The Top Five LOST Mysteries You’ll Never Get Answers To

words by Nick James
| Monday, June 6th, 2011

After breaking up with ABCʼs “Lost” a year ago, why does my ass still hurt?

For six years, millions of viewers around the globe looked on as the hit television series “Lost” tackled themes like spirituality, time travel, and, well…jungle-adapted polar bears. A group of models strangers stranded on a mysterious island with its even more mysterious inhabitants became a cult phenomenon. There was no such thing as a casual “Lost” fan, and even people who despised the premise of the show had at least one friend who disappeared into isolation for 60 minutes religiously at the same time every week to get their doctor-prescribed fix.

Being a fan of “Lost” meant that you needed to have the ability to tolerate being spoon-fed the tiniest morsels of information necessary to piece together the ongoing narrative while being withheld the main course. “Lost” asked its viewers to become men or women of faith; to trust that the most captivating mysteries of the show would be answered in due time in the most awesome, unstable, black rock dynamite exploding fashion. And this faith was contingent upon executive producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuseʼs promises that they had the show planned out from the beginning. They assured us that they werenʼt just making this stuff up along the way.  In fact, during the season three writers strike hiatus, the duo negotiated an official end date with ABC executives because they feared that the show would end up running on fumes.

I mean, lets face it: when you watch an episode centered on how Dr. Jack Shepherd got his off-island tattoo from some sketchy gypsy tat artist, you kind of have to agree with them.

The show aired its final episode on May 23, 2010 before Lindelof and Cuse vanished into obscurity, swearing to never to discuss the show’s mysteries in detail again. And that would have been fine for most hardcore fans…if they actually answered the mysteries they created in the first place. If you were a fan of “Lost” who watched because you were overly intrigued about whether Kate was going to wind up with Jack or Sawyer at the end, then my view on the ending of the show will probably seem hyper-critical. But this is for the professors who taught “Lost”-inspired classes, for the nerds and closet nerds who debated the greatest intellectual mysteries of the show in rabid fervor on their lunch breaks, and for the hypothesizers who wrote 30-page theories filled with mathematical equations and geographic positioning triangulations trying to determine the whereabouts of The Island. In layman’s terms, it’s for fans of the show that felt burned, betrayed, maybe even up-the-rear-ended by the Swiss cheese conclusion of the series.

Adding insult to injury, Damon and Carlton released a statement saying that “Lost” has always been a show about these characters, insinuating that the hardcore fans of the show who watched every scene frame by frame scouring for clues to the bigger mythos didnʼt get the point. I guess the hidden Easter eggs in virtually every 120 seconds of footage were just magically placed there without the intention of meticulous viewers spotting them? The producers referenced Star Wars and how George Lucas essentially destroyed the mythology in the prequels by explaining too much about how The Force works (ie. midi-chlorians.) I would agree with them, except for the fact that Star Wars is a movie franchise, not a television series. People who invested six years of their lives watching “Lost” should want answers to all, if not the majority, of the questions created. Itʼs absolutely ridiculous and a total cop out for the producers to think otherwise. Itʼs like saying millions of people watched “The X-Files” to see if Mulder and Scully were going to get hitched at the end. So after five and a half years of following the show and wondering what the hell is really going on with this Island, the best that you can give us is a “Bright Light” is the culprit?Really? Thatʼs it?!

I once heard a friend refer to “Lost” as a selfish girlfriend that just kept taking and taking but never gave anything back. No show has and will monopolize so much of my time, imagination, and income. It was a hell of a ride, and unlike some hardcore fans of the show, I do not look back on the six-year run as a complete waste of life. Just donʼt expect me to be first in line when JJ Abrams and company decide to concoct another heavily serialized drama.


People died over this kid. Hell, the first two seasons of the show did nothing but build to the notion that Walt was a big bird-killing deal. If youʼre going to eliminate the unbridled hotness that is Michelle Rodiguez  to get this magical kid back from The Others, there needs to be a justifiable reason. It seemed as though the writers were planning for Walt to play a more important role, but due to a growth spurt had to be written out of the show. Casting a child actor on the verge of puberty that you intended to be a central character to the mythology might have been the most careless “Lost” executive decision of all.

2) The Numbers – 4 8 15 16 23 42
Few “Lost” mysteries got more recurring series attention than the dreaded numbers. The numbers were responsible for shipwrecking Rousseauʼs boat, ruining Hurleyʼs off-island life, and was the code used to stop the Dharma Initiative SWAN Station from going all Chernobyl on the Losties. So what was the actual significance of these numbers? Your guess is as good as mine, as the writers of the show never gave us a true, definitive answer to one of the shows most intriguing mysteries.

3) What did Juliet detonating Jughead do?
During the season five finale, the Losties followed through with Daniel Faradayʼs plan to prevent Oceanic Flight 815 from ever crashing on the island. To accomplish this they traveled to the SWAN site to detonate the nuke on top of the pocket of electromagnetic energy. Naturally, all hell breaks loose on the surface, as Juliet struggles to detonate the plutonium core manually (ie, smacking nuclear device repeatedly with large rock). With her last thud of effort, Juliet hits the bomb on the money and we are treated with a white-screened black-logoed episode ending, which is a direct contrast to every episode’s ending prior. When season six starts we were tricked into believing that Julietʼs sacrifice worked and that Ocean Flight 815 lands safely at LAX. Later on, we discover that this is actually a sideways reality or a plane of existence closer to purgatory. So then the question remains, what did Juliet actually do when she detonated Jughead?

4) Jacob vs. The Man in Black vs. Mother
Sooooo, two normal shipwrecked kids get kidnapped by an island deity and forced to live a life of service to the island for reasons unknown. After “Mother” is eliminated by our favorite unnamed baddass, Jacob and MIB play a time-traveling game of tug-of-war with each trying to either one-up or kill the other in the process. The two canʼt kill each other directly because…because, well…because, well, “Mother” said so. Who is “Mother?” Where did she come from? Another answerless “Lost” mystery that I considered vital to understanding the true nature of their triangle of conflict.

5) What is “The Island?”
A spaceship, a wormhole, an Emmitt Brown project gone wrong? Little has been said about the most mysterious star of the show.  Ah well, there’s always the eventual remake…cringe.

Am I being too critical? Was I too lenient?  Should I reorganize the list? Gimme your thoughts.


  • leigh

    ohhhh i didn’t know this would still hurt so much. TOO SOON! TOO SOON!

  • JFWilder

    Nail hit right on the head there….though I really can’t give a crap about the “mother” since that was a last-minute entry in a pretty worthless season 6.

  • Shane

    Lost is still one of the best TV shows of all-time.

  • carlo

    1. Walt was special because he was the future leader of the Island after Hurley (see “The New Man in Charge”

    2. The numbers referred to the candidates brought to the Island to replace Jacob. Due to time jumps, they appear several times in the history of the Island and therefore are used for various purposes (the countdown clock) even though most didn’t know their true significance.

    3. When Juliet set off the bomb, the Losties went back to 2007 where they belonged.

    4. The Protector of the Island makes up the Island rules. Ben explained this to Hurley in the finale. Since Mother was the Protector before Jacob, she made up the rule about them not being able to kill each other.

    5. The island was the source of all that is good in the world. It had a light at its center. If that light went out, the good was released and all that would exist would be evil and darkness. This light needed to be protected from people who wanted the Island for their own nefarious reasons. The Island was real. Everything that happened on it was real. Jack saved the Island and everyone on it by killing the MIB and putting the cork back in, keeping the evil at bay. Having saved the light, he and his Island friends are able to revel in it upon their deaths, together, before whatever awaits them.

  • NickJames

    @Shane: Lost could go down as one of the best shows of all time. It would simultaneously go down as one of the worst final seasons of all time as well.

    @Carlo: 1) I watched the man in charge and saw that Walt will eventually become the new Hurley/Jacob….Still disappointing that fans of the show had to purchase a dvd to even have access to that extra scene. That still doesn’t explain why Walt could do the things with his mind while Jack, Hurley, and Jacob clearly could not. Go watch the missing pieces episode centered on Walt and you will see that Ben and the others wanted to get rid of him once they realized they couldn’t control his power.

    2) Yes I am aware of the cookie cutter explanation for what the numbers were.. That doesn’t explain why they were etched into the side of the hatch or why they seemingly brought doom to everyone that used them for any purpose.

    3) At the end of season 5, Miles references the fact that detonating the nuke and expecting to be blown forward in time is a stupid idea. Considering that the writers write what Miles says you would think that they would come up with something a bit more clever….. Soooo after having a character on the show insult that idea, the writers decided that detonating the nuke blew them forward in time after all???

    4) Rules, protectors, lights, monsters made of smoke, egyptian hieroglyphics, time traveling donkey wheels, electromagnetic pockets of energy……All of these questions with no concrete answers. So the protector makes the rules and what the protectors says goes….Why?!?! To make matters worse there are so many continuity errors . For example: In Season 4, off island Jack is in his office alone…. the smoke detector goes off and as Jack gets up to fix it, Christian appears to him and then disappears when someone else walks into the room. This was the writers foreshadowing that Christian and the smoke monster were connected. Only problem with that is that the writers hadn’t created the “rules” stating that smokey had to stay on the island at that point. Careless in a word…

    5) So all good in the world stems from a time traveling island with a frozen donkey wheel in the center that once turned, teleports its inhabitants throughout time and space…… So that warm fuzzy glow emanating from the center of the island can be destroyed if someone comes along and removes the magical cork from a hole in a jacuzzi. You know if this were any other show, that would be alright. I could roll with that. This is LOST. These writers could have and should have done better. Even the cast of the show was disappointed to discover that the writers really had no real answers for the majority of the major questions they created.

  • Not A Candidate

    Numbers, dude. Numbers.

    As for the rest, I swear I don’t think most people paid any damn attention to the show.