In 2011, the season was released on DVD exclusively through Amazon.com.
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- Tribes Chosen by Oldest Contestants: Unlike the previous four editions where the producers pre-selected the contestants' tribe affiliations, this season had the contestants choose their own tribemates. The fact that elders are given utmost respect in Thailand was incorporated into the game by allowing the eldest male contestant, Jake Billingsley, and the eldest female contestant, Jan Gentry, to divide the rest of the group into two tribes.
- Camp with Advantages and Disadvantages: Similar to the previous season, the tribes had camps with pros and cons. Camp Chuay Gahn is virtually a cave, thus making shelter a non-issue, though its water source was on the other side of the island. Sook Jai's camp has a nearby water hole, though they have to make their own shelter.
- Mutiny: On Day 14 the castaways were invited to change tribe affiliations at will.
- Pre-merge Survivor Auction: For the first (and so far only) time in the history of the series the Survivor Auction was held during the game's tribal phase. The auction itself was a bidding competition between the two tribes and not between individuals.
- Fake Merge and Delayed Merge: On Day 19, the Sook Jai tribe was instructed to move to Chuay Gahn's old camp. This created a situation where the two tribes lived at the same camp without being merged (as they were soon to find out). The actual merger took place six days later when eight players remained, on Day 25.
|Original Tribe||Merged Tribe|
40, Slidell, LA
|Chuay Gahn|| 1st Voted Out|
27, Gray, TN
|Chuay Gahn|| 2nd Voted Out|
25, Dallas, TX
|Sook Jai|| 3rd Voted Out|
33, Denver, CO
|Chuay Gahn|| 4th Voted Out|
29, Ozark, AR
|Sook Jai|| 5th Voted Out|
23, Scottsdale, AZ
|Sook Jai|| 6th Voted Out|
|Shii Ann Huang|
28, New York City, NY
|Sook Jai|| 7th Voted Out|
26, Austin, TX
|Sook Jai|| 8th Voted Out|
1st Jury Member
30, Brooklyn, NY
|Sook Jai||Chuay Jai|| 9th Voted Out|
2nd Jury Member
27, Plano, TX
|Sook Jai|| 10th Voted Out|
3rd Jury Member
60, McKinney, TX
|Sook Jai|| 11th Voted Out|
4th Jury Member
|Ted Rogers, Jr.|
37, Durham, NC
|Chuay Gahn|| 12th Voted Out|
5th Jury Member
47, Middletown, RI
|Chuay Gahn|| 13th Voted Out|
6th Jury Member
53, Tampa, FL
|Chuay Gahn|| 14th Voted Out|
7th Jury Member
46, Monroe, LA
34, Quartz Hill, CA
|Chuay Gahn||Sole Survivor||0|
The game began with the contestants being brought to the island in two boats, one for each gender. This led the contestants to assume that the tribes would be divided by gender. However, this theory was proved wrong when Jake Billingsley and Jan Gentry, the eldest male and female contestants, were given the opportunity to select their own tribemates (as Thai culture stated that elders received utmost respect) - a first in the series. Ultimately, Jan's picks were mostly older, weaker contestants (much to the ire of her teammates), and this left Jake to pick the younger, more athletic players. Jake and Jan were then asked to choose one of two campsites for their tribe dwellings, with contrasting advantages and disadvantages. Jan's pick was a campsite with a cave (eliminating the need of creating a shelter) but a campsite with the difficulty to find its water source, while Jake chose the other camp, a beach that has a nearby water source, but difficult to build a shelter.
After six days of competition, the younger (albeit turmoil-stricken) Sook Jai tribe dominated the elderly Chuay Gahn tribe in challenges, with Chuay Gahn's members immediately decimated to six. Chuay Gahn's fortunes turned around after the first losses, and they went on to win the next Reward Challenge and then the Immunity Challenge, thus temporarily sending Sook Jai to Tribal Council. The lack of shelter at Sook Jai proved to be a source of tension in the tribe, as the tribe members quickly became divided between those who worked on building the shelter and those who gathered water and food.
Despite their newly-found vigor, Chuay Gahn also had their share of mishaps, when Ghandia Johnson accused Ted Rogers, Jr. of having sexual advances with her, which the latter denied. This argument threatened the unity within the tribe, and as a result they lost another Immunity Challenge. Ghandia tried to make an all-female voting alliance with Jan and Helen Glover, but Helen sided with the men to get rid of Ghandia. After Ghandia's elimination, Chuay Gahn finally pulled it together. They managed to win the next two Immunity Challenges.
On Day 19, a twist in the game sent Sook Jai to live together with the Chuay Gahns at their camp, making everybody believe that a merge had occurred. With this, Sook Jai member Shii Ann Huang, who deemed herself as the lowest-ranking person in her alliance, made a voting bloc alliance with the Chuay Gahn members to ensure her safety. However, in a shocking announcement at the seventh Immunity Challenge, Jeff Probst revealed that the tribes weren't merging yet, they were just living together on one beach. With Sook Jai suffering two Immunity losses in a row, Shii Ann and Erin Collins paid the price, dwindling the once strong Sook Jai tribe to a paltry three members against Chuay Gahn's five.
On Day 25, the two tribes finally merged into the Chuay Jai tribe, but the deficit Sook Jai faced entering the merge overwhelmed them, and they were systematically eliminated. With only Chuay Gahn members left, the remaining survivors were faced with the reality of having to vote one of their own out. Helen and Ted quickly targeted Clay Jordan for his lack of work ethic. However, Brian Heidik, who had made separate alliances with three of the four other people, used his influence to manipulate the vote to his liking. At the next three Tribal Councils, Brian swerved the vote in the direction of Ted, whom he perceived as the biggest physical threat, then Helen, for catching her playing both sides and, finally, Jan, for being well-liked and not being as close to Brian as Clay was.
At the Final Tribal Council, Brian was castigated for breaking friendships to further his interests, while Clay was admonished for his racist remarks and his poor work ethic. Eventually, Brian's athleticism and superb strategy awarded him the title of Sole Survivor by a vote of 4-3.
|Episode||Air date||Challenges||Eliminated||Vote||Finish|| Viewers|
|1||"The Importance of Being Eldest"||September 19, 2002||None||Sook Jai||John||6-1-1|| 1st Voted Out|
|2||"The Great Divide"||September 26, 2002||Sook Jai||Sook Jai||Tanya||5-2|| 2nd Voted Out|
|3||"Family Values"||October 3, 2002||Chuay Gahn||Chuay Gahn||Jed||5-3|| 3rd Voted Out|
|4||"Gender Bender"||October 10, 2002||Sook Jai||Sook Jai||Ghandia||4-2|| 4th Voted Out|
|5||"The Ocean's Surprise"||October 17, 2002|| Survivor|
|Chuay Gahn||Stephanie||5-2|| 5th Voted Out|
|6||"The Power of One"||October 24, 2002||Sook Jai||Chuay Gahn||Robb||5-1|| 6th Voted Out|
|7||"Assumptions"||October 31, 2002||None||Chuay Gahn||Shii Ann||4-1|| 7th Voted Out|
|8||"Sleeping with the Enemy"||November 7, 2002||None||Chuay Gahn||Erin||3-1|| 8th Voted Out|
1st Jury Member
|9||"Desperate Measures"||November 14, 2002||Brian||Clay||Ken||5-3|| 9th Voted Out|
2nd Jury Member
|10||"While the Cats Are Away"||November 21, 2002|| Brian|
|Helen||Penny||4-2-1|| 10th Voted Out|
3rd Jury Member
|11||"The First 30 Days"||November 28, 2002||Recap Episode||N/A||N/A|
|12||"A Big Surprise... and Another"||December 5, 2002||Helen||Ted||Jake||5-1|| 11th Voted Out|
4th Jury Member
|13||"The Tides Are Turning"||December 12, 2002|| Ted|
|Brian||Ted||4-1|| 12th Voted Out|
5th Jury Member
|14||"Slip Through Your Fingers"||December 19, 2002||None||Brian||Helen||3-1|| 13th Voted Out|
6th Jury Member
|Brian||Jan||1-0|| 14th Voted Out|
7th Jury Member
|Survivor: Thailand Voting History|
|Original Tribes||Merged Tribe|
|Voted out:|| |
|Robb||—||—||Shii Ann||—||Shii Ann||Shii Ann|
|Stephanie||—||—||Shii Ann||—||Shii Ann|
^1 Clay and Jan did not vote as they could only vote for were each other. By virtue of winning the final Immunity Challenge, only Brian voted.
The season was infamous for its lack of likeable cast members, most of them remembered as mean-spirited and hostile, while others didn't live up to expectations. The host Jeff Probst himself declared this season as his least favorite, even calling its final four contestants the "least likeable" ever.
- This season marks the first time that Jeff Probst could not determine against whom a vote was cast. In the episode "Gender Bender", Clay cast a vote for Ghandia that read "Bye Bye Denver Diva". Probst actually had to ask whoever cast the vote to explain what it meant and whom it was intended for.
- This is the first season to have the jury phase begin before the merge.
- This season is the first in which the winner of the Final Immunity Challenge won the game.
- This season marks the first time two tribes lived on one beach without being merged, as part of the Fake Merge twist. This concept would later be used as the central twist in Survivor: One World.
- This season is the first to have an all-male Final Two.
- Thus far, it is the only season to feature the Survivor Auction before the merge, with tribes competing.
- Thus far, it is the season to have the fewest castaways comprise the merged tribe with eight.
- This season marks the first time that the castaway's loved ones were able to compete alongside them in an Immunity Challenge.
- This is the first season in which Jeff Probst hosted the Reunion Show.
- This is the first season not to include any LGBT contestants.
- This is the first season to not feature a tie vote of any kind.
- The season's jury phase mirrors to that of Survivor: Borneo, where one tribe got systematically voted out, leaving the five representatives of the other tribe by Day 34. Then, at the Final Tribal Council, three of the four members of the obliterated tribe voted for the eventual runner-up, then the fourth member, plus the jurors from the other tribe voted for the winner.
- This was the first season not to feature the Buggin' Out challenge as the second Immunity Challenge. Instead, it was incorporated as part of the Loved Ones Challenge, with the loved ones having to eat the disgusting food in order to spend time with their respective castaway.
|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