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Survivor Fans Can't Get Enough Of This Classic Denise Move

"Survivor" fans also tend to be fans of one big thing: drama. And the program's contestants always strive to deliver those shocks. From J'Tia spitefully dumping her tribe's rice supply into a burning bonfire in retaliation for her presumptive exit from the game during "Survivor: Cagayan" in 2013 to well ... anything Boston Rob did during his multiple times on the show, surprising and dramatic actions and the long-lived CBS game show go together like peanut butter and jelly.

Over the ensuing seasons, fans have developed an appreciation for the gamesmanship of the show's contestants. The trickier the player, the higher the number of plaudits they seem to receive. Niceness may count for some fans of the show — after all, players like Tina Wesson from "Survivor: The Australian Outback" still maintain strong fan followings years after appearing on the show — but many more viewers like it when the game is played in a sneaky, clever way. Some fans, in particular, are enamored with "Survivor: Philippines" winner Denise Stapley, whose crafty dealings during "Survivor: Winners at War" definitely had tongues wagging on the "Survivor" subreddit.

Denise's double cross had people talking

Denise Stapley is a legend among "Survivor" fans for a number of things, but her high aptitude for the game made her one of the show's more recognizable alumni. To sum things up: after a member swap between tribes Dekal and Sele during "Survivor: Winners at War," Sandra Diaz-Twine approaches Denise in an attempt at convincing her to trade two fire tokens for an immunity idol and tries to manipulate Denise into voting out some of her own enemies. But unbeknownst to Sandra, Denise already has an immunity idol of her own. She gives Sandra one token and promises to give her the second after the council meeting — which does not go well for Sandra. During the tribal council, Denise uses one idol to halt her own eviction from the game, then saves Jeremy Collins with the second idol. When the final vote goes down, it's Sandra who ends up going home — on Denise's deciding vote.

Original poster u/amedeoisme lauded that move on Reddit. "Denise playing the second idol on Jeremy is a 1000 iQ play and that's where Sandra messed up by really trying to remain hidden in this and not throwing a vote on Jeremy or anyone else as a backup plan," they pointed out.

Denise's strategy was seen as "What's the best way to vote out the queen? Pay her, of course!" according to u/Alanopoly, who referred to the fact that Sandra, who had previously won two different editions of the game, often boasted she was the "queen" of the reality show. "Best move for the tribe, best move for the game. Denise killed it, and throwing that second idol on Jeremy as insurance was next next level play," u/joebootoo wrote. But while Denise's move cemented her legend, it didn't get her a win.

Denise's strategy falls apart in the long run

Denise Stapley later told Entertainment Weekly that when Sandra handed her the idol she'd considered using it against an entirely different opponent. "I think I probably would have placed my vote obviously on either Tony [Vlachos] or Sandra, one of the two," she said. "It would have depended on who I felt the most comfortable with. At that point, Tony rarely had strategized with me. I was trying to stay strong with Jeremy. I was trying to build an alliance with him. So it would have either been on Sandra or Tony. I'm not sure which one. And I definitely, probably would've played my own idol on myself instead of Jeremy."

In the end, Denise's machinations definitely didn't equal victory for her that season. While she made it to the show's final six players, she was eliminated without making it to the top five after Natalie Anderson used an immunity idol on herself during a tribal council meeting. The majority of the players that night voted for Natalie's elimination, with a few stray votes for Ben Driebergen, who also had immunity. That led to a revote, with Denise being removed from the tribe. Tony, Natalie, and Michele Fitzgerald made it to Season 20's top three, with Tony ultimately being voted the victor of "Survivor: Winners at War."