Ranking the Survivor Kellys

If you’re like us- and given the self-selecting nature on the internet of finding opinions that match your own, you probably are- you were mildly amused by the fact that this season featured two women of the same name. This of course lead to two incredibly important questions: why are there so many Survivor Kellys and how do they rate? I’m sure my attempt to answer these pressing inquiries will be completely definitive and beyond dispute. There may be room for only one Kelley on the island, but there’s room for several on this list. Perhaps even more than you realized.

survivor_kellys1. Kelly Wiglesworth – Borneo, Cambodia: Second Chance

Yes, still. Sure she was a Purple-est Kelly dud in her second go round, but the O.G. Kelly is still the first runner-up in the history of the show, back when Survivor was a big-ass deal. She came within one vote (perhaps a few digits of guessing a number… but probably not) of not only winning, but perhaps changing the entire direction of the series (probably for the worse, but still). She even coined the phrase “I’m not here to make friends”, a major contribution to the entire genre of reality TV. Even if she hadn’t come back for this season (and some of the footage suggests she hadn’t), she’d still be number one.

At least for now…

2. Kelley Wentworth – San Juan del SurCambodia: Second Chance


As author to two of the most entertaining moments so far this season, K***** W******** is definitely rising up the ranks of Kelly/Kelleys with each passing week. Originally a pretty, but fairly forgettable blonde (remember that description for later) in San Juan del Sur, Kelley used her fandom and internet savvy to stay in the public consciousness and get another crack at the show. Now, she’s knocking on the door for the title of “Best Survivor Kelly (Kelley) of all-time”, a title almost as cool as Sole Survivor. If she wins this season, we may have to retitle this Ranking the Survivor Kelleys in her honor.

3. Kelly Goldsmith – Africa


If they were to do another Second Chance season, Kelly Goldsmith should get a crack at it. I worry that her season isn’t beloved enough for it to matter (see: Cooper, T-Bird), but she was fun enough in a classic season to warrant another look. Plus, she deserves a chance to regain her top two Kelly position that Wentworth has snatched from her.

4. Reed Kelly – San Juan del Sur


Ha, ha! Curve ball! Bet you didn’t see that coming, if you scroll through things very carefully and slowly! I’m pretty ambivalent on Mr. Kelly: he was a bit too much of a spaz and his final jury performance was a bit too much for me, but he did have his moments post-merge. That’s enough to make him a shining star on this list. Plus, he might be the prettiest Kelly in the history of the show.

Halftime Kelly Break!

5. Kelly Remington – Worlds Apart


This is probably a recency thing, because Kelly has all the hallmarks of someone who will fade into obscurity: wasn’t featured much in the edit, was an incidental boot at the merge, did not make the jury, is named Kelly. But for now, we remember who she is. Mostly.

6. Kelly Bruno – Nicaragua


Hey, remember that time when a truly awful person bullied a disabled person and then suffered absolutely no karmic retribution for her actions and instead got to basically decide who won their season? That was awesome. I’m totally coming around on Nicaragua, guys.

7. Kelly Shinn – Nicaragua


You’d be forgiven if you assumed that this was the bottom of the list. After all, the original Purple Kelly HAS to be last, right? I mean, she’s FAMOUS for being invisible! 29 days on the worst season in the history of the show without ever being established as a person on the show. That should be good for last place on any list.

Except… she’s FAMOUS for being invisible. Ask any non-casual Survivor fan about “Purple Kelly”, and they will know what you’re talking about. They might not know who. They might not remember what she looks like. But they know Purple Kelly. It is an enduring meme. This makes her a much more significant figure in the history of the show than these other anonymous Survivor Kellys I’m about to get to. Truth be told, it makes her more significant than the other Kelly from her season that I just ranked above her. But seriously, Bruno had to put up with NaOnka. Let’s give her this dignity.

8. Kelly Sharbaugh – Samoa


Was a non-Russell person on Survivor: Russell Hantz who became the first (but not only) Survivor Kelly to be idoled out of the game. Had white-girl dreads. These are things I remember because A) the trivia aspect of the idol and B) I’m looking at photo of her. Things actually about her? I remember none of them. Seriously, how has this show had so many people of no consequence with the same name in its history? This includes the top two names on the list who are 50/50 in terms of seasons that they made an impression in. We may make fun of Purple Kelly, but in truth, besides Goldsmith, they are all Purple Kelly.

9. Kelly Czarnecki – Gabon


I have no recollection of this person. Seriously, she could be working in my office right now and I wouldn’t know that she was somebody from a show that I’ve watched every episode of for over 15 years and now podcast and blog about.

Honourable Mention:
Kel Gleason – The Australian Outback


My relatively lazy research has been unable to discern what Kel is short for, if anything. So, sadly, no top ten list. He’d be top five for sure.