Damon Lindelof on the original three-season plan for ending Lost

Last Updated on July 30, 2021

Lost, Damon Lindelof

Like millions of others, Lost hooked me from the very beginning. Throughout the six seasons of the show, fans around the globe discussed and analyzed the various mysteries, characters, and locations found on the Island, and while not everyone was pleased with how the series came to a close, Lost remains one of the biggest TV shows of our time.

When Lost hit the scene, the state of television was in a very different place; there was no Mad Men, Breaking Bad, or any of the other shows which brought about the prestige era of television. A heavily-serialized show combined with sci-fi/supernatural elements was a big risk at the time, but when it became apparent just how popular Lost was becoming, the network didn't want to lose it. As most fans know, Lost showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse orchestrated an end-date for the series right in the middle of its run, but if Lindelof and Cuse had their way, the series would have come to a close much sooner. Damon Lindelof spoke with Collider recently about Lost, as well as the battles to end the series on their terms, which began nearly as soon as the series had debuted.

The conversations about wanting the show to end began as early as the pilot. One of the notes that we were getting back from ABC was ‘When are you gonna resolve these mysteries? And once you resolve these mysteries, why will people keep watching the show?’ And Level One of that was, ‘Well we’re gonna be introducing new mysteries as we go. So hopefully for every one that we answer, we’ve set up a new compelling mystery. If we get that balance right, they’re not gonna stack up.’ I think that we can both agree that we did not get that balance right.

As the team began to map out the overall design for Lost, Damon Lindelof settled on a three-year plan. "Lost was like, ‘What’s in the hatch? What’s up with the monster? Who’s the original Sawyer? How did Locke get in the wheelchair? What is the nature of the island? Why does it appear to be moving? Who are the Others?’" Lindelof said. "There were all of these compelling mysteries and so we were saying, ‘We wanna have this stuff answered by the end of Season 1, this stuff answered by the end of Season 2, and then the show basically ends after about three years.'" Despite this plan, ABC wanted to keep the show going for as long as possible, arguing that "you don't end shows that people are watching."

With the network refusing to entertain the notion of a predetermined ending, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse began to negotiate their own exit after three seasons, but after the third season debuted, it finally became clear to ABC just how much the writers were having to spin their wheels to keep the mysteries going indefinitely, so they agreed that Lost needed an end-date. "Then they finally came to the table and we had a real conversation," Lindelof said. "They were like, ‘We have agreed to let you end the show.’… I just said to [ABC President] Steve McPherson, ‘Thank you. This is what’s best for the show,’ and he said, ‘We were thinking 10 seasons.’ Mind you, we’re halfway through Season 3, so first off how do you even think we’re gonna get to 10? That’s really the same as saying we’re not gonna let you end the show, because how many drama series even get to 10 seasons?" After quite a lot of back-and-forth between Lindelof/Cuse and the network, they agreed to bring Lost to a close after six seasons, but it's not hard to imagine just how differently the series would have been had it been developed more recently.

Source: Collider

About the Author

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Based in Canada, Kevin Fraser has been a news editor with JoBlo since 2015. When not writing for the site, you can find him indulging in his passion for baking and adding to his increasingly large collection of movies that he can never find the time to watch.