5 Changes We Want To See On Survivor In 2021

Hopes for the future…

Photo: CBS

Survivor is on hiatus for the rest of the year due to the coronavirus pandemic and so what better time to think about what we’d like to see from the show when it returns. That is assuming Survivor is able to film and make it to air in 2021. Let’s pray to the Survivor gods!

From casting to twists to aesthetics, here are five changes I’d like to see when Survivor comes back.


Cagayan Brains
Photo: CBS

Calls for racial inclusion and increased diversity on reality-tv have picked up steam in recent months, thanks to a petition started by Cagayan alum J’Tia Taylor. And this downtime in production provides a perfect opportunity for the show to fix its diversity issues both on-screen and off. 

As Island of the Idols castaway Lauren Beck recently discussed on RHAP, Survivor needs to widen its casting pool to attract more Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) contestants. This starts with changes in the casting team itself—the core group of which is all white. Bringing greater diversity to the casting team and other areas of production, including editors and story-producers, means that BIPOC can have their stories better reflected on TV. This should extend to representatives of the LGBTQ community as well.

Survivor has been casting similar archetypes and showing the same perspectives for years; it’s time to highlight some new stories. 


Photo: CBS

I’m not one of those “Survivor should go back to basics” people; I understand idols and twists will always be part of the game. And in small doses, those things can make for thrilling television. But Survivor’s recent focus on fancy trinkets over its characters has become a crutch. There have been 72 hidden immunity idols between season 30-40—the majority of them from the past five seasons. That’s on top of Extra Votes and Vote Steals and Legacy Advantages and Idol Nullifiers and now Fire Tokens.

It would be nice to see the show scale back on the advantages somewhat as we enter the next era. At least limit the number of idols per season. Idol plays are so frequent now (especially in the end-game) that they’ve become boring in their predictability. When I think of the best and most dramatic vote-offs of the past couple of years, I think of the Aubry blindside in Edge of Extinction or the Sophie blindside in Winners At War. Neither of those votes required idols or advantages, just great gameplay from smart castaways.

Survivor needs to start trusting its cast members to bring the entertainment.


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Fire Making Challenge
Photo: CBS

The intention behind the final four fire-making is understandable. It’s a lifeline for the “big threats” to reach the end, and the pros probably outweigh the cons in the eyes of Jeff Probst and co. After all, it helped Ben win, it brought us the first-ever Final Tribal tie-vote in Ghost Island, and it led to the emotionally intense Sarah vs. Tony showdown in Winners At War. But it’s also made the end-game far less dynamic. 

Watching people practice fire every finale night is not as entertaining as the final four trying to maneuver one final idol-less vote. And that’s another thing; there are no more idol-less votes where the players must rely on their social and strategic skill to survive. A player can (and has) idol themselves to the final four and then make fire and get into the Final Tribal despite being the biggest target in the game. 

Adam Klein summed it up perfectly in an ET Canada interview when he said, “If you haven’t managed your threat level, then perhaps you’re not the best player.” And this ties into the “too many idols and advantages” complaint. The fire-making challenge removes the nuance and complexities that make the game of Survivor so compelling in the first place.

For a show that likes to promote itself as “always evolving,” the fire-making challenge feels repetitive and stagnant. 


Challenge in EOE
Photo: CBS

Survivor has created some incredibly breathtaking challenges over the years, but recently it has all become a bit same-y. The majority of pre-merge challenges involve some sort of obstacle course (either on land or in the ocean) followed by a puzzle or throwing a thing at another thing. Meanwhile, a large amount of post-merge challenges tend to be balance-based endurance. 

It would be refreshing to see Survivor get a little more creative in the challenge department. You only have to look to Australian Survivor to see how much fun you can have with the challenges. Now, I’m not expecting to see Animal Charades make its way to Survivor US (I wish!). But there are other Aussie challenges from which to take inspiration. Pre-merge endurance challenges are something I would especially love to see, tasks that force the entire tribe to work as one.

I’m not saying I want all the challenges to be as physical as in Australian Survivor, which perhaps favors strength too much. However, a shake-up to the routine once in a while would be welcome. Also, let’s bring back those epic mazes!


Jeff Probst WAW
Photo: CBS

Survivor has an excellent art department; there’s no doubt about that. You can see the tremendous effort that goes into the Tribal Council sets each season. But sometimes seasons blend into one another, especially now the show is stuck in Fiji permanently. And so, it would be cool to see more aesthetic changes to differentiate the seasons from one another.

This could be as simple as changing up the color schemes of the buffs, flags, and challenge pieces. Even better if you can build the season’s entire look around a particular theme, like Pearl Islands‘ fantastic pirate concept. Survivor has some of the best cinematography in reality-television, so let’s make sure what’s on-screen pops.

Let us know what you would like to see in the comments below!

Written by

Martin Holmes

Martin is a freelance writer from England. He’s represented by Berlin Associates for comedy writing and writes about TV and entertainment, currently for TV Insider and Vulture, previously Digital Spy, ET Canada, and Yahoo. A finalist for the Shortlist Sitcom Search in 2012 for “Siblings,” Martin received his BA in English with Creative Writing from The University of Hull. Martin is the owner and editor-in-chief of Insider Survivor.

90 responses to “5 Changes We Want To See On Survivor In 2021”

  1. They should keep the final four force fire making challenge and not get rid of it, its a fundamental need in the game of Survivor. Its there for a purpose and Jeff and producers have that power and there going in the right direction for it. They have the power keep it permanently.

    • Im like you I want the fire challenge to continue at the final four. I believe it adds an element of excitement.

      • Also its always 3-1 traditional vote from season 13 to 34 its rare to have tie vote at the final 4 the statistics are there

  2. My change request for what its worth … there are sooo many people on earth that want a chance to be a survivor contestant….PLEASE, please… never EVER bring back ANYONE that has played before !

    • Yes, please stop bringing back people that have already been on. Especially if they were winners! This is just not in good taste.

    • Agreed, let’s see fresh faces! So many people are brought back from previous seasons who have already played/won multiple times. More people deserve the chance to play and win! Hope I get the chance to participate one day.

  3. I’m with you… But they’re already very diverse… Calling for more that is part problem, just stop making everything about race

    • Thank you, I don’t care what race someone is, what sex or sexual preference, all I care is they are the best person for the job. As far as contestants go, don’t care if everyone is black, white or gay as long as they are good at it and entertaining. Last few seasons there was no one that stood out or exceptional. ( no real characters like coach or Ozzies)

  4. These are all excellent. I’d love to see more trivia challenges and those where they have to say “which survivor is the least trustworthy”, etc. The ones where the tribe pecking order is revealed are awesome. My main change would be longer episodes!

  5. I love Survivor and I have been wanting it since the very first episode. I can’t believe I have to wait an entire year to watch it again. Isn’t there anything that can be done?

    • Absolutely! If you can lift yourself from the bottom to one of the final 3 – that’s what Survivor is ALL about. Winning challenges & this is the final challenge!

    • Survivor is on twice a year – in September or the end of January in the beginning of February which ever I guess depending on the Super Bowl.

  6. I’d love for the show to go back to final two. The third place person hardly ever has any votes cast for them.

  7. I like the final four fire making, gives an opportunity for a deserving contestant a chance versus getting voted out because they are a threat. Also I would like to see more change ups in the tribes (switches) to keep alliances from controlling the game

    • If a men can win the game by final 4 fire making challenge so can a women its never been done before but I have faith it could happen in future seasons to come

    • I think it would be amazing to see something like Palau (if I am remembering correctly) where they all start off together. Only this time don’t split then into tribes until day 3 at the immunity challenge. That was they get to bind at the start and form relationships with people who will be on the other tribe so when switches and merges happen tribe lines are more fluid!

      • I def agree with this one. Let them start with one huge tribe with a built in camp. Let them stay there until Day 3 then pull out an individual challenge wherein the first two person to complete the task will have the right to pick their tribemates. They will go back to their built in camp as 2 tribes living as one until the next challenge for both immunity and reward.

    • I agree!!!! He coaches the players way too much as to what say at tribal council. Also, it is ridiculous the way players are whispering to each other at tribal. This shouldn’t be allowed.

  8. I, too, am bored with all of the immunity idols. Outwit,Outlast, Outplay doesnt mean save yourself with an immunity idol. I wish they would go back to the food auctions, and the food eating competition. Push the contestants out of their comfort zones. Make the game more psychological

  9. The biggest change I would like to see is the end of returning players….I want to see more new people – maybe a cast of multi-time applicants that have applied several times but have never gotten on. Why wouldn’t that be a welcome change?

  10. Yes,I agree..lets get more diversity by having more ethnic people,such as Blacks,Latinos,transgendered men and women,heavy/thin,even midget/short people. Just everyday people that us as viewers can somewhat relate to. Just a GREAT MIXTURE of REGULAR people.

  11. I would love to see a challenge reward with the winning team getting to sit in and VOTE OFF a player from the losing team! This would work best pre merge and should only be done once per season or every few seasons so it’s not expected. Also the reward should be said the winning teams sits in at tribal but the they have to take a message with them and open it up just before voting where it says the winning team now votes someone off after hearing everything that was said during tribal! What chaos and excitement this would bring another new twist!!!

  12. There are too many puzzles. I like the memory challenges and having to eat disgusting food. Also, bring back the survivor auction. Thanks. I also don’t like the firemaking at the end

  13. Change the location!! Part of the thrill of Survivor was every season was set in a different place, and that location was the theme of each season, not all this stupid contrived stuff like Hustlers vs. Healers vs., whatever. That’s the kind of garbage that has to come in to play with the show permanently set in Fiji. Also lost are the educational aspects, with each season being a history, culture, and geography lesson pertaining to the host island or country. Now it’s all about nothing but the players and who should be voted out next. It’s becoming Big Brother without a roof.

    • Spot on. It was always so refreshing, too, when the survivors would win a challenge and then be taken to a village and exposed to a local cultural ceremony/celebration. The “Heroes/Healers etc.” and “War of the Collars” stuff is clever at first, but it never really matters in the end. It’s about how individuals work with and against one another.

  14. I think the race breakdown as it is is totally fine. Whites make up a little over 2/3 of the population, Hispanics or Latinos about 15% & blacks about 13%. Native Americans & people native to Alaska a little over 1%. About 5 or 6% are other races. So by the people they have now everybody is equitably represented. Doing otherwise would ne a lopsided representation of the population.

    • Stop making everything about race. The show already represents the U.S. population diversity percentages. Enough of returning players. Its a game show, I’m sure lots of people have applied to play. Also, when a person has been voted off they should stay off. I love the show but really hate to see returning winners trying to earn another million.

  15. I have been a fan since season 1. I have an option as a viewer. Because I do not know who you polled or who is giving comments. So I am going to throw my hat in the ring I agree there should be more diversity in race, more of a equal combination of culture. However I do not feel sexual preference should be a contender for approval . I AM NOT INTERESTED in who you have sex with, that is a personal choice. This is a game and being part of the LBTGD group should not be a reason to be picked . This is ridiculous! This is entertainment , not a platform! If a persons qualify who happens to be be homosexual that’s one thing. But don’t choose them next your afraid! Too much change will make me change the channel. What % are willing to gamble on?

  16. Ythe survivors should have to find food. There’s a huge ocean! And certain leaves and roots that can be eaten. Make them “survive” like in the beginning episodes

  17. Bring back the gross- out food challenge! That was awesome!
    The challenges where they knock each other out was good, too, showing where people’s allegiances are.

  18. I would live to see less idols. They need to stop talking at tribals councils. I would live to see go immediately to voting with no time to discuss voting strategies. I think there is already decent race variety. They’ve have supported the LGBT community and cross races adequately. I would like to see different regions of 4 teams start out. Like country divided. Does area matter where you come from change the game?

  19. It would be great to get rid of all the whispering at tribal Council they should already know at camp who they’re going to eliminate and when they get all up in each other and start whispering it’s distracting. I would like to see the eliminated cast aways walk in and see how they look cleaned up like they used to and get rid of the family reunion show you’re on the show for only 39 days or so it’s not like you’re in Iraq for 6 to 8 months.

  20. Stop bringing back former contestants and ESPECIALLY winners….they’ve had their chance(s)!!!!!!! If they do just one season like this I will stop watching forever and I have been a loyal fan since day one. I want to see NEW faces!!!!!!!!!

  21. At Trible council , they need to go back to the old ways, just answering questions from Jeff Probst, or publically confronting each other, then vote. No whispering and strategizing before voting

  22. Seems already diverse. I’ll be turned away quickly if they start pushing cultural agendas down my throat. Cast according to personality, age, experience, desire for the challenge, etc. Let that include all races and lifestyles but not to force agenda down anyone’s throat. Let it be more happenstance.

  23. I am a very loyal fan of Survivor I’ve never missed one single episode from the very first time it aired the only problem I have why can’t work Canadian be on the show probably the biggest majority of the fans are Canadians lots of Canadians would love to be on that show but you never ever cast one single Canadian all these years that’s one thing I would like to see it change it start bringing Canadians on the show giving them the opportunity

    • Too many damn puzzles. It’s survivor, not 3rd grade. I remember going over a waterfall. Tug of wars. Long runs through the jungle. Eating creepy things.

  24. Two finalists, not three. Yes, to the family reunion. No, to the restrictions on food-threatening to their health. A few too many idols. Love the whispering at tribal council. My only big complaint–the show is not long enough-should be 2 hours. The show is amazing.

  25. Ivwas a semifinalist at 57 and am now 65 still just as competitive and feel frre to speak my mind what is wrong with having older peiple lije baby boomers against these youngsters. Give us a chance and make the show more like it was in the beginning and quit bringing all the same people back. You will have all new groups of people we can love or dislike

  26. Go back to the players actually surviving the wild. No puzzles and can we stop Jeff Probst for constantly babbling and saying the exact same words every show. So boring.

  27. I too am a fan since Day 1 and, obviously, Survivor is doing something right, since it’s the longest running reality TV Mary Saunders. I couldn’t agree more; new season, new players! Tribal Council is getting out of control; jumping out of your seat is riDONKulous; open discussion with Jeff can be entertaining, but leave it at that. I like the cultural experiences, as well, and the home visits; it’s called a REWARD for a reason. However, I want to thank all military for their service that enables my freedom; what a selfless act! Diversity is always good!

  28. A lot of good ideas. I like: only having new contestants on the show, no music so we can hear better, longer episodes, having the opposite team vote off the losing teams’player (once) and having us Canadians participate! How about also having both teams present at every tribal council so that everyone would be more informed. I would also like a regular quick update/comment on the general status of the contestants during the show from a Third party commentator.

  29. I think if they are going to bring old people back they shoulf bring the people that were voted off the show first episode or like the first 3 to see if those people can make it this time around . more food winning challenges. Do challenges about triva questions about people on their tribe see which tribe knows the most about each other or tribes get asked questions on which member of the othe tribe they think it is about
    Challenges that arent all about sports like triva and math . less idols . bring it back to final 2 instead of 3

  30. I too think there are too many idols and chances to stay in the game, none of which require any game play. The tribal councils should be open discussions. No whispering and plotting at the last minute.

  31. I would beat any one and they need more minorities players. Second too much idols let’s see how well someone can work
    Their strategy to stay in the game.

  32. EVERYONE Leave Jeff alone, CAUSE He is SURVIVOR , It would NOT be the same with anyone else, besides thats his life and baby. Yes I’m OLD SCHOOL SURVIVOR, change is OK up to a point… Too any idols around…just bring back the simple way of the game, I’m sure Amber and Rob would agree…(.” Hi guys” you were the best players EVER ). LOVE THE SHOW…NEVER LET IT GO. YES, YES, YES WITH THE COCONUTS

  33. I agree about the race issue. I have been a fan of the show since it last aired. We use to have survivor parties on the last episode. But this past season, I just didn’t get the whole fire token reasoning?? I kept thinking I missed something. Please don’t do that again. I find it interesting about the survivors searching n using idols.

  34. It would be interesting to have a map or overhead view of where the camps are, challenges are held, tribal is held, etc.

  35. A whole lot less of the hidden idols would be real nice.
    It alway seems strong players are voted out first, because they can win. An advantage for strong players. Maybe a tier system until the merge would be nice.

  36. Get rid of the whispering at tribal. If you haven’t cemented your strategy before tribal, well too bad. The whispering gets ridiculous and takes away from the show.

  37. 1) I don’t say no idols or advantages at all, but I do say DAMNED FEWER of them. It’s no longer Outwit, Outplay, Outlast, it has become Out Scavenger Hunt.
    2) Stop it with the massive whisper fest at Tribal Councils. Jeff looks for all the world like an overwhelmed school teacher standing before a classroom full of delinquent students. I understand that they cut the opening credits and “Previously on Survivor” segments in the interest of managing what limited time they have, but why in the world replace those things with a massive whisper fest?
    3) There need to be some female champions. 12 of the last 15 winners have been men, and that includes the last 6 in a row. both of these streaks are unprecedented in Survivor history, and IMO, at least 2 of the last 6 consecutive male champions absolutely did not deserve to win. Also, 62 of the last 68 final tribal council votes to win have gone to men, that’s 91.17% of recent FTC votes to men. Whether this has happened by design or not, that’s a massive gender disadvantage. There need to at least be attempts made to address this gender imbalance among Survivor champions.

  38. It seems a lot of people really don’t want to see returning players, and I fully agree. A big part of the allure of the show is how these people react to totally alien circumstances. WAW was one of my least favorite seasons, despite how much I liked all those characters. There was no “survival” aspect, no fish-out-of-water freakouts. As far as diversity, I’ve always thought Survivor did a pretty great job of being inclusive, especially in respect to the actual makeup of our country. I also find it funny that J’Tia, the self-proclaimed genius who lost her marbles and sabotaged her tribe’s rice, is the one passing the petition around.

  39. My two cents, Seasons with former players are usually some of the best Seasons, I’m thinking Heroes vs. Villains, Second Chances and Fans vs. Favorites, I agree that the location should at least change once in a while, or if it’s about cost saving at least make an effort with the theme, I hate the final 4 fire making challenge, it disregards strategy and game-play, miss the individual jury questioning, and the intro should stay intact, everyone loves the intro don’t know why they messing with it, I don’t agree with the race diversity necessarily, but would love to see more diverse casting whether race, or religion or nationality or sexual preference not just about race. More character development and not only about strategy. Less advantages yesssss.

  40. Survivor is based off of Outwit Outplay Outlast so for the final four challenge the three that win get to go to the final three the challenge could consist of a water maze that gets you a fire making kit in which you need to make fire and then complete a puzzle or something.

    Next idea: Casting should put 40 people up for the next survivor season and like America Ninja Warrior you have to battle against those forty people for a spot on the island where you actually get to play. This way you know you have players out there the entire season. You can televise the semi final round or not but I think it would make everyone a lot more competitive and not there to just fill a “role”

  41. suggestions

    -challenges where they have to do something before jeff explains the game.

    example. there’s a pile of puzzle pieces jeff says you need to hide all the puzzle pieces before you start the game. players make it difficult to find think that it will be an advantage. plot twist jeff then explains that they need to find puzzle pieces they hid. some forget where they hid it other made it difficult and are regretting their choices. (this what they do in taskmaster)

    -bring back the story challenge.

    – i don’t mind twist and i would like to add mine.

    one tribe vote a player out but doesn’t leave the game. instead, they become a ghost. they will live in their former tribes camp but they don’t do any challenges or vote. but they can influence and manipulate other players. they can also earn advantages for the challenge to comeback to the game or give advantages to players they have alliances with.

    -more locations. we’ve been stuck in tropical beach for a decade maybe change in up. maybe a western theme where they live in a ghost town, maybe water based where the camp in a boat and there’s nothing bit open sea or even artic

  42. Just a couple of hidden immunity idols, no advantages, no final four fire making, more diversity, no return of former players, return of challenges requiring memory and who is the one who (personality traits). I also liked the old challenges where the contestants had to go into the woods/building to find certain things and or answer questions.

  43. They should do a Survivor Senior 56+ there are many of us that would love to compete but it’s a bit tough with 30/40 year olds.
    Survivor Senior 56+ would give more of us an opportunity to compete!

  44. Have a competition to apply for survivor. With a little back story on each and let the fans vote then into a tribe.

    Please stop bringing back former tribe members – esp those who have won? I guess money is the real purpose of the show and why they bring them back again and again.

    I watched a season where they didn’t hunt for food or fish at all. They even had hammocks. Water bottles they brought to challenges. Maybe have a water well there for them. Otherwise show how they are getting these items.

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