Survivor: Tocantins, also known as Survivor: Tocantins — The Brazilian Highlands, is the eighteenth 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 Idol: 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.
  • Hidden Immunity Idol: Hidden Immunity Idols return this season, with one being hidden at each tribe and clues for the idol being found on Exile Island.
  • 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 somewhere 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.


Contestant Tribe Affiliation Finish Votes
Original Tribe Merged Tribe
S18 carolina t Carolina Eastwood
26, West Hollywood, CA
Jalapao 1st Voted Out
Day 3
S18 candace t Candace Smith
31, Los Angeles, CA
Timbira 2nd Voted Out
Day 6
S18 jerry t Jerry Sims
49, Rock Hill, SC
Timbira 3rd Voted Out
Day 9
S18 sandy t Sandy Burgin
53, Louisville, KY
Jalapao 4th Voted Out
Day 12
S18 spencer t Spencer Duhm
19, Gainesville, FL
Jalapao 5th Voted Out
Day 15
S18 sydney t Sydney Wheeler
24, San Diego, CA
Jalapao 6th Voted Out
Day 18
S18 joe t Joe Dowdle
26, Austin, TX
Jalapao Forza Evacuated
Day 20
S18 brendan t Brendan Synnott
30, Vail, CO
Timbira 7th Voted Out
1st Jury Member
Day 24
S18 tyson t Tyson Apostol
29, Heber City, UT
Timbira 8th Voted Out
2nd Jury Member
Day 27
S18 sierra t Sierra Reed
23, Los Angeles, CA
Timbira 9th Voted Out
3rd Jury Member
Day 30
S18 debbie t Debbie Beebe
46, Auburn, AL
Timbira 10th Voted Out
4th Jury Member
Day 33
S18 coach t Coach Wade
37, Bolivar, MO
Timbira 11th Voted Out
5th Jury Member
Day 36
S18 taj t Taj Johnson-George
37, Nashville, TN
Jalapao 12th Voted Out
6th Jury Member
Day 37
S18 erinn t Erinn Lobdell
26, Milwaukee, WI
Timbira 13th Voted Out
7th Jury Member
Day 38
S18 stephen t Stephen Fishbach
29, New York City, NY
Jalapao Runner-Up 1
S18 jt t J.T. Thomas
24, Mobile, AL
Jalapao Sole Survivor 0

Season Summary

The players were split into two tribes, Timbira and Jalapao, prior to the game. Timbira won the majority of the Immunity Challenges, and was dominated by an alliance led by Coach Wade and Tyson Apostol. 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 Reed 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 Immunity Challenges before the merge.

While Timbira had the numerical advantage entering the merge, they were fractured due to lack of trust. Coach and Tyson brought JT and Stephen into their alliance to over throw Brendan and Sierra. 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 and through recruiting Erinn Lobdell, J.T., Stephen, and Taj managed to navigate between the two Timbira factions to eliminate them all. At the final 4, JT and Stephen opted to blindside Taj for being a jury threat. When JT won the Final Immunity Challenge, he brought Stephen to 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 Air Date Challenges Exiled Eliminated
Finish Viewership (in millions)[2] Rating/Share (18-49)[2]
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
S18 candace t
S18 jerry t
S18 sandy t
S18 spencer t
S18 sydney t
S18 joe t
S18 brendan t
S18 tyson t
S18 sierra t
S18 debbie t
S18 coach t
S18 taj t
S18 erinn t
S18 stephen t
S18 jt t
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.


  • 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 four 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.
  • All four returning players from this season have reached Final Tribal Council at some point in their Survivor careers.
  • JT and Brendan tied the Survivor record for the most carried weight in the Water Torture 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.
  • This is currently the last season with 16 players.


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