So, as I’m working on some various projects for my Ph. D., I thought of two things. One, I really need to write more on my site after I spent two years focusing on my video content and two, as I am bingewatching seasons of Survivor on Hulu and watching David vs. Goliath, I need to write more on Survivor.
So with the wheels start turning I start thinking about bad decisions in Survivor and the worst players to play it. I start looking things up and I find that there is a lack of writings on bad players in Survivor history. There are a few posts, but for the most part all but a few of them to be wildly inaccurate and focus on players that people did not like as players, not on their strategy or their gameplay. SO, instead of just writing a Top 10 or Top 20 list, though I reserve the right to do it in the future, I decided to highlight the worst player from each season. So this is the Worst Survivor players for each season!
Now! A couple of things. First off, you will find a lack of players who went early or out first. I think you could easily make the argument that the first player out is the worst because they were voted out first. But I don’t just want to write a list like that. I want to write about bad gameplay, not just people who left the game early. I want to spotlight players whose gameplay effected the game in a large array or was so bad that it goes down as legendary. So this list isn’t going to highlight nothing players or players who made no impact. These are players who either made it far in the game and made bad decisions OR their gameplay was so bad that they worked their way into being eliminated early. A season can have multiple winners IF and ONLY IF their badness is non distinguishable that they both need to be highlighted.
So with that being said, let’s start off with the beginning, Survivor Borneo!
I know that Dr. Sean Kenniff gets a lot of grief for his first time on the show and, to be fair, Sean probably would never be on Survivor UNLESS he was on the first season. But just because he gets a lot of grief and just because he is a nice guy does not excuse him from one of the more boneheaded and irritating decisions in Survivor history.
Listen, I get it. On the first season the Pagong tribe got thoroughly Pagonged and you can attribute a number of people, namely Jenna, for insuring that they were picked off one by one by the Tagi Alliance. It wasn’t that Sean had blinders on until it was too late. Sean saw the writing on the wall and simply let it happen. He adopted the “alphabet strategy” of voting which just coincided with the fact that Pagong players names were earlier in the Alphabet then the majority of the Tagi players. He purposely aligned with the Tagi Alliance while trying his best to disassociate himself with the alliance as much as possible and to clear his conscience when the opposition was being picked off one at a time. I can forgive Jenna for having blinders on due to it being the first season. But what sets Sean apart is that he saw the writing on the wall, chose to do nothing, and adopted a “strategy” to try to play along with the Tagi 4 without fully committing. As such, Sean will always be the game of Survivor’s first “bad player.”
This one was difficult as Australian Outback was filled with either good players or “nothing” players. They didn’t do anything particularly bad. But they certainly didn’t do anything memorable to make them stand out as a “bad player” (Nick Brown immediately comes to mind). Colby Donaldson was considered for a split second for choosing Tina Wesson over Keith Famie. But in truth, Colby played a great game in Survivor and shouldn’t be penalized for making one decision out of a moral choice while the rest of his game was spot on. Oversight when he could win? Yeah, maybe. But I wouldn’t call it a horrendous play. Also, he did lose to split decision and could have beaten Tina if he had a better final tribal. So I wouldn’t call that a horrific gameplay decision, in truth.
But then I thought about Jeff Varner. Jeff was playing a strong game for the Kucha Tribe and was doing a phenomenal job leading up to the merge. He was playing a loud, in your face, game but if the five Kucha members were to make it to the end, it is very likely that Jeff Varner would probably be in the final. However, one STUPID decision screwed his game and the game of the entire Kucha tribe. Going into the merge, during the second season, a tie is broken from votes cast in previous tribal councils. Kucha and Ogakor were 100% loyal to one another and were not going to budge. So thus it turned into a strategy to vote for the right person who had the most votes. Jeff had two votes against him. Debb and Kimmi’s eliminations were unanimous votes so Jeff was THE ONLY Kucha member to have votes against him. Kimmi made the mistake of admitting that Jeff had a vote against him. So, Ogakor knew this. Ogakor had Keith and Jerri who had votes against them. Thus, Kucha had about a 40% chance of getting it right. IF JEFF WON THE IMMUNITY CHALLENGE WHICH WAS STANDING ON A FUCKING BEAM than Ogakor was guaranteed a 0% chance of finding someone with a vote because Alicia, Rodger, Elisabeth, and Nick had no votes. So, if the votes went to Alicia (the next perceived threat) and Colby, it would be some quiz like in Africa. But Jeff quit the challenge for peanut butter and apples! The dude quit the immunity for some fucking peanut butter, thus costing him and Kucha their entire game as they were systematically picked off with Jerri and Amber only breaking the elimination streak.
I know some are right now saying why is Jeff being punished for a single mistake while Colby is forgiven for his single, more consequential mistake? Well, for two reasons. First, Jeff screwed himself AND four other people by his decision to quit the challenge. Colby only cost himself the money and nobody else AND he did have a chance at beating Tina in the finals, just not as good as he did with Keith. Second, Colby made his decision on moral grounds. He thought it was the right decision to bring Tina instead of Keith. Say what you will about morality, it is a more noble venture to make beyond “I am quitting this immunity challenge for some peanut butter I can get when I get home.” Granted, Jeff also wouldn’t win this if it weren’t for the fact that this season had some solid players. But regardless, his decision is one of the worst in the game’s history, making him the worst player on Season 2.
Survivor Africa, as the years has gone on, has not exactly aged well. Most of the cast became relatively irritating and the gameplay can be summed up with “once Silas left it was mainly who irritated Lex the most.” This game was wrapped up once the tribe merged and the Boran Boys and Kim Johnson swept the rest of the competition away. However, it didn’t have to be the case. After Lex went ballistic about getting a single vote, when they booted their ally Clarence, and thinking that it was Kelly who did the voting everyone that wasn’t in that core four were seemingly on board with taking control of the game… Except Brandon.
Brandon did not want to go with the plan because he kind of liked Lex and REALLY hated Frank. Now listen, do not get me wrong here. Frank can best be described, as some would argue like myself, a complete “homophobic asshole” and that is me being nice. So I get not wanting to work with him. But this was a game for $1 million dollars! This alliance didn’t have to be until the end. You could have voted Lex out and came right back around and booted Frank the next vote and still had a potential majority. Instead, he accepted his spot as “fifth” in Lex’s eyes, voted out Kelly, and ended up being voted out before Frank anyways, the one thing that he did not want to have happen. Hindsight is 20/20 but this simply wasn’t a good move and it all but guaranteed Kim J, Tom, Ethan, and Lex would end up in the final four.
Ah… The first major power shift in Survivor history and the spot goes to the ringleader who got ousted by his own hubris. For starters, I am going to say that John Carroll does not deserve a lot of credit for forming the voting block that he did with Robert, Tammy, Zoe, Paschal, and Neleh against the former Maaramu tribe. John seemed to be simply the dude who saw the numbers and organized them in a way that made logical sense when the merge occurred. Not exactly a master strategist. More like the most charismatic dude out of the alliance. But nevertheless, this guy did set himself up well. If he had just done nothing then we would have an entirely different outcome. But the Rotu four were so confident in their pecking order that everyone with half a brain realized they needed to make the switch. So even in his best gameplay, he was nothing more than mediocre. Instead he had to destroy his entire game for a reward challenges and suffer one of the first blindsides.
Listen… I’m not going to harp on this for long. Thailand was a fucking awful season and one of the worst parts is the cast which was just appalling to watch and to watch strategize. Brian Heidik and Shii Ann Huang do deserve some omission for trying to play the game, but everyone else was just awful as a person and as a strategist. They were awful strategically, they were awful as people, they all deserve to be derided for just being awful so count the 14 of them as worst players.
The Amazon is another season that has some solid gameplay. You could almost say, with the addition of Rob Cesternino, Alex Bell, and Jenna Morasca that it was the birth of modern day Survivor. There was switches, blindsides, and changes a plenty, making this a hard season to pick out a poor player. So who is it that gets the spot? Well, as the title suggests, it is Dave Johnson.
Some runners up is JoAnna Ward and Deena Bennett for their lack of solid gameplay. But it was our resident rocket scientist that could not get his gameplay off the ground to save his life. Dave’s defining characteristic was being nerdy and liking girls in general. His strategy consisted of following Roger Sexton, which was a big mistake, and trying to strong man his way into getting Heidi and Jenna to follow him. When Roger went nobody had any qualms with sending him home. Like I said, not a strong reason. But in a strong season, he gets the award for worst player for simply being complacent and less of a power player compared to Roger.
Pearl Islands is still, in my opinion, the best season in Survivor history. It has all the things that makes survivor so wonderful. Thus, it is hard to find a truly “horrid” player. Some might argue that Rupert Boneham should be here. But that is NOT FAIR AT ALL! Yes, in regards to most of the favorite players in the game, Rupert is not the greatest player to ever play the game. But he never did anything that I would consider to be horrifically bad! He just sort of fished and didn’t make the big moves when he wanted to or see when the blindside was coming. He was happy to go with the flow in the majority Drake alliance until it bit him in the ass. If that is all it takes, then this list is going to include nearly half the damn number of all contestants in the game’s history. Is Rupert a strategic mastermind? No. Is he one of the worst? Hell no!
Andrew Savage also almost made the list for playing, what I consider to be, one of the worst strategies you can take in Survivor. It is what I like to call the “Big Boi Leader Strategy” in which your entire strategy is to be a muscular, middle aged white guy who expects people to listen to him and follow their every move. It rarely if ever works and only really worked in Survivor Palau because Ulong was thoroughly Ulonged by Koror and the Tom Westman regime. It is what saw Andrew knocked out just before the jury stage for being the big muscley white guy leader.
But, at the end of the day, we can talk about strategy all we want. But I think that this prize has to go to the first person to ever officially quit Survivor, Osten Taylor. Osten… I’m not sure what show he thought he was going to be on. I wonder if he thought it was going to be like how Mitchell Olson thought it would be in Survivor Australian Outback, where they still feed the players when the cameras off. The guy seemed out of his element from the start and it only gotten worse as the game went on. He essentially became a vote for the majority Morgan alliance to use as they see fit and was replaced by a returning Lillian Morris when he decided to call it a day. It doesn’t get much worse than that.
Lex van den Berghe may go down as one of the best worst players to ever play the game. This guy was the best player in Africa. The guy did make good moves and form strong alliances in both seasons, his strange policies and ideology has always been his Achilles heel and can often times lead to some serious hypocrisy.
Hence we come to today’s subject, his play in All Stars. Lex was playing a strong game on the Mojo Mojo tribe and was pretty well in the drivers seat. His elimination of Jerri as well as others in his tribe showed a strong man gameplay that could make him a force to be reckoned with in the post merge. However, he done goofed and assumed that Boston Rob would “have his back” and voted out his ally Jerri instead of his rival Amber Brkich. The voting was a blunder, to be sure, but it was Lex’s reaction afterwards that took the taco. Lex was a strong man player who bulldozed his way through most votes. However, as soon as he was the one on the wrong side of a strong arming by Boston Rob, Lex felt entitled and hurt by the betrayal. One move might not mean you are going to end up on here. But certainly a reaction like that will merit it.
This is really a shame because, up until making one silly mistake Ami Cusack was playing a perfect game that would see her skip to the finals with her right hand woman Leann Slaby in her all girl alliance. She was essentially the first Kim Spraldin if she had just managed her alliance to greater effect. But then the seven happened which lead Chris and the others back in the game.
Before I go further with this, I do want to say that I thought about putting Sarge, Rory, and Chad here for their boneheaded decisions leading up to their near Pagonging. However, this decision, I feel, is much worse of a case.
So let’s go to this moment. Ami and Leann have just voted out Chad. At this point they don’t see Chris as a huge threat so they decide to get rid of some extra alliance members in Eliza. Alright… That happens, it is part of the game. But what coupled it with this is the decision to alienate Scout Cloud Lee and her ally Twila Tanner at the same time as deciding to kick Eliza Orlins to the curb. In the span of a few days, the girls playing the perfect strategy until they alienated 3 of the 6 person alliance with one swing vote still on the outs. What do you think would happen?! Scout, Twila, and Eliza joined Chris and together the four booted Leann and Ami from the game. Because of this, they edge out the listless gameplay of the guys who made the merge sans Chris.
Unfortunately this season is hard. While I thoroughly enjoy Palau and find it compelling, it isn’t exactly compelling for its gameplay. Due to the fact that Ulong lost in such a historically bad way, the gameplay quickly became the Tom Westman experience pre and post merge. The game can best be described as Ulong eating each other while Koror sat in the lap of luxury under Tom’s leadership. The “strategy” in the post game for Koror can pretty much be summed up with “now everyone follow the plan that leads to Tom being in the finals and winning $1 Million dollars and anyone who deviates from the plan will be chastised as a no-good-very-bad-person with zero morals.” Hence why I am extremely angry at the most of the cast near the end when Ian Rosenberger thought, for one second, about playing the game, he was labeled a traitor and shamed into giving up $1 million dollars by Tom in the final immunity challenge with talks of earning back respect and so forth. This game was handed to fireman Tom on a silver platter. So it is hard to choose a “bad player” because Ulong was playing hot and heavy the entire season and Koror was happy to worship the ground Tom walked on.
I am not going to give this to Ian who I legit think would be a great player in another season and did a good job playing Tom’s number two until he thought about playing for a split second. I’m also not giving it to Katie or Caryn who didn’t exactly do anything. Instead, I am handing it to Gregg Carey out of default. Why? Because I feel like Gregg, of all the players, missed the biggest opportunity to make something happen and oust Tom. Coby and Janu were both doing their own thing so Gregg couldn’t do much with that. But by the time it got down to seven, Gregg could have easily grabbed his tightest ally, Jenn (rest in peace), Stephenie, and convinced Caryn to do some flipping and at least take the game away from Tom so the game could get going. Yes, this is semantics and Gregg really doesn’t deserve to be labeled “the worst” but for lack of a better choice, he was the one who had the chance to make sure Tom didn’t win and didn’t take it. So there you go.
It is a shame putting him here because Rafe Judkins was one of the best players of this season, but ends up finding himself as the worst player. Which seems like a weird thing to say when I’m making an article detailing the worst player from each season. Rafe made great plays throughout the game and proved himself to be just as cunning as the rest of the people in the game, if not more. He positioned himself perfectly and into the final five, Rafe seemed to be a shoe in to win. Lydia coasted throughout most of the game, Cindy may have had an outside shot but when she praised herself about the car she made the curse a reality for her, and don’t even get me started on Stephenie LaGrossa’s gameplay this season which did her no favors for her image. Danni Boatwright, the eventual winner, was his only competition but she was the “I’m a free vote girl” and was expendable. It was easy enough, simply ditch Danni and try not to get voted out in the final two votes. That, is not what happened. Instead, Rafe overextended himself, knocking out Cindy for bragging, Lydia because she was undeserving, and then essentially gave up the final immunity challenge and was eliminated by Danni who saw Stephenie as the goat to the sacrifical alter on her route to victory against a legit threat, Rafe. Essentially, after Gary Hogeboom was voted out this was Rafe’s season to lose and he lost it by overextending himself, poorly. For someone who played the game so well, he did a great job at organizing his own exit.
I’m sorry if you like him, find him compelling, or think he was deserving of a win, Terry Deitz is easily the worst player of Panama: Exile Island. Yes, even more than the volatile Shane Powers or the listless wine drinker Bobby Mason. Terry was in possession of the first true immunity idol, and it was a god idol no less. This was an opportunity for new and inventive gameplay that Terry could use to change the game in his favor. When La Mina and Casaya merged, they merged at a 6-4 disadvantage. This disadvantage though was not without SERIOUS cracks as the Casaya six did not like each other AT ALL. Terry could have made his play whenever he wanted with the god idol to boot a power member in someone like Aras, his truest rival, and watch the game crumble. He had opportunities a plenty, but the man was happy to sit on his individual immunity wins until it lead to the final three when Danielle gave the man the boot.
I’m sure Terry could be a great strategist and this was the first time the idol was truly in the game. But in the hands of a better strategist who could see numbers and work them toe their advantages, this could have been much more compelling then what it was.
This is another hard one as Cook Islands did have some good game play. For the most part the players either lost while having some solid gameplay or were eliminated to early to get their gameplay off the ground. There were ultimately three runners up that almost took the taco. Anh-Tuan “Cao Boi” Bui was a close one but he didn’t exactly make any bad gameplay other than being a little annoying to the other players. Virgilio “Billy” Garcia also almost took the top prize but he didn’t have a chance to even play because of his poor social graces. Bottom line, Billy should not have been on the show.
The winner of the prize though, JP Calderon, earns the spot as worst player for being someone who legit had a chance to make good gameplay. But his arrogance kept him from seeing that his laziness pissed off most of the new Rarotonga tribe. As such his little power couple alliance with Nate Gonzalez was doomed from the start and he was ousted 7-2.
Fiji: Andria “Dreamz” Herd
Dreamz has a similar problem with Sugar and Russell Hantz for being a person that made good moves to get him to the final three. But his actions getting to the final three and maneuvering himself to be a viable candidate for the win were so bad that he earns the spot for worst player.
Listen, Survivor isn’t just about the strategy of vote alignment. Making big moves and getting far in the game is great and all and make for good television. But you have to balance making these big moves and still maintain yourself as a viable candidate for being the winner. You need to make moves but do so without angering the jury too much to not be bitter about giving you a million dollars. Strategists like Sugar, Russell, Dreamz, and so forth who do a good job of ousting people but not a good job making themselves viable should receive punishment not praise for their gameplay where the ultimate goal is to win the game.
Dreamz made big moves when they counted to get him further in the game. He flopped on his alpha guy alliance with Edgardo, Mookie, and Alex which saw him move even further in the game and he did make the tactical decision to keep his immunity necklace and reneg on the deal with Yau Man. Dreamz would have gotten knocked out of the game if he had given that necklace up. But by making that deal, he had doomed himself to failure. After literally screwing someone over and taking a car from them to boot AND screwing over most people on the jury, there was no way in hell they were going to give Dreamz that million dollars. His moves got him far in the game, but they were moves that insured he would never win.
It had to be… IT HAD TO BE! James was a good dude and a definite fan darling. But this was the first time when a person had two immunity idols to use to manipulate the game and the strategy that James implemented was “stick to my alliance and hope that nobody decides to blindside the dude who could skip into the Final Four if he makes it to six.” While James is a nice dude, it is unfortunate that he ended up here, but who else would you like me to select? The rest of the gameplay in this season was good and some dishonorable mention does need to be tossed to Erik Hoffman who just sort of let himself be voted off by the majority alliance and be okay with the loss. The other dishonorable mention bounces to Crazy Dave Cruser who was… well crazy…
But here is the thing. Yeah, it sucks that James left with two immunity idols in his pocket. But I’m not even picking on him for the blindside. Blindsides happen and getting blindsided should not be the only reason to say that a player was bad. BUT! He could have used those idols to further himself in the game if he gave strategy a shot. But James seemed content with playing conservative. YOU CANNOT PLAY CONSERVATIVE WHEN YOU HAVE THOSE IDOLS! Especially when people KNOW you have those idols. He could have taken the game into his own hands with one of those idols and still saved himself one for later. But he chose not to and hoped he could get to the final four with his plays. Which, at the end of the day, saw him out at 7 from his alliance who did rightfully see him as a threat to win the million.
This season is a good showing of just what happens when you put a cast of new players with seasoned players. They were out of their depth and they got their asses handed to them. It didn’t help that these “fans” made boneheaded decisions that even new playing fans should ever make. At one point I considered Erik, Jason, Kathy, Chet, Mikey B, and Joel for the spot. But at the end of the day Natalie and Alexis were not able to pull the others up to exempt them either. As such, the entire original Airai tribe gets the slot for abysmal gameplay.
I know that a lot of people are hoping to see Jessica “Sugar” Kiper here for her “rub salt in the wounds” tactics that ultimately saw her easily lose $1 million dollar to everyone’s favorite Bill Nye look-a-like champion, Bob Crowley. However, I am not so willing to throw Sugar under the bus for this. Yes, she played a hard game that almost guaranteed she wouldn’t win and I even willfully admit that I might be biased here for shitting on Dreamz and Russell Hantz and giving Sugar slack. But keep in mind that the people that she was an asshole to were some of the biggest asshats to ever play the game.
Corinne Kaplan and Randy Bailey do not nearly get the flack they get for their gameplay which was even more ruthless and hateful than Sugar’s and Sugar’s gameplay was mainly a reaction to them being legitimate jerks to her at every chance they had, shit on her father’s memory, and wishing that she would die horribly. Their gameplay was even worse than Sugar’s though because Sugar made it to the finals. Corinne and Randy were knocked out in the middle of the post merge implementing the same strategy as Sugar, they just did it worse. They all played the same game but Sugar’s was more reactionary and much better than the two who wasn’t going to win the game in any way, shape, or form.
Coach is painfully overrated when it comes to gameplay. He is beloved by producers, Especially host/producer The Probst for being good TV with his painful delusions of grandeur. The idea being “what is this dude going to say next?” So is he good TV? Maybe. Whatever roasts your goose. But undoubtedly, Coach’s gameplay can be summed up in short as “over-bloated and dependent on someone smarter than himself.”
Coach, throughout the season, had the illusion of control as he and Tyson ruled the roost on the Timbira tribe while making evil eyes at Brendan Synnott every chance he got. He can be thanked for booting Brendan out of the game. But because he was so concerned with eliminating his “rival,” Coach didn’t realize that he was handing the win for Tocantins into the hands of JT Thomas and Stephen Fishbach. Hell, most of the “fan darlings” from Tocantins can thank Stephen for orchestrating a game that made them look good when they were all mediocre at best.
Instead of looking at simple numbers at the merge and after the medical evacuation of Joe Dowdle, all Timbira had to do was boot JT, Stephen, and Taj, three HUGE threats. But due to Coach’s “moral code” or desire to defeat his Brendan Dragon, the guy booted Brendan. This gave Stephen and co. an opportunity to blindside Tyson because, in Coach and Tyson’s shared arrogance, they didn’t realize they had completely crapped on and rightfully pissed off the two girls Sierra and Erinn. They had every reason in the world to flip and leave Coach, Debbie, and Tyson on the outs. Then the Jalapao alliance slowly widdled down the tribe as Coach was clueless to the whole thing. This was a season handed to Tyson and Coach on a silver platter and together the two threw it back in the world’s face with their cockiness and arrogance in thinking their hyper masculine crap would go unchecked. As such, the much smoother player Stephen and his friends went to the final four and christened JT Thomas as the sole survivor.
This spot almost went to Shannon “Shambo” Waters for her switching and putting faith into Russell Hantz throughout the season. But at the end of the day, Shambo was making good decisions to get herself further in the game. The Galu tribe was not going to take her to the finals. She was doing what was best for her, even if she was aligning herself with a guy who pretty much wore a shirt that said “I’m the devil and any deal with me will end poorly with you.”
John Fincher though, in his infinite wisdom was convinced to switch on his alliance, for the sake of not going to rock draw, if that was what was going to happen, and as such continued to punch the futility of the Galu tribe with incredibly high numbers at the merge, putting more power into Russell’s hands, and guaranteed he was going out next. An absolute blunder from start to finish.
Heroes vs. Villains: Russell Hantz
I really do not care if you disagree with this statement. But I will be definitive and controversial. I think Russell Hantz is one of the worst players to play the game. Just because he is able to make it to the final or strong arm his way through votes does not mean he is a good player. A good player is one who can come up with good strategies AND put themselves in a place where they can win the game. Russell Hantz will never win the game because his entire game play does not rely on making good strategic decisions, it is to make good strategic decisions while being an absolute asshat every step of the way. Thus, the jury, who is going to decide your fate, who you have personally insulted while voting them out are all pissed and will never vote for you.
No Russell didn’t deserve it in Samoa, he didn’t deserve it in Redemption Island, and he doesn’t deserve it here either. He is a crappy player who is good at making it far in the game where he will inevitably fail. Plus, his gameplay was set up in such a way that the next two Survivors he was on, Redemption Island and some Australian one, saw him ousted second each time.
Heroes vs. Villains has to be the zenith of his gameplay though. While in Samoa, Hantz did temper himself a little bit (not a lot mind you) to the point where he may have had a chance at winning. He still played poorly seeing seven out of nine choose Natalie over him. But in Heroes vs. Villains he was just an unmitigated prick the entire time to everyone that he came across. Since he had power he didn’t feel the need to play any sort of political game. He, instead, rubbed salt in the wounds to everyone he voted out, leading to the first ever two time winner in Survivor history. As such, Russell Hantz played a piss poor game and shouldn’t be praised because he was able to master mind a number of votes, something that is a given if you are ever going to play Survivor.
Nicaragua was a shitty season. From start to finish this season just sucks and will easily go down as one of the worst. When you have a season that is filled with such unlikable assholes, it is hard to find it engaging. Unlike Thailand, however, this season did have some good players. But it did end up with Jud “Fabio” Birza winning, who almost made this esteemed selection if it wasn’t for the fact that he won the damn season. But beyond that, let’s just highlight some of the worst.
Jimmy Tarantino… I don’t know how this guy could be so fixated by the concept of being the leader when the “leader” is one of the worst positions that you can be in in Survivor. His entire strategy was to be the leader and when his tribe would not accept him as the leader, his decision was to whine about it until he was inevitably voted out fourth.
Shannon Elkins, who was voted out second, was a despicable low life of a person who had nothing to say except unmitigated hate speech. The guy was less a person and more of some kind of scum you scrape off the bottom of your shoe. He was, luckily, voted out second for being just so awful of a human being.
Purple Kelly was a nothing entity and quit. Her only claim to fame is inventing the “Purple Edit” a term that is used when Survivor editors essentially edit a character out of an entire season.
Then there is NaOnka Mixon who was also a horrid human being who was happy to trip a woman with one leg, make fun of her, quit the game and expect to be praised for it, and just overall being a hateful miserable human being with no redeemable qualities about her.
Nobody was good this season but some were just kind of there instead of being the absolute worst that humanity has to offer or being nothing entities for the game.
Bottom line, this season is just awful. It is absolutely awful. All the players sucked at the game and handed the win to Boston Rob on a silver platter. The only praise they get is the way in which they eliminated Russell Hantz. That is it. Beyond that, everyone deserves the title of worst survivor of this season sans Boston Rob.
Brandon Hantz, god love him, was not a strong player of Survivor. First off, he made the decision to give up his immunity necklace in the exact same manner as Erik Reichenbach and yet he still doesn’t get the derision that Erik gets for it because I guess his was in some sort of self righteous sense. But, overall, the guy just seemed to get on Survivor by being related to Russell, his entire personality was attached to his uncle, his entire legacy was to increase the Hantz legacy, and he followed along with Coach’s cockamamie scheming until it bit him in the butt. Overall, sad as it is to say, Brandon finds himself in the South Pacific top spot for worst.
One World: Colton Cumbie *Fuck the pic, I don’t want his face on my site*
Do I really have to say a lot here? I think if you talk to anyone, you know that this guy was just an asshole of a person who thought himself a great Survivor player and the second that he was not 100% in control or people were not doing what HE wanted to do, he quit and walked out of the show. At least in Blood vs. Water he legit quit instead of feigning an injury to get off the show. I guess the general idea being that if people aren’t doing what he wants to do, he is ready to run away then get his torch snuffed. Bottom line, Colton is easily one of the worst players in Survivor history and will go down as one of the biggest mistakes that the show has ever made in casting him.
Philippines: Michael Skupin
This spot ALMOST went to Zane Knight, the first person voted out of the season for orchestrating his exit by taking himself from safe and secure to walking out first. Seriously, that guy had to WORK to get himself voted out.
But at the end of the day I thought of going with a more robust and controversial answer than to pick the dude who went out number one. So for starters, I am not here to talk about the legal troubles of Michael Skupin. This is just a discussion of gameplay in Survivor Philippines. Michael, during this season, had played a decent game positioning himself and Lisa in a good position. They were approaching the end game and had just eliminated the final Kalabaw boy in Carter. But they have a slight problem on their hands. They still have Malcolm and Denise from the original Matsing tribe still in the game. This is a Survivor hero story in the making and an almost guarantee for the million dollars if they make it to the finals. It is Skupin, Lisa, Malcolm, Denise, and the person nobody liked this season even though I feel a lot of it was not deserved, Abi Maria.
Abi Maria straight up said “I am not winning the money! Take me to the finals!” But Michael Skupin, under the impression that he could beat anyone in the finals, refused to flip and voted out Abi Maria giving Denise Stapley a road map to the finals and a million dollar win. Sadly his gameplay the rest of the season does not make up for such a hapless blunder at the end.
I am sorry… I am so sorry… I really do not want to do it. But when you are the first person voted out twice… Well.. I think you need to end up on this list in some capacity.
Blood vs. Water: Colton Cumbie
Hey look! He ended upon the list for a second time. I’m not going to waste too much time typing this after burning it up on One World. The only addition to this season is that Colton proved himself to be one of the worst Survivor players in history by quitting whenever he didn’t get his way.
This one was tough because Cagayan is arguably the best season of Survivor. It competes with the all time greats for gameplay, twists, blindsides, and drama. Just about everyone deserves some level of praise for their gameplay, ESPECIALLY if they made it to the merge. So ultimately I was left with two choices for worst gameplay, both early exits and both on the Brains tribe. J’Tia was a close second. But ultimately I decided that her making it further with her unlikable behavior was preferable to Garrett Adelstein’s painfully arrogant and misguided gameplay for only six days.
This dude came into the game strong and quickly formed an alliance with two future power players in Spencer Bledsoe and Kass McQuillen as well as finding the hidden immunity idol. This dude, who is a professional poker player, proceeded to show all of his cards under the assumption that a pair of 8’s was going to net him the victory. He quickly isolated his alliance and those on the outs by just garrulously blabbing all of his plans in plain view of his opponents. The dude was voted out second with the hidden immunity idol LEFT AT CAMP! Which is a cardinal sin if you have a fucking immunity idol. YOU NEVER leave that fucker at camp even if you are wearing the damn necklace. As such, Garrett easily wins the worst player for Survivor Cagayan.
This one was difficult because San Juan del Sur has NO SHORTAGE of bad players. It is quite clear that this season was mainly filled with people who were slated to be on the Amazing Race that was moved over to Survivor when CBS decided to go with a second Blood vs. Water premise. Jon and Jaclyn were guaranteed slated for the Amazing Race until they were moved over to Survivor, much to Jeff Probst’s irritation. But I wouldn’t be surprised if other teams such as Keith and Wes, Alec and Drew, and Baylor and Missy were also slated for the race around the world instead the beaches of Survivor. As such, the season was… Well let’s say filled with people that would have been at home in Borneo where the strategy was minimal.
There were several I could put up here. The first three that REALLY come to mind is Keith Nale, Drew Christy, and Julie McGee for their various bonehead mistakes. However, Keith won back some points in a Cirie Fields sort of way by legitimately making some good moves and adapting to the game as the game went on. Drew Christy was an idiot beyond comparison. From the start he saw himself as a god among mortals and refused to do anything OR refuse to see that people didn’t like him all that much for being an absolute asshole. Finally you have Julie McGee who was only on the show because of John Rocker and quit when things got slightly hard.
So why is it that Reed Kelly wins over Keith, Drew, and Julie? As stated before, Keith adapted and started to make legitimately good moves near the end. Drew and his brother Alec were not exactly what I would call Survivor super fans. Alec’s gameplay was existing and Drew’s gameplay was do nothing, eat a lot of food, and expect people to thank him for the honor. They seemed more at home in the Amazing Race and it showed from the start. Julie McGee was only on the show because of John Rocker and Survivor got what they paid for when she stole some trail mix and quit. That was a producer error, not Julie gameplay error. Seriously, they should have saved Rocker for a different season instead of attaching baggage onto him.
Josh Canfield and Reed Kelly though were SELF PROFESSED FANS of Survivor. Josh Canfield, to his credit, played the game like a fan. He is truly one of the more underrated players to play the game on a subpar season. He ran the Coyopa tribe brilliantly and was eliminated in the merge for being a legitimate threat. His husband Reed, on the other hand… was bad… He was just bad. His tribe constantly needed help due to overeating and losing a flint, he was the one who usually tried to barter with Jeff (which as a fan he should know will always end poorly for the players), and he was only on the right side of the voting once when people blindsided Jeremy. Up until that point he voted for Julie when Drew went. He voted for Baylor when Josh went, and his blindside with Jon failed. He called Baylor a brat whenever he was on the outs, which didn’t gain any trust and insured Natalie, Missy, and Baylor wouldn’t switch, and was considered to be too two faced to keep around. Thus, he was unanimously eliminated post merge. Something that should rarely happen in the game as it stands. For a “fan” of the game, he certainly made a lot of decisions that a fan would never make. As such, he inches out Drew as the worst player of Survivor San Juan del Sur.
Worlds Apart is a difficult one because the gameplay in the season was top notch. There were a few that almost took the prize, but reasons X, Y, and Z kept them from winning the top spot. This one almost went to Mike Holloway whose decision to step away during the auction instantly shot him down to the bottom of the pile as well as his decision to blow up Rodney and the majority alliance’s plan when they were all reading their letters from home. But, at the end of the day, I cannot give it to a dude who STILL ended up winning the damn season!
This spot also went to Vince Sly and Joaquin Souberbielle. Both were guys who grossly overestimated their competition and considered themselves God’s gift to humanity. Ultimately each of them was destroyed by their own hubris and ousted early in the game. But I don’t think that Joaquin or Vince deserve the top spot due to the fact that Vince didn’t have much gameplay to speak of aside from having a crush on Jenn and getting jealous when she didn’t reciprocate. Joaquin did attempt to make some big plays but just constantly found himself on the bottom due to bad luck. I also almost gave it to Will Sims but at the end of the day a purple edit does not guarantee you a bad gameplay.
Dan though… Dan was a guy who seemed less like a person and more like a troll. He was a guy that I wanted to like and there were moments where I thought he had some good personality and good gameplay. But almost with each edit he seemed to dismantle everything that he just said. It was hard to watch a guy say something to someone and then in the interview just painfully drag them through the mud.
Dan was an accessory to a majority alliance that dominated most of the season. Carolyn, Tyler, and Rodney were the heavy lifters of the alliance of 6, formerly 7 with Mike Holloway, and it was quite clear that round the time that Jenn was ousted that Dan and Mike were at the bottom of the alliance pecking order. Dan had multiple opportunities to make switches and changes in the game. Especially with his extra vote that could have seen a significant power flip. But Dan stayed the course with his patented and false line “flippers never win” and saw himself ousted sixth from an idol play for his troubles.
It pains me to put Stephen Fishbach on this list as I truly believe that he is one of the best players to play the game. During his run in Survivor Tocantins, Stephen ruled the roost. That entire season was orchestrated by him as he controlled Jalopao and Timbira post merge which lead to his ally, JT Thomas’ coronation of a perfect season. This guy was SO GOOD in Tocantins that he made the season, which on paper should be lackluster, an absolute all star. He was SO GOOD that he essentially made Survivor all stars out of Tyson Apostal, JT Thomas, Taj Johnson-George, and Benjamin “Coach” Wade. Like this guy, will go down as one of the best to ever play the game. After that level of praise, WHY DOES HE END UP ON HERE?! Well allow me to explain.
Stephen played a perfect game sans the victory in Tocantins. However, in Cambodia, he was mixed in a game that saw some of the best gameplay ever occur, and also a game that was painfully overbloated with twists and immunity idols. This season is high octane on gameplay so you had to bring your A Game for this one. Tragically, Stephen did not. Once again, I want to stress this was a high gameplay season so Stephen certainly shouldn’t be considered in the Top Ten for worst players. But his gameplay this season was just weak by comparison. He started off on the bottom, self enforced by a mentality of “the alpha men are alpha mening and that means I’m a weak boi” which had a little validity to it but could have been remedied with the same gameplay he used with JT in Tocantins… That he did not do. He often appeared clueless throughout the season though pulling out a decent exit in ousting Monica. But during the merge he was just kind of “there.” He had a good gameplay decision to play a hidden immunity idol to keep him in the game. But ultimately he was eliminated even playing his vote steal advantage. At the end of the day, I think it wasn’t so much awful gameplay as it was just disappointing from a contestant that I expected A LOT more from.
Kaoh Rong: Peter Baggenstos
Once again, we find ourselves with a strong season of Survivor where the game play was fierce and those who were eliminated either played a good game or not effecting the game enough to really count towards being one of the worst. Some people who almost made the list for tenuous reasons was Scot Pollard and Kyle Jason who almost made it for torpedoing themselves after a vote didn’t got their way. But they did play a strong game up until their eliminations so I can’t really fault them that much. Joe del Campo also made the list for simply being a nothing entity in his season and being evacuated due to eating too much steak. But that isn’t necessarily mean he was a bad player. Just unlucky and happy to go with the flow.
But at the end of the day Peter takes the prize for gameplay that was just kind of sad. Doctor Peter started the game making an alliance with fellow contestant Liz and quickly found himself on the outs and never got back. Peter was a smart guy, landing him on the Brains tribe. But it just seemed like he was clueless after his ally left and he never recovered from there.
Taylor Lee Stocker’s gameplay was so horrifically terrible at Survivor that it is simply astonishing that the guy lucked his way into the jury phase of the game. This guy checked all the boxes of what NOT TO DO in Survivor. The guy formed a power couple showmance with Jessica “Figgy” Figueroa which, in truth, is not the worst as the show made it seem. It makes you a threat, but if you play it smart you can make it work. Well, they didn’t play it smart. Figgy and Taylor were brash, cocky, and more concerned with their no-no bits then they were with playing the game. While Figgy had some reservations on it, this ultimately worked against her as she was seen as the bigger threat of the two.
Then we get to the merge where the guy is so confident that he is going to lock up his alliance in a game filled to the brim with hardcore players that he steals food and buries it. He then admits to it at Tribal Council like it isn’t that big of a deal while he is on the bottom of the alliance while dragging his friend, Jay Starrett, along with him.
The guy was the quintessential cocky little shit who had no game to back up his play. He lucked his way into majority alliances, thought himself invincible every step of the way, and then hurt the games of those around him through his idiocy. In a game of strong players, this dude easily takes the taco for the worst.
Time to hop on a soap box here because Ozzy Lusth, who has spent more time on Survivor than anybody else, tragically makes the list on his fourth attempt. Out of the four people who played the game of Survivor, four times, Ozzy seems to be the one who is always destined to fail. Boston Rob Mariano is the only one of the four to actually win their season. Rupert Boneham is the kind of guy who really isn’t supposed to win. Rupert is not on the show for his great strategy. He is there to be America’s sweetheart with his tye-dye shirt and can do attitude. Cirie Fields is the woman who truly has been robbed in so many seasons coming so close to the victory but the fates always being against her. It was even worse so in Game Changers when she was booted from the game at six after everyone but her immuned themselves from the vote. Ozzy though… Ozzy is the guy who has tragically aged in a similar veing to Russell Hantz however not for the same reason.
Russell Hantz was an explosive bomb dropped in the middle of Survivor and was the talk of the Survivor world from Samoa to Redemption Island. At that point fatigue had worn in and Russell was a person that the general audience just wanted “to go away.” Ozzy, on the other hand, is the guy who came on playing strong and won everyone over with his likable charisma and, has since then, been targeted constantly as the biggest threat to ever exist on Survivor insuring that he will never win the game.
Like, Ozzy isn’t an unlikable person and I feel bad for the guy who keeps coming back to have his reputation see him shot off the show like a bottle rocket. This guy is an athletic marvel who comes into the game playing hard and each time he has been targeted for the same reason. Being strong in challenges and being likable. After four seasons of the same strategy and ending in the same way… Tragically Ozzy needs to make the list for his futility.
I kind of feel bad for putting Mike here. I think that Mike is a nice guy who wasn’t a horrific player. But in a season like HHH where you had some seriously strong gameplay and your competitors were either good game players or nothing game players, your missed idol plays and burning immunity idols begins to rack up over time. JP Hilsabeck and Cole Medders also almost found themselves on this spot. Especially with Cole’s showmance Jessica Johnston. But at the end of the day I think I am going to hand it to the guy who came close to winning, but missteps and misplays saw him out at fifth.
Ghost Island: Jacob Derwin
This is another instance similar to Garrett Adelstein where this guy had to work hard to get himself eliminated. I do understand that the tribe saw him as a physical liability. But I do not think that is a necessarily insurmountable thing if you are able to find a good alliance to situate yourself in. But Jacob just seemed to dig his own grave, begging the other tribe to save him, fabricate a fake idol before getting ousted for fabricating a fake idol easily by Brendan Shapiro, genuinely not attempting to bridge any gaps that formed. I did want to root for Jacob because it seemed like he was screwed from the start. But he was screwed from the start because he constantly screwed himself!
David vs. Goliath: Natalie Cole
Oh Natalie… You were a hot mess from the start and just sort of stayed the course until you were eliminated. David vs. Goliath is one of the best seasons of Survivor and a major reason for that is the game play that occurs. Just about everyone was bringing their A game and, similar to Cagayan, most of the bad players were great in other seasons. I did debate for a hot second to put Elizabeth Olson or Gabby Pascuzzi on here. But that is a disservice to both women who did play decent games… They just made the wrong moves at the wrong time and paid for it. Elizabeth was a strong competitor who ended up in a shitty goat to the slaughter situation at the merge that saw her unanimously ousted. Gabby was a strong player up until her desire to make a big move and out Christian Hubicki which saw her take the walk instead.
But all things consider, it is a no brainer that Natalie Cole takes the title this season whenever you really look at it. Everyone who made the merge was solid players. Even in the pre merge you had solid players playing a solid game. Then you had Natalie… Natalie was someone who just could not adapt to the social climate. I am sure she is a wonderful person in the real world. But when her tribe did not receive her well in the opening, her strategy was just to continue to do what she did until they voted her out. She made it much further than expected, in truth. She made it to Day 15 and was the 6th person voted out. Overall, a lack of adaptability and a strong season puts her as the worst of DvG.
With that, that is the worst Survivor contestant from each season! I hope you enjoyed and come back for more great content!