These are what we call the 'YMMV items.' Things that some people find in this work. We call them 'your mileage might vary' because not everyone sees these things in the same way. This starts discussions in the trope lists, a thing we don't want. Please use the discussion page if you'd like to discuss any of these items.
Alas, Poor Scrappy: Nikki & Paulo. Also Shannon to those who still considered her a Scrappy by the time of her death.
Alternate Character Interpretation: This show is probably the poster child for this trope, and it can be applied to pretty much every character with explicit grounding in the show's subtext. Keep in mind, these are just some of the major ones:
Is the universe really such a rational place, or is Jack Shepherd just interpreting it that way because of his compulsion to fix things caused by his daddy issues?
Is the Island really guiding John Locke's destiny (or sentient at all), or is he just interpreting it that way because of his compulsion to discover his destiny caused by his daddy issues?
Are the Numbers really cursed, or is Hurley just interpreting them that way after a string of bad luck like this guy because of his compulsion to blame himself caused by his daddy issues?
Is the boar in the jungle really the spirit of Frank Duckett, or is Sawyer just interpreting it that way because of guilt over the accidental murder caused by his daddy issues?
Is the world really such a hostile place, or is Ana-Lucia just interpreting it that way because of her accident and her overprotective mommy issues?
Is Sayid really in love with Nadia, or is he just interpreting his feelings that way because of his guilt and his need to be absolved?
Is Jacob a weary God-like character full of love whose hand is forced by fate? Or a callous, sociopathic momma's boy whose manipulations have caused thousands of deaths?
Is the Man In Black as much of an apocalyptic villain as Jacob says, or is he simply so desperate to escape the island that he's willing to resort to evil means?
How seriously are we supposed to take Ben's statement that the Others are the "good guys?"
Watching the series a second time knowing Locke has no real idea of anything he's talking about makes him a good deal less sympathetic, and more like he's trying to start a cult of personality around himself as the island's savior.
Plus his getting Mode Locked as John Locke. We never learn why, or how Ilana knows this. Basically, it was just an excuse to keep Terry O'Quinn on the show in the final season.
The claim that the Man in Black cannot leave the island unless he kills all the candidates. This is never really explained properly. It's essentially a Hand Wave so that the character can do evil things, and thus give the audience a reason to root against him. For that matter, how was Jacob keeping him on the island? Did Jacob wave a magic wand and make a force field erupt whenever his brother tried to leave?
In season 4, Hurley gets the ability to talk to ghosts out of nowhere, which is never explained. Even weirder, this is the same season that introduces a new character who can also talk to ghosts, so what was wrong with using him for these scenes?
Badass Decay: Played with in Locke's case. He goes back and forth from awesome to pathetic so many times that this duality has basically become one of his main character traits.
Even though his badassery was only memetic, Richard Alpert could be said to have suffered from this, having spent most of season 6 in a state of Heroic BSOD instead of actually doing anything badass. It's made worse because he BSOD'd after the first time he ever really ran into trouble. Before that, he got by on just standing around and looking badass without ever actually doing anything.
Bellisario's Maxim: Largely averted, due to the extreme amount of attention to detail and hidden clues. However, this often backfires, since fans attribute significance to every little detail, and minor things like getting the date of a real-world event wrong become central points of theories.
Better on DVD: For one thing, you don't have to wait an ungodly time between seasons.
The worst part is that the writers swore that they had the answers. As a Cracked.com article put it - "In a 2005 interview, co-creator Damon Lindelof said: "Every mystery that we present on the show ... all of those are questions that we know the answers to." He also said that "nothing in the show is flat-out impossible" and that everything so far could be explained by science. Sure, he was talking in the present tense — but the present tense included the Smoke Monster, who ended up being the ghost of a 2,000-year-old guy who can impersonate dead people, and Michael's 10-year-old son, Walt, displaying supernatural powers that turned out to be ... actually, we have no idea, because that was never explained."
Many people would claim the show was stupid, and when pressed would point out how easy it is to get off an island - as if the plot were exactly the same as Gilligan's Island. Claiming this is a dead giveaway that the person hasn't watched the show because as fans knew, the plot became far more complicated than just getting off of or even away from an island. And that's not even starting on the "what's the deal with the polar bears?" or "they were dead all along" crowd.
The polar bear is a particular signal that you're dealing with someone who doesn't really know what they're talking about, as within the show it's clearly presented as something very strange.
Anthony Cooper from seasons 1-3 was the father of John Locke, whom he sired with a teenager half his age, and was a notorious conman who formerly earned his money by having affairs with married women, scamming them out of their money, then ditching them once he had what he wanted. Flashbacks reveal that he was the man who scammed Sawyer's parents, resulting in Sawyer's father murdering his wife then committing suicide, something he's completely unapologetic about when he meets Sawyer as an adult. When he finally meets his son, John Locke, whom he had neglected before, he comes off as a kindly man and the father Locke has always wanted. In reality, it's just another scam. Cooper's kidneys are failing and the nice guy act was just a ruse to get Locke to donate a kidney to him, after which he coldly dumps his son, telling him he wants nothing to do with him. Later on, Locke is approached by a man named Peter Talbot, the son of a wealthy woman that Cooper is planning to marry for her money. When Talbot expresses a desire to stop the wedding to protect his mother, he later ends up mysteriously murdered. When Locke confronts his father on killing Talbot, his father responds by attempting to kill Locke himself, throwing him out of an eight-story-window and paralyzing him.
Martin Keamy from season 4 works for Charles Widmore, who sent Keamy and his mercenary team attack the island. Upon arriving, Keamy and his team immediately murder Karl and Danielle Rousseau, and kidnap Alex Rousseau. Determined to fulfill his mission of capturing Benjamin Linus, Keamy, despite being informed that a baby is among the innocents there, wages an all-out assault on the Barracks where he's held up; at least three survivors are killed before he arrives in front of Ben's house. There he brings out Alex, Ben's foster daughter, and threatens to kill her if Ben doesn't leave the house by the time Keamy finishes his countdown. When Ben tries to resist Keamy's threats and negotiate instead, Keamy forgoes the rest of the countdown and coldly shoots the young girl in the head while her father watches. Forced to retreat back to his freighter after an attack by the mysterious smoke monster, Keamy discovers Michael Dawson leaked information about him to Ben and attempts to shoot Michael twice. He fails both times because his gun jams, and only lets Michael live when he learns Michael's the only one who can repair the ship's engines. When his helicopter pilot initially refuses to fly Keamy back to the island because he believes Keamy will kill everyone there, Keamy responds by slitting the throat of the ship's doctor then threatens to shed more innocent blood unless the pilot does as he's told. He then kills the ship's captain when he tries to stop Keamy from leaving. He also shows no emotion when he inadvertently kills his own loyaldragon Omar by kicking an active grenade that landed at his own feet over in Omar's direction. Upon being gravely wounded, Keamy reveals he has a bomb on the freighter he arrived on that's rigged to go off in the event of his death, just so he can kill as many people as possible when he goes out.. An Ax-Crazy psychopath, Keamy had the distinction of being one of the few villains in the series who just enjoyed killing people..
Designated Villain: The producers considered Michael killing Ana Lucia and Libby to be pure evil that demanded he die, despite the numerous other characters (including Ben, who was much of the reason for Michael doing it in the first place) who did far worse without being considered irredeemable. It wasn't lost on Harold Perrineau himself that there were also Unfortunate Implications to this, considering a black person doing something like this worse than a white person doing it.
Word of God is that a number of fans had expressed to the writers that they were angry with Michael and wanted to see him punished for what he did. His death may have been a misguided attempt at Pandering to the Base. They still could have done it without killing him, though.
Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: The fan speculation on this started early but several characters throughout the series espouse their own theories of this variety. Hurley, when they get off the island, thinks they died on the island and are in heaven because things are going well for everybody and he's seeing dead people. Richard Alpert thinks the island is hell after being disillusioned about Jacob, and because he can't die.
Most true in the flash sideways verse which turns out to take place after the main characters die and they are all finding each other again and living/working through their unresolved issues before uniting to go to Heaven.
Family-Unfriendly Aesop: The show sets up a conflict between science and faith...and then comes down so hard on the side of faith that it can come off as saying Science Is Bad and you should believe everything you're told without trying to understand it.
The obsession with "black and white" symbolism gives us "Anyone who wears black is evil." This includes newborn babies.
Fan-Preferred Couple: Some fans prefer Sawyer/Juliet just because they're so damn sick of the Jack/Kate/Sawyer love triangle.
Fanon Discontinuity: The only thing that isn't guaranteed to fall under here for someone somewhere is early-to-mid season 1. Beyond that, it varies massively.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: In one episode, Hurley wonders aloud if he should make a pass at Libby. Sawyer overhears and suggests that Hurley should "Drop a load in her".
Growing the Beard: Many fans were hooked right from the outset. But the fourth episode of the series, "Walkabout", where we find out Locke couldn't walk before the crash, is the earliest episode to hint at deeper supernatural elements on the island and is remembered for having the series' first big plot twist.
Harsher in Hindsight: The mysterious disappearance of Flight MH370 of Malaysia Airlines in 09 March 2014 will inevitably get people thinking of the show.
The clicking noise of the Monster when its travelling, just hearing it leads to so many an Oh Crap moment from the Losties when they realise its near.
The ominous, rumbling whoosh sound during the transitions between flashbacks/flashforwards and present day.
Even better is the sound effect for the flash-sideways transitions: a distorted, higher-pitched, stuttering version of the normal whoosh.
Hilarious in Hindsight: Since almost the beginning of the show, viewers have theorized, over and over, that everyone died in the crash and the Island is Purgatory, even after repeated debunking. The final revelation of the series? The flash-sideways timeline is Purgatory, or the next best thing — though the Island and all the events that happened on and/or off it in normal continuity was all real.
It makes it even funnier when you realize that after being told the Island wasn't purgatory over and over again, NO ONE theorized that that's what the FS really is.
The January 4, 2011 U.S. Mega Millions lottery (worth $355 million) had a very significant amount of overlap with The Numbers, with 4, 8, 15, 25, 47 and the bonus 42. Playing The Numbers would have netted a person $150, and apparently there were 9,078 people who did just that.
Season 3's "The Man Behind the Curtain" gave us the weird scene where Ben has a conversation with a seemingly empty chair. This may have already been narmy to some, but five years later, along came Clint Eastwood...
Terry O'Quinn revealed in an interview during the first season that the direction he was given for the scene where Locke first sees the Monster was "It's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen." Then during the last season-and-a-half, the Man in Black was Mode Locked as Locke himself.
In the episode Further Instructions, Charlie claims to know how clever polar bears can be from watching "nature programs on the Beeb" while he was high. Fast forward to 2013, and the actor who played Charlie now has his own nature program, Wild Things with Dominic Monaghan, on BBC America.
For anyone who found Jacob Unintentionally Unsympathetic as noted below, Mark Pellegrino's role as Lucifer in Supernatural is basically exactly what they wanted him to be like, deliberately playing on people's sympathies to hide how evil he really was.
There was definitely a good amount of Ho Yay between Charlie and Desmond. There's the way Desmond repeatedly tries to save Charlie's life even though he believes this could prevent him from reuniting with Penny. Then, in the flash-sideways, it was Charlie who triggered the beginning of Desmond's memories of the island.
Also, Ben and Locke in the flash-sidways/alternate universe afterlife. Of course this can also be seen as No Yay
Plus, there's Richard/Jacob. And In "The End" there's some implied Miles/Richard. Miles' actor even said that Miles would be the one to take care of Richard after they left the island.
HSQ: Pretty much guaranteed to double during season premiers and finales.
Locke, Desmond, and Ben episodes also tend to be slathered in HSQ.
Listing all examples, it will need it's own page. However, the crowner has to be when Ben moves the entire frickingISLAND!
"We have to go quack, Kate. WE HAVE TO GO QUAAAAACK!"
Richard Alpert has become the show's Chuck Norris (in terms of unseen badassery) and Big Boss (in terms of being the mancrush of all male fans). Among other things, Jughead is apparently Richard's third testicle and he has had an orgy with every female on the show.
"DON'T BOTHER ME!!!"
Fans have begun rewriting Locke's suicide note to Jack to say humorous things. "Jack, I wish you had believed it was butter, because now I'm toast. JL."
Moral Event Horizon: The Man in Black tricking the main characters into activating his timebomb, resulting in the deaths of Jin, Sun and Sayid.
Martin Keamy shooting Alex dead right in front of Ben.
Anthony Cooper crossed it when he threw his own son out of a building just for trying to reason with him, even after his son gave his kidney to save his life.
Jonas (in Richard's flashback) crossed it when he murdered his prisoners after they get stranded on the island.
Ethan Rom crossed it when he hung Charlie.
Narm Charm: One would argue that Michael's repeated shoutings of "WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT!", given their justification, come off less narmful than anybody else in the same situation.
Granted his son has gone missing at the time, but it's the ten thousand other "WAAAAAALT!" moments throughout the first season, when Walt is only ten feet away is the reason it comes across as so narmful. There is being a Papa Wolf and there is being simply annoying.
The Producer Thinks of Everything: Despite a lot of the show's criticism claiming the contrary, anyone who actually watched the show through all 6 seasons knows that way too many things do add up for it to all be "made up as they go along". Locke's black and white stones. Adam and Eve. The DHARMA Initiative. They planned quite a bit of everything YEARS in advance.
Even in the first couple of episodes there was Foreshadowing of the events of the last couple of seasons, including the sounds of the Monster playing on the soundtrack during the final close-up of Locke at the end of "Tabula Rasa", and Locke's dialogue about backgammon in the very pilot ("a game played between two sides, one light, the other dark").
Locke mentions seeing a bright light after his encounter with the Monster in the first season, and later tells Mr. Eko that he looked into the heart of the Island and what he saw was beautiful, referring the light he mentioned, in season 3. Towards the end of the series, it's revealed that the Island DOES have a "heart" filled with a glowing bright light, and it needs to be protected from The Man in Black/The Monster.
The Mr. Eko centric episode "The Cost of Living" basically foreshadows the fact that The Smoke Monster is the true Big Bad of the series. There is the aforementioned conversation with Locke, in which Eko replies "That is not what I saw" in reference to his encounter with the Monster. And at the end of the episode, After Mr. Eko refuses to confess his sins and says he did all he could to save his brother Yemi from the same fate, "Yemi" responds "You speak to me as if I were your brother", revealing that he is not Yemi's ghost. When Mr. Eko asks who he really is and follows him, he sees the Monster and realizes it was the Monster posing as his brother all along, right before it kills him. In his dying breath, he whispers something to Locke, which Locke claims to be "We're next".. In the season 5 finale, we see that Locke is not really Locke(the real one having been killed by Ben after all), but The Man in Black who was seen earlier in the episode vowing to kill Jacob, and in the season six premiere the Man in Black is revealed to be the Smoke Monster, and the true Big Bad of the series.
Even the brief image after Eko's death of young Eko and Yemi as children walking off happily together foreshadows the fact that the afterlife, where loved ones will be reunited, will be a factor at the end of the show.
Putney Swope Panic: Will invariably occur to first time viewers and those who have missed an episode... Hell, not even those who have seen every damn one as well as the deleted scenes and web content will be safe from this.
Kate became much more likable throughout the last two seasons ("Whatever Happened Happened" in particular is considered very good for a Kate episode). Then she had enough awesome moments in the Grand Finale to put her in this category.
After the pilot aired, Sawyer was said to be the characters audiences hated the most, and he spent the rest of the season as a unsympathetic, antagonistic Jerk Ass. But thanks to character development, he's become popular for reasons other than how hot he is with his shirt off.
Seasonal Rot: Some say Season 2, some say Season 6, some say the first half of Season 3 (especially the six episode "pod" at the beginning), but 2 and 3 got back on track as they approached the finale.
Shocking Swerve: "We have to move the island." Of course, that plot line was tied up quite well and it did prove to be invaluable to the Myth Arc, but at the time it was pretty weird.
Stoic Woobie: Juliet was a brilliant fertility expert with an ex-husband who controlled her every move, and had a cancerous sister who she was helping. She came to the island because she was mislead into thinking she was going to conduct experiments for a scientific company in Oregon. She found out her duty on the island was to try to prevent pregnant women and their children from dying, and she failed countless times. She then slowly became Ben's slave while her chances of leaving and seeing her sister became slimmer each year. Despite all these hardships she maintains a stoic demeanor, but when she slips you just want to give the girl a big fat hug.
Strangled by the Red String: In the series finale, it bizarrely turns out that Shannon and not Nadia is Sayid's true soul mate. Nadia doesn't even appear in the episode. The fans were not happy.
Take That, Audience!: Some fans were not amused by the character Arzt, who abruptly appears in the season 1 finale to voice several popular fan complaints about the show, and then gets blown up due to his own stupidity.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Cindy the flight attendant. After mysteriously disappearing during the Tailies' trek to the main characters' camp, she's later confirmed to have been abducted by the Others, though it's also kinda/sorta hinted that she actually is one of the Others and was deliberately put on the plane. Then she disappears again until the final season...where she does absolutely nothing and just stands around in the background, to the point where you wonder why they even bothered getting the actress back.
Matthew Abaddon, the mysterious figure from Locke's flashback who turns out to be working for Charles Widmore. His surname is a reference to Judeo-Christian entity that is either an angel or a demon (usually a demon), and he is hinted to know a lot more than he lets on. He is killed in his second appearance and nothing about him is ever explained or elaborated on.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: After suffering a humiliating defeat to the Others in mid-season 2, Jack approaches Ana-Lucia and proposes they train the 815 survivors into becoming an army. That sounded really interesting and cool. What we got instead was Sawyer stealing and hoarding all the guns, causing Jack's army to be stillborn.
Unintentionally Sympathetic: The Man in Black can invoke this response, especially after seeing "Across the Sea." When you consider that he's been trapped on the island for thousands of years, with Jacob determined to keep him there, it's possible to see him as a Well-Intentioned Extremist who has simply lost any empathy for those who stand in the way of that goal. Especially because the show never gets around to explaining why his leaving the island would supposedly cause the end of the world.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: By the same coin, Jacob can come across as this. To sum up: After the Man in Black kills their adoptive mother (who killed their real mother and massacred the Man in Black's village), Jacob throws him into the heart of the island, which he had been warned would cause a fate worse than death. This turns the Man in Black into the smoke monster. Jacob did this without even bothering to hear his brother's side of the story. There's also the fact that he essentially brought everyone to the island to use them as pawns in his war with his brother, and doesn't seem particularly concerned about everyone who died in the process.
Unfortunate Implications: The fact that Walt has become a stereotypical urban black kid growing up without a dad is apparently the reason Harold Perrineau was not pleased with his character's fate.
"The Candidate" killed off three members of the cast in order to show how evil and serious the threat from MIB was. This has many people believing that the producers considered the non-white, foreign members of the cast to be "expendable". Even Jimmy Kimmel had to joke about it.
You can also take an inverse unfortunate implication of this episode in that those characters that died were the only real options for such an Anyone Can Die moment, given that there simply would have been nothing remotely sad about the main white lead characters (Jack, Kate and Sawyer) eating it.
Thanks to the setting not getting much explanation, you can leave the series finale with the impression that poor Aaron has to spend eternity in the afterlife as a newborn baby. And he's still better off than Ji Yeon, who's stuck as a fetus inside Sun.
The whole storyline with how Aaron must be raised by Claire is pretty offensive to adoptive parents, with its insisting that someone being raised by their biological parents is the only way they can have a good life. This includes Jack stating that even in his current drunk and pill popping state, he's a more worthy parent for Aaron than Kate just for being biologically related to him. It also doesn't help that the show never explains why Claire needs to raise Aaron, leaving the impression that it's directly because kids should only be raised by their biological parents.
Viewers Are Morons: The explanations of time travel in season 5, which are played with an absurd amount of awe, like the show was inventing the entire concept. Given the contingent of viewers who were still confused, however, these attempts were possibly justified.
Wangst: Jack, though he gets significantly better in Seasons 5 and 6.
Danielle Rousseau, arguably the most tragic character seen. She was forced to kill her friends including the love of her life, had her baby taken away, spent 16 years as The Aloner going nuts, and when she was finally reunited with her daughter she gotkilled off.