"Flashback" redirects here. For the magazine issue, see Flashback (magazine).

In literature, film, television and other media, a flashback (also called analepsis) is an interjected scene that takes the narrative back in time from the current point the story has reached. Flashbacks are often used to recount events that happened prior to the story’s primary sequence of events or to fill in crucial backstory. In the opposite direction, a flashforward (or prolepsis) reveals events that will occur in the future. The technique is used to create suspense in a story or develop a character. In literature, internal analepsis is a flashback to an earlier point in the narrative; external analepsis is a flashback to before the narrative started.

Flashbacks are a major part of how Lost tells its story. They are one of the major components that makes it such a unique and distinctive television program compared to other TV shows. Each main character has been featured in one or multiple flashbacks that portray what happened in their life before being stranded on the Island.

Main format[]

In general, each episode's flashbacks follow these norms:

General exceptions[]

  • The episode "The Other 48 Days" was the first episode to take place entirely in flashback - it follows the Tailies from the crash up until they reach Sayid and Shannon, and had screen titles indicating "Day X".
  • The flashbacks in "Maternity Leave" are signalled differently. Instead of a close-up of the character and the "whoosh" sound, Claire's flashbacks begin with sudden flashes of mental images as her memory is jogged followed by the sound of an alarm outside of The Staff. Additionally, her flashbacks are from her time on the Island, specifically during her kidnapping.
  • The "flashbacks" in "Three Minutes", while narratively similar, do not contain the "whoosh" sound, are labelled with captions (like "Thirteen days earlier") and occur on the Island.
  • Charlotte, Libby, Frank, Ilana and Walt are the only main characters who did not get their own flashback episodes, although they had minor point-of-view (POV) flashbacks and have appeared in other people's flashbacks.
  • Rose and Bernard were the first guest stars to get a flashback episode. ("S.O.S.")
  • Desmond's flashbacks in "Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1" were the first from a character who was not on board Flight 815.
  • In "Flashes Before Your Eyes" Desmond relives events of his past, aware that the events have already happened. Even though one could say he is aware it is a flashback, that's not precisely the case: he is aware it is his past, but even those events were part of a larger flashback segment which included the scene in the Hatch when Desmond switches the failsafe key and the scene when he is alone in the jungle, which take place before and after his "conscious flashback", respectively. The only actual difference between this flashback and the main format flashbacks is that this one is continuous, instead of intercut with on-island scenes as usual.
  • Nikki and Paulo's flashbacks in "Exposé" had both off island and on island segments, and had "X days ago" titles.
  • Juliet's final flashback in "One of Us" did not feature the usual "whooshing" noise since it occurred a long time after the crash of Flight 815.
  • Daniel, Charlotte, Miles & Frank were never on the plane but they had flashbacks nonetheless which take place after the crash, but before they got to the Island. ("Confirmed Dead")
  • When Naomi had a flashback she was already dead. ("Confirmed Dead")
  • Desmond's flashes in "The Constant" are similar to his flashes in "Flashes Before Your Eyes" in that they have to do with his consciousness moving through time. However, he is aware that they are happening, and when he returns to the present, it's as if no time has passed at all. ("The Constant")
  • "Ji Yeon" was the first episode to feature both flashbacks and flash-forwards intertwined.
  • "Dave", "Ab Aeterno" and "Across the Sea" are the only episodes to end on flashbacks.

Multiple characters[]

Most flashbacks are from the POV of one character. For instance, while the "Hearts and Minds" flashbacks feature Shannon, they are clearly Boone's flashbacks, from his POV. There have been some exceptions to this rule:

Temporal exceptions[]

For the first two seasons, most flashbacks took place before the plane crash. However, there are some exceptions:

  • Two brief flashbacks to the crash aftermath appear in "Walkabout".
  • "The Other 48 Days" showed the events of the first 48 days of the Tailies on the Island.
  • "Maternity Leave" occurred on day 57 on the Island. The flashbacks occurred around Day 16-17.
  • In "Three Minutes", the flashbacks covered what Michael was doing in the last half of Season 2.
  • In "Flashes Before Your Eyes" Desmond flashes back to the Swan discharge during which his consciousness time travels back to 1996 and he is able to relive a part of his life while able to make subtle changes, but prevented from changing his ultimate fate.
  • Nikki and Paulo's flashbacks in "Exposé" had both off island and on island segments.
  • Some of Juliet's flashbacks in "One of Us" occurred during or after the plane crash.
  • Locke's flashbacks in "The Brig" showed what Locke was doing with the Others the week before he returned to find Sawyer.
  • "Confirmed Dead" contained flashbacks of Daniel, Charlotte, Miles, Frank and Naomi, taking place after the plane crash.
  • "Meet Kevin Johnson" contained a flashback showing what Michael had been doing after he left the island.
  • "The Lie" contained a brief flashback from the perspective of Hugo of the Oceanic Six devising their plan.
  • "Jughead" contained a brief flashback from the perspective of Desmond showing the birth of his son, Charlie.
  • "The Little Prince" contained a brief flashback from the perspective of Kate showing how she came into care of Aaron.
  • "316" contained flashbacks of Jack's journey back to the Island.
  • "The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham" contained flashbacks of Locke's time off the island as Jeremy Bentham.
  • "He's Our You" contained flashbacks of Sayid's life after he left the island, as did "Whatever Happened, Happened" for Kate.
  • "Dead Is Dead" contained flashbacks on and off the island from Ben's viewpoint.
  • "The Incident, Parts 1 & 2" contained brief flashbacks focusing on the characters of Kate, Sawyer, Sun, Jin, Jack, Ilana, Locke, Sayid, Hurley and Juliet in different points in their lives (featuring the respective character meeting Jacob, with the exception of Juliet's flashback) and a flashback from Jacob's POV showing the Island in the 19th century.

Continuous flashes[]

List of Flashbacks[]


  • Occasionally flashbacks open up with a character other than the centric character. Examples of this include the Emily Locke scenes at the start of "Cabin Fever", the Frank Lapidus scene at the start of "The Lie" and the appearance of Claudia in "Across the Sea". These flashbacks however do contain the centric character and advance their story, thus counting as their flashbacks.
  • Sometimes the first lines spoken at the start of a flashback make an indirect reference to something that had just occurred in the present, or vice versa.

See also[]