Survivor in 2019

Best Move

What was the Best Move of Survivor in 2019?

Photo: CBS

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.

Here are our four nominations for Best Move of Survivor in 2019. Readers can vote below for their favorite.


Chris puts himself in the fire-making challenge (8 nominations)
Survivor: Edge of Extinction

Whatever you think of the ending to Edge of Extinction, it’s hard to argue that Chris Underwood didn’t maximize his minutes. Returning to the game at the Final 6, the third boot had to make every second count in building his Survivor resume. Yes, he had a leg-up having spent the majority of the game with the jury, knowing everyone’s secrets, and returning with half an idol. But it was his bold decision to give up Immunity at the Final 4 and take on Rick Devens in the fire-making challenge that secured his victory. Chris needed that #BigMove of his own, and risking his spot to take out the biggest threat was an audacious and ultimately successful gamble. 


Eric, Gavin, & Victoria hoodwink Aubry (8 nominations)
Survivor: Edge of Extinction

Blindsides happen so frequently in Survivor these days that they’ve lost some luster. But that wasn’t the case with the shocking, coldhearted elimination of Aubry Bracco in Edge of Extinction. Eric Hafeman, Gavin Whitson, and Victoria Baamonde—with the help of a scatterbrained Wendy Diaz—pulled off a perfectly executed blindside on a Survivor veteran. Aubry was completely snowed, especially after Victoria fooled the former runner-up with a fake women’s alliance plan. The manipulation worked so well that Aubry felt comfortable enough not to play her idol or her extra vote. 


Kellee masterminds Jack’s elimination (8 nominations)
Survivor: Island of the Idols

It’s rare that one player single-handedly dictates a vote, but that is what Kellee Kim did here. In a similar vein to Chris, Kellee wanted to maximize the tools at her disposal, which involved a soon-to-expire idol. Not wanting the idol to go to waste, Kellee saw an opportunity to save Dean, someone she’d bonded with since the tribe swap. The thing is, Kellee didn’t want to expose herself in front of the entire tribe, so she handed the idol off to Dean before Tribal Council while still casting a vote for him to throw off suspicion and advising Dean to vote for Jack. 

The beauty in this plan is that Kellee made sure to cover herself from all angles. Recognizing that Dean could go rogue and switch his vote, she assured herself a safety net in having Noura also cast a vote for Jack. The Tribal that followed was a chaotic jumble of confusion, and only Kellee truly knew the exact details of what had happened. Now, the move didn’t pay off in the long-term. Noura exposed Kellee’s double-dealing almost immediately, and Dean would vote her out at the merge. But as a single, in-the-moment move, it was so skillfully done that it’s hard not to be impressed. 


Tommy convinces Noura to take him to Final 3 (4 nominations)
Survivor: Island of the Idols

In a season titled Island of the Idols, which included more hidden idols than in any season prior, it was refreshing to see a winner who didn’t rely on advantages and twists. Tommy Sheehan used the good old fashioned social game to maneuver his way to the end and secure the jury votes. The fourth-grade teacher had a way of making people not only trust him but want to keep him around, even against their own best interests. A perfect example of that came at the Final 4 when Tommy persuaded Noura Salman to take him to the end by pretending to be weak at making fire. Noura was drawing dead regardless, but the fact that Tommy, who clearly had friends on the jury, was able to convince her to bring him to the end is a testament to his superior social game.

Honorable Mentions: Chris convinces Lauren to play her idol on him (Survivor: Edge of Extinction), Dean nullifies Janet’s idol (Survivor: Island of the Idols), Karishma saves herself with idol play (Survivor: Island of the Idols), Elaine blocks Jason’s vote (Survivor: Island of the Idols).

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

The poll closes Wednesday, January 1, 2020.

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

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.

8 responses to “Best Move”

  1. I have no idea how Kellee’s move is in contention for best move of the year when she literally got voted out the following week because of it lol

  2. Not really fair to include Chris’s move, as he had been told by his fellow Edge of Extinction tribemates that this is what the returnee had to do in order to gain their respect for a win. In other words, it wasn’t his idea.

  3. That Kellee move should not be up there… she said in a Ponderosa video that her original plan was to play the idol on someone else to take out Dean but then they flipped the vote to Dean. So instead of just letting Dean get voted out which is who she wanted out, she made a move for the sake of making a move and kept Dean in the game who voted her out 3 days later.

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