TDT Survivor multi-season content
Survivor 50: It's time to vote
By Anthony Cusumano | Published: May 24, 2024
Survivor 50 contestant poll

It's time to vote

During a recent Q&A session, Jeff Probst observed that “Survivor 50 is coming down the corner,” and, in a manner that can only be compared to asking a group of second graders if they would rather have broccoli or ice cream for dinner, polled fans to determine whether the milestone season should feature a standard cast of new contestants or returning players. The enthusiasm towards the latter option led Probst to declare, “I feel like we should just commit and make this the moment where we decide that Survivor 50 will be returning players.”

In the grand scheme of Survivor shockers, it was decidedly closer to seeing Kim win One World than “My grandmother’s sitting at home watching Jerry Springer right now.” But after the longest drought of returning player seasons in Survivor history, the official confirmation was cause for celebration, especially once Jeff put fears to rest by confirming that the casting pool would not be limited to “new era” seasons.

The legendary installment is set to film sometime in the first half of 2025, and it’s not unreasonable to believe that it might be the last-ever opportunity to compile a cast from the series’ entire run. Jenna Lewis, the youngest contestant in Survivor: Borneo, will be 47 next year, which puts her squarely among the oldest female players in the new era. That means anyone hoping to see old-school favorites get another shot needs to cross their fingers, pray, or make some sort of sacrifice to the Survivor gods that they show up in 50.

For your consideration

Adding another layer of complication? Aside from four slots in Edge of Extinction and a 2020 battle royale consisting exclusively of former winners—and yes, pedants, Bruce in 45 — this is the first edition since 2017 that will feature returning players. That effectively means it’s the first opportunity for 14 seasons’ worth of non-winners to come back. Some surefire returnee candidates have likely missed their window either due to the passage of time or being usurped by a future player in the same archetype. Would fans rather see more of those players get a second shot, or should proven legends make one last appearance?

There’s a lot to consider, and that’s why I want to make the producers’ jobs a little easier. Survivor 50 deserves to be a celebration, and what better way to reward over two decades of fan loyalty than by bringing back the final two assembling the most satisfying cast possible?

This survey allows fans to vote on how much they would like to see each of the 682 living former contestants from the show’s first 46 seasons return. There are five categories in which to place each contestant, from left to right:

  • An absolute must - Use this category sparingly because, after all, there are a very limited number of slots available on the 50 cast. It’s inevitable that beloved players won’t make the cut. This is for players who, for one reason or another—their status as a Survivor icon, their entertainment value, their masterful gameplay—absolutely must be extended an invitation. Their absence would make 50 a lesser season.
  • Close to essential - Nobody would bat an eye if these players are included on 50, but they narrowly miss “must-have” status. Maybe they’ve already appeared enough times; maybe they’re too similar to another contestant; maybe it’s unlikely they’ll live up to their reputation ... but ultimately, their inclusion would make perfect sense.
  • A solid choice - These contestants wouldn’t necessarily be anyone’s first choice to bring back, but they showed enough potential in their previous appearance(s). If they wind up on 50, it’ll be evident that some bigger names turned it down, but the producers could do worse.
  • Unnecessary but acceptable - These are the sorts of players who may make for fine returnees in a “regular” all-star season, but arguably fall short of meriting a spot in the monumental Survivor 50. Alternatively, perhaps they’re a sentimental favorite who logically has no business being considered, but seeing them again would be a pleasant surprise.
  • Should not be considered - There is absolutely no reason for producers to even reach out to players in this category. Their presence would be actively detrimental to Survivor 50, and perhaps even to the franchise as a whole.

Every player is listed in the context of their original season (in the order they were voted out, in case you’re spoiler-averse), regardless of health concerns, inappropriate behavior within or outside the show, the method in which they left the game, or their current relationship with producers. As Wardog would say, the theme is not on trial here; I’m trusting you to judge each player as you see fit.

Please vote for them

Of course, in true Survivor fashion, there had to be a twist: just last week, credible rumors of a long-awaited showdown between the American and Australian editions of the franchise emerged. This game will likely film in September of this year, several months before Survivor 50, and it remains to be seen how this will impact the casting protocol for Survivor 50. Will any contestants appear in both seasons? Will American castaways decline the international invite in the hopes of a likely more lucrative Survivor 50 appearance? Does the Australian-produced installment offer a better shot for controversial contestants who have fallen out of favor with the American producers?

Likewise, as Jeff Probst has reminded us, before we get to Survivor 50, we have to get through 47, 48, and 49. Filming is underway on Survivor 47, and before that season premieres in the fall, 48 will also be in the can. Naturally, this survey doesn’t reflect any of the 54 contestants who will appear in the next three seasons, and recent players who are fresher in producers’ and fans’ minds tend to have an edge when it comes to casting returnee seasons.

Speaking of edges, well, that’s another factor looming over Survivor 50: will the controversial Edge of Extinction twist give contestants a chance to re-enter the game? Jeff Probst insisted it was a key ingredient in convincing 20 former champions to sign on for Winners at War, despite multiple players expressing their displeasure with its inclusion. After you vote on 46 seasons’ worth of contestants — a mammoth feat that admittedly will probably take more than one sitting — take a stab at some game format questions, including whether or not you’d like to see Edge of Extinction on Survivor 50.

(In case you missed the previous links to the poll...)

-> Click here to vote in the Survivor 50 contestant poll <-

Voting will take place between now and July 31, 2024 at midnight ET. That gives you plenty of time to offer your feedback.

Feel free to refer to the TDT contestant pages by season for a refresher on each cast, and if you haven’t seen a season or simply don’t remember a certain contestant, feel free to skip rating them. You can only vote once, with your ballot tied to your Google account, which will save your progress if you need to complete the survey in multiple sittings.

Come back in the late summer and early fall when the results will be shared and analyzed and, more importantly, hopefully taken into consideration by CBS and the producers. We all understand that the team behind Survivor will ultimately make the decisions—although perhaps a Cambodia-style fan vote will give us a little input—but ideally this project will offer a convenient and reliable pulse on what the hardcore fanbase wants to see in Survivor 50.

Anthony CusumanoAnthony (aka beatles20147) is a longtime Survivor fan and former Survivor Historian, who also holds the vaunted distinction of being the only Survivor Sucks poster to whom Jeff Probst has ever responded. (He posted logical, constructive criticism about the Redemption Island format after Redemption Island aired; Probst posted a response, saying he understood his concerns, then promptly put RI right back in for South Pacific, because he's Jeff Probst, and he does Jeff Probst-y things.)