I am not sure who to blame. Is it the writers or ABC? I am sure that I carry some of the blame as well since I was a participant. Either way, that was six years of my life that is gone into the abyss of purgatory. I am trying to keep an open mind here, but I have to say that I feel not unlike I did at the end of the Matrix.

I was duped. If you are honest with yourself, you will admit that you were too. Duped in what way? Duped into believing that the writers knew what they were doing. Duped into thinking that they were less confused than we were. I said at one time to my sister, “This is either going to be the greatest series ever created, or the absolute worst.”

No, its not about whether or not LOST had anti-Christian themes. Don’t go there with your conspiracy theories. I don’t care if it had symbols of New Age, Universalism, Hinduism, Catholicism, or even Evangelical Christianity. To be truthful, I don’t really any longer think that the writers were that smart. No, the truth is far more sinister.

You see, lost was built upon an arc. An arc is a thematic venture which leads to a certain conclusion and climax. It’s an “arc” that ties everything together. Some TV shows play it safe and have arcs built into each episode and conclude the episode with a resolution. That way the episode stands alone and you can judge the success of the show on a one by one basis. Others take risks and have the entire season as the arc. This is more risky since viewers cannot pick up in the middle of the show and know what is going on. The entire season is dependent on the individual episodes. The success of this type of show hinges on how the arc resolves itself in the season finale. Could be good. Could be bad. The series 24 is a good example here. LOST however was different. They attempted to do what very few shows have ever done. They made the arc run the entire six seasons. Not only would you be lost if you watched only one episode, you would be lost if you watched only one season out of order!

This is what made LOST special. Not only did it have some of the greatest character development of all-time, but it was built on one of the most intriguing arcs ever conceived. Creative, out-of-the-box, imaginative, addictive, and out of this world captivation are all good ways to describe my thoughts about the show until last night’s series finale. Although every viewer was completely confused for six years, this did not matter. The confusion only added to the intrigue. We all trusted that the series finale would give us all the answers. We trusted that they knew what they were doing.

I was not sure what to expect, but the last few episodes made everything look promising. Good, evil. Light, darkness. Heaven, hell. Theism, pantheism. Love, hate, relationships. Present, past, future. Time warps. Dimensional breaches. Fall, redemption. Up to this point, LOST had it all.

Escalation after escalation only handed us more hope. Confusion became our friend as we would discuss so many questions: why does Hurley see dead people? Why did Locke feel connected to the island? What was the Dharma Initiative? Why did Juliet say “It worked”? Who were the “others” and how did they get there? Why couldn’t they have babies on the Island? Why did the “wheel” send the people back in time and change the location of the island? Why was “Eyeliner” given eternal life? How did Whitmore always find the Island? Why was Michael’s spirit stuck on the Island? How was Christian Shepherd back alive? Why was the smoke monster a smoke monster? And a thousand other questions. But most importantly, what was the island? We were all lost and we loved it.

We worked under the valid assumption that all of these questions had answers. Of course, this does not mean that we will like the answers, but it was the risk we were willing to take. Whether it be aliens, God, the lost city of Atlantis, heaven, purgatory, hell, or even all a dream, we did not care. We just wanted answers. That is why we watched the show. And we were trusting enough to wait six years to be satisfied.

But such was not the case. At the conclusion of last night’s episode the horrible reality surfaced. That which we all fear in places we don’t like to go became a reality: The writers did not know the answers either.

Oh, and don’t you try to spin this. Don’t you dare. I have already heard it from dozens of well-meaning naive people. I have already seen people try to redeem the finale and make it out to be some sort of martyr. I know your time is precious to you and I know your hopes for something better will drive your conclusion. But I will not allow you to go there. For your own sake, don’t go there. Don’t say that it was a brilliant “open ended” finale. Don’t say, “Well, they are just allowing us to fill in the blanks” as if that is something that satisfies. My questions are not quenched with my own imagination. If they were, I would have stopped watching in season 1 and filled in the blanks. Oh no. We are not letting ABC and the writers of LOST off the hook for the greatest entertainment swindle since The Matrix. The “brilliant-fill-in-the-blank card” is a terrible way to cope. The first step to recovery is to admit the problem. The second step is to file a class action law suit against the writers (for incompetence), then ABC (for not properly interrogating the writers end game).

The arc we thought was there was an illusion. This series took a risk. It was only as good as the resolution and there was none. The writers did not know what they were doing. Hence concluded the greatest hoax in American television history. Hence the realization that the writers of LOST were just as lost as all of us.

I don’t think that there is any better conclusion than that of the person who played Charles Whitmore on Jimmy Kimmel last night when asked about the disposition of his character. Kimmel asked, “Were you good or evil.” Whitmore responded, “I don’t know. I never figured that out myself.” We are with you Whitmore. But at least you got paid.

C Michael Patton
C Michael Patton

C. Michael Patton is the primary contributor to the Parchment and Pen/Credo Blog. He has been in ministry for nearly twenty years as a pastor, author, speaker, and blogger. Find him on Patreon Th.M. Dallas Theological Seminary (2001), president of Credo House Ministries and Credo Courses, author of Now that I'm a Christian (Crossway, 2014) Increase My Faith (Credo House, 2011), and The Theology Program (Reclaiming the Mind Ministries, 2001-2006), host of Theology Unplugged, and primary blogger here at Parchment and Pen. But, most importantly, husband to a beautiful wife and father to four awesome children. Michael is available for speaking engagements. Join his Patreon and support his ministry

    77 replies to "LOST: The Greatest Hoax in American Television History"

    • Dick Probert

      I can’t believe you spent an hour of your time for 6 years watching that show!

    • ScottL

      Dick –

      Relax. Each season was only about an average of 21 episodes. So it wasn’t 52 hours a year, but only about 21 hours a year, or an average of 24 minutes per week. 😉

    • ScottL

      A colleague of mine made me aware of a video that might make a few chuckle about the unanswered questions: http://www.collegehumor.com/video:1936291


    • Brian

      Why did Juliet say “It worked”?

      Juliet said “It worked” on the island because she said it when unplugging the vending machine cause the candy to drop. Same reason she said “We can go dutch”. Different realities were bleeding through.

    • Richard


      I love your passion for things Christians aren’t supposed to be passionate about 🙂

      I stopped watching Lost a few episodes into this finale season–after loyally following the show from the beginning. But the confusion that was feeding the stript-starved finale was becoming almost palpable. Instead, I’m taking solice and joy in the best–and sadly last– season of 24. The arc in 24 has consistently lived up to its covenant with its fans.

    • Jared

      How could anyone expect every single question to be answered? This isn’t Scooby Doo, where we find out that it’s all smoke and mirrors with a man behind the curtain. In fact, it would be even more of a hoax if every single thing (Hurley/Miles abilities with dead people, Rose/Locke being healed) had an explanation. The mysticism and supernatural aspects are what makes the show unique.

      I think GoldCityDance did a great job of explaining the answers that the show did provide. As far as the “not being able to have babies” question, I’ve heard a plausible explanation: it’s possible that this happened when Richard’s boat crashed and broke the statute, which was holding a fertility sign.

      Besides, the point of the show was the characters’ journey. They wanted to leave the island, then those who did wanted to go back and make everything right on the island. They did both. Everyone’s journey was completed, so I think it was successful.

    • Mark

      The whole point of “Lost” was the mystery, about how not having all the answers is part of life. The show was about faith, not answers. I never thought J. J. Abrams and company had one single answer to unravel all the mysteries of “Lost”. In fact I’ve heard Abrams say as much in interviews and podcasts. It would also be a mistake to read too many theologically orthodox Christian themes into “Lost”. I’m quite sure the writers never had the Westminster Confession or Catechism of the Catholic Church in mind. I enjoyed the finale immensely, but I guess if you expected something from the show other than what the writers and creators intended, you would be a fair bit disappointed.

      “Lost” was great story telling, period. If you don’t believe me, then why did you spend 6 yrs of your life dedicated to not missing one episode? You were hooked. That’s a great story 🙂

    • onemlee

      Somewhat guilty that I have been reading this blog for over a year and of all the wisdom written, I only respond to lost. How silly, but gee Michael that was harsh. Point is from the beginning to end I was sobbing, Loving the emotion of people reuniting, ahhhh when Jack and Juliet touched and realized what they shared. Who cares about smoke monsters, dharma initiatives , arcs or anything else. It had me. I was so immersed, taken on a huge emotionally rollercoster ride and loving ever minute. And it gave us a hope. Sure its spiritual symbols and such was way off, but the end was hope. People we loved and who loved each other coming together not for death but for moving on. Very hopeful, Worked for me,

    • Ed Kratz

      I did read that review from the guy from bad robot. If he is right, I have most of the essential answers. I just wish ABC would have delivered on their claims that “all our questions would be answered” or not made such a claim. Don’t need all the answers only those that are central to the theme or were implied would be answered.

    • Jake Blues

      Great review. A good story shows rather than tells. Why do Jack, and we, have to be told after 6 seasons that the time the characters spent together was the most meaningful time in their lives? By this point, it should be self-evident. The fact that it’s not shows that the writers were not telling the story they thought that they were. For better or worse, they convinced the audience that the show was really about the mysteries of the island. And moreover, that the island’s mysteries were what gave meaning to the character’s lives and deaths. The explanations are unsatisfying and incomplete.

      We should have seen this coming. We were told long ago that the hatch was important because if the button was not pressed, the world could end. But apparently, a nuclear bomb could be detonated and that whole problem would be solved. That the writers could allow such a gaping plot hole to go unexplained should have clued us in to where the show was eventually going to leave its mysteries.

      I knew we were in trouble in the 3rd to last episode, when the smoke monster, the source of evil on the island that had to be kept on the island at all costs, turned out to have no malicious plan beyond wanting to go home. Seriously? The characters’ lives’ meaning was in service to keeping the monster from leaving? Why?

      In retrospect, then, it was no surprise that the finale, and by extension the entire season, elected to answer the question “what happens to the characters after they die?”, as if anyone cared about that anyway. The writers simply didn’t have interesting or coherent answers for any of the other questions.

    • Greg

      So we floated for a long time, on an … ark? Only to find a firm mountain peak appear at the very end? Hummmmmmmm

    • Jared

      How is the nuclear bomb storyline a gaping hole? First of all, what the characters say and what the writers say are not mutually exclusive. Just because a character assumes the world will end, doesn’t mean it will. Regardless, I don’t see how it didn’t make sense. The hatch was a basically a pacemaker for the ball of energy that was in the island. By destroying the energy, they would no longer need the hatch to keep it in check.

      The flashback of the MIB was not the smoke monster. The smoke monster inhabited his body, just like it did Christian Shepherd’s and Locke’s.

    • Jared

      Actually, here’s a good explanation of why the Smoke Monster leaving the island was such a bad thing:


    • Marv

      You are so very wrong, Micheal. There’s no need to redeem the finale, because it was perfectly satisfying. You weren’t robbed, you weren’t cheated.

      I’ve seen a number of idiotic things written about the finale. I didn’t know you were a fan, but I wouldn’t have thought you’d post drivel on the finale yourself.

      Just today I was mulling over a possible post on the finale, and the show. I’m not sure how to do it without spoiling it.

      One thing of importance. A main theme of the show was about faith. Yes, this is treated somewhat generically, and a Christian needs to take it as pointing to faith in Christ. But it reflects the way faith works in the real world. I want answers, I want to know why. I whine about it. Yet the world is full of mysteries I’ll never get the answer to. However, that turns out to be okay, when my whiny heart is turned to more important things, to the eschata, ultimate issues. I find out what life, and death, are all about. I may never understand all the arcana of existence, but we come to understand with the kind of finale that is OUR destiny, our puny little questions don’t really matter.

    • Edward T. Babinski

      Dear Truth Unites… and Divides,

      What did a post about “Lost” have to do with me personally? And you even called me one of the “new atheists.” I’m agnostic.

      And your black and white view that either all the dogmas of Christianity as you believe them are true, or atheism is true, tells people more about your lack of use of your gray matter than about the truth of such a false dichotomy. Because for all we know both could be wrong, orthodox Christian dogmas could be off, atheism could be off. There’s a whole lot of religions and philosophies between those two.

    • Edward T. Babinski


      I wasn’t going to respond but I noticed that Truth Unties… dragged my name into your blog, thought I’d add my own question:

      If you didn’t like the end of Lost, what makes you so certain that you’re going to love all the attempted resolutions at the end of this world’s final season?

      You really think one bloody lifetime, less than a micro-micro-micro-blink in time, decides what happens to people for all of eternity? That this life is where the most vital action for all eternity takes place? In this life we are surrounded by clouds of unknowing, clouds of ignorance and prejudice, emotion and fears, and, have to care for our physical selves as well as family and friends, and care for our physical and mental health, with little time for study. Is this really a place where we can be expected to make the best decision that will decide our eternal fates?

      And then once this pitifully short life is over, after we suffer through a couple decades of ignorance, controversy, prejudice and fear in a world where we can’t see behind the metaphysical curtain (without seeing heaven or hell), then eternity begins? So eternity is like one long drag on an eternal cigarette after all the action in bed is over, since you believe THERE’S NO DECISION for all eternity that will ever come close to the “all or nothing” bets we place here and now, living on this pitiful and pitiless floating life boat in space for just a couple decades?

    • Jared

      Your measurement of time isn’t exactly unequivocal. Is a 3-hour movie short, because it’s only a micro-micro-micro-micro-blink in time? Measurements can be relative, depending on what they’re measured against. A 400 ft. building is pretty tall; but next to a 700 ft. building, it’s pretty short. Of course when you put the length of your life against all of time, it’s tiny.

      You should think about the length of your life in actuality of what you’ve been given, or will be given. Let’s say a person lives to an average of 70 years old. That person would have had over 36 million minutes, or over 600,000 hours, to decide if there is a God, and will that person follow Him. Or to make it more practical, say you work 45 hours a week and sleep 9 hours a night, you would still have 60 hours every week to make that decision.

      How we use our time doesn’t minimize the time we’re given.

    • Jaime

      I think the end is good, its was obvious since episode 1, although it had me and many more doubting for 6 years.
      There are many ways to reveal this ending, sort of like “I see dead people”, Others(the movie), , The Lovely Bones, etc. where surprisingly the expectators notice the heroes of our story are dead . The writers could have taken an other season to properly unfold the inescapable thruth… they were all dead.

    • Jared

      Except they weren’t dead the whole time. The only people who were dead during the show were the people who actually died during it. The only part where the entire cast was dead was the side flashes and the end. There was no need to explain it further, because it wasn’t the most vital part of the finale. Jack was alive the whole series, until he died. The killing of the smoke monster was the point of the finale.

    • Truth Unites... and Divides

      Edward T. Babinski: “And you even called me one of the “new atheists.” I’m agnostic.”

      Whatever. You were a co-blogger for “Debunking Christianity” with atheists.

      Here’s a recent post discussing your work:

      Excerpt: “Ed Babinski is a man on a mission. His godless-given mission in life is to recruit as many professing Christians as possible to share his pointless outlook on life. After all, there’s no point to a pointless life unless you can get others to share your pointless point of view.

      That’s what gives meaning to his meaningless existence. To be is to be meaningless. And his meaningless beingness would be utterly vacuous unless he could convert some others to bask in their equally meaningless beingness. That way, everybody can pool the collective nullity of their sorry existence, of which no greater nullity can be conceived.

      Why, isn’t that enough to make you brave the tropical rainforests in search of headhunters who labor in darkness without your gospel of godlessness to illumine their lives?”

    • MikeK

      I had the same feeling at the end of the Lost finale that I had watching the finale of Twin Peaks: an ABC series that captivated the not-so-faint of heart section of NA in the early nineties; it was on Sunday nights, if I recall correctly… BTW, my feeling is similar to so many others: “Huh?” (annoyance and bewilderment)

    • Randall

      You summed it up well at the end – they got paid. That’s all it was about…making money. Thankfully, I didn’t waste any of the last 6 years on even part of one episode. Perhaps many will take this as an object lesson in the vacuity of virtually all “so-called” entertainment created by our fallen society.

    • Jill

      Seriously Randall? You never watched the show but you come on to pronounce your judgment of it and the finale? Your opinion means nothing. You didn’t watch the show. When you, and all the other people who have offered up their pearls of wisdom despite never watching the show, actually DO watch it, then by all means, feel free to come back and bless us with your thoughts. Otherwise, you all need to shut your fingers down and refrain from commenting. You’re doing nothing but talking out your rear.

    • ScottL

      Though it was posted 2 weeks after the season finale, I thought Ben Witherington’s thoughts were great in this article.

    • JS

      I agree. After a few episodes into season 1, my wife and I said, “There are already so many loose ends that there can be no rational way to tie them all together. Either they will have an omnipotent character that has arbitrarily made everything just so, or they are in an alternative ‘place’ that has a arbitrarily-tweeked systemic laws that make everything just so. Or they won’t even go that far and do something stupid. In any case, it’s not going to be satisfying.” I don’t even know how the series finished. We saw the possible end-games and stopped watching in season 1.

    • Sam

      Haha – I watch the first season and really got into it, by the middle of season two I wanted some answers to anything! and thought they might drag it out for years.. So stopped watching and just waited to read the show synopsis once it finished. THANK GOD I DID! What a load of crap! I would be seriously pissed off if I had wasted all that time watching!

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