The Evolution of Jeff Probst


Want an idea on how to start your week off on the right note? Here at Survivor Oz, we recommend reading this weeks Survivor Oz Feature Article! This week, Ozlet Shayna Davis brings you an article on the evolution of Jeff Probst. Jeff has changed a lot since he appeared as the host of Survivor: Borneo all those years ago; but is it for the better or for the worst? Shayna discusses just how Jeff has changed the way he goes about hosting Survivor. From challenge commentary, grilling people at Tribal Council and picking out his favourites, Shayna discusses all the ways Jeff has changed. Don’t forget to get involved and let us know your thoughts on Jeff’s evolution by commenting below!

Jeff Probst has truly been an important part of the success of the Survivor franchise. Many fans have said Survivor would not be the same if Jeff was not the host. I agree that the show would not be the same without him and any replacement host would feel like a person trying to mock him. Jeff Probst has the humour, charisma and sharp wit that make the show entertaining even in the seasons that did not have a strong cast. The audience has certainly seen Jeff evolve over the years. Many believe he has become too involved in the show. He has made many questionable statements about the show’s success. Most recently saying that the reason more women have not returned is because the show hasn’t had many strong women. I don’t agree with that statement. The thing I believe Jeff does is that he states his opinions as facts. The one that got me was a statement he said in the cast preview for Redemption Island. Jeff said, “If you are not exited to see Russell Hantz come back then you are not a true Survivor fan”. What is that supposed to mean? I am a huge Survivor fan and I was not exited to see Russell Hantz play for the third time in two years, I was over Russell at that point. Even though I hardly ever agree with Jeff’s opinions about the show I still love him as the host and would like to take a short trip down memory lane to discuss Jeff’s evolution.


In season one of Survivor, Jeff was just put on the island to start his adventure in hosting this phenomenal series. Jeff was incredibly endearing in the first season. We did not see him grilling the contestants at Tribal Council, exposing alliances and showing favouritism to the contestants he wanted to win. He let the contestants hang out at Tribal Council until the rain storm passed. The thing that sticks out the most to me is in the Reward Challenge where they had to carry mud using their body and fill the bucket, after Kelly won the challenge he told Kelly to give him a hug. Then she gave Jeff a big muddy hug, he then joined her on the Reward. This would never happen today! Season two saw him join Colby for a beer around the camp fire when he won a Reward Challenge.


I do not know what provoked Jeff to change the way Survivor challenges are viewed, but we see that change in season five. Prior to season five all of the challenges were paired with upbeat background music or music that met with the theme of the season. In Survivor: Thailand the music was replaced with Jeff’s infamous commentary. Jeff’s commentary is still met with mixed reviews, but Jeff sure loves doing it. I must say I love it! Jeff’s commentary is like a comedic bonus to the show. As a viewer I love it but if I were to ever play I would detest him for it.

Anticipation for Survivor: All-Stars was at an all-time high for me. As I watched the season progressed the enthusiasm went away. It seemed like the season had a dark cloud looming over it. In the sixth episode when Sue Hawk screamed at Jeff the look on his face was one I had not seen on Jeff. Jeff had many emotions on his face. In future interviews Jeff has gone on record saying he hated filming All-Stars for many reasons, from Sue screaming at him to the inflated egos of the majority of the returning players. Lex said “Survivor lost its innocence in All-Stars” and I agree with him.


In Survivor: Palau we saw another memorable and funny moment with Jeff and Ian. Ian gives Jeff a big hug at the food auction when he won a giant plate of spaghetti. Jeff’s memorable remark was, “Ian you smell, wow do you reek”. I felt embarrassed for Ian, and whenever I think of Ian I think of that moment.

In Survivor: Cook Islands, Survivor legend Jonathan Penner made his first appearance. For the first time we saw a contestant talk back to Jeff during his obnoxious challenge commentary. During the challenge Jeff quipped “Raro just lost another ball, they weren’t paying attention”, Penner replies, “Jeff Please” in a disgruntled voice. Then my favourite remark from Jeff to this date, “Penner getting frustrated by me, Day Twenty-one” in a snarky tone. I loved it and re-watched it several times and it still makes me laugh.

In the recent year’s former Survivor players have voiced their opinions on Jeff’s influence on the game. A lot of contestants have said they are not happy with the questions he asks at Tribal Council and exposing alliances. Jeff has defended his involvement by stating that he is just trying to tell the story to the audience. Jeff also does not make his favourites a secret. His favourite of all time of course is Boston Rob, I don’t think anyone will dethrone Boston Rob as Jeff’s favourite; maybe Russell Hantz comes in a close second?


I would say to future Survivor contestant’s that it is extremely beneficial to be liked by Jeff Probst. If you are a Jeff Probst favourite then he will not target you with inflammatory questions at Tribal Council, or you could try to fool him and give him upbeat, empty answers, but he is hard to fool. Plus… never ever roll your eyes because he will catch and question you. I would say go to Tribal Council and remember to keep a blank face.

Despite all the flak Jeff gets I don’t think even his toughest critics want another host of Survivor. Jeff Probst IS Survivor and there is not a person out there who can take his place


Do you agree or disagree with Shayna? Leave your thoughts by commenting below!

About Survivor Oz (2110 Articles)
Australia's Only 'Survivor' Radio Show! Tuesdays from 2PM AEST

6 Comments on The Evolution of Jeff Probst

  1. Interesting read. As fan from day one I have noticed a big change in Jeff from Borneo to All-Stars, but I think for the most part he has pretty much been the same Jeff since then. Imo, the rest of the change we all see is more of a change in editing style of the show and the large emphasis that Tribal Council now has in every episode which gives Jeff a bigger presence than ever before.

    I for one don’t think Jeff manipulates the game as much as some make him out to. Does he have his favorites that he can go to to provide him with some great TC moments? Sure, but we need to remember that the same editing that goes into the players games occurs with Jeff as well. We only see the moments that are relevant to pushing the story forward.

    I personally believe most, if not all, of the players that complain about Jeff’s line of questioning at TC are using that as an excuse for their lack of success in the game. By now every player should be aware of what can happen if you cant keep a lid on the things you want to keep to yourself.

  2. I enjoyed this article and yeah, any person who goes on Survivor more than once will have some noticeable changes (should I say character development), and some instances are more obvious than others (Coach, Cochran, and Skupin among the most interesting personality adjustments) so over the course of 26 seasons we can’t have the same Jeff Probst from Borneo compared to Caramoan. I think he is a great host but sometimes he makes me wonder with some questionable decisions, such as bringing back Russell so soon after Heroes vs. Villains and the Caramoan reunion show. Nobody’s perfect though. The task of hosting such an awesome show takes its toll but Jeff loves doing his job!

  3. Certain characters (Sandra and Courtney come to mind) do very well at fending off Probst even though he clearly doesn’t like them as much as other players. Probst can be shut down by a high level of creative sass.

  4. Great observations. Most of the production and casting decisions are made by a team, but I’ll definitely take to heart the notes that directly apply to me. Thanks for the insight. Probst

  5. As a matter of point I don’t believe Probst ever said “the show hasn’t had many strong women”. As I recall he stated that when you reflect on past contestants the list of larger and more memorable characters tend to be dominated by the men. He commented on the relationship between the male ego, especially in type A personalities, and the tendency for those types of men to play big “in your face” kind of games compared to women who seemed on a cursory level, more willing to play subtle under the radar games. He also noted that those same larger than life male players often made big moves and were outspoken to their own detriment in the game compared to the strong female payers who were better able to step back and check their egos.

    I thought it was actually a rather thoughtful insight as to the success and failure of some of our favorite past players. Personally I think there is more than a kernel of truth to the sentiment and felt compelled to clarify the point in defense of the man that makes even the “worst” Survivor seasons some of the best TV that is out there. I don’t think any Survivor Fan, most especially Probst would argue that Kim, Denise, or Parvati (among many others, Yes I mean you Dawn Meehan!) were not the epitome of strong women in many senses of the phrase, but that alongside the gigantic egos of Russel, Coach, or the Specialist it’s understandable that they can be (most unfairly) not as memorable as their male counterparts.

  6. It seemed liked this article was written by a 5th grader.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: