Total Drama Island sets in a fictional titular reality show that follows the competition of 22 unsuspecting and unknowing teenagers at Camp Wawanakwa, the most run-down, bug-infested, disgusting island located in an unspecified area in Muskoka, Ontario. The campers participate in competitions and challenges which get more insane and dangerous each week to avoid being voted off the island by their fellow campers and teammates. At the end of the series, the winning contestant will win CA$100,000. The competition is hosted by Chris McLean, who is assisted by the camp's chef, Chef Hatchet.
At the beginning of the season, the twenty-two 16-year-old teen campers are placed into two groups of eleven, the "Screaming Gophers" and the "Killer Bass". In each episode, the teams participate in a challenge, in which one or more campers can win invincibility for their team. The losing team is called to the campfire that night, where they vote one of their members off the island. The camper with the most votes is eliminated from the competition. At this campfire, McLean passes out marshmallows to the campers who have not been voted off, while the one who does not get a marshmallow must walk down the Dock of Shame to the Boat of Losers, which will take them away from the island and they will "never, never, never, ever, ever, ever, come back, ever" according to Chris (this was proved a lie in "No Pain, No Game", when he brought Eva and Izzy back into the game).
About halfway through the season, the teams are disbanded, so it is every camper for themselves, after which the challenges continue; the winner of each challenge then only receives invincibility for him or herself, whereupon the rest of the campers vote one camper without invincibility off the island. This process of elimination continued on until two players remain on the island. These two players, Gwen and Owen, were then subject to a final contest. At the end of the season, Owen wins the competition, while Gwen ends up being the runner-up. Total Drama Island is a parody of the reality show Survivor. Host Chris McLean is very similar to Survivor host Jeff Probst. This is the first season in which the winner does not get to keep the money, due to it being eaten by a shark in the episode "Total Drama Drama Drama Drama Island".