|The Savaii tribe of Survivor: South Pacific.|
|Description||A group of individuals who compete together against another group for an extended period of time|
The competing teams in Survivor are known as Tribes. Commonly, there are two tribes in a season, but there have been instances where three or four may be active at the same time. A tribe can have anywhere from four to ten contestants at the beginning of the game.
Dividing Into TribesEdit
Most commonly in Survivor, the tribes are divided by the producers before the game begins. There have been exceptions to this over the years, which can be seen below.
There are many ways that have divided tribes over the years, and one of the most important aspects is to make sure one sex doesn't dominate a tribe and possibly vote out members of the opposite sex first. Earlier seasons tried to roughly distribute age and gender equally to each tribe. The usual distribution based on the number of contestants are the following:
- 16 contestants: Two tribes equally having 4 men and 4 women.
- In Survivor: Panama, the 16 players were divided into four tribes, with two tribes representing both genders and both age groups.
- 18 contestants: Two tribes of 9 with one tribe having 5 men and 4 women, while the other has the opposite, OR three tribes of 6 with 3 men and 3 women at each tribe.
- 20 contestants: Two tribes equally having 5 men and 5 women, or four tribes of 5 with two tribes containing 3 men and 2 women, and the other two having the opposite.
The Schoolyard PickEdit
- See also: Schoolyard Pick.
Some seasons have had the tribes selected in various manners by the contestants themselves, known as the "Schoolyard Pick".
- In Survivor: Thailand and Survivor: Gabon, the oldest male and female castaways were told that elders were given utmost respect in the location, and it was only fitting that they were the ones who will pick their tribe members.
- Survivor: Palau and Survivor: Fiji had a schoolyard-style picking process.
- In Palau, the first pick was based on a challenge, while in Fiji, Sylvia Kwan divided the tribes because she was voted as the contestant who contributed the most to building the shelter.
The Schoolyard Style selection is not limited to just selecting one's starting tribe, but can be also used in a Tribe Shuffle (see below).
In some seasons, the castaways are divided into tribes with a common theme:
- In Survivor: The Amazon, Survivor: Vanuatu, Survivor: Panama, and Survivor: One World, tribes were separated by gender, known as the Battle of the Sexes twist, thus having an all-male tribe and an all-female tribe.
- In Panama, the 16 castaways were divided into four tribes of four divided by age and gender (namely, the Older Men, the Older Women, the Younger Men, and the Younger Women).
- Survivor: Cook Islands on the other hand, generated controversy when the 20 players were segregated by ethnicity (African-American, Asian-American, Caucasian-American, and Hispanic-American).
- The castaways of Fiji created a lavish shelter using pre-cut lumber and tools. After Sylvia Kwan divided the tribes, they competed in a combined Reward/Immunity challenge where the winning team wins the shelter with additional amenities, while the losing tribe will move to a new beach where they will have nothing more than a pot and a machete. This is known as the "Haves vs. Have-nots" or mainly "Rich vs. Poor" setup.
- In Survivor: Micronesia and Survivor: Caramoan, 20 cast members were divided into two tribes: One tribe containing 10 all-new players, while the other has 10 players from past seasons, thus creating the "Fans (Airai & Gota) vs. Favorites (Malakal & Bikal)" format.
- As the name suggests, Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains had the castaways divided by how most the audience perceived them in their earlier seasons. The contestants were placed on either the Heroes or Villains tribe.
- In Survivor: Nicaragua, the tribes were split by age.
- In Survivor: Redemption Island and Survivor: South Pacific, 16 contestants were already drafted into tribes, while the two returnees got their tribes picked by random drawing.
- In Survivor: Philippines, the 15 contestants were already divided into 3 tribes of 5. The 3 tribes were joined by a former evacuated contestant, Michael Skupin, Jonathan Penner, and Russell Swan, and were already put into tribes.
- In Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the 20 contestants were split into two tribes. One tribe consisted of returning players (Galang) while the other tribe consisted of their loved ones (Tadhana).
Each Survivor season starts with 16, 18, or 20 (19 in Survivor: Fiji; unintended) contestants (dubbed as the "castaways" or "survivors") stranded in a remote location and will be left there for the next 39 days (42 in Survivor: The Australian Outback). The castaways will be then equally divided into teams "tribes". These tribes then will be sent out to separate camps identified by a colored tribe banner. Both camps are far apart from each other and they have an equal distance from the challenge areas, the production team's encampment and the Tribal Council set (example, if tribe A has a 1-mile distance from Tribal Council, so as tribe B, see the Camp article for more information). The resources of both camps (food and water) can be either equally found or compromising (example, tribe A's camp may have a better water source but finding food would be difficult, while tribe B will have the opposite). From there on out, the contestants must fend for themselves in all aspects of survival (foraging for food, creating shelter, fishing, etc.). Tribes will also be given meager supplies (with a machete, water canteens and a pot as staples), depending on the season (there are seasons that that have limited food rations, but there are some seasons that they they were given only the staples). Earlier seasons allowed castaways to have a "luxury item" (a piece of home), though some seasons pit the players into the game without preparation (merely making them competing with only the clothes they are currently wearing). In Survivor: Palau, running shoes were also provided for the contestants.
Names and IdentificationEdit
Starting tribes are given unique names (based on local language, culture or history) and identifying colors which are used on tribe flags, challenge props, on-screen text and various other items. Each player is given a buff, an elastic ring of cloth generally adorned with the logo for the current season, that can be worn as an armband, headband, tube top, miniskirt, mask, or a bow tie. Players are required to wear the buff with the color of their tribe in a visible location at all times only being allowed to take their buffs off when Jeff Probst tells them to, allowing the audience to identify tribal affiliation.
- See also: Tribe Switch.
A tribe switch is the very first Survivor twist. Jeff Probst will ask the contestants to drop their buffs, and must choose a new tribe. They can either stay at their original tribe or they will be swapped into the other. They must give up their old buff and must don a new one. The switch can occur at any time in the game before the merger (or can never happen at all), commonly catching players off-guard. As seen in Survivor: All-Stars and Survivor: Gabon, the switch twist may sometimes happen even when there are only ten players left (because the remaining players will most likely to assume that a merge is coming). The logic of the switch is that the old relationships they had in their first tribe will be tested in their new team, and this will definitely come into play when the tribes finally merged. Oftentimes, players who are either unable to fit in with their old tribes or thought that they could have been next to be voted out from their old tribe use the switch as an opportunity to create new bonds, and potentially last longer in the competition.
- See also: Mutiny (twist).
The mutiny is a subcategory of the tribe switch. This twist allows players to change tribes at will. Like in a traditional swap, the "mutineer" must surrender his/her old buff and will be given the same colored buff as his/her new tribe. The Mutiny is a rare twist, for it was unpopular among players (for this is deemed a big, bold move for many, thus doing so will be very risky). Four seasons have offered a chance to mutiny, though from those four times, the offer was accepted only once.
- In Survivor: Thailand, the first ever mutiny was offered through the Survivor Auction (another first, for Survivor Auctions are commonly held post-merge). No one accepted the offer.
- In Survivor: Pearl Islands a mutiny was offered, but was declined and not shown on television.
- Survivor Cook Islands Marked the first time the mutiny was accepted. Candice Woodcock, a former Raro member, felt uneasy since transferring to the Aitu tribe. When the mutiny was offered, she turned on her current tribe and jumped back to her original team. Jonathan Penner followed suit, leaving Aitu with four members. Raro's numbers increased to eight.
- In Survivor: Tocantins, the mutiny was a sub-twist of Exile Island. Both banished castaways must pick one of two bottles. One bottle contains a clue of the whereabouts of the Hidden Immunity Idol and a choice to join the other camp, while the second one holds nothing. Nobody from the players who got that option accepted the offer.
- See also: Tribe Dissolve.
Another variant of the tribe switch is the "Dissolve." In seasons that have more than two starting tribes, an early tribe dissolution before the merger will likely take place. The tribe will be permanently disbanded, spreading its old members into the other two tribes. Like in a traditional swap, the members of the dissolved tribe must surrender his/her old buff and must join his/her new tribe.
- Before the fourth Reward Challenge in All-Stars commenced, a twist was revealed that only two of the three tribes will exist after the challenge, as the losing tribe will be permanently be gone and will be absorbed by the two winning teams. Saboga wrote Survivor history as the very first tribe to retire way before the merge. Ethan Zohn and Jerri Manthey were absorbed by Mogo Mogo, while Rupert Boneham and Jenna Lewis transferred in Chapera.
- In Palau, Ulong was conquered by its rival, Koror, so its last member was transferred to the opposing tribe leading to the so called merge.
- In Panama and Cook Islands, the four tribes integrated into two new teams. Two of the four groups were disbanded, spreading the remaining players into two new tribes.
- In Philippines, after losing four straight challenges in a row, the final two members of Matsing were absorbed into Kalabaw and Tandang.
- See also: Merge.
The Merged tribe will be composed of the remaining members of the two starting tribes. Unlike the starting tribes where their tribes were named by the producers, the new tribe will be named by the castaways themselves.
Since combining as one, the two opposing tribes will no longer be, as they will be staying a single group and will live in one camp until the final day. They will be given a new, blank tribe flag and buffs with some paint to decorate the new flag. Usually, a feast is held at the new tribe's camp to celebrate the event. The merged tribe camp generally was the better of the two former tribe camps, but in rare cases (Australia, Amazon, and Redemption Island) they will be relocated into an all-new beach. Reward challenges can be still a group effort (depending on the number of remaining players) and Immunity Challenge's will be conducted on an individual basis.
The only "ghost tribe" that appeared in the show was the infamous Outcasts in Pearl Islands, where the six eliminated players return for a second chance to play the game. This caused a lukewarm response from viewers and fans.
|Bold Text||Merged Tribe|
|Italic Text||Dissolved Tribe|
|Regular Text||Lasted until Merge|
- Blue has been the most recurring tribe color in the history of the series with 17 tribes.
- On the other hand, magenta and brown are the least recurring, having appeared only once each.
- Several tribes have had insignia's based on their tribe names (such as Foa Foa and Galu, which are Samoan words for "trumpet shell" and "ocean wave" respectively), while Manono and Salani have had particular animals represent them (regular animals include stingrays and turtles).
- Yellow starting tribes have produced the most winners, with 8, and the most finalists, with 19.
- Blue and yellow tribes have produced the most female winners, with 4 winners each.
- Orange tribes have produced the most male winners, with 5.
- Black is the most recurring merged tribe color, with 9 tribes being black.
- The only black non-merged tribe is Timbira.
- Black is the only recurring color to appear more times as a merged tribe than it has as a starting tribe.