Whenever Jeff Probst brings back former "All-Stars" to the island, it's almost a surefire guarantee that it's going to be a great season of Survivor. However, bringing back previous contenders get messy when the producers (and, by extension, Probst) try, in earnest, to shove whatever contrived theme they've dreamt up down viewers' throats. Whether it's Millennials vs. Gen-Xers, Heroes vs. Villains, or Brains vs. Beauties vs. Brawns, you best be prepared for Probst to make blanket statements about each tribe member's designated label. After sitting through countless cliché metaphors, most viewers hope Probst and the rest of the creators drop the whole "theme" by the time we make it to the final Tribal Council.
Unfortunately, these so-called "themes" get even stickier when the show comes out swinging with one as gargantuan as Survivor: Game Changers, the show's current subject. However, Survivor clearly cut some corners when it cast these alleged "game changers." Maybe not enough real game changers were available for a second round on the island, or maybe they just thought they were appealing to fan favorites, but it's damn near inarguable that a huge chunk of this season's players are a far cry from ever being considered legitimate game changers.
After 33 solid seasons of blindsides, you better believe that Survivor doles out some hardcore players. Sure, returnees like two-time winner Sandra Diaz and four-time veteran Ozzy are rightfully sitting among some great players. But contestants like Caleb Reynolds, who got evacuated early in his original season, and Sierra Dawn Thomas, who did just about nothing on hers, aren't exactly blending in with their much tougher competition.
It's no surprise the show dropped some of the stronger choices and opted for contestants that serve more as fan gestures. However, leaning so heavily on the "game changers" crux leaves the show in a bit of a conundrum. So, the question must be asked: which true game changers could have served this season well? Power players like Kelley Wentworth and Natalie Anderson come to mind. Certainly, no one would complain about seeing Kim Spradlin play a much-deserved second round.
These are just a few of the many Survivors we'd like to see return, but they're also Survivors who legitimately changed the game. Listen up, Probst, because there's still plenty of time for Survivor: Games Changers 2.
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Wentworth didn't make much of an impression her first season, Survivor: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water. In fact, she didn't even outlast her poor ol' dad, Dale. However, she surprised everyone with her return on Survivor: Cambodia - Second Chancewhen she turned out to be one of the toughest and most clever competitors yet. Wentworth single-handedly blindsided Andrew Savage with one of the two idols she managed to discreetly snag, one during a challenge and one in the shelter at camp. With the numbers against her almost every time, Kelly managed to make it to the final four, where she was finally voted out. Why? Because she would have won.
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Winner of Survivor: One World, Kim Spradlin had one of the most powerful single-season performances in Survivor history. Although she started off on the down low, underplaying her talents, she quickly took advantage of the merge when she solidified an all-female alliance while still toying her allegiance to others. Kim also proved herself a powerhouse in challenges when she took home four Immunity Idol wins. Kim played one of the most strategic games of Survivor ever. Who wouldn't want to see that again?
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Better known as Twinny, Natalie won Survivor: San Juan del Sur - Blood vs. Water despite having her sister and twin voted out in the very first tribal. In what was gearing up to be a fairly boring season, Natalie shook things up when she stole control of the game from relentless lovebirds Jon and Jaclyn. Ultimately, Anderson picked off every remaining member of their alliance and set herself up perfectly to win, which she did. In a particularly game-less season, Natalie had enough game to be rightfully crowned the Sole Survivor.
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Spencer is likely no one's favorite player, but he's played two very different, equally intriguing games both time he's appeared on the show. More importantly, he managed to overcome some of his more distasteful qualities that plagued him on Survivor: Cagayan when he returned for Survivor: Cambodia - Second Chance. Bledsoe even made it to the final three with his core alliance, Jeremy and Tasha. Unfortunately for him, the jury wasn't ready to hand over a million dollars to a kid they did not particularly love (and Jeremy's sob story didn't help). Maybe the third time could very well be his charm?
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Todd may not be everyone's favorite person, but it's no doubt he is one of Survivor's most talented players. Labeled a "liar" from the start of Survivor: China, Todd still managed to play the rest of his tribemates like a fiddle. Arguably one of the greatest Final Tribal performances ever, Todd not only apologized to every jury member he scorned along the way, he simultaneously convinced them all to give him a million dollars despite all that. Out of the three, Todd was viewed as the least trustworthy and biggest liar. But he was a liar who played successfully. And he was a liar who actually won.
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Maybe it's the "Car Curse," but Yau-Man never really got a good chance to show off his chops his second time around. Known for dominating the stronger tribe members during challenges on Survivor: Fiji with his pure brain power, Chan instantly became a fan favorite. Unfortunately, it was that popularity and familiarity that made him an easy target when he returned for Survivor: Micronesia. The likelihood of a Yau-Man return is slim, but let's not rule it out. He's far from the oldest contestant the show has brought back before - just ask Rudy.