to return for Cambodia. Unfortunately, she is given the kiss of death by having Abi accuse her of stealing her bracelet, making her an early target.
What I appreciate about Peih Gee’s edit is how complex they make her as a character. You root for her because she just wants her tribe to succeed, but at the same time you can see why she would get on people’s nerves. Sometimes her enthusiasm and encouragement rubbed people the wrong way, and she wasn’t as liked as she expected. It’s rare to see an underdog with flaws, yet Peih Gee works better because she feels more human.
Still, Peih-Gee is beloved for her role in China, where she was the underdog that kept fighting all the way to the end, making her a personal favorite.
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