Lost nearly had a completely different leader, who probably wouldn't have grown a beard

Remember the Bad Jack Beard from Lost? The one on Matthew Fox's face that kept insisting that everyone had to go back to the island? If the show's creators had gone with their original plan, that beard would have never existed. In an excerpt of The Revolution Was Televised (featured on Grantland), Alan Sepinwall's new book about the making of ABC's cult hit, it's revealed that despite his early, leaderly standing among the castaways, Jack (Fox) was almost offed and replaced by Kate (Evangeline Lilly).

In the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (or even the pilot of Oz), they planned to pull the rug out from under the audience by killing Jack midway through the first episode, forcing Kate to take charge. After this sudden demise, viewers would realize no one was safe. [Damon] Lindelof says Steve McPherson, then the head of the ABC studio, made a convincing counter-argument that it would teach viewers not to trust the show, and the writers ultimately agreed with him.

In the end, it was decided that the character of Kate wasn't dynamic enough to lead the show; in fact, she had not originally been written as the fugitive she turned out to be. Instead, she was one half of a couple who had been separated in the plane crash. (Those roles ultimately switched over to Rose and Bernard.) Switching from Kate to Jack may have been the best course if her character hadn't been completely decided on. But it's kind of a bummer, especially when you consider that the show's creator, J.J. Abrams, had such great luck with his other two female-led shows, Felicity and Alias.

Photo credit: Tumblr

Who'd have been Lost's leader if they'd killed Jack in the pilot [Blastr]


  1. As we learned from watching the extras on the first-season DVD. Sawyer was also originally written as more of a sleazy, Northeastern Italian type rather than a Southerner. 

  2. In the vein of Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho (or even the pilot of Oz), they planned to pull the rug out from under the audience by killing Jack midway through the first episode…

    I love serial dramas that keep the viewer wondering what’s going to happen next and trying to guess the significance of mysterious new developments.

    Not so big on the ones where the writers don’t know either.

    1. Lost was SO FUN for YEARS, because the illusion that the writers had a brilliant plan for us persisted, scintillatingly.  But it all ended so badly.  So, so badly.  When I think about Lost, it’s extremely difficult to set aside my disappointment and remember only the intrigue and adoration.

      1. If I were to sum it up it goes like this:
        Polar bears!  Free will?  Predestination?  What is good?  What creates evil?  Are the sins of the parents always destined to be relived in the children?

        Nevermind.  It’s all about meeting up afterwards to go on to something else that we’ll see about.  Boy, wasn’t that something?

      2. When it was airing, I quit partway into season two because I began to suspect we were all just being led on.

        After reading this article yesterday, I started re-watching it on Netflix. At least this time I know there’s no there there, and it is entertaining.

        1. Worth it for the villain.  You may want to make up your own last episode rather than watching the official one, though.

          1. Suitably intrigued!

            I know once I hit the penultimate episode, I won’t be able to keep from hitting the Next button.

            I’ve suffered through enough series being cut down in their prime, so I’ll just imagine it’s that, and I’ll weather it.

      3. I felt exactly the same way about “The X-Files” back in the ’90s. Then the movie that was supposed to finally answer all those Big Questions came out.

      4. If I ever meet Abrams, I will sock him in the gut the second I’m done telling him how much I like his work. “This is for Lost!”

  3. “But it’s kind of a bummer, especially when you consider that the show’s creator, J.J. Abrams, had such great luck with his other two female-led shows, Felicity and Alias.”

    Kind of a bummer because Lost didn’t do as well?  What am I missing in this sentence, can someone help me out here?

    1. Kind of a bummer that Kate didn’t step into her originally-intended role, I believe. I may’ve misread, though.

    2. I think the sentiment is more along the lines of “We have so few good female-led successful shows, it’s kind of a bummer that we were SO close to having another one” (but instead had a successful show led by a dashing white male, where one of the girl’s major roles is to be the prize sought after by him and another white male).

  4. Michael Keaton was going to play Jack BECAUSE he died in the first episode, he didn’t want to be in the series.  When they decided to keep Jack, Keaton pulled out.

    1. I was about to say exactly the same thing. 

      I loved the first five seasons, but once season six came I was pretty sure I was having my chain yanked, which turned out to be the case. I came this close (imagine two things very, very close together) to not watching the finale because I had totally lost interest, except for a morbid sense of curiosity to see how bad it was going to be.

  5. If you keep your eyes on Michael Emerson, Jack’s beard isn’t so scary.

    In fact, knowing it was probably another XFiles, I started watching it just last year on Netflix and continued only because MICHAEL EMERSON!!!

    And now I get to watch him on Person of Interest, which has already had two members of LOST’s cast as guest stars.  And now Revolution is also playing, “Why does that face look so familiar?”

  6. It’s amazing how they keep trying to convince people they had it all planned yet they continually also admit they made the entire convoluted mess up and had no exit plan. 

  7. Kind of sums up what went wrong with Lost, too much pandering to the fans, but in the wrong ways. The fun of Lost was not knowing what was going on, the best part of every series barring the last were the big reveals that posed more questions than the answered and made the situation incrementally worse for the survivors. We might have tortuously searched for the answers, we might have begged for them, but they weren’t supposed to give them to us, unless we said the safe-word.

  8. While it was in progress, I SO looked forward to rewatching it to savor the fun.  When it was over, I was embarrassed and gut-sick.  So much meaningless embroidery in the narrative.  So much of seeming (yet non-existent) significance.  I sometimes want to watch an ep and then I feel as if I’m going back to being a junkie with my abusive spouse and think better of it.  Frankly, if you have to re-watch a show, watch ‘Buffy’.  The final season was pretty uneven, but aside from a few bad notes (really, killing Anya?!!) I thought the finale was nicely done.

  9. I can at least thank the lessons Lost taught me for saving me from huge disappointment with Battlestar Galactica. Two seasons and done, thank you very much. Once you wade into spirituality without some really clear rules, you have almost no chance of a satisfying resolution.

    1. At least [SPOILER ALERT] BSG had an ending. “The One True God sent some angels to teach humanity a lesson about being nicer to robots” beats “there’s, like, a big cork in the island, and if you pull it out bad stuff happens, and also you might turn into a smoke monster who is never referenced by name and a sequence of seven numbers is evil and pregnant women all die.”

    2.  I think the thing there is also BSG had still moments of greatness up until the end. Lost’s whole final season was crap.

  10. I watched every bloody Lost episode when they first aired. I was addicted to Lost. So I’m still  angry at the writers for the last season. GRRRR. Instead of this stupid mystical stuff they ended with, they should have followed the Dharma trail, the most interesting part of Lost in my opinion. 
    But that last season…. i want those hours back. The last episode was so fucking crap! I’ve decided never to follow another serie from these writers. They fucked up bad, i’m still angry at them! I loved that show the first few seasons. Me bad.
    Homeland better not do the same thing…

    1. They could have made a really good show if they’d stuck to three seasons and worked out a basic story arc for each one.

      Season 1: Basically the same. The castaways try to figure out what’s up with this crazy island and who the “Others” are.

      Season 2: Shown from the perspective of the Others, includes surprising revelations that explain their formerly-presumed-sinister actions. Finale: everybody gets rescued.

      Season 3: Castaways and Others alike cope with post-Island life and its unexpected consequences. Finale: everybody is revealed to NOT be in Purgatory.

  11. Hated the last 2 seasons of Lost. It ends with the big explosion for me, and if you’re watching the show for the first time, that’s a good place to stop. Just tell yourself it worked and stop watching.

    It may interest some to know that Michael Emerson is the voice of the Joker in the newly-released animated film “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, part 1” (yes, the Frank Miller graphic novel, and it’s an awesome adaptation). Mind you, Joker doesn’t have many lines in part 1, and part 2, which features the Joker more, isn’t out ’til January, but he’s got a great crazy schemer voice! 

  12. Aren’t there literary cops – perhaps retired librarians – who could come around and wrap the writer’s knuckles with a ruler while sternly reminding them about the concept of ‘tying up loose ends?’ The rules are, you can make up any crazy shit you want, but you have to justify it as some point. It has to be bound by the logic of your narrative. The audience agrees to trust the storyteller on the assumption the storyteller will justify their trust. When the author just makes up a bunch of weird, meaningless shit, and then fails to justify it or explain it, they can not properly be called storytellers. They are story trolls. 

  13. To everyone complaining about the Lost finale:

    At least it wasn’t as bad as the Sopranos finale.

    Be thankful for small things.

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