Ultimate Survivor Tribal Council Bracket – Blindsides Division Round One

Before it was a hashtag on every single episode, a Survivor blindside was a special moment. The moment the game shifted beneath the players, the moment that someone’s dream slipped from their grasp, the moment that left viewers scrambling at home to figure it out. There have been a lot of blindsides in 15 years, but what follows are 16 of the blindest, boldest, and most brutal betrayals at Tribal Council.

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Voting criteria:

  • You decide what makes a Tribal worthy of your vote. Was it your favourite? The best? Most memorable? Most dramatic? It’s up to you. We’ve organized them by theme, but you’re under no obligation to pick the best blindside tribal to represent the Blindsides bracket.
  • Tribal Council is defined as everything that happened in episode from when the tribe gets to Tribal Council through to the Final Words of the eliminated contestant. Things that didn’t make the air were out of bounds for consideration when putting the list together.
  • For Final Tribal Councils, the reveal of the winner is out of bounds (except for the first Final Tribal). This takes place at a different time and place and is aired on a different episode.

Voting ends on Tuesday, March 15th.

1. Fall of the Horsemen vs 16. Vanuatu Women Splinter

The fall of the Horsemen – Fiji, episode 10 “It’s A Turtle”

For all of Survivor‘s bro-tastic bluster, it’s always satisfying to see the revenge of the nerds. Or at least the people who can count. With the threat of a quartet of losers named the Four Horsemen looming to take over the merge in Fiji if they could get the numbers, eventual winner Earl Cole pulls a fast one and blindsides Edgardo out of the game with a little idol foresight. This Tribal is full of some of the best non-Eliza GIFs in Survivor history, and solidified Earl’s path toward the endgame. (And no, we’re not just seeding this at number one because Linda Holmes loves this scene).

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

Vanuatu’s women splinter – Vanuatu, episode 11 “Surprise… And Surprise Again!”

Another tidal shift in the game that led to the eventual winner’s victory, Chris should have been a dead man walking. He didn’t have immunity, and the women were dominating the game. But the cracks were showing, and Ami targeted Eliza to go. But Chris and the older ladies had other ideas, recruiting Eliza to their side and driving a stake through the heart of girl power.

1. Fall of the Horsemen vs 16. Vanuatu Women Splinter

  • 1. Fall of the Horsemen (73% Votes)
  • 16. Vanuatu Women Splinter (27% Votes)

Total Voters: 400

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8. Dreamz Keeps Immunity vs 9. Burton Blindside 1.0

Dreams keeps immunity – Fiji, episode 14 “You’ve Got That Puzzled Look”

Remember the Car Curse? How the winner of the car reward always got screwed in the game, which was never a good look on GM or Ford or whomever? Yeah, this didn’t help. After Yau Man won that challenge, he made a deal with mushy ally Dreamz that the latter would give up immunity in exchange for a brand new truck. Dreamz took the keys, then backed up over Yau Man at final four by keeping the necklace and voting out Yau instead. So much for the auto bailout.

Burton blindside 1.0 – Pearl Islands, episode 4 “Pick a Castaway…Any Castaway”

Meanwhile, this is what happens when you don’t put enough effort into winning a challenge. Itching to go to Tribal, Burton couldn’t stand the ladies of Drake, so he and Rupert sat out of the immunity challenge in the hopes that Morgan would win, which they did. But instead of things going according to plan, Burton walked the plank thanks to a ragtag alliance working against him. While the result was shocking, the highlight of this Tribal is Johnny Fairplay being so wasted the Probst calls him out for it. The disdain is evident.

8. Dreamz Keeps Immunity vs 9. Burton Blindside 1.0

  • 8. Dreamz Keeps Immunity (62% Votes)
  • 9. Burton Blindside 1.0 (38% Votes)

Total Voters: 381

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4. Tyson Votes Himself Out vs 13. Blindsides Are Awesome

Tyson votes himself out – Heroes vs. Villains, episode 6 “Banana Etiquette”

The one rule of Survivor (after “don’t be voted out”) is “don’t trust Russell Hantz”. The competing alliances within the Villains tribe were at each other’s throats, with Boston Rob aiming for Parvati while making Russell think he was the target in order to waste an idol. But after a vote split is engineered, Russell pretended to go with the flow and convinces Tyson to switch his vote as well to get rid of a big threat. Unfortunately, Russell had no intention of playing the idol for himself, instead using it to save Parvati. With Tyson’s vote changed, the split is ruined, and he knocks himself right out of the game.

“Blindsides are awesome” – One World, episode 12 “It’s Gonna Be Chaos”

Kat’s reputation as a ditzy blonde was already firmly established, but up until now it had largely been seen as endearing by her tribemates. Then she won the family visit reward and picked Kim and Alicia because she wanted to hang out. Not the person with the sick dad. Not the true love of Tarzan. After some debate between voting out Sabrina or Kat, Kat still assumes the plan is to vote out Sabrina and declares that “blindsides are fun” to the delight of fans of dramatic irony everywhere. Upon being voted out, Kat is distraught that Tarzan and Christina both outlasted her and begins a trend of quotable post-vote moments, stating that she is going to beg Jeff a chance to play again and redeem herself. Uh, one out of two ain’t bad, right?

4. Tyson Votes Himself Out vs 13. Blindsides Are Awesome

  • 4. Tyson Votes Himself Out (83% Votes)
  • 13. Blindsides Are Awesome (17% Votes)

Total Voters: 393

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5. James Goes Home with Two Idols vs 12. Brandon Hantz Gives Up Immunity

James goes home with two idols – China, episode 11 “Ready to Bite the Apple”

Sometimes a blindside shocks viewers and players alike. But sometimes it’s just the fault of the Survivors themselves. While a massive social and physical threat, James Clement could never read a room. The guy had not one, but two hidden immunity idols stuffed in his bag and left them to be discovered by his tribemates. Even worse, he didn’t bother to play either of them despite signs that something might be up. In the end, he got blindsided and slapped with the label of “dumbest Survivor ever”…at least for one season.

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

Brandon Hantz gives up immunity- South Pacific, episode 14 “Then There Were Five”

That “dumbest Survivor” mantle would be passed on to Erik in Micronesia after he gave up immunity only to be voted out. You’d think no one else would be stupid enough to try that again, right? Enter Brandon Hantz. After a day of bickering with players over rewards, Brandon thought he would make it up to Albert by passing along the immunity necklace he won in a show of good faith. But Coach prayed to a different God: the God of #Blindsides and voted Brandon out for his sins.

5. James Goes Home with Two Idols vs 12. Brandon Hantz Gives Up Immunity

  • 5. James Goes Home with Two Idols (87% Votes)
  • 12. Brandon Hantz Gives Up Immunity (13% Votes)

Total Voters: 394

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2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy vs 15. Jason Siska Doesn’t Play His Idol

The Black Widows blindside Ozzy – Micronesia, episode 10 “I Promise”

How much are doughnuts worth to you? For Ozzy, it meant giving up immunity and trusting in your alliance. But Cirie and Parvati’s burgeoning Black Widow alliance glazed over existing plans to vote out Jason in order to knock the power player out while they still could. Worse, continuing a bracket trend, Ozzy didn’t play his idol when he should have. Gotta get ’em while they’re hot.

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

Jason Siska doesn’t play his idol – Micronesia, episode 11 “I’m Ruthless…and Have a Smile On”

Oh look, more people who didn’t play their idols. (What was that about hidden idols ruining the game?) Mensa genius Jason Siska put too much trust in the ladies of Micronesia, and believed them about James being the target. Instead, they gave him the short end of the [f-ing] stick. It’s up to you to choose which dude was the better victim of the Black Widows.

2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy vs 15. Jason Siska Doesn't Play His Idol

  • 2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy (82% Votes)
  • 15. Jason Siska Doesn't Play His Idol (18% Votes)

Total Voters: 385

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7. Amanda Plays an Unknown Idol vs 10. Scumbags

Amanda plays an unknown idol – Micronesia, episode 12 “I’m Gonna Fix Her”

Someone who DID play a (real) idol in Micronesia was Amanda, continuing the reign of the core Black Widows. After insisting for days she didn’t have one, Exile Island provided a gift, and up she went during Tribal when her name was being thrown around by a largely fan-led plot. Proving she was indeed a big threat, the idol play negated all but two votes. Amanda was saved, Alexis was slayed, and the value of keeping your mouth shut was displayed.

“Scumbags.” – Guatemala, episode 12 “Price for Immunity”

Keeping your mouth shut would have been great advice for Ritalin spokesman and brightest bulb Judd. Always one for entertainment, as the numbers dwindled in Guatemala, he was all about trust and telling it like it was. Despite a big speech about how “someone has to go home” and knowing your people, it was Judd himself who was betrayed when it was his turn to go for being untrustworthy. He lashed out at the other players with “I hope you all get bitten by a freakin’ crocodile. Scumbags.”, cementing his place as the new spokesman for Crocs.

7. Amanda Plays an Unknown Idol vs 10. Scumbags

  • 7. Amanda Plays an Unknown Idol (57% Votes)
  • 10. Scumbags (43% Votes)

Total Voters: 385

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3. The Pagonging Begins vs 14. Cliff Robinson Blindside

The Pagonging begins – Borneo, episode 7 “The Merger”

Everything was new back in Borneo: alliances, merging, strategy. This was the point where it all came together, and Gretchen became the first victim of a concerted effort to pool votes together as an alliance to target the other tribe. The original blindside, it’s actually just as exciting today as it was then. And thus began the whittling away of the Pagong tribe…

Read more about this moment in our 30 from 30 series.

Cliff Robinson blindside – Cagayan, episode 4 “Odd One Out”

If this matchup was based on reaction shots, Woo’s face at the end of this episode would win this entire competition. The Brawn tribe entered the swap into Solana with a massive advantage. Voting out a Beauty member should have been easy. But Tony and Trish joined LJ and Jefra to vote out the biggest physical threat in Cliffy B. The aftermath wasn’t so much a Pagonging as a punching out, as Lindsey quit the next day.

3. The Pagonging Begins vs 14. Cliff Robinson Blindside

  • 3. The Pagonging Begins (70% Votes)
  • 14. Cliff Robinson Blindside (30% Votes)

Total Voters: 384

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6. Natalie Anderson Puts on a Show vs 11. Drew Christy is Not a Badass

Natalie Anderson puts on a show – San Juan Del Sur, episode 14 “This Is My Time”

Whatever we thought of the Twinnies going into San Juan Del Sur based on their Amazing Race personas, at least one of them upended expectations as the show went on. Natalie Anderson owned her season based largely on the endgame, which included this finale tribal where she voted out her BFF Baylor with a hidden immunity idol. Instead of playing it for herself, she hatched a secret plan with Jaclyn to break up the last remaining pair of Baylor and Missy. What was supposed to be a Jaclyn wipeout became a two-vote Baylor blindside, and Natalie engineered her path to the end with both players and jury. That’s #Twinning.

Drew Christy is not a badass – San Juan Del Sur, episode 4 “We’re A Hot Mess”

Before Cambodia proved it, Drew Christy knew that Kelley Wentworth was trouble. Itching to go to Tribal, he single-handedly threw the immunity challenge in order to get the chance to vote her out. He gave production enough rope to hang him across the Pacific. In return, all he got was to eat some humble pie at Ponderosa, as he was blindsided out of the game by the tribe’s real badasses.

6. Natalie Anderson Puts on a Show vs 11. Drew Christy is Not a Badass

  • 6. Natalie Anderson Puts on a Show (68% Votes)
  • 11. Drew Christy is Not a Badass (32% Votes)

Total Voters: 380

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The Rest of the Bracket

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Strategic Bracket

Theatrical Bracket

Historic Bracket

Mark
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Mark

A Survivor fan since the end of season one, Mark hasn’t finished One World, but still thinks Kim is overhyped.

Top 5, Baby: Cambodia, Cagayan, Heroes vs. Villains, Pearl Islands, and Palau.
Mark
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  • Other Scott

    The Vanuatu woman`s alliance collapse at 16 is a travesty.

    Also you put my personal favourite tribal council at 8 and the next one to be run over by the Horsemen.

    I`m sure I`ll be happier with the rest of the bracket, but that`s a tough start for me.

    • andythesaint

      To defend that: the best part of the Vanuatu’s women’s alliance collapse happened BEFORE tribal council. The tribal itself was pretty understated due to how much the flippers were hiding their intentions.

      Still, a great part was the smug look Ami gives Eliza when her name comes up, only for it to come back on her. That was great.

      • Other Scott

        Yeah, the look is why I thought it should be higher. I completely understand that this is about tribal council`s only. That`s why I didn`t vote for the 3-2-1 in the other bracket, for instance.

    • I had the same reaction to Vanuatu being at 16, just for the looks Eliza and Ami exchange. It still likely would have been in the lower half of the seeds anyway, so it would be facing stiff competition.

    • gouis

      Counterpoint:

      There is too much Chris love on the internet. Screw him.

      • Other Scott

        I agree, but this tribal council is barely about Chris. This is an alliance collapsing on itself. Chris was basically a spectator.

        • gouis

          Fair enough. Which is why he is so popular on places like reddit

          “Tubby white guy succeeds while basically being a spectator”

          • Kemper Boyd

            How high he is on Rob’s EOS winner ranking is a travesty.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      Agreed. And it has nothing to do with Chris – it’s about Ami v. Eliza. I know it’s going to get trounced by the Horsemen, but this tribal was incredible.

  • DrVanNostrand

    “Ritalin spokesman and brightest bulb Judd”

    That’s why I love damn Judd, man!

  • Amanda v. Judd was hard to pick

    • Purple Rock Emma

      That was the toughest one for me to decide between too.

    • EmAndScoutInBK

      Totally – tough one for me. I think the fact that we weren’t shown Amanda finding the idol put me over. I happen to love Guatemala, but I’ll make up for it with the AY-DEE-DEE vote.

    • Kemper Boyd

      Such a tough pick, I think Amanda seals it by singing the “I found it” and swinging it around her finger on her way up.

  • Kemper Boyd

    Quick point: Natalie Anderson didn’t hatch a plan with Jacqlyn, she only told her who to vote for not that she would be playing the idol. Which makes it even fucking cooler.

    • Purple Rock Emma

      “Did you vote for who I told you to vote for?”

      Who’s the bad ass now, Drew?

      • Kemper Boyd

        I am a SJDS apologist. I think it is a mid level Survivor season, yes the people are mainly idiots and the pre-merge kind of sucks but it’s a season rescued by a crazy post-merge and Natalie Anderson emerging as a Badass Baller who won the game in style. Any season other than BvW where both her opponents had a loved one on the jury she would have been a unanimous victory (she deserved to be the first woman to do so).

        • Alycia Swift

          Agree. But this one was harder to pick just because Drew getting his comeupence was great.

        • corndogshuffle

          Count me as another SJDS apologist, and for the same reasons. Like you I think it’s about a mid tier season (just in the upper half), and while I wouldn’t call it top ten I think it gets far too little credit. Natalie Anderson is a big part of why I love this season.

          • Kemper Boyd

            For me it’s right in the middle, I’m sure if I wrote my list it wouldn’t crack the top 15 but it’s not a bottom 5 season as a lot of people say. I would rather sit through it again than RI, One World, World’s Apart, Gabon, Nicaragua, Exile Island (the boring winner knocks that down a ways) and probably a lot of mid tier seasons. I will say recency bias probably puts it a couple places higher right now but I feel it will settle right in the middle.