30 from 30 Listener Poll: Help Choose the Moments that Shaped Survivor

As you’ve hopefully heard, we’re assembling a list of the 30 moments that shaped Survivor (if you haven’t heard, go check out this post now for details). We’ve put together a list of 25 moments based on our initial discussions and feedback from you. But now we’d like your help in rounding out the list before we publish it for your reading pleasure.

30 from 30 series logo

In the poll below, pick the five moments you feel are worthy of inclusion, then stay tuned to see the 30 moments that made Survivor what it is today.


  • “Moments” are defined as things that happened within a closed sequence of time. These are not “things” or “people”. For a moment to be a “moment” it has to have happened in a moment of time. Thus things that were gradual changes or a sequence of events don’t count.
  • Moments had to be televised events on Survivor. Backstage happenings, rumors, casting decisions, etc don’t count. What was aired counts and is taken at face value (because we’re less concerned with the reality of a moment and more concerned with its influence on the series as a whole).
  • These are not the biggest strategic moments, or the funniest moments, or the most amazing moments; it can be any of those, but it must also have had some sort of lasting impact on the game or the show itself.
  • We’re more interested on the impact of the moment on the entire series rather than how much it impacted the season in which it occurred. Something may have had little impact when it happened, but if it shaped how future Survivors would play, or how the show would portray itself, it matters.
  • We are interested in moments that influenced both how the game is played and how the show is presented. Therefore, moments need not be gameplay-based to matter.
  • Since we’re measuring influence, the later we get into Survivor’s run of seasons, the less opportunity there is for series-shaping moments. This is not a judgement on the quality of these seasons. It is also difficult to measure the impact of recent seasons without the time to see that impact put into play.
  • The first time something happens isn’t necessarily the most influential time it happens. Something happened for the first time might not necessarily be influential at all.


Note: We’ve already selected 25 moments for the list that we’ve yet to reveal. So if you don’t see a moment here, it either means A) we’ve already chosen it, or B) we’ve deemed it unworthy. So hold off on commenting on something’s lack of inclusion until the full list is published (which will be published one at a time, chronologically. So you’ll know right away if something’s been snubbed and thus can let us have it then).

Skupin falls in the fire
Justification: This proved to viewers that Survivor was a different breed of reality show, with genuine danger involved.

Colby chooses Tina over Keith
Justification: Seeing Colby throw away a million dollars in front of 40 million people gave birth to the “bring the goat to the end” strategy.

Stephenie and Bobby-Jon’s fire-making tiebreaker
Justification: The first time we see the fire-making tiebreaker that would lead to future hilarity.

Stephenie spends the night alone after Ulong is decimated
Justification: Production enjoyed the pathos so much, they created Exile Island.

Tom and Ian play purple rock chicken
Justification: Illustrates that you can break a tie by having a greater resolve than the opposing alliance. If you’re willing to go to rocks, someone on the other side might not be.

13 hour final immunity challenge in Palau
Justification: Tom and Ian’s epic battle was the death knell for endurance challenges in the final 3/4.

Stephenie and Bobby-Jon return for Guatemala
Justification: Survivor discovers another way to bring back former contestants other than All-Star seasons.

Danni identifies Gary “Hawkins” Hogeboom
Justification: Lying about your outside-the-game identity becomes a thing, as does casting former pro athletes/quasi celebrities.

Danni buys an advantage at the auction
Justification: The auction transforms from a fun break from the game to another element of strategy and gameplay.

James is voted out with two immunity idols
Justification: Birth of the strategy to target and blindside idol holders, proving idols aren’t as powerful as they used to be.


Which five of these moments should make the list of the 30 Moments that Shaped Survivor?

  • James is voted out with two immunity idols (17% Votes)
  • Skupin falls in the fire (16% Votes)
  • Colby chooses Tina over Keith (14% Votes)
  • 13 hour final immunity challenge in Palau (12% Votes)
  • Danni buys an advantage at the auction (10% Votes)
  • Stephenie spends the night alone after Ulong is decimated (10% Votes)
  • Stephenie and Bobby-Jon return for Guatemala (7% Votes)
  • Stephenie and Bobby-Jon's fire-making tiebreaker (7% Votes)
  • Tom and Ian play purple rock chicken (5% Votes)
  • Introducing Gary "Hawkins" Hogeboom (3% Votes)

Total Voters: 254

Loading ... Loading ...

Now that you’ve voted, why not argue your case in the comments below? Maybe you’ll influence how other people vote? You know, like Colby did.