Survivor has changed quite a bit since the premiere. It’s 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 smartest players have figured out creative ways to outsmart the game’s challenges in ways other than how they were designed to be won.
These challenge hacks have occurred in both tribe 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. Whatever 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 over the course of the entire season, and it’s still one of the most impressive things to happen Survivor.
In the early days of the show, one of the final immunity challenges would be a quiz on information about the contestants being voted out. Vecepia knew this, so she brought along a journal as her luxury item, which they were allowed back then. She wrote down everything she thought would be on the quiz, so if she made it this 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 Confused!”
Rob is one of the greatest legends in the history of Survivor. He was on All-Stars where he, along with the entire 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 falling as Rob was the only one on his tribe to come back with a flag. So when everyone else’s turn came, they purposely fell at the start so Rob would go more often. This bending of the rules worked to perfection as Rob killed the pitch and his tribe won immunity.
Yul Kwon hacked the Depth Charge Challenge
Cook Islands, “Mutiny”
Yul is known to be one of the smartest players in the Survivor history and this challenge hack is a perfect example of that. This hack also kept Aitu fire alive in Cook Islands.
The aim of the challenge was to line up arrows on a boar with one 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 only a suggestion. He simply looked over the side of the ship into the water and lined up the cannonball with the target, completely ignoring the arrows. His tribe won by a wide margin, and they continued their miracle, underdog history.
Amanda Kimmel hacked The Broken China Challenge
China, “A Smooth Little Sucker”
Amanda’s first season, China, has a simple yet highly effective hack. It was at the last immunity challenge and if Amanda won, she knew she would have a chance to win.
It was the classic plate and bowl stacking competition. It was just Denise and Amanda left when Amanda decided to change her strategy. When her tower of porcelain was very tall, she turned a bowl upside down to stack it. It gives her tower more stability than Denise’s, and they both knew it. Denise started to plead for them to 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, “It’s baked, grilled and fried!”
Ozzy is the most dominant physical player to ever play Survivor. IN micronesia, Ozzy created a hack that seemed to cause his tribe to fall behind, but actually had them win quite handily.
They needed to swim under the water to a grate where they needed to push out 10 coconuts. Since Ozzy was the best swimmer, he went under one push at a time. So when the next pair jumped into the coconuts they were right at the entrance. He did this one more time 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 incredibly 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 raw strength to hack a challenge that seemed to need everyone from the tribe.
The tribesmen needed to move two of their tribemates across a gap of water using two long poles as platforms for them to step on. He left one member standing on a pole and he just carried it to the other side while the rest of his tribe mates 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 quite a large lead.
Amanda Kimmel hacked the Ball Drop Challenge
Micronesia, “Stir the Pot!”
Amanda is on this list for the second time since she was very creative in challenges. This hack came once again at a final immunity challenge, this time for Survivor: Micronesiawhich is one of the best seasons ever.
This endurance challenge consisted of players balancing a small ball on top of a wooden block which they had to 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 walked part of the challenge with her palms facing up. This saved her muscles from tiring too much and she was able to survive Cirie and win immunity.
Kenny Hoang hacked the Domino Effect Challenge
Gabon, “Nothing tastes better than five hundred dollars”
Survivor: Gabon may be seen as a forgettable season by some fans, but it had some fun characters like Kenny. Kenny implemented a hack on the stacking domino challenge.
Contestants needed to build a sequence of dominoes while avoiding ropes that would trigger moves that could knock the dominoes off. 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 faster and if he hit the rope fewer dominoes would fall. He also had less rope to navigate through the farther he got. Kenny won and this was the only time this strategy was used for this challenge even though it has been around for a while.
Joe Anglim hacked The Hard To Handle Challenge
Cambodia, “Game to Win”
Joe is one of the greatest physical players in the history of the show, probably right behind Ozzy. His hack came in his sophomore season when he needed to balance a ball on a pole, while balancing on a descending, narrow beam.
He changed his attitude compared to everyone else. Joe stood sideways, using 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, rather than balancing. In the last lap when the beam was at its narrowest, he turned all the way back as it was easier to balance on the climb, instead of the descent. With his back turned to everyone else, he beat Spencer and took immunity with him.
Adam Klein hacked The Push Me, Pull You Challenge
Millennials vs. Gen X, “About to Have a Rumble”
Adam won Millennials vs. Gen X using this clever trick he pulled on the last nine immunity challenge. Players had to keep pressure on a bar with two handles to keep it in the air.
All the other castaways seemed to be either pulling on the handles to maintain tension, while Adam was doing something different. He pulled at the bottom and pushed at the top to keep the tension. This was much easier on Adam’s muscles than anyone else’s strictly pulling or pushing. This was Adam’s only individual immunity, but it definitely helped him win the game.
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