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Viewers of Lost have formulated many fan theories. Often, these are meant to explain the many unusual occurrences seen upon show. Others are used to understand the underlying literary intent of the show's creators. For details on what constitutes a theory, in contrast to canon, see LostPedia's theory policy.
Literary interpretation and television
Literature has been interpreted in many different ways since the earliest parts of history. Television ranks as one of the most popular art forms today, and interpretation of televised media is widely practised. Modern shows, such as LOST, can invoke a plethora of different responses from viewers because of the elaborate layers of exposition woven through the show. Additionally, much modern television allows for deliberate degrees of "uncertainty," intended to intrigue and often confuse the viewer about aspects of plot, character intention, and moral themes. LOST not only does this well, but arguably does it better than any other U.S. show currently in production. As a result, a huge fan following on the internet and elsewhere has formed dedicated to the interpretation of LOST. Topics range from devices used to explain the numerous peculiarities of plot, to discussions of theology as exposed in the show, to discussions regarding the show's commentary on modern culture, literature, science, and religion.
Fans have produced a large body of theories either intended to "fill in the gaps" or guide the understanding of the show. While they can differ wildly, it is possible to sort them into several broad groupings based upon their fundamental appeal.
Most prominent amongst these theories are those used to explain the strange occurrences seen upon the show. Some argue that the world seen in the show is existentially different from our world such as that a scientific experiment opened a mystical Pandora's Box or the (probably most popular) theory that the show depicts characters in Purgatory or somehow "between places".
Other theories seek to explain the show by a psychological appeal, usually maintaining that either the events on the Island or those in flashback (or sometimes both) are inherently deceptive. Notable in this category are the concept that the Island is an ongoing social experiment or that the show occurs within a dreamstate or hallucination.
Still, other viewers believe that the show occurs in a world much akin to ours,and that the exposition of the show is inherently truthful, but that much remains to be revealed before an understanding of the show can be achieved. Examples include the idea that the survivors signed up for the island or that the events on the show are a result of Y2K.
Some theories may use a direct appeal to a literary device as a fundamental facet of the show, or maintain that LOST is broadly an archetype or allusion to another work of literature or mythology. The theory that the Island is allegorically the Garden of Eden or that each character must reach an inner peace to be complete are examples of this theory.
Parodies and others
A sharp fanaticism from many LOST viewers has inspired a certain degree of cynicism regarding the interpretation of the show. Many humorous theories have been created as a response. These often fail to reasonably explain the show, but are capable of producing many laughs.
Similarly, a number of other theories have developed, usually relating to specific parts of the show. These theories are not as broad as the others seen here, but often inspire an equally fervent discussion amongst viewers.