Still going almost 20 years after its first season's initial release, Survivor is one of the best known reality programs of all time. With over 30 seasons currently under its belt, the show has undoubtedly been vastly influential not only in the development of reality TV culture, but also in the expansion of survival shows as a genre. Due to the show's grueling nature, not every contender on the program sticks it out for the long haul. Here, you'll find a list of Survivor contestants who quit, starting with the first person to walk off the show and ending with the most recent seasons.
How many people have quit Survivor? The show has chronicled the journeys of hundreds of contestants throughout its run, so it's expected not all of them were eliminated from the show in the traditional "voted off the island," sense. Things happen, after all, and several people have undergone "medevacs," or medical evacuations; these occur when contestants suffer are injured or contract an illness during their time on the show and producers and medics decide they must be removed for their own safety. But outside of these honorable discharges, 12 contestants total have quit due to factors like personal issues, problems with their team, or problems with the show itself. In rare cases, contestants willingly leave for medical reasons despite the show telling them they can stay on the island safely, which the program counts as a quit rather than a normal medical evacuation. Survivor contestants who quit the show often gain as much attention as the ultimate winners. Dramatics, after all, are often far more interesting than hard-earned fame, and Survivor scandals make the show much more intriguing.
Below, you'll find all 12 contestants who walked along with their rationales for leaving the show. Take a look at their stories and evaluate whether you think their departure was warranted.
- Photo: CBS
Quit: Season 37, Episode 4
Bi Nguyen, a contestant on Survivor: David vs. Goliath, decided to leave the game after suffering an injury on the ninth day. Despite helping the David team win their first Immunity Challenge, she suffered a sprained MCL. Outside the show, Nguyen is an MMA fighter, and she chose not to jeopardize her career by continuing on through the show with her injury.
Quit: Season 7, Episode 7
Osten Taylor quit Survivor: Pearl Islands, gaining immediate infamy for being the first contestant to voluntarily quit the show. His decision stemmed mostly from physical ailments, as he suffered from intense weight loss and six staph infections on his chest and legs.
While his final words rationalizing his decision were omitted from the episode, he was later quoted as saying, “I knew I wouldn't win the $1 million here, but I will make a million somewhere else in my life.”
Quit: Season 8, Episode 3
Jenna Morasca left Survivor: All-Stars at the Immunity Challenge, mainly because she felt excessive guilt after leaving her mother, a breast cancer patient, to join the show. After hearing that her mother had taken a turn for the worse, Morasca returned home in order to care for her.
When interviewed about her departure, Morasca said, “I don't regret my decision for one second to go and play the All-Stars, and I don't regret for one minute my decision to come back.” Her mother passed away eight days after Morasca returned home.
Quit: Season 8, Episode 6
Hawk was a contestant on Survivor: All-Stars. This season was the first in which two contestants quit. After an incident in which fellow contestant Richard Hatch rubbed his naked body against her, Hawk became increasingly angered and embarrassed in the following days, eventually culminating in an emotional speech and her decision to leave the island.
In her speech, she summarized her devastation by saying, “I was sexually violated, humiliated, dehumanized and totally spent." She also added, "If [Hatch] had just walked by me and never touched me, I'd have been fine. But he didn’t.”
Quit: Season 10, Episode 10
Janu Tornell quit Survivor: Palau as she felt her tribe was using her as a pawn and she would eventually be voted off anyway. She left the island on her own terms, but was the first contestant who quit and then joined the jury.
Her decision to quit thwarted fellow contestant Koror’s plans to vote Stephanie LaGrossa off the island. When asked about the effect of her choice, Tornell replied, "It wasn’t to save Stephenie in the game. It ended up like that. At the same time, it was almost like a power play because I threw a wrench into their game.“
Quit: Season 14, Episode 4
While TV viewers witnessed Gary Stritesky suffering an injury on a slip-and-slide during a challenge, his dizziness and shortness of breath were actually most likely an allergic reaction from fire ant bites. Stritesky had been feeling ill prior to the fall and attributes his clumsiness to his medical condition. While on-set medics determined he was not dehydrated and his blood pressure was normal, Stritesky's health continued to deteriorate and he exited the show voluntarily later on to seek medical care.