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Unanswered 'Lost' Question - What Kept Man in Black From Leaving the Island?

By July 21, 2010

Here's a question I get a lot: Why was Jacob able to leave the island, seemingly at will, but Man in Black was not? A related question is: Why did "Mother" and Jacob want to keep Man in Black on the island?

Jacob with his brother and fake mother
Jacob with his brother and fake mother
ABC/Mario Perez

My answer, though there is no solid proof to this theory, is that Man in Black wasn't able to leave the island because Jacob made a rule that he could never leave the island. Man in Black tried to dispose of all the candidates so that there would be no protector of the island and then he would no longer have rules to follow. I think Man in Black had a hard time killing and getting rid of the candidates because Jacob also made it a rule that Man in Black could never lie. Man in Black got around this by not always telling the whole truth and by saying things that were true, but that others would take to mean something other than their true meaning.

Why didn't Jacob want him to leave the island? The easy answer is that he was evil and would bring evil into the world instead of keeping it contained on the island, but I'm not sure I buy this answer. It could be that Jacob didn't want Man in Black to spread the word about the island, thereby subjecting the island to people who would want to exploit it. But this reasoning seems flawed, because Jacob could have made a deal or a rule to let Man in Black leave in exchange for him keeping the island secret. I haven't come up with an answer for this one that I like. Do you have a theory?


July 21, 2010 at 6:45 am
(1) Cooperdale says:

I think the island is somehow the most important place on earth, and the source of earth’s energies both physical and metaphysical. The smoke monster was an embodiment of evil, setting him free would have been like letting satan transform the world into his personal playground. We don’t know the limitations to Jacob’s rules, so probably the only way he had to stop him was forcing him to stay on the island.

July 21, 2010 at 8:21 am
(2) Dharma Dude says:

This questions is definitely a toughie. Prior to becoming the MIB he wanted to leave the island because discovered his people and that’s what they were trying to do. It didn’t seem as though he was evil then, just curious to explore further. However in the heat of the moment when Jacob killed MIB that’s when the smoke monster was set free, using the entity and mind of the dead people on the island.

What strikes me as confusing is why did the smoke monster emerge when MIB’s body fell in the heart of the island? Was he a random sacrifice?

I agree though with the fact that Jacob did make his own rules, and as far as what would happen if MIB left the island, that’s something we’ll never know, and there is not enough evidence to say anything bad or good would come of it. and even if MIB did leave, how would he figure out how to leave? how would he know the special coordinates to leave and come back if he chose to?

July 21, 2010 at 10:41 am
(3) meanjean says:

I don’t know if there was a rule that MIB could never lie. Didn’t he tell Richard that he was in hell and that he needed to kill the devil Jacob. Seems like a lie to me. Also I still think MIB lied to Jack when he told him that he had appeared as Christian to him in the early episodes.
As far as MiB wanting to leave, he had always wanted to leave even before Jacob played his part in turning him into the Smokey MiB. Jacob knew if he allowed MiB to leave, any evil or information about the island that MiB unleashed upon the world
would always be partially his own fault since he had essentially created the monster.
I wonder if there was a rule that MiB couldn’t leave or if you really needed to be in some sort
of human form to leave. Lots of people left through portals and boats continuously. I don’t think spirits could use the portal which kept MiB from that exit. Mib had plans to leave by boat, but maybe he really couldn’t leave till someone pulled the cork on the island returning him to mortal form.

July 21, 2010 at 1:51 pm
(4) Dax says:

I think Mother wanted to keep MIB on the island because she was grooming him to be her replacement as the protector of the island. And also because she loved him more than she did Jacob.

July 21, 2010 at 1:55 pm
(5) Dax says:

I know this is off topic, but I’m curious; now that the show’s over, what do y’all reckon were the best episodes of the series as a whole?

July 21, 2010 at 2:54 pm
(6) Dax says:

At the start of THE INCIDENT episode we see Jacob with MIB by the statue. In AB AETERNO, MIB directs Richard to the statue. In 2007 MIB (as Locke) asks Richard to take him to Jacob. When they get to the foot, MIB asks why they’ve stopped. How does MIB not remember that Jacob lives there?

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