"Box" redirects here. For other uses of "Box", see Box (disambiguation).

The metaphor of a box was used by Ben to explain one of the secrets of the island to Locke:

Ben's story[]

Benjamin Linus: Let me put it so you'll understand. Picture a box. You know something about boxes, don't you John? What if I told you that, somewhere on this island, there is a very large box and whatever you imagined, whatever you wanted to be in it when you opened that box, there it would be? What would you say about that, John?

3x13 TMFT tallahassee man revealed

The man from Tallahassee is revealed.

Ben then went on to show Locke a man who he claimed came out of the magic box, gagged and tied to a chair. The man was Anthony Cooper, Locke's father. ("The Man from Tallahassee")

When Locke pressed Ben for more about the box, Ben snapped back that "the box is a metaphor, John." Despite this, he continues to maintain that by some agency things that people on the island want or need show up. ("The Brig") Later, when Ben and Locke entered the Orchid, Locke marveled at the mysterious technology and asked if this was the magic box. Ben retorted that it was not. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")

Producer's commentary[]

In the March 26, 2007 podcast, executive producer Damon Lindelof confirmed that the box reference is a metaphor for something else: "It would be kind of silly to walk to the middle of the island and there's a kind of a big large refrigerator box sitting there and Kate's horse comes trotting out and Sayid's little cat and Jack's dad ... that would be kind of the worst idea in the history of ideas."

In the May 23, 2007 special "Lost: The Answers," producers Cuse and Lindelof commented on the nature of the magic box metaphor, stating that "the entire island is a magic box."

6x12 Box

Hurley's box company in the alternate timeline. ("Everybody Loves Hugo")

Other references[]

  • Hurley owns a box company. Locke and Randy worked there. Ben references this when he asks if Locke "knows something about boxes."
  • After Hurley tells Leonard he has used the numbers in "Numbers", Leonard screams that Hurley has "opened the box" (which is most likely an allusion to Pandora's Box).
  • Ilana has a huge box on the beach that is critical to her mission. Inside was the body of John Locke.
  • The Man in Black told Sayid that if he joined him, he would give Sayid anything he wanted.
  • In "The Other Woman", Juliet walks by a panel in The Tempest that says "BOX MAKER" along the top.



J.J. Abrams and his "magic mystery box".

  • J.J. Abrams often includes a subplot about a box with mysterious contents. In March 2007, he gave a talk at TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) in which he explained his love of the unseen mystery, using the metaphor of a mystery box. Abrams himself bought a "magic mystery box" as a kid, which he has never opened. View talk - "J.J. Abrams: The mystery box"


  • The box as described by Ben is similar to the black box in The Third Policeman.
  • In the Russian science fiction novella Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky (adopted into the Andrei Tarkovsky film Stalker), "The Zone" is a restricted, hazardous area containing alien artifacts left after a visit to Earth (or paranormal phenomena resulting from the crash of a mysterious meteorite in the film). Somewhere inside The Zone is a golden sphere (in the film a Room) with the power to fulfill one's deepest wishes.
  • In Monday Begins on Saturday, also by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, a sofa (or, as it is described, a "dimensional translator" built in the form of a sofa) seems to manifest certain figments of the protagonist's imagination, though the protagonist himself seems to possess little or no control whatsoever when it comes to the couch's "magical" output.
  • In the Harry Potter series, there is a "Room of Requirement", whereby if a character needs a room to be something (and walks past it thinking about this thing 3 times) the room becomes what is required. It is also similar to the Mirror of Erised from the same series, a magic mirror that visually displays one's greatest desire.
  • The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula LeGuin and Sphere by Michael Crichton, as well as the respective feature films based on these novels, have similar storylines in which the fantasies or thoughts of characters are manifested in the real world. In both, the change in physical reality is not simply a materialization of an object, but rather the entire universe and past timeline are changed so that "it has always been" like the new situation based on the thought.
  • In Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age, people can create just about anything they please using the nanotechnology of Matter Compilers.
  • In the Star Trek: The Original Series episode Shore Leave , crewmembers of the Enterprise find themselves on a planet that seems to create physical manifestations of whatever thoughts cross their minds.
  • In Antoine de Saint-Exupéry's novella The Little Prince, the narrator, upon meeting the title character, is asked to draw a sheep. After many unsuccessful attempts, the narrator draws a box and states that “This is only his box. The sheep you asked for is inside.”
  • In the film "Ghostbusters," the destructive god Gozer the Gozerian manifests as any form chosen by the team in their minds.
  • In the movie and book "The Sphere". The Magic Box is actually a Sphere brought back by a spaceship that can fulfill any desires.

See also[]

Unanswered questions[]

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.
For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: Magic box/Theories
  • To what degree is the magic box metaphor descriptive, i.e. is it really the case that the Island can produce whatever one imagines?