Survivor Seasons: How All-Stars changed the game of Survivor


Survivor: All-Stars marked the first time we saw players return to the game. This led to some memorable moments and game-changing strategies.

Survivor: All-Stars had many firsts. First time with three tribes, first season to have more than 16 players, and the first to feature returning castaways. Despite the hype, All-Stars underwhelmed and is still the least strategic and most painful to watch out of the four all returnee seasons.

The bitterness among the castaways and the lack of quality gameplay allowed one player to run away with the season. His dominating efforts led to some revolutionary strategies that enabled him to take advantage of the competition. Here are three ways this season changed Survivor.

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Power couples are dangerous!

The first thing that comes to mind after hearing Survivor: All-Stars is Boston Rob and Amber’s relationship. Out of all the showmances in Survivor, this was one that didn’t make me cringe and want to pull my eyes out every time I saw them. Fairly quickly, it became known that they were a couple, but they didn’t let that affect their stranglehold on the game.

Their two-vote swing, plus the alliances they already formed put Rob and Amber in a strong power position. When players like Lex, Kathy, and Shii Ann realized this fact, it was too late for them. Eventually Rob and Amber made it all the way to the end. Ever since All-Stars, every time a showmance is forming, all you hear in confessionals is “we gotta break them up, power couples can rule the game.” This couple’s dominating performance has forever struck fear in castaways when a situation even remotely similar starts to develop.

Forming sub-alliances within an alliance.

There is a justifiable reason why there was such a bitter jury in All-Stars. Boston Rob made alliances within alliances within alliances, a brilliant strategy that just hasn’t been seen up until Season 8. Boston Rob came into the merge with the majority as one of six Chapera members. Out of that six-person alliance, he made a Final Three deal with Big Tom and Alicia and a Final Four deal with Amber, Rupert, and Jenna Lewis.

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Having multiple alliances led to flexibility for each vote. Everyone trusted in Rob so the only time a castaway found out that he lied to them was after they were voted out. Unless they were the ones getting blindsided, every single Chapera member voted with Boston Rob in every single Tribal Council after the merge. There were four unanimous votes in a row!

That pure dominance was really because each Chapera member felt like they were actually going to the end with Rob… until their torch was snuffed. His stellar gameplay showed the value of making extensive social and strategic relationships with more than just one group of people. Creating several sub-alliances is a tactic that is used almost every season now.  A great recent example is Wendell and Dom’s perfectly orchestrated set of alliances in Ghost Island.

Fear of facing a bitter jury highlights the importance of jury management.

Survivor: All-Stars had the bitterest jury of all time. We didn’t just see one or two pissed off jurors, we had four! Lex, Kathy, Alicia and Big Tom reamed the power couple, especially Boston Rob, accusing them of playing an unethical, friendship shattering game. The mood was so intense that it even brought Rob to a regretful state, apologizing for the game he played.

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Although Boston Rob played the best game and had one of the most dominant performances of all time, the jury just couldn’t get past their hurt emotions. We’ve seen the same thing happen with Stephenie LaGrossa in Guatemala and Russell Hantz in Samoa. Although it wasn’t any fault of their own, these three scenarios proved that jury management is a crucial part of Survivor that can’t be overlooked.