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Hidden Immunity Idol
Hidden-idol-guatemala
The first Hidden Immunity Idol. (Survivor: Guatemala)
Survivor Gameplay
Description Used to save oneself or others from getting voted out
Appearance(s) Guatemala - present

The Hidden Immunity Idol (also known as the "Hidden Idol" or simply as "The Idol") is widely believed to be the biggest twist ever to occur in the US version of Survivor. Its purpose is to, one way or another, negate all votes cast against the holder when he or she chooses to play it. The idol has influenced many of the contestants' strategies, whether they utilize the object, or defuse its powers. The Hidden Immunity Idol made its debut in Survivor: Guatemala, and in seasons containing the Exile Island twist, the idol is usually hidden there, though not always.

It is not to be confused with the Tribal Immunity Idol or Individual Immunity Necklace, as the Hidden Immunity Idol is not available at challenges. However, clues to the whereabouts of the idol may exist at camp.

OverviewEdit

When the Idol debuted in Survivor: Guatemala, its purpose was to give its owner Individual Immunity without the winning of an Individual Immunity Challenge. But in following seasons, it was reformatted to negate votes that the holder would receive at Tribal Council. Despite its potential to make its owner survive longer in the game, it can only be used once (where the idol will be either re-hidden or discarded after its use). With this, owners should be careful about divulging information about possessing one and/or when to use it, because from Survivor: Fiji onwards, a player can still be eliminated with the Idol in their possession, thus going home bringing his/her Idol with him (dubbed as "flushing"). Another limitation is that the Idol is only valid until a given deadline (usually Day 36). A player may hold more than one Idol (if available).
Gary

Gary Hogeboom uses the series' first Hidden Immunity Idol

AppearanceEdit

Similar to the Immunity Idol and the Immunity Necklace, the Hidden Immunity Idol is a usually small, ornate talisman that is designed depending on the season's theme and/or location (example: the Hidden Immunity Idol in China was a plaque-like wooden square with a Chinese symbol engraved on it). Other idols are designed like small necklaces or bracelets. Usually, the idol is an item based on the history or landscape of the area.

FormatEdit

The format of how the Hidden Immunity Idol is used every season differs, and as of now there are three different formats of how it is used based on the time it can be used in Tribal Council.

Survivor: GuatemalaEdit

The Hidden Immunity Idol debuted in the merge phase of Survivor: Guatemala, where its existence was revealed via Tree Mail. The owner came to be Gary Hogeboom, who used it in the same episode and making him immune from the vote, similar to how the Immunity Necklace works. After its usage, the Idol was discarded.

Survivor: Panama-Survivor: Cook IslandsEdit

In succeeding seasons, the mechanics of the Hidden Immunity Idol drastically changed. In Survivor: Panama and Survivor: Cook Islands, instead of making the player immune before the vote, the Hidden Immunity Idol would now be able to nullify votes that are cast against the holder. When the host revealed enough votes to eliminate a contestant, the player in question will have to draw the Idol to stay in the game. With the holder immune at the last minute, the person who receives the next highest amount of votes will be eliminated instead. This format was panned by fans, calling the item "too powerful," by using them akin to the "Get Out of Jail Free card" used in Monopoly. These Idols are good up until the Tribal Council where there are only four contestants remaining.

Survivor: Fiji-PresentEdit

From Survivor: Fiji onwards (with the exception of Survivor: Gabon), there have been two available Idols, one hidden in each of the tribe camps. Additionally, the format was once again changed. Instead of using it after the host revealed enough ballots to eliminate a player, players must use the Idol after the votes have been cast, but before the host reveals them. This gesture will force castaways to become more cautious on possessing it and/or divulging information about possessing one. With this format, it is crucial for players to use his/her Idol at the right time. Contestants must draw the Idol at a Tribal Council where they are sure to receive votes, or else, they will either waste the Idol (if they had either no votes against them or if they have votes, there may not be enough to eliminate them) or get eliminated without even using the Idol. This was dubbed by several contestants as flushing. Once the Idol is used, it is usually rehidden. From this point forward, the Idols are valid up until the Tribal Council where there are only five contestants remaining. In Survivor: One World, while there is only one camp, there are still two Idols; one for each tribe. Both idols are exclusive for a tribe. For instance, if a member of one tribe finds the Idol of the rival tribe, he/she has to give it to one of its members before the next Tribal Council.

When the castaway is voted out as a direct result of the use of the Hidden Immunity Idol, that person is said to have been "idoled out".

Survivor: CagayanEdit

In Survivor: Cagayan, while the current format still applies during the tribal phase, an additional Hidden Immunity Idol is in play, which is hidden at the Merged tribe camp. The said Idol must be used after the votes have been read similar to Panama and Cook Islands. However, as revealed in Sitting in My Spy Shack, this Hidden Immunity Idol may only be used by its finder and may not be passed on to someone else. This version of the idol is referred on the show as the "Special Idol".

According to Jeff Probst, this was suggested in a text message Tyler Perry, referring to the Idol as the "Tyler Perry Idol", a term which has entered the fan vocabulary.

RulesEdit

Hidden Immunity Idols are considered as "personal items," thus cannot be stolen from its owner, as stated in the Survivor Rulebook. If the owner hides his or her idol for safekeeping, and someone else finds it, the latter may not take it.

In case of a tie, if the player who possesses an idol is subjected to a tie vote, he or she may not use his or her idol in the second round of voting.

If the players who have votes all use a Hidden Immunity Idol, and turns out they are the only players who have votes, the vote will be considered null, and a revote would commence, where the players must vote for someone else other than the idol users and the player who won the Immunity Challenge.

CluesEdit

To find Hidden Immunity Idols more easily, clues are provided to castaways. Several clues either are progressive (meaning the first clue will not be as helpful as the next ones because it will only lead to another clue, but the succeeding clues would lead the looker closer the actual place of the idol), or still lead to the same hiding place, albeit restructured for added confusion.

As the season progresses, more clues will be provided, regardless if the idol has already been found or not. These clues can be shared to others by the finder/s' choosing; however, in several incidents in Survivor: Samoa, Russell Hantz was notoriously popular for finding the idols without the need of clues.

Clip image00212

Hidden Immunity Idol Clue

These clues may be a cryptic message similar to Tree Mail messages or rebus puzzles (in Survivor: Nicaragua). Sometimes, the exact location of the idol is stated outright.

In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Monica Culpepper began a trend of refusing the clue as to prevent a target from forming on one's back. Only four clues have been accepted out of ten during the season.

Over the years, the clues for the Hidden Immunity Idol have varying ways of how they were given to contestants:

  • In Guatemala, Heroes vs. Villains, Nicaragua, and Redemption Island, aside from the prize that a tribe gets after winning a Reward Challenge, a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol was either given to the winner/s outright, or tucked inside their prize.
  • In Panama, Cook Islands, and Gabon, the Idol was hidden at Exile Island. The banished castaway will be handed clues of its whereabouts. Additionally in Gabon, a second idol was revealed, hidden somewhere near the feast table during the fake merge feast.
  • Starting in Fiji, two immunity idols became available, with one hidden at each camp. The exiled castaways will receive clues. This was the first time a flushed idol was replaced with a new one.
  • In Micronesia, several mechanisms have been used:
    • The two people (one from each tribe) banished will be provided multiple clues that are scattered around Exile Island, where they have to compete for ownership of the idol. This was during the tribal phase of the game.
    • At the merge phase, several idols have been available. Ozzy Lusth possessed an idol, but wasn't able to use it during the Tribal Council where he was eliminated. With Ozzy's idol gone, a new one was placed in Exile Island, though its finder, Jason Siska, also made the same mistake. The next idol was found by Amanda Kimmel, who possessed a clue while at Exile Island, but realized that the idol was at camp, under their tribe flag. Amanda's idol was re-hidden in the next episode. Parvati Shallow was sent to Exile Island in the next episode, and although it looked like she did not look for the idol, it was revealed in a post show interview that she found the Idol while snorkeling and left it on the island to prevent trouble.
  • In Tocantins, two people will receive clues about the idol, only to realize that the idols were hidden at their tribe camp.
  • In China and Samoa, one player of the opposing tribe will visit the camp and they will provide the clue for the idol. In China, however, the member of the opposing tribe was forced to give the unopened clue to a member of the tribe they were visiting.
  • In South Pacific, the clue is also hidden at camp, providing more difficulty in finding the idol. The tribe that wins the Immunity Challenge will have a clue implanted somewhere around their camp. The more a tribe wins an Immunity Challenge, the more clues they get.
  • In One World and Caramoan, Hidden Immunity Idols would still be available. But for the first time, clues will not be provided, as Jeff Probst said that the contestants "do not need them" anymore.
  • In Philippines, the clues were hidden in the tribes' bags of rice, and the idol was actually on top of the bag of rice, disguised as a handle to the lid of the rice basket.
  • In Caramoan, several mechanisms have been used:
    • Malcolm Freberg bought "information" at the Survivor Auction on Day 29, which was a clue to an idol that he was allowed to read for 60 seconds.
    • As part of the Individual Immunity Challenge on Day 31, the winner would be rewarded with "information", which was the clue to an idol. Andrea Boehlke won the Individual Immunity and the clue.
  • In Blood vs. Water, the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol will be given to the person who finished first in the Redemption Island duel. However, they will need to give the clue to any person left in the game.
    • Candice Cody won the first and second duel and both times decided to give the clue to her husband John Cody
  • In Cagayan, the weakest castaway selected by each tribe leader were sent to their respective camps first, when they arrived they were given an option to either give their tribe an extra sack of rice, or to receive a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol. However, a Hidden Immunity Idol clue is also known to be found on certain rewards the tribes won in Reward/Immunity Challenges.[1][2]
  • In San Juan del Sur, on Exile Island, there are two urns in which each castaway who arrived must choose one of them to open and get a note inside of it. One of it contains nothing, while the other contains the clue to their tribe's idol (clue is the same for both tribes' idol).

StrategyEdit

Several strategies were developed by contestants that has something to do with the Hidden Immunity Idol. Here is a non-exhaustive list of how the idol was used over the series:

Strategy Successful Uses Unsuccessful Uses
Making the holder believe that he or she will not be voted out, but then blindsiding them (dubbed as "flushing") See list of blindsided contestants See list of successful idol usages
Splitting votes to defuse any power gained by playing the idol See Split Vote
Passing idols to another player to save them Banana Etiquette
Zipping Over the Cuckoo's Nest
It's a Turtle?! (first use)
This Game Respects Big Moves
Double Agent
Cut Off the Head of the Snake
It's My Night
Head of the Snake
Discarding the idol itself to scare anybody who would want to get it Apple in the Garden of Eden N/A
Potentially removing the possibility of a tie vote Going Down in Flames
Whiners Are Wieners
None
Constructing and planting fake idols that have no value at Tribal Council An Evil Thought (first use)
I'm Not as Dumb as I Look
I'm in Such a Hot Pickle!
Nothing Tastes Better than Five Hundred Dollars
The Good Things in Life Aren't Easy
N/A
Feigning an object in their pocket is an idol, prompting the others to vote somebody else A Sinking Ship
Hell Hath Frozen Over
Reap What You Sow
Taunting another player who has an idol to surrender or use the object, inducing indecision at the side of the owner You're Looking at the New Leader of Your Tribe
Cut Off the Head of the Snake
N/A
Handing out multiple idols to shield more potential targets Going Down in Flames
Zipping Over the Cuckoo's Nest
None

There have been several instances that a person that is caught looking for the idol has become an immediate target, so it is crucial that searchers must be undetected when looking for it.

If a Hidden Immunity Idol is played, the user would be immune for the rock-drawing tiebreaker. If all players who received votes use idols, and all votes are voided, a revote would happen, but the users would be immune for that round of voting.

Owning HistoryEdit

  • Survivor: Guatemala (idols played before the votes are cast)
    • Gary Hogeboom became the first Survivor contestant to possess a Hidden Immunity Idol. He found it despite Judd Sergeant getting the clue. He used it in the episode Secrets and Lies and an Idol Surprise. As he was the intended target of the majority alliance, it is assumed that he would have been voted out had he not used it.
    • Judd Sergeant is the first person to get an idol clue. He told the entire tribe besides Stephenie LaGrossa, that the clue said the idol was on the ground, even though the clue said it was up in a tree. Gary caught him in his lie when Judd was looking at trees in contrast of what Judd said the clue entailed.
  • Survivor: Panama (first season with idols played after the votes are read)
    • Terry Deitz found the idol on Exile Island, but he never used it as he won five consecutive individual immunities. At the final four, the last time the idol could be played, he was considered effectively immune by the other castaways due to his possession of the idol, and did not receive any votes. After the idol's effects expired, he lost the Final Immunity Challenge and was voted out.
  • Survivor: Cook Islands
    • Yul Kwon found the idol on Exile Island, but did not use it. Similar to Terry's situation, he was considered effectively immune at the Final Four due to his possession of the idol; however, unlike the previous season, his season had a Final Three instead of the traditional Final Two, which meant that Yul never had to face a Tribal Council where he was without his idol.
  • Survivor: Fiji (first season with idols played before the votes are read)
    • Yau-Man Chan found the Moto tribe's Hidden Immunity Idol and decided to keep it a secret from his alliance. Once his secret was exposed, his alliance still honored his allegiance and voted out the opposition. In I Wanna See If I Can Make a Deal, he finally used it to save himself and eliminate Stacy Kimball. If the idol was rehidden, it was never found.
    • Mookie Lee found the Ravu Hidden Immunity Idol and shared it with his alliance, the Four Horsemen. When Dreamz Herd, the only member of the alliance who was oblivious of Mookie's idol, discovered this, Dreamz secretly defected from the alliance and planned to vote Mookie. The Syndicate Alliance, however, was confused on who to vote for, until Stacy Kimball suggested a simple alternative: vote out the only Horseman whose name had yet to come up - Edgardo Rivera. In the episode It's a Turtle?!Alex Angarita played Mookie's idol, but for naught because he did not receive votes. The Syndicate Alliance's plan worked, sending Edgardo home instead. Mookie's idol was rehidden.
    • Eventual winner Earl Cole discovered the rehidden Ravu idol thanks to Yau-Man's bold truck deal with Dreamz. He played it by default in the final 5 vote - the last vote that a hidden immunity idol can be used - though he did not receive a vote.
  • Survivor: China
  • Survivor: Micronesia
  • Survivor: Gabon
    • Sugar Kiper found an idol at Exile Island, gave it to Ace Gordon, and later reclaimed the idol from Ace. Sugar gave it to Matty in The Good Guys Should Win in the End, who played it as it was the last chance to play an idol.
    • During the fake merge feast, a second Hidden Immunity Idol was buried somewhere near the feast table. The contestants decided to throw the second idol at sea to prevent being targeted for elimination.
    • Randy Bailey is the first male castaway to play a fake Hidden Immunity Idol.
  • Survivor: Tocantins
    • Brendan Synnott found an idol at the Timbira tribe camp with the help of the clue on Exile Island, but was blindsided in The Biggest Fraud in the Game with the idol in his possession. Brendan's idol was not rehidden.
    • Taj Johnson-George found an idol and gave it to Stephen Fishbach. Stephen later gave the idol back, as Taj had it in her possession after being voted out at the Final Four (after the idol had already expired).
  • Survivor: Samoa
    • Russell Hantz found the idol hidden at the Foa Foa camp without any clues. He used it in All Hell Breaks Loose, but did not receive any votes.
    • Erik Cardona found the idol hidden at the Galu camp, but was blindsided in All Hell Breaks Loose with the idol in his possession. Only one idol was rehidden after the Tribal Council where two idols were played/"flushed."
    • Russell Hantz found a second idol almost immediately after it was rehidden. He played it in Tastes Like Chicken, saving himself and eliminating Kelly Sharbaugh. Russell's idol was rehidden.
    • Russell Hantz found his rehidden idol, but did not play it.
  • Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains
  • Survivor: Nicaragua
  • Survivor: Redemption Island
  • Survivor: South Pacific
  • Survivor: One World
  • Survivor: Philippines
  • Survivor: Caramoan
  • Survivor: Blood vs. Water
    • Tyson Apostol found the idol only with the parts of the clue the Tadhana members told to him. He played it in the episode Gloves Come Off, but received no votes. He again found an idol in Rustle Feathers once it was re-hidden after he played it in the previous Tribal Council. He gave it to Gervase Peterson in the Tribal Council at day 37.
  • Survivor: Cagayan
    • Garrett Adelstein found the Luzon idol after choosing the clue to the idol instead of extra rice for his tribe. Garrett was blindsided with the idol. In his final words, Garrett revealed he left the idol buried somewhere at the Luzon camp. It was re-hidden, but was not found.
    • Tony Vlachos found the Aparri idol in the pond behind the tribes camp, after finding the clue in the basket that contained the salt won in the second immunity challenge.
    • LJ McKanas found the Solana idol tied to a rock underwater near the beach, finding the idol after knowing that Morgan McLeod had previously been looking there after receiving a clue at the First Impressions Twist.
      • Both the Aparri and Solana idols were played during the Day 19 Tribal Council. First, Tony played the Aparri idol on LJ, who then played the Solana idol on Tony. Neither LJ nor Tony received votes.
    • Spencer Bledsoe found a Solarrion idol in a dirt wall, after finding a clue at the Day 20 reward. He used it at the Day 28 Tribal Council, but did not negate any votes.
      • On Day 30, Tony found the re-hidden Solarrion idol after he bought a clue at the Survivor Auction. He used it by default at the Day 36 Tribal Council, although he didn't receive any votes.
    • Tony found the Special Idol on Day 28, buried under a large tree which he described as "the rocket tree". The Special Idol was not used.
  • San Juan del Sur

Fake IdolsEdit

Created by the contestants, these Idols have been used as a foil for players to use them under the assumption that they have been helped out by one of their tribemates. They have no value at Tribal Council, and when a fake Idol is presented, Jeff Probst throws it into the fire pit stating that it is not a Hidden Immunity Idol. So far, coincidentally, all of the contestants who played a fake idol were voted out at the same Tribal Council.

Contestants Making Fake IdolsEdit

Contestants Playing Fake IdolsEdit

  • Jamie plays fake idol

    Jaime Dugan plays a fake Immunity Idol.

    Jaime Dugan became the first contestant to play a fake Hidden Immunity Idol (in Survivor: China). She had found the plaque that James Clement had left lying around and was certain she was in possession of an actual Idol and had even spotted the two real plaques hidden in James's bag. While said plaque was fake, it was similar in appearance to the real ones. The only difference was that it did not have a message stating it was indeed a Hidden Immunity Idol.
  • Eliza Orlins was the second player to play a fake Hidden Immunity Idol (in Survivor: Micronesia) and the first to play an idol specifically planted by another player. However, unlike Jaime, Eliza knew the idol was fake and wanted to play it in hopes that she could expose Ozzy Lusth as being in possession of the real Idol since he was the creator of the fake Idol.
  • Randy Bailey was the third player to play a fake Hidden Immunity Idol (in Survivor: Gabon). Bob Crowley created the fake Idol and after a suggestion by Sugar Kiper to give it to Randy, Bob did so, figuring that he had nothing to lose and would stay in the game.

Different Fake IdolsEdit

Castaways Voted Out Due to an Idol Being PlayedEdit

Castaway Season Episode
S14 stacy t
Stacy Kimball
Fiji 13
S16 alexis t
Alexis Jones
Micronesia 12
S19 kelly t
Kelly Sharbaugh
Samoa 9
S20 cirie t
Cirie Fields
Heroes vs. Villains 4
S20 tyson t
Tyson Apostol
5
S20 jt t
J.T. Thomas
10
S25 rc t
R.C. Saint-Amour
Philippines 7
S25 pete t
Pete Yurkowski
10
S26 phillip t
Phillip Sheppard
Caramoan 10

Castaways Voted Out With Idols In Their PossessionEdit

Castaway Season Episode
S15 james t
James Clement
China 11
S16 ozzy t
Ozzy Lusth
Micronesia 10
S16 jason t
Jason Siska
11
S18 brendan t
Brendan Synnott
Tocantins 9
S19 erik t
Erik Cardona
Samoa 8
S26 andrea t
Andrea Boehlke
Caramoan 12
S28 garrett c
Garrett Adelstein
Cagayan 2
S29 john t
John Rocker
San Juan del Sur 3

GalleryEdit

Trivia Edit

  • Heroes vs. Villains and Cagayan are tied for the season with the most idols found, with 6 apiece.
    • However, Heroes vs. Villains has the outright lead for most idols played, with 5.
  • Tadhana is the only tribe to have an idol buried at their beach and not find it.
  • James Clement, Parvati Shallow, Malcolm Freberg, and Tony Vlachos are the only people to have controlled multiple idols simultaneously.
    • Of the four, James and Malcolm are the only ones not to win a season. However, Parvati did not win the season in which she controlled the two idols.
  • Ozzy, Russell, and Malcolm are the only contestants to find (and collect) idols on different seasons.
    • Parvati also found one in Micronesia, but elected not to collect it.

ReferencesEdit

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