"It's sort of understood on Lost that that's what you sign up for. There's going to be constant character turnover, because the stakes on the Island are life-or-death."
— Damon Lindelof, (Lost: On Location (Season 2))
Life and death is a commonly recurring issue on Lost, and according to Damon Lindelof, are two major themes on the Island. While naturally character death is a feature to a good narrative and adds to suspense, life has often been shown to juxtapose with death, creating an intricate balance.
Many deaths (especially those of main characters) have come soon after the characters overcome their issues on the island. While this could be seen as a way of progressing the story, it has also been seen by others as support for theories, such as that the Island is purgatory.
Dying with eyes open is a common occurrence with many of the characters. Characters who have died with their eyes open are Locke, Matthew Abaddon, Daniel Faraday, Keamy, Minkowski, Boone, Nikki, Naomi, Ana Lucia, Libby, Jae Lee and Charlotte. In some cultures, dying with eyes open is interpreted as dying in a state of unrest or mission in life unfulfilled.
Boone was also an example of one who died soon after his redemption. After being tied up by Locke while excavating the Hatch, Boone experienced a hallucination as the result of a paste being rubbed on his head. In his hallucination, he is forced to confront his major issue: love for his stepsister, Shannon. In his hallucination, he finds her dead, and as he later confesses to Locke, he felt "relieved." This eased his jealousy for Sayid, as well as freeing himself from his love for Shannon. However, soon after his redemption, Boone climbed into a Beechcraft plane, but the plane fell from a cliff with him inside, killing him. ("Hearts and Minds") ("Deus Ex Machina") ("Do No Harm")
Shannon's issues on the Island seem to centre on the fact that no-one ever believed in her. In the episode "Abandoned", flashbacks show how Shannon tried to convince her step-mother to give her the money to pursue her opportunity with a dance company, pleading that she "just need to get to New York. I need just something — something to get started. I'll pay you back." However, her step-mother refused to believe her, retorting "this week it's an internship — last year it was what — interior design? You'll never pay me back." Later, Boone offered Shannon all the money she needed, but she questioned his motives behind the loan, asking:
SHANNON: Do you believe I can, or don't you, Boone?
SHANNON: Okay, you know what, I really want you to just take your money — go work for your mother — I don't want it...
On the Island, Shannon saw Walt repeatedly, despite him being kidnapped by the Others. However, no-one would believe her, and even Sayid doubted the claim. Out in the jungle, Shannon eventually confronted Sayid, showing the true root of her complex:
SHANNON: Why don't you believe me? [Sayid doesn't answer] I need you to believe in me!
SAYID: I do believe in you.
SHANNON: You don't! No one does. They think that I'm some kind of joke. They think I'm worthless.
SAYID: Shannon, you are not worthless.
After Sayid truly believes in Shannon, Walt reappears, and this time Sayid can also see him. With this resolution to Shannon's problems, she proceeds to chase after Walt, and in the confusion of surrounding whispers, is shot by Ana Lucia. ("Abandoned")
Almost from the moment she arrived on the Island, it was apparent that Ana Lucia was an incredibly troubled young woman. She had suffered a miscarriage, and taken vengeance by murdering the man who had shot her, which caused the loss. After travelling to Australia with Christian Shephard, Ana resolved that she would face what she did and return to America, phoning her mother from the airport and telling her that she would be on Flight 815. ("Collision") ("Two for the Road")
Of course, Ana never made it to Los Angeles, and on the Island it became evident that her issues had not been overcome. Ana Lucia killed an unnamed Other in addition to Goodwin, and her deteriorating stability in response to the dangers on the Island led to her accidentally shooting and killing Shannon. ("...And Found") Later, Ana planned to kill "Henry Gale", but at the final moment decided not to. She tells Michael, "I couldn't do it. I couldn't even kill him. I looked at him and he — I can't do this anymore." It is at this final moment, where Ana for a second time openly admits to everything she has done and wants to change and be redeemed, that Michael shoots her dead. ("Two for the Road")
Eko's redemption differs from other characters because it wasn't overcoming his flaws which led to him being redeemed, but rather his refusal to apologise for them because they were done with the greater good at heart. In "The 23rd Psalm" flashbacks showcased Eko making great sacrifices for his brother, Yemi, when he killed a man to prevent his brother from having do it, thus starting his life as a warlord. Eko's sacrifices to save his brother were again featured in the flashbacks in "The Cost of Living" in which he faced a punishment after stealing food for his brother, and accepted the punishment. After Yemi's subsequent death, Eko tried to redeem himself for his involvement in his brother's demise by becoming a holy man, although his attempts were in vain. ("The 23rd Psalm") ("The Cost of Living")
Eko's redemptive efforts continued during his time on the Island but it was only after The Monster, who had been posing as his brother, told him to repent for his sins but Eko refuses, saying that he had not sinned but did what he needed to survive and protect those close to him. The Monster then preceded to kill a now redeemed Mr Eko. ("The Cost of Living")
Redemption played a big part in Michael's return to the Island. After killing Ana Lucia and Libby, Michael left the Island but became increasingly guilt-ridden. As seen in the episode "Meet Kevin Johnson", he became haunted by Libby and eerily saw her twice during his attempts to kill himself and, later, to infiltrate the Kahana as a spy for Benjamin Linus. When Michael was discovered on the freighter by Sayid and Desmond he revealed that he accepted Ben's offer to return to the Island in order to redeem himself for the murders. ("Meet Kevin Johnson") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1")
SUN: And now you're working for Ben?
MICHAEL: I do not work for Ben. I'm trying to make up for what I did. I'm trying to help you out here.
When a bomb was discovered onboard the Kahana, Michael worked with Desmond and Jin to defuse it. With time running out, Michael told Jin to rejoin his wife and unborn child and agreed to man the bomb alone. In doing so, Michael ensured the escape of the Oceanic Six, Desmond and Frank Lapidus from the Island and in doing so redeemed himself before the Kahana exploded, killing him. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
Ironically, the people most arguably affected by the deaths of Ana Lucia and Libby; Sawyer, Hurley and Jack, never saw Michael on the freighter and remain unaware of the role he played in security the escape of the two latter survivors.
During her time on the Kahana and later on the Island, Charlotte maintained her real reason for joining the science team a secret, even from those she was close to, like Daniel Faraday. Charlotte was raised on the Island but forced to leave prior to the Incident and she then spent her life trying to find the Island to prove that it existed. After her subsequent return to the Island, Charlotte maintained her often cold demeanour until Daniel urged her to leave the Island and return to the boat in the face of the Secondary Protocol. For the first time, Charlotte divulged that she was "still looking for the place she was born" and refused to leave. ("This Place Is Death") ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
After the Island's move Charlotte started to suffer the effects of the time flashes. Before her death, Charlotte started to reveal more and more about herself, such as her ability to speak Korean (which suprised her fellow crewmen Daniel and Miles). Most prominently, however, when her condition worsened severly she emotionally revealed the truth about her history to Daniel. Having learned to not be so secretive and to let those who she was close to in, Charlotte subsequently died. ("This Place Is Death")
Suicide has been a theme on Lost. Many characters have attempted suicide, but the success of these attempts has varied from person-to-person. The cause of suicide is generally depression, but in the case of some, to simply escape, or even because of a mental illness.
In the Swan, Kelvin told Desmond about Radzinsky, Kelvin's former partner who was responsible for many things in the hatch. Kelvin eventually revealed that Radzinsky had committed suicide, pointing out a bloodstain on the ceiling. ("Live Together, Die Alone")
Ordered by Mr. Paik to kill Jae Lee (whom Paik had seen having an affair with Sun), Jin went to Jae's hotel room and beat him profusely but, instead of killing him, offered Jae a chance to leave the country and never come back. As Jin returned to his car, Jae leapt from his window and fell onto the car, clutching a strand of pearls he had offered to Sun. ("The Glass Ballerina")
Upon travelling to Australia in search of the source of the Numbers, Hurley met Martha Toomey, the wife of Sam Toomey, who had first heard the numbers. When asking about Sam's location, Martha stated that, in order to escape the numbers, Sam had killed himself several years prior to Hurley's visit. ("Numbers")
Sayid worked undercover with the CIA to expose a terrorist sect in Australia. He was reunited with his college friend Essam, and stated that he would orchestrate a suicide bombing with Essam, in order to locate the explosives. However, just before the bombing was about to occur, Sayid revealed to Essam his true mission. Essam, angered by the betrayal, held Sayid and gunpoint before turning the gun on himself. ("The Greater Good")
While in the hatch, a depressed Desmond contemplated suicide while drinking heavily and starting to read Our Mutual Friend; but then he heard Locke, angered by Boone's death, pounding on the hatch door above, restoring his faith and making him lose the thoughts of suicide, knowing he was not alone. ("Live Together, Die Alone")
Hurley, almost a month later, soon became haunted by his imaginary friend, Dave. During his final meeting with Dave, Dave tried to convince him that the island wasn't real, and that it was all a figment of his imagination. Dave stated that if Hurley threw himself off a cliff, he would survive and wake up in Santa Rosa. However, Hurley was stopped by Libby, with whom he shared a kiss. ("Dave")After leaving the island, Michael decided to reveal the fact that he had killed Libby and Ana Lucia to his son Walt. Walt then, however, wanted nothing to do with Michael, and opted to live with Michael's mother instead of Michael. Michael fell into a deep depression, and attempted suicide by ramming his car into a storage unit. While badly injured, Michael survived and quickly healed. After getting out of the hospital, Michael sold Jin's watch in order to purchase a revolver from the pawn shop.
Later, on the Kahana, Michael prepared to blow up a suitcase bomb given to him by the Others, which would kill him and everyone else on board. However, when he went to detonate the deadly device, a small flag stating "Not yet," popped up, giving Michael yet another failed suicide attempt. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
Meanwhile, Ben had shot Locke and left him in a pit for dead. Locke, finding a revolver on the corpse of a nearby Dharma worker, held the revolver to his head and attempted to pull the trigger. However, before he could carry on with the suicide, he was stopped by Walt, who told him he had "work to do." ("Through the Looking Glass")
At the Looking Glass, Mikhail Bakunin, though thought dead by Charlie and Desmond, escaped into the moon pool with a grenade. While Charlie made contact with Penny Widmore, Mikhail tapped on the glass, showing Charlie the grenade in his hand while pulling the pin. The grenade exploded, with Mikhail effectively killing himself and drowning Charlie at the same time. ("Through the Looking Glass")
Sometime later, upon arriving at the freighter, Desmond and Sayid saw Regina wrap herself in chains and throw herself off the side of the ship. Gault soon appeared and said that Regina's suicide was likely the result of "cabin fever" that was going around people on the ship. This was further confirmed by Ray, noticing a large blood stain at the wall in one of the ship's cabins, presumably of another suicide.("Ji Yeon")
After the escape of the Oceanic 6 from the island, John Locke, using the alias of Jeremy Bentham, followed them, and approached each of them, telling them of the repercussions of their leaving, and warning them that they needed to return to the island. However, after visiting them all, he was found dead in his apartment, and the death was ruled as a suicide. ("There's No Place Like Home, Parts 2 & 3")
The truth, however, was that Ben had convinced Locke not to kill himself, but then strangled him with the same rope after hearing Locke tell him about Eloise Hawking. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham")
After reading about Locke's death, Jack fell into a deeper depression, eventually pulling over while driving on a bridge and preparing to jump off. However, before he could do so, a car accident occurred behind him, a result of a driver being distracted by Jack standing on the side of the bridge. Jack abandoned his suicidal mission and saved the passenger and her son instead. ("Through the Looking Glass")
"This place is death!"
Several characters have reappeared after death, although the form of that appearance is currently an unsolved mystery.
It is unclear if Boone's appearance to Locke in the sweat lodge is truly an appearance, or occurred while Locke was having an induced hallucination.
This lists the known direct kills committed by the main Survivors actually shown in an episode, whether on or off the Island. It does not include kills that are merely referenced in dialogue (for example, Sayid telling Charlie about how he was a member of a firing squad in Iraq). (1x16) It also does not include some accidental killings, such as Hurley and Sawyer burying Nikki and Paulo alive while they thought they were dead. (3x14)
|Main Character||Off the Island||On the Island||Total kill count|
||No known kills||5|
||No known kills||4|
||No known kills||2|
||No known kills||2|
||No known kills||2|
||No known kills||1|
||No known kills||1|
||No known kills||1|
||No known kills||1|
|Nikki and Paulo
||No known kills||1|