‘Survivor: Edge of Extinction’: There’s a Reason Dan ‘Wardog’ DaSilva Doesn’t Use His Real Name on the Show

Fans of Survivor have been watching the show since it first began nearly a decade ago, and Season 38 is offering even more twists. This season on Edge of Extinction, four returning players join a number of new contestants on the island, and those who are voted out can attempt to win their way back in by residing on Extinction Island and winning challenges. Extinction Island is bleak, but we’ve already seen one contestant, Rick Devens, make it back.

One player has proved he’s willing to make big moves — and that’s Dan “Wardog” DaSilva. And it seems there’s also strategy involved with the usage of his military nickname, too. Here’s what’s going on.

Dan ‘Wardog’ DaSilva has proven himself to be a strategic threat

Dan "Wardog" Dasilva on the second episode of SURVIVOR: Edge of Extinction
Dan “Wardog” DaSilva on the second episode of Survivor: Edge of Extinction | Timothy Kuratek/CBS via Getty Images

Many may have written Wardog off at the beginning, as he was on the one tribe that lost nearly every competition prior to the merge and he didn’t strike too many as a huge strategic threat. But he continues to prove himself the longer he plays Survivor. Wardog voted with Lauren and returnee Kelley Wentworth consistently, building their trust to take out other tribe members. And when the time came to eliminate one of his biggest allies (but also the one who may have threatened his game the most), he wasn’t afraid to pull the trigger. Most recently, he sent Kelley packing to Extinction Island with an idol in her pocket.

Losing Kelley means Wardog did lose an ally, of course, but he was able to do what no one else was able to pull off before. This has every tribe member on edge wondering what he’s planning on doing next.

He’s said that ‘Wardog’ isn’t just a nickname, but a ‘way of life’

Lauren O’Connell, Dan “Wardog” DaSilva, Chris Underwood and David Wright on Survivor | Robert Voets/CBS via Getty Images

Wardog spoke to Entertainment Tonight about his nickname, and he explained where it all began. “The real me and the fake me is so inter-blended now over these last, like, 20 years, that I’ve taken on this ‘Wardog’ persona,” he noted. He then went on to further explain that the nickname “Wardog” started when he was in military basic training in 1997. “Somewhere along the line — it was like, I think in my second deployment when I was in Afghanistan — it ended up becoming this defense mechanism and a way of life.”

As for what the “Wardog” way of life entails, it means he follows his own path. And so far, it certainly seems like he’s following the beat of his own drum on Survivor, too.

His nickname helps conceal the fact that he’s a law student

A name like “Wardog” certainly conjures a military-like persona — and Wardog plans on using that to his advantage. What few people on the island may learn is that he’s actually in law school. As host Jeff Probst said about his nickname, “I think this is the beginning of his big lie. He doesn’t want anybody to know he’s in law school. He wants people to judge his East Coast accent and his military tattoo and think he’s a military guy.”

Wardog essentially confirmed this was part of his strategy to the cameras, too. “I wanna keep my intelligence down from them” he said. And since he’s in his mid-30s, he’s also learned how to adapt to a law school environment where he’s surrounded by students a decade younger than him. He states that being surrounded by folks in their mid-20s will certainly help his social and strategic game on the island, too.

It seems fans are starting to really love watching Wardog play, too. “Best player of the Season so far,” one Youtube user commented on his interview with Entertainment Tonight. “‘I’m liking him more and more through the season. Then the move he made on Kelley …. Amazing,” another added.

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