The Final Tribal Council is the final event of the game before the Reunion. This is where the finalists face the jury, who will have a very important decision to make in voting for a winner. The person who gets the most votes from the jury will win the title of Sole Survivor and the one million dollar prize that goes with it.
On Day 39 (Day 42 in Survivor: The Australian Outback), the final two or three generally either clean up, tear down, or burn down their camp as a tribute to surviving until the end of the game to pay a tribute to the time they played in the game. They then trek to Tribal Council one final time. Up until Survivor: Panama every season ended with a Final Two, but since the Final Three was introduced in Survivor: Cook Islands, only Survivor: Micronesia, Survivor: Tocantins, and Survivor: Cagayan have had a Final Two.
While remaining contestants are present to watch over the proceedings, the host, Jeff Probst, does not ask either the finalists nor the jury any questions, as opposed to an ordinary Tribal Council.
Another change is that in the Final Tribal Council, votes are cast not by the remaining contestants, but by the jury, and that they are voting for and not against somebody.
The finalists will be given a chance to convince the jury that they deserve to win Survivor. They might talk about their strategic moves, their alliances, or their athletic ability, but no matter what they talk about, they are trying to convince the jury that they are the most deserving person to win the title of Sole Survivor. After the finalists deliver their opening speeches, the jury will be given a brief time to think about their speech or question before addressing them. Each jury member has the option to:
- Ask each of the final players a question (either for one specific finalist, or all of them), which that player must answer.
- Make a short speech which requires no answer but is meant to throw the finalists off guard, possibly venting all of the juror's frustrations after being eliminated from the game, or telling the jury why they should vote for a certain player.
When all jury members are finished, each finalist will make a closing statement, allowing them to respond generally to the jury's questions and again explain why they would be the most deserving winner, though this practice has been abandoned since Survivor: Cook Islands with the sole exception of being used in Survivor: Kaôh Rōng.
From Survivor: Game Changers to Survivor: Winners at War, a new format for the Final Tribal Council was introduced. Instead of having each jury member speak one by one, the host would now moderate an open discussion to ensure a more insightful rapport between the jury and finalists. The discussion would center on the three aspects of the game embodied through its three-word slogan: "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast".
- The "Outwit" portion would focus on the finalists' social game.
- The "Outplay" portion would focus on each finalist's physical game and how they responded to the twists and conditions the game forced upon them.
- The "Outlast" portion would then give the finalists one last chance to address the jury and give their closing statement.
Beginning in Survivor 41, the open forum format was retained, but the structured categories were removed, allowed a freer exchange between jurors and finalists.
After this, the host will ask the jury to vote for who they think deserves to win the title of Sole Survivor and the million-dollar prize. Unlike previous Tribal Council sessions, where players write the name of the tribe member they want to go home, this time, the jury votes for a winner.
After the vote, the voting urn with the votes in it is taken away by the host. The players are told that the vote will be announced during the live finale, and the votes are secured somewhere until then (In Survivor: Borneoand Survivor 41 the votes were read immediately after voting. In Survivor: Ghost Island, the votes were read on location due to a tie occurring between two of the finalists; only the tiebreaker vote by the second runner-up was read at the live finale.). On two situations, in Survivor: Africa and Survivor: Thailand, the Final Tribal Council and Reunion Show have been spliced together to disguise them as one event, until moments later when the camera shows the studio audience. This is possible by re-creating the Tribal Council set in the stage and telling the contestants to wear exactly the same clothes they wore at the Final Tribal Council.
Prior to the use of a three-way Final Tribal Council, the jury has always been odd-numbered with seven people, thus ensuring that no tie would be possible. However, with every Final Three jury, or as in the case of Survivor: Micronesia of an even-numbered jury for a Final Two, a tie may be possible.
For information on breaking ties at the Final Tribal Council, see Tiebreaker.
|Final Two||7||13||Seasons 1-12, 18|
|Final Two||8||1||Season 16|
|Final Two||9||1||Season 28|
|Final Three||7||3||Seasons 15, 17, & 32|
|Final Three||8||7||Seasons 25-27, 29-30, 35, 41|
|Final Three||9||8||Seasons 13-14, 19-24|
|Final Three||10||6||Seasons 31, 33-34, 36, 37, 39|
|Final Three||13||1||Season 38|
|Final Three||16||1||Season 40|
- When filming the Final Tribal Council, cameras are left rolling but unmanned and control room monitors on, but covered to keep the number of people knowledgeable of the game's outcome at a minimum. Only 3-4 crew members know the results, mostly because they have to double-check if the audio and video footage are clear enough.
- There are currently eight castaways who have made it to the Final Tribal Council twice:
- Amanda Kimmel in China and Micronesia.
- Russell Hantz in Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains.
- Sandra Diaz-Twine in Pearl Islands and Heroes vs. Villains.
- Parvati Shallow in Micronesia and Heroes vs. Villains.
- Rob Mariano in All-Stars and Redemption Island.
- Natalie Anderson in San Juan del Sur and Winners at War.
- Michele Fitzgerald in Kaôh Rōng and Winners at War.
- Tony Vlachos in Cagayan and Winners at War.