‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Says He Shares Fans’ Frustration After Hannah Quit: ‘I Didn’t See That Coming’

Season 45’s shocking first tribal council has the host owning that they “got it wrong” by casting the short-lived contestant

survivor-hannah-rose-jeff-probst-cbs
Hannah Rose and Jeff Probst during the Season 45 premiere of "Survivor" (Credit: Robert Voets/CBS)

Hidden advantages, tear-inducing challenges, a returning contestant and an encore of Sweat vs. Savvy — the “Survivor” Season 45 premiere really had it all.

But Wednesday’s 90-minute CBS presentation had one thing that even its beloved, longtime host Jeff Probst didn’t see coming: a self-elimination. Lulu Tribe competitor Hannah Rose shockingly became the earliest contestant ever to quit the reality series after only three days in.

“I was definitely surprised by Hannah’s quit. I didn’t see that coming,” Probst told TheWrap in an interview completed after the premiere.

“What’s going through my head is a series of questions, most of them centered around the other players and whether or not they are going to agree to let Hannah quit or if they are going to want to hold a vote and possibly vote out a different player,” Probst recalled of the moment.

Rose, a therapist, had a visibly trying and emotional adjustment to the demands of “Survivor.” She entered the first tribal council intending to convince her tribemates that it was her time to go, their strategy be damned.

“Everything in my body is like, ‘I’m not going back to that camp. Please don’t make me go back to that camp,’” Rose said. “I don’t need to be voted out to go home… I’m not bringing heart to this. I’m not! I’m not mentally here.”

Still, Rose never said the words “I quit” and instead left the decision, optically anyway, in the hands of her cohort.

“They could have easily said that they still wanted to vote and then Hannah would have another decision to make: Go back to camp or just quit right there at tribal,” Probst said.

As far as Rose’s concerns that the world is going to “hate” her for quitting, as expressed in the brief mid-credits interview of the weekly castaway, Probst admitted that, well, he gets fans’ frustration.

“I get it. I understand the frustration. I share it,” Probst said. “We obviously work very hard to find people who want to be on Survivor more than they want air, but no matter how many interviews you do or psychological tests you take, until you are actually out on the island, living in a real jungle, there simply is no way to know how any player will react.”

As far as providing comfort to viewers at home who feel they’ve been slighted in their own aspirations of joining the “Survivor” cast, Probst admitted, “We have to own the fact that we got it wrong” by casting Rose.

Read TheWrap’s full interview with Probst — where he also dug into the emotional roller coaster of Lulu Tribe’s Brandon Donlon — below.

During the reward challenge, what was it like while filming and witnessing Lulu lose their lead while Brandon gets held up at the bottom of that ladder? Was it clear that there was something wrong?

“Survivor” challenges are designed to test players in a variety of different ways, but you can never predict which player will be tested in which way. In the case of Brandon, I will say that those rope ladders are not easy to navigate, but he was clearly struggling and it was as much mental as it was physical.

Initially it was just a player struggling and the panic that comes with hearing me describing their failure and their tribe yelling at them to hurry! But it did become clear that Brandon was feeling overwhelmed emotionally. In a situation like that, it’s always a case by case basis, and I’m certainly paying attention.

I checked in with Brandon during [the] challenge and when it was over, our medical team spent quite a bit of time with Brandon helping him calm down and get his breath back under control. In addition to being concerned about his well-being, I am also thinking, “Well, this is exactly the kind of test you wanted when you applied.” 

“Survivor” doesn’t always give you what you want, but it quite often gives you what you need. Brandon needs this adventure to see what he’s capable of achieving. And that one experience has already changed him. Hopefully his journey is just beginning.

That brings us to Hannah, who has a bit of a meltdown of her own early on, which Brandon helps her through. Was it heartening to see the way that they were able to be there for each other?

Well this relates to what happened with Brandon on the marooning challenge. In just the first 20 minutes of Day 1, he had already panicked, failed in front of his tribe, had to be held back to talk to medical, arrived late to his tribe camp, missed out on valuable bonding time and is seen as a challenge liability. But, equally important, he didn’t give up.

And now here he is in the jungle just a few hours later giving encouragement to a fellow tribe member who is also struggling with similar issues of feeling overwhelmed. That’s what this experience is about. Brandon took what could have been a completely devastating situation and instead of giving up, he grew from it.

Between the two challenges, it seems at least for now that Lulu is physically the weakest tribe of the three. Do those initial impressions usually pan out to be true in your experience, or do the “weakest” tribes often surprise you?

We do our best to divide the tribes as evenly as possible, but you simply can’t predict what will happen with a group of strangers until you actually see them in action. I would agree that from the first episode, Lulu does appear to be the weaker tribe. So now the question will become: Can they figure out a way to win, or is this the first of many trips to tribal council?

And then, of course, Hannah quits (essentially) by forcing her tribemates’ vote. You’ve witnessed contestants quitting in the past. What goes through your head as it becomes apparent that they’re making that decision? Did Hannah’s surprise you?

I was definitely surprised by Hannah’s quit. I didn’t see that coming. What’s going through my head is a series of questions, most of them centered around the other players and whether or not they are going to agree to let Hannah quit, or if they are going to want to hold a vote and possibly vote out a different player. The players are in control. They could have easily said that they still wanted to vote, and then Hannah would have another decision to make. Go back to camp or just quit right there at tribal.

She expresses concern that the world is going to hate her. Of course, the chance to be on Survivor is so coveted. What do you say to viewers who themselves may have been trying to get on the show and feel frustrated or angry that Hannah squandered her opportunity?

I get it. I understand the frustration. I share it. We obviously work very hard to find people who want to be on Survivor more than they want air. But no matter how many interviews you do or psychological tests you take, until you are actually out on the island, living in a real jungle, there simply is no way to know how any player will react. Hannah decided she didn’t want to do it. It was really that simple. She’d had enough, so she quit. I’m not picking on Hannah, it’s her choice, but we have to own the fact that we got it wrong.

“Survivor” Season 45 airs Wednesday on CBS and Paramount+.

Comments

9 responses to “‘Survivor’ Host Jeff Probst Says He Shares Fans’ Frustration After Hannah Quit: ‘I Didn’t See That Coming’”

  1. Emily Avatar
    Emily

    I have watched every season. What makes this show great is the casting.  I am not sure what has happened over the past years, but there are no memorable players.  IDK if it is because they are to young and have grown up with participation trophies and safe spaces so they don’t know how to hack it when they get out to the Island, but come on. How they are going to make 1.5 hours each week out of the season is beyond me.  Maybe they get better. Let’s get some Gen X’ers back in the mix.  

  2. Rick Devins Avatar
    Rick Devins

    Pretty sure Jeff is part of interview process so casting starts and ends with him. Stop pointing fingers at others….if someone got it wrong it’s you.

  3. Derek Synder Avatar
    Derek Synder

    Pretty sure Jeff is part of interview process so casting starts and ends with him. Stop pointing fingers at others….if someone got it wrong it’s you.

  4. Lana Avatar
    Lana

    I have watched every episode of Survivor. However, based on The first episode of Season 45, I may ge done with this show. Human beings have changed so much over the years, it’s laughable. There used to be players whom I looked up to as heroes. Real women and men. Now a giant majority of them are just whiny crying self-pitying quitters. “I can do hard things”? Really? Episode 1? It made me sick. 

  5. Helen Dietz Avatar
    Helen Dietz

    If Jeff says he is NOT part of the interview process than he is NOT!!! He made it clear who does the interviewing and psychological testing. Stop watching Survivor if you think Jeff is a liar. 
    Jeff is a humble and honest man. He has apologized publicly for Hannah’s early exit but it is not his fault and frankly no one’s fault. It is hard to predict how a person is going to react once they get in the raw elements of the jungle with no shelter or food. Hannah should have weaned herself from smoking. Who knows? She could have told the staff that she planned to do it.  But she did not. Major mistake! 

    Thank you to Jeff Probst, the entire staff and CBS for a wonderful show that we have enjoyed since Season 1.

  6. KMS Avatar
    KMS

    I have watched Survivor every season since it began. This is the most disappointing group of people. THIS IS SURVIVOR. If you don’t realize how hard it is, you obviously haven’t watched it very much. You are on an island to SURVIVE! Stop crying and be ready or don’t get on the show. For the first time ever, I don’t think I will watch as most of the players seem weak and not cut out for this. What a disappointment.

  7. Dan Hughes Avatar
    Dan Hughes

    How can you not know how hard this contest is. Let her go back to her food, cigarettes and warm blanket. Its a total shame on the casting crew they basically have only 2 tribes LULU wont survive. The 3 incompetent people they have on this tribe should have never made it to the show. might as well skip the next 3 or 4 episodes because i dont want to see cry baby emily and the other guy on this tribe who has no skills.

  8. Joe Avatar
    Joe

    Survivor has been going down hill for the past 5 years with all this woke crap, and what a bunch of wimps always crying about there lives back home and the oh so hard times they been through, and just stupid people. Survivor is not what it used to be thats for sure, the contestants where people of strong character and didnt suffer from any identity crises, they new who they where and what they where about. Australian Survivor still offers good gameplay and even Survivor South Africa is better than this, at least Ive got other choices cause Im done with this American version.

  9. SuperProducer Avatar
    SuperProducer

    Jeff, apparently doesn’t see a lot of casting effects coming.

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