Ask The 8-Ball: 5 Future Survivor Themes

Predicting the future of Survivor…


Ask The 8-Ball is a new semi-regular feature here on Inside Survivor where we will be making predictions of things we’ll see over the next 10 seasons of Survivor.

Survivor in the 30s brought us an array of weird and wonderful themes, from the zeitgeisty Millennials vs. Gen-X to the spooky Ghost Island to the mouthful of Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers. With the show set to stay in Fiji for the foreseeable future, one should expect many more themed editions to come over the next 10 seasons. But what crazy concepts will Survivor come up with next?

Here are Inside Survivor’s predictions for 5 Future Survivor Themes…


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It’s perhaps the most obvious returnee theme yet to be seen, but we feel it’s only a matter of time (especially as the OGs aren’t getting any younger). The differing mentalities of “old school gameplay” and “new school gameplay” was a key narrative focus in Second Chance and, more recently, Winners At War, and is certainly worthy of further exploration.

Michele and Rob
Photo: CBS

The theme is easy to grasp and one that we feel could be very competitive (there are even competing Old School / New School Survivor t-shirts on sale). Plus, with 40 seasons now in the books, Heroes vs. Villains makes for a neat cut-off point between the two eras. 


City vs. Country could be a happy compromise for the oft-suggested geographical divide theme. Take a tribe of people who live and work in the bustling hubbub of a metropolitan area and pit them against those who reside in the quiet, pastoral landscapes of rural America. It has all the hallmarks of a classic Survivor social experiment that Jeff Probst likes to tout: differences in upbringing, employment, wealth, diversity, political affiliation, etc.

It has echoes of White Collar vs. Blue Collar, but it doesn’t need to be based solely on jobs. The City tribe doesn’t have to be all suit-wearing business-types, just as the Country tribe doesn’t have to be full of farmers. There can be a mix of personalities and backgrounds on both tribes while still maintaining that core “city life vs. country life” divide. With some recent themes being a little too obscure, City vs. Country is a marketable and straightforward theme that we could see being used in the near future.


This one makes us shudder, but, unfortunately, we can see it being a real possibility. Probst has outright stated that he wants a tribe of teenagers on Survivor and directly asked for teens to apply during the finale of Winners At War. With casting lowering the age of applicants to 16, it certainly seems like some kind of teen-related theme is on the horizon, whether that’s a random mix of adults and teens or children with their parents/guardians in a Blood vs. Water-type scenario.

It’s not a theme we personally want to see, as it veers into some real moral grey area. The physical and mental toll Survivor takes on grown adults is bad enough in itself; we can’t imagine the damage it could do to a 16 or 17-year-old who is still developing emotionally and physically. But that’s never stopped Survivor before, so we expect to see a teen-related theme over the next couple of years.


Second Chance was one of the most popular themes ever and one that almost everyone is clamoring to see again. There was such a buzz in the Survivor community during the first one, with the 32 one-time players campaigning for votes and making their pitches to the public. The live vote reveal during the Worlds Apart finale was a spectacle in itself.

SC Vote
Photo: CBS

Probst is on record as saying production wanted to do another fan-voted cast for season 34, but CBS felt it was too soon to repeat it. Well, it is coming up to 10 seasons now since the last one, and there are many castaways, old and new, deserving of a second shot. While it might not specifically be Second Chance II, we feel confident that there will be another fan-voted theme in the next 10 seasons.


It’s surprising that we never saw the Blood vs. Water theme return in the 30s seasons. While it’s one of those themes that sounds preposterous on paper, it actually worked well in practice, particularly in the first go-around with returning players. And, let’s face it, another returnee Blood vs. Water season would definitely have been preferable to Game Changers.

The concept of having returnees with their loved ones is a fun way to do a mixed season and an excellent opportunity to invite back some players that might not fit a larger all-star-type theme. David vs. Goliath‘s Pat Cusack has said he’d love to play Survivor with his daughter, and, more recently, Marquesas champ Vecepia Towery told EW she’d only return if she could play with her son. With it becoming harder to develop fresh, creative new themes, we could definitely see the revival of Blood vs. Water in the 40s era.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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.

14 responses to “Ask The 8-Ball: 5 Future Survivor Themes”

  1. I think itll be cool to see a season of american born tribe vs immigrants with green card or citizenship and see the difference between those who were born and raised in america comparing the ones who dont.

    Also a good theme id like to see is a one with tribe of multiple time contestens who never won (but like the best one like cirie or malcolm) against a tribe of winners but from international versions of the show. Its can be a cool theme for season 50 and maybe the 10 usa survivors can be chosen by the audience.
    Actually i think that any kind of season that includes international survivors would be cool. Its like people who know the game but unknown for the american audience.

  2. 41. Teen Edition
    42. First Outs vs Finalists (A Second Chance Season for players voted out first and players who made it to the end but did not win)
    43. East vs West vs South
    44. Bloodbath (A BvW season, but instead of pairs, we have trios. There will be 3 starting tribes, each tribe has 6 players, which means 2 families [trios] per tribe)
    45. Preys vs Predators (An All-stars season based on their previous gameplays)
    46. Alaskan Wildreness (Special regular season, first and only season set in a snowy place)
    47. X Island (There will be 3 tribes, but only 1 wins immunity. The other 2 go to a joint tribal council, but before it, they go to X Island to bond/strategize)
    48. USA vs The World (10 returning players from US Survivor vs 10 players from international versions of Survivor)
    49. Dems vs Reps
    50. Allies vs Rivals (An All-stars season: Allies tribe has Tony and Sarah, Wendell and Dom, JT and Fish. Rivals tribe has Sandra and Russell, Adam and Jay, Spencer and Kass)

    • I do love the First Boots vs Finalists and have it be a fan-vote season. The first episode would be high stakes already with someone being a first boot again or someone finally being voted out, depending on which tribe goes to TC. And theres’s the similar feeling for both of the groups with wanting to play again. The first boots want to prove they can go all the way and the finalists want to prove their spot wasn’t a mistake the first time around.

  3. They should do a season that combines the themes of Blood Vs. Water and One World. Take pairs of contestants with a previous relationship, split them into two tribes, and have them all live on the same beach. Can you imagine it being frowned upon by your tribemates to share resources with your spouse?

  4. They should do an identical twins season. Twin vs Twin. Both tribes would look the same but it would be interesting to see how they would compete against each other.

  5. I’m sure I’m going to catch crap for having an opinion but that’s nothing new so why should I let that stop me? Because it is easier to explain, I am going to put myself into these situations (I know that craws your skin, Martin – haha) but this is how I feel about these themes:

    Believe it or not, I would actually be interested in this (other than being a returning players season, which I have neve been a fan of)….my only problem with this is the part about you (Martin) saying “especially as the OGs aren’t getting any younger” because there have been people applying (for years, a-hum) that “aren’t getting any younger” either. I don’t know what the fascination of seeing the same people over & over again – that is my (ultimate) problem with returning player seasons is….I find it insulting & disrespectful to people that (constantly) apply & never get the “once in a lifetime opportunity” that returning players have gotten 2, 3, 4 & even 5 times! That says a lot for how much they “love having fans on the show” as I recall Jeff has said before….clearly, that is not a truthful statement.

    I could get behind this theme too. My only question/concern about this is where would the “city” & “country” divisions be? What I mean by that is, where/how would they geography separate these regions? I mean there are clear “city” areas/regions (let’s say New York & California) & clear “country” areas/regions (let’s say Arkansas & Nebraska) but what about the….I’ll say “in between” areas/regions that have a “mix” of both? Or where would “transplants” (people originally from 1 region but moved to the other)? For example, I grew up in a (small) town called Pasadena, Maryland (yes, there is a Pasadena in Maryland too, not just in California & Texas – it’s between Baltimore & Annapolis, if you care) but moved to Chesterfield, Missouri (a suburb west of St. Louis) in 2013. I would say people would think Maryland is more city-like & Missouri would be more country-like but both of the places I’ve lived I’d say are a mix of both & are more “towns” between both the city & the country. So that could potentially limit where they cast from & with their new casting policy (50% BIPOC) that could be hard to do.

    This is a clear problem to me. AS I completely agree with you (Martin), moral grey area with the physical & mental toll but I also put this in the same category as returning players. While I don’t want to see the same people 2, 3, 4 & even 5 times I find it insulting to see people that haven’t been “old enough” to apply until season 20-30-something when I have been applying since season 2 (when I was 23, by the way)….that is 21 years that I have been applying but brand-new young TEENAGERS have a (much) better change/opportunity of getting/being on than I do when I have been applying since BEFORE they were even born! I don’t mean to be self-centered (as I know I’ll be accused of since I’ve been before) but nobody can rightfully say I’m “wrong” for thinking/feeling that when I have been putting everything into it all for nothing. How would you feel if you have (ever) busted your butt for something & had/have never been successful at it? Don’t tell me you wouldn’t be frustrated with basically completely wasting your time, effort & energy with all the work you had put into it!

    This is the 1/only returning player theme I don’t have a problem with & would like to see again. I think this is different because it is not like they are just throwing the same people (back) at us but we actually get a say in who comes back (it also doesn’t hurt that 13 of my 20 picks made it on).

    This is an interesting theme that I wasn’t sure about when it was revealed but it grew on me. I am not a keen a returning player version (the 1st) but I really enjoyed the newbie (2nd) version. However, being that I’m the only person in my family that is into Survivor I don’t know who would (be willing to) go on with me.

    Wow, Martin, I think that was (mostly) positive! So don’t say I’m always negative & “never” post anything positive….

  6. What about Survivor Legacy?? Like the entire cast is composed of Survivor legends’ kids, or siblings, and no returnees.. V’s son would be in it. Penner’s kid. Malcolm’s brother, Miles. Shane’s son. One of the Collins. One of Sandra’s daughters, Wiggs’kid, Cirie’s son. a culpepper boy. Deitz’s son… Like they can do a hunger games style ripping, and draw names from a fishbowl filled with survivor kids.

  7. A Rivals season is been long over due.. when are we getting it, when Courtney Yates and Jean Robert already likes each other?

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