‘Survivor’: Series’ Most Naive Player Missed Their Chance at a Comeback By 3 Days

To win the popular competition show Survivora contestant must possess a combination of skill, strategy, the ability to make alliances, and a good amount of luck. The long-running show has seen many winners, each of whom have used a different mixture of these factors to outwit, outplay, and outlast the other contestants on the way to win the glory and prize money that comes with being voted the Sole Survivor. One of these winners was Parvati Shallow, whose powerful alliance was able to capitalize on the bad luck and bad play of one of the Survivor season’s strongest competitors, Erik Reichenbach

Who is ‘Survivor’ contestant Erik Reichenbach?

Reichenbach was a contestant of the show’s sixteenth season, Survivor: Micronesia. The first time contestant was a super-fan of the show and was the youngest competitor in the season.

Originally the season was set to be an all-star season but was then changed to a fan vs. favorites season. Reichenbach was one of 10 super fans who competed against 10 of the show’s most beloved players from previous seasons.

The Survivor: Micronesia season was dominated by an all-female tribe named the Black Widow Brigade, which was led by Shallow. Besides the eventual winner, the Black Widow Brigade was made up of members Amanda Kimmel, Cirie Fields, Natalie Bolton, and Alexis Jones, who ruthlessly eliminated everyone in their way until they were the final tribe standing. Reichenbach was the final male contestant standing until he made a confusing rookie mistake that showed his naive nature. 

What mistake did Reichenbach make that resulted in his elimination? 

Erik Reichenbach
Erik Reichenbach | Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

After making it to the final four of competitors, Reichenbach made a decision that is still considered one of the worst and ill-thought-out moves in the shows long history. During his season, Reichenbach had acquired an Immunity Necklace, which gave the holder a free pass to avoid elimination during the council vote.

The desirable idol is one of the most valuable objects in the game and can be transferred to one player to another. In a shocking move, Reichenbach gave his Immunity Necklace to one of the Black Widows, Natalie Bolton. Bolton and the rest of the Brigade promptly voted Reichenbach off the show, clearing the path to Shallow’s eventual victory.

Reichenbach lasted 36 days on the show and placed fifth overall in the season. The head-scratching decision was later nominated for the Dumbest Move in Survivor History award during the Heroes vs. Villains Reunion Show.  

Despite his gaffe, Reichenbach was a popular contestant and was eventually given an opportunity to redeem himself in a later season of Survivor. 

Reichenbach’s second time competing on ‘Survivor’ 

Following his naive mistake and elimination, Reichenbach was able to return to the survival-based competition in the season Survivor: Caramoan. During the season, Reichenbach continued to be a fan-favorite competitor, and many viewers supporting him to win.

As was the case in his first season, Reichenbach was a strong competitor. He was able to win an impressive 12 challenges on the way to being one of the final five contestants remaining. Then, disaster struck, and Reichenbach was removed from the show for medical reasons.

During one of the final Tribal Council sessions of the season, Reichenbach began to feel light-headed, and the medical team checked his blood pressure. The rough conditions of surviving on Caramoan had left the popular contestant dehydrated, and thus unable to continue with the competition. Even worse was how close Reichenbach came to redemption and winning the whole completion, as three days later a Sole Survivor was voted as the winner.

That winner was John Cochran, and Reichenbach once again placed fifth overall. Reichenbach recovered from the dehydration and is still involved in various Survivor based events.