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The Shot in the Dark is a game mechanic first introduced in Survivor 41. The mechanic gives castaways a 1 in 6 chance to be safe in exchange for their vote in Tribal Council.

Overview

At the start of the game, each castaway receives a six-sided die. If a player perceives certain trouble at Tribal Council, they may invoke the Shot in the Dark once at any point until the final seven (or final six in Survivor 42). To do so, the player will not vote and instead insert their die in a smaller urn next to the regular voting urn, after which the player will randomly select one of many rolled-up parchments from a container. The player takes their selected scroll to their seat until the host returns with the voting urn. When the host asks if someone wants to play an advantage or a Hidden Immunity Idol, the player(s) who used the Shot in the Dark must present their still-unopened scroll; if it reads "Safe", then all votes cast against them will be negated, similar to how a regular idol is played. If the scroll reads "Not Safe", all votes cast against the player will remain valid and the gamble is considered unsuccessful.

According to Executive Producer Matt Van Wagenen, the odds of each player obtaining immunity, regardless of who "rolled" first or who had already selected a "Safe" scroll, will remain the same.[2] Prior to the merge, the urn contained six scrolls, with only one reading "Safe". When the tribes merged with twelve players, the number of scrolls also increased to twelve, with two reading "Safe" to maintain the same odds as in the pre-merge phase of the game.

In order to invoke the Shot in the Dark, the player must be eligible to vote to begin with. In other words, players who have lost their vote by any means are not eligible to play the advantage until their penalty is lifted.

Appearance

The Shot in the Dark die is presented as a carved six-sided die, symbolizing the one-in-six shot of success. In practice, rather than being rolled, a player intending to use their die would simply cast it in a box at the voting booth at Tribal Council before randomly selecting a scroll from the urn.

Strategy

Described by host Jeff Probst as a "Hail Mary" move, when a player is in certain danger of being voted out with no available options left, the die can be used as a last resort. With nothing to lose except their vote at Tribal Council, a player may be able to change the direction of the vote, despite the odds of having a favorable outcome being slim.[3]

The introduction of the Shot in the Dark forced alliances to be more discrete in their strategy such that their target was not alerted to play their die. Additionally, castaways are more incentivized to split votes or cast throwaway votes as contingencies in case a Shot in the Dark is successfully played.

On the other hand, as is with the case of flushing idols, players may consider inciting paranoia to encourage a "safe" target to play (and waste) their Shot in the Dark, removing their ability to potentially save themselves at a later date.

Twist History

Survivor 41

The twist was initially introduced by Jeff at the inaugural Immunity Challenge on Day 3, though no one opted to use it throughout the pre-merge portion of the game.

The first castaway to use their Shot in the Dark was Sydney Segal at the Day 14 Tribal Council, feeling uneasy after the live Tribal Council that had ensued. Her scroll ultimately came up as "Not Safe", and she was voted out in a 5-4-3 plurality vote.

At the Day 21 Tribal Council, the game only had seven remaining players, which was the last point the Shot in the Dark can be used. No one used their die, retiring the game mechanic.

Survivor 42

The twist was once again introduced by Jeff at the inaugural Immunity Challenge on Day 3. After the Ika tribe lost this Immunity Challenge, Zach Wurtenberger used his Shot in the Dark at that night's Tribal Council. His scroll came up as "Not Safe", and he was unanimously voted out in a 5-0 vote.

On Day 5, when the Taku tribe lost the second Immunity Challenge, Marya Sherron used her Shot in the Dark. Her scroll came up as "Not Safe", and she was unanimously voted out in a 4-0 vote. Additionally, this was the first time that Jeff, and not the user, revealed the contents of the scroll.

On Day 9, Ika lost the fourth Immunity Challenge. At Tribal Council, Swati Goel used her Shot in the Dark. Her scroll came up as "Not Safe", and she was voted out in a 3-1 vote. Like with Marya, Jeff revealed the contents of her scroll.

On Day 17, the Kula Kula tribe was split into two teams of five for the Double Elimination. At the blue team's Tribal Council, Drea Wheeler and Maryanne Oketch played their idols before the votes, granting them immunity. Verbally, the rest of the team agreed that they would be unanimously voting against Tori Meehan. Without any votes being formally cast, Tori played her Shot in the Dark; should it work, Lindsay Dolashewich would then be voted out by default. Jeff revealed that Tori's scroll came up as "Not Safe", and she was voted out in a 4-0 vote.

At the final six Tribal Council on Day 23, nobody opted to play their Shot in the Dark, hence ending the mechanic for the season.

Survivor 43

Summary

Season Episode Took Gamble Result Voted Out
Survivor 41 "There's Gonna Be Blood" S41 sydney t.png
Sydney Segal
No!.png
Not Safe
S41 sydney bw.png
Sydney Segal
Survivor 42 "Feels Like a Rollercoaster" S42 zach t.png
Zach Wurtenberger
No!.png
Not Safe
S42 zach bw.png
Zach Wurtenberger
"Good and Guilty" S42 marya t.png
Marya Sherron
No!.png
Not Safe
S42 marya bw.png
Marya Sherron
"Vibe of the Tribe" S42 swati t.png
Swati Goel
No!.png
Not Safe
S42 swati bw.png
Swati Goel
"Game of Chicken" S42 tori t.png
Tori Meehan
No!.png
Not Safe
S42 tori bw.png
Tori Meehan

Gallery

Trivia

  • Of the contestants that have played their Shot in the Dark, Marya Sherron is the only person to not have started on a blue tribe.
  • The bag containing the scrolls in Survivor 42 bears an emblem of the ouroboros, which appears as the insignia of the merged Kula Kula tribe.
  • Swati Goel was the first contestant to have played the Shot in the Dark after previously casting a vote in their season.
    • Every contestant to play the Shot in the Dark has been eliminated at that same Tribal Council.
  • In Survivor 42, Vati was the only tribe of which no members played their Shot in the Dark.

References

Survivor Gameplay
 
Challenges
Challenge Advantage · Do-It-Yourself Challenge · Duel · Family Visit · Immunity Challenge (Final Immunity Challenge) · Immunity Idol · Immunity Necklace · Medallion of Power · Reward Challenge · Survivor Auction
Elimination
Edge of Extinction · Ejection · Evacuation · Final Tribal Council · Jury · Quit · Redemption Island · Snuffer · Sole Survivor · Tiebreaker · Torch · Tribal Council · Urn
Strategy
Alliance · Pagonging · Split Vote (Strategy)
Social Dynamics
Final Two · Final Three · Merge · Tribe
Twists
Casting

Battle of the Sexes · Blood vs. Water · Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty · Old vs. Young · Returning Players · Schoolyard Pick · Tribes Divided by Ethnicity


Tribal Council-Related

Advantage Amulet · Do or Die · Double Elimination · Double Tribal Council · Extra Vote · Hidden Immunity Idol (History) · Idol Nullifier · Joint Tribal Council · Juror Removal · Legacy Advantage · Knowledge is Power · Shot in the Dark · Vote Blocker · Vote Steal


Miscellaneous

Advantage Menu · Buried Treasure · Day Zero · Exile Island · Fake Merge · Fire Token · First Impressions · Ghost Island · Haves vs. Have Nots · Hourglass · Island of the Idols · Kidnapping · Looting · Mutiny · One World · Reward Steal · Summit · The Outcasts · Tribe Leader · Tribe Switch

Post-Game
Fan Favorite Award · Lawsuits and Legal Action · Ponderosa · Reunion Show
Miscellaneous
Buff · Confessional · Luxury Item · Rites of Passage · Survivor Rulebook · Ulonging
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