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Fanfic / Despair Island

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Despair Island is a Total Drama fanfiction by Knifez. It is a reimagining of the series' first season Total Drama Island, but with a much darker tone and much higher stakes.

In this version of the series, Total Drama's contestants are not only eliminated from the game when they are voted off, but from life itself. Having been chosen to participate on a nightmarish new reality show, the original 22 competitors of Total Drama Island find themselves forced into a Deadly Game by sadistic TV host Chris McLean, from which only one one of them will emerge alive and victorious. Now these teenagers are in a fight for their lives, where they will have to go through all the drama of a typical reality TV competition in order to survive, enduring horrific challenges, gruesome executions, an immoral production crew, and each other's schemes and betrayals all to live to see another day at Camp Wawanakwa and eventually return to the outside world.


The story has 30 chapters and is complete.


  • Aborted Arc: The author originally intended the story to cover three seasons, with the canonical Revenge of the Island contestants in the second season and the canonical Pahkitew Island contestants in the third. Abandonment of this concept in favor of a one-season story resulted in several storylines, such as the role of the contestants saved by a Life Idol, being cut short, rushed to completion, or dropped entirely. The author later posted a one-shot describing how a season two would have played out.
  • Act of True Love: Geoff giving Bridgette his life idol to save her instead of himself because he loves her and cares more about her safety than himself.
  • Adaptation Deviation: The main premise of the fic is that Total Drama Island is now a Deadly Game set in a dystopian world, and now all the campers are fighting to survive, while adding 2 new characters from the canon World Tour, and changing several character personalities in turn.
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  • Adaptation Species Change: Sasquatchanakwa is instead explained by Chris as being a mutant gorilla rather than a yeti/Bigfoot.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's left intentionally unclear if Heather was faking her amnesia.
  • Anti-Villain: Justin, Heather, Alejandro, and Chef Hatchet loathe their horrific circumstances and show remorse for their evil actions, but are ultimately doing what they must to survive the Deadly Game.
  • Anyone Can Die: And not just from the executions, too. The challenges also pose heavy dangers to the campers, and a handful of them also die during them as well.
  • Bears Are Bad News: DJ is brutally mauled by a bear, leaving him horribly maimed and in dire pain, unable to move or (barely) speak at all.
  • Big Bad: Chris McLean, as in canon, is the host of Total Drama Island- which here is a Deadly Game where Chris has the literal power of life and death over the contestants.
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  • Bittersweet Ending: After all the death and suffering, the surviving players are able to return to their normal lives with relative ease, while Chris and his minions are arrested, with Chris himself dying. However, most of the players are dead, their families are presumably devastated, and Zolkoff and Johnathan Gavrilovic are unscathed, with the latter still in a position of power with the Canadian government.
  • Breather Episode: By this fic's standards, anyways. This time, in lieu of a gruesome execution, the Brunch of Disgustingness challenge instead puts a 3 day cruise and a 5 minute call with the winning side's parents on the line. The subsequent episodes taking place on the day of the cruise focuses on the respective contestants on and off the cruise. This happens just after the merge and before Alejandro and Sierra join the competition.
  • The Cavalry:
    • Duncan's father attempts this but fails miserably, which results in him being imprisoned and Harold being senselessly killed in an escape attempt.
    • A contingent of Canadian armed forces soldiers arrives at the end of the finale to save Geoff from being the final execution, rescue the other surviving contestants (Noah, Bridgette, Justin, and Duncan), and arrest Chris and his subordinates.
  • Character Exaggeration: Chris's sadism, Izzy's insanity, Cody's perverted nature, Lindsay's stupidity, and Sierra's craziness are all even greater than they are in canon.
  • Characters Dropping Like Flies: By the time this fic comes to a close, most of the campers have suffered a cruel and demeaning execution.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Most of the execution methods are cruel, demeaning, and/or gory; and because methods are rarely reused, they tend to become ever more baroque as the story progresses. Contestants meet their ends via agencies such as being flattened under an immense concrete block, a hand grenade exploding inside the condemned's mouth, being burned at the stake, being sawn in half, and a date with Madame Guillotine.
  • Dark Fic: The original 22 contestants are now playing not for a cash prize, but for their very lives, having been taken from their homes against their wills due to a sinister criminal conspiracy involving the Serbian mafia and corruption within the Canadian government. The challenges and their hazards are more realistic and the cartoonish elements are removed. Also, none of the canon series' Amusing Injuries are Played for Laughs here.
  • Deadly Game: Total Drama Island is reimagined as such; the eliminated contestants are sent to their deaths unless they have a life idol with them.
  • Dead Guy Junior: Duncan memorializes Courtney's death as an adult by naming his daughter after her in the epilogue.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Trent, Alejandro and Heather's deaths are sudden and particularly unceremonious for how important the characters were. Even Chris is disappointed in them.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Noah, Bridgette, Duncan, Geoff, and Justin go through 26 episodes of an utterly horrific and deeply traumatizing Deadly Game, but all survive, recover, and manage to live surprisingly happy and peaceful lives in the end (although Justin less so than the rest, as he is on the run from the Gavrilovic family).
  • Easily Forgiven: After the contestants are rescued during the finale, Duncan is surprised by how easily Geoff accepts Justin's apology for almost getting him executed at the end of the challenge, especially since Bridgette adamantly refuses to forgive Justin for the same actions.
  • Eat That: The Brunch of Disgustingness is also in this fic, but this time, contestants are dared to eat boiled bull testicles, live snails topped with vinegar, toe jam on mouldy bread, blended cockroaches, a smoothie consisting of coconut milk, kitchen grease, and mouldy vegetables, uncooked pizza dough with 'a suspicious green sauce', jellyfish, live anchovies and grasshoppers, used tampons in toilet water, spoiled brussel sprouts and spider egg salad, and human flesh hot dogs.
  • The Ending Changes Everything: Throughout the story, the audience is led to believe that the Deadly Game is an Immoral Reality Show taking place in a dystopian Canada and is fully supported by the government. The final chapters reveal that it is an illegal, underground enterprise running outside the knowledge of the Canadian government, headed by a single politician, and the show is being recorded to be sold in the black market rather than broadcasted.
  • Every Episode Ending: Outside of the cruise ship arc and the chapters where a contestant dies during a challenge, each episode ends with at least one camper being sent to their deaths, unless they have a Life Idol.
  • Face Death with Dignity: While all of the contestants are fighting for their survival for most of the fic, if a contestant is aware they may be voted off that night over a variety of circumstances, i.e. throwing a challenge, and don't have a Life Idol with them, then usually expect their confessionals, before or during voting, involving them expressing themselves about accepting their fate.
  • Faking the Dead: Duncan, after accidentally killing a cameraman, disguises himself as the cameraman while disguising the corpse as himself in order to potentially save himself from elimination.
  • Fatal Family Photo: Duncan references this after accidentally killing the cameraman Jared and searching through his things:
    He was glad that Jared didn't have pictures of a smiling family in his wallet.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Played with regarding the surviving contestants; Bridgette, Geoff and Duncan are still close and Noah attended the former two's wedding, but Bridgette still doesn't forgive Justin for his actions in the finale and Noah apparently doesn't plan to see the others again anytime soon.
  • Forced into Evil:
    • Villainous contestants, like Heather, Alejandro, and Justin, don't want to cause people to die so they can get ahead, they've just been forced to do so because of the game.
    • Another example would be Chef, who doesn't want to work at a camp that butchers the campers, but is made abundantly clear that he has to.
  • Frame-Up: Justin is particularly skilled with this. He frames Courtney for stealing Eva's MP3 Player and Cody for stealing Leshawna's bra to get them eliminated.
  • Government Conspiracy: Respected high-ranking government official Jonathan Gavrilovic is able to kidnap 22 teenagers, produce a highly illegal Deadly Game show, and hire criminals to produce said show, all with the help of his connections to the Serbian mafia.
  • Half the Man He Used to Be: Katie and Sadie are both executed by being sawed in two.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Chris McLean is this as he was in canon, but is now even worse. The host of Total Drama Island, now a Deadly Game, Chris orders 24 teens kidnapped and forces them into his game, having the campers endure humiliating challenges and gruesome executions. He takes active enjoyment in their suffering, makes cruel jokes at their expense, and only cares about ratings. So despicable is he that, when he is finally thwarted, Bridgette punches and kicks him in the face, and he later gets killed in his cell, and everyone agrees he deserves it.
    • Zolkoff is Chris's hired Serbian mafia thug. He aids Chris in most of the executions, oftentimes being the one who personally kills the losers. His most notable traits are his sadism and an equally morbid sense of humor to match Chris. In the end, when he is arrested alongside Chris, he kills him to stop Chris from snitching on his boss and breaks out of prison.
    • Johnathan Gavrilovic is the producer of Total Drama Island and the Greater-Scope Villain of the story. A controversial Canadian politician with secret ties to the Serbian Mafia, Gavrilovic agrees to Chris's idea for a snuff reality show to be sold on the black market, only reluctanct due to the possibility of legal repercussions. He gives Chris a remote island for the game and some thugs to help him run it while tricking Chris into thinking he has the approval of the Canadian government. When the military arrives, Gavrilovic leaves Chris as a scapegoat and, like Zolkoff, remains uncaught.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The first rescue attempt fails in part because of multiple tactical blunders by the would-be rescuers, most notably letting Chris stall for time. The leader of the rescue crew is an experienced police officer who really should have known better.
  • Immoral Reality Show: Even moreso than in canon. And unlike in canon, it is very much not Played for Laughs.
  • In Spite of a Nail: Despite the darker nature of the fic, some things haven't changed, some like:
    • Noah, Eva, Tyler, Sadie, Cody, Ezekiel and Katie are still eliminated way before the merge.
    • Noah is voted off after the dodgeball challenge.
    • Trent and Heather still participate in the talent show contest challenge.
    • Eva is the second member of her team to be voted off.
    • Duncan, Geoff, Courtney and Bridgette still become friends.
    • Duncan, Geoff, Bridgette, Heather, Leshawna and Trent make it to the merge.
    • Duncan and Leshawna make it to the final five.
  • Iron Maiden: Cody is stuffed inside of one as his method of execution, shaped like a beautiful woman, to boot.
  • Mercy Kill: DJ is unanimously voted off by the Killer Bass (including by himself) to relieve him of his suffering after he is brutally mauled by a bear. He's quickly killed with a lethal dose of snake venom injected into his veins.
  • Non-Gameplay Elimination: Several contestants die under circumstances other than being formally eliminated and executed. These circumstances include challenge hazards (Trent, who fell face-first on a mine, and Alejandro, killed by the Psycho Killer with the Hook and Chainsaw during the challenge after accidentally setting him off), suicide (Heather, who drowned herself- supposedly), mauled by a bear (Duncan, but he fakes his death using an unfortunate cameraman), and being killed whilst attempting to escape (Harold, who is shot by Chris in an escape attempt).
    • In general, Chris threatens to kill any camper on the spot should they either try to escape the island (since it's surrounded by military forces) or, in one cooking challenge, attempt to spike the food with poison. While nobody dares to try and poison Chris, Harold's aforementioned escape attempt leads to him getting shot.
  • Off with His Head!: Courtney is executed by guillotine after losing a tiebreaker challenge to LeShawna.
  • Public Execution: A variant, in which it's part of a broadcasted Deadly Game, and eliminated contestants are subjected to this unless they have a Life Idol on hand...or so the reader is lead to believe.
  • Sadistic Game Show: Of the Deadly Game variety. Not only are contestants fighting for their lives, Chris actively takes pleasure into having them do his demeaning challenges and cruel executions.
  • Ship Tease: Geoff/Bridgette, as well as some minor Duncan/Courtney and Heather/Alejandro.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Izzy and Owen are canonically the show's main sources of over-the-top comedy and bring little else to the table, so they are quickly disposed of in this unremittingly dark remake.
  • Sole Survivor: The game is billed as one where only the winner will survive, with the other contestants executed as they are eliminated. The trope is subverted, however, because several others survive for various reasons (albeit for justified reasons), including the use of the Life Idol mechanic, which saves the user from an execution the moment it's used.
  • Snuff Film: Snuff reality/game show, actually. After all, it's a Deadly Game where contestants are fighting for their lives and the losers get 'eliminated' in a variety of gruesome ways.
  • The Stations of the Canon: This Season 1 remake has the same challenges in the same order as the canonical season it reimagines, although due to the nature of the fic itself, they can be, more often than not, much more dangerous than they were in canon.
  • What If?: The author stated the story came to be when they asked themselves one day "What if the contestants of Total Drama Island were competing for their lives instead of money?"
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The story ends with a short summary of what happened to the survivng contestants.
  • Your Head Asplode: Tyler is executed by being forced to hold a grenade in his mouth.