‘Survivor’ What Is A Purple Edit & Why Does It Have The Fans Riled Up?

Nick Davis

Let’s talk about the Survivor buzz phrase that every Survivor message board, Facebook group and subreddit is littered with nowadays: “purple edit”. Part of what makes Survivor so poignant as a reality show is that it is, in fact, reality. Which sounds like a kind of non-comment pointing out an obvious fact. That is, until you consider how much reality television is actually scripted and planned out. Survivor having real people live in close proximity and squalor, all while holding a large cash prize over their heads, lends itself to some of the most interesting real social interactions on television. It also opens up the show to the potential for disaster.

At the end of the day, the producers and casting are really just taking a wild guess that the combination of contestants they’re cramming on an island together will make entertaining content. There’s no guarantee that will actually be the case. The players not being particularly interesting is a major reason for some of the show’s worst seasons.

The Infamous Purple Edit

In 2010, we got Survivor: Nicaragua, the 21st Season of the show. This season is one of the prime examples of casting going wrong. It had, not one, but two, contestants quit the show at the exact same time. In the history of the show, this had never happened before, and it hasn’t happened since. The episode is fascinating, if for no other reason than just to see how uncharacteristically angry Jeff gets when both contestants (Naonka and Purple Kelly) walk off together.


The aforementioned Purple Kelly is where the term “purple edit” comes from. If you watch Season 21 and make it to the episode where she and Naonka quit, you may find yourself asking: “Wait, who is this again?” You’re not alone in that feeling. In the 11 episodes Purple Kelly was present in, she only had a single confessional. She primarily stuck to her day 1 alliance. She also didn’t make any moves that we saw before abruptly quitting alongside her closest ally. This very safe style of gameplay, along with the production team’s dislike for Kelly as a result of her unceremonious departure, is what resulted in her footage being left on the cutting room floor.

Erika The Purple

So any castaway shunned by the editing team is one who gains the term “purple edit”. Generally speaking, that under-the-radar style of play Purple Kelly and many other castaways utilize is what results in a purple edit. It’s a very valid style of play that has been employed to great success by many Survivor players in the past. But it’s no secret that Probst has a distaste for that kind of strategy. He prefers players who make big moves since it makes for better television.

Recently, Erika, from the currently running Season 41, posted to her Instagram with a clever little double entendre.

Erika’s recent Instagram story


“Getting purpled” referring to both her new hair color and her edit in the season. Her from-the-shadows style of strategy resulted in her having little screen time at the beginning of the season. But she’s getting far more confessionals now that she’s made it into the finale. Her conflict with DeShawn in the last episode, which is sure to play a big part in the final, being a prime example.

What do you think of the show’s “purple edit” technique? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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