S32 Ep14 SG 0104b
Survivor Gameplay
Description: A contingency plan in the event of a tie vote at Tribal Council
Appearances: Every season

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 and have occurred over the course of the series.

Current Rules

Pre-Final Four

Rocks Draw S33

Unable to make a unanimous decision to break the tie, the Vinaka tribe is forced to take part in a lottery. The player that draws the odd-colored rock is sent home (Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X).

In the event of a tie prior to the final four Tribal Council, all tied contestants will not vote, and the non-tied contestants will have to vote again, but may only choose between the tied contestants. Whoever receives the highest amount of votes will be voted out. Hidden Immunity Idols and Extra Vote advantages cannot be played at revotes, but depending on the specifics of the advantage, their effects may carry over into the revote.

If the revote does not break the tie, the host will declare a deadlock vote, after which he will allow the non-tied players to openly discuss who should be eliminated in front of the tied players and the jury. The decision has to be unanimous; otherwise, the tied players will be rendered immune, subjecting the non-immune, non-tied contestants to a lottery of rocks. The contestant with the odd-colored rock will be eliminated from the game instead.

Two-Person Tribe

If a pre-merge tribe enters Tribal Council with only two members, as happened to the Ulong tribe in Survivor: Palau, no official vote is held and the tribe goes straight to fire-making. In this challenge, Stephenie LaGrossa defeated Bobby Jon Drinkard, sending the latter home.

Jury Vote Tiebreaker

At the Survivor: Micronesia Reunion, host Jeff Probst confirmed that a tiebreaker rule is in place for a two-person Final Tribal Council, though he did not reveal to the audience what the tiebreaker was.

Prior to the Survivor: One World finale, Probst confirmed that in the scenario of a two-person tie in a three-person Final Tribal Council, the jury would revote between the two tied contestants.[1] He was also asked what happens in the scenario of a three-person tie, but did not want to reveal this information.

During the Survivor: Game Changers Reunion, it was revealed that if the jury cannot break a two-person tie at a three-person Final Tribal Council, the third placer would join the jury to break the tie. Immediately after the Final Tribal Council, producers would privately inform the third placer of his or her finish and that a tie between the other two finalists had occurred, after which the third placer, now officially a member of the jury, will cast an impromptu deciding vote.[2]

Null Votes

If a null vote (i.e. a vote where none of the votes cast count, possibly due to multiple Hidden Immunity Idols negating all votes) occurs, a vote restart would occur. All of those who had gained individual immunity (e.g. those with the Immunity Necklace and the ones who played a Hidden Immunity Idol) during the regular vote would be immune, but would not be able to pass it to others before voting. Idols are not allowed to be played during the restart, just like in a revote. A tie at the restart will not force a deadlock, and castaways would be given a chance to revote if any of them wanted to change their votes. The first case of a null vote occurred in Survivor: Cambodia where Jeremy Collins and Kelley Wentworth had used Hidden Immunity Idols and happened to be the only contestants with votes against them. The vote was restarted, but yet another tie occurred, this time between Kimmi Kappenberg and Tasha Fox. The contestants declined to revote when offered, confirming that their votes would stay the same, prompting the host to declare a deadlock and start an open discussion. The situation became complicated because if they could not make a unanimous decision, Keith Nale, the only contestant eligible to draw rocks, would have been eliminated by default as Spencer Bledsoe won the Immunity Challenge, Jeremy and Kelley were safe through their Hidden Immunity Idols, and Kimmi and Tasha, per the current rules, would have been immune. In the end, the tribe unanimously decided to eliminate Kimmi.

The second null vote happened in Survivor: Game Changers where three Hidden Immunity Idols and a Legacy Advantage (which also functions as an idol) were played; and with five players immune (including the wearer of the Immunity Necklace, Brad Culpepper), the only remaining person eligible to receive votes, Cirie Fields, who did not actually receive any votes, was eliminated by default without the need to cast further votes.

Former Rules

In Survivor: Borneo, there was no protocol for breaking deadlock ties. The tribe would continue to revote until the tie is broken.

In Survivor: The Australian Outback and Survivor: Africa, the castaway with more previous votes against them is eliminated. Votes cast at revotes are not counted as part of the previous votes tiebreaker. If none of those who are tied have previous votes against them, the players concerned will partake in a trivia challenge tiebreaker.

A new tiebreaker mechanism was introduced in Survivor: Marquesas where the non-immune players will immediately go to a rock draw where the contestant with the odd-colored rock is eliminated. However, this format change generated controversy among viewers as the sole victim of this tiebreaker, Paschal English, did not receive votes at any point during the game. The producers admitted they made a mistake as the formula behind it was impossible to be applied fairly with only four contestants left.[3] Under the rock draw rules, if the non-tied contestants could not come to a unanimous decision on who to vote out, all contestants who do not have immunity would have to draw rocks, with the person choosing the odd-colored rock being eliminated. Paschal's abrupt exit had somehow influenced how contestants voted in subsequent seasons up until Survivor: Palau, with contestants trying their best not to resort to a rock draw.

Prior to Survivor: Panama, the revote stage took place even in the scenario of a 2-2 tie at the final four Tribal Council. From Panama to Survivor: Game Changers, if a 2-2 tie vote occurs at the final four Tribal Council, there will be no official revote and the two tied contestants will compete in a fire-making challenge, where the winner stays and the loser is eliminated.

In Game Changers, the revote stage had been removed as a one-season twist, immediately subjecting the contestants to the open discussion stage. However, this never came into play. Had there been a null vote under this rule with multiple non-immune contestants, the vote restart would still occur.

Tiebreaker History


See also