I know, I know! The season just ended! But you know what? I’m still riding the high of a new Survivor season and this is how it manifests!
Survivor 41 has its fair share of fans and detractors. Some people could not get used to the new style of editing or the overabundance of twists. It was definitely different than what we have seen for the last twenty years but for my money, it was not bad!
One of the best aspects of the season was its cast. Full of heroes, villains, and everything in between, these people came to play. It was clear from the moment Jeff Probst said “Game on!” that they had been conjuring up ideas of how to outwit, outplay, and outlast their fellow opponents for months on end.
In the end, only one of them was successful. That means we have seventeen players to choose from to return for a future season and second chance at the crown!
Here are our Top 5 Survivor 41 Contestants We Want to Return!
5. Evvie Jagoda
Evvie began their Survivor career on the Yase tribe – a group that started the game off on the wrong foot by losing the first two immunity challenges. After voting off Abraham and Voce, the tribe went on a winning streak, remaining immune for the rest of the premerge.
Because of their shared immunity, the Yase tribe grew pretty close with one another. Evvie, especially, had strong relationships with everyone on their tribe. Once the merge hit, however, Yase found themselves in a sticky situation. Most of Luvu and the remaining members of Ua teamed up to take out Yase members.
Tiffany, Xander, and Evvie made a play to ensure all three of them would survive the merge vote but did so by the skin of their teeth. Unfortunately, Tiffany’s luck ran out the next tribal council and then Evvie’s would the tribal after that.
During their time, Evvie proved that they can play a strong social game. When that fails, however, they have a strong strategic sense that can help them skate by another tribal council to hopefully find their footing. They also proved that they are no slouch in the physical department, winning two individual immunities in the four that they participated in.
If this season was played 100 times, I would bet that Evvie would be the winner a fair number of those times. They are the total package and yet, I don’t think we have seen their entire potential. Evvie is one of the Survivor 41 contestants we want to see return because they did not get to showcase everything that they are capable of.
4. Danny McCray
Danny proved to be a much different contestant than I had anticipated. Sometimes when you have people like John Rocker on this show, you forget that “former athlete” also includes people like The Mayor of Slamtown and the late Cliff Robinson. They are not always over the top players who look down on others in the game.
During his time on the island, Danny proved to be one of the kindest cast members of the season. Most notably seen early on when his tribemate, Heather, was struggling during a challenge. Danny was not only supportive but he was gentle in his approach, reminding her that she did not let the tribe down. His character continued to show throughout the season and it was clear that his genuine nature was well received by his tribemates. Having a really good social game led to him to being the last person in the season to receive any votes cast against them.
Additionally, Danny was vulnerable with himself and with the audience. Sharing the anger that he has felt towards his dad for years helped him seemingly let go of that pain. In a truly incredible moment of the season, Danny won his first and only immunity challenge on the anniversary of his father’s death.
Ultimately what makes Survivor what it is is the love that we have for the players. When they show who they are and open up to the audience, it is impossible not to root for them. Danny was not always the loudest or most exciting player but he seems like a genuinely good person and that was enough to win many viewers, myself included, over. He is definitely one of the Survivor 41 contestants we would love to see return.
3. Ricard Foye
Ricard is an obvious pick as a Survivor 41 contestant we want to return.
In the premerge, he and Shan practically ran the Ua tribe. The dynamic duo were constantly at odds with one another but always ended up sticking together. Their personalities did not always clash but they saw something in one another that meant they would be bonded throughout their journey.
Even though he had a hard time bonding with his other tribemates at first, Ricard navigated the early game expertly with Shan. The two voted off each one of their tribemates until they were the only two left. Luckily, they were able to make the merge together.
When there, Ricard came running out of the gate with several challenge wins. He ultimately won three individual immunities – the most in the season – and proved that he was not the reason the Ua tribe struggled to win in the premerge.
Ricard was not content to just win immunities though. He kept his head straight and played the game hard. His most notable moment came when he and Erika devised a plan to blindside his closest ally in the game, Shan. This came right after she informed Ricard that others were gunning for him. It was an especially cold move but it impressed many viewers and had them cheering for Ricard on finale night!
2. Naseer Muttalif
How can you not love Naseer?
Easily the most lovable contestant on Survivor 41, Naseer was just so incredibly happy to be there. His joy and disbelief at the fact that he was playing his favorite game was obvious. Most importantly, for the viewer, it was infectious. It is nearly impossible to hear how he learned to speak English from watching Survivor and is now standing in front of Jeff Probst playing the game without a smile forming across your face.
Naseer has an energy that makes it so easy to root for him. Despite being the “old guy” of his tribe, Naseer proved to be a challenge beast. One of his most notable moments came when he singlehandedly won immunity for his tribe when several of his tribemates were actively trying to throw the challenge.
Even when he didn’t win, Naseer refused to let the hard times get to him, choosing to hunt for papaya when his team did not win a food reward. Even in the moments where he becomes too cocky, he is still likable! Like when he was telling Heather she is going home right before being blindsided himself.
All of this to say that through Naseer’s ups and downs on the island, he was one of the most electric characters in a season full of electric characters. We would love for him to return to live out his dream for a second time!
1. Shan Smith
I cannot imagine anyone reading this article is surprised to see Shan’s name at #1. I recognize that not all fans love her but there is no denying that Shan was the star of the season.
From episode 1, Shan proved that she was a star. Wearing the title “mafia pastor” like a badge of honor, she made alliances with everyone on her tribe, she led some cold-blooded blindsides, and she tricked young, naïve JD into giving her his idol. Twice. Before voting him out and keeping it as her own.
She did all of this with a smile on her face and while humming her very own villainous theme song. A theme song that became canonized in the show when the music department made their own version, which played throughout the season.
In the early stages of the game, Shan looked destined to win – if only she could survive the Ua tribe and their terrible challenge performances. After she and her tightest ally Ricard outlasted everyone else on their tribe, the players merged. Shan continued to have a strong grip on the game but we saw how she rubbed other players the wrong way. Unfortunately, her time came to an end when her #1 from Day 1 blindsided her in brutal fashion.
Shan is a lock for the next returnee season and I, for one, cannot wait for her to return. I have been a Shan Stan since the first episode and I will continue to support her in the future. She is one of the most dynamic characters the show has produced in a while – when Shan is onscreen, you know that you will be entertained. She is, without a doubt, the #1 Survivor 41 Contestant We Want to Return!
Who Do You Want to See?
It was hard cutting down this list to just five! People who made it to the merge like Xander and Tiffany could be good people to return. Part of me wants to see some premerge people like JD or Sydney. Is there anyone missing from this list that you want to see return? Who do you think would do better on a second season? Who do you think would do worse? Let us know in the comments below!