“The tribe has spoken.” The four words Survivor contestants never want to hear Jeff Probst say right before he snuffs their torch and ends their chance at winning the million-dollar prize. However, someone is bound to get voted out. It is the culmination of every tribal council, a place where loyalties are tested and backstabbing ensues.

After forty seasons, Survivor has given viewers tribal councils full of epic blindsides and jaw-dropping moments. Contestants flipping on their alliance, fan favorites correctly playing hidden immunity idols, and deadlocked votes have all contributed to some of the most shocking and memorable councils in the show’s history.

10 Kaoh Rong – Debbie Blindside

Going into this tribal, Debbie was in the majority alliance with Aubry, Michelle, Cydney, Joe, and Julia. The trio of Scot, Tai, and Jason was their clear target. However, Jason and Tai both had hidden immunity idols, which could be combined to form a super idol.

At tribal council, Jason and Tai revealed their idols to the others, panicking the majority alliance. Debbie and Joe advocated for sticking with the original plan, but Aubry had other ideas. After the votes had been cast, neither Jason nor Tai played their idol. Their bluff worked as Aubry and the other girls voted for Debbie, sending her to the jury.

9 Heroes vs. Villains – Parvati Idols Out JT

Before the merge, JT was convinced that the women were running the Villains tribe and Russell, the lone man, seemed like the odd man out when in reality he was in control. In one of the most confounding Survivor moves ever, JT gave his idol to Russell so he could protect himself.

After the merge, Russell gave JT’s idol to his closest ally, Parvati, fearing she was the Heroes’ target, unaware that Parvati had an idol of her own. At tribal council, Parvati played not one, but two idols on her allies, Sandra and Jerri, negating the votes for Jerri and taking JT out with his own idol.


8 Second Chance – Wentworth Plays Her Idol

At the final twelve, Kelley Wentworth, Abi-Maria, and Ciera found themselves at the top of everyone’s hit list. The majority nine decided to play it safe and go with the easy vote of taking Wentworth out. However, they were unaware that Wentworth had an idol and at tribal council, she correctly played it on herself, negating all nine votes against her.

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This left only three votes, which ended up surprising not only the contestants but also the viewers. The edit made it seem like Wentworth, Abi, and Ciera were placing their votes on Stephen Fishbach, but it was Andrew Savage who fell victim to Wentworth’s idol.

7 Edge of Extinction – Chaos Erupts

What started as a calm tribal council soon erupted into total chaos after Rick called Julia out for playing both sides and pitched voting her out. This caused everyone to huddle together in small groups, trying to get the majority of votes to go their way.

This tribal was full of entertaining and hilarious moments like Wentworth and David revealing to each other they were gunning for one another, Julie having a breakdown and announcing she’s jumping ship, and Jeff watching it all unfold with glee. After the dust had settled, Julia was voted out, serving as a prime example of how a player’s game can unravel in a single tribal.

6 Blood vs. Water – Katie Rocked Out

At the final six, Tyson, Gervase, Monica, and Ciera were all in an alliance, while Hayden and Katie were on the outs. The foursome decided to target Hayden. Knowing he was getting votes, Hayden went to tribal with the goal of flipping Ciera by informing her she was at the bottom of the four-person alliance. Gervase made matters worse by practically confirming Hayden’s assumption.

This caused Ciera to flip and join Hayden and Katie in voting out Monica, forcing a 3-3 tie. Tyson refused to flip on Monica, causing him, Ciera, and Katie to go to rocks, where Katie drew the odd rock and was sent home.

5 Cagayan – Chaos Kass Is Born

At the merge, the final eleven had a clear divide with Sarah, Tasha, Spencer, Kass, Morgan, and Jeremiah vs. Tony, Woo, Trish, Jefra, and LJ. However, Kass wasn’t happy with Sarah calling all the shots in their alliance and considered flipping on her allies.

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During tribal, LJ and Tony played their hidden immunity idols on one another, believing the opposing alliance wrote one of their names down. They were surprised to learn that the votes went on Jefra and their excitement turned to dismay. The vote came out five votes Jefra, five votes Sarah with only Kass’s vote left. Kass cast her vote for Sarah, causing half the tribe to dissolve in confusion and the other half to cheer, in a moment that earned Kass her iconic nickname.

4 Game Changers – Malcolm Blindside

For the first time in Survivor history, two tribes went to the same tribal council, but only one person would be voted out. The Nuku tribe had the number advantage over Mana, 6-5. However, Tai had an immunity idol over at Mana and informed his tribe he intended to use it.

During tribal council, JT wanted Mana to take out his fellow Nuku tribemate Sandra and he confided in Brad over on Mana that the Nuku votes were going on Sierra. After a hectic tribal of players getting up, huddling together, and whispering, Tai ended up playing his idol on Sierra, negating all of Nuku’s votes and leaving the Nukus waiting to see where Mana placed their votes. JT’s plan backfired and his closest ally, Malcolm, was sent home.

3 David vs. Goliath – The Davids Take Down John

The Goliaths had a numbers advantage over the Davids at the final twelve with 7-5. Both sides also had an immunity idol, with Dan in possession of the Goliaths’ and Davie in possession of the Davids’. At tribal, Davie played his idol for his ally, Christian, prompting Angelina to beg Dan to play the idol, thinking the Davids had targeted her.

Dan reluctantly obliged. When the votes were read, seven came back Christian and two Angelina, but then things took a turn when the remaining three David votes came back John, sending him home and shocking his fellow Goliaths.

2 Second Chance – Kimmi Booted on Revote

At the final six, Kimmi decided to flip on her alliance and join Wentworth and Keith in taking out Jeremy, but Spencer suspected she might flip and warned Jeremy. After the votes were cast, Wentworth decided to play her idol, negating the three votes she received, prompting Jeremy to play his idol, negating his three votes.

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This resulted in the first tribal council of no votes, forcing a revote that came back three for Kimmi and three for Tasha. With Spencer, Wentworth, and Jeremy all safe, Keith found himself in the position of being automatically eliminated if the tie couldn’t be broken. However, Wentworth didn’t want to lose Keith and agreed to change her vote to Kimmi, sending Kimmi to the jury.

1 Millennials vs. Gen X – Jessica Rocked Out

At the final ten, the tribe was split five on five, with one group targeting Zeke and the other targeting David. However, David had an idol, which Zeke and his allies suspected. After the votes were cast, David played his idol on Ken, but the vote came back five for Zeke and five for Hannah, causing a tie.

During the revote, Jessica was pressured to flip on Hannah as she desperately wanted to avoid going to rocks, but she decided to keep her vote. The votes came back a tie once again and after the tribe failed to come to a unanimous consensus, the remaining vulnerable players drew rocks. Ironically, it was Jessica who drew the odd rock. A devastated Jessica could do nothing but watch as Jeff snuffed her torch, ending one of the show’s most unpredictable tribals.

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