Survivor in 2017

Best Character

Who were the Best Characters of Survivor in 2017?

This week we’re going to be posting end-of-year lists to highlight the best, funniest, and most shocking moments of Survivor in 2017. The Inside Survivor team separately nominated four choices in each category (six in the Best Character categories). We then tallied those votes to determine the final four nominations for each of those categories.

To vote on the previous categories click here.

Here are our six nominations for Best Character of Survivor in 2017. This is just for the two U.S. seasons, the Best International Character nominations will be posted later in the week. Readers can vote below for their favorite.


Ben Driebergen (8 nominations)
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

The final twist of the season may have somewhat tainted Ben’s victory, but it doesn’t take away from how compelling he was as a character. A former Marine and devoted family man, Ben could have quite easily been portrayed as a one-note All American hero. Instead, the Ben we saw throughout the season was a multi-faceted human being, unafraid of wearing his heart on his sleeve. Whether it was opening up about his battles with PTSD, bickering with fellow tribemates, or gleefully running through the jungle looking for idols, we witnessed all sides of Ben. He balanced emotional vulnerability with ruthless gameplay and became one of the most memorable Survivor characters in recent memory.


Lauren Rimmer (8 nominations)
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

The straight-talking fisherwoman from North Carolina became an unlikely fan favorite over the course of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. I will admit that going into the season, I had low expectations for Lauren, as both a player and a character. She felt out of place, and her personality didn’t exactly burst off the screen in those pre-game interviews. But I was wrong. Lauren’s no-nonsense attitude and dry sense of humor soon won people over. She had a down-to-earth appeal which made her easy to root for over some of the more egocentric personalities. Not only that but after a rocky start, she proved to be an adept player, organizing the Rogue Knights alliance for the first major shift in the game. Yes, her late-game blunder with the idol will go down as one of the stupidest moves in Survivor history, but that just means people won’t soon forget Lauren Rimmer.


Sandra Diaz-Twine (7 nominations)
Survivor: Game Changers

Sandra is the only representative from Game Changers in this category. It tells us a lot about that season. As I previously mentioned in the Best Episode write-up, the pre-merge of Game Changers belonged to Sandra. The only two time winner in Survivor history, Sandra entered the season as not only an iconic character but for perhaps the first time ever, the game’s biggest threat. The under-the-radar “as long as it ain’t me” strategy would no longer cut it, and instead, we saw a more aggressive Sandra, rallying troops and picking off targets. Her catchphrase “The Queen stays Queen” rang throughout those first few episodes as she blindsided Ciera, went to war with Tony, and stealthily (and hilariously) took down JT. Sandra brought life to a season which flatlined once she was left.


Joe Mena (6 nominations)
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

The biggest obstacle Joe had to overcome heading into Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers was being compared to one of Survivor’s most legendary characters, Tony Vlachos. With his bald head, law enforcement job, brash attitude, and penchant for finding idols, it took a while for the loud and proud Probation Officer to shake those Tony tropes. But unlike Tony, who always maintained control (in Cagayan), Joe became somewhat of an underdog come the swap and found himself fighting from the bottom. This allowed us to see a different side of Joe, a tenacious player who was hellbent on winning so he could provide for his young children back home. His budding friendship with Dr. Mike and the formation of the Coconuts alliance also gave us a glimpse at Joe’s lighter more humorous side. Joe was a villain for sure, a character who could be stubborn and confrontational. But he was a complex villain with depth beneath the Tony-looking exterior.


Chrissy Hofbeck (5 nominations)
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

In the season premiere of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers, Chrissy literally puked after competing in the first challenge. It wasn’t an ideal start, and her 16-year-long wait to get on Survivor could have been tragically short-lived. But the Actuary from New Jersey soon bounced back, using her smarts and analytical skills to look ahead and plan for the future. She formed strong relationships with Ben and later Ryan, spurred on by the Super Idol connection. Chrissy went from being on the bottom at that first tribal council, to controlling the majority of the votes going forward, until her relationship with Ben broke down. Refusing to give up, Chrissy transformed into a challenge beast towards the end of the season, tying the record for most individual immunity wins for a woman. Her challenge dominance put her back in a position of power and was able to take her to a hard-fought runner-up position.


Devon Pinto (4 nominations)
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers

The “surfer bro” is a tried and tested Survivor archetype, and Devon is the latest installment in that particular lineage. But where Devon stands out from his beach-cool counterparts is in his ability to balance the laidback surfer persona with a keen game awareness. Devon’s game didn’t rely on challenge wins – in fact, he never won individual immunity – but instead was built on personal relationships and cunning behind the scenes strategy. His partnership with Ryan put him in the shadows early on, but once the duo went their separate ways, Devon took charge. He put together the intricate secret spy Ben plan and the subsequent Joe blindside. Perhaps his finest moment came during the season finale when a gut feeling to vote Dr. Mike saved him from inevitable elimination. Devon was a “bright, beautiful light” with a shrewd strategic side.

Honorable Mentions: Sarah Lacina (Survivor: Game Changers), Dr. Mike Zahalsky (Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers), Cirie Fields (Survivor: Game Changers), Ryan Ulrich (Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers).


Who was the Best Character of Survivor in 2017? Vote below:

The poll closes Monday, January 1 2018.

Check back tomorrow when we will reveal the nominations for Best Alliance.

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

3 responses to “Best Character”

  1. This was one of the hardest decisions. I really wanted to vote Lauren. She was a huge surprise. But, her season is tainted for me. And, Sandra is just pure gold. I had to go Sandra.

  2. The second I saw Lauren’s photo, I knew I was gonna vote for her. But then Sandra came along…. How could you not support the Queen?

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