|Presented by||Jeff Probst|
|No. of days||39|
|No. of castaways||16|
|Location||Ko Tarutao, Thailand|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||14|
|Original release||September 19 –|
December 19, 2002
|Filming dates||June 10, 2002– July 18, 2002|
Survivor: Thailand is the fifth season of the American CBS competitive reality television series Survivor. The season was filmed from June 10, 2002, through July 18, 2002, on the island of Ko Tarutao in Thailand, and premiered on September 19, 2002. Hosted by Jeff Probst, it consisted of the usual 39 days of gameplay with 16 competitors.
The two initial tribes were Chuay Gahn (Thai: ช่วยกัน "to help one another") and Sook Jai (สุขใจ "happy heart"). They eventually merged into the Chuay Jai tribe when eight contestants remained. At the live finale, Brian Heidik was named Sole Survivor, defeating runner-up Clay Jordan by a jury vote of 4-3. The season introduced several new gameplay twists. The first occurred on Day 1, when the two eldest contestants, Jake Billingsley and Jan Gentry, were given the power to pick their own tribes. This was the first time in Survivor history that the two initial teams were not preselected by the producers. The second was an offer of mutiny on Day 14: each of the twelve remaining contestants was given the chance to leave their tribe and join the other if they wished, though no one took the offer. The third was the fake merge: with ten players remaining, the two tribes moved onto one beach. They took this to signify a merge, but at the next challenge they were informed that they were living on one beach, but not yet merged.
|Contestant||Original tribe||Merged tribe||Finish|
40, Slidell, Louisiana
|Chuay Gahn||1st voted out|
27, Kingsport, Tennessee
|Chuay Gahn||2nd voted out|
25, Dallas, Texas
|Sook Jai||3rd voted out|
33, Denver, Colorado
|Chuay Gahn||4th voted out|
29, Fayetteville, Arkansas
|Sook Jai||5th voted out|
|Robert "Robb" Zbacnik
23, Scottsdale, Arizona
|Sook Jai||6th voted out|
|Shii Ann Huang
28, New York City, New York
|Sook Jai||7th voted out|
26, Austin, Texas
|Sook Jai||8th voted out|
1st jury member
30, Brooklyn, New York
|Sook Jai||Chuay Jai||9th voted out|
2nd jury member
27, Plano, Texas
|Sook Jai||10th voted out|
3rd jury member
60, McKinney, Texas
|Sook Jai||11th voted out|
4th jury member
|Ted Rogers, Jr.
37, Durham, North Carolina
|Chuay Gahn||12th voted out|
5th jury member
47, Middletown, Rhode Island
|Chuay Gahn||13th voted out|
6th jury member
53, Tampa, Florida
|Chuay Gahn||14th voted out|
7th jury member
46, Monroe, Louisiana
34, Quartz Hill, California
|Chuay Gahn||Sole Survivor|
Shii Ann Huang competed on Survivor: All-Stars.
The sixteen contestants were split into two tribes of eight by the two eldest contestants, Jake and Jan; this was the first time in series history that the tribes were not preselected. Jake's tribe, Sook Jai, was composed of younger players and took an early lead. Chuay Gahn, despite losing five of the first seven challenges, remained mostly cohesive barring a conflict between Ghandia and Ted, whom Ghandia claimed made unwanted sexual advances toward her. This led to Ghandia being voted off in the next Tribal Council, resulting in Chuay Gahn gaining momentum to win the next two immunity challenges, evening the playing field at five members per tribe.
On Day 19, the tribes were instructed to live on the same beach. Assuming a merge had occurred, Shii Ann from Sook Jai decided to switch allegiances to the Chuay Gahn alliance under the presumption that she was being ostracized by her tribe. However, the players were shocked to learn that they had not yet merged and were only living on the same beach; Shii Ann was subsequently voted off after Sook Jai lost the immunity challenge. Sook Jai was never able to recover from their numerical deficit, and they were systematically picked off one by one once the merge finally happened on Day 25.
With only Chuay Gahn members left, they were forced to turn on each other. Brian, who had made separate alliances with three of the four other people used his influence to manipulate the vote to his liking. First, he turned the tribe on Ted, who was perceived as the biggest physical threat. Then, he targeted Helen and successfully convinced Clay and Jan to follow suit. After winning the final immunity challenge, Brian decided to take Clay with him to the finals, eliminating Jan.
Both Brian and Clay were met with heavy criticism from the jury. Brian, who had made separate alliances and formed friendships with both Helen and Ted, was lambasted for his callous approach, but he was praised for his challenge performances and strong work ethic. In comparison, Clay was felt as not deserving for his lack of work ethic, and he was accused of making racial slurs against Ted. In the end, the jury voted 4-3 for Brian to win, awarding him for his control of the game.
|No.||Title||Original air date||Reward||Immunity|
|1||"The Importance of Being Eldest"||September 19, 2002||None||Sook Jai||John||1st voted out|
|2||"The Great Divide"||September 26, 2002||Sook Jai||Sook Jai||Tanya||2nd voted out|
|3||"Family Values"||October 3, 2002||Chuay Gahn||Chuay Gahn||Jed||3rd voted out|
|4||"Gender Bender"||October 10, 2002||Sook Jai||Sook Jai||Ghandia||4th voted out|
|5||"The Ocean's Surprise"||October 17, 2002||Survivor Auction[a]||Chuay Gahn||Stephanie||5th voted out|
|6||"The Power of One"||October 24, 2002||Sook Jai||Chuay Gahn||Robb||6th voted out|
|7||"Assumptions"||October 31, 2002||None||Chuay Gahn||Shii Ann||7th voted out|
|8||"Sleeping with the Enemy"||November 7, 2002||Chuay Gahn||Erin||8th voted out|
1st jury member
|9||"Desperate Measures"||November 14, 2002||Brian||Clay||Ken||9th voted out|
2nd jury member
|10||"While the Cats are Away"||November 21, 2002||Brian
|Helen||Penny||10th voted out|
3rd jury member
|11||"The First 30 Days"||November 28, 2002||Recap Episode|
|12||"A Big Surprise... and Another"||December 5, 2002||Helen[b]||Ted[c]||Jake||11th voted out|
4th jury member
|13||"The Tides are Turning"||December 12, 2002||Ted
|Brian||Ted||12th voted out|
5th jury member
|14||"Slip Through Your Fingers"||December 19, 2002||None||Brian||Helen||13th voted out|
6th jury member
|Brian||Jan||14th voted out|
7th jury member
|15||"The Reunion"||December 19, 2002||Jury vote|
- In the case of multiple tribes or castaways who win reward or immunity, they are listed in order of finish, or alphabetically where it was a team effort; where one castaway won and invited others, the invitees are in brackets.
- For the first time, the players would be bidding for items as tribes. Sook Jai and Chuay Gahn each received US$1,000 in American currency.
- In a twist, the Survivors' family members competed in a food-eating challenge on behalf of their loved one. Helen's husband Jim won the challenge and the right to spend 24 hours at the Chuay Jai camp.
- In another twist, the players and their loved ones competed as teams for immunity. Ted and his younger brother Aljuan won, thus earning immunity for Ted.
|Title||CBS recap||Original air date||US viewers|
|61||1||"The Importance of Being Eldest"||Recap||September 19, 2002||23.05||9.6/28|
The sixteen castaways were dropped off at an island separated by gender, causing some players to think they were going to be divided into tribes of men and women. As the castaways introduced each other, Jeff warned them not to assume anything in the game. He then told the two eldest castaways, Jake and Jan to step forward. Jeff shocked the castaways by announcing that Jake and Jan would choose their own tribes and pick a name. Jake filled his tribe with mostly younger castaways. His tribe consisted of himself, Erin, Jed, Ken, Penny, Shii Ann, Stephanie and Robb. His tribe was "Sook Jai"; Thai for happy heart. Jan filled her tribe with mostly elder castaways. Her tribe consisted of herself, Brian, Clay, Ghandia, Helen, John, Tanya, and Ted. Her tribe was "Chuay Gahn"; Thai for to help one another. As the tribes arrived at their respective camps, Tanya became ill from what the tribe believed was dehydration, leading Chuay Gahn to search for a water source. After Helen, John and Tanya found a water source, John pulled a prank on his tribe by telling them a small pool of saltwater was going to be their water source, which didn't go well with some of his tribemates. Meanwhile, Sook Jai focused on their shelter, but Jed wanted to focus on catching fish, isolating him from his tribemates. Robb and Shii Ann argued over the tribe's division of labor.
At the immunity challenge, Chuay Gahn had an early lead, however Ghandia struggled with her puzzle, allowing Sook Jai to pull ahead and win immunity. After Chuay Gahn lost, Ghandia felt vulnerable after struggling with the puzzle. Tanya also felt vulnerable due to her illness. However, the vote ended up going against John, who was sent home.
|62||2||"The Great Divide"||Recap||September 26, 2002||21.72||8.6/21|
At Chuay Gahn, Helen and Jan paddled out to retrieve water from their water source, however they did not bring their map and got lost. Meanwhile, the men of Chuay Gahn put Clay's luxury item, a golf club, to use by playing golf in a makeshift golf course. At Sook Jai, their main priority was still to build their shelter. Instead of working on the shelter, Jed and Stephanie gathered food and water. While the other Sook Jai members feasted, Jed, Robb, and Stephanie chose to sleep on the beach. As the tribe awoke to a cold, rainy morning, Stephanie got ill from sleeping out in the rain all night. Meanwhile, Chuay Gahn celebrated Helen's 20th wedding anniversary.
At the reward challenge, Tanya guided Chuay Gahn and Penny guided Sook Jai. Sook Jai ended up winning reward.
Sook Jai also won a tight immunity challenge, sending Chuay Gahn to Tribal Council for a second time. At Tribal Council, Chuay Gahn couldn't ignore Tanya's illness, and she was sent home.
|63||3||"Family Values"||Recap||October 3, 2002||20.60||8.5/21|
At Chuay Gahn, Ghandia accused Ted of grinding against her at night. Ted later approached Ghandia and explained that he mistook her for his wife. Ghandia accepted his apology.
At the reward challenge, Jed, Ken, Robb, and Stephanie were disqualified for various reasons causing Sook Jai to lose their lead. Chuay Gahn ended up winning reward. Still bitter towards Ted due to the grinding incident, Ghandia approached Helen and Jan in order to oust Ted. Helen later told Brian about their plan to eliminate Ted. Brian approached Ted in order to hear his side of the story, causing Ghandia to become enraged. Meanwhile, Sook Jai's fishing net drifted away. Jed and Robb were blamed as they fell asleep when they were responsible for the net. Jed and Robb searched the water but failed to find the net.
Immunity was won by Chuay Gahn, sending Sook Jai to their first Tribal Council. At Tribal Council, Jed was perceived by his tribe to be lazy, and was sent home.
|64||4||"Gender Bender"||Recap||October 10, 2002||21.16||8.6/22|
After returning from Tribal Council in which Jed was voted out, Stephanie was upset at Sook Jai's decision. Meanwhile, Ghandia felt that she was on the outside of the Chuay Gahn tribe.
Sook Jai won the reward. After Chuay Gahn returned to camp, the women felt that the men weren't pulling their weight around camp. Meanwhile, Sook Jai enjoyed their bananas and discovered their mystery reward, four chickens.
Immunity was also won by Sook Jai. After Chuay Gahn lost immunity, Ghandia attempted to form an alliance with the women to target Clay. She approached Helen and revealed that Jan was in on the plan, meaning Helen would be the swing vote. At Tribal Council, Helen voted with the men, sending Ghandia home.
|65||5||"The Ocean's Surprise"||Recap||October 17, 2002||N/A||8.3/23|
While Brian and Ted set out to catch fish, they took the opportunity to form an alliance. At Sook Jai, Robb stepped on a stingray and stung his foot. Meanwhile, Helen entertained the Chuay Gahn tribe by singing. While Helen entertained her tribe, their canoe floated away. Clay blamed Ted as he felt he had not secured the canoe enough. As the tribes gathered for the Survivor Auction in lieu of a reward challenge, Jeff offered the castaways the opportunity to change tribes. After a minute, no one accepted the offer, so the auction began.
After returning to camp, Brian and Helen, without the tribe's canoe, swam out to replenish their water supply.
Immunity was won by Chuay Gahn. After returning to camp, Shii Ann and Stephanie discussed the upcoming Tribal Council. Feeling vulnerable, Stephanie wished she had accepted the offer to switch tribes. In the end, Stephanie's fears proved true, and she was sent home.
|66||6||"The Power of One"||Recap||October 24, 2002||20.8||8.4/22|
After returning from Tribal Council, Robb began to feel vulnerable after his ally Stephanie was eliminated. Meanwhile, having to swim three miles for fresh water, the canoe-less Chuay Gahn tribe became frustrated. Some tribe members took turns looking for the boat, but they all returned empty handed.
At the reward challenge, Robb quickly caught four balls for Sook Jai, however Chuay Gahn quickly evened the score. In the end, Sook Jai caught their fifth ball first, winning reward. As Sook Jai enjoyed their feast, Brian and Ted explained the importance of winning the next immunity challenge so the tribes would merge at five members each. Meanwhile, Ken and Robb hiked out into the jungle and discovered a bat-filled cave. They explored the cave and settled their differences.
In a huge upset, Immunity was won by Chuay Gahn, when Sook Jai failed to realize that they could have ensured a victory by virtue of them getting to make the first move. After losing immunity, Sook Jai enjoyed the leftovers of their feast. Despite reconciling with his tribe, Robb was voted out.
|67||7||"Assumptions"||Recap||October 31, 2002||N/A||7.5/|
The tribes received Tree Mail along with body paints of five different colors. The tribe members were instructed to paint themselves with one color representing each member. When the tribes met Jeff, he explained that they would be having a "get-to-know-you". The castaways were instructed to pair off with the person wearing the same paint color. The pairs chose baskets at random. The pair of Clay and Shii Ann received a note telling them to travel to the Chuay Gahn camp. The pair of Ken and Helen were instructed to travel to the Sook Jai camp. The four were instructed to choose which camp would be more comfortable to live in. They chose the Chuay Gahn camp, and Jeff explained that everyone would be living at that camp. Believing the tribes had merged, the castaways created a new name, Chuay Jai by mixing the two tribe names. When they returned to camp, a feast was waiting for them. Later on, Shii Ann, who was on the outside of the Sook Jai tribe, talked to Ted about flipping to Chuay Gahn. Ted agreed to let Shii Ann into their voting block. Later on, Brian asked Shii Ann to flip to Chuay Gahn to vote out Penny. As the castaways gathered for what they thought was an individual immunity challenge, Jeff shocked the castaways by explaining that the tribes hadn't actually merged, but were simply living on one beach.
Immunity was won by Chuay Gahn. At Tribal Council, Shii Ann's tribemates decided they could not trust her after she openly aligned with Chuay Gahn. She was sent home.
|68||8||"Sleeping with the Enemy"||Recap||November 7, 2002||N/A||TBA|
After returning from Tribal Council, Penny was relieved her tribe voted out Shii Ann instead of her. Still feeling vulnerable, she attempted to form an alliance with Chuay Gahn member Ted. However, Ted and the other Chuay Gahn men knew that Penny was trying to manipulate them and still didn't trust her. Meanwhile, Ken got annoyed when he smelled urine in the cave. While Jake and Ken set out in their canoe, Ken reminded Jake that Brian was a used car salesman and that he could be very manipulative.
At the immunity challenge, it came down to Brian for Chuay Gahn and Jake for Sook Jai. Brian outlasted Jake, winning immunity for Chuay Gahn. As the castaways returned to camp, they noticed that a monkey had raided their food supply. Meanwhile, Jake blamed himself for losing the immunity challenge. Erin attempted to console Jake. With Tribal Council on its way, Sook Jai held a tribe meeting to determine whether or not they should reveal each other's votes. They felt that it would be extremely tough to vote someone out. In the end, Erin was voted out, becoming the first member of the jury.
|69||9||"Desperate Measures"||Recap||November 14, 2002||21.62||8.6/22|
With a five to three advantage in numbers over Sook Jai, Chuay Gahn felt that they were in a powerful position. Jake attempted to entertain both tribes and bond with Chuay Gahn by telling adventure stories, however he ended up annoying Clay. As the tribes gathered for a reward challenge, Jeff announced that they had officially merged.
The challenge came down to Brian and Helen. In the end, Brian won his video from home. Back at camp, Clay revealed his distaste for Ted. Jake, taking advantage of Clay's distaste for Ted, lobbied Clay to form a voting block with the Sook Jai three.
The immunity challenge came down to Clay and Ken. In the end, immunity was won by Clay. After returning to camp, Ted brought up voting out Ken as a physical threat. Ken, feeling vulnerable, attempted to break the Chuay Gahn alliance. In the end, the Chuay Gahn five stuck together, and Ken was voted out, becoming the second member of the jury.
|70||10||"While the Cats are Away"||Recap||November 21, 2002||N/A||TBA|
After returning from Tribal Council, Ted was upset that the three Sook Jai members had targeted him. Jake explained that Clay had told them to vote for Ted, however Ted thought he was lying to him.
Brian won the reward challenge and chose Clay to join him. After Brian took Clay with him on the reward, Ted questioned the strength of their allegiance to one another. Back at camp, Jake lobbied Helen to flip to Sook Jai, explaining that the only way they could win is by getting rid of Brian or Clay. However, Helen was wary of his intentions. After returning from the reward, Brian and Clay brought back food for the others. Meanwhile, believing that her alliance with Jake could hurt her, Penny decided to distance herself from Jake.
Penny's intentions became clear when she snuffed Jake's torch right away at the immunity challenge. Despite this, the Chuay Ghan alliance (minus Clay) quickly saw through Penny's scheme and immediately took her out of the immunity challenge. Helen won immunity, narrowly beating Ted. After returning from the challenge, Jake speculated on why Penny had turned on him at the challenge. In the end, despite her attempts to get Jake out before herself, Penny was voted out, becoming the third member of the jury.
|71||11||"The First 30 Days"||N/A||November 27, 2002||N/A||TBA|
|A recap featuring bonus footage of the first 30 days.|
|72||12||"A Big Surprise... and Another"||Recap||December 5, 2002||21.50||8.6/|
As the castaways gathered for a reward challenge, they were shocked to see their loved ones. Jeff then announced that the loved ones would be competing against each other.
The challenge came down to Helen's husband and Jake's wife. In the end, Helen's husband, Jim, won the challenge. After returning from the challenge, Helen gave Jim a tour of the Chuay Jai camp. Later on, Helen discussed strategy with her husband, telling him that she trusted Brian and didn't trust Clay. When the castaways gathered for the immunity challenge, Jeff announced that the contestants with their loved ones would compete as a team.
In the end, Ted and his brother Aljuan won immunity. After returning to camp, Jake, being the last member of the former Sook Jai tribe, reflected on his vulnerability. In the end, the former Chuay Gahn tribe sent Jake to the jury.
|73||13||"The Tides are Turning"||Recap||December 12, 2002||19.00||7.4/|
The castaways received Tree Mail, along with a full-length mirror and pictures of themselves from prior to the game. While retrieving Tree Mail, Ted asked Brian if their alliance was still strong. Despite being told that their alliance was still intact, Ted was still wary of Brian's intentions. As the castaways gathered for the reward challenge, Jeff drove up in a new Chevrolet TrailBlazer and explained the rules.
The challenge came down to Brian and Ted. Brian managed to unscramble to letters, but misspelled the phrase and yelled it out aloud, giving Ted the correct answer. Ted took advantage and won reward. He chose Helen to come along. While enjoying the reward, Helen and Ted agreed to oust Clay at the next Tribal Council. After returning to camp, Helen approached Jan in hopes of forming a voting block against Clay. Later on, Helen, deciding to play on both sides of the fence, approached Brian and revealed her distaste for Ted.
Immunity was won by Brian. At Tribal Council, the castaways decided that Ted was too much of a physical and mental threat and voted him out.
|74||14||"Slip Through Your Fingers"||Recap||December 19, 2002||24.08||9.9/26|
After returning from Tribal Council in which Ted was voted out, the final four anticipated the difficult choices they would have to make. The castaways received a flower kit with Tree Mail instructing them to design twelve floating krathongs in honor of the castaways who were previously eliminated. They would later release the krathongs into the sea.
Immunity was won by Brian. After winning immunity, Brian secured an agreement with Clay to vote out Helen. He approached Jan in hopes of swaying her vote. In the end, the tribe unanimously voted out Helen.
On the morning of Day 38, Jeff arrived at camp towing a gold canoe with instructions for the tribe's final rite of passage. As the final three castaways paddled, they released the krathongs in honor of the castaways who were voted out.
At the final immunity challenge, Clay and Jan let their coins go, guaranteeing Brian a spot in the final two. At Tribal Council, Brian voted out Jan, who became the final member of the jury.
On Day 39, Brian and Clay set their boat ablaze and reflected on the time spent in Thailand. At the final Tribal Council, Erin asked the finalists why the person sitting next to them doesn't deserve the million dollars. Brian responded stating that Clay had not put forth the effort he should have. Clay responded by stating that Brian thought he was the head of camp, and that he expected everyone to call him the leader. Ken asked Brian why the tribe decided to vote out Ted. Brian responded by saying they felt that Ted didn't quite fit in with the group. Penny asked the finalists about whether they had bothered to get to know her at all. She started with Brian, asking him if he knew where she had grown up. Brian incorrectly answered the question, while Clay accurately listed several details about her personal life.
Next up was Ted, who told Brian that he was a great used car salesman. He then asked Clay if he made any racist comments behind his back. Clay did not impress Ted by saying he hadn't made any such comments about him, leaving Ted with the impression Clay was dodging whether he had many such remarks in any other context. The final statements came from a betrayed Helen, who confronted her former ally Brian. She asked Brian why he hadn't told her that she was the next to go. Brian explained that he heard from Jan that Helen and Ted were targeting him and felt that she had betrayed him first. He admitted that he had made a mistake. Helen then asked Clay, who she deeply disliked and vice versa, to name three instances when he had done physical labor to help the tribe; Clay responded by telling Helen he wasn't going to respond to her question.
In the end, the jury sided with Brian and declared him the Sole Survivor with a vote of 4–3 with Brian receiving the votes of Jan, Helen, Ted, and Jake and Clay receiving Erin, Ken, and Penny's votes.
|75||15||"The Reunion"||N/A||December 19, 2002||N/A||TBA|
|The castaways discuss the season with host, Jeff Probst.|
- Clay and Jan were not eligible to vote as the only eligible players they could vote for were each other.
Survivor: Thailand was met with a mostly negative reception and is generally considered one of the weakest seasons in the show's history. The primary criticisms were aimed at the unlikeable cast and the "Fake Merge" twist, which led to the demise of Sook Jai. In 2005, Probst stated that he was not fond of the season, going as far as calling it his least favorite to date. He described the season as "mean-spirited and marred with hostility and ugliness" and called Brian, Clay, Helen, and Jan "the least likable final four ever." Dalton Ross, the Survivor columnist of Entertainment Weekly, ranked it as the third worst season of the series, only ahead of Survivor: Fiji and Survivor: Nicaragua. Andrea Reiher of Zap2it ranked Thailand as the second-worst season of the series, only ahead of Survivor: Redemption Island, while Joe Reid of The Wire ranked it as the 6th-worst season. In 2018, Survivor fan site "The Purple Rock Podcast" ranked Thailand as the 2nd-worst season of the series, only ahead of Survivor: Nicaragua, describing the cast as "a definite contender for least likable cast of all time." Also in 2015, Thailand was ranked as the third-worst season of all time on Rob Cesternino's website, only ahead of Survivor: One World and Redemption Island.
- "'Survivor': Jeff Probst Ranks All the Seasons, Worst to First". Entertainment Weekly. 10 February 2010.
- "Jeff Probst: "Survivor" seasons I loved – and hated". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on September 1, 2014.
- Ross, Dalton (December 11, 2014). "Survivor recap: The Art of the Blindside". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 14, 2014.
- Reiher, Andrea (December 10, 2013). "Survior's 10 best and 5 worst seasons". Zap2it. Archived from the original on June 17, 2015. Retrieved December 16, 2014.
- Reid, Joe. "A Definitive Ranking of Every Season of 'Survivor'".
- "Survivor season rankings (with spoiler-free summaries) - The Purple Rock Survivor Podcast". The Purple Rock Survivor Podcast. 10 September 2018.
- "Survivor Top 30 All-Time Season Rankings Results – RobHasAwebsite.com". 21 September 2015.