The tribe has spoken. Since its debut in 2000, the game of Survivor has changed in many ways. However, one thing has remained the same: There are strict rules that the castaways must follow.
Some rules are put in place for safety reasons. For example, the CBS cast must sign a lengthy contract ahead of time, which includes an agreement to be filmed at all hours of the day and “have no expectations of privacy.” They also must all disclose their complete medical histories.
The rules continue after being voted off the island too. Those who don’t make the jury aren’t sent home. Instead, they’re required to stay with production in a different location — for free! — until the season is done being filmed.
Of course, there are times when the rules get broken. In 2016, the cast of season 33, Millennials v Gen X, had to leave camp due to a cyclone. This marked the first time that the entire cast was evacuated and that the competitors were able to sleep inside — but they still weren’t comfortable.
“We made the decision to bring them to base camp so that we would all be together. We put each tribe in a separate room with absolutely nothing in it. No food, no blankets, no pillows, nothing. They were monitored by producers the entire night,” host and executive producer Jeff Probst told Entertainment Weekly at the time. “And, to their credit, they did not talk or try to form alliances. They honored the good faith agreement we had made. The next morning, we returned them to the beaches and the game resumed.”
Although alliances are a big part of the game, don’t get too close! Agreeing to share any portion of the million-dollar prize is also not allowed and can result in punishment. Plus, contracts and NDAs play into the show even after filming wraps.
Everything must be kept secret before the season airs. Season 37’s Alec Merlino shared a photo of himself and contestant Kara Key before David vs. Goliath premiered in 2018 and wasn’t allowed to attend the reunion show — which also garners a $10,000 paycheck.
In fact, the contract they sign ahead of filming lasts a long time, meaning the cast is not allowed to share “the ways of production” until three years after their season airs on TV.
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