Lost is one of the most popular shows in television history. For whatever reason, the story of a bunch of survivors stuck on a remote island following a plane crash resonated with a lot of viewers. People love a good mystery! As with any TV show that has millions of fans across the world and went on for more than half a decade, this one has a lot of interesting trivia and facts and tidbits from behind the scenes that not a lot of people are aware of. So, here are 10 things that you (probably) didn’t know about Lost.
10. Sawyer is shirtless in the season 5 premiere to make the time travel more palatable
One of the things that you may have noticed while watching the season 5 premiere episode of this show was that Sawyer was not wearing a shirt. You may also have noticed that the characters started to travel through time. Well, as it turns out, the two are related. Series co-creator Carlton Cuse joked that they decided to keep Josh Holloway’s shirt off for the entire premiere episode “for people who really couldn’t grasp the time travel aspects of the show,” so that if they didn’t understand what was going on with the different timelines and jumping around the space time continuum, “there would [still] be Sawyer without his shirt on for the entire hour.” To be fair, the time travel elements of the series were very confusing – as are the time travel elements of any time travel story. Faraday attempts to explain it in the easiest way possible with the metaphor of a record: “Think of the Island like a record spinning on a turntable…only now, that record is skipping. Whatever Ben Linus did down at the Orchid station…I think…it may have…dislodged us.” “Dislodged us from what?” Miles asks. And then Faraday says, “Time.” That’s a cool, science fiction-y way of describing it, but it doesn’t help us.
9. Damon Lindelof always knew that “Walkabout” was an important episode
Series co-creator Damon Lindelof gave an interview recently in which he revealed that he always knew the season 1 episode “Walkabout” would end up being an important episode in the progression of the show. He said, “I do remember – and again, this is my subjective memory of it – that ‘Walkabout’ became the litmus test for the show that people thought they were watching. Before it aired, that manifested itself in the writers’ room, and then it manifested itself amongst the crew and the cast. So there was this idea of, you get to the end of “Walkabout” and then you realize, ‘Oh my God, this guy was in a wheelchair all the time, and what are the implications of that?’ And the show isn’t going to openly state what the implications of that are. It’s just going to say, ‘This guy was in a wheelchair and now he’s not.’ Something happened in the crash, he looks down, he wiggles his toe and now he can walk. He had a religious experience – he was healed. That’s certainly the interpretation that Locke is carrying forth. And this character had been presented as this very sort of mystical figure moving forward. I think the thing that we were really excited about was this idea that we were presenting Locke as one thing, as sort of like the hunter, the survivalist, the guy who brought all the knives. But his first flashback was going to show you that he was just a cubicle jockey. The idea was that what you think these people are is actually entirely different.”
8. Dominic Monaghan felt “relief” when Charlie was killed off
“NOT PENNY’S BOAT.” When the momentous season 3 finale episode of the show killed off the Charlie character, Dominic Monaghan – the actor who played the drug addicted rocker turned heartthrob – became the man of the moment. Every media outlet in America wanted to hear what this guy had to say. He was told two episodes in advance that Charlie was going to die in the season finale, and as it turns out, he wasn’t too shaken up over his character’s death – in fact, he felt some “relief” over it. He said, “There’s an argument for having the heart ripped out of you. But I’m a big boy. It’s not going to kill me. It’s not going to kill Dominic if Charlie dies.” He also laughed off how many times the character had evaded death before: “I’ve been exploded, beaten up, shot at, stabbed, had rocks fall on my head, gone cold turkey, nearly drowned, and been hung from a tree. They’ve definitely taken me to the mill.” Damon Lindelof praised Monaghan’s performance, saying, “Watching his performance in the last two episodes of the season is like watching someone who’s played a six string guitar for all their performances, then suddenly they’re playing a twelve string guitar effortlessly. Those six strings were available all along, but you never asked him to play them.”
7. Michael Emerson was satisfied by the finale
The series finale of Lost left a lot of fans angry. Some of them were satisfied by it, but others thought that it was either a cop out or too ambiguous or simply not that good. But actor Michael Emerson, who the show made iconic with the role of Ben Linus, is among the finale’s few fans. Leading up to the controversial airing of the series finale, Emerson said that while he did expect some diehard fans of the show to be initially dissatisfied by the way that the show ended, he was “very satisfied” by finale episode. He said, “I have received the finale by degrees. I read the script without the secret scenes, then I read the secret scenes, then I shot the script, and each time, I’m thinking…‘What does this mean?’ When I first read it, the ending wasn’t clear to me – but since then, it’s grown more clear and, I have to say, grown more satisfying the more I think about it. I expect a mixture of satisfaction and consternation amongst the viewers when it airs. But once they rewatch it, rethink about it, and possibly look at the saga again, gradually they will feel like they have just read a good novel – but you have to chew on it for a while.”
6. George R.R. Martin hated it
George R.R. Martin, the author of the A Song of Ice and Fire series of fantasy books upon which the HBO fantasy drama series Game of Thrones was based, hated the series finale of Lost. Like, seriously, seriously, hated it. He said, “We watched [Lost] every week trying to figure it out, and as it got deeper and deeper I kept saying, ‘They better have something good in mind for the end. This better pay off here.’ And then I felt so cheated when we got to the conclusion.” He has also stated that his own fears about screwing up the ending of his own series stem from the finale of Lost. He said that with his own ending, he wants to give the readers (and TV viewers) something that is spectacular and groundbreaking and satisfying. He said, “I want to give them something terrific. What if I fuck it up at the end? What if I do a Lost? Then they’ll come after me with pitchforks and torches.” Well, it’s very easy to say that you want to do “something terrific” with the ending of your story, but so far, Lost is the only one to have actually done an ending. We’ll see how good Martin’s ending is next year when season 8 of the HBO show ends.
5. The show was conceived as a mix of Cast Away, Survivor, and Lord of the Flies
Remember that Tom Hanks movie Cast Away, in which a FedEx employee survives a plane crash and then gets stranded on the remote island on which he washes up, where he befriends a volleyball and goes insane before finally escaping? Well, an ABC executive saw that and decided he wanted to see the TV version of it. He wanted a TV show that felt like a cross between the intense, cinematic, gritty, raw survival drama of that movie and the ensemble team up of the reality show Survivor, where all of the survivors aren’t sure whether or not they can trust each other and keep betraying each other and forge different relationships with one another. The original script, which was written before J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof came on board and turned it into a dark supernatural mystery with a lot of fun and complex enigmas at play, was closer to the William Golding novel Lord of the Flies than the final product was. So, the show grew out of a combination of copying a bunch of different things. Abrams and Lindelof’s take on the material was actually more inspired by the paranormal mystery of David Lynch’s seminal drama series Twin Peaks.
4. Ben Linus was supposed to be a small role
The Ben Linus character ended up being one of the most haunting and iconic villains in television history. After his introduction as a recurring character, he went on to become one of the foremost primary characters in the series, ranking alongside Jack and Kate and Locke. The Man in Black had been introduced as the main villain of the series before Michael Emerson came along with his chilling performance as the ice cold Ben. The producers were so impressed by Emerson’s performance in the role when he was just supposed to have an arc of a few episodes (back when we still knew him as Henry Gale) that they decided to keep him around for a longer story arc – one that ended up carrying him through to the very end of the series. Now, he’s one of the most memorable characters in the history of television. He was ranked number 24 on TV Guide’s list of the 25 Greatest TV Characters of All Time. And as if that’s not impressive enough, Rolling Stone magazine gave him the number 1 spot on their list of the 40 Greatest TV Villains of All Time. Plus, Emerson deservingly won the Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actor.
3. Sawyer was supposed to be a con man from Buffalo
The Sawyer character was originally written to be a slick, cool, older con artist from Buffalo, New York, who would wear snazzy suits. This version of the character was nothing like the final version. Actor Josh Holloway came into the audition, got halfway through his screen test, and then he forgot a line – forgetting that line ended up being the best thing that ever happened to his acting career. You wouldn’t think so, since forgetting a line in an audition is probably the quickest way to get out of the running for the part. When he forgot the line, he got all riled up and angry and it caused him to kick a chair across the room and curse himself in his southern drawl. The producers really loved his intensity, and so they decided to change the Sawyer character to reflect what Holloway had brought to them. The same sort of thing got Norman Reedus the role of Daryl Dixon – he auditioned to play Merle, but seemed too kind and likable and redemptive to play that role, so they decided to give Merle a brother just to get Reedus in the show. Holloway was so charismatic as an angry man that the producers scrapped the character as written and completely rewrote him.
2. Michael Keaton was originally cast to play Jack
It’s hard to picture anybody else in the role of Jack Shephard, since Matthew Fox really made it his own over the years. But back when the show was in its earliest stages of development and the pilot script had yet to be finalized, Michael Keaton – better known as Batman – was cast in the role. Keaton explained recently how that all went down: “Yeah, you know, I started to feel badly about this – I think that got – because it sounds like…it didn’t exactly play out like that, and I always think, ‘Geez, you know, maybe [it] has been misinterpreted, or [the problem is] that I mischaracterized that.’ J.J. [Abrams] and I had a conversation – and I like what he does – I thought, ‘Well, this guy’s worth talking to – he’s real smart.’ I had read some things he had written, and he told me about this idea…It’s no news now, I’m not revealing anything. He said, ‘Here’s what happens: the guy that you think is the lead dies in the last ten minutes,’ and I immediately – when I hear things like that…those type of things intrigue me. And I thought, ‘Yeah!’ The idea of doing an hour television show…I’m just too lazy. So, I thought, ‘Wow, this is pretty good! Then I don’t have to be in the series!’”
1. Jack was supposed to die in the pilot
As Michael Keaton explained, the idea with the pilot episode of the show initially was to present Jack Shephard as the lead character of the series who would lead the survivors – and the right at the end of the episode, he would die. The audience would be freaked out and it would make a memorable TV moment. After that, Kate was supposed to take over and lead the survivors. So, why didn’t they go with that twist? Keaton explains, “I think what happened was – and I’ve never really talked to him about this – I guess maybe we had a brief conversation where…he thought better of [the twist], or the studio said, ‘That ain’t gonna happen.’ And then there was kind of a half a conversation like, ‘Well, do you have any more interest?’ So…it’s not like they offered it to me, and ‘Oh, I turned that down.’ I know [Jack’s death] was what was going to happen, and that I probably would have done. Even though people would say, ‘Why would you ever do that, where you’re the big lead guy, and then you die?’ And I thought ‘Oh, that’s pretty interesting to me.’ And [J.J.]’s so good, you know you want to hang out with a guy like that.” The WTF plot twist at the end of the pilot episode was replaced by a polar bear showing up. What’s a polar bear doing on an exotic island? That’s a question that’s more likely to get you back next week than: why did the main character just die?