There have been many great television shows since, and the ending wasn’t perfect, but I’ve never had more fun watching a TV show than LOST. The finale was extremely divisive at the time, with many fans claiming it ruined the entire series for them. I won’t spoil any details of the ending other than to say that the dissatisfaction came from frustration that it didn’t provide enough answers to the many mysteries set up over the years. I thought the final episode was amazing in itself, but I was also frustrated that I didn’t get answers to certain mysteries—though ultimately that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the show.
I was immediately intrigued by the J.J. Abrams “mystery box” aspect of LOST, combined with its science fiction elements and eerie Twilight Zone-esque atmosphere. There were so many mysteries introduced plus easter eggs like character names, numbers, and significant objects in the backgrounds of scenes. Entire message boards and websites sprung up devoted to unravelling those mysteries and solving the puzzles. LOST came out just as podcasts started, and the show-runners (Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse) had an after-show podcast where they answered questions—though they often presented more questions by teasing more mysteries.
I listened to the podcasts, read the message boards, and many of the fan theories—I couldn’t get enough. That kind of internet super-fandom has become somewhat commonplace since, but LOST was the first show with which I ever became so immersed. It came out at the perfect time for me. Similarly fan-obsessive shows like Twin Peaks and The X-Files came out when I was too young to understand or appreciate them.
I’ve mentioned before how the screenwriting class I took my senior year of college is what began my writing career. I started watching LOST before that in my sophomore year, then I delved deep into the mythology of the show in my junior year. I spent a lot of time thinking about LOST and coming up with my own theories to solve the mysteries (some of which were right, many of which were wrong, and most of which remain inconclusive as the show never provided answers.)
Taking that screenwriting class enhanced my appreciation of LOST. Knowing how TV shows were written, I was further impressed by what the showrunners were able to pull off. Plus the LOST podcast really put names and faces to the writers behind the show. Damon and Carlton became as big of stars as the actors. I came to realize that the real genius behind movies and television shows were the writers. I wanted to be like Damon and Carlton and write movies/TV/books like LOST—that is, full of deep mysteries and mythology, mind-blowing twists, and edge of your seat cliffhangers. Those are elements I try to include in all of my stories (though I hope my endings are more satisfying). I usually try to solve any mystery I set up, though as in LOST, sometimes ambiguity is best. Leave the mystery unsolved, so the audience can continue to contemplate it long after the show is over or the book is closed. If all the mysteries are definitively answered then fans can no longer speculate and theorize about it.
I have not thought or theorized about LOST since the ending, nor have I revisited the show—not that I wouldn’t like to, I simply don’t have the time. There are too many great shows and movies I’ve yet to see for the first time for me to go back and re-watch six seasons and 121 episodes of LOST. I rarely re-watch or re-read things, preferring new stories I’ve never seen or read before. Nor do I have time to go deep on the shows and movies I currently watch (such as Game of Thrones or Westworld). The time I used to spend theorizing TV shows and browsing message boards, I now spend theorizing about my own stories—and writing them. I can only hope that a work of fiction I create will inspire the same kind of frenzied fan analysis as LOST.