It's Top 10 time again and our new favourite Ozlet Jarrod, Jarrod Loobek summarises some of the best motherly characters we have seen in Survivor. Whether they showed a caring and nurturing side, or showed a softer side and gained the respect of their fellow tribe mates, these 10 motherly figures often were the glue that held their respective tribes together. No doubt these were some of the more memorable 'older lady' castaways who also filled the shoes of a surrogate mother while on the island. Agree or disagree with the top 10? Let us know at the end of the post with a comment!
In the game of Survivor, players naturally gravitate to different roles. Stranded with a bunch of strangers competing for a million dollars it’s not surprising to see players act selfishly and cutthroat. However, certain castaways are able to put the aggressive nature of the game behind them and instead bring a wealth of loving qualities and unselfish attitudes. These traits tend to set castaways up as motherly figures who their tribe mates listen to and respect when struggling or in a crisis. The following list provides just a glimpse of the many females from different seasons who throughout their time on the show have stepped up into a motherly role on their tribes.
10. Patricia Jackson – Marquesas
Although only lasting 6 days in the game, Patricia kicks of this top 10 as an authoritarian motherly figure who tried to get her tribe mates to do their chores. Given the nickname “Mama” due to her commanding nature, Patricia stepped up into a leadership role to ensure that camp life ran efficiently. “Mama” took it upon herself to delegate tasks and make sure nobody on the Marammu tribe was slacking off. Unfortunately for Patricia, her tribe mates were less than impressed at being delegated tasks and felt that as adults they didn’t need a mother to tell them what to do, voting her out in 15th place.
9. Lillian Morris – Pearl Islands
Scoutmaster Lil was a workhorse during her time on Survivor Pearl Islands. From fetching water to fishing, Lil made sure things around camp were in order and getting done on time. Although not fitting in with most of her Morgan tribe mates, she became somewhat of a mother figure to Skinny Ryan with the pair forming a strong friendship. Many of Lil’s motherly traits like hard work, discipline and understanding crossed over with her skills as a Scout leader. After winning final immunity Lillian’s motherly characteristics played a major role in her choice to bring Sandra to final tribal council, believing that as a fellow mother Sandra would put the money to good use.
8. Margaret Bobonich – Guatemala
Many players who enter the game have a profession that lends itself to motherly qualities and being a nurse, Margaret was one of these people. However it isn’t just Margaret’s medical knowledge that secures her spot on this list but rather her patience and attentiveness to her sick tribe mates. Margaret could easily have told the sick male Nakúm members to simply drink lots of water and lay down but instead she made a conscious effort to ensure they were being well looked after. From giving the sick water to massaging Bobby Jon’s cramped legs and nursing the ailing Blake Towsley back to full health, Margaret’s bedside manner was definitely motherly in style.
7. Monica Culpepper – One World & Blood vs Water
Particularly throughout her time on Blood vs Water, Monica showed a myriad of motherly traits on her way to a second place finish. Very much a mother in real life, Monica easily transitioned into this position in the game forming strong bonds with her tribe mates and expressing genuine concern for their welfare. Just like a mother, in many situations Monica put the wellbeing of others before herself sacrificing her own gains for the good of her fellow players. The biggest example of this came when after a hard fought endurance challenge win, Monica decided to forgo the food reward she had won so that the rest of the tribe could feast instead. While her strategic thinking in the game was immovable, Monica tried to accommodate the physical needs of her fellow tribe members which earns her a place on this top 10.
6. Lydia Morales – Guatemala
If we were to categorise the players in this list by what type of motherly figure they were, Lydia Morales would definitely be the soccer mum of this top 10. While all the players on this list displayed heart for their tribe, Lydia arguably showed the most team spirit during her time on the show. Every challenge Lydia was front and centre cheering on her tribe mates and providing the morale support to get them over the line. In terms of motherly traits, boosting both physical and emotional wellbeing are high on the list and Lydia managed to do both in Survivor Guatemala. From catching Minnows and cooking breakfast for her tribe mates to her famous pancake dance Lydia seemed to genuinely care about everybody around her which plants her firmly in this top 10.
5. Helen Glover – Thailand
In Survivor Thailand, Helen became a real workhorse for the Chuay Gahn tribe. Perhaps in part due to her career as a swim instructor for the Navy or as a result of her mothering tendencies, Helen took it upon herself to delegate tasks to the rest of the tribe. In true motherly style, despite complaining about the work ethic of her tribe mates, Helen picked up the slack, going above and beyond to ensure an efficient camp life. This dedication was truly exemplified in her multiple trips to the tribes well, collecting more water than seemingly any other member of the tribe. Despite her frustrations Helen genuinely cared about her fellow camp members and was the most concerned over the Ted and Ghandia situation. Helen’s family visit and love of cooking exposed a softer side to this strong woman, as she became a real motherly figure of the tribe making sure that her fellow castaways were well fed and cared for.
4. Lisa Welchel – Philippines
Season 25 castaway Lisa Welchel showed true motherly characteristics throughout her time in the Philippines. Although beginning on the outs of her tribe and struggling to come to grips with the game, Lisa soon became a strong support in the Tandang alliance and tried to safely see them through the tricky beginnings of the post-merge game. Even though Lisa eventually abandoned ship it wasn’t before she really frustrated her efforts of keeping the Tandang family alive. Lisa’s motherly actions may not have been as grand as sacrificing challenges and providing food for the tribe but despite their subtlety they were still genuine acts of kindness. From simply washing her tribe mates clothes to taking the time to sit down and hash out genuine life issues with her fellow castaways, Lisa was obviously concerned with making camp life feel homely. Her motherly gentleness and attitude situates her at the halfway stage of this list.
3. Dawn Meehan – South Pacific & Caramoan
Throughout her time on Survivor South Pacific and Caramoan, Dawn became a key motherly figure on the island. Like many of the other motherly figures on this list, Dawn needed initial support to get in the correct emotional headspace to battle the elements and play the game. However, far from solely needing support, Dawn became a confidant and key ally to many other players in her two seasons. The most notable of these was Cochran, with Dawn aligning with him and counselling him through his feelings of alienation and decision to flip in South Pacific. In Survivor Caramoan, Dawn was once again a support for Cochrane while also developing strong bonds with Brenda and Corinne. Unfortunately for this pair, during Dawn’s second time around she was more concerned with being a mother to her children then her fellow castaways cutting loose close friends in order to give herself the best shot at bring the million home. Although appearing more cutthroat and less motherly in Caramoan, Dawn was one to battle hard for her tribe, never more noticeable than when she carried 140 pounds on her back to win Savaii the fourth immunity/reward challenge.
2. Kathy Vavrick-O’Brien – Marquesas & All Stars
Two-time Survivor contestant Kathy Vavrik-O’Brien began as an outsider but soon became the outdoorsy mum everybody respected and looked up to. In the Marquesas, Kathy was instantly at odds with her tribe mates, coming off as demanding and abrasive in her conversations about the tribe’s work ethic and priorities. To counteract this, Kathy collected crabs and shells and just like any diplomatic mother used these provisions to coerce her tribe into spending more time focusing on the shelter. Far from solely providing nutritionally for the tribe, Kathy went above and beyond the call of duty to ensure everybody remained healthy and motivated, even when it involved peeing on a sea urchin sting with no questions asked. In Survivor All Stars Kathy continued her motherly role becoming an important player who the women turned to for guidance about the vote. Kathy was loved and respected by the entirety of the cast building strong relationships with both the Mogo Mogo and Chapera players. These mother-like relations were put clearest when she strongly considered giving up individual immunity to her closest ally Lex and voted for Boston Rob despite feeling like “her own son” had backstabbed her. Kathy evolved as a character throughout her time on the show and became the loveable player that many people wanted to see win the game. Her loving personality, hard work ethic and role as a motivator snag her second place on this top 10 list.
1. Holly Hoffman – Nicaragua
When it comes to motherly figures Holly Hoffman is the one player that stands out in my mind above all the others as caring for and helping her fellow castaways in the game. Despite suffering from her own emotional turmoil at the beginning of the game, Holly went on to become a vital role model and motherly figure in Survivor Nicaragua. Due to the tribes being divided by age, Holly was an instant motherly figure to the younger players after the tribe swap, building strong bonds and imparting pearls of wisdom as the game progressed. On day 28 Holly forfeited her reward win for a tarp and can of rice for the tribe, even though given her impending quit NaOnka was in a much better position to do so. Using her own early struggle as an example, Holly sought to console both Purple Kelly and NaOnka when they contemplated quitting the game. Like any good mother, Holly tried to rouse the two from their despair by telling them of the regrets they’d have and being a shoulder to cry on. Holly was constantly thinking about others both during and after the game, going so far as to give Dan a pair of ostrich feather boots at the reunion to replace the shoes she buried in Nicaragua. While Holly’s efforts to deter Kelly and NaOnka from quitting were ultimately in vain, the self sacrifice she showed for her tribe along with the care she showed for each and every one of the players in Nicaragua plants her firmly as the number 1 motherly figure to play the game.
What do you think of the top 10? Do you agree? Disagree? Is it in the wrong order or are there ones that didn’t make the top 10 that you feel should’ve? Leave a comment below to let us know your thoughts!