When “Survivor” premiered on May 31, 2000, the producers probably had no idea it would be as successful a franchise as it has become. Americans love “Survivor,” whether they are cheering on the heroes or booing the villains.
Survivor: BorneoWinner: Richard HatchRunner-up: Kelly Wiglesworth
The Borneo season was the only one in which the winners were revealed on location. Susan Hawk gave what is still considered to be one of the best “Survivor” speeches when she compared Hatch to a snake and Kelly to a rat and said the snake should eat the rat.
Survivor: The Australian OutbackWinner: Tina WessonRunner-up: Colby Donaldson
Michael Skupin became the first contestant to have to be medically evacuated when he received burns after taking in smoke and fainting into the fire. Colby Donaldson became the first contestant to win five consecutive immunity challenges.
Survivor: AfricaWinner: Ethan ZohnRunner-up: Kim Johnson
There was a bit of controversy during an immunity challenge this season when contestants were asked “Which female contestant has no piercings?” Kim Johnson answered Kelly Goldsmith and was given the win. However, Lex van den Berghe answered Lindsey Richter, who unbeknownst to the producers also had no piercings. Once the mistake was learned, the producers awarded $100,000, the amount normally reserved for the runner-up, to both Van den Berghe, who finished third, and Buchanan, who finished fourth.
Survivor: Marquesas Winner: Vecepia ToweryRunner-up: Neleh Dennis
Airing in February 2002, this season was originally supposed to be set in Jordan, but was moved to Marquesas due to the September 11th attacks and the situation in the Middle East. This was the first season in which contestants weren’t given any supplies such as food, water, or matches and immunity idol winners were given the option of giving their idol to another player.
Survivor: ThailandWinner: Brian HeidikRunner-up: Clay Jordan
This was the first season the contestants divided themselves up as the two oldest players, Jake and Jan, chose tribes. Host Jeff Probst has said this was his least favorite season and that due to hostility and ugliness, Brian, Clay, Helen, and Jan were “the least likable final four ever.”
Survivor: The AmazonWinner: Jenna MorascaRunner-up: Matthew Von Ertfelda
The two tribes were divided by gender. Hearing impaired Christy Smith became the first “Survivor” contestant with a disability to compete. Jenna Morasca and Heidi Strobel gave in during a temptation challenge and took their clothes off in exchange for a plate of Oreos and peanut butter.
Survivor: Pearl IslandsWinner: Sandra Diaz-TwineRunner-up: Lillian Morris
Osten Taylor became the first contestant to quit the show. Pearl Islands featured three contestants – Rupert Boneham, Jon “Jonny Fairplay” Dalton, and Sandra Diaz-Twine – that would go on to compete in later seasons of “Survivor.”
Survivor: All-StarsWinner: Amber BrkichRunner-up: Rob Mariano
In addition to Amber Brkich winning a million dollars, America also voted for Rupert Boneham to win one million as well. On May 9, 2004, during the live finale, Rob asked Amber to marry him. She said “yes” and the two were married the next year.
Survivor: Vanuatu-Islands of FireWinner: Chris DaughertyRunner-up: Twila Tanner
Tribes divided by gender and for the first time other than the All-Stars season, there were eighteen survivors. Chad Crittenden was the first contestant that was an amputee (he lost his foot to cancer) and the season also featured two open lesbians, Scout Cloud Lee and Ami Cusack).
Survivor: PalauWinner: Tom WestmanRunner-up: Katie Gallagher
The show began with 20 contestants but two (Jonathan Libby and Wanda Shirk) were eliminated when not chosen by a tribe. The Ulong tribe was obviously the weaker and didn’t win any immunity challenges. With only one Ulong member left, Stephenie LaGrossa simply joined the Koror tribe rather than there being a merge.
Survivor: Guatemala – The Maya EmpireWinner: Danni BoatwrightRunner-up: Stephenie LaGrossa
Guatemala was the first season that had both new and returning contestants. It was also the first season to include a hidden immunity idol, but it could only be used once.
Survivor: Panama – Exile IslandWinner: Aras BaskauskasRunner-up: Danielle DiLorenzo
This season featured four tribes divided by age and gender. This was the first season to include Exile Island, which was where the hidden immunity idol could be found. Bruce Kanegai became the second contestant to leave due to a medical injury. Terry Deitz became the second contestant to win five consecutive immunity challenges.
Survivor: Cook IslandsWinner: Yul KwonRunner-up: Ozzy Lusth
The four tribes were divided up by ethnicity (African Americans, Caucasians, Hispanics, and Asians). For the first time, three contestants were in the finals, but Becky Lee received no votes from the jury. Yul won over Ozzy by one vote.
Survivor: FijiWinner: Earl ColeRunner-up: Cassandra FranklinThird: Dre “Dreamz” Herd
The Fiji season featured 19 contestants because one contestant withdrew at the last minute. Yau-Man Chan gave a Ford Super Duty truck he won during a challenge to Dre “Dreamz” Herd in return for immunity, if Herd won it. He did win immunity, but did not follow through on his promise and Chan was eliminated in fourth place. Cole became the first contestant to unanimously win.
Survivor: ChinaWinner: Todd HerzogRunner-up: Courtney YatesThird: Amanda Kimmel
Each tribe in the China season received a copy of “The Art of War” by Sun Tzu. James Clement was awarded $100,000 for being America’s favorite player. Perhaps that is because James was blindsided in episode 11 with two immunity idols in his pocket.
Survivor: Micronesia – Fans vs. FavoritesWinner: Parvati ShallowRunner-up: Amanda Kimmel
This is the second season to feature both new and returning contestants. There were 10 fans of the show as well as 10 returning contestants. Instead of a final three, the show returned to a final two finale, both contestants being female. Once again, James Clement won $100,000 for being the fan favorite.
Survivor: Gabon – Earth’s Last EdenWinner: Robert “Bob” CrowleyRunner-up: Susie SmithThird: Jessica “Sugar” Kiper
Gabon was the first season broadcast in high-definition. While at Exile Island, players could choose to get a clue to the hidden immunity idol or comfort items such as a hammock and pillow. Bob Crowly, 57, was not only the sole Survivor, but also won the “Sprint Survivor of the Season” award.
Survivor: Tocantins – The Brazilian HighlandsWinner: James “J.T.” Thomas Jr.Runner-up: Stephen Fishbach
J.T. was the second contestant to get all the votes from the jury. He also won the “Sprint Survivor of the Season” award.
Survivor: SamoaWinner: Natalie WhiteRunner-up: Russell HantzThird: Mick Trimming
This season, rather than being sent to Exile Island, one contestant from the winning tribe would be sent back with the losing tribe for the night. This was the only season in which a challenge was not completed due to a medical evacuation. Russell Hantz won the “Sprint Survivor of the Season” award.
Survivor: Heroes vs. VillainsWinner: Sandra Diaz-TwineRunner-up: Parvati ShallowThird; Russell Hantz
This was the first season two immunity idols were played at the same tribal council (by the Villains). Sandra became the first contestant to win two seasons and like James, Russell won “Sprint Survivor of the Season” award two season in a row.
The twenty-first season of the show, “Survivor Nicaragua,” will begin on September 15, 2010. The twenty contestants will be divided up by age with an over 40 tribe and an under 30 tribe. For the first time since the first season, the show will return to Wednesday nights.