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Survivor (American TV series)
|Created by||Charlie Parsons|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||504|
|Running time||43 minutes|
|Original release||May 31, 2000 –|
|Related shows||Expedition Robinson|
Survivor is an American reality television game show. It came from the Swedish show Expedition Robinson, made in 1997 by Charlie Parsons, and first shown in May 2000. Mark Burnett produces the American show. It is hosted by Jeff Probst. So far, there have been 34 seasons, with a 35th season on its way.
Each season has a group of people who have never met each other, living in a far away place. They are divided into two to four groups called "tribes". Each tribe must find food and water, make fire, and make homes for themselves, while taking part in challenges to get a reward, or (where they become safe from getting voted off). Sometimes a player will have to be removed from the game due to an injury or infection. The last two or three players face a jury, the last seven or more players voted off. The jury asks the final few questions, and then votes for the winner of the title of "Sole Survivor" and a million dollar prize.
An idol may be used up until 4 players are left in the game, once there is 3 an idol can’t be used.
Each season, the 16 to 20 strangers are divided into two to four teams called "tribes". The tribes are usually given some tools to survive with, such as a machete, a pot, and water canteens to hold water. The tribes are encouraged to build shelters to protect themselves. In some seasons the tribes started with some food, such as rice, given by the show, and in other seasons, the tribes have no help in the beginning. Early seasons allowed players to bring one luxury item with them. Others seasons have brought players into the game unprepared, making them start with only the clothes they are wearing and the tools that are provided.
The tribes have been divided in many different ways. Early seasons divided tribes so that they have equal numbers of people from different ages and genders. Some seasons divided the tribes, by age, gender, and/or race. Usually the tribes are divided before the show starts, but some seasons have had one or more players choose the tribes after the game starts.
Tribes are given different names and colors which are used on the tribe flags, challenge courses, on-screen text, and other items. Each player is given a buff, an elastic ring of material patterned with the logo for their season, that can be worn around the arm, the head. Players have to wear the buff where it can be seen at all times, so the audience can tell who is on which tribe. When the tribes are switched, the players must give up their old buff and get a new one for their new tribe.
In each season, the tribes have to compete in challenges, where the players will use strength, teamwork and problem solving. For the first half of the game, the tribes compete against each other in challenges. For the second half, after the merge, each player usually competes against each other in challenges.
There are two types of challenges:
- Reward challenges – The players compete for luxuries that they don't need to survive, but make their lives easier and more enjoyable. Examples of some rewards are food, flint, matches, rain gear, and short trips away from camp. After the merge, reward challenges are often done in random groups, and if it's individual, the winner will often be able to bring one or more other players with them.
- Immunity challenges – The players compete for immunity, which means their tribe won't being going to Tribal Council, meaning they'll be safe from being voted off. After the merge, immunity challenges are usually individual.
Sometimes there can be a combined reward/immunity challenge.
Merges, tribe switches, and dissolves
In seasons which start with more than two tribes, there is a dissolve of the tribes, where the players will be re-divided into two tribes after one to four Tribal Councils.
In many seasons, the tribes have been switched before the merge. The members of each tribe are swapped around. Sometimes the tribes are switched by doing a random shuffle to a schoolyard pick, where two players ("captains") would start picking players for their tribe. There has also been a Tribe Switch which is done by allowing players to join the other tribe. This process usually defeats many early alliances and strategies, and can cost a player the game early, or save them from being voted off early.
When there are 8 to 12 players left in the game, the two tribes merge. When they merge, the two tribes come together to make one new tribe. From this point, Challenges are won by one person. The merged tribe also chooses a new tribe name and makes a new tribe flag with materials given by production. There was no merge in Palau. The Koror tribe had won every immunity challenge, and members of the other tribe, Ulong, were being voted off one by one. When there was one Ulong member left, they simply joined Koror.
Hidden immunity idol
In the later seasons, hidden immunity idols have been made available. These idols, usually a small object that fits with the theme of the Survivor location, are hidden near camp or on Exile Island, with clues on its location given, usually to a chosen player (in Guatemala) or to exiled or kidnapped players. Once found, the player with an idol may keep it or give it to another player before the start of Tribal Council, and it may not be stolen from that player. The player doesn't have to show this idol to other players, though may use it to join alliances and for voting purposes. Other players may find out that someone has the idol by peeking into other player's personal items. In the first few seasons of the twist, only one idol was ever in play, but in Survivor: Fiji, Survivor: China, Survivor: Tocantins and Survivor: Samoa, two hidden immunity idols were made available to the players (one at each camp). The hidden immunity idol can only be used up until and including the Tribal Council of the final four or five players, depending on the season.
The use of the idol by a player to become immune has changed through the seasons:
- In Guatemala, the player with the idol had to show the idol before the vote to be safe from being voted off. The other members of the tribe were then not allowed to vote for this player.
- In both Panama and Cook Islands, the player with the idol had to show the idol after the votes were read to become safe. If the idol holder had the most number of votes, the player with the next largest number of votes was then voted out.
- Since Fiji, the player with the idol had to show it after the votes were cast, but before they were read. The idol could be given to another player at this time, allowing that player to use the idol if they wanted to. This has resulted in players being voted out of the game without playing the idol (in China, Micronesia, Tocantins and Samoa)
During Guatemala, the hidden immunity idol was not returned to the game after its use. Since then, if the idol is played, or the player with the idol leaves the game without playing it, the idol is replaced at a new spot to be found, and new clues are given out. During Gabon, the players all decided to throw a hidden immunity idol into the sea. In this case it was not replaced at a new spot. In some seasons, fake hidden immunity idols have been made by contestants; these idols don't work if played.
The idea of Exile Island was started in Survivor: Palau, when a player had to stay alone on a beach due to losing the Immunity Challenge. The idea was later used again in Survivor: Panama and was used in every season after that, except Survivor: China and Survivor: Samoa. A chosen player is sent ("exiled") to a small island away from the main tribe camps, usually for at least a day after a reward challenge and returning at the next immunity challenge. The player chosen may be the first loser of a challenge (as was the case in Survivor: Palau), or a person chosen by either the winning or losing tribe while the players are divided in tribes, or an individual challenge winner in the individual phase, after the merge. In Micronesia and Tocantins, one person from each tribe was sent to Exile Island. Unless stated otherwise, players who win the right to choose who goes to Exile Island may also choose to go themselves.
Also, whenever the number of players is uneven when tribes are being made (in division or switching, but not merging), the player without a tribe will be "tribeless" and sent to Exile Island after formation (Survivor: Panama, Survivor: Fiji, and Survivor: Gabon). In this case, the player will return and join the tribe which loses a member at the next Tribal Council.
Once chosen, the exiled player is taken to the island by boat (or given a map to the "island"). On the island, there are few tools to survive with, usually a water canteen, a machete, a pot, and a small amount of shelter. The little amount of food on Exile Island can make a player weaker, causing them to perform worse in challenges. The separation from other players can cause a player to become on outcast on their tribe. Players are often sent to Exile Island for one or both of these strategic reasons.
The person exiled gets a clue to the hidden immunity idol, which may or may not be located on the island, an "instant comfort" (as in Survivor: Gabon), or (as in Survivor: Tocantins) the right to change tribes. If the exiled player is asked to return after the Tribal Council (whether they belong to a tribe or not), they will also be safe from being voted out at that Tribal Council.
Tribal Council is held at the end of each episode. Here, the tribe votes one person out of the tribe. The first time any player visits Tribal Council, they are asked to take a torch and light it from a fire pit. They say that "this is part of the ritual of Tribal Council because fire represents life. As long as you have fire, you are still in this game. When your fire's gone, so are you". If the Jury has already been started, they are asked to enter and watch. Probst then asks the players questions about details and events since the tribe's last Tribal Council. Before the vote, if a player has been awarded individual immunity through an immunity challenge, he is then asked if he wants to give it to another player. Whoever has the immunity after this possible switch cannot be voted out.
The players then vote for another player in secret, and the player who gets the most votes must leave the game. Players cannot vote for themselves. Players also have to write neatly, and avoid using of uncommon nicknames. If the number of votes for one player is above half of the total votes, Probst will stop reading, and that player is eliminated, keeping the rest of the votes in secret to the players themselves.
As said earlier, the player(s) with the Hidden Immunity Idol(s) get the chance to play the idol at certain points at Tribal Council.
The eliminated player's fire is put out, and Probst tells them "The tribe has spoken" and "It's time for you to go." The player then leaves the Tribal Council area and says some last words that are shown at the end of the episode. The rest of the tribe members are then told to return to camp with their torches; in some seasons, this has allowed a tribe access to a source of fire, while in other seasons, the tribe is not allowed to return to camp with their torches lit if they do not yet have their own source of fire or a way of starting one.
When there is a tie (where two or more players have the same number of votes) before there are four players left, the non-tied players will vote once again, where the only possibilities for elimination are the tied players. If the second vote does not break the tie, a two minute discussion will start where the non-tied players must come to a decision as to who should be voted off. If a decision is not reached in two minutes, the tied players are safe from being voted off and the non-tied players (except anyone who has won individual immunity) choose rocks out of a bag without looking. The player who chooses the differently colored rock is eliminated.
In the event of a tie at the final four, there will be a revote (However in Survivor: Gabon, there was no revote in the final four and it went straight to the fire-making tie breaker challenge), but if the revote does not break the tie, the tied players will compete in a challenge. In Palau, Panama, Cook Islands and Gabon, this challenge was a fire-making contest. In Marquesas, the random rock tiebreaker was used at the final four, which host Jeff Probst later said was a mistake.
In the very rare case that a tribe is down to two players before the merge, as in Palau, those two will also face off in a challenge to decide who is to leave the game. This has only happened once to date.
Very rarely, a player may choose to quit the game. The player's wish is granted, for whatever reasons. If a player quits at Tribal Council, as was the case in Pearl Islands and Palau, that player's torch is "laid down". Depending on the player's reasons for quitting, they may or may not get to say their final words.
In very rare cases when players have to leave the game due to injury, or completely leave the game on their own terms outside of Tribal Council, Tribal Council is usually not held, with the other tribe(s) being informed of the player leaving if still before the merge. However, there have been occasions where, after a player is removed, an immunity challenge and a Tribal Council are still held. This usually happens when the game starts with more than eighteen players.
All eliminated players except, usually, the Final 9 (in later seasons this number has changed), leave the game entirely. The rest of the players who leave the game, except the final two or three who will go on to the final vote, are the jury, a group of people who vote to decide the winner of the game. Once the Jury starts to form, the members are at every Tribal Council, but are not allowed to speak or talk to the players still in the game; they are only there to watch the questioning and voting that occurs. Jury members are there until the end of the final Tribal Council, and are not allowed to talk about their voting or issues with the remaining players, with other jury members, or the final players. This rule continues through the game and up until the winner is announced.
End of the game
The last two challenges (starting on the third to last day of the game) before the Final Tribal Council have always followed a similar pattern:
Before to the second-to-last challenge, the players are usually given a small food reward (a hearty breakfast or similar meal) for making it this far. The second-to-last immunity challenge is usually a very hard, multi-part challenge, and usually is the most complex challenge of the entire season, often combining elements from previous challenges. A Tribal Council is then held to vote off one player.
Before the last challenge, the remaining players partake in a memorial activity appropriate for the theme of the show, where they pay respect to the players who have been eliminated before them. (Torches of the eliminated players are usually included in this part.) This usually leads right into the last immunity challenge, which usually focuses on balance or endurance and which can last from minutes to almost half a day. In most seasons, with three players in the challenge, winning immunity on this challenge allows that player to choose whom he or she wants to go with to the Final Tribal Council, raising their chance at winning the game. Because of this, the challenges can allow players to talk and try to make last-minute deals, giving up immunity for assurance of being taken to the Final Two. A Tribal Council is then held to vote off the last eliminated player. Only the person with Immunity votes since the other two votes would cancel each other out. At this point, the game is no longer in the remaining players' control, as the next day they face the Final Tribal Council where their fate will be decided.
A similar pattern has been used in newer seasons in which three players go to the Final Tribal Council. The final challenges and rituals take place one vote earlier in the game. The last immunity challenge is held amongst the final four players, and the winner, while assured a place in the final three, does not choose his or her competition for the prize.
Final tribal council
On the last day of the competition, the surviving players usually either clean up, tear down, or burn down their camp as a tribute to surviving to the end of the game. They then make their way to the final Tribal Council.
During the final Tribal Council, the following events usually occur:
- Each of the final players makes a statement to the jury about why they deserve of the jury's vote.
- Each jury member, in turn, can ask each of the final players a question, which that player must answer. In some cases, the jury member may only be making a short speech which doesn't need an answer but is meant to throw the player off guard.
- From Borneo to Panama, each final player made a closing statement, allowing them to respond to the jury's question and again explain why they would be the most deserving winner. This practice has never been done since Cook Islands.
- Each jury member then votes for one of the final players, saying which player he or she wants to win the game.
After this vote, the container with the votes is taken away by the host. The players are told that the vote will be revealed during the live finale, and the votes are secured until the live finale of the show when the votes are revealed and the winner is announced. Sometimes the final tribal council and finale are changed so they look like one event, until moments later the camera shows the studio audience. This is possible by re-creating on a studio the Tribal Council set from the location of filming.
Before the use of a Final 3, the jury has always been odd-numbered, ensuring that no tie would be possible. However, with every Final 3 jury, or as in the case of Micronesia of an even-numbered jury for a Final 2, a tie may be possible; it is unknown what tie-breaker is used to break a tie if it happens. During the finale of Micronesia, the host had a white envelope that he said held the tie-breaker, but its contents were not revealed as there was no tie.
The player chosen as Sole Survivor gets a cash prize of $1,000,000 (prior to taxes). The Sole Survivor also gets a car given by the show's sponsor, except in Survivor: Cook Islands. In a few seasons, the final players have also agreed to play for the tribe flag or other representative object from camp.
In addition, the final five or six contestants may have the chance to compete for a car. The winner of this challenge has never won the game, leading to the idea of a "Survivor car curse".
Every player gets a prize for being on Survivor depending on how long he or she lasted in the game. In most seasons, the runner-up gets $100,000, and third place wins $85,000. Sonja Christopher, the first player voted off in Survivor: Borneo, got $2,500. The prize was raised for Survivor: All-Stars. The known prizes for Survivor: All-Stars were as follows: 2nd = $250,000; 3rd = $125,000; 4th = $100,000. Tina Wesson, the first player voted off in Survivor: All-Stars, got $25,000. In Survivor: Fiji, the first season with tied runners-up, the two runners-up got US$100,000 each, and Yau-Man Chan got US$60,000 for his 4th place finish. The prizes for other seasons with more than sixteen contestants are unknown.
All players also get an additional $10,000 for being on the reunion show.
There have also been additional prizes given out, outside of the usual mechanics of the show:
- In Survivor: All-Stars:
- Rob Mariano won the in-game car reward as part of a challenge. Given the option to choose a player to join him in a makeshift drive-in movie theater, he chose Amber Brkich to join him. Jeff Probst later said to the two at their reward that because Rob had chosen Amber, Amber also got a car (though one of lesser value).
- At the reunion, Amber, as the Sole Survivor, was then asked to choose one of the other All-Stars to receive a car, and she chose Shii Ann Huang.
- In Survivor: America's Tribal Council as part of the All-Stars season, Rupert Boneham was chosen by a popularity poll of Survivor viewers to win $1,000,000.
- Beginning in Survivor: Panama, viewers of Survivor voted their favorite player to win a new car.
- In Survivor: China, Denise Martin was selected by the show's producers to receive a prize of $50,000, due to misfortunes she experienced after her return home following taping. It was later revealed that she was misleading in her story of being demoted, and she declined the $50,000, asking it to be donated to a pediatric AIDS charity instead.
- Beginning in Survivor: China, viewers of Survivor voted their favorite player to win $100,000. Below are the winners of their respective seasons.
- Secretly planning to split winnings will result in removal from the game.
- Except for the occasional challenges which involve wrestling or small amounts of fighting, any physical violence between players will result in removal from the game.
- At Tribal Council, players are not allowed to vote for themselves, and they cannot decline to cast a vote. Players must also show whom they voted for to the camera inside the voting booth.
- Players must not break U.S. law or local law. Breaking any of these laws will result in removal from the game.
- Players may not skip any tribal councils, nor can they refuse to participate in an immunity or reward challenge, unless the game offers them the chance to do so.
- Tribe members may not 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 cannot visit the TV crew compound. Exceptions to this rule have been made, as a result of accident or challenge victories.
- If a player becomes seriously injured or sick, the player, fellow players, 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 unable to participate further by the medical team and is then taken from camp to a medical facility, and removed from the game.
- Depending on which country the show takes place in, players may be stopped from killing certain forms of plant or animal life.
U.S. Survivor seasons
The United States version is produced by Mark Burnett and hosted by Jeff Probst. It is shown on Thursdays on CBS. The first season of Survivor was broadcast as a summer replacement show in 2000. Since then the show has been broadcast each U.S. television season. Each competition is called a season, but each season has a different name, and lasts from 13 to 15 episodes. Starting with Survivor: The Australian Outback there have been two Survivor seasons shown during each U.S. television season.
|1||Survivor: Borneo||Pulau Tiga, Sabah, Malaysia||Two tribes of eight||Richard Hatch||Kelly Wiglesworth||4–3||First season to be shown on Wednesdays.|
|2||Survivor: The Australian Outback||Australian Outback around Cairns||Two tribes of eight||Tina Wesson||Colby Donaldson||4–3||Michael Skupin was burned and became the first player to be removed due to injuries; only season to film for more than 39 days, running 42 days.|
|3||Survivor: Africa||Kenya's Shaba National Reserve||Two tribes of eight||Ethan Zohn||Kim Johnson||5–2||First season to have a tribe switch.|
|4||Survivor: Marquesas||Nuku Hiva, the largest of the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia||Two tribes of eight||Vecepia Towery||Neleh Dennis||4–3||The only time the Purple Rock tie breaker was ever used|
|5||Survivor: Thailand||Ko Tarutao, Thailand||Two tribes of eight picked by the two oldest players, Jake and Jan||Brian Heidik||Clay Jordan||4–3||First to have a fake merge and a late merge|
|6||Survivor: The Amazon||Amazon River region of Brazil||Two tribes of eight divided by gender||Jenna Morasca||Matthew Von Ertfelda||6–1||First time a reality show player competed with a disability – the hearing impaired Christy Smith|
|7||Survivor: Pearl Islands||Pearl Islands, Panama||Two tribes of eight||Sandra Diaz-Twine||Lillian Morris||6–1||First and only time players who had been voted out were allowed to come back to the game as a part of the Outcast Tribe; first season where a player, Osten Taylor, quit the game|
|8||Survivor: All-Stars||Pearl Islands, Panama||Three tribes of six returning players||Amber Brkich||Rob Mariano||4–3||Survivor: America's Tribal Council was held four days later, and a second million-dollar prize was awarded to Rupert Boneham for being voted by the viewers as their favorite player; Mariano proposed to Brkich during the Reunion.|
|9||Survivor: Vanuatu – Islands of Fire||Efate, Vanuatu||Two tribes of nine divided by gender||Chris Daugherty||Twila Tanner||5–2||Chris was the only male left in the final seven; Chad Crittenden was the first amputee player.|
|10||Survivor: Palau||Koror, Palau||Two tribes of nine, plus two eliminated without a tribe||Tom Westman||Katie Gallagher||6–1||Only season where one of the tribes, Koror, won all the immunity challenges – Stephenie LaGrossa, the last member of the defeated tribe, Ulong, simply joined Koror.|
|11||Survivor: Guatemala – The Mayan Empire||Yaxha National Park, Guatemala||Two tribes of nine, including Stephenie LaGrossa and Bobby Jon Drinkard from Palau||Danni Boatwright||Stephenie LaGrossa||6–1||First season to have a hidden immunity idol.|
|12||Survivor: Panama – Exile Island||Pearl Islands, Panama||Four tribes of four divided by age and gender||Aras Baskauskas||Danielle DiLorenzo||5–2||First season to have Exile Island throughout the show and first to offer the hidden Immunity Idol throughout, which could only be found by being sent to Exile Island; Bruce Kanegai became the second person to be removed due to injuries.|
|13||Survivor: Cook Islands||Cook Islands||Four tribes of five divided by ethnicity: African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and Asians||Yul Kwon||Ozzy Lusth
|5–4–0||Both Exile Island and the Hidden Immunity Idol were used during the season; first time three players were involved in the final vote, with a jury of nine people|
|14||Survivor: Fiji||Vanua Levu, Fiji||Two tribes of nine, plus one who joined after the first tribal council||Earl Cole||Cassandra Franklin
Dre "Dreamz" Herd
|9–0–0||First time the number of players was an odd number (19), because one player quit just before the game started. As part of the twist to this season, one tribe enjoyed much luxuries while the other had almost nothing.|
|15||Survivor: China||Jiangxi, People's Republic of China||Two tribes of eight||Todd Herzog||Courtney Yates
|4–2–1||A twist involving kidnapping players from the other tribe replaced Exile Island|
|16||Survivor: Micronesia – Fans vs Favorites||Koror, Palau||Two tribes of ten: fans against popular past players||Parvati Shallow||Amanda Kimmel||5–3||Two players, one from each tribe, were sent to Exile Island; first season to have three players leave the game without being voted out.|
|17||Survivor: Gabon – Earth's Last Eden||Estuaire, Gabon||Two tribes of nine||Robert Crowley||Susie Smith
Jessica "Sugar" Kiper
|4–3–0||First season shot and shown in HD. The show started on September 25 as a two-hour event. On Exile Island, the player chosen could choose the clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol or take comfort of a hammock, pillows and fresh fruit.|
|18||Survivor: Tocantins – The Brazilian Highlands||Tocantins, Brazil||Two tribes of eight||James "J.T." Thomas||Stephen Fishbach||7–0||Two players were sent to exile, where one would get a clue to the hidden immunity idol.|
|19||Survivor: Samoa||Upolu, Samoa||Two tribes of ten||Natalie White||Russell Hantz
|7–2–0||The tribe who won reward sent one of their players to be with the losing tribe back to their campsite and watch them until the next immunity challenge.|
|20||Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains||Upolu, Samoa||Two tribes of ten returning players divided into those who were heroes and villains||Sandra Diaz-Twine||Parvati Shallow
|6–3–0||Only season to feature a second-time winner (Sandra).|
|21||Survivor: Nicaragua||San Juan del Sur , Rivas, Nicaragua||Two tribes of ten divided by age||Jud||Chase Rice
|5–4–0||Only season to have the Medallion of Power.|
|22||Survivor: Redemption Island||San Juan del Sur , Rivas, Nicaragua||Two tribes of nine, including two returning players||Rob Mariano||Phillip Sheppard
|8–1–0||First season to feature Redemption Island, where players who were voted out could compete in challenges to return to the game.|
|23||Survivor: South Pacific||Upolu, Samoa||Two tribes of nine, including two returning players||Sophie Clarke||Benjamin "Coach"
|6–3–0||First season to feature a family member of a previous player. ( Brandon Hantz is the nephew of Russell Hantz)|
|24||Survivor: One World||Upolu, Samoa||Two tribes of nine divided by gender living on the same beach||Kim Spradlin||Sabrina Thompson
|7–2–0||First season to have a little person, Leif Manson.|
The American version of Survivor has been shot in many locations around the world since the first season, in warm, tropical climates.
|Continent||Locations (Season number)|
|Africa||Kenya (3), Gabon (17)|
|Asia||Borneo (1), China (15), Thailand (5)|
|Oceania||Australia (2), Cook Islands (13), Fiji (14), Marquesas (4), Palau (10, 16), Samoa (19, 20, 23, 24), Vanuatu (9)|
|North America (Central America)||Guatemala (11), Panama (7, 8, 12), Nicaragua (21, 22)|
|South America||Brazil (6, 18)|
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