To me, 2019 was a year of endings. After 13 years of waiting, Kingdom Hearts III was finally released in January. Then in April, the Marvel Cinematic Universe culminated in Avengers: Endgame. One month later, the Game of Thrones finale aired. In August, the Invader ZIM revival/finale Enter the Florpus released on Netflix. And that December, the Star Wars sequel trilogy wrapped up with The Rise of Skywalker. (We didn’t know it at the time, but normalcy was also about to come to an end.)
I couldn’t help but wonder, what if I had missed one or all of these pop culture events that were years in the making. I had to be there opening night for Avengers: Endgame and Rise of Skywalker. I had to watch each new episode of the final season of Game of Thrones live, which I rarely do for television anymore. They are important parts of my life and I was afraid of missing them for a small reason. What if I’d missed them for an irreversible one? If I had passed away and was conscious of all that I had missed during my stay in the afterlife, could I accept that?
The fear of missing these conclusions was always somewhere in my subconscious, and it didn’t start in 2019. But at some point, I decided to turn that fear into a story. But even as big as the releases in 2019 were, there was one that would have affected me profoundly: the series finale of Lost.
It was 2004, weeks after my sophomore year of high school started and months before the presidential election. Ads for Lost were everywhere. It was billed as a dramatized version of Survivor brought to you by the creator of Alias. I tuned in for the first episode, as did my parents, and we were all hooked. So was much of America. It was way more than just a scripted version of Survivor. It was a phenomenon.
Time still seems to drag when you’re in high school, which just heightens every moment at a time when your emotions are already doing that. Sometimes you look for anything to just grab onto to keep you afloat. For me, Lost was like a life preserver. It wasn’t just an hour of TV to watch. It was an hour that could be dissected, debated, opined on, and theorized over. In those years where there seemed to be an overabundance of time and a dearth of content, Lost filled so many hours.
I watched Lost with my parents when it was still in an early enough time slot for them to watch it live. I’d talk about it with people at school who I was barely acquainted with. I’d skim message boards, read articles, and piece through the clues that were occasionally posted online. For a time, it was central to my life.
Life got busier in my senior year, and then I was off to college. New shows captured the zeitgeist, like the first season of Heroes, as Lost chugged along. And though I had less free time, I still spent an inordinate amount of it on Lost. There was a Lost podcast hosted by the masterminds, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse. Doc Jensen wasn’t only doing articles, but videos as well. And new Lost episodes were being posted on ABC’s website, so I could watch more than once a week.
In 2010, I was especially excited by the prospect of Lost’s final season, while being a bit saddened by it as well. What exactly was I supposed to do after it ended? I remember freaking out because President Obama’s State of the Union might postpone the first episode of the season. It didn’t, maybe because he was also a fan. I was also somewhat confused by the flash sideways, which I suppose may have been the intention.
I remember watching the series finale with my Dad. He was not as thrilled by the final season as I was, but he was still watching it. My Mom had stopped seasons ago. I thought it was a touching and great end to the series. There were more answers to the questions posed by the final season than the series at large, which may have contributed to the polarized reaction. My Dad thought it was just okay.
After watching the series several times on DVD, including the epilogue The New Man in Charge, it’s clear that most of Lost’s big mysteries were answered. The Numbers were even explained twice. It doesn’t feel unfinished. It feels comprehensive and conclusive. Lost is over.
In its wake, Lost spawned a couple of network “clones” but eventually opened minds to more genre fare. At its time, few shows even touched on science fiction. These days, it’s rather common. But only one show reached the phenomenon status of Lost. I’m talking about Game of Thrones. But even though I watched it and discussed it with friends, I was never as obsessed with it.
Game of Thrones arrived in my life at a time when I had less free time and a lot more shows to watch. Being older may have also affected how I reacted to it. It was my favorite show for years in the 2010s, but it never held the same place in my heart. Even so, I was outraged by its finale. I’ll write about that another time.
When the initial idea to write about missing something in life and then searching the afterlife for it, there was only one possible subject that would be worthy of such effort. And it was only right that I pay tribute to it, as it influences me to this very day. If I hadn’t made it to the Lost finale, I would have scoured the afterlife for a way to watch it. And that’s exactly what the protagonist in my latest novel does.
Lost is my first love; my cornerstone; my muse. Whenever the question, “What is your favorite TV show?” gets asked, the answer I have is never in doubt. It is, it was, and it will always be Lost. If you need more evidence, check out my latest novel.