Believe it or not, Lost came out almost a full thirteen years ago. Premiering on September 22, 2004 (the same day that the Oceanic airplane was set to have crashed, not coincidentally at all), the show had the most expensive pilot episode that network ABC has ever paid for but also got to enjoy one of the most highly watched first seasons of its time. Really, Lost was a unique hit all to its own, and few shows have reached its level of popularity since — despite shows like FlashForward, Fringe, and Heroes attempting to meet the mark.
If you watched Lost when it premiered back in the day, you likely had a wonderful love/hate relationship with it. We loved the mystery, the intrigue, the drama, the enigmatic nature of it! But we also hated that we never knew what was going on; we had more questions than we had answers, and we were downright… well, lost. Many gave up on the show out of impatience, but those that hung in were rewarded with a fitting and interpretive ending.
In the years since, Lost has been rewatched time and time again. Since Netflix premiered their online streaming service, Lost has consistently been one of the most popular picks for people binge-watching shows. But no matter how many times you rewatch the show, you always pick up on new things in the series! We’d like to further your Lost education with these 20 secrets you totally missed throughout the elaborate, confusing, enigmatic, and amazing show:
20. All of The Numbers in Lost
Well, obviously, you all know the numbers. Even people who don’t know the show very well know the iconic numbers: 4, 8, 15, 16, 23, and 42. But do you realize just how many times the numbers showed up in the show? There were the blatantly obvious times when Hurley would discover them on a lottery ticket or in his father’s refurbished car or on the side of the Dharma Initiative hatch. Then there were slightly more subtle times that the numbers showed up, like in the instances of “Oceanic Flight 815,” or in John’s vision/hallucination regarding his purpose in season two. But then there were sneaky little instances everywhere! When Hurley runs through the airport to catch his flight, a soccer team is wearing jerseys with the numbers in their order; on the tops of police cars at Ana Lucia’s station; and even Kate’s trial number! These numbers were EVERYWHERE.
19. The Dharma Patterns Everywhere
If you remember, we weren’t fully introduced to The Dharma Initiative until season two of the show — and even then, we didn’t really know what it was until later seasons. But the Dharma Initiative logo (an octagon with a circle at its center) was EVERYWHERE in the series long before any of us knew anything about a Dharma Initiative. Want some examples? We’re glad you asked. When Sawyer and Michael were pursued by a shark after the raft exploded, it swam by the camera to quickly reveal its Dharma stamp. When Michael went to pick up Walt from Susan’s old home in Australia, the ceiling above him while he opened his old letters to Walt was in the shape of the logo. Viewers even thought they saw the Dharma logo on the Oceanic plane, but writers confessed that it was just an accidental scorch mark that looked similar to it. Doesn’t seem like an accident to us…
18. Widmore Showing Up Everywhere
Charles Widmore also showed up a bunch of times before any of us ever knew who Charles Widmore was! The feud between Widmore and Benjamin Linus was almost as intense as the one between Jacob and The Man in Black, as it should have been; this guy was a total powerhouse. His logo was on the basin of the hot air balloon that crash-landed on the island. It was also on the pregnancy test that Sun got from Sawyer. And it was on a construction sign near Charlie’s music video shoot. Then, of course, there are his corporate offices, which supposedly exist both in London and in Los Angeles (if information in Flash-Sideways is to be taken literally at all). The Widmore Corporation is in EVERYTHING. Charles Widmore did pretty damn well for himself, especially considering that he was exiled from the island when he was already at a fairly advanced age.
17. The Whole Story Arc is Explained in Episode 2
Think back to the second episode of the show, “Pilot: Part 2.” In it, John Locke is seen sitting in the sand with a small backgammon set. Walt asks him about the game, wondering if it’s like checkers. Only then does John Locke explain the origins of the backgammon game, revealing its ancient nature and the skill it takes to win. He holds up the pieces to Walt and says, “Two players. Two sides. One is light, one is dark.” It’s a small bit but VERY important as the show moves forward. Right then, in the second episode, was the overarching relationship between Jacob and the man in black revealed that would drive the story for all of the Oceanic passengers for years to come. If you recall, after all, the passengers were only “brought” to the island because of the feud between these “light and dark” men, and all of their tribulations return to these men.
16. J.J.’s Favorite Line
To be fair, you’d need to be more than a Lost fan to be able to pick up on the cleverness of this insider knowledge. J. J. Abrams was credited with all of the foundations and popularity of Lost, even though Damon Lindelof was truly most of the creative power behind the story. However, J. J. took immense pride in this show (as he should) and loved to flaunt his work in his other projects. We’ll talk more about this later, but we want to especially highlight that early on, J. J. used one of his favorite lines of dialogue in the show. In the first episode, when Kate is stitching Jack up, she tells him, “I may throw up on you.” That same line was used by Bones in Star Trek when he’s taking his first trip into space, and then again by James Kirk in Star Trek: Into Darkness. Apparently, J. J. finds real hilarity in vomit humor.
15. The Worst Boss Ever
In episode four of the first season, “Walkabout,” we’re introduced to the backstory of the elusive and interesting John Locke. Though the survivors see him as a badass, knife-wielding, boar-slaying, tough guy, John is truly a grunt worker in a box company, trapped in his cubicle with a miserable job and a nightmare jerk for a boss named Randy. Randy breaches corporate protocols left and right, taking things off of John’s desk, browsing his HR file without provocation, and harassing him on his lunch break — but Randy’s doing better than he used to for himself! He was previously a manager at a Mister Cluck’s Chicken Shack, a fast food restaurant where Hurley worked! Hurley quit his job under Randy after he won the lottery, then quickly bought that branch. Writers never ousted Randy as the connection between the two characters, though any fan attentive enough caught it! Randy must have quit his job under Hurley shortly after he bought the branch, getting the job as Locke’s superior for a brief stint before the plane crash.
14. What Danielle’s Transmission Really Said
In “Pilot: Part Two,” a team of survivors (consisting of Sayid, Kate, Charlie, Shannon, Boone, and Sawyer) hikes up the sharp mountainous landscape to try to acquire a signal with which to send a distress call to anyone who might come and rescue them. What they find instead is a transmission in French that must have been sent from some source on the island. Shannon, who knows rough and scant French, nervously tries to translate as much as she can — so the audience gets the translation, saying, “The others, they’re… they’re dead. It killed them. It killed them all.” But that’s not what the transmission really says. It’s much longer and scattered: “If anybody can hear this, they are dead. Please help us. I’ll try to make it to the Black Rock. It killed them. It killed them all. It is outside. It is outside, and Brennan took the keys. Please help us. They are dead. They are all dead.”
13. The Mild Beatles Obsession
Did you ever notice that the writers of Lost seemed to make a lot of references to The Beatles? Because they totally did. Some of them were accidental, but a lot of them were absolutely intentional. One example of an accidental reference to the iconic band was with Charlie Pace, the drug addict rock star. You can see here on his shoulder a tattoo that says, “Living is easy with eyes closed” — a lyric from Strawberry Fields Forever. The tattoo is actually a real one that actor Dominic Monaghan got a long time ago, but the tat seemed to perfectly fit who Charlie was that costumers opted to flaunt the ink rather than hide it. After all, Lost and The Beatles shared a propensity to push the envelope, take their fans off on weird and scary tangents, and reference their profound knowledge and wisdom in their work. But then again, who doesn’t like The Beatles?
12. And The Mild Star Wars Obsession
While you may have just barely missed all of The Beatles references in Lost, we can’t imagine you were able to somehow miss out on all of the Star Wars references! They are everywhere, and rarely are they not heavy handed! For example, there was an entire episode in season five where Hurley attempted to write Empire Strikes Back before the first Star Wars movie had even become a hit! But that’s hardly the extent of all of their Star Wars references. Hurley says that Jack has a “Jedi moment” when he stops Shannon’s asthma attack with breathing exercises. Michael and Jin have a verbatim Han Solo and Chewbacca interaction while they’re working on the raft together — a reference not at all lost on Sawyer, as he calls them out on it. Sawyer’s also called Hurley “Jabba,” as in Jabba the Hut. Hurley’s invisible friend Dave mentions blowing up the death star, Sawyer and Kate work with Alex to pull the “old Wookiee-prisoner gag,” Aaron eventually has a toy Millennium Falcon that he plays with… these writers were obsessed with Star Wars.
11. Jack Bender’s Art Everywhere
If you look at the above picture, you might notice that the art Jack Bender is creating is very similar to a lot of the tones of the art prevalent throughout the Lost series. That’s because Jack Bender was one of the lead directors on Lost through most of the duration of the show and because directing was his secondary passion. Jack loves to paint, though he has a very odd style. Jack Bender painted the large prints that were on display throughout Charles Widmore’s office. He also painted the odd and obscure art that was on the walls of the hatch (and even the glow-in-the-dark map that was painted on the door). And Jack wasn’t even limited to canvas paintings; he also made the odd little sculptures that Ben’s childhood friend, Annie, made for him. He’s certainly a very talented man, though his style has become iconic to Lost.
10. Lost Showing Up in Other Bad Robot Endeavors
We mentioned a little bit before that J. J. Abrams, as well as the rest of the creative team behind Lost, was very proud of his creation. And rightfully so! They changed television and sci-fi episodes forever! In fact, they were so proud of all that they had done that they didn’t want to stop talking about it… ever. They made mentions of Lost in their creative endeavors for years to come. In Cloverfield, their horror/monster movie, you can see in the brief militaristic introduction to the footage a brief Dharma logo flashing across the screen. At the end of Mission Impossible Three, the Hanso Foundation receives a special thanks in the credits (plus, one of the buildings visited in the movie is a Paik Heavy Industries building). In Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a character is named Ello Asty – sounding like the spelling L-O-S-T. Basically, if Bad Robot made the film, there’s probably a Lost reference somewhere in it.
9. ALL of the Nods to Great Literature
We all remember just how much Sawyer liked to read. Some of you may also remember that Desmond was a huge fan of Charles Dickens. Only the truest of fans will remember that Benjamin Linus’s favorite author was Stephen King. But there were so many other various literary references all throughout the series that it was insane: there was even an informal Lost Book Club for fans to participate in. Just remember all of the books that episodes were centered around: Watership Down, the Bible, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Catch-22, The Chronicles of Narnia, The Little Prince, Of Mice and Men, Stranger in a Strange Land, A Tale of Two Cities, Through the Looking Glass, and The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, to name a brief few. ABC still endorses the book club, and the entire list can still be found on their website. Though there’s no prize for completing the list, it’s incredibly rewarding to see just how brilliant the writers of the series were.
8. And ALL the Nods to Philosophers
If you thought that all of the literary references in Lost were remarkable, you’d collapse at realizing just how many references were made to philosophers. Even the most rudimentary and juvenile audience member probably can recognize that the main character of John Locke got his name from the philosopher who believed in a clean slate. John’s father in the show is Anthony Cooper, another philosopher who was a parent of John Locke’s own reasoning. Jeremy Bentham was another philosopher that John Locke later went under the pseudonym of. But there are more! Danielle Rousseau got her name from Jean-Jacques Rousseau, the French philosopher who preferred the solitude of living in the wilderness. Desmond David Hume got his name from David Hume, a skeptic and naturalist. There were also Mikhail Bakunin, Edmund Burke, Michael Faraday, Joseph Campbell, Samuel Rutherford, Thomas Carlyle, Clive Staples Lewis, and PLENTY more! These writers were some of the smartest you’ve ever seen!
7. Significance of Anagrams
The intricacies of the writing go even deeper than literary references and name drops of philosophers. When references to literature, themes, and messages of the show were hard to sneak in without someone noticing, the writers got a bit creative and sneaked big clues into anagrams throughout the show. Want some examples? Boy, have we got them! Hoffs/Drawlar, the funeral home housing Jeremy Bentham’s recently deceased corpse, is an anagram for “flash forward,” which you don’t discover as it’s happening in the episode until the very end. Ethan Rom is an anagram for “other man” — fitting since he’s indeed an other. Mittelos, the name of the labs that Richard Alpert professes to work for, is an anagram for “lost time,” which makes sense — after all, Juliet loses a bunch of time working for them! Anagrams are vital to the writing in Lost, though they were frequently overlooked by fans who didn’t pay enough attention.
6. Significance of Names
Okay, we promise we’ll only talk about the significance of tiny details for a little bit longer. One of the most important teeny tiny details of the show was the significance that was loaded into each and every character’s name on Lost. We’ve already talked about a lot of characters who got their names from philosophers, but there were dozens of more specific and intentional names that were hand-picked for each character. There were some pretty simple names that were easily noticed as important, such as Jack Shephard — since he was indeed a leader of his flock. But then there were some even more important and subtle names that were lost on viewers like Charlie Pace — Charlie is slang for cocaine. Henry Gale was the name Ben assumed when lying to the survivors, and it was also the name of Dorothy’s uncle in The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Some also think that Hugo Reyes (Hurley) refers to Victor Hugo and his story of the miserables (Les Miserable).
5. None of the “Ships” Panned Out
“Shipping,” if you’re completely unaware and have been living under a rock for the last ten years, is when fans collectively decide which characters in books or shows should end up together — who should be “relation-shipping,” if you will. Well, writers from the Bad Robot team got fans interested in a few couples right off the bat that everyone started to root for, but the only one that actually lasted until the ending was (sort of) Kate and Jack. After the first episode, it seemed Hurley and Claire might end up together — but Claire’s main relationship was with Charlie, while Hurley’s was with Libby. Weirdly enough, Claire and Hurley rarely actually hung out after he helped save her life! The same type of situation happened with Michael and Sun, Sawyer and Kate, Sayid and Kate, Sayid and Danielle, Shannon and Charlie, Jack and Juliet, and Ana and Goodwin. Lost shippers were indeed utterly lost.
4. All the Easter Eggs Inspired by Lost
We know there are a ton of so-called Lost “Easter Eggs” –– tiny goodies that reference outside organizations or secretive plants pointing toward later plot lines and themes. But Lost didn’t just sneak in Widmore logos and Dharma octagons to point you toward huge plot points. Oh no. They went far beyond that and invented special characteristics of an entire world for these characters to live in. The song “Dharma Lady” was released as a found record of Geronimo Jackson only a few months before the song played in the orientation of the Dharma Initiates in season five, but a good bit of time after their record was found in the hatch and laughed at by Charlie. The man sucked into the plane turbine on the day of the crash was Gary Troup, a writer whose book Bad Twin still managed to be published after his death and contains dirty details about Widmore Corporation. The Hanso Foundation aired commercials during Lost, seeking recruits that had to undergo intensive personality assessments to be considered for interviews.
3. The Smoke Monster’s Name
Did you ever realize that the smoke monster had a name? YES. IT DID! And we’re not just talking about calling it “the man in black,” even though the two are obviously one and the same. No, The Man in Black has a name, though it may not have been the one given to him by his so-called mother. On the wall of the Swan Station Dharma Hatch, there was a map painted by the engineer Radzinsky (and finished by his successor, Kelvin). The map laid out intricate details of the Dharma Initiative and the island, including a very important detail: what they called the smoke monster whose presence loomed over them. They called the smoke monster Cerberus, after the Greek mythological three-headed dog who guards the gates of the underworld and keeps spirits from returning to Earth. Quite fitting, isn’t it? Who knows if The Man in Black liked his nickname? Though we imagine he may have shunned the name since his goal was to unleash chaos on the world, not contain it.
2. The Actors Never Knew What Was Going On, and It Showed
Nowadays, it’s not very surprising to hear that actors are kept fairly in the dark when it comes to the storylines of their own shows. For example, the cast of The Walking Dead had no idea what would happen or who would die when they confronted Negan for the first time until the first episode of the following season was shot. Well, series writers got their idea on keeping actors entirely in the dark from the writers of Lost, who didn’t tell their actors ANYTHING. Ian Somerhalder, who played Boone, didn’t know that his character was on the chopping block until a month before the death was shot — and though the writers and cast loved him, the producers wanted to express strongly that NO CHARACTER WAS SAFE. And that was clear! Every actor always brought their A-game out of fear that they were next! Yunjin Kim, who played Sun, expressed her relief in Sun getting pregnant because she was certain, “They won’t kill a pregnant woman! I’m safe!”
1. The Inclusive Ending
Whether you were a fan from the start or have just finished watching the show on Netflix, you probably have strong feelings about the ending of Lost. Whether those feelings are positive or negative is your prerogative, but writers confess audience members didn’t always interpret the ending as they’d hoped. The ending was meant to avoid answering some questions, to keep in tone with the show and with how life really is. But more importantly, it was meant to say that all of the characters’ experiences were real — when they all died at their different points in their lives, they met at a spiritual in between before moving on together. It was a sweet ending, especially because writers made it open to everyone, religious or not. While this spiritual in between could be interpreted as a Catholic purgatory, it truly isn’t — since it isn’t a punishment, but a stalling point to help souls accept death and move forward, it can’t be purgatory. Just look at the stained glass behind Christian, involving the symbols of religions across the world. It’s not at all a religious ending, but a spiritual one — one that communicates that both men of science and men of faith are welcomed together at the end.