Most memorable moments from Survivor: South Pacific

LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18: (L-R) Television contestant Benjamin "Coach" Wade, contestant winner Sophie Clarke and television contestant Ozzy Lusth pose at the CBS' "Survivor: South Pacific" Finale & Reunion at CBS Television City on December 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 18: (L-R) Television contestant Benjamin "Coach" Wade, contestant winner Sophie Clarke and television contestant Ozzy Lusth pose at the CBS' "Survivor: South Pacific" Finale & Reunion at CBS Television City on December 18, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images) /

Survivor: South Pacific was the 23rd season of the show and aired in the fall of 2011.

Survivor was coming off two of the worst seasons in the show’s history with Nicaragua and Redemption Island and things weren’t looking much better with South Pacific, the show’s 23rd season.

What were some of the most memorable moments from Survivor: South Pacific?

Team Captains

For the second straight season, Survivor implemented the whole “bring back two former fan favorites and try to rig the season for them”. This time around, Coach Wade and Ozzy Lusth were the two brought back, both playing for their third time. Coach landed on Upolo while Ozzy was a member of Savaii.

Redemption Island is Back

With the former fan favorites coming back to play, having a twist that could prevent them from being ousted early had to be implemented, of course. Redemption Island made its return and ended up playing a big role in the season, as Ozzy willingly was voted out so that he could go there, come back, and keep the numbers even at the merge.

Ozzy voted out three times in one season

Despite being voted out twice, Ozzy made a strong run at winning South Pacific. As mentioned in the last segment, he asked his tribe to vote for him in what would be the final dual so that he could win it, come back into the game and even up the numbers at the merge.

That didn’t end up working due to Cochran flipping (more on that in a bit), so Ozzy was voted out a second time and went back to Redemption Island where he spent the next 14 days. He won the final dual and re-entered the game for a second time where if it weren’t for Sophie Clarke (the eventual winner of the season) winning the final immunity challenge, Ozzy probably wins the season.

He did not win that challenge though and, as a result, was the first player to ever be voted out three times in a single season.

Cochran flips

South Pacific introduced us to future Caramoan winner John Cochran, who was a super fan of the show and hung on by the skin of his teeth throughout the pre-merge portion of the game. He was treated rather poorly by a lot of his Savaii tribe mates leading up to the merge, constantly labeled as weak and targeted at pretty much every tribal council.

It should be no wonder then that when the merge came, Coach was able to sway Cochran over to Upolo’s side, giving them the numbers. Cochran flipping was about the only big move after the merge and while it wasn’t shocking that he chose to do this considering how rude his old tribe was to him, the better play for him was probably to draw rocks and try to mix things up later on.

Brandon giving up immunity

Everyone talks about how Erik giving up immunity in Micronesia is one of the dumbest moves ever made (and it was), but why don’t more people discuss when Brandon Hantz did the same exact thing in South Pacific and was promptly voted out?

Brandon gave his immunity necklace to Albert Destrade at that night’s tribal council in an act of loyalty. Albert kept claiming that if he thought Brandon was going home, he’d give it back, but he didn’t give it back and Brandon went to Ponderosa that night.

Perhaps Brandon’s isn’t grouped in with Erik’s move because Brandon’s was for religious reasons (which this season was FULL of), but it should be right up there with some of the dumbest moves of all-time.

Sophie at the movies

During the dark ages of Survivor, there would sometimes be rewards where the winner got to eat food and watch a movie (usually the movie was terrible). In South Pacific, the winner of the episode seven challenge not only wins immunity, but they get the “honor” of getting a sneak peek at the then-new Adam Sandler movie Jack and Jill.

Upolo won the challenge and one of my favorite Survivor moments ever ensued while the tribe was “enjoying” their reward. While everyone else was laughing and seemingly having a good time, Sophie was sitting in the back row with a deadpan expression on her face as the film ran, not looking amused whatsoever.

For more on this terrific Survivor moment, here’s Mario Lanza’s write-up on it on his Funny 115 entry. Definitely iconic and another reason why Sophie is so great.

Sophie’s win

Sophie gets a lot of backlash due to fans feeling like Coach played the better game, but I’m a big fan of Sophie’s and her win in South Pacific. She knew that she could beat Coach in the end because she knew he wouldn’t own up to his game. She destroyed him and Albert in front of the jury too, making it easier to write her name down when it came to picking a winner.

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Sophie showed people she was more than deserving of winning South Pacific with her performance on Winners at War, a season she probably wins if she wasn’t blindsided with an idol in her pocket. She was low-key the best player on that season at that point.


All in all, South Pacific isn’t generally a popular season amongst Survivor fans.

It has a straight up Pagonging post-merge after Cochran flips and the cast was one of the show’s worst. It was pretty much the Coach, Ozzy, and Cochran show, so it’s no wonder why people couldn’t connect to Sophie after her win, as the poor girl barely had any air time.

Something that really stood out about South Pacific was the religion, as the Upolo tribe prayed together frequently and it got to be a lot during the course of the season, especially if you watch it in just a few days.

Another thing that stood out was how Ozzy doesn’t understand the social aspect of Survivor. He berated Cochran for the better half of the pre-merge and was then stunned when Cochran turned on him and the Savaii tribe at the merge. Ozzy’s always been a bit too whiny and “woe is me” for my taste and hopefully he does not return a fifth time.

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What do you remember the most about Survivor: South Pacific?