Melissa McNulty, a 28-year-old talent manager from West Hollywood, was set to be a contestant on Survivor's fourteenth season, "Survivor: Fiji," but due to massive panic attacks she withdrew from the game the night before filming was to begin. As there was no time to find a replacement, "Survivor: Fiji" became the first season of Survivor to start with an odd number of contestants.
Ted Rogers Jr. was on the Dallas Cowboys' 1994 pre-season roster, but was cut before the season started.
"Survivor: The Amazon" was the first "Survivor" season to divide the tribes by gender. After 15 days, the tribes were reshuffled into two mixed-gender tribes.
Usually when the two tribes merge into a single new tribe the Survivors live at the better of the two tribe camps. However, on "Survivor: The Australian Outback" and "Survivor: The Amazon", the Survivors were forced to move to an entirely new location and start over from scratch.
Survivor "firsts" in season seven: (1) No luxury items. (2) A contestant (Osten Taylor) voluntarily quits the game. (3) Two Tribal Councils and two people eliminated from the game in one episode. (4) An episode ending with "to be continued" (5) A challenge involving three tribes (Drake, Morgan, and Outcasts). (6) A Tribal Council where contestants are voted back into the game.
For the All-Star edition, there are eighteen castaways instead of sixteen, and were divided up into three separate teams. During immunity challenges, the top two tribes were awarded the immunity idol that could be separated into two pieces.
Every former Survivor player was called for the possibility of appearing on All-Stars.
The twist of "Survivor: Pearl Islands" was that the first six people voted off came back to compete for the right to return to the game.
Previous installments of Survivor had an indigenous culture theme, meaning that challenges, tribe names, etc., were base of names, history and culture of the past and present indigenous occupants of the game's geographic location. However, Survivor: Pearl Islands differed in that they had a pirate theme, with tribe names, challenges, etc. were based off of pirate folklore instead of local indigenous culture.
Burton Roberts and Lillian Morris were the previously booted castaways who were voted back into the game in Episode 8 of "Survivor: Pearl Islands" after the "Outcast" tribe won immunity. Roberts ended up finishing fifth, thus becoming the only "Survivor" contestant ever to be voted off twice in the same season. Morris made it all the way to the final, losing to Sandra Diaz-Twine.
Jon Dalton had several memorable moments, including coming to a tribal council drunk in Episode 3 and lying about his grandmother passing away in order to win a reward challenge in a later episode. CBS executives actually called his grandmother's home to offer condolences, only to have Dalton's grandmother herself answer the phone.
"Survivor: The Australian Outback" was the only installment of Survivor to date where the game lasted 42 days. In all other Survivor installments, the duration of the game was 39 days.
Colby Donaldson won nine individual challenges (reward and immunity) in season two; a "Survivor" series record.
Unlike in the first three "Survivor" series, none of the contestants in the Marquesas were given any food, water or matches and were forced to find everything by themselves.
Earl Cole was the first Survivor winner to earn a unanimous vote from the jury during the Fiji season. James "J.T." Thomas Jr. also won in a unanimous vote from the Tocantins jury; J.T. also became the first winner ever to get all the votes in a two-person final jury and the first winner to never have a single negative vote against him. Earl, Tom Westman in Fiji, and Sandra Diaz-Twine all had one negative vote, with Tom and Sandra's lone negative votes from the final juries.
Usually the first and last individual immunity challenges are "endurance" challenges testing how much the survivors really want immunity and how far they are willing to push themselves to get it.
The winner of Survivor is not the only person who walks away with money, every castaway gets a certain amount of money dependent on how long they stayed in the game. For example the 2nd place winner receives $100,000.
Survivor Cook Islands was the first season to have 3 people in the final and 9 castaway's in the jury.
There was some controversy surrounding an immunity challenge in the finale of "Survivor: Africa." In a "Fallen Comrades" challenge, in which the contestants were quizzed on trivia regarding other players in the game who had been voted out, the final question asked the contestants to name a female contestant that did not have any piercings. The official answer was Kelly Goldsmith, which eventual runner-up Kim Johnson answered and received the win for. Unbeknownst to the producers, however, contestant Lindsey Richter fit the question as well, which eventual third-place finisher Lex van den Berghe answered and was incorrectly marked wrong for. After this producer mistake had been found out, both van den Berghe and fourth place finisher Tom Buchanan were awarded with the $100,000 runner-up fee instead of the traditional third and fourth place earnings.
On December 5, 2006, about two days before the final Tribal Council on "Survivor: Fiji," a coup d'état was started by Fiji's military leader, Commodore Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama. While there was some speculation that a full evacuation of the Survivor crew members from Fiji would take place, only a few crew members on the mainland were relocated to the second-smallest island.
Tina Scheer was originally selected to participate in "Survivor: Guatemala," but due to the death of her son just before she was about to leave, she stayed home and was allowed on "Survivor: Exile Island" instead.
Tina Wesson, winner of "Survivor: the Australian Outback," was originally not selected to be on the show but was called back to replace a contestant who withdrew from the game.
Keith Famie actually auditioned for the first season of Survivor, but because all the spots were filled he was allowed on "Survivor: the Australian Outback" instead.
In February 2001, "Survivor: Borneo" player Stacey Stillman filed a lawsuit claiming producers interfered in the process of the game by persuading two members of her tribe (Sean Kenniff and Dirk Been) to vote her off instead of Rudy Boesch. Been supported her allegations. Mark Burnett counter-sued Stillman for $5 million. The case was eventually settled out of court.
While in Australia, Colby Donaldson removed corals from the Great Barrier Reef, a crime resulting in a fine of AU$110,000. Technically, he should have been disqualified from the show due to breaking the local law. The helicopter involved with the reward also flew around sea bird rookeries. When this episode aired in Australia, the commercial breaks featured advertisements that stated removing coral from the Great Barrier Reef is illegal and results in a fine.
Richard Hatch, the winner of the first season of Survivor, was charged and found guilty in January 2006 of failing to report his winnings to the IRS to avoid taxes. He has been sentenced to four years, three months in prison.
Although the second season was set in what the producers called the Outback of Australia, the location was only slightly remote by Australian standards (it was within three hours drive of Cairns, a small city on the coastline), and it was located in a wet, semi-tropical area rather than the arid, true outback.
An early challenge on "Survivor: The Australian Outback" consisted of the castaways having to balance a wooden pole with jugs of water hanging from it on their shoulders. The tribe-member who held on the longest won a reward for their tribe. However, one of the poles unexpectedly broke under the weight of all the water and the challenge had to be run a second time with slightly different rules. Since this incident, every challenge featured on the show is tested by a team of people (known as the "Dream Team") prior to filming in order to discover loopholes and ways to cheat.
The lyrics to the "Survivor" theme, "Ancient Voices" (composed by Russ Landau) are based on an ancient Russian folk song. Every season the song is re-mixed to include musical elements of the location in which the show is being filmed. (For the theme of "Survivor: China", Landau met with a choir of young women and translated the Russian lyrics into Mandarin. He also added an ancient Chinese folk song that is played over the main lyrics.)