In the TV series LOST, why does the island have to be protected, and what actually was the role of the "protector" - what could he do?

I.e., the light seemed to be quite dangerous, as did other phenomena - but that would by itself discourage most people from doing anything. But if the island needed more protection, then I'm struggling to see how exactly the protector helped.

  • 12
    As far as I'm concerned, the last season of LOST was a complete train wreck. The ending makes literally no sense at all, and the number of unanswered questions is absurd.
    – Borror0
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 6:45
  • 11
    @Borror0: Such is what happens when you daisy-chain random twists together ad-infinitum, and tell everyone there IS a plan.
    – DampeS8N
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 17:12
  • That's exactly how I felt at the end of the two seasons of Twin Peaks too.
    – timday
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 23:10
  • @Borror0 I couldn't agree with you more. I liked a lot of the last season but they definitely could've done better on the last episode. @DampeS8N You are correct. It seemed like they might actually wrap it all up, but in the end, it must have been obvious to the writers that they were screwed.
    – Ryan
    Commented May 21, 2011 at 16:46

2 Answers 2


The island had to be protected because of the light - it was in some (undescribed) way essential to the survival/wellbeing of all life. If the light was extinguished that would be very bad (exactly how we are not told).

There's also an implication that the light could be misused in some way (or perhaps people seeking to do so might accidentally damage it, much as it was damaged by Jacob). As such, the island needed to be protected against these people.

Unfortunately, something being dangerous does not mean that people will stay away from it (in real life or in LOST). In fact, the opposite is likely to be true, especially when the danger arises from some sort if power. The Dharma Initiative is a good example of this - although there was danger on the island, they were very eager to investigate it further (presumably with good intention).

Exactly what the protector could do wasn't established. However, it seems that they could set their own rules to an extent (see closing dialogue between Hugo and Ben). In Jacob's case, he could influence people outside the island such that their lives were altered (ending up on the island), and he could set constraints on the MiB/Smokey.

We only see a tiny proportion of the time that Jacob was protector, almost none of Hugo's time or Jacob's mother's time, and Jack is protector only for a very short period. That means that we don't really know what the protector is capable of, or what they have needed to do to protect the island/light. Most of our experience with Jacob is tied to his finding a successor and a resolution to his mistake with MiB/Smokey - in fact Smokey influences his time as protector extremely, and so earlier/later protectors probably behaved very differently.

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    I would add that the implication of the purpose of the light is to keep some sort of evil out of the world (if I recall, loosely represented by MiB/Smokey); that if the light were extinguished, this essence of evil would be free to run amuck outside the island.
    – morganpdx
    Commented Feb 18, 2011 at 17:46
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    See also how Mother "made it so" that the twins couldn't harm each other. It's unclear whether Jacob could've unmade this rule if he wanted to.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Jan 3, 2019 at 13:32

Because the Light was present in every person, all humans feel an innate attraction to it. However, in the words of Mother, they try to possess too much of it, trying to manipulate it in ways it was not meant to be used (this is also one reason DHARMA was on the Island; the Island is the only place from which the values of the Valenzetti Equation can be changed.) Because the Light is also the source of life, death and rebirth, messing with it has serious consequences for human life; this is the cause of the pregnancy issues on the Island after the Incident, as the Incident released a pocket of EM energy connected with the Light. Since people don't know how to properly deal with the Light (such as DHARMA) or try to use it for evil (MIB), the Light needs someone to keep the rest of humanity away from it.

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