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The Most Iconic Loved Ones Visits on ‘Survivor’

Julia Delbel

Julia Delbel

One of the major moments on any Survivor season is the loved ones visit. It usually happens about 30 days into the 39-day game and is the last major game milestone before the Day 39 breakfast and final tribal council. It has also produced plenty of heartwarming, heartbreaking, and hilarious moments over the years, so let’s take a look back at some of the most memorable ones!


Memory Lane of Loved Ones on Survivor

The Notorious Grandma Lie – Survivor: Pearl Islands

This one started out like you’re typical Survivor family visit: one at a time, each player got to reunite with their loved one and then watch the others greet theirs’s. Last to come out was “Thunder D”, friend of Jon Dalton AKA “Johnny Fairplay”.

The Survivor: Pearl Islands castaways reunite with their loved ones

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When Jon asked about his grandmother, he was told she had died and broke down in tears. This provoked a strong emotional reaction from the rest of the players…well, most of them (the season’s eventual winner, Sandra Diaz-Twine, was characteristically unmoved by this display) and helped Jon win the challenge, giving him the opportunity to spend extra time with his friend.


Johnny Fairplay reveals the truth about his grandmother on Survivor: Pearl Islands

It wasn’t until after the challenge that the audience was let in on the truth: the whole dead grandmother thing was actually a ploy to convince the other castaways to let the two of them spend more time together. It worked like a charm, though Jon’s grandmother was none too pleased when production called to check up on the family and she was the one who picked up the phone!

Jeff Probst interviews Johnny Fairplay’s grandmother during the Survivor: Pearl Islands reunion

The Surprise Visit – Survivor: Tocantins

The format of Survivor loved ones visits can vary. There’s the aforementioned typical style of everyone reuniting with their visitor one by one and then competing in a challenge to spend more time together, but sometimes the visits are revealed in a surprising way. Survivor: Tocantins achieved this by combining the family visit with an old favorite reward challenge, the Survivor auction, with each castaway being given a set amount of money to bid on food, comfort items, and advantages.

The Survivor: Tocantins loved ones visit is revealed

In this season, the contestants were initially told they were bidding to see a video message from home. The castaways pooled money to give it to Taj Johnson-George, who had a young child at home she was dying to see. She broke down in tears while viewing the message from her husband – former NFL player Eddie George – and didn’t even realize the big reveal at the end of the clip: Eddie was on location and would be coming back to the tribe’s camp!


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Of course, this came with a bit of a twist: Taj had the opportunity to take Eddie back to the camp, or go with him to the notoriously harsh Exile Island and allow everyone else’s loved ones to go back to the camp. She did not hesitate to choose the latter, making for a rare time everyone “won” the chance to spend more time with their visitor.

A Major Breakdown – Survivor: Philippines

The family visit always provokes strong emotional reactions from the contestants, but Lisa Whelchel in Survivor: Philippines absolutely takes the cake on that front. Lisa – also known for starring in popular 80’s sitcom The Facts of Life – had invited her brother to come out as her loved one, and her tears upon his arrival were something else.

Lisa Whelchel reacts to seeing her brother on Survivor: Philippines

While some people poke fun at Lisa’s over-the-top reaction, we can’t really blame her. Having no contact with anyone you know for a month must be unimaginably difficult, and you have to admit their reunion was very touching.

Lisa Whelchel with her brother, Justice, on Survivor: Philippines

What have been some of your favorite Survivor loved ones visits? Let us know in the comments below!

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About the Author

Julia Delbel
Julia is a writer at Talent Recap and hails from the Greater Toronto Area. She is currently pursuing a degree in Media Studies. When not sharing her latest reality TV hot takes she's likely enjoying a game night with friends, collecting enamel pins, or spending time with her cat, Zoey.

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