Follow TV Tropes

Following

Lost / Tropes P to T

Go To

Tropes A to E | Tropes F to J | Tropes K to O | Tropes P to T | Tropes U to Z


    open/close all folders 

    P 
  • Pac-Man Fever: Literal example. In a flashback in "Exodus: Part 2", Walt is playing a modern overhead shooter on a Game Boy Advance SP, a modern handheld system, and you hear the sounds of the original Pac-Man on it. Walt also mentions needing new batteries, when the SP is in fact a chargeable device, not one where you replace the batteries.
  • Pair the Spares: Sawyer and Juliet in Season 5, after Jack and Kate leave the Island. Compared to Jack and Kate, Sawyer and Juliet's relationship, from their POV, has much longer to develop. We might have seen Sawyer and Kate off and on together for three years, but that was only a few months to them. With Juliet he had over three years. In the finale, Sawyer and Juliet get OTP status when they're shown together in the afterlife, and Kate with Jack.
  • Pants-Positive Safety: Nobody, but nobody, has a holster. Count the number of times someone drops a pistol accidentally. It's doubtful you'll need more than one hand.
  • Papa Wolf:
    • Given the ubiquity of "daddy issues" on this show, very few fathers on Lost would go out of their way to protect their children. That said, Ben Linus would like to have a few words with you on the matter. Michael also goes all-out for the sake of WAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAALT! Speaking of Ben, why don't you ask him how Desmond reacts when his wife and child are threatened?
    • A variation with Charlie for Aaron. He's not Aaron's father, but he's the only father figure he's ever had, and Charlie is very protective over Aaron and Claire.
  • Parental Substitute: After Claire fails to escape the island with them, Kate ends up adopting her son.
  • Percussive Prevention:
    • Charlie prevents Desmond from taking his place drowning at The Looking Glass by smashing him in the face with an oar.
    • In Season 5, Richard Alpert does this to Eloise Hawking when she tries to follow Jack and Sayid on their way to nuke The Swan.
    • Locke to Boone in Season 1 to help him get over Shannon.
    • Sun to Ben (with an oar) in Season 5.
    • Locke to Sayid while he was trying to triangulate the distress signal in season 1.
  • Perma-Stubble: Almost all the guys. They used salvaged razors to keep from growing full beards.
  • Person as Verb: In "Eggtown", after Kate tricks Hurley into revealing where Miles is being held prisoner.
    Hurley: ...You just totally Scooby-Doo-ed me, didn't you?
  • Phrase Catcher: Tons of phrases repeated by various characters. Each phrase is a motif all its own.
  • The Plan: Ben pulls out many different Gambits.
    Ben: How many times do I have to tell you, John ?! I always have a plan.
  • Platonic Cave: Referenced in the opening of Season 2, inside the Swan Station. Jack states that "none of this is real" (of course, the "real world" is outside the Cave wherein the Swan station is built). For a double Genius Bonusinvoked, this Place show a conversation between two characters named Locke and Hume (named after two philosophers who both stated that experience is born from outside influences, like the senses).
  • Please Shoot the Messenger: Jin and Sun travel to the United States to deliver a large sum of cash to a business associate of Sun's father. The associate, Keamy, reveals that the money is Keamy's fee for killing Jin.
  • Plot Armor: Actually exists in-universe: anyone chosen/touched by Jacob seems to be unable to die until Jacob gives the OK. This applies to a number of the main characters.
  • Plot-Sensitive Latch:
    • Sawyer uses one repeatedly and deliberately, to the point of lampshading when we encounter an alternate universe where he's a cop.
    • Hurley's suitcase bursts open as he runs to his flight along with many other mishaps, only to miss it and be forced to rebook... on flight 815.
  • Posthumous Character: A lot of people show up after death, whether by flashback, some Mind Screwy vision or time travel. Special mention goes to Jack's dad who was already dead before the show started, and to the whole Dharma crew, who were almost ALL dead twelve years before the beginning.
    • The most straightforward type are those characters who were dead before the series even began but have since turned up in Flashbacks. Then there's Jack's and Claire's dad, Christian, whose dead body Jack was bringing home on Flight 815, but who turned up in numerous episodes throughout all six seasons, whether in flashbacks, in dreams, as a ghost, or a Dead Person Impersonation.
      • Other such characters would include: Susan Lloyd, Frank Duckett, Essam Tasir, Tom Brennan, Jae Lee, Yemi, Angelo Busoni, Kelvin, Emeka, Edward Burke, Tricia Tanaka, Howard L. Zuckerman, Roger Linus, Horace Goodspeed, Emily Linus, Jonas Whitfield, Isabella, "Mother", and Claudia.
      • Subverted in the case of Kate's mom, Diane. In her first flashback she already has a terminal disease. She then appears in several other flashbacks that all clearly take place sometime before the first one. But in a Flash Forward we discover she's still alive. "The doctors have given me a year to live for the past 4 years."
    • Another unique type are among the Tailies. They would've been alive at the start of the series, but are dead by the time any Main Character meets the Tailies, such as Goodwin, who debuted as a corpse, then went on to guest star in 4 episodes after that, each one in a flashback taking place earlier than the one before it. The only other dead Tailies named are Donald and Nathan.
    • Then there are those characters who died soon after their debuts only to appear in more episodes after they died than they ever did while they were alive. The most famous example is Ethan Rom, killed in his fourth episode, then appeared in eight more episodes after that. Other examples include:
      • U.S. marshall Edward Mars (killed in his third episode, appeared in six more after that).
      • Leslie Arzt (killed in his third episode, appeared in four more later).
      • Jacob, killed in the very first episode he was played by a professional actor. The actor went on to play Jacob in five more episodes.
    • Beginning with the first Flash Forward in the third Season Finale, we had plenty of characters who were still alive in the main timeline, but were dead by the time of the flashforwards. And since the first flashforward shown is actually one of the last in chronology, this would also include people who were killed in the flashforwards. The first is John Locke, whose body is in a closed coffin in that third season finale. It's not till the fourth season finale that the coffin is opened, revealing it's Locke, and not till midway through the fifth season are we shown how he ended up there.
    • Other characters who died during this period include: Diane of the Others, Greta, Bonnie, Ryan Price, Tom Friendly, Mikhail, Charlie, Naomi, George Minktowski, Regina, Karl, Rousseau, Alex, Ray, Captain Gault, Omar, Keamy, Michael, Neil, apparently every single remaining survivor of Flight 815 who was neither a Main Character nor an abducted Tailie, Charlotte, Nadia, Ishmail Bakir, Mr. Avellino, Elsa, and Abaddon. So yeah, a few people died during this period. Just a few.
    • During the fifth season, the Losties traveled back in time, meeting characters we already knew were dead by the present. Examples include Stuart Radzinsky, a character we had heard about as having committed sucide but whom we'd never seen till now, Rousseau and her entire expedition, and members of the Dharma Initiative, many of whom will be killed in the Purge, and Phil, a DI member who ends up dying long before the Purge, as a direct result of the Losties' actions.
    • And finally, there's the flash-sideways where is everyone. The flash-sideways is the afterlife and "takes place" after everyone shown in it has died.
  • Powder Trail: Used to open the hatch.
  • Preemptive Apology:
    Michael: I'm sorry.
    Ana Lucia: For what?
    [Michael shoots Ana Lucia]
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner:
    • "I saved you a bullet!"
    • Averted with Man In Black himself: "I want you to know, Jack...You died for nothing." ( He actually died but much later and with purpose.)
  • Prisoner Exchange: This is Jack's plan for getting Walt back after he is kidnapped by the Others, lampshaded by Sawyer as "the old Prisoner Exchange". Unfortunately, it doesn't go according to plan.
  • Proscenium Reveal: Nikki's first flashback features a proscenium reveal. Nikki is shown pole dancing in a club, then having a confrontation with her boss. The boss shoots her, and the director yells, "Cut!", revealing that Nikki an actress working on a show about strippers who fight crime. The original plan was to have the entire episode revolve around this Show Within a Show, with the proscenium reveal coming at the end. This plan was scrapped when Nikki and Paulo proved wildly unpopular.
  • Promotion to Opening Titles: The show did this frequently throughout its run.
    • Michael Emerson was contracted for just a few episodes of in the second season as Ben Linus back when he was initially known as "Henry Gale". He was so loved/loved to be hated that he became a cast member in the third season, where he served as the Big Bad (and then, by the final season, very gradually started to redeem himself).
    • Likewise, Henry Ian Cusick (Desmond) was a guest star in the second season before being added as a regular in Season 3.
    • Michelle Rodriguez (Ana Lucia) shows up briefly in the Season 1 finale as a precursor to her bump to the main cast in Season 2.
    • Little known fact: Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje (Mr. Eko) was actually a guest star for a couple of episodes before quietly being promoted to regular later on in Season 2.
    • Somewhat confusing variation: five of the main characters were billed incorrectly as guest stars in the publicity for the season, despite being credited as main cast:
      • In season 3, this hit Kiele Sanchez (Nikki) & Rodrigo Santoro (Paulo). While they were planned to be main characters with a fairly involved arc, they turned out to be widely hated and not important in the least, and were quickly killed off. The decision to do that was made before their introduction even aired, thus causing the mix-up.
      • In season 4, Ken Leung (Miles), Jeremy Davies (Daniel), and Rebecca Mader (Charlotte) were not in the promo pictures and were said to be guest stars in press releases. The reason for this is that they were meant to be guest stars, but as they were filming their first episode the producers liked all three and signed them up...sadly, too late to change the press releases or promo pics. By Season 5 all three were in the promo pics, but Mader was still a guest star in publicity due to her character dying just five episodes in.
    • Jeff Fahey actually turned down the same regular contract offered to the other actors playing members of the science team (Jeremy Davies, Rebecca Mader, and Ken Leung) but later became a regular for season 6.
    • Nestor Carbonell (Richard) appeared in several Season 3, 4 and 5 episodes and got a semi-centric episode in season 5 before becoming a main cast member for Season 6 (complete with a completely centric episode).
    • Zuleikha Robinson (Ilana Verdansky) was a presence throughout Season 5 before getting the upgrade at the start of Season 6.
    • After guest-starring on the series for years, Sam Anderson, L. Scott Caldwell, François Chau, Fionnula Flanagan, John Terry, and Sonya Walger finally got their names in the main cast credits...for the final episode. Said episode also added back all of the former regulars appearing, making it so the episode credits an amazing twenty-eight people as starring.
  • Prop Recycling: A golden 1988-1992 Pontiac Bonneville was used by the film crew for four car accidents, making fans believe that this was a supernatural appearance and had a bigger meaning in the story of Lost. Damon Lindelof confirmed in a 2005 interview that the car indeed was the same prop in all episodes. This car became so famous that Lostpedia gave this car its own Lostpedia page.
    • Word of God later handwaved this. In a 2009 Official Lost Podcast episode they jokingly said that it was actually Jacob who could only take the form of a car when he was off the Island.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: Appears in one episode of season four, and repeatedly during the first half of season five, all related to the effects of time travel.
  • Psycho for Hire: The mercenaries in season four, especially their leader, Keamy.
  • Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: Locke loses his Island-restored ability to walk after an incident of self-doubt.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Keamy's creepy grin/mouth twitch. For a good guy, John Locke does flash a lot of those. Even more so once he's replaced by the Man in Black.
  • The Public Domain Channel: While a prisoner of the Others, Jack watches Heckle and Jeckle cartoons on a TV set they provide.
  • Purgatory and Limbo: A common fan theory in the early years of Lost was that the Island was purgatory and that the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 were in fact Dead All Along. The creators denied the theory, which was ultimately Jossed by various characters escaping the Island, before ultimately returning. In the Grand Finale, however, it turned out that the final season's Flash Sideways, rather than being an Alternate Timeline, were actually a Flash Forward to a point where all the characters who had died by the end of the series were in purgatory, awaiting the realization of their own death that would allow them to move on.
  • The Purge: The name given to the toxic gas attack that effectively wiped out the DHARMA Initiative's presence on the Island. Certain members, such as Ben, were allowed to join the Others and survive the attack.
  • Put on a Bus: Walt, the one kid on the show, had to be written out to hide his clear progression through puberty, while only months pass in-show.
Advertisement:

    Q 
  • The Quiet One: Eko, during his introduction. They do eventually tie up his storyline in the epilogue.

    R 
  • Rage Against the Reflection:
    • Sawyer shattered a mirror in frustration in his flashsideways in "Recon."
    • Also in "Lighthouse": Upon seeing that Jacob has been watching the Losties for quite a long time, Jack goes batshit and smashes every mirror in the place.
  • Rasputinian Death:
    • Mikhail "Patchy" Bakunin, from the third season, is zapped by the sonar fence, only to come back a few episodes later. In the season finale, he is shot in the chest with a harpoon gun, then comes back to life minutes later, only to die while blowing open an underwater window with a grenade.
    • Martin Keamy, the main villain of season four, as well. He is shot in the back four times, stabbed in the back once, and only dies after being stabbed repeatedly in the heart.
    • Juliet is trapped by heavy chains, falls hundreds of feet down a shaft, detonates (or not) a nuclear bomb right next to her... and only dies in the next episode.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot: A fun example: the show premiered in September 2004, and the next few seasons took place over the 108 days after that. Jack is a big Red Sox fan, and there was a recurring line about the famous Curse. So naturally, when Ben wanted to prove that he had a way of getting off the island, he showed Jack the Sox winning the 2004 World Series (which in reality had been the year before, but in-show only a couple of weeks). Jack's response? "If you wanted me to believe you, you should have picked a different team."
  • Reality Has No Subtitles: Zig-zagged. In the first season, Korean couple Sun and Jin would speak among themselves, and the show would provide English subtitles. But when they spoke in front of others who did not understand Korean, no subtitles appeared.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • At the start of the show, some viewers complained that Claire's accent was too over the top. The actress is a real Australian. Similar complaints have been made with Sawyer's southern accent (it's Josh Holloway's own accent).
    • Following "Maternity Leave", there were complaints about the actress playing Alex looking "as old as the actress playing her mother". The actress and the character were the same age at the time.
    • The amount of prop-C4 on the Kahana was thought to appear to be too little and was doubled. The original amount still would have been able to blow up the freighter, though.
    • An in-universe example is when Jack refuses to believe Ben that the Red Sox could have won the World Series.
    • During Season 2, there were some complaints about Eko's flashbacks, which show Nigerians speaking English. In reality, English is the official language of Nigeria.
  • Really 700 Years Old: Richard Alpert. And, of course, Jacob and his enemy.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Locke gets an alarming number of these, mostly by Ben, Jack, and even posthumous ones by The Man in Black, while he's wearing Locke's skin like a suit.
    • Of course, the part about Locke in that speech by the Man in Black is just a tangent in him delivering a "The Reason You Suck" Speech to Ben. The MiB concedes that even though Locke was pathetic, there was something inherently decent about him, unlike Ben.
  • Reassigned to Antarctica: In Season 5, Dr. Chang threatens to reassign Hurley to shoveling polar bear turds if he mentions the corpse he saw.
  • Recap Episode: ABC, Sky1, and RTE 2 liked to throw together recap specials to air before premieres, finales, or after a hiatus.
  • Recurring Extra: the show went to a great deal of trouble to keep its extra pool consistent over years: Main Camp, Tailies Camp, Ajira Survivors, The Others (both modern and during the 70-s), Kahana crew etc. all spotted mostly the same share of background faces who contributed absolutely nothing to the plot except when being suddenly killed as a Red Shirt deserves. In some cases extras were even asked to reprise their roles years after their original appearance, simply because events of a scene would happen at the same time and place.
  • Redemption Equals Death:
    • Cause-Effect flipped with Michael, who is unable to die until he redeems himself.
    • Averted with Benjamin Linus, who is redeemed and survives to the end of the series.
  • Redemption in the Rain: Played with in Locke's case. We see him in the rain, but we don't see how he was redeemed until later.
  • Red Herring: Neil "Frogurt" a character often mentioned by the producers as far back as Season Two who was said to play an important role in the plot. His debut kept being "postponed" until he shows up in Season Five... and is riddled with flaming arrows for being such a whiny little bastard.
    • A not-so-straight version, but the main rumour during the airing of the later part of season 5 said that either Sawyer, Daniel, or Ben would die. A lot people thought it would be Sawyer, due to his Character Development, finally making something of his life, and of course, having fallen in love with Juliet. In the end, it was Daniel who died, but almost nobody guessed that Juliet would kick the bucket too, thus in a sense killing off the happy version of Sawyer.
  • Red Shirt: Done with an appreciable amount of Lampshade Hanging. The show has actually shown a lot of restraint in killing off unnamed/minor survivors. At least until season four, and then the Red Shirts start dropping like flies over the rest of the series.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Subverted.
    Hurley: Dude... Nikki's dead.
    Sawyer: Who the hell's Nikki?
  • Replacement Goldfish: Ben tries to make this out of Juliet twice, once for Sarah Shephard and again for Annie, and both times it fails.
  • Research, Inc.: the Hanso Foundation, subverted by Mittelos Bioscience which is a front for the Others.
  • Reset Button: Played with. At first, the plot of season 6 seems to take place in two separate timelines: one where the detonation of the hydrogen bomb did this and sent everyone back to a somewhat altered version of the Oceanic flight, and another timeline where everyone is still stuck on the Island. The series finale, however, reveals that what was believed to be the alternate timeline was actually the afterlife.
  • Retcon:
    • Paulo and Nikki were evidently written off the show or something.
    • In the pilot, Shannon is quite clearly just screaming nonsense syllables after the crash - in subsequent flashblacks, she is just as clearly saying "Boone."
    • Claire talks with both Thomas and her friend about her mother in "Raised By Another" in ways that would be extremely odd if her mother were in a coma.
  • Retroactive Precognition: Season 5 did this a lot once the Time-Travel started.
  • The Reveal: Plenty, which are usually reserved for season finales.
    • The general rule for Lost is that no matter how huge the Reveal (contrary to popular belief, the show has answered a lot of long-standing questions), it will mostly just raise new questions. The other general rule is that the audience is expected to solve many of the mysteries themselves. For every big reveal, there were a dozen or more clues and many fans who'd already figured things out themselves. This is why so many casual fans and detractors say the show "doesn't answer all the questions": a lot of the answers are inferred and not given to you at face value.
  • Rhetorical Request Blunder: Juliet is being recruited by "Mittelos Laboratories", but says she couldn't possibly join unless her ex-husband "gets hit by a bus". She meant it rhetorically. They, on the other hand, hit him with a bus.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Some would argue that this is part of the show's overall point.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Sayid, under Ben's instruction, upon Nadia's death.

    S 
  • Saharan Shipwreck: The Black Rock. It was foisted onto the island by a massive tidal wave.
  • Sassy Black Woman: Rose is an example.
    "If you say 'Live together, die alone' to me, Jack, I'm gonna punch you in your face."
  • Satanic Archetype: The two deitylike figures on the island, Jacob and the "Man in Black," both share numerous traits with the devil as a way of making it unclear who is good and who is evil:
    • Jacob has blonde hair, likes wine (and uses it as a metaphor for evil "corked" by the island), interferes with the lives of the characters in subtle ways, and is explicitly called "the devil" by the Man in Black, though he was presumably saying this metaphorically to exploit Richard's Catholic faith. He's also played by Mark Pellegrino — Lucifer in Supernatural.
    • The Man in Black is a shapeshifter and manipulator, known for taking the forms of the dead and deceiving mortals. He cannot kill Jacob himself and must use someone else to do it. He takes the form of a giant cloud of black smoke that sometimes looks like a slithering snake. He has been called "evil incarnate" and a personification of hell by various characters.
  • Say My Name:
    • "WAAAAAALLLLLLLLTTTTTT!!!" Michael became infamous for how much he screams his son's name
    • And in the finale: LOOCCKKKE!!!
  • Scotty Time: During The Great Repair of the Ajira plane in the Grand Finale:
    Miles: Hey, how much longer 'til we get this thing in the air?
    Frank: I still have to check the electrical and the hydraulics. Five hours, maybe six.
    Richard: You've got maybe one.
  • Screaming Birth: Aaron's birth (in both universes), as well as Ben's.
  • Screaming Woman:
    • One iconic image of the show is Shannon doing this in the pilot.
    • Claire's got quite a set of lungs in her as well.
    • But none can dream of competing with Sun's spine-chilling scream in the Season 4 finale.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: Almost literally. According to Jacob, the Man in Black is evil itself, with the Island as the cork of the bottle containing MIB.
  • Secret Test of Character: Implied to be the point of the entire show in the season 5 finale. Jacob expected Ben to fail, and sure enough...
    • Miles thinks that he failed.
  • Seinfeldian Conversation: Charlie and Hurley debate the old "Who would win in a race between The Flash and Superman" question in the beginning of the episode "Catch-22".
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Most of the death scenes in the show tend to be rather bleak and nihilistic more than heroic (Shannon, Ana Lucia, Libby, debatably Charlie, Daniel, Alex, Rousseau) - even fan favourites like Locke and Eko have died in a rather miserable way.
  • Sex for Solace: After seeing Jack flirting with Juliet, Kate goes straight to Sawyer and jumps him at his tent. He sees her subtly crying and puts two and two together, but goes with it anyway.
  • Sex God: Sawyer Really Gets Around and a lot of his partners tend to comment on how good he is in bed.
    Ava: [laying in bed panting] Wow. Jimmy, you are... unbelievable.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: In "Confidence Man", the episode's teaser has Sawyer confidently walking out of the ocean naked in front of Kate. She's not impressed.
    Kate: Must be cold without your trunks.
  • Shaky P.O.V. Cam:
    • Used occasionally with the Monster.
    • And at least once with a boar.
  • Shapeshifting: This was the Man in Black's MO until killing Jacob locked him as Locke.
  • Shapeshifter Guilt Trip: The Smoke Monster aka The Man in Black used this a lot on the main characters: he appears to Jack as his late father, to Eko as his late brother, to Ben as his late daughter, to Richard as his late wife... you get the idea.
  • Shapeshifter Mode Lock: The Man in Black, after killing Jacob, can only change into John Locke when not in smoke form. And in the Series Finale, he's Shapeshifter Mode Locked into a human being when the island's keystone is pulled out by Desmond, allowing him to be killed.
  • Ship Sinking: Sawyer and Kate and Nadia and Sayid in the finale.
  • Shoo Out the New Guy:
    • Ana Lucia was introduced and shortly after being incorporated to the main cast started showing up very prominently and was getting more screen time than established characters. The fanbase generally hated her and saw her as intrusive and an unlikeable bully. She didn't last out the season. Word of God, however, is that her death was written in from the beginning as Michelle Rodriguez only agreed to appear in a single season.
    • Nikki and Paulo were introduced in season three. Everyone hated them. The only episode they ever got ended with them being unceremoniously buried alive.
  • Shout-Out: Lostpedia is doing a better job at pointing these out than we should ever hope to do.
    • In season 5, Hurley is seen in the airport reading a trade paperback of Y: The Last Man, written by current Lost producer, co-writer, and story editor Brian K. Vaughan.
    • The numerous books that Sawyer and others read, which often are the inspiration for the current plotlines.
    • Juliet's flashback shows her ex-husband being abruptly run over by a bus. Final Destination much?
    • The Man in Black is very similar to Stephen King's world-hopping villain Randall Flagg, especially his incarnation from The Stand. In Ab Aeterno, the scene where he makes a deal with a chained and starved Richard (who at this point has been chained in the ship for several days) parallels the one between Flagg and a starved and imprisoned Lloyd very closely. Then again Lost seems to have quite a few similarities with The Stand, which makes sense considering Team Darlton says the book was influential on the creation of Lost.
    • Incidentally, Randall Flagg is mainly known, among a few other names, as The Man in Black throughout The Dark Tower series. This makes sense, seeing as at one point Team Darlton were gearing up to adapt the books into a movie series before giving it a pass.
    • A preview for one of the later episodes of Season Six has the nightmare-inducing Gene Wilder song playing.
    • The last scene of the finale is a Shout-Out to the ending of The Chronicles of Narnia with everyone actually being dead, but happily reunited and ready to move on together.
    • A few shots, namely the first appearances of Christian Shephard, seem to reference Half-Life, and the game itself appears in "The Greater Good." The game developers returned the favor in Half-Life 2: Episode 2 with a couple of Easter Eggs referencing the Dharma Initiative.
    • Season 1 has Charlie's date mention a paper company up in Slough.
    • A number of episodes are directly named after works of classic literature - The Shape of Things to Come, Of Mice & Men, Through the Looking Glass, The Little Prince, A Tale of Two Cities, Stranger in a Strange Land, Catch-22, etc. Some of these books are directly referenced in the episodes as well. Other episode titles are less direct - for instance, "The Man Behind the Curtain" and "There's No Place Like Home" are both references to The Wizard of Oz. The episodes "White Rabbit", "Born to Run", and "House of the Rising Sun" are named after popular songs.
    • The blast door map shows "possible location of Number Six."
    • Most of the Numbers probably don't have any deeper meaning beyond the fact that they add up to 108, but Lindelof has confirmed that 23 is a reference to the writings of Robert Anton Wilson (and probably The Illuminatus! Trilogy in particular), and 42 is pretty obviously a reference to The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy.
    • Also one to Karl Marx:"Religion is opium for the people". In season one, the Beechcraft has lots of small inconic statues of St.Mary, with a lot of heroin inside.
    • A subtle one at the beginning of season two: Locke and Hume meet in a cave...
    • In Lighthouse, as a counterpart to Star Wars tributes in the show :
    Dogen: What are you doing ?
    Hurley: Nothing. I'm just...you know, looking...'cause I'm a big fan of temples and like, history... Indiana Jones stuff.
    • Tricia Tanaka, the asian reporter killed in Hurley's flashback, is very similar to Family Guy's "Asian Reporter Trisha Takanawa".
    • Juliet is named after the titular character in Romeo and Juliet.
    • A number of people, separated on different parts of a mysterious island, experiences some strange Mind Screw events, all while some guy, "keeper of the island" roams around. The Tempest springs to mind.
    • One episode prominently features the novel The Third Policeman, which served as a Colbert Bump for the novel and caused a spike in sales.
    • The penultimate episode of season 3 has Locke lying in the "corpse pit", unable to move is legs. He gets hold of a revolver, and considers shooting himself when Walt shows up at the edge of the pit, urging him to get on with his purpose. The scene is a frame-by-frame reference to a similar scene in Nine Lives from 1957, where Norwegian war hero Jan Baalsrud was in a similar situation, almost shooting himself with a gun while a Sami rescuer watched him from above.
  • Show Within a Show: Exposé, starring Billy Dee Williams. It's pretty cheesy. Locke is shown watching it in the episode before it is featured.
  • Sigil Spam: Dharma Initiative logos are found everywhere on the Island. Playing cards, ping-pong balls, chocolate cookies - everything inside their stations has a Dharma logo. It is even stamped on the fin of a live shark for crying out loud! And on random doors embedded in rocks that don't lead anywhere. And on all of the supplies.
    • In another variation of this trope, they also had multiple variations of their logo for everything one could possibly think of.
  • Slasher Smile: This is the only type of smile Ben is capable of making.
  • Sliding Scale of Continuity: The series is a frequently cited example of Continuity Lockout because of this.
  • Small, Secluded World: The Island.
  • Smuggling with Dolls: Mr. Eko's drug ring smuggles heroin inside tiny doll-sized statues of the Virgin Mary.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Jack realizes he's met Desmond before from Desmond's calling him "brother". Then Desmond recognizes him when he asks "what he's running from".
    • The Man-in-Black to Richard: "Good to see you out of those chains." An unusual example in that we the viewers don't know its been said before when we first hear it.
  • Songs in the Key of Lock: Yes, that's a Beach Boys tune that Charlie is entering on the keypad in the Looking Glass.
  • Sounding It Out: When Sawyer shows Kate the letter "a little boy" wrote to "Sawyer", prodding her to read the whole thing out loud. When she stops reading, he says "Oh don't stop now!" implying the most dramatic part of the letter is yet to come. It partially happens again in a season three episode, when Sawyer hands the letter to Anthony Cooper, the person it's intended for, ordering him to read it. But this time the letter isn't read in its entirety, so presumably, the audience is expected to know what it contains. (Also, in the second setting, the reading-out-loud is a bit more natural.)
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: "Make Your Own Kind Of Music" is played by Desmond in the first scene of Season 2 from inside a hatch built to contain a cold, frightening secret.
    • "Downtown" playing during Juliet's near-breakdown and as Flight 815 crashes in "One Of Us".
    • "Better Every Day" playing as Michael revs his car into a wall.
    • "Catch A Falling Star" plays while Claire, Sayid, and Kate walk through the destroyed temple at the end of "Sundown."
  • So Was X:
    Hurley: Do not open that! There's dynamite and it's mega-unstable.
    Richard: I know that.
    Hurley: Well, so did Dr. Arzt. And I was wiping him out of my shirt two days later.
  • Spanner in the Works: Juliet in Season 3, Hurley, early Season 5. Purposefully, just to piss Ben off. Desmond in the season 3 finale, mainly because he is the only person Ben didn`t know anything about.
  • Spoiler Opening: Happened all the time with recurring characters like Christian Sheppard, Charles Widmore or Jacob, whose actors were only credited for their appearances. Averted with François Chau as Pierre Chang, who was never credited for his appearances except for the very final episode. Also, subverted almost all the time with the main cast: on the show with non-linear story-telling and dead people frequently appearing as ghost, remaining in the main credits after your character was just shot does not guarantee your survival^
    • Boone is the first main character to die, yet Ian Somerhalder remains in the credits for three more episodes until the end of the season, appearing as Boone's corpse and in flashbacks.
    • After Shannon is shot, Maggie Grace remains in the credits for two more episodes, appearing as her corpse.
    • When Ana Lucia and Libby get shot, both Michelle Rodriguez and Cynthia Watros remain in credits for three more episodes until the end of the season, appearing as corpses, hallucinations and in flashbacks.
    • After Eko is killed, Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje remains in credits for one more episode as his corpse.
    • Notably, after Charlie's very prominent and very emotional death Dominic Monaghan stays in credits all the way through the premiere of the next season. He is still dead and only appears as a ghost though.
    • The above example are why the creators were able to get away with Jin's No One Could Survive That! moment in Season 4 finale. Daniel Dae Kim remained among the main cast, but it was perfectly logical for him to only play Jin through flashback (or, given the nature of Season 5, the Time Travel). He has in fact made a flashback appearance before being revealed as Not Quite Dead.
    • Similarly, while Juliet was in absolutely no position to survive the end of Season 5 (she manually detonated a freaking hydrogen bomb), Elizabeth Mitchell is still listed in the credits of the Season 6 premiere, though as a guest star instead of a regular. Turns out Juliet's wounds were fatal after all and she finally passes away after saying her Final Words.
    • Following Daniel Faraday's death Jeremy Davies remained in the credits for the remainder of the season, again as his character's corpse.
    • The biggest subversion though comes with John Locke, who continued to make appearances after his death, being seemingly resurrected. It was eventually revealed that he was in fact dead, and his likeness was used by the Man in Black. For almost two season straight, Terry O'Quinn primarily portrayed the MIB, only showing up as Locke in Flashbacks, Flash Sideways and as a corpse.
    • Finally, in Season 6 Naveen Andrews, Daniel Dae Kim, Yunjin Kim and Zuleikha Robinson all remain in the credits until the end of the series even after their characters are killed, appearing in the Flash Sideways.
  • Stable Time Loop: Sayid attempts to kill Ben as a child, forcing Kate and Sawyer to turn over the mortally wounded child to the Others, with the implication that these events will unalterably set the kid on the path to being the cold hard bastard he is in the present.
  • Star Trek Shake: The crash of Flight 815 and the earthquakes in the finale.
  • Stealth Pun: In the Pilot Episode, the pilot himself meets a nasty end.
  • Sterility Plague: Women who conceive on the island cannot give birth there. Those who try all die. It turns out that the island's electromagnetism sets off an immune response that attacks the fetus, killing both mother and child.
  • Stock Beehive: As a rare non-cartoonish example, the first season's sixth episode, "House of the Rising Sun", has a few key characters dealing with a MASSIVE, paper-made underground beehive. It looks more like a dome-shaped, hollow mushroom rather than your stereotypical beehive, but it's clearly different from real world beehives nonetheless.
  • Suddenly Always Knew That: Kate suddenly has tracking skills; they weren't revealed before because You Didn't Ask.
  • Super Cell Reception: In the season 4 finale, Keamy is wearing a heart rate monitor set to transmit a signal to detonate C4 back on his ship should he die. When he dies far underground at the Orchid station, somehow the transmitter is capable of transmitting through dozens of feet of earth and out to sea to trigger the detonator.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Happens quite frequently. In fact, the very first onscreen death features a man being sucked straight into a jet engine.
  • Survival Mantra: "1... 2... 3... 4... 5..."
    • "Live together, die alone" also qualifies.
    • Time Travel Survival Mantra: "Whatever happened, happened."
    • An unspoken mantra seems to be "Don't trust Ben."
  • Suspect Existence Failure: In the episode "The Other 48 Days", Nathan was suspected of being a spy from the Others. He was murdered by the real spy, Goodwin, who hid the body and let the other survivors believe that he had escaped. In this case, the action was justified in the dialogue, as he was worried that further interrogation from Ana Lucia would eventually prove that she had the wrong guy.

    T 
  • Tactful Translation: Sayid pulls this one while interrogating one of his countrymen in "One of Them."
  • Take a Number: In "The Lie", Ben arrives at an empty butcher shop, not intending to buy anything, and takes a number. This number (342) has thus been heavily scrutinized by fans.
  • Take My Hand: Sawyer to Juliet in the season 5 finale.
  • Take Up My Sword: Jack replaced Jacob as the guardian of the island, and then Hugo replaces Jack.
  • Tap on the Head: So many times, without anyone ever developing any noticeable longterm effects.
    • At last subverted in season six, when Sun suddenly gets neurological side effects from bumping into a tree.
  • Temporal Paradox: The magical compass bouncing between the time-travelling Locke and Richard seems to exist in a loop: Present-Locke gives it to Past-Richard in 1954, then Present-Richard gives it to Locke in 2008 before Locke leaps into the past to give it to Richard.
    • Also, Jack's theory was that detonating an H-bomb on the Island would stop the plane from crashing in 2004, thereby somehow magically whisking all the main characters to their pre-crash lives once again. But how would the bomb have been detonated if they never crashed on the Island in the first place, since the crash survivors are the ones who go back in time to do it?
  • Thanatos Gambit: Locke's death is the key to convincing Jack that everybody has to go back.
    • Also, Jacob did this, as he brought most of the characters to the island so he could find his replacement when the Man in Black found the loophole he needed to kill him.
  • That's What I Would Do: Sawyer, after being stabbed by Sayid, tells Jack that he should just let him die, saying that he knows it's what Jack wants to do and that he would do the same to Jack if he were in his shoes. Of course, Jack saves him anyway.
  • Themed Aliases: When Kate is on the run, all of the names she uses are saints' names.
  • Theme Naming: Many characters are named after philosophers, scientists, or literary figures. Most of the names can grant insight into their characters.
    • Lampshaded in season 5, episode 7, by Charles Widmore when he gives Locke a fake ID with the name "Jeremy Bentham", comparing his sense of naming humor to Locke's parents.
    • The pseudonyms Dr. Pierre Chang uses in the orientation films all have last names related to candlemaking. It's worth noting that Chang's actual name seems to be based upon the name of his actor, Francois Chau: French first name, Chinese last name.
    • Most of the DHARMA Stations (The Swan, The Flame, The Arrow, The Staff, The Hydra, and The Pearl) are related to the mythology of the Greek god Apollo.
    • Ben has a The Wizard of Oz theme front and back. When he was first introduced he gave the fake name of "Henry Gale," (same name as Dorothy's uncle) someone who actually died on the island after arriving by hot air balloon (like how the Wizard arrived in Oz). Also the first Ben-centric episode was called "The Man Behind the Curtain."
  • There Can Be Only One: With the revelation of Jacob's "candidates", the fact that almost every character's name is written on the cave roof and all but six having being crossed out. In the finale, the ultimate successor to Jacob was Hurley
  • They Fight Crime!: Sawyer (or "Jim") and Miles in "Recon". He's a snarky conman in an alternate universe! He's... also a snarky conman in an alternate universe! They fight crime!
    • More like a snarky conman and a snarky conman who is also a Ghostbuster.
  • This Is No Time for Knitting: Charlie's reaction to Locke pulling out the equipment for an Aerosol Flamethrower:
    Charlie: Hairspray? Uh, I hate to be the one to break this to you...
  • Time Travel: The main plot point of Season 5.
  • Time Travel Romance: Desmond and Penny. Also Sun and Jin throughout season five and most of six.
  • Together in Death:Rest in peace, Sun and Jin Kwon
    • Completly averted with the bones in the cave because they belong to Jacob's brother and a woman he killed, who pretended to be their mother
    • Ultimately, everyone at the very end, when they all meet up at the church.
  • Token Evil Teammate: Ben, starting around season 4. Made hilariously obvious when he's part of Ilana's Group.
  • Tonight, Someone Dies: Done gratingly with Shannon, Eko and Charlotte. Fortunately, not since.
    • They also made mention that by the end of season 5 they were going to kill off someone important. By the end of the last episode, Faraday had been killed by his own mother, Sayid was shot by Roger Linus; though he got better, sort of, Jacob had been knifed to death by Ben, Juliet fell down a pit on the island with everybody else and repeatedly hit an armed H-bomb with a rock, and Locke was revealed to have been dead the whole time.
    • Averted in Dr. Linus, where the previews stated that Ben would "face his demise". He does wind up starring down the barrel of a gun but is instead spared by Ilana after he tearfully confesses his reason for why he killed Jacob.
    • Completely averted with Ilana.
  • Took a Level in Badass: After getting back from the Island, Sun uses her Oceanic settlement money to buy a controlling share in her Corrupt Corporate Executive father's company, effectively making her in charge. And then she knocks out Ben with an oar.
    • While Sawyer was always a badass, something has to be said for the fact that during the time-skip, he turned into a truly capable leader as well, and actually managed to do so without becoming boring, not to mention finally getting over Kate. Former leader Jack, on the other hand...
    • Hurley behind the wheel of a DHARMA bus in the Season 3 finale. Season 6 then has him level up in terms of leadership.
    • It seems like making people badass is one of the island's powers. Locke certainly kicked more ass after the crash than before. And the cute blonde pregnant girl Claire? Yeah, well, the final season seems to show that she followed Rousseau's steps.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Kate in "Every Man For Himself" and Juliet in "One of Us" and "The Other Woman."
  • Torture Is Ineffective: The series featured many torture scenes, most of which featured ex-torturer Sayid as the victim. In a few cases, the victim knew nothing. In others, the victim simply didn't break down. In one, Sayid eventually broke down, but he responded to the interrogator's attempts to attract sympathy rather than the torture.
  • Translation Convention: Scenes in Korea are subtitled, but Sayid's flashbacks to Iraq are generally not (apart from in "One of Them", whose flashbacks had English and Arabic speakers) — since Naveen Andrews doesn't speak Arabic.
    • Similarly, Allison Janney's character and Claudia exchange a few words in Latin, then switch to English, seeming to confuse some viewers who thought (or at least pretended to think) they were actually speaking English.
  • Tranquillizer Dart: Subverted in an episode where Sayid is shot twice with tranquilizing darts. He pulls one dart out and we're led to believe that the trope is playing straight until he surprises the shooter, who approached him to confirm unconsciousness. Pretty much played straight in a lot of other episodes, featuring darts, gas and chloroform. Namely, some episodes in this respective order are: "Live Together, Die Alone", "Left Behind" and "Something Nice Back Home".
  • Treacherous Spirit Chase: The show is replete with examples, starting in the pilot with visions of Jack's father. While the apparitions always require the character to do incredibly ill-considered and dangerous things (such as climbing treacherous rock faces, stealing babies or attacking each other), doing what the spirit says is often beneficial in the long run.
  • Trojan Prisoner: "Don't get mad at me just because you were dumb enough to fall for the old Wookiee prisoner gag."
    • Also, this is how Ana Lucia determines that the raft passengers are telling the truth.
  • Tropical Island Adventure: The premise of the series, being about the survivors of a plane crash trying to survive on a tropical island.
  • Troubled Backstory Flashback: Once an episode at least.
  • True Companions: The castaways. Ultimately, "The most important time of your life was the time you spent with them", to paraphrase Christian Shephard.
  • Trust Password: When Desmond starts flashing between the past and present, Daniel actually invokes this trope telling Desmond what to say to the past version of Daniel in order to get Past-Daniel to help him.
    • Later on, the same characters reverse it.

Top

How well does it match the trope?

Example of:

/

Media sources:

/

Report