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The philosophy of LOST: Examining the show’s existential themes

LOST was one of the most popular shows of the early 2000s, captivating audiences with its mysterious island setting, intricate plotlines, and complex characters. However, the show was about more than just survivors stranded on an island facing physical threats. LOST was also a philosophical exploration of the human condition, consciousness, and morality. In this article, we’ll examine the “Lost philosophy” – the existential themes that made the show so much more than just a nighttime soap opera.

The duality of good and evil

One of the recurring motifs of LOST was the duality of good and evil. The characters on the show were constantly struggling with their own morality and the morality of others. The mysterious Smoke Monster, a physical manifestation of evil, represented the struggle between good and evil in the show. The concept of “The Others” – those whose actions are not driven by a desire to survive but rather for power and control – further explored the show’s theme of dualism.

The Lost philosophy interrogates if humanity has a dual nature, and whether good and evil exist in the same world? Through characters such as Jack Shepard, viewers were confronted with the idea that no one is perfect. And that everyone has their own demons to fight. The Lost philosophy, therefore, explores the possibility that good and evil are just two sides of the same coin.

The notion of destiny

The idea that one’s destiny is predetermined is an existential theme that the show explores in great detail. The decision of every character affects their and other’s destiny in predictable and unpredictable ways. The concept of fate was present in every action and word spoken by every character in the show. The story of John Locke, the character who was convinced that he was brought to the island for a reason, depict the idea of destiny being accepted and challenged.

LOST questions whether destiny is something that can be chosen by its characters or whether fate is a predetermined force beyond their control? This became a staple with the character Desmond Hume, who could predict future events with eerie clarity. The Lost philosophy thus poses the question always at the heart of the show – can we control our destinies?

The search for identity

One of the show’s most defining and consistent themes is the search for identity. From the outset, viewers are presented with characters who are lost in more ways than just geographically. Every character had their own identity crisis, whether it was the search for their biological parents – like Jack – or trying to recreate an identity free from a troubled past – like Sawyer – they are all searching.

Lost philosophy, therefore. questions the sense of self and whether one’s identity is formed primarily by their environment or their unique individuality. The character arc of Benjamin Linus, for instance, exemplifies how a lack of identity can drive someone to pursue control and power over others. The Lost philosophy prompts us to ask, is identity an inherent part of being human or something one is programmed to believe in?

The end of everything

The end of everything – the apocalypse – is a common theme in literature, movies, and television shows. LOST utilized this existential theme to explore character motivations and provide a climax that was exciting yet controversial. The impending sense of doom, the inevitability of the end, and the resolution became intrinsic to the show’s direction as the end approaches.

The Lost philosophy explores the idea of the apocalypse in a more thought-provoking way by asking what happens after the end? The final season raised probes whether death is an awakening to something new or the end of existence. LOST leaves it up to the viewers to explore whether the end is but a new beginning or the final stop on our quest for meaning.


LOST’s philosophical themes distinguished it from other shows and kept viewers engaged for its entire run. The show tackled questions about human nature, identity, and morality. LOST made it clear that the journey to find oneself is never a smooth one and that the search for purpose and meaning is an ongoing one. The Lost philosophy analyzed existential themes in an engaging, unique way that resonates with people to this day.

As fans of the show know, LOST was far from perfect. However, it’s hard to deny that the philosophical underpinnings of the show’s core themes were what truly made it worth watching. Therefore, even if you’ve watched the show before or never have, LOST’s exploration of the human condition and existentialism remains a must-see. Have you watched LOST before? What’s your favorite takeaway from the show? Share your thoughts in the comments below.