What happens to quitters on Survivor? Can they come back and compete again? CBS and Jeff Probst’s attitude towards quitters has been a rocky rollercoaster over the growing-up years of Survivor. Jeff was ticked off by some of the early quitters, but at other times he’s shown mercy, like the two quitters-turned-jurors in Survivor 21. Some of the biggest changes towards quitters came from Jeff’s vocalization and attitude towards quitters, along with official Survivor rules that were sanctioned by CBS. The network even went so far as to try and video edit quitters out of the show. Let’s break down the rules and different times people have quit the show over the years.
Survivor is Reality TV Show Built on Toughness Of Competitors
There was a time and place when Survivor was built for the tough and fearless. Mainly the first few seasons. Even if people were sick and wanted to leave the game, they did not, because their alliance wanted to keep them around for an extra vote. Think Shawna Mitchell from Season 6, Survivor: Amazon. On the all-woman tribe she was sick and complaining a lot. The “younger and prettier” woman alliance kept Shawna around so they could vote off the older women.
The First Survivor Contestant to Quit
Just one season later, in Survivor 7, the first contestant to quit the game was Osten Taylor. He was seen as one of the strongest in the tribe at the beginning of the show, but then he became grumpy and short-tempered in camp life. Also, in a swimming challenge he almost drowned and had to be saved by his tribe mates.
Some of Osten’s final words on the show during tribal council confirmed he gave up, “Yeah I’m quitting, my health to me is more important to me than a million dollars, I guess.”
Jeff Probst was visibly and vocally not happy with Osten quitting. In a sign of symbolism, Jeff laid his torch on the ground to display quitters are not treated with the full respect. It had never happened before in the show’s history. Fans were aghast.
Jeff Probst Makes His Views On Survivor Contestants Quitting Public
Before season 20 of Survivor, Jeff went on an interview with TV Guide Network and stated, “Johnny Fairplay went from a villain to a quitter. And we don’t invite quitters back.” This instance was the first time that Probst had gone vocally loud and proud about his stance against quitters. Jon Dalton AKA Johnny Fairplay had a famous rivalry with Jeff Probst. It is rumored that Probst got into a fight with Fairplay’s brother, and his brother was subsequently banned from all future Survivor events. Johnny Fairplay and Jeff Probst have a professional and social dislike towards each other.
Johnny Fairplay was officially the first person voted off of Survivor season 16 Micronesia. Most of the talk at that tribal council was around whether Fairplay was quitting. He never admitted to quitting, but everyone had their suspicions. Fairplay told tribemates he was homesick for his daughter and family. This led to his leaving of the game.
Season 20 of Survivor is the first time CBS made it official they were not allowing quitters to return and play in future seasons. Fifteen days after the finale of Survivor Season 20, CBS made the Survivor Rulebook official. These terms and conditions have to be signed by every contestant that goes on the show. There are now official rules against quitting contained in Survivor‘s laws.
CBS & Jeff Probst Angered Further By Contestants Quitting Survivor
In the following season Survivor 21: Nicaragua, after the Survivor Rulebook was enacted, there were two quitters. Fans witnessed an angry tribal council where two castaways, Naonka Mixon and “Purple” Kelly Shinn, both quit at the same time! Both cast members quit due to suffering in the wilderness. They placed 8th and 9th and still got to participate on the jury. Fans were enraged when they saw that Naonka and Purple Kelly still got to become jurors after bailing on the game. Years later, in an Entertainment Weekly interview, Jeff’s attitude further coarsened on this subject of quitters when he said, “I don’t see a spot on the jury for quitters.”
CBS Edits Out Survivor Quitters and Disliked Players From Show
Purple Kelly was a quitter but did leave behind a big legacy. There is now a famous term called “Purple”, “Purpled” or “Purpling” a character. “Purpling” a character in reality TV means that the producers or video editors in a reality TV show leave a character out of the show intentionally, so they don’t get any screen time. The producers from Survivor 21 did not like Purple Kelly so they edited her out of the show. Well, as much as they could. She was only shown in one confessional besides her exit episode.
Fans interested in the nitty gritty of Survivor rules can review the Survivor Rulebook, which was leaked by TV critic Andy Dehnhart.
Full List of Survivor Quits
- Season 7: First Quit: Osten Taylor
- Season 8: Jenna Morasca
- Season 8: Susan Hawk
- Season 10: Janu Tornell
- Season 14: Gary Stritesky
- Season 16: Kathy Sleckman
- Season 21: Kelly Shinn
- Season 21: NaOnka Mixon
- Season 25: Dana Lambert
- Season 27: Colton Cumbie
- Season 28: Lindsey Ogle
- Season 29: Julie McGee
- Season 37: Bi Nguyen
- Season 38: Keith Sowell
- Season 38: Wendy Diaz
- Season 40: Sandra-Diaz Twine
These include survivors that chose to leave Redemption Island after being voted off of the tribe.