Survivor Oz Top 10–Top 10 Game Changing Moments


Another Wednesday means another SURVIVOR OZ TOP TEN, this week from Ozlet Heather Short! In every season of Survivor, we see moments in the game that change the outcome of the season in a significant way. Today, Heather presents her top ten game-changing moments in Survivor history. Do you agree with the moments that cracked this week’s top ten? Only one way to find out!

Over the course of Survivor, there is no doubt that many huge moments have occurred – these moments featured in our 2012 poll after all! However, here are ten different moments that changed the very course of that season’s game, and no doubt changed the history of the show itself! Each one had a different, but very important impact to their seasons as well as the game itself. Enjoy!

10. Danielle Defeats Cirie in the Final Four Tiebreaker Challenge – Panama


While this moment seems pretty minor, it really changed the winner of ‘Survivor: Panama’. It’s the Final Four, and Aras won Immunity over Terry, meaning that the obvious person to vote out is off the table. Terry was holding the Hidden Immunity Idol, which was still in play at the Final Four during this season. Terry and Danielle vote for Cirie, while Aras and Cirie vote for Danielle, causing a deadlocked tie. While no purple rocks were drawn, the episode ‘Call the Whambulance’ ended on a cliff-hanger on who would leave.

The next episode starts off with the fire building challenge where Cirie goes down in flames, missing out on the Final Three. Now, this moment kicks off the last bit of Panama. Notably, Danielle wins the Final Immunity Challenge because she can balance better than the other two guys. Another thing, Danielle later stabs Terry in the back by sending him to the jury, not only costing Terry the win, but giving Aras the win because Danielle burning bridges cost her the win.

While one could play the “what if” card all day, Aras would have had a harder time winning sitting next to Cirie, who is usually regarded as one of the best players never to have won, or Terry, one of the most dominant players as well as having a Jury that consisted of three members from Terry’s old tribe of La Mina. With Danielle winning the tie breaker a more predicable outcome to Panama arose.

9. Tyson is Blindsided – Tocantins


The next moment is the Tyson blindside in Tocantins. While the preceding blindside of Brendan signalled the cracks in the old Timbira tribe, this was the moment when it fell apart. Coach had his core alliance in Debbie and Tyson, as well as pulling in J.T. and Stephen to form the “Warriors Alliance”. The pecking order after Joe was pulled out was Brendan, Sierra, Erinn, and then Taj. While the Brendan vote off worked like a charm, it was when Sierra was slated to go when everything changed.

The reason Timbira was such a fractured tribe was because of the infighting. One member, Erinn, was an outsider for most of the game. Not content with that, she joined up with J.T., Stephen, and Taj. After the Individual Immunity challenge that Debbie won, Erinn pointed out that Tyson didn’t have Immunity, (he had won Immunity the last two times). Figuring that Sierra would cast her vote towards Tyson, the other four decide to piggy back off of her vote to send him home in a five-three vote.

This changed up Tocantins drastically. It caused the rest of Timbira to crumble, except Erinn, who was later voted out after Taj. Usually, it would be predicable when the tribes merge at four-six and then it instantly turns into three-six; however, the crashing down of the larger tribe of six turned into an underdog win for J.T. With Erinn’s help, Coach’s alliance broke apart and denied him the win for this season.

8. Susie Turns on the ‘Onion Alliance’ and Takes out Marcus – Gabon


‘Survivor: Gabon’ could have been very predicable. “The Onions” were in control of Kota. To recap, the Onions were an alliance of Marcus, Charlie, Bob, Jacque, and Corrine. Although the first Tribal Switch took out Jacque, it also gave them Susie and Randy. While Randy easily gave up Fang, Susie was clearly on the outs. However, Susie stuck around to vote out Dan, someone that could have easily stuck with the Onions, over herself. All of them made it pretty clear that she was on the bottom of the alliance, so when the opportunity came about, Susie went for it.

A surprise last minute second Tribe Switch took away Marcus’s allies in Charlie and Corrine, and gave him Crystal and Ken. Even though he figured out that he and Crystal had an outside connection, Crystal didn’t act upon it when he suggested that they take out Ken. When Crystal gave Susie the option, she decided to go for it. When Kota lost the next Immunity Challenge, Marcus was blindsided due to the fact that Susie went back on her word to “the onions”.

This impacted two things in Gabon. Marcus was the one that would most likely dominate in challenges after the Merge, and “the Onions” would have free control of the second half of the game. Susie taking out Marcus made Bob an outsider for most of the game, and it also gave her the ability to make it to the end. Even though in the end an “Onion” won, Bob’s win was very unlikely after Marcus went home, and that made for an unpredictable season.

7. Burton is Blindsided for the Second Time – Pearl Islands


For most of Pearl Islands, Jonny Fairplay ran the entire game. After the Rupert blindside, he was pretty much cutting down everyone who went against him. Tijuana and Christa were his next victims before Sandra took action. Even though he had the Grandma lie as well as a loyal ally in Burton, Sandra was working against him. It was when a Reward Challenge sent Burton and Jon away from camp that Sandra made the move of Pearl Islands.

While the guys were away, Sandra pointed out to Lil and Darrah that Jonny Fairplay had Final Three deals with everyone in the game. It was there when the lies finally caught up with him. When they returned from the Reward, Jon attempted to get Sandra back on his side, as she feigned depression in order for him to do this. He swore on his dead grandma that he would take out Lil next and have Sandra in the Final Three. While he thought that she swore that she would be loyal on her two kids, under her breath she swore that she was going to “screw you and Burton”, who became the next casualty right after.

This was the first time someone openly defied Jon after Rupert was voted out, as well as the first time Jon experienced a hiccup in his plans since the Trish blindside. Even though he recovered from Trish leaving, Jon never really climbed back into power to be much of a threat, and losing to Lil in the Final Immunity Challenge put the last nail in his coffin, and the snuffer to his torch.

6. Jeff Varner Goes Home After the Past Votes Tiebreaker – Australian Outback


For most of Australia, Kucha was the dominant tribe. They only went to Tribal Council twice, once to get rid of everyone’s favorite player Debb, and the other to get rid of Kimmi. Both of those times each lady voted for Jeff before they left. Just before the Merge, Skupin fell in the fire, evening up the numbers by the Merge. Although the game could have been different had he not have fell in, Kucha still had a glimmer of hope to come out on top.

For a little reminder, to break a tie back in the first few seasons, if a re-vote doesn’t resolve the tie, whoever had the most ‘past votes’ against them would leave the game. It was seen first in the Keith and Mitchell vote, and it was seen again at the Merge. Tina managed to figure out from Kimmi during a challenge who Debb voted for and that person was good old Jeff Varner. Colby acted arrogant to draw votes away from Jerri, who had quite a few votes against her, and the only other Ogakor with votes, Keith, won Immunity. With the past votes breaking the five-five tie, it was Jeff going home at the end of the episode.

This moment was important due to the fact that it squashed a Kucha win flat. Although you do get moments when Jerri and Amber were voted out, no one from Kucha had a chance to win. Ogakor ran the post-merge game, with Tina in control of who went home every three days. After the Jeff vote it was clear that someone from Ogakor would walk away winning and it all began with Debb’s vote for him at the first Tribal Council.

5. The Blindside of Gretchen – Borneo


In the beginning, when Mark Burnett created Survivor; alliances were consisted a dirty way to play the game. The thought of banning together towards a common goal was cowardly, and only those who weren’t the weakest would walk away with the million. Well, no one told the Tagi Four that they couldn’t do that. Richard and his band changed the way the game was played with one, simple vote off.

Pagong was a simple tribe; its leader was the beloved Gretchen Cordy. She had experience with the survival aspect of Survivor, and therefore a lot of people thought she would win it all. She made the Merge, where the Tagi Four saw that she was the strongest one there. She was the biggest threat to sink their chances. So Richard, Rudy, Kelly, and Sue all voted for her at the first Rattana Tribal Council. Turns out four was all that was needed, and Gretchen was voted out by a 4-1-1-1-1-1-1 vote and the series first ever blindside happened. This was soon joined by countless other blindsides throughout the years.

Gretchen never saw it coming, and she wasn’t the last. Not only did it change the way Borneo turned out, it changed the very game play of Survivor. The Tagi Four voted out someone not because they were weak, sick, or annoying, they voted out someone who was strong and who was a threat to win the game. While this is now a common sight in Survivor, all blindsides can be traced to this one. The time when Gretchen realized she was going with the words, “It’s me!” is one of the most iconic Tribal Council moments ever.

4. Sophie Wins the Final Immunity Challenge, Sealing Ozzy’s Fate – South Pacific


South Pacific is usually at the bottom of most people’s list of seasons, but one thing it didn’t have is a very predictable winner. Ozzy and Coach returned for this season to play, once again, for the title of Sole Survivor. However, this season had Redemption Island in play, cheapening any blindside that happened with the chance that that person would return to the game with a vengeance. While Cochran flipping on Savaii would take away any chance of a Savaii win in a regular season, with Redemption Island, Ozzy was able to create few enemies as he won his way back in the game.

With that in mind, the Upolu five minus Brandon had that problem. Ozzy was very good in challenges and defeated every opposition on Redemption Island. He won the next Immunity Challenge, sending Rick away to the Jury despite an attempt to get rid of the Upolu alliance’s strongest player, Sophie. That fail came back to bite Ozzy, as she powered through a challenge that Ozzy himself won in the Cook Islands and won a spot in the Final Three, sending Ozzy away for the third time that season and earning her the title of Sole Survivor.

In my mind, this proves two things. One, it proves that you can’t rely on challenge wins to win the game, and two, that Redemption Island was proved to be useless as the person returning into the game would be targeted as soon as their torch is relit. Ozzy’s fall to the new ‘Dragonslayer’ is the defining moment of South Pacific, and it gave us the second new player to win against a returning player as well as denying a very predictable Ozzy win.

3. Danni Buys the Immunity Challenge Advantage – Guatemala


When Yaxhà lost Amy just before the Merge, it was clear that Gary, Bobby Jon, Brandon, and Danni didn’t have a shot at the million. That last challenge win to even up the odds went to Nakúm and put them at a disadvantage, and it looked that way as well. Aside from a Jamie blindside, Brandon, Bobby Jon, and Gary all left the game. Stephenie and the rest of the Nakúm alliance all turned their sights on Danni. Even though Lydia was a fellow outsider, Danni had only one glimmer of hope to stay in the game, to win the next Immunity.

For the first time in Survivor history, an advantage was offered up at the Survivor Auction. Danni jumped at the chance and with $200 bought it. She later used it at the challenge and won her first Individual Immunity. Having the extra time she managed to reel in Rafe on her side, and with him and Lydia’s help, managed to trick Stephenie into thinking that Judd was after her, managing to get the “Juddinator” blindsided. Danni managed to use her bond with Rafe to get to the Final Three and win the game; becoming the first new player to win against a returning player.

This moment is important to Guatemala because it gave Danni that important three more days to form that bond with Rafe, which sent Cindy and Lydia to the Jury before her. It turned around the whole game for Danni, who was a dead woman walking since the Merge. It also introduced the advantage that recently gave Abi three more days in ‘Survivor: Philippines’. Although to this day, Danni is the only one to win the game after buying the advantage, it should speak a lot about her game play. As she best said it after she won, “Money well spent”.

2. Leann is Blindsided – Vanuatu


Leann was in a great spot come the final seven. She was a main member of Ami’s all female alliance that took the Merge by storm. With Rory gone, it was all too clear that Twila and Julie had no intentions of sticking with Lopevi. Two Tribal Councils later and only Chris was left. It was also the same episode of the family visit, where Chris told his then fiancée Lori that he was going to go home if they lost that challenge. Sadly, it was Ami and her girlfriend that won the challenge, leaving a sad Chris to face his fate at Tribal Council.

However, the audience wasn’t the only ones to see Chris and Lori fight. Leann and Ami took notice, and Leann suggested that they cut Eliza, who was annoying everyone, instead of Chris. Ami agreed, but Twila and Scout were still annoyed that Scout was dropped out of a Final Four deal in favor of Julie. Twila went to Chris, telling him that all he needed to do to turn the game around was to go to Eliza and get her to vote with them or risk being blindsided. Chris managed to convince Eliza to go along and Leann was the victim of a sudden blindside that snapped the Yasur alliance’s reign and allowed Chris to claim the win.

This Blindside threw out Ami’s control of the game. Without Leann, Ami was next to go and Chris managed to get all of the Alinta tribe to trust him, as he sent them to the Jury. However, if Eliza had left instead of Leann, no doubt that Chris wouldn’t have a shot at winning the game. Chris pulled off one of the best comeback stories in a season that started off as men vs. women in a way that should have been next to impossible.

1. The Fall of the Rotu Four – Marquesas


In the first three seasons of Survivor it was customary to pick off the tribe with the less numbers at the Merge. In Africa, it still happened even though a Tribe Switch occurred. It was dubbed “Pagonging” after the Pagong tribe fell victim to this. However, in season four of the Marquesas, this all changed. Even though only three Maraamu contestants made the Merge, one of those three won the game! This was unheard of at the time. However, this is why the fall of the Rotu Four is number one. This changed the general rules of Survivor.

John Carroll and his group of Zoe, Tammy and The General were dead set on a win. When Gabe refused to commit to the game, he formed this group called the Rotu Four, to vote him out. Gabe was beloved by the rest of the original Rotu members, (now on Maraamu after a Tribe Switch), and cased Kathy, Paschal, and Neleh to wonder what was going on. At the Merge, Kathy was sure that she was going home after Boston Rob, Vecepia, and Sean left the game, and tried to get Paschal and Neleh to rise up against John. However, still loyal to their tribal lines, they voted Rob out of the game, with Sean next in their crosshairs.

Still trying their hardest to turn Paschal and Neleh, it took the first ever “three strikes” challenge to get Paschal and Neleh to see that the Rotu Four had too much power, and they sent John home in a six-three vote, with Zoe voting with them as well. One by one Zoe, Tammy, and The General soon followed and Vecepia was able to win the game, despite originally being on a tribe that only had three members in the merged tribe.

Even though Vecepia’s win is still underrated, and Marquesas is usually just known as “Boston Rob’s first season”, this moment was bigger than Boston Rob. Vecepia’s win was the first of its kind, and it became possible for the winners to start off on lesser tribes. Recently, Denise won ‘Survivor: Philippines’ despite being from a tribe that won nothing, but people tend to forget that over ten years earlier it first happened starting with the fall of the Rotu Four.


What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!

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7 Comments on Survivor Oz Top 10–Top 10 Game Changing Moments

  1. Nice list! I would have added Skupin falling in the fire (changing the balance of power in favor of the opposing tribe) and/or the tribal swap in Africa, but that’s just me. I’m glad the Marquesas blindside ranked high! So many people overlook it for things that seem more dramatic but aren’t quite as substantial.

  2. No Rob betraying Lex? Huge moment that made the show more cut throat.

  3. Excellent! Fun reading; stirring up memories of why I love this show so much…

  4. Many players won their F3/F2 place by winning the final challenge, this fact changed/improved only their position in the end game. #10 and #4 are not “Game Changing Moments”. For example in South Pacific Cochran’s flip (doesn’t matter if it was good or bad for him) is the move that really changed the game. #10 and #4 belong to another list, not “Game Changing Moments” list.

  5. I agree with your list completely! When I saw the heading, I immediately thought of Leann’s blindside, and was happy to see it ranked so highly. Great list!

    Candice and Jonathan’s mutiny was also a turning point in Cook Islands, isolating and uniting the Aitu four.

    I would also say Parvati’s double idol move allowed the Villains to take control of HvV.

  6. What no Heros vs Villains when jt got voted out

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