Ever since the Lost series finale aired, a decade ago as of May 2010, it’s been a source of contention for both fans and the creators of the show. While there never could’ve been an ending to the hit supernatural drama that satisfied everyone, the series finale has been relentlessly dunked on for years. Even George R.R. Martin got into the act. Although, he probably should’ve waited until Game of Thrones ended its run, because that show did not have the smoothest landing either.
In a revealing new interview with Collider, Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof opened up about the behind-the-scenes battle that led to the show’s ill-received ending. With the success of HBO’s Watchmen and The Leftovers under his belt, the showrunner seems to be less apprehensive about tackling what he believes was the main source of creative problems: ABC wanted too many seasons.
According to Lindelof, the original plan for Lost was to only run for three seasons, and there were already conversations about how the show would end as they were working on the pilot. However, if the show became a hit, ABC’s line of thinking was “why end something that people love watching?” This led to the show being stretched to over twice its original length, causing too many mysteries to stack up, and the show’s trademark flashback scenes became less revelatory character moments and more “treading water.”
Eventually, Lindelof and the writers managed to convince ABC to at least have a conversation about ending the show, and well, it didn’t go so great.
“Then they finally came to the table and we had a real conversation. They were like, ‘We have agreed to let you end the show.’… I just said to [ABC President] Steve McPherson, ‘Thank you. This is what’s best for the show,’ and he said, ‘We were thinking 10 seasons.’ Mind you, we’re halfway through Season 3, so first off how do you even think we’re gonna get to 10? That’s really the same as saying we’re not gonna let you end the show, because how many drama series even get to 10 seasons?”
After a back and forth where Lindelof and the writers suggested ending the show after four seasons and ABC came back with nine, six seasons was agreed upon as an ending point even though, again, that was twice as many seasons as the creators originally wanted. While Lindelof is proud of the plan they came up with to end the show and they way they executed it, he fully acknowledges that stacking too many mysteries over the show’s 121 episodes spiraled out of control.
“I think that we can both agree that we did not get that balance right,” he told Collider.