17. Ethan Zohn
How can you be the fourth person voted out of the game and be ranked higher than someone who made the merge? The answer is simple: Ethan was playing a solid game until he was blindsided beyond his control. Nobody defined old school Survivor better than Ethan. His win in Survivor: Africa came two years before any other season 40 castaway claimed their crown.
It was cool to watch Ethan adapt his game, while still staying true to his roots. Ethan’s strength was his likable personality and a strong social game. Sure, nobody wants to go to the end with a guy who won an intense battle with cancer, but that doesn’t mean he can’t still make it far. Just look at Elaine Stott from season 39. Her name came up about being too much of a fan favorite right out of the gate, but she made it all the way to seventh place.
Ethan didn’t share the same success as Elaine did, but he did show glimpses of good gameplay. First of all, he aligned himself between two perfect meat shields: Parvati and Boston Rob. At the same time, he was using his humor and positivity to build a solid rapport with the other castaways. Unfortunately for Ethan, his downfall had to do with his old school alliance.
Every time Boston Rob and Parvati’s name came up, the Sele tribe felt like they had a war on their hands. However, Michele and Jeremy still wanted to find a way to weaken that alliance, so Ethan became the fall guy. Every season, there are usually one or two votes where the target can’t do much to prevent their elimination. That’s how it felt with Ethan. There just wasn’t much he could do to dodge Michele and Jeremy’s expertly executed blindside.
– Completing that brutal Edge of Extinction challenge despite blacking out
– Being the most likable and inspiring player of the season despite his early exit
– Getting blindsided primarily because of who he was aligned with and his heroic story