The CBS reality TV series “Survivor” has had players “Outwit, Outplay, and Outlast” each other for 40 seasons, since the year 2000 (via CBS.com). This Emmy Award-winning series hosted by Jeff Probst, has seen its fair share of dramatic eliminations, but one of the most jaw dropping votes didn’t even happen during a traditional Tribal Council.
Brandon Hantz, the nephew of “Survivor” two-time fan favorite, Russell Hantz, was eliminated from his season of “Caramoan: Fans vs. Favorites” in one of the most shocking and explosive moments in the series’ history (via People). Right before the two tribes were to compete in an immunity challenge, a member of the Favorites tribe, Corinne Kaplan, announced that their team would forfeit the challenge in order to go to Tribal Council that evening.
Hantz immediately got into a heated argument with fellow tribe member Phillip Sheppard, resulting in Probst calling him over to stand with him and putting his hands on his shoulders in an attempt to calm him down (via EW.com). According to Probst, he was concerned that the altercation might get physical and tried to prevent that from happening.
In a shocking turn of events, Probst decided to award the Fans tribe the immunity idol and go immediately into a Tribal Council. The Favorites unanimously voted, sending Hantz off the show. According to an interview with People, Hantz said his mental state was fine and that he was just happy to be back with his wife and children.
The blindside after Erik gives up his immunity necklace
Dubbed as one of the dumbest moves in “Survivor” history, Erik Reichenbach is infamous for giving up his immunity necklace in “Survivor: Micronesia” (via Screen Rant). There isn’t a “Survivor” fan out there who doesn’t remember the moment when the Black Widow Brigade alliance — made up of Parvati Shallow, Amanda Kimmel, Cirie Fields, and Natalie Bolton — convinced Reichenbach to give his immunity necklace to Bolton.
It took a bit of psychological warfare, but the powerful women’s alliance played on Reichenbach’s emotional side, filling him with doubts about how the jury would see him if he made it to the finals (via Men’s Health). They convinced him that the only way to save his game and prove he was trustworthy, was to give up immunity to save Bolton, who he was formerly aligned with.
This was of course a plot to have Reichenbach give up his safety so that the other four could vote him out. This blindside at tribal was one of the most dramatic eliminations the show has seen. According to EW.com, Probst considers this moment a “master class in persuasion.” To go from the safest position you can be in, to being voted out is a pretty spectacular display of persuasion and outwit.
Yau-Man gets voted out after a deal for safety goes sour
One of the most beloved “Survivor” players, Yau-Man Chan, got the short end of the stick in one of the most shocking Tribal Council moments. In one reward competition, Chan was the winner of a 2008 Ford Super Duty truck that he immediately offered to his fellow castaway Andria Herd (better known as Dreamz) in exchange for immunity at the final four (via Reality TV World). However, when Dreamz won immunity, he did not uphold his end of the bargain.
During that fateful Tribal Council, when it was time to give Chan the immunity necklace to honor his end of the deal, Dreamz simply couldn’t do it (via East Bay Times). In the episode, viewers saw the look of shock on fellow contestant Earl Cole’s face when it was clear that Chan would not be safe that night. According to the East Bay Times, Cole then made the decision to vote out his ally, Chan, knowing that with Chan out of the game he would win the million dollar prize. As the vote unfolds, Dreamz places his face in his hands as tears start to form in his eyes, apologizing to Chan for his betrayal. From the high emotions, to the absolute shocking outcome, this dramatic elimination is certainly memorable.
Jeff Varner's elimination after outing Zeke as transgender
One of the most shocking and disturbing eliminations in “Survivor” history was during “Survivor: Game Changers” when Jeff Varner outed castaway Zeke Smith as transgender (via Hollywood Reporter). While going through the normal round of Tribal Council questioning, Varner calls Smith out for deception, and using his identity as transgender as the reasoning.
According to an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Probst was in shock when the comment was made. Immediately the entire tribe turned on Varner in disgust, explaining in anger that what he did was completely unacceptable, having nothing to do with the game of “Survivor.” Without casting the traditional ballots, the tribe unanimously voted to eliminate Varner.
While emotions ran high, Smith was calm and compassionate towards Varner and even forgave him (via Entertainment Weekly). According to Hollywood Reporter, both contestants received therapy paid for by CBS. Meanwhile, it will come as no surprise to viewers that Varner was fired from his job working as a real estate agent over the controversy.
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