Survivor Winner Cochran Is Now Writing Star Trek: Lower Decks, Here’s How It Happened

By Ross Bonaime | 9 months ago

survivor cochran

After coming in eighth place on the 23rd season of Survivor, Survivor: South Pacific and winning the 26th season, Survivor: Caramoan, John Cochran has stayed within the CBS family with a slew of projects. In a strange twist the former Survivor Cochran’s latest job appears to be as a writer on CBS’s newest animated show, Star Trek: Lower Decks.

In a Twitter post from September 10, 2020, former Survivor Cochran wrote, “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.”

In a strange twist, Survivor‘s Cochran isn’t the only former contestant from the reality show now working in Star Trek either. Star Trek: Lower Decks features another Survivor cast member on the writing team, as Cochran is working with David Wright from Survivor: Millennials vs. Gen X and Survivor: Edge of Extinction.

David Wright on Survivor
David Wright on Survivor

In an interview for CBS, when asked which Survivor contestant he was most like, Wright stated, “I relate most to the guys who don’t fit in such as John Cochran – he’s my intellectual equal with slightly larger muscles.”

How Survivor’s Cochran Ended Up Writing Star Trek

survivor cochran

While Wright was already a television writer when he took part in Survivor, Cochran’s turn to writing seems to have come soon after his time on Survivor. In 2014, Cochran became a staff writer and story editor for the short-lived Will Arnett series, The Millers, which aired on CBS. After that, Cochran worked as a writer and story editor for the Kevin James sitcom, Kevin Can Wait in 2016. 

Cochran came to television writing through Survivor host Jeff Probst, who introduced Cochran to The Millers creator Greg Garcia, who offered Cochran a writer position on the show. After Cochran graduated from Harvard Law, he moved to Los Angeles and worked on the show. 

The Washington D.C. native studied at both Columbia University and Harvard Law and was a fan of the show since its first season. In law school, he wrote a thesis paper that compared Survivor to the jury system. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Survivor’s Cochran said of the paper, “It’s not that good is the thing. It’s been mythologized as this incredible work of Survivor genius. It’s basically Survivor for Dummies. But it’s not that great, and I feel like it’s better left a mystery than revealing how lame it is to the world.”

In the finale of Survivor: Caramoan, Cochran stated that he didn’t want to pursue a career as a lawyer and would instead like to become a writer. Cochran also told The Hollywood Reporter, “It’s an abstract aspiration at this point. I’ve always been a good writer in school. Maybe I’ll write some sort of screenplay, or comedy writing. Then I start thinking, am I really that funny, or am I just deluding myself?” Well, it seems as though CBS at least thinks he’s funny enough for a career as a television writer.

What Is Lower Decks Anyway?

star trek lower decks

Premiering on August 6, 2020, Star Trek: Lower Decks is a new animated comedy for CBS All Access, created by Mike McMahan, who also created Solar Opposites with Justin Roiland. Star Trek: Lower Decks follows the crew of the U.S.S. Cerritos in the year 2380, and features an impressive voice cast that includes Tawny Newsome, Jack Quaid, Noël Wells, and Eugene Cordero. Star Trek: Lower Decks is the first animated series for CBS All Access and is the first animated Star Trek show since Star Trek: The Animated Series, which ran only ran for two seasons from 1973 to 1974. And somehow, Survivor Cochran is in the middle of it.

CBS has rarely attempted animation in the past, and all their previous shows were canceled relatively quickly. Their first attempt was with the 1970 Hanna-Barbera production, Where’s Huddles?, which was canceled after only ten episodes. Fairing even worse was another Hanna-Barbera series, entitled Fish Police, which was pulled after three episodes. CBS’s last try at animation was in 2007, with their American adaptation of the U.K. claymation series, Creature Comforts. While the adaptation was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program (For Programming Less Than One Hour), the show was only on the air from March to June of 2007.

Star Trek written by Cochran

However, CBS has had far more success with the Star Trek brand, especially on their CBS All Access service. Star Trek: Discovery has already received two seasons since its debut in 2017 as the first scripted series developed for CBS All Access. This was followed by the anthology series, Star Trek: Short Treks, which premiered in 2018, and the return of Patrick Stewart to the Star Trek universe with Star Trek: Picard launching earlier this year. Rumor is that CBS All Access still has even more Star Trek animated series and live-action series that they are developing for the future. Maybe they’ll hire former Survivor John Cochran to work on that Star Trek project too.