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.
- 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).
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 (73% Votes)
- 16. Vanuatu Women Splinter (27% Votes)
Total Voters: 400
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 (62% Votes)
- 9. Burton Blindside 1.0 (38% Votes)
Total Voters: 381
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 (83% Votes)
- 13. Blindsides Are Awesome (17% Votes)
Total Voters: 393
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.
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 (87% Votes)
- 12. Brandon Hantz Gives Up Immunity (13% Votes)
Total Voters: 394
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.
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 (82% Votes)
- 15. Jason Siska Doesn't Play His Idol (18% Votes)
Total Voters: 385
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 (57% Votes)
- 10. Scumbags (43% Votes)
Total Voters: 385
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…
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 (70% Votes)
- 14. Cliff Robinson Blindside (30% Votes)
Total Voters: 384
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 (68% Votes)
- 11. Drew Christy is Not a Badass (32% Votes)
Total Voters: 380
The Rest of the Bracket
Top 5, Baby: Cambodia, Cagayan, Heroes vs. Villains, Pearl Islands, and Palau.