CBS’s reality TV juggernaut “Survivor” is turning 30 in 2015. To help celebrate the monumental occasion, Gold Derby’s editors and users got together in our Reality TV forum to come up with the Top 30 craziest, most inventive ideas for Season 30.
Over the past 29 seasons, “Survivor” has given us dozens of brilliant twists — everything from “Blood vs. Water” and “Redemption Island” to my personal favorites, “Fans vs. Favorites” and “Heroes vs. Villains.” Are any of our Top 30 ideas good enough to join these classics? Sound off in the comments section below!
1. Winners vs. Winners
Our first idea would be a true “best of the best” season where all the castaways would be previous $1 million “Survivor” winners. Can Sandra Diaz-Twine win a third time? Will Tony Vlachos be out-Idoled?
2. Winners vs. Losers
What about having a tribe of former winners on one side of the island, with the other tribe filled with people who were voted out first, like poor Francesca Hogi and this season’s Nadiya Anderson?
3. Winners vs. Runner-ups
One tribe would be composed of past winners and one tribe would be made up of their runner-ups who didn’t clinch the victory. There have been many upsets at Final Tribal Council over the years and it would be great to see them given a second chance, or even see some of them face off again.
This could be loser Lex van den Berghe‘s chance to finally get back at winner Boston Rob Mariano for lying to him in the original “All-Stars” season. Or what about seeing Dawn Meehan and Brenda Lowe battle it out again over Dawn’s missing teeth?
5. Jury Stays on the Island
Clunky title, intriguing concept. We want to see a season where, after being voted off, the jury members return to the camp with the other tribe members. While these jury members wouldn’t be eligible to play for reward or immunity or the million dollars, they could still influence the game by causing drama, spreading lies and confronting the people who voted them out. This twist would also help keep the show interesting as the number of castaways dwindles in the final weeks.
6. Experts vs. Newbies
This idea would pit “Survivor” experts like you and me — people who’ve studied every aspect of the game — against people who’ve never heard of the show and think it’s just about surviving on an island. How different would the game be if it were played by people who don’t know how it’s done?
7. TV stars vs. Movie stars
The title speaks for itself. Get the stars of the small screen to battle against the stars of the big screen to see who comes out on top.
8. Celebrities vs. Fanatics
A tribe of celebrities vs. a tribe of people who idolize them. Get a famous sports star like Tiger Woods on one tribe and one of his adoring fangirls on the other. Invite a classic 80s TV star like Tony Danza to play against the president of his fan club. Could be fun… or creepy.
9. Two Separate Games
Have two tribes play one game of “Survivor,” while another two tribes play another game on the other side of the island. Each pair of tribes wouldn’t know about the other pair until it’s time to merge. Surprise!
10. Reality Host Smackdown
We’d love to see Jeff Probst emcee a season that pits reality hosts like Julie Chen (“Big Brother”) and Phil Keoghan (“The Amazing Race”) against Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn (“Project Runway”). This year’s Emmy winner Jane Lynch (“Hollywood Game Night”) can come too, even though she’s not technically a reality host.
11. Borneo Redux
Bring back all of the original Season 1 “Survivor” contestants to play again, with the unfortunate exception of B.B. Andersen who passed away in 2013. Can Richard Hatch reclaim the title while competing against the same group of people?
12. Borneo vs. Australia
It may be a difficult chore to get all 15 living Borneo players back again, so why not just bring 10 of them back and pit them against 10 of the players from The Australian Outback? It’d be the ultimate Season 1 vs. Season 2 face-off.
13. Back to Basics
How about a 16-person diverse, interesting cast with no idols, no islands, no twists whatsoever? The fact that there’s no gimmick is the gimmick.
14. America Votes Live
What about a season where the tribe narrows down its elimination choice to two contestants, and then America gets to decide who goes home each week? For that to happen, the show would need to be live, i.e. “Big Brother.”
15. One World… for real this time
A season that brings back the “One World” concept but goes all-out with it. Instead of tribes, it’s an individual game from the very beginning with everyone living on the same beach. For challenges, people would be randomly selected to compete in groups and then whichever group wins, those individuals would receive reward or would be immune from the vote.
16. Idol Nation
We’d love to see a season where the hidden Immunity idol had to be used in the same episode in which it was found. Imagine people going to Tribal Council and knowing that every time someone is going to use an idol. Could be crazy.
The tribes change every week. There are two or three tribes, and just before every reward challenge, the tribes are re-assigned using paint balls or colored rocks. The tribes stay together through the Immunity challenge and Tribal Council, and then are re-assigned again at the reward challenge. The tribes wouldn’t merge until very late in the game.
18. Old vs. Young
One tribe would be filled with people over 50 years old, the other with castaways under 25. “Survivor” has done this concept before, but never with such a defined age range.
19. Army vs. Navy
A real tug-at-your-heartstrings season would pit Army veterans against Navy vets. This could also be one of the most physically demanding seasons to date.
20. Football vs. Baseball vs. Basketball
Three tribes, each one represented by athletes from one of America’s three favorite sports franchises. We have a feeling the phrase “110%” would be used several times every episode.
21. Christians vs. Atheists
Watch the sparks fly in this edition of “Survivor” as Christians are pitted against Atheists. One tribe would bring their Bibles to read, the other would use them as toilet paper.
22. Country Folk vs. City Dwellers
It’s always fun to see people of different backgrounds coming together on “Survivor,” so why not make a whole season out of it? Have a tribe of farmers and factory workers battle it out against accountants and Wall Street execs.
23. Old School vs. New School
Players from the first 15 seasons would compete against a tribe of players from the last 15 seasons. Who would win in this battle of the seasons?
24. Law Enforcement vs. Criminals
Police and FBI Agents on one side, burglars and felons on the other. Would this be a season where sworn enemies come together, or will they be driven further apart?
25. Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty – All-Stars
Since the B vs B vs B theme paid off so well last year despite a lack of familiar faces, we imagine this season of all returnees would be just as enjoyable, if not even more. This could be a “Heroes vs. Villains”-style season pitting players like Rupert Boneham (Brawn), John Cochran (Brains) and Parvati Shallow (Beauty) against each other on opposing tribes.
26. Naked and Afraid
To up the sex quotient, why not steal a page from cable TV’s book and have a season in which the castaways are not allowed to wear any clothing? Imagine the pixels!
27. Frozen Tundra
Drop off the season’s contestants in snowy Siberia where, instead of swimming in a warm ocean, they’ll be shivering next to a dying fire. Yeah, yeah, we know that a frozen season wouldn’t give us much eye candy in terms of seeing girls and guys in their bathing suits, but it sure would be a nice change of pace after 29 prior seasons in the sun.
28. Robs vs. Johns
There have been so many Robs and Johns throughout the first 29 seasons that it’d be easy to pit them against each other. This one’s for you, Rob Cesternino.
29. Gold Derby Editors vs. Users
Okay, yes, this one’s a joke too. Or is it?
30. One Castaway From Each Season
To celebrate 30 seasons on the air, why not do an extra long season with a whopping 30 castaways — one from each season — split into three tribes of 10? Each prior season would be represented and then there’d be one new person to fit that 30th slot… maybe Jeff Probst himself?
According to exclusive Gold Derby racetrack odds, Kelley Wentworth has the best shot of winning the current “San Juan del Sur” season with leading 15/2 odds. Josh Canfield is in second place with 8/1 odds, while Jeremy Collins is in third place with 9/1 odds.
Be sure to cast your own votes for who’ll win by using our easy drag-and-drop menu below. You can also predict who will be voted out next, which tribe will win Immunity and so much more by logging into your predictions and clicking on the “Survivor: San Juan del Sur” button.
Whoever scores the most game points at the end of the season will win a $100 Amazon gift certificate. For prediction tips and advice, be sure to join the “Survivor” discussion in our Gold Derby reality TV forum.
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