Returning Player seasons offer the opportunity to former contestants to play the game of 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 casts comprised entirely of returning players. The eponymous season, All-Stars, saw 18 returnees divided into three competing tribes. 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.

Survivor: Cambodia featured a "second chance" theme, consisting of contestants who played only once and lost; and its cast was entirely chosen by viewers through an online poll. Survivor: Game Changers featured former contestants who have contributed to the evolution of Survivor strategy and game play.

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 "superfans." Survivor: Micronesia and later Survivor: Caramoan both utilized this format.

One Returnee per Tribe

This format featured 2-3 former castaways, each being assigned to a tribe of new players. Survivor: Guatemala, Survivor: Redemption Island, Survivor: South Pacific, and Survivor: Philippines followed this format.

Blood vs. Water

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, similarly to the "Fans vs. Favorites" format. 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.

Returning Players by Season

Season Returned to Future Season Season Returned to Future Season
Borneo.png S1 gervase t.pngS1 jenna t.pngS1 kelly t.png
S1 richard t.pngS1 rudy t.pngS1 susan t.png
SurvivorAustraliaLogo.png S2 alicia t.pngS2 amber t.pngS2 colby t.png
S2 jeff t.pngS2 jerri t.png
S2 kimmi t.pngS2 michael t.pngS2 tina t.png
Africa NB.png S3 ethan t.pngS3 lex t.pngS3 tom t.png Marquesas NB.png S4 kathy t.pngS4 rob t.png
ThailandTransparentLogo.png S5 shiiann t.png Amazon NB.png S6 jenna t.pngS6 rob t.png
SurvivorPearlIslandsLogo.png S7 andrew t.pngS7 jon t.png
S7 rupert t.pngS7 sandra t.png
SurvivorAllStarsLogo.png S8 colby t.pngS8 jerri t.png
S8 robm t.pngS8 rupert t.pngS8 tina t.png
Vanuatu NB.png S9 ami t.pngS9 eliza t.png Palau NB.png S10 bobbyjon t.pngS10 stephenie t.pngS10 tom t.png
GuatemalaLogo.png S11 stephenie t.png PanamaLogo.png S12 aras t.pngS12 cirie t.png
S12 danielle t.pngS12 terry t.png
SurvivorCookIslandsLogo.png S13 candice t.pngS13 jonathan t.png
S13 ozzy t.pngS13 parvati t.png
SurvivorFijiLogo.png S14 yauman t.png
ChinaLogo.png S15 amanda t.pngS15 courtney t.png
S15 james t.pngS15 peihgee t.png
MicronesiaLogo.png S16 amanda t.pngS16 cirie t.png
S16 erik t.pngS16 james t.pngS16 jonathan t.png
S16 ozzy t.pngS16 parvati t.png
GabonLogo.png S17 corinne t.pngS17 randy t.pngS17 sugar t.png TocantinsLogo.png S18 coach t.pngS18 jt t.png
S18 stephen t.pngS18 tyson t.png
SamoaLogo.png S19 laura t.pngS19 monica t.png
S19 russellh t.pngS19 russells t.png
HvVLogo.png S20 candice t.pngS20 cirie t.pngS20 coach t.png
S20 jt t.pngS20 rob t.pngS20 rupert t.png
S20 russell t.pngS20 sandra t.pngS20 tyson t.png
NicaraguaLogo.png S21 brenda t.png RedemptionIslandLogo.png S22 andrea t.pngS22 francesca t.pngS22 phillip t.png
SouthPacificLogo.png S23 brandon t.pngS23 cochran t.png
S23 dawn t.pngS23 ozzy t.png
OneWorldLogo.png S24 colton t.pngS24 kat t.png
S24 monica t.pngS24 troyzan t.png
PhilippinesLogo.png S25 abimaria t.pngS25 malcolm t.png CaramoanLogo.png S26 andrea t.pngS26 malcolm t.png
BvWLogo.png S27 brad t.pngS27 ciera t.pngS27 vytas t.png CagayanLogo.png S28 kass t.pngS28 sarah t.pngS28 spencer t.png
S28 tasha t.pngS28 tony t.pngS28 woo t.png
SJDSLogo.png S29 jeremy t.pngS29 keith t.pngS29 kelley t.png WALogo.png S30 hali t.pngS30 joe t.png
S30 shirin t.pngS30 sierra t.png
Survivor31logo.png S31 ciera t.pngS31 jeff t.png Survivor kaoh rong logo.png S32 aubry t.pngS32 caleb t.png
S32 debbie t.pngS32 tai t.png
Survivor 33 Logo.png S33 michaela t.pngS33 zeke t.png Survivor 34 Logo.png None
Survivor 35 Logo.png None Survivor 36 Logo.png None
Survivor 37 Logo.png Upcoming Season

Trivia

Seasons and Twists

References

Survivor Gameplay
Challenges

Challenge Advantage · Do-It-Yourself Challenge · Duel · Family Visit · Immunity Challenge (Final Immunity Challenge) · Immunity Idol · Immunity Necklace · Medallion of Power · Reward Challenge · Survivor Auction

Elimination

Edge of Extinction · Ejection · Evacuation · Final Tribal Council · Jury · Quit · Redemption Island · Snuffer · Sole Survivor · Tiebreaker · Torch · Tribal Council · Urn

Strategy

Alliance · Pagonging · Split Vote

Social Dynamics

Final Two · Final Three · Merge · Tribe

Twists
Casting

Battle of the Sexes · Blood vs. Water · Brawn vs. Brains vs. Beauty · Old vs. Young · Returning Players · Schoolyard Pick · Tribes Divided by Ethnicity


Tribal Council-Related

Double Elimination · Double Tribal Council · Extra Vote · Hidden Immunity Idol · Idol Nullifier · Joint Tribal Council · Juror Removal · Vote Blocker · Vote Steal


Miscellaneous

Advantage Menu · Buried Treasure · Day Zero · Exile Island · Fake Merge · Fire Token · First Impressions · Ghost Island · Haves vs. Have Nots · Island of the Idols · Kidnapping · Legacy Advantage · Looting · Mutiny · One World · Reward Steal · The Outcasts · Tribe Leader · Tribe Switch

Post-Game

Fan Favorite Award · Lawsuits and Legal Action · Ponderosa · Reunion Show

Miscellaneous

Buff · Confessional · Luxury Item · Rites of Passage · Survivor Rulebook · Ulonging

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