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Survivor: Tocantins, also known as Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands, is the 18th installment in the U.S. reality show Survivor. It was filmed in Tocantins, Brazil and premiered on February 12, 2009. Once production of Survivor: Gabon was underway, CBS began casting for this season. Shooting occurred between October and December 2008. The season saw one medical evacuation and has to date produced four returning players for subsequent seasons.

J.T. Thomas became the Sole Survivor on the live finale broadcast May 17, 2009. He finished the first "perfect game" in the history of the show, not having a single vote cast against him all season and earning all seven jury votes in a unanimous decision, beating out Stephen Fishbach. In addition, J.T. was named "Sprint Player of the Season", earning the fans' vote over Taj Johnson-George and Sierra Reed.


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  • First Impressions: On Day 1, Jeff Probst instructed the newly-marooned castaways to make their first vote-off. Relying only from first impressions, the tribes must select which of their tribemates will be the biggest liability to their team, and these two players will "not make it to the journey." The contestants assumed that the two would be eliminated, but the "journey" was revealed to be a four-hour trek to their camps. The two people who were singled out (Sierra from Timbira and Sandy from Jalapao) will be airlifted to their camps, while their tribemates underwent a treacherous walk to their respective encampments.
  • One-Time Use Hidden Immunity Idols: After being whisked away to their camps, the two left out players were given a choice between creating a shelter (to possibly change their perceptions of them) or search for a one-time use Hidden Immunity Idol that can only be good at their first visiting Tribal Council. Unfortunately, both idols were never found and wasted away in the process.
  • Exile Island: Exile Island returns this season, with new twists. After a Reward Challenge, the winning tribe must send one person from the losing tribe to Exile Island, and in return, the said person must pick one member from the winning tribe to join him/her on Exile Island. Another twist is that, upon reaching Exile Island, the two banished players will get to chose between two unmarked bottles; one bottle contained a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol, hidden somwhere at their camps. The player who gets the clue will also have the option to switch tribes at will (hypothetically, if an exiled player already found his/her tribe's idol, the player in question may switch tribes to potentially find the other tribe's idol). The person who gets the second bottle will get nothing.
  • Hidden Immunity Idols: Hidden Immunity Idols return this season.


Contestant Tribe Affiliation Finish Votes
Original Tribe Merged Tribe
70px Carolina Eastwood
26, West Hollywood, CA
Jalapao 1st Voted Out
Day 3
70px Candace Smith
31, Dayton, OH
Timbira 2nd Voted Out
Day 6
S18 jerry t.jpg Jerry Sims
49, Rock Hill, SC
Timbira 3rd Voted Out
Day 9
70px Sandy Burgin
53, Louisville, KY
Jalapao 4th Voted Out
Day 12
70px Spencer Duhm
18, Lakeland, FL
Jalapao 5th Voted Out
Day 15
70px Sydney Wheeler
24, Raleigh, NC
Jalapao 6th Voted Out
Day 18
70px Joe Dowdle
26, Austin, TX
Jalapao Forza Evacuated
Day 20
70px Brendan Synnott
30, New York City, NY
Timbira 7th Voted Out
1st Jury Member
Day 24
70px Tyson Apostol
29, Lindon, UT
Timbira 8th Voted Out
2nd Jury Member
Day 27
70px Sierra Reed
23, Los Angeles, CA
Timbira 9th Voted Out
3rd Jury Member
Day 30
70px Debbie Beebe
46, Auburn, AL
Timbira 10th Voted Out
4th Jury Member
Day 33
70px Coach Wade
37, Bolivar, MO
Timbira 11th Voted Out
5th Jury Member
Day 36
70px Taj Johnson-George
37, Nashville, TN
Jalapao 12th Voted Out
6th Jury Member
Day 37
70px Erinn Lobdell
26, Waukesha, WI
Timbira 13th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 38
70px Stephen Fishbach
29, New York City, NY
Jalapao Runner-Up 1
70px J.T. Thomas
24, Samson, AL
Jalapao Sole Survivor 0

Season Summary

The players were split into two tribes, Timbira and Jalapao, prior to the game. However, before the game started, Jeff stated that each tribe was to vote for one of their own to not make the trek to camp. The selected members, Sierra Reed from Timbira and Sandy Burgin from Jalapao, assumed they had been eliminated, but it was then revealed that these two would be flown to their respective campsites while the rest had to trek for four hours while carrying supplies. Nevertheless, this would impact their game; both Sierra and Sandy became distant from their tribes. Sandy was eliminated, but Sierra was spared due to Timbira's repeated Immunity Challenge wins.

Both the Hidden Immunity Idol and Exile Island twists were in play, with the clues to the Hidden Idols available at Exile. The winning tribe of each Reward Challenge would be able to select one member of the losing tribe to be exiled, while the exiled player would be able to choose a member of the winning tribe to join them. On one of these occasions, Brendan Synnott from Timbira and Taj Johnson-George from Jalapao formed a secret cross-tribe alliance for the merge, bringing in Sierra and Stephen Fishbach, respectively. The alliance members saw several repeat visits to Exile, securing both Immunity Idols by sharing the clues. After J.T. Thomas accidentally stumbled upon the Hidden Immunity Idol in Stephen's pocket, Taj and Stephen agreed to bring J.T. into their own alliance, and the three decided to share the use of the Idol. Timbira was able to win the last three tribal Immunity Challenges, leaving Taj, J.T., Stephen, and Joe Dowdle as the only Jalapao members remaining. Shortly after the merge, Joe was evacuated from the game due to an infection in his knee.

After Joe's evacuation, Timbira had a major numerical advantage on Jalapao, up six players to three. However, Timbira had divided into several factions: Coach Wade, Tyson Apostol, and Debbie Beebe, Brendan and Sierra, and Erinn Lobdell on the outside. Coach's faction decided to align with J.T. and Stephen in an attempt to overthrow Brendan and Sierra. With Brendan and Sierra acting distant, Taj and Stephen decided to betray their Exile alliance; Brendan neglected to play his Idol and was voted out. With the dissent among Timbira exposed, J.T., Stephen and Taj aligned with Erinn, navigating between the two Timbira factions to eliminate them all, becoming the final four.

After knocking Taj out of the game due to her likelihood of winning the jury's vote, J.T. eliminated Erinn after he won his third consecutive Immunity Challenge, bringing Stephen the Final Two. At the Final Tribal Council, the jury unanimously voted for J.T. to be named the Sole Survivor, believing he played a stronger and more strategic game compared to Stephen.

Episode Guide

Episode Air Date Challenges Exiled Eliminated
Finish Viewership (in millions)[1] Rating/Share (18-49)[1]
Reward Immunity
1 "Let's Get Rid of the Weak Players Before We Even Start" February 12, 2009 Timbira1 None Carolina
1st Voted Out
Day 3
13.63 4.4/13
2 "The Poison Apple Needs to Go" February 19, 2009 Jalapao1 Brendan Candace
2nd Voted Out
Day 6
13.59 4.5/12
3 "Mama Said There'd Be Days Like This" February 26, 2009 Jalapao Jalapao Brendan Jerry
3rd Voted Out
Day 9
12.05 3.9/11
4 "The Strongest Man Alive" March 5, 2009 Jalapao Timbira Sierra Sandy
4th Voted Out
Day 12
11.85 3.8/10
5 "You're Going to Want That Tooth" March 12, 2009 Jalapao Timbira Brendan Spencer
5th Voted Out
Day 15
12.82 4.1/12
6 "The First 15 Days" March 25, 2009 Recap Episode N/A N/A
7 "One of Those 'Coach Moments'" April 2, 2009 Timbira Timbira Joe Sydney
6th Voted Out
Day 18
11.27 3.6/11
8 "The Dragon Slayer" April 9, 2009 None Tyson None Joe
(No Vote)
Day 20
11.24 3.5/11
9 "The Biggest Fraud in the Game" April 16, 2009 Brendan,
Tyson Stephen Brendan
7th Voted Out
1st Jury Member
Day 24
11.64 3.6/11
10 "It's Funny When People Cry" April 23, 2009 Debbie,
Erinn, J.T.,
Debbie Stephen Tyson
8th Voted Out
2nd Jury Member
Day 27
11.30 3.5/11
11 "They Both Went Bananas" April 30, 2009 Stephen
Coach Erinn Sierra
9th Voted Out
3rd Jury Member
Day 30
11.73 3.6/11
12 "The Ultimate Sacrifice" May 7, 2009 Survivor
Stephen Taj Debbie
10th Voted Out
4th Jury Member
Day 33
11.99 3.8/12
13 "The Martyr Approach" May 14, 2009 J.T.
J.T. Coach Coach
11th Voted Out
5th Jury Member
Day 36
12.18 3.8/12
14 "I Trust You but I Trust Me More" May 17, 2009 None J.T. None Taj
12th Voted Out
6th Jury Member
Day 37
12.94 4.2/11
J.T. Erinn
13th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 38
Jury Vote Stephen
Sole Survivor
1 "Reunion" 11.59 4.1/10

^1 Combined Reward and Immunity Challenge.

Voting History

Survivor: Tocantins Voting History
Original Tribes Merged Tribe
Episode #: 1 2 3 4 5 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14
Voted out: S18 carolina t.png
S18 candace t.png
S18 jerry t.png
S18 sandy t.png
S18 spencer t.png
S18 sydney t.png
S18 joe t.png
S18 brendan t.png
S18 tyson t.png
S18 sierra t.png
S18 debbie t.png
S18 coach t.png
S18 taj t.png
S18 erinn t.png
S18 stephen t.png
S18 jt t.png
Vote: 7-1 7-1 6-1 5-1-1 5-1 3-2 No Vote1 4-3-2 5-3 4-2-1 4-1-1 3-2 3-1 1-02 7-0
J.T. Carolina Sandy Spencer Sydney Sierra Tyson Sierra Debbie Erinn Taj Erinn Jury Vote
Stephen Carolina Sandy Spencer Sydney Brendan Tyson Sierra Debbie Coach Taj None
Erinn Candace Jerry Sierra Tyson Stephen Debbie Coach Taj None J.T.
Taj Carolina Joe Spencer Sydney Brendan Tyson Debbie Debbie Coach Erinn J.T.
Coach Candace Jerry Brendan Sierra Sierra Taj Erinn J.T.
Debbie Candace Jerry Brendan Sierra Sierra Coach J.T.
Sierra Candace Jerry Coach Tyson Debbie J.T.
Tyson Candace Jerry Sierra Sierra J.T.
Brendan Candace Jerry Coach J.T.
Joe Carolina Sandy Spencer Taj Evacuated
Sydney Carolina Sandy Spencer Taj
Spencer Carolina Sandy Taj
Sandy Carolina Sydney
Jerry Candace Erinn
Candace Sierra
Carolina Sandy

^1 Joe was evacuated from the game due to a severely infected wound. The Tribal Council that night was cancelled.
^2 Erinn and Stephen did not vote as they could only vote for were each other. By virtue of winning the final Immunity Challenge, only J.T. voted.


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  • This season marks the third country (Brazil) to be revisited as a location of filming, following Panama and Palau, though it became the first country to host two seasons in two separate locations. While Survivor: The Amazon was filmed in the Rio Negro river, this season was shot in an entirely different province of Brazil, at the Rio Novo river.
  • It is the first season since Survivor: Thailand to feature two male players in the final two.
  • This is the first season since Survivor: Panama to follow the original format that was used during the first six seasons (a pool of sixteen contestants, with six players, voted out before the merge, one made the merge but did not make the jury, a seven-person jury and two players at the Final Tribal Council).
  • Thus far, it is the only season to feature black as the color for a starting tribe. Black has been mostly used as the color of the merged tribe.
  • Abi-Maria Gomes from Survivor: Philippines was originally recruited for this season. However, she was cut because she might gain an advantage due to her being Brazilian. Gomes is originally from Goiás, a neighboring state of Tocantins.
  • JT and Brendan tied the Survivor record for the most carried weight in the Shoulder the Load challenge, a record previously held by Rupert Boneham, with 220 lbs. The record had since been surpassed by both Brandon Hantz and Jim Rice of Survivor: South Pacific who both carried 240 lbs.
  • This is the only Survivor logo, that says "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast" on the top.


Survivor (US) Seasons

BorneoThe Australian OutbackAfricaMarquesasThailandThe AmazonPearl IslandsAll-StarsVanuatuPalauGuatemalaPanamaCook IslandsFijiChinaMicronesiaGabonTocantinsSamoaHeroes vs. VillainsNicaraguaRedemption IslandSouth PacificOne WorldPhilippinesCaramoanBlood vs. WaterCagayanSan Juan del SurWorlds ApartCambodiaKaôh RōngMillennials vs. Gen XGame ChangersHeroes vs. Healers vs. HustlersGhost IslandDavid vs. GoliathEdge of ExtinctionIsland of the IdolsWinners at WarSeason 41