Early strategic control of the game was widely perceived as resting in the hands of Brad Culpepper and Aras Baskauskas on their respective tribes. Both, however, were overthrown in the middle stages of the game, after which point an alliance controlled by returning players Tyson Apostol, Monica Culpepper and Gervase Peterson rose to post-merge dominance. Though Ciera Eastin and Hayden Moss mounted a determined effort to fracture this alliance, their efforts were foiled and Tyson won the title of Sole Survivor in a 7-1-0 vote over Monica and Gervase.
Jeff Probst stated during the Survivor: Caramoan Reunion Show that he was leaving to film Survivor: Blood vs. Water on May 13, 2013. He stated a "game changing" twist would be involved. He then confirmed the season would begin airing on September 18, 2013, with a 90-minute premiere. Casting call was the same, and shortlist contestants included: Survivor: Redemption Island contestant Ashley Underwood, who couldn't compete due to both her partner and her back-up partner being unable to play. Former Survivor: Palau winner, Tom Westman, was asked but declined. Greg Buis from the original Survivor season, along with his sister Julie also declined the offer to appear again. Tom Buchanan and Lex van den Berghe, both from Survivor: Africa and Survivor: All-Stars, declined due the production of their new reality television program, Family Beef. Jerri Manthey from The Australian Outback, All-Stars, and Heroes vs. Villains, and Cirie Fields from Panama, Micronesia, and Heroes vs. Villains were considered for the season, but their partners were unable to play with them, similar to Underwood. Malcolm Freberg from Survivor: Philippines and Survivor: Caramoan was asked to come back for a third straight season and play with his brother Miles, but he declined. Married Survivor couple Amber Mariano and Rob Mariano were both asked to be on the season, but turned the offer down, believing their Survivor experience was complete. Eliza Orlins (of Vanuatu and Micronesia) stated in an interview that Yau-Man Chan of Fiji and Micronesia was offered to play again, but turned the offer down. Eliza also stated that she was considered to return with her mother Susan. Terry Deitz of Survivor: Panama was cut from the cast due to his daughter Kayla being 18 years old. Shane Powers (also from Panama) was considered for the season with his son Boston, but it didn't work out. Winner of Survivor: Pearl Islands and Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains Sandra Diaz-Twine, along with her daughter were considered for this season but they weren't chosen. Tina Wesson and Ciera Eastin stated in an interview that Parvati Shallow from Cook Islands, Micronesia, and Heroes vs. Villains declined the offer to return, not wanting to play with a loved one. Jonathan Penner from Cook Islands, Micronesia, and Philippines was asked to play with his son Cooper, but he couldn't play when Cooper was only 17 years old. Jill Behm (of Nicaragua) has stated in an interview that Marty Piombo and Jane Bright (both from the same season), were considered to return, but they were ultimately not chosen to compete. Mitchell Olson has stated in an interview that Holly Hoffman (also from Nicaragua), was considered to return with her daughter, but she was ultimately not chosen to compete. Edna Ma from Survivor: South Pacific was considered to return with her sister as her partner, but also wasn't chosen to compete. Chelsea Meissner from Survivor: One World was considered to return with her father as her partner, but was not chosen. Denise Stapley of Philippines declined the offer to return. Survivor: Philippines contestant RC Saint-Amour was originally slated to be on this season with her father, Craig. Upon arriving on location (24 hours before "Day Zero"), the older Saint-Amour's blood pressure sharply shot up, and was confined in a hospital in Makati City. They were replaced by Candice Cody and her husband, John Cody.
The motif of the season was inspired by the precolonial trade between the Philippines and China.
- Returning Players: In mid-May 2013, it was revealed that this season would feature returning players.
- Blood vs. Water: Players will be paired with a competing family member or loved one on the cast. Every castaway will be playing individually, so they will remain in the game even if their family member is voted out. This season, the pairs will be comprised of returning players and their loved ones, where the returnees would be put in one tribe, while all of their loved ones would be put in another.
- Day Zero: A day before the actual game starts, the 10 pairs will be sent out at sunset to 10 different locations to live by themselves for the night, under the notion that the pairs will be placed in the same tribe. They will then all meet up to be officially welcomed by host Jeff Probst and start the game the next morning.
- First Impressions: Moments after meeting each other, each team will vote one member off their tribe. They will be sent to Redemption Island.
- Redemption Island: Anyone voted out will be sent there and will then compete in a three-person duel. The last place finisher in each contest is out of the game for good, while the top two remain. However, if someone's loved one is on Redemption Island they can take their loved one's place before a duel.
- Hidden Immunity Idol: The person who finishes first in each duel will also get to give a clue to the location of a Hidden Immunity Idol to any person from either tribe that they choose. If a castaway wins a game-returning duel, the castaway could also keep the clue for his or herself.
- Tribe Switch: On Day 14, the remaining castaways randomly drew for new tribes.
- Early Merge: This season merged with eleven castaways in the game.
- Expanded Jury and Final Three: Instead of the conventional Final Two facing the jury of seven, the Day 39 Tribal Council was held with a Final Three facing an eight-person jury.
|Original Tribe||Switched Tribe||Merged Tribe|
49, Indianapolis, IN
Pearl Islands, All-Stars,
& Heroes vs. Villains
| 1st Eliminated|
22, Collinsville, AL
33, Provo, UT
|Tadhana||Tadhana|| 4th Voted Out|
| 2nd Eliminated|
21, Chapel Hill, NC
|Tadhana||Tadhana||3rd Voted Out|
30, Washington, DC
Cook Islands &
Heroes vs. Villains
|Galang||2nd Voted Out|
44, Tampa, FL
|Tadhana||Tadhana||6th Voted Out|
23, Orlando, FL
|Galang||Galang||Galang|| 8th Voted Out|
| 6th Eliminated|
30, Washington, DC
|Tadhana||Tadhana||5th Voted Out|
44, Indianapolis, IN
|Tadhana||Galang||Galang|| 1st Voted Out|
| 9th Voted Out|
| 8th Eliminated|
31, Santa Monica, CA
|Galang||Galang||Tadhana||Kasama|| 10th Voted Out|
| 9th Eliminated|
1st Jury Member
33, Santa Monica, CA
|Tadhana||Tadhana||Galang|| 11th Voted Out|
| 10th Eliminated|
2nd Jury Member
26, Collinsville, AL
|Tadhana||Tadhana||Tadhana|| 14th Voted Out|
| 11th Eliminated|
3rd Jury Member
25, New York City, NY
| 12th Eliminated|
4th Jury Member
27, Springtown, TX
|Tadhana||Tadhana||Tadhana|| 15th Voted Out|
| 13th Eliminated|
5th Jury Member
43, Salem, OR
|Galang||Galang||7th Voted Out|
| 13th Voted Out|
| 14th Eliminated|
6th Jury Member
24, Salem, OR
Laura M.'s daughter
|Tadhana||Tadhana||Tadhana|| 16th Voted Out|
7th Jury Member
52, Robbinsville, NC
The Australian Outback
|Galang||Galang||Galang|| 12th Voted Out|
| 2nd Returnee|
| 17th Voted Out|
8th Jury Member
43, Philadelphia, PA
42, Tampa, FL
34, Provo, UT
Heroes vs. Villains
The castaways were pre-divided into two tribes of ten: Galang, comprised of returning players, and Tadhana, the returning players' loved ones. Before the tribes were sent to their camp, they were asked to eliminate one of their own immediately, where Laura Boneham and Candice Cody were voted out from their respective tribes. They were then informed that Redemption Island was in play, with the added twist that a player could take their partner's spot on Redemption Island. Shockingly, Rupert Boneham decided to switch with Laura B., sending Rupert to Redemption Island and sending Laura B. to Galang.
Tadhana lost the first four consecutive challenges, and was initially dominated by the Five Guys Alliance led by Brad Culpepper. Brad's decision to blindside his ally John Cody resulted in Brad's subsequent elimination and the end of the men's alliance. Meanwhile, at Galang, Aras Baskauskas created the Galang Five, an alliance which approached a no-strategy strategy. When the Galang tribe eventually went to Tribal Council after finally losing at the fifth challenge, Aras spearheaded the elimination of Laura Morett in hopes that she could eliminate Brad from Redemption Island to ensure Monica Culpepper's loyalty to the alliance. The plan was successful, and Laura M. returned to the game at the merge.
The tribes eventually merged to the Kasama tribe with 11 castaways remaining, including three pairs of loved ones: Aras and his brother Vytas Baskauskas, Tina Wesson and her daughter Katie Collins, and Laura M. and her daughter Ciera Eastin. While Aras led the charge against Laura M. again, a recently formed alliance originally from the post-Tribe Swap Tadhana tribe, which included Monica and Laura M., planned to eliminate the pairs in the game as all of them are "singles" and eliminate their threat. This alliance was able to blindside Aras, and managed to vote out Vytas and Tina later on, before betraying Laura M. for being the stronger member of the final intact pair.
With no pairs remaining, the new players outnumbered the returnees four to three, but the new players' attempt to seize control was foiled by Ciera, who sided with the returnees. However, with six players left, she had a change of heart, switching allegiances and forcing a tie which was resolved through the rock drawing tiebreaker, a tiebreaker only last seen during the fourth season, which resulted in Katie's elimination. This allowed the returning players alliance of Tyson Apostol, Monica, and Gervase Peterson to take control, voting out the others and making it to the end of the game.
At the Final Tribal Council, Gervase was berated by the jury for his perceived rudeness and hiding behind more dominant players, while Monica was castigated for threatening to flip to the other alliance but ultimately never following through. This led the jury to award Tyson the title of Sole Survivor, receiving seven of the eight votes to win, and Monica receiving one.
|Episode||Air Date||Redemption Island Duel||Immunity1||Eliminated||Vote||Status||Viewership|
|1||"Blood Is Thicker than Anything"||September 18, 2013||None|| ||6–2–1–1|| 1st Voted Out|
|Rupert||No vote|| Switched|
|Candice||6–3–1|| 2nd Voted Out|
|Rupert2||Galang1||Marissa||8–1|| 3rd Voted Out|
|2||"Rule in Chaos"||September 25, 2013||Rupert||Marissa||Rupert||1st Eliminated|
|Galang1||Rachel||5–2–1|| 4th Voted Out|
|3||"Opening Pandora's Box"||October 2, 2013||Candice||Rachel||Rachel||2nd Eliminated|
|Galang1||Colton||No vote|| Quit|
|Marissa||John||6–1|| 5th Voted Out|
|4||"One Armed Dude and Three Moms"||October 9, 2013||Candice||John||Marissa||3rd Eliminated|
| 6th Voted Out|
|5||"The Dead Can Still Talk"||October 16, 2013||Candice||Brad||Candice||4th Eliminated|
|Tadhana1||Laura M.||7–1|| 7th Voted Out|
|6||"One-Man Wrecking Ball"||October 23, 2013||John||Laura M.||Brad||5th Eliminated|
|Tadhana1||Kat||5–1|| 8th Voted Out|
|7||"Swoop In for the Kill"||October 30, 2013||John||Kat||Kat||6th Eliminated|
|Tadhana1||Laura B.||4–1|| 9th Voted Out|
|8||"Skin of My Teeth"||November 6, 2013||John||Laura B.||John|| 7th Eliminated|
|Vytas||Aras||7-2-2|| 10th Voted Out |
|Laura M.||Laura B.|| 8th Eliminated|
|Laura M.|| 1st Returnee |
|9||"My Brother's Keeper"||November 13, 2013||Aras||Monica||Vytas||8-1-1|| 11th Voted Out|
|Katie||Tina||7-1-1|| 12th Voted Out|
|10||"Big Bad Wolf"||November 20, 2013||Aras||Vytas||Aras||9th Eliminated|
1st Jury Member
|Monica1||Laura M.||7-1||13th Voted Out|
|11||"Gloves Come Off"||November 27, 2013||Vytas||Laura M.||Vytas||10th Eliminated|
2nd Jury Member
|Monica||Caleb||4-3||14th Voted Out|
|12||"Rustle Feathers"||December 4, 2013||Tina||Caleb||Caleb||11th Eliminated|
3rd Jury Member
|13||"Out on a Limb"||December 11, 2013||Tina||Katie||Katie||12th Eliminated|
4th Jury Member
|Hayden||3-2||15th Voted Out|
|14||"It's My Night"||December 15, 2013||Tina||Hayden||Hayden||13th Eliminated|
5th Jury Member
|Tyson||Ciera||3-0||16th Voted Out|
7th Jury Member
|Laura M.||Laura M.|| 14th Eliminated|
6th Jury Member
|Tina|| 2nd Returnee|
|Tyson||Tina||3-1|| 17th Voted Out|
8th Jury Member
|Jury Vote||Gervase||7-1-0|| Second|
^1 Combined Reward and Immunity Challenge. Additionally, some post-merge challenges had a reward element, in which the winner may choose companion(s) to share his/her reward with.
|Survivor: Blood vs. Water Voting and Redemption Island History|
|Original Tribes||Tribes Post-Rupert Switch||Switched Tribes||Merged Tribe|
|Voted out:|| |
|Vote:||6-2-1-1||6-3-1||No vote1||8-1||5-2-1||No vote2||6-1||3-33||3-1||7-1||5-1||4-1||7-2-2||8-1-1||7-1-1||7-1||4-3-04||3-33||2-25||Lottery6||3-2||3-07||3-1||7-1-0|
|►►►||Tyson||—||Laura M.||—||—||—||—||—||—||Laura M.||—||—||Aras||Vytas||Tina||Laura M.||Caleb||Hayden||Hayden||—||Hayden||Ciera||Tina||Jury Vote|
|►►►||Monica||—||Candice||—||—||—||—||—||—||Laura M.||Kat||Laura B.||Aras||Vytas||Tina||Laura M.||Caleb||Hayden||None||—||Hayden||Ciera||Tina|
|►►►||Gervase||—||Candice||—||—||—||—||—||—||Laura M.||—||—||Aras||Vytas||Tina||Laura M.||Caleb||Hayden||Hayden||—||Hayden||Ciera||Tina|
|►►►||Tina8||—||Candice||—||—||—||—||—||—||Laura M.||Kat||Laura B.||Ciera||Vytas||Tyson|| ||Gervase||Tyson|
|►►►||Ciera||Laura B.||—||—||Marissa||John||—||John||Brad||None||—||—||—||Aras||Katie||Tina||Laura M.||Caleb||Monica||Monica||—||Gervase|| ||Tyson|
|►►►||Hayden||Laura B.||—||—||Marissa||Rachel||—||John||Ciera||Ciera||—||—||—||Aras||Vytas||Tina||Laura M.||Ciera||Monica||None||—||Gervase||Eliminated||Tyson|
|►►►||Katie||Marissa||—||—||Marissa||John||—||John||Brad||Brad||—||Kat||Laura B.||Ciera||Vytas||Monica||Laura M.||Ciera||Monica||Monica||Eliminated||Eliminated||Tyson|
|►►►||Caleb||Laura B.||—||—||Marissa||Rachel||—||John||Brad||Brad||—||—||—||Aras||Vytas||Tina||Laura M.||Ciera||Eliminated||Tyson|
|►►►||Laura M.8||—||Candice||—||—||—||—||—||—||Laura B.||Aras||Vytas||Tina||Katie||Eliminated||Tyson|
|►►►||Vytas||Laura B.||—||—||Marissa||Rachel||—||John||Ciera||Brad||—||Kat||Laura B.||Laura M.||Tyson||Eliminated||Monica|
|►►►||Aras||—||Gervase||—||—||—||—||—||—||Laura M.||—||—||Laura M.||Eliminated||Tyson|
|►►||Laura B.||Marissa||Switched||—||—||—||—||—||Laura M.||Kat||Vytas||Eliminated|
^1 As per the Blood vs Water twist, Rupert opted to send himself to Redemption Island so Laura B. can take his place on Galang.
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- With the Day Zero twist, this season is tied with Survivor: San Juan del Sur as the second longest season in terms of number of days, lasting 39.5 days, following Survivor: The Australian Outback, which was filmed in 42 days instead of 39.
- The U.S. Survivor franchise is the second version to adapt a couples format, following the Philippine version, which had pairs of celebrities, each with a pre-existing relationship.
- Instead of revealing the location during the previous season's Reunion Show, Jeff showed a clue, which was a short clip of blood spreading in water. The second promo was the same as the first, only with the season logo shown for a split second afterwards.
- Despite the fact that the first four people voted out were all women, the first two players eliminated were men.
- This is the first time Survivor has filmed three consecutive seasons in the same country, with Survivor: Philippines, Survivor: Caramoan, and Blood vs. Water all being filmed in the Philippines.
- This is the ninth season to feature returning players.
- This is the third season in a row to feature returning players. This is the longest consecutive streak of seasons with returning players.
- This is also the third season in a row to feature returning players who were eliminated before the merge/jury phase.
- This is the first time to have two back-to-back seasons with half (10 contestants out of 20 total) the castaways being returning players.
- It was revealed in Ashley Underwood's Survivor Oz interview that all participants had a partner, and a back-up partner.
- This is the first season to feature returning Sole Survivors but not have four returning Sole Survivors.
- This season marks the return of the Redemption Island twist, which had been absent since Survivor: South Pacific.
- This is the first season to feature both Redemption Island and female returning players. All four returnees in the prior Redemption Island seasons were male.
- This season has the most castaways return to the game after being voted out, with three castaways returning to the game.
- This is the first season with Redemption Island where the contestants who got back in the game from the twist were not immediately voted out the first time they weren't immune.
- This season marks the only time in their Survivor careers that Rupert Boneham and Candice Cody didn't make the merge or jury phase.
- This is the second season where the first two castaways eliminated from the game were eliminated by means other than being voted out. The first was Survivor: Palau.
- Also after Palau, this is the second season where the first two castaways eliminated from the game had no votes cast against them.
- However, while Palau had this as an intentional twist, this was purely coincidental.
- This is the second season where the first two people eliminated from the game were male. The first was Survivor: Cook Islands.
- This is the first season to have an entire tribe of returning players and not have a representative from the season before it.
- The font used for the tribe names this season is "Totally Glyphic."
- This is the first season to not have the full opening sequence shown in any of the episodes.
- This is the second season to see the rock drawing tiebreaker being utilized, following Survivor: Marquesas.
- This is the first season since Survivor: One World to have a second runner-up, since Lisa Whelchel and Michael Skupin, and Dawn Meehan and Sherri Biethman, ended up tying for runners-up in Philippines and Caramoan.
- This is the first season with both new players and returning players in which one of these groups makes up the entire final four.
- This is the first season where two castaways entered the merge with only one challenge win.
- This season had more players survive at least one Redemption Island duel than any other season, with 7 (Candice, Marissa, John, Brad, Laura M., Vytas, and Tina).
- Interestingly, the highest ranking returnees were paired with the three lowest ranking loved ones.
- This is the only season to feature a castaway being voted out more than once pre-merge. All other seasons with in-game returnees did not allow such an occurrence.
- This season has the most amount of combined Reward/Immunity Challenges, with ten.
|Survivor (US) Seasons|
Borneo • The Australian Outback • Africa • Marquesas • Thailand • The Amazon • Pearl Islands • All-Stars • Vanuatu • Palau • Guatemala • Panama • Cook Islands • Fiji • China • Micronesia • Gabon • Tocantins • Samoa • Heroes vs. Villains • Nicaragua • Redemption Island • South Pacific • One World • Philippines • Caramoan • Blood vs. Water • Cagayan • San Juan del Sur • Worlds Apart • Cambodia • Kaôh Rōng • Millennials vs. Gen X • Game Changers • Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers • Ghost Island • David vs. Goliath