How Should Survivor Celebrate Season 50?

Here are some theme ideas for the monumental season.

Photo: sallyskneesocks/Reddit

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.

LEGENDS

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.

Could we see another outing for Survivor’s big hitters? The likes of Sandra Diaz-Twine, Boston Rob Mariano, Cirie Fields, Parvati Shallow, Tony Vlachos, etc? It’s certainly a possibility.

CBS

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.

Michele and Rob
Photo: CBS

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.

Carson and Carolyn
Photo: CBS

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.

Dee
CBS

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.

Davie
CBS

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.


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.


46 responses to “How Should Survivor Celebrate Season 50?”

  1. Great article. Personally, Old School vs New School (or Old Era vs New Era) & Second Chance II are my favorites. These seasons make so much sense. Imagine the hype with a fan vote!

    Please do include 35-39 in the mix. The fact Chrissy hasn’t been brought back is just mind-blowing.

    I never cared for the Legends season. You will get people like Brad Culpepper or Troyzan Jeff will call Legends, etc and Rob for a 6th time.

    I wish do a returnee season for 47 or 48

  2. They could do a “Champions vs. Contenders”, where they have 10 of the best winners like Erica, Chris, Sandra, etc. vs. 10 of the best to never win like Ozzy, Coach, Tai, etc.

  3. With he sensitivity inhe world so high I have been so
    disappointed at the changes in Survivor as well. No “C’mon in guys”, all the cumbaya “Love you!” . Really. This is a game! A contest! Imagine a football game where everyone helps the opposition score a touchdown! Watch the earlier Survivor series. It was all about surviving… eliminate the competition. Make fire with 2 sticks. Battle it out to win flint. Create and build your shelter. Eat bugs, find food. Jeez….39 days! You’ve ruined survivor and gone so far of the original path. It’s awful! But just MHO, bring back tough Survivor!

  4. As a huuuge Survivor fan, I am not in favor of a legends season 50 or a winners or best losers… I found those all star seasons contrived and uneventful.. For season 50, have all 50 year olds or since it’s actually the 25th year anniversary then all 25 year olds.. the cast makes the season

    • I’m sorry, but that makes no sense. Would make for some very lame viewing. You talk about all star seasons being boring. What do you think this is?! It sure isn’t what Survivor wants or needs, unless of course, you want the show to end at season 50!

  5. Runners up Race, a show of people who made it to the final, but didn’t win. Give them another shot.
    A season of the people whom were voted out first, give them another run.
    A fan favorite season with more Malcolm.

  6. What about Battle of the Decades? A three tribe season where each tribe contains castaways who competed in a certain decade in the show’s history. Tribe 1 would be castaways who first played in seasons 1-20 (2000-2010), Tribe 2 would be castaways who first played in seasons 21-40 (2010-2020), and Tribe 3 would be castaways who first played in seasons 41-49 (2020-present). This is a play on old school vs. new school but it’s more specific since the lines between what’s considered old school and new school is so blurry. This is a more distinct theme that would guarantee much older players will have a shot at playing again. It could even have a 21 or 24 person cast like Australian Survivor to make the season more grand and exciting.

  7. I like ‘Old school/New school’, BUT Don’t bring back legends ! One time players only. 33 days. You could still make it a ‘2nd chance’ season, with fans voting on returnees. Limit ‘old school’ players to Seasons 31-39.

  8. Second Chance 2, Heroes vs Villains 2, Unfinished Business or Old School vs New School are the best themes.

    So ready for a returnee season. These new era casts are all so similar. Where have the blue collar contestants gone? Where are the athletic people?

    It’d be great if season 50 brought back Chrissy, Dom, Christian, Angelina and Devens from the “old era”.

  9. Hello, been longtime survivor fan. I would like to see a series that would be all older people, that would of course include me!

  10. Would love to see a best to never win season. Rob C, Cirie, Spencer, Jesse, Carolyn all on one season would be epic

  11. Although I realize the potential is low, I like the idea of:

    INTERNATIONAL ALL-STARS
    With Survivor being an international phenomenon, what better way to celebrate the legacy of Survivor than with an all Stars game, featuring some of the best from across the franchise and around the world.
    Keep the core of it as the US version, but gather the best parts of the other versions.
    In terms of tribes, assuming they want to keep to three tribes, do something like:
    USA (Because there is a larger pool to draw from.)
    Northern Hemisphere
    Southern Hemisphere

  12. Hands down the best idea is Second Chance 2. The show would never have made it 50 seasons without fan devotion so its only appropriate to let us have a hand in making the season. But its season 50 so go bigger. Larger casting pool to choose from. 50 or 60 options. Return to 39 days but keep the new school pacing and make a season of 24 contestants with more episodes. I think we all realistically know that the show probably wont go much further than 50 so lets create a huge banger of a season

  13. Second chance 2 or Heroes vs Villains 2

    Bring our favorites back! Shan, Chrissie, Angelina, Tori, Carolyn, Kellie (s39), Cody, Kaleb, Dee, Jesse, Nathalie s37, Ricard, Drea, Dominic

  14. It is going to be Season 50: Contest of Champions. The season will involve only Survivor Winners. I suggested this in a tweet back at S40 and Probst himself liked my tweet. Trust me.. this will happen.

  15. Yeah it’s a tough decision I wouldn’t want to have to make because ultimately you’re going to piss a lot of fans off whatever you choose.
    I’m with you in still needing some old school players in the mix as it’s because of them this show has lasted so long and they’re also the ones that set in motion how the game is played despite all the changes. Like it or not, there is no “new era” the game is still Survivor and the only thing that’s truly different is the amount of days being played.
    I can think you’re idea of a 2nd Chance part two is probably the best one to go with. although I like old vs new as well, they’d just have to combine rules from both styles to accommodate both sides and not force the old school to try and play the faster game.

    • Too much logistics involved to do a season somewhere else. Survivor has spent a fortune on the portion of the island they use for Survivor as it is. Weather is more predictable also.

  16. Bring back the castaways who were voted first put of their season. Even if not for season 50 it could be good for a different theme.

  17. By getting back to its roots. Stop with all the silly puzzles, and focus more on the survival aspect like it used to and what made it famous.

  18. Season Fifty should be contestants 50 and above. Sign me up, I want to play and I’ll be the one winning a million dollars.

  19. This is just nonsense. She was out fair and square and didn’t feel like she deserved or could win a very physical battle back challenge. As she said: “Survivor gave me so much. I have nothing left to prove, I won the game two times”. Spoken like a true legendary Survivor Queen.

  20. – Second Chance 2
    – Old Era (pre 40) vs New Era (41-49)
    – Heroes vs Villains 2

    Each new era season has like 1 great casting find (Shan, Carolyn, Cody, Emily) but in the old era the casts would have more than 10 amazing finds. Can we go back to this? Can we have villains back? Enough with all the cumbaya

  21. I really hope there will be a theme for 50. These new seasons are so similar and feel bland. Yeah it’s all about the casts but these are also very similar. We already know: half are white, half are POC and half LGBTQ / Queer. Also everyone will have a professional background. It’s boring and not a reflection of everyday life. Give us a mail carrier or a factory worker or a cute young carpenter (remember Simon in Australia’s Survivor?).

    Second Chance 2 or HvV2

  22. Second Chance 2 including fan vote.

    Fans have been so loyal. I hope they give us this.

    Including a studio reunion ! I miss them so much

  23. My idea would be Survivor: Generations, which kind of blends several of these together. Essentially, there have been five generations of the show (1-8, 9-20, 21-31, 32-40, 41-50), so it’d be two 10-person tribes and each tribe would have one contestant from each generation of each gender. To keep the theme pure, any player that has already appeared in multiple generations would be excluded from the pool. As such, casting might be a little challenging, but I think it’d be a good way to honor the show’s entire legacy without an excessively gimmicky casting twist.

  24. SECOND CHANCE 2

    OLD ERA:
    Chrissy, Angelina, Nathalie Cole, Reem, Elaine
    Domenic, Michael Yerger, Christian, Davie, Devens

    NEW ERA:
    Shan, Tori, Ellie, Carolyn, Emily
    JD, Omar, Cody, Jesse, Kaleb

  25. I think survivor 50 should be us older people that have been watching since day 1. 50 + ages. I understand it could get hard for the production people.

  26. Second Chance 2 pleassssseee

    Cody deserves it! Chrissy too! and the fact Shan hasn’t been brought back after playing so brilliantly.. If she can understand the reason of her demise, that would be a great second chance story

  27. I would love to see either a Survivor USA Stars season, Survivor World theme season, or another Second Chance season.

    USA would take some of the best Survivor players, but also throw in stars from other reality shows – The Challenge (Johnny Bananas), Amazing Race, Big Brother (Kyland), and Love Island (possibly others – The Mole, Traitors, etc).

    World world be some of the best players from all versions of Survivor as that would be interesting dynamic.

    And lastly, another Second Chance season of greats would be great, but with the twist of bringing back Winners in an interesting way – maybe like the did Island of Idols but have multiple winners give guidance to various players. DO NOT BRING BACK FANS that sucked, whined, or let themselves get voted out so easy!

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