The tribe was composed of ten previous contestants of Survivor who were known for their previous acts of manipulation, deception, and duplicity. The 'Villains' dominated the early tribal challenges, despite their apparent dysfunction and being weaker physically than their counterpart. Following the eliminations of several strong members of the tribe, however, their challenge performance would falter, leading to them entering the merge with even numbers. After regaining the upper hand at the first merged Tribal Council as the result of a key blindside, they ended up annihilating the remaining Heroes, occupying all three seats in the Final Tribal Council. Their tribe color was red.
From the beginning, almost every Villain detested being assigned on the Villains tribe and wondered what they had done to be labeled as such, except Danielle DiLorenzo, Jerri Manthey, and Rob Mariano, who all reveled their placement. During the first Reward Challenge, despite being physically inferior to the Heroes tribe, they held on their own, as the rival tribe incurred several injuries. Despite their determination, however, the Villains lost.
Setting up camp immediately began the moment the Villains arrived at their beach. Rob took charge, threatening Russell Hantz. Meanwhile, Russell was up to his old tricks by forming separate alliances with both Danielle and Parvati Shallow, which eventually became one due to Danielle and Parvati's friendship. At the Immunity Challenge on Day 3, the Villains once again found themselves trailing from the Heroes, but they caught up, largely because the Heroes stumped at the puzzle-solving portion of the challenge. The Villains won immunity and flint.
Dysfunction marred the Villains tribe throughout their days as a tribe, with its members' erratic priorities, with Rob focusing on tribe unity, while Russell was out for his best interests. However, the Villains found themselves coming together when they needed to, winning five of the next six challenges. Their only loss then was at the Day 8 Reward/Immunity Challenge, after which Randy Bailey was voted out because he was the oldest and physically weakest of the tribe. As the Villains extended their winning streak, the Heroes continued to implode, becoming increasingly sour and grump at every loss.
The Rise of Russell
Having to not visit Tribal Council, the Villains failed to resolve their intertribal conflicts as the tribe was divided into two warring alliances. Russell's alliance of himself, Danielle, and Parvati and Rob's alliance of himself, Jerri, Coach Wade, Courtney Yates, Sandra Diaz-Twine, and Tyson Apostol. This division widened further after the Villains won the Day 9 Reward Challenge, where they received creature comforts. As the tribe unpacked their reward, Russell found a clue to a Hidden Immunity Idol. He tried to hide it from the tribe, but Rob caught him, forcing Russell to surrender the clue to Rob for him to read aloud. The two alliances made an agreement to not find the idol. However, Russell attempted to look for it any way, to the ire of his tribe.
On Day 15, both tribes had to vote somebody out in a Double Tribal Council, and Rob decided to split his alliance's votes to ensure that either Parvati or Russell would go home, in case one of them had a Hidden Immunity Idol. Sure enough, Russell had already found the idol and was aware of Rob's plan. Russell tricked Tyson into voting for Parvati instead of him, whom Rob had explicitly assigned as his vote. That night at Tribal Council, Tyson did vote for Parvati, making a 4-3-2 vote with Parvati as the would-be victim, but was shocked when Russell let Parvati play the idol for herself. With Parvati's four votes extinguished, Tyson had the next most, with three, effectively voting himself out.
Rob's alliance attempted to regroup, but crumbled as Coach insisted on keeping their stronger members and have Courtney voted out, while Jerri began to mull over joining Russell's alliance. This downward spiral lost them the next Reward and Immunity Challenges. At Tribal Council, Coach stayed in the middle by voting Courtney, allowing Russell's alliance, now with Jerri on their side, to successfully eliminate Rob in a 4-3-1 vote. The remnants of Rob's alliance, Courtney and Sandra, found themselves at the mercy of Russell's now-ruling alliance.
Coach's decision to play the middle ground infuriated Courtney and Sandra. Believing either of them were next, being the physically weakest members of the tribe, Courtney and Sandra plotted to have Coach voted out to save themselves. Sandra came to Russell and made him believe that Coach was gunning for him, despite Coach not having the numbers to do so. Russell believed her, while being satisfied with how perfectly his game seemed to come together. When the Villains lost their second Immunity Challenge in a row, Russell decided to play around the idea the Heroes had perceived as an all-female Villains alliance. Wanting to toy with their heads more, Danielle, Parvati, and Russell agreed to vote out Coach at Tribal Council, since they already had two votes in Courtney and Sandra. Coach was voted out at Tribal Council, 4-3.
At the following Reward Challenge, Coach's ouster furthered the Heroes' notion of a girls' alliance on the Villains tribe. The Villains pulled off a win and won a trip to an Outback Steakhouse, where Parvati uncovered a clue to another Hidden Immunity Idol, and only told Danielle about it. Once they got back to camp, the girls quickly found the idol and decided to keep it from Russell. At the Immunity Challenge, the Villains lost and J.T. Thomas slipped Russell the Heroes' Hidden Immunity Idol in order to ensure his safety and that he would join the Heroes when the looming merge occurred.
The Hidden Immunity Idol slip gave both Parvati and Russell a laugh, as it came with a note saying to use it to blindside Parvati that evening. Russell decided to keep the idol and vote out Courtney that night at Tribal Council, letting the Heroes think he played it, only to unanimously eliminate Courtney, 5-1.
On Day 25, the Villains moved to the Heroes' camp for the merge.
- Russell Hantz was not known by the Heroes vs. Villains cast members because his season had not been aired yet when the 20th season was being filmed because Samoa and Heroes vs. Villains were filmed back-to-back, with only a 20-day break in between.
- The Heroes and Villains are the fourth and fifth tribe names in the U.S. version of Survivor to come from the English language, after Morgan, Drake, and The Outcasts.
- Randy Bailey and Jerri Manthey are the only members of the Villains who have never reached the Final Tribal Council in any of the seasons they have participated in.
- The Villains tribe is the second red-colored starting tribe for Rob Mariano, Courtney Yates, and Randy Bailey, following Chapera (All-Stars), Fei Long (China), and Fang (Gabon), respectively.