Survivor (TV series)

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Template:Infobox television

Survivor is a popular reality television program produced by many countries throughout the world. The show consists of contestants isolated in a remote location competing for a cash prize. The format was created by Swedish production company Strix.



This text refers to the American version of the show. Small differences may exist between it and other versions. Also, rule changes instituted for one season are discussed below.


The basic premise of the show is that each series starts with sixteen players and on each episode one player is voted off by the other remaining players. Initially, the players are divided into two eight person "tribes" which compete against each other in "challenges" - competitions of endurance, intelligence, teamwork, dexterity, or will power. Each episode has an "immunity challenge" and the tribe that loses this challenge must vote off one member of the tribe at "Tribal Council." In addition, most episodes have a "reward challenge" and the winning tribe will receive a prize such as additional food or equipment. Exceptions: In Survivor: All-Stars, there were 18 players in three tribes at the start of the game. In Immunity Challenges, the top two tribes received immunity; only last place went to Tribal Council. In Survivor: Vanuatu, again 18 players began the game, but in two tribes of nine players each. In Survivor: Palau, 20 players began the game, and were divided into two tribes of nine, with the other two players being eliminated immediately.

Later seasons offered twists on pre-merge immunity rules. In the opening moments of Palau, Probst told the 20 contestants (all of whom were rowing in the middle of the ocean) that the first man and woman to reach the shore would be granted immunity. That safety lasted until day 2, when they each picked the first member of their new tribe (Jolanda Jones, the female immunity winner, was voted out on day 3!). On day 7 of Vanuatu, both tribes were told they had to vote out a member. They were then ordered to compete in a reward challenge. The Lopevi tribe won, and their "reward" was an individual competition for immunity -- John Kenney won and was kept safe for that particular vote; he was also sent to the Yasur tribe for a day to watch their activities and award immunity to one player (he chose Ami Cusack). In Palau, on day 12, the Koror and Ulong tribes were forced to vote out one member apiece. Powerhouse Koror won the reward challenge, and the prize was eating a meal in front of Ulong while watching their Tribal Council. A surprise twist revealed only at TC was the opportunity to give one Ulong immunity for that particular vote. Votes were split but a majority went to the Ulong tribe's intended target, Ibrehem Rahman, forcing Ulong to vote out another member.

At some point in the season the remaining players from the two tribes "merge" into a single tribe (except in Palau, where the victorious Koror tribe merely absorbed the only remaining Ulong member, Stephenie LaGrossa). From this point, challenges are won on an individual basis. Rewards are given to only one player (although there are times when reward challenges have multiple teams competing against each other. The teams are typically divided up randomly). With most of the reward challenges, the individual who wins is often given the option to choose one other player to share the reward with). Still, only one player can win immunity. This immune player cannot be voted off on that episode, although he or she still has the right to vote against other players. In the Marquesas, Amazon, Pearl Islands, All-Stars, Vanuatu, and Palau seasons, the player who won immunity had the right to pass it to a fellow tribemate. Several players attempted to barter for this prize, but only two transfers have occurred. Amazon winner Jenna Morasca gave her immunity to friend Heidi Strobel on day 33, and Burton Roberts gave up his immunity to Rupert Boneham on day 22 of Pearl Islands (Burton had automatic immunity because of his return to the game from the outcast twist and also won that episode's immunity challenge, so he had one to give up).

Tribal Council

The voting is done at the end of each episode at Tribal Council. The show's host, Jeff Probst, questions and provokes the players about events that have occurred and their opinions about the other players. The players all then secretly vote, and the player who receives the most votes is out of the competition. Probst takes the players' torch, extinguishes it, and declares "The tribe has spoken." The player then leaves the area and gives his final words, which air during the credits of the episode.

If there is a tie, the following tiebreakers have been used:

  • In Seasons 1-3, all players not in the tie voted again. If the tie remained, whoever had received the most votes in prior Tribal Councils was eliminated. If this did not break the tie, a sudden death trivia challenge was used.
  • In Survivor: Marquesas, a tie in the Final Four was broken by a random draw among all players, except Vecepia Towery, who had immunity.
  • Later seasons such as Thailand and Palau have featured players discussing the possibility of a "purple rock", but at Tribal Council they have usually avoided tiebreaker situations. Several votes since Marquesas have been initially tied but the ties have been resolved in revotes. For example, there was an initial 2-2 tie vote in Palau between Bobby Jon Drinkard and Angie Jakusz. Probst ordered a revote from the three other members of their tribe, and Jakusz was voted out 3-0. In the following episode, Ibrehem Rahman and James Miller tied on a 2-2 vote but a revote led to a 2-0 departure for Miller.
  • In recent seasons, in case of a deadlock vote that takes place before the Final Four, the people who are tied gain immunity from elimination, and the rest of the tribe members (except the person who won the immunity challenge) must draw rocks. The one who draws the purple rock is eliminated. However, this rule has never been exercised. If a deadlock vote takes place during the Final Four, no rocks are drawn; instead, ties are decided on the basis of competitions similar to immunity challenges. In Palau, a tie in the Final Four between Ian Rosenberger and Jennifer Lyon resulted in Ian and Jenn participating in a fire-starting challenge; Ian won and Jenn was voted out.

The first 6-9 players eliminated leave the game altogether; in the first season they were allowed to return to the United States, but when some of the early exits were sighted during filming (spoiling the outcome of the first few episodes), Survivor instituted a policy forcing pre-jury players to stay fairly close to the filming area (the country itself, or nearby countries). One exception was Tanya Vance, who was voted out on day 6 of Thailand and allowed to return home several weeks later upon learning her father had been killed. Those who finish in ninth through third place remain to form the "jury" which does not directly participate in the show but observes the Tribal Councils. In the final episode of each season, the final four (3 in Survivor: Australia) players typically go through a number of activities during their final days. In the first 4 seasons they competed in an immunity challenge, which has generally been "Fallen Comrades," where players compete (in front of the jury) to answer questions about the jury correctly. Later seasons have featured other physical or mental tasks in place of "Fallen Comrades". Immediately following this challenge, fourth place is voted out. The players return to camp and go through a "memorial" for the players previously eliminated from the game on the way to their final challenge, generally one of endurance. Whoever wins this challenge has the sole vote to determine third place. The final two return, and on the last day go through a symbolic destruction of camp (this is not official; it is a tradition begun in Pulau Tiga when Richard Hatch and Kelly Wiglesworth burned everything but their personal gear on Day 39 to symbolize leaving the game behind). Then they go to their final Tribal Council, where the seven members of the jury are given the right to ask them questions. At the very end of the show, each of the seven jurors votes for the winner. Probst takes the container with the votes, and it is secured until the live finale of the show, when the votes are revealed and the million-dollar winner announced.


Not only the winner receives a prize in Survivor. Here are the approximate monetary prizes for all placings in a normal 16-player game (on the All-Star series, all prizes except the million dollar top prize were doubled):

Template:End box The Million-dollar winner also typically wins an automobile. While the show is based on the theme of wilderness survival, the real basis of the show is interpersonal relationships. The survival aspects are difficult enough to discomfort the players, but contestants are rarely truly endangered (only one has ever had to leave in mid-series due to injuries). The real survival skills required are the ability to make deals and form alliances with other players to keep from being voted off. Because of the steadily diminishing number of players and the fact that the players being voted off will in turn choose the ultimate winner, considerable political skills are required.

Concept history

The creation of the Survivor concept, although credited to Charlie Parsons, was actually conceived by Bob Geldof's Planet 24 television company. It initially failed to attract the attention of any of the major broadcasters in Britain or the United States and was eventually taken up by Swedish television in 1997 as Expedition Robinson (alluding to Robinson Crusoe). The show was a major hit in Sweden, and it is estimated that half of Sweden's population watched the final episode.

The initial series was a huge ratings success in the US in 2000. Its second season, in the winter/spring of 2001, drew even larger audiences. Subsequent US versions have attracted smaller but still substantial audiences. There have also been British and Australian versions of the show in 2002. Both were ratings flops, indeed in Britain, its failure was a national joke (though ratings for the UK series were considerably lower than ITV had hoped for, it still regularly attracted six to eight million viewers, a decent rather than huge audience, but enough for ITV to commission a second series which appeared a year later). A Japanese version was also produced for four installments which achieved some success. [1] ( Broadcast rights for the American version have been sold to various broadcasters and is viewed in many countries around the world.

Seasons of the American version of the series

The U.S. version is produced by Mark Burnett and hosted by Jeff Probst. When the program is broadcast, it airs weekly on CBS. As of early 2005 ten games have been aired, including a special competition with past contestants. DVD's of the first season, second season, and All-Stars season have been released. DVD editions of other seasons are planned.

Also, the first ten seasons of Survivor will start airing on the Outdoor Life Network beginning in July 24, 2005.

Survivor: Marquesas was not shown in Australia as the network was showing a series of Australian Survivor instead. The latter was not a ratings success, and since then the American edition of Survivor resumed airing.


(rules may vary in foreign versions of the series)

  • 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 who they voted for to the camera inside the voting booth.
  • Contestants may not skip any tribal councils, nor can they refuse to participate in an immunity or reward challenge (unless one tribe has more players then the other. In that case, the tribe with more members can select tribe members to sit out of a challenge.)
  • When one tribe has more players than the other tribe, the excess members must sit out challenges. This rule was relaxed only in the Survivor: The Australian Outback season because Jeff Probst felt neither team would be helped or hindered by the numeric disparity. Beginning with Survivor: Africa, the rules specifically stated that any player who sits out a reward challenge cannot sit out the following immunity challenge. In Survivor: Palau episodes 7-8 the Koror tribe had 8 players while Ulong only had 3 (and then 2), which forced the show to allow various Koror players to sit out back-to-back challenges. The only qualification then was that the same 2-3 players could not participate in each concurrent challenge. Katie Gallagher and Janu Tornell, both of the Palau season, tie for the most sit-outs of any players (they each sat out 7 challenges over 8 episodes).
  • Except for the occasional challenges which involve wrestling or limited combat, any physical violence between players will result in immediate expulsion from the game.
  • Conspiring to split winnings will result in immediate expulsion from the game.
  • 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 cannot visit the TV crew compound.
  • Depending on which country the show takes place in, contestants may be barred from killing certain forms of wildlife and plantlife.

Controversies and Legal Action

Turmoil between players is commonplace for any reality series, but Survivor has had a few instances which went beyond mere intertribal squabbles:

  • In February 2001, Borneo player Stacey Stillman filed a lawsuit (,1,7772,00.html) claiming ( producers interfered in the process of the game by persuading two members of her team (Sean Keniff and Dirk Been) to vote her off instead of Rudy Boesch. Been supported her allegations. Mark Burnett countersued Stillman for $5 million dollars. The case was eventually settled out of court.
  • At ( the trivia immunity challenge for Africa 's final four players, host Jeff Probst asked which female player in their season had no piercings. Kim Johnson answered Kelly Goldsmith, got the point, and went on to win the challenge, which pushed her to third and ultimately (after another immunity win) second place. Tom Buchanan was eliminated. Months after filming, the cast and producers gathered for the reunion show. The cast and producers watched the finale broadcast, and when Probst was shown asking who had no piercings, Lindsey Richter shouted to the TV that she had none. Lex van der Berghe's answer had been Lindsey, yet the show had not awarded him a point, thus drastically changing the outcome of the game (van der Berghe was eliminated in third place). Realizing their mistake, CBS paid van der Berghe and Buchanan a settlement.
  • In the fifth episode of the All-Star season, a naked Richard Hatch deliberately ground his crotch against Sue Hawk during an immunity challenge. Hatch was voted out that day for other reasons; a humiliated and depressed Hawk quit the game a few days later (episode six). Hawk considered ( filing a lawsuit against the parties involved, but appeared with Hatch on The Early Show the morning after the sixth episode aired, stating she opted out of legal action because CBS had helped her "deal with the situation".

Survivor Trivia and Interesting Facts

A full list can be found at Survivor Trivia and Interesting Facts.

UK Survivor

Survivor (UK) hit screens in the United Kingdom in 2001. The format was similar to that of the US version, and was screened on ITV1. Sixteen contestants were marooned on the island of Pulau Tiga and were split into two tribes. They completed in challenges and schemed against each other. The first series was won by Charlotte Hobrough. Despite hype surrounding the show, it was a ratings flop, and was heavily criticised by the press.

Despite the disappointing performance of the first series, ITV decided to commission a second one, with some changes. Presenters Mark Austin and John Leslie were axed, and replaced by Channel 4 cricket presenter Mark Nicholas. There were twelve contestants instead of sixteen, the show was scheduled in a later time slot, and was set in Panama. The series was won by Jonny Gibb. Ratings were still disappointing, and so ITV1 decided to axe the show completely.

There was a similarly titled series, Survivors, a 1970s series by Terry Nation, set in the then-present day, when most of the world's population were suddenly wiped out by a virulent plague. It followed the fortunes of a few of the "lucky" people who were immune.

External links

is:Survivor (sjnvarpsttur) ja:サバイバー (番組) fi:Selviytyjt sv:Expedition: Robinson

Prize (in US$)
Sixteenth $2,000
Fifteenth $4,000
Fourteenth $6,000
Thirteenth $8,000
Twelfth $10,000
Eleventh $12,000
Tenth $15,000
Ninth $20,000
Eighth $30,000
Seventh $40,000
Sixth $50,000
Fifth $60,000
Fourth $70,000
Third $85,000
Runner-up $100,000
Winner $1,000,000

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