Lost premiered back in 2004, basically kick-starting the Golden Age of Television. Over the course of six seasons and 121 episodes, it raised more questions than it was eventually able to answer, which led to a divisive series finale. While some fans loved it for staying true to the show’s central themes, others loathed it for failing to provide a satisfying conclusion to all those compelling mysteries.
Regardless of where you stand, you have to admit that the series was extremely influential, which makes picking the most important episodes of Lost a particularly difficult endeavor. What started off as an engaging drama about the survivors of a plane going down quickly evolved into a mind-bending sci-fi show that tackled larger-than-life themes, like faith versus science and good versus evil. To this day, Lost remains a layered and complex show - so much so that missing only a couple of episodes can leave any viewer scratching their head in confusion. The beauty of Lost lies in the character development, so if you’re planning a rewatch, we strongly advise you commit to all 121 episodes.
However, if you’re just looking for the greatest hits, we're not about to tell you what you can't do. The installments listed below are all essential to the show’s overall narrative, whether they feature long-awaited reveals or character introductions/demises that went on to shape the story moving forward. Vote up the ones you believe had the most impact during the show’s run.
Flashbacks were always a big part of Lost, but this is the episode that revealed just how important they were for character development. In Walkabout, viewers find out that John Locke, who will grow to be a major player in the Lost universe, used to be confined to a wheelchair prior to landing on the island. While everyone around is freaking out after the accident, Locke is living through an actual miracle: being able to walk again. This also leads to a big character transformation.
The Locke in the flashbacks is not the same Locke we see hunting wild boar on the island. It’s an emotional hour of television, but it’s also an important episode as it poses one of the questions the show will tackle over its entire course: how do we really define our lives? For Locke, the island is his salvation, which leads him on a path to unravel its secrets and figure out why he's been given a second chance.
Regarded as one of the best TV pilots of all time, the first episode of Lost, a two-parter, does a tremendous job of introducing its large ensemble cast. It also hints at the supernatural nature of the island by giving the viewers a small glimpse of the Smoke Monster, having the survivors encounter a polar bear, and featuring the discovery of a mysterious radio message in French. Charlie’s "Guys, where are we?" line at the end of the episode was a surefire way to make viewers tune in to see what will happen next.
Love it or hate it, you have to admit that the Lost finale has a touching message - the people who change our lives are more important than the answers we seek. In the last two episodes, the Man in Black initiates his plan to wipe out the island, while Jack tries to stop him. The meaning behind the flash-sideways device is also revealed. The survivors reunite and realize that they've all passed on, that their time together on the island was really special, and that they needed to find each other again before being able to move on.
Richard had been a recurring character on Lost since Season 3, but this is the episode that finally reveals his backstory as one of the island’s oldest inhabitants. It all starts in 1867 and it’s a doozy. He runs aground on the island, is saved by the Smoke Monster, and eventually becomes Jacob’s representative for those he brings to the island. His story is one of love and loss - and with a history so great, one can’t help but understand why Lost waited for so long to finally show us what this character was all about.