Survivor Wiki


2,572pages on
this wiki
Becky tie (2)
Becky wins the firemaking tiebreaker challenge in Cook Islands.
Survivor Gameplay
Description A challenge, revote, or fate that determines a person's fate after a tie at Tribal Council.
Appearance(s) Just Revotes:
Redemption Island
South Pacific
Blood vs. Water
San Juan del Sur
Worlds Apart

Past Votes:
The Australian Outback

Nature Trivia Challenge:
Drawing Rocks:
Blood vs. Water

Firemaking Challenge:
Cook Islands
Worlds Apart

A Tiebreaker is a situation where two (or more) individuals share the same amount of votes at Tribal Council with no other person receiving a higher amount. In this event, several instances may occur.


A tiebreaker is a situation that occurs when more than one castaway receive the highest number of votes. There are different ways to break a tie, usually starting with a revote. Other than that, the game had shown many ways to break a deadlocked tie.


The first tied vote to ever occur was in Survivor: Borneo in the episode The Final Four, where a re-vote commenced. According to Jeff Probst in that episode, the Tribal Council will continue until a tie has been broken, probably implying that the re-vote would continue until only a single contestant would have the most votes. The true deadlocked tiebreaker for Borneo remains unknown, however, this much is certain: If a tie happens, the players in question would not vote, while the remaining players vote again and are immune from the re-vote. If the second vote still ends up tied, it would be deadlocked, which is the tricky and controversial aspect of the game.


After a Tribal Council voting, if there was a tie between two or more contestants, Probst would inform that a revote would happen, requesting a tribe member to take the urn from Probst and return it back to the voting area for the revote. At the revote, the following rules would be implemented:

  • Only shown during Survivor: The Australian Outback and Survivor: Africa, the contestants involved in the tied vote would make a last-minute plea before the revote on why they deserve to stay. In certain cases, non-tied contestants may be allowed to speak up as well, but no cases of this have been shown since the removal of the past votes tiebreaker in Survivor: Marquesas.
  • At the revote, all contestants involved in the tie can't vote, while they are the only ones who can be voted against. This applies no matter how many contestants are involved in the tie. Contestants who played a Hidden Immunity Idol at the first vote are considered to be immune even if they would ordinarily be part of the tie.
  • Contestants who are eligible to vote may vote for any contestant involved in the tie, regardless of whom they cast their vote against at the first vote.
  • Contestants are not be allowed to play the Hidden Immunity Idol to shield themselves from votes at the revote. This includes all variants of the idol.
  • If there is a tie after the revote, but at least one previously tied contestant is no longer tied, a second revote occurs with the same rules.
  • If there is a deadlocked tie after the revote, a tiebreaker event would occur, which varies based on the number of contestants left in the game.

Deadlock TiebreakersEdit

Past VotesEdit

During Australia and Africa, if the revote was deadlocked, votes from previous Tribal Councils will be counted. The tied contestant with the most previous votes, excluding votes received at revotes, would be eliminated from the game. If the number of past votes of the tied players was the same, they would be subjected into a tiebreaker challenge (the only known example is the trivia quiz challenge in Africa). The loser would be eliminated from the game.

Drawing RocksEdit

An infamous tiebreaker, officially known as the rock-drawing tiebreaker and called the Purple Rock by fans, is done when after the revote there is still a tied vote. The mechanics of the Purple Rock tiebreaker is that all contestants who are not immune (i.e. don't have Individual Immunity or didn't play the Hidden Immunity Idol) from the vote - sans those who were tied in the revote - would have to each pick a rock from a bag. Whoever got the differently-colored would be eliminated.

Purple Rock

The infamous Purple Rock tiebreaker in Marquesas.

The infamous and controversial Purple Rock tiebreaker was first used in Survivor: Marquesas during the Day 37 Tribal Council, where Neleh Dennis and Kathy Vavrick-O'Brien were tied 2-2, while Vecepia Towery had the Immunity Necklace. In a surprise turn of events, Paschal English, the only contestant without immunity who did not receive a vote that night, was eliminated by drawing the Purple Rock. This generated controversy after the season. As a result, contestants from Survivor: Thailand until Survivor: Vanuatu were haunted of the idea of letting luck decide their fate. However, Jeff Probst stated that this execution of the tiebreaker was a mistake.[1] They intended to make those who have immunity and those who were tied to be safe, but they did not realize that the procedure would not work on final four. In this case, had those in the tie been immune, only one person would have been eligible to pick a rock and would be automatically eliminated. As a result, all three drew rocks, but in the end, English was eliminated anyway. While the rock drawing tiebreaker prevented the contestants from forcing tie votes, several instances have them considering to draw rocks, but the said tiebreaker was never enforced since, as contestants would subsequently switch their votes at the last minute either during the first round of voting or during the revote. In Survivor: Samoa, the rule was elaborated further, where the contestants that are not voted for would need to make up a unanimous decision as to who will be eliminated from the game. Otherwise, the players voted for and the wearer of individual immunity will be safe, as the players not voted for will draw rocks.
Survivor.s27e12.hdtv.x264-2hd 140

The Rock Drawing in Survivor: Blood vs. Water

In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the Kasama tribe drew rocks after a 3-3 tied vote occurred between Hayden Moss and Monica Culpepper. No one switched their vote during the re-vote and Ciera Eastin, Tyson Apostol, Gervase Peterson (who won immunity then) and Katie Collins could not decide who to eliminate. Eastin, Apostol and Collins all drew rocks and Collins was sent to Redemption Island when she drew the white rock. 

Firemaking ChallengeEdit

At the final four, and when only two contestants remain on a tribe, a fire-making challenge is used. The two contestants who tied would battle it out against each other to see who can build the biggest flame first. Whichever contestant's flame cuts through an elevated rope rope wins the tiebreaker challenge and stays in the game, while the loser is eliminated. This has been used several times, being the first in Survivor: Palau, when Stephenie LaGrossa and Bobby Jon Drinkard had to battle against each other to see who would be the last remaining Ulong members in the game, since voting would not work since there would be an unresolvable tie with only two voters and neither of them immune. Eventually, Stephenie won the challenge and was absorbed by Koror the next morning. It later appeared in the season's final episode, when Jenn Lyon and Ian Rosenberger fought for a spot in the Final Three. Ian's flame cut the rope first, thus eliminating Jenn.

The fire challenge later appeared in Survivor: Panama, where Cirie Fields and Danielle DiLorenzo were tied at the final four. Cirie had a lead, but lost the challenge, and was eliminated.

The most famous use of this challenge is most likely in Survivor: Cook Islands, when Becky Lee and Sundra Oakley battled for a spot in the Final Tribal Council. Both starting with flint, an hour went by and neither one of them had started a flame. Finally, the Jury and Jeff gave in and made Becky and Sundra pause. Jeff took the flint away and gave them matches instead. Quickly, Becky and Sundra ignited tiny flames, most of which were extinguished quickly. Eventually, Sundra ran out of matches and had no choice but to watch Becky win. Becky's flame then cut the rope and the bell rang, thus signaling that Sundra was out of the game. 

Sundra runs out of matches and has no choice but to watch Becky win the challenge.

In Survivor: Gabon, Matty Whitmore's Day 38 elimination in Survivor: Gabon. Eventual winner Bob Crowley fought against Matty for a short period of time, before Bob's flame cut the rope, and sent Matty home.

In Survivor: Worlds Apart, Rodney Lavoie Jr. was defeated by Carolyn Rivera.

Current RulesEdit

Though implied in Survivor: Palau, the current rules for deadlock ties were further elaborated in Survivor: Samoa. Outside the show, slightly before the premiere of Survivor: PalauJeff Probst stated in an article on EW  that the following rule was in effect since Survivor: Marquesas, except for the final four tribal council. As of the current season, the following rules will apply in breaking tied votes:

  1. If a tie occurs, a revote would happen (with the aforementioned rules applied).
  2. If there is a tie again in the revote and there are five or more castaways left in the game (not counting those on Redemption Island during seasons that have it in play), the Rock Drawing tiebreaker would happen. Everyone present at Tribal Council, except players who have Individual Immunity and those who have used Hidden Immunity Idols, and those who were tied, would draw a rock in a bag. The castaway who drew the rock that is differently colored than the others would be eliminated (or sent to Redemption Island if it is in play).
  3. At the Final Four, a revote may or may not occur. If there is no revote or if there is a tied revote, a firemaking tiebreaker will occur.
  4. If only two castaways remain on the losing tribe pre-Merge, no votes will be cast and a fire-making tiebreaker will occur. It is unknown how the Hidden Immunity Idol interacts with this tiebreaker.

The reason why the Rock Drawing tiebreaker is still in use is to prevent castaways from forcing a tie vote, putting members of evenly-numbered alliances in a precarious position (either to get a member from the rival alliance to tip the scales, to personally go to the rival alliance if flipping would be considered better for one's game, or to force a tie and hoping that a rival alliance would be eliminated through the Rock Drawing tiebreaker, regardless if the one eliminated is the main target or not).

Jury Vote TiebreakerEdit

In an interview with Mark Burnett in Survivor Oz, it was revealed that a revote would commence if the Jury votes for the winner are tied. This has never occurred as of the current season.[2]


  • If more than one contestant uses a Hidden Immunity Idol and turns out they are the only ones who received votes, the vote is considered void; and the rest of the tribe would then have to vote someone else other than the people in question.[3]
  • Lindsey Richter is the only castaway to face a tiebreaker twice in a single season, in Survivor: Africa. The first time occurred on Day 9, winning in the trivia tiebreaker, while the second time, she was eliminated by having more past votes.

See alsoEdit


Other Wikis

Random Wiki