The Survivor Reality Television Show’s Twists Over Time

Long-time viewers of the popular reality television show Survivor have seen the game change over the past 10 years. The game has evolved from a television show with two tribes, a merge, and people getting voted off every three days, to a game with immunity idols, tribal shuffles, and the new Redemption Island. Twists have evolved over the course of the game.

The Tribal Shuffle

The original Survivor and Survivor: Australian Outback were twist-free. The cast of the first season did not know what they were getting into, and during the second season, players hadn’t had time to view several seasons to develop a strategy. In Survivor: Africa, the tribes thought that they had a good idea of what to expect. The Samburu tribe was divided between the two alliances of younger and older players. When Carl (from the older player’s alliance) was voted off, offsetting the balance between the younger and older players, it looked like the older players were going to be picked off one by one – until the tribes had to send two players on a mysterious mission that ended up being the first tribal swap. Since then, the tribal swap has been used several times.

The Fake Merge

In Survivor: Thailand, the Sook Jai and Chuay Gahn tribes were asked to decide which camp that they liked better, and Jeff told the cast members that they would all live at the same camp. They mistakenly believed that the tribe had merged. Shii Ann immediately tried to form an alliance with members of the other tribe, as she was not in the dominant alliance on her own tribe.homeland project free tv  When they discovered that the tribes had not actually merged, she was the obvious choice to get voted off. This twist was never used again – since then, players look to hear the words that they have actually merged.

The Outcast Tribe

During Survivor: Pearl Islands, when the first six tribe members were voted out, they went to the Outcast Tribe, unbeknownst to the viewers or the players that were still in the game. Lillian and Burton returned to the game after winning a challenge against the other two tribes; Lillian eventually came in second. This twist was fairly unpopular at the time, although the Redemption Island theme is quite similar. The biggest difference between the Outcast Tribe and Redemption Island is that people know about the twist ahead of time.

The Hidden Immunity Idol

Several seasons elapsed before the next new twist was introduced into Survivor: the hidden immunity idol. It was introduced during Survivor Panama: Exile Island, where one player would be sent to Exile Island after the reward challenge; while this person was away at Exile Island, they would have the opportunity to search for a hidden immunity idol. Exile Island reappeared in several, but not all, of the seasons afterwards. The hidden immunity idol has returned for many seasons, with or without an Exile Island to go with it. The immunity idols have been hidden at camp several times. Russell Hantz, who will take part in Survivor: Redemption Island, has been very adept at finding hidden immunity idols, often without clues.

Redemption Island

Redemption Island is the latest twist to enter the game of Survivor. The concept is similar to the Outcast Tribe twist from Pearl Islands, but the contestants know about it. The population of Redemption Island will be kept down to two people or less, as duels will take place during every episode which will keep only the victor in the game. CBS has not revealed when the exiled players will return to the game, but leaked call sheets reveal that the Redemption Island victor will not return to the game until well after the tribal merge.

The various twists that have been used in this game have kept viewers interested for 22 seasons. Not only is Survivor the inspiration for most of the reality shows on television today, it has remade itself to stay relevant more than a decade later.


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