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File:Survivor logo.png
Have you seen that program Survivor? Pretty close to Lord of the Flies. They kick one guy off the island every week. They don't actually chase him with sharpened sticks, but you get the feeling they'd kind of like to.

Survivor is... it's...

Well, if The Real World is the grand-daddy of the reality show, Survivor is the daddy. Sure, it's proved a huge hit, and a big moneymaker for CBS, but it launched a wave of reality shows that, in 2012, 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 ladies out of their clothes), where they're divided into two or more tribes (mostly randomly, but sometimes by sex, 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. Ultimately, 2-3 people are left for the Final Tribal Council, where the recently eliminated contestants 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 Big Brother.

Seasons (in order)

  • Survivor: Borneo (Retronym; originally just Survivor)
  • Survivor: The Australian Outback
  • Survivor: Africa
  • Survivor: Marquesas
  • Survivor: Thailand
  • Survivor: The Amazon
  • Survivor: Pearl Islands
  • Survivor: All-Stars
  • Survivor: Vanuatu - Islands of Fire
  • Survivor: Palau
  • Survivor: Guatemala - The Maya Empire
  • Survivor: Panama - Exile Island
  • Survivor: Cook Islands
  • Survivor: Fiji
  • Survivor: China
  • Survivor: Micronesia - Fans vs. Favorites
  • Survivor: Gabon - Earth's Last Eden
  • Survivor: Tocantins - The Brazilian Highlands
  • Survivor: Samoa
  • Survivor: Heroes Vs Villains
  • Survivor: Nicaragua
  • Survivor: Redemption Island
  • Survivor: South Pacific
  • Survivor: One World
  • Survivor: Philippines


Based on a format created by Charlie Parson. The first produced show based on the format was the Swedish reality game show Expedition: Robinson. The original concept was said during All-Stars to have been inspired by William Golding's 1954 novel Lord of the Flies.

Not to be confused with that one show that's actually about surviving. Or the third series from Erin Hunter.

Check/help build the character sheet.


This show provides examples of the following:

General Tropes

  • 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 translated into Chinese). Heroes Vs Villains had a different tagline, but it's also alliterative: "Return, Revenge, Redemption".
  • 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.
  • And Knowing Is Half the Battle: Just before dismissing them from Tribal Council, Jeff Probst will add a brief remark about that vote or the tribe's prospects in general. Most are rather obvious, but the best may be the line from ep. 12 of Fans Vs Favorites: "You guys are perfecting the art of the blindside. That is the good news, and that is the bad news."
  • 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.
  • Armchair Psychology: Most contestants break into this when Jeff asks particularly probing questions about their actions against their fellow contestants. This is usually the reaction he wants, of course.
  • The Artifact: The opening sequence at the beginning of every episode which used to show all the contestants. Ever since Panama, the producers have either reduced it in order to just play a shorted version of the main theme music and not even bother featuring the players, periodically remove contestants from the intro as they were being voted off, or removed the intro completely. Some important episodes, like premieres and finales, sometimes show all the players like they used to, but it's becoming rarer and rarer as the seasons go on.
    • The Final 2. The last two seasons to have consecutive Final Tribal Council's with two people at the end instead of three was Guatemala and Panama. Ever since then however, the Final 3 has all but replaced it, with only a couple of token F2's showing up in Micronesia and Tocantins(and in Micronesia's case, it only occurred due to that season's high number of quitter's/evacuee's).
  • Attention Whore: Hard to tell who's an actual one and who is just caught on the wrong end of Executive Meddling and Manipulative Editing.
  • Auction: One "challenge" a season is this.
    • 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.
  • 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. (Vecepia being the earliest instance. She was only one of three members of the hapless Maraamu tribe to make the merge during Marquesas and ended up winning)
  • 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.
  • Commercial Break Cliffhanger: Viewers can always expect several directly before and during Tribal Council.
  • Commercial Pop-Up: CBS, like most major networks, has been absolutely in love with these over the past several seasons.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: As good as reason as any to kick someone out early, or keep them around as a goat sure to lose in the finals. For example, why Jimmy T. was booted in Nicaragua.
  • Confession Cam: Thanks to Manipulative Editing, it's hard to tell when they are actually filmed.
  • Cool Old Guy / Cool Old Lady: Anyone who played a good game at the age of 40 and beyond. Special mention to Tom Westman and Bob Crowley for winning their respective seasons, Terry Deitz for having an awesome immunity streak and Rudy Boesch for playing twice in his seventies.
  • 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 the only tribe in Survivor history to never win a single Immunity Challenge (and they lost all but two 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.
    • 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 ages.
  • 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 extertion 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.
  • Defied Trope: The most Genre Savvy contestants can predict common season occurrences, such as physical threats being sent off directly after the merge, and use/reverse them to their benefit.
  • Delicious Distraction: At least once a season, Jeff will offer the players a choice to skip an immunity challenge in exchange for being able to eat some kind of food for the duration of said challenge.
  • 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.
  • Didn't See That Coming: The blindsides.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."

    • When the Villains lose Heroes Vs Villains ep. 3's combo challenge, Randy says this is one of the reasons he predicts he'll be the next to leave; the other is even more common. (He is indeed evicted that night.)
    • 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.
  • Dumb Blonde: There's usually several. Heidi Strobel from The Amazon and Kat Edorsson from One World are probably some of the best examples (although it is found out in the Amazon reunion that she actually has an IQ of 165, she just had a habit of putting her foot in her mouth). Subverted by Natalie White from Samoa, who acted like a Dumb Blonde but did so deliberately because the smart ones were being targeted; she then used her position to manipulate Russell and she eventually won. Zig-Zagged by Jud "Fabio" Birza from Nicaragua, who was already kind of a ditz in real life, and intentionally flanderized himself so the other team would know him as a dumb blonde, and like Natalie, he eventually won.
  • 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 Catchphrase: "The tribe has spoken; it's time for you to go."
  • 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 Jud 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.
  • Every Episode Ending: Episodes almost always end up one, or more, contestants sent home and lamenting their fate on a final Confession Cam.
  • Evil Gloating: The game is built on backstabbing equipped with a Confession Cam, this is expected to happen. Russell Hantz took this Up to Eleven.
  • Evolving Music: One of the better examples on TV today, thanks to all the seasonal remixes of "Ancient Voices". Various regional instruments, spirited grunts, chants, shouts, and drums, drums, drums are woven into the main track each season, and the results are indeed awesome.
    • 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: Given how production uses Manipulative Editing, it's fairly popular for fans to accuse them of other manipulation when events go the way of the Spotlight-Stealing Squad. Keep in mind, however, that none of this has been confirmed.
    • 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.
    • Shane Powers was intended to return twice but was replaced. See What Could Have Been.
    • 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.
  • False Friend: The more ruthless players do 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.
  • Hope Spot: Many appear in each season.
    • 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...
  • Hot-Blooded: The contestants can be this at times.
  • Hot Dad / Hot Mom: There's usually one or more.
  • 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.
  • It's All About Me: Especially the final Tribal Council.
  • Jerkass: 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 Jerkass 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 Jerkass 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.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Given the bipolar nature of many contestants, this trope can be applied broadly.
  • Karmic Elimination: Has happened numerous times. Of special note is Colton of One World; most karma strikes with people getting voted out due to their own actions coming back to bite them, but Colton had to be removed from the game for appendicitis.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: There are already more than 300 people to have played the game.
  • 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".
  • Long Runners: Over twenty seasons and counting...
  • Manipulative Bastard: Most contestants try to be one. The successful ones get pretty far.
  • 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: The first few rounds of the game generally involve establishing the superior alliance and tribe, and searching for hidden immunity idols to strengthen both. That way, when you get to the merge, you can just pick off the other tribe members one by one with impunity. Of course, second priority is to eliminate players that pose the strongest individual threat, either as rival schemers or challenge studs. When it gets close to the end, strategy shifts to keeping players who you think you can outdebate at the Final Tribal Council while not alienating the other players who will end up casting the votes.
  • 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.
  • Ms. Fanservice: This role is usually taken intentionally, but there are exceptions.
  • Mundane Luxury: Almost all rewards, especially after the first few episodes when the contestants have become good and hungry.
  • 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.
  • Never Trust a Preview: 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.
  • Non Gameplay Elimination: Several examples, see the article.
  • Obstacle Exposition: At challenges.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Several, showing that Executive Meddling is not always a bad thing.
    • Tribal switch 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 favourite" player prize so the fan favourite doesn't gain as much as the winner.
    • The Hidden Immunity idol could only be used until the final six in recent seasons specifically because it made Yul untouchable in Cook Islands. Also changing it so that the idol had to be played before the votes were counted instead of after; the latter essentially made whoever had it invincible until they received the most votes, and nobody would waste their votes on someone who would just nullify them all.
    • The Hidden Immunity Idol clues in Nicaragua 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.
    • Eliminating the use of the Purple Rock 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 of the jury.
    • 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 8-1-0 and 9-0-0, 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 2: Electric Boogaloo: Most seasons are named after their location, but then we have the returning-contestant seasons of All-Stars and Heroes Vs Villains. Panama and Micronesia are also known by the subtitles Exile Island and Fans Vs Favorites, after their gimmicks. 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.
    • Edgardo and Alex have one in Fiji that must be seen to be believed.
  • Once a Season: Some of CBS' favorites include:
    • Family members showing up
    • A gross food challenge, although they appear to have stopped after China.
    • 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) and Nicaragua (two Jimmys and two Kellys).
    • 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.)
  • The Parody: Total Drama Island.
  • 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.
  • "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 Gulliver's 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.
  • 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.
  • Rash Equilibrium
  • Ratings Stunt: Many throughout, in order to avoid the usual complaint against such a Long Runner; the Hidden Immunity Idols and the initial tribe divisions (by gender, race, or age) are probably the most notorious.
    • 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.)
  • Reality Show Genre Blindness: Very few people coming on the show seem to have an idea how these things tend to work. For example:
    • Being able to start a fire.
    • Being able to swim.
    • 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 and thus 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 the past year they haven't.
  • 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.
  • 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 (except Borneo). Plus All-Stars, Fans Vs Favorites, and Heroes Vs Villains qualify as Reunion Seasons. Guatemala also featured two of the Ulong tribe members, Redemption Island had Boston Rob and Russell, South Pacific had Coach and Ozzy, and Philippines will have Mike Skupin, Russell Swan, and Jonathan Penner.
  • 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.
  • Robinsonade
  • The Runner Up Takes It All: A few cases; see article.
  • 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.
  • Security Blanket: Luxury items
  • Shocking Elimination: Contestant and jury reaction to most of the "blindsides".
    • Gretchen in Borneo, marking the first time someone was eliminated for their strengths.
    • Hunter in Marquesas, one of the first usurps of the tribe leader role thanks to Boston Rob wanting to control the tribe.
    • Paschal in the same season, namely because he was screwed by a tiebreaker when he refused to change his vote. (Not a vote was cast for him in the entire game or even at the tribal council!)
    • 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.
  • Sigil Spam: The current season's logo appears on quite a lot: the tribe flags, challenge props[1], 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.
  • Similarly Named Works: Australia's Celebrity Edition was called Celebrity Survivor Vanuatu and was, in fact, similar in format to the American Survivor: Vanuatu.
    • There is a book called South Pacific Survivor: In Samoa. Guess where Survivor: South Pacific was filmed...
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Sole Survivor: Official title of the winner of the game.
  • 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 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, this wasn't a persona he played up, this was the real him.
  • 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.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad: One or two characters get the bulk of the screentime each season for various reasons, such as having unique mannerisms or bringing something new to the show. For instance, some of Rob and Amber's fellow Survivors actually called All-Stars "The Rob & Amber Show." Other examples include:
    • Rudy from the very first season, due to being endlessly quotable and the quintessential Badass Grandpa.
    • Rupert in Pearl Islands, mainly because he was a unique fan-favourite.
    • Stephenie of Palau and Guatemala, because of the unique situation she found herself in in both seasons.
    • Coach of Tocantins, for being...well, The Dragon Slayer.
    • Russell of Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains, being a huge manipulator, backstabber, and having an ego the size of the island he's living on.
  • Studio Audience: Only for the post-finale reunion shows.
  • 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.
    • Crystal Cox, a 2004 Olympic medalist, from Gabon, although the history and her gold medal were quickly overshadowed by her complete inability to perform well in any of the challenges, even rock-paper-scissors.
    • It has become common for the show to cast pageant contestants or winners in an attempt to appeal to the younger male demographic, since they tend to look better in less clothing. Examples include Kim Mullen and Janu Tornell (Palau), Danni Boatwright (Guatemala), Misty Giles (Panama), Rita Vereos (Fiji), Amanda Kimmel (China, Micronesia, Heroes vs. Villains), Ashley Underwood (Redemption Island) and Elyse Umemoto (South Pacific).
  • 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."

  • Tall Poppy Syndrome: This guy's stronger than everyone else? He's a threat. Get rid of him.
    • 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.
  • There Can Be Only One: If not, it wouldn't be much of a Game Show.
  • Title Drop: The show's (occasionally bizarre) official titles for episodes are derived from players' quotes in the respective episodes. Of course, many of the chosen quotes mark critical moments in the game.
  • Too Cool to Live: The strong, cool and outstanding players are usually the first ones to be targeted for elimination (post-merge) by their fellow castaways because they see him/her as a great threat in the game. Usually leads to a Shocking Elimination.
  • Trope Codifier: For competitive reality shows.
  • 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.
  • Turncoat: Every single episode of every single season has at least one example.
  • Unexpectedly Obscure Answer: 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."
  • 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.
  • Viewers are Morons: Jeff Probst during challenges and in the "Previously On..." and Next Time On bumpers. And in the odd-numbered seasons’ Look Back episodes.
  • Villainy Free Villain: "Villains" on this show rarely do anything outright evil, they're just jerks (and some "villains" aren't even THAT bad).
  • Voted Off the Island: The Trope Namer.
  • We ARE Struggling Together!: Any and all alliances and pre-merge tribes. (Except the stupid ones who are made up of blind followers.)
    • Evil Versus Evil: The "Villains" tribe in Heroes Vs. Villains.
    • Let's You and Him Fight: The "Heroes" tribe in Heroes Vs. Villains.
    • 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.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Except for Reunion Seasons, those who are the first eliminated.
    • Most people who're victims of very bad examples of Spotlight-Stealing Squad. For example, the camera was pointed at Coach most of the time Tocantins that some people have jokingly said this about people like Tyson. Kelly in Samoa was also such a big threat despite that the cameras were turned towards Russell most of the time it was hard to see why she was such a threat that Russell had to get rid of her immediately.
    • 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.
  • 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

  • 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
  • The Ace: Colby Donaldson during Australian Outback, Tom Westman during Palau, Yul Kwon during Cook Islands, Bob Crowley during Gabon and J.T. Thomas during Tocantins 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.
  • Always Second Best: Despite being able to reach the finals in back-to-back seasons, both Amanda Kimmell and Russell Hantz failed to win both times due to (respectively) a poor final tribal council performance and wrong ways of rubbing people.
  • 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.
  • Animal Battle Aura: "Coach" Wades' Zen trip to Exile Island, either sincere for Warrior Poet or deadpan snark for Miles Gloriosus.
  • Anticlimax: 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.
    • Marquesas, where the final two was Vecepia who received very little screentime due to playing under the radar and Neleh and it was pretty obvious that the jury wasn't going to vote for Neleh at all.
    • Thailand, wherein it was also pretty obvious that Brian was gonna win because he was up against the more dislikable Clay.
    • 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, wherein it was pretty obvious Rob had the game because, with the exception of Kristina, everybody on his tribe was too stupid to vote him out. It also had a pretty boring merge because all the interesting players like Ralph, Dave, and Mike were on Redemption Island and the most interesting events were Julie burying Phillip's shorts and the strange Expy of Brett that was Ashley.
  • 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.

  • 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 Decay: James laments Colby's disappointing struggling early in Heroes Vs Villains.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Being Good Sucks: Colby in Australia, JT in Heroes vs Villains, Matt in Redemption Island.
  • 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 cancer) 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.
  • 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 has entered 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 Bad Duumvirate: Despite Parvati referring Russell as her pet dragon in Heroes vs. Villains, this is what they likely were.
  • 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.
  • 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 Jerkass. His nephew Brandon is trying to be better than that, but frankly sucks at it and melts down at every screwup. And in the South Pacific family visit, we meet Brandon's dad/Russell's brother, who tells Brandon to suck it up and get the money (not bad advice given Brandon's issues, but comes off as "abandon your principles") and tries to bully Coach into helping Brandon.
  • 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.
  • Black and White Insanity: Brandon Hantz suffers from this big-time.
  • 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.
  • Born Lucky: Rob Mariano. Let's see, he manages to come back knowing the game. He isn't protected, thus he has a huge huge HUUUUUGE target on his back. Fourth time he plays, he gets put on the stupidest tribe ever to play the game, and just about all the challenges he appears in happen to be puzzles. (When he was good at puzzles) That's some amazing luck, seeing as other returnees didn't seem to be so fortunate.
  • 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.
  • Bunny Ears Lawyer: Some contestants are good but at the same time...weird.
  • Butt Monkey: Every season at least have one.
  • 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.
  • Chick Magnet: Colby. Lampshaded by Sandra and Parvati.
  • 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.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: 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 Cloudcuckoolander of Survivor, beginning with his coconut phone, and ending with his unexpected descent into tears.
    • 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 is when he tells Jeff Probst he's 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.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: Being a Reality TV show, it can't be helped, but they're usually censored.
  • 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.
    • Crystal from Gabon, an Olympic gold medalist who couldn't run, climb, throw, or dunk a basketball...on a five foot hoop. She had admitted to steroid use in the past, which could have affected her performance, but some would argue that she should have performed better regardless.
    • 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.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: The Nicaragua Tribal Council had ones that glowed in the dark.
  • 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 Galu's...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. The entire season she's (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.
  • Defector From Decadence: In the middle of one Palau challenge, Gregg once promised Katie that he wouldn't hasten her loss; since protecting Jenn was always his top priority, he was later forced to go back on his word. Katie happily forgave him when Gregg invited her and Jenn to join him for the overnight cruise. This didn't stop her from agreeing to blindside Gregg at the next vote, however.
  • Determinator: Russell Swan worked through a 5-day storm in Samoa before collapsing twice 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, 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 the Cook Islands season -- 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.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Dreamz from Fiji and Neleh from Marquesas are notable examples. And Lex, every time he tried to justify why he can get away with playing ruthlessly but others need to be punished for it.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: 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.
  • The Ditz: Jud "Fabio" Birza from Nicaragua is a rare male example, who didn't know that crabs pinched. Although his strategy confessionals aren't quite so ditzy...
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Erotic Eating: Jerri toyed the idea with a chocolate to Amber during Australian Outback. Hilarity Ensues when Colby, aware of the Double Entendre, reacted uncomfortably.

 Jerri: I just wanna pour hot chocolate on some hot dude's bod.

Colby: I may be a lot of things, but I ain't no Hershey bar! (chuckles)

  "...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."

  • Everybody Remembers the Stripper: Jenna and Heidi stripping for peanut butter and chocolate during Amazon. So much that they even posed for Playboy. Jenna lampshaded this during America's Tribal Council saying people will remember her stripping instead of actually winning that season.
  • Everything's Better with Bob: Subverted with Bobby Jon Drinkard in Palau. He did better in his following stint in Guatemala. Meanwhile, there's Bob Crowley, the winner of Gabon.
  • 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."
  • The Farmer and the Viper: Mick uses this general idea in Samoa ep. 13 to explain his concern that Russell will soon turn on him, despite an earlier alliance.
  • Femme Fatale: Parvati Shallow, Jenna Morasca, Danielle DiLorenzo and Jerri Manthey, among others.
  • Fiery Redhead: Jerri Manthey.
  • Five-Man Band / Five-Bad Band: Many large alliances fall into one or the other, depending on how you see them. One of the better examples would be from Redemption Island, with the former Ometepe tribe.
  • Flawless Victory: Earl Cole from Fiji and J.T. Thomas from Tocantins. Each got 100% of the votes-to-win in their final Tribal Council.
  • Foiler Footage: The first season shot multiple combinations of contestants at Tribal Council, creating a phony boot order.
  • Former Teen Rebel: He's barely even out of his teens, but Brandon Hantz describes himself as one in South Pacific. He, shall we say, hasn't quite gotten the hang of it yet, though.
  • Four Is Death: Palau fourth-placer Jennifer Lyon was diagnosed with breast cancer about four months after she joined the game. We know what happened four years later...
    • 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 four woman alliance 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).
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Obvious in many final-four or four-person alliance such as:
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • Heroes vs Villains final four; Sandra is phlegm, Parvati is sanguine, Russell is choleric and Jerri is melancholic.
    • The four winners that 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).
    • Redemption Island final four; Natalie is supine, Ashley is melancholic, Rob is sanguine, and Phillip is choleric.
    • South Pacific final four; Ozzy is phlegmatic, Albert is choleric, Coach is sanguine, and Sophie is melancholic.
  • Freudian Slip:
    • 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 way's 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 Snake Ensemble Darkhorse 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.
  • 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.
  • Game Breaker: The Hidden Immunity Idol in Exile Island and Cook Islands. Although Yul used it strategically to sway Jonathan, it otherwise pretty much made him invincible the entire game. You can see why they added a rule stating you can only use it until the final six, and why it had to be used before votes are counted.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: James Clement became a victim of this twice now. The first led to his Non Gameplay Elimination in Micronesia, the second had him Mercy Killed by his tribe mates in Heroes vs Villains. For the others, see Non Gameplay Elimination. They don't always lead to a Non Gameplay Elimination; and moreso a Suicide by Cop.
    • 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."
  • Gayngster: Richard Hatch thanks to his Magnificent Bastardness.
  • Genius Ditz: Fabio played this card in Nicaragua.
  • Genki Girl: There's usually one.
  • 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...
    • Most of the Ometepe players in Redemption Island.
  • 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.
    • Rob Cesterino was eliminated by his Chapera tribe during All-Stars for being too 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 payed 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:

 Jeff: Amy, you look like you're gonna cry.

Amy: What is it -- a tarantula?

Jeff: I wouldn't do that to you.

[The basket is indeed laden with baked chicken, potato salad, huge cookies, and iced tea.]

  • Get Out!: Jeff Probst in Nicaragua, when Naonka and Purple Kelly quit. "You wanna go? Go."
    • He was equally unsympathetic to the show's first quitter, Osten Taylor, fourteen seasons earlier in Pearl Islands. Instead of being told "the tribe has spoken," Probst just says "go home."
  • Girl Posse: The Black Widow Brigade from Micronesia , and to a lesser extent Jenna, Heidi and Shawna from Amazon
    • In Redemption Island , the three Ometepe girls in Rob's alliance.
    • The girls from One World, arguably the most successful female alliance in Survivor history.
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Alicia's claim to fame in Australia:

 Kimmi: Don't wave your finger in my face!

Alicia: I will always wave my finger in your face!

  • Good Is Dumb: Most of the cast of Samoa, with the major exceptions of Natalie and Brett. 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.
  • Grandma, What Massive Hotness You Have!: While they may not be legitimates grandmothers, Kathy from Marquesas, Laura from Samoa, Helen from Thailand and Debbie from Tocantins count.
  • 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 bastard and not treating them the correct way, and Mick for feeling that he felt entitled to be the Foa-Foa leader. 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 burned Russell's hat at the end of Heroes Vs Villains, something he admitted that he was fazed by, but by then Russell had proved himself an Asshole Victim.
    • 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.
  • Happily Married: Rob and Amber (who was in the audience with their cute baby in the Heroes Vs Villains Reunion Show); many other Survivors are happily wedded to non-contestants, of course. Some of these spouses show up for the "visit from home" reward challenges.
  • 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 is one of the biggest followers of this, 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.
  • 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, Russell Swan in Samoa. (All three later got second chances 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 (who Russell even admitted could have beaten him). 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.
  • 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, Marisa, Betsy and Kelly. Russell really wanted these girls out for some particular reason, but thanks to a severe lack of screentime, it's almost impossible to see why (Russell touted the former two as competent players, however).
    • Russell himself counts. 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. It could be justified in Samoa, since CBS needed to sell him for Heroes vs. Villains and they couldn't exactly say he played the wrong way if he was going to appear in another season and do it all over again, but Heroes vs. Villains there was no excuse.
  • Informed Flaw: Manipulative Editing can often make this happen, or just the tribes being an Unreliable Narrator.
    • In South Pacific, the Upolus regularly consider Edna for elimination because she's "sneaky", "devious", and a physical liability. She doesn't demonstrate that "Sneaky" and "devious" nature to the camera, 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 apparently a "Lazy Bum", 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.
    • A few comments were made about how Leif was worthless (mostly by Colton, but whatever). We've seen very little evidence to support this.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Most of the Cool Old Guys / Ladies and Youngsters can chill out and have fun with one another.
    • Rudy Boesch to anyone he plays the game with.
    • 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.
  • Ironic Echo Cut: South Pacific gives us this exchange:

 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...

  • I Surrender, Suckers: Some of those who find Hidden Immunity Idols want to encourage the others to try to vote against them. (They may talk of being ready to leave, irritate tribemates, or otherwise draw drama and disfavor. Having allies reinforce these perceptions can help.) If the finders can attract enough soon-to-be-worthless votes in this way, the Idol holder's partner(s) can complete the minority that ends up controlling the vote. Amanda did this brilliantly in Micronesia, and didn't even have to lie to keep her plan with Parvati a secret (Amanda didn't find the idol in exile - because it was hidden at camp).
  • Island Help Message: Some of the challenges have involved building these.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Keet: There's usually one.
  • 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 (misogynist or misandrist), 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.
  • 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.
  • The Klutz: Boo in Fiji. See Survivor (TV series)/Funny
  • Knight in Sour Armor: Colby during Heroes vs Villains.
    • 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 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 season twelve because some of the jury thought he was one.
    • Gervase is the Ur Example.
    • 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 Fans vs. Favorites. 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:
    • Aint No Rule stating you can't look at other peoples' boards during certain puzzle challenges.
    • Aint No Rule stating you can't bribe other contestants.
    • During Cook Islands, a couple people accidentally wandered into the other tribe's camp. Aint No Rule stating you couldn't do that!
    • Aint No Rule that said you couldn't use a Texas flag as a tarp. (This got removed.)
    • Luxury items. Evidently, someone had once smuggled in a granola bar to the game, and another time, someone broke binoculars and used them to start fire.
    • Aint No Rule stating you couldn't use a pair of eyeglasses to start fire.
    • Aint No Rule saying that you can't give the other tribe your immunity idol so you can vote someone out!
    • Aint No Rule saying you can't steal the other tribe's supplies during a "Get the supplies as fast as you can"-part.
    • Aint No Rule saying you can't take the other tribe's fire using a stick.
    • You can't agree to split the million dollar prize, but Aint No Rule saying that you can't marry the winner. 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.
  • Love Triangle: Colby, Jerri and Danielle according to Russell.
  • 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.
  • Mars and Venus Gender Contrast: Invoked in seasons where tribes are gender-segregated: Amazon, Vanuatu, and One World.
  • Meaningful Name: The Manono tribe in One World. Considering how dysfunctional it's becoming and that it started out as the mens' tribe, "Man, o no" seems appropriate.
  • 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.
  • 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 and three-time loser Rob Mariano by respectively winning All-Stars, Fans vs Favorites, and Redemption Island.
  • My Name Is Not Durwood: 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", proving that he was doing it on purpose the whole time.
    • 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". He later explained he has nominal aphasia, meaning he needs to work at getting names right.


Season-Specific Tropes N-Z

  • Naked People Are Funny: Rich Hatch's other major shtick, besides being the show's first Manipulative Bastard.
  • Name's the Same: Richard Hatch from Borneo shares his name with Richard Hatch from the original Battlestar Galactica Classic. 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 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.
  • 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"!
  • No Damage Run: So far, twelve people have done this. Nine of them have made it in the end, and six 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.
  • 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.
  • The Notable Numeral: In Heroes vs. Villains, ep. 7, Rupert often referred to the remaining Heroes as the "Fantastic Five".
  • Nothing Can Stop Us Now: Russell in every season he's been in has gloated to the point of absurdity before ultimately losing.
  • 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.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome: Becky during the Cook Islands finale. She was overlooked because the jury only considered the strategic and social mastery of Yul and the physical prowess of Ozzy.
    • 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).
  • Planet of Steves: "Russell" became a common name in Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains. Along with the infamous Russell Hantz, who competed in both seasons, Samoa had medevacked player Russell Swan. Ponderosa's chef in H vs. V was also named Russell (the jury dubbed him "Good Russell"), and then there's the show's composer Russell ("Russ") Landau.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Happens a lot. Especially with Amanda and Russell.
  • 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 used this as a gimmick, pitting super-fans against past Survivors.
  • Pyromaniac: Butch Lockey on the Amazon inadvertently became one during the latter days of his season, with hilarious if tragic results (Crowning Moment of Funny).
    • 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 (for the most part) casting the dumbest people EVER to play the game, cutting half the cast from the show, and tailoring the challenges to their 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.
  • Redemption in the Rain: In the Vanuatu premiere.
  • Refuge in Audacity: Jeff's jet ski adventure during the Amazon finale.
  • Religious Bruiser: Tyson Apostol from Tocantins is a Mormon. Brett Clousser from Samoa is a prayer warrior. Matt spent almost all of Redemption Island on Redemption Island, staying there by going on a challenge streak and talking about God in most of his confessionals.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Arguably in Africa after the tribal swap when Frank and Teresa voted out Silas.
  • 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.
  • Scheherezade Gambit: Someone pulls this off from time-to-time.
  • Sdrawkcab Name: The merged tribe of Gabon was named "Nobag."
  • 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 Proclaimed Liar: Boston Rob was a master at this.
  • Sex Is Evil and I Am Horny: Brandon in the first few episodes of South Pacific, regarding his tribemate Mikaela. 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).
  • Ship Tease: Some contestants do this.
  • Shout-Out: Borneo has a lot of these:
    • Episode 10 has a reward scene with a helicopter coming in that is an homage to Apocalypse Now and its "Ride of the Valkyries" scene.
    • 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 Immunity Challenge in Episode 12 (the one where Rudy repeatedly exclaims "I Dunno") was obviously an Homage to The Blair Witch Project
    • 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.
    • Jamie in Guatemala rapidly earned this label.[2] He didn't stay like that forever, though; see The Atoner, above.
  • 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.
    • Brenda of Nicaragua seems to apply to this trope.
  • 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! Mocking the starving is as close as someone has come to Complete Monster status without getting thrown out of the game. 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.
  • Suicide by Cop: Some people actually asked to be voted out, be it they're sick, injured, or just can't take it anymore. It's normally a bit better rather than risk a Non Gameplay Elimination; since a Non Gameplay Elimination means your tribe can wind up losing two people if the tribal council isn't canceled.
    • B.B. and Dirk in Borneo asked to be voted out
    • 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 to win.
    • James almost invoked this trope word for word on Fans vs. Favorites, saying something to the effect of "I feel like I am back in China with a bunch of idiots!". Of course, his own actions weren't exactly brilliant.
    • 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.
  • Take That Us: 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.
  • 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.
  • Talking Your Way Out: Sometimes works, sometimes not.
  • Tall, Dark and Bishoujo: Too many to list, with some (including three winners) even subverting the trope. But without a doubt, the Trope Codifier is Amanda Kimmel from China, Micronesia and Heroes vs Villains.
  • Tall, Dark and Handsome: Most of the Mr. Fanservice listed above.
  • Tall, Dark and Snarky: Lex van den Berghe, Shane Powers, James Clement, Coach and Boston Rob.
  • The Tease: Parvati deliberately plays the role.
    • 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.
  • Thanatos Gambit: Janu's reason of quitting during Palau, to screw up the original Koror's plans and allow Stephanie another chance to survive.
    • Shii-Ann's elimination in All-Stars, highlighting who she thought was the biggest threat on her way out.
    • Randy in Heroes vs. Villains used his vote to say "Get rid of this guy".
    • Ozzy voluntarily got voted out in South Pacific so he could go to Redemption Island, beat Christine and eliminate her for good, and come back.
  • 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.
  • 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..
  • Ungrateful Bastard: Many players fit this perfectly. See You Have Outlived Your Usefulness above.
  • 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 apposing possibly the tightest core alliance in the season: Bob, an elderly physics teacher who survived Kota's Pagonging; 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.
  • The Unintelligible: Big Tom of Africa and All-Stars. To quote Jeff Probst:

  "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.
  • Versus Title: Micronesia - Fans vs. Favorites and Heroes vs. Villains.
  • Villain Protagonist: Russell was arguably positioned as one of these in Samoa.
  • Vitriolic Best Buds: Ethan and Big Tom on Africa.

 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 Survivor (TV series)/Funny). 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.
  • Wham! Episode: A sort of consensus among the older fans of the show is that episode 7 of Borneo (the episode that had Gretchen's Shocking Elimination) is the single most important episode of the show's history, as it almost completely changed the course of how the game (not to mention all the future seasons) would play out.
  • Wham! Line: Coach to Cochran on South Pacific: “I’m gonna tell you right now, our tribe isn’t budging ... and I feel like you guys are trying to play us.”
  • What Could Have Been: Shane Powers was actually intended to return twice, but both times, got replaced. He was intended to return in Fans vs Favorites, but was replaced by James. Shane was also intended to return in Heroes vs. Villains, but replaced by none other than Russell.
    • Other people were considered to return for the show. Sandra was actually one of the people dropped at the last moment (Along with Shane) in Micronesia. Tom Westman was asked to come back to Micronesia, but he declined the offer.
    • The original filming location intended for Marquesas was actually Jordan, but due to a certain event in America in 2001, it was changed to Marquesas.
    • Vecepia was asked to come back to All-Stars, but she couldn't as she was pregnant at the time.
    • Richard Hatch was supposed to be on Heroes vs. Villains as well, but he was under house arrest at the time and wasn't able to get permission from the courts to to leave the country to film it. Additionally, both Yau-Man Chan and Corinne Kaplan had to turn down coming back due to work obligations.
    • Survivor 4 was supposed to have taken place in Jordan, but that idea was scrapped and switched with another island location(the Marquesas Islands) due to 9/11 having occurred only a few months earlier.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not 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.
  • What Do You Mean It's Not Heinous?: 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.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic: In Amazon, Joanna decided she didn't like the immunity idol because of biblical laws against idolatry.
  • What Kind of Lame Power Is Heart, Anyway?: Ma-Ti and his Power of Heart is referenced repeatedly by Jaison in Samoa. He ultimately concludes that Heart Is an Awesome Power, and wished he had it to help cope in the wilderness.
  • 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.
  • Whole-Plot Reference: Given that Survivor is a minimally violent version of war, frequently highlighting The Art of War in the China season was a stroke of genius. Each tribe receives a list of its main points and is encouraged by Jeff to review all that wisdom. Hidden Immunity Idol notes and some of the tree-mail occasionally cite the book. Certain major events are apparently inspired by passages from the text, such as the tribal swap in episode 5:

 "The enemies who have come to spy on us must be sought out, tempted with bribes, led away and comfortably housed. They will become converted and available for our service."

  • Wolverine Publicity: 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.
    • South Pacific continues to sponge off of Russell's infamy. He's not back again, but the cast includes his nephew, Brandon Hantz.
  • Woman Scorned: As the women of Micronesia are plotting to blindside Jason (who they concede might find a real Immunity Idol in exile, for once), Alexis can be heard saying "Hell hath no fury".
  • 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.
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl: Sure, 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.
  • Xanatos Roulette: Parlor game of choice of Cirie, whose pet hobbies include organizing 3-2-1 vote splits and orchestrating elaborate 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).
  • 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 it was a marriage.
  • Zettai Ryouiki: Courtney Yates during Heroes vs Villains. Several of the younger girls in Nicaragua.

  The tribe has spoken. It's time for you to go.

Notes

  1. pennants, puzzle pieces, etc.
  2. He did a lot to help his tribe lose two consecutive challenges, but he celebrated a little too much when they won the next one. It Got Worse: when the contestants were forced to choose either enjoying the merge feast or playing for Immunity, Jamie sat and ate, while calmly mocking a very hungry Bobby Jon, competing just a few yards away.
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