Danielle Rousseau was a woman of French origin who was shipwrecked on the Island with an expedition in 1988, seven months pregnant with her daughter, Alex. It was during this time that her team rescued Jin, who, as a result of the Island's move, was traveling through time. Shortly after Danielle gave birth, her daughter was taken away by Benjamin Linus, an Other. Rousseau lived alone for sixteen years, and over time became slightly disturbed due to her isolation. Following the crashing of their plane, Rousseau met and eventually joined the Flight 815 survivors, and finally reunited with her daughter. On 27 December 2004, while she, Alex, and Karl were traveling to the Temple, they were ambushed by Keamy and his mercenary team. Both Rousseau and Karl were shot dead. Her body was discovered by Miles as he, Sawyer, and Claire were going back to the beach.
In the afterlife, Danielle shared a happy, normal life with Alexandra, away from the Island. She eventually met Ben, who was now Alex's history teacher, and moved him by saying he was the closest thing to a father Alex ever had.
Before the Island
Danielle Rousseau, born in 1960, was implied to be born and raised in France. Whilst living in France, she had a relationship with a scientist named Robert. Together, they tried to have a family, and Danielle soon fell pregnant with her daughter, Alex. Along with her partner and four other scientists, she went on an expedition, which brought her to the island.
On the Island
Rousseau was a member of the six-person Bésixdouze expedition operating in the Pacific along with her lover Robert. The two were very much in love and Rousseau carried in her possession a music box he had once given to her. At this point in time, Danielle was seven months pregnant.
The ship was three days out of Tahiti when it picked up a transmission during the night. It was a voice repeating the Numbers; and they changed course to investigate. However, the instruments malfunctioned and a storm with strange sounds occurred. On the night of November 17, the ship slammed into rocks and ran aground - the hull breached beyond repair. As the crew headed to shore in an emergency raft, they saw a man floating on some debris in the water. They pulled the man into their raft and headed to shore where they made a shelter. There is some evidence from Rousseau's map to suggest that the camp was actually the second camp made on the Island, with the first being closer to the point where the ship ran aground. ("The Little Prince")
The next day, the team set out to search for the transmission source, with Jin in tow. Not long after, Nadine was killed in a sudden attack by the Monster, which latched onto Montand and attempted to pull him into a hole in the ground under the ruins of the Temple. Jin and the others grabbed his arm to pull him out, but the smoke pulled with such force that his arm was ripped from its socket and Montand disappeared into the hole.
Immediately, his voice began emanating from the depths, causing Robert, Brennan, and Lacombe to enter in search of him. Jin's last act before jumping to another time was to stop Danielle from following, reminding her of her pregnancy. ("This Place Is Death")
Two months later, Danielle had shot her colleagues Brennan and Lacombe, who apparently emerged from the hole "changed" in some way. Jin reemerged from the white light to witness her shoot Robert in a standoff, after Robert realized too late that she had removed the firing pin in his rifle. ("Solitary") She recognized Jin from her first day on the Island; from her point of view he simply "disappeared" in front of her.
She took aim at him, pursuing him into the jungle, believing he too was infected and an "Other." Jin was saved by another flash which took him to an unknown time period. ("This Place Is Death")
By 1988, Alex was born and living in a tent on a beach with her mother. However, Benjamin Linus, under orders from Charles Widmore, arrived one night to kill Danielle. He raised his gun, but stopped upon seeing her daughter. Ben instead took the baby with him, deciding to spare Danielle's life and told her that if she ever heard the whispers, she should run the other way. ("Dead Is Dead")
Rousseau's later story, some sixteen years on, is sketchy as to exact details; understandable given the extreme trauma that occurred and the length of time she subsequently spent alone. According to her, on the way back from the Black Rock, there was an as yet unexplained encounter. Danielle mysteriously says "It was them. They were the carriers. The Others." She believes that the other members of the team contracted the sickness from the Others. She later claimed that at least up to the time she had met Sayid, she had never seen one of the Others but only heard them as whispers in the jungle. Because of this, there is no way to know if what she calls the Others are the same as the people who DHARMA referred to as The Hostiles. She also may have believed Jin to be one of the Others. Given that he seemed to appear briefly and disappear again in front of her without any explanation, perhaps she later began to question if he had ever existed at all.
After returning to the shelter, some of the team continued to search for the meaning of the numbers while they waited for rescue. This is likely the partial source for what is known as Rousseau's map. But then, she says the sickness came. She says the sickness took them one after the other. She eventually killed Robert (who she claimed was sick) by removing the firing pin from his gun, then engaging him in a confrontation where she shot him dead.
Rousseau explained her motivations for killing the other members of the team as follows: "I had no choice. They were already lost. What would have happened if we were rescued? I couldn't let that happen. I won't."
She claims that after her team was all dead, she went back to the radio tower and changed the transmission. Three days later, she gave birth. The message left at the radio tower is not totally consistent with her story. The radio tower message suggests that another person (Brennan) was alive and had taken some keys. She also says that "it [or he] killed them all" and that "it [or he] was outside her location when she was recording her message." The message could refer to the Monster, as she seemed to believe it was responsible for making her team sick.
Rousseau claims that three days later she delivered her baby alone, which she named Alexandra. She says that she was together with the baby for a week before she saw a pillar of black smoke about five kilometers inland and on that night, her child was taken from her. She says the baby was taken by the Others, but she also has said that she had never seen one of them at that time and only knew them as whispers.
Rousseau continued living on the Island for over 16 years, before meeting Sayid after he was caught in a trap. At some point during their stay on the island, either Rousseau or other members of the French team attempted to map parts of the island. Rousseau is familiar with the "Monster", but calls it the security system, because that is what Robert called it, after he experienced time underneath the Temple. ("This Place Is Death") ("Exodus, Part 2")
Danielle claims that she has survived so long because of her policy of avoiding dangerous encounters with the various inhabitants of the island. ("Enter 77")
For the next sixteen years, Danielle survived alone in the jungle, in her dug-out shelter. She hunted and killed animals with traps that she had set around the island, such as boar, for her food source. ("Solitary")
Days 12–44 (Season 1)
Following the cable from the beach, Sayid stumbled into a snare trap set by Danielle, who subsequently takes him hostage. Initially suspecting he is an Other, Rousseau brings Sayid back to her camp. She ties him up and asks "Where is Alex?" in a variety of languages. When he denies knowing anything about this, she uses electricity to torture him.
After some time, Danielle begins to talk to Sayid, and tells him a number of things about her time on the Island. For instance, she tells him that the distress signal broadcasts from the radio tower, and that it is under the control of the Others (a strange thing to know, considering she also says she has never actually seen "them" only heard their whispers but another time says her team encountered them right before they became ill). When Sayid offers to repair her broken music box, Rousseau sedates him and moves him to a chair. After fixing the box, much to Rousseau's delight, animal noises can be heard from outside Rousseau's self-made bunker. As she goes to investigate, Sayid steals her maps and notes about the Island and escapes her capture. ("Solitary")
Also around this time, Danielle finds Claire delirious in the jungle. As Claire shouts for "Ethan," Rousseau realizes it is the Others, and pleads for Claire to be quiet. A struggle then begins and Claire badly scratches Danielle's arms. Knocking her unconscious, Danielle carries her back near the main survivors' camp, leaving her where she rightly believes she'll be easily found. ("Maternity Leave")
Back at the camp, Rousseau's notes attract Hurley's attention. He notices that written on them are the Numbers, and he treks into the jungle with the rest of the group who are after the batteries Rousseau has. Meeting up with each other, Rousseau agrees with Hurley's idea that the Numbers are cursed, as they are what brought her to the Island in the first place. Hurley then gives her a big hug. ("Numbers")
Rousseau later went to the Losties main camp, warning them about the pillar of black smoke and told them that it meant that Aaron would be kidnapped by the others. She then led a number of the survivors to the Black Rock in the hope they could use the dynamite within it to blow open the Hatch and hide inside. ("Exodus, Part 1")
Rousseau then returned to the beach camp, and kidnapped Aaron. She then headed across the Island. Both Charlie and Sayid find her, and she admits she thought she might be able to exchange Aaron for Alex, after hearing the whispers say they wanted "the boy" (though they in fact meant Walt all along). ("Exodus, Part 2")
Days 58–59 (Season 2)
Rousseau then disappeared for a while without meeting the survivors, and her actions between the forty-fourth day and the fifty-eighth day are unknown, however it's assumed she roamed the jungle searching for a new camp and checking her traps. On the fifty-eighth day, she contacted the survivors again after she caught an Other in one of these traps, Benjamin Linus (aka Henry Gale). She warned Sayid that Henry was one of them, and that he would lie for a long time. When Henry tried to escape, Danielle shot him in the back with a crossbow, and left him in Sayid's charge but not without warning him that this man will constantly lie. ("One of Them")
Only a couple of days later, Rousseau is sought out once more, this time by Claire, who is beginning to remember what happened to her while she was kidnapped. Believing Rousseau knows more than she actually does about the events, she tells Rousseau to take her back to "that place." Danielle believes she means the location where she found her, and takes her back there, along with Kate. Claire then manages to find the Staff station, where she had been held, and the three go inside. Neither Claire nor Danielle find what they were searching for, and Danielle is upset that she is still no closer to ever seeing her daughter. As Claire realized what actually happened, and how Danielle had actually saved her life, she reveals that the female Other who also helped her was probably the Alex Danielle lost 16 years ago. Danielle thanks Claire for telling her this, and returns to her home in the jungle. ("Maternity Leave")
Days 76–91 (Season 3)
Later, Kate goes looking for her, seeking her help in finding the Others' camp. When Rousseau asked why she should help, Kate mentioned how her escape from the Hydra was assisted by Alex, who Kate is sure is Rousseau's daughter. ("Tricia Tanaka Is Dead")
Danielle, along with Kate, Sayid, and Locke, venture out into the jungle to locate the Others' camp. During their journey, they encounter Mikhail Bakunin and the Flame station, which Danielle has never seen before. Whilst Kate, Sayid, and Locke decide to investigate, Danielle refuses to go along, stating that she has kept alive for sixteen years by avoiding such situations. She waits by a nearby stream until they have finished their search. When they return with Bakunin as a prisoner, she presses them to kill him because she doesn't trust him. However, Sayid refuses to do so. ("Enter 77")
Danielle continues to travel with the group, and at a rest stop by a stream, Kate asks Danielle why she isn't concerned with any details regarding her daughter. Danielle tells Kate that her daughter will not recognize her and that she may not even like what her daughter has become. Later, Danielle continues being wary of Bakunin, telling the others that whatever he says "will be a lie." En route to the barracks, Danielle discovers a series of metallic posts and alerts the others. After managing to scale the sonic security fence, Danielle and the others arrive at the outskirts of the barracks ("Par Avion")
After witnessing Jack playing football with Tom, she abandons the group without saying anything, but she remains hidden in the vicinity of the barracks. Later she silently witnesses Alex taking Locke to the submarine, but Alex doesn't see her. She then disappears and is nowhere to be seen when the Barracks are evacuated or when Juliet, Jack, Kate and Sayid leave the Barracks. ("The Man from Tallahassee") ("Left Behind")
Eight or nine days later, she briefly reappeared, entering the Black Rock while Locke was forcing a confrontation between Sawyer and Anthony Cooper in the ship's brig. Danielle stated that she was there for some dynamite, then took a crate and left, seemingly unconcerned with Locke's activities. ("The Brig")
The dynamite was for Jack, who had come to her for help after learning of the Others' plan to take the pregnant women. She helped him and the castaways to set up three booby-trapped tents, which they would detonate from afar when the Others went in. However, Danielle determined that they didn't have enough wire. They started to strip more from the plane wreckage, but the plan had to be scrapped when Karl arrived to warn that the Others would be coming sooner than expected. It was decided that three men - Sayid, Bernard and Jin - would stay behind to detonate the explosives by shooting them.
Meanwhile, Danielle would lead Jack and the rest to the radio tower and disable her distress signal, which would allow Naomi to contact her ship with the satellite phone and bring rescue to the island. ("Greatest Hits")
Danielle led the group up to the radio tower, and on the way met her daughter, Alex. She communicated with her for the first time, and Alex herself seemed curious about her. The two tied Ben up together, and headed on to the radio tower. Danielle stated earlier to Jack that she would help them find rescue, but would not be leaving herself. The Island is the only place she knows, and is her home. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
Days 91–98 (Season 4)
Worried for Alex's safety, Ben asked Danielle to take her far away, so that whatever was coming to the island wouldn't harm her. Danielle punched Ben in the face when he referred to Alex as his "daughter" and ignored his plea. Later, when Naomi managed to escape into the jungle, Jack asked Danielle to help him track her down. Danielle followed a trail of blood that Naomi had left behind, only to realize that Naomi had tricked her, and that the blood stains were a dummy-trail to throw off any trackers. When the camp was forced to take sides over whom to follow—Jack or Locke—Danielle chose to join Locke's side. ("The Beginning of the End")
Danielle, along with the rest of Locke's group, encountered Charlotte Lewis, a member of freighters who had just parachuted onto the island. Ben tried to kill her, and in response Locke threatened to kill Ben. Danielle tried to shield a protestant Alex from her adoptive father's impending death, but Locke spared his life anyway. ("Confirmed Dead")
Danielle continued to aid Locke in his efforts to remain on the island, including helping him capture Sayid. While taking Sayid to a holding room, she told him that holding him captive in the rec room was nothing personal. Claire said she also saw her taking Ben into Locke's basement at the Barracks. ("The Economist") ("Eggtown")
Rousseau was present at Locke's meeting where, after Ben's release, he implored Alex, along with Danielle and Karl, to flee the Barracks and head for the Temple, as he was certain Alex will be killed if they remain. Danielle seemed somewhat suspicious of Ben's plan, but after some thought, agreed with Ben's assessment. She assured Alex they had to go. While traveling to the "sanctuary," they took a break. Rousseau began to suspect someone was approaching just before Karl was shot. Danielle told Alex, who was crying over Karl's body, that they needed to run, and that he was "gone." They prepared to flee after the count of three, but as soon as Danielle stood up, she was shot in the side and killed instantly. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
After Rousseau and Karl were both shot, the mercenaries who attacked them lead Alex back to the Barracks, in the hope of using her to lure Ben out of hiding. While Keamy stood with a gun pointed at Alex, communicating with Ben via walkie as he watched through a window, Alex told her father, "They're serious, they killed Karl and my mother." In a bid to save his daughter's life, Ben attempted to prove to Keamy that Alex meant nothing to him. He recalled the story of how she isn't his daughter, and how he "stole her as a baby from an insane woman." Nonetheless, Keamy shot Alex, killing her. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
Rousseau's fate, however, remained unknown until Sawyer, Claire and Miles were trekking back from the Barracks to the beach camp and they passed the clearing where Rousseau and Karl were shot. Miles began hearing screams and echoes and mysteriously asked who Danielle and Karl were.
Three years later, Aldo, Justin, Jin and Kate encountered traps in the jungle that Jin speculated to be Danielle's. The Others discounted there being any left. As it was revealed later, the traps were left by Claire. ("What Kate Does") Either Danielle or Alex was a candidate, as the name "Rousseau" was one of the crossed out candidate names seen on Jacob's cave and lighthouse. ("The Substitute") ("Lighthouse")
In the flash sideways world, Rousseau lived in Los Angeles alongside her daughter Alex. She mentions that Alex's father (presumably still Robert) died when Alex was 2, although his cause of death in this world is unknown. After Ben (Alex's European History teacher in this world) was attacked by Desmond, Alex insisted that he not drive home because of his injuries. She offered a ride home courtesy of her mother, Danielle. Alex then asked her if Ben could stay over for dinner, to which Danielle accepted joyfully. After dinner, Danielle told Ben that Alex thought of Ben as a father figure due to their very cordial relationship at school. It was implied that she and Ben were attracted to each other. ("What They Died For")
The older Rousseau, as played by Croatian actress Mira Furlan, spoke with a strange French accent, and at times speaks French poorly. For instance, she mispronounced le territoire foncé (Dark Territory). The word foncé includes acute accent and the é is pronounced [e], but Rousseau pronounced the word as if the é were silent. A native French speaker would never make such an error.
Territoire foncé was also an inaccurate translation of "dark territory"; the French equivalent would instead be territoire sombre (a phrasing used in the French-dubbed version of the show). Foncé means "dark" only when referring to a color tone (e.g., bleu foncé = dark blue), and never refers to the figurative meaning of the word. This was not a mistake that a native-speaker, and especially a trained scientist like Rousseau, would make.
The voice heard on the distress signal was that of a native French speaker and was not Mira Furlan's. However, since the characters who heard both the radio transmission and Rousseau (Sayid, Sawyer, Shannon and Hurley) didn't seem to be intrigued by this detail, it may be considered irrelevant. The voice on the transmission appeared on the show before Furlan actually appeared, so it was likely a production error. However, it would be a fair assumption that her voice would change somewhat in the 16 years since the transmission was recorded.
When Rousseau first arrived on the Island, she was depicted as a caring and compassionate woman, evident in her treating the wounded Jin despite her team's distrust of him. However, due to the circumstances that befell her following her arrival on the Island, namely shooting her lover, losing her week-old-daughter and spending the next sixteen years in isolation, her demeanor and attitude changed dramatically. She became distrustful of any foreign party (Sayid, the Kahana crew) and stayed alive by avoiding them. Her only drive and ambition was to recover her daughter, Alexandra Rousseau, but she later confessed that she was apprehensive about meeting a daughter she had never known. When Rousseau finally reunited with Alex, she was protective of her, deciding to take her to the Temple at Ben's request so that she could be safe. Rousseau's last words to her daughter were that she loved her, and ultimately, Rousseau died for her.
In the flash-sideways timeline, Rousseau was once again the kind and caring woman she was when she arrived on the Island. Having raised Alex from birth, she was no longer obsessed with reuniting with her, and was thus no longer disturbed or insane.
- Danielle's total episode count is 26.
- Rousseau has met all of the main characters, except for Boone, Libby, Eko, Daniel, Richard, Ilana, Lapidus, Pierre, Christian, Penny and Eloise.
- Jean-Jacques Rousseau is the name of a French philosopher.
- This man is likely Rousseau's namesake as she was a very independent character, living by herself on the island for much of the series. Jean-Jacques Rousseau believed in Social Contract Theory that government restricted man from their full potential.
- Henri Rousseau was a French painter whose paintings depicted jungle scenes.
- Daniel LaRusso is the name of Ralph Macchio's character in The Karate Kid.
- In French dub, Rousseau is said to be German, which creates some continuity errors, notably with the song "La Mer" and her name.
- Both of the actresses who portray Rousseau have the initials M.F. In fact, both actresses' first names start with the letter "M", and end with the letter "A", while both of their last names have "F" as the first letter, "R" as the third letter, "A" as the fifth letter, and "N" as the sixth letter.
- Among the names written in the lighthouse Rousseau is number 20. It remains unclear if this refers to this Rousseau or another.
- She, Carmen Reyes and Nadia have appeared in every season without ever being a main character.
- Her story causes some potential inconsistencies with the estimated date of the Purge. Assuming the Purge was in 1992, Danielle would have coexisted on the island with the DHARMA Initiative for about four years. It would also have been unexplained how she survived the toxic gas attack that struck the island when The Others destroyed DHARMA, or how she could have tampered with the DHARMA radio tower while they where still using it for the transmission of the numbers. But, assuming the Purge was in 1987 (or some other point before 1988), the timeline provided by Danielle is more believable.
- Witnesses of death: Alex, Several Soldiers
- Last words: "He's gone! Listen to me... I need you to take my hand, on the count of 3, we're going to run. Can you do that with me? I love you... I love you very much, Alexandra. Are you ready? One... Two... THREE!"
- Melissa Farman plays the role of young Rousseau in "The Little Prince", "This Place Is Death" and "Dead Is Dead". In the official press release for "The Little Prince", she was only credited as "young Frenchwoman" as to not reveal her identity.