‘Lost’ Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

Published 5 years ago by , Updated September 22nd, 2014 at 1:35 pm,


Ok… so there’s implication of what the Island’s “rules” are, but that gets a bit problematic when you think back to season 4 of Lost – which is basically about Charles Widmore sending operatives to the island to do what he cannot (get revenge on Ben Linus). There was that whole sub-plot about how it was ‘against the rules’ for Widmore to return to the Island, and how Widmore “changed the rules” by killing Ben’s adopted daughter, Alex. But why would the “rules” of the Island’s protectors apply to these two guys?

In the end, I think the showrunners went for an “It is what it is,” approach with the mystical rules governing the Island; they are convenient plot devices that support the story at various points, but don’t really hold up when looked at in conjunction with the entire series. The Widmore/Linus conundrum is simply one of those holes – a weak point of the Lost mythology, for sure.


lost michael and walt Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

Remember when Lost had African-Americans as part of its “groundbreaking international cast?” Yeah, I vaguely do too. One friend of mine (and I’m sure of yours) watched the finale chanting “They better bring back Walt!” over and over – but no such luck.

Walt and his father Michael did make latter season Lost appearances: Locke visited Walt off the Island in the season five episode “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” and Michael appeared to Hurley as a ghost in season six, explaining the whole “whispers on the Island” thing. Still, many fans wondered why Walt, Michael and the “tailie” priest, Mr. Eko, didn’t reunite with the other cast members at the purgatory all-faith church in the finale.

lost michael murders ana lucia libby Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

Well, Michael we know is stuck on the Island as a “whisper” because he can’t move on, due to his killing of Libby and Ana Lucia in season two. Walt was freed from the Island early on, so the journey that bonded the Oceanic passengers in the purgatory universe was one that Walt was never really part of.

As for Mr. Eko, his death in the season 3 episode “The Cost of Living” showed that Eko had come to peace with his life. When told by the ghost of his brother Yemi to “Confess his sins,” Eko refused, saying that he had no guilt to confess; in his life, he did what he had to do to survive. The smoke monster evaluated Eko, who stood resolute about himself, his sins and the faith and redemption he’d ultimately found. After smokey beat Eko to pulp, Eko’s last vision was his young self walking away with his brother, holding the soccer ball they used to play with.

lost eko smoke monster Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

In short: Eko, by finding his faith and coming to peace with himself, had no reason to be in the purgatory world with the others. Wherever his soul was going, it was prepared for that journey – unlike the other passengers, who still had to come to peace with themselves and their deaths.

That all sounds deep, sure, but I’m sure off-screen conflicts with the actors and the fact that Macolm David Kelley (the kid who played Walt) hit puberty were also major factors.


If you’re asking this question, you weren’t really paying attention to the show. Go rent Lost season 3 on DVD and see if you can’t figure out the polar bear “mystery” when the rest of us did… back in 2006. I’ll give you a hint: Dharma Initiative experiments.


lost the numbers the candidates cave wall Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

In the season six episode “The Substitute” Un-Locke takes Sawyer down to “Jacob’s cave” on the cliff (where Jack ultimately killed MIB) and in that cave, Sawyer observes that Jacob’s list of “candidates” for his replacement – our Losties – have numbers by their names. The list of candidates (Sawyer, Jack, Locke, Hugo, Sayid and “Kwon”) equate to the numbers 4-8-15-16-23-42 – the numbers that both steered Hurley to the Island in the first place (he went to Australia to find out about them), and served as the code for releasing the Island’s tapped energy in The Swan station. The numbers also showed up again and again throughout the show (Danielle’s papers, on medicine Claire and Desmond take, on Mr. Eko’s stick, etc…).

So in the end the numbers had to do with fate, and were a nice little numerology motif for the showrunners to play with (and a mathematical mystery for fans to agonize over). THE END.


In the season 4 episode “The Shape of Things To Come” Ben Linus witnessed the murder of his daughter Alex at the hands of Charles Widmore’s mercenaries. Ben then accessed the secret room in his Dharma house and disappeared into a secret passage covered in hieroglyphics. When Ben returned, he brought the smoke monster with him, which murdered the team of Widmore’s assassins. Now we know the smoke monster was the Man In Black, but some viewers are still confused why Ben was able to “control the monster” in this season 4 episode, but not later in season six.

lost alex murdered Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

However, it is never said that Ben “controls” the smoke monster – the best word would be “summons.” This makes sense to the story, as Alex’s death is the event that makes Ben turn to the MIB for a favor – a favor which he later repays in season 5 by killing Jacob for the MIB. It’s the ultimate corruption of Ben Linus – the moment where he goes from being a blind servant of Jacob to serving evil. So I don’t quite consider this a loose end – just another case of misinterpretation by some viewers.


lost dharma mass grave Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

Ok, so this is MY major question. In one of my favorite Lost episodes, “The Man Behind The Curtain“, we learn all about Ben Linus’ childhood with the Dharma Initiative. The episode ends with the chilling revelation that Ben – conspiring with Richard – betrays “his people” in the initiative and mass murders them using nerve gas – including his own father. Ben then reveals to Locke what ultimately became of the Dharma Initiative: The Others threw their bodies into a gruesome mass grave.

Looking back from the series finale and the “Across The Sea” episode about Jacob’s past, I can’t help but wonder: did Jacob murder the Dharma Initiative?

We know that Richard is an emissary of Jacob – that is, Richard does Jacob’s bidding. So if Richard instructed Ben to kill the Dharma members, doesn’t that imply that Jacob instructed Richard to do so, much the same way Jacob’s “mother” slaughtered the men on the Island when the Man In Black got to close to them?

lost dharma intiative time travel Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

I find it hard to explain the death of the Dharma Initiative any other way, and that’s a huge narrative problem when you consider that our Losties – many of whom lived with and befriended the Dharma Initiative in the 70s – ultimately serve Jacob as well. They’re serving the man who most likely gave the order to murder their friends and co-workers!

It also blurs the lines between good and evil. Mass murder is never a good thing, so the fact that Jacob at least allowed the mass murder of the Dharma Initiative (it’s his role as “protector,” right?) is pretty ghastly when you think about it. This is the embodiment of “good” we’re supposed to root for? Makes you think the Man In Black wasn’t ALL bad…


For me this is also a major problem of the Lost mythology. For much of season 6, many fans assumed (based on the opening to the season six premiere, “LA  X“) that the bomb that Jack and Co. detonated in the 70s (the season 5 finale) resulted in the Island sinking and an alternate timeline being created, in which Oceanic 815 never crashed, and things were slightly different in the lives of the passengers.

Now we know that the “alternate timeline” was actually purgatory where the Losties  all met up when they were dead, and the whole “alternate timeline” bit was a red herring.  So what, exactly, did the bomb do?

The obvious answer is that the bomb propelled the Losties back through time to the present day, where the the Swan station (a.k.a. “The Hatch”) was now a slightly different version of its former imploded self (see the photos below).

Lost hatch imploded 1 Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

Hatch Implosion 1

Lost hatch imploded 2 Lost Finale Explained: Answering the Unanswered Questions

Hatch Implosion 2

Like most time travel narratives, the situation with the hatch raises a ton of logistical questions, such as: Would Desmond still be on the island if the hatch had been destroyed in the past? Wouldn’t that alteration to the time stream have a ripple effect that disrupted everything else regarding the Oceanic 815 crashing? And so on…

Instead what we got was a time travel scenario where that one location, the 70s Swan station, seemed to “overlap” on its present-day self, while leaving the rest of the time stream unaffected (or something like that). It’s confusing and very problematic – yet another reason why time travel is something you probably want to stay away from as a storyteller…

In the end though, the outcome is the same: Whatever conduit to the Island’s energy source that the Dharma Initiative tapped when they made the Swan station was ultimately exhausted. Whether it was exhausted by the bomb Juliet set off, or the the moment in season 3 when Locke lost his faith and refused to push the button (“Live Together, Die Alone“) the energy was released, and The Swan was destroyed. The Losties made it back to the present, and there was never two timelines, apparently.

Try not to think too hard about it, I guess… But it certainly is a major thread left dangling.

These are just some of the lingering question Lost has left us with. Did our explanations make sense or are you just as confused as before? For those of you who feel cheated by the finale – did any of these explanations help?

[Check out this video of the unanswered questions of Lost]

Sound off in the comments.

Source: Lostpedia

« 1 2

TAGS: Lost
Get our free email alerts on the topics and author of this article:

4,585 Comments - Comments are closed.

  1. Jan, thank you. I will definitely get that book, “Zen Physics. I will read it when I’m ready (now, if I can absorb). I’m sorry that you lost your sister. That’s harder than losing a parent, because it’s natural to lose a parent, and tragic when we lose a young person we love.

    • Thanks Jamie. It wasn’t harder though…it was about as hard. I’m 57 years old and my sister was almost 80. My mother died 15 years ago and my father died when I was 20…so I’ve lost quite a few. I had a middle sister who died fairly young…I think she was 60. I was very much younger than the others. :-) I hope you get to feeling better soon.

  2. I just finished the series. I have a couple questions, of course. Did Jack actually have a son with Juliette? And what happened with Aaron? Why wasn’t Michael & his son in the church scene in the end?

  3. Hi Jan,
    I am also curious to know, why were michael and his sone not in church scene.
    And why was Hugo there, when he was playing the role of jacob?

  4. I just have a couple questions. Why did Daniel Faridays mother try to so Desmond from coming to the concert? Why didn’t Ben come in to the church? Why wasn’t Ana Lucia at the church?

  5. In answer to Laura: Ben did not go in the church because he had things to work out still. The person who placed Ana Lucia (in real life) was drinking and not in the show any more.

    • Didn’t they make her character a revenge killer cop near the end…when she and Hurley’s girlfriend got caught DWI in Hawaii? So it really had to do less with her show character than her real character. So she couldn’t go to heaven.

  6. Well the ana lucia explanation is not correct because she was in an episode, maybe one or two before the finale. She was the driver of the van that was carrying desmond, sayid and kate from jail. Hurley paid her to let them go. The only explanation we got was this: Desmond asked why ana lucia wasn’t coming and hurley said “she’s not ready.” so I guess we have to assume, she wasn’t in the church for the same reason as Ben, because she had things to work out still.

  7. I think Jacob and Smokey story looks like the bible story of Abel and Caen , the two brothers made a gift to God one was accepted, and the other one wasn’t, so Caein killed his brother and made the first crime of humanity. To me it’s seems like Smokey is Caen, Abel is Jacob, good/ Evil.
    Each caracter is here on the island to be tested. Charlie was always divised between his faith and the material world (symbolised by drugs), he realizes that he had been tested by the Island. I thin God rules the Islnd but it’s not explicitly said. Jacob is a sort of protector, or angel his work is to protect the island and choose the people on earth who were about to died on the plane.

    Now the most interesting character is LOCKE. He is not a true believer, even if it’s lie so. At many time, he refuses to believe for exemple when Charlie stole Aron and came to Locke to ask help, he told locke he was tested by the island, and Locke didn’t take him seriously even if he always says that the island is a test. He is the kind of person who speas a lot about faith, destiny… but when the time comes to truly believe he doesn’t. I think that’s why he get such a terrible ending, he became Smokey because he wasn’t able to truly believe, maybe because of all the deception he had on his life, with his mother, father stuff, accident stuff, love stuff, he is the person who had the wort life among the others and he tried so hard to find a sens to his life but never truly could, to me it’s the sadest story because almost everyone could achieve peace of minde exept Locke.

    • Locke became smokey bc smokey new how much potential he had in getting smokey off the island- simple as that- the island did test Charlie and Charlie failed , Locke new that intuitively and said what needed to be said. Most people didn’t like the ending but I thought it was magnificent – especially when Christian said the friendship you made were real they needed you as much as you need them- if people understood that in their everyday life life would be more rewarding

  8. Hey,
    I have a question, at the end, at the last epizode, then they were all in the Curch, they were all ready to ‘leave’ ‘move on’ did that mean they were ready to die?

  9. My question is simple. If everyone died in their own way and met at the station essentially in the afterlife, then how did James, the azn guy, and a few others who were on the plane that survived the island entirely, how did they end up at the station in the “dead” world when they weren’t even dead! It shows their plane taking off and leaving the island alive. Did they crash and not make it anywhere else? Did their fuel run out or something??

    • That’s what I was wondering too.. ???

    • If yiu had paid attention to what Christian told Jack, you would have heard him tell them they had all died, some before Jack, and some long after Jack had died. Meaning they had lived out their lives after the island and gathered there in the end.

  10. Here is the TRUE ending…


    Roll your own. Fill in the blanks yourself. There WAS NO ENDING unless you interpret a huge amount of it in yourself.

    Were they all just dead from the beginning? If you want…

    Did they die on the island? If you want…

    Ask 100 different people and you will get 100 different answers… and 200 more questions.

    What about the HUNDREDS of loose ends in that show that were left open and unresolved? Oh, they “meant to do that”…

    Remember the “Let’s get a VW Van started to give us hope” FILLER episode? What was the point of THAT again? Remember the “two diamond thieves get bit by a spider and buried alive” FILLER episode? What was the point of THAT again? Now Sawyer’s a cop? Really?

    Please don’t mistake GENIUS for SLOPPINESS. The fact is, this show was SLOPPY. Undercooked in many places, overcooked in others and served half-baked and partly burned.

    • Precisely. When the human brain is left to “fill in the blanks’ it creates patterns where there aren’t any, just to make sense of the input.

      • when you start to put time travelling and immortal semi-gods fighting the eternal battle of good vs evil, it really means you had nothing to say to begin with.

    • I agree to some degree. Lost had its moments of genius, but there was a lot of sloppiness AND, although viewers were originally told that there was a pre-written 5-year arc, the writers later revealed that a lot of the writing happened on the fly with changes made to meet: 1) viewer complaints/preferences 2) actor availability 3) actor-added ideas 4) network expectations.

      A lot of viewers thought the island was purgatory or hell since the beginning of the show. We’ll never know if the original intent of the writers was to make it purgatory or hell since they made a ton of changes to the original story. We just have to live with what they gave us — a very good character-driven story wrapped in unanswered or badly explained mysteries.

  11. That helped but Im still a little confused.. Maybe I missed something, but how did they all die?? Kate, Hugo, Sawyer.. ?

    • Come on, guys, what’s so difficult??? They left the island and they went on with their lives. Eventually they died, but it is not necessary to know how and when they died: the show didn’t have to show the actual lives and deaths of everybody!

      • So they Are all drad?

      • So they Are all dead?

        • “So, they are all dead?” – erm… exactly what part of my answer you didn’t get? and what are you actually asking?

  12. You are not really a true fan of this show if you are giving such whack explanations to a lot of these questions. The protector of the island was also capable of bestowing gifts to people (hurley’s ability to see the dead, miles’ ability, walt, desmond) thus explaining why desmond was immune to the islands energy and was the exception to the rules of time travel. The pregnancy subplot was caused by the incident, you can discover the answer to this in the epilogue “The New Man In Charge”.

  13. You are not really a true fan of this show if you are giving such whack explanations to a lot of these questions. The protector of the island was also capable of bestowing gifts to people (hurley’s ability to see the dead, miles’ ability, walt, richard, desmond) thus explaining why desmond was immune to the islands energy and was the exception to the rules of time travel. The pregnancy subplot was caused by the incident, you can discover the answer to this in the epilogue “The New Man In Charge”.

  14. Well the polar bears SEEM to be explained but what about the polar bear charlotte found in the desert??

  15. They turned
    The Wheel that opened
    The Portal to
    The Outside World
    that just so happened to be in
    The Middle of a desert

  16. I just finished watching Lost on Netflix. I didn’t see it when it aired on network TV. Somehow I managed to remain ignorant of the key plot points, for which I am really glad. Lost is one of the better TV shows I’ve seen. (It’s no “The Wire,” but for what it is, they did a great job.) I have many of the same nits to pick with the ending that thousands of others already have mentioned, so I won’t repeat them.

    But I do want to say that overall I feel the show went a little overboard with the religion stuff at the end. I was moved by some of the reunion scenes in the “sideways reality,” but I can’t shake the feeling that the whole purgatory concept undermined some of the show’s strengths as a whole and emphasized its main weakness: That when the show’s writers could not come up with a rational-sounding explanation for something, they used spirituality/mysticism as a sort of literary cop-out.

    If the show’s entire basis had been religion and spirituality, then such explanations would be fair game and perfectly OK. It’s that they clearly tried to come up with plausible pseudo-scientific explanations for some things, but then they resorted to totally irrational explanations — or no explanation — when they could not come up with something better. It certainly did not ruin the show for me. I enjoyed it very much, especially the great characters. But I do see it as a weakness in the writing of Lost.

  17. My biggest issue with Lost, overall, wasn’t the overreaching unanswered questions or the purgatory cop-out for fans (although those were both big issues).

    I had a problem with the uneven storytelling during S4 and S5. The 3-year Oceanic 6 arc started in S4 and was given a lot of air time in S4 and S5. Yet, the experiences of the other time traveling survivors (Sawyer, Jin, Miles, Juliet and Daniel) from 1974-1977 were given very little air time and only in S5.

    Personally, I think more time should have been spent with learning about things like: 1) Why did Juliet stay past 2 weeks? or 2) How did Sawyer become head of security?. 3) What was life really like for them before Jack, Kate and Hurley arrived?

    I think a lot of people who spent years gleaning bits and pieces about the Dharma Initiative (or playing the online and other viewer Dharma games) found themselves disappointed because there was so little investment made to covering the experiences of the time travelers after watching them travel.

    Instead, there was a ton of time spent on the mainland dealing with Hugo’s craziness, Jack’s addiction and guilt, Kate’s fear, Sayid’s redemption/killing, Sun’s revenge and Ben’s trying to get back… and then later a lot more time devoted to Locke’s trying to get everyone to go back.

    It was a shame that they didn’t spend more time delving into the scientific experiments of the Dharma Initiative or the truce with the hostiles and how Sawyer’s group managed.

    I personally would have preferred that over the sideways world.

    • Interesting perspective.

      • Thank you~

  18. i still don’t get it, why did it has to be so complicated, instead of giving a better more understandable, satisfying ending like without introducing this sideways thing. I really wish it was what started in the first three seasons, something more like danger island, i would love to watch the whole series over and over again, but now, i don’t even wanna look at it.

  19. You said that pregnant women died in the island because its Rules
    so how about Ethan’s birth on the island ?!

    • Pregnant Women die on the island because the incident released electromagnetic radiation into the air which interferes with pregnancy. Ethan was born before the incident.

  20. Was there ever an explanation as to why “bad things followed Walt?” i.e. The bird smashing into the window. His mother’s boyfriend (can’t remember his name) didn’t want to be around him anymore because of it, seemed to be afraid of him. Did I overlook or miss the explanation? Or is it one of those things in the show we were supposed to just forget about?

    • Jacob had a gift he could bring things to the island using his mind, setting on the beach staring out at the Blackrock ship brother ask how did they get here Jacob said I brought them here, his timing was calculated to where the storm would carry the ship inland all part of his plan, the same with flight 815 Jacob brought them there calculated with desmond not pushing the button that brought the plane down , Walt also has this gift i.e. thinking about the birds and the birds trying to come to him.