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Voted Off the Island

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"The tribe has spoken."
Jeff Probst, Survivor

The most common structure for Reality TV, it involves voting off one member of a group of people in each episode. They may be voted off by judges (perhaps including a Caustic Critic), their fellow contestants or by the viewing audience via the Internet or some other form of communication (yes, they do exist). Some shows use a method that combines two or more forms. Immunity may be offered as a prize in some manner; having it means that the player cannot be voted off. An Elimination Statement will probably follow. Needless to say, the last person left at the end wins.

Eliminated from the Race is an alternative structure. Sub-Trope of Player Elimination. Compare There Can Be Only One. Tall Poppy Syndrome often emerges when the voting power is in the hands of the other contestants.


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    Film — Live-Action 

    Live-Action TV 

Reality Shows:

  • American Idol: Audience votes for their favorite to stay in.
  • In The Apprentice the losing team leader has to bring back one or two team-mates who have performed badly on the task. The boss then decides who has performed the worst, and fires them; usually he fires just the worst performer, but will occasionally fire two or three people. In the Trump version this was almost always the leader unless they were really good at the Blame Game.
  • Big Brother. Most nations have this as something the viewing public does via a phone line; the US version had it for the first season, but switched over to an internal system among the contestants for later seasons.
  • The Biggest Loser is the inverse of the Hell's Kitchen example: an objective weigh-in determines who will be liable for elimination, then the losing team has to vote off one of their own members. The winning team has no say in the matter.
  • Canada's Worst Driver is an inversion; a team of judges vote on who 'graduates', getting their keys or license back and leaving the Driver Rehabilitation Center... in this Reality Show, leaving is a good thing. The longer you're on, the worse you are!
  • Chopped: A panel of 3 judges made up of top chefs (occasionally including a special guest) decides which of the contestant-chefs to eliminate. The host has a version of the dish under a cover, and reveals who it is, and the judges tell him/her why.
  • Dancing with the Stars: a complicated scoring hybrid, both the judges' scores and the TV audience votes (via phone, text message, or website) determine who goes home. In case of a tie, the audience vote is the tie-breaker.
    • Originally the actual numbers didn't matter, only rankings. After this led to undeserving contestants very nearly winning in the first two seasons, it changed to weighted percentages.
    • The British version, Strictly Come Dancing, also uses a combination of audience and judges' votes. In some series, including the 2012 one, the two pairs with the lowest combined scores have to perform again in the Dance Off, where the judges decide who stays and who goes.
  • Drag Race:
    • RuPaul's Drag Race, RuPaul's Drag Race UK and RuPaul's Drag Race Down Under all use the same format for eliminating contestants. At the end of each episode, RuPaul decides which two Drag Queens were bottom of the week, and they then need to lip sync against each other to avoid elimination. After the lip sync, RuPaul chooses which contestant will be sent home. Feedback from other judges is taken into account, but RuPaul is host and head judge, so always gets the final decision. Given the nature of the challenges and the lip sync, there's always a subjective element to these choices. On rare occasions RuPaul will also bend the rules - perhaps both contestants will be saved after the lip sync, or both will be eliminated.
    • RuPaul's Drag Race All Stars and RuPaul's Drag Race UK vs the World are for contestants who have already competed in other Drag Race shows, and tend to use different elimination rules. Their usual approach (which may change for some seasons) is that the episode's winner, not the judges, gets to choose which of the bottom two is eliminated. This sometimes leads to tactical choices, with strong contenders removed by their rivals as soon as they have a poor week.
  • Hell's Kitchen: Fellow competitors vote for who should leave the kitchen, but Gordon Ramsay has the final say. He's even added people to the chopping block, or straight-out kicked people without even letting them get their say, or even booted people on the winning team if they really screwed up. On the other hand, on a couple of occasions he's mixed it up by picking one of the losing team members who he feel's is the "Best of the Worst", and asking them on who s/he thinks should go.
  • I'm a Celebrity... Get Me Out of Here!: at the beginning of the series, the audience votes for which contestant should undergo the Bush Tucker Trials. A week in, it changes and the audience votes for who should stay in the show, until the winner emerges.
  • "House votes" on whether to evict a cast member would occasionally crop up during early seasons of proto-reality show The Real World, but weren't a regular part of the show's structure.
    • Likewise, later seasons of Road Rules would have it so that if the team failed one too many individual challenges, they'd have to vote off a member.
  • Murder In Small Town X And its UK version, The Murder Game (The basic premise of which had a group of real people investigated a murder mystery in a small town.) had "The Killer's Game", where 2 contestant's (One chosen by Group Vote, the other chosen by that week's "Lead" investigator, who had immunity)were sent out alone to one of 2 locations presented by the killer anonymously (how the 2 locations's were introduced varies between versions. Once they set out to "play" the game, one investigator would be randomly chosen to encounter another "clue" to continue the investigation, and return back to the group, while the other will encounter the killer and "die" by their hands, eliminating them from the show. The person who was eliminated would choose the next "lead" investigator by a pre-recorded last will and testament created just before.
  • So You Think You Can Dance: Audience votes for their favorite to stay in.
  • Survivor is the Trope Namer.
  • The History Channel's Top Shot has the members of the team choose the two members to have a competition (one of whom goes home) by shooting a handgun at a target with the person's name.
  • Univision has a regular rotation of these shows on Sunday nights. There's Nuestra Belleza Latina (a beauty pageant), Mira Quién Baila (a celebrity dance-off), and Parodiando (a celebrity-imitation competition), all of which include some combination of judge and audience voting.
  • The Voice might start with blind auditions and coach selections, but as soon as they hit the live shows, it turns into this, with the public voting on who stays and who goes.
  • In The Weakest Link, the contestants would vote to determine who would not go to the next round. This usually resulted in the best players being eliminated a round or two before the game becomes "officially" competitive.
    • Of course, the best way to play tactically is to eliminate poorer players than yourself for all but the last round of votes as the amount of money taken home by the overall winner is 'banked' by the group as a whole over the rounds. Getting rid of poorer players at first means you will earn the most money, then you need to get rid of the strongest of the two people remaining. In earlier episodes it didn't always work like this, but eventually it got to the point where the best player was always voted out just before the head to head and the two middling people (neither too stupid to risk the accumulating fortune, nor too smart to pose a major threat) would battle it out. This eventually left anyone watching at home who was smart enough to think they could know the ANSWERS to the questions was smart enough to know they would win nothing...

Other TV Shows:

  • Doctor Who: "Bad Wolf" darkly parodies the trope, when the Doctor, Rose, and Jack end up in the far future on a series of reality shows where anyone who is eliminated is seemingly disintegrated. At the end of episode, it is revealed that the contestants weren't being disintegrated, but teleported to a fleet of Dalek ships that have been hiding on the edge of the Solar System for around two hundred years, where they are used as Human Resources. This ties into a previous episode, where it is revealed that the Daleks have been the forces behind the events of these two episodes. The following episode also reveals that these Daleks are being commanded by none other than the Dalek Emperor, who managed to survive the Time War, after the Doctor seemingly destroyed all of the other Daleks and Time Lords.
  • Parodied in the first several episodes of the fourth season of House, during which House whittles 40 potential replacements for Cameron, Chase, and Foreman down to three.
    • Lampshaded repeatedly, but directly referenced in dialogue in "Mirror, Mirror".
      Cuddy: When your extended job interview/reality TV show killed a patient, you lost your veto power.
  • Whose Line Is It Anyway?:
    • In one episode, the scene they have to act out is "unlikely shows to find Barney the Dinosaur on". Colin mimes writing on a sheet of paper and says (in a Barney voice), "I'm voting off Michael," a la Survivor.
    • There's also a game that directly parodies Survivor. Greg plays the host, Wayne and Colin try to vote each other off, and Ryan votes for himself just so he can get the hell outta there.
  • Ted Lasso: Jamie is voted off reality tv show “Lust Conquers All” at the beginning of season two.

    Newspaper Comics 

    Video Games 
  • Lots of multiplayer FPS games allow players to boot a disruptive player. Left 4 Dead takes it one step further by allowing players to execute said disruptive player prior to booting him.
  • World of Warcraft includes the ability to form parties with random players to run dungeons and raids. In these cases, a majority vote is required to remove a player from the group.
  • America's Most Eligible is a Visual Novel with a plotline inspired by reality TV shows. In it, contestants are voted off the mansion until only one remains.
  • Danganronpa has a variant for its Deadly Game which is also an Immoral Reality Show- when a contestant commits a murder, everyone votes on who they think did it. If the killer is voted off, they are ejected from the game to die a Cruel and Unusual Death in an elaborate Death Trap. If the wrong person is voted, the killer gets to leave while everyone else gets executed instead.
    • Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, for the first time, actually allows the player to pick who the protagonist should vote off. It doesn't really matter, however, because everyone else will vote correctly once you've managed to expose the killer. Except in the last trial, where Shuichi defies this trope by refusing to vote, and encouraging the others to do the same and put an end to the killing games for good.
  • Among Us: Every time a dead body is found or an Emergency Meeting is called, the players vote on who among them they believe is the killer (or who they just want out of the game). The player with the most votes gets ejected, and the game continues until every imposter gets voted out or everybody has been killed.
    Web Animation 
  • Most Object Shows have this type of elimination as part of their structure, usually by Viewers.
    Western Animation 
  • Total Drama uses this as part of its general reality show parody.
  • Kim Possible's Trapped in TV Land episode briefly drops Kim into a Reality TV igloo as she's voted out - "You'll have to hand in your fish."


Video Example(s):


Cook Islands First Boot

The first boot of Survivor: Cook Islands is voted off by their peers in a 3-2 vote.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / DecidedByOneVote

Media sources: