Lost, 8 years on: The alternative series ending writers almost used

Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were forced to scrap the idea because of budgetary reasons

Jacob Stolworthy@Jacob_Stol
Wednesday 23 May 2018 10:22

The ending of Lost could well be the most widely misunderstood series finale in television history, but it almost drew to an altogether more volcanic close.

Remember that flashback which sees Ben being taught about the island's volcano as a youngster by the Dharma Initiative? Probably not. It occurs in third season episode 'The Man Behind the Curtain' and it's now emerged it was “one of the first hints of an endgame."

Showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse spoke to EW about the scrapped plans last year.

The story goes that Cuse - very much the duo's big-dreamer - got the idea of including a volcano at the end of the series after visiting Hawaii's Big Island with his family, and later envisioned it being home to the climactic showdown between Jack (Matthew Fox) and the smoke monster, incarnated as John Locke (Terry O'Quinn).

“We were always looking to cannibalise anything on Hawaii to aid in the visual storytelling of the show,“ Cuse said. ”We also thought of the island as a character on the show, so we were always looking for things that would give it more personality.”

For those who don't know (and if you haven't seen Lost, go watch it immediately), season six presented the concept that the island was a metaphorical cork bottling up some very bad things that, if unleashed into civilisation, would cause all kinds of destruction.

Lindelof - whose latest series The Leftovers ended with acclaim in 2017 - added: “The question was always, how do you basically visualise and dramatise the idea that the island itself is all that separates the world from hellfire and damnation? And the answer was the volcano.”

The volcano was first mentioned in season three, episode 20

He continued: “The volcano had been dormant for the duration of the series but based on moving into this endgame, the island had become unstable and the volcano was going to erupt.

"We were going to have lots of seismic activity, and ultimately, there was going to be this big fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil, which ended up in the series manifesting as Jack and The Man in Black, in the midst of magma. Magma spewing everywhere!”

The volcano was later deemed too expensive by the bigwigs at network ABC forcing the writing duo to improvise (the fatal battle ended up happening on a cliff).

“ABC was like, ‘Guys, we love you, and we’re letting you end the show; we can’t let you bankrupt the network in the process',” said Lindelof.

And in case you're one of the people who misunderstood the ending, allow us to spell it out for you: they were not dead the entire time (as The Telegraph explains here).

Emmy award-winning series Lost originally aired in 2004 and drew to a natural close in 2010. Its ensemble cast included Evangeline Lilly, Michael Emerson, Elizabeth Mitchell and Josh Holloway.

Whether you're a longtime fan of Lost or simply looking for a new series to start, subscribe to new podcast 'The LOST Boys' following two of our writers' respective journey watching from the very beginning - one for the first time, the other for the eighth.

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