Sometimes, characters fulfill a role opposite from an earlier one. Other times, they reverse roles with a specific other character.
Becoming the enemy
Similar to role reversal, several characters transform into figures they once despised.
- James sought revenge against the original Sawyer. He ended up taking on Sawyer's name and running the same con he had pulled. He even became responsible for orphaning a child. ("The Moth") ("The Candidate")
- Jack became a drunkard and an irresponsible surgeon like the father he had once reported. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues") ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- The Man in Black hated the Island and wanted to leave, but he took on the form of Locke, who loved it and wanted to stay. ("LA X, Part 1")
- Danielle lost her baby to a kidnapper and spent years wishing revenge. She ended up kidnapping a baby herself. ("This Place Is Death") ("Exodus, Part 1")
- Claire, in turn, feared and despised Rousseau. Years later though, she too became a jungle woman who set deadly traps and searched for her lost baby. ("Exodus, Part 1") ("Lighthouse")
- The Man in Black rejected his Mother, yet he later agreed to her dark view on humanity. ("Across the Sea")
Characters occasionally make use of traits they once regretted.
- Jin spent much of his life being ashamed of being a fisherman's son, only to find that fishing makes him a valuable provider on the Island. ("...In Translation")
- Locke's missing kidney saved him from bleeding to death. ("Confirmed Dead")
- Mikhail told Locke, Kate and Sayid that their flaws kept them off Jacob's list. They later learned that their flaws put them on Jacob's more important list - his list of candidates. ("Enter 77") ("What They Died For")
Ironic plot development
Many characters on Lost have suffered ironic deaths. These deaths appear ironic in various ways, sometimes poetically just, sometimes obeying karmic retribution and often following dramatically ironic statements.
Though the Island gave some people a fresh start, characters often found themselves repeating parts of their lives they sought to escape.
- Kate, who was 'born to run', crashed on the Island, where she had nowhere to run. ("Tabula Rasa")
- Sayid, who regretted torture, had to exploit his skill on the island. He later found himself drawn into a full-time life of murder. ("Solitary") ("The Economist")
- Claire boarded a plane in order to give up her baby, only to be stranded on an island where she has no choice but to raise it as her own. ("Raised by Another")
- Boone survived one plane crash only to die in another less than a month later. ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Locke escaped a life of sitting at a cubicle, only to end up a slave to 'the button' in the Swan. After escaping life in a wheelchair, he became a slave to another wheeled chair. ("Walkabout") ("Adrift")
- Hurley won millions in the Mega Lotto Jackpot and ended up on the Island, where money had no value. ("Numbers")
- Just after Charlie and Hurley kicked their respective addictions, the island taunted them with additional temptation - a plane full of heroin, the Swan pantry and a second cache of food. ("Lockdown") ("Everybody Hates Hugo") ("Dave")
- Ana Lucia survived being strangled by Ben, only to be shot by Michael later that same day. ("Collision") ("Two for the Road")
- Michael's wrecked raft took him right back to the island he tried to leave. ("Adrift")
- Jack frequently had to use his medical skills, most notably on Ben, whom he despised. ("The Cost of Living")
- Locke spent much of his life trying to break from his father's influence but met him again on the Island. ("The Man from Tallahassee")
- Frank overslept and missed flying Oceanic 815. He ended up on the island regardless - twice. ("Confirmed Dead") ("316")
- Though he learned English, Jin met the science expedition, another group of survivors that didn't understand him. ("The Little Prince")
- The Oceanic 6 left the island but eventually returned. ("316")
- Desmond promised Penny he would never leave her to go back to the island, but he was taken back very soon after. ("The Package")
- Jin survived the raft and the Kahana's explosions, but a bomb exploded on his submarine too. ("The Candidate")
At other times, characters ironically succeed at endeavors, though not as they originally planned.
- Locke was denied admission on an "authentic aboriginal walkabout tour", only to land on the Island and engage in a similar experience. ("Walkabout")
- Jin followed a woman in orange, noting a prophecy to find true love. She wasn't his true love, but in the process, he found Sun. ("...And Found")
- Bernard took Rose to an Australian faith healer. The trip failed, but it led them to the Island, which healed Rose. ("S.O.S.")
- Jack, like many Americans, traveled to Phuket to "find himself". He failed in this, but he ended up on a different beach on a different island, where he truly did discover his destiny. ("Stranger in a Strange Land")
- Sawyer failed on a mission to find and kill the original Sawyer. He immediately crashed on the Island. The original Sawyer ended up there with him. ("The Brig")
Sometimes, characters' attempts to succeed assured their failure.
- Boone, by trying to save Joanna, prevented Jack from saving her. ("White Rabbit")
- Jin worked for Mr. Paik to keep Sun, but his work drove them apart. ("...In Translation")
- Hurley played the lottery to improve his life, and he even won. His grandfather then died, lightning struck the priest at his funeral, his brother Diego's wife left him for a woman, his new home caught fire, his mother broke her ankle before seeing the new home and Hurley was wrongly arrested as a drug dealer. ("Numbers")
- The DHARMA Initiative researched on the Island to prevent the end of the world. Their experiments in The Swan tapped into an electromagnetic pocket that had the power to destroy the world. (Sri Lanka Video) ("Man of Science, Man of Faith")
- Locke helped Charlie stay off drugs but later led him again to addiction by uncovering the Beechcraft and approaching Claire. ("The Hunting Party")
- Bernard built the SOS sign, only to learn he and Rose had the most to lose if they left. ("S.O.S.")
- Hurley tried to arrange the perfect date for Libby, but the date caused her death. ("Two for the Road")
- Jin spared Jae Lee's life, but his compassion guilted Jae into killing himself. ("The Glass Ballerina")
- Sun borrowed money to spare Jin the shame of knowing his mother was a prostitute. In payment, he had to carry out far more immoral tasks for her father. ("D.O.C.")
- Their resulting estrangement drove Sun into the arms of another man, which made her father brand her a whore and shamed Jin, yet again, without his knowledge. ("The Glass Ballerina")
- Nikki ran to the beach for help, and they buried her. Had she slept in the jungle, she'd have survived. ("Exposé")
- Desmond tried repeatedly to save Charlie's life. By refusing, over Charlie's objections, to take Mikhail prisoner, he indirectly caused Charlie's death. ("D.O.C.") ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- Kate snuck an audience with Miles to learn if she could safely leave the Island without fearing the law. She learned she couldn't, but her plan convinced Locke to exile her from the Barracks, ultimately leading to her leaving the Island. ("The Economist")
- Michael killed Ana-Lucia and Libby for Walt's sake, but the two became estranged when Walt learns of the act. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- Locke led a group to the Barracks to save them from the mercenary team, who then stormed the Barracks, not the beach. Several of Locke's group died. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
- Six of the Losties arrived on the freighter looking for safety. It was rigged with explosives, putting them in even greater danger. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1")
- Jin gave Locke his wedding ring to convince Sun that he was dead. Ben used it to convince Sun that Jin is alive. ("This Place Is Death")
- The Oceanic Six struggled to leave the Island, but once they did, their lives worsened. ("316")
- They then returned to help those they left behind, only to ruin the lives of their friends, who were now living happily. ("LaFleur")
- Sayid tried to kill young Ben. This ultimately turned him into the man he became: Sayid's enemy. ("Whatever Happened, Happened")
- The Others stored Jughead in their most secure place - a deep underground tunnel. The DHARMA built their barracks right on top of it, risking the core's detonation years later. ("Follow the Leader")
- Kate went back to the Barracks to rescue her friends, but instead was captured herself. ("Follow the Leader")
- Juliet had been brought to the Island to study or cure the pregnancy problems that occurred since the Incident. She ended up unwittingly contributing to the Incident. The other survivors did as well - and they had been trying to prevent it. ("The Incident, Parts 1 & 2")
- The Temple Others tried to heal Sayid in the spring. They drowned him. ("LA X, Part 2")
- The Man in Black hoped to use Desmond to put out the Light so he could be free from the Island, but it made him mortal again, letting Jack and Kate kill him before the Island was destroyed. ("The End")
Though the songs in Lost often suit the scene, they sometimes deliberately conflict with the current action.
- Season 2 opens with Desmond in the hatch, listening to a song which inspires the listener to "sing [their] own special song", while Desmond is a prisoner of the Swan and its protocol. ♪ ("Man of Science, Man of Faith")
- Juliet listens to a song about urban life while she's trapped on the Island. The song also plays before she leaves for the Island. ♪ ("A Tale of Two Cities") ("One of Us")
- When Michael attempts his automotive suicide, an optimistic song is playing. ♪ ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- After the Smoke Monster ravages the temple, Kate, Claire, and Sayid stroll through the carnage and destruction while Claire's singing of an innocent lullaby plays creepily in the background. ♪ ("Sundown")
The sentiments that characters express often appear ironic when we know things that they don't. We sometimes only realize these words' irony in hindsight.
- Jack told Rose not to worry about turbulence. Their plane crashed. Later, he reintroduced himself by saying: "I'm the guy who told you not to worry about the turbulence." ("Pilot, Part 1") ("Walkabout")
- Kate told Shannon, "If there's anyone on this island that your brother's safe with, it's Locke." Similarly, in a flash sideways, Boone told Locke, "If this plane goes down, I'm sticking with you." Locke actually led Boone to his death. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues") ("Deus Ex Machina") ("LA X, Part 1") Boone in the flash sideways timeline also joked that Locke was "pulling his leg." Jack came close to amputating Boone's leg. ("LA X, Part 1") ("Do No Harm") Boone's later actions suggest he remembered his life and purposely spoke ironically. ("The End")
- Walt told Sawyer, "It's stupid to lie about your name", talking about Ethan. Sawyer had been lying about his name for years. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues") Walt himself would later use a false name. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- Locke told Boone the captain on Star Trek was "piss-poor" because his redshirt-wearing men always died on missions. Boone later died on a mission with Locke. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues") ("Deus Ex Machina")
- Christian Shephard said to Sawyer, "These bastards think Americans can't hold their liquor." An alcohol-induced heart attack killed him soon after. ("Outlaws")
- Locke said that none of the survivors would deliberately hinder an attempt to get off the Island. Later, he blew up a station, a submarine and even killed to keep them on the Island. ("...In Translation")
- Arzt lectured about the dangers of dynamite. He died in a explosion while mishandling dynamite. ("Exodus, Part 1")
- A flight attendant told Hurley it was "his lucky day" when he managed to board Oceanic 815 at the last second. The plane crashed. ("Exodus, Part 2")
- Sawyer told Ana Lucia that he, Michael and Jin were "about to be the best thing that ever happened to you." Michael later killed Ana Lucia. ("Orientation") ("Two for the Road")
- Rose told Hurley, when speaking of Shannon, "Poor thing, it can't be easy losing the one person you love on the Island." Her own husband was missing, and Hurley presumed him dead. ("Abandoned")
- Liam told Charlie he'd be the one to settle down with a family. Liam actually raised a family, while Charlie turned to drugs. ("One of Them")
- Jack told Kate the Others wanted neither of them. Actually, they wanted them both and later kidnapped them. ("S.O.S.")
- Rose told Bernard on their honeymoon that she'd rather have spent it together on a beach than in the Australian desert. They each then crashed on to a beach, but they spent a month and a half apart. ("S.O.S.")
- Eddie Colburn believed Locke planned to blow something up. He was wrong, but Locke later blew up the Hatch, the Swan, the Flame and the Galaga. ("Further Instructions")
- Juliet joked that she could only leave Edmund Burke's lab is if a bus ran him over. Later on, a bus ran over him. ("Not in Portland")
- Charlie sang the line "Maybe... you're gonna be the one that saves me..." to Desmond, who later saved him, repeatedly. In the same scene, he said, "This is why we don't do drugs." He later became a heroin addict. ("Flashes Before Your Eyes") Another time, Charlie incorrectly sang the "Itsy Bitsy Spider"'s lyrics as "drowned the spider out." Charlie eventually drowned. ("The Greater Good") ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- Nikki, clearing evidence after murdering Zuckerman, said, "Let's not poison ourselves." She and Paulo ended up poisoning themselves. ("Exposé")
- Kate advised Cassidy to call the police and have Sawyer locked up. She and Sawyer later ended up stranded on the same island and had a relationship. ("Left Behind")
- Anthony Cooper told Sawyer "Don't tell me I'm your daddy." He wasn't, but Anthony Cooper was in some ways more of a father to Sawyer than to Locke, even lending him his name. ("The Brig")
- Charlie said "so much for fate" when about to stop the jamming signals, thinking that despite Desmond's predictions, he didn't have to die. Shortly after, he drowned. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- Jack told Kate he was tired of lying. He forced the group to lie. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
- Miles explained Naomi's coded distress phrase by saying, "Jack would say, tell my sister that I love her" if under duress. Jack actually did have a sister. ("Confirmed Dead")
- Naomi told Matthew Abaddon some of the science team would likely die despite her protection. All survived their initial mission, but Naomi died. ("Confirmed Dead")
- Sayid said that the day he trusted Ben would be the day that he sold his soul. He ended up spending years working for Ben. ("The Economist")
- Elsa expressed disappointment that she wasn't the reason Sayid stayed in Berlin. She was the reason, but not in the way she thought. ("The Economist")
- Kate preferred not to take Aaron in her arms, saying she would do a terrible job in raising a baby. Claire joked that Kate should try motherhood sometime. In the future, Kate would not only have a son, she actually ended up raising that same child that sparked the conversation. ("Eggtown")
- Daniel laughed off Desmond's suggestions that he may one day forget their meeting. Daniel later suffered from memory loss. ("The Constant")
- Frank talked to Michael about the possibility of Flight 815 survivors. Michael was himself one of those survivors. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- Sayid scolded Michael for working for Ben. Sayid later worked for Ben as well. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- Jin told Sun that she would never lose him. In a flashforward, we see that he is either dead or left behind. ("Ji Yeon")
- Carole Littleton complimented Kate about her baby, without realizing that he was her own grandson. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 1")
- Neil complained about Bernard's incapability of creating fire, just before being shot with a flaming arrow. ("The Lie")
- Jones told Richard the "sodding old man" couldn't track him and knew less about the Island than him. In reality, Locke was an expert tracker with a unique connection to the Island. ("Jughead")
- Ben commented that "I've found sometimes that friends can be significantly more dangerous than enemies, John." He was unknowingly addressing The Man in Black who had taken the form of Ben's quasi-ally Locke. ("Dead Is Dead")
- Sawyer mocked Hurley's fear that someone would ask him the president's name. Later though, someone would ask him just that. ("Namaste") ("Follow the Leader")
- Widmore asked why Daniel's body looks "so familiar" to him. Charles not only met Daniel 20 years earlier - he was also his father. ("Follow the Leader")
- When Sun asks Ben what happened to the rest of the statue, Ben replies that he doesn't know and that it was like that when he first arrived on the Island. She asks if he expects her to believe that and he replies, "Not really." ("The Incident, Part 2") But we later learn that, for once, he was telling the truth. ("Ab Aeterno")
- The Man in Black derided Locke for "shouting at the world for telling him what he couldn't do". Later though, he shouted at Jacob's ghost with these words. ("LA X, Part 2") ("The Substitute")
- Jack told Hurley that he didn't want children and that he would "make a terrible father." Then in a flash-sideways, he created David, with whom he desperately wanted a relationship. ("Lighthouse")
- Jin promised Sun they would never again be apart. They died the next day. Together. ("The Last Recruit")
- Hurley expressed relief at not being the candidate who became the Island's protector. The following day, Jack passed the job on to him. ("What They Died For")
- The Others held kidnappings to improve people's lives but do not hesitate to kill anyone that impedes them in achieving their goals.
- Ethan kidnapped Claire to try to save her from death but killed Scott and almost killed Charlie to do that.
- The Others kidnapped several Tailies so they had a better life but ordered Goodwin to kill Nathan.
- The Others kidnapped Alex, who was given a home, but wanted to kill her boyfriend Karl.
- In an act where he protects the Island, Mikhail kills Bea Klugh.
- So that Jack could complete the surgery, Juliet did not hesitate to kill Danny Pickett.
- Ben chose to kill many people to further their plans, among them Jin, Sayid, Bernard, Charlie, Greta and Bonnie.
- On meeting, both the Losties (Sawyer, Jin and Michael) and the Tailies believe the other party to be "The Others". ("Orientation")
- Libby told the group that Nathan always dodged about himself, but Libby was definitely the one who always dodged. She dodged about her past to Hurley, and she even made up things like saying Hurley had stepped on her foot on the plane, in order to prevent Hurley remembering her and knowing her past. ("The Other 48 Days") ("Three Minutes")
- Sawyer tells Jack he loves Kate. Kate and Jack kiss minutes later. ("What Kate Did")
- Jack tells his wife the truth about the kiss between him and another woman, thinking that a bit of honesty might help an already failing marriage. Jack indeed says that he will "fix this". On the contrary, his wife was cheating on him all along, and she is ultimately the one who leaves him. ("The Hunting Party")
- Charlie refuses to give Ana Lucia the gun because the last time she used one, she murdered someone. However, this is also true for Charlie, as, excluding "Exodus, Part 1" where he did not use his gun, he murdered Ethan the last time he handled a gun. ("The Whole Truth")
- One of the stations' names is The Flame. It ultimately blows up in flames. ("Enter 77")
- Mikhail was extremely reverent of Him, but the philosopher from which he derives his name would have been indifferent. Philosopher Mikhail Bakunin rejected all forms of authority, even God himself. ("Par Avion")
- Locke, who was previously in a wheelchair, meets Ben, his 'enemy', who ultimately ends up in a wheelchair. ("The Man from Tallahassee")
- Anthony Cooper discovers James Ford used his alias on "some kind of revenge kick." It turns out the name Cooper used, Tom Sawyer, was also taken from the character by the same name, and is not his real name either. ("The Brig")
- After the purge, Richard asks Ben if he wants them to retrieve his father's body, but Ben declines his offer probably because Ben had come to hate his father so much that he did not think he deserved an actual grave, but because of his decision, Hurley later finds the van and uses it to kill people from Ben's group and rescue Jin, Bernard, and Sawyer. ("The Man Behind the Curtain") ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- Ben kills his father on purpose after years of his father blaming him for accidentally killing his mother. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
- Ben hands Alex the gun she gave to Locke so he could protect himself, and with which he shot Locke; she accepts it with a bloodied hand, and soon passes it to Karl to use against the Others to help the Losties. ("Greatest Hits")
- Throughout season three, Charlie never knows how he is going to die, so Desmond must save him, since he can do nothing to prevent it; yet when he finally does know when and how he will die, he chooses to accept it instead of saving himself. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- The survivors are said to have a 'fresh start' on the Island. However, the Others have detailed files documenting the survivors' lives before the Island. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- In the flash-forward, Jack was the hero who saved the family from the burning wreckage. However, it is revealed later that he was the one who caused the accident. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
- The acknowledgment of Ben's information about Charlotte, the woman he tried to kill, saves his life. ("Confirmed Dead")
- Ben finds himself being held against his will in his own basement. ("Eggtown")
- Jin tells Sun he is learning English for her. Sun learned English so she could get away from Jin. ("Eggtown")
- Even though Locke is the self-proclaimed leader in his group, he remains in Ben's hands concerning information about the Island. ("Eggtown")
- Locke, who used to call Ben a hypocrite and a Pharisee for living in the Barracks, is now living there with him. ("The Other Woman")
- Ben says that Charles Widmore is "without conscience" even though Ben killed, amongst other people, his own father. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- Michael is seen attempting to fix the engines, the same ones he himself sabotaged. ("Meet Kevin Johnson")
- Locke did not want to execute Ben in front of Alex in "Confirmed Dead", and ultimately it is Alex who is executed in front of Ben. ("The Shape of Things to Come")
- Kate assists Frank with removing his handcuffs, while she herself is a fugitive. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
- The helicopter crew tries to get to the freighter, thinking that it will save their lives. At the same time, Desmond, Michael and Jin want to get off the freighter because they are all about to die when the bomb explodes.
- We are led to believe from the flash-forwards that the Oceanic Six left the people on the Island, while in fact the Island 'left' them. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
- Michael is killed by a bomb that is not his while not wanting to die, while he was earlier wanting to die, but his bomb would not detonate. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
- Jack spent his whole time on the Island trying to get him and all the Losties off it, thus entering into conflict with Ben and Locke. In the flash-forwards, Locke persuades him that he made a mistake by leaving, and tries to convince the Oceanic 6 to go back and is reduced to seeking Ben's help for this purpose. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")
- "Jones", a man whom Locke refuses to kill, is later revealed to be a young Charles Widmore, who would ultimately become the nemesis of the survivors. ("Jughead")
- Locke (being inhabited by Jacob's enemy) gave Richard the information to give Locke (the time-traveler) which Locke then told to Richard the first time they met.
- Sayid is given a truth serum while a captive of the DHARMA Initiative in 1977 and states numerous facts about the future that are all true, but which his captors dismiss as lies. ("He's Our You")
- The Man in Black disguised as John Locke, Ben's murder victim, welcomes Ben "back to the land of the living". ("Whatever Happened, Happened")
- Miles has lived all his life without knowing his father, only to find him back in year 1977, just after his own birth. ("Some Like It Hoth")
- Daniel tells Eloise to bury the bomb that she later will help (attempt) to detonate, at his advice.
- The survivors of Flight 815 knew nothing about Jacob, but many of them had met him; The Others knew and revered Jacob, but none of them ever met him. ("The Incident, Part 1")
- The first and second time Eloise and Daniel meet, she asks him "Who are you?" Daniel is her son.
- "Locke" criticizes Caesar for calling people "friend" when he doesn't really mean it. Many years earlier, the man who was impersonating Locke in that scene called Jacob "friend" after he had openly admitted the intent to kill him. ("Dead Is Dead") ("The Incident, Part 1")
- When Hurley first met Jacob, he incorrectly assumed that Jacob was dead ("The Incident, Part 1"); When they meet again, Hurley assumes that Jacob is alive, but he is, in fact, dead. ("LA X, Part 1")
- The Man in Black, in Locke's form, tells Richard, "I would have treated you with respect" [rather than not informing him of important goings-on like Jacob] right after he knocks him unconcious and hangs him from a tree in the jungle. ("The Substitute")
- Richard, Miles and Frank decide to fly the Ajira plane off the Island to stop the Man in Black from leaving, not realizing he has a boat. To further add to the irony, they still fly the plane off the Island with Kate, Sawyer and Claire unaware that the Man in Black had already been killed by Jack, although Kate and Sawyer may have told them and Claire that not long after going home. ("The End")
- Desmond spent years trying to win the respect of Charles Widmore, who thought he lacked both useful skills and character. When that no longer matters, he becomes indispensible to Charles through a unique talent that's likely to get him killed. ("Happily Ever After") In the afterlife he has Widmore's complete trust and admiration but can't remember why he wanted it.("The End")