Sixteen or more castaways are split between two or more "Tribes", are taken to a remote isolated location and are forced to live off the land with meager supplies for roughly 39 days. Frequent physical challenges are used to pit the tribes against each other for Rewards, such as food or luxuries, or for "Immunity", forcing the other tribe to attend "Tribal Council", where they must vote off one of their players. Once about half the players are remaining, the tribes are merged into a single tribe, and competitions are on an individual basis; winning Immunity prevents that player from being voted out, while several that are voted out at this stage form the game's "Jury". Once down to two or three people, a Final Tribal Council is held where the remaining players plead their case to the jury members. The jury then votes for which player should be considered the "Sole Survivor" and win the $1 million prize. Survivor has introduced numerous modifications, or "twists", on the core rules in order to keep the players on their toes and to prevent players from relying on strategies that succeeded in prior seasons. These changes have included tribal switches, seasons starting with more than two tribes, the ability to exile a player from a tribe for a short time, Hidden Immunity Idols that players can use to save themselves at Tribal Council and a chance to return to regular gameplay after elimination through "Redemption Island".
A vicious cyclone stirs up emotions on the first day on the island, and the “David” tribe tries to take down the “Goliath” tribe.
One tribe will bring balance to their game with an Immunity win. An early showmance could paint a target on a pair of castaways' backs.
One paranoid castaway calls a tribal meeting to put a stop to side conversations. Two castaways bump heads when their Survivor lives are on the line.
After a surprising tribe swap, castaways from the “David” and “Goliath” tribes must learn to work together. A castaway’s typical bossy nature could rub her new tribe the wrong way.
One castaway has some scrambling to do after being on the wrong side of the vote. Another turbulent storm puts a sudden halt to the game.
Tribes battle to win a food reward for much needed nourishment. The bond between the “Brochachos” becomes a personal achievement for one castaway.
As alliances between the Davids and Goliaths are tested at the merge some new castaways may join forces, including an unlikely pair.
One castaway must do damage control after being called out by their tribe. Balance is tested in a stressful immunity challenge.
A quarrel between two castaways could mean the end of a showmance. Castaways who win rewards earn a much-needed trip to the burger bar.
Letters from home could fuel castaways’ lives in the game. Also, one castaway’s negotiation skills for a bigger food supply could pay off.
Emotions are sparked when loved ones visit the castaways. Also, a tribal blindside could create a crack in the Mason-Dixon alliance, and one castaway could break the game wide open by targeting their #1 ally.
One castaway earns a 1-in-6 chance at the title of Sole Survivor after winning a crucial immunity challenge.
Only four “Goliaths” and two “Davids” remain to face a very competitive 63-piece puzzle challenge in an attempt to last another day. A fire-making challenge could change one person’s fate in the game, and – after 39 days – one castaway will take home the $1 million dollar prize and the title of sole Survivor.
The castaways reunite in Los Angeles to discuss the David vs Goliath season with Jeff Probst.