‘Survivor’s’ Jeff Probst on When He Thinks the Show Will End

Jeff Probst visits 'The IMDb Show' on February 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.

Getty Jeff Probst visits 'The IMDb Show' on February 12, 2020 in Santa Monica, California.

Would there be any Survivor without Jeff Probst? That’s a problem for CBS to figure out when the khaki-clad host decides to hang up his torch-snuffer. For now, Probst is still going strong, but he has talked about when he thinks the show will end and whether or not he will make it to 50 seasons.

When Will The Show End?

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Probst isn’t a psychic, so he doesn’t know specifically when Survivor will be done, but he does know that if ratings start to decline, that will be the end, so they are constantly working to keep things fresh for the audience.

“It also does come down to not just our audience, but network television,” Probst told Entertainment Weekly in a recent interview. “What’s happening? You look at ratings, we’ve been super lucky. Our ratings are holding. Our audience is so frickin’ loyal, man. They hang in there with us … [I]n television today, [steady ratings are] like getting a raise.”

But their job is to “deliver the same thing, only very different every time,” which is hard. So they “must reinvent,” they “must innovate.”

“We must keep you curious, so you can sit home and think ‘Oh, I don’t think I’m going to like this. I don’t get the, what’s it called, the Edge of Extinction? Not for me. Island of the Idols? It seems like a little corny deal.’ But we keep doing it, and I feel people say, ‘Okay, I’m starting to get it. What are these Fire Tokens again? How do they work?’ Just give it a second. We’re trying it out. We’ll see if it works. So that’s our job. So we can only do that season by season.”

Probst Is Hesitant to Say He’ll Hang Around Until Season 50

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Survivor just celebrated the milestone of making it to 20 years on the air and 40 seasons with its “Winners at War” edition. During the filming for that season, EW asked executive producer Matt Van Wagenen and challenge producers John Kirhoffer and Chris Marchand if they all thought the show would go five more years, aka 10 more seasons, and make it to an even 50. They all said yes, with Van Wagenen giving an emphatic “Hell yes.”

But Probst was a little more cautious. His exact words were “I don’t know” when he was asked point-blank about season 50. He also said, “There is a complicated math idea on the board in there for [season] 41 or 42 which [he’s] trying to figure out.”

That last part has raised a few eyebrows on the Survivor subreddit because the comments were made before COVID-19 shut down Survivor’s production. What would the complicated math idea be? One Redditer wonders if it’s one season split in half or maybe a celebrity edition that could mess the numbers up because technically it’s a spinoff? Or maybe it has to do with the fire tokens and the Survivor economy?

Probst Goes on to Say ‘At This Point’ He Thinks He’ll Be Around Until Season 50

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When pressed about wanting to stay with the show for five more years, Probst answered, “At this point, yes. But I don’t like the pressure being that it’s all on me. That doesn’t feel great. I want to do it because we as a group want to keep doing it and keep finding ways to reinvent it.”

He added that the big reinvention for season 40 was coming up with the idea of fire tokens, which he hopes to keep going in future seasons.

“The thing that keeps us going is when we get a hold of a new idea, like the idea of a fire token and then the idea of a currency. We get excited because we go, a currency, even though it’s not sexy, it’s a foundation,” said Probst. “Maybe we can build on that. Maybe the next 10 seasons can be building on now Survivor has a currency.”

He continued, “There’s a mayor of Survivor. Oh my God, that guy’s a billionaire on Survivor. He has so many fire tokens. But he has no friends. He can’t buy anything. It’s crazy! He literally has all the money, and nobody will work with him! And then you’re once again in this microcosm of society and you’ve got something. That’s what we’re trying to figure out.”

Survivor hopes to film season 41 in the spring of 2021 for a fall 2021 premiere.

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