The 40 Most Influential Survivors: Cirie Fields

Cirie Fields

Panama, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains, 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.

Cirie Fields is the 15th entry in this series.

Cirie is perhaps most famous for doing something that you, dear reader, should not be doing: getting up off the couch. Admittedly, Cirie was not faced with a global pandemic when she made that fateful choice, but before we continue discussing the many ways Cirie has influenced the game, I want to reiterate that you should not get up off the couch. Stay home. Flatten the curve.

If you are not a nature-loving outdoorsy type (and you’re here reading this, so…probably), you might expect that you would struggle with some basic elements of Survivor. Making a fire isn’t easy, nor is building a shelter. You’re going to get filthy, there are bugs and snakes everywhere, and you don’t exactly have access to a toilet. Cirie similarly had no love for the actual survival elements of Survivor. In fact, one could even say she hated the outdoors, or at the very least the leafy parts of the outdoors.

Check out that social distancing, though

Cirie was first cast in Survivor: Panama. At 35, she was on the “older women” tribe, and I will pause here to allow everyone over age 30 to mumble a stream of profanities while they process that. Frankly, she seemed exactly the type to be a first boot, and when her tribe lost the first challenge it seemed like the writing was on the wall. But Cirie managed to convince her tribe to vote out a lumberjill- exactly the type of hearty outdoorswoman that one would’ve expected to survive that first vote. Cirie may lack physical prowess, but she makes up for it with otherworldly levels of charm and cunning. Or, as she herself put it in Micronesia,

Once Cirie made the merge in Panama, she once again saw the writing on the wall and decided to change it. Weirdo fire dancer Courtney was in perfect position to be brought to the end as a goat, because no one feared sitting next to her at final tribal council. But Cirie realized that there were only two spots at final tribal council and she had no chance at winning a challenge to secure one of those spots, so Courtney’s uber-goat status made her a threat to Cirie’s game. And that’s when Cirie makes her defining move, hatching a scheme that takes Courtney out with a plurality of the votes rather than a majority.

Cirie would come back in Micronesia to form one of the most famous alliances in Survivor history, the Black Widow Brigade. She largely used the same skills she showed off in her first game, making people comfortable while scheming to get them all voted out. She was a “gangster in an Oprah suit”, and she delighted in outsmarting her opponents and allies, charming the viewers as much as she charmed everyone in the game. A surprise switch to a final two in Micronesia denied her a shot at final tribal council, and led Jeff Probst to consistently cite her as the greatest player to never win Survivor.

The Black Widow Brigade would strike fear into the hearts of Survivor men to this day, as their paranoia over any group of women talking to each other leads them to label it an alliance. No one wants to be on the receiving end of decimation at the hands of a new Black Widow Brigade, even though we might never see one as talented as the original.

Cirie’s influence would also be felt in later seasons as other players attempted to imitate her style, accepting their physical limitations while using their charisma and cunning to advance their game- Stephen Fishbach in Tocantins, John Cochran in Caramoan, Ciera Eastin in Blood vs. Water, and Aubry Bracco in Koah Rong to name a few. Many others have probably hoped to copy Cirie’s style, but never made it past the first few votes. Even the greatest players need a little luck to succeed, and we can all consider ourselves lucky that Cirie lasted long enough in Panama to become a legend rather than being a charismatic, leaf-hating first boot.

Who else made the list?

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