Survivor: The Australian Outback: Spring 2001
Survivor: Africa: Fall 2001
Survivor: Marquesas: Spring 2002
Survivor: Thailand Fall 2002
Survivor: The Amazon: Spring 2003
Survivor: Pearl Islands: Fall 2003
Survivor: All-Stars: Spring 2004
Survivor: Vanuatu: Fall 2004
Survivor: Palau: Spring 2005
Survivor: Guatemala: Fall 2005
Survivor: Panama--Exile Island: Spring 2006
Survivor: Cook Islands: Fall 2006
Survivor: Fiji: Spring 2007
Survivor: China: Fall 2007
Survivor: Micronesia--Fans vs Favorites: Spring 2008
Survivor: Gabon: Fall 2008
Survivor: Tocatins: Spring 2009
Survivor: Samoa: Fall 2009
Survivor: Heroes vs Villains: Spring 2010
Survivor: Nicaragua: Fall 2010
Survivor: Redemption Island: Spring 2011
Survivor: South Pacific: Fall 2011
Survivor: One World: Spring 2012
Survivor: Philippines: Fall 2012
Survivor: Caramoan Spring 2013
Survivor: Blood vs. Water: Fall 2013
Survivor: Cagayan: Spring 2014
Survivor: San Juan Del Sur: Fall 2014
Survivor: Worlds Apart: Spring 2015
Survivor: Cambodia: Fall 2015
Survivor: Kaôh Rōng: Spring 2016
Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X: Fall 2016
Survivor: Game Changers: Spring 2017
Survivor: Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers: Fall 2017
Survivor: Ghost Island: Spring 2018
Survivor: David vs. Goliath: Fall 2018
Survivor: Edge of Extinction: Spring 2019
Survivor: Island of the Idols: Fall 2019
Survivor: Winners at War: Spring 2020
Survivor: Season 41: Fall 2021
Survivor: Season 42: Spring 2022
Survivor: Season 43: Fall 2022
|Mark Burnett Productions|
Castaway Television Productions
Survivor Productions LLC
|CBS Television Distribution|
Survivor is a popular reality show on CBS where several people are taken to some remote part of the world and have to compete in a tribal style elimination match in order to win the title of "Survivor". The show is an adaptation of a Swedish TV show called Expedition Robinson.
Survivor, through its seasons, has maintained the basic premise of the game despite several new rules and gameplay twists introduced in later seasons. In the game, the contestants, known as castaways, are split into tribes and assigned separate camps at the filming's location, typically a tropical setting. As a tribe, the castaways must survive the elements, construct shelter, build fire, look for water, and scrounge for food and other necessities for the entire length of the game, which is generally around 39 days. In the first half of the game, the tribes face off in challenges, some for rewards of food, shelter, or luxury items, while others are for immunity, preventing the winning tribe from having to go to the next Tribal Council. At Tribal Council, the tribes discuss the events of the last few days with the host asking questions, and then vote out one of their own players, eliminating them from the game.
In the second half of the game, the tribes are merged into a single tribe, and challenges are played at an individual level for individual rewards and immunity. At subsequent Tribal Councils, those eliminated start to form the jury, who sit in on all subsequent Tribal Councils but otherwise do not participate. When only two or three castaways remain, those castaways attend the Final Tribal Council, where the jury is given the opportunity to ask them questions. After this, the jury members then vote to decide which of the remaining castaways should be declared the Sole Survivor and be awarded the grand prize.
Episodes typically cover the events that occurred over two to three days since the start of the game or previous Tribal Council, including Challenges and events that occur at the tribes' camps. Each episode typically ends with the Tribal Council and subsequent elimination of the voted-out player.
Castaways and tribes
Players for each season are selected through applicants and casting calls, down-selecting to between 16 and 20 players and additional alternates. Host Jeff Probst noted that while 16 castaways assists in splitting the tribes with respect to age and sex, they have used 18 or 20 to provide them "wiggle room" in case of player injury or if one should want to quit the game. These players undergo physical and psychological evaluation to make sure they are physically and mentally fit for the survival endurance and will not likely quit during the filming period, replacing those that are questionable with the alternates. In one case, Fiji, on the day before filming was to start after they had dismissed their alternates, one of the castaways opted out of the competition, forcing production to start with 19 players and adapting the activities of the first few days to accommodate the odd number of players.
Tribes may be predetermined by production before filming starts. Often this is done to equalize the sexes and age ranges within both tribes. Other seasons have had the tribes separated by age, gender, or race. In other cases, the tribes may be created by the castaways through schoolyard picks. Most often, only two tribes are featured, but some seasons have begun with three or four tribes. Once assigned a tribe, each castaway is given a buff in their tribe color to aid the viewers in identifying tribal allocation. Tribes are then subsequently given names, often inspired by the local region and culture, and directions to their camps.
At their camps, the tribes are expected to build a shelter against the elements from the local trees and other resources. Tribes are typically given minimal resources, such as a machete, water canteens, cooking pots, and staples of rice and grains, though this will vary from season to season. Sometimes, tribes will be provided with a water well near the camp, but require the water to be boiled to make it potable, necessitating the need for the tribe to build a fire. The tribes are encouraged to forage off the land for food, including fruits, wild animals, and fish.
In some seasons, tribe swaps will occur where one or more players will shift from one tribe to another. These new tribal designations are often determined by random draw or schoolyard pick. When these occur, those players that shift tribes are given new buffs for their new tribe and return to that tribe's camp, with any personal possessions from their former camp moved with them. In seasons with more than two tribes, tribe swaps will often reduce the number of tribes to two. In Survivor: Cambodia, a tribe swap increased the number of tribes from two to three; a second tribe swap later in the season reduced the number of tribes back to two.
Tribes that have lost too many members may be absorbed by the other remaining tribes, as seen with the Ulong tribe in Survivor: Palau and the Matsing tribe of Survivor: Philippines; in the former case, the lone remaining Ulong member joined the opposing Koror tribe and the tribes were treated as if they were merged, whereas in the later case the two remaining Matsing members were randomly assigned to the two remaining tribes. Alternatively, in Survivor: All-Stars, the tribe that placed third in a designated challenge was disbanded, with the members reallocated to the other two tribes by schoolyard pick.
At a point in/or around the middle of the game, the remaining tribes are merged into one. All of the players then live in a single camp, and are given new buffs and instructed to select a new tribe name and paint a tribe flag. The merge is often signified with a feast. Though the merge often occurs when approximately 10 to 12 players remain, the tribes have been merged with as many as 13 players (as many of the seasons since Survivor: Cambodia) and as few as eight (as in Survivor: Thailand).
During both pre- and post-merge parts of the game, the castaways compete in a series of challenges. Tribes are alerted to these upcoming challenges by a message, often in rhyme, delivered to camp by the production team at a basket or box on a nearby tree; this message has come to be called "treemail", playing off the word "e-mail". The message typically hints at what the challenge might be. The message may also provide props to demonstrate this, practice equipment for the players, or a sampling of the reward. Challenges can last from a few minutes to a couple of hours. The longest Survivor challenge was 11 hours and 55 minutes in the final immunity challenge in Survivor: Palau.
Prior to the merge, tribes compete against each other in challenges. These most often are multi-segment obstacle courses that include both physical and mental elements with the tribe that finishes first declared the winner; commonly, these start with tribe members collecting puzzles pieces that are then used to solve a puzzle by other tribe members. Other challenges may be based on winning a number of rounds of head-to-head competitions. Challenges are normally held with equal numbers of all tribes participating and in some cases equal splits of gender. Tribes with more players will be asked to sit out as many players as needed to balance the numbers, with the stipulation that those players cannot sit out in back-to-back reward and immunity challenges. When one tribe has more than twice the other tribe members, then players in the larger tribe cannot participate in back-to-back challenges. Tribes are given time to strategically decide who should sit out and who will perform the various duties on a challenge.
After the merge, challenges are generally performed on an individual basis. These include similar obstacle courses as for team challenges, but will often also include endurance challenges, having players maintain the balance under precarious situations for as long as possible, with the last player remaining winning the challenge. In some cases, during post-merge challenges, the individuals will be split into separate teams, with only the winning team eligible for reward or immunity.
Types of challenges
Challenges can be played for rewards, immunity, or both. Rewards include food, survival equipment like flint, tarps, or fishing gear, luxury items, and short getaways from camp. Before the merge, the entire winning tribe will enjoy these rewards. Post-merge, only one player may win the reward but will be given the opportunity to select one or more other players to bring along with them on it. Individual challenge rewards may also include an advantage that can be used at the subsequent immunity challenge, such as advancing directly into the final round of the challenge without having to participate in the first round.
Immunity challenges provide the winning tribe or team with immunity from Tribal Council. Immunity is usually represented in a form of an idol prior to the merge, and a necklace afterwards. Prior to the merge, tribes with immunity do not attend Tribal Council, allowing them to stay intact. In seasons featuring more than two tribes, immunity will be available for all but the last place finishers, forcing this one tribe to Tribal Council. With individual immunity, those castaways still attend Tribal Council with the rest of the merged tribe, but, unless they assign immunity to someone else, are ineligible to be voted for. Winning immunity is only good for one Tribal Council; at the next immunity challenge, the tribe or castaway will be asked to give up the idol or necklace, making immunity "up for grabs". There have been a few cases in which individual immunity challenges have taken place prior to the merge whereupon usually, one castaway in each tribe will be given immunity, after which both tribes will attend Tribal Council, one after the other. This is used to quickly dwindle the number of remaining castaways.
Though a wide variety of challenges have been used across the Survivor’s broadcast, several challenges are frequently reused:
- A food eating challenge, involving food items that may be local delicacies but are considered gross or revolting by the castaways. These were more often seen in earlier seasons but in recent years have become much less frequent.
- A trivia or "know your tribe" quiz, where castaways who provide correct answers are allowed to knock other castaways out of the challenge and prevent them from winning.
- A "Survivor Auction", used in place of a reward challenge, in which the players are given a sum of money to use to bid on food items (both known and unknown at the time of bidding), other momentary luxuries like a bath, or advantages in the game, such as a clue to a hidden immunity idol or an advantage in the upcoming immunity challenge.
- A "loved ones" challenge, where a spouse, parent, sibling, adult child or friend of each castaway has been flown out to the location to participate in the challenge with or for their castaway. The winner typically gets to spend more time with their loved one, either on a brief trip or back at camp.
- A "second chance" challenge, where elements of previous challenges are reused in a single course.
- The final immunity challenge is often a long-lasting endurance challenge, giving the remaining castaways time to make bargains and last-minute deals to get into the final Tribal Council.
Tribal Council is a special production stage located near the tribe camps. Tribes sit across a fire pit from the host while the jury members, if present, sit off to the side. A small alcove adjoins the structure for the players to cast their votes in private. Tribal Council almost always serves as an episode's finale.
The first time each player attends Tribal Council, he or she takes a torch and lights it from the fire pit while the host reminds them "fire represents life in this game". During the jury phase of the game, the host will call in the jury after the tribe is seated and remind jurors they are there to gather information but not speak or otherwise participate. The host will then proceed to ask the tribe questions about what has transpired since their last visit to Tribal Council (or the beginning of the game). The host asks these questions in hopes of bringing tribal dynamics to light, and players in precarious situations may reveal information or bargain with others to keep themselves in the game. Though the viewing audience typically sees only a few minutes of each Tribal Council, some have gone on for hours.
The host ends the formal discussion by declaring it time to vote. During the second half of the game, the host then gives the immunity challenge winner(s) the choice to keep their immunity necklace for themselves or give it to another player, then reminds players they cannot cast a vote for the player(s) who finally end up wearing the necklace(s). The host then directs the players to vote in the alcove one-by-one. After writing their vote, each player has the opportunity to address the camera before placing their vote in the ballot urn. Once all players have cast their votes, the host collects the urn, tallies the votes, and returns to the fire pit with the urn. Beginning from Survivor: Fiji, the host then offers players the opportunity to play an immunity idol prior to announcing the votes. If a player produces an idol, he or she must declare which player the idol protects (typically a player can protect anyone, including themselves). The host then confirms if the idol is legitimate, and if it is, the host declares that any vote for the protected player will not count. The host then reminds the tribe that once the votes are read, the decision is final, and the eliminated player must leave the Tribal Council area immediately.
When enough votes have been read to eliminate one player, any additional votes remain unread and unknown to the players (in almost all cases, the leftover votes are also for the eliminated player). The host instructs the eliminated player to bring their torch, snuffs it out, and tells the player that "the tribe has spoken" (or in rare cases, a fitting variation thereof) and "it's time for you to go." As the eliminated player walks off, the host makes a final observation before telling the remainder of the tribe to "grab your torches and head back to camp" and wishes them a good night. Occasionally, tribes who have not made fire on their own or earned it in a challenge will have to douse their torches or leave the torches at Tribal Council.
The eliminated player has a final confessional to express their feelings about being eliminated before they are sequestered with other eliminated players until the end of filming. Later eliminated players join the jury who will decide the winner. Jurors are sequestered until the end of the Final Tribal Council. While sequestered, jurors cannot discuss their jury vote or experiences with other jurors to prevent any possible cooperation or collusion from subgroups within the jury. After casting their vote at Final Tribal Council, jurors also cannot discuss their vote with anyone lest they spoil the surprise reveal at the season finale.
Ties occasionally occur. Normally, the players vote a second time with only the tied players eligible for elimination. If this second vote does not break the tie, various tiebreakers have broken the stalemates. These tiebreakers have changed throughout the seasons. In Survivor: The Australian Outback and Survivor: Africa, stalemates were broken by eliminating the player with the highest number of previous votes cast against them. If the players had the same number of previous votes cast against them, as seen in Africa, the tie was resolved by a sudden-death challenge (in this case a trivia quiz about nature), with the loser eliminated. This soon led to alliances choosing a player to eliminate based on their vote history over other relevant factors. To put all players on even ground in subsequent seasons, the non-tied voters have several minutes to deliberate and must come to a unanimous decision about which tied castaway to eliminate. If they succeed, their chosen castaway is eliminated; if they do not, all non-immune deliberators draw concealed rocks from a bag, and the castaway who draws the odd-colored rock is eliminated. This encourages players to change their votes to avoid a stalemate and punishes deliberators for stalemating. The rock-draw tiebreaker has occurred three times: in Survivor: Marquesas, Survivor: Blood vs. Water, and Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X. In Survivor: Marquesas, the rock draw occurred with four players remaining, and the tied castaways were both involved in the deliberation and eligible for elimination; host Jeff Probst later revealed that this was a mistake and that this tiebreaker should only be used when six or more players are involved. Following Survivor: Marquesas, all stalemates with four remaining players have been resolved by a fire-making duel where the first tied castaway to build a small fire high enough to burn through a rope remained in the game. The fire-making tiebreaker was also used in Survivor: Palau at a Tribal Council where the losing tribe had only two members remaining.
Final Tribal Council
When only two (or, in later seasons, three) players remain in the game, the finalists and jurors convene for Final Tribal Council. The change to three finalists presents more of a challenge to the castaway who wins the final immunity challenge: while that person has clinched their spot as a finalist, they cannot unilaterally decide which of the other remaining castaways they will compete against for jurors' votes.
At Final Tribal Council, each remaining castaway makes an opening statement to the jury. One-by-one, each jurors then addresses any or all of the finalists, asking a question or commenting on the finalists' behavior in the game. Jurors often ask questions hoping for answers that will help make their decision, while comments and speeches are generally an effort to sway other jurors. The finalists are usually free to respond to these questions and comments as they see fit, though jurors can expressly forbid them to respond. Beginning with Survivor: Game Changers, the process shifted from each juror receiving the floor one-by-one toward a moderated discussion highlighting the show's three major tentpoles: "Outwit", "Outplay" and "Outlast". After the interrogation, finalists often have one last chance to make their case. The host then reminds the jurors that they are writing their choice to win (versus writing their choice to eliminate, as in all other votes) and, for the last time, declares it time to vote. One-by-one, jurors vote privately in the alcove. As with regular elimination votes, jurors can choose to address the camera to explain their vote. The host then collects the urn, and in most seasons, leaves the votes unread until a live finale months later, at the conclusion of the season's broadcast, where they read the votes publicly and crown the Sole Survivor.
At the finale of Survivor: Micronesia, the only season to date with two finalists and eight jurors, host Jeff Probst reportedly had a white envelope containing the tiebreaker, but the exact nature of this tiebreaker is not known publicly. This contingency plan was also in place for three-way ties involving three finalists and nine jurors. At the Survivor: Game Changers reunion, Probst revealed that a two-way tie in a final three would be broken with the third-place finisher casting the deciding vote. This first happened in Survivor: Ghost Island when Wendell Holland and Domenick Abbate each received 5 votes to win. Laurel Johnson, the third-place finisher, became the 11th and final juror and cast the deciding vote.
Evacuation and quitting
Some players have been eliminated from the game by other means than being voted out. Castaways who suffer severe injuries or exhaustion are evaluated by the medical team which is always on call. The medical team may provide treatment and give the player the option to continue in the game, warning them of the health risks involved. However, if the medical doctor determines that the player is at risk of permanent injury or death and needs to be removed from the game for their own health, they will be removed and taken to a nearby hospital. In Survivor: Cambodia, the producers were notified that one of the remaining castaways' children had been hospitalized, and the castaway was pulled from the game to return home and be with their family. Survivor: Kaôh Rōng has had the most evacuations to date, with three.
Occasionally, castaways who are not in need of medical treatment have decided to quit the game, without waiting to be voted out, due to physical or emotional exhaustion—either by making an announcement at a Tribal Council, in which case they are let out of the game without any vote, or by being recovered from camp after making their intentions clear to producers and being interviewed by the host. When a player leaves the game without being voted off, the other tribes are notified of the departed player's removal, and the next Tribal Council may be cancelled. After the players merge into one tribe, any who have been removed from the game by medical evacuation are still eligible to participate as jury members once the medical examiners deem them healthy enough to do so. Those that have quit the game voluntarily may also still be eligible for the jury and, if their reasons for leaving are considered sufficient, they may also still be allowed to make a farewell speech to the camera. Survivor: All-Stars and Survivor: Nicaragua have the most quits with two while Survivor: Nicaragua has the distinction of the quits happening at the same Tribal Council.
Hidden immunity idols
Hidden immunity idols are pocket-sized ornaments—typically necklaces—made to fit the theme of the season, that are hidden around the tribes' camps or other locations that the castaways have access to. When played at Tribal Council, the hidden immunity idol makes the castaway who plays it immune from elimination at that Tribal Council. Idols are typically usable until the Tribal Council with five players remaining, and do not need to be declared to other castaways when found. The idol, once found by a player, cannot be stolen from them, but other castaways can look through their possessions to see if they have it. Idols can, however, be transferred to other players at any point, or be played on another player at Tribal Council. Once an idol "leaves the game", either by being played or by the holder leaving the game with their idol, a replacement idol may be hidden.
First seen in Survivor: Guatemala, several seasons have used different iterations of the idol:
- An idol that can be played before the votes are cast, thus preventing all other players from voting against the player who cast it (As seen in Guatemala)
- An idol that can be played after the votes are read, thus negating all votes against the player who cast it and eliminating the castaway with the next-highest vote total (As seen in Panama and Cook Islands. Also seen in Cagayan, Kaôh Rōng and Heroes v Healers v Hustlers as the "Super Idol")
- An idol that can be played after the votes are cast but before they are read, thus negating all votes against the player who cast it and eliminating the castaway with the next-highest vote total (As seen in all seasons from Fiji onward)
The third type of idol is seen as a "happy medium" relative to the two previous versions, and forces both the voters and the idol holder to make a more complicated strategic decision: the voters may have to vote without knowing whether the person they are voting for has a hidden immunity idol or without knowing whether that person will choose to play it, and the person with the idol must decide whether to play it without knowing whether enough votes have been cast to vote them out of the game. This type of idol may be "wasted" if a player uses it and does not receive the highest number of votes, and other times idol holders may choose not to use the idol, intending to save it to use at a later time, but will be eliminated with their idol unplayed. Though this third idol continues to be used, two seasons have used the two latter forms of idols concurrently: in Cagayan, clues were given to the third type of idol, but an idol with the second power was hidden with no clues; this idol could not be transferred. In Kaôh Rōng, all hidden idols were of the third type, but two idols could be combined into a single idol of the second type, referred to as a "super idol".
Strategically, castaways have used the idol as a bargaining chip to align other players with them and swing pending votes in a specific direction; as a result, some players have been inspired to create fake hidden immunity idols, either leaving them the spot that the original idol was found, or carrying them around as a bluff to attempt to alter people's voting strategies in advance of Tribal Council. If a fake idol is played at Tribal Council, the host notes that it is not the real idol and throws it in the fire. In the U.S. version of the show, the producers have encouraged players to make fake idols by providing decorative materials—such as beads, string, and paint—through props within the game. In Cambodia, all idols were deliberately made to look different from each other to further encourage castaways to make fake idols.
To help castaways find the idol, a series of clues are given to them in succession in a number of different ways. A clue may be given to the winner of a reward challenge, hidden among the reward prizes, announced by the host to all remaining castaways, or provided to a castaway who has been sent to Exile Island or temporarily sent to live with the other tribe. Castaways are under no obligation to share the idol clues with other players. Clues continue to be provided even after a player has secretly found the idol. Each successive clue includes all the previous clues given for that location. Only once a new idol is hidden are new clues provided to the players. In later seasons, players have been very aware that hidden idols may be in play from the start of the game and some have started to look for them near apparent landmarks before any clues have been provided. One castaway, Russell Hantz, was able to find two idols during Survivor: Samoa without the aid of clues. In light of this so-called "Russell factor," producers subsequently began hiding the idols in more difficult-to-find locations, and, in a subsequent season, clues contained visual rebuses rather than text.
Exile Island is a remote location away from the tribal camps, where one or two castaways are sent to live in isolation from the rest of their tribe. Exile Island was first introduced in Survivor: Palau when a single contestant was made to stay alone on a beach for a day as a result of being the first to drop out of an Immunity Challenge. This twist was not used regularly until Survivor: Panama; it was also used in Cook Islands, Fiji, Micronesia, Gabon, Tocantins, and San Juan del Sur. The first contestant to send him/herself to Exile Island was Yau-Man Chan.
A selected player is exiled to a location (typically a small island) apart from the main tribe camps. Typically, the castaway is exiled after the reward challenge, leaving the challenge location for Exile Island, and usually returns immediately before the following immunity challenge. The exiled castaway is chosen as a result of the reward challenge: in the tribal phase, a member of the losing tribe is exiled (usually exiled by the winning tribe), while in the individual phase, the reward challenge winner holds the sole right to choose. Unless stated otherwise, players who win the right to decide who goes to Exile Island may also choose to go themselves. In Micronesia, Tocantins, and San Juan del Sur, one person from each tribe was sent to Exile Island. In several seasons with Exile Island, there were tribe swaps with an uneven number of castaways remaining, as in Panama, Fiji, Gabon, David vs. Goliath; the leftover contestant was treated as "tribeless" and exiled immediately after formation. In this case, the contestant was immune until following the next Tribal Council, joining the tribe that lost the next immunity challenge.
Once selected, the exiled contestant is immediately sent there. They are given minimal survival tools, typically a water canteen, a machete, a pot, and a limited amount of shelter. The two main disadvantages of being on Exile Island are the lack of food and water, which can weaken a player and make them less effective in challenges, and the isolation from other contestants, which can cause a player to become out of the loop and weaken their position in their tribe. Contestants are often sent to Exile Island for one or both of these strategic reasons.
In certain seasons, exiled castaways receive a consolation prize: in all seasons with Exile Island, the exiled castaway receives a clue to the hidden immunity idol (or the idol nullifier on David vs Goliath), which may or may not be located on the island. On Survivor: Gabon, the exiled castaway was given the option to give up their idol clue for "instant comfort," and in Survivor: Tocantins, the exiled castaway had the right to change tribes. Occasionally the exiled castaway is instructed to return after the next Tribal Council, earning them automatic immunity.
Other exile twists
Two seasons of the U.S. version have used different variations on the Exile twists. In China, tribes who won reward challenges earned the right to "kidnap" a member of the losing tribe, who would stay with them until the next immunity challenge. The kidnapped person was given a clue to the hidden immunity idol which he or she must give to one member of the winning tribe. In Samoa a reverse version of the kidnapping rule was used, called "spy expedition" (also known as "observing"). The winning tribe had to send one of their own to accompany the other tribe until the immunity challenge. Both of these twists were retired after the merge. In Kaôh Rōng, the three tribes were shuffled into two tribes with 13 players remaining; the leftover castaway, Julia Solowski, was exiled to the now-defunct third camp and joined the tribe that lost the next immunity challenge the day after their Tribal Council. In Game Changers, the tribes switched with 15 players remaining, with Debbie being exiled for not being put on a tribe. Unlike other visitors to Exile Island, Debbie was sent to a luxury yacht.
The 36th season of the U.S. version introduced the titular Ghost Island, which was similar to Exile Island but featured mementos and props from previous seasons of Survivor, including several misplayed advantages. Banished castaways were given the opportunity to acquire these advantages in a game of chance where they could either win the advantage or lose their vote at their next Tribal Council.
Redemption Island is a twist used in Survivor: Redemption Island, Survivor: South Pacific and Survivor: Blood vs. Water, in which voted out contestants remain in the game, exiled from the other castaways, competing in challenges for a chance to return to the game. It was first used in several international editions, including the Swedish version, the Israeli version as "The Island of the Dead", the Philippine version's second season as "Isla Purgatoryo" (Purgatory Island), the Serbian version's second season as "Ghost Island" and the Romanian version's first season as "Exile Island".
After being voted out, contestants are exiled to Redemption Island, where they will fend for themselves like the castaways in the game proper until the next person is voted out. The day following Tribal Council, there is a duel in which the winner remains on the island and the losers are eliminated for good; upon elimination, the duel losers must remove their buff and throw it into a small fire pit. There are two places where the winner of the duel returns to the game: at the merge, where Redemption Island is cleared and reset; and when there are four players remaining in the main game, at which point Redemption Island is retired.
Double elimination cycles, or any other disruption of the game's pattern, leads to three or four duelists instead of two. In Survivor: Redemption Island only the loser of the duel was eliminated, resulting in four players competing in the final duel due to two double elimination cycles, with two Tribal Councils and no duels in between. For Survivor: South Pacific, the rules were changed so only the winner remained in the game while all others were eliminated. In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, there were three competitors at every duel, with only one player eliminated at each duel except for ones in which a sole winner returned to the main game.
Redemption Island in Blood vs. Water featured additional alterations to fit with the game's primary twist of featuring pairs of loved ones. Prior to any duel, the castaways with loved ones on Redemption Island are given the choice to replace their loved one on Redemption Island, with their loved one returning to the main game and taking their place in the tribe. In addition, the first-place winner of the duel must give a clue to a hidden immunity idol to any castaway in the main game.
Other seasons have featured alternate twists in which voted out players can return to the game. In 2003, Survivor: Pearl Islands featured the Outcast twist, in which the six eliminated castaways competed as the Outcast tribe against the two remaining tribes; as the Outcast tribe won the challenge, they earned the right to vote two of their own back into the game, while the other two tribes had to vote players out; following this, the tribes merged. The 2019 season Survivor: Edge of Extinction allowed eliminated players the decision of either leaving the game, or going to the titular island. Once there, the contestants survived on fewer supplies than were available in the main game, but had the option to quit at any time. The players on the island competed in an individual challenge at the merge, and with five players remaining, with the winner returning to the main game. This twist returned two seasons later for Survivor: Winners at War.
A new twist introduced in Survivor: Winners at War were the Fire Tokens, which could be used to earn various advantages and resources such as food. Players who were voted out and sent to the Edge of Extinction bequeathed their Fire Tokens to any players left in the game. Players still in the game earned tokens by winning immunity challenges while players on the Edge of Extinction earned them if players in the game chose to purchase the advantages they were sent.
The Sole Survivor receives a cash prize of $1,000,000 prior to taxes and sometimes also receives a car provided by the show's sponsor. Every player receives a prize for participating on Survivor depending on how long he or she lasts in the game. In most seasons, the runner-up receives $100,000, and third place wins $85,000. All other players receive money on a sliding scale, though specific amounts have rarely been made public. Sonja Christopher, the first player voted off Survivor: Borneo, received $2,500. In Survivor: Fiji, the first season with tied runners-up, the two runners-up received US$100,000 each, and Yau-Man Chan received US$60,000 for his fourth-place finish. All players also receive an additional $10,000 for their appearance on the reunion show. Winners at War offered the biggest cash prize in the series, the Sole Survivor of that season receiving $2,000,000.
Most seasons between The Australian Outback and Fiji have featured a late-season reward challenge where the winner receives a car. This reward was infamous for what was later dubbed the "car curse", referring to the fact that no player who won the car ever went on to win the game during his or her original season.
- In Survivor: The Australian Outback, Colby Donaldson won a Pontiac Aztek.
- In Survivor: Africa, Lex van den Berghe won a Chevrolet Avalanche.
- In Survivor: Marquesas, Sean Rector won a Saturn VUE.
- In Survivor: Thailand, Ted Rogers won a Chevrolet TrailBlazer.
- In Survivor: The Amazon, Matthew von Ertfelda won a Saturn Ion.
- In Survivor: Pearl Islands, Burton Roberts won a GMC Envoy XUV.
- In Survivor: All-Stars, Rob Mariano won a Chevrolet Colorado. In addition, he was allowed to bring another contestant with him on a trip; he chose Amber Brkich, who received a Chevrolet Malibu as a result.
- In Survivor: Vanuatu, Eliza Orlins won a Pontiac G6.
- In Survivor: Palau, Ian Rosenberger won a Chevrolet Corvette.
- In Survivor: Guatemala, Cindy Hall won a 2006 Pontiac Torrent; she was given the option to relinquish her reward to give the other remaining players, but declined.
- In Survivor: Panama, Terry Deitz won a GMC Yukon.
- In Survivor: Fiji, Yau-Man Chan won a 2008 Ford Super Duty but gave it to fellow contestant Andria "Dreamz" Herd as part of a strategic deal.
Other prizes are given out post-game, usually at the live reunion that immediately follows the coronation of the winner.
- At the Survivor: All-Stars, reunion, Amber, as the Sole Survivor, was asked to select one of her fellow contestants to receive a car; she selected Shii Ann Huang.
- In Survivor: America's Tribal Council following the All-Stars finale, Rupert Boneham was selected by a popularity poll of Survivor viewers to win $1,000,000.
- For two seasons, viewers of Survivor voted their favorite player to win a new car.
- From Survivor: China to Survivor: Caramoan, viewers of Survivor voted their favorite player to win $100,000.
- Survivor: China: James Clement
- Survivor: Micronesia: James Clement
- Survivor: Gabon: Robert "Bob" Crowley
- Survivor: Tocantins: James "J.T." Thomas, Jr.
- Survivor: Samoa: Russell Hantz
- Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains: Russell Hantz
- Survivor: Nicaragua: Jane Bright
- Survivor: Redemption Island: Rob Mariano
- Survivor: South Pacific: Ozzy Lusth
- Survivor: One World: Kim Spradlin
- Survivor: Philippines: Lisa Whelchel
- Survivor: Caramoan: Malcolm Freberg
- Conspiring to split winnings will result in immediate expulsion from the game.
- Except for the occasional challenges which involve wrestling or limited combat, any physical violence between players will result in immediate expulsion from the game.
- At Tribal Council, players are not permitted to vote for themselves, nor can they spoil their ballots or decline to cast a vote. Players must also show whom they voted for to the camera inside the voting booth.
- Contestants must abide by U.S. law as well as local law. Breaking any of these laws will result in immediate removal from the game.
- A regular hidden immunity idol can be played after the votes have been cast but before they are read.
- A special hidden immunity idol can be played after the votes are read.
- Hidden immunity idols cannot be stolen by another player.
- If a contestant plays the hidden immunity idol, any votes cast for that contestant will not count, and the person with the next largest number of votes will be eliminated.
- Contestants may not skip any tribal councils, nor can they refuse to participate in any immunity or reward challenge, unless the game offers them the opportunity to do so otherwise. This rule was allowed to be broken by Phillip Sheppard in Survivor: Caramoan (due to a childhood traumatic event) and by Missy Payne in Survivor: San Juan del Sur (due to injury).
- Tribe members may not raid or visit the campsite of another tribe unless they are doing so as part of an immunity challenge, reward challenge or tribal merger activity with the other tribe. They also may not visit the TV crew compound. Exceptions to this rule have been made, though, as a result of an accident (as seen in Survivor: Cook Islands) or challenge victories. In Survivor: Guatemala one tribe intentionally visited the other to invite them over to lounge in their lake pool.
- If a contestant becomes seriously injured or sick, the player, fellow contestants, the host, or even the crew filming the players may call in a medical team for help. In some cases, the player can be treated at their camp, but the player may also be deemed unable to participate further by the medical team and then be taken from camp to a medical facility, and removed from the game. Often, the players may decide for themselves whether their health will allow them to continue.
- Contestants deciding to quit the contest for any reason not health - or other-emergency-related may or may not be called back for the final jury, pending the producers' decision, and may or may not get their closing speech aired, if their reasons are sufficient enough. (This rule was added after the end of Survivor: Nicaragua.) If a player decides to quit prior to Redemption Island, they are allowed to keep their buff instead of throwing it in the fire pit upon exiting (as was the case in Survivor: Blood vs. Water). Contestants who are expelled from the contest for breaking the rules are not permitted to join the jury.
- Borneo - Richard Hatch
- The Australian Outback - Tina Wesson
- Africa - Ethan Zohn
- Marquesas - Vecepia Towery
- Thailand - Brian Heidik
- Amazon - Jenna Morasca
- Pearl Islands - Sandra Diaz-Twine
- All-Stars - Amber Brkich
- Vanuatu - Chris Daugherty
- Guatemala - Danni Boatwright
- Panama - Aras Baskauskas
- Cook Islands - Yul Kwon
- Fiji - Earl Cole
- China - Todd Herzog
- Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites - Parvati Shallow
- Gabon: Bob Crowley
- Tocantins: James "J.T." Thomas, Jr.
- Samoa: Natalie White
- Heroes vs. Villains: Sandra Diaz-Twine
- Nicaragua: Jud "Fabio" Birza
- Redemption Island: "Boston" Rob Mariano
- South Pacific: Sophie Clarke
- One World: Kim Spradlin
- Philippines: Denise Stapley
- Caramoan: John Cochran
- Blood vs. Water: Tyson Apostol
- Cagayan: Tony Vlachos
- San Juan del Sur: Natalie Anderson
- Worlds Apart: Mike Holloway
- Cambodia: Jeremy Collins
- Kaôh Rōng: Michele Fitzgerald
- Millennials vs. Gen X: Adam Klein
- Game Changers: Sarah Lacina
- Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers: Ben Driebergen
- Ghost Island: Wendell Holland
- David vs. Goliath: Nick Wilson
- Edge of Extinction: Chris Underwood
- Island of the Idols: Tommy Sheehan
- Winners at War: Tony Vlachos
- Season 41: Erika Casupanan
- Season 42: Maryanne Oketch
- Season 43:
Places that have done their own versions of Survivor include:
- Austria and Germany
- Baltic States (Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania)
- China (Teams)
- Czech Republic
- France (also broadcast in Belgium and Switzerland)
- Greece and Cyprus
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- Sweden (country that originated the program as Expedition Robinson)
- United Kingdom
- Originally, a failed revival of What's My Line? hosted by the late Harry Anderson (of Night Court fame) and a failed revival of the 1950s game The $64,000 Question hosted by sports anchor Greg Gumbel was in the bid for a shot in primetime on CBS but both of them were shot down later at the time in 2000.
- Before this show, Jeff Probst hosted a three-seasoned musical spinoff of Jeopardy! called Rock & Roll Jeopardy! for VH1 from 1998 until 2001.
- Survivor is currently the longest-running reality game show in the US, followed by Big Brother and The Amazing Race (all three of them air on CBS).
- In 2020, it was announced that production on seasons 41 and 42 was postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
TPIR Primetime Special (2016)
On May 23, 2016, the series teamed up with The Price is Right as one of their "Primetime Specials" (as both are aired on CBS).
"Ancient Voices" by Russ Landau
Based on the Swedish reality series Expedition Robinson.