The storyline of Lost stretched over six seasons and had many twists and turns. Many ponderous issues were swept under the rug and forgotten (e.g. why don't we hear much about the numbers or about baby/mama problems in the later seasons?). But a lot more of these interesting details were skillfully woven back and forth through the show, sometimes having episodes explain things from two or three seasons earlier.

How much do we know about how the show was planned out? Did the writers have a plan for the smoke monster being an ancient disembodied man, that when Jack saw Christian in the early episodes it was really MIB, and about his brother Jacob, from the beginning? Did they have the basic existence of and relationship between the Others and the Dharma people figured out? Did they have the role of Desmond marked out from the beginning?

Or did they just randomly come up with crazy amazing ideas for a few seasons and go "Shoot, how do we tie this all together now?" What kind of behind-the-scenes info is available?

  • 1
    BTW, we do sort of learn the significance (again, sort of) of the numbers towards the very end - they refer to some of the main LOSTies on the lighthouse dial.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 15:50
  • @phantom42 thanks, i missed that... some other thing was going on in my house during the lighthouse episode and i didn't get to pay attention as closely as normal
    – zipquincy
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 16:21
  • 2
    Re: The Numbers, see the Valenzetti Equation, which was part of some of the Lost ARG stuff.
    – user1027
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 18:54
  • 1
    To answer the title of the question: With a dartboard. ;)
    – Izkata
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 22:57

1 Answer 1


As with many scripts, the start with a beginning and an end and then make up the details as they go along.

From an interview with the showrunners:

Carroll: How much of what we’re learning now in season six was figured out in the first season, versus, say, a month ago?

Lindelof: There’s no empirical answer to that question. The way we got through the first season was, if we introduced a mystery, like a polar bear running through the jungle, or a hatch that was discovered in the ground, we had to know what the resolution of that specific mystery was. And in the episode-to-episode writing of the show there’s an enormous amount of discovery. I think one of the most profound lessons I’ve learned over time as a show runner is that the more you listen to the show, the better your show. We watched our characters interact, and that would influence how we put them together.


Carroll: It’s one thing to have a hypothesis and even figure out what the predictions of that theory are, but then it’s going to be shaped by what you observe in the universe.

Lindelof: We have to have the answers to the mysteries so that there is something to work towards, but what we don’t have are the stories. J.K. Rowling can sit down and say, here’s how Harry Potter’s parents were killed, and here’s who killed them, but how am I going to reveal that information to the audience in the most emotionally impactful way? So we know what we want to do, but we have very little idea of how and when we’re going to do it.

Not mentioned in this particular interview is the fact that JJ Abrams originally worked with Lindelof to create the show's "Bible" which is typically an overview of the world, characters, general plotlines and any major crucial details.

  • 3
    Also not mentioned is that, according to one of the writers, the answer to "What is the smoke monster?" actually did change over the course of the show...
    – Izkata
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 22:59
  • 2
    Izkata's comment is specific to LOST, but this is common amongst most shows. For example, Spike was supposed to have been a small villain-of-the-week character in Buffy but fan response led Joss and the writers to bring him back so often that he became a main character.
    – phantom42
    Commented Mar 13, 2013 at 23:06
  • 1
    @Izkata Do you have a source for the answer to the Smoke Monster changing? Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 2:59
  • 1
    @KeshavSrinivasan It's right on Wikipedia: Representation of part of the mind (the id), then a security system as Rousseau described, then the Man in Black
    – Izkata
    Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 3:11
  • 1
    @Izkata Here's what David Fury said: "Metaphorically, the monster was just the great unknown threat, the imminent danger around the corner that potentially haunts us all… Some thought of it as a monster of the id, much like in Forbidden Planet -- that maybe it appeared differently to everyone who saw it." So it's not like it was a firm answer that was changed. They just hadn't decided what it was yet by the 4th episode. But it is true that it appears as different things to different people. Commented Mar 7, 2014 at 6:06

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.