Ian Walker continues The Day 38 Club, ranking the last eliminated players from each season of Survivor.
The last person to leave the game, the person so close to the end they can taste the money, but has their opportunity to plead their case to the jury taken away at the very last moment. That person becomes ingrained in their respective season as the final recipient of “The Tribe Has Spoken” and earns a place in a very special group in Survivor history: The Day 38 Club.
With this list, I will rank all 32 current members of the Day 38 Club. When compiling the list, I took into account the strength of their game, character and the power of their story. Without further ado, the next three members of the Survivor Day 38 Club.
14. Jerri Manthey (Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains)
In terms of multi-season character arcs, arguably the greatest one of all belongs to Jerri Manthey. She started out as the big villainess on her first season, Survivor: The Australian Outback, but being the villain was a whole different experience back then compared to today. In 2001 when Outback aired, Survivor was the biggest show in the country, and Jerri became not just the big villain of the season, but one of the most hated and reviled women on television. During her second time in Survivor: All-Stars, she tried to seek redemption in the eyes of the public, but her journey that season ended with her getting booed off the stage during the reunion show.
So when her third time rolled around on Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains, almost a full ten years since she first played, Jerri threw off the shackles of her reputation and just focused on playing the game. Not only did she go the farthest out of any of her three games, but she came so close to winning, finishing just outside the final and landing a spot in the Day 38 Club. We can attribute Jerri’s newfound success in the game to the same reason she was received so much better by viewers: her attitude was that much more bright and cheerful, and she seemed to be free of the baggage of her previous games. Sure, she still gave a good eye roll and got into some minor altercations, but for the most part, Jerri just seemed to relish playing Survivor again, which made it all the more enjoyable to watch her play.
During the game, Jerri did a pretty good job of jumping from alliance to alliance to secure her safety. She started out on the side of Boston Rob Mariano but soon flipped to Russell Hantz when his aggressive strategizing and crafty idol play turned the momentum to his side, sending Rob out of the game. When her best ally, Coach Ben Wade, followed right after Rob, Jerri turned to Russell’s guidance for the rest of the season, proving to be a pivotal vote on Russell’s side even when some of his other allies were not. While being one of Russell’s main allies is certainly a lot to handle, it got Jerri almost to the end, and was only voted out because Russell incorrectly thought Sandra Diaz-Twine was no threat to win the game, so at least she can take solace in Russell’s failure.
In a season full of Survivor legends, Jerri’s role in the overall season arc wasn’t as big as some of the other players, but she still got to have some great moments. She won her first individual immunity challenge and the family reward challenge and got a hidden immunity idol played on her in one of the most iconic tribal councils of all time. Through it all, Jerri had a smile on her face that was rarely seen during her first two seasons and served as a great capper in her personal Survivor history.
13. Holly Hoffman (Survivor: Nicaragua)
Holly Hoffman had a rough first few days in Survivor: Nicaragua. Seemingly overwhelmed by the stress and relentless nature of the game, Holly was ready to quit on Day 5. If she had quit, it would have been a real shame, denying the audience of the great transformation that Holly went through, going from the manic mom type to a serious strategic player. Along the way, Holly developed the confidence she seemed to lack during her early days, moving through the game with a conviction evocative of a strong Survivor gamer. Alas, her game might have developed a little too well, as her torch was snuffed and she became a member of the Day 38 Club.
During that early period, not only did Holly want to quit, she was exhibiting some seriously erratic behavior. Most notably, she took Dan Lembo’s $1600 alligator shoes, filled them up with wet sand, and dropped them in the ocean, which is one of the nuttiest things that has ever happened on Survivor. After that incident, she knew she needed some help, so she turned to professional pep-talker Jimmy Johnson, who was able to pump her up and convince her not to quit. Coach Jimmy’s words seemed to do the trick as Holly’s whole attitude changed. The crazed looks of panic and desperation were gone and replaced with looks of focus and determination; Holly was ready to wheel and deal, and she would prove to be pretty good at it.
Shortly after the merge, it became apparent that Holly had the most ties out of anyone in the game, as she connected with both the younger and older people of the tribe. These connections gave her the ammunition she needed to take a shot at the biggest threat in the game at Final 10, Brenda Lowe. Despite the fact that one of her main allies, Chase Rice, was incredibly wishy-washy and still somewhat lusting after Brenda, Holly was like a general commanding her troops and successfully took the shot, sending Brenda out of the game. With that move, Holly cemented herself as a power player in control of her alliance.
Not only did Holly’s strategic game start to strengthen, but her respect amongst the tribe was also at an all-time high. This connection proved especially valuable after the Brenda vote during the infamous double quit, when NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn decided they wanted out of the game. Having experienced her own troubled times, Holly drew upon those experiences and gave a pep-talk to Purple Kelly, much like how Coach Jimmy was able to do for Holly at the beginning of the game. Seeing such a clear level of growth is always an exciting thing on Survivor, and Holly demonstrating just how far she came by being the person encouraging others not to quit definitely was one of the best moments of the season.
That positive attitude looked like it was going to carry Holly all the way Day 39. Unfortunately for her, a player outside of her alliance in Jud “Fabio” Birza got hot at just the right time, winning the last three immunity challenges. Fabio’s victory meant Holly’s defeat, as her alliance cast her aside as the biggest threat on Day 38. Although she didn’t win, Holly’s arc remains one of the best growth narratives ever on the show, which is not a bad consolation prize.
12. Ian Rosenberger (Survivor: Palau)
Ian Rosenberger has a unique spot in the Day 38 Club, as he’s the only person to join mostly of his own choosing. To say that it was a rocky ride to get to that point is an understatement, as Ian had one of the most emotionally turbulent journeys anybody has ever had on Survivor. Throughout Survivor: Palau, Ian’s story became a great representation of when somebody so inherently good and likable tries to engage in the dark dealings that Survivor requires. His personality was not a good fit for the game and found himself seeking redemption by the end of the game to set himself right.
The first half of the game couldn’t have started out any better for Ian. He was on the winningest tribe in Survivor history and had quickly slid into the goofy young kid role in the group, cracking jokes and making everybody smile. Despite all the silliness, Ian committed to playing the game, establishing a strong alliance with Tom Westman and Katie Gallagher. In Tom, he had a stable ally he could always talk strategy with, while Katie was like the sister he could decompress with after a stressful day on the island. Tom and Ian were especially effective together, playing off each other like two war generals aligned towards the same cause, getting to the Final 3. Once there, there was a gentlemen’s agreement of sorts in place, with the winner of the final challenge earning the right to take Katie with them to the finals, and presumably, win. As the end drew closer, however, the game became more difficult than anything he had experienced before.
Simply put, Ian was struggling with maintaining the duplicitous approach the game requires players to put on, with his actions almost blowing up his relationships with both Katie and Tom. At the Final 5, he reneged on a promise to Katie that he would take her on a reward, taking Tom instead, which annoyed Katie to no end. After seeing how upset he had made her, Ian was practically on his knees begging Katie to forgive him, expressing genuine regret for breaking his promise. Not many players reach that level of hysterics in their forgiveness, so a moment like that should be a clear indication of where Ian’s emotional state was.
That broken promise, however, was nothing compared to the transgression he made against Tom. At the Final 4, he just made the mere suggestion that Tom possibly should go home if he didn’t win immunity. Well, Tom did win immunity that round and Ian’s words made it back to him, making him so upset that he later wrote Ian’s name down at tribal council and forced him into a fire-making tiebreaker challenge. After coming through that gauntlet victorious, Ian knew that both Tom and Katie were severely disappointed in him, but he had one more move up his sleeve to make things right at the final immunity challenge.
After almost 12 hours of competing in that final challenge against Tom, Ian proposed a deal: he would step down and forfeit immunity to Tom and give up his spot in the Final 2 in exchange for earning back Tom’s respect. Tom accepted and, just like that, Ian was a member of the Day 38 Club. Ian ended his journey the same way he started, with that big, goofy smile on his face, after almost going to hell and back to get that smile back.