ByChelsy Scherba, writer at
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Chelsy Scherba

In light of the sad departure of Caleb Reynolds, who had to be medically evacuated due to heat exhaustion during the last episode, it seems prudent to revisit some of the most dangerous and life threatening moments that have happened in Survivor's history. These instances do not happen every season, but when they do, it's always a devastating and harsh reminder of just how brutal Survivor can actually be. Caleb may be the latest Survivor casualty, but he's certainly not the only one, and he won't be the last. With that in mind, let's revisit some of the scariest moments in Survivor history!


Season 2 of Survivor was set in Australia and players didn't do much scheming back in those days; they mostly focused on camp life and "surviving" in the wilderness. The conditions were often harsher with little to no food or water, and fire was everything. That's why when Skupin, a sadistic hunter, got badly burned tending the fire, he eventually had to be medically evacuated due to the severity of his injuries. Skip to the 7:35 mark to view his ordeal in the video below:


In Survivor Panama, Bruce was known on the island as a physically fit older man who enjoyed doing karate on the beach. Everything was seemingly great for Bruce until he started suffering from constipation and crippling stomach pains mid-way though the 39 days. After an entire day and most of a night spent lying in the hut tossing and turning as he groaned in pain, Bruce was medically evacuated. His situation was a dangerous reminder of what can happen when your body is placed under as much stress as Survivor produces. He was able to return as a member of the jury, but his dreams of winning the million were sadly cut short.


Jonathan Penner sustained a leg injury in the form of a deep puncture wound during a challenge on Survivor Micronesia. The doctors gave him antibiotics in the hopes he would recover without being pulled from the game, but as the days went on, his condition grew worse and worse. He was barely able to walk due to the pain, and even when he was told he would have to leave or risk losing his leg, he was defiant in his desire to stay in the game. The doctors overruled his wishes and Jonathan left in the Survivor helicopter, tearfully bidding goodbye to his chances to win the million.

Penner leaking pus and tears.
Penner leaking pus and tears.


James was the second casualty of Survivor Micronesia. Like Penner, James got an infection after sustaining an injury to his hand. He had to be medically evacuated due to the risk of the infection spreading quickly to the rest of his body, but once treated was able to return as a member of the jury.

James' injured finger
James' injured finger


In Survivor Tocantins, Joe cut his leg and sustained an infection shortly afterwards. During a challenge, the medical team had him stay after everyone had gone back to the beach to check out the severity of his injury. Unfortunately for Joe, it wasn't good news. Watch below:

Joe's gruesome, inflamed injury.
Joe's gruesome, inflamed injury.


During a rough immunity challenge in Survivor Samoa, Mike got beat up pretty badly trying to prove his worth to his team. Unfortunately for Mike, his blood pressure became dangerously low and doctors thought it was too risky for him to stay in the game. Watch his thoughts on his elimination from the game after he was tended to and received the news:


Just days after Mike Borassi was pulled from the game, Russell Swan became the second casualty of Survivor Samoa. His harrowing ordeal was perhaps one of the most frightening moments ever captured on Survivor. He pushed himself almost to the brink of death out of support and loyalty to his team, and is honestly lucky to be alive. Watch below:


Kourtney injured her wrist on the very first challenge of Survivor One World. After the challenge was halted due to her feeling dizzy and unable to compete, the doctors determined her wrist was broken and she would have to be evacuated to receive surgery.

Kourtney broke her wrist falling on a trampoline
Kourtney broke her wrist falling on a trampoline


Colton started out in his tribe of men as the underdog, but soon gained possession of an idol from the women's tribe because of his strong relationship with them. Using his new leverage, Colton put together an alliance of "misfits" that seemed poised to take over the entire game, but we never got to see what they might have accomplished. Colton began experiencing horrible stomach pains and was unable to function.

It was eventually decided that Colton's game was over and like many others, his time on Survivor One World ended prematurely. Host Jeff Probst accused Colton of faking his illness, adding further controversy to a man who had already called little person Leaf a "midget", and said racist and discriminatory things to an African American team mate. Watch Colton's thoughts before his evacuation and decide for yourself if he means it:

10. Shamar Thomas

Shamar was another controversial player who irritated his tribe mates because of his lack of desire to help out around camp. He got into frequent shouting matches and threatened to quit multiple times only to be coaxed back by another team mate who said she needed him. Ironically, and just as Shamar had turned over a new leaf and seemed committed to fighting it out, he injured his eye.

After suffering for a few days, Shamar was pulled from the game because his eye was getting worse and the doctors worried he could go blind if he stayed untreated. Either way, Shamar got his ultimate wish which was to leave Survivor Caramoan. Watch him "cut his finger" below:

11. Erik Reichenbach

Erik collapsed after a Tribal Council on day 36 of Survivor Caramoan because of dehydration and an infection in his leg that the doctors thought was too dangerous to leave alone. He was forced to leave the game and lost out on his chance to win the million dollars just three days shy of the end of the game. Watch Erik describe his experience after he arrived at Ponderosa to participate as a juror.

Erik gets medevaced.
Erik gets medevaced.

There have also been several close calls on Survivor. For instance, "Boston" Rob Mariano fainted and went into convulsions due to heat exhaustion and dehydration on Survivor Redemption Island, and most recently, fan favorite Joe Anglim from Survivor Cambodia, collapsed mid-challenge, but both eventually recovered and neither had to be medically evacuated.

Above:Boston Rob talks with Jeff about his illness.
Above:Boston Rob talks with Jeff about his illness.

You can watch Joe's scary situation below:

As crazy as Survivor has been in the past, I don't think anything will compare to what happened in this season of Survivor Brawn VS Brains VS Beauty. A total of three contestants went down during a challenge and one had to be medically evacuated. Caleb Reynolds fortunately recovered after his evacuation as did Cydney Gillon and Debbie Wanner who have so far remained in the game.

Caleb coming too close to dying for comfort
Caleb coming too close to dying for comfort

I will miss Caleb as he was my favorite contestant of the season. He had a great bromance with Tai, which can be seen from what is now his best moment on Survivor. Watch below:

Would you risk going on Survivor after watching the most scary moments that ever happened on the series? Do you think Caleb will be the last evacuee during this season of Survivor?


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