Lost episodes ranked from worst to best

US drama 'Lost' ran from 2004 to 2010 (Disney / ABC)
US drama 'Lost' ran from 2004 to 2010 (Disney / ABC)

Ten years ago, Lost broadcast its final ever episode.

Six yeas earlier, its first season following survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 after they crash on a mysterious island somewhere in the South Pacific became one of the most-watched shows in TV history (the season two premiere was watched by a staggering 23.47m viewers). It even went on to pick up the Emmy Award for Best Drama.

What ensued became part of television history. Lost may have dropped millions of viewers over the years, but what it secured was a cult fan-base that hadn’t been seen since The X-Files, and has rarely been seen since. Its many mysteries, ensemble of intriguing characters and jaw-dropping twist endings kept its core viewers on the edge of their seats right through to the divisive ending.

To celebrate the finale’s anniversary, we’ve done the seemingly unthinkable and ranked every single episode.

NB: The finales that were first broadcast on the same evening have been counted as one episode.

113. Homecoming – Season one, episode 15

Even co-creator Damon Lindelof dislikes this episode. It’s the one that does Charlie dirty by somehow making him even more annoying than Ethan, a villain who’s trying to abduct a pregnant woman.

112. Stranger In a Strange Land – Season three, episode nine

Infamously bad. Jack’s tattoos get explained in the show’s most pointless flashbacks. Even the island stuff (Isabel the sheriff) is thrown by the wayside the moment it ends. The whole thing feels like it was written by someone who has never seen a Lost episode.

111. Fire + Water – Season two, episode 12

Charlie at his whiniest. It’s Lost at a low ebb and features several moments that feel supremely out of character (see: Locke attacking Charlie).

110. Special – Season one, episode 14

For an episode that sparks a storyline designed to run through the remainder of the season (the raft launch), “Special” is anything but, and feels disappointingly throwaway.

109. What Kate Does – Season six, episode three

“What Kate Does” fails to convince the viewer the flashsideways scenes are going to be worth their time. The island events feel thinly drawn, but thankfully, it’s the worst the unfairly-maligned final season gets.

108. Recon – Season six, episode eight

By far the weakest Sawyer episode, even if his flashsideways scenes are among some of the final season’s best. It’s everything else that lacks here, even though demented Claire trying to kill Kate as “zombie” Sayid watches on is an offbeat delight.

107. The Other Woman – Season four, episode six

One of Lost’s most formulaic episodes that tries to earn our trust of Daniel and Charlotte even though we could clearly trust them all along. It’s easily the weakest instalment of season four.

106. Further Instructions – Season three, episode three

Despite this episode’s ambition (that airport vision Locke has is a beautiful misfire), it feels like the writers are struggling to find their feet between the season two finale and the brilliant stuff to come later on in season three. Earns points for Desmond wearing Hurley’s oversized tie dye T-shirt.

105. The Greater Good – Season one, episode 21

What goes up must come down and, despite some interesting Sayid flashbacks, “The Greater Good” falls victim to being the episode that comes off a run of five belters.

104. Meet Kevin Johnson – Season four, episode eight

Lost was never on its best form when the majority of a certain episode was dedicated to a flashback. This particular outing, which fills the viewer in on Michael’s whereabouts since he sailed off with Walt, fits in too much and tacks on Danielle Rousseau’s death. Sure, time was limited, but the long-standing French woman deserved a better send-off.

103. Hearts and Minds – Season one, episode 12

Not a terrible episode; just one of the very few season one adventures that feel like we’re treading water until we get to the good stuff.

102. Born to Run – Season one, episode 22

Has the tough task of putting the pieces in place for the impeccable season one finale, and doesn’t pull it off too well. Purely exists to make up the numbers.

101. The Glass Ballerina – Season three, episode two

We didn’t really need an episode focused on what happened to Sayid, Sun and Jin after they sailed off in search for The Others’s camp at the end of season two, but it does pave the way for a crucial moment in Sun’s story when she becomes a killer (of a character played by Deadwood’s Paula Malcolmson, no less).

100. What Kate Did – Season two, episode nine

The one where Kate sees a horse in the jungle. Sporadically poor – Kate thinking the spirit of her father has possessed Sawyer is a dud idea – but is saved by some magnificent Locke and Eko scenes, and one of the best cliffhangers of the season.

99. The Package – Season six, episode 10

Does well thrusting importance back onto Sun and Jin, despite having lots to wrap up before the series finale. Stands out for a touching late-stage scene involving Yunjin Kim and Matthew Fox that hits home just how far these characters have come. Everything else – mainly the scenes involving the pointless Zoe (Sheila Kelley) – falls by the wayside.

98. Whatever the Case May Be – Season one, episode 12

Your view on this episode depends on how you feel about Kate’s toy plane; I don’t mind it. The cat-and-mouse aspect between her and Sawyer is fun, but there’s no denying it’s pure filler and frustrating due to the fact it comes after a mega cliffhanger.

97. Adrift – Season two, episode two

The fallout of Walt’s dramatic kidnapping at the end of season one decreases in quality with each watch despite some killer Sawyer lines (“What ya gonna do? Splash me?”) and a world-expanding ending.

96. Something Nice Back Home – Season four, episode 10

Includes some melodramatic Jack and Kate moments within their flashforwards, and the former demanding he conduct his own appendectomy on the island is so hilariously Jack, it doesn’t even irk. A pretty ridiculous episode, actually.

95. The Cost of Living – Season three, episode five

Adewale Akkinuoye-Agbaje dealt the writers a curveball when he asked to be written out of the show, so Mr Eko’s rushed conclusion isn’t really their fault. Still, the climactic showdown between Eko and Smokey is a gutpunch, boosted by the preceding interplay between Agbaje and Adetokumboh M’Cormack, who plays his brother, Yemi. Also: first appearance of Mikhail.

94. The Moth – Season one, episode seven

There are some fantastic Locke and Charlie scenes hidden among an episode that’s pretty average by Lost’s standards. The one where Sayid gets thwacked around the head by Locke is fun and mysterious, though (we only discover it was him 14 episodes later).

93. Abandoned – Season two, episode six

Once you get past Sayid and Shannon getting it on, there’s some good stuff here – namely the latter’s surprisingly emotional death. Maggie Grace’s only flashback episode is nowhere near as weak as some fans remember.

92. Lighthouse – Season six, episode six

Jack’s haters are given reason to dislike the “broken” spinal surgeon all over again thanks to this frustrating episode, which sees him battle with the discovery that he’s been led to the island his entire life. Earns a big point for bringing back Shannon’s missing inhaler for no reason but nostalgia.

91. Some Like It Hoth – Season five, episode 13

There’s lots to like here – the numbers being embossed on the Swan station door! – but with a finite number of episodes to go until the conclusion of the series, it’s all just very filler. Still, Miles is a great character, and it’s terrific to see Ken Leung getting his time to shine.

90. Everybody Loves Hugo – Season six, episode 12

Puts the brakes on the final season slightly, which is slightly disconcerting considering the end is near, but there are lots of enjoyable moments courtesy of temperamental dynamite and the Hurley-Libby flashsideways reunion. Also features the slightly clunky whispers reveal.

89. Left Behind – Season three, episode 15

This episode has all the components of a terrific one, but it falls short of the mark. The Kate and Cassidy “sisters doing it for themselves” flashbacks are well-meaning if ultimately dry, and the plot of Juliet and Kate being handcuffed in the jungle isn’t as entertaining as it should be until Smokey shows up. The calm before the storm that was the final eight episodes of season three.

88. Ji Yeon – Season four, episode seven

The clues may have been there all along, but the revelation that we’re watching Jin’s flashbacks alongside Sun’s flashforwards is Lost at its most tricksy. The island stuff is rather entertaining as Juliet drops the infidelity bombshell to keep Sun from heading to Locke’s camp.

87. Across the Sea – Season six, episode 15

It’s not that “Across the Sea” is a weak episode; it does a standout job of filling the viewer in on everything they should know about the island’s history. But its placement within the final season doesn’t sit right. With two episodes to go before the last episode, viewers want to spend time with their favourite characters – not two objectionable kids. Still, Allison Janney is a welcome addition to any TV show, and the creation of the smoke monster doesn’t disappoint.

86. Sundown – Season six, episode five

Sayid is a bit of a casualty of season six. This episode is the last true time we see him as the character we know and love, save for his heroic sacrifice nine episodes later. There’s no denying the climactic smoke monster showdown at the temple is effective, and there are some great Kate reaction shots as she sees the “resurrected” Locke for the first time.

85. Tricia Tanaka Is Dead – Season three, episode 10

Loved by many, this outing – more popularly referred to as “the car episode” – could well be the last one in which all the survivors (bar Jack and Locke) are together on the beach. Should be cherished for that reason alone.

84. I Do – Season three, episode six

“Kate, dammit, RUN.” It’s hard not to be won over by that doozy of an ending that sees Jack finally take control of his situation to save Kate and Sawyer’s lives. It’s a terrific climax to the divisive six episodes that started season three. Probably Kate’s worst flashbacks, mind.

83. Everybody Hates Hugo – Season two, episode four

Tries to calm things down after the hatch drama with mixed results. Most memorable for that lovely final shot of Rose saving a chocolate bar for Bernard, who we finally learn is alive on the other side of the island.

82. Every Man for Himself – Season three, episode four

The underrated highlight of season three’s controversial opening mini-season, largely thanks to the second island reveal and the ever-fantastic Josh Holloway. Sawyer’s scenes with Ben are dynamite and a fine precursor to the terrific work Michael Emerson goes on to deliver.

81. The Lie – Season five, episode two

The one where Hurley throws a hot pocket at Ben Linus. It’s a sturdy enough, if completely ridiculous episode, that sees Hugo run amok around Los Angeles with an unconscious Sayid. Most memorable for the scene that sees him come clean about the island to his mother.

80. Maternity Leave – Season two, episode 15

Kate and Claire trek to the medical station she was taken to after being abducted by Ethan in season one. Pretty intense, although an overload of exposition threatens to derail it. Locke getting rattled by the imprisoned Henry Gale’s mind games is a highlight.

79. Catch-22 – Season three, episode 17

Th origin of Desmond’s “brother” catchphrase. The on-island antics involve a tense boys trip into the jungle that future-seeing Desmond knows has fatal consequences for Charlie – right up until he saves him at the last minute. It doesn’t really get much better than the shocking opening sequence, but it’s pretty solid

78. Confidence Man – Season one, episode eight

Shannon loses her asthma inhaler so Jack and Sayid… torture Sawyer. Slightly farfetched, but has a few classic season one moments (that kiss). The non-diegetic use of music in the closing moments as Sayid departs the camp has always bothered me, though.

77. …and Found – Season two, episode five

Hear me out: this is low-key one of the best written episodes of the entire second season. Your enjoyment depends on just how invested in Sun and Jin’s story you are, but regardless, the flashbacks are as heartwarming as they come and the tail-end survivors come into their own.

76. Tabula Rasa – Season one, episode three

Actually a very decent episode that picks up the seeds planted in the two-part pilot and continues the story in a tantalising manner. Kate’s flashbacks peaked very early thanks to the one-armed, mortgage-paying Ray, who Kate has to thank for being on Oceanic Flight 815 in the first place.

75. The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham – Season five, episode seven

This episode should be better; Locke attempting to convince everyone to return to the island struggles to live up to expectations. Still, there’s some stellar stuff (Abbadon’s death; Hurley’s casual conviction that Locke’s a ghost) and spending time in Terry O’Quinn’s company is always a joy.

74. Dr Linus – Season six, episode seven

It’s odd to see Ben on the back-foot, so this episode takes some getting used to. As ever, Michael Emerson pulls off what’s asked of him and his final “no one will have me” is (kind of) the start of his previously unthinkable redemption. It’s genuinely comforting to see him reunited with Alex, albeit as teacher and student, in the flashsideways, too.

73. Namaste – Season five, episode eight

One of those hectic episodes that puts things in place for the final stretch of the season, and almost gets swallowed up by the sheer amount of things going on. Everything here is extremely fun.

72. The Last Recruit – Season six, episode 13

An air of finality encroaches upon this episode, which effectively raises the stakes and officially sees Jack accept his destiny and Sawyer become the group’s de facto leader. It also successfully amps up the flashsideways scenes. Tears along at a brisk pace.

71. Collision – Season two, episode eight

AKA the reunion episode: Rose and Bernard, Sun and Jin, Ana-Lucia and Jack. Packs a lot in – and that shot of Sayid holding Shannon’s corpse near the end is devastating.

70. Eggtown – Season four, episode four

The big Aaron reveal at the end of this episode wins me over, and I love the clash of leadership tactics between Locke and Kate at the Barracks. It also has Sawyer drinking DHARMA wine from a box. This one’s always been quite disliked outing and, in all honesty, I’m not sure why.

69. Raised by Another – Season one, episode 10

Some intriguing flashbacks (Claire’s psychic) and a killer Ethan twist make this one of the early greats that was much-talked about at the time, but admittedly doesn’t pack as much of a punch upon re-watch.

68. Numbers – Season one, episode 18

This should be upper tier Lost, but it’s not. However, it has many memorable moments and is the first time a bunch of characters stray quite far from camp together. The one that made everyone want to go back and see if they could spot the cursed numbers in every single previous episode.

67. House of the Rising Sun – Season one, episode six

Jin used to be such a bad dude! Huge and brilliantly-deployed revelation regarding Sun’s ability to speak English. Camp gets divided between beach and caves. Dependable early episode.

66. ? – Season two, episode 21

A discovery of yet another hatch rocks Locke’s faith in the button. The episode would probably be better if it hadn’t come just after one of the most gut-wrenching endings in Lost history.

65. Solitary – Season one, episode nine

Our introduction to Danielle Rousseau. At the time, it was the most exciting episode of television I’d ever seen. Now, it feels surprisingly restrained. The whispers at the end is fun, as is “the first – and hopefully last – Island Open”.

64. Jughead – Season five, episode three

An oddity of an episode that’s high on Desmond and Richard Alpert – a surefire way of guaranteeing a watchable hour of television. Provides the first hint that the time-hopping will have bad consequences for those stuck on the island.

63. LA X – Season six, episode one and two

Has the tough job of presenting the flashsideways, so season six’s opener falls victim to its own ambition. Having to say goodbye to Juliet all over again is more than this writer can bear, but the survivors’s arrival at the Temple is supremely exciting. The weakest of Lost’s season premieres.

62. White Rabbit – Season one, episode five

Our first foray into Jack’s past with his father, a relationship closer to the heart of the series than we could have ever thought at the time. Some terrific (non-shouty) Jack and Locke stuff, too.

61. The 23rd Psalm – Season two, episode 10

Charlie and Eko have many cool moments and the big smoke monster scene is a gem, but the ending signals a rocky and quite frustrating arc to come for Charlie, which in retrospect, puts a bit of a downer on proceedings.

60. Par Avion – Season three, episode 12

The best of Claire’s episodes. Her flashbacks are interesting and stand out for casually revealing the bombshell that she’s Jack’s half-sister. Meanwhile, the Mikhail scenes are memorable and the indelible ending – Jack playing football with Mr Friendly – is a stone-cold Lost classic.

59. …In Translation – Season one, episode 17

The start of the Jin evolution. Boasts a very rare moment of introducing a big mystery (who burnt the raft?) and answering it within the same episode (it was Walt). Perfect setup for Hurley’s first flashback episode, also, as his walkman dies on him while he’s listening to Damien Rice.

58. A Tale of Two Cities – Season three, episode one

The opening scene is vintage Lost, but the remainder of the episode falls surprisingly flat. It introduces future greatest character Juliet, though, and Matthew Fox is brilliant depicting the imprisoned Jack’s stubbornness right through to the acceptance of his situation.

57. One of Us – Season three, episode 16

A briskly-paced episode that features some crucial Others details courtesy of Juliet’s flashbacks. That ending is a treat.

56. Confirmed Dead – Season four, episode two

Nikki and Paulo aside, Lost always nailed character introductions, and this episode was firm evidence of the fact. Each of the four new arrivals from the freighter – Daniel, Miles, Charlotte and Frank – are brilliantly drawn from the off and Locke’s left-field “What is the monster?” to Ben in the final scene, is a blind-siding crack-up.

55. S.O.S – Season two, episode 19

One of the most charming episodes of Lost that places the long-awaited flashback spotlight on Rose and Bernard. L Scott Caldwell is on Emmy-worthy form. A good one for Jack and Kate-shipping Jaters too as the pair get “caught in a net” before they happen upon traitor-in-waiting, Michael.

54. The Whole Truth – Season two, episode 16

Five words: “You guys got any milk?” One of the show’s greatest final scenes.

53. Not In Portland – Season three, episode seven

Juliet takes centre stage in an episode that shows how she came to be one of the Others on the island. The discovery that she’s just as imprisoned as Jack is a brilliant one that hints at the turmoil of an altruistic character who’ll always put others before herself.

52. Ab Aeterno – Season six, episode nine

The mystery surrounding the ageless Richard Alpert’s immortality gets ticked off in suitably epic fashion as we’re treated to a flashback dating back to 1867. Not the cracker some will have you believe, but the perfect episode to show someone who’s in need of a concise explanation as to why the hell everyone’s on the island.

51. D.O.C. – Season three, episode 18

Another underrated episode. It’s the one where we learn whether Sun conceived on or off the island and offers our first true introduction to parachutist Naomi. Her revelation at the end – that the bodies of all the survivors were found at the bottom of the ocean – was the tip of an iceberg that the show would explore for the next few seasons.

50. Three Minutes – Season two, episode 22

Pure finale build-up, but The Others stuff is great and Sun’s proclamation of “boat” as the survivors are gathered around Ana-Lucia and Libby’s graves, always brings chills to the spine.

49. Whatever Happened Happened – Season five, episode 11

Kate has never been more frustrating (leave Roger alone!), but Miles’s explanation of the time travel situation they’re all in is the best explanation of time travel there has ever been.

48. Dave – Season two, episode 18

Barely anything in it has any bearing on the show’s future, but there’s no denying “Dave” is a cultish thrill ride – and that cliffhanger ending with Libby is Lost at its most spine-tingling.

47. Follow the Leader – Season five, episode 15

The one where Jack finally settles on a purpose. That it happens to be detonating a hydrogen bomb, in the hope of rewriting their futures as plane crash survivors, is slightly zany, but it sets up the season five finale rather adeptly.

46. Outlaws – Season one, episode 16

No TV show has used the game of I Never to get across motivations of its characters as successfully as Lost. The right level of mystery (the whispers make their return) and humanity (we learn more about Sawyer’s fractured childhood) builds to a beautifully understated climax as Sawyer inexplicably realises he had a chance encounter with Jack’s father before the crash.

45. The Little Prince – Season five, episode four

A really fun one! This episode resurrects one of the greatest moments in Lost history: the hatch light being switched on. It also has that cool scene that sees the crew shot at by unknown assailants from the outrigger, and features one of my favourite reaction shots in the whole series, as Jin regains consciousness and realises, after meeting a young Rousseau, that he’s in 1988.

44. He’s Our You – Season five, episode 10

After being mistaken for one of the Others back in the 1970s, Sayid – locked up by DHARMA – meets a young Ben and decides to put a bullet in his chest. Lost at its coldest. Features a brilliant cameo from yet another Deadwood cast member: William Sanderson.

43. Do No Harm – Season one, episode 20

This episode marks the first death of a main character, and while Boone may not have been many people’s favourite, it does a good job of making you feel the effect of his loss on the castaways. Sun becoming Jack’s right-hand medic was a terrific way to integrate her as a major player. Also, the birth of Aaron is bittersweet because, y’know, life and death.

42. Orientation – Season two, episode three

“Why do you find it so hard to believe?” “Why do you find it so easy?” Season two was all about the button in the hatch and the ensuing battle between faith and science – believing it needed to be pushed to “save the world” versus the belief that nothing would happen should they let the timer run down to zero. The climactic exchange between Jack and Locke encapsulates this perfectly, the former shaken after realising he’d seen Desmond “in another life” before the crash.

41. Enter-77 – Season three, episode 11

A throwback episode to Lost of old, following the shake-up presented in the first half of season three. Sayid, Kate and Locke – a formidable trio – happen across Mikhail in the jungle and the ensuing episode sees each character trying to battle for the upper hand. Sayid’s flashbacks too are among his greatest with Naveen Andrews showing he was one of the best actors on the show.

40. Because You Left – Season five, episode one

A fantastic opener that sets season five’s time-hopping tone perfectly. It’s an episode that must have seemed impossible to pull off in the writers room, but it’s done so damn entertainingly that it certainly ranks as the most fun season premiere.

39. Dead Is Dead – Season five, episode 12

Getting to spend time in the company of Ben Linus is always a treasure. This episode gives us the first true hint that something’s wrong with the resurrected Locke, and the final CGI-heavy scene – in which Ben is judged by the smoke monster – is admirably acted by Emerson.

38. The Economist – Season four, episode three

Of all the characters that would go on to leave the island, it was Sayid whose story had the bleakest outcome (I don’t think we see him smile from this point onwards). Consequently, the sequence that sees him leave the island on the helicopter, on his way to investigate the crew on the freighter, is a bittersweet one considering his fate.

37. The Long Con – Season two, episode 13

The clue to this episode is in the title. It plays like a tropical island version of Hustle that sees Sawyer trick everyone from Kate and Ana-Lucia to Locke. Sure, it’s completely filler but when a network orders 24 episodes per season, you’re gonna have those – and they manage to make the repercussions of Sawyer’s actions trickle into the following season’s episodes.

36. The Candidate – Season six, episode 14

“The Candidate” really goes there. Killing off three main characters with just a handful of episodes to go is a bold move, and one that effectively gets everyone where they need to be emotionally, in preparation for the final episodes. The scene where Kate, Hurley and Jack break down in tears, mourning the deaths of Sun, Jin and Sayid, is Lost at its most painful and human.

35. The Beginning of the End – Season four, episode one

The title sums it up well: this is an oddly understated season premiere that raises the stakes in previously unimaginable ways. Lost is extremely different from this point onwards and the episode marks the last time all the characters are in one place before they split into team Jack and Locke. Quietly devastating, truth be told.

34. Greatest Hits – Season three, episode 21

This episode uses Charlie’s impending death to tug at the heartstrings; each flashback scene shows us the memories he considers to be the greatest in his life. Perhaps the most effective finale set-up episode of them all.

33. The Hunting Party – Season two, episode 11

A terrific episode filled with character moments that just make sense (Michael taking off after Walt; Sawyer wanting revenge for being shot on the raft; Kate following the search party despite Jack instructing her not to). The showdown with Mr Friendly in the jungle continues to establish the Others as a terrifying force, and Sawyer damn well near steals the season with several hilarious quotes (“Oh yeah, there’s my favourite leaf”).

32. Lockdown – Season 2, episode 17

When “Lockdown” flies, it soars. It has mystery (the blast door map), some what-the-f*** moments (the food drop) and a bombshell of an ending, where we finally learn that the man who’s been saying he’s Henry Gale for the past three episodes, is someone else altogether.

31. 316 – Season five, episode six

A mammoth episode exemplifying that Lost, in its penultimate season, had no time to waste. After weeks of seeing the Oceanic Six preparing to return to the island, the episode starts with Jack back in the place he’d been so desperate to get off just one season before – and ends with him coming face-to-face with Jin in his DHARMA overalls. Earns serious marks for that.

30. What They Died For – Season six, episode 15

A hugely emotional penultimate episode that features Jack accepting what he believes to be his fate as protector of the island. Puts everything in place for the last ever episode poignantly, and with just the right amount of nostalgia.

29. LaFleur – Season five, episode seven

The Sawyer and Juliet reveal ranks as one of Lost’s most heartwarming. Seeing them build a life together as members of DHARMA three years after Jack and company left the island is such a monumental twist, but it unfolds within the episode in such an understated way. One of Sawyer’s most crucial episodes – and tissues at the ready for that final reunion scene.

28. The Variable – Season five, episode 14

The writers didn’t hold back for the 100th episode of Lost, delivering what must be the episode that benefits most from rewatch. Don’t care about Daniel Faraday’s backstory? You will when you realise what fate has in store for him – something made even more heartbreaking with each visit.

27. This Place Is Death – Season five, episode five

This is one of my season five favourites and yes, it’s because it’s the first time we see the four-toed statue in its entirety. Also, the Charlotte and Daniel scene, in which she tells him he’s the “scary man” who told her to leave the island when she was a child, is extremely creepy. Fantastically written.

26. Pilot – Part 2 – Season one, episode two

Splits the castaways in such a perfect way that the viewer’s able to get a perfect sense of each character and their dynamic within the group. People might still be joking about that polar bear scene 15 years later, but every character’s reaction is so on the money – and the revelation that Kate’s a fugitive is the show’s first shocker.

25. All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues – Season one, episode 12

Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) almost got killed off in this early season one episode (ABC)
Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan) almost got killed off in this early season one episode (ABC)

The first fast-paced episode of Lost. The flashbacks detail one of the most crucial points from Jack’s past (destroying his father’s career), while Jack and Kate finding Charlie blindfolded and hanging lifeless from the tree, never fails to knock the wind out of viewers’s lungs; I’m still convinced he’ll die every time I watch it. We’re also introduced to the hatch, something that went on to shape the future of the show in unthinkable ways.

24. Happily Ever After – Season six, episode 11

It may take a while to get going, but this episode is vintage Lost for linking the flashsideways to the island events in such a gratifying, moving way. Extended Desmond episodes are always a joy, and this one was no different. A terrific precursor to the series finale.

23. There’s No Place Like Home – Part 1 – Season four, episode 12

This episode opens with a pinch-yourself scene that first-time viewers never expect to see: survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 reuniting with their loved ones – characters we’ve seen in their respective flashbacks across the past four seasons. The opening part, to a mammoth three-part finale, does an effective job of letting you know we’re about to see how the Oceanic Six came to leave the island. Because of that, anticipation levels are through the roof from the first second.

22. The Other 48 Days – Season two, episode seven

Back in the early days, a format shakeup in Lost was enough to cause heart palpitations – so the realisation you’re about to watch the first 48 days, through the eyes of the tail-end survivors, is cause for excitement. The dawning realisation, that these characters had it a lot harder than the ones we’ve spent an entire season with, is a chilling one, and the episode is executed admirably.

21. The Substitute – Season six, episode four

One of the final season’s true gems, this episode is evidence that Terry O’Quinn is one of television’s acting greats. His performance as the terrifying Man In Black, in the guise of Locke, is remarkable, and his team up with Sawyer makes for some sizzling interplay. The final scene showing the names of the remaining candidates and their corresponding numbers in the cave (4, 8, 15, 16, 23, 42) is an astonishing reveal, that’s crucial in understanding the show.

20. Pilot – Part 1 – Season one, episode one

At the time, Lost’s pilot episode was the most expensive ever made ($14m) – and its opening 10 minutes still takes the breath away. The show’s snappy dialogue is there from the offset and the series premiere does an impressive job of introducing the ensemble, while peppering in the right amount of mystery: first and foremost, Lost is about ordinary people and how they react to the extraordinary things going on around them.

19. One of Them – Season two, episode 14

Some fans might be surprised to see this episode so high, but the scene in which Sayid goes against Jack’s wishes to torture new arrival Henry Gale in the Swan station’s armoury – all while the hatch timer gets closer and closer to zero – is Lost at its most tense, and earns this episode’s high placement, tree frog subplot or no tree frog subplot.

18. Live Together, Die Alone – Season two, episode 23 and 24

The first Desmond flashbacks of the series are some of the show’s strongest. This finale is a brilliantly-paced exploration intring some pretty staggering scenes as Jack takes Jacob’s baton and accepts what he thio one of Lost’s most important characters that finds time for some bombshells (Des crashed the plane), the conclusion to the button debate (Locke’s “I was wrong” remains a huge turning point for the character), and our first off-island scene taking place in the present.

17. Exposé – Season three, episode 14

In the world of television, how do you rectify something the fans aren’t happy with? In Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse’s case, they somehow turn it into a positive – albeit in the most twisted way imaginable. Nikki and Paulo are introduced early into the show’s third season, as survivors who viewers are led to believe have been around the entire time. The fans revolted and poor Nikki and Paulo found themselves buried alive in a Twilight Zone-style episode that’s hated as much as it’s loved. “Exposé” is filler, yes, but it’s so deliciously inventive that it deserves a high ranking.

16. Cabin Fever – Season four, episode 11

Catnip for Locke fans. The scene in which he speaks to Christian Shepherd in Jacob’s cabin is one of the greats, and does a good job at trying to make Claire more important, by throwing her in for good measure. One of the most bonkers final lines to any TV episode: “He said, ‘We have to move the island.’”

15. Flashes Before Your Eyes – Season three, episode eight

When Desmond turns the failsafe key, he not only throws himself back in time but directly into the heart of something that makes Lost so great. This episode is the first to play around with the flashback format and it does it in such a bold way that it can only make you hyped for what’s to come – even if it means the death of poor Charlie.

14. The Man Behind the Curtain – Season three, episode 20

Ben talking to an empty chair in Jacob’s cabin may not have won Michael Emerson an Emmy, but it stands out as some of the best acting this series ever saw (he was beaten that year by his co-star Terry O’Quinn, which is fair enough). Locke – and the viewer – are promised answers in this episode and although the end product raises more questions, it does so in such dazzling fashion, it’s hard to be miffed. One to watch with the light’s off.

13. The Incident – Season five, episode 16 and 17

The feeling of doom that pervades “The Incident” actually makes it the least enjoyable, but no less fantastic Lost finale – and as for that change-up of the Lost logo’s colours at the end? It’s a stunning move. Imagine having to wait nine months for a new episode after seeing that for the first time..

12. The Brig – Season three, episode 19

Lost gave one of the show’s best characters (Sawyer) the resolution he – or indeed we – never thought he’d be granted in such a flawless manner. Some may guess that Locke’s con-man father is the guy Josh Holloway’s character has been hunting since childhood, but the reveal is so organic, so well-constructed – so beautifully done – that it’s a struggle to breathe when watching it. Holloway is never better in Lost than in this episode.

11. Two for the Road – Season two, episode 20

“I’m sorry.” “For what?” BANG. The ending of “Two for the Road” is Lost in shock mode. It dispatches of not one, but two characters at the hands of a character you’d never suspect. What’s refreshing is that the episode earns the surprise – it’s so neatly folded into the overarching plot of what’s happening elsewhere, that it’s a strong example of the writers working at the top of their game. It doesn’t matter how you feel about Ana-Lucia; your heart can’t help but break seeing her corpse lying there on the sofa, moments after letting the weight of the world off her shoulders.

10. Walkabout – Season one, episode four

The moment in which every viewer realises Lost is going to be different from most other TV shows. Think you’re watching a standard castaway drama? Think again. The Locke twist ranks as one of the show’s greatest.

9. Deus Ex Machina – Season one, episode 19

For me, the final four minutes of “Deus Ex Machina” spring the hairs on end harder than any other moment in the entire series. Back in the heady days of season one, when the toe was merely being dipped into the giant pool of mysteries, that light shining through the hatch window was earth-shattering. When accompanied with Michael Giacchino’s score and Locke’s most heartbreaking flashbacks, it results in TV gold.

8. Man of Science, Man of Faith – Season two, episode one

Let’s be honest: the season two opening is probably the greatest start to any episode of any TV show, let alone Lost. After a season of watching the survivors roam the island, being plonked into an uncertain location with a completely new character is at once hugely mystifying and exciting. It switches up the show and is the perfect way to alert the audience that, with the revelation of what’s down the hatch, Lost is about to open doors some viewers may not want to enter.

7. The Shape of Things to Come – Season four, episode nine

Whew. A gem of an episode that boasts everything required to make Lost the most watchable show on television. Action (the assault on the Barracks), mystery (Dr Ray’s washed up body), heartbreak (Keamy’s brutal massacre of Alex), and razor-sharp dialogue (look no further than the climactic Ben Linus and Charles Widmore clash). There’s also the greatest smoke monster appearance as Ben summons him to take out Widmore’s mercenary crew. A tornado of an episode.

6. The End – Season six, episode 16 and 17

The last episode of Lost is both divisive and extremely misunderstood, even though I’m still not really sure why. But, for those who can detect the show’s modus operandi in the first season – that what you’re watching is ultimately about the characters experiencing the mystery – the final hours of Lost are an all-round emotional and overwhelmingly cathartic experience. Not all the mysteries are answered, but are all things tied up in real life? “The End” is an impressively balanced conclusion to an envelope-pushing series, which proves everything that happened actually did happen. If you’re one of those who fell victim to the incorrect “they were dead all along” train of thought, a friendly suggestion: pay attention next time.

5. There’s No Place Like Home – Season four, episode 13 and 14

The freighter explosion; the helicopter crash; the frozen donkey wheel – the island literally moving. These are all scenes that featured in the same finale and, in lesser hands, it could have been a disaster. But thanks to unabashed hard work, the season four conclusion was Lost at its most ambitious, crazy and downright exhausting.

4. The Man from Tallahassee – Season three, episode 13

For a mid-season episode, “The Man from Tallahassee” had no right being this good. Seeing Jack, Kate and Locke walking around the Others’ houses is exciting as hell and the Locke and Ben scenes are, in my opinion, the best acted and written scenes in the entire show. The out-of-nowhere twist ending only serves to make this episode more of a classic in my eyes.

3. The Constant – Season four, episode five

There’s no doubt the greatest non-finale episode of Lost is “The Constant”. It’s a masterclass that’s worthy of being cited as one of the best things Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse have ever done. Positioning Desmond and Penny as two lovers separated by space and time sounds too complex to explore in a 40-minute episode, but in actual fact, it’s one of the most accessible Lost episodes in its history, thanks to the message of love at its heart. “The Constant” is an episode that has and will continue to inspire other television writers to come. Everybody involved should be proud of the work they put in – episodes like this come around very rarely.

2. Exodus – Season one, episode 23, 24 and 25

After enjoying success as one of the most-watched new shows of all time in 2004, it wouldn’t have been surprising for Lost to buckle under the pressure and screw up its season one finale. Instead, it went ahead and established Lost as a future classic that was very much here to stay. “Exodus” merges the smaller character moments (the Sun and Jin reconciliation) with the heavy-hitting sequences (the raft launch), the pedal-to-the-metal action (Locke getting attacked by Smokey), and the nail-biting plot twists (Walt getting kidnapped off the raft). It was the perfect culmination of everything that had preceded it, and left you salivating for more. The scope of this episode might have lessened over the years, but at the time of its premiere, the excitement levels were joyous. Without the success of “Exodus”, Lost wouldn’t have been encouraged to take the bold steps it did right through to its finale.

1. Through the Looking Glass – Season three, episode 22 and 23

It’s hard to think of a time before “Through the Looking Glass” had been unleashed upon the world, but it was certainly a less inspired one. Whether you’re a Lost fan or not, everyone can settle on the fact that it’s one of the greatest finales in TV history – and one that not only changes the very fabric of its own existence, but the medium of television as a whole. That it does so in such an assured, sublime and damn unexpected way is testament to this show’s genius. It’s Lost at its most iconic (see: Not Penny’s Boat and “We have to go back!”) and has embedded itself into the history books for encouraging everyone involved in TV to think outside the box.

Lost is available to stream on Amazon Prime.

If you’re a longtime fan or simply looking for a new series to start, subscribe to podcast The LOST Boys, which follows the writer of this article’s journey watching from the very beginning for the eighth time alongside his friend who has never seen it before.