"We always envisioned our 40th season as the end of an era of Survivor."
SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

We'll see a lot of big changes in the new season of Survivor (which premieres Sept. 22 on CBS). For one thing, the game will be only 26 days long as opposed to 39. Viewers can also partake in a separate game within a game at home. And, thanks to Mike White, some sort of monster will be on the loose.

But there is one other big change for season 41 of the show. It is being called Survivor 41. That marks the first time a Survivor season number has been in its title. What's with the change? We asked Jeff Probst.

"As you know from our talks during Winners at War, we always envisioned our 40th season as the end of an era of Survivor," the show's host says.

Jeff Probst on 'Survivor 41'
| Credit: Robert Voets

And the new era meant a new approach towards titling the seasons. "From a game standpoint, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to get away from seasons that were built around a casting theme or a major twist," says Probst. "That led to an easy decision to also do away with titles and just go with numbers for each season."

Probst is quick to point out, however, that big tweaks to the game are still coming. "This doesn't mean we won't have big, fun new twists in the future, it just means we won't define the entire season around it." And as for whether this is a permanent change for all future seasons, the host is clear: "Yes, moving forward seasons will be numbered."

Of course, passionate Survivor fans love to discuss and debate every single shift in the format of the franchise, so even a change to the title — which does not impact anything happening on screen or in the game — is open to second-guessing, and the switch brings with it pros and cons.

On the pro side: While for the show's first 32 seasons, Survivor titles were often made up of the location in which the series was filming (Survivor: Palau, Survivor: China, Survivor: Samoa), that no longer became an option after production decided to set up shop permanently in Fiji starting with season 33, forcing producers and CBS to sometimes stretch for super-awkward-sounding theme-based titles. With the new numbers-only policy, we no longer have to worry about another unwieldy name like Survivor: Heroes v. Healers v. Hustlers.

On the con side: Hardcore Survivor fans are legendary for their season-specific recall, but it is a lot easier to remember things when the theme is part of a title rather than a simple number. For example: Ask 100 Survivor fans who won season 37 and they may take a few minutes to even remember which season season 37 of Survivor was. Ask them who won Survivor: David vs. Goliath, however, and most will be able to name Nick Wilson almost immediately. Same with season 33 and Millennials vs. Gen X (Adam Klein) or season 36 and Ghost Island (Wendell Holland).

While the theme-based titles may have been occasionally goofy, at least they helped differentiate each season. With numbers and the same beaches at the same location, everything might start to blend together more. Besides, if the "monster" is such a big part of season 41, couldn't they just have gone with Survivor: Monster Island?

Still, as long as the show makes it to Survivor 50 — no matter what it is called — fans will be happy.

To keep track of our daily pregame Survivor 41 coverage, check out EW's Survivor hub and follow Dalton Ross on Twitter.

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SURVIVOR: Island of the Idols

Strangers starve themselves on an island for our amusement in the hopes of winning a million dollars, as host Jeff Probst implores them to "DIG DEEP!"

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