I watched every episode. I discussed every episode. In the end it all would be explained, but I'm confused as to what happened in the last episode:

They were all dead from day one and in some kind of limbo performing activities that were generated by their own imagination. No time travel, no UFOs, no parallel dimension, none of that, simply "dead".

Is this an accurate assessment of what happened? Or did I miss the truly great explanation of the last episode?

  • 6
    Your interpretation of the ending has been disavowed by the producers. See blastr.com/2010/05/…. Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 0:48
  • 4
    Tony Meyer's answer is dead on (I can confirm as having done a lot of research throughout the show's history). The producers meant for it to be implied that season 6's "sideways world" was a purgatory, but not the entire show. Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 13:57
  • @jsbangs thanks i had not read that before!
    – edelwater
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 14:46
  • 1
    @edelwater - did I miss a UFO in some episode?
    – zipquincy
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 13:20
  • 1
    What was it about? It was about six seasons, give or take. Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 13:07

4 Answers 4


They were not dead the whole time. Christian Shepard says that explicitly to Jack in the church. The plane crash happened, everything on the Island happened, and so forth.

When the people on the island (particularly the castaways) died (after getting off the Island and living out their lives for some), they entered a purgatory universe (the "sideways" universe that Season 6 flashed to). Because they shared such extreme experiences in their lives, they jointly created this universe as a place to "meet up" before moving on.

Before they could all move on, they had to deal with lingering issues from their real lives (e.g. Kate: murder, Jack: fatherhood). Once that was done, they were free to move on to the final afterlife (whatever it is) together. Once everyone from the Island arrived, that helped (in a Buddhist sort of way) everyone to use their experiences from life to progress through their issues.

(The image after the final credits was not included by Cuse/Lindelof, so should be disregarded).

The Island was a sort of container (bottle) for some important energy - if the light goes out then bad things happen (e.g. end of world, end of goodness, end of afterlife). Because the light was on the island, it had a lot of weird properties (e.g. the electromagnetism) that were explored during the show. Many other oddities are the result of Dharma experiments.

Part of the mystery of the Island is that it always has a "protector" (e.g. Mother, Jacob, Jack, Hurley). The protector gets to make up certain rules about how things can work on the Island - we saw the rules that related particularly to Jacob and "Man in Black".

As for what it was about: it was about relationships - particularly father/child relationships, but also others (a lot of good scifi is!). The plot dealt with this mysterious Island and people trying to seize control of the power it contained, but the show was really about the castaways and how they dealt with various flaws in their character.

  • 5
    Bravo on your answer. I hate that people get so confused by the show's ending, but it was meant to be a confusing show all along. Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 13:56
  • 2
    Thank you for totally changing my attitude on how the show ended. I had the same notion as @edelwater in thinking that the whole time they'd been dead (which made me more mad since the producers had debunked this theory early in the show). Now I'm only sad about the amount of loose ends they left. Great answer!
    – Ryan
    Commented May 21, 2011 at 16:57
  • 1
    @BrentonTaylor: yeah, I don't really understand how people could think that the ending meant they were dead the whole time. You'd have to not be paying attention to think that, and if you're not paying attention to Lost, you're really missing the point. Commented Mar 14, 2013 at 17:35
  • I like this answer very much. However, I read somewhere that LOST is not about a story... It's about how the story is told
    – Kalissar
    Commented Aug 28, 2013 at 7:41
  • Man! Now I’ve gotta pull LOST back out and watch it all over again. You’ve inspired me. Thx!!! lol Commented Jan 4, 2019 at 16:19

A group of people who have highly interwoven lives which are also highly interwoven with a very mysterious island (mysterious as in magic, time travel, monsters, etc).

The plot line is very complex but that's a reasonable summary.

  • thanks for the answer, I understand that part :) however the "why" and "the end of that mystery" (e.g. see all open questions on LostPedia.com ... so to EXPLAIN everything in every episode that is actually my question: the answer from the writers as I see it from the last episode is simply: they made it all up in their mind because they were dead... (?) (thats the question)
    – edelwater
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 22:54
  • Perhaps I misunderstood the question - I took the question to be someone who was considering watching the show and trying to see if it was interesting, not someone looking for an explanation for the (not so great) ending.
    – Xaetherium
    Commented Jan 20, 2011 at 22:54
  • Well... grin ... since you HAVE seen it... what WAS the complete series actually about looking back at it?
    – edelwater
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 0:21

I'm watching the box set over again to gain clues. On Charlie's arm on season 1 he has "tattooed on his arm "Living life with eyes closed"?? So very true.

I believe the show is purgatory. The flashforwards before the crash show how each character struggled with themselves and were not happy in their former life. Jack and his father, Jack's marriage to Sarah when he was not in love with her. Kate and her childhood/ trouble with the law and regret of the death of her childhood friend. Sawyer with the death of his parents and becoming a con-man. Sayid and the death of his greatest love and being an iraqi, Locke had issues with his father and not being able to walk in his former life set him back, sun and Jin fell out of love, were not happy and become people they did not want to be. Hurley won the lotto and bad things started happening to him, Charlie and his drug addiction and the relationship with his brother, Claire wanting to give her baby up and was told she was to raise him. Michael and Walt forced together by the death of Walts mother. Boone and Shannon did not respect or appreciate eachother in their former lives. Desmond, Penny and Penny's father.

These characters clearly reflect that this people were not happy in life. Perhaps fate had brought them together and it was set that they needed to change for the better. They were all good people in one way or another.

I think the crash did happen and that they were alive. They were stuck in a parallel world between heaven and hell almost. Jacob and his brother were like Cain and able and God or the devil. The Black smoke came to take the people away when there time was up. It was an island to cleanse their souls before death. It challenged every person to meet their flaws and be set free from all their fears.

The island changed these people back into the good people they once were. They were finally released into a better life.


I see two possibilities:

  • Limbo
  • Split realities due to time travel (the island having been sunk in one reality), travel of consciousness between the two, peace of mind and acceptance for all. But that does not explain Christian coming back from the dead.

So, ultimately, there's no answer. And that's what JJ Abrams the writers wanted, I believe.


I also had this theory from the start: All the characters are lost in their lives, or have lost something important. At the end, they are found, in that they are at peace in their lives again.

  • so i can not tag an answer as the answer?
    – edelwater
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 0:37
  • From what I understand, the show was more of a Cuse/Lindelof vehicle than an Abrams one, even though he was there at the start.
    – Tony Meyer
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 1:27
  • @TonyMeyer: I'd trust you more than myself on that, as I have little knowledge of the writing process behind Lost. Edit imminent.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 4:42
  • @edelwater: Just saw your comment. That there is no answer could be the answer ;)
    – MPelletier
    Commented Jan 21, 2011 at 5:28

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