Ten years after Lost aired its controversial finale, let’s revisit some of the deaths that we’re still not quite over.
It’s been a decade since Lost aired its final episode, but people are still talking about the show. Considering its incredibly dynamic ensemble cast of characters, the fact that it essentially tricked the masses into watching sci-fi, and the many unanswered questions we still have, I say it’s more than deserving of all the chatter.
Although opinions of Lost’s series finale, which aired on May 23, 2010, are mixed at best, I still think there’s so much to love about it. Unanswered questions be damned, that single episode of Lost made me feel more than most full series ever did. The finale took every character on their own little journey, reliving many of the best moments that Lost had to offer.
Sure, Lost was a mystery box that was equally delightful and infuriating and it had more twists and turns than any real rollercoaster I’ve ever seen, but what I’ll always remember the most about this show are its characters, and how much I fell in love with them. Lost took us on an amazing journey with these people, and their lives and losses are what will always stick with me the most.
A painful TV death is usually a sure sign that you’ve stumbled upon a great character, and Lost was absolutely full of those. Once the show began killing off its characters, it never really stopped, breaking our hearts season after season.
To celebrate the Lost characters that we loved most, we’re revisiting the show’s ten most painful deaths. Check out our picks, and let us know your’s in the comments.
Lost’s first big death deserves a mention, if only because it finally broke the illusion that our favorite islanders were clothed in thick protagonist armor. While Boone wasn’t quite a member of the most elite island crew, the fact that he at least had flashback status gave us a certain level of comfort in his safety. That is, until that drug runner plane came crashing down.
Boone had a small chip on his shoulder, a deep thirst to prove himself, and a complicated incest-adjacent relationship with his step-sister. Unfortunately, since he died in Lost’s first season, that’s about as far as it got for him. His eagerness to help got him caught up in Locke’s hatch scheme, and ultimately got him killed. But not before Locke somehow wielded the freaky island magic to cure Boone of his crush on Shannon.
Boone’s death was made extra painful because it was the first, but also because it was juxtaposed with the birth of Claire’s baby. Life replacing life. Jack’s desperation to save him to the point that he donated way too much of his own blood, the fact that Shannon never got to say goodbye, and Boone’s own insistence that Jack let him go were the tearful cherries on top of this gut-wrenching death.
If we’re being honest, Shannon’s biggest contribution to Lost was probably her Hilton-worthy early 00’s fashion, but her death still managed to make a mark. It took Shannon a while to find her footing on the island, since she really didn’t have much self esteem coming into the ordeal. Tragically, her life was suddenly taken just as she was gaining some self worth.
The introduction of Vincent and Sayid in Shannon’s life marked a huge turning point for her character. Walt trusting her to take care of his best friend gave her a sense of purpose that she so badly needed.
While Shannon was used to attaching her value to the men she dated, Sayid was different. He actually saw potential in her and allowed her to see the same.
Obviously, that just made Shannon dying in Sayid’s arms all the more painful. Ana Lucia’s quick trigger finger, the constant threat of the Others, and those weird Walt hallucinations were her downfall, in the end. Where Boone’s death was drawn-out and indulgent, Shannon’s was quick and unceremonious, making it even more shocking and painful.
Libby wasn’t a character we grew overly attached to in Lost, considering the tail section passengers were only around for a short time. However, experiencing Libby’s death through the eyes of Hurley was almost too much to handle. Why did you have to forget that blanket, Hurley!!
Libby’s death also marked the beginning of dark Michael, who made a deal with the Others to free Ben in return for Walt’s safety. At the end of the day, we couldn’t really blame Michael for doing whatever it took to get his son back, but after he and Walt became estranged and Michael ended up trying to come back to the island, it all became too tangled and strange to forgive.
No matter how complicated your relationship is with your father, it would be pretty shocking and hurtful if he allowed you to be shot to protect…get this…a piece of land. Ben’s maniacal sense of control over the island and its people finally caught up to him when Keamy pulled the trigger. Tragically, Alex’s tumultuous life ended abruptly and without mercy.
Even though Ben thought that the island wouldn’t dare take his daughter away, he still ultimately chose himself over her in that moment. A choice that haunted him for the rest of his days, and one he eventually rectified in the Lost season 6 purgatory world.
The words “not Penny’s boat” are still burned into our memories from one of Lost’s most painfully tragic deaths. Charlie Pace drowned after successfully turning off the signal blocker that was stopping transmissions in and out of the island. Why? Pretty much just because he thought that he had to.
You can’t watch Charlie’s death scene without screaming at the TV that he had ample time to get out of the Looking Glass station before it flooded. Seriously. So much time. He simply thought that he had to die because Desmond’s visions, which he didn’t seem to have much of a handle on, said so.
Charlie had a rollercoaster of a journey in Lost. He began as an optimistic heroine addict, then became a caring and lovable recovering heroine addict, and then things got pretty dark before his ultimate sacrifice. Through it all, he never stopped trying to care for Claire and Aaron. Even when she forgot about him, and even when she asked him not to. Many times.
The episode leading up to Charlie’s death was one of the saddest of the entire series. We knew what Charlie was embarking on, so his list of top life moments packed a heavy punch. It cast such a beautiful light on the heroic act Charlie was about to commit, and allowed us to mourn fully for the character we were about to lose.
Fortunately, while the pointlessness of Charlie’s death definitely made it extra devastating, it didn’t tarnish Charlie’s heroism. He dove into that station with the assumption that he had to die, and die he did. All for Claire to board a helicopter that she never stepped foot on. We’re not crying, you’re crying!
Sayid was by far the island’s gentlest soul, trapped inside the body of a killer. He fought his dual-nature up until the very end, with his goodness ultimately winning out over the greatest darkness he’d ever faced. He sacrificed himself so that his friends could survive, even after the island’s “sickness” had taken hold of him.
Sayid’s story got a little dicey in the later seasons of Lost, but the goodwill he’d earned at the beginning of the series kept us rooting for him until his final moments, and even beyond. In the end, he had one of the best deaths and most fulfilling character arcs of anyone on the series.
John’s on-screen death felt less painful because we spent most of Lost’s final season thinking that the island had brought him back to life. There’s nothing like a resurrection to make a death mean a little less.
That being said, when it finally sunk in that Locke had died at the hands of Ben Linus after attempting to commit suicide, it came with a lot of emotion. In the end, he was willing to give everything up for the island that gave him a second chance at life.
There’s no way around it, John Locke had an incredibly sad little life. It seems like either pain or monotony was there to greet him at pretty much every turn. He found a new lease on life on the island, even regaining the use of his legs, but even that ended up turning on him.
John Locke was an extremely contentious character on Lost, taking failed leap of faith after failed leap of faith and getting several people killed in the process, but when all’s said and done we just kind of feel sad for the guy who was simply trying to find some purpose.
Juliet’s death was a two-fold tragedy, as we grieved once for the loss of her character, and once for the loss of the life that Sawyer finally found comfort in. As much as we mourned for Juliet, it was Sawyer’s reaction that took this death to the next level in terms of painful Lost losses.
Juliet was essentially tricked into a life on the island under the promise that it would be a temporary assignment. She was torn away from her beloved sister and forced to perpetually give bad news to expectant mothers who would inevitably die under her care. It’s no wonder that she became increasingly resentful toward Ben and the rest of the Others who had stolen her away from the life she knew.
With all of that in mind, it speaks volumes of her character and her eventual relationship with Sawyer that she chose to stay on the island when she had a chance to leave. After everything she’d been through, she remained open to her surroundings and the new tribe she’d found and became an essential part of their survival. One of the most self-assured and stable characters on the island, she was a refreshing addition to the increasingly messy group of islanders that we’d been following.
When we first met Sawyer, he lived to push people away. He would rather everyone hate him than risk letting anyone in. Eventually, he genuinely grew to care about the people around him, but he found it impossible to let his old ways go. That is, until he had the title of “leader” thrust upon him, surprisingly finding that he wore it well.
Sawyer’s relationship with Juliet was the final step of his island transformation. With her, he was finally able to fully trust someone. He let her in far enough that she became a true partner, and they led their people beautifully together. When he relented to taking the submarine home with Juliet, he finally chose happiness and stability over chaos and the freedom of solitude. It was a beautiful arc that was tragically thrown into disarray when Jack’s ultimately futile plan got Juliet killed.
Juliet’s death was made even more painful because we watched it play out twice! Once on either side of the time jump. Even without that this death was heartbreaking, but doubling it up solidified its status as one of the all time most painful Lost deaths.
Sun and Jin Kwon
The Lost journeys of Sun and Jin Kwon were inextricably intertwined, as were their deaths. Their time on the island brought them back together after their marriage had all but crumbled, and they held on to each other until the very end. Both of these characters became stronger people on the island, but their main victory was the deepening and strengthening of their partnership.
The story of the Kwons became rife with tragedy as soon as Sun left the island, thinking Jin to be dead. They were only briefly reunited after this, with Jin never getting the chance to meet their daughter.
Some Lost fans believe that Jin should have left the sinking submarine so he could be around for their daughter, but considering how much more afraid and alone Sun would have felt with Jin beside her, we can’t dispute his choice. He promised never to leave Sun again, and leave he did not. Their death was one of the most beautiful and powerful scenes in the series, and is one of the most haunting to this day.
You really can’t talk about Lost without talking about Jack Shephard. Even though we’re pretty sure Jack wasn’t anybody’s favorite character by the end of the series, his death was incredibly meaningful for the show as a whole.
Throughout the series, Jack and Locke were constantly fighting over every decision. While Locke was a man of faith, Jack was a man of logic, and nothing Locke said or did could make him believe in anything bigger. That is, until he left the island, and felt its undeniable pull calling him back.
Jack also had a complicated relationship with leadership. At times he rejected it, while at other times he wielded it with an entitled arrogance. His need for control and desire to fix everything and everyone played a central role in this struggle.
In the end, he gave into faith and truly became the hero that he always knew he had to be. He saved the island and everyone on it, losing his own life in the process. It was a great moment for his character and the series. And yes, his death was made extra painful when Vincent dutifully laid by his side until his final breath.