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Borneo

  • If it wasn't for Richard Hatch and his alliance changing the show from a mere feat of survival on a "Deserted Island" to a battle of Machiavellian strategy, Gretchen Cordy (probably the best genuine survivalist of the initial cast) would have easily made it much farther than the merge.
The Australian Outback
  • In the fourth episode, after finding out that she is the lowest in the totem pole, Tina decided that ally with the only outsider, Keith and Colby, who was close to her. Despite Colby declining to vote off Jerri, the leader of the alliance, Tina and co just switch to booting Mitchell in the next tribal council. And Jerri lost all her power due to this.
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  • Michael Skupin, one of the strongest contestants in the season, became the first evacuation in Survivor history after burning himself in the fire.
Marquesas
  • Hunter, one of the first usurps of the tribe leader role thanks to Boston Rob wanting to control the tribe.
  • John, due to his alliance's arrogance in the Final 9 Immunity Challenge, the other contestants (having the numbers 5-4) decided that John should be voted off. This marks the first official power shift.
  • Paschal became the first victim of the infamous rock-drawing tiebreaker on Day 37, despite never having received any votes throughout the entire game. At a deadlocked final four, Vecepia and Kathy had voted for Neleh, while Neleh and Paschal had voted for Kathy. Paschal, Neleh and Kathy would draw rocks and whoever received the purple one would be sent home (Vecepia had won individual immunity). Paschal drew the purple rock and was thus eliminated.
    • Despite the accusations of unfairness, it should be noted that Paschal knew exactly the risk of tying the vote, as all the contestants were informed of this course of action in their pre-game briefing. However, due to the perceived "unfairness", the rock drawing has been removed as a tiebreaker solution at the final four ever since (it is still a solution at any other time, however). Ironically, Paschal might have actually been evacuated had he stayed in the game, as one of the jury members revealed he collapsed before the final three Tribal Council.
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  • Immediately after Paschal's elimination, Kathy was flying high in the Final 3, she had an underdog story to sell and had a Final 2 with Vecepia (who wasn't popular with the jury). If they voted of Neleh, she will win Survivor. Come to the Final Immunity Challenge in 4 hours later, Kathy dropped off after Neleh pointed out her nip slip. Not even a minute later, Vecepia had a deal with Neleh to bring her to the Final 2 in front of Kathy's face, which Neleh accepts and Kathy was voted off.
Vanuatu
  • Leann, thanks in part to a power shift from Ami/Leann to Twila/Scout when the former idiotically tried to target Eliza instead of Chris. Eliza promptly turned around and blindsided Leann.
Fiji
  • Edgardo's elimination at the final nine marked a massive shift in Survivor strategy, as the first time the majority alliance actively worked around a Hidden Immunity Idol. While it wasn't as much of a shock to the audience, the expressions on nearly everyone's faces (especially Edgardo and Alex's) show how shocking it really was.
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  • At the final six, Stacy became the first person to ever be directly eliminated by a Hidden Immunity Idol being played.
China
  • At the final seven, with two idols in his pockets and three Tribal Councils to play them in, James didn't play either of them and was blindsided by a 5-1-1 vote.
Micronesia
  • Ozzy was blindsided 5-4 at the final nine, having left a Hidden Immunity Idol at camp. Even his alliance and the first juror Eliza were shocked. (You'd think Eliza was having a heart attack!)
  • The idol was then found by Jason the following round... who was immediately blindsided himself, though unlike Ozzy he had the sense to bring the idol to Tribal Council.
  • Finally, at the final five, Erik managed the unusual accomplishment of being voted out despite winning immunity, as he gave it up to Natalie and immediately ended up on the receiving end of a blindside. This one was only shocking to Erik himself, as the viewers knew ahead of time that Erik would be voted out if he didn't have immunity.
Samoa
  • Russell S.'s evacuation on Day 15, which came out of freaking nowhere and canceled what should have been a double elimination.
Heroes vs. Villains
  • Stephenie was voted out on Day 8, possibly because of a lingering shoulder injury, but more likely because of her abysmal record in challenges. The Villains tribe was certainly shocked to see her go out so early.
Redemption Island
  • Matthew had the unusual distinction of receiving two of these in the same season. First, on Day 5, he was blindsided because of bonding with Andrea. Then, after winning his way back into the game on Redemption Island, he was voted out at the merge by Boston Rob's alliance to avoid a potential idol play by the Zapateras.
Cagayan
  • Hyper-controlling yet physically fit Garrett being voted out by Kass and Tasha over J'Tia, who had utterly failed in a puzzle despite being on the Brains Tribe and dumped the rice after she was told by Garrett she was going home.
  • Trish swings to LJ/Jefra and convinces Tony as well to oust former Brawn tribesmate, affable NBA giant Cliff Robinson.
  • Come merge, usually-sane Sarah Lacina slowly loses her mind and openly declares being a swing vote, causing a disenfranchised Kass to potentially throw away a power position in order to vote Sarah out with the other tribe.
  • Then Tony decides he wants LJ out, moving Heaven and Earth to get it to happen, which it eventually does.
  • Kass herself, who was unpopular for her Smug Snake attitude and seen as the biggest jury goat in the season, was inexplicably voted out by Woo at the final three.
San Juan del Sur
  • To the viewers, Josh and Jeremy had become key players judging from the pre-merge... only to be voted out in succession as soon as the merge hit.
  • Jon, who was shown to be the more visible strategic face than Jaclyn in his pair, was blindsided at the final six with an idol in his pocket.
  • The round after Jon's elimination, Baylor was unexpectedly idoled out when Natalie gave her idol to Jaclyn.
Worlds Apart
  • Vince was the second person voted out of the season despite his athleticism, as Will manipulated a split vote to his advantage.
Cambodia
  • Andrew Savage was idoled out when Kelley negated nine votes against herself at the final twelve, cracking the majority alliance.
  • The final six Tribal Council resulted in the first ever 0-0 null vote after Kimmi flipped to Keith and Kelley's alliance, and Kelley and Jeremy both played idols. At the restart, Kimmi and Tasha tied 2-2, and Kimmi was voted out by consensus (sparing Keith, who would have been eliminated by default had no consensus occurred).
Kaôh Rōng
  • Former NBA player Scot Pollard. Due to the threat of the Super Idol, which could be played after the votes were read, and his antagonistic behavior making him an ideal goat, he was expected to be dragged to the end... only for one of his own alliance members to turn on him on Day 27, resulting in not only his elimination, but the Super Idol's elimination too.
  • Cydney Gillon was a dominant strategic force who controlled the game right to the finale, and everyone assumed she would be safe since she seemingly had a spot in everyone's final three. But because Aubry anticipated that Cydney would turn on her after Michele won immunity, she quickly flipped Tai which ended up causing a tied vote and firemaking tiebreaker. Cydney lost and became the final member of the jury.
Millennials vs. Gen X
  • Michaela might as well be the queen of this trope. She has received a huge edit with her receiving a lot of confessionals, and she got eliminated right before the merge.
  • Michelle could be one due to the edit leading people into believing that Taylor or Adam is going home that week.
  • David was also a major character in the season and many predicted him for being the winner of the season. Come to the final four, his biggest ally Ken ended up turning on him despite him wanting to play a game with loyalty and trust. Prior to that vote, many people expected David and Adam to be put into a fire-making challenge with David being the winner of that challenge. When that didn't happen and he got voted out, many people were surprised.
Game Changers
  • Out of all the players to possibly be booted in the premiere of Game Changers, Tony Vlachos was probably the most shocking due to a) brilliant editing suggesting that Sandra would be voted out to keep the tribe strong, and b) the fact that he seemingly had put together a loyal all-threat alliance while Sandra's counter-alliance was going to split the vote between him and Aubry. But somehow, Sandra managed to turn his entire alliance onto each other - including Tony - and Tony ended up booted second while Sandra didn't even receive a single vote.
  • This happened again in the fourth episode. The post-swap Mana and Nuku tribes were sent to a Joint Tribal Council. Nuku had a numbers advantage, but J.T. felt on the outs, his only friend being Malcolm, and wanted Sandra out from his own tribe. Mana was down a person and had only Hali left from the old Mana tribe, and feared her own disloyalty. However, Tai found an idol which would keep one of them safe and negate votes if played right. At Tribal Council, what kicked off the confusion and cross-talking was J.T. telling Brad of New Mana who his tribe was voting for. This frees Mana up to vote out Sandra, who insists that Mana doesn't have an idol and is a two-time winner. However, J.T. neglects to say who his only ally is on the Nuku tribe, and when Tai's idol is correctly played, it isn't Sandra who goes (she doesn't even get a vote against her!) but Malcolm.
  • In the finale, Cirie isn't exactly voted out, she's eliminated by default because everyone else had immunity thanks to idols, the legacy advantage, and individual immunity. Not only is this surprising because she had no votes cast against her, but because this is the first time this has happened in Survivor history, and everyone paid her due respect when she left the game gracefully.
Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers
  • While the first two episodes of the season were predictable, Patrick Bolton's boot in episode three is a complete shocker due to clever editing red-herring Lauren as the boot, and due to the fact Patrick had an advantage in knowing one of his tribe members in real life, which gave him an instant ally.
  • Alan Ball's elimination in episode four also qualifies, as he was presented as a major character in the first four episodes and editing showed that the Healers had initially seemed to be targeting Ashley.
  • Ali's elimination before the merge. She had spent the entire pre-merge portion of the game being built as a major player and got a lot of focus early on. She was shown to be socially aware and a relatively solid and pragmatic strategist. But a betrayal at Ryan's hands caused everything to unravel and left her the odd woman out. And even though it seemed JP was the target of the next vote, Ryan betrayed her yet again to protect himself.
  • JP himself, a tough physical competitor, who, right before his boot, was rendered almost invisible during the episode. However, we knew a blindside had been planned by a rogue foursome. Also, it was conceived by Devon, a man who had been portrayed as a goofball until now, suddenly revealing the most dangerous strategic knack out of anybody in the season.
  • Lauren, on account of Ben setting himself up to be voted out because he succumbed to massive paranoia and one monumentally stupid series of moves that left her without any usable advantages (left her extra vote back at camp, gave half of a two-part idol to Mike that only goes into play if both pieces are united, which he then threw in the fire pit) and let Ben use his own idol to nullify an unprecedented unanimous vote against him where Lauren could have easily forced a null vote with her own idol or a tie with her extra vote by casting a dummy vote, but she squandered her entire game all at once.
  • Devon, on account of it being an unexpected fire-making challenge enforced on the players which he seemed to be skilled at doing, but he turned out to be totally incapable of even sparking a blaze.
Ghost Island
  • Morgan's elimination can be viewed as this. With Angela getting a ton of confessionals during the episode Morgan was voted out as opposed to getting none in the premiere episode, people thought Angela was getting eliminated instead. Also, with the scene of Jacob telling Stephanie about Morgan's legacy advantage, people thought that Stephanie and Morgan would interact thanks to that.
  • Chris' elimination at the merge can be viewed as this, as not only did he find a Hidden Immunity Idol and seemed to be in with the majority of people, but the Naviti girls were seen plotting and targeting Libby, who was acting very confident in her position despite having her name thrown by everybody. Come tribal council... and not only does Chris not play his idol, but the majority of the tribe actually voted against him.
David vs. Goliath
  • Pat is by far the most shocking first boot of any season, being evacuated after a freak disaster following the first Immunity Challenge. Unlike past early evacuations, it wasn't the conditions in Fiji itself, but an accident on the boat ride back to the David camp in stormy conditions. This is a rare instance where mother nature was the only factor in a castaway's departure and not because of anything they physically did, which makes it all the more disheartening and among the most emotional season premieres.
  • While many fans considered Natalie Cole to be a bad player gameplay-wise, her edit on the show caused people to be surprised by her going in Episode 5 as many fans believe that she would go to the end as a goat.
  • John's boot as well from Episode 8. Many people expected this to be the episode where Christian was booted, but then: Davie pulls out an idol, saves Christian with it, and on top of that, the Davids split their votes (despite being in the minority) expecting Dan to play his idol with John being the fall guy.
  • Many people thought that Christian would make it to the finale due to his presence throughout the season, but as it turns out, he was booted from the show at the penultimate episode of the season despite him barely being featured in the episode.
Edge of Extinction
  • Chris Underwood's elimination in episode three was a truly surprising blindside as Chris was the tribe's strongest challenge competitor and had friends on both sides of the tribes Alliance lines. However, he trusted the wrong person with crucial information and wound up getting himself blindsided, undoing his comfortable position in the game. Thankfully for him, he won his way back into the game at the Edge of Extinction, and subsequently became the Sole Survivor.
  • Aubry Bracco's elimination in episode 5. Not only was she a renowned and game-savvy veteran who was known for surviving impossible odds, but she also had an idol and an extra vote advantage, setting her up in the long run. However, Victoria outplayed her by getting her to believe she was on her side, thus dropping Aubry's guard and blindsiding her with a unanimous vote.
  • In a meta-sense, when CBS decided to air the Day 25-27 Tribal Councils as the double boot instead of the intended Day 23-25, fans expected it to be a quick filler episode to get rid of two minor characters, or one minor and one big character at the very most. David Wright, he of the Millennials vs. Gen X final four blindside, was the first to go - reasonable enough, as he would have been voted out during the double boot episode either way. But then the Day 27 Tribal Council ended up taking out Kelley, a returning contestant with a Hidden Immunity Idol and seemingly a majority alliance!
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