Damon Lindelof on How the Breaking Bad Finale Allowed Him to Let Go of Lost


It’s sort of a running joke in the industry that Lost had a rather terrible finale, and squandered a relatively cool concept with a bunch of confusing hocus pocus in the end. Other showrunners and writers like George RR Martin have even started saying things like “I hope I don’t pull a Lost with my series,” as it’s a metric of ending a good story badly.

But there’s actually a man at the butt of these jokes, not just a show. That would be Damon Lindelof, the man many hold responsible for Lost’s failures. Sara Clemens recently pointed me to this THR article where Lindelof writes about the impact the Breaking Bad finale had on him. You think it might be just simple analysis, but it’s more than that.


Three years later, it appears that it is not just enough to love Breaking Bad‘s finale. You also have to hate ours. Yeah, I know. Waaaaaah for me. I should go cry into my barrels full of money. But I swear to you, I’m not looking for empathy. I’m just looking for a way to stop. And I can’t.

Alcoholics are smart enough to not walk into a bar. My bar is Twitter. It’s Comic-Con. It’s anytime someone asks me to write an article even casually relating to Lost.

And this is how pathetic I’ve become — I’m using an opportunity to put Breaking Bad into the pantheon of best shows ever (where it undeniably belongs) to narcissistically whine about the perceived shortcomings of my own work.

Lindelof loves arguing about his ending, but to an unhealthy degree, according to him. Now, with Breaking Bad as inspiration, Lindelof is ready to put it behind him at last:

I’d like to make a pact, you and me. And here’s your part: You acknowledge that I know how you feel about the ending of Lost. I got it. I heard you. I will think about your dissatisfaction always and forever. It will stay with me until I lie there on my back dying, camera pulling slowly upward whether it be a solitary dog or an entire SWAT team that comes to my side as I breathe my last breath.

And here’s my part: I will finally stop talking about it. I’m not doing this because I feel entitled or above it — I’m doing it because I accept that I will not change hearts nor minds. I will not convince you they weren’t dead the whole time, nor resent you for believing they were despite my infinite declarations otherwise.

It is stupid how people still harass Lindelof for Lost, years later on Twitter and comment threads and so on, but I’ve never really understood why people feel the need to harass anyone online. Being on the receiving end of such harassment can make you hate the internet as a whole sometimes.


But honestly, I’m not sure that Lindelof even deserves it from a critical perspective. The literal finale of Lost, the last episode, was actually pretty okay in my opinion. It brought together the cast in way that made sense in the context of what had set up before it. I think Lost lost its way when they introduced time-travel and sort of went of the rails to there, but it was always interesting, and kept me watching until the end.

This is in contrast to a show like Dexter, which should now be universally acknowledged as having the worst finale (and final season for that matter) for a once-great show of all time. Not saying that we should start harassing Scott Buck on Twitter about it (as everyone is), but I think Lindelof is much less deserving of this crown of shit than he is.

But back to Lindelof, he has one last argument to make before he goes:

I stand by the Lost finale. It’s the story that we wanted to tell, and we told it. No excuses. No apologies. I look back on it as fondly as I look back on the process of writing the whole show. And while I’ll always care what you think, I can’t be a slave to it anymore. Here’s why:

I did it for me. I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really … I was alive.

All in all, this was a pretty heartbreaking read in many ways, and I highly suggest you check out the whole thing so it’s not carved into little chunks like it is here. It’s a reminder that there are people behind our favorite shows, and it really affects them when hate is constantly poured on them for years. I hope Lindelof is actually able to let this go, but that remains to be seen.

  • The final season of Lost was a let down. And I mean Season, the finale episode was the highlight of that last year. However, Prometheus and Star Trek into Darkness were far more recent disappointments and better serve to point out his flaws as a writer. I don’t hate the guy in anyway, I really liked most of Lost, but he became such a big name so fast and then did some very high profile projects that most people will agree that he dropped the ball on. He tends to over complicate his stories and add these mcguffins for individual scenes without thinking about their consequences. For example, the portable transporter in STID which negates the need for starships at all, or the fact that he cured DEATH at the end of the movie. It seems lazy to me and I guess I just expect better.

  • Ugo Strange

    Am I the only person who liked the ending and the final Season of “L O S T” ? Granted, it had it’s issues but once I realized what was going on, it made sense.

  • George C

    I disagree with you that the literal ending to lost was a reasonable and decent end. I would understand it if you said it provided a sufficient emotional end to the series, but in literal terms, the resolution does not follow at all from the events that transpire and even more so, negates the literal relevance of any of it.

    Allow me to offer two alternative options that would have been better literal ends.

    1. Juliette hits the nuke at the end of season 4, fade to white…the end (Sopranos ambiguous ending)


    2. Juliette hits the nuke at the end of season 4 and the reaction mixed with the electromagnetic force on the island causes reality to split into two time streams one in which the time travelers are blasted back to the present, and one in which they never crash on the island because the island had been nuked into oblivion. The people in each reality become cognizant of each others reality and their interconnectedness (as seemed to be happening for most of the season). The world begins to implode as these two realities cannot coexist and the black smoke works to preserve the island reality (self preservation) while jack realizes that the other reality is the one worth saving and sacrifices his reality defeating the black smoke and ensuring that the second reality where everyone is ok and not lost prevails. Everyone in the second reality gets their memories from the island reality(as was portrayed in the show) and they all live happily ever after. The end.

  • JuanSolo

    The finale didn’t do anything to change how I felt about the show. You could see it coming a mile away. It wasn’t great but it wasn’t awful. Too many people put too much emphasis on the finale and forget about how great the show was at times. When it was running on all cylinders it was much watch TV, and that was the majority of it time on air.

  • Steve p

    LOST was a brilliant show and had a brilliant ending. I dont get why people cry so much

  • JuanSolo

    George C, talking about literal relevance on Lost is pointless.