Survivor Seasons: How Thailand changed the game of Survivor


Even though Survivor: Thailand is known as one of the most boring seasons ever, it has surprisingly evolved the game by a significant degree.

You would think that a season with a great winner and unique production twists would make for an entertaining mix. But that is far from the case in Survivor: Thailand. Besides the winner Brian Heidik, there was a lack of interesting personalities and definitely poor gameplay.

With that being said, we can’t overlook the ways Thailand changed the game forever. Here are three of them:

1) Making multiple Final 2 deals

One of the ways Brian revolutionized the game was his ability to manipulate alliances. Once it got down to the Final Five with only his original tribe members remaining, Brian already had the game in the bag. The relationships he built were so strong that the other castaways believed that Brian was their closest ally. It was fun listening to him talk about this part of his game on RHAP.

So Brian was able to establish a pecking order without anyone realizing. That resulted in three straight blindsides. They had no clue they were going home because of the Final Two pacts he made with them. This is a brilliant strategy that has been used by many Survivor greats since Brian established it.

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2) The One World twist

The crazy thing about Thailand is that it had some pretty unique twists. There was first ever tribe auction as opposed to an individual one. At that auction, Jeff offered up to anyone if they wanted to switch tribes (mutiny), which would have been epic if someone actually decided to take the offer (that’s on you Shii Ann).

But the most interesting twist was when Jeff duped the castaways into thinking that they merged. Instead, the two tribes would coexist on the same beach until they finally dropped their buffs with eight people left, which still holds the record for the latest merge.

The One World twist created the most entertaining social dynamics of the season, especially with Shii Ann trying to get in with Brian’s tribe. Unfortunately Season 24: One World ruined this twist forever! I really hope production can surprise us with a One World style twist in seasons to come.

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3) Controlling the game without being a leader

Even though Thailand was only the fifth season, it already became clear that players who took on a leadership position didn’t fare well. Brian understood that vital lesson. Early on he was able to cement his position in the tribe by being everyone’s go-to person.

That being said, he did so subtly. He never overstepped his boundaries or demanded that things should get done his way. His chill and laid back attitude drew his tribemates to him, allowing Brian to understand everything that was happening.

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Brian was really the first player to possess two different personalities; one for his tribe and one for the camera. We got to see in his confessionals how he candidly analyzed his options and how he had full control of the season without anyone noticing. Even with a disappointing season, we still got a worthy winner that impacted the way Survivor is played.