The 5 Most Jaw-Dropping ‘Survivor’ Moments in 2022, Ranked

As 2022 comes to a close, we are looking back on some of the most surprising Survivor moments in seasons 42 and 43. The CBS reality competition series is known for its devastating blindsides, strategic moves, exciting competitions, and dangerous elements. And somehow, fans saw all of these things play out on their screens this year.

Cody Assenmacher, Owen Knight, Jesse Lopez, Mike Gabler, Cassidy Clark, and Karla Cruz Godoy, who starred in 'Survivor' Season 43 in 2022, attend Tribal Council in episode 12.
Cody Assenmacher, Owen Knight, Jesse Lopez, Mike Gabler, Cassidy Clark, and Karla Cruz Godoy | Photo: CBS

5. Jackson Fox’s medevac in ‘Survivor 42’

Producers have had to medically evacuate several Survivor castaways over the years, and the first and only medevac in 2022 came during the season 42 premiere.

Jackson Fox, a 49-year-old healthcare worker from Houston, Texas, had to be removed from the season due to concerns about his lithium withdrawal. Host Jeff Probst arrived at Taku’s camp in the morning on Day 3 and informed Jackson that producers had to pull him from the game. He is tied with Pat Cusack from Survivor: David vs. Goliath and Kourtney Moon from Survivor: One World as the earliest medevac.

Jackson’s tribemates were devastated, as were fans. But many remain hopeful that Jackson will get a second chance to play Survivor after 2022.

4. Mike Gabler wins ‘Survivor 43’ in 2022

After Jesse Lopez lost the final four fire-making challenge during the Survivor 43 finale in December 2022, most viewers checked out. It seemed like Cassidy Clark had the win in the bag. And many were disappointed when Jesse didn’t make it to the final three.

However, something funny happened when Cassidy, Mike Gabler, and Owen Knight started pleading their cases to the jury. The voted-out castaways seemed to be buying everything that Gabler was pitching. And instead of praising Cassidy’s game, they pointed out its flaws.

In the end, the jury crowned Gabler the Sole Survivor. And we are still trying to pick our jaws up from the floor from when Jeff Probst announced Gabler as the winner of Survivor 43.

3. Noelle Lambert’s out-of-nowhere reward challenge win in ‘Survivor 43’

The beauty of Survivor is that surprising things can happen anywhere, not just at Tribal Council.

In Survivor 43 in 2022, the final eight competed in a reward challenge. It included having to walk across a balance beam and then trying to land a sandbag on a disc on top of a large pole. And Noelle Lambert, with her prosthetic leg, struggled to get across the balance beam.

All the castaways had made it across the beam and were relentlessly trying to land their sandbags while Noelle was left behind. However, she conquered the balance beam after around 20-30 minutes. And after a few tries, Noelle was the first to land her sandbag, winning the reward.

Noelle’s shocking triumph shows viewers that anything is possible in the game of Survivor.

2. Maryanne Oketch blindsides Omar Zaheer in ‘Survivor 42’

In the penultimate episode of Survivor 42 in 2022, everyone had different agendas for Tribal Council. Mike Turner and Jonathan Young wanted to vote out Romeo Escobar, while Lindsay Dolashewich and Omar Zaheer targeted Jonathan. That left Maryanne Oketch in the middle, but she wanted to take a shot at Omar.

Omar was undoubtedly the strongest player of the final six. And Maryanne knew that she needed to get him out before he got too close to the end. So she hatched a plan and pulled Romeo into the fold.

At Tribal Council, Maryanne used her extra vote advantage to place two votes on Omar, while Romeo also wrote Omar’s name down. Since Omar and Lindsay targeted Jonathan and Mike and Jonathan went after Romeo, the vote was 3-2-2, with Omar joining the jury. And it’s all thanks to Maryanne, who went on to become the first Sole Survivor of 2022.

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1. Jesse Lopez blindsides Cody Assenmacher with his own idol in ‘Survivor 43’ in 2022

It is the easiest decision in the world to name Jesse’s iconic idol play in season 43 as the most jaw-dropping Survivor moment of 2022.

Going into Tribal Council in Survivor 43 Episode 12, Cody Assenmacher wanted to convince Karla Cruz Godoy not to use her idol and blindside her. However, Jesse worried it would be too big of a move for Cody’s resume. And Jesse believed that if Cody pulled it off, the jury would crown Cody the Sole Survivor. So he put his own plan in motion.

As fans recall, Cody let Jesse hang on to his idol for safekeeping just in case there was a Knowledge Is Power advantage. At Tribal Council, Jesse played the idol for Owen, which spooked Karla into misplaying her own. And since Jesse, Owen, Cassidy, and Gabler wrote Cody’s name down, Cody joined the jury that night.

Following his epic and brutal move, fans called Jesse one of the best Survivor players in recent seasons. And we hope that he gets a second chance to play very soon.

Survivor 42 and 43 are available to stream on Paramount+.

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