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Wham Line / Survivor

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Please don't hide spoilers here. Wham Line is a spoilerific trope by nature. You Have Been Warned.

As a reality competition, Survivor is bound to have moments when someone's words change the game. Happens about Once a Season, usually coinciding with a Shocking Elimination.

We aren't alone in cataloguing these; Survivor Oz made a list of the Top 10 Scene-Changing Lines

  • Borneo:
    • "The Merger" - this line at Tribal Council is considered by a few long-time fans as the line that changed the entire course of the series itself:
      Gretchen: "Oh my god... it's me."
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    • And then there's the finale Context  Though 
      Jeff Probst: The winner of the first game of Survivor... Richard Hatch.
  • The Australian Outback:
    • "The Killing Fields":
      Tina: "This was not my original intended vote. However, on the way here to Tribal Council, a new scheme was developed. In the spirit of the Olympics, let the games begin." Context 
    • "Trial By Fire":
      Nick: "He's burned. He's burned pretty bad."
      Varner: "What happened?"
      Nick: "He passed out in the fire" Context 
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  • From Africa: "The Twist"
    Jeff Probst: "Silas, Teresa, Frank, you guys are now members of Boran. Kelly, Lex, Tom, you guys are now members of Samburu." Context 
  • Marquesas: "Jury's Out" - With Boston Rob eliminated from the game, it looks like nothing can stop John Carroll and the Rotu 4 from cruising all the way to the end of the game. The next immunity challenge is the coconut chop challenge, and the Rotu 4 gang up and eliminate their main target, Sean Rector, first. It looks like Sean is doomed at the next tribal council. The Rotu 4 then proceed to eliminate Vecepia ... then Kathy ... then Neleh. Sean then observes aloud:
    Sean: "This is the order, how it's gonna go?"
    • With that, Kathy, Neleh and Paschal realize that Rotu is showing their planned order of voting, and that they are at the bottom of the former Rotu hierarchy. This is compounded by another Wham Line later on in the episode:
      Neleh: "I just had this feeling, especially after today's immunity challenge. I saw 'em hack down Paschal's coconuts so fast, and inside I'm just like...there's gotta be something changed here."
    • Still ANOTHER one occurs, since most people around this time were used to clever editing disguising Pagongings, which happened virtually every episode of every season up to this point. Sean dispels these notions instantly with his voting confessional.
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    • In the finale Kathy was basically guaranteed the win due to likable Paschal being rocked out at the last tribal and the two others left Neleh and Vecepia being easy beats. Also she had an alliance with Vecepia guaranteeing a a spot at the end as long as Neleh doesn't win the final immunity. Only Kathy ended up dropping out and Vecepia turned to Neleh and cut Kathy's throat and made one of the most famous backstabs in the show up to that point.
      Vecepia "I’ll give you Immunity, I’ll drop off, if you take me to the end with you, okay?”
  • Thailand: "Assumptions":
    Jeff Probst: "You said 'merge.'... I certainly didn't say anything to give you that impression, did I?" Context 
  • The Amazon:
  • Pearl Islands:
    • "What The...? (Part 1)". At first, it seemed to be a normal immunity challenge with Jeff Probst lampshading everything the Drake and Morgan tribe have went through, along with the fact that they each voted out three each. And then he drops this bombshell.
      Jeff Probst: "The only real common trait among those six people is that they're no longer in this game. But that may soon change. Morgan. Drake. Your past has come to haunt you. Come on in, guys. (out walks the Outcasts tribe, made of the first six that were voted out)
    • "The Great Lie":
      Jonny Fairplay: "My grandma is sitting home watching Jerry Springer right now." Context 
    • "Mutiny" - Jonny Fairplay appears to have the game in hand - he and Burton are one Tribal Council away from the final four for both of them. To make sure that they're both a lock for the endgame, he approaches Sandra to make sure that she's going to vote along with him. She appears to agree, but just so Jon is sure that Sandra's going along with his plans, he makes her swear on her two kids, which she does. Satisfied, he walks away, and we cut to a Sandra confessional...
      Sandra: "And in my head, and mumbling under my breath, I was like 'I swear on my two kids that I'm gonna screw you [Jon] and Burton.'"
      • What follows is Jon and Burton's game completely collapsing on itself and Burton's ouster.
    • "Flames and Endurance": In the final 3, the villainous Fairplay looks to be a lock for the final two with the disliked finalist Lil having survived the last vote with some shrewd manipulation. The only thing that can really stop him from winning the million at this point is Sandra making the final 2. When she falls out of the challenge first, her fate seems sealed, but Lil turns out not to be the pushover she seemed to be all game.
      Fairplay: "Lil, you wanna make a deal?"
      Lil: "No sir!"
      • She proceeds to vote him out.
  • All-Stars: "Mad Scramble and Broken Hearts" :
    Rob M.: "You take care of her, I'll take care of you." Context 
    • Which leads perfectly into this line from the following episode, "Anger, Tears, and Chaos":
      Rob M.: "As soon as we merged, Lex comes running over to me... 'Rob, make me feel comfortable. Tell me that I'm safe. Tell me that I'm safe...' What, I'm making the deal — save Amber, and I'm gonna help you later on? You guys really didn't believe that, did you?"
    • In the finale, Big Tom tells Rob that there's nothing personal between them. When he goes for a hi-five, he fakes him out and shows Rob who's really in power.
      Tom: "Don't be stupid, stupid. I may have fell for it once. I fell for it twice! (much more sternly) Not this time."
    • From the reunion, just as Jeff is about to read the votes. While the love story between Rob and Amber is one of the best remembered things about the season, was anyone expecting:
      Rob: Amber, I love you with all my heart. Will you marry me?
  • Vanuatu: "Gender Wars...It's Getting Ugly":
  • Palau:
    Jeff: Those immunity necklaces guarantee your safety, for about 10 more minutes. Context 
    • From the final episode, almost twelve hours into the longest challenge in Survivor history, with Ian and Tom still showing no sign of letting up as their friendship was burned a few days prior and they were determined to get each other out:
      Ian: Okay, I have a solution. As you know, I had a, uh, interesting day. Um, I'll uh, I'll go down if you take Katie.
  • Cook Islands:
    • "People That You Like Want To See You Suffer":
      Message in a bottle: "You have just voted out one member of your tribe. You will now vote out another." Context 
    • "This Tribe Will Self-Destruct in 5, 4, 3..." (at the final four):
      Yul (reading Tree Mail): "You must then follow the map to your Final Immunity Challenge... Final Immunity Challenge?" Context 
  • Fiji: "It's a Turtle?!" - The Four Horsemen are one vote away from controlling the game, and all they need to do is play the idol for whomever the other five are voting for. They try to make it seem like either Mookie or Alex has the idol. However...:
    Stacy: "If they think we're voting between Mookie and Alex, why don't we vote off Edgardo?"
    Earl: "Why don't we vote off Edgardo? That'd come out of nowhere."
  • Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites:
    • "If It Smells Like A Rat, Give It Cheese" - Erik is the last man standing in a Final Five of him and an alliance of four women. The main reason he's still in the game is because he's the strongest challenge competitor and has had individual immunity for the past two Tribal Councils. The only thing that they can even think of to overcome this is...
      Cirie: "I wonder if he would give Nat his necklace...probably not, huh?" (For the record, the women do manage to convince him to give up his necklace, and not even they can believe that worked.)
  • Tocantins:
    • After being targeted from the very first day of the game, and with her back against the wall, It seems as though Sierra is finally about to be ousted from the game after narrowly losing immunity, to the glee of Coach and Tyson. But then, Erinn noticed something about the usual challenge monster, Tyson...
      Erinn: "...You know what we COULD do tonight?... Cause [Tyson] doesn't have immunity..."
  • Heroes vs. Villains:
    • "Banana Etiquette" - The Villains' majority alliance is planning to take out Russell or Parvati at Tribal Council that night, and decide to split their votes between the two. After the votes were cast, Russell plays his Hidden Immunity Idol for Parvati, and...:
      Jeff Probst: (revealing the third vote for Parvati) "Parvati, does not count. We're still at two votes Russell. (reveals next vote) Parvati, does not count. (reveals next vote) Tyson." Context 
    • "Anything can Happen" - Russell has just told Sandra that he wants her sitting in the finals with him. Once again, we cut to a Sandra confessional:
      Sandra: "Russell wants me sitting next to him because he knows I'm not gonna get a single vote. [beat] But I don't know about thaaaaaat..."note 
  • Redemption Island: "This Game Respects Big Moves" - The minority alliance is planning to weaken Rob and his majority alliance by convincing Matt (who had returned from the titular island after being blindsided) to go along with them and taking out Grant. Rob gets wind of this and immediately starts taking countermeasures by talking Matt back onto his side, secretly planning to have his alliance cut him loose immediately. The minority alliance anticipates the majority outvoting them, so at the tribal council, the immunity idol is played on Mike, the most obvious target. All of the votes from the minority come up Grant, and then...
    Jeff Probst: (pulls out the sixth vote) "Steve (Steve goes Oh, Crap!, Julie Face Palms, Matt nods smugly) That's five votes Grant, one vote Steve. (reveals next vote) Matt."
  • South Pacific:
    • "I Need Redemption"
      Brandon: The lady next to me, she goes, "Oh my god, I hope it's not Russell Hantz." I will never, ever tell them my last name. Context 
    • "Double Agent" - Ozzy's bold gambit to get himself voted to Redemption Island in order to take out Christine, betting that they were about to merge and his play would bring his tribe into the merge even with the other tribe, actually works when he defeats Christine in the challenge and they do in fact merge, bringing him back into the game. The second part of his plan involves Ozzy acting at the Redemption Island challenge like Cochran betrayed the whole tribe by playing the immunity idol. This would allow Cochran to infiltrate the other tribe as a double agent. Later, Cochran is playing up being on the outs with his tribe to Coach to try to get more information. It seems to be going well, until:
      Coach: "I’m gonna tell you right now, our tribe isn’t budging ... and I feel like you guys are trying to play us."
  • Philippines: "Million Dollar Question".
    Jeff: "Lisa, is there a reason you should take Malcolm to the end?"
    Malcolm: "...don't hesitate that long..."
    Lisa: "...there's not a reason for me to take him to the end."
  • Caramoan: "Cut Off the Head of the Snake".
    Malcolm: (when Reynold gets up to play his idol) "Hold up, Reynold. They all voted for me. You can tell. That whole story was about... Give it to me." Context 
  • San Juan Del Sur: "This is My Time"
    Nat. A: "Jaclyn, did you vote for who I told you to vote for?" Context 
  • Kaôh Rōng: "Not Going Down Without a Fight".
    Jeff Probst: "Today, immunity is NOT up for grabs. You are not playing for immunity; you are the Final Three." Context 
  • Game Changers: "What Happened on Exile, Stays on Exile".
    Jeff Varner: (to Zeke) "Why haven't you told anyone you're transgender?" Context 
  • Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers - Chrissy has won the final immunity challenge and will finally vote out Ben after he has saved himself with idols at the last three tribal councils. An added bonus to winning is one last advantage. She starts to read and realizes that actually it is not over yet.
    Chrissy: Congratulations, you are in the final three. You have also won an advantage in the form of information. This is the last and perhaps biggest secret in the game and you are the only one who knows. Tonight, you are in charge, and will cast the only vote. You will choose one person to sit.(Gasp!)You will choose one person to sit next to you at the Final Tribal Council, forcing the two remaining players to earn their way to the end, by battling it out in a fire-making challenge. The winner secures the final seat. The loser becomes the eighth member of the jury.
  • Ghost Island: "It Is Game Time Kids", during the final tribal council.
    Jeff: "I'll read the votes." Context 
  • David vs. Goliath: "Appearances Are Deceiving" - the David tribe loses the first immunity challenge, and after leaving back for camp, the show cuts to commercial. The episode leads you to believe beforehand that Nick would be voted out. Then, after the commercials end, the first line is:
  • Edge of Extinction: "I See The Million Dollars" - Chris Underwood gets back in the game from the Edge of Extinction twist and wins final immunity. He wonders about what to do in order to eliminate the front runner Rick Devens and decides about whether or not Gavin or Julie would have a better shot at beating him in the fire-making challenge. He ultimately decides to take matters into his own hands:
    Chris Underwood: I came into this game wanting to have no regrets and I wouldn't want there to be any other way for this season to end. Its the biggest risk I'm taking. So tonight I am offering up my immunity necklace, giving it to Julie.
    Julie: For real.
    Chris Underwood: This is yours Julie and I will be making fire against Rick Devens tonight.
  • Island of the Idols:
    • "We Made It to the Merge!" - In the merge episode it is shown that the plot point regarding Dan having No Sense of Personal Space to the point of sexual harassment has returned and while having a confessional regarding how incomfortable she feels regarding it Kellee breaks down to the point that for the first time ever the producer that asks the questions that lead to the confessionals proceeds to actually be heard by the audience telling us just how serious this issue is.
      Producer: You know, if there are issues... to the point where things need to happen...
      Kellee: Yeah.
      Producer: Come to me and I will... make sure that stops.
      Kellee: Okay.
      Producer: Cause, that's, I don't... I don't want anyone feeling uncomfortable.
    • "Just Go For It" - After Elaine's elimination, it cuts to Day 36, making viewers believe that this will be a double episode. And then Jeff walks into camp and Janet notices that Dan is not around.
      Jeff: I just spoke privately with Dan, and I want to update you guys. A decision has been made, and Dan will not be returning to this game. He won't be coming back to camp, he won't be on the jury, he's gone.
      • At the end of the episode, a title card gives us this.
        Dan was removed from the game after a report of another incident, which happened off-camera and did not involve a player.
  • Winners at War:
    • Everyone was expecting a family visit. But then Jeff calls up the first person:
    Jeff: Kim, here's your husband, Bryan...and your three kids. Context 
  • Survivor 41:
    • That season's idols are part of a group of three (one at each camp) and can only be used once all three have been found. To signal to the other finders that you have found one of them, you must say a secret phrase at a challenge. In episode five, after the idols were found in Ua and Yase tribes, their respective idol finders said their phrases but since nobody on the Luvu tribe was shown finding an idol, we are led to believe their idols won't activate yet. Until Naseer said this line.
      Naseer: I'm as confused as a goat on AstroTurf.
    • Leading up to the merge Tribal Council, Xander is open to nearly the entire group that he plans on playing his idol on Evvie. Liana, already set on betraying her original tribe, plans on taking advantage of this to steal his idol using her Knowledge Is Power advantage, reading it aloud at Tribal Council and smugly asking if Xander has an idol.
      Xander: No, but you can have this fake.
  • Survivor 42:
    • Omar dominated the season up until the final six, having orchestrated multiple big blindsides and having a clear path to the end of the game, seemingly like it was his game to lose. However, Maryanne, after being on the outs of the tribe for most of the merge and being constantly underestimated, uses her extra vote, along with getting Romeo on-board, to take out Omar in a 3-2-2 vote. It leads to this exchange between Maryanne and Omar at Tribal Council once Omar sees the second vote with his name written down, realizing what's about to happen to him:
      Omar (to Maryanne): You did it?
      Maryanne: I did.
    • A rare In-Universe only line comes during the finals from Maryanne once again. Slowly yet surely, she's been revealing that she was much more aware of the game than she had made clear and proves it by being able to do the one thing no one else in the game was successfully able to do. Context 
      Maryanne: I kept the only secret in this game. I actually, after your vote-out, Tori, found the merge idol.
  • In the 2016 Australian Survivor, Little awkward, overly emotional, flip-flopping Kristie, who had snuck into the final 5 by being so obviously a goat, and had seemingly only managed a place in the top 2 by sheer force of luck after some of the most gob-smackingly bad tribal council decisions in Survivor history, sits down at final tribal council and laughs: "You guys thought I was crazy!"