The Hidden Immunity Idol is a twist that features in all seasons of Survivor which do NOT feature the Back to Basics twist. The purpose of it is to, one way or another, give the holder immunity when they choose to play it. The idol has influenced many of the contestants' strategies, whether they utilize the object, or defuse its powers. The Hidden Immunity Idol made its début in the new generation seasons in the third season, Survivor: Brazil (the first season not to feature Back to Basics) and has featured in every season since with the exception of Survivor: Venezuela.
The idea of the Hidden Idol is that the owner is able to get Individual Immunity without the need of winning an Individual Immunity Challenge. The idol, when played at Tribal Council after the votes are cast and counted but before the host reads the votes, negates the votes that the holder would receive from the votes that were cast prior to its play at Tribal Council. Despite its potential to make its owner survive longer in the game, it can only be used once (where the idol will be either re-hidden or discarded after its use). With this, owners should be careful about divulging information about possessing one and/or when to use it, because a player can still be eliminated with the idol, thus going home bringing his/her idol with him (dubbed as "flushing"). Another limitation is that, the idol is only valid until a given deadline, usually a few Tribal Councils before the FTC. It is possible for a player may hold more than one idol.
Similar to the Immunity Idol and the Immunity Necklace, the Hidden Immunity Idol is a small ornate talisman that is designed depending on the season's theme and/or location. Other idols are designed like small necklaces or bracelets.
To find Hidden Immunity Idols easier, clues are provided to castaways. As the season progresses, more clues will be provided, regardless if the idol has already been found or not. The way that clues are given and how the idol is found varies from season to season.
- In all standard idol seasons, up 'til and including Friends vs. Favorites (but excluding All-Stars), all tribes would receive a clue to the whereabouts of the idol after each challenge. This rule returned for a one-off in the penultimate season, Entitled vs. Earned.
- In all standard idol seasons from Vietnam until Canary Islands (including the earlier season of All-Stars), the rules were changed so that only the tribe(s) that won the Immunity Challenge were granted access to a clue for the idol. The losing tribe heading to Tribal Council were excluded from this privilege.
- From Friends vs. Favorites onwards, it became standard for an extra idol to be placed into the game post-merge, found by the usual methods, with the Individual Immunity Winner picking two people to share a clue with. Due to other idol twists, Moral vs. Merciless, New Zealand, El Salvador and Polynesia did not feature merge tribe hidden idols.
- In Bingo vs. Suitman, Japan, Unfinished Business and Ayia Thekla a second merged-tribe idol entered the game due to the first one being played early.
- In Solomon Islands there were only two idols. Clues to one would go to to the winning tribes as always, but a second clue to another idol would go to only the first-placed tribe.
- In Great Britain, due to the Idol Halves twist, no clues were given out. Instead to receive an idol, players had to guess which member of the opposing tribe had the other half of their Hidden Idol.
- In Jordan, there was also an idol out on Exile Island, which you could find by picking a box to rummage through.
- In East Timor and El Salvador, due to the Idol Rivals twist, no clues were given out. Instead, to receive an idol, players had to ensure their designated 'idol rivals' were voted out of the game before the merge.
- In Seychelles, due to the Looting twist, no clues were given out. Instead to receive an idol, players had to pick select a box from their tribe camp to rummage in each day. Inside one of the boxes was an idol. The first-placed tribe in each challenge had the opportunity to rummage through another tribe's camp of their choice.
- In Moral vs. Merciless, due to the Idol Bonds twist, there were two standard pre-merge idols which worked as standard, however had to be played pre-merge or they'd become null-and-void. Alternatively, if both members of an "idol bond duo" made it to the merge, they'd receive one hidden immunity idol to share between them. This also meant that there was no extra idol placed into the game post-merge.
- A new kind of idol was introduced in Cursed Hand, called the Neglect and Reflect Idol, which had the power to not only void votes against the person it was played on, but also change those voided votes to whomever the now protected castaway voted for. As a special idol, it was only available to be found by castaways who were swapped due to the Cursed Hand twist. The special idol returned for Reclamation, this time as part of the second-placed tribe's Viewer's Chieftain twist.
- In Second Chances and Unfinished Business the Instant Idols twist changed the way you could receive idols. Now, at two selected points in the game, the castaways were offered the chance to get a free idol, but would receive a pre-set consequence for taking one.
- In Eritrea the Flexible Idols twist introduced the ability to steal idols. When an idol was found, the owner had to hide it on a numbered board. If another player correctly guessed the place on the board where the idol was hidden, then they stole the idol from that player for themselves.
- In New Zealand the Risky Reward twist offered the chance for pairs of castaways to team up on Day 1 and share a hidden immunity idol, at the cost of having one of their castaways per-idol be unable to compete in the next two challenges for their tribe. A total of five shared idols were given out, and no other idols were up for grabs this season.
- In Kiribati, Canary Islands and Ragnarok the Blackjack Idols twist forced the castaways to first beat the host in a round of blackjack to gain a hidden immunity idol clue. However it had a benefit, as anyone who managed to get 21 would outright receive an idol, meaning many opportunities for idols were up for grabs.
- In Puerto Rico the Top of the Heap twist allowed three people, voted by the other castaways, to switch out the power they would receive for a public hidden immunity idol, but no one took this option.
- In Solomon Islands, the Fake Idols twist changed the rules on answering an idol clue correctly. From now all castaways who answered correctly were only told they may have found the idol, only discovering if they possessed the true idol (by answering correctly first) by playing it at Tribal Council.
- In Indonesia the Share or Steal twist forced the Fused Together pairs into a "prisoner's dilemma" at the start of the season, where they had to vote to either share an idol between them, or take a chance to steal it for themselves, at the risk of potentially losing it altogether.
- A new kind of idol was introduced in Entitled vs. Earned, called the Revelation Idol, which had the power to not only void votes against the person it was played on, but also publicly reveal who voted for them. This twist entered the game as the merge tribe idol when it landed on the Roulette Wheel.
Effective Use History
This list contains all castaways who had used their Hidden Immunity Idol(s) at a time that they would have been eliminated/tied for having the highest votes if they had not played it, eliminating the castaway with the next highest number of votes.
^1 Dylan gave the Idol to Rhys, who played it on Ben.
^2 Steven gave the Idol to David, who played it on himself.
^3 Piper gave the Idol to Marissa before she was voted out, and Marissa played it on herself later.
^4 Jim gave the Idol to Brendon, who played it on himself.
^5 Rob never used the Idol in Solomon Islands, however, his un-used idol carried over into Worlds Collide due to his advancement from Solomon Islands.
^6 Ashley gave the Idol to Julian, who was voted out with it in his possession.
^7 Connor gave the Idol to Anthony, who was voted out with it in his possession.