Survival Mode is a mode which is unlocked when Adventure Mode is completed for the first time (which means getting the Silver Sunflower Trophy by beating Dr. Zomboss on the final level), where the player must survive continuous waves of zombies. They get to choose new seed packets to defend against the zombies every one or two flags (depending on whether playing the normal or hard versions) to continue building up their defenses. For each wave of zombies passed, the plants of the player previously had on the lawn and their sun remain, but lawn mowers, pool cleaners, and roof cleaners are not renewed. At the end of the first completion of each Survival level, a trophy is received with a diamond, along with gold coins for any remaining lawn mowers, pool cleaners or roof cleaners. Survival Mode does not appear in the iPod, iPhone, Nook, and DSiWare versions and the iPad and Kindle versions do not include any of the hard levels. The normal modes last five waves, hard modes last ten flags (five waves with two flags per wave), and Survival: Endless keeps on going until the zombies reach the player's house and eat his or her brains.
Normal modes: Day through Roof
In each of these modes, the player must survive five waves of zombies in the game. The zombie concentration is the same as in Adventure Mode levels, so these levels should be pretty easy. Zombies from other areas may show up in some cases. The toughest zombie the player can encounter is a Football Zombie.
- Flag Zombie
- Conehead Zombie
- Pole Vaulting Zombie
- Buckethead Zombie
- Newspaper Zombie
- Screen Door Zombie
- Football Zombie
- Dancing Zombie (except roof)
- Backup Dancer (except roof)
- Ducky Tube Zombie (pool and fog)
- Snorkel Zombie (pool and fog)
- Zomboni (fog and roof)
- Dolphin Rider Zombie (fog only)
- Jack-in-the-Box Zombie (fog and roof)
- Balloon Zombie (fog and roof)
- Digger Zombie (fog only)
- Pogo Zombie (fog and roof)
- Zombie Yeti (if previously encountered)
- Bungee Zombie (roof only)
- Ladder Zombie (fog and roof)
- Catapult Zombie (fog and roof)
- Trash Can Zombie (Nintendo DS, Xbox Live Arcade, and PlayStation 3 versions only)
Hard modes: Day (Hard) through Roof (Hard)
These levels, as the name states, are quite hard. This time, the player must survive ten flags, with the zombies changing every two flags. To win this, plants like the Twin Sunflower, Gatling Pea with Torchwood, Winter Melon, and Pumpkin are essential. As the groups are different every time the player plays a level, it is not possible to create a strategy based on exactly what was encountered. The player will probably want to have his or their Sunflowers inside Pumpkins in the back with a row of Split Peas, Spikerocks, or a pair of Gloom-shrooms (one on the second row from the bottom, and one on the second row from the top) if Digger Zombies come, or a row of Cacti if there are Balloon Zombies, although Cattails work much better for this purpose in Survival: Fog, Survival: Pool and Survival: Fog (Hard).
Blovers can also work, but the player has to pay extreme attention. Survival: Day (Hard) and Survival: Pool (Hard) should be the easiest, with Survival: Night (Hard) slightly more difficult, Survival: Roof (Hard) still more difficult, and the hardest being Survival: Fog (Hard), though this is subjective. Cob Cannons come in handy on these levels, it's almost a must to use, as there will probably be Gargantuars at some point (usually after flags five and six), but they aren't necessary; instant kills such as Cherry Bombs, Jalapenos, and Squash should be sufficient. However, they make Survival: Roof (Hard) much less strenuous, and are very useful on Survival: Fog (Hard).
The iPad has Survival Mode but does not have Survival: Hard. It does have Survival: Endless however.
Survival: EndlessThis time, the player plays in a pool level and attempts to survive as many waves of zombies as he or she can, choosing new seeds every two flags. At first, the zombie density is the same as in the Hard modes, but it quickly grows to over that of Column Like You See 'Em. In addition, upgrades for plants get progressively more expensive; for every upgrade plant that is on the screen, additional upgrade plants cost 50 more sun. Winter Melons and Pumpkins are essential here, and both Cob Cannon and Gloom-shrooms are a must in almost all builds. Instant kills are very good here, although not completely necessary with the Cob Cannons, and zombies come in such droves that playing a half-hour of this will earn the player maybe $20,000 or $30,000 if he or she only clicks half or a third of the coins, given that the player is at least fifteen waves in. The high number of zombies also has the effect of generating many diamonds in a short time; at its best a diamond may appear every four to five seconds.
Alternatively, (depending on preference) the player could use Potato Mines and Imitater Potato Mines combined with Cattails to hold the zombies back while he or she saves up to go straight to Winter Melons, Cob Cannons or other powerful plants. This mode also introduces the Giga-gargantuar, a red-eyed version of the normal Gargantuar that has 300 health; enough to take four instant kills worth of damage before finally going down, which means it has double the health compared to the Gargantuar.
Note: There can be more than one Survival: Endless by playing a Survival: Hard game and modifying the save file name, it is possible to create Survival: Day (Endless), Survival: Night (Endless) and others. However, these are only seen in the online version. Players can also play other Survival: Endless levels through the Limbo Page, but only on the PC version of the game.
Online versionIn the online version, there is only one form of Survival Mode. It takes place at night and it is an endless mode. The player can only choose four plants. This is the only way to defend against the Giga-Football Zombie.
- For more, see Survival: Night (Endless).
- Survival: Day
- Survival: Night
- Survival: Pool
- Survival: Fog
- Survival: Roof
- Survival: Day (Hard)
- Survival: Night (Hard)
- Survival: Pool (Hard)
- Survival: Fog (Hard)
- Survival: Roof (Hard)
- Survival: Endless
Some Survival levels are hidden in Limbo Page; there are:
Via hacking, the player can also play Survival normal, hard and endless "Night Roof"
- In Survival: Endless in the Nintendo DS version of Plants vs. Zombies, there is a mistake where it says Survival: Day (Endless); it should say Survival: Pool (Endless) or Survival: Endless.
- In all Survival Modes, a Trash Can Zombie occasionally appears, but only in versions which include the Trash Can Zombie.
- After completing nine of the ten survival levels, the music tune that is played after beating a level changes.
- There is an error in the Game of the Year version of the game. During the seed selection on Survival: Roof, Survival: Roof (Hard) and Survival: Roof (Endless), the "View Lawn" button will still say "View Lawn" instead of "View Roof".
- When the player loses, the losing message says, "You survived (number of flags completed) flag(s), before dying a gruesome zombie death!!" instead of "THE ZOMBIES ATE YOUR BRAINS!"
- This also happens in the online version.
- Zombie Bobsled Teams do not appear in Survival Mode, even though Zombonis leave ice trails.
- Zombonis and Gargantuars (with Imps) do not appear until the player is four or five flags, respectively, into a Survival level. Because of this, Gargantuars never appear in normal Survival levels. Giga-gargantuars only appear in Survival: Endless after completing ten flags.
- Survival Mode, Quick Play, and the Zen Garden are the only game modes that aren't unlocked from a Present.
- Although this mode cannot be accessed until after Adventure Mode is finished, it is possible to use the Limbo Page hack and select Page 0, which is essentially the Survival Mode menu.
- †: Strategy page