30 from 30: #15 – Osten Taylor Quits Survivor

The Moment:

Osten Taylor lays down his torch and becomes the first person to quit the game.

We’re counting down the 30 Moments That Shaped Survivor, events that happened on the show that helped create and evolve the game and the series that we know and love. Go here to view the criteria we are using to determine what qualifies for the list. And since these posts are covering the first thirty seasons of Survivor, there will be spoilers for various Survivor seasons.


Why It Matters:

Seven seasons into Survivor, we had only seen people leave the game in two ways: they were voted out, or they were medically evacuated. Those were the only two options. Then, seven episodes in to Pearl Islandsthe Outcasts returned and forced both tribes into one last tribal council before the merge.

If you recall, the Morgan tribe had not started the game well. They were stuck on a crappy beach, they struggled to get food, and lost the first six challenges in a row. But when Burton (Editor’s note: stupid, sexy Burton) convinced the Drake tribe throw a challenge, Morgan got their first taste of victory. The Morgan tribe then won the next two immunity challenges, and both tribes had five members left going into the challenge against the Outcasts. But when the Outcasts won that challenge, each tribe had to vote someone out.

Osten Taylor, or O.T. as his Morgan tribemates called him, had a rough go of it on Pearl Islands. He gave up most of his clothes in the first episode to get money for his tribe to trade for supplies, so he was wandering around for most of the season with only his boxers on. He was also someone who didn’t have a lot of extra fat, so the lack of food hit him hard. I mean look at the man, not much to lose besides muscle.

God-body Osten Taylor
“I traded my body fat for a machete back in the village.”

Osten also had acquired multiple staph infections while living on the beach, and he talked endlessly about how the game was sapping his strength and will. He even almost drowned at one point!

Osten swimming

And of course he had to deal with this:

Pearl Islands Pete the Pelican taunts Osten
“Hey bro, nice boxers. You should quit.”

Fun fact about Osten Taylor: the man doesn’t like pelicans. Or birds at all, really. Actually, he just doesn’t like nature in general. So when Pelican Pete wandered into their camp, the rest of his tribe laughed. But not Osten. Seriously, that pelican was out to get him, and Osten was damned if a bird got the last laugh.

Osten threatens Pelican Pete with a stick
“Hit me with a stick if you’re a quitter!”

But the bird did have the last laugh. Because rather than forcing his Morgan tribe- a solid alliance of five- to vote out one of their own, Osten said that he was done. He had enough of the starving, enough of the sickness, and enough of that damn pelican!

Pete the Pelican stare-down
“Mission accomplished.”

When the tribe got to tribal council, Osten told Jeff he was asking everyone to vote for him. And Jeff got mad. Livid, really. Because the thing about Jeff- as we learned right as Osten was giving up- is that he hates quitters. Hates them. Almost as much as Osten hates pelicans.

So Jeff tore into Osten. He let him know that he wouldn’t have the honor of being voted out. He made Osten say he was quitting. Then, having never had a tribal council end without having to say “the tribe has spoken”, he improvised this sign-off: “Osten, per your wishes, go home.” And that was it. Osten Taylor became Survivor‘s first quitter.

The Impact:

Osten may have been the first quitter, but he wasn’t the last. Let’s take a stroll down Quitter’s Lane:

Just the next season, Survivor brought back an entire season of returning contestants and two of them quit. Jenna Morasca walked away because her mother was dying. Sue Hawk quit because she had to endure Richard Hatch rubbing his genitals on her in a challenge (and the show didn’t seem all too concerned about it.)

A few seasons later, Janu quit Palau because she wasn’t liked by the rest of her tribe and because they were determined to drag her to the end as a goat. Fittingly, she spent the first ever night at the appropriately-named Exile Island before deciding to call it quits.

Janu Palau
Super-flattering Janu picture included for reference

In Fiji, Papa Smurf quit because he was dealing with an injury and apparently dizziness from a bugbite. Nobody remembers this because A) Fiji was pretty awful, and B) who the hell is Papa Smurf?

Kathy Sleckman quit Micronesia largely because she stopped taking her Zoloft prescription and was having some rather unhealthy thoughts.

Arguably the worst quits were in Nicaragua, when two people (Naonka and Purple Kelly) quit with just nine people left in the game. In fairness, they only did what all the viewers wanted to do: try to get the awful cast of Nicaragua out of their lives as quickly as possible. In a fun twist, the two quitters turned out to be the deciding votes at final tribal council! Seriously, Nicaragua is shit.

Nicaragua beach
Pictured: Nicaragua. Not pictured: Survivor Nicaragua. You’re welcome.

Colton spared us all his continued presence by quitting Blood vs Water because he was a whiny racist little brat that no one wanted to play with. But he did treat us to an amazing confessional before he left in which he claimed that nobody wanted to play the game and strategize, when the reality was that they had played the game and strategize; Colton just wasn’t part of their plans.

Colton quits on Survivor blood vs water
Reminder: Out of a group of ten, he had two other players from the same season he was on. He still had no alliance.

Lindsey quit Cagayan because she claims she was this close to clocking Trish. And obviously she didn’t want to set a bad example for her daughter by punching Trish on TV. (The possibility of simply not punching Trish was never considered, I guess.)

In San Juan del Sur, Julie McGee quit because she wanted to spend more time with John Rocker, thus becoming the first person who has ever wanted to spend more time with John Rocker.

The initial outrage that greeted Osten’s quit has subsided some, and quitting is almost commonplace now. But before Osten, most people didn’t even considered the possibility that someone might just walk away from the game, particularly when everyone cast on the show had applied and been selected over tens of thousands of applicants. Judging by his reactions, Probst sure didn’t. And while Osten’s quit probably didn’t encourage future players to quit, he at least broke the seal. With a little help from Pelican Pete.

What Else Made the List?

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