We Have to Go Back to Uncover These 23 Secrets About Lost

In honor of the series' finale's 10th anniversary, we're revealing 23 fun facts about the iconic ABC drama that polarized fans with its ending

By Tierney Bricker May 23, 2020 10:00 AMTags
Watch: Why Evangeline Lilly Doesn't Want a "Lost" Reboot

There is a 108 percent chance you were screaming at your TV 10 years ago. 

Why? Because that's when Lost's final episode aired, instantly becoming one of the most polarizing series finales of all-time. 

After six seasons of questions, mysteries and backstories, the journey of the passengers on Oceanic Flight 815 came to an end, with J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse choosing not to answer many of the show's burning mysteries, much to some of the obsessed fans' chagrin.

But for its six-season run, which began in 2004, Lost became appointment TV and was one of the highest rated shows, earning a loyal fanbase that spent hours online after each episode dissecting every clue. And 10 years later, the debate about what the show meant and its unanswered questions rages on. (Seriously, what was up with that polar bear?!)

In honor of the Emmy Award-winning series, we're looking back over its history to reveal some Dharma Initiative-level secrets, including casting change-ups, hook-ups and run-ins with the law that went down during its six-year run. 

16 of TV's Greatest and Most Frustrating Unsolved Mysteries From Lost and Beyond

Here are 4 8 15 16 23 42 fun facts you might not know about Lost, including who was only supposed to be in three episodes, who originally auditioned for Sawyer and which Oscar winner was set to be the lead...

1. The idea for the show came from then ABC chairman Lloyd Braun's vacation to Hawaii after watching Castaway with his family and wanting to turn it into a TV show. 

"And then the notion of Survivor popped into my head," Braun told Grantland. "I don't know why. And I put it all together: What if there was a plane that crashed and a dozen people survived, and nobody knew each other. Your past was almost irrelevant. You could reinvent who you were. You had to figure out — how do you survive?"

2. Oceanic Flight 815 flew on September 22, 2004, the same day as the series premiere on ABC.

3. Michael Keaton was originally set to play Jack when the original pilot script included the shocking death of the male lead at the end. But when the plans changed and Jack was intended to remain as the lead, Keaton declined, telling The Hollywood Reporter that a steady TV gig "didn't interest me. And I know [Jack's death] was what was going to happen, and that I probably would have done."

4. During filming of the pilot in Hawaii, Matthew Fox got almost the entire cast to go skinny-dipping. "I felt a bit of responsibility to be the leader, given the role I was playing," he told Empire. "And yes, the cast skinny-dipping was my idea. At the time I thought that everybody taking their clothes off was a good way to bond."

5. In the initial script, Kate was set to be the leader of the survivors after Jack's death, with her also grappling with the fact that her fiancé had been in the back of the plane when the fuselage split in two, and who had no idea if he was alive or dead. Ultimately, they ended up making her a fugitive on the run and her original backstory went to Rose and Bernard.

6. Lilly was studying international relations when she was encouraged by a friend to audition for Kate. "Evangeline was a complete and total unknown. We had read 60 to 65 women for the role of Kate. We were fast-forwarding through a tape, and he saw her and said, 'That's the girl,'" Lindelof told USA Today. But they almost lost the Canadian star due to visa issues, with Lilly ultimately landing in Hawaii one day after filming started.

7. Yunjin Kim originally auditioned for Kate, which producers going on to create the character of Sun just for her.

8. Fox, Dominic Monaghan and Jorge Garcia all originally auditioned for Sawyer, mostly because there weren't sides written for their intended characters yet. 

9. Jorge Garcia was the first actor hired, with producers writing Hurley specifically for him after seeing him on Curb Your Enthusiasm, according to The New York Times. Monaghan's casting meanwhile turned Charlie into a one-hit-wonder dealing with a drug addiction after he was originally scripted to be an aging rock star.

10. Sawyer's penchant for nicknames actually came from Holloway's tendency to do that IRL.

"We did get drunk a fair bit, and that's where Sawyer's nicknames came from. Two of my favorites were 'Stay Puft,' for Hurley - mean but funny - and 'Mr. Clean' because it so described Terry O'Quinn," he told Empire. "I kept calling Maggie Grace 'Sticks' because she had the long, skinny legs, you know?"

11. After his character, Boone, was the first major death on the series, Ian Somerhalder modeled his iconic Vampire Diaries character after a different Lost persona. 

"Sawyer is a great deal of inspiration (for Damon)," Somerhalder said at a Chicago fan convention. "Josh Holloway is an amazing actor. Sawyer is a really great character -- one of the most conflicted, funniest dudes ever. And I feel that way on Vampire Diaries. At the end of the day...the least I could do is have fun, bring a lot of edge to it."


13. Lilly and Monaghan dated for three years while starring on the show together, ultimately breaking up in 2007. 

14. During the series' run, multiple stars had run-ins with the law in Hawaii. Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros were arrested for suspicion of drunk driving, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was arrested for driving without a license, Daniel Dae Kim was arrested for DUI, while six other stars were also cited for various traffic violations. 

15. While he became a fan-favorite after his character Mr. Eko was introduced in season two, with the role being written specifically for him as the producers were fans of his work of Oz, Akinnuoye-Agbaje asked to be killed off the show, wanting to return to London (though rumors of friction on set also emerged). He reportedly declined to return in the final season due to a salary dispute. 

16. Walt, the only child on the flight, was intended to have supernatural powers, but the writers were forced to write him off at the end of season two when Michael David Kelley was aging too rapidly, unable to play 10 years old. In his brief return in season four, make-up and CGI were used to make him appear younger.

17. Though they were originally supposed to be covered, producers ended up allowing Fox's real-life tattoos to be seen on the show, leading to one of the series' most unpopular episodes in season three, which set out to explain why the doctor had the tats. I think it's cringe-worthy, where he's flying the kite on the beach," Cuse later admitted to Esquire. "It was not our finest hour. We used Matthew Fox's real tattoos. That's how desperate we were for flashback stories."

18. Another storytelling regret was introducing Nikki and Paolo, with the previously unseen characters being introduced in season three as fellow survivors. Cuse and Lindelof immediately they weren't working, ultimately killing them off in a backstory episode. "We already hated them ourselves," Lindelof said of the negative fan response. 

19. Michael Emerson, who would go on to win an Emmy for his portrayal of the Others' leader Benjamin Linus, was originally cast to play Henry Gale in a guest role. "It was supposed to be only a three-episode arc," Emerson told SyFy. "I think they were trying it out, or trying me out… trying the idea of Benjamin Linus out, to see if it would work." He would go on to become a fan-favorite series regular. 

20. Because of the show, the numbers 4-8-15-23-42 became a popular lottery number to play, with the numbers actually being the winning one in 2011.

According to the Mega Millions website, which has received "unprecedented traffic," 41,763 people matched four of those numbers and earned $150, while a lucky two matched all six and split an estimated jackpot of $355,000,000.

21. For the series finale, ABC hired a retired FBI agent as the security consultant in order to prevent leaks. 

22. From the start of the series, the producers knew they wanted to end with Jack dying, with the final shot of his eye closing mirroring the pilot beginning with his eye opening. 

23. While the series finale was polarizing, with many fans angered over the lack of answers to many of their burning questions over the years, the showrunners don't regret revealing more, including who were the people on the outrigger, the island's childbirth issue, and what the f--k the numbers meant, among others.

"We [preferred] to tell an emotional story about what happened to the characters," Cuse said during a PaleyFest panel in 2014. "I cared more about the characters' journey and what happened to them." 

Lost is available to watch on Hulu and Amazon Prime.