Will Colton Cumbie return to Survivor? Jeff Probst has a surprising answer

Will Colton Cumbie return for a future season of Survivor? That seems like a rhetorical question, because his return seems inevitable: He’s a hated villain but a strong strategist, he left because of something outside of his control, he’s awful, et cetera. But host and executive producer Jeff Probst, who has a say in these matters, has a surprising response: Colton won’t be back.

“Russell you bring back. Colton, I don’t think you do. I can’t imagine celebrating Colton and bringing him back,” Jeff told Xfinity’s Gordon Holmes. However, Jeff doesn’t surprise us by leaving a back door wide open to fit Colton’s massive ego through: “But, I could be wrong on that.”

Answering the perennial question about how much he knows going into Tribal Council, Probst also said, “I had no idea how ugly Colton was being at camp. … I didn’t realize how aggressive he was in treating people and how poorly he treated people.”

Honestly, I can’t imagine them not bringing Colton back, especially since Colton is insisting he’s grown from the experience of watching his own ugliness on TV. It’ll provide a nice arc if Colton improves, and if he’s his old bigoted self, well, that works, too–at least in terms of making good television. That’s a cynical response, but watching them parade Russell Hantz in front of us season after season has convinced me that the only real criteria necessary for bringing someone back is whether they generate reaction, and Colton certainly does that. However, I hope Jeff’s first response is correct and Colton isn’t rewarded for his awfulness.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.