Most memorable moments from Survivor: Panama

NEW YORK - May 14: Survivor Castaway Nick Stanbury attends the CBS Presentation of Survivor Panama Exile Island Finale/Reunion Show on May 14, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - May 14: Survivor Castaway Nick Stanbury attends the CBS Presentation of Survivor Panama Exile Island Finale/Reunion Show on May 14, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images) /

Survivor: Panama – also known as Survivor: Exile Island – was the show’s 12th season and gave us plenty of memorable moments.

A new twist was the focal point of Survivor: Panama and that was the Exile Island twist, which is why the season is often referred to as Survivor: Exile Island. Before that twist was introduced, another Survivor first occurred, which we’ll touch on first on our list of memorable moments.

Four Tribes

For the first time in Survivor history, the contestants started off the season split into four tribes of four and were divided by age and gender. There was a tribe of older women, younger women, older men, and younger men, which was interesting, but only ended up lasting one episode, making it pretty lame when it was all said and done.

What was funny about the way these tribes were divided is that women in their 30s were placed on the older tribe, such as Melinda Hyder. Bobby Mason was the same age as her yet Melinda was on the older women tribe while Bobby was placed on the younger men tribe.

It likely only lasted the one episode because of the older women losing and production was afraid of them losing the first two challenges and being down two tribe members right off the bat. Either way, dividing by gender and age was a lame twist and thankfully hasn’t been attempted again.

The four tribes, however, was used again the very next season in Cook Islands, but it hasn’t returned since then.

Exile Island

Survivor: Panama introduced us to Exile Island, a twist that has come and gone throughout the years. The concept of Exile Island was that someone would be sent there and would spend a certain amount of time on the island by themselves. The benefit of staying there was that they’d be able to search for the Hidden Immunity Idol.

Typically the winning tribe would send a member of the losing tribe to go to Exile Island and once the merge occurred, the winner of the challenge would send someone to go there. This twist reappeared in Fiji, Micronesia, Gabon, Tocantins, and San Juan Del Sur and was used once in Palau (its first appearance), Game Changers, and David vs Goliath.

Super Idol

We saw the Hidden Immunity Idol get introduced in Survivor: Guatemala – the season prior to Panama – and it became an even bigger advantage in season 12. Panama introduced us to the Super Idol, which can be played after the votes are read.

Due to that aspect of the idol, Terry Deitz – who found the idol early on – never ended up playing it because no one risked voting for him and potentially getting ousted themselves.

Casaya Alliance

Oh, the Casaya alliance. What a gem in the Survivor history books that we should all be truly grateful for.

It all started when the four tribes were dwindled to two and Aras Baskauskas, Danielle DiLorenzo, Shane Powers, and Courtney Marit all decided to take over the power on the newly formed Casaya tribe. They voted Melinda off first, then took out Bobby and didn’t have to vote out fan favorite Cirie Fields, who eventually wiggled her way into the main alliance.

The Casaya alliance was an absolute train wreck, but somehow they stuck together and wouldn’t have had to turn on each other as soon as they did if Terry hadn’t kept winning immunity.

Speaking of which…

Terry’s Immunity Run

Terry was a beast in season 12, winning all but two individual immunity challenges. His La Mina tribe mates were all picked off before him and Terry was able to keep winning to where Casaya had to turn on each other.

Terry won five individual immunity challenges, tying Colby Donaldson (Australian Outback), Tom Westman (Palau), Ozzy Lusth (Cook Islands), Mike Holloway (Worlds Apart), and Brad Culpepper (Game Changers) for most in a single season.

The Gem that is Shane

How Shane hasn’t been brought back since his original season is beyond me because the guy was an absolute nutcase in his season, but an entertaining nutcase. From the stump that he enjoyed sitting on to his “Blackberry”, to his apartment conversation with Courtney, Shane was the gift that kept on giving during season 12.

Introduction of Cirie

Since her initial run on Survivor: Panama, Cirie has become one of the most legendary players in Survivor history despite not having won the game. That last part sucks too because Cirie has been so close in three of her four appearances and not only has she not won, but the way she’s lost has been tragic.

Cirie started the show as a coach potato who wanted to try something new (she was afraid of leaves prior going on the show) and she was close to going home in the first two tribal councils. Despite that, she managed to hang on and stuck around until the final four where she lost in fire making to Danielle.

Shane might have been the most entertaining cast member from Panama, but Cirie was the heart and soul of the season.


Next. Ranking Every Season of Survivor. dark

Survivor: Panama gets lost in the shuffle, but there were tons of memorable moments to be had. It’s still a highly entertaining season even 14 years after it first aired.

What were your favorite moments from Survivor: Panama?