Finally reaching the end of its epic run in 2010, Lost was equal parts gripping, unmissable, perplexing and ambitious and whatever your opinion on the ending, there’s little doubt that the show had an immense cultural impact like few other television series have managed before or since. Perhaps the ABC property’s biggest strength was its ability to make viewers genuinely care about the characters on screen – particularly those that had been around since the beginning – and as such, Lost delivered more than its fair share of emotional gut-punches over its six season tenure.
Taking into account both heart-warming tears of happiness and complete outpourings of despair and agony, this list looks at some of the times J.J. Abrams, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse took the audience’s emotions, willfully toyed with them and then tossed them to one side, leaving viewers feeling mangled and lifeless like an Oceanic pilot lodged in a tree. Here are 16 Times Lost Made Everybody Cry.
16. Reunion On The Beach
After the Oceanic crash split the surviving passengers into two groups, Lost’s most likeable married couple – Rose and Bernard – were sadly separated from each other. Likewise, husband and wife duo Jin and Sun were also forced apart after Jin’s attempt to escape the Island alongside Michael and Sawyer was thwarted by The Others and he was captured by the Tail group of survivors.
After Jin and his friends manage to convince their captors that they were all passengers of Oceanic 815, the group begins to work as a team in order to converge the two camps and the resulting reunion is a whirlwind of emotions. Fresh from Ana Lucia accidentally murdering Shannon after mistaking her for an Other, the two groups collide at the beach in a slow motion sequence that sees both Rose and Bernard and Sun and Jin joyously reunited.
15. Ben Gives Up
For reasons that will be touched upon later, Benjamin Linus was not a pleasant man. Addicted to power and seemingly devoted to the cause of Jacob and The Others, Ben is scarily determined and focused on his goals – whatever they may be.
Of course, eventually, Ben’s world comes crashing down around him and he realizes that the forces he believed in and followed so strongly were merely using him for a greater purpose and although Ben saw himself as a figure of power, he was little more than a pawn to the likes of Jacob and the Man In Black.
Because of this, the villain breaks down in season six episode “Dr. Linus,” spilling his heart out and genuinely apologizing to Ilana. In response, the woman offers to take Linus under her own wing to help him on his way to redemption. This journey of penance would continue as Ben takes up a new role as Hurley’s assistant on the Island.
14. Hurley Gets Stood Up
Everybody loves Hugo. Weezer even named one of their albums after him. As such, fans were delighted when the object of Hurley’s affections – newly introduced Tail survivor Libby – agreed to go with him on a picnic date. As Hurley anxiously prepared for the occasion and Libby went to fetch some blankets, the budding couple were unaware that their date would never quite happen.
In a classic case of ‘wrong place, wrong time’, Libby walked in on Michael who was mid-betrayal after being manipulated by The Others and had just killed Ana Lucia. The treacherous survivor instinctively shot Libby through the picnic blankets and she died shortly after.
Although this was sad in and of itself, viewers hadn’t spent much time with Libby as a character and mostly just felt sad for Hurley, whom it seemed could hardly catch a break in life. The fact that Libby’s murder was entirely avoidable and committed by someone the group trusted just added to the scene’s sting.
13. Locke And Sawyer’s Flashbacks
Each and every one of the core Lost survivors has a sad or traumatic backstory, after all that’s why they’ve been ‘chosen’ to come to the Island in the first place. However, out of all the flashbacks, John Locke and Sawyer have the most tragic and upsetting pasts and it’s no coincidence that their tales are intertwined.
Both characters’ pain centers around Locke’s father, Anthony Cooper. Anthony was absent for much of his son’s life and Locke perhaps should have kept things that way as seeking out his Dad only brought misery. After reuniting, Anthony cheats Locke out of a kidney before abandoning him and later even pushes his son out of a window – an act that would’ve killed him had Jacob not intervened.
Anthony Cooper was also responsible for swindling Sawyer’s parents out of money and ruining their marriage, causing his father to murder both himself and Sawyer’s mother. If there is a heaven in the Lost universe, Anthony isn’t going there.
12. Ben Watches Alex Die
Although Benjamin Linus stole Alex from her biological mother when she was just a baby, it was very clear that the two shared a parental bond and Alex is one of the few people in the series that Ben truly cares about. As a result, his daughter’s death scene marks one of the few occasions that viewers genuinely sympathized with the normally evil Ben.
Dastardly villain Keamy had taken Alex hostage in an attempt to force Linus’ co-operation but in a misguided attempt to remain faithful to the Island and Jacob – as well as maintain his own position of power – Ben refused, confident he could outwit Keamy into letting Alex go. In a desperate final effort, Ben tells the violent mercenary that Alex is adopted and that she means nothing to him – in full earshot of the girl herself – and claims he wouldn’t care if she died.
Keamy happily obliged, brutally shooting Alex in the head and Ben’s facial expression perfectly captures the moment he realizes that not only did he just let his daughter die but the last thing she heard was him saying that he didn’t love her.
11. Sawyer Tells Jack About His Dad
Another of the series’ rare heart-warming moments surprisingly featured two characters that seemed perennially at odds. Of course, when they weren’t at each other’s throats, Sawyer and Jack actually made a pretty good team and a scene during season one episode ‘Exodus Part 1’ sees the duo truly bond.
Jack had a troubled relationship with his father to say the least and always sought to impress him, often feeling like he failed to do so. Unbeknownst to him, Sawyer had previously met Jack’s father, Christian, by chance at an Australian bar and heard all about how proud the man was of his son, both as a person and as a doctor.
When Sawyer passes on these sentiments, the relief on Jack’s face is palpable and although there was certainly no love lost between the two alpha males for most of the series, they could always bury their differences when it mattered most.
10. Boone’s Bad Luck With Planes
J.J. Abrams and co. originally planned for Jack’s character to die in the very first episode, hammering home the sense that anyone could die at any time. The plan was eventually nixed and the responsibility of being the first member of the main cast to be killed off fell to Ian Somerhalder’s ridiculously named Boone Carlyle.
After falling in with John Locke, Boone becomes entrenched in the ways of the mysterious Island and its supposed demands. At the behest of his new pal, Boone climbs up a cliff to inspect a small plane that had crashed on the Island previously. He only discovers a sizeable stash of heroin but also manages to make brief contact with other possible survivors.
Sadly, the unstable plane soon plummeted down from its perch and the resulting injuries caused Boone to pass away, with the character not even able to finish uttering his final words. Hordes of swooning teenage girls swiftly erupted into floods of tears.
9. “We Have To Go Back”
Lost’s flash-forward mechanic was an innovative addition to the show’s arsenal in the season three finale, albeit a confusing one at times. In one of the series’ biggest twists, the first flash-forward was initially presented as just another flashback segment and the revelation that the scenes were actually taking place in the future – when some survivors had escaped the Island – left audiences reeling.
The shocks didn’t stop there, however, with a beaten and desperate Jack pleading with Kate “we have to go back!” Suddenly, all of the realizations came crashing down on fans; Jack and Kate had escaped the island, they’d been a couple and broken up and now Jack wants to return. After three seasons of trying to leave the Island, he wants to go back?!
Although the scene is certainly intense and emotional, it was the ultimate rug-pull for fans that were desperately willing their favorite characters to find a way off the Island in the present timeline. Are those tears of emotion or frustration running down viewers’ cheeks? Possibly both.
8. Sawyer’s Leap Of Faith
During an attempt to escape the Island, Sawyer and a selection of other survivors managed to climb aboard a helicopter helmed by indestructible pilot Frank Lapidus. Unfortunately, the crew’s fuel situation was dire and the vehicle needed to shed some weight in order to reach its destination.
Naturally, all eyes turned to Hurley who was easily the heaviest of the passengers aboard but luckily, Sawyer was on hand to bail his friend out. After a quick word to Kate and a passionate smooch to remember him by, Sawyer bravely and nobly jumps out of the helicopter and makes the long swim back to the Island.
The scene was ultimately a demonstration of how far Sawyer had developed as a character, growing from the archetypal selfish conman to someone who would risk his own life for those he cared about. The move paid off too, as the survivors who left aboard the chopper would not escape for long and Sawyer would eventually be one of the few figures who made it off the Island for good.
7. The Church Scene
Even to this day, the ending of Lost is hotly debated by viewers, with the finale’s church scene being one of the most prominent topics. Many misinterpret the segment as indicating the survivors were trapped in some kind of purgatory the whole time or that they all died back on the Island, but the church – and the flash-sideways gimmick as a whole – was actually a sort of metaphysical meeting place for the survivors to all gather one last time after they all individually died before moving on as a group to the afterlife.
Does it make sense? Absolutely not. Even by Lost’s standards, the scene was pretentious and the religious imagery overwrought but nevertheless, the moment was packed with emotion, though perhaps not for the reasons intended.
Although the scene didn’t have the required impact in terms of narrative, long-time viewers were still left with a lump in their throats as watching the scene felt like watching the actors and actresses having an emotional, touching reunion party. Seeing previously departed and fondly remembered figures from the show’s history come together with their loved ones emphasized to viewers more than ever that this epic journey was about to end.
6. Jin Misses His Ride
Jin and Sun really did have a rough time on the Island. After Sawyer’s aforementioned dramatic helicopter exit, Lapidus needed to land his chopper on the Kahana in order to refuel. Predictably, the process was not that simple and unbeknownst to the chopper’s passengers, the vessel they had just landed on was rigged to explode.
Attempting to prevent this catastrophe was Jin – whose wife was part of the helicopter group – and after leaving the task of stopping the bomb to Michael, Jin attempted to join his wife and escape the Island. Unfortunately for the couple, he reached the deck just in time to see the helicopter already airborne and Sun was forced to watch her husband get caught in the ensuing explosion.
5. Juliet’s Sacrifice
Of all the characters who debuted during later seasons, Juliet was one of the most popular with fans. An immediate love rival for Kate, Juliet was a kind person at heart, even if she appeared to be working for the bad guys at first. As it transpired, Juliet would make the perfect romantic companion for lovable rogue James ‘Sawyer’ Ford, although it would take an anomaly of time and space to bring them together.
In typical, tragic Lost style however, Sawyer and Juliet’s happy ending was nowhere to be found. Despite the duo carving out a life with the Dharma Initiative in the past, their fellow survivors eventually arrive in an attempt to reset the timelines and put everything back to normal… with a nuclear bomb.
Unsurprisingly, the plan doesn’t go off without a hitch and after the “Incident” causes havoc, Juliet is caught by some runaway chains and sent flying towards the pit the nuke was tossed down. Sawyer manages to grab her but is unable to make the save, leading to a gut-wrenching farewell exchange. Shockingly, Juliet survives the fall and manages to detonate the dormant bomb with a rock, sacrificing herself to fulfill Jack’s scheme. Happily, the duo’s reunion in the flash-sideways world is almost as uplifting as Juliet’s death was upsetting.
4. The Final Shot
The story goes that Lost’s show-runners had the final shot planned well in advance of the season six finale and after watching the last episode, it’s easy to see how that came about. The closing moments of the Lost story see lead protagonist Jack Shepherd accepting his impending death, gently laying down and closing his eyes with a look of peace on his face.
This perfectly mirrors the opening scene of Lost’s very first episode, in which Jack wakes up, opening his eyes in the same area of the Island. The symmetry might be obvious but it’s also highly effective and perfectly rounds off an epic piece of television.
The scene is emotional for two reasons, firstly because Jack died – although his demise was almost inevitable and heavily signposted throughout the episode – and secondly because Jack closing his eyes for the final time represented the conclusion of a story that fans had been heavily invested in for six years.
3. Jin and Sun’s Submarine Ride
South Korean couple Sun-Hwa Kwon and Jin-Soo Kwon have a rollercoaster relationship over the course of Lost, with the Island first helping to heal their broken marriage before cruelly tearing them apart. When the duo reunited, fans genuinely thought the pair may get their happily ever after but alas, it wasn’t to be.
With the core survivors trapped in a submarine rigged to explode, Sayid sacrifices himself to allow his friends to escape. His plan works and most of the protagonists make it out alive. Sun, however, becomes trapped in some debris and despite her husband’s frenzied attempt to free her, cannot break free.
With the sub slowly filling with seawater, Jin makes the heartbreaking decision to stay by his wife’s side as they slowly drown in each other’s embrace. The scene marked one of Lost’s most romantic moments and was only partially spoiled by the fact that Jin seemed to forget he had a young daughter to take care of in the outside world.
2. The Constant’s Phone Call
Even Lost’s staunchest fans would have to admit that the show’s fourth season was not its strongest. A transitional point in the series as the narrative ramped up its more supernatural themes, season four also landed smack in the middle of a writers’ strike and a lot of the show’s casual viewers dropped off during this period.
Happily, fifth offering ‘The Constant’ was somewhat of a rose among the thorns and offered a relatively self-contained story with Desmond Hume as the protagonist. Constantly flitting between the present and various points in his past, Desmond’s history is told in a unique and compelling way that eschewed the standard flashback formula. ‘The Constant’ is a beautifully told love story with science fiction elements and was the high point in an otherwise iffy season.
1. “Not Penny’s Boat”
Despite his crippling drug addiction sometimes landing him in hot water, both viewers and characters alike loved plucky British rock star Charlie Pace. His cute, almost schoolyard-esque relationship with Claire and comedic friendship with Hurley immediately endeared the character to Lost’s audience and this only increased as the island made Charlie a more responsible and mature human.
It’s difficult to deny that Lost’s third season was an over-stuffed and occasionally meandering affair but the show more than made up for it with a devastating season finale and after a ton of character development, Charlie’s arc had only one possible conclusion: self sacrifice. This played out in the most heartbreaking way possible, with the former Drive Shaft bassist making the treacherous swim down to the Looking Glass station in order to receive a message from the outside world warning the islanders that the incoming rescue team were not who they claimed to be.
Passing on this warning was Charlie’s final act of heroic selflessness and a tragic end for a much-loved character that left viewers wishing he was safely back eating second breakfast in The Shire.