Lost (TV series)

Lost (TV series)
Lost main title.svg
Title screen
Genre Action/Adventure, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Sci-fi, Supernatural
Created by Jeffrey Lieber
J. J. Abrams
Damon Lindelof
Written by Damon Lindelof (45 episodes)
Carlton Cuse (39 episodes)
Edward Kitsis (21 episodes)
Adam Horowitz (21 episodes)
Elizabeth Sarnoff (19 episodes)
and others
Directed by Jack Bender (42 episodes)
Stephen Williams (26 episodes)
and others
Starring Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje
Sam Anderson
Naveen Andrews
L. Scott Caldwell
Nestor Carbonell
François Chau
Henry Ian Cusick
Jeremy Davies
Emilie de Ravin
Michael Emerson
Jeff Fahey
Fionnula Flanagan
Matthew Fox
Jorge Garcia
Maggie Grace
Josh Holloway
Malcolm David Kelley
Daniel Dae Kim
Yunjin Kim
Ken Leung
Evangeline Lilly
Rebecca Mader
Elizabeth Mitchell
Dominic Monaghan
Terry O'Quinn
Harold Perrineau
Zuleikha Robinson
Michelle Rodriguez
Kiele Sanchez
Rodrigo Santoro
Ian Somerhalder
John Terry
Sonya Walger
Cynthia Watros
Composer(s) Michael Giacchino
Country of origin United States
Language(s) English
No. of seasons 6
No. of episodes 121 (List of episodes)
Executive producer(s) J.J. Abrams
Damon Lindelof
Bryan Burk
Carlton Cuse (from episode 9)
Jack Bender (episodes 14-121)
Jeff Pinkner (season 3)
Edward Kitsis (seasons 5–6)
Adam Horowitz (seasons 5–6)
Jean Higgins (season 6)
Elizabeth Sarnoff (season 6)
Location(s) Oahu, Hawaii
Running time 40 - 48 minutes
Production company(s) Bad Robot Productions
ABC Studios (as Touchstone Television 2004-2007)
Distributor Buena Vista Television
Original channel ABC
Picture format 480i (SDTV)
720p (HDTV) ABC HD
1080i (HDTV) Sky1 HD, Premiere HD, Seven HD
Original run September 22, 2004 (2004-09-22) – May 23, 2010 (2010-05-23)

Lost is an American television series that originally aired on ABC from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010, consisting of six seasons. Lost is a drama series that follows the survivors of the crash of a commercial passenger jet flying between Sydney and Los Angeles, on a mysterious tropical island somewhere in the South Pacific Ocean. The story is told in a heavily serialized manner. Episodes typically feature a primary storyline on the island, as well as a secondary storyline from another point in a character's life.

Lost was created by Jeffrey Lieber, J. J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof who share story-writing credits for the pilot episode, which Abrams directed. Throughout the show's run, Lindelof and Carlton Cuse served as showrunners and head writers, working together with a large number of other executive producers and writers. Due to its large ensemble cast and the cost of filming primarily on location in Oahu, Hawaii, the series was the most expensive on television.[1] The fictional universe and mythology of Lost is expanded upon by a number of related media, most importantly a series of short mini-episodes called Missing Pieces, and a 12-minute epilogue titled "The New Man in Charge."

A critically acclaimed and popular success, Lost was consistently ranked by US critics on their lists of top ten series of all time.[2] The first season garnered an average of 15.69 million US viewers per episode on ABC.[3] During its sixth and final season, the show averaged over 11 million US viewers per episode. Lost was the recipient of hundreds of US award nominations throughout its run, and won numerous industry awards, including the Emmy Award for US primetime Outstanding Drama Series in 2005,[4] Best American Import at the British Academy Television Awards in 2005, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association Golden Globe Award for Best Drama in 2006 and a US Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series.




The first season begins with a plane crash that strands the surviving passengers of Oceanic Airlines flight 815 on what seems to be a deserted tropical island. Their survival is threatened throughout the season by a number of mysterious entities, including polar bears, an unseen creature that roams the jungle (the "Monster"), and the island's malevolent, and largely unseen, inhabitants known as "the Others". They encounter a French woman named Danielle Rousseau who was shipwrecked on the island 16 years prior to their crash. They also find a mysterious metal hatch buried in the ground. While two characters try to force their way into the hatch, four other survivors attempt to leave the island on a raft that they have constructed. Meanwhile, flashbacks centered on individual survivors detail their lives prior to the plane crash.

The second season follows the growing conflict between the survivors and the Others, and continues the theme of the clash between faith and science, while resolving old mysteries and posing new ones. A power struggle between Jack and John over control of the guns and medicine in the hatch develops, resolved in "The Long Con" by the machinations of Sawyer when he gains control of them. New characters are introduced, including the tail-section survivors (the "Tailies") and other island inhabitants. The hatch is revealed to be a research station built by the Dharma Initiative, a scientific research project that was conducting experiments on the island decades earlier. A man named Desmond Hume has been living in the hatch for 3 years, pushing a button every 108 minutes to prevent a catastrophic event from occurring. As the truth about the mysterious Others begins to unfold, one of the crash survivors betrays the other castaways, and the cause of the plane crash is revealed.

In the third season, the crash survivors learn more about the Others and their long history on the mysterious island. Desmond and one of the Others join the survivors, while one of their number in turn defects to the Others. A war between the Others and the survivors comes to a head, and the survivors make contact with a rescue team aboard the freighter Kahana.

Season four focuses on the survivors dealing with the arrival of people from the freighter, who have been sent to the island not as part of a rescue operation, but for far more nefarious purposes. The reason specifically for the freighter folks being there is revealed. The survivors begin planning a way to get off the island before the freighter crew can carry out their plan. Flashforwards reveal the identities and future actions of the so-called "Oceanic Six," a group of survivors who have escaped the island and attempted to resume their normal lives. In an attempt to "move the island" to safety, one of the others uses an ancient device on the island that not only moves the island physically but also moves it to another point in time, while simultaneously teleporting that other to a desert in Tunisia.

The fifth season follows two timelines. The first takes place on the island where the survivors who were left behind erratically jump forward and backward through time until they are finally stranded with the Dharma Initiative in 1974. The second continues the original timeline, which takes place on the mainland after the Oceanic Six escape, and then follows their return to the island on Ajira Airways flight 316 in 2007 (three years after they escaped). Some passengers on the Ajira flight land in 1977 and some remain in 2007. The ones who land in 1977 reunite with the other survivors who have lived for three years with the Dharma Initiative. They then attempt to change past events in order to prevent their plane from crashing in the future.

In the sixth & final season, the main storyline follows the survivors, reunited in the present day. Following the demise of Jacob, the island's protector, the survivors are up against the Man in Black, known previously as the Smoke Monster. A "flash-sideways" narrative also follows the lives of the main characters in a setting where Oceanic 815 never crashed. In the final episodes, a flashback to the distant past shows the origins of the island's power and of the conflict between Jacob and the Man in Black, who are revealed to be twin brothers. One survivor becomes the successor to Jacob as caretaker of the island, and kills the Man in Black in a final showdown, with the island at stake. A small handful of survivors escape on the Ajira plane. It is implied that a few survivors return home later, while others remain living happily on the island. The series finale reveals that the flash-sideways timeline is actually a form of limbo, where some of the survivors and other characters from the island are reunited after having died because their time on the island had been the most important part of their existence. In the end the survivors are all reunited in a church where they "move on" together.

Mythology and interpretations

Episodes of Lost include a number of mysterious elements ascribed to science fiction or supernatural phenomena. The creators of the series refer to these elements as composing the mythology of the series, and they formed the basis of fan speculation.[5] The show's mythological elements include a "Monster" that roams the island, a mysterious group of inhabitants the survivors call "The Others," a scientific organization called the Dharma Initiative that placed several research stations on the island, a sequence of numbers that frequently appears in the lives of the characters in the past, present and future, and personal connections (synchronicity) between the characters they are often unaware of.

At the heart of the series is a complex and cryptic storyline, which spawned numerous questions and discussions among viewers.[6] Encouraged by Lost's writers and stars, who often interacted with fans online, viewers and TV critics alike took to widespread theorizing in an attempt to unravel the mysteries. Theories mainly concerned the nature of the island, the origins of the "Monster" and the "Others," the meaning of the numbers, and the reasons for both the crash and the survival of some passengers.[citation needed] Several of the more common fan theories were discussed and rejected by the show's creators, the most common being that the survivors of Oceanic flight 815 are dead and in purgatory. This was specifically denied by J.J. Abrams.[7] Lindelof rejected speculation that spaceships or aliens influenced the events on the island, or that everything seen was a fictional reality taking place in someone's mind. Carlton Cuse dismissed the theory that the island was a reality TV show and the castaways unwitting housemates[8] and Lindelof many times refuted the theory that the "Monster" was a nanobot cloud similar to the one featured in Michael Crichton's novel Prey (which happened to share the protagonist's name, Jack).[9][10]

Recurring elements

There are several recurring elements and motifs on Lost, which generally have no direct effect on the story itself, but expand the show's literary and philosophical subtext. These elements include frequent appearances of black and white, which reflect the dualism within characters and situations; as well as rebellion in almost all characters, especially Kate;[11] dysfunctional family situations (especially ones that revolve around the fathers of many characters), as portrayed in the lives of nearly all the main characters;[12] apocalyptic references, including Desmond's pushing the button to forestall the end of the world; coincidence versus fate, revealed most apparently through the juxtaposition of the characters Locke and Mr. Eko; conflict between science and faith, embodied by the leadership tug-of-war between Jack and Locke;[13] and references to numerous works of literature, including mentions and discussions of particular novels.[14] There are also many allusions in characters' names to famous historical thinkers and writers, such as Ben Linus (after chemist Linus Pauling), John Locke (after the philosopher) and his alias Jeremy Bentham (after the philosopher), Danielle Rousseau (after philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau), Desmond David Hume (after philosopher David Hume), Juliet’s ex-husband (after philosopher Edmund Burke), Mikhail Bakunin (after the anarchist philosopher), Daniel Faraday (after physicist Michael Faraday), Eloise Hawking (after physicist Stephen Hawking), George Minkowski (after mathematician Hermann Minkowski), Richard Alpert (the birth name of spiritual teacher Ram Dass), Boone Carlyle (after Daniel Boone, American pioneer), Charlotte Staples Lewis (after author Clive Staples Lewis C. S. Lewis).[15]

Cast and characters

From left to right: Faraday, Boone, Miles, Michael, Ana Lucia, Charlotte, Frank, Shannon, Desmond, Eko, Kate, Jack, Sawyer, Locke, Ben, Sayid, Libby, Sun, Jin, Claire, Hurley, Juliet, Charlie, Richard, Bernard, Rose and Vincent

Of the 324 people on board Oceanic Flight 815,[16] there are 70 initial survivors (as well as one dog) spread across the three sections of the plane crash.[17][18][19] Although a large cast made Lost more expensive to produce, the writers benefited from added flexibility in story decisions.[20] According to series executive producer Bryan Burk, "You can have more interactions between characters and create more diverse characters, more back stories, more love triangles."[20]

Lost was planned as a multi-cultural show with an international cast. The initial season had 14 regular speaking roles that received star billing. Matthew Fox played the protagonist, a troubled surgeon named Jack Shephard. Evangeline Lilly portrayed fugitive and love interest Kate Austen. Jorge Garcia played Hugo "Hurley" Reyes, an unlucky lottery winner. Josh Holloway played a con man, James "Sawyer" Ford. Ian Somerhalder played Boone Carlyle, chief operating officer of his mother's wedding business. Maggie Grace played his step sister Shannon Rutherford, a former dance teacher. Harold Perrineau portrayed construction worker Michael Dawson, while Malcolm David Kelley played his young son, Walt Lloyd. Terry O'Quinn played the mysterious John Locke. Naveen Andrews portrayed former Iraqi Republican Guard Sayid Jarrah. Emilie de Ravin played a young and pregnant Australian woman, Claire Littleton. Yunjin Kim played Sun-Hwa Kwon, the daughter of a powerful Korean businessman and mobster, with Daniel Dae Kim as her husband Jin-Soo Kwon. Dominic Monaghan played an English ex-rock star drug addict named Charlie Pace.

During the first two seasons, some characters were written out, while new characters with new stories were added.[21][22] Boone Carlyle was written out near the end of season one,[23] and Kelley became a guest star making occasional appearances throughout season two after Walt is captured by the Others in the season one finale. Shannon's departure eight episodes into season two made way for newcomers Mr. Eko, a Nigerian fake Catholic priest and former criminal played by Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje; Ana Lucia Cortez, an airport security guard and former police officer played by Michelle Rodriguez; and Libby Smith, a purported clinical psychologist portrayed by Cynthia Watros. Ana Lucia and Libby were written out of the series toward the end of season two after being shot by Michael, who then left the island along with his son.[24]

In season three, two actors were promoted from recurring to starring roles: Henry Ian Cusick as former Scottish soldier Desmond Hume, and Michael Emerson as the leader of the Others, Ben Linus. In addition, three new actors joined the regular cast: Elizabeth Mitchell, as fertility doctor and Other Juliet Burke, and Kiele Sanchez and Rodrigo Santoro as background survivor couple Nikki Fernandez and Paulo. Several characters died throughout the season; Eko was written out early on when Akinnuoye-Agbaje did not wish to continue on the show,[25][26] Nikki and Paulo were buried alive mid-season after poor fan response,[27] and Charlie was written out in the third season finale. In season four, Harold Perrineau rejoined the main cast to reprise the role of Michael, now suicidal and on a desperate redemptive journey to atone for his previous crimes.[28] Along with Perrineau, additional new actors — Jeremy Davies as Daniel Faraday, a nervous physicist who takes a scientific interest in the island; Ken Leung as Miles Straume, a sarcastic supposed ghost whisperer, and Rebecca Mader as Charlotte Staples Lewis, a hard-headed and determined anthropologist and successful academic — joined the cast.[29] Michael was written out in the fourth season finale.[30] Claire, who mysteriously disappears with her dead biological father near the end of the season, did not return as a series regular for the fifth season, but returned for the sixth and final season.[31]

In season five, no new characters joined the main cast, however several characters exited the show: Charlotte was written out early in the season in episode five, with Daniel being written out later in the antepenultimate episode. Season six saw several cast changes; Juliet was written out in the season premiere while three previous recurring characters were upgraded to starring status.[32] These included Nestor Carbonell as mysterious, age-less Other Richard Alpert, Jeff Fahey as pilot Frank Lapidus[33] and Zuleikha Robinson as Ajira Airways Flight 316 survivor Ilana Verdansky. Additionally, former cast members Ian Somerhalder, Dominic Monaghan, Rebecca Mader, Jeremy Davies, Elizabeth Mitchell, Maggie Grace,[34] Michelle Rodriguez,[35] Harold Perrineau and Cynthia Watros[36] made return appearances.

Numerous supporting characters have been given expansive and recurring appearances in the progressive storyline. Danielle Rousseau (Mira Furlan), a French member of an earlier scientific expedition to the island first encountered as a voice recording in the pilot episode, appears throughout the series; she is searching for her daughter, who later turns up in the form of Alex Rousseau (Tania Raymonde). Cindy (Kimberley Joseph), an Oceanic flight attendant who first appeared in the pilot, survived the crash and subsequently became one of the Others. In the second season, married couple Rose Henderson (L. Scott Caldwell) and Bernard Nadler (Sam Anderson), separated on opposite sides of the island (she with the main characters, he with the tail section survivors) were featured in a flashback episode after being reunited. Corporate magnate Charles Widmore (Alan Dale) has connections to both Ben and Desmond. Desmond is in love with Widmore's daughter Penelope "Penny" Widmore (Sonya Walger). The introduction of the Others featured Tom aka Mr. Friendly (M. C. Gainey) and Ethan Rom (William Mapother) all of whom have been shown in both flashbacks and the ongoing story. Jack's father Christian Shephard (John Terry) has appeared in multiple flashbacks of various characters. In the third season, Naomi Dorrit (Marsha Thomason), parachutes onto the island, the team leader of a group hired by Widmore to find Benjamin Linus. One member of her team includes the ruthless mercenary Martin Keamy (Kevin Durand). In the finale episode "The End," recurring guest stars Sam Anderson, L. Scott Caldwell, Francois Chau, Fionnula Flanagan, Sonya Walger, and John Terry were credited under the "starring" rubric alongside the principal cast. The mysterious, black, smoke cloud-like entity known as "the Monster" appeared in human form during season five and six as a middle-aged man dressed in black robes known as "The Man in Black" played by Titus Welliver, and in season six, it appears in the form of John Locke played by O'Quinn in a dual role. His rival, Jacob, was played by Mark Pellegrino.


Lost was produced by ABC Studios, Bad Robot Productions and Grass Skirt Productions. Throughout its run, the executive producers of the series were Damon Lindelof, J.J. Abrams, Bryan Burk, Carlton Cuse, Jack Bender, Jeff Pinkner, Edward Kitsis, Adam Horowitz, Jean Higgins and Elizabeth Sarnoff, with Lindelof and Cuse serving as showrunners.


The series began development in January 2004, when Lloyd Braun, head of ABC at the time, ordered an initial script from Spelling Television based on his concept of a cross between the novel Lord of the Flies, the movie Cast Away, the television series Gilligan's Island, and the popular reality show Survivor. ABC had also premiered a short-lived series about plane crash survivors in 1969 called The New People with the opening episode by Rod Serling. Gadi Pollack notes that some of "the influences of Lost came from...the game Myst."[37] Though never officially mentioned some striking similarities with the 1976 serie The lost islands can be found.

Jeffrey Lieber was hired and wrote Nowhere, based on his pitch to write the pilot.[38] Unhappy with the result and a subsequent rewrite, Braun contacted J. J. Abrams, who had a deal with Touchstone Television (now ABC Studios), and was also the creator of the TV series Alias, to write a new pilot script.

Although initially hesitant, Abrams warmed up to the idea on the condition that the series would have a supernatural angle to it, and collaborated with Damon Lindelof to create the series' style and characters.[39] Together, Abrams and Lindelof also created a series "bible," and conceived and detailed the major mythological ideas and plot points for an ideal four to five season run for the show.[40][41] The development of the show was constrained by tight deadlines, as it had been commissioned late in the 2004 season's development cycle. Despite the short schedule, the creative team remained flexible enough to modify or create characters to fit actors they wished to cast.[42]

Lost's two-part pilot episode was the most expensive in the network's history, reportedly costing between US$10 and $14 million,[43] compared to the average cost of an hour-long pilot in 2005 of $4 million.[44] The series debuted on September 22, 2004, becoming one of the biggest critical and commercial successes of the 2004 television season. Along with fellow new series Desperate Housewives and Grey's Anatomy, Lost helped to reverse the flagging fortunes of ABC.[45] Yet, before it had even been aired, Lloyd Braun was fired by executives at ABC's parent company, Disney, partly because of low ratings at the network and also because he had greenlighted such an expensive and risky project.[39] The world premiere of the pilot episode was on July 24, 2004 at Comic-Con International in San Diego.[46]


Many of the first season roles were a result of the executive producers' liking of various actors. The main character Jack was originally going to die in the pilot, and the role was planned for Michael Keaton. However, ABC executives were adamant that Jack live.[47] Before it was decided that Jack would live, Kate was to emerge as the leader of the survivors; she was originally conceived as a middle-aged businesswoman whose husband had apparently died in the crash, a role later fulfilled by the recurring character Rose. Dominic Monaghan auditioned for the role of Sawyer, who at the time was supposed to be a slick suit-wearing city con man. The producers enjoyed Monaghan's performance and changed the character of Charlie, originally an over-the-hill former rock star, to fit him. Jorge Garcia also auditioned for Sawyer, and the part of Hurley was written for him. When Josh Holloway auditioned for Sawyer, the producers liked the edge he brought to the character (he reportedly kicked a chair when he forgot his lines and got angry in the audition) and his southern accent, so they changed Sawyer to fit Holloway's acting. Yunjin Kim auditioned for Kate, but the producers wrote the character of Sun for her and the character of Jin, portrayed by Daniel Dae Kim, to be her husband. Sayid, played by Naveen Andrews, was also not in the original script. Locke and Michael were written with their actors in mind. Emilie de Ravin, who plays Claire, was originally cast in what was supposed to be a recurring role.[47] In the second season, Michael Emerson was contracted to play Ben ("Henry Gale") for three episodes. His role was extended to eight episodes because of his acting skills, and eventually for the whole of season three and later seasons.[48]


Lost was filmed on Panavision 35 mm cameras almost entirely on the Hawaiian island of Oahu due to the wide range of diverse filming locations available in close range. The original island scenes for the pilot were filmed at Mokulē'ia Beach, near the northwest tip of the island. Later beach scenes take place in secluded spots of the famous North Shore. Cave scenes in the first season were filmed on a sound stage built at a Xerox parts warehouse, which had been empty since an employee mass shooting took place there in 1999.[49] The sound-stage and production offices have since moved to the Hawaii Film Office-operated Hawaii Film Studio,[50] where the sets depicting Season 2's "Swan Station" and Season 3's "Hydra Station" interiors were built.[51]

Various urban areas in and around Honolulu are used as stand-ins for locations around the world, including California, New York, Iowa, Miami, South Korea, Iraq, Nigeria, United Kingdom, Paris, Thailand, Berlin, Maldives and Australia. For example, scenes set in a Sydney Airport were filmed at the Hawaii Convention Center, while a World War II-era bunker was used as both an Iraqi Republican Guard installation and a Dharma Initiative research station. Scenes set in Germany during the winter were filmed at the Bernice P. Bishop Museum, with crushed ice scattered everywhere to create snow and Russian storeshop and automobile signs on the street. Several scenes in the Season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass," were shot in Los Angeles, including a hospital set borrowed from Grey's Anatomy. Two scenes during season four were filmed in London because Alan Dale who portrays Widmore was at the time performing in the musical Spamalot and was unable to travel to Hawaii.[52] Extensive archives of filming locations are tracked at a repository at the Lost Virtual Tour.


Lost features an orchestral score performed by the Hollywood Studio Symphony Orchestra and composed by Michael Giacchino, incorporating many recurring themes for subjects such as events, locations and characters. Giacchino achieved some of the sounds for the score using unusual instruments, such as striking suspended pieces of the plane's fuselage.[53] On March 21, 2006, the record label Varèse Sarabande released the original television soundtrack for Lost's first season.[54] The soundtrack included select full-length versions of the most popular themes of the season and the main title, which was composed by series creator J. J. Abrams.[54] Varèse Sarabande released a soundtrack featuring music from season 2 of Lost on October 3, 2006.[55] The soundtrack for season 3 was released on May 6, 2008, the soundtrack for season 4 was released on May 11, 2009, the soundtrack for season 5 was released on May 11, 2010 and the soundtrack for the final season was released on September 14, 2010.

The series uses pop culture songs sparingly, and used a mainly orchestral score (consisting usually of divided Strings, Percussion, Harp and 3 Trombones.) When it features pop songs, they usually originate from a diegetic source.[citation needed] Examples include the various songs played on Hurley's portable CD player throughout the first season (until its batteries died in the episode "...In Translation," which featured Damien Rice's "Delicate," or the use of the record player in the second season, which included Cass Elliot's "Make Your Own Kind of Music," and Petula Clark's "Downtown" in the second and third season premieres respectively. Two episodes show Charlie on a street corner playing guitar and singing the Oasis song "Wonderwall." In the third season's finale, Jack drives down the street listening to Nirvana's "Scentless Apprentice," right before he arrives to the Hoffs/Drawlar Funeral Parlor, and in the parallel scene in the fourth season's finale he arrives listening to "Gouge Away" by Pixies. The third season also used Three Dog Night's Shambala on two occasions in the van. The only two pop songs that have ever been used without an on-screen source (i.e., non-diegetic) are Ann-Margret's "Slowly," in the episode "I Do" and "I Shall Not Walk Alone," written by Ben Harper and covered by The Blind Boys of Alabama in the episode "Confidence Man." Alternate music is used in several international broadcasts. For instance, in the Japanese broadcast of Lost, the theme song used varies by season; season one uses "Here I Am" by Chemistry, season two uses "Losin'" by Yuna Ito, and season three uses "Lonely Girl" by Crystal Kay.

Impact and reception


Seasonal US rankings (based on a weighted average total viewers per episode including reruns) of Lost on ABC.

Season Timeslot (EDT) Season premiere Season finale TV season Rank Viewers
(in millions)
1 Wednesday 8:00 P.M.(September 22, 2004 – May 25, 2005) September 22, 2004 May 25, 2005 2004–2005 #15 15.69[56]
2 Wednesday 9:00 P.M.(September 21, 2005 – May 24, 2006) September 21, 2005 May 24, 2006 2005–2006 #15 15.50[57]
3 Wednesday 9:00 P.M. (October 4, 2006 – November 8, 2006)
Wednesday 10:00 P.M. (February 7, 2007 – May 23, 2007)
October 4, 2006 May 23, 2007 2006–2007 #25 13.91[58]
4 Thursday 9:00 P.M. (January 31, 2008 – March 20, 2008)
Thursday 10:00 P.M. (April 24, 2008 – May 29, 2008)
January 31, 2008 May 29, 2008 2008 #17 13.40[59]
5 Wednesday 9:00 P.M. (January 21, 2009 – May 13, 2009) January 21, 2009 May 13, 2009 2009 #28 11.05[60]
6 Tuesday 9:00 P.M. (February 2, 2010 – May 23, 2010) February 2, 2010 May 23, 2010 2010 #31 10.08[61]

Lost originally aired on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) from September 22, 2004 to May 23, 2010. The pilot episode had 18.6 million viewers, easily winning its 9/8 central timeslot, and giving ABC its strongest ratings since 2000 when Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? was initially aired—beaten only the following month by the premiere of Desperate Housewives. According to Variety, "ABC sure could use a breakout drama success, as it hasn't had a real hit since The Practice. Lost represents the network's best start for a drama with 18- to 49-year-olds since Once and Again in 1999, and in total viewers since Murder One in 1995."[62]

The chart shows US television ratings (in millions) per episode each of the 6 seasons of the show at ABC.

For its first season, Lost averaged 16 million viewers, ranking 14th in viewership among prime-time shows, and 15th among the eighteen to forty-nine year old demographic.[63] Its second season fared equally well: again, Lost ranked 14th in viewership, with an average of 15.5 million viewers. However, it improved its rating with 18- to 49-year-olds, ranking eighth.[64] The second season premiere was even more viewed than the first, pulling in over 23 million viewers and setting a series record.[65] The third season premiere brought in 18.8 million viewers. The seventh episode of the season, back from a three-month hiatus, saw a drop to 14.5 million. Over the course of the spring season, ratings would plunge to as low as 11 million viewers before recovering to near 14 million for the season finale. The ratings drop was partially explained when Nielsen released DVR ratings, showing Lost as the most recorded series on television. However, despite overall ratings losses, Lost still won its hour in the crucial 18–49 demographic and put out the highest 18–49 numbers in the 10:00 p.m. time slot ahead of any show on any network that season. The fourth season premiere saw an increase from the previous episode to 16.1 million viewers,[66] though by the eighth episode, viewers had decreased to a series low of 11.461 million.[67] A survey of 20 countries by Informa Telecoms and Media in 2006 concluded that Lost was the second most popular TV show in those countries, after CSI: Miami.[68] The sixth-season premiere was the first to climb in the ratings year-over-year since the second season, drawing 12.1 million viewers.[69]


Capping its successful first season, Lost won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series[70] and J. J. Abrams was awarded an Emmy in September 2005 for his work as the director of Pilot. Terry O'Quinn and Naveen Andrews were nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series category.[71] Lost swept the guild awards in 2005, winning the Writers Guild of America Awards 2005 for Outstanding Achievement in Writing for a Dramatic Television Series,[72] the 2005 Producers Guild Award for Best Production,[73] the 2005 Director's Guild Award for Best Direction of a Dramatic Television Program,[74] and the Screen Actors Guild Awards 2005 for Best Ensemble Cast.

It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Drama Series three times (2005–2007),[75][76][77] and it won the award in 2006.[78] In 2006, Matthew Fox and Naveen Andrews received Golden Globe nominations for Best Lead Actor in a Drama Series[78] and Best Supporting Actor[78] respectively, and in 2007, Evangeline Lilly received a nomination for Best Actress in a Television Drama Series.[76] Lost was nominated for the 2005 British Academy of Film and Television Award for Best International.[79] In 2006, Jorge Garcia and Michelle Rodriguez took home ALMA Awards for Best Supporting Actor and Actress, respectively, in a Television Series.[80] It won the Saturn Award for Best Television Series in both 2005 and 2006.[81] In, 2005 Terry O'Quinn won a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor in a television series, and in 2006,[81] Matthew Fox won for Best Lead Actor.[81] Lost won consecutive Television Critics Association Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Drama, for both its first and second seasons.[82] Consecutively as well, it won in 2005 and 2006 the Visual Effects Society Award for Outstanding Supporting Visual Effects in a Broadcast Program.[83] Malcolm David Kelley won a Young Artist Award for his performance as Walt in 2006.[84]

In 2005, Lost was voted Entertainment Weekly's Entertainer of the Year. The show won a 2005 Prism Award for Charlie's drug storyline in the episodes "Pilot," "House of the Rising Sun," and "The Moth".[85] In 2007 Lost was listed as one of Time magazine's "100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME."[86] The series was nominated for but did not win a Writer's Guild Award and Producer's Guild Award again in 2007.[87] In June 2007, Lost beat out over 20 nominated television shows from countries all over the globe to win the Best Drama award at the Monte Carlo Television Festival. In September 2007 both Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn were nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series, the award going to O'Quinn.[88] Lost was again nominated for Outstanding Drama Series at the 60th Primetime Emmy Awards in 2008. The show also garnered seven other Emmy nominations, including Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Michael Emerson.[89] In 2009, Lost was again nominated for Outstanding Drama Series, as well Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Michael Emerson at the 61st Primetime Emmy Awards, of which the latter won.[90]

In 2010, the 6th and final season was nominated for twelve Emmy Awards at the 62nd Primetime Emmy Awards including Outstanding Drama Series, Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series for Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof for the show's series finale, "The End," Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series for Matthew Fox, Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series for Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn and Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for Elizabeth Mitchell, it won only one Emmy (Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing) out of its twelve nominations for a series total of 11 wins and 55 nominations in its six year run.[91]

Critical reception

Lost was ranked number one in the "Best of 2005 TV Coverage: Critic Top Ten Lists" by Matthew Gilbert of The Boston Globe, Tom Gliatto of People Weekly, Charlie McCollum of the San Jose Mercury News and Robert Bianco of USA Today.[92] Time magazine's James Poniewozik named it one of the Top 10 Returning Series of 2007, ranking it at number two.[93] Also that year, Lost made Time's list of the 100 Greatest Shows of All Time.[94] Lost also came fifth on Empire Magazine's list of the Top 50 Greatest TV Shows of All Time in 2008.[95] It ranked eighth on Entertainment Weekly's "100 best shows from 1983 to 2008."[96] Bill Carter, television reporter of The New York Times, defined Lost as "the show with perhaps the most compelling continuing story line in television history."[97] Based on its strong opening, Reuters dubbed it a "hit drama" noting that "the show appeared to have benefited from an all-out marketing blitz that included radio spots, special screenings and ABC's first billboard advertising campaign in five years."[98]

The first block of episodes of the third season was criticized for raising too many mysteries,[99] and not providing enough answers.[100] Complaints were also made about the limited screen-time for many of the main characters in the first block.[101] Locke, played by Terry O'Quinn, who had tied for the highest second season episode count, appeared in only 13 of 22 episodes in the third season—only two more than guest star M.C. Gainey, who played Tom. Reaction to two new characters, Nikki and Paulo, was generally negative, with Lindelof even acknowledging that the couple was "universally despised" by fans.[102] The decision to split the season,[103] and the American timeslot switch after the hiatus were also criticized.[104] Cuse acknowledged that, "No one was happy with the six-episode run."[105] The second block of episodes was critically acclaimed however,[106] with the crew dealing with problems from the first block.[107] More answers were written into the show,[108] and Nikki and Paulo were killed off.[109] It was also announced that the series would end three seasons after the third season,[110] which Cuse hoped would tell the audience that the writers knew where the story was going.[111]

Don Williams of BuddyTV dubbed "The Beginning of the End," the first episode of the fourth season, as "...the most anticipated season premiere of the year,"[112] Michael Ausiello of TV Guide later called the final hour of Lost's fourth season "the most anticipated 60 minutes of television all year."[113] American critics were sent screener DVDs of "The Beginning of the End" and "Confirmed Dead" on January 28, 2008.[114] Metacritic gave the season a Metascore—a weighted average based on the impressions of a select twelve critical reviews—of 87,[115] earning the second highest Metascore in the 2007–2008 television season after the fifth and final season of HBO's The Wire.[116] In a survey conducted by TVWeek of professional critics, Lost was voted the best show on television in the first half of 2008 "by a wide margin," apparently "crack[ing] the top five on nearly every critic's submission" and receiving "nothing but praise."[2] The May 7, 2007 announcement of a 2010 series end date and the introduction of flashforwards were received favorably by critics,[117] as were the season's new characters.[118]

In August 2010, Justin Kroll of Variety commented that many networks were trying to fill the void in viewership that the show left behind. He notes that the second half of 2010 featured many new shows with "dense, mystery-thriller-style storytelling" in an attempt to "generate fandemonium." These programs include NBC's The Event, AMC's Rubicon and HBO's Game of Thrones. He also believes Fringe, now in its third season, will benefit from the conclusion of Lost.[119]

Entertainment Weekly put the show on its end-of-the-decade, "best-of" list, saying, "Plane crash. Smoke monster. Polar bear. Crazy French lady. The Others. The hatch. The Dharma Initiative. Time-travel flashes. Name another network drama that can so wondrously turn a ? into a !"[120]

E! Online described the show as "lightning in a bottle" and picked it as "Top TV Drama of 2010."[121]

Fandom and popular culture

As a mainstream cult television show, Lost has generated a dedicated and thriving international fan community. Lost fans, sometimes dubbed Lostaways[122] or Losties,[123] have gathered at Comic-Con International and conventions organized by ABC,[123][124] but have also been active in developing a large number of fan websites, including Lostpedia, and forums dedicated to the program and its related incarnations.[125][126][127][128] Because of the show's elaborate mythology, its fansites have focused on speculation and theorizing about the island's mysteries, as well as on more typical fan activities such as producing fan fiction and videos, compiling episode transcripts, shipping characters, and collecting memorabilia.[citation needed]

Anticipating fan interest and trying to keep its audience engrossed, ABC embarked on various cross-media endeavors, often using new media. Fans of Lost have been able to explore ABC-produced tie-in websites, tie-in novels, an official forum sponsored by the creative team behind Lost ("The Fuselage"), "mobisodes," podcasts by the producers, an official magazine, and an alternate reality game (ARG) "The Lost Experience."[127][129] An official fanclub was launched in the summer of 2005 through Creation Entertainment.[123]

Due to the show's popularity, references to the series and elements from its story have appeared in parody and popular culture usage.[citation needed] These include appearances on television, such as on the series Veronica Mars, Will & Grace, Bo Selecta, The Sarah Silverman Program, My Wife and Kids, Chuck, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Notes from the Underbelly, Little Britain, 30 Rock,[130] Fringe, Scrubs, Cougar Town, How I Met Your Mother, and The Office; as well as on the cartoons Family Guy, American Dad!, South Park, The Simpsons, and The Venture Bros.; and even on a commercial for KFC Hawaii.[citation needed] Also, Red vs. Blue, a comic science fiction machinima, seemed to have poked fun at it in one of the endings to the series, episode 100.[citation needed] The makers of Red vs. Blue also poked fun at the Lost intro in an episode of The Strangerhood. Lost is also featured as an easter egg in several video games, including Dead Island (Near the beginning of the game, as you make your way up to the Life Guard station, there is a radio broadcast from an Oceanic Flight that is in distress. Once you open the hatch to the top floor, you witness a jumbo jet pass overhead smoking and it appears to go down. Later a woman asks you to find the crashed jet in the jungle in a side quest, in which you do find it and must report back to her that there are no survivors.), Divinity II: Ego Draconis, Half-Life 2: Episode Two, Skate (video game), World of Warcraft, Just Cause 2, Batman Arkham City, Singularity and Rock Band 2. Comic books such as Catwoman and The Thing; daily strips Monty and Over the Hedge; web comics Piled Higher and Deeper[131] and Penny Arcade[132] and humor magazine Mad have all incorporated Lost references. Similarly, several rock bands have published songs whose themes and titles were derived from the series, such as Moneen ("Don't Ever Tell Locke What He Can't Do"), Veil of Maya ("Namaste"), Cosmo Jarvis ("Lost"), Senses Fail ("Lost And Found" and "All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues"), Gatsbys American Dream ("You All Everybody" and "Station 5: The Pearl"), and Punchline ("Roller Coaster Smoke"). Weezer named their eight studio album "Hurley" after the character, who is featured on the cover.[citation needed]

After the episode "Numbers" aired on March 2, 2005, numerous people used the eponymous figures (4, 8, 15, 16, 23 and 42) as lottery entries. According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, within three days, the numbers were tried over 500 times by local players.[133] Likewise, in the same period, over 200 people in Michigan alone used the sequence for the Mega Millions lottery[134] and by October, thousands had tried them for the multi-state Powerball lottery.[135][136] The issue came to attention after a Mega Millions drawing for a near-record US$380,000,000 jackpot on January 4, 2011 drew a series of numbers in which the three lowest numbers (4-8-15) and the mega ball (42) matched four of the six numbers. The #42 is also the "Mega Number" in Hurley's "Mega Lotto" ticket. The players who played the combination won $150 each (or $118 in California).[137]



In addition to traditional terrestrial and satellite broadcasting, Lost has been at the forefront of new television distribution methods. It was one of the first series issued through Apple's iTunes Store service for playback on an iPod or within the iTunes software.[citation needed] Since October 2005, new episodes, without commercials, have been available for download the day after they air on ABC, for American audiences. On August 29, 2007 Lost became one of the first TV programs available for download in the UK store. Since the airing of Season 4 in the UK, episodes of Lost are available the Monday after the Sunday they air on Sky One.[138] Lost was also among the first TV shows on the German iTunes store.[139]

In April 2006, Disney announced that Lost would be available for free online in streaming format, with advertising, on ABC's website, as part of a two-month experiment of future distribution strategies. The trial, which ran from May to June 2006, caused a stir among network affiliates who were afraid of being cut out of advertising revenue. The streaming of Lost episodes direct from ABC's website was only available to viewers in the United States due to international licensing agreements.[140][141] As of May 2010, full episodes from Seasons 1–6 are available as high-definition streaming video on the ABC website, but only to users in the US who use Microsoft or Apple operating systems. New episodes are available the day after original primetime airing. Viewers are required to view five or six 30 or 75-second advertising spots, equally dispersed throughout the episode. These spots appear as an overlay graphic ad with smaller video ad and usually feature high-profile advertisers. In 2009, Lost was named the most watched show on the Internet based on viewers of episodes on ABC's website. The Nielsen Company reported that 1.425 million unique viewers have watched at least one episode on ABC's website.[142]

Episodes from both season one and season two were available on the UK's Channel 4's website, but have since expired.[143] Both parts of "Pilot" were available to watch for free, and other episodes cost £0.99 each. Due to licensing agreements, the service was only accessible in the UK. Virgin Media has made the first three seasons of Lost available on demand via their TV Choice On Demand function, allowing viewers to watch the first three seasons at any time in high-definition or standard definition. Currently, only Season Two and Three are available. All episodes available on the service are free to Virgin Media subscribers. As of November 25, 2006, Lost episodes were available on Sky's VOD service, Sky Anytime. Users with the correct Sky Subscription can download recent Lost episodes for free, however, much like Channel 4's 4OD application, they expire. Users without a relevant Sky subscription for Lost can exchange prepaid credit for rental of an episode.[citation needed] Other online distribution sites include: USA Netflix [144] France's TF1 website,[145] AOL Video,[146] Microsoft's Xbox Live service,[147] HOT V.O.D. service in Israel and on RTÉ player for Irish viewers.[citation needed]

Home video releases

The first season of Lost was released under the title Lost: The Complete First Season as a widescreen seven-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 6, 2005, two weeks before the premiere of the second season. It was distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment. In addition to all the episodes that had been aired, it included several DVD extras such as episode commentaries, behind-the-scenes footage and making-of features as well as deleted scenes, deleted flashback scenarios and a blooper reel. The same set was released on November 30, 2005 in Region 4,[citation needed] and on January 16, 2006 in Region 2.[citation needed] As has become standard for Region 2, the series was first released split into two parts: the first twelve episodes of series 1 were available as a wide screen four-disc Region 2 DVD box set on October 31, 2005, while the remaining thirteen episodes of series 1 were released on January 16, 2006.[citation needed] The DVD features available on the Region 1 release were likewise split over the two box sets. The first two seasons were released separately on Blu-ray Disc on June 16, 2009.[148]

The second season was released under the title Lost: The Complete Second Season – The Extended Experience as a wide screen seven-disc Region 1 DVD box set in the US on September 5, 2006 and on Region 2 DVD on October 2, 2006.[citation needed] Each of these releases also contained DVD extras, including Behind the Scenes Footage, deleted scenes and a "Lost Connections" chart, which shows how all of the characters on the island are inter-connected.[149] Again, the series was initially delivered in two sets for Region 2: the first twelve episodes were released as a widescreen four-disc DVD box set on July 17, 2006, while the remaining episodes of series 2 were released as a four-disc DVD box set on October 2, 2006. The set was released in Region 4 on October 4, 2006.[citation needed]

The third season was released under the title Lost: The Complete Third Season – The Unexplored Experience on DVD and Blu-ray in Region 1 on December 11, 2007.[150] As with Seasons 1 and 2, the third season release includes audio commentaries with the cast and crew, bonus featurettes, deleted scenes, and bloopers. The third season was released in Region 2 solely on DVD on October 22, 2007, though this time only as a complete set, unlike previous seasons.[citation needed]

The fourth season was released as Lost: The Complete Fourth Season – The Expanded Experience in Region 1 on December 9, 2008 on both DVD and Blu-ray Disc.[151] It was released on DVD in Region 2 on October 20, 2008.[152] The set includes audio commentaries, deleted scenes, bloopers and bonus featurettes.[153]

The first three seasons of Lost have sold successfully on DVD. The Season 1 boxset entered the DVD sales chart at number two in September 2005,[154] and the Season 2 boxset entered the DVD sales chart at the number one position in its first week of release in September 2006, believed to be the second TV-DVD ever to enter the chart at the top spot.[155] First day DVD sales for Lost Season 2 are thought to have been as high as 500,000 copies sold.[156] The Season 3 boxset sold over 1,000,000 copies in three weeks.[157]

Both the Season 6 boxset and the complete series collection contained a 12 minute epilogue-like bonus feature called "The New Man in Charge."[158][159] Lost, Season 6 entered the DVD sales chart at the number one position in its first week of release in September 2010 boasting strong sales in the DVD and Blu-ray format for the regular season set as well as for the series box set.[160]

Other media

The characters and setting of Lost have appeared in several official tie-ins outside of the television broadcast, including in print, on the Internet, and in short videos for mobile phones. Three novelizations have been released by Hyperion Books, a publisher owned by Disney, ABC's parent company. They are Endangered Species (ISBN 0-7868-9090-8) and Secret Identity (ISBN 0-7868-9091-6) both by Cathy Hapka and Signs of Life (ISBN 0-7868-9092-4) by Frank Thompson. Additionally, Hyperion published a metafictional book titled Bad Twin (ISBN 1-4013-0276-9), written by Laurence Shames,[161] and credited to fictitious author "Gary Troup," who ABC's marketing department claimed was a passenger on Oceanic Flight 815.

Several unofficial books relating to the show have also been published. Finding Lost: The Unofficial Guide (ISBN 1-55022-743-2) by Nikki Stafford and published by ECW Press is a book detailing the show for fans and those new to the show. What Can Be Found in Lost? (ISBN 0-7369-2121-4) by John Ankerberg and Dillon Burrough, published by Harvest House is the first book dedicated to an investigation of the spiritual themes of the series from a Christian perspective. Living Lost: Why We're All Stuck on the Island (ISBN 1891053027) by J. Wood,[162] published by the Garett County Press, is the first work of cultural criticism based on the series. The book explores the show's strange engagement with the contemporary experiences of war, (mis)information, and terrorism, and argues that the audience functions as a character in the narrative. The author also writes a blog column[163] during the second part of the third season for Powell's Books. Each post discusses the previous episode's literary, historical, philosophical and narrative connections.

The show's networks and producers have made extensive use of the Internet in expanding the background of the story. For example, during the first season, a fictional diary by an unseen survivor called "Janelle Granger" was presented on the ABC web site for the series. Likewise, a tie-in website about the fictional Oceanic Airlines appeared during the first season, which included several Easter eggs and clues about the show. Another tie-in website was launched after the airing of "Orientation" about the Hanso Foundation. In the UK, the interactive back-stories of several characters were included in "Lost Untold," a section of Channel 4's Lost website. Similarly, since November 2005, ABC has produced an official podcast, hosted by series writers and executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. The podcast typically features a discussion about the weekly episode, interviews with cast members and questions from viewers.[164] Sky One also hosts a podcast presented by Iain Lee on their website, which analyzes each episode after it airs in the United Kingdom.[165]

The foray into the online realm culminated in the Lost Experience, an Internet-based alternate reality game produced by Channel 7 (Australia), ABC (America) and Channel Four (UK), which began in early May 2006. The game presents a five-phase parallel storyline, primarily involving the Hanso Foundation.[166]

Short mini-episodes ("mobisodes") called the Lost Video Diaries were originally scheduled for viewing by Verizon Wireless subscribers via its V-Cast system, but were delayed by contract disputes.[167][168] The mobisodes were renamed Lost: Missing Pieces and aired from November 7, 2007 to January 28, 2008.

Licensed merchandise

In addition to tie-in novels, several other products based on the series, such as toys and games, have been licensed for release. A video game, Lost: Via Domus, has been released to average reviews, developed by Ubisoft, for game consoles and home computers,[169] while Gameloft developed a Lost game for mobile phones and iPods.[170] Cardinal Games released a Lost board game on August 7, 2006.[171] TDC Games created a series of four 1000-piece jigsaw puzzles ("The Hatch," "The Numbers," "The Others," and "Before the Crash"), which, when put togost trading cards, and is slated to release the Lost: Revelations set.[172] In May 2006, McFarlane Toys announced recurring lines of character action figures[173] and released the first series in November 2006, with the second series being released July 2007. Furthermore, ABC sells a myriad of Lost merchandise in their online store, including clothing, jewelry and other collectibles.[174] Titan Magazines also publish Lost: The Official Magazine.[175]


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