Most memorable moments from Survivor: Pearl Islands

Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images
Photo by Kevin Winter/Getty Images /

Survivor: Pearl Islands aired in 2003 and is still regarded as one of the best.

Before Survivor became what it is now, we had seasons like Pearl Islands, which didn’t need Hidden Immunity Idols and dozens of advantages to help make it an entertaining season. No, Pearl Islands still goes down as one of the best seasons ever because of the cast, the twists, and the blindsides.

Let’s go down memory lane and look at the best moments from the show’s seventh season.

No. 5: First Quitter in Survivor history

While bartering with the locals in the first episode, Osten Taylor decided to barter all of his clothing with the exception of his boxers. This probably isn’t a great idea if you’re looking to make it far into the game, because it tends to get cold at night.

As a result of being nearly naked for the first half of the game, on Day 19, Osten had enough and decided to quit the game. Jeff Probst did not like this news, simply laying down Osten’s torch and not letting anyone actually write down their vote, but rather vocally saying they wanted Osten to leave.

During the Rites of Passage, Osten’s torch was not included with the rest, and when the editors showed footage of his best moments in the game, one of them was him drowning in the ocean. Ouch.

Fans are used to seeing people quit now, but when Osten did it, it was something new and was a memorable moment from Pearl Islands, for sure.

No. 4: Clothes off their backs

In a shocking turn of events, the castaways were stranded wearing the clothes on their backs. As Jeff said, “Just like if you really were shipwrecked,” which set the tone for the season right there. It truly was a pirate theme.

This was obviously comical for those of us watching at home, as men jumped into the ocean in expensive suits, women entered the game with nothing underneath their dresses, and then there was Lillian Morris in her boy scout’s uniform.

The show did this twist a few more times over the next few years before production became eve more strict concerning what players got to wear, but when this season first aired, it certainly was entertaining to see the look on people’s faces when they found out what they were wearing at that moment would be their clothes for the next 39 days. Priceless.

No. 3: Outcast Twist

Before the Edge of Extinction was driving Survivor fans mad, we had the Outcast twist in season seven! What the Outcast twist entailed was that the six contestants voted out at that point in the game had a chance to re-enter the game.

Those six contestants – dubbed “The Outcasts” – competed with Drake and Morgan tribes, and if they won, they’d get to vote two players back into the game. Long story short, the Outcast tribe did indeed win and, as a result, voted Burton Roberts and Lillian back into the game. Burton went on to place fifth while Lillian sat in the Final Two and was the season’s runner-up.

The legacy of this season probably isn’t the same if Lillian wins, and the Outcast twist is one of the true knocks on this season. Fortunately, the right person won.

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No. 2: Sandra and Rupert

Pearl Islands gave us two of the most popular players in Survivor history. Right off the bat, Rupert was the center of attention on the show to the point where the editors worked him into every “Previously on” segment even if the storyline wasn’t essential to the season.

Sandra got the first confessional of the season, though, and right from the jump, she was sassy. From her fights with Jonny FairPlay (I CAN GET LOUD TOO, WTF?) to dumping out the tribe’s fish after Rupert was voted out (and the tribe then blaming it on Christa Hastie), Sandra was a lot of fun to watch.

Rupert fits the theme of the season. He looked like a pirate, and stealing the other team’s shoes on Day 1 in the village fit the theme to a tee. He then became the provider for the Drake tribe with his ability to catch fish.

These two played together again on Heroes vs. Villains and combined have played eight seasons total with Sandra recently appearing in Winners at War (mentoring in Island of the Idols doesn’t count as playing, but does add 36 days of survival). This cast goes down as one of the best ever, and both Sandra and Rupert are a big reason as to why.

No. 1: Dead Grandma Lie

The Loved Ones’ Visit is always a moment the players look forward to, and that was no different in season seven. When Jonny Fairplay’s buddy “Thunder D” came to greet him, Jon leaned in and whispered, “Dude! How’s Grandma?” to Thunder D responding, “She died, dude.”

As Fairplay sits down with the other castaways, Jeff asks him to explain what just happened, and he says, “It was either gonna be my buddy or my grandmother coming out here and … my grandma’s not here for a reason”.

The rest of the contestants were kind enough to let Fairplay win the challenge (well – everyone but Sandra), so he could get more information. Nice, right?

Well, it turns out this was all a ploy for Jonny to get any leg up on the competition that he could. “My grandma is at home watching Jerry Springer right now,” Fairplay said in the now-famous confessional.

Even though the other moments from this season might not be as memorable to non-diehards, everyone remembers this moment, even though it happened over a decade ago.

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Survivor: Pearl Islands is still one of the best seasons in the show’s history, and these are just a few of the reasons why it’s still an iconic season.