Survivor has changed quite a bit since its premiere. It is hard to believe the popular reality TV series has been on the air for more than 20 years. With 43 seasons and counting, the show has introduced hundreds of great contestants and, of course, iconic physical challenges. Over the years, some of the game’s most clever players figured out creative ways to outwit the game’s challenges in ways other than how they were designed to be won.
These challenge hacks have occurred in both tribal challenges and individual challenges. A few happened early in the game, while others came about during the final immunity challenge and helped the player win the season. No matter what the circumstances, these castaways had to think on their feet to come up with these clever hacks.
Vecepia Towery Hacked The Fallen Comrades Challenge
Marquesas, “The Sole Survivor”
Vecepia won Marquesas which was the fourth season of the show. Her hack actually took place during the entire season, and it is still one of the most impressive things to happen on Survivor.
In the early days of the show, one of the final immunity challenges would be a quiz on information about the contestants who were voted out. Vecepia knew this, so she brought a journal as her luxury item, which they were allowed to do back then. She wrote down anything she thought would be on the quiz, so if she made it that far, she would have an advantage over others. Well, she did and won a very clutch immunity, and also, the season.
Rob Mariano Hacked The Pilfering Pirates Challenge
All-Stars, “I’ve Been Bamboozled!”
Rob is one of the biggest legends in the history of Survivor. He was on All-Stars where he, along with his whole tribe, created a unique hack that allowed their tribe to win immunity.
The tribes had to send out two members at a time to balance on a narrow beam to collect flags. Everyone kept on falling as Rob was the only one on his tribe that would make it back with a flag. So, when everyone else’s turn came up, they fell intentionally at the start, so Rob would go more often. This bend of the rules worked to perfection as Rob killed the course and his tribe won immunity.
Yul Kwon Hacked The Depth Charge Challenge
Cook Islands, “Mutiny”
Yul is known for being one of the smartest players in Survivor history and this challenge hack is a perfect example of that. This hack also kept the Aitu four alive in the Cook Islands.
The goal of the challenge was to line up arrows on a boar with ones in the water. When done correctly, a cannonball would drop into a target. Yuk struggled at first, but he soon realized that the arrows were just a suggestion. He simply looked over the side of the ship into the water and lined up the cannonball with the target and completely ignored the arrows. His tribe won by a large margin, and they continued their miracle, underdog story.
Amanda Kimmel Hacked The Broken China Challenge
China, “A Slippery Little Sucker”
Amanda’s first season, China, features a simple, yet very impactful hack. It was at the final immunity challenge and if Amanda won, she knew she would have a shot to win.
It was the classic plate and bowl stacking competition. It was only Denise and Amanda remaining when Amanda decided to switch up her strategy. When her tower of china was very high, she flipped a bowl upside down to stack it. That give her tower more stability than Denise’s, and they both knew it. Denise started to plead that they make a deal, but Amanda knew she was about to win, which she did a few seconds later.
Ozzy Lusth Hacked The Diver Down Challenge
Micronesia, “That’s Baked, Barbecued and Fried!”
Ozzy is the most dominant physical player to ever play Survivor. In Micronesia, Ozzy created a hack that seemed to make his tribe fall behind, but in actuality, made them win pretty handily.
They needed to swim under the water to a grate where they needed to push 10 coconuts out. Since Ozzy was the best swimmer, he went under a pushed a bunch at a time. So, when the next couple jumped in their coconuts were right at the entrance. He did this once more and Ozzy’s tribe brought the coconuts to the rest of the group. They finished the puzzle before the other tribe even finished getting the coconuts from the grate, so this hack was immensely successful.
James Clement Hacked The United We Stand Challenge
Micronesia, “It Hit Everyone Pretty Hard”
Later in that season, James had a hack of his own. He used his brute strength to hack a challenge that appeared to need everyone from the tribe.
The tribes needed to move two of their tribe mates across a gap of water by using two long poles as platforms for them to step on. He let one member stand on one pole, and he just carried it to the other side, while the rest of his tribemates helped balance the pole. James’s tribe implemented this strategy right away as he cut the challenge time in half and his tribe won by a pretty big lead.
Amanda Kimmel Hacked The Ball Drop Challenge
Micronesia, “Stir the Pot!”
Amanda is on this list for a second time as she was very creative in challenges. This hack once again came at a final immunity challenge, this time for Survivor: Micronesia, which is one of the best seasons ever.
This endurance challenge consisted of players balancing a small ball on top of a wooden block that they would hold by pushing the two sides together. As time went on, they would add more blocks to the sides to make it more difficult. Most people approach this challenge by holding the blocks together with their palms facing down. Halfway through, Amanda went a segment of the challenge with her palms facing up. This saved her muscles from fatiguing too much, and she was able to outlast Cirie and win immunity.
Kenny Hoang Hacked The Domino Effect Challenge
Gabon, “Nothing Tastes Better Than Five Hundred Dollars”
Survivor: Gabon might be viewed as a forgettable season by some fans, but it had some funny characters like Kenny. Kenny implemented a hack on the stacking dominoes challenge.
Contestants needed to build a sequence of dominoes while avoiding ropes that would trigger movement which could knock off the dominoes. Everyone else started their stack from the front of the structure, while Kenny started his from the back. This allowed him to learn the ropes quicker and if he hit the rope fewer dominoes would fall. He also had less rope to navigate through, the further he got. Kenny won and this was the only time this strategy was used for this challenge even though it has been around a while.
Joe Anglim Hacked The Hard To Handle Challenge
Cambodia, “Play to Win”
Joe is one of the greatest physical players in show history, probably right behind Ozzy. His hack came in his second season when he needed to balance a ball on a pole, while he was balancing on a declining, narrow beam.
He switched up his stance compared to everybody else. Joe stood sideways and used his back foot as an anchor, while everyone else faced forward. This gave Joe a more solid structure than the other players and allowed him to focus on his ball more, instead of balancing. In the final round when the beam was the narrowest, he turned all the way back since it was easier to balance at an incline, rather than decline. With his back facing everyone else, he beat Spencer and took home immunity.
Adam Klein Hacked The Push Me, Pull You Challenge
Millennials Vs Gen X, “About to Have a Rumble”
Adam won Millennials vs. Gen X with the help of this smart trick he pulled at the final nine immunity challenge. The players had to keep pressure on a pole with two handles to keep it in the air.
All the other castaways seemed to either pull the handles to keep tension, while Adam did something different. He pulled at the bottom and pushed at the top to keep the tension. This was a lot easier on Adam’s muscles than everyone else’s who were strictly pulling or pushing. This was Adam’s only individual immunity, but it definitely helped him win the game.
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