‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Says This Is Why Every Season of the Show Has a New Twist

Fans of Survivor have been watching the show since its initial release in 2000 — and Jeff Probst has been the beloved host since the very beginning. Each season begins with new contestants who hope to “outwit, outplay, and outlast” their opponents by surviving the elements and using social prowess to vote each other off the island. And at the end, there’s one player who’s chosen by players who have been voted off the island before them to win $1 million. It’s certainly not easy to win, but it’s captured audiences for nearly 20 years and will continue on with Edge of Extinction.

While the basic premise of Survivor has remained the same over the years, there are new twists and turns with each season. Here’s why Probst says no two seasons are alike.

Probst doesn’t want players to be able to perfect the gameplay

With nearly two decades of Survivor, there needs to be a way to keep the game fresh for loyal audiences — and new twists are the perfect way to keep both viewers and contestants on their toes. Joe Reid for Decider spoke with Probst about the decision to have a new twist every season. And according to the host and executive producer, the twists aren’t just for “the sake of creating fireworks or to achieve some kind of ‘wow’ factor,” but rather so the contestants (most, if not all, who have watched multiple seasons of the show in the past) can’t arrive and play a perfect game. From tribe swaps to earlier tribe merges to hidden immunity idols, fans and contestants never know exactly what to expect — and Probst mentioned that there’s been a reason for every single twist along the way.

One of the most strategic changes to the show that viewers have noticed (and one that’s remained the same in the later seasons) is a larger jury at the end. As Probst said, “Larger juries were a specific change from me to keep stars on the show longer. … If you go with the jury of ten, and three [finalists], now you’ve got thirteen. You’ve just upped your percentages of having likable people still on the show.” And Probst also added that there are plenty of other ideas the Survivor crew would love to implement — and we’ll have to see in the future if they ever make the cut.

This is the 1 twist Probst absolutely loves

Out of every seasonal twist, there’s one that Probst has mentioned in the past that he still totally supports — and that’s the implementation of the hidden immunity idol. When a contestant finds an immunity idol that’s been hidden on the island, they can tuck it away and use it at tribal council to keep themselves safe — and its usage typically results in some serious blindsides.

As Probst told Entertainment Weekly, “Up through season 29, I would say my favorite twist is probably the hidden immunity idol. It’s just given us so much story that I laugh when people hit me on Twitter and say, ‘You should do a season without any idols and without any twists.’” Probst also alluded that while the audience thinks they want to see a twist-less season with straight gameplay, the unexpected turns are what ultimately make the show more interesting, so there’s likely never to be a season with no surprises.

The new twist for Edge of Extinction is like nothing we’ve seen before

Probst is excited about every new season of Survivor — and, as expected, Edge of Extinction has a new twist fans of the show have never seen before. Entertainment Weekly reminds us there are four returning favorites as well as 14 new contestants set to head out on the island. But the major twist comes when the $1 million hopefuls are voted off. Probst explains to the publication that after a contestant is voted off of the island, they’re faced with two options: leave the island altogether, or head to Edge of Extinction for a shot at getting back in the game. “Do you want to go into the unknown for a shot to get back in, or am I done? That’s the twist. That’s the premise. What they don’t know is what they will be going into,” he says.

Just because Survivors have a second chance doesn’t mean it’s an easy road for them, however. “Everything you do will require way more effort than you were doing back on that thing that you thought was tough called Survivor. And you’re doing it all on the idea that you have a shot to get back in,” Jeff adds.

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