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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

Past Votes:
The Australian Outback

Nature Trivia Challenge:
Drawing Rocks:
Blood vs Water

Firemaking Challenge:
Cook Islands

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 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:

  1. 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.
  2. At the revote, all contestants involved in the tie can't vote, while they are the only ones that can be voted against.
  3. Contestants may vote for a different contestant involved in the tie.
  4. The contestants would not be allowed to play the Hidden Immunity Idol before the revote votes are read.
  5. If there is still a 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. Whoever had more votes would go home. If the number of past votes of the tied players were still the same, they would be subjected into a tiebreaker challenge (the only known example is the trivia quiz challenge in Africa). The loser would go home.

Drawing RocksEdit

An infamous tiebreaker called the Purple Rock, 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 dreaded Purple Rock would be eliminated.

The infamous and controversial Purple Rock
Purple Rock

The infamous Purple Rock tiebreaker.

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 (and also during the whole game), 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, an article of Jeff Probst in 2005 stated that this execution of the tiebreaker was a mistake. 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 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 an 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 the losing 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 the rope wins the tiebreaker challenge and is still in the game. 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 in the game, since voting wouldn't 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.

It later appeared in Survivor: Panama, where Cirie Fields and Danielle DiLorenzo were tied at the final four. Cirie 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.

The most recent use of this challenge resulted in 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.

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.


In addition to the unknown outcome of a deadlocked jury vote tie and the effects of a hidden immunity idol on a pre-merge 2 person tribe, the tiebreaking methods of following incidents are also unclear:

  1. If all members of a tribe are tied (presumably no one has immunity .
  2. If all members of a tribe have immunity (this is possible on a 3 person tribe with 3 idols in play).
  3. If the only non-immune players are those who are deadlocked (for example, in the final 6: it is possible that in a season with 3 or more hidden immunity idols in play, if those 3 play their idols but are not involved in a tie, a fourth person wins the immunity necklace, and the fifth and sixth persons are those who are involved in the tie, then all 6 contestants would technically be considered immune under the rule that deadlocked contestants receive immunity).


See alsoEdit


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