“Survivor” fans are buzzing with excitement over the reality TV show’s landmark 40th season, “Winners at War.” For years, superfans have been clamoring for a season with all winners competing against each other to determine the ultimate champion. The Fiji-set installment will see the return of old school favorites like Ethan Zohn and Amber Brkich, newer champs like Wendell Holland and Sarah Lacina and enduring icons like Rob Mariano, Sandra Diaz-Twine and Parvati Shallow. But with 39 seasons of winners and only 20 slots to fill, there are some glaring omissions we won’t see on the island this year. Scroll through our photo gallery above to see the 18 “Survivor” winners who aren’t returning in Season 40.
While each era of “Survivor” is represented in the “Winners at War” cast, it is undeniably lopsided in favor of newer winners. From 2000-10, the first 20 seasons, there are only six winners represented. This left no room for: Richard Hatch (“Borneo”), Tina Wesson (“The Australian Outback”), Vecepia Towery (“Marquesas”), Brian Heidik (“Thailand”), Jenna Morasca (“The Amazon”), Chris Daugherty (“Vanuatu”), Tom Westman (“Palau”), Aras Baskauskas (“Panama”), Earl Cole (“Fiji”), Todd Herzog (“China”), Bob Crowley (“Gabon”), J.T. Thomas (“Tocantins”) and Natalie White (“Samoa”). However, we have seen a few of these winners back for a second or even third time, like Tina, Jenna, Tom, Aras and J.T.
Contrast that with the post-“Heroes vs. Villains” era and we have almost every single winner taking part in “Survivor’s” 40th season. Chris Underwood was crowned the winner of “Edge of Extinction” just a few days before filming began on “Winners at War” in May, while Tommy Sheehan (“Island of the Idols”) was just crowned in December, so neither could have realistically taken part.
Putting those aside, there are only three winners from Season 21 onward not included on the Season 40 cast: Jud “Fabio” Birza (“Nicaragua”), John Cochran (“Caramoan”) and Mike Holloway (“Worlds Apart”). Cochran not being on the cast is arguably the most surprising considering how much production loves him, but he stated after his unanimous victory on “Survivor: Caramoan” in 2013 that he did not want to return again.
Of course, Season 1’s champion is the most glaring snub of them all. Given Richard’s legendary status, his presence would have seemed perfect for an all-winners season, but the sexual harassment scandal that went down on “Island of the Idols” was a possible factor in his omission. In the two decades since his first appearance, Richard has only returned once, in Season 8’s “All-Stars.”