You might think it’s premature to be talking about Survivor 50 already, but the milestone season is approaching faster than you think. The CBS reality franchise will film its 47th and 48th seasons this summer and will then begin planning for seasons 49 and 50 just a couple months later.
The show has so far avoided returnee or themed seasons in the new era, so the time feels due. Host and executive producer Jeff Probst has acknowledged the importance of season 50, as well as the growing list of players he’d like to see receive another shot.
“Survivor 50 is definitely our next big target in terms of a milestone, but you’ve got to remember: We’ve got to get there,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly‘s Dalton Ross. “So you have to do 45 and 46, then you have to do 47 and 48, then you have to do 49, then you get to 50. So it is one at a time.”
Speaking of the new era casting, the Emmy-winning host added, “Jesse Tannenbaum [Survivor’s casting director] took over and with his team has found some of the most electric, likable, diverse, layered players of the modern game. So many of them are on our list for a second shot at some point.”
So, with that in mind, I thought it would be appropriate to look at how the show could celebrate its Golden Anniversary in the most epic way possible. Below are some ideas for season themes that could befit such a monumental season.
This has been a long-rumored season theme since around the time season 30 was approaching. While I’ve never personally heard this theme thrown around by production/casting, it makes sense why it’s at the top of fans’ minds. When it comes to marking such a milestone as the 50th season, viewers want to see the show honor its past, which includes its most iconic contestants.
The issue with this theme is that we’ve seen these Survivor icons play numerous times already. Also, there is a lot of overlap with Winners at War, which is how the show celebrated its 40th season. A Legends theme could be far too repetitive.
Also, naming a season Legends shuts out a lot of the great new era players who haven’t quite reached “legend” status. Given Probst’s love for the new era casting, I don’t see him putting together a season that excludes some of his recent favorites.
NEW SCHOOL VS. OLD SCHOOL
This is another long-rumored theme and one I mentioned as a potential option for Season 40. It’s the perfect theme for including both legends and recent fan favorites. It’s a clear and understandable theme but broad enough that it doesn’t restrict the casting options.
It’s been a long time since we’ve had a versus theme, and it would make for a refreshing change. Pitting old-school veterans against modern-day castaways is sure to spark competitive spirit and make for some intense and highly entertaining battles.
NEW ERA ALL-STARS
There is always the possibility that the show forgoes its legends entirely and focuses strictly on its new-era stars. The show has already developed quite the pool of possible returnees since Survivor 41, and there are still seasons 46-49 to come. And that’s not to mention the one-time players from Survivor 35-39 who never had the chance to return.
It might not be as flashy a theme as Legends or New School vs. Old School, and it would be a shame not to see any early-era players in the 50th season. However, it’s perhaps the most realistic option, especially given the way Probst has talked about the new era in interviews.
WINNERS AT WAR 2
This is probably the least likely of the themes mentioned so far, but it’s not impossible. By the time Survivor 50 rolls around, the show will have added nine new winners to its ranks. That’s already half a cast. Then there are the winners who never made the cut for Survivor 40, the likes of Richard Hatch, Tina Wesson, Vecepia Towery, Jenna Morasca, Todd Herzog, Tom Westman, Earl Cole, Natalie White, Jud “Fabio” Birza, John Cochran, Chris Underwood, etc.
Would it be my top pick for a Season 50 theme? Probably not. But I do think it has potential with the right mix of former winners.
SECOND CHANCE II
It’s still shocking that Survivor has never done another edition of Second Chance or a fan-voted casting gimmick. The first edition was such a success and a buzzworthy time in the Survivor community that you’d think CBS and the show would be jumping at the chance to do it all over again.
They may be waiting for the right time, which could be Survivor 50. As Probst said himself, there are so many excellent new era players deserving of a second shot. So why not give the viewers a chance to pick their favorites to return? And with a Second Chance theme, you can still throw some old-school favorites into the mix, like Sean Rector, Greg Buis, and Twila Tanner, who never had the opportunity to play again.
How do you think Survivor should mark its 50th season? Let us know in the comments below.