Survivor is... it's...Well, if The Real World is the grand-daddy of the reality show, Survivor is thedaddy. It debuted in 2000. Sure, it proved to be a huge hit, and a big moneymaker for CBS, and it launched a wave of reality shows that, in 2014, we're still recovering from.The story is as follows: a fixed number of men and women are stuck in a wilderness setting (typically, but not always, a deserted tropical island; all the better to get the contestants out of their clothes), where they're divided into at least two tribes (mostly random, but sometimes by gender, age or race). They then must build a shelter and make fire so they can safely eat food and drink water. Oftentimes they get to take in a luxury item from home, or they'll have to win it. Each week, the tribes compete in a series of challenges, where they win rewards and Immunity, which allows them to avoid Tribal Council. The losers (who attend Tribal Council) then have to decide which of them will be Voted off the Island. When a sufficient amount of time has passed, the tribes are merged into one and nearly all the challenges, rewards, and immunities become individual, rather than tribe-based. After 39 days, 2-3 people are left for the Final Tribal Council, where the recently eliminated contestants from the merged tribe form the Jury and vote to decide who wins the $1,000,000 prize.A guilty pleasure if ever there was one, although some actually do watch the show for sociological purposes, like with Big Brother.A number of podcast's dedicated to contestant interviews, remembering past seasons nostalgically, and discussing strategy exist online, including Rob Has a Podcast, Armchair Survivor, Survivor Oz, Dom And Colin, and Survivor Historians.
01: Borneo — Pulau Tiga, Sabah, Malaysia (Summer 2000). Originally simply called "Survivor". First season of the US series. 16 castaways are split between Pagong and Tagi before merging into Rattana (the initial tribes are named after local beaches, and the latter after rattan, a species of palm abundant in Borneo). It is also the only season where the winner was announced on-site. Among the season's memorable personalities, Richard Hatch had the most lasting impact, setting the tone of the game forever by getting the Tagi tribe to organize their votes against the Pagongs. Won by Richard Hatch of Middletown, Rhode Island.
02: The Australian Outback — Goshen Station, Queensland, Australia (Winter 2001). 16 castaways are split between Kucha and Ogakor before merging into Barramundi (all named after Aboriginal words for "kangaroo", "alligator" and an endemic species of fish, respectively). Lasting 42 days (the only season to do so), this season is infamous for the first forced evacuee: Michael Skupin, who burnt his hands on a bonfire. It's also well-known for Colby Donaldson's individual immunity challenge streak and the Foe Yay between him and Jerri Manthey. First season to use previous votes as the method of breaking ties. Won by Tina Wesson of Knoxville, Tennessee.
03: Africa — Shaba National Reserve, Eastern Province, Kenya (Fall 2001). 16 castaways are split between Boran and Samburu before merging into Moto Maji (the first two are named after actualtribes living in the area, the third after a Swahili word for "fire and water"; tribe colors are interestingly patterned after the Ethiopian variant of the Pan-African colors). First season to feature a tribe swap. Won by Ethan Zohn of Lexington, Massachusetts.
04: Marquesas — Nuku Hiva, Marquesas Islands, French Polynesia (Spring 2002). 16 castaways are split between Rotu and Maraamu before merging into Soliantu (the first two are named after Marquesan words for "wind" and "rain", respectively, and the latter a word made up by two castaways to mean "sacred allegiance to the sun"). This season first saw a transferable Immunity Necklace, but also an infamous tiebreaker that evicted anyone who picked a purple rock — in this case, Paschal English. The original season of Rob Mariano, aka "Boston Rob". Won by Vecepia Towery of Portland, Oregon.
05: Thailand — Ko Tarutao, Satun Province, Thailand (Fall 2002). 16 castaways are split between Chuay Gahn and Sook Jai, handpicked by the eldest male and female castaways, before merging into Chuay Jai (the first two are named after Thai words for "helping one another" and "happy heart", respectively, and the third is a portmanteau of both names). The season was the first to offer castaways a chance to switch tribes at will, and featured an auction and a merger fake-out through cohabitation. However, the host, Jeff Probst, also called it his least-liked season, having to deal with lots of jerkasses throughout its run. Won by Brian Heidik of Quartz Hill, California.
06: The Amazon — Rio Negro, Amazonas, Brazil (Winter 2003). 16 castaways are split by gender, for the first time in the series, between all-female Jaburu and all-male Tambaqui before merging into Jacaré (the first two are named after a local stork and fish, respectively, and the third after a Portuguese word for "alligator"). On day 13, both tribes switch some members. Won by Jenna Morasca of Bridgeville, Pennsylvania.
07: Pearl Islands — Pearl Islands, Panamá Province, Panama (Summer 2003). 16 castaways are split between Drake and Morgan before merging into Balboa (the first two are named after British privateers Sir Francis Drake and Henry Morgan, respectively, and the third after a snake one castaway found). In tune to this season's theme of piracy (being set on a historic pirate den, and whose tribes' namesakes were branded by the Spanish as pirates), challenge winners can pillage the losing team's camp and, on one challenge, "kidnap" someone until the next challenge. The first six expelled players formed a third pre-merger tribe - the Outcasts - which defeated Drake and Morgan, forcing them both to expel one of their own while the Outcasts voted two back into the game. The jury also played in one challenge and won, depriving Balboa individual immunity. This was also the original season of two of the show's most memorable players: Rupert Boneham and Jon Dalton aka "Jonny Fairplay". Won by Sandra Diaz-Twine of Fort Lewis, Washington.
08: All-Stars — Pearl Islands (Winter 2004). The first Reunion Show. 18 castaways from earlier seasons are split between Chapera, Mogo Mogo and Saboga before merging into Chaboga Mogo (the first three are named after isles in the area, and the fourth a portmanteau of the names). Being the first three-tribe season, the Immunity Idol was split into two. The season also reused last season's "kidnapping" system, and saw Saboga dissolve after losing one challenge, as well as another fake merge through tribe mix-up. The main storyline this season was the budding romance between Amber Brkich (from ''Australia'') and "Boston" Rob Mariano (from ''Marquesas''), culminating in them becoming the game's winner and runner-up, respectively, and becoming engaged in the finale.
09: Vanuatu - Islands of Fire — Efate, Sheva Province, Vanuatu (Fall 2004). 18 castaways are gender-split between all-male Lopevi and all-female Yasur before merging into Alinta (the first two are named after volcanoes, and the third a made-up word for "people of fire"). For the first time, an individual immunity challenge was held before the merge, resulting in both tribes voting one member out in that episode. Like The Amazon, this season also employed tribe swaps. Won by Chris Daugherty of South Vienna, Ohio.
10: Palau — Koror, Palau (Winter 2005). 20 castaways are split between Ulong and Koror (named after a dive site and the the national capital, respectively). On day 2 alone, two were removed after they were not picked by the tribes. Last season's double tribal council system was also imposed. One challenge penalized the first to quit with being marooned on a lonely beach. It is also the only season so far where there was no tribe merger; thanks to the Epic Fail of Ulong, by the time a merge would have happened there was only one Ulong left so she was just moved into Koror, starting the series' individual elimination stage. Won by Tom Westman of Sayville, New York.
11: Guatemala - The Maya Empire — Yaxhá-Nakúm-Naranjo National Park, Petén, Guatemala (Fall 2005). 18 castaways are split between Yaxhá and Nakúm before merging into Xhakúm (the first two are named after archaeological sites on the area and Mesoamerican words for "blue-green water" and "house of the pot", respectively, and the latter a portmanteau of both names). Two former contestants (both from the previous season) return for this season, and features a tribe swap and a double tribal council. This season also first saw the Hidden Immunity Idol, first played post-merger, which gives the person who finds it individual immunity. Won by Danni Boatwright of Tonganoxie, Kansas.
12: Panama — Pearl Islands (Winter 2006). Also known unofficially as Exile Island. 16 castaways are split between four tribes, for the first time in the series, by age and gender: Casaya (older women), La Mina (older men), Bayoneta (younger women) and Viveros (younger men) before merging into Gitanos (the first four are named after isles in the area, and the fifth a Spanish word for "gypsies"). The younger tribes would soon be disbanded and distributed among the older tribes. Using Season 10's "Exile Island" system, winners of reward challenges may choose to expel one from the losing tribe to a lonely island, where he/she is clued in to a hidden Immunity Idol. Won by Aras Baskauskas of Santa Monica, California.
13: Cook Islands — Aitutaki, Cook Islands (Fall 2006). 20 castaways are split by ethnicity — a Ratings Stunt that naturally caused some controversy — between Aitutaki (Latinos), Manihiki (Africans), Puka Puka (Asians) and Rarotonga (Caucasians) before merging into Aitutonga (the first four are named after isles in the area, and the fifth a portmanteau of the two surviving tribes). The season reuses the Exile Island system, and features a tribe shuffle which dissolved Manihiki and Puka Puka, after which castaways were occasionally offered a chance to switch tribes (accepted by two castaways for the first time in the series), as well as one double tribal council. First season with three castaways to face the final jury. Won by Yul Kwon of San Mateo, California.
14: Fiji — Macuata Province, Fiji (Winter 2007). 19 castaways (the only odd-number starting lineup in the series, due to one player dropping out at the last minute) are split between Moto and Ravu before merging into Bula Bula (all three are named after Fijian words for "spear", "kill" and "hello hello", respectively). The first challenge alone rewarded Moto with a camp filled with many luxury items, while all Ravu had was a pot and a machete — a disparity Probst himself would later admit to have been detrimental to Ravu's later outings. The season also reuses the tribe swap. Won by Earl Cole of Santa Monica, California, in what was considered a Curb-Stomp Battle, 9-0.
15: China — Zhelin Reservoir, Jiangxi, China (Fall 2007). 16 castaways are split between Fei Long and Zhan Hu before merging into Hae Da Fung (all three are named after Mandarin words for "Flying Dragon", "Fighting Tiger" and "Black Fighting Wind", respectively, the first two playing on the Tiger Versus Dragon trope and whose colors are more than likely patterned after those of the Chinese flag). The series was the first US show ever to be filmed within China. Like Pearl Islands, the season had a specific theme, this time being the famous Chinese text The Art of War. Besides reusing the "kidnapping" system, the "kidnapped" member of a losing tribe would also be forced to give a message in a bottle to someone from the winning tribe cluing him/her in to the Hidden Immunity Idol. Won by Todd Herzog of Salt Lake City, Utah.
16: Micronesia - Fans vs Favorites — Koror (Winter 2008). 20 castaways are split between Airai (composed of ten Ascended Fans) and Malakal (composed of ten returning castaways) before merging into Dabu (the first two are named after locations in the area, and the third a made-up name by a castaway). The series featured individual Immunity Idols for each tribe which ensured one's immunity during his/her tribe's first tribal council. The Exile Island system is played again, except this time one from each tribe wold compete for a Hidden Immunity Idol. The season is also notable for an even-numbered jury (eight) and the return of the two-person finalists. Jonathan Penner (returning from Cook Islands) had to be evacuated due to a knee injury that turned into an infection. Probst would call it his second-favorite season, after Borneo. Won by Parvati Shallow (from Cook Islands) of Vero Beach, Florida.
17: Gabon - Earth's Last Eden — Wonga-Wongue Presidential Reserve, Estuaire Province, Gabon (Fall 2008). The first season to air on HD. 18 castaways are split between Fang and Kota, drafted by the oldest male and female castaways, before merging into Nobag (the first two are named after actualtribes living in the area, and the third is "Gabon" reversed). The season retains last season's one-shot Immunity Idols, Exile Island (with the exile having to choose between luxury throughout his/her stay and immunity upon return), two tribe swaps, Hidden Immunity Idols for each tribe, and a double tribal council. Won by Robert "Bob" Crowley of Augusta, Maine.
19: Samoa — Upolu, Samoa (Fall 2009). 20 castaways are split between Foa Foa and Galu before merging into Aiga (all three are named after Samoan words for "trumpet shell", "ocean wave" and "extended family", respectively). After some reward challenges, a member of the winning tribe will go to the losing tribe's camp, where he/she will tip one of them to a Hidden Immunity Idol. Double tribal councils were also held. In one of the most harrowing scenes in the series, Russell Swan nearly died in the middle of a challenge from dehydration and had to be evacuated. The game was dominated, gameplay-wise and screentime-wise, by Russell Hantz; but was ultimately won by Natalie White of Van Buren, Arkansas.
21: Nicaragua — San Juan del Sur, Rivas, Nicaragua (Fall 2010). 20 castaways are split by age between Espada (40 and older) and La Flor (30 and younger) before merging into Libertad (Spanish words for "sword", "flower" and "freedom", respectively). Besides Hidden Immunity Idols, teamwork-based challenges due to the age disparity, tribe swaps and double tribal councils, this season introduces the Medallion of Power, a one-shot item which gives winners advantages in challenges, then passed on to the opposing tribe. Won by Jud "Fabio" Birza of Saint Louis, Missouri.
22: Redemption Island — San Juan del Sur (Winter 2011). 18 castaways are split between Ometepe and Zapatera before merging into Murlonio (the first two are named after islands in Lake Nicaragua, the third after a stuffed toy of one of the castaways). The series introduces the eponymous "Redemption Island", where a recently-evicted castaway is left to fend for himself/herself in a lonely island. When another castaway is voted out, both would compete in a "duel" where the loser leaves the game for good, while the winner would stay on until some point when he/she is called back. The season was played up as a rivalry between returning castaways "Boston" Rob Mariano (Marquesas, All-Stars, and Heroes vs. Villains) and Russell Hantz (Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains), but Russell's tribe ditched him at the earliest opportunity and Rob basically went unopposed for the rest of the season, taking the win without much of a fight.
23: South Pacific — Upolu (Fall 2011). 18 castaways are split between Upolu and Savaii, each led by a returning castaway, before merging into Te Tuna (the first two are named after islands, the third after a Samoan legend about the birth of the coconut tree). Like the previous season, Redemption Island was also in play, as well as two Hidden Immunity Idols. Won by Sophie Clarke of Willsboro, New York.
24: One World — Upolu (Winter 2012). 18 castaways are split by gender between all-female Salani and all-male Manono before merging into Tikiano (the first two are named after islands in the area, and the third after a Samoan word for "year of the god"). In an unusual twist, both tribes shared a single camp for the majority of the season. The season also saw a "do-it-yourself" competition between tribes, as well as Hidden Immunity Idols and tribe swaps. Won by Kim Spradlin of San Antonio, Texas.
26: Caramoan - Fans vs Favorites — Caramoan (Winter 2013). Repeating the setup of Micronesia, 20 players are divided between Bikal (Fans) and Gota (Favorites) before merging into Enil Edam (the first two named after a barangay (village) and a resort in the municipality itself, respectively, and the third suggested by Malcom Freberg in honor of his mother, Madeline). It unfortunately hosted one of the series' more infamous moments, where Brandon Hantz (from South Pacific and nephew of Russell) had a tense emotional breakdown that just barely avoided turning violent. Won by John Cochran (from South Pacific) of Washington D.C. in a Curb-Stomp Battle of 8-0-0. He also received no votes cast against him his entire run.
27: Blood vs. Water — Palaui Island, Santa Ana, Cagayan, Philippines (Fall 2013). The 20 castaways this season are arranged in pairs, one returning castaway and one of their family members, with the returnees being the Galang tribe and the family being Tadhana (Filipino for "respect" and "destiny" respectively) before merging into Kasama (Filipino for "together" or "as one"). Redemption Island also returns, with the new twist that a loved one can choose to take their partner's place on Redemption Island. Won by Tyson Apostol (from Tocantins and Heroes vs. Villains) of Provo, Utah.
28: Cagayan — Palaui Island (Spring 2014). Features 18 players (all newcomers) evenly divided based on their principal attributes — Aparri (Brawn), Luzon (Brains) and Solana (Beauty), named after a town at the mouth of the mighty Cagayan River, the largest island in the Philippines (on which both Manila, the capital, and Cagayan province are located), and a town at the southern end of Cagayan province, respectively. The tribes then merged into Solarrion, a portmanteau of the former tribes. This season saw the introduction of a super-secret idol that could be played after votes were read. Won by Tony Vlachos of Jersey City, New Jersey.
29: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water — San Juan del Sur (Fall 2014). Upcoming; to repeat the pairs format from S27, but with no returning players this time. The tribes this time around are Coyopa and Hunahpu (named after the Mayan god of thunder and one of the Hero Twins of Mayan mythology, respectively).
Added Alliterative Appeal: As seen on the seasonal logos, the show's usual tagline is "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast". The exception is China (where it's loosely translatedinto Chinese). Heroes Vs Villains and Cagayan also have different taglines, but they're also alliterative: "Return, Revenge, Redemption" in HvV and "Brawn, Brains, Beauty" (for the tribe divisions) in Cagayan. Plus the subtitle Fans vs. Favorites.
All or Nothing: While all the jury members get something for their time, and one can still win the Fan Favorite prize, but the prize structure is still essentially winner-take-all.
Second Place Is for Losers: See Samoa, where Russell was in tears when he didn't get first. And then he offered to buy the title from the winner. And when he lost first place again in Heroes Vs Villains, he claimed the rules were flawed because he wasn't winning.
Apple of Discord: The individual rewards, where the winner usually has to choose a couple tribemates to join him/her (or put another way, has to choose a bunch of people to get nothing). "Three strikes" challenges are also good for this, as they put the social pecking order on display and there's a good chance for someone to get offended.
Mystery Box: Jeff typically pulls out several during auctions. It's usually either something absolutely disgusting (pond water, plant roots) or the best thing at the auction (steak and fully loaded baked potato, a full breakfast plate).
Screw the Rules, I Have Money!: Recent seasons' auctions have sold advantages in Immunity Challenges. These bonuses may take the form of a guaranteed spot in the challenge's last stage, a second chance at its overall goal, or partial credit towards the user's progress in the challenge.
Beach Episode: Part of why there will never be Survivor: The Arctic. Even the ones not actually on beaches tend to be in tropical climates, encouraging players to show some skin.
Bilingual Bonus: Some of tribe names provide this, including, all the Philippines' tribe namesnote Matsing meaning monkey, Tandang meaning rooster, and Kalabaw meaning water buffalo, all in Filipino as well as the merged tribe in Panamanote Gitanos means gypsies in Spanish, all three tribes in Fiji, and the Blood vs. Water tribes, named Galang, in yellow, and Tadhana in red, meaning respect and destiny respectfully.
Bitch Alert: If (if?) there's someone that's going to spend the month in the wilderness acting nasty, the editors will let you know quickly.
Bittersweet Ending: For everybody who lost the Final Tribal Council. It would be sad when you realize that you lost the title of the Sole Survivor, but at least it is rewarding that you have survived till the final day in an unfamiliar location, and still won some cash.
Can't Catch Up: If one tribe does poorly enough in the pre-merge game, then they wind up entering with a severe minority and are easy pickings for the majority.
Ulong and Ravu are the most famous and prominent examples. Ulong in Palau lost every single immunity challenge and were reduced to just one member. Ravu in Fiji became the "Have not" tribe and never was able to catch up to the Moto tribe, which was much better fed and rested than Ravu. The producers admit that Fiji was a failed experiment.
More generically, when one is down a member, the other tribes are forced to sit someone out. Competing in Back-to-back challenges without any rewards can easily cause tribemates to get tired out and be unable to perform in the immunity challenge. Instinctively, the players who're ahead sit out their weaker players for the immunity challenge because that's the more important one.
Some seasons subvert this when a winner comes from a tribe that was in a minority during the merge.
And there is the awesomeness of the post-mutiny Aitu Four that soundly whooped the eight-strong Raro tribe after realizing their weakness in numbers in Cook Islands
Captain Obvious: Jeff whenever he announces for a challenge; usually in the form of "Player X, doing Y." After Jonathan Penner got irritated at his announcements during a Cook Islands challenge and told him to shut up, Jeff broke the fourth wall for the first time with this immortal line:
"Jonathan, getting frustrated by me!"
Catch Phrase: Jeff Probst has several, to the point where he's ritualized half his dialogue. Some of the Tribal Council lines fall under Rules Spiel.
"Everybody, drop your buffs" is one, said by Jeff every time there's a tribal switch or merge. This one was played with a bit in Heroes vs. Villains as Jeff said "drop your expectations" due to the Villains tribe incorrectly guessing that there would be a merge with 12 castaways left; the merge was later done at 10 castaways instead.
Color-Coded for Your Convenience: The tribal buffs. Starting with Tocantins, a tribe's entire wardrobes are more-or-less color-coded. Sometimes this happens accidentally.
Cool Old Guy / Cool Old Lady: Anyone who played a good game at the age of 40 and beyond. Special mention to Tina Wesson, Tom Westman, Bob Crowley and Denise Stapley for winning their respective seasons, Terry Deitz for having an awesome immunity streak and Rudy Boesch for playing twice in his seventies.
Crowning Momentof Awesome: Generally each season has at least one of these, whether its a fan favorite knocking out the villain of the season, or a immunity streak.
Curb-Stomp Battle: Often happens (or is at least attempted) post-merge, when the larger former tribe gangs up on the smaller one. Known as "Pagonging" after it happened to the Pagong tribe all the way back in Borneo.
The most infamous Curb-Stomp Battle is most likely Koror vs. Ulong in Palau. Ulong was for a long time the only tribe in Survivor history to never win a single Immunity Challenge (and they lost all but three of the Reward Challenges as well). When the tribes merged, it consisted of eight Koror members and Stephenie LaGrossa, the only Ulong left. Like with "Pagonging", "Ulonging" has become a byword for repeated Immunity Challenge failure.
Fiji had Ravu, which was 0-8 in immunity challenges (beating Ulong's streak by one loss) and 1-4 in rewards, for a total of one win and twelve losses. Having the worst campsite in the show's history didn't help much.
Redemption Island was played up as a grudge match between Boston Rob and Russell, but turned into one of these when Russell's tribe unceremoniously threw a challenge to get rid of him after only a week. They then proceeded to be the first tribe to be outright Pagonged in almost four years and nine seasons.
Philippines features Matsing, which became the third tribe to never win a single Immunity Challenge and the first with no challenge victories at all to their name, losing four times in a row until only two members remained. Tandang went on to be the first tribe in Survivor history to never lose a single member prior to the merge, winning every one-on-one Immunity Challenge against Kalabaw.
Sometimes, Final Tribal Council can be this. One notable example is J.T. vs. Stephen in Tocantins, where J.T. won 7-0.
Deadpan Snarker: There's at least one in every season. Rob Cesternino from Amazon, Rob Mariano from Marquesas, Courtney Yates from China, and Randy Bailey from Gabon are good examples.
Deadly Game: While not outright life-threatening, the physical exertion required in challenges combined with the near-starvation conditions and oppressive heat present in many seasons have definitely taken their toll on the contestants.
Not to mention the possibility of contracting foreign diseases. Lex from Africa was apparently sick for months after the game with a variety of illnesses and Daniel Lue, an early castoff from Amazon contracted malaria. Sandra was asked to return to All Stars from Pearl Islands but said she was still recovering from parasites she had contracted in Pearl Islands. Marquesas, while not deadly, still had discomfort caused by bugs so the location will never be used again.
However, some contestants have had brushes his death mid-season, including Mike Skupin in Australia who got dreary from smoke inhalation while working on a fire and partially FELL INTO IT. Fortunately for Skupin, his glasses and hat hit the fire before his face, but he still took third degree burns to his arms and spent three weeks in a burn unit.
All of the medical evacuations fall into this - Jonathan's Knee and Joe's leg probably count as well; seeing as these were considered life-threatening.
It's actually mentioned there's quite a bit of Dangerous Terrain; which is a bit of a risk and often an obstacle to finding good places to film the show. Samoa, for example, is a good place for a show, but the contestants have been apparently ordered to stay within 20-30 feet of the shore (in the ocean) because the waters are actually quite turbulent, and there's the risk of riptides and undertow. It didn't show up much in Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains, but one of the show's best swimmers (Ozzy) in the South Pacific season shows exactly how big the waves are...and how beautiful the ocean around the islands are.
Some contestants actually have sustained injuries that followed them outside the game. The first person eliminated from guatemala had torn his bicep in a challenge (after the hike). Months later, he was interviewed, and his arm was still in a splint. (It should be noted that he was actually one of the oldest contestants that season, which slowed down the healing process) Ian from Palau stated that he has nerve damage in parts of his feet from the nearly-12-hour-long-endurance challenge.
Heck! In the Bulgarian version of Survivor, one of the contestants died mid season and the show still rolled along.
One contestant in the French version of Survivor died midseason, causing the cancellation of the season.
Delicious Distraction: Jeff pulls out a couple variations once or twice a season during immunity challenges. In one version, he tries to get players to abandon long, uncomfortable endurance challenges by bribing them with snacks. Other times for quickly-completed challenges, he offers the choice up front: play for immunity or get to eat as long as the challenge lasts.
Deserted Island: The stereotypical setting, though a number of seasons are instead in other sections of wilderness, such as The Australian Outback and Gabon.
Designated Girl Fight: Some challenges require certain numbers of male and female players, especially those played in rounds of only 1 or 2 players per tribe.
Disaster Democracy: The game is all about politics, including - even especially - the politics of leadership.
Divide and Conquer: Allowing an Individual Reward winner to bring at least one other player along for the ride isn't about generosity. It "spreads out" the resulting envy from the remaining losers (and defensive efforts of the winners) onto multiple targets, which usually makes upcoming Tribal Councils less predictable.
The Dog Bites Back: Players that are on the outs of the dominant alliances or are picked upon by the resident Smug Snake sometimes find themselves in the position of turning the table on their abusers. See South Pacific, where tribal alliances were even and both were so solid that everyone on both tribes resigned themselves to random-chance elimination by purple rock. During the revote, team Butt Monkey Cochran turned on his own tribe to avoid that situation. Jim immediately called him a coward, but Brandon said that he might not have flipped if they had treated him better than that.
Do Unto Others Before They Do Unto Us: Standard operating procedure every season. Most recently noted in episode 7 of Blood vs. Water: Tina reveals to Monica that Kat wants Monica to be voted out, which would clearly break the Galang women's alliance. Monica has a grim realization:
Due to the Dead: The finale usually includes a part for the finalists to reflect on all the people voted out (and for said people voted out to reflect on their time in the game), which is often presented as this.
After one episode of Gabon, there was a brief message stating Rudy's wife, Marge Boesch, passed away.
The Dulcinea Effect: There's occasionally a guy whose thought process amounts to "whatever the pretty girl wants to do". Chase and Sash's loyalty to Brenda in Nicaragua, for example, as lampshaded by Brenda herself:
Brenda: "You wanna know what’s funny? I have people on my side without doing anything."
Parvati made this her strategy, to great effect. She's very smart, very ruthless... and very, very pretty. Men have a habit of falling in line around her (unless they're named Yul Kwon or part of the Heroes tribe).
This was a heavily referenced trope in the Amazon season, where the men and the women were separated into different tribes which increased the sexual tension between both.
Ozzy in South Pacific, at least in the first episode with Semhar.
Eat That: There's usually one of those challenges every season. Memorable individual examples include Boston Rob throwing up the Farafu from a challenge in Marquesas and Denise screaming at the Balut in another challenge in China.
Don't forget Tina throwing up the cow intestine in Australia.
Elimination Statement: Vary from being encouraging words to the remaining tribe, reminiscing over things they regret, or bitter words towards the people who voted them out.
Enemy Mine: Sometimes people who don't get along realize they can take out a common enemy by working together. NaOnka and Fabio in Nicaragua, for instance, spent weeks despising each other, but when it became clear that Brenda had achieved a dangerous level of power, they were able to work together to eliminate her.
Averted with Nicaragua, which defaulted to the first season's theme. Russ Landau did create a version for Nicaragua, but it was tossed out.
Executive Meddling: Since the producers refer to the show as an "unscripted drama" rather than a "reality tv-show", it's perfectly within in their contract to slant the show to their favour. While it's somewhat less blatant and game-changing as is the case in fellow CBS show Big Brother, it is there. The earliest instances of this include the producers in Borneo allegedly influencing Sean and Dirk to change their votes from from Rudy (to this day one of the most popular and well-known characters from the show) to Stacey (who wanted Rudy out); implementing the Tribal Swap twist just as Silas took control of the Boran tribe in Africa, and the "Coconut Chop" challenge in Marquesas, which unintentionally showed the Rotu 4's pecking order to the other five tribemates.
Fans have pointed out that producers have the power to slant the season by putting the right competitions in. Such as making most the immunity challenges in Redemption Island be puzzles (Rob's strength) and putting challenges that favour a particular body type (the final immunity challenge of Exile Island, which slanted heavily in favor of the lone female).
Jeff Probst often seems to ask leading questions at Tribal Council. However, as the editors have to fit hours of Tribal into ten or fifteen minutes; for all we know Jeff could be asking questions that lead in the opposite direction and the editors are just leaving out the ones that don't contribute to the episode's "storyline".
Several arrant examples in recent seasons. In Samoa, he never seemed to ask questions about Russell, and spent several tribal councils saying "Vote out Brett". And in Nicaragua, the penultimate episode, he more or less asked everyone to say who they were voting out.
One case where executive actions were for the better was when Rupert Boneham won a million dollars for being the favourite player. The producers decided to scrap it to prevent a loss of perspective for the contestants, who they feared would focus entirely on winning fan favorite. (These days, the favorite player is awarded from a third-party company, Sprint, and is only $100,000.) Other examples of positive executive meddling can be found under Obvious Rule Patch below.
In Australian Outback, the contestants were offered food after losing most of it. The same thing happened in Nicaragua after the shelter burned down and took out most of the food. However; whenever the producers stepped in and offered food to be given outside of a challenge, it came at a price. (ie they had to give up shelter in Australian Outback and Holly had to step out of a reward in Nicaragua.) It's likely that Nicaragua had a lot more food reward challenges because of that.
Never more apparent than in Gabon where the tribes were mixed and matched twice in order to prevent Fang from becoming another Ulong. The second tribe switch was so obviously a last ditch move by the producers that they ran a challenge that has been repeatedly used for individual immunity as team immunity.
Frosti was also cast for China despite that he actually didn't fit the age requirement which, at the time, was 21 or older. (Alcohol has been served on the show, plus 21 years old is full legal status as an adult in the U.S. anyways) As of Tocantins, though, contestants as young as eighteen are allowed to apply but some states don't allow this.
Friend or Idol Decision: The source of the most contentious drama on the show, where contestants typically choose to cut loose from their alliance for, what they believe to be, a better shot at winning.
Gambit Pileup: The number of plots, schemes and other forms of backstabbery can become absurd, especially as the number of contestants dwindle.
Game Show Host: Jeff Probst is second only to Bob Barker and Alex Trebek in fame for this one.
Guile Hero: The "under the radar" winner archetype is the passive example, with Natalie White from Samoa being a subversion. Played straight by Tina Wesson from Australian Outback and Yul Kwon from Cook Islands.
Sandra from Pearl Islands and Heroes Vs Villains is one of the prime examples too. She didn't stand out in any way, neither in challenges nor in strategy. She just flew under the radar, voted whichever way the wind blew... and won the million dollars after her rival(s) were skewered by the final juries.
Frequently are called "Bad" or "Undeserving winners" by the fans, ignoring that it seems they've been doing something right if they were in the finals and outlasting their rivals.
Ham-to-Ham Combat: Mark Burnett, the executive producer of Survivor and the one who brought the show to the United States, has said more than once that when casting the show the producers always try to pick "sixteen A-Type personalities", or in other words, sixteen Indian chiefs and no Indian followers. And of course the entire point of All Star seasons is to pick the biggest Large Ham characters from previous seasons and try to see who can out-ham the others the best.
Hazy Feel Turn: When a "hero"/"villain" switches on their supposed "perspective". However, these are typically not true "turns" but strategies to gain advantage.
Hidden in Plain Sight: The hidden immunity idol is sometimes this, notably in the China and Philippines seasons.
Sierra voted against Coach in Tocantins ep. 9. He calmly tells her that she should expect to be booted real soon, as punishment for that vote and for siding with the evicted Brendan earlier. She does quite well in the next Immunity challenge, and is about to be crowned the winner... when Debbie steals victory at the last possible moment. Debbie has one small courtesy to give first...
Iconic Item: The buffs, which contestants are basically required to wear in some way or another.
I'm Not Here to Make Friends: Quoted word for word on more than one occasion. Ironically, the social aspects - especially alliances - mean players actually have to make friends (or at least not make enemies) in order to win, and those who do make lots of friends are considered huge threats.
Interface Spoiler: Meta-example; if a former contestant that frequently uses some form of social networking suddenly stops using it for over a month, chances are they're going to be a returning player for an upcoming season.
It's All About Me: Many contestants adopt this attitude. It's clearest when jury members give their speeches at the final Tribal Council, as several either bitterly tear into the finalists for betraying them or basically ask the finalists to suck up to them.
As a former TWoP recapper put it, most final tribal council questions come down to, "My question is I want an apology," or, "My question is You Suck!"
Jerk Ass: Almost every contestant, especially when you consider alternate perspectives. However, Manipulative Editing leaves the truth of any of these questionable.
Fiji had a lot of these people. Sylvia wasn't very nice when the game started, Rocky and Lisi had a pretty bad temper as well. And at the Jury, pretty much everybody except Yau-Man and Michelle was a complete Jerk Ass to Dreamz and Cassandra.
There are several on each and every season, and it seems that in every following season, the requirement is to cast people who are even more horrible than the jerkasses of earlier seasons. One of the clearest examples was Corrine from Gabon, whom many people compared to Jerri early in the season. By the time the season wrapped up, Corrine had displayed herself as one of the nastiest, most vile and despicable people in the history of the show, displaying zero redeeming qualities and even mocking Sugar's dead father. Those who compared her to Jerri ended up saying Corrine made Jerri look like a saint. She even complained at the reunion that they didn't portray her negatively enough!
Jerk Justifications: With the best one being that it is only a game, which many contestants fail to truly digest. Depending on your perspective, every Jerk Ass in the show is justified.
Lex Van Den Berghe is infamous for making paranoid or hypocritical (or both) rationalizations for why he votes the way he does.
Kingmaker Scenario: Those voted out post-merge become a jury of kingmakers for the final vote.
Large Ham: These are usually the more popular characters. Rupert Boneham is particularly notable, as he is considered one of the most popular players ever.
Lesser of Two Evils: This quote by Dr Sean pretty much sums up every single Final Tribal Council:
Sean: It's been a long contest. The general sentiment of the jury is that this contest has degenerated from a contest of who's more deserving to the least objectionable. I don't think either of you are truly deserving, but I'm voting for...(in this case, Rich).
Limited Wardrobe: Justified, since the contestants only get to bring the clothes on their back. However in some seasons contestants, typically female, use buffs in new and interesting ways to create the appearance of different clothing.
Location Theme Naming: Many seasons are named from the country or location where it's being held, though (presumably due to running out of new locations) they seem to be being phased out. The current exceptions are All-Stars, Heroes vs Villains, Redemption Island, and One World. In most cases the tribes were also named from places, islands or cities in that place/country. There's also one case where they got around the One Steve Limit by calling the Rob with the Red Sox cap "Boston".
Loners Are Freaks: Not staying with the group makes people paranoid - or at least, not inclined to save you over their friends - so isolate yourself at your peril.
Manipulative Editing: Source of contention for fans every season, who claim everything from alternative character interpretations to scenes being chronologically adjusted. Admittedly some amount of this is a necessity, as they have to fit three days worth of stuff into a single hour (Tribal Council alone takes hours in itself) and present a coherent "storyline" for the episode. It'd take a lot to list the examples that aren't just the most egregious ones.
The show showed Courney yelling "Break her arm" as Foreshadowing for when Stephenie dislocated her shoulder in that challenge. She had actually said it after the injury in jest of what just happened.
The "Mary Who?" from Micronesia was actually a bit of Manipulative Editing but it was Played for Laughs. It looked like the cast had absolutely no idea who Mary was; when they were actually asking for clarification (Kathy's case; since she was away on Exile Island most of the time so far) or in Eliza's case, expressing shock at how she was specifically voted out over Chet, who had underperformed.
And according to Lex, the shot of his face on All Stars after Kathy refuses to give him her immunity necklace actually had nothing to do with Kathy. It was more him expressing his disgust with Boston Rob then with him thinking that Kathy owed him or something.
Christine appeared to be Flipping the Bird at Rick during a duel in South Pacific, but apparently she was actually doing it to Jeff.
Metagame: What was once a simple game of numbers and alliances has evolved into a highly sophisticated competition that tests a variety of physical, mental, and social skills. Players now have to juggle several factors at once when they play: where a player ranks in their alliance, who's working at camp, who's an asset in tribe challenges (or a threat in individual ones), who's digging around for an idol, who is a potential goat to bring with you to the jury, who's a goat that someone else is trying to bring to the jury, who looks eager to flip on the alliance, and who can you vote off without costing you their jury vote. Oh, and by the way, you have to do this all with almost no food, water, sleep, shelter, and with TV cameras pointed at you every waking moment and all your tribemates scrutinizing every word you say. Good luck.
Moral Dissonance: This pops up a lot with bitter jury members (and there have been a LOT of them over the years), with Lex perhaps being the biggest offender.
Mundane Luxury: Almost all rewards, especially after the first few episodes when the contestants have become good and hungry.
In the first season, the contestants almost rebelled when they heard that the final reward would simply be a bottle of beer, after Sean had gotten to go on an trip aboard a yacht during the last reward and the fact that the rewards were escalating in quality the more people left the game.
Muscles Are Meaningful: In the early stages of every single season, there's a mentality that strong young guys should be kept over old guys or women in order to help win immunity. In reality, physical force is rarely a deciding factor in challenges. There's also the flip side in that when the game moves into the individual stage, those seen as immunity allies become seen as immunity threats. But all this said, the physical game always ends up trumped by the social one; being annoying or arrogant can undermine a physical advantage and being a reliable vote can overcome a disadvantage.
Part of the reason is that if a guy has a bunch of muscle and no fat, then his body will start eating the muscle for energy. This was especially present with Jaison in Samoa who started off very well but got weaker later on because he didn't have much fat.
One World has a good example of the perception vs. the reality of this. Matt, an alpha male, picked out some other alpha males to work with and believed they ran the tribe; at one point describing them as "roosters" leading the "chickens" around. Then the tribe acutally had to go to Tribal Council; and it was pointed out to him that there were five "chickens" and only four "roosters". Goodbye, Matt.
My Greatest Failure: Several players failed at the game and admit they failed. The producers likewise failed with a couple twists, such as the "Have and have not" tribes in Fiji.
Neutrality Backlash: Occasionally, a player will find themselves between two equal alliances. Genre Blind ones will consider themselves a swing vote with the luxury of choosing who to align with, but in reality neither side will trust them.
Never Trust a Trailer: Discount most of what a preview or commercial tells you will happen next episode except for an injury or medical emergency.
This was particularly obvious during Russell Hantz's seasons, where every preview made it appear that he was in mortal danger of being voted out next week and he rarely was.
Sometimes the previews give things away they don't mean to. If you're about to watch an immunity challenge, and the preview the week before showed a big argument that you haven't yet seen this episode? The tribe that had the argument is almost certainly about to lose.
Nice Guy: Depending on the season, these guys are usually eliminated for being jury threats (as everyone likes them and would preference them) or manage to make their way far into the game.
The Notable Numeral: The number of players left are usually called the "Final [X]", especially as the game draws closer to its end. Various alliances also have names like this.
Nothing Personal: Most of the eliminations that take place are strictly due to gameplay or strategic purposes. As shown on social networking sites, many players who go after each other in game are (usually) on good terms with each other outside of it.
Tribal switches became a common "twist" because the strategy in the second season was limited to knowing who had votes cast against them before the merge.
Removal and toning down the "America's favorite" player prize so the fan favorite doesn't gain as much as the winner.
The Hidden Immunity Idol has been subject to a few patches since its introduction:
In Panama and Cook Islands, the idol could be played up until final four, and was played after the votes were read. This was changed for Fiji and all later seasons because the idol effectively made Yul untouchable in the latter season.
In Nicaragua, the clues were visual cues because Russell was Dangerously Genre Savvy and was finding them before clues were given. It was called "The Russell Factor" by producers. Unfortunately, this seems to have fallen by the wayside since then; as in every season since the idols have been found almost immediately.
In the early days of the "modern" idol format, idols expired after final six, making it possible for a contestant to theoretically be eliminated by default via the rock-drawing tiebreaker. After this nearly occurred in Nicaragua, the deadline was changed to final five in all subsequent seasons to lessen the chance of this occurring.
Eliminating the use of the Purple Rock tiebreaker in the Final Four. This was replaced with a Fire building (and later Fire Making) challenge, and was used in Palau, Panama, Cook Islands, and Gabon.
One of these was announced during the Nicaragua finale in response to Naonka and "Purple" Kelly quitting and landing on the jury; in future seasons if a player quits the game on their own, they can be taken off the jury at the producers' discretion.
Final Three. Probst states that this was so someone wouldn't intentionally take The Load with them to the finals (or at least they'd still have to face a viable competitor there). More often than not, it doesn't work out, but this is especially obvious in Fiji and Redemption Island, where two players (Earl and Rob) managed to drag two universally disliked players to the final three, managing to win 9-0-0 and 8-1-0, respectively.
Early in the series; the contestants got a "luxury item" that was basically a personal comfort item. It's unknown where (or if this was in a different version) but someone had used their luxury item to smuggle food or an easy way to make fire into the game, or used a pair of binoculars to cheaply make fire.
Oddly Named Sequel: Most seasons are named after their location, but then we have the returning-contestant seasons of All-Stars and Heroes Vs Villains. Panama is also known by the subtitle Exile Island, its gimmick. (Micronesia similarly used to be known as Fans vs. Favorites, but with Caramoan using the same gimmick and subtitle the location is now necessary to differentiate.) Also with a gimmick title (but without an accompanying location title) are Redemption Island and One World.
Oh, Crap: You can spot a couple "Oh Crap" faces, as well as people saying "Oh Crap" when they realize they underestimated everyone, like Russell to Brett, Rob to Ashley, and Chase, Sash, and Holly to Fabio.
Lex's expression just before getting voted out during All Stars probably takes the cake as the biggest "Oh Crap" face on Survivor.
The "three strikes" challenge, where correct answers to questions (either trivia or about each other) allow the players to "hit" each other, with three "hits" leading to a loss for that player; the "last one standing" wins, as usual.
The Survivor Auction, where contestants bid for various foods.
Feast for everyone on merge day in place of a reward challenge.
Breakfast (e.g., eggs, bacon, pancakes, fruit, wine, etc.) provided for cooking on the last morning for the final contestants.
Once per Episode: Every season has been so standardized that you can almost always expect the same things happening in every episode.
One Steve Limit: Usually averted: Africa (which had two Kims), Marquesas (two Robs), Pearl Islands (two Ryans), All-Stars (two Jennas and two Robs), Vanuatu (two Johns), Samoa (two Russells), Heroes vs Villains (two Jameses), Nicaragua (two Jimmys and two Kellys), and Blood vs. Water (two Lauras).
One World has an odd example, with Greg using the nickname "Tarzan" - which peeved Troy, who wanted to be called "Troyzan". Both nicknames wound up being used.
Only Known by Their Nickname: The fact that a grown person introduces themselves to strangers with a silly nickname is usually - but not always - a sign of having a bit too much ego. (ee: "Jonny Fairplay", "Coach", "Dreamz", "Shambo". Also Cochran of South Pacific - it's his last name, but he specifically requested it on grounds that Probst calls his favored contestants by their last names. "Sugar" is one of the exceptions, being one of the game's nicer contestants.
Note that while "Boston Rob" has ego to spare, he's also justified in having a nickname as his season (Marquesas) ran up against the One Steve Limit, as is "Purple" Kelly from Nicaragua.
Out of Focus: What makes a good Survivor game does not necessarily make a good television show - in most seasons, some people get left out of the camera's focus due a) keeping quiet and not causing trouble at camp, or b) being boring and unable to attract attention that would warrant screen time on the show. This is much a much more prominent trope in recent seasons, since more attention is payed to strategy and twists than character development.
Thanks to under-the-radar players who keep quiet and don't stir up trouble, this can be unintentionally invoked when a relevant contestant doesn't give the camera much to work with. One can watch the entire season of Marquesas up until the final episode and notice that Vecepia did not share as much of the camera as fellow finalists Kathy and Neleh, then watch Samoa and wonder why Brett was practically invisible before he started his small immunity streak. Both of them actually kept their mouths shut, and it not only won Vecepia the game (because everyone was mad at Neleh) but got Brett pretty far.
Andrea, Grant, Natalie, and Ashley were given this treatment in Redemption Island, since more attention was given to the pagonged Zapatera tribe, Matt, Phillip and Boston Rob.
There's a rumor that "Purple" Kelly got the Living Prop edit in Nicaragua as punishment for quitting. (Fellow quitter Naonka didn't because she had a lot of attention-grabbing antics.)
Pixellation: For when clothes are too small or tight or slip off or whatever and stuff gets exposed, when contestants make rude gestures, and occasionally when a dirty word is said. But mostly for exposure.
The most notable instance was in the Heroes Vs Villains premiere, when Sugar gave Sandra a double finger while topless, leading to three large blurred patches on the screen.
Playing Both Sides: An effective, but tricky, strategy. Notable players to have pulled it off include Rob Cesternino of The Amazon and Jonny Fairplay of Pearl Islands.
Plot Tumor: The Hidden Immunity Idol. In some seasons, the influence of the idol becomes so important that it's hard to imagine the boot order occurring even remotely like it actually did if the idol wasn't in place. It must be slightly jarring for modern viewers to imagine that once upon a time, there were no idols.
Previously On: Nearly every episode, but it has been accused of being manipulative and not very truthful in recent seasons.
Product Placement: The occasional reward will be provided by a sponsor, in which case the name brand will be mentioned prominently. Nicaragua had an episode where the challenge itself was themed after the upcoming Gullivers Travels movie, with the players having to drag a giant "Gulliver" dummy through an obstacle course - and of course, a movie night was the reward.
Protagonist-Centered Morality: Almost everybody, almost all the time. If you screw someone over, it's good gameplay. If someone screws you over, it's an unconscionable betrayal.
The Quisling: The typical role of whatever contestant has been convinced to switch alliances.
Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Many tribes on Survivor comes across this way, and even more tribes are verified as such by contestants post-show. It only makes sense, being that Survivor is an individual game at the end of the day.
The Tagi tribe from the very first season and the Casaya tribe from Panama are great examples.
In One World, all the males on Manono who aren't "Roosters" align with each other, and Colton, the leader, refers to them as misfits, which they most definitely are. They proceed to vote out the head of the "Rooster" alliance.
And in Redemption Island, bringing back Rob and Russell Hantz and setting up an entire season for one of them to win. (South Pacific also brought back two players, Ozzy and Coach, but didn't play up any rivalry between the two.)
Wearing clothes suitable for the game environment. Although, this is somewhat justified - in seasons like Pearl Islands, Palau, and perhaps China, they weren't actually told they were going right to the game, they were told they were going to a promo event. Do you think Andrew Savage or David would have worn business suits if they knew they were going straight to the game in Pearl Islands and Redemption Island respectively, or that Ashley would have worn high-heel boots if she knew she was going directly to the game from the plane?
Another justification for the above list is that some contestants are "recruited" to be on the show, some of which have never watched it before, such as most of Fiji's cast. This is lampshaded by Taj from Tocantins:
"They were casting for an NFL wife and I responded to the call".
They also manage to not realize that there is a social aspect to the game too. The Jury players have to like you or at least respect you if you want to have any chance of winning. They also have not figured out that the producers may be unable to fix the game, but they can slant it, so therefore returning players become a liability.
Honestly, returning players. One would honestly assume after Micronesia that they'd toss the returnees ASAP, yet both times they've done it in Redemption Island and South Pacific, they haven't (hell, in Redemption Island, it's almost as if all the other castoffs wanted Boston Rob to win). In, Philippines, the situation was more complicated as many players were in fact targeting the returning players, but they weren't nearly as dominating.
Realpolitik: At the end of the day, everyone's in it for themselves. Good players recognize this, but too many players don't and they get offended when things happen at their expense.
"The Reason You Suck" Speech: Any Jury who does a Take That speech/statement to the finalists count. One contestant basically told another: "If I am walking across a desert and find you dying of dehydration, I will not give you water... I will just let you die."
In One World, Colton and Alicia each gave one to Christina, harping on how hopeless her situation was and that she was going to be eliminated next, but they suffered a vicious Karmic backlash : Colton instead was eliminated in a medevac, Alicia didn't get his immunity idol, and Christina ended up making it to the Final Four and outlasting Alicia by one round.
in "Blood vs Water" Jeff gives one of these to Colton after he decides to leave the game for pretty much no reason while insinuating that he faked his one world injury.
Recap Episode: Once a season. Usually the fall seasons' recaps are on Thanksgiving and the spring seasons' are sometime during March Madness.
Reliable Traitor: Players who are really good at the game recognize the value of reliable traitors. If you have some idea of what another person wants within the game, and it's not something that kills your plans, then you can still work with them - it really doesn't matter if they lie and betray people. Well, other people. That's the tricky part.
Sandra pretty much perfected this. She made it clear her strategy was to vote off anybody as long as it wasn't her. She befriended people, allied herself with them, but never hesitated in betraying them if it was convenient for her. Her being physically non-threatening and being pretty much a vote for sale allowed her to advance far into the game both times she played.
Jonathan Penner on Cook Islands is a pretty straightforward example. Despite having turned on Yul and the Aitu 4, Yul was still able to secure Jonathan's vote by threatening him with the hidden immunity idol, knowing fully well that Jonathan was the only member of the Raro alliance who would reliably put his self-preservation ahead of loyalty to his allies. As expected, Jonathan turned on the Raros, giving the Aitu 4 the vote they needed to blindside Nate.
Reunion Show: Part of every season's finale. All-Stars, both Fans Vs Favorites, and Heroes Vs Villains qualify as Reunion Seasons. Guatemala also featured two former tribe mates placed on different teams.
Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: When someone sells out their alliance and joins another one. The result? Your only shot to the finals is going to be individual immunity since you'll be the third wheel/outsider to the new alliance. If you do make it to the finals, expect to be called out on it.
Sassy Black Woman: A very prevelant trope in the show - Alicia from Australian Outback seems to have started this trope for the show. Examples following her are Ghandia from Thailand, Jo Anna from Amazon, Crystal from Gabon, Candace and Taj from Tocantins, Yasmin from Samoa, NaOnka from Nicaragua and Stacey from South Pacific.
Scenery Porn: Plenty seasons were beautiful enough even in Standard Definition (Palau, Guatemala, Amazon, Marquesas), but after Gabon, all the seasons have been filmed in HD - and the scenery porn was cranked Up to Eleven. They couldn't have picked a better season to upgrade to HD.
"Blood vs. Water" is considered to be the easiest Survivor game due to the fact that it had barely rained at all. Compare Philippines, which began filming during an actual monsoon. Gabon is often considered to be one of the easier seasons due to the weather being consistently warm and the contestants having their own shelters built for them. One World as well, due to how it rarely rained at all.
Africa, Marquesas, Guatemala, Fiji, Nicaragua, and Samoa are often considered one of the hardest seasons. Most of the contestants in Africa had to be on the watch out for lions and other predators, became very sick due to the parasites and the heat, and faced brutal desert-like conditions. Probst said Marquesas will never be a location due to the insects that constantly pestered the contestants and the film crew. Guatemala began with a massive hike in triple-digit weather (plus humidity) and continued to be blazing hot. Half the contestants in Fiji (The Ravus) were constantly unable to sleep due to the "Haves and have not" twist. Nicaragua was constantly raining and when it wasn't, it was blazing hot (like Guatemala). Samoa had a constant rainstorm for the first half of the season.
Leann in Vanuatu, thanks in part to a power shift from Ami/Leann to Twila/Scout.
Edgardo in Fiji - while it wasn't as much of a shock to the audience, the expressions on nearly everyone's faces (especially Edgardo and Alex's) show how shocking it really was.
Ozzy in Micronesia. Even his alliance and the first juror Eliza were shocked. (You'd think Eliza was having a heart attack!)
Stephenie in Heroes vs Villains - convinced that thanks to her Ulonging in Palau that she was kryptonite to the tribe, she was voted out over the much more conniving and scheming Amanda due to almost that fact alone (although there are unconfirmed rumors that she asked to be voted out due to her shoulder injury hampering her). The Villains tribe was clearly shocked that a strong competitor such as Stephenie was voted out so early.
Far too many examples to count in Cagayan. But hell with it, let's count anyway:
Hyper-controlling yet physically fit Garrett being voted out by Kass and Tasha over J'Tia, who had just finished utterly biffing a puzzle despite being on the Brains Tribe and dumped the rice after she was told by Garrett she was going home. YMMV whether it was a dumb move by Kass and Tasha or if Garrett was just that horrific a player.
Trish swings to LJ/Jefra and convinces Tony as well to oust former Brawn tribesmate, affable NBA giant Cliff Robinson.
Come merge, usually-sane Sarah Lacina slowly loses her mind and openly declares being a swing vote, causing a disenfranchised Kass to potentially throw away a power position in order to vote Sarah out with the other tribe.
Then Tony decides he wants LJ out, moving Heaven and Earth to get it to happen, which it eventually does.
Show The Folks At Home: During the Tribal vote, each castaway stands at a Confession Cam to explain the reasoning behind his or her vote and show his or her ballot. Though time prohibits airing everybody's speech, and showing all the votes would kill the tension for the ceremony itself, the remaining votes are quickly shown as a montage at the end of the show. This sometimes fuels additional drama by revealing a traitor, but it also proves that the producers didn't change the outcome.
Sigil Spam: The current season's logo appears on quite a lot: the tribe flags, challenge propsnote pennants, puzzle pieces, etc., the Buffs, Jeff Probst's Cool Hat, and much more. Then there's the Reward Challenge maze in Tocantins ep. 12: the word "SURVIVOR" was at least 60 yards long.
Survivor: Philippines can refer to that region's adaptation of the show, or to the 25th American season.
Sixth Ranger Traitor: Some contestants join an alliance in order to either expose or break it, with varying success.
Sliding Scale of Plot Versus Characters: For the first eight or so seasons, Survivor focused more on the players day to day lives at camp, but in later seasons, it increasingly focuses on game strategy and twists to the point where most of the characters are flat out ignored.
Small Name, Big Ego: At least one in every season. "Coach" had crazy stories in Tocantins about how he escaped angry natives in the Amazon and the like (though he toned this stuff down in later seasons). Russell Hantz claimed that he was the best player to ever play (only to lose both of his jury votes in a landslide, which is something which will never happen to a good player). Rich Hatch was also a notorious braggart, though he backed up his claims of running the game by actually winning it.
Sore Loser: Several players voted out are this, shown in post-Tribal Council confessionals, finale retrospective confessionals, or bitter jury speeches during the final Tribal Council. Russell has to take the cake here, as his reactions to his three losses have been 1) try to buy the title from the winner, 2) complain that the rules need to be changed, and 3) threaten to sue his tribemates for throwing a challenge to get him out.
Also worth noting is Judd from Guatemala. After being blindsided (hilariously enough after claiming it was just a game and no one should take it personally), he told the people who had just voted him out "Thanks guys! I hope you guys get bit by a freaking crocidile. Scumbags."
Sorting Algorithm of Evil: It seems "villainous" players just keep getting worse. Just watch how the villainy level has progressed over the years:
Season 1: Richard Hatch, who had an ego but didn't antagonize his competitors much; he just prioritized strategy over friendship. The same goes for Boston Rob in Season 4.
Season 7: Jonny "Fairplay", the first to embrace the "villain" role and be nasty on purpose. Playing on peoples' sympathy with his "dead grandma" lie was and still is considered hitting below the belt.
Season 9: Ami Cusack, who at one point denied all the male players in the team food so that all of them would be weaker and more easily targeted.
Season 19: Russell Hantz, who was an unrepentant egotistical jackass. Believed (and still believes) he's the best Survivor player ever, and liked to screw with other players for laughs.
Season 24: Colton Cumbie, who was a racist, elitist egotistical jackass. He went out of his way to be an Alpha Bitch to people he didn't like, usually involving racial slurs. And unlike Fairplay or Russell, he wasn't even trying to play up a villainous person.
Spanner in the Works: When a contestant becomes contrary to the majority alliances' plan, they risk upheaving it and throwing the game out of whack. The earliest example is Kelly Wigglesworth of Borneo, who defected from the majority alliance and had to go on an immunity run to stay safe.
Spell My Name with an "S": Variety of people means a variety of cultural backgrounds and names that someone will misspell. With first names, it happens a lot at Tribal Council.
Strategy Versus Tactics: Some players focus on their overall strategy and how they'll win in the finals, others focus more on the tactics of surviving round to round. Obviously, it's best to balance both - Russell Hantz is a prime example of what happens when you follow one at the expense of the other (in his case, he poured all his energy into tactics with no thought to his endgame strategy, suffering total defeat in the finals twice).
Stunt Casting: Often in the form of "recruits", people recruited because of their fame or occupation to boost ratings or provide interesting characters. This is a far more common trope in recent seasons:
Rudy Boesch from Borneo was the first notable recruit, an ex Navy SEAL who proved to be one of the show's main drawing points, at least in the first season.
Christy Smith from The Amazon, the first disabled contestant in a reality show.
Jon Dalton, an up-and-coming professional wrestler who went on to become the first true villain of Survivor in the form of Jonny Fairplay from Pearl Islands.
Both Bobby Jon and Stephanie from Palau were recast onto Guatemala due to their fame from their previous season. Gary Hogeboom from the same season, an ex-NFL player linebacker, also qualifies.
Most of the cast of Cook Islands and Fiji were recruits instead of actual applicants, due to the desire to see a more racially diverse cast on the show. A notable recruit was Yau-Man Chan from Fiji, who went on to become a fan favourite.
Sublime Rhyme: Most of the tree-mail and Immunity Idol messages are in verse. The messages that aren't usually describe something complicated which must be handled in advance.
Take That: The jury, especially the bitter ones, are prone to do this to the finalists. The UR Example is Sue Hawk's "Rats and Snakes" speech, and just about everyone except Michelle and maybe Yau-Man pretty much said Take That to Dreamz in Fiji. Edgardo and Lisi were particularly vicious.
Edna from South Pacific performs one to both Mikayla and more subtly to the recurring nature of "Mactors", actors or models who seemingly don't care about Survivor and are only on the show for exposure, in her voting confessional towards her:
Edna:(whispered) "I hope your time here has helped your future modeling career."
When Lindsey quit Cagayan, someone stomped "Shame on you Lindsie" in the sand.
All the winners that returned in All-Stars got hit by this, and again in Heroes vs. Villains; Tom Westman in particular was targeted by the Heroes due to his impressive win in Palau, while according to post-game interviews, Randy attempted to target the winners on the Villains tribe in the days before he was voted out.
Team Dad / Team Mom: There's usually (but not always) a contestant of each gender who takes on the role despite the nature of the game.
One memorable moment is Tina Wesson of Australian Outback. She actually threatened to put Jerri and Keith in "time out" if they didn't stop bickering. In fact, being the Team Mom became a huge factor in her victory.
Truth in Television: It's a Reality Show, so it is basically true, but many contestants also claim that the game reveals everybody's true personality, which is many times far different than the one they adopt back home.
People are also actually put at risk in the show. Sandra declined coming back for All Stars because she was still recovering from parasites she got in Pearl Islands, and Ian from Palau admitted he still didn't have feeling in parts of his feet after spending so long on a buoy.
The infamous "Peeing scene" in Marquesas actually is a common remedy. Urine doesn't actually heal the sea urchin wound, it cleans it so it allows it to heal.
Turn Coat: Every single episode of every single season has at least one example.
Unreliable Narrator: Jeff Probst, occasionally. Most blatantly in the previouslies. His intense dislike for Gabon's Fang tribe during recaps became increasingly obvious during the season, mainly because of their Ulong-reminiscent losing streak.
Occasionally, the editors have a bit of fun with this. In One world, contestants said that Christina was lazy. Yet they overlapped this with footage of her working.
Intended to be invoked in One World, where the two tribes are sharing a living space, but subverted as the tribes set up separate camps next to each other instead of living as one group.
Subverted with the Casaya tribe in Panama. Despite them being an extremely dysfunctional and combative tribe, they all managed to work together well enough in challenges to pagong the more peaceful and homogeneous La Mina tribe.
This was the Fatal Flaw of the Timbiras in Tocantins. Between Coach and Brendan jockeying for the alpha male position, and Erinn getting the All of the Other Reindeer treatment, the tribe was in a big enough division come the merge that the incoming Jalapaos (who were in the minority) exploited the tribe "factions" and easily to picked off the Timbiras one by one.
Most people who're victims of very bad examples of Spotlight-Stealing Squad. The first explicit example of this was the majority of the cast in Tocantins, such as Debbie, Joe and Sydney, who were ignored for the sake of Coach. Most of the Galu tribe that weren't Shambo or Russell Swan got the same treatment, while early episodes of Philippines seem to forget that there's even anyone on Kalabaw that isn't Jeff Kent or Jonathan Penner.
However, the latter two examples can be justified in that said tribes rarely, if ever, went to Tribal Council to vote somebody out, so the need to show everyone on the tribe equally somewhat diminished.
Even on the Reunion Show; anyone voted out in between the range of third to merge is generally passed over. In the Nicaragua review; you'd be surprised to find out that Yve and Jill were there.
They didn't even bother bringing any pre-jury players on stage for the Caramoan reunion, although that may have been done as a Hand Wave to hide the fact that Brandon Hantz had been banned from the lot after his tantrum in the game.
What You Are in the Dark: A few contestants have claimed over the years that the game reveals everybody's true personality, which is many times far different than the one they adopt back home.
Who Will Bell the Cat?: Comes up in several seasons, and is a major reason for the trend of conservative play in recent ones: even if everyone wants a guy in a position of power voted out, nobody wants to be targeted for trying. Especially if said person has an immunity idol that can lead to a vote going against the people attempting the coup.
You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Once an alliance has eliminated their competition, the perceived strongest member/s is/are the one/s who get voted by their tribe mates because they see him/her as a threat. Ouch.
Season-Specific Tropes A-M
Abridged Series: Survivor Cagayan is this first of its seires to get an abridged series. Each episode is 2 minutes long and is made by only 2 guys. It can be found here
Accentuate the Negative: Quite common among the contestants. Stephanie Lagrossa, for example. Did you know that she actually made the final two when she played the game a second time in Guatemala? And that she was actually in a majority alliance? The way everyone mentioned/carried on about how she was on Ulong in Palau during Heroes vs. Villains, you'd be surprised to find out that detail.
Poor Dreamz - even if he clearly was sorry for having done it and regretted it (Even months later at the reunion), everyone VICIOUSLY chewed him out for it
Accidental Misnaming: In the first Tribal Council of Redemption Island, Phillip consistently calls Francesca "Fransesqua", resulting in her indignantly correcting him. The third time, he said "My mouth is dry, I've been getting treatment for it." During the vote, he writes her name down as "Francesqua", showing that he didn't really know Francesca's name.
In Borneo, B.B mistakenly refers to Greg as "Craig", and doesn't even know Jenna's name, referring to her as the "lady in the pink swimsuit."
In Micronesia, Ozzy mistakenly refers to Joel as "Troy" during the tribe swap.
In One World, Tarzan referred to Jonas as "Jason" and Christina as "Katrina". He explained he has nominal aphasia, meaning he needs to work at getting names right.
The Ace: Colby Donaldson during Australian Outback, "Boston" Rob Mariano from All-Stars, Heroes vs. Villains and Redemption Island, Tom Westman during Palau, Yul Kwon during Cook Islands, Bob Crowley during Gabon, J.T. Thomas during Tocantins Kim Spardlin from One World and Malcolm Freberg from Philliphines and Caramoan all fit this trope to a T.
Also Terry Deitz from Panama. He gets double points for being an Ace Pilot.
Action Girl: Several, but the earliest and most accomplished AG is Kelly Wigglesworth from Borneo.
All of the Other Reindeer: Shii-Ann Huang and Eliza Orlins are notable examples because they managed to be this in multiple seasons (Thailand and All-Stars for the former, Vanuatu and Micronesia for the latter). Both respond each time by finding a way to spite the rest of their tribe, to varying degrees of success (see Diabolus Ex Machina for a Shii-Ann attempt that didn't go so well, and Taking You with Me for a more successful incarnation from Eliza).
All There in the Manual: Looking at shooting schedules, Heroes Vs Villains filmed just before Samoa aired. This means that none of the other H vs V players had the chance to see Russell in action prior to the season, which became important.
The tie-breakers for the first 5-6 seasons definitely fall under here as well, since most of the contestants seemed so unsure of how they would proceed that they avoided forcing one like the plague. Also counts for the one season where contestants believed the tie-breaker would be pulling stones, and was instead the fire-building challenge.
Actually, much of the strategy in Australian Outback and Africa was based on the survivors knowing that a tie breaker involved who had the most previous votes. Tina from the Australian Outback managed to give her tribe, Ogakor, a majority during the merge when she tricked Kimmi from Kucha into revealing who had the most votes from Kucha.
Analogy Backfire: Matt in One World described the alpha males as a group of "roosters" collectively leading the "chickens" on the tribe around. After he got voted out in the same episode, viewers noted that actual roosters don't work together, they engage in literal cockfights with each other.
And There Was Much Rejoicing: Can easily happen given how someone is ejected every episode. Not only for the audience, but sometimes the contestants act this way, too. Jerri leaving Australia was a relief to the other players (one even whistled "Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead"), and just about everybody (including many viewers) was glad to see Russell finally get voted out in Redemption Island.
Anti-Climax: There have been a couple seasons that were considered "Blowouts" at the end because of the final two or three and the winner being pretty obvious. Probst has pointed out that there were fan complaints of "Blowout" seasons before they started doing a final three.
Panama/Exile Island wherein the ones who were most likely to win were the last two evicted and left with Daniele and Aras.
Fiji, wherein the fan favourite was the last person evicted and the final three faced a very bitter jury. The winner was liked, at least.
Redemption Island, wherin the only characters that were considered interesting were on the losing side of a Pagonging and voted out early, and Rob had such a grip on his tribe to the point where everyone trusted him and believed whatever he said so that his win was almost written in the stars.
The Atoner: After starting Guatemala on a sour note, (see Smug Snake, below), Jamie suddenly got better. He traded the nice food Reward he earned in episode 9 for the lowest-quality food item available; he explained that he realized how much of an asshole he'd been. As the contestants sit to eat, Jeff reminds everyone of the sacrifice:
Jeff: Bring out the next meal: burger and a beer. [...] This is where you would have been in the line, Jamie.
Jamie: Nothing tastes better than my self-respect.
Jeff: Well put.
Awesome but Impractical: Trying to play a VERY strong physical game in the early parts of the game. Unfortunately this winds up depleting your body (and possibly causes your body to consume muscle if you're male and don't have as much fat) and either causes you to slow down, get sick and either lead to you being Voted off the Island or even worse, a Non-Gameplay Elimination. And unless you can carry yourself with immunity wins; you'll be seen as a threat around the merge.
Awesomeness by Analysis: Yau-Man from Fiji and Bob Crowley from Gabon, who effectively used maths and physics in challenges. Stephen from Tocantins also used math in at least one challenge to win
Praise should be given to all of the Survivor contestants who actually knew how to survive out there, despite little-to-no prior experience or survival skills. To name the more obvious examples: Richard, Rudy, Greg and Gretchen from Borneo, Michael from Australian Outback, Hunter from Marquesas, Rupert from Pearl Islands, Ozzy from Cook Islands...and the list goes on.
Awesome McCoolname: Andrew Savage and Richard Hatch (as in hatching an evil plot) come to mind.
Back from the Dead: Pearl Islands allowed eliminated players to return to the game as "The Outcasts". This twist was borrowed by two international editions (the Israeli version's "Dead Man Island" and the second season of the Philippine edition's "Isla Purgatoryo"). Three of the four (Pear Islands had two Outcasts) aforementioned returning players nearly won their respective seasons.
Badass: In real life, Rudy Boesch is a retired Navy SEAL. Hunter Ellis from Marquesas saved a man's life while in the service and was the resident survival expert on his tribe. Gretchen Cordy was also a desert and jungle survival expert for the US Army. Tom Westman was a fireman for years before Palau.
Badass Grandpa: While possibly not technically a Grandfather, Bob Crowley entered this trope when he not only became the oldest winner of Survivor by a good fifteen years, he did it by going on an immunity challenge streak. Despite not winning, former Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch from Borneo fits this trope to a T.
Bald of Awesome: Gervase Peterson, "Big Ted" Rogers Jr., James Clement and Jaison Robinson.
Bald of Evil: Russell Hantz, though he desperately tries to hide it (the baldness, not the Evil).
Batman Gambit: Many, but the UR Example is almost certainly when Richard threw the last competition. He waited deliberately until Jeff came in with a temptation(in this cases they were oranges), and stepped right off the platform, waiting for either Rudy or Kelly to win. If Kelly won(which Richard was banking on given that she's younger than Rudy), she takes Richard to the finals on the assumption that the jury would hate Richard for pagonging them all. If Rudy won, he takes Richard to the final two out of loyalty, in which case Richard believed he would lose. In either case, Richard doesn't have to get his hands dirty and potentially lose a jury vote in either case(whether it was Rudy or Kelly who eventually left), and since he is a better public speaker than either, he could possibly very well win against Rudy as well.
Beauty, Brains and Brawn: While our trope is usually used for a three-girl Power Trio, Cagayan deserves mention for being themed after the dynamic and referencing it by name repeatedly.
Being Evil Sucks: Russell Hantz relishes being the bad guy (see "Griefer" below), but his "evil deeds" cost him the jury's votes twice and got his third tribe to throw a challenge to get rid of him. Also the reason Dreamz lost in Fiji.
Berserk Button: Jeff Probst visibly turns nasty when someone quits without a good reason. He was sympathetic towards people like Jenna (who was having bad vibes about her mother with cancernote The producers told her her mother's cancer took a turn for the worse) and Kathleen (who was having a mental breakdown); and with Janu, he seemed more surprised. But as for people like Osten, "Purple" Kelly, and NaOnka? Not pleased.
Don't ever claim you threw a challenge in front of Jeff.
Jeff also especially did not like Jonathan Penner or Jonny Fairplay for unspecified reasons; he never called Penner by name and only seemed sympathetic towards him when he was evacuated in Micronesia, and Fairplay supposedly got in a fight with one of Probst's family members at the Vanuatu reunion that put him on Probst's shitlist.
Beware the Honest Ones: See the Redemption Island premiere, where Phillip's honesty led him to blab his alliance's plan at Tribal Council.
In South Pacific, Brandon Hantz went through a cycle of feeling "Catholic guilt" over some falsehood, coming clean about it, lather, rinse, repeat; throwing tribal dynamics into chaos every single time.
Big Brother Mentor: In Episode 6 of Thailand, after a quarrel over a misunderstanding Robb had, Ken takes Robb under his wing and becomes a sort of Big Brother Mentor to him, teaching how to better relate to his tribe. This calmed down the normally very unpredictable Robb into having an epiphany about himself and suddenly becoming much nicer to his tribe mates.
Coach basically acted as one to Brandon in South Pacific, helping him keep himself together.
The Big Guy: Many, including Clarence Black, "Big Tom" Buchanan, "Big Ted" Rogers Jr, Rupert Boneham, James Clement, Jaison Robinson.
Big Screwed-Up Family: The Hantzes, from what we see of them. Russell is an Entitled Bastard and revels in being a Jerk Ass. His nephew Brandon tried to be better than that in South Pacific, but frankly sucked at it and melted down at every screwup. In Caramoan he gave up trying and displayed an extreme Hair-Trigger Temper. And in the South Pacific family visit, we met Brandon's dad/Russell's brother, who told Brandon to suck it up and get the money (not bad advice given Brandon's issues, but comes off as "abandon your principles") and tried to bully Coach into helping Brandon. (Plus, another of Russell's brothers, Willie, was on Big Brother and his behavior actually got him disqualified.)
Biting-the-Hand Humor: Pagong from the first season, Borneo, all voted for host Jeff Probst during their first trip to Tribal Council out of sheer mockery of his seriousness. The mock vote for Jeff wasn't shown, but everyone including executive producer Mark Burnett claimed that it happened, and that it infuriated Probst. Greg Buis in particular took this trope Up to Eleven.
Blatant Lies: Gabon featured "video messages from home" as a teaser for the 11th Reward Challenge; Jeff claimed that the true Reward would simply be pizza and a longer message, and later told the losers that he had nothing for them. While eating (alone), Bob was pleasantly surprised to see his wife step from behind a nearby tree, and led her back to meet the tribe. Then, he turned around, whistled sharply, and the other players' loved ones crested the hill down to the camp.
Boring but Practical: Pagonging. Essentially, if you control a majority and remove all the other alliances and the floaters, you can waltz to a game milestone almost completely unopposed. Editors wouldn't like this strategy as it can make a season quite boring. Thankfully, it's only happened in its entirety in Borneo, Thailand, Cook Islands, Redemption Island, and South Pacific. And YMMV on Cook Islands since the tribe doing the pagonging was actually an underdog.
Obfuscating Stupidity / The Quiet One as a strategy. The editors don't like it unless you're doing something amusing like Fabio (Look how little screentime Vecepia, Brett, and Natalie got!) but when the other players think you're stupid/easy to beat, then if you play your cards right you'll be dragged along and possibly the last man out of your alliance.
Born Unlucky: Part of the reason the Ulong tribe in Palau did so poorly was because of factors outside their control. Ashlee and Jeff were voted out because of illness and a twisted ankle respectively.
Born Winner: Sandra definitely qualifies, as she has won both seasons she has competed in, with only one vote cast against her in both of them.
Call Back / Nostalgia Level: All-Star seasons tend to bring back challenges from the castaways' original seasons. Whenever such a challenge is played, Probst notes the original season it came from.
In addition, the first duel in Redemption Island was appropriately a repeat of the challenge that took place during Pearl Islands' Outcast twist.
Card-Carrying Villain: A few players over the years have been Genre Savvy enough to know that they were going to be edited as the villain and played it up accordingly. Examples include Jonny Fairplay, Russell Hantz, and Corinne Kaplan. An inversion of this is Jerri Manthey, at least in Australia. According to her, she did not expect to be edited as a villain, since she never did anything particularly villainous (at least to Survivor standards at the time), especially since she as a person received an extremely negative reception after the whole "Beef Jerky" incident.
Villany Marches On, though. People originally booed Jerri off the stage. After the likes of Ami, Russell Hantz, Rob, Corinne, Randy, Parvati, and Fairplay...putting her in the villains tribe may have been incredibly unfitting.
The Cassandra: The appropriately-named Sandra plays this role in the early stages of the Heroes vs. Villains merge - first, in her attempts to rat out Russell and Parvati's scam to the Heroes, then in her attempts to persuade Candice to stay with the Heroes. An encore from her days in the Pearl Islands warning people not to trust Jonny Fairplay.
An early example: Joel Klug from the first season was voted out on Day 18 for a number of reasons such as supposed chauvinism, being the richest tribe member other than B.B (and thus not really needing the prize money), being a physical threat during the merge, etc. But one other excuse for eliminating him according to his tribe was that he was "telling people what to do" or something similar for bringing up the idea of alliances. He says on camera to his tribe that it's in Pagong's best interest to vote as a unified whole just in case Tagi was planning to do the same (and they were), and most of his tribe punished him for not being naive and assuming everyone would vote emotionally.
Cat Fight: Danielle and Amanda had one in Heroes Vs Villains over a hidden immunity idol clue. Coincidentally, lone male Colby already had a bowl of popcorn with him at the time as it was a movie night reward.
NaOnka and Kelly B had one in Nicaragua yet again over a hidden immunity idol clue, though that was slightly less entertaining because Kelly had an amputated leg. Both women later tried to write it off as not treating Kelly differently for being handicapped, but it rings hollow considering NaOnka's rants about wanting to tear the prosthetic leg off and throw it in the fire.
The Chessmaster: After first season winner Richard Hatch showed that the game is really about politics, not actual wilderness survival, every contestant has subsequently tried to be this. Most wind up being Unwitting Pawns.
Cirie was one of the best, being the first player to successfully engineer a three-way split in the votes.
Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Some players can't help but vote off their own alliance members - even through this, people keep on trusting these players. An example of this is Candice Woodcock-Cody, in both Cook Islands and Heroes vs. Villains.
Another prime example is Dreamz in Fiji. En route to the final three he screws over Michelle, Edgardo, Mookie, Alex, and most notably Yau-Man, all of whom are in the jury. Needless to say, this comes back to haunt him.
Vecepia was the first notable backstabber who managed to win the game - she takes part in voting out her tribe's original leader Hunter, one of her only remaining tribemates Boston Rob, and Kathy with whom she had an iron-clad deal going into the finals with.
Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Coach in Tocantins. The 'Dragon Slayer' is just the tip of the crazy iceberg. To his credit, he seems to have recognized how he came off and scaled things way back in following seasons.
Additionally, Cao Boi from Cook Islands and Matthew from Amazon; the entire cast thought Matthew was insane (Or "cweepy" as Christy Smith would have it.)
Greg Buis was the first Cloud Cuckoo Lander of Survivor, beginning with his coconut phone, and ending with his unexpected descent into tears.
Shane, who decided to quit smoking only the day before Panama began. Later seen with his Blackberry rock.
Philip (from Redemption Island) challenges Coach's Tocantins performance for craziest Survivor ever.
Greg Smith, or "Tarzan" from One World is shown to definitely live on his own world. A few examples of this are when he tells Jeff Probst that he (meaning Jeff) is the one getting played at Tribal Council; and when he is convinced that another contestant is mad at him because he's a plastic surgeon, and she was unhappy with her plastic surgeon.
The Cobbler's Children Have No Shoes / Informed Ability: There's usually at least one contestant whose job back home doesn't seem to translate to Survivor skills as well as it should. (Especially given the limited nutrition they receive while in the game.) Some examples include:
Kelly from Borneo, a professional river guide who lost a boating race to a man who couldn't swim.
Keith from The Australian Outback, a chef who could not even cook rice. His rice was so disgusting that it was inedible, and his inability to cook was made all the more blatant when Jerri made tortillas from scratch that the whole tribe ended up loving.
Lillian from Pearl Islands couldn't tie the fisherman's knot, and lost a fishing hook, in spite of being a Boy Scout leader.
James from Palau, an Alabama steelworker who got beaten in a fight by a gay hairdresser.
NaOnka from Nicaragua and Alicia from One World are teachers (PE and special ed, respectively), but demonstrated things kids probably shouldn't be learning. Namely, NaOnka had a bad attitude towards a disabled tribemate (and everyone else, but the disability stands out) and quit at the expense of her team, while Alicia was a selfish Alpha Bitch.
Phillip from Redemption Island , a "Former Federal Agent?" who couldn't pierce Tribal Council Double Speak, got upset, and proceeded to reveal all of his alliance's secrets. Even the captions appeared to question his profession. Fan theory is that his actual government job was much less impressive than he tries to make it sound.
Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Brett from Samoa simply hid behind the numbers and kept his mouth shut (losing a lot of screen time in the process), making the Foa-Foa's think he was nothing more than an easy-boot at the final six. But then all of a sudden, this quiet person who looks 16 starts to chain-win immunities. Then comes the scary part for the Foa-Foa's, since Brett is the last remaining Galu left, on a jury filled with Galus... not to mention he's the only one besides Natalie out of those six who had not angered anyone like Russell and Mick...
Jud from Nicaragua got pegged as a himbo (not completely unfairly) and was given the nickname "Fabio", but he used it to his advantage to sneak past people perceived as bigger threats and won, even managing to trick Chase and Sash into telling Jane they were voting her out to her face.
Ashley appeared to have been one of the Living Props on Rob's team who was incapable of doing a thing by herself...until she started winning challenges and worried Rob a lot because she didn't anger anybody on the jury and was actually not incompetent. You can spot Rob's Oh, Crap face.
Before these three, Lillian in Pearl Islands. The entire season she's (again, not unfairly) built up as a woman in over her head. In a rather brilliant move, Fairplay comes into the final three with her and Sandra, neither of which had won any challenges. Sandra goes out easily as predicted...but Fairplay starts to get in trouble. He tries to get Lil to drop...but every single deal is shot down with a big "No", and she continues to wear him down.
Sophie is sort of seen as this emotional girl who's being dragged by Coach... and then manages to beat Ozzy in the most crucial immunity challenge.
Christina gets a moment in One World - she's pretty much abused all game but eventually the abuse stops a bit as they decide to go after Kat instead. Throughout the game she doesn't perform well in challenges, yet in the final immunity challenge, she comes in second... a very close second at that, as both her and Kim were leagues ahead of Chelsea and Sabrina!
Crying Wolf: After his famous "dead grandma" ploy in Pearl Islands, Jonny Fairplay had basically established himself as the player who would say anything to get farther in the game. So in Micronesia, when he told a sweet story about feeling emotionally-detached from the game because he was thinking about his soon-to-be-born daughter, the other players thought he was up to his old tricks and voted him out first. He was telling the truth that time - at least about the baby. He may have been playing up the rest, of course.
Defeat by Modesty: Kathy lost Marquesas' final challenge because she was trying to cover up.
But averted in the Heroes Vs Villains premiere; Sandra tried to sabotage Sugar by undoing her top, but it barely slowed Sugar down.
Courtney in China lost because her bra kept slipping and she kept turning around to cover it up.
Determinator: Russell Swan worked through a 5-day storm in Samoa before collapsingtwice during a challenge, and was sent home because his heart rate dropped far too low. It was basically because of his failing that the Galu tribe basically fell apart after the merge.
Diabolus Ex Machina: The pearls in the Philippines edition (not to be confused with the US season set in the Philippines), which those voted out after the merge can give to remaining players. The cursed (black) pearl counts as an extra vote against the holder at the next Tribal Council and the blood pearl counts as two (There's also a white pearl that subtracts a vote and counts as a Deus ex Machina). Some of the game twists have also royally screwed players over:
Lex from Africa got sick in day 38, hours before the final immunity challenge.
PASCHAL. Because of a tie in the final four between Kathy and Neleh, Jeff Probst took out a bag full of rocks, and whoever drew the purple rock would be eliminated from the game. Paschal drew the purple rock, and was eliminated from the game; with no votes cast for him throughout the entire game, let alone that Tribal Council. This caused a lot of controversy outside the game because of how many people felt Paschal was unfairly screwed over. Although this did work out for him, his leg gave out the very next day so he couldn't participate in the next tribal council.
Shii-Ann in Thailand was on the outs with her tribe, and when the two came together she immediately tried to integrate with the opposition - only for Jeff to spring the twist that they hadn't merged yet, they were only sharing a camp. Bye bye, Shii-Ann.
Savage from Pearl Islands, who got voted out mostly because Lilian was still mad at him for getting her out.
Michelle Yi from Fiji gets voted out after a twist where the reward and the immunity challenges are combined into a single event, and the losing team has to go immediately to Tribal Council with no opportunity for discussion or strategizing. Michelle ends up on a team consisting of hostile and indifferent players, loses, and is subsequently voted out.
Another one from the Philippines edition is during its second season. The third tribal council was held immediately after the second. The eliminated castaway was very tearful because of this.
This is basically what happened to Jenny Guzon-Bae in Cook Islands — her tribe ended up losing the challenge, and after voting out Rebecca, they were told that they immediately had to vote off another tribemate. Jenny ended up getting the surprise boot. Naturally, as she walked away from the Tribal Council set, she raised a big middle finger... whether to her tribe or to the host is uncertain.
While this wasn't a new twist, Jacqui from Gabon was screwed out because she got switched to another tribe and was pretty much the low man on the totem pole. Marcus was also screwed, but it was part Diabolus Ex Machina and part mistake. (Marcus realized he and Crystal had a connection outside of the game, so they tried to make a small alliance...but then he suggested voting out Ken, Crystal's # 1 ally in the game, so Crystal immediately dropped the plans and got him voted out when Ken flipped Susie).
Also has happened to Marty/Jill in Nicaragua, Silas/Lindsey in Africa... the list of contestants who got shafted by a tribal swap goes on and on.
Aaron from China has to be one of the best examples of this — at the final twelve, both tribes were told that they were allowed to kidnap whichever two members of the opposing tribe they perceived as the strongest, automatically putting those players into a minority. Aaron, the leader of the Fei Long tribe who was in a solid alliance, got sent over to Zhan Hu and was voted off the same episode for no other reason than the fact that he was a strong guy.
Amber from All-Stars by all rights should have been the ultimate example of this trope, when during a randomized tribal switch she was most improbably the only person not to switch tribes. And yet, Boston Rob managed to turn her case into a subversion by duping Lex into saving her with a single sentence. Small wonder she immediately accepted when Rob later proposed marriage.
Amber had already done the legwork by offering Lex and Kathy a final-5 alliance with her, Rob, and Big Tom, in which Lex expected to have the upper hand because he had a secret pre-show alliance in place with Big Tom. Rob's muttered line at the challenge just convinced Lex to go ahead with the deal. It would have been a pretty smart move for Lex, except the part where he forgot Rob was there to win, not to help his friends win.
Brenda won the family visit challenge in Caramoan, which is already fairly unenviable due to having to pick a tribemate or two to go along with and risk alienating everyone else. After she chose Dawn to share the prize, Probst hit her with the Sadistic Choice of keep the reward for her and Dawn or have both of them give it up to let everyone else see their loved ones, thereby forcing her to either actively deny the others their families or turn her kind gesture to Dawn into a case of Yank the Dog's Chain. And to add insult to injury, the reward took place just offshore from the camp, within view of anyone not participating thereby stoking their jealously. For a "reward", there was really no way for Brenda to come out unscathed.
Naonka in Nicaragua made a batch of tortillas but got stuck with the smallest one, so she swiped and hid all the tortilla-making supplies and some fruit. The only reason she brought any of it back was because she was caught.
Boston Rob chose to vote out Matt early in Redmption Island because he shook hands with the other tribe after they won a challenge.
Ditzy Genius: Dr. Sean Kenniff. Fans regularly make fun of his "Alphabet Strategy", but it actually made sense: most of the names that started toward the beginning of the alphabet were from the Pagong tribe. Why he failed was because of his neurotic demeanor, and that he always put his foot in his mouth when he started to talk. It didn't help matters that he thought of himself as a kind of Jerry Seinfeld, noting in his audition tape that Seinfeld, Joey Buttafuoco and all of the Baldwin brothers are from his hometown. And his Superpole 2000 was hilariously ineffective. Gervase called him the "dumbest smart guy" that he's ever met. And ironically, Sean's dad ended up being largely the same when he showed up for the first ever "loved one" visit, with Sue calling the elder Kenniff a goof.
Double Meaning Title: Many of the episode titles in the earlier seasons are Shoutouts to various pieces of literature, film, music, or events that happened earlier in the season. They are also allusions to what is going to happen in that nights episode. For example, Thailand's premiere episode is called "The Importance Of Being Eldest", a reference to Oscar Wilde as well as to the opening twist (and is also a clue to how the season itself plays out).
"Redemption Island", while being on obvious reference to the twist introduced in that season, is also a subtle reference to the fact that two of the most notorious Survivors who had never won a season, Boston Rob and Russell, were trying to redeem themselves by finally winning it all.
Dysfunction Junction: Episode 2 of Nicaragua is an hour full of crazy; with Holly's weird revenge scheme, Naonka's unprovoked bile and Shannon's out-of-nowhere ranting.
The Casaya Tribe from Panama, in between Shane randomly going off at people, Courtney randomly going off at people, and Shane and Courtney going off at each other, the tribe really was one of the most dysfunctional tribes to ever be slumped together.
Between Alicia and Christina's shouting matches, Tarzan's Cloudcuckoolander antics, and pretty much anything Colton said or did, the first half of One World made for one of the most dysfunctional seasons in the show's run.
Caramoan put Brandon and Phillip on the same tribe, which proved to be, shall we say, volatile.
Early Installment Weirdness: Some people consider Borneo to be so different in tone and mood compared to the rest of the rest of the series that it's this. However, there's nothing really tangibly different about it compared to later seasons other than a lack of "shocking twists" (unless you consider things like merging, the jury, and the Final 2 to be "twists").
Entitled Bastard: Russell Hantz. In Samoa, he tried to buy the title off the winner. In Heroes vs Villains, he claimed that the rules were flawed. In Redemption Island, he even said that he should have sued every player on his team for losing just to get rid of him. Even after his nephew Brandon played in South Pacific, he referred to his own game as "greatness" and said Brandon was screwing it up.
Epic Fail: Palau's Ulong tribe. Infamous in that they lost every single immunity challenge, and all but three reward challenges. The only reason anyone from the other tribe was voted out was that one episode featured a contestant getting voted out from both tribes as part of a twist. At one point, there is only one member of the Ulong tribe. As a result, no official merge happened, Ulong was considered "conquered", and Stephanie was assimilated into the other tribe. She didn't last too long after that, and the Ulong tribe officially became the shortest-lived tribe in Survivor history. "Ulonging" has since become a Fan Nickname for losing repeatedly.
Seasons later, the Matsing tribe from Philippines became Ulong's successor, never winning a single challenge in the four episodes it lasted. Malcolm and Denise were consequently absorbed into opposing tribes, ironically going far to become major threats in their own rights.
And Cagayan's Luzon(Brains) tribe almost becomes the next Matsing/Ulong. One of their tribe members threw rice into the fire, costing 95% of their food and voted off someone else(after holding an open discussion on who is the weakest and should be voted off), had to rely on one person to carry the entire team, and lost almost every challenge, winning 1 immunity/reward challenge. In the 3rd episode of Cagayan, Luzon lost against the Aparri/Brawn tribe who was TRYING TO LOSE ON PURPOSE. It says much when a tribe tries to throw the challenge, and the other tribe still loses.
"...as evil as women can be, and diabolical and cutthroat and go-for-the-jugular as women are, and just suck blood, we do want Erik to have a good birthday on day 30. Today's his birthday; he's 22... so he's not going home today."
Everything Trying to Kill You: All of the locations are designed to wear the hell out of the contestants, but Australia and especially Africa qualify for this trope. The two tribes had to be barricaded inside a little rickety boma to keep from various predators who might eat or gore them and other animals who may stampede over them by accident.
Evil Is Cool: Some contestants believe this (as it is a game of deception), and swear to lie, cheat, and steal their way to the million. Most of them realise that they are on a television show, and deliberately do this to play up to the cameras.
Exact Words: In the Tocantins premiere, the players are about to begin an hours-long hike to the campsites, when the host suckers them good:
Jeff: "We're going to have our first vote, and one person from each tribe is not gonna make this journey..."
[vote is held, unhappy words of farewell to the selected players, angry laments from them]
Jeff: "Let's be clear: I said you will not take part in this adventure. 'This adventure' is a four-hour trek to camp. (Sandy screams happily and others laugh upon realizing what Jeff meant.) [...] while these guys are trekking for four hours, carrying all of the camp supplies, you're gonna fly to camp in a helicopter." Hilarious.
Before that, there was the time in Thailand where Jeff told the tribes they were together now, but later took great joy in informing them "'Merge'? I never said you merged."
Marquesas (season 4) fourth placer Paschal English was eliminated in a very controversial manner due to the purple rock.
Amanda Kimmell became the fourth member of the jury in Heroes vs Villains. The catch? This was the first time she was Voted off the Island in her Survivor career, having been in the Final Tribal Councils of her 2 previous seasons. Even worse: if you total the jury votes she got in her first two tries, the pattern is obvious. (She only got a single vote from China and three from Micronesia). After her boot, she had spent a total of 108 days in her three tries. The numbers are definitely against her that season.
Cirie Fields was always connected with this number. She placed fourth in Panama (her original season), was part of a dominant Four Girl Ensemble in Micronesia and was the fourth person eliminated in Heroes vs Villains. Also look at the numbers in between her three seasons (12, 16, 20).
Defied by Boston Rob Mariano. He was originally from the fourth season (Marquesas), but he finally won the game in his fourth attempt.
The final four Tagi alliance in Borneo; Richard is choleric, Kelly is sanguine, Rudy is melancholic and Sue is phlegm.
The final four in Thailand; Helen is choleric, Jan is supine, Clay is phlegmatic, and Brian is sanguine.
The final four in Pearl Islands; Sandra is phlegm, Lil is melancholic, Jon is choleric and Darrah is sanguine.
The final four Chapera alliance in All-Stars; Amber is supine, Boston Rob is choleric, Jenna is melancholic and Rupert is sanguine.
Koror final four in Palau; Tom is choleric, Katie is phlegm, Ian is sanguine, and Jenn was melancholic.
The Aitu 4 from Cook Islands; Yul is choleric, Ozzy is phlegm, Becky is supine, and Sundra is sanguine.
The Black Widow brigade in Micronesia: Parvati is sanguine, Amanda is phlegmatic I, Cirie is choleric and Natalie is melancholic.
Gabon final four; Bob is melancholic, Susie is choleric, Sugar is sanguine and Matty is phlegm.
Samoa's final four has Natalie being supine, Russell being choleric, Mick being phlegmatic and Brett being melancholic. Jaison is phlegm when he was part of the Foa Foa alliance with the first three mentioned.
The four winners who returned in All-Stars (Ethan is sanguine, Richard is choleric, Jenna is melancholic and Tina is supine) and Heroes vs Villains (Sandra is phlegm, Parvati is sanguine, J.T is supine and Tom is choleric).
Sash in Nicaragua said "if there's a time when I lose trust in [my tribe] — or, I'm sorry, if there's a time when they lose trust in me". And he said this during Tribal Council, too, so Probst made sure it didn't escape anyone's notice.
During the reunion show of Redemption Island, Jeff asked Russell a question, accidentally calling him Phillip. He lampshaded it by calling it this.
Brian in Thailand was gloating in the penultimate episode about why he wouldn't lose, and starts to count down on his fingers the ways he's manipulated everyone in Chuay Ghan into doing his bidding. By the time he's gotten to Clay, Brian inadvertently was Flipping the Bird to the camera, but it seemed like he meant he was doing it to Clay.
Chris in Vanuatu was assuring Eliza that he would stay solid in his deal with her, but accidentally said that they were fine up until the Final Three (which was the absolute farthest he planned on taking her) as opposed to Final Two (which she believed was the deal). Eliza's reaction was a rare example of not realizing the slip-up and just correcting him.
The botched challenge taunt from Angie in Palau, while in the middle of the Ulonging: "We're not going back to immuni- to Tribal Council!"
From Nobody to Nightmare: Sometimes during seasons featuring returning players, a returning player who did relatively poorly the first time around ends up taking such a level in badass that their reputation skyrocket's overnight. Boston Rob and Parvati Shallow are two great examples.
Boston Rob during Marquesas was at best a Smug SnakeEnsemble Dark Horse with a smart alec mouth, but during All Stars, he ends up leading Chapera to becoming the overwhelmingly more dominant tribe compared to Mogo Mogo and Saboga, to the point where Mogo Mogo becomes pagonged, and the Saboga members who were absorbed into Chapera became his loyal followers. He made it to the Final 2, and was one vote away from winning in spite of how many bridges he had burned. By the time Heroes vs Villains rolled around, Rob was considered a Survivor legend, which he also used to exploit his tribe members during Redemption Island(the season in which he finally won).
Parvati during Cook Islands was seen as merely a flirtly girl who was on a losing tribe which itself was overshadowed by Yul and Ozzy on Aitu, but during Micronesia, she managed to use her unassuming reputation to great effect, and built an all female alliance which took her to the Final 2 and eventually a victory. Her reputation grew even more during Heroes vs Villains when she herself managed to overshadow the self-described "best player ever" Russell Hantz in strategy, making several ingenious moves and also overcoming the bias other players had against her. She didn't win this season, but she did come in second, and many believe that she was more deserving overall than either Sandra or Russell.
Cochran went from being the little Survivor nerd that everyone picked on in South Pacific to the man running the show in Caramoan.
Fun with Subtitles: On rare occasions, onscreen labels are used for subtle snarking. For instance, in Redemption Island, the occupation of Phillip was presented as "Former Federal Agent?" (Though that may be justified if production couldn't get confirmation of classified info on him.) Also in that season, the "participate or eat" challenge not only has the usual "Elapsed Time" caption for endurance challenges, but also "Elapsed Burgers" for those sitting out.
In Pearl Islands the Morgan tribe was trailing in a challenge and they somehow figured that stripping down would help them. So now everyone's bare rears are exposed (and blurred out) - and what had been a "Morgan trailing" caption became "Morgan behind".
The Fundamentalist: Elisabeth on Outback, who would go on to become a conservative commentator on The View. Examples abound in other seasons as well.
Gambit Roulette: Parlor game of choice of Cirie, whose pet hobbies include organizing 3-2-1 vote splits and orchestrating scenarios to convince people to give away immunity at Tribal Council and then immediately voting them out — as well as other plans that would fail by just one person moving out of line, which they never do because Cirie has everyone convinced she's loyal primarily to them. This finally backfires on her in Heroes vs. Villains when J.T. displays what happens when someone does stray away from her master plan (Tom whipped out the idol).
Palau wherein Jeff twisted (And possibly broke) his ankle because he stepped on a coconut in the middle of the night and was unable to perform well in challenges, so he asked to be voted out.
Guatemala. Jim Lynch tore his bicep and asked to be voted out. Months later he was still in a cast.
Among the other things, Chet had a piece of coral stuck in his foot.
Dehydration in Africa lead to Diane and Jessie being the first two voted out; despite being well-liked.
Ben said that after Samoa he was likely to have been voted out sooner or later anyway because he had torn a ligament in his leg.
Garage Band: After playing Rock Band together on Ponderosa, Heroes vs. Villains jury members Coach, Courtney, and JT started a band called The Dragonz (named for Coach's nickname). They wrote a few songs, wore custom T-shirts to Tribal Council, and even made a music video.
Lex from Africa and All-Stars was part of a band called "Lucky Dog" at one point, which he mentioned during Africa's reunion show. Currently, he's in another one called "The Maids of Honor."
Genre Blind: Various contestants have shown this to different degrees
Russell seems oblivious to the fact that you really should avoid pissing off jury members if you should expect to actually win.
Erik from Fans vs. Favorites who never considered that the all-female alliance might be lying...
Genre Savvy: When Amanda won a mid-season reward challenge during Heroes vs. Villains, she correctly predicted that the reward location would include a clue to another hidden immunity idol.
Russell, who figured there were hidden idols in Samoa and realized they would be around noticeable landmarks, found Idols before production could give away any clues to their location. He might have been Dangerously Genre Savvy if he wasn't also Genre Blind to angering the jury.
Todd, the winner of China actually admitted that he had seen the show since it premiered long enough to be Genre Savvy.
This was ostensibly the entire point of Fans vs. Favorites; The "Favorites" were experienced players, but the "Fans" were those who had seen all the tricks and presumably knew how to use them. Unfortunately, most of the Fans ended up being a bit star-struck and let themselves be led around by the nose by the Favorites.
Johnny Fairplay said that his inspiration for the dead grandma lie came from the episode of Amazon when Jenna Morasca wanted a letter from her cancer stricken mother, even though Christy Smith had already paid for her letter and that only one person was supposed to recieve a letter from home (this took place during the "Food Auction" of that season). Fairplay figured that he would recieve the same kind of leniency for someone who actually did die.
Jane, from Nicaragua, on the very first day, used a pair of glasses from another contestant to start a fire in no time, without the need for a flint. Later at tribal council, she stated that she had practiced starting fires back home, even pointing out how Jeff Probst has stated in the past that he's surprised people go into Survivor without practicing how to start fires.
In Redemption Island, Kristina as well as just about all the old people. You're put with two of the most (in)famous survivors and they're vulnerable. Russell Hantz was stealing rice with his harem and saying he was going to play a different game...while doing the exact same thing he was known for in the previous games. All the people in Zapatera who were older than 30 (Sans Russell Hantz himself) decide that he has to go, and that he cannot have the idol under any circumstances. Meanwhile over in Ometepe, Kristina immediately begins idol hunting and pulls it out of the sand within the first three days and immediately points out that Rob has to go. Unfortunately, she winds up using the idol, is voted out and eliminated, and the Zapateras are pagonged, while the jury ends up writing Rob a check for a million dollars. Phillip displayed this himself in the same season, spotting the obvious numbers flaw in Kristina's plan. His Beware the Honest Ones moment distanced himself from the doomed alliance immediately, intentionally getting hooked onto Rob's side all the way to the end instead of being wiped out like everyone else. The only thing that held him back from becoming Dangerously Genre Savvy was fumbling his Jury discussion, letting Rob take the win. He did steal one of Rob's votes in the finale, though, preventing it from being a unanimous victory for Rob.
In Guatemala's 4th episode, the tribes were polled to find out which Survivors most deserved various rewards. Amy and 3 others were granted a "picnic lunch" and are about to see what's in their reward basket:
Alicia: I will always wave my finger in your face!
The Glomp: Dawson gives an epic one to Jeff Probst at the Philippines reunion show.
Good Is Dumb: Most of the cast of Samoa, with the major exceptions of Natalie, Brett, and Russell (all of which are not Dumb, and Russell is also not Good). Also the Heroes tribe in Heroes Vs Villains, considering they went along with JT's plan to give Russell an idol.
Good Is Not Dumb: Natalie and Brett in Samoa; the former used Russell's scheming against him for her own benefit, and the latter managed to outstay the Pagonging of his tribe. Also "Fabio" in Nicaragua, who had a "lovable goof" personality but was reasonably game-savvy and combined the two to get the win.
Graceful Loser: There are such contestants; even Colby didn't seem to mind about Tina winning. Some people have actually been alright with being voted out by someone they consider a Worthy Opponent.
Lil from Pearl Island pretty much picked Sandra to go to the final jury over Johnny Fairplay, knowing she would have likely lost to either and instead wanted to make sure Fairplay didn't win.
Gray and Gray Morality: Often, the jury's picking the lesser evil of the final two (or three). Especially obvious in:
Borneo, with Sue Hawk's famous jury speech calling Richard and Kelly a snake and a rat, respectively.
Marquesas, where Vecepia won mostly because no one really wanted to admit they were beaten by Neleh.
Thailand, where both Brian and Clay weren't very well liked and were called out for betraying their former alliance members amongst accusations of racism and sexism.
All-Stars, where it was Rob and Amber. Rob had backstabbed everyone on the jury up to that point, while Amber had the luck of being in an unbreakable alliance with him and he took her with him. Lex, Alicia and Tom's votes for Amber were not as much votes for her as they were votes against Rob (Shii-Ann meanwhile was the sole exception from that group).
Samoa, where the jury were mad at Russell for being a manipulative sociopath who bullied them and treated them like dirt (in a way which put Boston Rob's All-Stars game to shame), and Mick for being, as Shambo put it, "feckless". They voted Natalie, the woman with one of the best social games at that point in the series, even though they considered her a coattail rider.
Greater Need Than Mine: Parvati cleverly giving up her Idols in Heroes vs. Villains to not just one but two other contestants, Sandra and Jerri, simultaneously, which ensured JT was immediately sent home, and that the Villains would take control. As Parvati had reason to worry that night, it was a bold move.
Griefer: It's not too common a strategy, given that the point of the game is to get jury votes, but sometimes people do try it:
Randy from Gabon was the first notable user of this strategy, both pre-merge and post-merge: first name was "Operation Let Everyone Else Crash And Burn", where he'd make his tribe as miserable as possible to capitalise on any mistakes they made, and the second name was "Operation Strongarm" - he'd make everyone loathe him, pile their votes onto him, then idol whoever him and his alliance wanted, which would have actually worked had Bob not made him a fake immunity idol.
Russell in Samoa, who in the premiere secretly emptied everyone's canteens and burned a guy's socks, claiming that it was manipulating his teammates to his advantage. He also tried to stir things up later by making it possible for the tribe's chickens to escape their coop, but they did not flee on that occasion.
"I plan on weeding out the weak right off the bat; I plan on making it as miserable as possible for everybody. [...] I think if I can control how they feel, I can control how they think."
Sandra also tried to sabotage her tribe towards the end of Pearl Islands when she thought she was going to be voted out. She changed her mind when a plan to save her came into play.
Group Hug: After Stacey was voted off in South Pacific, Coach suggested the tribe give her one of these. They agreed, but it was swiftly rejected by Stacey, who understandably wasn't in the mood for a group hug from the people who just voted her out of a game to win one million dollars.
Rob and Amber aren't the only former contestants who are married. Erik and Jaime from China, and Alex Bell from The Amazon and Kim Powers from Africa are married to each other as well, and as of Blood vs. Water you can add Rupert and Laura Boneham, Brad and Monica Culpepper, and John and Candice Cody to the list too.
Happy Dance: Richard does one when he wins individual immunity in Borneo.
Hard Work Hardly Works: Colby from Australia, Ozzy from Cook Islands and Parvati from Heroes vs Villains dominated the challenges in their respective seasons (especially the first two), but it still not enough for them to win jury votes.
Honesty Is the Best Policy: Sandra from Pearl Islands and Randy from Gabon used this strategy to advantage - when you're mean, but completely honest with your tribemates, they all know exactly where you stand and know you'll never lie to them. Unfortunately, this didn't work out so well for Phillip in Redemption Island, who actually unveiled his alliance at the first Tribal Council and forced him to jump alliances.
Honor Before Reason: Subverted. A lot of contestants talk a big game about how they want to play with honor, but then they vote either according to reason or against whoever annoys them. Coach is one of the biggest examples of this, talking about integrity and warrior's honor incessantly but then not putting it too far ahead of reason.
However, a more conventional example of this trope is the finales for The Australian Outback and Pearl Islands, where Colby and Lillian took someone to the finals that they knew had a large chance of winning the jury rather than the person they chose to eliminate. Subsequently, Tina and Sandra won their seasons.
Many of the players in the earliest seasons simply refused to make alliances because they either thought (a) The game element is boring to them (Greg from Borneo), (b) Alliances go against their morals (Most of the Pagong tribe from Borneo, several contestants from Australian Outback, etc), or (c) They are trying to play the game in a way that avoids alliance making (Dr Sean and Gervase from Borneo, Gabriel from Marquesas, etc). Most of these attitudes have died out by today, but they still exist in certain seasons.
Brandon Hantz was one of the biggest followers of this in South Pacific, often seeming to abandon reason entirely in his attempts to live righteously. It probably wasn't any help to him that sharing a tribe with Coach encouraged this mindset. He arguably kept the mindset in Caramoan, he just had a radically different definition of "honor" then.
Hypocrite: in-game, people often criticize others for lying, making deals, or backstabbing them...when they themselves would do the same to get in their shoes.
San Juan del Sur is easily a big example - they yell at Julie for taking trail mix in despite praising her for thinking to take some Trail Mix back from the merge feast.
Iconic Outfit: Notable examples are Rupert's tie-dye shirts, Boston Rob's Red Sox cap, Russell's Nice Hat, among others.
It could be said that Richard's memetic outfit is his birthday suit.
I Coulda Been a Contender: Any contestant that was removed for injuries, especially ones that pretty much had everything in place to make it to the end: Jonathan Penner in Fans vs. Favourites, Michael Skupin in Australian Outback, and Russell Swan in Samoa. These three were later brought back in Philippines for exactly this reason.
Even some people who were voted out early: Dolly from Vanuatu, Yau-Man and Tracy from Fans vs. Favourites, Marisa and Betsy from Samoa. Jolanda from Palau won the first individual immunity challenge in which she got to pick her tribe, voted out first for being bossy; Other members of Ulong said she really could have helped them because, "She was in the Olympics, man!" Also Wanda and Jonathan from that season, who were voted out before even being put on a tribe.
Idiot Ball: Sometimes, players will make boneheaded moves or plans with little or no reasoning behind them for extended periods of time:
Sash grabbed it twice in Nicaragua: first when he chose to vote out Kelly B even though Marty was clearly the bigger threat, and then again at the end, when he was duped by Fabio into blindsiding Jane, and then proceeded to tell her right to her face that she was the next to go. (of course Chase had it too in that case.)
Lex giving up a 6-4 lead for his tribe and almost getting voted out during the merge in a close vote due to his rampant paranoia. And the only reason he was saved was because Brandon was carrying an even bigger idiot ball than him.
Tom in All-Stars just barely touched the idiot ball when he called himself the swing vote between the Rob-Amber alliance and the Rupert-Jenna alliance. Normally not a bad thing to say to the Confession Cam, but instead, he did it right to Rob's face. At the final five. That was all an already wary Rob needed to turn the vote against Tom and send him packing.
I Take Offense to That Last One: At one point in Panama, Shane tells Courtney that if she backstabs him he will drive to her "shitty apartment" in LA and kill her, coming off deadly serious the entire time. What does Courtney object to first and foremost in that scenario? The assertion that her apartment is shitty.
I Was Beaten By A Girl: In the first episode of South Pacific, Cochran mentions that he's afraid that he might be voted out before the girls. With him being a fan who's studied the game, this may not have been intended to be sexist; he may just be referring to the fact that women tend to get targetted first.
Indy Ploy: The gameplay style of Vecepia and Sandra, winners of both their respective seasons, who simply plays the game "one day at a time," making it easier for them to adapt to the other strategies of players around them.
Informed Ability: Stephenie Lagrossa is regularly touted as one of the physically strongest and most useful women ever to play Survivor, but she has only ever won one challenge on her own. On all three of her Survivor stints, she was part of the (initally) lesser tribe, first with Ulong (see Fan Nickname above) on Palau, following through one season later with Yaxha on Guatemala before the tribal mix up (which some people argue was used to save Stephenie), and finally with the Heroes tribe in Heroes vs. Villains.
Thanks to being Out of Focus in Samoa, Kelly. Apparently Kelly was such a huge threat to Foa Foa that they needed to take her out first after Erik, but thanks to a blatantly severe lack of screentime, it's impossible to tell why.
Although the reason why she was edited poorly was because of the way she was taken out of the game; they didn't want the audience to be too disappointed with her elimination so they made her as much of a non-entity as they could.
Russell Hantz. The producers and Jeff Probst tout him as an dangerous player. Meanwhile, he makes flashy moves which alienate his opponents, bosses people around and generally rubs them the wrong way, while all the while ignoring his alliance members who do a ten-times better job at making relationships with people. The only reason he gets as far as he does is because a savvier player brings him along as a goat.
In South Pacific, the Upolus regularly consider Edna for elimination because she's "sneaky", "devious", and a physical liability, yet the audience is shown nothing of her deviousness and sneakiness, and every challenge the Upolus won she took part in.
Christina in One World is supposedly lazy, yet she's regularly shown working around the camp. She's also apparently annoying, but is nothing compared to Tarzan, Alicia, or Colton.
Nick Brown was portrayed as a "Lazy Bum" in Australia, however if you ask the rest of the people he played with, they will tell you that he was not in fact a lazy bum.
Anthony in Fiji was apparently dislikable and shifty, yet almost all the time during the fights between him and Rocky, it's not that hard to see Rocky as the aggressor.
Tom Westman is known for his friendship with a lot of younger players in Palau.
Gabon has Bob Crowley and Sugar, as well as Susie Smith and Matty Whitmore.
Butch and Matthew were both social outcasts with their tribe during the merge in Amazon, and bonded because of this (as well as both being avid fishermen as well as being charter members of the all male Tambaqui tribe).
Elisabeth (before she became Hasselbeck) Filarski and Rodger Bingham in Australian Outback, with a very touching but purely platonic relationship that lasted their entire game.
Neleh Dennis and Paschal English from Marquesas is another prominent example, and maybe one of the most unbreakable alliances in Survivor history.
Chase and Jane, as well as Marty and Fabio from Nicaragua.
Invincible Hero/Invincible Villain: When one alliance Pagongs another, all the suspense drains out of Tribal Council unless the larger alliance falls to infighting. If someone controls the game - such as Rob in Redemption Island or Kim in One World - then they become boring to watch, and if someone keeps losing control of the game, then it becomes more interesting...even though they're probably grinding their teeth.
Cochran:(Referring to the upcoming duel) I have a chance, right?
Ozzy: Of course you have a chance. Everyone has a chance. (Cut to the Confession Cam) He doesn't have a chance...
Russell Swan in Phillipines is shown interviewing to the camera about trying to find the Hidden Immunity Idol to save himself, even going as far to say that more than likely the camera will show him searching right around where the Idol was hidden and missing it. We cut back to island time, as Malcolm searches right around where the idol is hidden, and even a glint is added to rub in the irony.
It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time: Heroes Vs. Villains: Parvati and Danielle decided it would be just peachy to keep an immunity idol hidden from Russell. You really don't want to infuriate your alliance partner, particularly if your alliance is firmly in the driver's seat.
Lex in All-Stars decided that it would be a great idea to vote off loyal tribemate Jerri and keep Amber around to fulfill a deal Boston Rob offered him. Then the merge hits, and Lex realizes that Rob has a rather nasty case of Chronic Backstabbing Disorder.
Jaded Washout: Randy Bailey from Gabon and arguably Frank Garrison from Africa.
Just Eat Gilligan: There are numerous seasons where the audience is saying "Come on! VOTE OUT THIS GUY!" at the TV.
Vanuatu: Vote out Chris, worry about your alliance later!
Samoa and Heroes Vs Villains: You know Russell is trouble! Dump him! (Thankfully, the Redemption Island cast took notes and did "eat" him, but...)
Redemption Island: Vote out Rob, he's playing all of you!
South Pacific: Vote out Coach, he's doing the exact same thing Rob did!
One World: Vote out Kim, she's the most dominant player in the season!
Kawaiiko: Arguably, Courtney Yates from China and Jessica "Sugar" Kiper from Gabon. Good thing, we got to see them against each other in Heroes vs. Villains.
Kick the Dog: There are a lot of Jerk Asses on this show, but if you really want viewers to hate you, either tell fake sob stories for sympathy and brag about it in confessional (like Johnny Fairplay and Russell) or make comments that are racist, sexist (misogynistormisandrist), or otherwise politically incorrect (such as Naonka's rants against Kelly B for being an amputee).
Other pretty much unforgivable sins include betraying someone directly after they went out of their way to save you or your ally (Boston Rob to Lex), hiding food from people not in your alliance (Ami to all the men in Vanuatu), and not giving up your reward for supplies even after you announced your intention to quit (NaOnka).
"Dreamz" forever doomed himself into being The Worst Guy Ever in his season. Yau-Man, an adorable Badass Grandpa and fan favorite, had won a SUV in a reward challenge. Seeing no possible use for it (Yau-Man had a car and didn't want an SUV), he gave it to Dreamz in exchange for a promise that, if Dreamz won that night's immunity challenge, Dreamz would give the immunity to Yau-Man. Dreamz won immunity... and kept it. Yau was voted out.
In the penultimate episode of Caramoan, Brenda was put into an impossible situation (see Diabolus Ex Machina above) and tried her hardest to make things up to Dawn, even easing up during the challenge so Dawn could take immunity. And Dawn still helped vote her out that night.
Kid Hero: Spencer Duhm from Tocantins, Natalie Tenerelli from Redemption Island and Brandon Hantz from South Pacific were all 19 years old at the time of filming.
Frank Garrison during Africa could be seen as this.
Laser-Guided Karma: The bane of every outright deceitful and manipulative player once they reach the Final Tribal and the people they forced out have the power.
In Pearl Islands, Jonny Fairplay is beaten in the final immunity challenge by the one contestant he'd been using as a verbal punching bag all season, Lillian, and promptly voted out.
In Heroes Vs Villains, JT's boneheaded plan to give Russell an immunity idol backfired and got him voted out only one episode later. And earlier, Tyson screwing up his alliance's plan got him voted out immediately.
Alliances have also suffered this - noteably:
The Rotu 4 in Marquesas made their alliance and intended boot order so blatantly obvious during a challenge that the other players rallied and voted them all out, one after the other.
The Horsemen in Fiji thought they had the game in the bag and wanted to punish Cassandra for sending Mookie to exile island, but the flighty Dreamz and a blindside by the other players caused the downfall of that alliance and Edgardo, Mookie and Alex got voted out one after the other.
Ami's posse in Vanuatu decided to vote Eliza out instead of obvious target Chris which caused Eliza to ally with Chris and the two other women Ami treated the most contempuously to vote them out one by one.
Lazy Bum: There's always one or two people a season who refuse to help out around camp:
Aras almost lost Panama because some of the jury thought he was one.
Subverted when after Nick Brown was edited as being lazy during one episode of Australian Outback, almost the whole cast came to his defense that he was not, in fact, lazy.
Living Lie Detector: The claim to fame of Sandra, who's scoffed through lies by designated villains Jon, Burton, and Russell that weren't sussed out by the other contestants until after the show over. Her capacity to play along with these lies before using them against her opponents often leads to a game of Xanatos Speed Chess.
The Load: Chet in Micronesia. During an obstacle course challenge where he was tied to Joel, Joel got so frustrated he just dragged Chet around, not caring that he was seriously injuring him. And if Chet had been a bit less Load-ish later on and not asked to be voted off, Tracy might have been able to alter the whole course of the game.
Dan in Nicaragua, Natalie, Ashley, and Andrea in Redemption Island. Ashley is a bit of a subversion, though, as she proceeds to get dangerous in challenges late in the season.
Long Speech Tea Time: A couple people's rambling has been met with eyerolling. First Philip in Redemption Island (the editors even made a fake Time Passes Montage during one of his speeches) and then Semhar with her poetry in South Pacific.
Loophole Abuse: There are a number of things that players have gotten away with:
Looking at other peoples' boards during certain puzzle challenges.
Bribing other contestants.
During Cook Islands, a couple people accidentally wandered into the other tribe's camp.
Luxury items. Colby used his Texas flag as a tarp in Australia. Evidently, someone had once smuggled in a granola bar to the game, and another time, someone broke binoculars and used them to start fire. There have been Obvious Rule Patches put in afterward.
Using a pair of eyeglasses to start fire.
Giving the other tribe your immunity idol so you can vote one of your own out! (In One World)
Stealing the other tribe's supplies during a "Get the supplies as fast as you can"-part. (Also One World)
Taking the other tribe's fire using a stick. (One World again)
You can't agree to split the million dollar prize, but you can marry the winner. (All-Stars) Not that CBS minded.
Love at First Sight: Apparently Candice reassuring Billy who was going to be voted out with "we love you" triggered this.
Lucky Seven: After winning the seventh season (Pearl Islands), Sandra became the first two-time winner by winning Heroes vs Villains seven years later.
J.T. won Tocantins with a 7-0 jury vote.
Manly Tears: Even the manliest Survivors can break down during the "Letters/Visits from Home" challenges. Notably, there's Shane in Panama: Terry won that season's "visit from home" reward challenge, and was forced to decide which relatives would get some quality time with their respective Survivors. He immediately chose himself and his wife Trish for the overnight resort stay, of course, and Cirie's husband "HB" would go back to camp with her. Shane was already misting up when his son Boston walked in for the cameras, but upon Terry inviting them to come along, Shane promptly broke down, tears-and-parental-hugs style. He may have been a bit abrasive and uncaring to the other players, but his fathering is what gets him to care.
Meganekko: Recurring contestant Amanda Kimmel, sometimes. Susie Smith also wore her glasses in the Gabon finale. South Pacific winner Sophie Clarke, Michelle Tesauro from Pearl Islands, Angie Jakusz from Palau, and Elisabeth from Australian Outback(sometimes) all count too.
Money, Dear Boy: Jimmy Johnson calmly said (twice) that he expected his NFL fame and riches would keep him from winning Nicaragua; he intended to help another Espada member win the game. However, Jimmy T. didn't believe that the legendary coach would remain that humble and selfless.
Monty Hall Problem: Referenced during the Caramoan auction, when Jeff offered Reynold the chance to swap his mystery item for one of two other mystery items. Cochran called the situation by this name and advised him to switch, though technically it wasn't since there was no guarantee there was only one "good" item, and Jeff hadn't eliminated a bad one. (For the record, Reynold stuck with his original item, dodging a rotten coconut but getting only a slice of pizza instead of a whole one.)
Moon Logic Puzzle: The first clue to any hidden immunity idol is typically very cryptic and generic.
The Redemption Island clues have been commented on as particularly useless, amounting to "it's around your camp somewhere."
Mundane Made Awesome: The earlier seasons especially with the "This Is The Adventure Of A Lifetime" and "Tribal Council Is Scary/ Tribal Council Is Sacred" mantras repeatedly being emphasized every other episode.
My Greatest Second Chance: Any time a player returns for a second season, unless they won the first time. Especially emphasized in Philippines, as the returnees didn't get to play out their previous seasons due to medical evacuations.
Played straight with Australian Outback and Cook Islands sixth placers Amber Brkich and Parvati Shallow, three-time loser Rob Mariano, South Pacific eighth placer John Cochran, and two-time loser Tyson Apostol by respectively winning All-Stars, Micronesia, Redemption Island, Caramoan, and Blood vs. Water.
Name's the Same: Richard Hatch from Borneo shares his name with Richard Hatch from the original Battlestar Galactica. Benjamin Wade (aka "Coach") from Tocantins on the other hand shares his name with both a major league player and a former US senator. Law student John Cochran of South Pacific and Caramoan has a similar name as another famous lawyer.
The Napoleon: Sandra, Jonny Fairplay and Russell may be small in stature, but they're people you don't wanna mess with.
New Meat: The two Fans vs. Favorites seasons as well as Blood vs. Water featured a tribe of new contestants competing against a tribe of returning/seasoned ones.
Nice Hat: "Boston" Rob Mariano (in his case, Nice Cap), Colby Donaldson, Jerri Manthey (Colby noted his choice of white and Jerri's choice of black in the Season 20 premiere.) and Russell Hantz are fond of wearing these. Except at Tribal Council, Jeff Probst is usually wearing a Survivor logo cap.
Russell is so incomplete without his trademark hat, after Sandra burned his old one, he bought a new one before the live show.
Big Tom Buchanan or Rodger Bingham and his green cap!
The Nicknamer: Coach. He calls J.T "The Warrior" (even writing it before his name when he voted for him to win during the Tocantins finale) and Stephen "The Wizard". He even calls himself "The Dragon Slayer"!
Also, Phillip. After forming the alliance Stealth 'R' Us, he gives each member a codename, ranging from cool to just plain ridiculous.
Nipple and Dimed: Some fairly strenuous physical competition takes place among women dressed in bikini tops or skimpy shirts. On occasion breasts and nipples have been exposed. As this is American TV, such wardrobe malfunctions are visually bleeped out by blurring or pixillating the screen. This is even done on versions sold to Europe, much to the perplexity of local viewers used to different standards. Especially when the womens' arses are also visually bleeped out, despite the fact they are clearly wearing bikini bottoms. This appears to be prudery taken to a ridiculous extreme.
It is also noticeable that during a game involving women contestants bobbing for items in a tub full of gloopy brown mud, several bikini tops were dislodged exposing breasts and nipples. But since the women involved were by then slathered from head to waist in a coating of mud, the bared breasts were not visually bleeped out and left in full uncensored camera view.
No Damage Run: So far, thirteen people have done this. Nine of them have made it in the end, and seven of them have won the game.
No Fourth Wall: Despite Survivor being a program with real life contestants stranded in harsh real life conditions, many of the earlier seasons (and some of the more recent ones) try to make it a point of editing out any references to past seasons of Survivor, or even the fact that they are being filmed for TV. The most obvious exception to this rule happens to be from the very first season, Borneo. Not only are there frequent references to the fact that the show they are participating in will soon be seen by millions of TV audience members, the survivors don't even know most of the terminology for the show's set pieces. The Tribal Council is sometimes interchangeably called both the "Island Council" and the "Immunity Council", and BB calls the immunity challenge that his tribe is about to attend the "Indemnity" challenge, although in context calling the challenge an "indeminity challenge" would actually would make just as much sense. In a later episode, Kelly says that "We're not evil, we just play bad people on TV!", and in the episode before that, Colleen makes fun of the upcoming trivia based reward challenge by saying that they already are on a game show.
Non Standard Game Over: Brandon earns himself one in Caramoan with a sudden outburst during which he pours out his tribe's rice and beans. Later, during the immunity challenge, his tribe announces that they wish to forfeit the challenge to vote him out. After a heated discussion, Jeff becomes worried about allowing Brandon to return to camp, so he holds the tribal council right there at the challenge site, having the tribe give their votes out loud with the opposing tribe watching. He later states that he is proud of the way he left the game, as the "author of his own fate."
Noodle Incident: Supposedly, Jonny Fairplay did something during the Vanuatu reunion that lowered Jeff Probst's opinion of him even further. This isn't continuously referenced on the show; but Jeff has mentioned that he was disgusted by Fairplay inside and outside the game and cited that as a reason.
Jake's adventure stories (which he claimed were true, much like Coach many seasons later) during Episode 9 of Thailand apparently involve him fighting off men with alligators and doing something nefarious in the middle of an airport(according to Clay and Ted), but we never got to hear exactly what he said.
Nostalgia Filter: Some viewers really prefer the older seasons to the more recent ones.
Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Russell in every season he's been in has gloated to the point of absurdity before ultimately losing.
Some of the arguments against the Final Three have actually been Not So Different about complaints that happened when the show did a Final two format. Probst has pointed out that, yes, he has received complaints about "Blowout" Final twos where "Oh, nobody was going to vote for *Insert second place winner here*," just like how he has received complaints of "Oh, nobody was going to vote for *insert third place winner here*."
Obfuscating Stupidity: Natalie in Samoa noticed that strong, aggressive women got booted, so she made herself a hanger-on to Russell (and if you're not convinced about the "Obfuscating" part, watch her confessional in episode 4 after the arrangement was made). She won.
Vecepia Towery did the same thing seven years earlier, and also won.
Fabio from Nicaragua also did this, to the point where the audience figured out what he was doing long before the other contestants. It's almost like he realized that it normally works on this show. Then again, that seems to be his real personality for the most part anyway.
Phillip Sheppard claimed near the end of Redemption Island that he purposely became the villain, knowing that it would both take the heat off Boston Rob and convince the man that he was someone to be going up at the end. Not everyone is convinced that his weirdness was all an act, however.
Odango Hair: Sugar's hairstyle in Gabon, and Kim Powers' hairstyle in Africa.
Odd Friendship: A staple when a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits share a tribe for an extended amount of time. The earliest example was in Borneo: Machivellian gay nudist Rich Hatch and gruff homophobic Navy SEAL Rudy Boesch.
It also didn't help that Becky and Sundra's tie-breaking challenge during tribal council (basically building fire that's huge enough to snap a piece of string) took an embarrassingly long time to finish, making her look even more expendable. Because the tie-breaker took too long to complete properly (over an hour), the game's producers gave the ladies matches instead of the usual flint and knife, so they could hurry up and finish, and even then, they took quite a while to end the match (with Sundra actually running out of matches).
Ghost Pirate: The idea behind that season's Outcast tribe, being the departed coming back to haunt those who remain.
Planet of Russells: During Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains. Samoa had Russell Swan, who was medevacked from the game, and the infamous Russell Hantz, who returned in H vs. V. Ponderosa's chef in H vs. V was also named Russell (the jury dubbed him "Good Russell"). Finally, the series' composer, who performs at reunion shows, is Russell "Russ" Landau.
Poor, Predictable Rock: Three out of three times now, Russell's strategy was always "Ally with some pretty little bimbo that I can manipulate." Even though it didn't work the first two times - both of those girls were at least as savvy as he was, and it actively backfired when they manipulated him and one of them even won! The third time around, he managed to pick a properly empty-headed pretty girl and a Wrong Genre Savvy girl who was almost as bad at the social game as he was. Unfortunately for him, the other members of his tribe knew what he was up to from the start and kicked him out early - the tribe even lampshaded in the first or second episode that he was probably collecting a harem as they spoke. And since the girls actually were just lackeys this time, they were no help in convincing the others to keep him around.
Promoted Fanboy/Fangirl: Some Survivors were obviously fans of the show first. Micronesia and Caramoan used this as a gimmick, pitting super-fans against past Survivors.
Prophecy Twist: A self-made one at that! At the beginning of Samoa, Russell tells the audience: "I'm going to show America how easy it is to win Survivor." And indeed he did. By treating the rest of his tribe like crap, destroying their belongings, bullying and threatening everyone, and blithely ignoring the social skills of his would-be goat, Russell did indeed demonstrate how easy it was for Natalie to win Survivor. He had to beat sixteen people - she only had to beat one.
Pyro Maniac: Butch Lockley on the Amazon inadvertently became one during the latter days of his season, with hilarious if tragic results.
Happens again in Nicaragua, when the tribe tries to shelter their fire from the elements... with materials that happen to be flammable.
Ratings Stunt: Redemption Island, setting up a season to give Rob or Russell the wins that many claimed they deserved, casting a vast vast majority of people who had never seen the show before or had only seen Boston Rob and Russell's seasons, cutting half of these people from the show, and tailoring the challenges to Boston Rob's strengths. South Pacific was also the same with Coach and Ozzy but has been received better, mostly because they didn't forget they actually cast eighteen people and not just four this time.
Red Baron: Some contestants are given these, namely, Richard Hatch (The King, The Emperor), Jerri Manthey (The Black Widow, The Wicked Witch), Sandra Diaz-Twine (The Queen, The Empress), Rupert Boneham (The Pirate), Cirie Fields (The Puppet Master), Benjamin "Coach" Wade (The Dragon Slayer), Earl Cole (The Godfather).
And now Coach had passed the Dragon Slayer title onto Sophie after she beat Ozzy at the final immunity challenge. She went on to then win the million.
Religious Bruiser: Tyson Apostol from Tocantins is a Mormon. Brett Clousser from Samoa is a prayer warrior. Matt spent almost all of Redemption Islandon Redemption Island, staying there by going on a challenge streak and talking about God in most of his confessionals.
Rhetorical Question Blunder: in Nicaragua, Fabio is upset with Sash after he goes back on his word to take him along on the family reward challenge. When Sash returns, Fabio asks him how it was. When Sash tells him it was great, Fabio responds by telling him that he knew it was great; he was just calling him out with a rhetorical question.
Romance on the Set: "Boston" Rob and Amber during All-Stars is the most obvious. There's also Amanda and Ozzy in Micronesia, Keith and Whitney in South Pacific (to the point that she left her husband for him), and Colleen and Greg all the way back in Borneo (although they insisted it was only friendship). Julie Berry from Vanuatu once dated Jeff Probst himself. However, most players wisely avoid this, at least overtly - nothing says "unbreakable alliance" like two players making out.
Rule of Funny: There was absolutely no strategy behind Sugar convincing Bob to give Randy a fake immunity idol. Either way he was going home, but she knew it would be hilarious to have him humiliate himself on the way out. And it was.
Scenery Porn: Especially in the seasons from Gabon onward, which were shot in HD.
Sdrawkcab Name: The merged tribe of Gabon was named "Nobag," and its counterpart in Caramoan was "Enil Edam" after Malcolm's mother.
Seinfeldian Conversation: Most of the castaway's day to day conversations are left on the cutting room floor due to time constraints, but a few of these make it through.
Panama had a lot of these. Early on Shane randomly yelled at his tribe to not take a specific rock to sit down on as it was his "thinking seat". In another episode, Bobby and the rest of his Casaya tribe banter on whether the outhouse that they just won should be used as actual outhouse, or a place to store wood. In a later episode, Shane and Courtney have another one of their big fights, this time over whether or not Courtney lives in a "shitty" apartment. One episode later, Terry and Aras have an argument over whether or not one's wife is more important of a loved one than one's mother or father.
Africa had a moment where Frank's tribemates tried to explain to him what a "brunch" is.
Self-Deprecation: In Fiji, they used the "What do you think of your fellow castaways?" challenge again. When Jeff asked who the smelliest person in the tribe was, most people wrote "Dreamz", and Dreamz even wrote his own name down.
Sequel Escalation: The locations for the first three seasons became progressively harder for the contestants to live in. During Borneo, the contestants were merely very uncomfortable. During Australian Outback, Elisabeth almost died of starvation, Barramundi's camp was completely flooded out, and early on there were wild fires near Ogakor's campsite. During Africa, which had the most oppressive heat of any season by far, several contestants contracted various illnesses which took them months or even years to recover from, not to mention the extreme scarcity of water and the very likely chance that one of the players could have been eaten by one of the wild animals roaming around. Season 4, which was supposed to take place in Jordan(apparently it was supposed to be called ''Survivor: Arabia") would have continued this escalation, but the events of September 11th stopped this dead in it's tracks.
Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Brandon in the first few episodes of South Pacific, regarding his tribemate Mikayla. And since he said she's at fault for tempting him, he didn't exactly redeem the Hantz family name.
Shipper on Deck: Some players love pairing fellow contestants for some reason, such as Cirie for Amanda and Ozzy (and jokingly Erik and Ozzy).
Richard Hatch gets compared to Darth Vader twice, once during the show, and once during the Reunion. During the show, they even dub the infamous breathing sounds over a shot of him with a black fishing mask on.
The monkey that lives nearby the Chuay Gahn camp camp during Thailand is referred to as Magilla by everyone.
Ryan Aiken, the first contestant booted off of the Amazon season, makes a shout out to the John Woo film Hard Target when voting for Roger.
Jonny Fairplay performed Shout Outs to various WWE wrestlers during his Tribal Council votes.
All Stars had one episode where Amber mimicks a famous scene from Basic Instinct.
Surprisingly, to Mobile Suit Gundam. If it was intentional or not, the newtype flash sound effect plays during one of the times when Russell's bragging about one of his Badass Batman Gambits working.
Smug Snake: "Boston" Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz (in multiple seasons each) are the quintessential examples.
Ami Cusack from Vanuatu became a perfect storm of Smug Snake when Eliza's name was read at tribal council and Ami nodded, faux-sadly, at her. Which made it all the more ridiculously awesome when it turned out Eliza and the rest actually voted out Leann, Ami's closest ally.
Kenny probably would've had a very good chance of winning Gabon had he not turned into this late in the season.
So Beautiful, It's a Curse: Jenna Morasca tried to argue in Amazon that her looks were a disability in life because everyone assumes she's dumb. This didn't work because she said it while sitting next to a deaf person.
Spicy Latina: Sandra may not have the sex appeal associated with this trope, but she certainly has the lippy attitude.
Brandon Hantz from South Pacific and Caramoan is the nephew of Samoa, Heroes vs. Villains and Redemption Island castaway Russell Hantz.
Blood vs. Water gives us three; Ciera Eastin (daughter of Samoa castaway Laura Morett), Katie Collins (daughter of Australia winner and All-Stars castaway Tina Wesson) and Marissa Peterson (niece of Borneo'' castaway Gervase Peterson). Bonus points for actually competing in the game against their respective loved ones.
Stealth Parody: Easily one of the cleverest of these (if not the only one) was when Greg Buis asked both of the finalists on the first season to pick a number between one and ten during the standard Q&A jury session featured on each finale. Presumably whoever answered closest to the correct anwser would get Greg's vote, and they did (Richard picked 7 and Kelly chose 3 when the secret number was 9). As some time went by and people began to call Richard an overrated winner since he basically won through luck and all the machinations and intrigue of his season were thus pointless, an old interview with Greg then surfaced claiming that he had planned to vote for Richard the entire time and only did the "pick a number" gimmick to mock the overly serious nature of Tribal Council.
Stealth Pun: Ace was evicted from Gabon because Sugar betrayed him at Tribal Council. Pixellation makes the vote card appear a bit blurry; the parchment in question reads "Ace-Hole".
The Strategist: Richard Hatch from Borneo, Tina Wesson from Australian Outback, Brian Heidik from Thailand, Yul Kwon from Cook Islands and Todd Herzog from China won the game for being this.
Straw Feminist: While some seasons encourage mild sexism by dividing tribes by gender, Vanuatu's Ami Cusack took the idea and ran with it. Obsessed with creating an all-female alliance, she went so far as to hoard a food reward from the remaining men, and then mock them with the bones...after they had just returned from working! Appropriately, she got the Survivor equivalent of a Karmic Death when she was voted out by the four people she despised most and the lone remaining guy survived the sisterhood and won.
Lisi in Fiji said she was done with the game and asked to be voted out
Tina in Exile Island asked to be voted out since she was still mourning her son who died in a car crash. Jim asked to be voted out because he tore his bicep (and was shown as still having it in a splint months later!).
Jonny Fairplay also asked everyone to vote him out first in Micronesia, saying he wanted to be with his pregnant wife and daughter, which everyone thought was a ploy.
There are also unconfirmed rumours of people asking to be voted out. Supposedly, Chet Welch asked to be voted out because he probably would have been evacuated had they not, (he had stepped on a piece of coral). Stephenie Lagrossa supposedly was still hurting from when she dislocated her shoulder and asked to be voted out if anything.
GC in Gabon.
Surrounded by Idiots: Sandra, in Heroes vs. Villains, after the merge. Before the merge, Tyson's boneheaded move destroyed her original alliance, and post-merge the Heroes completely botched every attempt to carry out her plans. In spite of it all, she managed towin.
Boston Rob remarked that he appeared to have once again been placed on the 'buffoon' tribe as soon as Chapera hit the beaches and began building a shelter.
Russell in Samoa and Rob in Redemption Island probably have been lucky enough to play with the most hollow-headed players ever cast in the game.
Joel in Borneo was the only player on "Pagong" that realized that forming an alliance would be an excellent strategy, as there were rumors of an alliance on the other tribe and they would surely be picked off one-by-one after the impending merge. His idea was shot down in the name of sportsmanship and he was subsequently voted off over a completely trivial non-issue. His tribe went on to fall apart exactly as he predicted (with the MPV of his tribe being voted off immediately) and "Pagong" has entered the Survivor lexicon as the name for systematic post-merge annihilation.
Taking You with Me: In Micronesia, Eliza correctly and immediately realizes that Jason's "hidden Immunity Idol" is just a poorly carved stick. (It had been planted on Exile Island by Ozzy.) She plays it at Tribal Council anyway, hoping that something "miraculous" would happen. Once Jeff confirms that Jason's been suckered, Eliza promptly blabs that Ozzy must have the real Idol.
In an online interview, Ted Rogers Jr from Thailand said that Helen approached him in Ponderosa, telling him that finalist Clay Jordan was a racist. This caused Ted to negate any intentions whatsoever of voting for Clay. However, no one else could verify that Clay ever did anything racist or made any racial slurs during the show. Since Helen was vocal about her dislike of Clay during and after the show, earlier on even accusing him of being sexist (again, with no evidence), this might have been her way of taking Clay down with her.
Kimmi on Australian Outback told her teammates that if she was still on the show by her birthday, she would spend the day naked (her birthday suit) to celebrate. She ended up being voted out before her birthday.
Too Dumb to Live: Various contestants have pulled unbelievably boneheaded strategies.
It's suspected that the supporting cast of Samoa and Redemption Island were chosen specifically because they weren't the smartest players, and would allow Russell/Boston Rob to manipulate them easily to a victory. It failed in Russell's case, but allowed Boston Rob to get on everyone's good sides and win against two vastly inept players.
Russell falls victim to this after he loses the advantage he acquired in Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains. While he promises to change his strategy, he in fact uses the same tactics he did in these previous seasons, but this time his tribe knows what he's up to and eliminates him quickly.
Took a Level in Badass: Some players who started weak becomes stronger as the game progress, such as Fabio in Nicaragua, who started out as a himbo and went on an immunity run to win it all. In case of Reunion Seasons, a weak or terrible player from his/her original or previous season becomes much more impressive, such as Parvati.
Lil from Pearl Islands is considered one of the most memorable examples of this trope. Overall quite mopey and sensitive, she had been Jonny Fairplay's punching bag for most of the season, and then proceeds to dominate the final immunity challenge, taunting Fairplay as she pretty much handed him his ass on a silver platter while refusing his repeated and desperate attempts at trying to convince her to cut a deal, and then proceeded to vote him out right before the final tribal council.
Cochran. In South Pacific he was basically a nerdy whipping boy for both tribes. In Caramoan he won four individual challenges, including the final immunity challenge, and basically ran the game for the last few episodes.
Took a Level in Jerkass: Many survivors who return to the competition do so on a sour note for various reasons, such as Jenna Lewis, Boston Rob and Lex Van Den Berghe in All Stars, Stephenie LaGrossa in Guatemala, and James Clement in Heroes vs Villains. Hell, even Jeff Probst has become more aggressive in his questioning and role in the show in later seasons..
Underdogs Never Lose: The main story of Gabon is how four of the most unlikeliest people could make the final four despite being in the minority and opposing possibly the tightest core alliance in the season: Bob, an elderly physics teacher who survived Kota's Pagonging by continually winning immunities; Susie, a middle-aged mother and hairstylist who was always the lowest woman on the totem pole and eventually survived long enough to put her alliance, joined out of desperation, on the chopping block; Sugar, a waitress/pin-up model who many tried to break the spirit of by sending her to Exile Island a record number of times, and eventually ended up controlling the game, and Matty, the personal trainer and supposed physical threat who stayed on one of the worst tribes in the show's history despite the various number of tribal swaps, and came out of the whole mess anyway.
"When you try real hard, you can almost understand what he's saying."
Rupert Boneham could go this way too, as well as Chicken in China, although Chicken only lasted one episode and Rupert was only that way sometimes.
Unknown Rival: Russell to Boston Rob, at least in the early stages of Heroes Vs Villains (but certainly no longer unknown as of Redemption Island). Early in Nicaragua ep. 1, two of the La Flor "alpha males" agree to avoid this, after noting that Russell and Boston Rob could have done even better if they had been partners in Heroes vs. Villains.
Unusual Euphemism: Frank of Africa claimed that Linda was "So solid, she's buried at the bottom the Hoover dam." Huh?
Versus Title: Fans vs. Favorites (twice), Heroes vs. Villains, and Blood vs. Water. Cagayan was also presented with the concept "Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty", though the phrase didn't make it into the title.
Ethan: "Me and Tom, we have kind of like a brotherly relationship right now. He makes fun of me because I'm Jewish, and I make fun of him because he's fat and he's got a boil on his neck..."
Rob Cesternino and Matthew Von Ertfelda in Amazon sort of had this. Rob and the most of the others made fun of Matthew for sharpening the machete all the time and for being socially awkward. Even though most the cast would have decided to boot Matthew for being an outcast, Rob decides to make fun of Matt even more by turning him and Butch into unwitting pawns of his during the merge (see Funny.Survivor). However, Rob and Matthew later develop a working relationship with one another when Rob decides to blindside Deena and Alex, two fair weather allies of his , and over time as they bond, both of them begin to realize that Rob accidentally gave Matthew too much voting power by the time there were six people left.
Wacky Marriage Proposal: Six seasons before Rob famously proposed to Amber at the live All-Stars reunion, Australian Outback's Keith proposed to his girlfriend via instant message during a internet reward challenge. She said yes. Matty also proposed to his girlfriend during the loved ones visit in Gabon.
We Are Struggling Together: The Samburu tribe from Africa, being split right down the middle, spent more time in-fighting than working against Boran. In fact, in several instances where the Samburu's could have tried to vote out a Boran member, they just vote each other out instead.
Wham Episode: A sort of consensus among the older fans of the show is that episode 7 of Borneo is the single most important episode of the show's history. In a game that had up until then been an outdoor adventure and voting had been based on merit, the Tagis banded together and forced out Gretchen, the most qualified survivalist. This act of putting politics before ability almost completely changed the course of how the game (not to mention all the future seasons) would play out.
Until Russell came along, Rupert was easily the Survivor poster boy for this trope. He was so overexposed during his original two seasons, in fact, that at one point he was handing out the checks to the winners.
Russell vs Rob in Redemption Island. Subverted in Russell's case when most of his tribe decided to go Off the Rails and eject him ASAP.
Within the larger "CBS Reality Show" family, Rob and Amber got to go on The Amazing Race while they were at the height of their popularity.
South Pacific continued to sponge off of Russell's infamy. He didn't come back again, but the cast included his nephew, Brandon Hantz. And Russell got namedropped some more when Brandon came back again in Caramoan. Big Brother also had Russell's brother, Willie Hantz.
Worthy Opponent: Every now and again, one of the Jury members will say that one or more of the finalists is this. An example would be David from Redemption Island, who was impressed by Rob's game and regretted being placed on the opposite tribe as him.
Would Hit a Girl: Well, they wouldn't hit one, but many male contestants have no problem with tackling them to the ground or forcefully hauling them fifty feet to the goal line. Some would argue that the only reason they wouldn't hit her is because it would get them kicked out. Colby tossed Jerri into the water in one of the early challenges in Heroes Vs Villains. Then again, Colby and Jerri.
Your Cheating Heart: During South Pacific, Whitney hooked up with Keith and later left her husband for him. During the reunion, the show actually celebrated the couple, noting that she had ended a prior relationship but not that the breakup was actually a divorce.
Zettai Ryouiki: Courtney Yates during Heroes vs Villains. Several of the younger girls in Nicaragua.