The 40 Most Influential Survivors: Cao Boi Bui

Cao Boi Bui

Cook Islands

To celebrate the 40th season of Survivor, we’re counting down the 40 Most Influential Survivors to ever play the game. Because Survivor is a game, a tv show, and a rabid fandom, we’re taking all forms of influence into consideration for this list. Go here to view the criteria we are using to determine what qualifies for the list. Note: this list is presented in chronological order and there will be spoilers for various Survivor seasons.

Cao Boi Bui is the 19th entry in this series.

In our last entry, we tackled Yul and his mastery of the hidden immunity idol introduced a few seasons prior in Guatemala. So now that players had to factor in one person being immune, how do you fight that?

You have a dream. (No, not that one).

In a season of questionable setup and awkward groupings, Cao Boi Bui was one of the oddest. He rubbed his tribe the wrong way with his antics and stereotypical statements, yet he found himself in the majority of a post-swap tribe. Worried about the idol messing up their majority, Cao Boi’s anxiety manifested itself in a dream where villagers were being kidnapped by shamans who sold credit cards as their day jobs. Unfortunately for him, Yul had found the hidden immunity idol early and shared its existence on a need-to-know basis, and Cao Boi didn’t need to know. He was voted out in a simple majority vote on Day 14.

So how did a pre-merge boot get on the Most Influential Survivors list for anything other than “most influential use of Mad Libs on Survivor”? That little dream, called Plan Voodoo, inspired the realities of so many players.

As we’ve seen in the current season, Yul is no dummy, and he immediately recognized the idea as ingenious. Splitting a majority vote between two lesser tribe members would ideally force that person in jeopardy to save themselves with an idol. This not only gets rid of the threat of an idol, but prevents your alliance from having to eat its own. Lucky for Yul, he kept the idol to use for his own means that season and was never in danger.

The very next season, in Survivor: Fiji, the vote split returned successfully—twice—to take out threats. Then a year later in Micronesia, Jason Siska’s actual idol-that-definitely-wasn’t-a-stick led the Black Widow Brigade to hedge their bets and split the vote between he and James. (And Jason still got played on his way out the door!) This move to intentionally split the vote between two players went on to appear in every single season from that point forward.

Vote splits weren’t just to counter your target’s immunity idol. The idea to split an alliance’s vote as a strategic move has taken many forms over the years. There was the possibility that someone who did have an idol would play it for your target. A split could be used defensively. And while splitting the vote is generally a smart move, they can also backfire if someone changes their mind at the voting booth. Natalie Anderson went against a 5-person vote split in San Juan Del Sur to save Keith but boot Alec. (Which added another wrinkle: don’t split at 5 if you can help it!)

At this point, vote splits are almost as common as idols themselves. And with idols having become a staple of the game, countering them has been necessary for alliances to advance.  It’s just funny to think that the move all started thanks to a kooky dude who liked to perform acupuncture on his tribemates and not the overly-analytical dude who beat him.

I was told by a commenter to put more relevant media in my posts.

Who else made the list?

You can see each entry on the list by clicking this link.