In what could easily be billed as the biggest television event of the decade, ABC's "Lost" will shut the hatch door on six years of mind-bending mystery when it caps off its incredible run with a two-and-a-half hour series finale on May 23. Of course, when you factor in the two-hour recap show preceding the episode, and the one-hour "Jimmy Kimmel Live" special following it, the Sunday night event actually totals out to a whopping five-and-a-half-hours of coverage...and that doesn't include the replay of the show's two-hour pilot Saturday night. Not bad for a show that might never have lasted an entire season on a different network.
And to think it all started when J.J. Abrams was approached to write a pilot for a new show looking to capitalize on the popularity of "Survivor." At the time, no one could have anticipated that Abrams' island drama would depend so much on its cool plot devices and mysteries to fuel the storytelling. But even after the show became more science fiction-heavy, it remained first and foremost about the characters and their relationships both on the island and off. With so many great personalities populating the "Lost" universe, it's difficult to settle on a list of the absolute best, but that doesn't mean we didn't try. Join us as we celebrate our favorite characters from the show, as well as the ones we'd gladly vote off the island if given the chance.
He's done enough to fill the lives of 10 men, which may explain why he has trouble standing still on the timeline. After all, how many people have you met who can claim to be a former monk, dishonorably discharged soldier and long-distance sailboat racer, not to mention impervious to electromagnetic blasts and briefly in possession of clairvoyant abilities? Yes, Desmond Hume is indeed "special," as several of the people he's encountered in his life have told him, but the reason we love Desmond is because he has always answered to a different voice than the others. The man, by and large, has carried himself with a Zen-like cool, with only one thing on his mind: how the hell do I get myself to Penny Widmore? Whatever he's done, Desmond has let love be his energy. Hell, we'd even argue that love was his motive when he ran over John Locke in cold blood in the parking lot, though we'll likely have to wait until the series finale to confirm that. Either way, Desmond is one of a kind, and someone we'd be proud to call our brutha.
Hugo "Hurley" Reyes
Not every fat man is jolly. There's no question that a dark cloud has been hovering above Hugo Reyes for much of his life, so you can't blame the guy for having kind of a dour attitude on occasion; but if it wasn't for Hurley, there wouldn't have been nearly as many laughs on "Lost." Much of the laughter, however, comes simply from his position as the island's voice of common sense, such as in Season One, when he spends an inordinate amount of time putting together a golf course, explaining the importance of relaxation by simply saying, "Dudes, listen: our lives suck." Hurley's the character who is easiest to root for because he's the one who tends to say the things that the viewers are thinking, a propensity arguably best demonstrated in the Season Five episode, "Whatever Happened, Happened," as he tries to work out the logistics of time travel. Although it was initially easy to write off Hurley as the show's comic relief, we discovered in "Everybody Hates Hugo" what kind of rollercoaster his pre-flight life had been, which is why we were rooting for him to find love with Libby, and why we really wish he hadn't forgotten the blankets for their picnic. It's not overstating things to suggest that Hurley is the very heart and soul of "Lost," and while we don't know what fate has in store for him in the final episode, we steadfastly believe that no one is more deserving of a happy ending.
The torturer with a heart of gold.A former member of the Iraqi Republican Guard, Sayid Jarrah didn't start on his road to redemption until he was asked to torture his former childhood friend, Nadia. Instead, he fell in love with her and ultimately helped her escape. Sayid may have been the most useful (and badass) person on the island, given his military and engineering background, but he was always struggling with his own demons. This inner conflict makes him interesting, and Sayid-centric episodes were always among the best the series had to offer. Sadly, it seems that karma had it in for the former interrogator, as he lost his new love Shannon in Season Two, he was shot at the end of Season Five, healed/infected at the start of Season Six, and ultimately killed in an act of heroism in one of the final episodes. And to think, the beloved character wasn't even in the original pilot script. Would "Lost" be "Lost" without the tortured torturer?
The phrase "better the devil you know'"' was written about guys like Benjamin Linus. He speaks in riddles and incomplete truths, where everything he says is technically correct, but always missing at least one key piece of information. Ironically, he may never have become the duplicitous man he is today were it not for a time-traveling Iraqi soldier dispatching some revisionist history judgment by trying to kill Ben when he was a young boy. The Others warned them that Ben would never be the same once they healed him, and as the Dharma workers would tell you – if they weren't all dead – he most certainly wasn't. Yet, for all of his back-handed, double-crossing ways, this actually makes him quite predictable; once you realize that he has no use for emotional ties, Ben turns out to be one of the most consistent, and fascinating, characters on the island. It is no coincidence that the show flew highest when Ben was at the fore.
Of all the passengers aboard Oceanic Flight 815, Charlie Pace is one of the last people you'd expect to emerge as a hero. That didn't stop him from volunteering to join the search party for the plane's pilot upon their arrival on the island, however, and although it was later revealed that he was only tagging along to retrieve his stash of heroin, Charlie eventually redeemed himself by becoming a surrogate father to Claire's newborn baby, Aaron. It didn't come easily, either, after nearly being killed by Ethan, and then forced to go cold turkey with the knowledge that there was a planeload of China White beckoning to him in the ironic image of the Virgin Mary. His dark days didn't get any brighter as he continually dodged certain death with the help of Desmond (making for some of the better moments of Season Three), and though we knew it was coming, his eventual demise remains the most heartbreaking of all the deaths on the show. Charlie was a one-hit wonder in life just as much as he was in his music – not particularly complex, but consistently entertaining.
Over the last five seasons and change, few of the inhabitants of the "Lost" island have taken audiences on as much of a journey as the man of faith himself, John Locke. From his beginning as the embittered, wheelchair-bound office drone with daddy issues, to his position of power in the struggle between Ben Linus and the survivors of Oceanic 815 to -- well, in the interest of not spoiling the last couple of seasons for anyone who's been holding out for one reason or another, let's just say Locke has had one hell of an arc. Even with just a few hours standing between us and the end of the series, it seems safe to say some of the biggest developments are yet to come. In the struggle between science and faith that has framed "Lost," John Locke has been a lot of things, but he's never been boring. Not even the mighty Jack Shephard can boast that kind of character development.
As a member of the Kahana freighter crew, audiences didn't know what to make of Daniel Faraday at first glance, but even though he may have come to the island as part of a plot to kidnap Benjamin Linus, he quickly mumbled his way into our hearts as one of the good guys. Faraday's history was kept relatively mum during his first year on the show (his only flashback was a brief scene of him crying at the news of the Oceanic 815 wreckage), but after the island was moved and the Losties started doing the Time Warp, Faraday's ties to the island became more apparent – namely in the reveal that he was the son of island VIPs Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking. It was fate that he should return to the island, but it was also necessity. With the introduction of certain sci-fi elements comes the need for a tour guide to help explain things to the other characters and the audience, and Faraday was a walking, talking Cliff's Notes on all things time travel-related. Desmond may be the unanimous fan favorite, but nothing he did would have made any sense if it weren't for the quirky physicist.
James "Sawyer" Ford
He's a con-man, a killer, and can't remember anyone's name to save his life, but for some reason, we just can't help having a fondness for the man we've come to know as Sawyer. Admittedly, part of it has to do with all the great nicknames he's come up with for his fellow survivors – just the monikers he's saddled Hurley with (Pillsbury, Rerun, Grape Ape, Mongo, Jabba, Deep Dish to cite a few) are enough to make him our hero – but it's mostly because of the fact that, for all of the flashbacks we've seen on "Lost," few have found us changing our tune about a character quite as much as his. We learned that, at the ripe old age of eight, his parents were conned so profoundly by a man using the alias of Tom Sawyer that his father killed his mother, then himself, damaging the boy's psyche so much that he took on the con man's last name and profession. Sawyer was a far cry from a good man before taking Oceanic Flight 815, and he wasn't all that nice a guy immediately thereafter, either (remember the way he hoarded the whiskey and porn that he'd found in the wreckage?), but thanks to his relationships with Kate and Juliet, along with various sacrifices he's made over the course of six seasons, we've seen that there really is a good heart beating beneath that snippy, cynical exterior.
When we met Sun, she was the demure, easily cowed wife of Jin-Soo Kwon, a budding mob enforcer. But beneath her quiet façade lurked countless secrets, like her ability to speak English, and her affair with the guy who taught her to speak the language. Sun also had hidden reserves of strength, as evidenced by her willingness to kick a little ass – or even kill – if necessary. Of course, Jin had a few tricks up his sleeves too, and ultimately, their love story – and the way it managed to transcend space and time – became one of the strongest threads in the show's fabric. If you watched the Season Four finale and your heart didn't break for Sun as she saw the freighter containing Jin explode, you may not have a functioning heart. Of course, things on the island are rarely as they seem, and this wasn't the end for Sun and Jin – nor was it the end for Sun's transformation from silent wife to pistol-packing badass. "Lost" has been a series that made room for action, romance and tragedy, and Sun has dealt with them all.
It's tough to discuss Mr. Eko without first mentioning that the actor who portrayed him, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, had a lot of influence in the character's development. At first, Akinnuoye-Agbaje was reluctant to join the cast, but the series creators eventually convinced him to sign on. Unfortunately, for all of his fans, Mr. Eko was not long for the island, because Akinnuoye-Agbaje never was comfortable living in Hawaii. Go figure. Conversely, Mr. Eko was one of the few characters not intent on leaving the island. Maybe it had something to do with the life he left behind. Mr. Eko led a gang of guerrillas in his homeland of Nigeria until a drug-run-gone-bad killed his brother. Mr. Eko became deeply religious, and that continued once he arrived on the island. Unfortunately, once Akinnuoye-Agbaje decided he had to leave the show, the creators decided that Mr. Eko had to die at the hands of the Smoke Monster, who lured him into the jungle by taking the form of his dead brother. It's safe to say we were all sad to see Mr. Eko go.
Ana Lucia Cortez
We've seen a lot of characters pass through the island on "Lost," and some of them have been pretty obviously useless right from the start. But when it comes to wasted potential, Ana Lucia Cortez might take the cake. An interesting character with a compelling back story that interwove with a number of her fellow crash survivors, Ana Lucia should have had a lasting presence on the island, but she never developed much past the pissed-off ex-cop we met in the beginning. By the time she met her demise – shot in an instant by Michael in his quest to bring Ben back to the Others – she was little more than a plot device, a means to an end. Say what you will about Nikki and Paolo, but we always knew we didn't need to care about them. Ana Lucia? She could have been someone, man.
From the moment she landed on the island, it was easy to hate Shannon Rutherford. She was beautiful on the outside, but on the inside, she was narcissistic, manipulative and unhelpful. She knew her stepbrother, Boone, was in love with her, so she'd leverage those feelings to get him to do pretty much whatever she wanted. When that didn't work, she'd use Charlie or Sayid to the same end. In fact, Shannon's relationship with Sayid was one of the few redeeming things about her. Sayid had been through so much prior to coming to the island, so it was easy to root for his happiness, even if it involved Shannon. When Ana Lucia accidentally killed her, some of us cheered, while others felt bad for Sayid. Some of us actually cheered while feeling bad for Sayid. The bottom line is that no one felt bad for Shannon. Bitch.
Unlike many of his fellow castaways, Michael Dawson's departure from the show didn't result in a gasp, but a sigh of relief. By far one of the most annoying characters to ever wash up on the island, Michael also had one of the least interesting back stories of the original group. Though many parents might applaud his protective instincts (particularly considering he didn't have much of a relationship with Walt prior to the crash), that doesn't change the fact that he killed two innocents (Ana Lucia and Libby) and then backstabbed four others simply so that he could get himself and his son off the island. But just when it looked like we were free for good of his incessant whining, Michael returned by way of the freighter (now under the orders of Ben Linus, who else?) with the hope of redeeming himself by saving his fellow Losties from impending danger. His sacrificial suicide didn't quite have the intended effect, however, as no one really cared what happened to him by that point. In the end, he was relegated to a ghostly whisper in the island's jungle, and considering just how forgettable his character was, it was exactly what he deserved.
Perhaps it's a bit unfair to express such unabashed loathing toward a young boy, so let's clarify this a bit: what made us most grumpy about the character of Walt was that he felt like such a missed opportunity. The show's producers have generally shown considerable foresight, but really, why would you cast a kid who hasn't yet gone through puberty on a show where the timeline is going to make it virtually impossible to utilize the character once the actor's brain and gonads conspire to raise his height and lower his voice? Damon Lindelof claimed in a 2007 interview, "We've always known Malcolm was going to grow faster than we could shoot the show, and we planned for it," and maybe that's so, but what it felt like was that they were scrambling to adapt the situation. Mind you, it's pretty easy to argue that Walt officially wore out his welcome way back in Season One, at the precise moment that he set fire to the raft that his dad had constructed. Plus, surely we can all agree that the kid was creepy. It was established in a flashback that even his mother's new husband was scared of him, and although the reasons behind the Others' decision to kidnap Walt remained annoyingly enigmatic, it was pretty clear that they weren't entirely comfortable around him, either. Is it any wonder that we felt the same way?
In the regular world, she was a con artist and hunted fugitive who murdered her father in his sleep. On the island, she was the object of desire of Oceanic 815's two alpha males. Let it not be said that the island doesn't have a warped sense of humor, not to mention karma. But here is the cold, hard truth when it comes to Kate Austen: she is receiving this adulation because she's one of only a handful of women on a deserted island, a pie that's cut even smaller when you separate the pretty ones from the less fair. Throw her into the general population, and she is nothing special, and her actions on the island bear this out. Not once has she stepped up to save the Losties, or made a sacrifice of any kind for the greater good. She just goes along, and granted, in a situation like that, you need followers as well as leaders. Still, for as much face time as Kate has received, you'd think she'd be more interesting. She's not.