Survivor has been on the air for twenty years, and during that time it has hosted a wide variety of players and styles of play. Some are more passive and prefer their strong social play to take them far. Others hope that their strong physicality will take them far in the game. And others prefer to make “big moves” and control the game through strategy.
These latter players are particularly appealing, as they allow for exciting and often unpredictable viewing. No one (not even their tribal mates) can predict their next move, and the resulting chaos has always been a pleasure to watch.
ten Russell Hantz
Russell Hantz changed the way Survivor is played. On the one hand, his relentless hunt for individual immunity idols has proven to be very beneficial and has changed the way players find them in the future; after Hantz, players chased idols without the aid of clues.
Moreover, his complex strategies and the steadfast manner in which he disposed of his allies were highly unpredictable, and this resulted in a deeply bitter jury. For both reasons, Hantz made Samoa one of the series’ most memorable seasons, and it ushered in the era of ‘Big Moves’ by Survivor.
9 Ben driebergen
Few have taken advantage of Russell Hantz’s idol-hunting strategy like Ben Driebergen. Ben was everywhere Heroes vs. healers vs. con artists. When it looked like Ben was about to come out, he scored many victories and ensured his survival.
But perhaps more chaotically, Ben played three back-to-back Hidden Immunity Idols and ultimately earned his place in the bottom three by winning a fire-making challenge. He was certainly persistent, often turning the game around when his was clearly coming to an end.
8 Boston rob
Boston Rob is arguably the original Survivor fan favorite. Debut in Survivor: Marquesas, Boston Rob quickly became a Survivor icon and appeared in six iterations of the show (five times as a contestant and once as a mentor on The island of idols).
Boston Rob has earned his fame mainly through his aggressive gameplay and relentless strategy. He quickly turned out to be one of the show’s greatest brains, and many of his most exciting plays and strategies have become Survivor pillars. There had never been a prediction of what Boston Rob would do or who he would betray.
7 Powers of Shane
Shane Powers of Survivor: Panama displayed a different kind of chaos. While Survivor had aired eleven previous seasons, Powers brought something completely new to the show with his eccentric personality.
He quickly gained a reputation for his eccentric personality – most of which could be attributed to starvation and nicotine withdrawal. He is well known for his many explosions, making a Blackberry out of a piece of wood and jokingly threatening to hunt down and kill Courtney Marit.
6 Abi Maria Gomes
This Los Angeles business student competed twice, and both times she proved to be an incredible nuisance to her fellow survivors. His general antipathy was a constant obstacle throughout Philippines, and it often resulted in shocking reactions (like Michael and Lisa turning around and joining the Kalabaw alliance).
She was also pretty wild all along Cambodia, exhibiting a generally caustic personality and annoying other players like Woo and Peih-Gee. The only reason she’s made it so far in both seasons is because others thought she would make a good goat.
5 Jonny fairplay
Real name Jon Dalton, Jonny Fairplay quickly became a fan favorite thanks to his ridiculous actions on Pearl Islands. Fairplay has been very deceptive throughout the season and has failed to gain anyone’s trust. His gameplay was both aggressive and erratic, and he remains the most famous liar in the series.
Of course, most Survivor fans remember his iconic dead grandmother lie, in which Fairplay claimed that her grandmother had passed away so that her tribal mates would show mercy and offer her the reward.
4 Coach Wade
Begins on Survivor: Tocantins, Coach Wade quickly established himself as a legendary Survivor player. With a plethora of memorable quotes, Coach has become a fan favorite thanks to his various idiosyncrasies. He practiced and preached Zen meditation while calling himself The Dragon Slayer. He has also shown pride in his own nobility, although he is an untrustworthy figure known to coldly turn against his allies.
His fickle personality and gameplay quickly earned him a reputation, and he then returned as one of the series’ most popular villains in Heroes vs. Villains.
3 I Tia Taylor
Although she did not merge, J’Tia Taylor is one of the most memorable contestants of Cagayan. She quickly proved to be a tumultuous player in leading her tribal mates at the camp, although she did not put on her own weight.
She has also proven to be terribly terrible during challenges and has largely contributed to multiple losses for her tribe. It was obvious that no one liked him, and in a fit of anger, J’Tia threw the tribe’s rice stock into the fire (and later denied it, though he was the only person nearby). All of this contributed to his early release from the game.
2 Noura Salman
Noura Salman could be the most memorable contestant of The island of idols. She was certainly the most rowdy. Salman quickly gained a reputation for being untrustworthy, and most of her competitors viewed her as an insanely eccentric and unreliable player.
And while Salman was constantly targeted for not being trustworthy, she managed to make her way to the bottom three thanks to solid physical gameplay. However, one could also argue that Salman was a goat. The jury did not respect her game and she received no votes.
1 Tony Vlachos
Two-time winner, Tony Vlachos is arguably the greatest player in Survivor the story. And its wild gameplay comes in two forms. All along Cagayan, Vlachos has proven to be a largely erratic figure who easily toppled alliances, stabbed allies, found immunity idols, and even built “spy huts” to spy on other competitors.
But perhaps even more chaotically, Vlachos has played a completely different game throughout. Winners in the war, favoring a low profile and more subtle power movements to ensure its success. No one knew what Vlachos was doing at any given time, and he could very well be the most chaotic player in the history of the game.
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