The Best Tribal Council Vote Reactions in Survivor History

Well, since we now all know what it’s like to still be reeling from a vote, I think it’s okay to have this post reflect an episode from two weeks ago. Michaela’s reaction to being voted out was basically the platonic ideal of entertainment. Everyone who makes Survivor-related lists (looking at you, Black Dynamite) had to update their rankings after that moment. Which means the real question is, what did that list look like before Michaela changed the game?

7. Edgardo Rivera’s Blindside – Survivor: Fiji

For every other moment, I’ll be including a video clip, but this is all you really need to see.

I could probably save myself a lot of time and effort by just ending the explanation for the moment's greatness right now. Everything is redundant after this GIF.
Never gets old.

6. Candice Woodcock and Adam Gentry Make Out – Survivor: Cook Islands

(First off, apologies for the video quality of some of these clips. Combining the pre-HD era with YouTube is a recipe for blurriness.)
Even Faylor didn’t pull out the PDA when Figgy got blindsided. Nor did the ignoble Keith and Whitney – and they got married! But Adam and Candice just couldn’t resist one more disgusting, bad breath, plaque-ridden kiss. Bonus points for the savagery by Probst at the end.

5. Boston Rob Makes Coach Feel Small – Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains

Perhaps, as someone who is less than a fan of Coach, I am biased on this one. While this isn’t quite as big of a blindside as most of the other entries on the list, there is still something so special about Boston Rob just completely shutting Coach down after Rob is voted out. Coach, who sanctimoniously preaches honor and integrity stuck by his guns to vote for Courtney and “keep the tribe strong” and definitely not to avoid making a decision between voting with Rob or for him. But when Coach goes to hug his favorite sharpener, Rob ain’t having it. “You’re a little man”. There’s not many sentences that would have crushed Coach more.

4. Steve “Chicken” Morris is the First Boot – Survivor: China


3.Judd Sergeant Hopes You All Get Bitten By a Freakin’ Crocodile – Survivor: Guatemala

There’s nothing like the instant bitterness of a Survivor blindside. As Judd was wont to be, his exit was very colorful, starting with some sarcasm (“Nice, guys”), wishes of bodily harm (“I hope you all get bitten by a freakin’ crocodile”), and finally some good old-fashioned name calling (“Scumbugs”). My personal favorite part is the resigned repeating of “scumbags” after his torch was snuffed. It’s just a damn shame, man.

2. Andrew Savage Makes the Jury – Survivor: Cambodia

The gap between the number three and number two spot is a wide one, but it was a true battle for number one. Savage’s blindside just misses the top of the list, but it’s definitely a tribal council for the ages. In fact, it inspired my list of the most entertaining idol plays in Survivor history last year. It also made it to the Sweet Sixteen of our Ultimate Survivor Tribal Council Bracket from earlier this year. Suffice it to say, it’s a pretty exciting moment. First you have everyone completely gobsmacked that Wentworth even has an idol: the majority knows one of them is screwed, Ciera – who could have gone home if there had been a vote split – declares “This is my favorite moment.” Then Wentworth has to up her reaction as a record nine votes are read against her until the devastating blow hits Andrew Savage. The cherry on top is when the queen of passive-aggressive behavior, Abi-Maria, tries to help him look on the bright side. “You made it to the jury!” Savage flips her off.

1. No Super Idol for Scot Pollard – Survivor: Kaoh Rong

(The only clip I could find had that drawing in the corner to sidestep copyright infringement. Apologies.)
It might seem like recency bias, and maybe it is, but it’s hard to deny how compelling of a moment this is. There’s a hint of entertainment before the votes are read, when Julia is whispering for Tai to play the idol (because she wants to flush it) and Scot is whispering for him not to (because super idol). Of course, he doesn’t, and then the votes are revealed, and Scot has the plurality. And he waits. And he waits some more. Imagine you’re one of the players who doesn’t know about the super idol. What is Scot doing? Why doesn’t he get up? Finally, after what feels like an eternity, Tai confirms he will not help form a super idol, and Scot’s torch is snuffed. Unlike Michaela’s boot, this has the added benefit of being deeply satisfying to the majority of the audience. Before there was #WHAT, there was #WOW.

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Emma is the token chick of the Purple Rock Podcast. She has watched the show continuously since the second episode and is pretty sure she's never seen the pilot.

Favorite seasons: Heroes vs. Villains, Micronesia, Cambodia, Cook Islands, China, Philippines

Favorite players: Courtney Yates, Parvati Shallow, John Cochran, Cirie Fields, Yul Kwon, Kim Spradlin
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  • For me, I would have reversed 2 and 1, but I get why 1 is 1. You have three different factions at play with different levels of knowledge about how the idols work. Julia and Michele are just trying to flush Tai’s idol, the Aubry contingent wants out Scot, and Scot and Kyle want the super idol to take out Aubry. Add into that the fact that the jury knows about the super idol and you have a really dynamic tribal council. My one drawback to this TC is that everyone has a presence….besides Joe.

    The Wentworth TC has so much panic, drama, and humor that it is hard to beat.

    • Max_Jets

      Liked for writing about one of my favorite Survivor moments, but I think I still agree with Emma’s order. Also, Joe DC and Wiglesworth could have switched places for these tribals and it wouldn’t make a difference!

      • That’s a good point. I agree that 1 and 2 are extremely close.

  • Side Character

    That Horsemen .gif will never not make me happy.

    I like all of these picks. I might enjoy the Horsemen’s reaction more than some of the others on the list, but all of these are worthy choices.

    I’m curious as to what you thought of Andrea’s vote in Caramoan. Sure, it’s a very toned-down version of Michaela’s vote, but she did “WHAT?!” way before Michaela did.

    • Max_Jets

      Andrea’s is my favorite pre-Michaela reaction and I quickly scrolled through to check if it made the cut. It still stands apart from Michaela’s too, because she’s amused by it.

    • andythesaint

      For me, Andrea’s own sportsmanship (while admirable) keeps it to the honourable mentions section of this discussion. She ends up diffusing the moment herself.

      • Side Character

        I can understand that. Most of these reactions have a lot more saltiness to them, and that saltiness lingers for a while. Unresolved tension between castaways makes for great drama, and being a good sport about it is not always as compelling to watch.

  • Black Dynamite

    One Tribal Council vote reaction that jumped out to me that hasn’t already been mentioned on the list is the Sarah vote out in Cagayan. The stunned look in her face is priceless, after she thought she had all the power. It’s also probably the most openly excited I’ve seen a group of people respond after the final vote. Finally, there is Spencer’s infamous comment to Kass afterwards. God, that whole Tribal was great and that episode, one could say, one of the best.

    • andythesaint

      That’s a good one that we missed. One that made our brainstorming but missed Emma’s list was the merge vote of SoPa, where they attack Cochran and Brandon Hantz defends him. It made Baby Hantz likable!

    • Purple Rock Emma

      Whoops 🙂

    • That episode was what made me a superfan. It was so gloriously ridiculous and entertaining (not that anyone here disagrees).

      • sharculese

        Wait are you another member of the “Cagayan is what got me into this show” crew?

        • Yes and no. I started watching the show off-and-on during Gabon and started to care during Philippines. Cagayan made me really excited about it and eager to talk to other people about it, rather than just watch it.

          • DrVanNostrand

            I’m surprised Gabon didn’t make you permanently ‘off’.

          • I watched it with my dad when I was 11 and found it very entertaining. I didn’t realize how bad the strategy was, but I really enjoyed Crystal yelling at Randy as she voted.

          • DrVanNostrand

            You make me feel very old.

          • I think that’s why I’m here

      • Black Dynamite

        Poor Woo got shook.

        • It’s lost in the beauty of Woo’s face there, but Cliffy’s face is pretty great too.

          • sharculese

            You really need the full .gif, because Tony bucking in the background completes it.

        • Woo always gets shocked at TC, especially at FTC. #HeyOh

    • I love Jefra’s excited clapping.

  • Alkanarra

    Richard Hatch has been bamboozled once again.

    • sharculese

      The problem with including that one is that it’s mostly just Rich doing what he does best – giving the cameras what they want. I don’t think he ever doubted for a second he was going home, but he has to make a production out of it anyway, because that’s what he does.

      • Alkanarra

        Oh absolutely. It’s not better than anything on that list or even the other options in these comments. I mostly just liked it because he had such a doesn’t-give-a-shit reaction during the season of the tryhards.

      • Purple Rock Emma

        Exactly. Because it was basically a planned response I chose not to include it.

  • andythesaint

    One I thought of from a historical perspective (that isn’t on the level of these, but warrants mentioning as an originator), is the Gretchen boot reaction from Borneo. Those kids didn’t know what hit them.

  • Assistant Dragon Slayer

    I was going to mention this in one of the MvGx posts, but I think we should be more humble about calling Jessica and Adam’s advantages stupid. In the Kaoh Rong pre-season the CW was that there was virtually no chance of the super-idol ever coming into play, and yet it ended up causing the officially certified Best Tribal Council Vote Reaction in Survivor History.

    • Max_Jets

      Adam’s could be used well (maybe he steals a different advantage), and will almost certainly be entertaining. My hope is that he steals Taylor’s reward right after Taylor starts telling people about it. Jessica’s has me curious more than anything. Regardless of what it ends up being, it could be interesting to watch the legacy aspect factor into people’s strategy. If it’s a bust this season, I wouldn’t mind them trying it out again in the future.

      • sharculese

        Yeah, Adam’s only real option at this point is to use his advantage to take away Taylor’s reward, since there’s not chance in hell he’s getting Taylor’s jury vote. The problem is, Adam doesn’t seem to realize how much Taylor hates him.

        • Purplerockmatt

          adam should steal the reward this week since its a team reward and taylor is on the other side

    • sharculese

      The argument isn’t that they’re stupid, it’s that they’re shitty advantages you don’t want to have. They can totally still make for good television, if used in the wrongest manner possible.

    • andythesaint

      That’s a good note, but I will say that I did find ways that the super-idol COULD work early on. And with Jessica’s advantage, it’s entirely a structural issue for TV. That’s way too fucking long to remember something that can’t happen until the end of the season. It’s Chekov’s gun, if the gun could ONLY go off in the third act.

      And that third act takes place a month after you introduce it.

      • It also doesn’t help that it hasn’t yet been introduced in the second act.

      • Mike Hirsch

        It’s like if Chekhov’s gun was introduced in the first act of Berlin Alexanderplatz.

    • andythesaint

      But if I’m wrong, you can count on me to own up to it.

    • What is CW?

      • Assistant Dragon Slayer

        conventional wisdom

  • Other Scott

    I think my top 4 in order are definitely:

    1. Michaela vote
    2. Judd trying to get people bit by a crocodile
    3. Chicken Morris
    4. Edgardo boot

    I think the biggest snubs from the list are probably as mentioned the two Cagayan tribal councils with the original Woo blindside face (though that’s probably better as a gif than it was on TV) .

  • Did Shane get robbed again?

  • Hornacek

    I didn’t see it in the clip, but I seem to recall that when this aired, after Jeff smuffed Judd’s torch and he’s walking down the path and says “Scumbags” again, the close captioning showed “Scumbags.” on screen, even though you can hear him say it. I always thought that was hilarious, that the editors wanted to stress that Judd’s last words were “Scumbags.”

    Or did I just dream that “Scumbags.” on the screen all those years ago?

  • Mike Hirsch

    I still don’t quite get why Scot would think Tai would combine idols with him and consequently send himself home, but that was a damn fine tribal.

    • I think Scot thought that Kyle/Julia/Michele would take out Aubry, not Tai, on the revote since they would outnumber Cydney and Joe.

  • DrVanNostrand

    I would’ve put the fall of the Four Horsemen* higher, but great list.

    (*3 Horsemen + Dreamz)