In the years since Lost’s final season, amid all the dangling plot threads and unanswered questions, there’s still the lingering assertion that creators J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof knew where they were going all along. That despite filler episodes like “Exposé” or “Stranger In A Strange Land” there was always an intentional framework to the show building to a predetermined endpoint. Now, a leaked document from J.J. Abrams and other staff writers to ABC network brass during the pitch process has shed light on just how much thought went into the show beforehand. The 27-page outline emerged from nine weeks of work, and is packed with character sketches for the main cast introduced in the first season, as well as 30 episode ideas. But laughably, there are also pages insisting that Lost would be a medical show, cop show, lawyer show, and character drama (a la The O.C.) wrapped into one. And the even bigger bluff, that Lost would be “self-contained,” with an “easy to follow” overarching mythology: “Viewers will be able to drop in at any time and be able to follow exactly what’s going on in a story context.”
Sure, there’s the issue of how seriously Abrams and Lindelof committed to this outline. Judging from many of the assertions made here, Abrams and company flat-out lied in order to convince a network concerned about the long-term viability of the series to move forward. But the gamble paid off, since the show was a huge hit—which gave the creators a lot of leeway to break this nascent show bible—and ran for over 120 episodes. As for whether this indicates that Abrams and company were just trying to get the show on the air before ditching all the ideas that got studio execs to say yes, or they had absolutely no idea where they were going—much like Lost itself, that mystery is still inconclusive.