"All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" is the eleventh episode of Season 1 of Lost. With the revelation that Ethan was never on the plane, the survivors rush to find Claire and Charlie, who they realize have been taken. Leading the way is Jack, who feels guilty after not believing Claire's claims that she was in danger. Flashbacks in this episode concentrate on Jack's decision to stand up to his father and fight for what is right.


Previously on Lost


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Jack tries desperately to save his patient.

In surgery, Jack struggles to save the life of a young woman. She goes into cardiac arrest and Jack uses a crash cart, but the woman is beyond saving. Despite being told to “call it,” Jack continues to try to resuscitate her. His father eventually intervenes, and Jack is extremely angry with him, telling him to call it himself.

A nurse places a sheet over the dead woman as Christian scolds Jack for taking over his operation. Apparently, Christian had been called to surgery when the woman crashed while he was having lunch at a restaurant, and asks Jack how he knew about the procedure. Jack replies that a nurse came and told him Christian's hands were shaking and he had made a mistake during her initial surgery, cutting the patient’s hepatic artery. The two argue as Christian defends his abilities. Jack asks his father how many drinks he had at lunch, causing him to stop talking.

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Christian convinces his son to support his testimony of events.

The next day, Jack is called to Christian’s office. His father has written up the report for the dead woman, which states the patient’s death was unavoidable. Jack, however, argues that his father was impaired, but Christian points out Jack is listed as the surgeon of record. If Jack contests the report, Christian could lose his license, but Jack does not seem to care. Christian manages to change his son's mind by convincing him his job is his life and by giving Jack a long overdue apology for treating him so harshly when he was growing up. In the end, Jack signs the document, much to Christian’s relief.

Later, as Jack walks down a hallway in the hospital, he sees his father talking to a man. A nurse tells Jack “that’s her husband,” and he is threatening to sue. Christian comforts the man as he sobs. Christian puts his hand on the man's shoulder in exactly the same way he had comforted Jack during his apology the day before. Jack quietly seethes when seeing this display and realizes his father's apology the day before was not sincere.

The board discuss the woman's death.

At a board hearing, Christian justifies his position and recites his testimony of the events. He concludes that the damage the woman had incurred was beyond medical help. The board members thank Christian and apologize for the procedure, but Jack is suddenly startled as an official adds, “and you were aware that the patient was pregnant?” To his astonishment, Christian confirms this, and Jack realizes that he has been deceived. Just as the hearing is adjourning, Jack says that he must revise his statement. He reveals his father was intoxicated while working and, in his professional opinion, this led to the patient's death.

On the Island

Day 16

1x11 jack locke
Jack and Locke find Claire's bag.

The survivors are shocked as Hurley frantically explains that Ethan was not on the plane. Jack notices that Charlie and Claire are missing, and he and Locke run for the beach where they were apparently headed. They find Claire’s bag, along with scattered footprints indicating a struggle. Jack shouts for them, but Locke tells him to be quiet so as not to lose the element of surprise in their ensuing hunt.

The pair starts following telltale markings left by Ethan. Locke discusses the concept of others on the Island, and suggests returning to camp and forming a search party. Jack disagrees and heads off alone into the jungle.

At the caves, Locke quickly recruits Kate and Boone, despite Shannon's reservations, but refuses Michael and Walt when they offer their services. Heading out, the group soon catches up with Jack, who has been unknowingly running in circles. Locke wants Jack to go back, him being the only doctor on the Island, but he refuses, and the group moves out.

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Michael is annoyed at not being included.

Back at the caves, Michael talks to Hurley about being left out of the main group. Walt joins the conversation, arguing that Locke can do many things so they should trust his judgment. This is not well received by Michael, who leaves his son with Hurley and heads south to look for Claire and Charlie.

Locke marks his line of sight as Jack grows increasingly impatient. Jack wants to move immediately, but Locke needs time to find the trail and catch his bearings. Kate questions Jack’s mood, and he admits that he never believed Claire’s claims that someone was trying to hurt her. Locke suddenly shouts for Jack, and shows that he has found the "L" from the "LATE" finger bands Charlie wears.

Continuing through the jungle, they find the "A" pointing in one direction, but Locke also sees footprints heading off in another. Kate suggests that Ethan could be setting up a dummy trail. This causes everyone to question how she suddenly knows so much about tracking. With no way of knowing which direction is the right one, the group splits, with Locke leading Boone and Kate tracking with Jack.

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Walt chats with Sawyer.

Back at the caves, Sawyer hears about the mission from Walt, and suggests that Ethan might have simply lied about his name for the manifest. Walt says that "it's stupid to lie about your name." Sawyer chuckles, and asks Walt for his opinion. Walt thinks other people might live on the Island, and supports his claims with Sayid's comments about hearing whispers in the jungle. The news that Sayid has returned causes Sawyer to take notice.

Locke and Boone move on their path. Boone comments how on Star Trek the "redshirts" always got killed. He asks Locke what he did in the real world. Locke says he worked at a box company, but Boone does not believe him. On the other path, Kate tells Jack to slow down. She explains that she learned to track from her father, an ex-soldier in the army, with whom she used to hike and track deer.

Ethan confronts Jack.

At the caves, Sayid awakens to see Sawyer standing over him. Sawyer threatens Sayid, but stops himself from carrying out his revenge when he hears about the French woman and her claims of others on the Island. The mention of the whispering intrigues Sawyer. Deciding not to retaliate, Sawyer leaves, mentioning as he goes that he kept the signal fire burning while Sayid was away.

Meanwhile, at the beach, Walt defeats Hurley at backgammon again, managing to correctly roll required numbers several times. Walt accidentally reveals that he had another father, and Hurley soon leaves, but not before Walt reminds him that he owes him $20,000.

Still searching, Locke follows a gut instinct trying to find Claire and Charlie. Boone talks about his life, working as part of his mother's wedding firm. Locke suggests Boone head back, but the young man refuses. As rain starts to fall, both teams carry on.

Jack and Kate stumble on the "T" from Charlie’s bands, and Jack hears a distant scream. Though Kate does not hear it, Jack climbs up a small hill in the pouring rain. He slips, and tumbles back to the ground below. Pulling himself together, he sees Ethan standing over him. Ethan threatens to kill one of his prisoners if Jack keeps following him. They fight, but Ethan easily overpowers the doctor and knocks him out. A few minutes later, Jack regains consciousness with Kate at his side. Kate tells him to sit, but Jack says he will not let Ethan do this, "not again," and runs after him.

Charlie is found hanging from a tree.

Moments later, they find the final letter, "E", only to see that it is on Charlie’s hand, and that he has been hanged from a tree by his neck. As Jack grabs him, Kate manages to cut him down, and Kate holds Charlie's hand as the doctor begins CPR. Kate begins to cry as after many moments there is still no response from Charlie, while Jack continues to pound on Charlie's chest. Kate tries to get Jack to stop, which he does, before once again continuing, refusing to give up. This time, Charlie wakes up coughing as Jack and Kate cry with happiness.

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Charlie sits silently at the campfire.

Back at the caves, Walt comments that Charlie has not spoken since Jack and Kate brought him back. Charlie sits silently. Jack promises to go back out for Claire the moment the sun comes up, and Charlie coldly says he does not remember anything. He ominously adds, "they" were after Claire all along. Meanwhile, a worried Shannon approaches Kate, telling her Locke and Boone have not returned yet.

Out in the jungle, Boone concludes they are lost. He says he wants to go back, and when Locke tosses him a flashlight, he fails to catch it, and it falls. As it hits the ground, they hear a metallic clank, and Locke says it is something made of steel. "Part of the plane?" Boone asks, but Locke seems to think otherwise. The two begin to unearth a structure beneath the earth.


  • This episode marks the first time a character has a second episode (excluding the pilot) devoted to them. Jack also had flashbacks in the episode "White Rabbit".
  • A trail of letters that were taped to Charlie's left hand is left as a clue that the search party uses to follow him.
  • In 2006, rock band Senses Fail named a song on their sophomore album, Still Searching, after this episode. (Outside references to Lost)
  • When Jack is trying to revive Charlie, he hits him in the chest 23 times. After seeming to give up, he begins hitting Charlie again and hits him 9 more times before Charlie regains his breath. (The Numbers)
  • Jack and Christian's hospital, St. Sebastian, is featured for the first time. It would become a prominent off-Island location.
  • This episode is Rated TV-14-V.

Production notes

Cut material

The original draft of the episode was substantially different, according to Javier Grillo-Marxuach[1]:

  • It was titled "What It Takes," which is likely a reference to the words that Christian said to Jack as a child in "White Rabbit" when telling him not to be a hero, which was later repeated by Jack in the same episode, referring to himself when he tells Locke why he doesn't think he should be the leader among the Flight 815 survivors. These words again come into play much later in the series in the Season 6 "Lighthouse", where Jacob has Hurley tell Jack "you have what it takes" in order to get Jack to go to the Lighthouse with him.
  • Boone did not go along with Locke. Two new guest characters, Arthur and Sullivan (perhaps the Sullivan from "Solitary"), went with him instead. The choice to have Boone go with Locke was the genesis for his death later in the season. As such, if the guest characters had gone with Locke it seems that Boone may not have died in Season 1.
  • The discovery of the hatch would have come early in the episode instead of at the end.
  • Kate and Jack came under a dart attack while hunting for Ethan. Damon Lindelof said that was too cheesy. Ironically, there would later be a dart attack by the Others on those characters in the Lindelof-penned "Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2".

The eventual script differed from the produced episode in a few minor ways:

  • After Jack asked him to call the patient's death, Christian would have done so, labeling the death as occurring at 3:23 and identifying himself as the chief of surgery, after a brief stand-off with Jack.[2]
  • Boone would have received some dialogue and focus, highlighting his new interaction with "the big dogs" following his earlier humilation in "White Rabbit".[3] In their conversation about redshirts, Locke would have denied owning a television before managing a casual description of Star Trek.[4] The hatch was planned as submerged in a stream, and instead of banging it, the flashlight would have illuminated it after falling into the water.[5]
  • The script called for a flash cut to Charlie from "Pilot, Part 1" when Jack found his discarded bandage, explaining its significance.[6]
  • After being told to lead a second search party, Michael would have actually led a group of five survivors rather than just referring to five who "would have" followed him.[7] Right before he returned to camp, Walt would have watched Hurley weave palm fronds for an unknown purpose.[8]

Bloopers and continuity errors

Boom Mic
A microphone boom is briefly visible.
  • When Walt tells Sawyer about Ethan, a microphone boom pole briefly appears on the upper edge of the screen during Sawyer's line "Okay, then it must be true."
  • When Jack talks to Andrea, an editing mistake shows the janitor behind them walk past twice.
  • When Charlie is unconscious and Jack and Kate give up on trying to save him, the camera pans out and Charlie can be seen breathing before he is resuscitated.
  • The first time Jack hits Charlie in the chest with his fist, the outline of a rectangular piece of material beneath Charlie's shirt is briefly visible .
  • When Micheal volunteers to help in the search, Locke slings his bag over his right shoulder. Then during the close up shots of Locke the bag strap is on his left shoulder.


Main article: Musical score
Main article: Musical themes

This episode introduces an exploration motif when Jack and Locke search for Ethan's trail. This cue appears on no soundtrack. The episode later uses the life and death theme theme for the scene where Jack and Kate find Charlie hung up a tree and Jack uses aggressive CPR to save him from death. It can be heard on the Season 1 soundtrack during the cue "Charlie Hangs Around" along with a new suspense theme for Charlie.

The episode also introduces a suspense motif associated with Jack. The music that plays during the Hatch's discovery later returns the next season during the discovery of the Pearl's hatch.


Recurring themes

Recurring themes
AnimalsBlack and whiteCharacter connectionsChildrenCoincidenceDeathDeceptions and consDreamsEconomicsElectromagnetismEyesFate versus free willGamesGood and bad peopleImprisonmentIsolationLeadershipLife and deathLiterary worksMirrorsMissing body partsNicknamesThe NumbersPairingsParapsychologyParent issuesPregnanciesPsychologyRainRedemptionRelationshipsReligionRevengeSalvationSecrets
  • The episode's title references parent issues. (Parent issues)
  • Ethan pretended to be a passenger on Oceanic Flight 815. (Deceptions and cons)
  • When Jack is in Christian's office, Jack is wearing a white coat and Christian is wearing a black jacket. (Black and white)
  • Christian lied to Jack over the circumstances of the patient's death. (Deceptions and cons)
  • Charlie almost dies after being left by Ethan. (Life and death)
  • Charlie leaves the group 4 clues. (The Numbers)
  • Walt and Hurley play backgammon. (Games)
  • Walt blows on the dice 4 times before Hurley stops him. (The Numbers)
  • Jack argues with his father about Christian's judgment. Considered in context with information presented in previous and subsequent flashback story lines, it is questionable whether Jack was more concerned with doing the "right" thing by outing his father, or simply publicly demonstrating his ultimate victory over his father in terms of competence, the end result of a vulgar conflict begun when Jack was a child, seen in "White Rabbit", and developed to its utmost in "A Tale of Two Cities". (Parent issues)
  • Jack learns that the patient who died was in fact pregnant. (Pregnancies)  (Life and death)
  • Ethan attacks Jack in the rain. (Rain)
  • Locke correctly predicts when the rain will start. (Rain)
  • Kate tells Jack about a time that she spent 8 hours tracking a deer with her father. (The Numbers)

Cultural references

Cultural references
(direct references only)
ArtAutomobilesGamesHistoryLiterary worksMovies and TVMusicPhilosophyReligion and ideologiesScience
  • All the Best Cowboys Have Chinese Eyes: The title of the episode is an allusion to this album by rock star Pete Townshend. Specifically, this is a reference to a story inside the album jacket which tells a tale of leadership and sacrifice in a crisis. "A natural leader emerged...the most remarkable thing about him was his eyes...Somehow they arrived alive. Somehow they found the broken bottle trail without help. All stars, great and small, shine under God...All the best cowboys have Chinese eyes." (Music)  (Leadership)
  • Star Trek: Boone describes the origins and fates of the redshirts who traveled with Captain Kirk and Spock to Locke. Locke states that Captain Kirk is a poor captain; ironically, Locke's poor, self-centered leadership is to blame for Boone's death later this season in "Deus Ex Machina" and "Do No Harm", and the deaths of at least three others, seen in "The Shape of Things to Come". In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "The Pegasus", Terry O'Quinn plays a Star Fleet Admiral who, as a captain, suffered mutiny due to his poor leadership skills. (Movies and TV)
  • Fantasy Island: Sawyer calls Walt "Tattoo," after the dwarfed character on this American television series. Tattoo was the assistant of Mr. Roarke, who ran a magical resort on a mysterious island. (Movies and TV)
  • Hansel and Gretel: Jack, John, Boone and Kate follow Charlie's breadcrumbs. John marks the trees "Tie these off so we don't get lost." (Literary works)
  • VH1: Sawyer calls Charlie a "VH1 has-been," referring to the cable music television station. (Music)

Literary techniques

Literary techniques
ComparativeIronyJuxtapositionForeshadowing PlottingCliffhangerPlot twist Stock characters:  ArchetypeRedshirtUnseen character
Story:  FlashbacksFlash-forwardsFlash sidewaysFraming deviceRegularly spoken phrasesSymbolismUnreliable narrator 
  • When Shannon becomes worried about Boone not returning after the search for Claire and Charlie, Kate consoles her with the line, "If there's anyone on this island that your brother's safe with, it's Locke," who ultimately leads Boone to his death. (Irony)
  • Jack tried to save Beth with CPR, but failed; he miraculously managed to save Charlie. (Juxtaposition)
  • Jack went out to get Claire and Charlie back out of guilt for not believing her stories. Off the Island, Jack ratted out his father out of guilt about the dead patient and her unborn child. (Juxtaposition)
  • When Locke and Jack realize Ethan had taken Charlie and Claire, Jack asks "How can one man drag off two people?" whereas Locke asks "Not how, why?" Science answers how something happened; faith answers why something happened. This highlights Jack and Locke as a man of science and a man of faith, respectively. (Archetype)
  • When Walt wins $20,000 from Hurley in a game of backgammon, Hurley tells him "he'll get it [the money]," which foreshadows Hurley's lottery win in "Numbers". (Foreshadowing)
  • Boone tells the origin and fate of redshirts from Star Trek to Locke. (Redshirt)
  • While tracking Ethan with the intention of capturing or killing him, Locke encourages Jack to head back to the camp stating, "I don't want anything to happen to the only trained physician on the island." Ethan is also a trained physician. (Irony)
  • While talking with Walt, Sawyer sarcastically says, "So a tribe of evil natives planted a ringer in the camp to kidnap a pregnant girl and a reject from VH1 has-beens. Yeah, fiendishly clever." This is precisely what happened. (Irony)
  • Walt says to Sawyer, "It's stupid to lie about your name." Sawyer is lying about his name, and Walt will later be forced to lie about his name after leaving the Island. (Irony)
  • Locke and Boone discover a mysterious man-made structure on the Island. (Plot twist)  (Cliffhanger)
  • Boone asks Locke "are we lost?" to which Locke tells him they are not. However, they are actually lost on an island. (Irony)

Storyline analysis

Storyline analysis
  • Jack, Kate, Locke, Hurley and Boone organize a search party to rescue Charlie and Claire by following Ethan's tracks. (A-Missions)
  • Jack and Locke disagree on which path to take and how they should proceed with the search. Jack is also notably annoyed at Locke's decision to take a break. (Rivalries)
  • Locke tells Michael that he should form his own search party and head in the opposite direction. (Rivalries)
  • Ethan kidnaps Claire, beats Jack, and leaves Charlie hanging from a tree. (Crimes)

Episode connections

Episode references

Episode allusions


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