But while he would definitely leave some big shoes to fill, we do think it’s possible the show could go on without him if CBS and the production team find the right host. It wouldn’t be easy — they would have to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the game, be charismatic and friendly but also tough, and not too goofy. The role does demand a certain amount of gravitas.
With that in mind, here are our top five picks for who could take over Probst’s torch-snuffer.
Boston Rob Mariano
This one feels really obvious. No one besides Probst himself knows the game better than Boston Rob. He has played the game five times, plus appeared on “Island of the Idols” as a mentor for the players. He also competed on two seasons of The Amazing Race with his wife, Amber Brkich Mariano, whom he met on Survivor: All-Stars.
In fact, during “Winners at War,” after the final battle-back challenge that eliminated both the Marianos for good, he credited Survivor with giving him everything he has in his life. And in a behind-the-scenes interview from Ponderosa, Rob and Amber talked about their love story.
“I love our story. I love that I have such a unique story to tell. One day we’re gonna have such a great story to tell our grandchildren,” said Brkich Mariano.
Boston Rob added, “I love this game, it’s given so much to me, but I realize that now I’ve gotten everything I wanted out of it. I’m so appreciative of everything, but it’s time to go. … Survivor will always be a part of us and our story.”
And Brkich Mariano added that them playing together on “Winners at War” was the “perfect ending” to their story.
All of that may be true, but we wonder if CBS came calling, would Boston Rob head out to Fiji for 12 weeks to film back-to-back seasons as the new host? Or maybe he could convince the show not to film seasons back to back anymore so he wouldn’t be away from Amber and their four daughters for so long.
Either way, he’d be a great choice.
This may be a surprise since we haven’t seen Boehlke on the show since “Game Changers” in 2017, but this three-time player is a great choice because she has such a plethora of hosting experience and she’s highly charismatic and telegenic.
Look, being a host is not easy. Probst definitely had to find his sea legs in the early seasons, even if he now makes it look incredibly easy. But it takes a lot of attention, quick-thinking, and a healthy balance of care for the players, and the ability to stir the pot to be an effective Survivor host.
Boehlke began hosting “People Now,” an entertainment program for People magazine, in 2015, and in 2020, she launched “People in 10” for the magazine, a digital show that airs Thursdays at 10 a.m. ET/7 a.m. PT.
We think Boehlke would be a dynamic host for Survivor.
Cesternino is a two-time Survivor player who was popular with viewers because of his good sense of humor and affable personality. He has also been hosting a podcast, “Rob Has a Podcast,” that primarily focuses on strategy-based reality TV for 10 years, so his knowledge of Survivor and other shows like it is practically unparalleled.
The only drawback to Cesternino is that he hasn’t actually appeared on Survivor since the first all-stars season back in 2004, so fans may not be overly familiar with him anymore. But CBS could easily solve that problem by doing a special leading up to his inaugural season that highlights the two seasons he played and then the fact that he’s a Survivor expert due to his love of the game and his podcast.
This is a total darkhorse pick because Cole hasn’t been seen in the Survivor-verse for quite a long time, but he was an incredibly popular player with both his fellow castaways and the audience. He is no stranger to show business because he is an accomplished musician and composer and he even has some hosting experience — he hosted a special for the TV Guide Network in the lead-up to Survivor: China.
We have no idea if he would even be interested and the fact that he has two young daughters might preclude him from saying yes, but we think he’d be a great choice.
This is another obvious choice, but he’s a strong contender nonetheless. Donaldson is a fan-favorite, having played three times and famously sticking to his word by taking Tina Wesson to the end in Survivor season two and basically handing her the money.
But he also has great hosting experience. He was the host of the History Channel’s shooting competition series Top Shot for five seasons and has numerous other TV appearances under his belt. Plus, look at him — he’s so telegenic that he’s a natural successor to Probst.
This is another darkhorse pick — most fans probably do not remember Chelsea Walker (sorry, Chelsea). She only played one season of Survivor, “Island of the Idols,” and was voted out fourth.
But that is also something that works in her favor — fans may not have strong feelings about her. It’s hard to be universally liked, so any past contestant who is picked will have his or her haters. Walker probably won’t. And she currently hosts IMDB’s Survivor Live After Show, so she has some hosting experience.
Survivor hopes to film season 41 in the spring of 2021 for a fall 2021 premiere.