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".
The 16 castaways attend a party aboard a schooner where they are ordered to walk the plank while wearing their finest duds. They then swim to a nearby village to buy supplies with the 100 Balboa they've been given. Next, the tribes, Morgan and Drake, each take a boat to their respective islands and set up camp. The first Challenge involves transporting a cannon on wheels through a jungle and across a beach. Also, the first person is voted out.
A second person is voted off the islands.
A third person is voted off the islands.
A fourth castaway is voted off the islands.
Tempers flare in one tribe when the men decide to build a shower that requires everyone to bathe out in the open. A fifth person is voted off the islands.
A sixth person is vote off the islands.
Castaways who were previously evicted return in a twist-filled episode. A seventh person is voted off the islands.
The Outcast tribe goes to Tribal Council and votes for two of their members to re-enter the game. After the vote, the two are assigned to Drake and Morgan according to which buff they pull out of a box.
An eighth person is voted off the islands.
One player has an anxiety attack during a Reward Challenge; two castaways whose fates are in jeopardy hatch a plan to turn things in their favor.
A 10th player is voted off the islands.
An eleventh player is voted off the islands.
A twelfth person is voted off the islands.
The Final Four castaways are reduced to two and the Jury votes for the winner.