Survivor Pet Peeves That Should Be Sent To Extinction Island

Former castaways reveal their biggest Survivor pet peeves that they’d like to banish to Extinction Island.

Photo: CBS

If there is one thing that we know about Survivor fans, it’s that we love a good old moan. Whether it’s the so-called superfans bitching about unfair advantages or the Facebook “casuals” ranting about how Ozzy should be a permanent castaway each season, we’re all guilty of a grumble. The complaints have been particularly rampant these past few months due to the currently unseen but already much-maligned Edge of Extinction twist.

But what about the people who have actually played the game? What are the common Survivor tropes that get on their nerves? In honor of the upcoming Edge of Extinction twist, Inside Survivor reached out to several former players to ask them their biggest Survivor pet peeves they would like to see snuffed out and banished to Extinction Island forever.

Let’s have a look at what they said…


Davie Rickenbacker (David vs. Goliath):

1) I’d love it if castaways stopped trying to say little quips when Jeff asks for immunity back, lol like we get it you want to win again.

2) It’s rumored that Tyler Perry told Jeff to take the swimsuits away, well I think his suggestion should be sent off to the Extinction Island. Not even just because I was a player that this change affected, but it just looks silly watching people in underwear perform challenges. I thought the idea was to have us look shipwrecked, not ridiculous.

3) Lastly, send those weak rewards to Extinction Island haha! Bring back the Car Challenge! The Survivor Auction! Fan Favorite Award! I loved watching those!

Benjamin “Coach” Wade (Tocantins, Heroes vs. Villains, South Pacific):

1) Final fire-making challenge. The theory of this idea is solid: allow one worthy castaway to enter into the final three. However, the focus has been on who is unworthy and who you can beat which sullies my modus operandi of getting the strongest to the end.

2. Drawing rocks at Tribal. I would imagine if Jeff Probst said we’re going to be here for 48 hours, almost like a filibuster, somebody would crack and vote differently. It could be the ultimate game of cat-and-mouse.

3.  Circle jerk jury gang up. When the jury gets together, and drinks and gets plastered together and badmouth all the contestants, it’s easy for bitter juries to emerge. If the jury met at Tribal but then had to be sequestered in their own Ponderosa, the outcome of half of the Final Tribal Councils would be different I wager.


Chrissy Hofbeck (Heroes vs. Healers vs. Hustlers):

1) The overabundance of idols/advantages. We are starting to see a stall in gameplay because there are so many idols/advantages that players are losing options, which is the opposite of the intention. Seems to be a classic problem of system dynamics, when something is introduced to a system, but the long term effects are the opposite of the intention. Perhaps this is the evolution of Survivor, but we’re straying from the former extreme strategy game and moving more into a luck based game.

2) The kid-vote at the finale (or any time spent with audience members, random friends, other shows, etc.). Can we please just have one last blast with the players and try and ask them each a question like in the good old days? We saw an improvement with David vs. Goliath, hoping that Edge of Extinction continues down this path!

3) Blindfold Team Obstacle-Challenges. We’ve seen enough injuries with these; they are honestly hard to even watch because often they are just really brutal and incredibly dangerous. One day something very bad is going to happen….

4) The new Final Tribal Council format. As a fan of the show, I always appreciated the final comments from favorite jury members, the finale shock-factor of some of the questions, and the randomness. Now, some jurors don’t speak at all. As a player, I would have appreciated the time to speak to each juror individually, which isn’t necessarily intrinsic in the new format. Overall, I understand why this new format was introduced but think the prior format had greater entertainment value and provided a better finale.

Honorable Mention: Recruiting. With so many fans legitimately applying year after year to be on the show, I’m not sure why we recruit players? I am addressing the process not the people, we’ve had some amazing recruits over the past 37 seasons! But it seems to me there should be plenty of strategic, various archetype / demographic / occupations, eye-candy people in the regular applicant pool. I know first hand what it feels like to finally live the dream and I wish that for the other applicants as well. Acknowledging, though, that I am an actuary, not a casting expert so clearly there is a part of the process I don’t understand that is required to make the magic happen!


Jacob Derwin (Ghost Island):

1) The Legacy Advantage. Obviously I have a little bit of history with this thing, but even before I pulled it out of a bamboo shoot, I wasn’t a huge fan. If it was some sort of consistent, small power wielded by the holder, passed on from eliminated player to player, that might change my opinion on it. What if you could know who one player voted for after each Tribal Council? What if you got a heads up about upcoming twists? At the end of the day, it’s a glorified immunity idol that only works twice, and kind of wastes the potential of the “legacy” mechanic.

2. Repeated Use of the Same Campsites. It doesn’t take a Survivor sleuth to notice when a certain campsite is being reused from a previous season. This isn’t the worst thing by any means. I understand why it’s done. And rarely does it affect the cast or the show. But when I arrived at Malolo beach to find tree trunks covered with tally marks and an old tree mail stuck in a tree near the well (that I mistook for an idol clue… sigh), it kind of felt like I was trespassing. I hope future players are given brand new locales to explore.

3. The Megalomaniac. Big characters are important for a game show like Survivor. They make interesting television, and they tend to throw a wrench into the plans of other players. However, I’m over the power-obsessed “bad boys” who come in with the sole intent of being awful or difficult in order to get what they want. This pretty much includes anyone who appears to only be on the show to cause drama or controversy. I don’t need another Russell. I really don’t need another Abi. I most certainly don’t need another Colton.

Elizabeth Olson (David vs. Goliath):

1) Swaps really need to wait until after four tribals. It would give better players a chance to prevent getting “swap screwed.” Plus it helps the viewers keep track of who’s who and the relationships/connections each person has.

2) I think all stupid players should be banned. Specifically, all casting should require basic math minimum standards. Adding and subtracting various numbers under 20.

3) I would love to see ONE season with no gimmicks. No idols. No advantages. Maybe even no individual immunities. Tribal immunities for much longer, into the jury phase. Who would win a season like that? Gets me all excited inside!!!

Honorable Mention: Orange buffs should be banned. Like why put castaways through that misery?


Teresa “T-Bird” Cooper (Africa):

1) IDOLS, IDOLS EVERYWHERE! Less can truly be more. So, I’ll trade you one idol (or two, or three) for more player interaction!!!

2) LESS appealing food. For example, they should use more traditions/rituals indigenous to the region – like the ritual of the Maasai in Africa of the drinking of cow’s blood. The Maasai believe it makes their body stronger and builds up their strength. It was a great challenge to show during Africa. Fiji ceremonial foods that might be offered cooked or raw could include entire pigs, oxen or turtles.

3) Not enough episodes. Seeing Probst in his now world-famous “cargo” shirts once a week is NOT enough. We need at least two episodes a week of Survivor to really get to know the always amazing characters and watch each of their storylines develop and their relationships with one another grow!!!

Spencer Bledsoe (Cagayan, Cambodia):

1) The Final 4 fire-making twist. Much like the Fed with respect to interest rates, Survivor effectively just kicked the can down the road from 2007 to 2017, first reasoning that great people getting voted out at 3 necessitated a final 3, then that great people getting voted out at 4 necessitated the “advantage” that first graced Chrissy Hofbeck with its presence. While I’m entertained by the thought of the inevitable F5 musical chairs twist that’ll arrive when Jeff realizes great people are getting voted out at 5, I say we scrap it all and return to a final 2. Not only does the F4 fire approach not accomplish its goal, but it does something far worse – allow a group of 4 people to be “locked in” with complete trust that when it gets down to 4, they’re all still in it. This is hydrochloric acid for endgame excitement.

2. Reward challenges (unless they’re for something cool, beyond just food). Combine reward/immunity, but instead of filling the spare time with twists like Redemption Island, use the time to show more camp life, or strategy, or character development, or funny moments.

3. Merge feasts that aren’t the Outback Shack. It’s Outback Shack or bust.

Stand Up

Sunday Burquest (Millennials vs. Gen-X):

1) Getting up during Tribal. Castaways getting out of their seats during tribal – the first time we really saw this go bonkers was in Game Changers and it was cool. After the fact, it felt like a stunt that was being copied by less experienced players. I think it takes away from the sacredness of tribal and means to players you really don’t have to have your ducks in a row before tribal. Although let’s be honest, not that many players change their minds at TC.

2) The Idol Nullifier. From a fan’s perspective, I suppose the idol nullifier added another unforeseen outcome for players and made for a shocking tribal. From a player’s perspective, I don’t like it because it’s difficult to anticipate, play around it or prepare for it. I know Survivor is not fair by any stretch of the imagination; however, I think it feels unjust to take away the fact that player earned an idol – regardless of how they ended up with it. I think the fans feel the same way and it comes across more like an unfair gimmick than as a useful advantage.

3) Predictable Swaps. The tribe swaps are predictable. I would like Survivor to bring back the element of surprise about IF and WHEN there is a swap. I don’t even like the fact that the swaps are included in the previews. Players know they are coming, fans know they are coming, and I think it detracts from the unpredictable nature that accompanies “drop your buffs” (I love that line by the way). I wish Survivor would move it around so we wouldn’t know its coming or even remove it from a season or two so we don’t even know IF it’s coming.

Erik Reichenbach

Erik Reichenbach (Micronesia, Caramoan):

1) Female Alliances. Even if there isn’t a possibility of a female alliance forming, even a passing conversation will make it into the episode to provide a “battle of the sexes” narrative for production.

2) “_________ is the most DESERVING WINNER EVER” is a phrase I hear on Reddit, Twitter, and overheard at Survivor Finales and Reality events. If you won the game, why speculate over the ENDLESS variables that differentiate each unique season of Survivor???

3) Increasingly Complex Advantages. This relates to unique twists and strategic variations to cancel out older unique twists and variations… as well as the complex logic and reasoning behind why an advantage comes to be. Remember, my Immunity Necklace was actually gathering strength while buried on Ghost Island.  😂👻

Randy Bailey (Gabon, Heroes vs. Villains):

The biggest travesty on Survivor, fortunately, has already been sent to Extinction Island and that was the fan favorite award. The absurdity of giving $100,000 to a contestant for merely being awarded the golden edit by the producers still pisses me off to this day. Former winners of this award should return the money! With that being said the things that should be gotten rid of forever in no particular order are…

1) Cochran

2) Boston Rob

3) Rupert

4) The host

Jessica Lewis (Millennials vs. Gen-X):

1) 20 players. Can we get back to 18? Hell, I’d even take 16. More time to focus on all players’ stories and less time spent cramming at the end to whittle it down to a final 3. Unless CBS can add episodes or make them longer. More people is great if there is more time. Too much gets left out due to time constraints. So, maybe I’m sending time constraints to Extinction Island instead!

2) Matchy color schemed clothing. We all know what tribe people are on based on the buffs. Trust me, there’s no secret for the players about who’s on what tribe once you see everyone’s attire. Let’s keep ’em guessing until they get the buff.

3) Fire making at 4. Yeah, I went there, sorry. It’s a hot topic that has been heavily discussed already but hey, this is my list right? Why minimize the player who is “chosen”? Ultimately the moment that person is “chosen” he or she is toast. No one will consider that third player. Might as well go back to a final 2, it has the same effect.


Jonny Fairplay (Pearl Islands, Micronesia):

1) I’m not as against idols as I used to be. I am a purist and prefer the game without them… BUT if you’re going to have them, let them die after they are used. Make people save them for the perfect time. Strategy used to be a more important part of the game and idols having infinity life negates that.

2) Lack of ‘dividers’ like they use on Big Brother during challenges. Even as a “bad guy” I don’t understand why it’s ok on Survivor to “cheat off your neighbor’s paper.”

3) Joe Anglim’s stupid mustache… or just Joe Anglim.

Ken Hoang (Gabon):

1) Exile Island – Usually the player who gets sent there gets sent there again and again. Most of the time people on Exile Island gets too big of an advantage in the game.

2) Never ever have school yard picks for tribes. It’s already bad from the start especially from pre-show alliances. People should know, sometimes alliances already start before the show even airs.

3) Super Idols – these idols are way too powerful, basically what happened on Cook Islands. No one would want to get rid of the person with the Super Idol since you can play it after the votes are read.

John Carroll (Marquesas):

1) Totally self-serving gripe: Bring back Old School players pre-All-Stars.

2) Too many hidden idols and gimmicks in play. Shake things up by doing more swaps and throw in a camp raid.

3) Retire Fiji. It’s been great. Let’s get some new scenery.

Eliza Orlins (Vanuatu, Micronesia):

1) ALL THE ADVANTAGES!! It’s enough already!! We have seen people get voted out by default because they were the only advantage-less person at a tribal council. That’s not fun and that’s not Survivor.

2) Bringing back returning contestants on a not entirely returning contestant season. This one is obvious. As many have stated, if you’re a returning contestant on a season with newbies, you have a MASSIVE advantage. It’s not fun to watch new people get dominated by returning contestants. It’s dull. We know one of them will at least make it to the end, if not win. This needs to stop. All new contestants or all returning contestants. At least give people a chance.

3) The Final 4 fire-making challenge. It is an unnecessary wrinkle in the voting scheme.

4) Fake endurance challenges. Last season was great, but half (if not more?) of the individual immunities were “stand on this block for as long as you can” challenges. I’ll take a few pure endurance challenges (holding your arm up with a bucket for 10+ hours once a season), but it has become a bit much with it being every episode.

Bonus entry from Natalie Anderson (San Juan Del Sur):

1. Memory challenges, I’m so bad at them. All memory challenges should be replaced with something that requires more brawn than brain.

F**k can’t think of anything else. Lol.

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.

18 responses to “Survivor Pet Peeves That Should Be Sent To Extinction Island”

  1. I agree with a lot of this.

    1. Final Four fire is bad. Straight up bad. Also, enough with the Final 3. Final 2 is way more exciting and usually makes for better storytelling and narrative.
    2. Too many advantages/idols. I want another season like Phillipines. One idol per tribe and nothing else. Other advantages just mess up what should be pure gameplay and relationships.
    3. Bring back the auction! They shot themselves in the foot by including an advantages in the first place. When the auction starts, have Jeff clarify that there will be no advantages or have it be the very first item and it stays covered. No one will know and nobody will save their money!
    4. Finally, less reward challenges. We get too many of them. Like somebody said, just combine them. I want to see more camp life and adventure and funny interactions and authentic moments.

  2. Did Spencer seriously want them to bring back Redemption Island…I’m all for no rewards in favour of more time getting to know the cast and make the overall editing a little bit less clear, but definitely not replacing it with some arbitrary twist. I am already terrified enough about how Extinction Island is going to play into the editing of the episode; is it going to be something we see a lot, or maybe just at the start and end of the episode.

  3. I 100% agree with many of these pet peeves, but above all else……..


  4. I’ll always wish for a return to a final 2 and also to a final 3 immunity challenge which was pure endurance. A “How bad do you want to win this game” challenge. To me both will always be “true” Survivor.

  5. Great interviews. I agree with basically all of this. I dream that someday we will have a season where the “twist” is that there are no idols or advantages. I imagine the contestants would say “you mean we can’t win by just going on a scavenger hunt??? We have to play a social game??? NO!!” lol.

  6. That idea for one season with no twists could be brilliant and annoying. Watching all the castaways get paranoid about tribe swaps that never happen.
    Giving idols clues maybe but no idols. The bluffing that would go on would be brilliant. (Literally make an idol clue and have the spot it leads to have clear signs the idols been taken some everybody gets paranoid). Spend the whole season subtly hinting twists that never come.

  7. 1) Final four fire-making challenge
    2) Final three (bring back final two)
    3) Excessive food rewards (one or two is ok, but come on…)
    4) Stupid gimmicky themes
    5) Excessive idols – have one per tribe, and once it’s played it’s gone
    6) Tribe swaps where one original tribe has a numbers advantage in all new tribes – makes for a very boring season
    7) Fiji (I know keeping the same location saves on production costs, but it’s getting kinda boring)

  8. I would like to see a season with no tribes at all. Everyone is on their own from the start. It’s fairly predictable what will happen when the tribes are merged.

  9. I agree with almost everything here. The one I disagree with the most is Coach’s suggestion to get rid of Ponderosa, which is downright stupid. Sorry Coach, you weren’t going to win without dropping the shtick regardless of that. I also lol’d at Erik’s “female alliances” thing, which I presume was somewhat in jest. These days we only see such a narrative if it’s relevant. Also, we do need a couple recruits each season – but they need to be savvy recruits, not just people seeking fame like Big Brother recruits. The reason for this is to widen the variety of backgrounds in a cast. Reward challenges are mandatory after the merge, as reward trips cause strategic shifts, but pre-merge they absolutely should be combined with immunity so we can get to know the castaways more.

    Survivor needs idols – or at least the paranoia that there are some with a one-off twist of there not being any – but should cap it at four per season. One at each camp, with one or two being rehidden at the merge (two at merge only if they never have three tribes and one gets played early). They also need to stop rigging who finds them, which is the largest reason it’s almost always men. Having fewer idols means managing one is more difficult since you can’t just waltz off and find another easily.

    They also need to banish the two-to-three tribe swaps and, like Sunday said, have seasons with NO swap. There’s no variety anymore. The game structure is too predictable. Switch between F2 and F3. Have a swap sometimes, don’t have one other times. Never swap until at least four people are gone. Get rid of the F4 fire-making bullcrap, which is among the worst things the show has ever done. We need the auction back. First item up for bids should be everyone’s letters from home for $500, and after that Probst says no advantages are available. Would be good TV and good to have in lieu of another boring “hold the thing” challenge that I don’t even watch anymore.

    I would love for the next season to be Survivor: 39 Days. 18 people in two tribes of 9. Two idols, one at each camp, with only one rehidden at merge. Jury of 9, final 2. No advantages. No swap. No forced fire-making. An actual auction. Better variety of challenges. Classic Survivor.

  10. I would like to see Survivor be increased to 90 minutes instead of 60 minutes. CBS can fill the extra half-hour with a comedy. It seems unfair that all the other reality series get much more than an hour per week: American Idol, The Voice, Dancing with the Stars, Big Brother….

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