Back in 2004, ABC’s Lost exploded onto the television scene with J.J. Abrams at the helm. Over the course of 6 seasons, the series redefined television with its ensemble cast, overarching stories, and deep well of mysteries. Thanks to producers and writers more than willing to play ball, the show built up a massive fanbase that took to the Internet to endlessly discuss their theories about the mythology of the show. Since then, most hour-long TV shows have attempted to replicate one or more aspects of Lost, often falling short in the attempt. From a dense mythology to abbreviated title sequences, the fingerprints of the show are all over networks and cable right now.
Though many of the main cast members have gone on to have successful TV and film careers, the nature of the show meant all sorts of secondary and tertiary characters popped up on the series. Many faces and names that are recognizable today had blink-and-you’ll-miss-them cameos on Lost early in their careers. As we look back at the show’s legacy, here are 15 Stars You Forgot Appeared On Lost.
15 Michael Cudlitz
Nowadays, Michael Cudlitz is pretty recognizable for his role as Abraham on The Walking Dead. Given his unique facial hair, it’s not hard to spot him in a lineup, and his signature slang has made him a fan-favorite character. But Cudlitz has been around quite some time now. From his start in 1989, Cudlitz has over 100 credits to his name, thanks to numerous TV roles over the years. His parts have included long stints on Southland, Band of Brothers, and even the original 90210. In 2005, he added a small role on Lost to the list.
As Officer Mike "Big Mike" Walton, Cudlitz played the partner of Michelle Rodriquez’s Anna Lucia. In 2005’s “Collision”, he appears in her tragic backstory about the man who shot her and her unborn baby and her subsequent suspension from the force after she seeks vengeance. He later pops back up in season 4’s “The Beginning of the End,” where he’s become a Detective in the time since Anna Lucia got on that fateful flight. It's a small role, but a fun one to look back on.
14 Theo Rossi
Theo Rossi hasn’t had as long a career as Michael Cudlitz, but he’s been having a good few years. He popped up here and there on TV before landing roles on Sons of Anarchy and Luke Cage. We likely haven’t seen the last of Shades in the Marvel/Netflix universe, but his role on Lost was hardly as meaty. Still, when he appeared as Sgt. Tony Buccelli, it was in a fairly pivotal episode.
In season 2’s “One of Them,” the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 discover a man stuck up in a tree who claims to have crashed his hot air balloon there. The gang is suspicious, throwing him in their brig and debating what to do with him. Eventually, Sayid is brought in to employ his considerable skills, causing him to flashback to his origin as a torturer. We see him get captured by American forces in Iraq, led by Buccelli as well as Kate’s dad, Sgt. Sam Austen. The episode also shows us a pre-Island Kelvin Inman, years before he took over the Hatch. Buccelli never returns, but his legacy is long considering the role he played in transforming Sayid into the man he is.
13 Fisher Stevens
Anyone of a certain age will likely always remember Fisher Stevens for his first big role in Short Circuit and its sequel. Aside from being one of the bigger family films of the ‘80s, Stevens’ role has had new light shone on it thanks to an extended bit in Master of None where Aziz Ansari blows his fellow Indian-Americans' minds by revealing Stevens was a white man in brown face for the film. While funny, it proved an interesting jumping off point for discussions about identity and how Hollywood has changed (though not that much). Still, it hasn’t stopped Stevens from having a long career.
Though his film roles are less plentiful than they were at the height of his career, Stevens has shown up in a number of TV shows over the years. That includes a few appearances on Lost as the man who helps Desmond find his "constant." When we first encounter Stevens as George Minkowski, he’s the voice on the other end of the radio helping Sayid and Desmond get to the freighter. Once there, they learn the timey-wimey problems of the Island are slowly driving him crazy and killing him. He then plays a pivotal role in “The Constant” by helping Desmond make the phone call to Penny that will stabilize him. It’s not a huge part, but it’s a crucial one and cements him as part of one of the show’s most heartfelt arcs.
12 Lance Reddick
Like Fisher Stevens, Lance Reddick had a small but integral role on Lost. At least, we think it was integral. Out of all the mysterious characters on the series, Reddick’s Matthew Abaddon is one of the most perplexing. While still on The Wire and shortly before starring in Abrams’ Fringe, Reddick began popping up on Lost both in the present and past. We first meet him when he comes to the mental hospital to talk to Hurley about the story they told regarding the flight. Eerily, he seems to know more about it than anyone outside of the Oceanic 6 should.
His more intriguing appearance, however, comes during the flashback to Locke’s past in “Cabin Fever.” Jumping from his childhood to a time after the accident that paralyzed him, we not only see John visited by Richard Alpert as a kid, but learn he too encountered the mysterious Matthew Abaddon. Rather than a nefarious figure asking questions though, he’s the physical therapist who helps rehabilitate Locke and even suggests he go on the walkabout that will put him in Australia. We never really learn much about Abaddon, but his overall air, masterfully played by Reddick, lends a more supernatural vibe to the proceedings.
11 John Hawkes
John Hawkes spent a good 20 years taking small film and television roles before landing a spot on Deadwood in the early aughts. Since then, he’s continued to gather acclaim for his work in indie films like Winter’s Bone alongside Jennifer Lawrence, and prestige pictures like Lincoln and American Gangster. He’s even shown his comedic chops (or rather his kill as a straight-man) playing Kenny Powers’ brother on Eastbound and Down. In between all of that, he had a small role on Lost that you might hardly recognize.
Decked out in beads and necklaces, and sporting the hippie vibe that the other denizens of the Temple rock, Hawkes plays Lennon, the translator for Dogen. Befitting his name, Lennon wears glasses and a haircut similar to the Beatle, but his name also alludes to the Russian revolutionary Lenin. Though he doesn’t get much to do outside of following Dogen’s orders, it would’ve been great to see an actor of his caliber delve into the likely rich history of the Others' Temple.
10 Greg Grunberg
Out of all the well-known character actors who have popped up in small roles on Lost, Greg Grunberg likely has the tiniest. Before his brief appearances in Star Wars and Star Trek, Grunberg was making a name for himself with starring roles on Heroes and J.J. Abrams’ Alias. As the latter was still going, Abrams wasn’t able to give Grunberg a big part on Lost, but it’s a memorable one.
The two-part premiere of the series was named Pilot, like many first episodes of a show, but it could also be read as a bit of a pun given the plane crash that kicks off Lost. It’s even possible that it refers to Grunberg himself, who plays Pilot Seth Norris. Jack, Kate, and Charlie all go into the woods to find the front of the plane, and discover him still alive in the cockpit. He’s pretty banged up, but they learn that the plane lost communication way before it went off course, meaning rescue crews are looking in the wrong place. Sadly, he doesn’t prove any more helpful as the Smoke Monster snatches him up and finishes him off.
9 Bai Ling
Though she has almost 100 credits to her name, Bai Ling has never really had a huge role. Early on in her career, she co-starred in The Crow and one of her more memorable turns was in Crank: High Voltage. Like many of her characters, she is apparently a bit of a loose cannon in real life, which could explain her more understated career. Still, she’s fairly recognizable, which is why many people are surprised they can’t remember her role on Lost. That’s likely less do to her performance than it is to the episode in question.
Season 3 has long been considered one of the weaker in Lost’s history. While it introduced us to the Others, it began the practice stretching things out in order to meet the network’s demands for more content. One of the worst offenders is “Stranger in a Strange Land,” aka “Jack’s Tattoos.” Out of all the mysteries fans hoped to have explained on the show, the origin of Jack’s tattoos was not one of them. It’s even worse knowing they weren’t added for the story, but are simply Matthew Fox’s real tattoos. Unfortunately, we still had to spend a whole episode watching him court Ling’s Achara in Thailand. Even sillier, we only learn about one of his tattoos, leaving the rest a mystery we never need solved.
8 Clancy Brown
Thanks to Clancy Brown’s voice acting work, he’s got over 250 roles under his belt. From starring in Shawshank Redemption to playing Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants, Brown’s career has run the gamut. He's also appeared on Avengers Assemble, The Flash, and Rebels; just a few of the parts that prove his genre bona fides. Back in season 2 of Lost, he also deepened the show’s mythology and connective tissue.
We first meet Brown's character in the aforementioned “One of Them”, where he’s part of the Army coalition that captures Sayid and his men. Toward the end of the season, we meet him once again in Desmond’s flashback. As the Scotsman drifts back to shore on his sailboat, unable to leave the Island, he recalls what brought him there. Following a crazy scheme to regain his honor and win over Penny’s father, he embarks on a sailing trip with a boat oddly lent to him by a stranger (who turns out to be Libby the Tailie).
We learn that upon shipwrecking on the Island, Desmond was brought into the cult of the Hatch by Clancy Brown’s Kelvin Inman, who somehow wound up there as well. Not only does Kelvin teach Desmond (and us) all about the Button, but he’s been finishing the mysterious Map on the blast doors. Unfortunately, he’s also trying to escape on Desmond’s boat, which he’s been fixing, and their altercation leads to Kelvin's death.
7 Rob McElhenney
Outside of It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Rob McElhenney hasn’t really done much. Considering the show’s in its 12th season and he writes, produces, stars in, and occasionally directs the series, that’s hardly surprising. Still, in his downtime between shooting and creating the raunchy comedy, he’s found time to pop up in a couple of other projects.
In season 3 of Lost, he had a brief cameo as a jerky guard named Aldo watching over the building where the Others were brainwashing Alex’s boyfriend Carl. Using the old Wookiee prisoner routine, Kate and Sawyer were able to dupe him and knock him out before freeing Carl from his A Clockwork Orange reenactment.
It’d be 3 years later before he reappeared, this time during Season 6’s “What Kate Does.” At this point, he’d joined up at the Temple with the other, um, Others and wasn't very pleased when he learned that Sawyer and Kate were there as well. It’s not a meaty role, but it’s enjoyable for any fans of Mac and It’s Always Sunny.
6 Allison Janney
With a career stretching back almost 30 years, Allison Janney has had a lot of good roles. While you likely recognize her face from her time on The West Wing, Masters of Sex, or in Juno, you probably know her voice as Peach from Finding Nemo or Charlene Doofenschmirtz on Phineas and Ferb. In the midst of all those roles, she had a one-off, but highly important part to play on Lost.
Known only as Mother, Janney appeared in the season 6 episode “Across the Sea,” wherein we learn the origin of Jacob and the Man in Black. It’s one of the rare episodes that takes place almost entirely in flashbacks, with the action eventually catching up to the present day of the series. It also focuses on two of the most mysterious characters on the show, proving that they were once ordinary brothers who wound up on the Island the same way almost everyone else has. Janney’s role is short, but it’s a heartbreaking arc showing how she groomed her children for the seemingly eternal struggle they’d one day be caught up in as they attempted to gain control of the Island.
5 Cheech Marin
Though Richard "Cheech" Marin has had a career dating back to the ‘70s, he’ll likely always be remembered for his roles opposite Tommy Chong as the lovable stoner first introduced in 1978’s Up in Smoke. While the character is never far behind him, it hasn’t kept him from a lengthy career as a voice actor in animated films. From FernGully to Lion King to the Cars franchise, Marin often returns to voice work in between film and TV roles. Following a long run on Nash Bridges, he even showed up for a few episodes of Lost.
Appearing in 3 episodes across an equal number of seasons, Marin played David Reyes, the long-absent father of Hurley. We first meet him during Hurley’s flashback in “Tricia Tanaka is Dead,” where he proves to be the root of many of the young man’s issues. He then reappears following Hurley’s return from the Island, and starts making amends with his son. He’s never shown to be a very good dad, but he helps Hurley when he needs it (like when his son shows up with a bleeding Sayid as the two are being hunted down). Though he’s only in a few episodes, he leaves a lasting impression and is pivotal in the continual development of Hurley.
4 Katey Sagal
Like Theo Rossi, many fans know Katey Sagal from her work on Sons of Anarchy. She’s likely equally recognizable from her time on the ‘90s sitcom Married with Children and as the voice of Leela on Futurama. While she’s never broken into film in a big way, she’s practically owned TV with her many sizable roles across her 40 plus years of acting. Along the way, she’s garnered serious nerd cred for Anarchy and Futurama, and like many on this list, played a small but key role in the life of one of Lost’s main characters.
Two of the most heart-wrenching arcs on Lost are those of Desmond and Locke. While we got to spend a bit of time with Penny, Locke’s love has a bit less screen time. Still, her role is essential in his transformation into the man we meet when Flight 815 crashes. Appearing in just 4 episodes scattered across the series, Sagal plays Helen Norwood, the woman Locke loves and nearly spends his life with.
They meet as he’s recovering from his anger issues over his father, and it’s that very problem that drives them apart. Despite Helen's best efforts, Locke just can’t give up his obsession with the man who stole his life, and Helen eventually leaves him. Despite dying while Locke was on the Island, Helen returns again in season 6 during the flash-sideways. They appear to have a happy relationship, making their reality all the more tragic.
3 Billy Dee Williams
Billy Dee Williams has never taken himself too seriously. After playing the rakish Lando Calrissian in Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, and Harvey Dent in Tim Burton’s Batman, Williams has spent most of his career snatching up small cameos that play off his persona and past roles. This is most evident during his small part on That ‘70s Show, where he and the writers had a blast referencing Star Wars as much as possible.
When he popped up during season 3 of Lost, he was more poking fun at himself and the nature of TV. Proving to be the highlight of one of the series’ worst episodes, Williams plays a fictional version of himself in “Exposé.” The episode opens with him playing a mysterious and campy villain who kills Nikki, only for it to be revealed they were simply shooting a TV show. Sadly, it’s all we see of him as the rest of the episode details Nikki and Paolo’s journey from small-time crooks to being buried alive due to fans’ sheer hatred of them.
2 DJ Qualls
It might be hard to remember the scrawny guy from Road Trip and Hustle & Flow appearing on Lost, but that’s likely because he had such a small role. Still, it’s a fairly essential one, like many of this list. In the season 2 episode “Everybody Hates Hugo,” we once again flashback to Hurley’s life before the Island. While his previous flashback showed what he was doing in Australia and involved some crazy numerology, this episode shows how Hurley got to be so rich. Turns out, he won the lottery while working at a fried chicken place.
His best friend and coworker, Johnny, was played by DJ Qualls, but their relationship soon deteriorated when he learned of Hurley’s winnings. It’s never quite clear why this happens, but Hurley chalks it up to the curse he believes he has. It’s not hard to argue, either, as we see all manner of terrible things occur to him and his family following the windfall. Johnny never returns, but the episode is a great counterpoint to what’s happening on the Island, as Hurley once again sees his relationships strained by what he has that others lack. The second time, however, he choose a different path and found some salvation.
1 Nathan Fillion
Season 3 did have its bright spots, and one of them was the Kate-centric episode “I Do.” It also marks the one appearance of Firefly and Castle star Nathan Fillion, idol of nerds everywhere. In the episode, we see just how far Kate has gone in her efforts to live a normal life. She gets married to her boyfriend, Officer Kevin Callis, and the two seem to have a happy life. Sadly, her past just can’t seem to stay buried.
Though she even pleads with Marshall Mars to leave her to her new life, he knows she’ll never stop running. Indeed, when Kevin plans a honeymoon for the two in Costa Rica, Kate realizes her false identity of "Monica" won’t hold up when it’s time to get a passport. This, along with a recently failed pregnancy test, proves to be the breaking point for Kate, who drugs Kevin so she can make a run for it. It’s rather devastating, as not only did Kate truly seem to love him, but we never get to see Nathan Fillion on the show again.
Which Lost guest appearances were your favorite? Let us know in the comments.