The 40 Most Influential Survivors: Ciera Eastin

Ciera Eastin

Blood vs Water, Cambodia, Game Changers

To celebrate the 40th season of Survivor, we’re counting down the 40 Most Influential Survivors to ever play the game. Because Survivor is a game, a tv show, and a rabid fandom, we’re taking all forms of influence into consideration for this list. Go here to view the criteria we are using to determine what qualifies for the list. Note: this list is presented in chronological order and there will be spoilers for various Survivor seasons.

Ciera Eastin is the 31st entry in this series.

She voted out her mom.

Who else made the list?

You can see each entry on the list by clicking this link.



Jokes! No, Ciera Eastin’s most famous move has nothing to do with her influence. Sadly, there just hasn’t been enough opportunities for children to vote out their parents since Blood vs Water (Kelley Wentworth really should have if you think about it. Baylor too). Instead, her most influential moment would come later that season when she decided to put her game on the line and go to rocks.

The rock part of the decision has some influence going forward, as we went from going 27 seasons between rock draws to only 6 for the next, but that’s a little too specific a moment to site as influential enough to qualify for the list. Instead, it was why Ciera decided to go to rocks that gets her on this list (and indeed why it is her rather than, say, Hayden). Heading into that tribal council, Ciera was in the majority alliance, with a comfortable 4-2 lead over Hayden and Katie (obscure trivia alert: she voted out her mom to get in this position). There’s no reason for her to believe that she was in any danger to go home in the next two votes, and would have a leg up in the vote following, as there would be a redemption island returnee to deal with. A clear path to the final four. Who knows? Maybe even three if one of Gervase or Tyson decides they don’t want to face each other. Maybe the jury would be really angry with one of them too? (Although, it should be noted, neither of them voted out their own mother).

Many players in her position before (and since) would have taken that deal. Particularly when you look at the archetype Ciera seemed to fill: young, small woman. Just getting to the merge is an expectations-defying achievement for that type (and in fact, she was at the very least the decoy boot three times before the merge). Given all this, you can see why a final four deal, with the possibility of final three, would be very appealing. Who would fault her for taking that path over one that could result in the immediate end of her game?

But she didn’t. She decided that it was worth potentially losing now over definitely losing later. Going to rocks at six wasn’t an ideal time to flip the game (although those who have argued she should have done it at seven before Caleb (RIP) was voted out haven’t successfully explained why being on the bottom of that four was better than being on the bottom of the four she was already on), but you can’t always wait for the ideal time to come. And if you’re staring down a near-certain losing endgame, then a non-ideal time may be the best you can hope for.

Play Survivor to win, not to avoid losing. This is the lesson of the Ciera Eastin experience. One that the show has been more than happy to promote as they hyped her up to end the season and through her subsequent returns. Ciera would go on to be a primary spokesperson for the Big Movez™ agenda that the show loves to promote and a subsection of fans like to counterproductively deride (only a rube would like a show where people do things!), becoming a Jeff Probst darling even though I’ve been assured that only challenge beast dudes ever get that distinction.

The Big Movez™ era of Survivor is officially underway. And in part because a 90 pound, 24-year-old young mother – who was cast because her mom was on the show – decided that playing to stay in the game is not the same thing as playing to win.