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Redemption Island (twist)

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This page refers to the Redemption Island twist in the US series of "Survivor." For international versions, see Redemption Island (international twist).

Redemption Island (twist)
Survivor Gameplay
Description Voted out contestants compete against each other to win a spot back in the game
Appearance(s) Redemption Island
South Pacific
Blood vs. Water

Redemption Island is a major twist that has appeared in multiple versions of Survivor.

Being the primary twist of Survivor: Redemption Island and Survivor: South Pacific, and also appearing in Survivor: Blood vs. Water, Redemption Island provides an opportunity for an eliminated player to re-enter the game and continue their pursuit to the million-dollar prize and the title of Sole Survivor. In order to do so however, eliminated contestants will compete in head-to-head challenges (known as Duels) in order to remain on the island and avoid permanent elimination.

There are two re-entry points that take place whilst Redemption Island is in play. The first is at the merge, whereupon the winner becomes part of the merged tribe, bringing the tribe to 12 (on Survivor: Redemption Island and Survivor: South Pacific) or 11 (on Survivor: Blood vs. Water) members. The second re-entry point is at the Final 4, where the returning contestant becomes the fifth member of the Final 5. Unlike The Outcasts, that had Individual Immunity bestowed upon them, those "redeemed" would re-enter the game without any safety.


The concept of Redemption Island rooted from three foreign versions of the Survivor franchise, namely, the Island of the Dead of the Israeli version, Isla Purgatoryo in the Philippine version's second installment, and Ghost Island from the Serbian version. Instead of being eliminated for good, players that have been voted off from their tribes will be given an opportunity to re-enter the game and have a second shot at winning the game.

Comparing to The Outcasts' TwistEdit

Survivor host Jeff Probst compared Redemption Island to the infamous "Ghost tribe" twist of Survivor: Pearl Islands. He stated that the twist received lukewarm responses from both players and fans alike, because the twist was not announced beforehand, thus deeming the incident as unfair for the remaining players.

As a solution, Probst revealed the twist of Redemption Island to the players at the very start of the game. The aim of the twist is to give a second chance for players to "redeem" themselves after making early mistakes, such as choosing the wrong alliance or having their voting strategy backfire on them.


Immediately after being voted out, the castaway would take their snuffed torch with them as they walk out from the Tribal Council set. Then they would be instructed to go to Redemption Island.

When the next person is voted out, that player would be sent to Redemption Island as well, meeting up with current inhabitant at the same night. They would then live together from that point, until the next morning, where they will duel to remain on the island.

In the first appearance of Redemption Island, the pre-merge cycle was always a one-on-one showdown. But when Redemption Island was restarted after the merge, "group duels" were used, where more than one person may win.

In Survivor: South Pacific, the twist was incorporated to only have no more than three at Redemption Island and mainly focus on two player duels as opposed to the previous seasons. Additionally, only one person could survive each round while the other contestants were eliminated.

Redemption Island was retooled for Survivor: Blood vs. Water with the potential to keep pairs in the game by giving the opportunity to switch with their significant other, negating the need to be voted off entirely and risk permanent elimination.

Living ConditionsEdit


The Redemption Island shelter (Survivor: Redemption Island)

Similar to a predecessor twist Exile Island, players would be living alone, away from their camps and tribemates. This encampment will have meager supplies for a predetermined period of time and must fend for themselves during their stay. In Redemption Island, however, its current inhabitant will stay in a more indefinite time, as opposed to Exile Island, where the player is only banished after the Reward Challenge, but returns to his/her tribe before the next Immunity Challenge.

Upon reaching the island, contestants will have a roofless shelter and it is up to the player to make its roof and maintain it. Players will have the same amount of supplies (such as flint, lantern, machete, and fishing gear) as everyone had at their camp. Additionally, a short supply of rice will be replenished everyday.

Apparently, Redemption Island also have its own Tree Mail, which announces about the upcoming duels.

As seen on You Own My Vote, the eliminated castaway would also receive his/her luxury item from Tree Mail, to alleviate boredom.


Redemption Island also houses an Arena where contestants compete to stay longer in the competition. Much like Tribal Council, the design is based around the motif of the season, but the same features are incorporated.

  • The Duelists' Arena: Where the two (or more) castaways compete.
  • Bleachers: Those chosen back at camp will observe the duel, similar to a Jury with the exception that those attending can offer encouragement and/or strategize. When the tribes Merge, all current castaways visit and observe.
  • Fire Pit: Upon the elimination of a castaway, instead of their torch being utilized once again, their buff is tossed into a small fire which symbolizes the end of their shot at redemption.


Duel 1

The show's first Redemption Island duel: Matt versus Francesca.

See full article: Duel

In Redemption Island, duels determined whoever would stay in the island and who would be permanently be eliminated. At the day of the duel, the castaways would receive Tree Mail about their duel, instructing them to proceed to the Redemption Island Arena. The arena will be a special challenge area where all duels will take place.

Upon reaching the arena, they will be welcomed by the host. Also in the arena are selected players from the competing tribes, who are there to watch the duel. After the duel, it is up to these observers if they will spoil the goings-on at the arena, or stretch the truth (in Survivor: Blood vs. Water both tribes were in attendance due to the switch out twist)

Unlike other times when tribes convene to meet with Jeff Probst, players on Redemption Island line up in a particular order with the most recent eliminated on the right whilst the current champion(s) are to the left. In Survivor: Blood vs. Water the three person duels were in one of three colors, blue indicates the longest serving duelist, red for second longest duelist and yellow for the most recent.

In this special challenge, the winner of the duel will stay in Redemption Island and continue their quest to become the Sole Survivor, while the loser will be permanently eliminated from the game (this is denoted by the loser tossing his/her buff in a fire wok). Theoretically, should the first person voted off make it to the reentering stage, he/she must win all proceeding duels, meaning the castaway must defeat all subsequent castaways sent in the island.

On certain cases, there are more than two people residing on Redemption Island, with them participating in multi-person "duels." In this format, the number of eliminated castaways vary. A three-person Duel is unofficially known as a "truel", as mentioned by Mike Chiesl, Matt Elrod and David Murphy in a secret scene before the first three-person Duel took place.

Switching Out Edit

Due to the loved ones twist of Survivor: Blood vs. Water, there was an additional twist to the Redemption Island format. If the loved one of a Redemption Island inhabitant is still in the game, they can take their loved one’s place before a duel, effectively switching positions and tribes. At any time players can then swap again at duels if it is a contest better suited to their strength in an effort to keep their partner longer in the game. This is restricted to their significant other and cannot switch out with another person.

The first and only person to switch with their loved one was Rupert Boneham, who took the spot of his wife Laura Boneham immediately after Laura was voted out in 'Survivor: Blood vs. Water'. John Cody was given the option to do so as well, but being confident that Candice Cody could hold her own, he decided not to switch. Candice would win three duels before losing her fourth against Brad Culpepper and John. No one chose to swap out since.

​Re-entry PointEdit

There are two re-entry points during the game. The first is the winner of the final pre-Merge duel will join the merged tribe. The second re-entry point would be on Day 36, three days before the Final Tribal Council, where the winner will be part of the final five (or, theoretically, final four in a season with a final two Final Tribal Council.) After the merge, all subsequent losers will complete the jury.

Hidden Immunity IdolsEdit

In the advent of Redemption Island, many speculated that the Hidden Immunity Idol is voided once its bearer gets voted out and sent to Redemption Island (which follows the standard rules that once the person gets voted out, his/her Idol is wasted away in the process). Ozzy had similar thoughts, which is why he gave his Hidden Immunity Idol to Cochran before heading to Redemption Island in Trojan Horse. However, in an announcement via Twitter, Jeff Probst revealed that the holder's Hidden Immunity Idol is still effective, and it is still usable if the owner reenters the game. If the owner were to lose a duel, the idol would be rehidden.[1]

In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the person who places first in each duel will give a clue to the Hidden Immunity Idol to whoever they wish. If the castaway wins a game-returning duel, the castaway may also decide to keep the clue for itself.



For the remaining contestants, eliminating other players would be a more difficult burden. Given that they would be voted out from their tribe, chances are that player they chose to vote may come back. In theory, if a player was removed from a tribe after a blindside vote, and returns after winning the final duel, a more unpredictable series of events would complicate the game. For instance, voting out a physically strong player can be potentially risky, as that player might win subsequent duels and will just come back on a later time. Also, if the contestants are chosen as observers, any divulging of the goings-on at their camps is potentially fatal, because this will be substantial to the strategies of the returnee, and worse, to the rival tribe.

As for the Island's current inhabitant, he/she can have a longer time to rethink strategy and how he/she will re-assimilate with his/her former comrades. The "resurrected" player may forgive the same people who double-crossed him/her, or might show bitterness by making bolder and more rebellious moves, to avenge his/her untimely departure, such as creating a counter-alliance with the rival tribe, though all rethinking may all be wasted if they lose a duel. Furthermore, re-assimilating back into the game will be difficult because the inhabitant is oblivious to the happenings at the tribe camps. Additionally, a "resurrected" player is not guaranteed free immunity, making him or her vulnerable from getting voted out once again, so winning immunity is crucial.

Once the Redemption Island cycle restarts post-merger, inhabitants will have the perfect time buying Jury votes, gaining their sympathy as they share similar sentiments, stipulated they are all disposed from the tribe.


During the events of Survivor: South Pacific, Survivor veteran Ozzy Lusth hatched a plan in order to defeat the current champion of Redemption Island, Christine Shields Markoski; their tribe would intentionally throw an Immunity Challenge so that their strongest member would then be eliminated with the intention of defeating Markoski. This plan came to fruition, and although the Savaii Alliance believed it to be a "game-changer," Coach Wade panned the strategy - believing it to be insulting that the Upolu tribe would find it believable.


Redemption Island received mixed to negative response from the fans, stating that this deviation has watered down the show's premise and Jeff's usual opening sentence on every first Tribal Council—having lit torches symbolizes the contestants still in contention, while those who have extinguished torches are out of the game. Also, in the first two seasons this twist was in play, the Redemption Island returnees were disposed right after re-entering the game, or in Ozzy Lusth's case, the first opportunity they had in which he wasn't immune, thus having little to no effect on the endgame. Additionally, many fans found the multi-person duels pointless, because of the large amount of cast members that were still in the game during the finale (8 in Redemption Island, 6 in South Pacific, 7 in Blood vs. Water; every non-Redemption Island season only had 4 or 5 players left by the finale), and would be eliminated anyway. Though multi-person duels in Survivor: South Pacific were rehashed by having a "win-or-go-home" mechanism (only the first-placing contestant stays, eliminating the others), the same disadvantages of having Redemption Island still arose. Fans also castigated the "dead airtime" Redemption Island gives, with the goings-on in the Redemption Island camp and Arena having nothing to do with strategy, given that only one person stays there at a time. With little to no social interaction, the driving point of the game, human relationships, is compromised.

Other fans panned the twist because the type of challenge they would perform may have the tendency to not suit the participants' abilities, and would result into a mismatch (e.g. performing a physically-punishing challenge with a bodybuilder and a physically weak person as competitors).Another speculation is that the twist became the producers' way of "saving" a contestant whom they liked, such as returning contestants, or contestants who would bring high ratings for the show. It is often hinted that the twist was to keep returning players such as Coach Wade, Ozzy, Russell Hantz, and Rob Mariano longer in the game should they be blindsided early on for being threats. Although Rob or Coach were never sent to Redemption Island and Russell lost on his first duel, Redemption Island proved to be a vital part of Ozzy's longevity in Survivor: South Pacific.

Survivor: Blood vs. Water's Redemption Island has been received more positively due to the accompanying twist of loved ones being able to switch places. This has led to several strategic blindsides in hopes of gaining control of the game. However, there has been criticism of the twist still being carried during post-Merge. In all the Redemption Island seasons, a vast amount of fans felt that once the jury phase began (which started as soon as the merge happened in each of those seasons), the voted off players should just be sent directly to Ponderosa instead of being in the game longer for what would realistically be a minimal chance of re-entering and ultimately winning the game.

Redemption ArenasEdit


  • With the advent of the Redemption Island duels, most of the challenges held in the seasons containing Redemption Island are for both reward and immunity. There has been only one reward-only challenge in a Redemption Island season, namely the first challenge of Survivor: South Pacific, which is one-on-one challenge between Coach and Ozzy, on behalf of their tribe.
  • Francesca Hogi is the first person to ever live on Redemption Island and also the first person to lose a duel.
  • Matt Elrod is the first person to win a duel, and currently has the most wins, winning ten of eleven duels.
    • Matt also has the record for longest winning streak at 10 straight Redemption Island duel wins.
  • Laura Morett holds the record for the most duels won by a female contestant, with six.
  • Ozzy LusthAndrea Boehlke and Tina Wesson share the record for best winning percentage in duels; the only other contestants to return from Redemption Island, were Matthew Elrod and Laura Morett, who both were subsequently sent back post-merger and lost a duel.
  • In Survivor: Redemption Island, both people who returned from Redemption Island (Matthew Elrod and Andrea Boehlke) were voted out as soon as they returned.
    • If fact, three out of the five people who returned from Redemption Island were voted out in the first Tribal Council they were vulnerable in.
  • Duels are scaled-down versions of challenges which are used in past seasons. Additionally, the challenge props are colored in greyscale.
  • Having the other contestants as viewers in the duels was a last-minute addition decided by Mark Burnett.
  • In every season, the person who won the first duel was the second person voted out of the game.
  • Thus far, every contestant to be voted out first at Tribal Council and sent to Redemption Island has been an African-American woman. (This excludes the First Impressions twist of Blood vs. Water.)
  • Ozzy and Christine were the only contestants to win a Redemption Island duel in Survivor: South Pacific
  • Survivor: Blood vs. Water was the first season to have Redemption Island in a 20 castaway format.
  • Both Exile Island and Redemption Island were first used as a season-long twist in a season number ending in a "2".
  • Ozzy, Candice Cody, and Aras Baskauskas are the only castaways to experience both Exile and Redemption Island.
  • Blood vs. Water is the first season to have multiple returning players competing in a single duel, and by extension the first season to have multiple returning players be sent to Redemption Island.
  • The seasons that have Redemption Island also don't show the Rites of Passage.
  • This twist was originally going to be used for Survivor: San Juan del Sur, but due to a few things it was cut and the arena would be used for Exile Island.


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