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Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire: John Cochran explains why he will not play again

With Survivor filming for seasons 41 and 42 indefinitely postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, EW is reaching back into the reality show's past. We sent a Survivor Quarantine Questionnaire to a batch of former players to fill out with their thoughts about their time on the show as well as updates on what they've been up to since. Each weekday, EW will post the answers from a different player.

John Cochran did not stand a chance in hell of winning Survivor: Caramoan, and I told him exactly that right before the game began. After all, who in their right mind would want to align with the guy after he betrayed his entire alliance by refusing to go to rocks in the recently aired Survivor: South Pacific, ensuring not only their destruction, but his own.

So, naturally, after being told there was no point in even going out and playing, not only did Cochran go and win Caramoan, but he did so in epic fashion — completing a perfect game with zero votes cast against him all season while also receiving every single jury vote for the win. It's a feat matched by only one other player in Survivor history, J.T. Thomas in Tocantins. (Jeremy Collins received three voted against him in Cambodia that were voided by a Hidden Immunity Idol.)

But other than one super awkward reward visit as well as biannual Reunion show appearances, Cochran has not returned to the series that made him a household (last) name since his epic season 26 triumph, including a notable absence in the all-champion Winners at War edition. What gives? Will the world's most famous red sweater vest model ever return to the island?

In his Quarantine Questionnaire, Cochran explains exactly why his days getting sunburned in the South Pacific are a thing of the past. Not only that, but the TV writer reveals why he regrets his "needlessly snarky" Survivor interviews, opens up about overcoming his "embarrassing weakness," and gets into why Jeff Probst once told him to shut up. It's an insightful and entertaining look back from a true legend of the game.

Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS via Getty Images

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: First off, give the update as to what you've been up to since appearing on Survivor.

JOHN COCHRAN: Apart from sitting in the audience at like every reunion show? The best thing to come out of playing Survivor — better than winning, or even doing tai chi with Coach — was that it gave me the opportunity to pursue an exciting new career. When I appeared on the show, I was a diligent but directionless law student without a clear idea of what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn't until Jeff Probst encouraged me to consider writing that I ever thought about doing it professionally.

After Jeff brought it up on the Caramoan finale, Greg Garcia (creator of My Name is Earl, Raising Hope, and more) reached out to CBS and offered me my first television writing job. That was over seven years ago, and I've been doing it ever since! I recently finished up work on the second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks, alongside fellow Survivor nervous nellie David Wright. It's been some of the most fulfilling fun I've ever had, and it never would've happened without Survivor.

What is your proudest moment ever from playing Survivor?

This may be a slight cop-out answer, but just the fact that I even did it in the first place. Those who know me are aware how difficult it is for me to find the energy to get out of bed, let alone participate in a grueling televised outdoor survival competition. I spend most of my time coming up with complex mental flow-charts of worst-case scenarios and reasons why I shouldn't do something or go somewhere. So when I think back on 23-year-old me, I'm proud of myself for momentarily pushing down all those anxieties, propping my cell phone against a lamp in my apartment, and recording my audition video so that I could be a part of something I've loved for a long time.

If that's too much of a cop-out, my in-game answer would probably be how I performed at final Tribal Council. A few months before I played Survivor, I had to do a moot court oral argument for law school and got very negative feedback from the faculty panel. It really made me question my talent for lawyering and, more generally, public speaking. I knew I could respond to producer prompts in interviews with silly narration, or jokingly evade Probst's probing questions at Tribal Council, but was much less confident about being taken seriously by a jury of my peers.

Coupled with my inane gloating about writing a paper on Survivor juries, I felt a ton of self-imposed pressure and stress heading into final Tribal. Some other unfortunate stuff ended up dominating the proceedings, so my performance is ultimately kind of forgettable on a Survivor macro level. But just on a personal level, I was proud to succeed at something I'd very recently considered an embarrassing weakness.

What is your biggest regret from your Survivor experiences?

How do I pick just one regret?! I definitely regret being needlessly snarky about other contestants in some interviews. It's a funny, cathartic thing to do when you're out there trying to make a cameraman laugh, but then you go home and realize your throwaway zingers can become hurtful, experience-defining memes for other players. So I wish I'd strictly directed any snark at myself, which is my natural instinct anyway.

More abstractly, I regret not intentionally taking the time to step back and fully absorb the experience I was having out there, rather than spending every private moment worrying about who had an idol or whether everyone secretly hated me and wanted to blindside me. After the whole Survivor rollercoaster is over, the memories that really stick with you aren't strategy/challenge highlight reels, but the little things that happen during the long stretches of time when it feels like there's nothing to do and nowhere to go.

In Caramoan, I was on the same beach all 39 days, and for the entire time there was this one bird that periodically sang a melody identical to the chorus of "Ease on Down the Road" from The Wiz. I think way more about that bird these days than I do about blindsides or challenge stats, and I wish I'd consciously collected more of those memories.

What's something that will blow fans minds that happened out there in one of your seasons but never made it to TV?

One of the coolest parts of being on Survivor is that you get to keep the treemail parchment. There's always some negotiating among players about who gets to keep which ones, but a challenge winner generally gets to have their corresponding message. So when I won the gross food challenge in Caramoan, I was very excited that I'd have a treemail message of my own (especially since I wasn't optimistic about my chances of winning any future challenges that didn't involve eating gross food).

Unfortunately, later that day, someone used the parchment as kindling for the fire back at camp. I was pretty bummed; I already had a spot picked out for where I wanted to frame it. A few days later, our next challenge was "Last Gasp" — that torturous one where players float on their backs in the ocean, faces pressed against a steel grate, struggling to breathe as the tide rises. It's a challenge that takes a while and has some downtime where you're just idly floating around before it actually gets difficult.

It was during that time that I explained to Probst my situation with the gross food treemail, and how much it would mean to me if the challenge department could print another copy for me to keep as a souvenir. With my ears fully submerged underwater, I could still make out Probst's muffled "Shut up, Cochran." So I did, and meekly resumed drowning myself.

Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites
Credit: Monty Brinton/CBS/Getty Images

How do you feel about the edit you got on the show?

I mean, in my everyday life, I usually don't enter rooms accompanied by awkward didgeridoo sounds and shots of exotic wildlife rolling their eyes at me. But really, probably the most difficult aspect of Survivor is that when you play, you have this amazing experience that is so clear and so personal to you. And then the moment it's over, your personal story is handed over to an incredible production team that has to juggle your story with 19 others, all while making it part of a suspenseful and entertaining 40-minute television program. Inevitably, the end result is a depiction of yourself and your experience that doesn't feel exactly like what you know and remember. And worst of all, now that's the version of you the whole country knows! It can be a very frustrating and helpless feeling, especially on social media.

I had the kind of unusual experience of being on two seasons filmed only a year apart, but with two very different outcomes and edits. Watching my first season, it definitely sometimes felt like a montage of every embarrassing thing I said or did, paired with decontextualized footage of tribemates cringing at what a bizarre dork I am. It wasn't always fun to watch, and kept me from hosting viewing parties that season. One of the bigger reliefs about winning a year later was that I knew it probably meant my most embarrassing moments would be left on the cutting room floor. I allowed myself to enjoy watching Caramoan more, even if it was peeking through my fingers. 

It's difficult to complain about edits, because obviously players are the ones responsible for what they say and do on the show. But it's worth remembering that everyone who participates on Survivor, or any other reality show, is infinitely more complex than however they're presented for the few minutes viewers get to know them over the course of a season. Heroes aren't necessarily always heroes, and Villains more often than not aren't really villains.

But that's a long, very complainy way of saying that I don't have any major complaints about either of my edits. I think overall they captured my Survivor journey accurately, entertainingly, and movingly! I mean, first episode of South Pacific I say insecurity is my greatest weakness and am afraid to take off my shirt. Caramoan premiere I literally shed my skin (sunburn!) and in final Tribal Council say insecurity is my greatest strength. Come on, that's a pretty great arc. How can I complain about that edit?

What was it like coming back to regular society after being out there? Was there culture shock or an adjustment coming back?

I never really experienced the side effects of continuing to sleep on the floor or hiding snacks around my apartment, which I know sometimes happens. I do remember, the day after Caramoan's final Tribal Council, I went around Ponderosa and the airport mentally cataloguing every modern convenience I swore I'd never take for granted again. The ability to easily retrieve ice cold beverages from a giant glowing box! Resting your head on a pillow that isn't also a canteen! Toothpaste! My gratitude rush was sadly over by the end of the week, but it was a pretty magical feeling while it lasted.

Was there ever a point either during the game or after you got back where you regretted going on the show?

After my first time, I'm not sure I necessarily regretted playing, but I felt very disappointed in myself and embarrassed by my performance. I'd backed out last minute from a competitive summer job at the Department of Justice to play that season, and to return home knowing I'd potentially jeopardized my legal career in exchange for some night-vision footage of me being called disgusting was extremely hard for me to process.

Fortunately, I didn't have much time for processing, since I was back on the island only a few months after the finale, and my derailed legal career ended up miraculously re-railing onto a much more exciting track. I'm someone who can't end a single day without accumulating a new list of regrets, but playing Survivor definitely isn't one of them.

Whom do you still talk, text, or email with the most from your seasons?

Dawn and I check in with each other once or twice a year for hours-long catch-up sessions, and we always manage to fall back into an effortless rapport. Across two seasons, Dawn and I played together *on the same tribe* for 66 days. Twenty-four hours a day, to be clear. That's a long time, especially under such intense, stressful circumstances, so you get to know each other very well in a very unique way. It's a special psychospiritual bond we'll always have. Also, she was the only other person to recognize the "Ease on Down the Road" birdsong.

I regularly text (and recently did weekly Winners at War Zoom viewing parties) with Sophie, who's become a very close friend despite our fraught origin story. I, the dodgeball target, gave a speech at her wedding rehearsal dinner!  Andrea is another really good friend I've stayed in touch with, and hope to visit in Wisconsin when society exists again. And most locally, Edna and I cross paths every so often, eager to relive our Snickers feasts from Ponderosa.

Also, hey, Stephen Fishbach — Dalton says I'm only supposed to mention people from my seasons, so I'm sorry, but congratulations to you and Julia on baby Margot!

Do you still watch Survivor, and if so, what's your favorite season you were not on and why?

Of course I still watch! I've even recently branched out into Australian and South African Survivor as part of a Zoom club with some friends, which has been really fun. We're also watching 2007's Kid Nation (rewatching in my case, tragically), which is somewhat less fun.

For my favorite season, I'll go with China. The cast was incredible, the location was exciting and integrated into challenges in cool ways, amazing logo, and a fun blend of good and bad gameplay that culminated in a very satisfying winner. Plus I'm a sucker for a great final Tribal Council, and while I wrote an essay on handling Survivor juries, Todd's who wrote the book. So it'll always be a favorite of mine. But ask me on another day and I'll say Pearl Islands, or Heroes vs. Villains, or South Africa season 6.

Who's one player from another Survivor season you wish you could have played with or against and why?

Cirie! I always tend to root for players I can relate to, and from the moment Cirie expressed a fear of leaves in the premiere of Survivor: Panama, I was all in. Plus, when it comes to actually playing Survivor, the vast majority of your time out there isn't spent hunting for idols or coming up with crazy voting strategies — it's just sitting around, talking, trying to pass the time in as pleasant a way as possible. And so beyond having a next-level strategic mind, Cirie just seems like she'd be fun to talk to. I've still never met her, which has only made her grow in mythological stature for me.

Other answer is Sandra. I'm happy to be a jester in her royal court if it means we get to hang out on the sit-out bench together.

If you could make one change to any aspect of Survivor, what would it be and why?

There's not much I can say that hasn't already been discussed by previous respondents or, in the case of the Soul Survivors Organization and Black Survivor Alliance, what's already been accomplished. It's hard to overstate how huge and important the commitments they got are, and I think it'll have an impact felt well beyond Survivor.

I guess my main suggestions for change would be with an eye towards better preparing contestants for what to expect and how to handle the scrutiny and criticism they'll receive when the show airs. Even though signing up for a reality television show carries with it the assumption of the risk that you're going to deal with online haters, I know I wasn't ready for the sheer quantity, intensity, and longevity of the haterade.

I certainly didn't anticipate that, almost ten years after first playing, I'd still receive many messages every week explaining what an ugly, spineless coward I am. The insults eventually lose their impact just through repetition, but remain an unpleasant, persistent toothache in your inbox. And I know I can't be anywhere close to getting the worst of this stuff compared to other contestants.

I thought it was really great that season 40 openly addressed the difficulty experienced by players post-show and the psychological toll it takes — and these were firefighters and officers and Marines saying this, not a fragile nerd like me! So I'm hopeful that Survivor (and reality television more broadly) will work to help future participants navigate the post-show experience, especially online. Maybe a Survivor "scared straight" program where I come in and let applicants scroll through my DMs? 

Finally, would you play again if asked?

No, but it's not out of a diminished love for the show (which is best enjoyed when you're able to watch it purely as a fan and not as someone eyeing up competition while plotting a return appearance). I was a law student on summer vacation the last two times I played; doing it now would be significantly more disruptive to my job and nervous system. And, in any case, I'm at peace with and truly grateful for how my Survivor journey ended: hugging Debbie on a boat in episode 5 of Game Changers.

To keep track of our daily Survivor Quarantine Questionnaires and get all the latest updates, check out EW's Survivor hub, and follow Dalton on Twitter.

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John Cochran was one of Survivor’s fan-favorite players. The legendary player first competed on Survivor: South Pacific. He later came back for Caramoan, and won a landslide victory. His strategic play and social game helped Cochran win a unanimous vote from the jury, earning him the honor of being one of two perfect game players in the show’s history. So why isn’t the Survivor star coming back to the show?

Why he isn’t returning to the CBS franchise

Jeff Probst and John Cochran on Survivor

RELATED:Could ‘Survivor’ Move to the Dominican Republic?

Survivor star John Cochran was so beloved of fans, Jeff Probst, and his fellow players that many have been left wondering why he hasn’t returned for a Season 3. Many expected him to appear on Winners at War, and even Probst voiced his disappointment when Cochran didn’t join.

“I can tell you that of all the people we wanted, I would say Cochran is the only one that would have been on the list [where] if he had said yes would probably have a spot on the show,” Probst revealed to Entertainment Weekly in 2020.

During a 2021 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Cochran explained that he’s still a huge fan of the show — he’s just too busy.

“No, but it’s not out of a diminished love for the show (which is best enjoyed when you’re able to watch it purely as a fan and not as someone eyeing up competition while plotting a return appearance),” he explained.

“I was a law student on summer vacation the last two times I played; doing it now would be significantly more disruptive to my job and nervous system. And, in any case, I’m at peace with and truly grateful for how my Survivor journey ended: hugging Debbie on a boat in episode 5 of Game Changers.”

Did John Cochran regret ‘Survivor’

Jeff Probst and John Cochran on Survivor

John Cochran made it clear that he does not regret the time he spent on Survivor now. However, after his first appearance on the show, he had some major concerns — especially because he’d passed up an important job opening.

“I’d backed out last minute from a competitive summer job at the Department of Justice to play that season, and to return home knowing I’d potentially jeopardized my legal career in exchange for some night-vision footage of me being called disgusting was extremely hard for me to process,” he explained. 

Later, Cochran landed gigs working on writing for television, including for Star Trek: Lower Decks.

“Fortunately, I didn’t have much time for processing, since I was back on the island only a few months after the finale, and my derailed legal career ended up miraculously re-railing onto a much more exciting track. I’m someone who can’t end a single day without accumulating a new list of regrets, but playing Survivor definitely isn’t one of them.”

John Cochran receives ‘Survivor’ hate mail

Jeff Probst and John Cochran on Survivor

Despite his status as a fan-favorite competitor, John Cochran does receive hate mail to this day from disgruntled Survivor viewers.  

“I certainly didn’t anticipate that, almost ten years after first playing, I’d still receive many messages every week explaining what an ugly, spineless coward I am,” Cochran told EW. 

“The insults eventually lose their impact just through repetition, but remain an unpleasant, persistent toothache in your inbox.”

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Name (Age): John Cochran (25)
Tribe Designation: Bikal
Previous Season: Survivor: South Pacific – 13th castaway voted out/5th Jury Member
Current Residence: Washington, D.C.
Occupation: Harvard Law Student
Personal Claim to Fame: Flipping on my tribe, being reluctant to take off my shirt on day one of Survivor: South Pacific.
Inspiration in Life: My Family – for supporting and putting up with me.
Hobbies: Beatles music, guitar and Survivor.
Pet Peeves: Self-entitlement and lack of a sense of humor.
3 Words to Describe You: Brilliant, insecure and neurotic.
If You Could Have 3 Things on The Island What Would They Be and Why? 1) Frisbee – It’s fun and doubles as a dish. 2) Cards – To pass the time. 3) Sketchpad – I like to doodle!
SURVIVOR Contestant You Are Most Like: I have the humor of Rob Cesternino, the intelligence of Yul Kwon and the candor of Jonathan Penner.
Reason for Being on SURVIVOR: I love Survivor! I’ve watched it, talked about it, studied it, written about it and dreamt about it for half my life.
Why You Think You’ll “Survive” SURVIVOR: I’m too passionate about Survivor to let harsh elements, starvation, sleep deprivation and abrasive tribe mates deter me from lasting all 39 days.
Why You Think You Will Be the Sole SURVIVOR: Having played once before, I know the sorts of mistakes I’m susceptible to making. I didn’t win the last time I played and I have no desire to repeat history. I still know more about Survivor than virtually anyone else who’s ever played the game. Now I feel more mentally and psychologically prepared to put my theoretical knowledge of the game into practice.

'Survivor: Winners At War' - Jeff Probst On The Player They Couldn't Get - Entertainment Weekly

John Cochran is the Survivor star who captured the hearts of fans during his two seasons on the show. He came in eighth place on South Pacific before coming back three seasons later to win Fans vs. Favorites by a unanimous vote in 2013. What has Cochran been up to more recently?

Cochran Is a Writer & Producer for an Emmy-Nominated Animated Series on Paramount+

Cochran is now a television writer and producer. Most recently, he has been affiliated with an animated series called Star Trek: Lower Decks. The show premiered in 2020 on CBS All Access; the streaming network has since been rebranded as Paramount+.

According to his IMDB profile, Cochran served as an executive story editor for all 10 episodes during the first season. He was credited for writing the script for the sixth episode, called Terminal Provocations, which premiered on September 10, 2020.

Season two debuted in mid-August 2021. Cochran was listed as a co-producer. Fans already know that Star Trek: Lower Decks will have a third season. Deadline reported in April 2021 that Paramount+ had decided to renew the series.

In September 2020, Cochran compared working on the show to his Survivor experience. He wrote on Twitter, “Writing for #StarTrekLowerDecks has been one of the most fun, rewarding experiences I’ve ever had — and keep in mind I’ve felt Jeff Probst lovingly clasp immunity around my neck.” He also told Entertainment Weekly that working on the series was “some of the most fulfilling fun I’ve ever had.”

Cochran also works with another Survivor alum on the series. David Wright, who competed on Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X and Survivor: Edge of Extinction is also credited as a writer for the animated series.

Star Trek: Lower Decks received multiple award nominations for its first season, including an Emmy nomination for “Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation.” The series also received three Critics Choice Super Awards nominations for “Best Animated Series,” “Best Voice Actor in an Animated Series” and “Best Voice Actress in an Animated Series.” The show didn’t win those awards but to be nominated after one season is still an honor. According to IMDB, the show won a ReFrame Stamp designation. ReFrame is an organization that awards productions that “hire women or individuals of other underrepresented gender identities/expressions (including those who are non-binary or gender non-conforming) in four out of eight key roles including writer, director, producer, lead, co-leads, and department heads.”

Cochran Previously Worked on 2 CBS Sitcoms

Cochran hasn’t played Survivor since his 2013 win but his relationship with CBS has been ongoing ever since then. He worked as a crew member and writer for two CBS sitcoms between 2013 and 2016: The Millers and Kevin Can Wait.

When The Millers was canceled in November 2014, Cochran gave fans a behind-the-scenes look at how he was taking the news. He posted a photo of himself curled up in a ball on a couch on the show’s set, while he appeared to be crying. He joked in the caption, “Feel like I’m taking the cancellation news pretty well.”

But teasing aside, Cochran has actually credited Survivor for helping to give him more focus about what he wanted to do with his life. He was a law student at that point but wasn’t set on pursuing a legal career. He told Entertainment Weekly, “When I appeared on the show, I was a diligent but directionless law student without a clear idea of what I wanted to do with my life. It wasn’t until Jeff Probst encouraged me to consider writing that I ever thought about doing it professionally.”

Jeff Probst Described Cochran as One of His Favorite ‘Survivor’ Winners

Cochran has the distinction of being one of host Jeff Probst’s favorite players. Probst named Cochran as his favorite winner of all time during an interview with EW in 2015. Probst said at the time:

It’s hard to pick one favorite winner but I’m going to pick Cochran, and the reason I’m picking Cochran is if I just look at the show from afar, Cochran fulfilled the poster, the premise, when we started—which was, on any given day anything can happen. You’re never out until you’re out. And Cochran is the guy who should have never been on the show. And he turned his liabilities, his social awkwardness—he turned that into an asset and figured out how to win the game, and for that reason, he’s the guy you would put up there and say, ‘That should remind everybody that no matter whatever it is you do in life, it’s possible.’

Probst also revealed in early 2020 that the network had wanted Cochran to participate in the Survivor: Winners At War. But Cochran turned them down. Cochran told EW that he enjoys getting to watch Survivor as a fan now. He also said it would be more difficult to fit into his schedule now. “I was a law student on summer vacation the last two times I played; doing it now would be significantly more disruptive to my job and nervous system.” Cochran added that he was “at peace” and “grateful” for his Survivor journey.

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Cochran survivor john

Caramoan intro shot

Caramoan intro shot

Caramoan pre-game interview

Near the front of the favorites' pre-game lineup

Pre-season ad shot

Fresh off the chopper, Ep1

Favorites, assembled. Ep1

Politely clapping for Dawn and Erik, Ep1 RC

Amused at Brandon's delightful antics

With Francesca, starting line

Winner's quote, Ep1 RC

High five, Franny!

Getting to read the first IC treemail to Bikal. Yay.

Taking a good look at the alleged fans, pre-Ep1 IC

With Bikal, Ep1 Tribal Council

Two seasons, two straight Ep1 Tribal Councils attended.

Night three, watching Brandon yell at people. Good times.

Found a sweet new throne, Ep2

Excitedly waiting to pull a rope, Ep2 RC/IC

I've made a huge mistake. Ep3

Bikal wins again! Ep3 RC/IC

Pre-challenge lineup, Ep4 RC

Probably would be listening to Probst, if his shoes weren't so interesting, pre-Ep4 RC

Politely clapping as Phillip wins the Ep4 IC

Running back after taking a shot, Ep5 RC

Might take another shot, eventually, Ep5 RC

Letting Gota have a freebie 'win' - Brandon's exit, Ep5

Luckily, Brandon appears to have returned the sweater vest, Ep5 'Tribal Council'

Time to switch, Ep6

Dawn and Cochran: synchronized Ozzy-style egg smashing (hand on heart)

Dawn and Cochran: now with New Bikal

Listening to Probst with New Bikal, Ep6 IC

Waiting for Phillip and Julia

Yes! One crate in the wrong place! Woo!

New Bikal attends their first Tribal together, Ep6

One of you guys is going home tonight, you know

Listening to Corinne

Another day, another throne. Sigh. What can you do?

With Dawn, listening to Probst, pre-Ep7 RC

Underway, in hot pursuit of the new Gotas. More or less.

Not to worry, Julia, Phillip has this whole racing thing figured out. Apparently.

Trying to unclip, with new Bikal about to get caught

Listening to Probst, Ep7 IC

Waiting for the paddlers to deliver the phoenix, Ep7 IC

At least new Bikal made voting off the fans somewhat interesting, right?

Reading the first individual IC treemail to the newly merged Enil Edam tribe

Amused at the looks of the first heat, Ep8 IC

Let's get on with this, Probst

These grubs are wiggly

Second round, devouring shipworms

Don't want to jinx this, but Cochran has made it to round 3

On to the final round!


Cochran... wins? Ep8 IC

John M. Cochran has won immunity! The Giants have won the pennant!

Savoring the saving clasp of the necklace, Ep8 IC

Who's a liability now, Keith?

Sharing a bro moment

Can't. Stop. Smiling.

The Enil Edam tribe attends its first Tribal Council, Ep8

Feeling pretty safe right now

Dude, I'm totally ripped, and winning challenges. Ep9 RC

Finally on a winning team (as is Michael), Ep9 RC

Enduring some masculine tomfoolery

The Ep9 IC is officially underway

Still in it, one hour in

Taking one for the team, apparently. Ep9

Hold Up, Bro - Ep9 Tribal Council

Ready to get dirty, Ep10 RC

About to win

They won! Ep10 RC

Pre-challenge lecture time, Ep10 IC

To be accurate, you're standing, Phillip. Also choking me.

Triple immunity at Tribal? Well, this is an amusing turn of events. Ep10 Tribal

So much confusion, Ep10 Tribal

They think they've got me eating out of the palms of their hands. Joke's on them, it's the fingers.

Time for Phase II: Parlay my ability to crack Probst up into a screenwriting gig for a crappy, laugh-tracked sitcom

A thrilling glimpse into the lives of my loved ones on the day I left for Survivor

Getting ready to drop a log, Ep11 IC

Still in it, Ep11 IC. Having an advantage has its advantages.

Winning it.

So this is what it feels like to be Ozzy

Good try, bro. Maybe next time you can give it 110%, or some other sports cliche.

Back at Tribal Council, Ep11. So long, Malcolm.

Time for another challenge already? Ep12 F8 IC

Continue competing, people who aren't eating hot dogs! Ep12 F8 RC/IC

Getting a hug from Dawn, just because... Ep12

Bidding farewell to Reynold, final 8 Tribal Council

Getting the scoop from Andrea on her forward-looking nefarious plans

Filling in Dawn and Brenda on Andrea's nefarious plans

Wake us when the fun starts - 'Fun Climb' - Ep12 F7 IC

Unlike his mentor, Yul, having few qualms about arranging a hit

Back at Tribal - F7 Tribal Council

Watching loved ones videos, pre-Ep13 RC

This would be where we don't say anything about Cochran's mom. Got it.

Group selfie, pre-Ep13 RC

Mainly for thus far avoiding machete-related injuries. But also the running-the-game part, probably.

Ready to go, Ep13 RC

John and Arlene

Second of three bars, on its way

Our most sincere requests for your beneficence, Brenda.

That's cool, she still has one more choice

Getting a hug from dad, who is probably also proud of the dearth of machete-related incidents to this point.

Picking up tips on the finer points of barbecuing and sunglasses

Time to outlast, or something, Ep13 IC

Okay, maybe outlast was too strong a word

Conferring with Dawn, pre-Ep13 Tribal

Heading to Tribal, Ep13

Two will vote against one, but only one will be blamed, Ep13 Tribal

The full Enil Edam remnants, Ep13 Tribal Council

Well... that went smoothly

Fun with cards, Ep14 RC

Yup, third individual challenge win. Pretty much Ozzy.

Is it okay if I call you Colby?

Ready to go: final four IC

Advantages again prove to be advantageous, F4 IC

Spoiler alert: Cochran wins.

You've won four challenges now. Can I offer you the keys to my car? My vacation home in Maui? Dinner at 8?

Time to face the jury: final three

Through the miracles of time and space, everyone is suddenly cleaned up

The winner of Survivor: Caramoan - Fans vs. Favorites... John Cochran

Time for a cameo in Survivor: Game Changers

Arriving at Exile Yacht

Being a gentleman

Talking about Debbie's overconfidence

Making a few suggestions

Offering a selection of fine advantages


DreamJobbing With... John Cochran

John Cochran (Survivor contestant)

This article is about the Survivor contestant. For other people with the same name, see John Cochran (disambiguation).

American reality television personality and television writer

John Martin Cochran (born January 17, 1987), also known by just his surname Cochran, is an American television writer, and former reality television personality. He first appeared on the 23rd season of Survivor, Survivor: South Pacific, and came in eighth place. He returned for the 26th season, Survivor: Caramoan, and ultimately won the title of Sole Survivor and the $1 million prize. He later went on to become a writer for various CBS sitcoms, including The Millers,Kevin Can Wait, and more recently Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Personal life[edit]

Cochran was born in Washington, D.C., to a Jewish mother and a non-Jewish father.[1][2] He was raised in Oakton, Virginia, and attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School.[3] Even at a young age, Cochran was already a fan of Survivor, following the show since the very first season,[4] even writing a law school paper comparing the jury system of Survivor to the American jury system.[5] During high school, he handed out Survivor newsletters, wore a Survivor-style buff on his arm when the show was airing,[6] and chose his senior year quote as "The tribe has spoken."[7]


South Pacific[edit]

Further information: Survivor: South Pacific

Cochran was originally placed on the Savaii tribe and ended up receiving at least one vote in every Tribal Council that Savaii attended, with one vote in their first, second, and fourth Tribal Councils, and two votes in their third Tribal Council. In the last episode before the merge, returning player Ozzy Lusth, in an effort to end the winning streak of Christine Shields-Markoski on Redemption Island, asked his tribe to vote him out, saying that he would tell Shields-Markoski that his elimination was caused by Cochran using a Hidden Immunity Idol. Lusth subsequently gave Cochran the Immunity Idol he had found, making him promise to return it when he came back to the game.[8]

When the merge finally came, Cochran returned the Idol and then pretended to be the outsider of his former tribe when speaking to the other returning player, Benjamin "Coach" Wade. However, Wade quickly realized Cochran's intentions and instead decided to persuade Cochran into voting with the former Upolu members, promising him that he would outlast all of his former tribemates. When the vote that night came down to a split vote and the contestants had to vote again, it was Cochran who switched his vote and sent home former tribemate Keith Tollefson. He was immediately criticized by all of his former tribemates, but the former Upolu members, including Brandon Hantz, came to his defense.[9]

Soon afterward, all other former Savaii members were voted out in succession, with Lusth, Jim Rice, Dawn Meehan, and Whitney Duncan all being sent home. However, once Cochran was the last Savaii member left, the former Upolu members turned on him and voted him out by a vote of 5–2, with only Cochran himself and former Upolu member Edna Ma voting for Rick Nelson instead. After losing the Redemption Island duel to Lusth, Cochran came in eighth place, having lasted for 31 days; he became the fifth member of the nine-member jury.[10] In the final Tribal Council, Cochran voted for Wade to win, along with Nelson and Ma. These three votes made Wade the runner-up to Sophie Clarke, who received the other six votes.[11]


Further information: Survivor: Caramoan

Cochran returned for the 26th season, the second season to be subtitled "Fans vs. Favorites," and was placed on the "Favorites" tribe, Bikal. He was joined by fellow South Pacific contestants Brandon Hantz and Dawn Meehan. Cochran once again aligned with a majority of his tribemates, under the alliance name of "Stealth R Us," named so by the unofficial tribe leader Phillip Sheppard. Even after the tribal swap in Episode Six, Cochran still remained on the Bikal tribe, along with Sheppard, Meehan, fellow returning player Corinne Kaplan, and newcomers Julia Landauer, Matt Bischoff, and Michael Snow. The new Bikal tribe focused on eliminating all of the new players on the tribe, successfully voting out Bischoff and Landauer before the merge came. However, when Sheppard was eliminated due to a blindside by Malcolm Freberg, Reynold Toepfer, and Eddie Fox, Cochran became the default leader due to being viewed as Sheppard's right-hand man.

Over the course of the season, Cochran went on to win three individual immunity challenges, in Episodes 8, 11, and 14. He was also the only contestant in the season to win more than one individual immunity challenge. He would make a major move to plot the blindside of potential threat Brenda Lowe at the Final Six. Lowe had been plotting to blindside Cochran at either the Final Five or Final Four. After a crucial win at the Final Four immunity challenge to secure his place in the finals, and with Sherri Biethman the easiest finals opponent, he would debate bringing Fox or his closest ally Meehan.[12] He decided on Meehan, realizing that Fox, despite floating through the game, had numerous good friends on the jury and was the bigger threat.[13] When it came down to the jury presentations, Cochran received nearly unanimous praise for the way he played the game strategically without letting emotions interfere, and for always sticking to his promises.[14]

Biethman was considered to have ridden coattails to the end, and Meehan was criticized for her emotional instability.[15] Ultimately, Cochran won a unanimous 8–0–0 vote.[4] He became only the third winner in Survivor history to win a unanimous vote, after Earl Cole in Survivor: Fiji and J.T. Thomas in Survivor: Tocantins. He was also only the second winner to win a unanimous vote while also never receiving a single vote against him in any Tribal Council,[16] after Thomas.[17]


Cochran showed up on the reunion show for Survivor: Blood vs. Water, the show's 27th season. Jeff Probst asked Cochran about new developments in his life, and even presented a comedy sketch starring Cochran and actor Will Arnett.[18] Cochran later appeared as a guest on the fifth episode of Survivor's 34th season, Survivor: Game Changers, where he visited exiled castaway Debbie Wanner to give her advice.[19]


After Caramoan ended, Cochran was inducted into Xfinity's Survivor "Hall of Fame," as part of the class of 2013, alongside Kim Spradlin and Jonny Fairplay.[20] Two years later, in the official issue of CBS Watch magazine commemorating the 15th anniversary of Survivor, Cochran was voted as the seventh greatest player of all time.[21] Additionally, in a 2015 interview shortly before the premiere of the 30th season, host Jeff Probst declared Cochran to be his favorite season winner ever.[22] In 2017, Entertainment Weekly had fans rank the first 34 winners of the series and Cochran placed 11th.[23]

Television writing[edit]

Shortly after his second Survivor appearance, Probst put Cochran into contact with Greg Garcia, creator of and writer for The Millers. Garcia offered Cochran a job as a writer for the show. Cochran accepted the job, and after graduating from Harvard Law, moved to Los Angeles to begin working on the show.[24] Although the series was canceled shortly thereafter, Cochran landed another writing gig on Kevin Can Wait a few years later.[19]


  1. ^Zev (May 22, 2013). "Jew or Not Jew Unplugged: Jews in the News: Cochran wins Survivor".
  2. ^Cochran, John (December 10, 2013). "The year-round, Jewish equivalent of "Elf on a Shelf" is my mom following me on Twitter".
  3. ^"Around the Quads - Alumni in the News". Columbia College Today. Fall 2013. Retrieved July 31, 2020.
  4. ^ abJackman, Tom (May 20, 2013). "Oakton's John Cochran wins 'Survivor' show, and $1 million". Washington Post. Nash Holdings LLC. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  5. ^Neil, Martha (September 21, 2011). "Harvard Law Student Who Wrote Prizewinning Class Paper About 'Survivor' Is Now On the Show". American Bar Association. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  6. ^Trifone, Nicole (September 13, 2011). "Cochran Family Readies for 'Survivor' Premiere". Oakton Patch. Patch Media. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  7. ^"Survivor South Pacific: Meet John Cochran". CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  8. ^"Trojan Horse". Survivor. October 26, 2011. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  9. ^"Double Agent". Survivor. November 2, 2011. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  10. ^"Cult Like". Survivor. November 30, 2011. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  11. ^"Loyalties Will Be Broken". Survivor. December 18, 2011. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  12. ^Myles, Ruth (May 12, 2013). "Cochran wins Survivor: Caramoan – Fans vs. Favorites". Calgary Herald. Postmedia Network. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  13. ^Rappleye, Christine (May 13, 2013). "Utahn in final three, but it's Cochran who wins 'Survivor: Caramoan — Fans vs. Favorites' (+video)". Deseret News. Deseret Management Corporation. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  14. ^"Last Push". Survivor. May 12, 2013. CBS. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  15. ^"COCHRAN WINS 'SURVIVOR: CARAMOAN — FANS VS. FAVORITES'". East Idaho News via ABC Digital. ABC News Radio. May 13, 2013. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  16. ^Deninno, Nadine (May 13, 2013). "Who Won 'Survivor?' Winner Announced On 'Caramoan Fans vs. Favorites' Season Finale". International Business Times. Newsweek Media Group. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  17. ^Chen, Joyce (May 13, 2013). "Survivor: Caramoan Winner Revealed: John Cochran Wins $1 Million". Us Weekly. Wenner Media. Retrieved May 4, 2017.
  18. ^Survivor: Blood vs. Water reunion show, CBS, December 15, 2013
  19. ^ abRoss, Dalton (April 5, 2017). "Survivor: Game Changers recap: 'Vote Early, Vote Often'". Entertainment Weekly. Time, Inc. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  20. ^Holmes, Gordon (December 12, 2013). "'Survivor' Hall of Fame 2013 Inductee – John Cochran". Xfinity. Comcast. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  21. ^Hantz, Russell (February 3, 2015). "If you're asking me! I think CBS put whoever they wanted where they wanted!! I'm used to 2nd place anyway!". Twitter via CBS Watch. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
  22. ^Ross, Dalton (February 25, 2015). "Jeff Probst names his favorite Survivor winner, non-winner, twist, challenge, and season ever". Entertainment Weekly. Time, Inc. Retrieved June 11, 2015.
  23. ^"Ranking every Survivor winner (from first to worst)". December 12, 2017. Retrieved April 30, 2021.
  24. ^Nordyke, Kimberly (May 23, 2013). "'Survivor: Caramoan' Winner John Cochran Lands CBS Writing Gig". The Hollywood Reporter. Eldridge Industries. Retrieved June 11, 2015.

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