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Unanswered 'Lost' Question - Was the Island Real?

By June 21, 2010

Immediately following my first watch of the Lost finale, my thought was what? They're all dead? Have they been dead the whole time? Then I re-watched and came to the conclusion that the island was real and everything that happened to them on the island, flashbacks, and flash forwards were all real, they were alive, and it all really happened. In the flash-sideways, they were dead and found each other so they could move on together.

Case closed, right? Wrong. There are a lot of people who believe the Losties were dead while they were on the island. As you can see by the comments in the discussion of the island's powers, there are a few people who believe that the island story was the afterlife of the main characters.

I still firmly believe that everything that happened on the island was real and the afterlife was the flash-sideways. What do you think? Discuss in the comments.


June 21, 2010 at 6:10 am
(1) LostinMelancholy says:

Lostaway Bonnie said: I supposed, but I think the island was real, otherwise, what’s the point?
(as related to the argument that the island experience and the flash sideways world were both ‘metaphysical, rather than physical.)—Jun.18, 2010; ‘Unanswered ‘Lost’ Question – How Does the Island Have Special Powers?’

I agree, to propose that the survivors have experienced two ‘afterlifes’ each lifeline with the same goals in mind (redemption, recollection, moving on) has little point to it.

There may be a valid point in the concept of a karma set in stages—as you move from one afterlife to the next afterlife—but if the survivors achieve the highest level on the island, with the experiences they shared at the most important time of their collective existence—why have a ‘flash sideways’ world created?—besides Christian said it…

June 21, 2010 at 7:04 am
(2) Claude says:

What I found interesting is that several times Desmond said, “See you in another life.” That’s one reason I supposed that the island was just one more transition point in the afterlife, a way station on the path to the final destination. It’s also interesting how Boone died in season 1. He said to Jack, “Let me go.” We heard the theme of “letting go” referred to several times in the sideways timeline, which wasn’t real.

Christian said that the people in the church were real, and “so is everything that ever happened to you.” I think he meant “real” in a humanistic sense, referring to emotional connections they formed and how they helped each other to attain the next level. It’s just my personal interpretation, but I don’t think the island had to exist in the physical world for those things to be real.

Also, how could Yemi’s plane really have ended up on the island? Isn’t it strange that Kelvin Chapman, who made Sayid into a torturer, was on the island, too? Yemi and Kelvin were major figures in the karma of Eko and Sayid. And Anthony Cooper had major karma issues with both Locke and Sawyer. Cooper’s arrival was never explained except to say that he came out of the “magic box,” and Ben said to Locke, “YOU brought him here.”

June 21, 2010 at 9:16 am
(3) Cooperdale says:

I think this question isn’t even worthy of deep discussion. The finale left no doubt whatsoever, the flashsideways were the afterlife and the island was “real life”, with all the flashbacks and flashforwards. I really don’t see how people can have doubt about this. There was absolutely nothing in the show which may lead to believe the island was afterlife too.

When I first watched the finale, I had no doubt, and after rewatching it I’m even more sure. Obviously it was strange that those people Claude mentions were on the island (Cooper was brought there by the others, probably on Jacob’s order, Ben was lying as usual). But everything about the island was strange, that doesn’t mean it was an afterlife. It may be a fascinating theory, but it has the same basis as me saying that all of us on earth right now are in the afterlife.

June 21, 2010 at 9:47 am
(4) Cyn says:

When Christian and Jack were talking in the church, Christian said the island and everything that happened there was real, so I guess we could debate about what “real” means, just like we can debate about what “alive” means within the context of LOST. Does “alive” mean heart beating and brain functioning; or does it mean a spirit that continues to stuggle, learn, and progress?

June 21, 2010 at 11:12 am
(5) Claude says:

Did Christian specifically mention “the island”? Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t recall that he did.

Some other questions I have: (1) Michael couldn’t kill himself back in New York, and Tom said it was because the island wouldn’t let him. In the real world, how could the island cause Michael’s gun to misfire? (2) In one of the last few episodes of season 3, Juliet knew that Sawyer had shot a man in Australia. Yet when Sawyer was deported, the police didn’t suspect him in that case. How’d she know? (Granted, Sawyer could have become a suspect after the fact.) (3) Nearly all the people who escaped the island, or thought they had, were drawn to return because they couldn’t find peace off the island. That would include Charlotte and Miles. (Sayid was the only one who didn’t return willingly, and of course Walt never came back.) (4) After Charlotte’s apparent “death” on the island, her body vanished, just as there was no trace of Christian’s body.

Does this prove that the island was the afterlife? No. Does it leave room for some doubt? Maybe…

June 21, 2010 at 3:39 pm
(6) Lostie Linda says:

I agree that there are many things that “leave room for doubt” and that the writers may have put them there or left things ambiguous on purpose to get us talking and theorizing. ANYTHING is worth discussion and looking at the other side of the coin because it may just open your mind in the process…and lead to greater discoveries/insights.

Another one of the things that may indicate everyone was “dead” on the island and in the flash forwards was Claire’s mom’s seemingly miraculous recovery. Right before Claire got on flight 815 her mom was still in a deep coma (presumably for a long time). But a few months later she is perfectly fine at Christian’s funeral talking about her daughter to Jack like nothing is wrong? That seems even more than miraculous to me…

BUT what if she died and was now “living” the way she last remembered being (fine right before the crash) just like the Losties carried on “living” the last way they remembered being — in handcuffs, a torturer, grieving a father? Besides Rose finding peace and just “feeling” that she no longer had cancer, the other glaring exception to the rule was Locke. On the island he could instantly walk again (and was able to “look into the eyes of the island” and love it) but in the flash sideways, it took him awhile to realize he was no longer paralyzed, culminating outside of the church. It was all his PERCEPTION of who he was that was “holding him back.”

June 21, 2010 at 3:55 pm
(7) Elle says:

If the island wasn’t real, how did they meet? Why were the supposed to spend the after-life together? Why were they so important in each other’s lives? I think that it’s safe to say that the island was real…especially since that’s what Christian said :)

June 21, 2010 at 4:08 pm
(8) Lostie Linda says:

As has been mentioned a few times, it all depends on what your definition of “real” is. Is it real to have a religious experience or psychic encounter? Do we die when our heart stops or when our “soul” leaves? Was it real for Christian to get out of his coffin on the island and talk to Jack? How about in the flash sideways at the church?

I think, as Christian said, whatever happened on that island was very real to the Losties from their perspective but it wouldn’t be real to us from where we exist right now. The relationships they created and actions they took on the island did impact their life…and their future. It just wasn’t part of this phase of existence that you and I are in right now because they died when 815 blew apart and moved on.

Besides, I find it funny how everyone keeps saying it must be true because Christian said so. Well, alot of things were said on that show that didn’t end up being entirely true…or at least not true in the initial way you took it.

June 21, 2010 at 4:17 pm
(9) Claude says:

That’s a very good observation about Claire’s mother. I’d forgotten about her.

In the sideways timeline, the people didn’t remember where they’d met before. Maybe the same was true on the island. My theory is that they had encountered each other at various points during their earthly lives and made some significant impact. For this reason, they were brought together on the island to help each other resolve their karma and move to the next level.

Christian said to Jack, “The most important time in your life was the time you spent with these people.” He didn’t actually say, in so many words, that Jack has spent this signficant time with them all together and on the island. Just as the sideways timeline was the final stop before they could move on, perhaps the island was just an earlier stage of their spiritual journey.

June 21, 2010 at 4:19 pm
(10) Claude says:

Lostie Linda,
Regarding your comment # 8, yes, that’s exactly how I see it.

June 21, 2010 at 5:06 pm
(11) meanjean says:

I like is much more if they were all actually alive on a moveable magnetic island with polar bears. That makes as much sense as anything else.
Or every body on the island was dead. Dharma was a dead folks club.
Time travel for the dead may be easier, but what’s the point of being in the 70′s or the 2000′s if you’re are dead. You can’t go back to change the past before you were born – you’re dead. Well maybe you can who knows.
It’s easy to say all this wierd stuff on he island happened, because it wasn’t real – they were all dead- where anything is posible(I guess).
But it’s more fun to see it where things do happen
that we cannot understand – that are beyond life and science as we know it. A place where semi-gods
play with lives of mere mortals in their attemps to
guard thir majic magnetic home.

June 21, 2010 at 8:39 pm
(12) Lostaway Bonnie says:

Like Cooperdale, I saw no doubt that the island was real and too didn’t think this even warranted discussion. But after seeing so many people talk about this, I changed my mind and decided we needed to discuss it. I’m glad I did!

Your arguments of how the island might not be real are compelling and give me lots to think about. I still believe the island was real and was just very mystical with lots of things happening that we can’t explain, but I do see the possibly that the island may not have been real.

June 21, 2010 at 9:22 pm
(13) Claude says:

Thanks for opening this thread, Bonnie. It was a fun discussion and I enjoyed hearing both viewpoints.

You raised an interesting point about Walt aging and I don’t have an answer for that question. I think the beauty is that we all found personal meanings that resonated with us. So perhaps it’s better that the writers didn’t give us answers that were cut and dried.

June 21, 2010 at 10:53 pm
(14) Lostie Linda says:

I also thank you for asking the question and not just shutting the door on any idea dissenting from “the norm.” I think it’s very interesting to consider the MANY possibilities….and I think that’s what one of the goals of the show was.

As far as Walt aging goes, I took that as being similar to Claire having Aaron — it’s what everyone expected to happen so it happened. I think everyone saw themselves and each other as they thought they should instead of maybe seeing what was truly possible. Again, the striking exception is Locke realizing he could suddenly walk. And I think when he realized that it was also when he first began understanding the “power” of the island and what it was all about…he started letting go. It just took Jack 6 more (great and intriguing) seasons to get to that point and realize that Locke truly was pretty much right about everything all along.

June 22, 2010 at 9:37 am
(15) meanjean says:

I also thought at some time early on during the show that the writers brushed off the theory that the island was some sort of purgatory. Don’t recall if they actually denied it out right, but it seems like there was some discussion about it.

June 22, 2010 at 10:22 am
(16) Lostie Linda says:

Yeah, I’ve heard that too. I’m not sure exactly what they said, but I really don’t see the island as a typical purgatory anyways. I see it as just another phase of their overall existence. “Life” as we know it (and they experienced in the flashbacks) was one phase, the island another, the flash sideways a third, then whereever they went after walking through the door of the church with Christian…on and on. In other words, we don’t ever exactly cease to exist, we just keep moving on to new places and new things.

They could very well be “tricks” by the writers to throw us off course, but we have seen quite a few people on the show make claims that the island doesn’t really exist or that they are all dead too. Most notably, Locke’s dad laughed about it when he showed up in the box and Richard, in a fit of frustration, let them in on the “secret” in the last season.

But my favorite parallel was Charlie asking in the first season when things started getting really strange on the island “where are we??” and then Jack asking Christian the very same thing in the church in the last episode. We knew they weren’t exactly in a place we can fully know and comprehend (since we are still alive) in the church, maybe they weren’t on the island either…

You just never know who to believe in this show and I love it! :-)

June 22, 2010 at 1:04 pm
(17) meanjean says:

We keep discussing the island when there were really at least two. One where the plane crashed and most things happened and another where a plane landed and submarines came and went. Is there a difference in the way things happened on each one or does it matter?

June 22, 2010 at 1:30 pm
(18) Cooperdale says:

After reading all this, I can’t say it’s impossible that the island may be another level of afterlife. What I’m thinking though is this: if I look at this from the authors’ point of view, what would be the point of showing us two different kinds of afterlife? We are alive, and I for one need to know the characters were alive too on the island. I need to know what they did while they were alive to care for them.
Things were strange on the island, but that doesn’t mean it was afterlife, otherwise all science-fictional realities would be the afterlife.

Also, if the island was just another afterlife, then all strange happenings there could be dismissed because of this, and all other mysteries would become completely moot. I really don’t think that’s what the writers meant, and neither does Michael Emerson ;) .

June 22, 2010 at 1:45 pm
(19) LostawayBonnie says:

And me. :)

June 22, 2010 at 3:19 pm
(20) Lostie Linda says:

I understand your point and there is no way I’m just trying explain away all sci-fi or extraordinary things with death…I would have thrown stuff at the TV along with you (I assume) if we found out it was all just a dream. But, as I posted on another thread in response to Bonnie’s question of “what’s the point then?”:

I don’t think the show loses any of its meaning, message, or excitement if you assume everyone was “dead” after the 815 crash. What happened on the island was very real to them and everything they did still had consequence and meant something…it’s just in a different way and in a different “place” than the life you and I are living right now.

What I took away as the overall message was that “life” goes on and it’s never too late to redeem yourself and change it. Our day-to-day existence in cubicles until death isn’t IT…there is more beyond it that builds on itself as we learn, let go, and move on. I find that incredibly comforting and meaningful. In fact, maybe we’ll all see each other in another life, brotha.

So I guess the difference is that I don’t need to see the Losties in the same place or position as you and I to care for them. But, again, I see your viewpoint…I’m just trying to stand up for the underdog theory because I honestly think it has some merit! Haha.

June 23, 2010 at 2:00 am
(21) mins says:

I thought the island time was real and the sideways was the afterlife.
However, the other theories are very creative and interesting points of view. I wish I had a more creative mind!

June 23, 2010 at 6:04 am
(22) LostinMelancholy says:

The island experience was real–as every story has the touchstone of a beginning–where real life decisions have consequences in the real world–and an end, in an afterlife–where life’s consequences find redemption for moving on.

June 23, 2010 at 1:20 pm
(23) lostfan says:

I agree with Cooperdale. The island was real….otherwords like Elle said how would they have meet? How would the time spent on the island and with each other been the best times of their lives if it was the afterlife?

June 23, 2010 at 11:02 pm
(24) poormuffin says:

Well everyone has interesting thoughts just finished all 6 seasons WOW! Cool they were all dead a bit of a bummer though… My out look… They/we all believe somewhat that there is an afterlife…do we all get 2 go? or only the CHOSEN few… Jacobs touch…as a chosen one you are brought 2 the Mystical Island which by the way ancients knew about or our ancestors did. Otherwise what was the sense of ruins and statues? Who was the Islands original protectors? Now you are a chosen one on an Island to face things and prove your PURITY and HUMANITY and SELFLESSNESS for these are the supposed qualities needed to gain access to the LIGHT! As you pass the tests you are left to relise on your own to MOVE ON, sometimes we/them need things a certain way or we need to LET GO of things to MOVE ON.. so explained with the side-flashes. There is no Hell… just the Mystical Island and if you are a chosen one and you fail your tests on the Island, then you are judged to stay and are unable to leave as Micheal said! Left to help others… sometimes there are those who are not worthy in their alive life’s but get to the Island these are taken by the BLACKNESS!! Now why did Jack who was to PROTECT the Island and NOT let the BAD LOCKE near the water falls ….let him near it ? Hell helped Locke even? So sad it’s over it’s been like an addiction do not know how anybody waited a week 2 watch the next episode!!

June 23, 2010 at 11:29 pm
(25) poormuffin says:

Now addressing the Mystical Island ( IT IS REAL) it’s a Portal to the light and needs protecting or everyone would get to the light without being tested and proving one’s soul. With that said the Ancients or our Ancestors would of built some kind of defense … like ??? Do not think the Black Smoke was designed as a defense. Believe the Ancients or our Ancestor’s learned a way of harnessing the ENERGY from the LIGHT and used it 2 Protect it. The time travel was a side effect of the Mystical Island’s Light energy affecting the stability on the rocks of the Island once it was not Harnessed any longer. Thus moving the chosen ones randomly thru time??..

June 25, 2010 at 12:44 pm
(26) Lost Man says:

I must have had a dream that I posted to this thread b/c yesterday I did so and today its not here? Since what I had wrote was not offensive, I don’t think it would have been removed. If it was removed because I disagreed with many of you and said that I thought the island was real, well then that’s tragic. I was pretty sure this was a place to post our non-offensive ideas and opinions regardless of what they are. In any event, I posted that the producers and writers had said all along that the characters were not dead, they were not in hell, and they were not in purgatory. That being the case, why is this even being considered as one of the unanswered questions? Sure its fun to think about the possibilities, but really? Lostman.

June 25, 2010 at 2:05 pm
(27) Lostaway Bonnie says:

Hi, Lost Man:

Your other post is in this thread: How does the island have special powers? I know, both threads are very similar. Your comments seem relevant to both, so I’m just going to leave the duplicate.

As far as why we are even considering it, well, there are a good number of people who don’t believe that the island was real and I wanted them to have their say.

June 25, 2010 at 9:07 pm
(28) LostinMelancholy says:

Kudos to Bonnie for leaving room on her blog for debate–its’ better than a hot oil deathmatch–as Sawyer use to say.

June 28, 2010 at 10:19 am
(29) Lost Man says:

Bonnie, et. al. Mea Culpa! My apologies for my confusion and for “jumping to conclusions.” You are also right – its being discussed b/c a lot of people do not believe that the island was real and its their right to hold such a view. Sincerely, Lostman

June 28, 2010 at 11:19 am
(30) Lostaway Bonnie says:

Cool, Lostman. I’m one who firmly believes the island was real, but I like hearing what the other side has to say. Who knows, they might sway me yet!

June 28, 2010 at 4:14 pm
(31) LostinMelancholy says:

Lostaway Bonnie;
This blog really blossomed–just count the responses–its great to read all of the responses–if you can think of any more ‘contraversal’ questions you’ve encountered–toss them in–and let the sparks fly.

Re: Did the nuke blowup–or not?

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