My 6 Favorite Characters from Lost
I’ve wanted to write something about the television show Lost for awhile now, but considering it’s been more than two years since the show went off the air, there haven’t been many opportunities. But I absolutely loved Lost, and would willingly argue it as the best television show of all time. If not one of the best fictional narratives of all time. Lost was pretty damn awesome, is what I’m trying to say. I loved almost every minute of that show, even the episodes that sucked like the one about Jack’s tattoos. And I don’t care what the rest of the world says, I absolutely adored the finale. It was amazing from start to finish, and a perfect conclusion to the show.
It’s safe to say that I am definitely a Lost fanboy. A buddy of mine from work and I would hang out and just talk about our different theories for the show, and clearly we were not alone. Everybody was talking about Lost, and rightly so. The mysteries of that island were just fantastic.
A good idea would have been to list my favorite episodes, but that would require rewatching the entire series from start to finish, and I haven’t gotten around to doing that yet. I’ll watch it again one of these days, and it will be epic. So until then, I’ve decided to list my 6 favorite Lost characters. It’ll give me a chance to talk about some of my favorite parts of the show. Plus it’ll hopefully be another chance for my readers to share some of their favorite Lost memories and characters. This was a science fiction show of epic proportions, so I hope some of you were fans as well. Let’s get to the list, shall we?
WARNING!! There will be SPOILERS for Lost in this list. So don’t read if you don’t want to be spoiled for a long cancelled TV show.
First, a synopsis, because I like to explain things. There was a lot to understand about Lost, and considering this list, it’ll be important to know some of the ins and outs of the show. So I thought I’d give a brief (as brief as possible, at least) description of the plot and premise.
Let’s see if I remember it all correctly. Feel free to tell me what I get wrong in the comments.
Synopsis: Lost is about a mysterious, magical island out somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The Island is to planet Earth like a cork is to a bottle. The Island is stopping a supernatural evil force from getting out and destroying the world. And because of the proximity to this evil force, the Island possesses several unique, supernatural properties. People heal much faster from sickness and injuries while on the Island. Time passes a little differently from the rest of the world. And the Island cannot be charted on a map. You can’t plot a course to get to the Island, but you can accidentally crash on its shores if you get caught in a storm.
Another analogy might be that the Earth is like Pandora’s Box, with something evil and monstrous hidden inside. The Island is like the lock on Pandora’s Box, keeping all of those bad things sealed up tight.
Because of these supernatural elements, the island has an immortal protector, named Jacob. And it has an immortal detractor, known as the Man in Black. Over the centuries, Jacob and the Man in Black have waged a cold war against each other using humans as pawns. Jacob thinks that humans are naturally good, and will help the Island. The Man in Black thinks humans are naturally evil, and he tries to use them to destroy the Island.
People have been accidentally finding their way to the Island for centuries. Some live, some die. Some try to colonize the Island. Two such groups of note were the Others and the Dharma Initiative. The Others were a group of people who lived the land like natives, surviving off the natural jungle on the Island. The Others are allied with Jacob and try to protect the Island from outside invaders.
Dharma was a team of research scientists who wanted to study the Island’s mystical properties. They set up various research stations across the Island to test certain experiments. Dharma also figured out a way to chart a course to the Island, and were able to sail back and forth from the Island to the mainland, bringing many people with them to work. Dharma was a huge company with a lot of people coming and going.
Until the Purge, when one member of the Dharma Initiative betrayed the company to the Others, and wiped out all of the scientists working for Dharma. This individual, who definitely appears on this list, then took over as leader of the Others, and helped them become a nice little community. The Others moved into the houses and facilities that Dharma had set up, and continued to live off the Island, considering themselves its protectors. The Others dedicated themselves to making sure the bottle was never uncorked, so to speak. To some extent, the Others even continued some of Dharma’s experiments.
This is where the television show Lost picks up. A passenger airplane, Oceanic flight 815, crashes on the Island while en route from Australia to Los Angeles. The survivors of the crash band together and set up camp on the beach, hoping for rescue. Then over the course of the 6 seasons, they uncover some of the mysteries of the Island, they run afoul of both the Others and Dharma, and they begin to find out that there were forces at work that brought them to the island for a reason. But in the end, all they want to do is get off the Island and get back home.
That about sums everything up, right? Let’s get to the list!
6. Ana Lucia
Who is she: Ana Lucia Cortez was a disgraced former cop who became leader of the tail-section survivors after Oceanic Flight 815 crashed. Unbeknownst to everyone during Season 1, there were actually two groups of survivors on the Island. The main castaways had been seated in the middle of the plane, but there was a whole second group of about a dozen survivors who had been seated in the very back of the plane. The tail survivors faced a lot more hardships, and had a much tougher time surviving than the main castaways. Because of her past and her skills, Ana Lucia became their leader. But constant threat of attacks from the Others drove Ana Lucia’s leadership down some dark and rough paths – though never outright cruel. Ana Lucia was a good person, always working to unite her group of survivors, keep them alive and protect them from harm.
When she and her people were eventually reunited with the main castaways in Season 2, Ana Lucia accidentally shot and killed one of them. Not the best way to make new friends. She was immediately disliked by most everyone, but Ana Lucia slowly made friends and started to help out in preparing to fight against the Others. But unfortunately, the Others had Ana Lucia assassinated before her plans could come to fruition.
Why do I like her: For some reason, not a lot of people liked Ana Lucia, but I’m a fan. That may have to do, in part, because I like actress Michelle Rodriguez. She’s a true ass-kicker; a strong, tough woman who isn’t going to be a damsel in distress. And that definitely wasn’t the case in Lost. Ana Lucia was a badass, who just wanted to help keep people alive. It was the harshness of the Island and the villainy of the Others that turned her down a darker, more reckless path. But she was someone who could make mistakes, and who had to keep going despite those mistakes. She wanted to keep her people safe, especially the children who survived with the tail-section.
Ana Lucia was tough, she was hot, and she was ready to wage war against the Others. Her assassination was a turning point in the struggle between the castaways and the Others. It’s too bad she didn’t get to stick around to kick some Island ass.
Who is he: Charlie Pace was a former rock star whose career crashed and burned when he became addicted to heroin. He was the jokester of the castaways, the comedy relief and kid-brother on the show who had some pretty dark secrets and troubles – because heroin isn’t readily available on a deserted tropical island (unless you count those Virgin Mary statues…). Despite Charlie’s friendly and joking nature, he quickly became a fan favorite in Season 1 when the castaways had to help him through heroin withdrawal, along with his attempts to measure up and be a man now that survival was on the line.
After beating his addiction, Charlie’s story became wrapped up in the cute, blonde Claire, another survivor. The two quickly hit it off with a fun, flirty relationship, complicated by the fact that Claire was pregnant from before the crash. Charlie stuck with her after the birth of her baby Aaron, and though there were some ups and downs, they really came to care about one another. Unfortunately, Charlie sacrificed himself at the end of Season 3 while destroying a radio jammer so that the castaways could call for help. But Charlie knew he wasn’t coming back when he volunteered, and his sacrifice later ensured that Claire and Aaron eventually made it safely off the Island.
Why do I like him: I usually gravitate towards joker characters, and Charlie was no exception. It helped that he was played by Dominic Monaghan, one of the hobbits from the Lord of the Rings trilogy. He was the only actor I knew going into the show, so I immediately liked him. Charlie was funny, friendly and got along well with the rest of the main characters. Then his heroin addiction storyline kicked in, and I absolutely loved it. Watching him try to man up and get over his addiction was some very powerful television. And I especially liked the scene in “House of the Rising Sun” where Charlie symbolically traded his heroin for his guitar, which another castaway had found safe and in tact.
For some reason, though, the Charlie/Claire relationship never clicked with me. I was never fully invested in the two of them, so the later seasons of Charlie weren’t as interesting for me. Then there was the episode “Fire +Water”, where Charlie goes a little stir crazy and kidnaps Aaron to have him baptized in the ocean. That was the start of some dark times for Charlie. But he eventually recovered, made his peace with Claire and got a worthy final send-off that brought me to tears. And his final spotlight episode, “Greatest Hits”, was fantastic.
Who is he: Desmond Hume was not on Oceanic Flight 815 and was not one of the main castaways. Desmond was a Scotsman who entered a race around the world to prove he was worthy of marrying the woman he loved, Penelope Widmore. But Desmond got caught in a storm and crashed on the Island sometime after the Purge, after the Others had wiped out the Dharma Corporation. Desmond was taken to The Swan, one of those Dharma research stations I mentioned, where the scientists were studying the Island’s electromagnetic properties. Workers at The Swan must enter a code into a computer every 108 minutes, or the electromagnetic energy will build up to dangerous levels and explode, possibly taking the world with it. Not knowing any better, and being told that he was now in charge of saving the world every 108 minutes, Desmond got to work entering the code and pressing the button.
For three years.
Until one day, a fight with his partner resulted in Desmond entering the code a few minutes too late. He stopped the catastrophe, but the electromagnetism that got out caused Oceanic flight 815 to crash on the Island! It was all Desmond’s fault! The main castaways discovered Desmond in Season 2, and he convinced them to keep pushing the button too, putting it up as a question of faith. At the end of Season 2, the castaways lost faith and stopped pushing the button. The catastrophe came, but Desmond knew of a fail-safe that blew up The Swan and made things safe again. It also freed everyone from having to enter the code every 108 minutes. From then on, Desmond joined with the castaways and was eventually reunited with Penny back in the UK, and together they lived happily ever after.
There’s also some complicated stuff involving time travel, but I won’t get into it here.
Why I like him: Desmond was just such a nice and charming guy who kept getting dealt a strange hand in life. Played by actor Henry Ian Cusick, with an awesome Scottish accent, Desmond was just a man who wanted to be with the woman he loved, but fate had somehow trapped him on that damn Island! Again and again, Desmond was most often used by the forces of evil because of the strange connection he had with the Island. At the end of the series, Desmond was used as a pawn to ‘uncork’ the Island and almost brings about the end of the world. Desmond took all of that twisted fate on his shoulders with a heavy heart, wishing he could just go home and be done with it. Cusick carried the drama well, and his fight to get home to Penny was one of the most heartfelt stories on the show.
Which all came to a head in the fantastic episode “The Constant”, during which Desmond started to go a little crazy with some timey wimey, wibbly wobbly stuff. Because he had spent so much time down in The Swan, the electromagnetism had messed with his brain. When it looked like Desmond might have a chance to get off the Island, he instead started having flashes where his consciousness switched places between the present and a time in the past, when he was a soldier. Like I said, complicated. While his mind was in the past, Desmond had to figure out how to make a ‘constant’ link between Penny in the past and Penny in the present, so that his mind would settle down. This culminated in one of the most emotional moments of the entire series.
Desmond made a phone call from the Island to Penny, their first time speaking to each other since before Desmond went on that race around the world. Penny still loved him, and had been trying to find him. She knew all about the Island, and that telephone call started in motion the process that eventually gets everybody off the Island…those that survived to the end, that is.
Who is he: I mentioned in the synopsis about a Dharma employee who betrays them to the Others: that is Benjamin Linus. A wormy, nerdy fellow with a Napoleonic complex, Ben destroyed the Dharma Initiative and became leader of the Others. He created a pleasant little community dedicated to protecting the Island, with himself as undisputed king. When Oceanic flight 815 crashed, Ben started to make life hell for the survivors, taunting them, kidnapping them, killing them, all in the name of power and the Island. But there’s something Ben doesn’t want everyone to know: he isn’t really in the loop. I mentioned Jacob, protector of the Island and ally to the Others. Well Ben was never deemed worthy enough to meet Jacob – but he lied and told everyone that he had, just to hold on to his power.
Ben was the kind of guy who knew what buttons to press to make the Island’s magic work, but he never truly understood why or how it worked. He knew enough to make himself look impressive.
Ben’s soft spot was his adopted daughter Alex, whom he raised since she was an infant. Ben actually kidnapped Alex from a french woman who had crashed on the Island and was living like a hermit. Ben thought he could give Alex a better life, and he kind of did, with Alex living in the comfort of the Others’ camp instead of with her hermit mother. But then in the fateful episode “The Shape of Things to Come” in Season 4, a team of mercenaries came to the Island to kill Ben, and they held Alex hostage. Thinking himself invulnerable, Ben called their bluff – and watched in horror as the mercenaries ruthlessly killed Alex before his very eyes.
Ben was aghast, and that sent him on a downward spiral to rock bottom and then eventual redemption. At his lowest point, Ben finally met Jacob, only for the Island’s protector to dismiss Ben and the sacrifices he’d made. In a fit of rage, Ben killed Jacob.
This all culminated in one of my all-time favorite scenes from the entire show: a monologue Ben gave at the end of the episode ‘Dr. Linus’ in the middle of the sixth and final season. Ben had long since been deposed as leader of the Others. They had instead moved on without him to follow the Man in Black. Ben was a weak, pathetic shell of his former self. Then when faced with the possibility of joining the Man in Black or redeeming himself and joining the good guys, Ben launched into this beautiful speech about realizing what a fool he was for choosing the Island, choosing Jacob, over his daughter Alex. He can never forgive himself for getting her killed, but the good guys can forgive him, and Ben went on to help them save the day in the end.
Ben’s ultimate fate was staying on the Island as one of its protector once again, only then he was motivated by good instead of those petty power plays he used to love.
Why I like him: Ben’s storyline throughout the course of the show was one of the best, and Emerson is a fantastic actor. Ben was this wormy, easy-to-hate villain in the early seasons, someone who clearly wanted to hurt the main castaways. But we slowly learned who Ben was and why he acted the way he did (abusive father). And once his daughter was killed, Ben truly started the path to redemption. He was possibly the character with the largest personal story arc, going from villain to redeemed hero by the end, and it’s a fantastic adventure. And like I said, that scene in “Dr. Linus” was utterly phenomenal. See for yourself.
Fun fact: Ben was supposed to be just a one-off character in Season 2, but the producers liked him so much that he became a regular, and then became such a huge part of the history of Dharma and the Others. Ben was just such a twisty, fascinating character, who started out so big and threatening, but was eventually deflated and rebuilt into a better man.
Who is he: Jack Shephard was the lead protagonist, a gifted surgeon struggling with daddy issues who rose to become reluctant leader of the main castaways. He was a natural born leader, and the castaways gravitated towards him almost immediately. Jack coined the famous phrase, “Live together or die alone”, that united the survivors and gave them hope of getting off the Island. While in charge, Jack butted heads with the rebellious Sawyer, debated science vs. faith with the head-strong Locke and fell in love with the beautiful Kate. Through it all, Jack did his best to keep everyone safe and united and eventually find them a way home.
Jack was a flawed hero. He was racked with self-doubt and was burdened with the yoke of leadership. But through it all, he fought off the Others and faced down every challenge that came his way. And over the course of the series, he was transformed from a Man of Science who just wanted to get home, to a Man of Faith, who believed in the mystical importance of the Island. When he and a handful of castaways made it off the Island in Season 4, Jack fell into a depression because there was no way life in the normal world could compare to the excitement of the Island. While on the Island, he was a leader of men. Off the Island, he was a nobody. And Jack felt guilty for leaving so many people behind, eventually convincing the handful that got off to return so that they could set things right. In the end, Jack took over for the murdered Jacob as the Island’s protector – but only long enough to put the cork back in the bottle after Desmond pulled it out.
Jack died after keeping the Island safe and saving the world.
Why I like him: I’m a sucker for a white knight, and that was Jack, played by Matthew Fox. He was a selfless hero who was willing to sacrifice his own well being to ensure the safety and security of the castaways. But he was not a perfect hero. He had flaws and is riddled with self-doubt. Sometimes it made him mopey, and there was a time in Season 5 when it seemed he’d lost all drive and motivation. But through it all, Jack remained a hero, and I will always love a noble hero.
One early episode that stood out to me was “Do No Harm”, where one of the castaways suffered a broken leg and Jack tried desperately to save the young man’s life. Unfortunately, he’d been lied to about how the leg was broken, and therefore all of his treatments were for naught. Jack was pushed to the limit in his attempts to save the man’s life, but in the end he had to accept the death. Another great episode was “I Do” in the middle of Season 3, where Jack used his quick wit and surgical skills to help some of his friends escape the Others. Jack was smart, fearless and noble, all the things I love when it comes to a hero.
Who is he: Miles Straume was a guy who could talk to ghosts, who was recruited to be part of an expedition to the Island that arrive in Season 4. Whereas Jack and the other survivors thought the expedition was there to rescue them, in actuality the crew was put together to continue scientific study on the Island, among other things. For example, the same freighter that brought Miles to the Island also brought those mercenaries who killed Ben’s daughter. Miles’ mission was to capture Ben Linus, but he pretty much failed. Soon after arriving, the expedition’s plans all go to crap, and they join up with the castaways to have a few adventures through time travel – where we learn, though it was relatively meaningless, that Miles was actually born on the Island as part of the Dharma Initiative. He moved to California with his mother when he was a baby.
In the end, Miles stuck with the castaways through all the trials and tribulations. While almost everyone else from his original expedition was killed, Miles hung on and joined the good guys in the big fight in the show’s climax. And in the very last episode, of the 6 people who finally got off the Island (only 3 of whom were main castaways), Miles was one of them. Miles survived to the end of the show, successfully leaving the Island.
Why I like him: The reason I love Miles most of all is because Miles had a staring contest with his stock character cliches – and won. As you can see from my various write ups, Lost loved to kill characters. In the final episode, only 6 people got off the Island, and only 3 of them were surviving castaways from Oceanic flight 815. Dozens of survivors from that plane crash were killed over the course of the show, as were almost all of the main characters. And nearly everyone from Miles’ expedition was killed. Miles was living on borrowed time. He had no value to the story, did not have any big role to play in the final battle, and was absolutely perfect fodder to be killed off. Miles had no reason to live! He was such a minor character!
But despite that, Miles survived. He just hung on and made it to the finish line. He’s the ultimate sideline character. Not even the fact that he was born on the Island adds anything to the character or the story. Played by actor Ken Leung, Miles was this weird, geeky, selfish guy who cracked sarcastic jokes and barely helped the castaways do anything. But I love sideline characters. I love the B and C-listers who don’t seem important, but are unique and fascinating in their own right. That was Miles. He never did anything important, he should have been killed a million times over for the shock value that his death would provide. But in the end, Miles was one of the lucky 6 people who actually make it off the Island.
I remember the exact moment that I started liking Miles. It was in the episode “Sundown” towards the beginning of the sixth and final season. At the time, Miles and the other main characters were being held prisoner by the Others at a placed call The Temple. While all the main characters go off and have adventures while being held prisoner, Miles had nothing better to do but sit in the Temple courtyard by himself. He’s not important enough to have adventures. Then Kate shows up in the courtyard, Kate being the female lead. She found Miles playing Solitaire and the two greet each other like old friends, catching up on what everybody else is up to.
And that’s when it struck me. This seemingly insignificant character, who should have been killed long ago, had somehow managed to get himself on a first-name basis with the main characters. He wasn’t on Oceanic flight 815, he wasn’t a member of the Others or Dharma, but he had become one of the main crew. He was one of the core cast members of the show. From then on through the rest of Season 6, I diligently watched every episode to see what would happen to Miles. Would this be the episode where he gets killed? What about the next one? Does he do anything cool in this episode? Oh my God, Miles survives? He leaves the Island safely? That’s insane!
Considering how much Lost loved to kill characters, especially for shock value, I was utterly amazed that someone as insignificant as Miles could survive until the end.
Miles was a funny, sarcastic and selfish character who through sheer perseverance (or maybe just lackadaisical hanging-on) found himself as part of the core cast of survivors. Then it was that same perseverance and lack of anything better to do that kept him on the good guy’s side, and eventually got him safely off the Island. He got along well enough with the main characters, especially the comedic Hurley and the rebellious Sawyer. And throughout Season 6, it was a blast trying to keep track of Miles to see where his story would go.
He’s the minor character turned survivor, and that’s always a winner in my book.
Honorable Mention: Frogurt
Who is he: Neil was a guy who used to work at a frozen yogurt stand back in the real world. He was one of the 40+ other people who survived the plane crash, but wasn’t important enough to warrant anything more than a few speaking lines or appearances in the background. Frogurt was a glorified extra. While there were only a handful of main castaways (Jack, Kate, Sawyer, Charlie, Locke, etc), there were still dozens of people who survived the plane crash and were living on the beach. For the first few seasons, they appeared in group shots and in the background, trying to live together and survive. They didn’t have fascinating back stories or exciting adventures, they were just survivors.
Frogurt appeared in a few web-isodes between Seasons 2 and 3, and later had a few lines in Season 5. He was a rude, arrogant little prick who was often at odds with Hurley, because they both loved the same woman. He died like the rest of the 40+ during a massive slaughter in Season 5. That was always something that bugged me. Such a big deal was made over trying to help the 40+ plane crash survivors get off the Island and return home. But then in Season 5, the writers basically just kill all of them off, and only 6 people make it off the Island in the end. Frogurt definitely wasn’t one of them, burning to death when the Others shoot him with a flaming arrow.
Why I like him: Frogurt is just a hilarious concept. He started out as an in-joke between the showrunners and the fans after one of the main characters mentioned “Frogurt” in a season 2 episode. It seemed improbably at the time that all of the main castaways would have these fascinating and exciting back stories. So the writers pointed out that not all of the survivors were so exciting. Some of them worked dead-end jobs, like at a frozen yogurt stand. Frogurt’s popularity as a joke earned him the web-isodes, and finally a few lines on the actual show. Just the idea that one of the background survivors could become so hilariously popular as to warrant a few speaking lines appeals to me as a fan of minor characters. Plus his nickname is absolutely perfect.