Love it or hate it, ABC’s Lost is one of the most compelling and infectious television properties to have existed in our time. Over six seasons, the series attempted to tell an ambitious and mysterious tale, often posing more questions than other shows would ever dare to do and stringing viewers along on a thrilling, and at times, frustrating ride.
One of the biggest causes of division when it comes to the show is whether or not the series finale was satisfactory enough for those who had remained loyal for almost seven years. Many still struggle when they try and explain exactly what happened to Jack (Matthew Fox) and company during their time on the island, with the overall consensus being that when all was said and done, our characters met up in a church representative of the gates of Heaven. Things weren’t always going to be that way, however.
Throughout Lost there were a series of red herrings, with one of those thought to be the drawing of a volcano on a blackboard in a Dharma Initiative school on the island. The chalk drawing however was actually put there for a reason. Long-time Lost co-showrunner Carlton Cuse and co-creator Damon Lindelof explained to EW:
Cuse: “We were always looking to cannibalize anything on Hawaii to aid in the visual storytelling of the show. 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.”
Lindelof: “The question was always, how do you basically visualize and dramatize the idea that the island itself is all that separates the world from hellfire and damnation? And the answer was the volcano.
“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!”
Unfortunately, the pair also explained that the people with the big bucks put an end to the volcano idea, with ABC bringing all discussions to a close when they revealed they were unwilling to shell out the cash for what would likely be some of the most expensive scenes on television at the time. Now, though, Cuse and Lindelof don’t look back on it as a missed opportunity, but something that happened for the better.
Still, there will surely be people out there who would have loved to have seen this type of ending take place. As mentioned, the Lost finale is one of the most divisive endings to a long-running television series in modern day history; just how differently would things have gone if this was the route eventually taken by the creators and network?
Looking back, perhaps the removal of the volcano ending was for the best. If we were to return to the series today perhaps through a reboot or through another story being told on the same island, something special could be done with the island volcano. For the original series’ time, however, the special effects would certainly have taken away from the overall finale experience and feel.