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Returning Players

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Returning Players
45190 survivor allstars
The eighteen All-Stars returnees.
Survivor Gameplay
Description A twist that former players are brought back to the game for another chance against new players or other returning players.
Appearance(s) All-Stars
Guatemala
Micronesia
Heroes vs. Villains
Redemption Island
South Pacific
Philippines
Caramoan
Blood vs. Water
Cambodia

Returning Players in Survivor offers the opportunity for former contestants to return for another shot at becoming the Sole Survivor.

Origins

The idea of former players returning originally occurred in Survivor: All-Stars. Executive Producer Mark Burnett wanted to showcase "The best of the best" after the ratings increase of Survivor: Pearl Islands. During pre-production for All-Stars, Burnett wrote down the series' most likable, villainous, and memorable players on a legal pad and shortlisted eighteen names within minutes.  

All-Stars

All-Stars seasons feature a cast comprised entirely of returning players. The eponymous season, All-Stars, saw 18 returnees divided into three competing tribes. Amber Brkich ultimately won the season against Rob Mariano. The All-Stars twist was revived for the ten-year anniversary season, Heroes vs. Villains. This season divided the returnees based on the heroic or villainous reputations. Sandra Diaz-Twine became the first two-time winner of Survivor, beating Parvati Shallow and Russell Hantz.

Although proving to be a success for fans of the show, some critics argued that the survival aspects were completely removed in favor of strategy and exuberant challenges. Fans also responded negatively to players that, according to popular opinion, had little to no impact on their original season. Notable casting controversies include Amber Brkich in All-Stars (who had been a backup to Elisabeth Filarski and Colleen Haskell), Candice Woodcock in Heroes vs. Villains (whose mutiny was seen as more villainous than heroic, if either at all), and Francesca Hogi in Caramoan (who had been the first one eliminated from her previous season and ended up being voted out first again).

Fans vs. Favorites

Although initially intending to produce a second all-stars season, Burnett pushed for Survivor to experiment with different twists in their 16th season. The result was the Fans vs. Favorites twist that saw a tribe of ten returning players pitted against a tribe of ten "die-hard" fans of the show. Both iterations of this twist have seen the favorites tribe comprised solely of contestants who had only played once previously and who did not win.

The first installment, Survivor: Micronesia, became one of the series' most popular installments. Returning player Parvati Shallow beat out fellow favorite Amanda Kimmel in a 5-3 vote.

The twist was brought back ten seasons later for Survivor: Caramoan. Returning player John Cochran beat out fellow favorite Dawn Meehan and fan Sherri Biethman in a unanimous 8-0-0 vote.

One Returnee per Tribe

The One Returnee per Tribe twist sees two to three returning players competing against new castaways, with one returnee placed on each of the competing tribes. In all seasons featuring this twist, a returning player has made it to the Final Tribal Council.

The twist was first introduced in Survivor: Guatemala. Two former castaways from Survivor: Palau, Bobby Jon Drinkard and Stephenie LaGrossa, returned for a shot at redemption after being the final two members of the infamous Ulong tribe. New contestant Danni Boatwright won the season against Stephenie.

The Redemption Island twist saw the resurrection of this method for introducing returnees. In Survivor: Redemption Island, Rob Mariano and Russell Hantz were brought back to settle their rivalry from Survivor: Heroes vs. Villains. Russell was targeted early when his tribe threw a challenge to vote him out. Meanwhile, Rob won the game against fellow Ometepe tribemates Phillip Sheppard and Natalie Tenerelli.

The Redemption Island format was revisited in Survivor: South Pacific, with Coach Wade and Ozzy Lusth returning to improve on their weak social games. This was the first time the two returning players had not previously competed on the same season. New contestant Sophie Clarke claimed the prize, beating Coach and Albert Destrade.

Survivor: Philippines introduced three previous contestants, Russell Swan, Michael Skupin, and Jonathan Penner, all of whom were evacuated due to medical reasons. This is the only iteration of the One Returnee per Tribe twist to bring back more than two returning players. New contestant Denise Stapley won the game against Lisa Whelchel and Skupin.

Couples

Another type of Returnees vs. New Players format is the couples format, where returnees would compete against people they personally know. It was first used in Survivor: Blood vs. Water, where ten returning castaways would compete against their loved ones. However, each castaway would compete individually, so a castaway would still be in the game even after their partner was voted out. The twist would play its part when a castaway can opt to replace their partner who is currently on Redemption Island before a duel takes place, thus allowing their partner to take their place in the tribe.

Second Chance

The most recent type of returning player season is Survivor: Cambodia in which the public had the opportunity to vote for 20 of 32 certain contestants to return and have another shot. These players each have only played once and have never won, while also originating from multiple seasons, all the way from season 1 to 30. These players can also be runner-ups, jury members, or even pre-merge boots.

Success in the Game

It should be noted that during every season thus far that has featured returning players competing against new players, at least one has made it to the Final Two/Three in those seasons. These players include Stephenie LaGrossa (Guatemala), Amanda Kimmel (Micronesia), Parvati Shallow (Micronesia), Rob Mariano (Redemption Island), Coach Wade (South Pacific), Michael Skupin (Philippines), Dawn Meehan (Caramoan), John Cochran (Caramoan), Gervase Peterson (Blood vs. Water), Monica Culpepper (Blood vs. Water), and Tyson Apostol (Blood vs. Water).

Returning Players by Season

Season Returned to Future Season Season Returned to Future Season
Borneo S1 gervase tS1 jenna tS1 kelly t
S1 richard tS1 rudy tS1 susan t
Australia NB S2 alicia tS2 amber tS2 colby t
S2 jeff tS2 jerri t
S2 kimmi tS2 michael tS2 tina t
Africa S3 ethan tS3 lex tS3 tom t Marquesas S4 kathy tS4 rob t
Thailand S5 shiiann t Amazon S6 jenna tS6 rob t
Pearl Islands S7 andrew tS7 jon t
S7 rupert tS7 sandra t
All-Stars S8 colby tS8 jerri t
S8 robm tS8 rupert tS8 tina t
Vanuatu S9 ami tS9 eliza t Palau S10 bobbyjon tS10 stephenie tS10 tom t
Guatemala S11 stephenie t Panama NB S12 aras tS12 cirie t
S12 danielle tS12 terry t
Cook Islands S13 candice tS13 jonathan t
S13 ozzy tS13 parvati t
Fiji S14 yauman t
China NB S15 amanda tS15 courtney t
S15 james tS15 peihgee t
Micronesia no background S16 amanda tS16 cirie t
S16 erik tS16 james tS16 jonathan t
S16 ozzy tS16 parvati t
Gabon S17 corinne tS17 randy tS17 sugar t Tocantins NB S18 coach tS18 jt t
S18 stephen tS18 tyson t
Samoa S19 laura tS19 monica t
S19 russellh tS19 russells t
Heroes vs. Villains NB S20 candice tS20 coach tS20 rob t
S20 rupert tS20 russell tS20 tyson t
Survivor Nicaragua logo S21 brenda t Redemptionisland S22 andrea tS22 francesca tS22 phillip t
Survivor south pacific logo S23 brandon tS23 cochran tS23 dawn t One World NB S24 colton tS24 kat tS24 monica t
Philippines NB S25 abimaria tS25 malcolm t Survivor26logo None
BvW Logo S27 ciera tS27 vytas t Survivor-28 Logo S28 kass cS28 spencer c
S28 tasha cS28 woo c
SurvivorSanJuanDelSurLogo S29 jeremy tS29 keith tS29 kelley t Survivor-logo 612x380 S30 joe tS30 shirin t
Survivor31logo None Survivor kaoh rong logo None
Survivor-33-logo Unaired

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