Top 10 Audience Blindsides in Survivor History

Oh the blindside. Everyone loves a good blindside! Well, except for the person being blindsided. In human nature we have a need to be right. As humans watching Survivor, we always try to make predictions about which contestant is going home each episode, and when it is someone we never expected, it usually leaves us absolutely floored. When you think of Survivor blindsides you usually think of the contestants being the one blindsided. Maybe you’d think of Erik giving up his immunity necklace at final five in Micronesia or Andre Boelhke screaming “WHAT?!?” in Caramoan after the votes came her way. Sometimes however, the Survivor editors pull a fast one on the audience and we become blindsided as well. These are the Top 10 Audience Blindsides in the history of Survivor.

10. Garrett Adelstein – Cagayan

During the pre-season of Survivor Cagayan, Garrett Adelstein was on many people’s radars as a potential person to win. He was a poker player, he was likable and he seemed well spoken. In part one of Cagayan’s opener, “Hot Girl With A Grudge”, Garrett had a very good episode. He found the hidden immunity idol and after feeling threatened by David Sampson, he convinced J’Tia who was struggling to survive to help him blindside David. His plan worked and David went home. In part two of the season opener, Garrett was almost a completely different player. After the Brains tribe lost the challenge yet again, J’Tia who was still on the bottom of the pecking order and so she rebelled by spilling the rice. This act seemed to be the nail in her coffin that would send her home. She was destined to go home! Garrett decided that it would be a good idea for everyone to talk about the vote together as a group. In this discussion, he told J’Tia in front of her face that everyone was voting for her and he also asked that no one talk to each other about the vote the rest of the day. Unfortunately, against Garrett’s wishes, the woman conspired together to vote off Garrett, fearing that he was becoming too powerful in the tribe. The reason why we didn’t see this coming as an audience watching the show is because J’Tia was edited to be probably the worst player in Survivor history. She was disgracefully bad at challenges, made orders to other people when they were building the shelter despite not doing anything herself and then she purposefully spilled the rice. It was always supposed to be J’Tia going home that night and really still shouldn’t have been someone as stable as Garrett. But in the end, Garrett went home and we as an audience, were shocked.

9. Paschal English – Marquesas 

The Final Four episode of Survivor Marquesas is one of the best of the show’s history. On one side of the final four, you had Vecepia and Kathy who were never going to flip on each other and on the other side of the four, you had Neleh and Paschal who were never going to flip on each other. Neleh, Vecepia and Kathy were all far bigger targets to go home that night than Paschal, who was playing the game as a 56 year old and was only there for the adventure. When it came time to vote, the vote was unsurprisingly a 2-2 tie, but for the first time in the history of the show, we learned what would happen if a tie occurred at final four, which was the new ‘Purple Rock’ rule, which had never needed to be used before. Since Vecepia had immunity, Kathy for strategic reasons had to take part in the Rock Draw, but Paschal could have avoided the draw had he decided to flip against Neleh. But of course, he refused to change his vote and so Neleh, Paschal and Kathy went to rocks. Again at this point, we might assume that one of the bigger players of the season, Kathy or Neleh was about to go home, but instead it was Paschal who drew the purple rock and ended up going home. The audience never saw it coming and Paschal’s elimination still remains one of the most shocking in the history of the show despite it coming all the way back in Season 4.

8. Bobby Jon Drinkard – Guatemala

After a tribe swap in Episode 4 of Survivor Guatemala, Bobby Jon was forced to switch from Nakum to Yaxha, where he and the rest of his tribe were decimated in numbers. When the merge finally arrived, one of the three remaining Yaxha men out of Gary, Bobby Jon and Brandon was to be the one going home. Bobby Jon knew he was in danger so he asked his old friend, Stephanie to help him make it to the jury. So Bobby Jon escaped the vote and Brandon was voted out. In the next episode, despite Gary and Bobby Jon still being on the bottom, Jamie suddenly becomes the target for becoming frustrating to live with. Throughout this episode discussions about the vote are being made and Jamie and Gary are the names that are most commonly coming up. So after Jamie wins immunity, the Nakum tribe decides that Gary is the biggest threat left in the game. So Gary sets off on a quest to find Survivor’s first ever hidden immunity idol. In the edited version of the show we saw Gary go off to look for the idol, but we don’t see him find it, and immediately after we saw him going to look for it, we saw Jamie and Judd telling Bobby Jon that he was safe. So when tribal council comes we still assume Gary is the one going home. But before the votes are cast, Gary plays the immunity idol to save himself. Now the target becomes Bobby Jon, but the contestants were given no time to actually talk about the vote between the idol play and the vote so we still didn’t know that Bobby Jon was going to be the one going home for sure. Throughout the episode we were seeing a story that was telling us that Bobby Jon wasn’t going home and so it was that much more shocking when he ultimately did.

7. Tyson Apostol – Heroes vs. Villains 

Episode 6 of Heroes vs. Villains, “Banana Etiquette” is my favourite episode of Survivor. There is so much going on the entire episode and the end result is one of the most shocking eliminations in the show’s history. Russell Hantz and Parvati Shallow had been at the bottom of the Villains tribe since the very first day. Parvati came into Heroes vs. Villains with a huge reputation as being one of the show’s greatest all-time players. She had led a tribe of all women and had blindsided all of the men in a flashy manner to give herself the win in Micronesia. She was seen as the most dangerous player in the game and nobody wanted to play with her. Well except one person, Russell Hantz (and Danielle but Danielle who, right?). Nobody on the cast including Russell himself was able to watch Russell’s season of Survivor, Samoa. The filming of Samoa ended just under a month before the filming started for Heroes vs. Villains so nobody knew anything about Russell except that he was a villain. So the moment Russell went looking for the hidden immunity idol, the rest of the tribe declared that he would be the next to go. After it was announced that both tribes would be going to tribal council that night, the Villains needed to develop a plan. So Rob Mariano decided that the plan should be to split the vote three-three, between Parvati and Russell, with three votes coming the way of Tyson from the other side. This plan meant that if Russell played the idol, Parvati would go home on the re-vote by a vote of 5-2, and if Russell played the idol for Parvati that Russell would go home on the re-vote by a vote of 5-2. Russell was very aware of this as well and knew that if the vote ended in a tie that either him or Parvati would be the one going home. So he pulled Tyson aside and said “It’s breaking my heart, I don’t want to do it, but there’s nothing I can do to help her so I’m going to vote for Parvati”. Now that Tyson thinks that Russell is switching his vote to Parvati, Tyson decides to flip his vote to Parvati too. So when the Villains go to tribal council that night, we can only assume it’s going to be Parvati going home or Russell as the alternative. But before the votes are read, Russell plays his idol for Parvati and because Tyson switched his vote, the vote is now 4-3-2. 4 votes for Parvati which do not count, 3 votes for Tyson and then only 2 votes for Russell, so Tyson ends up going home. The audience was particularly blindsided by this because Tyson, being a loyal guy who is good in challenges, was a player who should have never gone home before a merge in Survivor and probably never will ever again. But because of Russell’s brilliance and Tyson’s brief moment of stupidity, he and the audience watching at home were blindsided.

6. Andrew Savage – Second Chance 

No one thought that Kelley Wentworth had an idol. No one ever saw her looking for one and no one thought she was that kind of player that would be playing that kind of game. But the audience knew that Kelley Wentworth had an idol and we knew that she would play it if she felt she was in danger. However, throughout the episode the whispering going on was mostly about Ciera being the most dangerous of “the three witches” at the bottom of the pyramid. Ciera was a dangerous player who in her previous season, voted out her mom and forced a rock draw to change her spot in the game (see below). So when the alliance of nine, decided not to split the votes and all vote for one person, it was seemingly going to be Ciera, not Kelley. Actually for a large part of the episode, Andrew Savage wanted to take out someone from his alliance, Stephen Fishbach, until Jeremy convinced them to stop scrambling and vote out “the three witches” before going after members of their own alliance. So that was supposed to be the end for Ciera in the game, but suddenly when tribal council came, Kelley received all the votes. Before the votes were read, Kelley played her idol, which meant that one of the nine people who voted for Kelley would be going home, but there were so many options that we had no idea who it was going to be that the witches had voted for. Joe Anglim was probably the biggest threat but he had remained open to working with “the witches” and he had immunity, so among the other potential targets were Jeremy, Stephen, Tasha and Andrew, and we as the audience had no idea which one it was going to be. Jeremy, Stephen and Tasha were all from an edit standpoint, more likely receivers of the vote than Andrew. Stephen had been talked about as a target during the episode, Tasha was monstrously disliked by the witches and in Jeremy’s previous season, he was taken out in almost the exact same place, due to being too much of a threat to win. Throughout Jeff’s reading of the nine votes towards Kelley which all would not count, Jeremy was looking like the obvious recipient of the three witches’ votes. One by one, Jeff read through the first nine votes. They were all for Kelley. Nine votes! The most votes cancelled out in the history of the show. The only thing we were waiting for was the person who the witches had voted for and we had no idea who it was going to be. Finally after the ninth vote was read and cancelled out, Jeff revealed the  three votes, which were all for Andrew Savage and he was sent home. Throughout the episode, the story was never about Andrew going home. But the three people that had been talked about as targets to go home, Stephen, Kelley and Ciera all escaped the vote, blindsiding the audience and sending someone in a powerful position out of the game unexpectedly.

5. Kimmi Kappenberg – Second Chance 

At final six of Survivor Second Chance, you had a strong four-person alliance of Jeremy, Spencer, Tasha, and Kimmi and on the other side, you had a strong two-person alliance of Keith and Kelley. Kimmi knew that Jeremy was never going to take her to the final three, so she decided to take matters into her own hands and flip the game on it’s head, Ciera Eastin styled. She went to Kelley and Keith and made a plan to try and get Jeremy, the biggest threat to win the game, out of the game. The problem for Kimmi, was that it was a little too late to make this move. It was final six so the best she could do now was force a tie, which would mean a Blood vs. Water styled rock draw, in which she could still end up going home. However, that is not what happened. Spencer and Tasha had been weary of Kimmi’s double dealing but still saw Kelley as their biggest threat to win so they along with Jeremy, put their votes on Kelley. Keith, Kelley and Kimmi put their votes on Jeremy, which would make it a 3-3 tie between Jeremy and Kelley. But before the reading of the votes, Second Chance’s standout superstars, Jeremy and Kelley saved themselves from elimination by both using hidden immunity idols that they had kept a secret from everyone else. Now for the first time in Survivor history, we have no votes that actually count. So then it goes to re-vote. At this point, the audience still has no idea who is going home and where the votes are going to go next. Jeremy, Spencer and Tasha vote for Kimmi and Kelley, Keith and Kimmi vote for Tasha. Once again it’s a 3-3 tie. So then at this point, the people who got votes (Tasha and Kimmi) would normally be immune, and everybody else would have to draw rocks. But since Spencer had immunity, and Jeremy and Kelley had played idols to give themselves immunity, Keith, who received 0 votes the entire tribal council, would be the only one to draw a rock which wouldn’t make any sense at all. So now it goes to a group discussion, in which the contestants have to come up with a unanimous decision on who is going home between Tasha, Kimmi and Keith. Spencer says it’s not Tasha, so that leaves just Kimmi and Keith. Out of bewilderment on the events of the evening, Keith almost decides to “go to the house” so that Kimmi could stay in the game. So now the audience thinks that Keith is going home. But then, Kelley says she wants Keith to stay and so Keith changes his mind and decides to stay as well. That now means it’s a unanimous vote for Kimmi. This was by far the craziest tribal council in the history of the show and we as viewers never knew which way it was going to turn. We didn’t know that Kelley and Jeremy were going to play idols, we didn’t know that Kimmi was going to flip and we didn’t know that she was going to be the one going home either. It was truthfully a remarkable audience blindside.

4. Katie Collins – Blood vs. Water

With six people left in the game in Survivor Blood vs. Water, Katie Collins was the least threatening person left. We had received an edit that showed Tyson Apostol being the one in control and pulling the strings of the season, so we could assume going into the episode that it wasn’t going to be him or one of his three alliance members going home. In the previous episode the story was about this four person alliance, Ciera, Monica, Gervase and Tyson, that was not going to broken up. That left Hayden, Katie and Caleb on the bottom. Caleb was voted out, leaving Hayden and Katie still on the wrong side of the numbers. So when this episode rolls around, we are thinking it’s just going to be more of the same. And more of the same it was. Ciera had flirted with the idea of turning against Tyson, but it made no strategical since to jeopardize her good position in the game to go with Hayden and Katie. Ciera even said during tribal council that night, “I’m comfortable with my position in my alliance”.  But after a lengthy discussion, and Monica and Gervase constantly referring to Ciera as “number four”, she decided to flip and force a rock draw. But when the votes are being cast, we still don’t know if she’s flipping or not. All we see are two votes going the way of Hayden, so we still assume it’s Hayden going home. But finally when the votes are read, Monica gets three and Hayden gets three, revealing that Ciera had flipped. Now, Hayden and Monica are immune and everyone else (except Gervase who had the immunity necklace) is forced to draw rocks. Again the story still with only minutes left in the episode was all about Ciera, Hayden and Tyson. Katie was an afterthought and barely said a word the entire tribal council. So when Ciera, Tyson and Katie were forced to draw rocks, we were still assuming it would be Ciera or Tyson going home. But shockingly it was Katie and we never saw it coming.

3. John Carroll – Marquesas 

In Survivor Marquesas, John Carroll had the winner’s edit. He was the leader of a strong alliance, “The Rotu Four”, that was seemingly prepared to emulate the alliance of four of the original season of Survivor, Survivor: Borneo, and make it all the way to the end. John Caroll was the Richard Hatch of that group and it looked like he was on a clear trajectory to win the game. He was not afraid to let people know he was in charge and he was not afraid to send people he thought were threatening out of the game. But in one of the most extreme twists of events in the show’s history, John Carroll was voted out of the game. But how did we get there? At the start of the game, Neleh, Paschal, and Kathy were all part of the Rotu tribe. But after a tribe swap, they were switched to the Maaramu tribe and the four players that stayed at Rotu created a strong alliance (The Rotu Four) and were able to take control of the game. When the merge came, it was looking like Neleh, Paschal and Kathy would team up with their old tribe mates to easily vote out Vecepia and Sean Rector. But realizing the power that the Rotu Four had gained while they were away at Maaramu, Neleh warned the others of the Rotu Four’s newly acquired power in the game, but it seemed like it was just a red-herring to hide the obvious Sean Rector vote out that was coming. After all, his best bro, Rob Mariano was just taken out the episode before, it seemed like the only logical vote at this point in the game. But all logic went array when it came time to vote, and John was voted out 6-3. Throughout the episode we never actually heard John Carroll’s name come up as a potential person to go home. In a case like that, even if the plans were to change, we would assume it would be one of the lesser edited players of the Rotu Four going home, not John who was an integral figure up until that point in the season. But shockingly, Neleh, Kathy, Paschal and even Rotu Four member, Zoe, switched to vote him out. The audience never saw this coming and given it’s historical context as the first ever power shift in the history of Survivor, it had to be included on this list.

2. Sarah Lacina – Cagayan 

Put on your thinking caps! We are about to talk about the Sarah Lacina vote out at the merge episode of Survivor Cagayan. Survivor 28, Cagayan, was the craziest season in the history of the show in terms of surprising votes and none were more surprising than Sarah’s. Typically in Survivor, the merge boot is someone who is a strong guy who thinks he’s in power and looks like he would be capable of winning challenges, like that handsome man standing up in the picture above for example. But nope, not this time, this time an unassuming, relatively nonstrategic player in a good position in her alliance, was the one voted out. During a pre-merge tribe swap, Sarah was the only Brawn member to stay on Brawn beach. Her teammates, Trish, Tony and Woo were then able to align with the beauties, Jefra and LJ. When Sarah’s new tribe lost the challenge, Tony yelled “Top 5 Baby!” making Sarah feel excluded from her old friends. So then finally when the merge came, Sarah had a decision to make on whether or not she was going to go with her old allies, or her new team. Now throughout this merge epsiode the story was about Kass, Sarah, Tasha and Trish. But still, a typical-merge boot like an LJ or a Tony seemed to be on the horizon. At first Sarah wanted to stick with the new Aparri tribe but Kass questioned her loyalty and made Sarah feel insecure. Tony meanwhile, tried to make Sarah promise to side back with his alliance which was looking all the more unlikely as Sarah started to hang around the Brains more and more. Suddenly, Sarah is the swing vote between the two alliances. However, Kass and Sarah continued to have a falling out. Kass and Tasha asked Sarah if she would vote for Jefra Bland or for Trish but she was dead set on getting rid of Tony or LJ. Trish and Tony eventually realized that Sarah wasn’t coming back to her side so then they needed to flip someone else back on to their side, so they approached Kass. Now throughout the episode, we still don’t know whether Kass was going to flip or not. The whole episode seemed to be about whether Sarah was going to flip or not and now suddenly it was about Kass flipping? Everyone watching was confused but a typical merge boot still looked the most likely thing to happen. At tribal council, Tony played his idol for LJ, so rumblings began to occur around the scene and words of “the other one” ensued. So LJ quickly played his idol for Tony. The two men celebrated vociferously but neither of them was actually in any danger. It turned out that “the other one” was actually Jefra Bland, not Tony. Assuming that Kass wasn’t going to flip, Jefra was looking in deep trouble as the votes were being read. Each and everytime Jeff read the votes he read a vote for Jefra first and then a vote for Sarah second, creating a pattern that looked destined not to be broken. So when Jeff announced that it was now five votes for Jefra and five votes for Sarah, the pattern suggested that Jefra’s name would be written on the next card and that she would be the one going home. But then suddenly, the vote was for Sarah, and she went home, revealing that Kass had flipped. This was another one of the craziest tribal councils in the history of the show and so many names were floating around during the episode that it was impossible to know who was going to go home. It was absolutely shocking when it ended up being the swing vote, in Sarah, that went home.

1. Jeremy Collins – San Juan Del Sur 

So that brings us to our number one, Jeremy Collins. In the history of the show, very few players had a better winner’s edit and didn’t end up winning than Jeremy. Jeremy was talked about all season as being the obvious winner. After all we had just watched three back to back seasons in Caramoan, Blood vs. Water and Cagayan where the winner was clearly noticeable at the merge, and San Juan del Sur was looking to be the same. Jeremy was in the alliance of power and had the numbers wrapped up in all directions around him. Since day one, Jeremy had been building a strong coalition that put him in the centre of everything. Everyone came to him to talk about every single vote. When the merge came, the story shifted to a Josh Canfield vs. Jeremy Collins battle. The two super-strategists of the season who were both somewhat Alpha Males and both potential challenge winners were going head to head in a battle for power, and Jeremy came out on top. This was the telling sign that Jeremy was going to be the winner. Up until episode 9 of San Juan del Sur, Jeremy received just four less confessionals than Blood vs. Water’s winner Tyson Apostol did his entire season and he had already earned more than previous winners such as Sophie and Natalie White. With this well established edit in place, Jeremy again was looking destined to win the game. In the pre-tribal council scheming, Jon, Keith and Reed were the names that were being brought up. Reed had just lost his boyfriend Josh and was the obvious target to go home, Keith’s name was being brought up because of a falling out that he had with Jeremy in Episode 4 and Jon was considered to be a threat because he had an immunity idol in his pocket. Jeremy’s name was only briefly mentioned one time and it looked like it was just a last minute attempt to steer us away from an obvious Reed boot. Throughout 29 seasons of Survivor, we had almost been trained as viewers to ignore this type of comment as surely a red-herring. Then when the votes were coming in and the only names appearing were for Keith and Reed, it continued to look like one of them was going home. The first five votes were two votes for Keith, three votes for Reed. It looked like another Jefra vs. Sarah type situation and that one deciding vote would decide who would go home between the two of them. Jeff then read the sixth vote and surprisingly it was for Jeremy. Okay, that’s fine, relax, Jeremy isn’t going home, audience members around the world, (including myself) were saying to themselves as Jeff showed the vote. Then the next vote came in and it was Jeremy again. Even Jeff looked shocked. Then the next vote was for Jeremy again, making it 3 votes Jeremy, 3 votes Reed, two votes Keith. Reed was still the obvious person to go home, after all Jeremy had the winner’s edit! Suddenly, Jeremy’s name came up again and with one vote left, we finally knew where this was going. “Eighth person voted out and the second member of our Jury….Jeremy” Jeff said as he showed the vote. The audience was floored, I couldn’t believe it either and dropped to my knees in shock. No one saw it coming and no one watching the season or that episode for the first time ever will. Jeremy did get his redemption on Survivor Second Chance when he took home the million, but his shocking blindside on San Juan Del Sur is still the biggest audience blindside in the history of the show.

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