Ultimate Survivor Tribal Council Bracket Elite Eight

This week, you get to determine the tribal council that epitomizes each type of tribal council: the best blindside, the most historic tribal, the best strategic play, and the most theatrical/entertaining tribal.

Click to see the full-size graphic.

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 (for instance).
  • 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, April 5th.

Blindsides Bracket

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1. Fall of the Horsemen vs 2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy

1. The Fall of the Horsemen – Fiji, episode 10 “It’s A Turtle” vs 2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy – Micronesia, episode 10 “I Promise”

After scraping by against Natalie Anderson the bad ass with a mere seven votes, the Black Widows have another tough battle ahead. Which do you choose: a clever alliance blindsiding a douchebag or a clever alliance blindsiding a douchebag? In Fiji, the Horsemen feel incredibly confident after using the idol to swing the vote in their favor- right up until the moment they realize that they did not, in fact, swing the vote in their favor. Similarly, the Black Widows (and Probst) play the blindside to maximum effect- Cirie holds back her smile until after realizing Ozzy won’t be playing his idol, Probst reads a lone Ozzy vote early on to make it seem like Jason is getting voted out unanimously, and then…

Micronesia- Ozzy blindside reactions

Read more about the Fall of the Horsemen in our 30 from 30 series.

Read more about the Black Widows in our 30 from 30 series.

1. Fall of the Horsemen vs 2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy

  • 2. The Black Widows Blindside Ozzy (54% Votes)
  • 1. Fall of the Horsemen (46% Votes)

Total Voters: 260

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Strategic Bracket

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1. Parvati’s Double Idol Play vs 3. Cagayan’s Chaotic Merge

survivor_hvv_tribalcouncil_parvartidoubleidol-1 survivor-cagayan-tribal-council-sarah-lacina-blindside

1. Parvati’s Double Idol Play – Heroes vs. Villains, episode 10 “Going Down in Flames” vs 3. Cagayan’s Chaotic Merge – Cagayan, episode 6 “Head of the Snake”

Two iconic tribal councils from two of Survivor‘s best seasons ever go head-to-head here. Four immunity idols were played between these two tribal councils, and only one of them successfully. In Heroes vs. Villains, Parvati outsmarted the Heroes by figuring they would go for an “unlikely” target instead of risking Parvati playing her idol. Well, she did play her idol – on Jerri.  And then she went ahead and gave Sandra an idol generally gifted from Russell to Parvati, which had previously been generously gifted from J.T. to Russell. Which meant the Villains felt pretty safe in voting for J.T.

It was like the Fall of the Horseman, except with fewer overtly objectionable people, two idols wasted, and if Earl and company got the rug pulled out from under him. When Tony pulled out his idol in Cagayan, the other alliance quickly said to vote for plan B. Tony wisely figured out that meant he was safe, and plays his idol for LJ. So then LJ plays his idol for Tony because he’s not as smart as Tony. Neither idol was effective, but it didn’t matter; Kass’ defection had already sealed Sarah’s fate.

Read more about Parvati’s moment in our 30 from 30 series.

1. Parvati's Double Idol Play vs 3. Cagayan's Chaotic Merge

  • 1. Parvati's Double Idol Play (66% Votes)
  • 3. Cagayan's Chaotic Merge (34% Votes)

Total Voters: 261

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Theatrics Bracket

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1. Erik Gives Away Immunity vs 2. Randy Plays Bob’s Fake Idol


1. Erik Gives Away Immunity – Micronesia, episode 13 “If It Smells Like a Rat, Give It Cheese” vs 2. Randy Plays Bob’s Fake Idol – Gabon, episode 9 “Nothing Tastes Better than Five Hundred Dollars” 


That the final two of the theatrics bracket were the funny ones, rather than the dramatic ones, are why you all are our people. Because it’s always more fun to see someone get clowned than it is to see a bunch tears. And NO ONE got clowned the way Erik and Randy did. Ever.

Erik’s is slightly tragic just because that poor, dumb fool just wanted to have friends and make amends. Randy’s was completely satisfying because he ran into it at full speed. But Erik’s was more monumental, changing its season. Randy’s was just about the revenge. But how glorious was it in both when the votes were cast? I love these tribal councils.

1. Erik Gives Away Immunity vs 2. Randy Plays Bob's Fake Idol

  • 1. Erik Gives Away Immunity (73% Votes)
  • 2. Randy Plays Bob's Fake Idol (27% Votes)

Total Voters: 260

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Historic Bracket

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1. Snakes and Rats vs 2. No Votes Count


1. Snakes and Rats – Borneo, episode 13 “The Final Four” vs 2. No Votes Count – Cambodia, episode 14 “Lie, Cheat and Steal”
Recency bias versus the opposite of recency bias. Two great tribal councils from completely different eras. In Borneo, personal relationships weren’t just something you had to keep an eye on to do well in the game; they were the game. While Sue may have had many imitators in future tribal councils, nothing comes close to “Snakes and Rats” because her feelings were raw. Her vitriol was real.

There’s never been a tribal council with no votes counting, and there will probably never be one again. But if it does happen, it still won’t come close to the drama of Cambodia because we’ll have been there before, and we’ll know how it works. You won’t have Keith volunteering to fall on the sword, you won’t have the eventual winner skipping to vote out the ally who got caught in the act of betrayal. In the finale of a show’s 31st season, coming across a moment without precedent is something special.

Read more about Sue’s speech in our 30 from 30 series.

1. Snakes and Rats vs 2. No Votes Count

  • 1. Snakes and Rats (57% Votes)
  • 2. No Votes Count (43% Votes)

Total Voters: 258

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  • Kemper Boyd

    The seeding in this bracket has been superb. You should really be proud of yourselves.

    • Purplerockmatt

      don’t praise the Andy

      • Kemper Boyd

        You know I do this rarely bit I think he might deserve it…

        • Purplerockmatt

          yea i kid, and he did a good job taking the lead on this one. I think he did all the initial seeding and then the rest of us suggested a few adjustments, but it basically looked like this from conception

        • andythesaint

          Matt was my biggest helper. He and I really geek out over this shit.

          • Kemper Boyd

            You’ve completely nailed the seeds, I only voted against a single number 1 seed!

          • Purplerockmatt

            I helped a lot more on last year’s bracket, that one was much more 50/50, this one was your baby

      • Hornacek

        I think he was praising Robot Andy.

  • EmAndScoutInBK

    This has been awesome. Super fun. You guys nailed the seeds, and I even got upset over something losing (Gretchen blindside), which means I was invested.

    • indescribable hat

      I know, I was so sad when China FTC lost! This was such a good idea since we already did people.

  • Randy’s Tribal is SCREEEWWWEEED. DAMNIT. I hope the Fall of the Horsemen wins. I want Horsemen v. Randy.

    • andythesaint

      Damn. I voted for it.

      • I voted for Randy too. I hope it wins but I know it won’t.

  • Mike Hirsch

    Horsemen all the way!

  • itsafuckingSTICK

    Snakes and Rats has to win the whole shebang, doesn’t it? I mean, that tribal council (and that season as a whole) set the entire stage for Survivor being a game about strategy rather than a game about foraging for food.

    • Mike Hirsch

      Well, people may view it as influential, but would they all agree that it’s really the best? I can certainly see myself voting for many of the other options.

      • itsafuckingSTICK

        In a vacuum, I’m not sure it’s the ‘best’. Without its impact, however, I’m not sure we would’ve ended up with any of the other tribals that are in the running. If Survivor hadn’t morphed and twisted right in front of the producers’ eyes in that first season, I think it would have ended up being a two- or three-season show at best.

        • Roswulf

          All of this is true…and at the same time the Tribal’s centerpiece is also this incredibly powerful piece of raw human drama.

          Plus, overblown animal metaphors, which is really what Survivor is all about. *Musical sting over picture of a snake*

    • Disgruntled Goat

      I think it has to be either Snakes and Rats, Horseman, or Parvati’s double idol play.

    • DrVanNostrand

      Everyone makes their own criteria. I might vote for the 4 horsemen. If Judd’s ADD TC were still in it, I’d vote for that over every moment here.

  • Other Scott

    And everything I’m voting for is losing except Snakes and Rats, which is probably the one I was closest to voting for the other option.

    People really like All-Star seasons I guess.

  • The only one that I voted for immediately was Snakes and Rats, which is a good sign that these are good matchups. It also means that I am a bit biased against the No Votes Counted tribal.

    • DrVanNostrand

      I’m biased against Randy’s fake idol because I’m trying to forget Gabon ever happened.

      • That was my argument in the last round, but you see how well people took it.

      • sharculese

        I just want to not have to see that picture of Sugar again.

  • Side Character

    Damn, these are all so good! Why must you make me choose?
    Blindside: It’s GIF vs. GIF. What more could you want? I am sticking with the Horsemen because that tribal council was probably the most memorable tribal council I have ever seen. I remember when I first saw it on TV, and thinking that face-drop from Edgardo was perfect. That alone gets my vote. On the other hand, Eliza’s Jury Face (TM). In terms of importance, I can see why (as of typing this) the Black Widow alliance is winning. This blindside is more important in the context of the Micronesia season. It really set the tone for how things were going to go from that point. I would be okay with this one making it through, though a part of me is going, “ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!”
    Strategic: Double idol plays in both of them. The result in both TC’s affected the outcome of the game. I go for the one where an idol was effective. I love Cagayan, and this tribal was pretty crazy, but Trish doesn’t get enough love for swaying Kass to her side. The idol plays were entertaining, as were their uselessness. But that is not a good strategy. The irony of JT basically getting taken out by his own idol, and Parvati basically calling on the Heroes’ bluff has more satisfaction for me.
    Theatrics: Giving away immunity or unwittingly playing a fake one? Showing all of the votes or showing some of the most memorable ones ever? I go for Erik, because he has to win something, even if it is really at the expense of his dignity. Also, Erik seems like a nice guy, and took his defeat like a champ. Randy’s vote out was pretty mean-spirited all around. There was some funny stuff, granted (Randy, Sugar, and Crystal’s voting confessionals), but I don’t enjoy the mean side of that tribal. I love the irony in Erik’s demise, because they show the audience exactly what they think is gonna happen.
    Historic: This is the only one I couldn’t vote on. You really won’t see the likes of either of these ever again on this show. It’s really a case of the emotional side vs. the game side of Survivor. Both of them make the show what it is, and I don’t feel like choosing one is a good representation towards how I feel about the show. I have no problem with either of these making the next round, so I’m not going to choose between them.


  • Shit the Horsemen and Randy lost.