Survivor in 2019

Best International Character

Who was the Best International Character of Survivor in 2019?

Photo: Network 10

This week we’re going to be posting end-of-year lists to highlight the best, funniest, and most shocking moments of Survivor in 2019. 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.

After thinking it over, we decided to choose EIGHT nominations for Best International Character, seeing as it’s one of only two categories to represent international Survivor. Readers can vote below for their favorite.

Disclaimer: The following article contains spoilers for the international seasons.


Luke Toki (9 nominations)
Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders II

Australian Survivor is about to take the leap into its first All-Star season, but the franchise’s biggest breakout character Luke became the inaugural Aussie to play for a second time and set a high bar for his compatriots to live up to. As the only returning player on the Champions tribe and with a reputation for his snakey—but good-natured—style of play, he could have easily faced an early exit, like the notorious Russell Hantz in the first CvC edition. However, Luke’s affable charm, coupled with his creative mind, saw him exceed all expectations and push all the way to Finale Week with a shot to win. His partnership with the season’s newbie breakout star David Genat made for a dynamic early duo, but it was his across-the-board social game with Champions and Contenders alike that propelled him deep into the endgame. 

Strategically, Luke excelled as he and David survived a numbers deficit against the athletes’ alliance, a 7-2 disadvantage at the swap, and his 2-1-1 move at the Final Five to eliminate challenge threat Abbey Holmes was a masterclass play that surpassed his plurality 3-2-2-2 play in his first season for creativity and execution. In the end, he fell just short of victory, voted out at the Final Four in one of the most gut-punching Survivor episodes in recent memory. But when the Australian audience responded to his elimination with a GoFundMe that raised a cool half-million—equal to the winner’s prize—it’s clear that Luke, with all of his fun-loving and unabashed cheekiness, his superb gameplay, and his vulnerability, was always the People’s Champion.


David Genat (7 nominations)
Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders II

International model David burst onto our screens with the perfect amount of bravado, recklessness, and skill to live up to his self-given title as the Golden God. His early alliance with Luke allowed his devilish style to thrive, and throughout the pre-merge, he established himself as one of the biggest characters the show had seen. With his knack for a confessional quip, regularly self-aggrandizing, he backed up his cocksureness by pulling off move after move that should never have worked. He traded a fake Idol for a real one through the cross-Tribal deceit of Shaun Hampson, overcame being in the minority on multiple occasions with and without the help of an Idol, and somehow outdid Benji Wilson’s nacho incident by finding an Idol in a popcorn machine and proceeding to feast on the pile of spilled popcorn on his hands and knees. 

David was playing hard, fast, and gleefully all the way to his end, blindsided with an Idol in his pocket and dressed in a quintessentially ridiculous outfit comprised of a shawl and topknot. He was outlandish and unforgettable, and the cream clearly rises to the top as he’ll be back for the inaugural All-Stars season in February, where he’ll surely bring more of the villainous charm and entertaining all-out gameplay that made him an instant star.


Janine Allis (7 nominations)
Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders II

A multi-millionaire, CEO of Boost Juice and a Shark on the Australian Shark Tank, there was no denying Janine was a huge casting score for the second iteration of a Champions tribe. However, Janine wasn’t on Survivor for an adventure or a paycheck, she was in it to win it, and she embraced the game with such force that she quickly became renowned as “The Godmother.” Alongside David Genat & Luke Toki, and joined up with her “Smiling Assassin” Pia Miranda in one of the best female partnerships of all time, Janine escaped early elimination at the hands of the athletes and quickly found herself running the game. 

Her love-hate rivalry with “Dirty Harry” Hills became one of the biggest storylines of the season, and she put her business skills to the test on the regular to control the vote—even to the point of successfully campaigning to change a vote from Luke to Shaun Hampson in the arena of Tribal Council. It was incredibly refreshing to see a strong woman emerge as the power centre of the game and be recognised for her dominance both inside and outside the game. It was equally thrilling to see Janine embrace Survivor for everything it could offer, including an off-Island engagement with the show and community that culminated in Boost Juice offering a discount to everyone in the country—except the four people who voted her out. Janine was a unique and unforgettable power player, and CvC II would not have been the same without her.


Seipei Mashugane (5 nominations)
Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets

Survivor South Africa is probably the gold standard for current Survivor story-telling, weaving an honest narrative filled with complex characters. After a bonkers season last year, 2019’s installment was a little more subdued and dark, but its attention to its endlessly fascinating cast was incredible, and it’s a shame that only two of them made it onto this shortlist. Nevertheless, Biker Queen Seipei Mashugane earned her place as one of them. Despite a rocky start, Seipei quickly emerged as an unexpected powerhouse in the game as she infiltrated the Sa’ula Amigos alliance, and following a swap that left her isolated on her new tribe, she forged a tight bond with Jacques Burger and Durão Mariano as the Misfits. 

Her bold, calculated gameplay was not without its flaws, and her unfiltered and often blunt manner alienated a few players along the way. This ultimately led to her demise as she revealed too much of her hand to Rob Bentele, and in seeing her intention to betray fellow Amigos Nicole Capper & Steffi Brink, he made the move first. But when her boot episode became a careful chess game detailing the intricacies of co-ordinating the hit on one of the biggest threats on the island, including duping Seipei into relinquishing her half of a shared Amigos Idol, there’s little doubt of the impact Seipei had on the season. A dominant force in the game, a threat to win, and a three-dimensional and fascinating character, Seipei was a standout on the Island of Secrets and a worthy representative of her fantastic season.


Harry Hills (5 nominations)
Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders II

Who on earth would go on Survivor and make up a fake son to garner sympathy? Harry would, and from the moment we first fell in love with little imaginary Oscar, the ice cream maker was destined to earn his eventual moniker of “Dirty Harry.” A scrappy player who relished every devious opportunity, the short-lived lie about Oscar was only the beginning as Harry quickly emerged as the primary antagonist to Janine on the New Contenders tribe. He was responsible for dubbing her as “The Godmother”—a tactical manoeuvre to put a target on her back. 

His two consecutive successful Idol plays might not have taken out one of the majority, but they did earn him enough time to build a tenuous working relationship with his rival to the point that his threat level dropped at the merge and allowed him to sneak into the endgame past his other ill-fated Contenders and even eventually win the war against Janine. His risky gameplay made him a standout in a season of huge players and characters, and there’s a good chance he was only one Immunity Challenge away from becoming the season’s winner. He’ll have another chance at the title in All-Stars, but there’s no forgetting his first run. And because it can’t be said enough: this guy went on Survivor, invented a toddler and still nearly won.


Ross Clarke-Jones (3 nominations)
Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders II

Of our nominee pool, Ross is the only pre-merger to make the shortlist, but even in his comparatively short stint, he made his mark as a loose cannon. His decision to flip against the Sporty Seven alongside Abbey to instead team up with the likes of Luke, David, Janine, and Pia was critical to the season avoiding another mateship-governed Champions tribe. Yet Ross wasn’t a player defined by his gameplay, but more so his quirky character, from stealing late-night bananas from the camp kitchen to bluntly asking Harry Hills if his son was real at Tribal or if he could have his socks if Dirty Harry was voted out as planned.

Ross was fun, funny, and fantastically individual, and it’s an incredible shame that he missed out on making it to the merge due to an accident in a challenge leading to a broken ankle and medevac, even managing to score a pair of those coveted socks on his way out. There’s no doubt that Ross’ chaotic presence in the post-merge game would have made an already stellar back-half of the season even more exciting. Once his injury is healed, it would not surprise me to see the mad dog who rides big waves for a living paddle back out to catch the Survivor wave again, but if not, at least we’ll always have the sock-fiend wildcard of Season 4.


Pia Miranda (3 nominations)
Australian Survivor: Champions vs. Contenders II

Best known for her lead role in the classic Australian film Looking for Alibrandi, Pia entered Survivor as a bonafide superfan and emerged as the Sole Survivor after a truly phenomenal performance. While she may not have been the blockbuster personality represented elsewhere on this list, she knew what she needed to do. From the beginning, her passion for the game and social strategy was put to the test as she saved herself from being the season’s first boot by personally appealing to the majority alliance, only to then stab them in the back as she teamed up with the other underdogs. As the “Smiling Assassin” to Janine’s “Godmother,” the pair ran the game, but both recognised that while Janine was seen as the alpha in the partnership, Pia was essential to their strategic success, exemplified by Pia’s tactical marshalling of the troops to take down David with an Idol in his pocket. 

Although she lost her meat shield and ally Janine at the Final Six, Pia was able to utilise her carefully cultivated perception as a lesser threat to survive the final rounds and be taken to the Final Tribal Council by Baden Gilbert, where she decisively and confidently defended her game. This included a brilliant denouncement of David’s accusation of her being a goat by backing up her less flashy gameplay as intentional, targeted, and essential to winning out in the long 50-day game of Australian Survivor as compared to the showier and shorter US format. Pia was an intellectual player, an enthusiastic and passionate fan, and a worthy winner easily in the conversation for the best AU Sole Survivor yet.


Durão Mariano (2 nominations)
Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets

Survivor South Africa’s revival last year was buoyed by the humour of ridiculous characters often succeeding in spite of themselves, and in 2019, nobody represented that role better than Durão Mariano. In a season that had its grim moments, Durão’s good-natured goofiness was a necessary antidote, from him losing a fake Idol in the ocean to downing milkshakes at the merge feast while forgetting he was lactose intolerant. His puppy-dog nature led him to become an unknowing pawn in the careful chess game played by Rob Bentele, and his game obliviousness could arguably be blamed for helping to hand the win to the Sa’ula Amigos.

However, when his storyline as Rob’s spy culminated in fellow pawn Mike Venter realising that they’d been played during an endgame Tribal Council while Durão struggled to grasp exactly why this was a bad outlook for his game, it was easier just to laugh. Despite the pedigree of his surname, Durão was more of a likable and sweet goat to SA Rob’s Boston Rob-esque cult leader, and sure enough, he ended up as a zero-vote finalist. However, throughout the season, Durão’s antics were nothing other than unabashed fun and a bright spark that is a testament to Survivor SA’s eye for casting gold.

Honorable Mentions: Baden Gilbert (Australian Survivor), John Eastoe (Australian Survivor), Jacques Burger (Survivor South Africa), Tania Copeland (Survivor South Africa), Rob Bentele (Survivor South Africa), Nicole Capper (Survivor South Africa), Danté de Villiers (Survivor South Africa), Daisy Richardson (Australian Survivor), Abbey Holmes (Australian Survivor).

Thank you for voting! Check back next week when the results will be announced.

The poll closes Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

Check back on Wednesday when we will reveal the winners for each category.


Written by

Austin Smith

Austin hails from Canberra, Australia. By day, he works by the light of office fluorescence. By night, he can be found swing dancing to Top ‘40s tracks (1940s, that is), playing board games, and enjoying life with his wonderful wife. His pedigree as a long-time Survivor superfan is evidenced by his Survivor-themed 11th birthday party featuring a gross food challenge comprising Brussel sprouts. Austin writes Inside Survivor’s episode recaps for both Survivor US and Australian Survivor.

5 responses to “Best International Character”

  1. A little sad and surprised to see Nicole not make the cut! Her combination of competence, calmness, delusion, and self righteousness made her the most interesting 2019 character in my book. Happy to vote for Seipei though.

  2. Nicole Capper is far and away the best Survivor character from 2019 (from any season). Such a fascinating and complex character and is also great if you’re just looking from a “gameplay” point of view.

  3. Dante is absolutely robbed, he is a unique character that we have not seen before in any of season of Survivor

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