Survivor glossary: What exactly does a purple edit mean?

Robert Voets/CBS
Robert Voets/CBS /

One of the most forgettable castaways to ever play Survivor happened to change the jury system and inspire the term “purple edit.”

There are few things that went right in Survivor Nicaragua. A winner with no discernable strategy became your winner, a stupid twist in the Medallion of Power was a dud and two players quit the game in the same tribal council near the end of the season. Both players were on the jury, too, with NaOnka Mixon and Kelly Shinn giving up their shot at the million-dollar prize one after another in the same Tribal Council.

Plenty of people remember NaOnka for her villainous antics, but Kelly’s impact on Survivor is way more subtle than that. In the 11 episodes of Survivor Nicaragua that she was in, she received just one single confessional to the camera prior to her vote. She had no story arc, barely any game moves and made no splash in the game whatsoever. CBS even made light of her invisible gameplay in the preview of her quitting episode, saying that she finally had something to say.

purple edit in Survivor refers to when the editors of Survivor make a character mostly invisible in a season’s edit. It’s a reference to Purple Kelly, as her purple streaks in her hair marked the only worthy highlights she brought to Survivor Nicaragua.

At the time, her purple edit reflected a mixture of the show’s inability to create entertaining content from her gameplay and the frustration she brought production. Since then, a purple edit doesn’t necessitate a quitting player’s subdued game. Anybody who doesn’t give confessionals, has little/no impact on the season’s game conversations or is barely seen for an extended series of episodes qualifies for a purple edit.

In recent memory, Troyzan Robertson from Game Changers would have had a purple edit had he not taken that Hidden Immunity Idol during that one Immunity Challenge. Ironically enough, outside the debut of Survivor Cambodia, Kelly Wiglesworth had a similar purple edit phase all the way out the door. Carter from Philippines was so poorly developed nobody knew why he was a jury threat until his elimination.

Next: Survivor Game Changers: Ranking All 33 Previous Seasons

In recent years, the editors have done a fairly good job of giving everyone their due on Survivor. Still, that doesn’t mean that the purple edit is gone for good.