Survivor Returns: Look Back on the Most Shocking Moments Before Edge of Extinction

Take a walk down Survivor memory lane

By Lauren Piester Feb 20, 2019 8:26 PMTags
Survivor: Edge of ExtinctionCBS

It's the Wednesday we've all been waiting for, the Wednesday when Survivor comes back into our lives. 

Tonight, CBS premieres Survivor: Edge of Extinction, a season apparently unlike any other, featuring the option for eliminated castaways to head to a special island to fight to rejoin the game. It's a mix of newbies and returning players, including Kelley Wentworth (Second Chance), David Wright(Millennials vs Gen X), Aubry Bracco (Kaoh Rong), and Joe Anglim (Worlds Apart), and according to Jeff Probst, it's all about how far you're willing to go for the game. 

It sounds a little nuts, and it's bound to give us some new shocking moments to remember for many Survivor seasons to come. While we wait for it to blow our minds, let's take a journey through Survivor history to look back on some of the craziest moments the show has given us so far, over the course of 37 seasons. 

Meet the Survivor: Edge of Extinction Cast

From season 36's winning tie all the way back to season seven's big grandmother fib, scroll down for the biggest Survivor moments so far (and also one of the funniest). 

Dan's Ejection

In a shocking move, Survivor ejected Dan Spilo from the game following an off-camera incident. Contestant Kellee Kim previously made her feelings known about Dan's boundary-crossing touching.


Survivor producers broke the fourth wall while interviewing contestant Kellee Kim about her feelings regarding Dan Spilo and what she felt was inappropriate touching and invasion of her personal space. Kellee confided in fellow contestant Missy Byrd about the situation, who then came up with a fake story about Elizabeth Beisel and Dan in an effort to get players to turn against him, which was definitely not a popular move. Things got worse when it was Kellee who was voted out in a blindside...with two idols in her pocket. 

Wendy Clucks Up

Oh, Wendy. The Survivor: Edge of Extinction player made it her mission to keep any tribemates from eating the chickens they had won, even though she's not even a vegetarian. She first even stole the flint, so they would have trouble making a fire to cook the chicken. Then, when she got an entirely new tribe in a switch-up, she followed through on her plan to set the chickens free in the dead of night. She was positively gleeful about having done it, and we were positively confused about this move in terms of strategy. 

Dan Gets Nullified

The David vs. Goliath dynamic finally evened out several weeks into the merge when the Davids, with three advantages on their side, outwitted and outplayed the Goliaths to send Dan home with the help of a stolen vote and the first ever use of the Idol Nullifier by Carl, which rendered Dan's precious immunity idol totally useless. 

The look on Dan's face was incredible, and Carl proved he might be a dark horse in this competition as he celebrated with a jubilant, "Bing!" No joke, we were clapping. 

Storm's A-Comin'

Season 37 tortured the castaways with some of the worst weather ever, forcing them to compete in torrential rains and even causing a game-ending injury for one contestant during a boat ride on choppy waters. Every single contestant had to be evacuated during a cyclone in the fifth episode, which meant they had to be sequestered in simple comfort-free tents with no talking amongst themselves allowed, to preserve the game. The weather also resulted in one of the funniest episodes to date...

Jacket Racket

OK, this wasn't shocking at all, but we may never stop thinking about it, so we're memorializing it here anyway. 

You see, in season 37, the weather was very bad, and everyone was very cold. Angelina was especially cold, and all she wanted was a jacket. First, she wanted Lyrsa's jacket. Then Natalie tried to get Nick to give up his jacket to keep him from going home, and it all ended with Natalie going home, jacket in hand. 

"Natalie, is there any way I could have your jacket?" asked Angelina. 

Natalie didn't respond, even after Angelina started timidly calling, "Natalie? Natalie?" as she got her torch snuffed out. 

Natalie then put her jacket on to say her last words and declared that if a jacket was part of the reason she was leaving, she wasn't going to be giving it up. 

Maybe you had to be there, but we promise it was highly entertaining. 

It's a Tie?!

Everybody knew something wild was happening at the end of season 36 when Jeff started reading the final votes while everyone was still on the island (and not waiting until the live finale reunion, as usual), but then it became clear: he knew it was a tie! Never before in the history of Survivor had the final vote for the winner resulted in a tie, third place finisher Laurel was forced to choose between Domenick and Wendell. Obviously, she chose her buddy Wendell. 

Game Changer, Indeed

Two-time contestant Zeke Smith was forced to reveal himself to be transgender during Game Changers, after fellow tribe member Jeff Varner decided to out him in front of the other contestants. 

"There is deception here. Deceptions on levels Jeff that these guys don't even understand," Jeff said during the tribal council, just before he was eliminated. "Why haven't you told anyone that you're transgender?" The other contestants were outraged, as were viewers, with most calling it the ugliest move in the game's history.

Snakes and Rats

Truly one of Survivor's most iconic moments was Sue Hawk's speech during the final tribal council in season one, directed at Richard Hatch and Kelly Wiglesworth. Richard was a snake, and Kelly was the rat, with Sue advising the other voters to let the snake eat the rat. It was chilling and epic. 

A Major Mistake

Back in season 16, Erik Reichenbach had made it to the final five and had individual immunity—a very good spot to be in. But he squandered that good position when he handed over his individual immunity to Natalie and was immediately voted out. Viewers even got to see each and every vote before Jeff read them, because it was just so obvious. 

Trivial Troubles

Oops! During a trivia challenge on Survivor: Africa, Lex van den Berghe failed to win immunity...even though he actually had the right answer to a question. When the cast reunited later prior to the live finale, everyone realized the error, with CBS later paying Lex, as well as Tom Buchanan, who also was voted out due to the error, a settlement of $100,000. 

NSFW (or the FCC)

Survivor: Gabon got off to a revealing start when contestant Marcus Lehman's genitals were briefly shown, uncensored, during the premiere. This happened again during Caramoan, when Brenda Lowe's nipples were briefly aired uncensored in the third episode. Both instances were later removed from the airing by CBS. 

Stick Happens

In arguably one of the saddest and most hilarious moments, Survivor: Micronesia contestant Jason Siska believed he had a hidden Immunity idol in his possession...but it turned out to be a stick. A STICK. 

The Grandmother of All Lies

Jon "Johnny Fairplay" Dalton lied about his grandmother passing during season 7 in order to win the episode's challenge and gain sympathy from the other contestants. He  was soon banned from all future Survivor events by Jeff Probst, but returned for season 16. 

First Evac

The show's first evacuation ever came when Michael Skupin fell into his camp's fire in The Australian Outback. After diving into the river to quell the burns, he was helicoptered out of the game. He would later return to compete during Survivor: Philippines

Another shock related to Skupin came later on, when he was found guilty of four counts of child pornography in 2016. 

Full Cast Evac

For the first time in season 33, the entire cast had to be evacuated from Fiji due to a dangerous cyclone that was heading straight toward the camps on just the second day of competition.

Coral Reef Thief

Fan-favorite Colby Donaldson found himself in international legal trouble with the Australian authorities after he broke off pieces of coral from a protected reef to bring home as souvenirs during Australian Outback. Fortunately, an apology from the show's producers was enough to keep him out of major trouble.

"Most Frightening" Moment

Caleb Reynolds collapsed due to heat stroke in season 32, with his temperature rising to 110 degrees. He was quickly evacuated and host Jeff Probst called it one of the "most frightening" moments in his time on the show.

Survivor airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on CBS. 

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