While Survivor has gone through phases of obviously telegraphing finalists (in particular winners), on the flip side there are notable cases where the unlikeliest of players have made it to the end. Many of these players were ignored by the edit for large parts of the game or quite often looked like they'd be the next to be voted out but instead surprised us all by making it to the end of the game and in some cases walking away with the title. Today American Ozlet Alec Culver takes a look at just 10 players who at the time of their respective seasons airing were real surprise finalists. Read on to find out which finalists crack the top 10!
Whoever wins a season either defines what a good season is or not. Some people think that the obvious best player needs to win. However, sometimes the season is improved by having that one person in the finals that no one expected and they often win. There is always that person that based on an edit we think oh they will probably be that random vote out in an episode but they will never win and probably never make the finals. They never seem to get an edit to make the finals let alone win. They aren’t portrayed as a goat and sometimes they just aren’t portrayed at all. They never get a winners quote so you don’t even see why they are in the finals. Sometimes there is that person, whether they get there by riding coattails or by the skin of their teeth today I count down the top 10 surprise finalists, therefore they have to make the final 2 or 3 and this is purely based solely on the edit they received or by how much help they needed from other people in the game to help them make the finals.
10. Sophie Clark – Survivor: South Pacific
Okay late in the game it was no surprise that Sophie was possibly making the final 3 but early on it didn’t seem like it at all. A lot of time the editors tend to just give us the finalists down our throats especially if they are going to be the winners. So I’m sure a lot of us, myself included thought that Sophie was going to be on the outside looking in on the finals, just someone who was a decent player but she wouldn’t make the finals. At least up until one point I thought Brandon would make it into the finals over Sophie but she shocked everyone by making the finals and not only that but winning the game as well.
9. Neleh Dennis – Survivor: Marquesas
I have nothing bad to say on Neleh as my fellow Utahn and she is amazing. But early on in Marquesas lines were drawn and alliances were formed and although Neleh was part of that she was always at the bottom. Then the tribe switch happened and she was left on a small tribe that by merge time only had herself and her 2 closest allies Pascal and Kathy left. It never looked like Neleh was going to make the finals. Even after she created the new alliance she was always seen at the bottom and would get voted out at some point. I mean she almost went home at the final 5 and final 4. Based on the edit it didn’t seem possible for Neleh to make the finals and so when she did it was a shock and thankfully it was a good shock.
8. Becky Lee – Survivor: Cook Islands
Late in the game it was no surprise that Becky made the finals. Early in the game we saw her make the alliance with Yul that would eventually get her all the way to the end of the game. However, it didn’t seem like that at all for a good part of the game. She had a very minimal edit. She only had 5 confessionals pre merge and 10 post merge. Therefore they were also playing her up to not be a threat to win the game. Also what makes this a surprising fact of her making the final 3 is that no one, not even the audience, knew it was going to be a final 3 this season. So we all thought that it could come down to Ozzy vs Yul towards the end but then the final 3 allowed Becky to make the finals. It was a shock for her to make the finals, however, it was not a shock that she did not get a single vote.
7. Albert Destrade – Survivor: South Pacific
Early on in the game you could only really predict that Coach was going to make the end. Yes towards the end, Albert was a clear finalist. He was never a target for anyone however, early on in the game Albert was just there. He only had 6 pre merge confessionals and that only came in 2 total episodes. He was never a guy that had a ton of screen time until the final 2 episodes really. He came on strong late but was always going to be the goat in that situation. However, early on in the season it was just have been a surprise to see him even make the finals and then he does it was a total shock.
6. Courtney Yates – Survivor: China
Courtney’s edit in China was kind of a little one dimensional. She was the wiz kid of confessionals. She just had all the one liners. There was nothing of substance to her edit that made her a real threat to even make the finals. First off, she was by far the weakest on her tribe and on top of that she never really had that breakthrough episode where she was the mastermind of anything. She was just the funny weak girl and so it was a total shock to see her in the finals. Obviously at some point it became obvious especially at the final 6 but up to that point you could have never predicted her to make the finals, and on top of that get more votes than Amanda who was being portrayed as a possible winner. I know when I first saw China, Courtney was never going to be on my list of potential finalists.
5. Vecepia Towery – Survivor: Marquesas
The first few episodes of Vecepia’s game were strong ones no doubt. However, because of where her tribe was headed she was sure to just eventually be voted out. A tribe switch truly helped her though but it made her fade into the back ground a lot. She was very rarely seen and after Sean was voted out it was just forgone knowledge that she was going to be voted out next. However, because of some politics that has become quite controversial she ended up winning immunity. Once you were in the final 3 there was no doubt that Vecepia was going to make the finals. But, up until the final 3 there was no way she was going to make the finals. I mean she was never given anything truly to make her seem like a viable threat to win except that she was good socially but even that at the final tribal council came back to haunt her. I feel that she is a huge surprise finalist and a clear surprise winner but a deserving one.
4. Cassandra Franklin – Survivor: Fiji
To be fair on this one, if she was on the other tribe at any point of the game, she probably would have been voted out. However, she was never on the Ravu tribe and therefore made it all the way to the merge with only going to tribal council once. Even with that first tribal council her name was brought up as a target. She was the target of the 4 horsemen’s plan with Mookie’s idol that her alliance was able to counter act. Post merge you kind of knew at a certain point that she was going to be dragged to the end because she was weak and didn’t really play the game that well. However, going into the season I don’t think anyone predicted her to be in the final 3 at all. I know I thought she was going to be voted out early and that might have been the case if she went to tribal a lot more so she was a big surprise to end up making the final 3.
3. Bob Crowley – Survivor: Gabon
You know a player is a surprise finalist when you believe there is no chance they will make the finals until they are actually there. Bob was getting a good edit, if by good edit you mean the guy who is quiet and just gets known as the crafty person. In all honesty it is hard to find edit time when you are in a season with Sugar, Randy, Ken and Crystal. In the pre-merge Bob got a minimal edit and even one episode where everyone got at least 2 confessionals the eventual winner got 0. Post-merge he got a much better edit but it was an edit of him being a huge threat and so you didn’t think he was going to make the finals. At the final 4 he was easily supposed to be the one voted out until Sugar decides to switch her vote. Just for the fact that it was never believed that Bob would make the finals until he was there makes him one of the biggest surprise finalists ever.
2. Susie Smith – Survivor: Gabon
Hey back to back from Gabon. Basically the final 3 in Gabon is one of, if not the, most shocking final 3 in the history of Survivor. Outside of the finally and the episode where Marcus is voted out Susie had a total of 7 confessionals. Her making it to the end was kind of foreshadowed by Charlie in the first episode but no one ever believed it at all. Even in the final 4 people saw her as a threat and wanted to vote her out and then she won immunity. She survived multiple scares, the Dan vote out and the Randy vote out. She was always seen as annoying which is not a good thing and even if she made it to the finals she would be the no vote getter but she was being portrayed as so annoying that she would be lucky to even make the finals. Her making it to the end was surprising and she is one of the most shocking finalists ever.
1. Jaclyn Schultz – Survivor: San Juan Del Sur
All 3 of the finalists in San Juan Del Sur could make a case to be on this list but I feel the other 2 had a lot better of a finalist edit going into it. First of all in the first 4 episodes Jaclyn was not seen, like at all. She had her duel confessional with Jon and then her next confessional was about Drew and what Alec said about him. Just for the fact that for 4 straight episodes we literally saw absolutely nothing of Jaclyn except almost beating her boyfriend in a challenge, just shows that she wasn’t going to make the finals. People that have that type of edit tend to just be a middle of the merge boot. The post tribe switch she still got the short end of the stick in edit as even though she and Jon were caught in the middle he got all the edit time about it. Then during the whole merge part of the game she was just seen as Jon’s sidekick and was seen making a decision here and there but she got most of her edit time when her and Jon were fighting. Then after Jon got voted out she needed some help from Natalie to even make it to the final 4, then she had to win immunity to make it to the finals. Throughout the whole season no one ever predicted Jaclyn to make the finals, let alone get second place. Just the fact that she had to get help to make the finals and that no one would have ever predicted that throughout the season makes her the most surprising finalists in Survivor history.
Honorable Mentions: Kim Johnson – Survivor: Africa, Natalie White – Survivor: Samoa, Woo Hwang – Survivor: Cagayan, Natalie Anderson – Survivor: San Juan Del Sur, Missy Payne – Survivor: San Juan Del Sur, Will Sims II – Survivor: Worlds Apart.
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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