Main Article Theories about
Magic box
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Jacob & the Island

  • The 'magic box' is a way of Ben being able to explain to Ben Jacob's power along with the Island's power being able to manifest things when it wants to.

Theory 1: There is no magic box.

  • It is a metaphor for Ben's power.
  • The "box" is a metaphor for things that can appear at will on the island. Since time travel is possible, something can be strategically placed somewhere on the island fifteen years ago, and "found" when needed (much like in the movie "Frequency"). As seen in "There's no place like home," when Ben, Locke, and Hurley are walking across the island, Ben is surprised to see something out of place. When he moves the rocks, he finds tools that will help him contact his people. Being aware of the concept of the "box," one is able to look for things that are out of place. In "The Other Woman," when Locke walks Ben into the living room, Ben is seen looking around the room for something out of place. He sees a picture on the wall and tells Locke to look behind it, where he finds a video of Widmore.
  • Ben uses the magic box idea as a private joke on not so swift Locke and a way to get around having to explain anything about how things happen on the island to Locke. Ben may even be referencing the fact that Locke used to work at a box company. Subsequently, every time Locke asks about the box (e.g. in the Orchid station with Ben), Ben looks at Locke like "Geez, you still believe that box crap I told you?" As we have seen, Locke will believe anything.
  • The Others captured Anthony Cooper to manipulate John Locke before communications with the outside broke down. As Cooper described, one second he is in a car accident, the next he is on the island (he believes the island is hell, but he could have been taken from the hospital/morgue and healed by the island). There is no magic box.

Theory 2: There is a magic box.

  • The Box and the Monster are opposite ends of the same phenomenon. One shows you what you desire, the other shows you (and sounds like) what you fear.
    • Unlikely due to the fact that the Box produced something Locke doesn't desire.
      • Locke desired to reunite with his father to have some kind of closure. It was what attached him to the world outside the Island, which is why Ben brings him and asks Locke to kill him.
      • Locke did actually desired his father to get there, at heart (though not understanding it hmself).
      • Ben suggested that Locke was hiding from his father on the Island which was the one place Cooper couldn't find him. Locke did not dispute this theory ([The Man from Tallahassee])
  • Ben is a master manipulator and is using hypnotic suggestion to make people see/do what benefits him. The "Magic Box" is a hypnotic script used by Ben to make Locke more prone to suggestion.
    • The magic box is influenced by J.J. Abrams's own. mystery box recently discussed during the 2007 TED conference
  • The box is a metaphor for the Monster as Ben explains that it can be anything anyone wants it to be.
  • The box is a geometrical tesseract surrounding the entire island. This box allowed characters in A Wrinkle in Time to travel through time or space. This book is another literary reference in Lost.
  • "Magic Box" is Jacob's Cabin, Jacob's Cabin is a portal which manifests the thought processes on prominent characters on the island, i.e Walt created the polar bear after reading his comic, Locke wanted to find his father as did Sawyer, Jack thought of his father a lot, Kate and her horse etc. However only people with "extended" understanding can see the cabin and therefore the result of their imaginations.
    • Walt did not create the polar bear with his mind, the Polar Bears have been around since Dharma and their purpose was to move the donkey wheel.
      • Maybe the box doesn't "create" things, but "brings" them to the Island, which would explain why the polar bears appear on the main island, although they were freed on the Hydra Island
        • Most likely, the polar bears just swam to the main island on their own. They are probably capable of swimming that distance to access food (boars and other prey) on the main island.
    • The box is not Jacob's Cabin, as it then would not have been as easiily destroyed.
  • The island is a practical demonstration of Schroedinger's postulate (best known through the cat in a box theory) which suggests that all things that are possible occur simultaneously until a Viewer collapses the quantum probability vector. I surmise that the Dharma initiative wanted the island to be a "time travel" machine of some sort so badly that related effects began to occur; however this is the red herring of the series as the time travel effect is only one consequence of the island's quantum nature.
  • The box is the room that Ben had been in the episode The Shape Of Things To Come. The box is where Ben summoned the black smoke.
    • Ben explains that when you open the box, what you thought of would appear IN the box.
  • The box is (or is located within) the Orchid station, the same station Ben used to travel to the Sahara Desert and meet up with Sayid in his flash forward during The Shape Of Things To Come. This station, which effectively is or contains a time traveling and teleportation machine, is also how Richard Alpert travels across the globe and through time without appearing to age. Therefore, Anthony Cooper was 'retrieved' by members of the Others and brought to the island by using the box, and Richard was able to visit John Locke at various points throughout his childhood without looking any older (the appearance of Richard so soon after John's birth in the '50s can also be explained by the Others having records of the survivors' dates of birth, etc). This also explains why Richard looked so disheveled when he first encountered a young Ben Linus on the island; he was dressed in his season one 'Others' costume after using the box to travel through time.
  • We have already seen the box. When Ben, Hurley, and Locke were all travelling to the Orchid Station, Ben removed a box from underneath three rocks. This was the Magic Box. Hurley was hungry, and got DHARMA biscuits. Ben needed to communicate with someone (possibly Richard Alpert) and got his signalling mirror. Locke knew that sooner or later, considering the mission, he would need binoculars, and henceforth, got a pair.
    • There was also a fourth object present in the box, which was unseen, unused, and generally ignored by Ben, Locke and Hurley. It is possible the leather bound object could come into use in the future.
      • Interesting theory but that box was a litle small for Anthony Cooper, although it would be nice to see what the fourth object was...
  • Just as moving the donkey wheel sends someone to Tunisia, perhaps there's a point on the planet that can whisk you to the island via, say, telluric currents. Perhaps this is how Anthony Cooper got to the island.
  • The "Door" station may be this magic box. Its logo seems like an open box seen from above. Walt envisioned the polar bears, which brought them to the main Island, Locke thought often of his father. Locke and Walt are foten mentioned as "special", which explains why Sayid didn't see anything behind it.
    • Or maybe Sayid just wanted to see what was behind it, and, since there's nothing, he saw nothing
  • Maybe the magic box is a part of Walt, because the others were doing "tests" on him and with the "tests" they created a magic box that brought anything to the the person who wanted whatever they wanted.
  • The large box on the beach that is critical to Ilana's mission is a duplicate of the magic box used to transport Anthony Cooper to the island. Large enough to hold a person, it contains technology or a portal that can be used to get to the island.

Christian, Locke and the "Magic Box"

He moves through stages in his journey pre-Island when we see him move from saying that Jack "didn't have what it takes" during Jack's childhood. This is a progression from negative to positive opinions of Jack. Over the course of the paragraph entitled "Working with Jack" there's definitely a sense that he starts off with a patronizing attitude towards Jack's ability through many conflicts with Jack that lead him to a true and honest respect for Jack as established in his comments to Sawyer in Outlaws. This is a real journey for him that forces him to deal with all of his own weaknesses (alcoholism) and vices (his extramarital affairs). His self assessment is that "I am weak". His central relationship with his son is the way the writers explored all of Christian's soul pre Island. He reaches a point of total despair and his agenda in Sydney beyond seeing Claire is to (apparently) drink himself to death. Then his dead body arrives in the Island and we see Christian suddenly with a new attitude. Chronologically from "So it Begins" he knows things that would be inconsistent with the character of Christian presented in his pre-Island life. His ability to not just communicate with the Island but to become one with the Island is nothing short of incredible. Sound familiar?
John Locke's story and Christian Shepard's story have multiple points of comparison but the most significant is where they end up. Locke is about to hang himself and he says "I'm a failure." Then we see Locke get killed by Ben and after that Locke has transformed.
Although on the surface Locke's transformation is more consistent with information given to us about Locke in previous episodes, I do want to note the dialogue in "Two for the Road":

CHRISTIAN: Maybe fate has just thrown the 2 of us together, you know. Two drinks in an airport bar -- ANA: Why would fate do that? CHRISTIAN: Same reason fate does anything -- so that we can help each other out. You do need help, right? Unless you don't. What I'm doing down there could be a little dangerous and I need someone to protect me -- a bodyguard. It's perfect for someone who stopped being a cop.

How do the two "phenomena" relate? Easily, through the Magic Box. This, to refresh your memory is a way the Island gives individuals what they want or need. Christian's relationship with his son is unbelievable strong in his existence on the Island and although the on Island Christian does not have much dialogue with Jack if you really examine the ways in which he appears in the scene with Jack you can see that it is because Jack is having trouble on his end not because Christian isn't making a huge effort to reach out to him. His interactions with Locke and the role he plays to "speak on Jacob's behalf" works as a bridge between himself and Jack. If you look at the dialogue between Locke and Christian in "This Place is Death" you will see that the idea of bringing back the Oceanic Six originates with Christian. Locke doesn't mention that his goal is to bring back Oceanic Six but Christian says it before Locke can get around to it.

CHRISTIAN: There's a woman living in Los Angeles. Now once you get all your friends together--and it must be all of them, every one who left--and once you've persuaded them to join you, this woman will tell you exactly how to come back. LOCKE: Who is she? CHRISTIAN: Her name is Eloise Hawking. LOCKE: What if I can only convince some of them to come back? CHRISTIAN: I believe in you, John. You can do this.

And of course his much quoted lines "Say hello to my son!"

  • Although we see Locke already has this idea in his head the "origin" or this idea comes from Christian.

We also see Christian reunite with Claire and this is part of what Christian has wanted from the beginning. Although I accept that Christian's desire to have his children brought back together is not the ONLY reason why the Oceanic Six are brought back I refer you to Locke's mantra in Season One that "The Island will find a way [to give you want you want]".

  • Still don't accept that the Magic Box is actually a major keystone? Well I'll refer you to another part of the story, other characters and another situation: the dialogue between Sawyer and Jack in season finale reinforces this idea. Sawyer asks Jack why he is doing this and Jack begins by saying that Locke was right that it is his destiny but Sawyer doesn't understand that terminology and Sawyer asks "What do you want?" Jack says he wants Kate. Later we see Juliet pretty much say she wants Sawyer. In order for this theory to be consistent the Island will arrange the events to give them want they want.
  • This theory also refutes any connection with Jacob's enemy. This theory refers you to multiple episodes and multiple story arcs and is not solely based on any one particular scene or dialogue as is the case with Jacob's enemy. These ideas have been present since first season and do not require any major leaps in logic or interpretation of events or dialogue. It also is consistent with pretty much everything the canon has to offer.

I would even go so far as to say that the Magic box has a dark side. This is what we see in the growth of cancer in Ben, the moments of paralysis in Locke, the on Island events of "Something Nice Back Home" when Jack's appendix bursts, I will cite dialogue below:

BERNARD: All right. Honey, I am sure Jack is gonna be okay. An appendectomy is just about the most common kind of surgery there is. ROSE: That's not what I was thinking about. I was thinking, "Why did he get sick?" BERNARD: Why? It's just--it's just bad luck. ROSE: The day before we're all supposed to be rescued, the person that we count on the most suddenly comes down with a life-threatening condition, and you're chalking it up to bad luck? BERNARD: Well, what are you saying, that--that Jack did something to offend the gods? People get sick, Rose. ROSE: Not here. Here, they get better.

So what we're seeing in Christian and Locke is a clear continuation of their desires and needs.


  • The box can grant wishes but in unexpected ways. It sets off a chain reaction that, if it's not interrupted, will produce the desired result
    • Ben wanted to get rid of his cancer, so the box made flight 815 crash on the island, bringing Jack to help fix Ben.
  • Kate's horse, Walt's polar bear, and Jack's dad are all conjured forth from the box. Perhaps Walt is special because he has more of a connection to the box.
    • The polar bears were there because Dharma did experiments on them. "Kate's" horse, could simply be a black horse that wandered away from The Flame. Ben arranged to have Cooper there long before he mentioned a "magic box" to Locke.
  • The box conjures up 'things' by tuning into high running emotions like hate, grief, guilt. The Others have sometimes collected up these 'things' (Anthony Cooper).
  • It is Pandora's Box. Locke despised Anthony Cooper, who broke his back, it could bring what you hate the most, in conjunction with the monster (i.e. Walt being so afraid of the "Room")
    • In numbers Leonard says that Hurley opened "The Box", in the Exodus Part II when asked what he thought was in the hatch, Locke responded "Hope" (That was the only thing left in Pandora's Box)
      • "Opening the box" is a relatively heard of expression to express worry of impending misfortune. It may be just an expression and not a reference.
  • There is a magical box. However, it wasn't Locke that conjured Anthony Cooper onto the island through the box. It was Sawyer (aka James Ford). Anthony Cooper is the real Sawyer therefore "Sawyer".
    • In the killing of Anthony Cooper, both Locke and Sawyer overcame their personal demons. It would make sense that Sawyer conjured him, since he had a strong desire to find him and kill him, and Locke never wanted to see him again.
  • The Losties collectively wanted food, and the box conjured the food drop, even after Dharma has been inactive.
  • The magic box shows people what they want, or something symbolic of that:
    • Jack wanted his dad to be alive again and saw him walking around the Island
    • Jack also wanted to help his people and his dad led him to water
    • Kate wanted an escape from Wayne's ghost and saw the black horse which had helped her escape once and possibly symbolised escape for her
      • Sawyer also sees the black horse.
    • Sayid wanted forgiveness for what he had done in the past and saw a cat, possibly the same one as the one the woman was holding when she forgave him
    • Eko wants his brother back and therefore sees Yemi
    • Ben (young Ben) wants his mother back and sees her
    • Through the effects of Time Travel, which may be related to the powers of the magic box, Miles was able to meet his father and Sawyer was given three years of a loving family life, which could be his new desire after killing Cooper.

Pop-cultural reference

  • Keeping with Lost's many comic-book refences, the 'box' is a Cosmic Cube.
  • It's a reference to The Doctor's TARDIS from Doctor Who
  • It could also be a reference to the Motherboxxx's Miracle Machine in Final Crisis[1].
  • The box is similar to the room in 'the zone' from the film Stalker (or the golden globe in the book Roadside Picnic which it is based on). The strange and dangerous occurrences on the island are similar to those in the zone.

It is a Metaphor for the Island

  • This has been confirmed both in-show by Ben and outside of the show by the producers!
  • The Island is a place where different alternate universes intersect. This is why Flocke (and earlier, Ben) can offer people whatever they want: because he knows how to control access to several alternate universes. Both FLocke and Jacob know how to do this, and can balance each other out. But now that Jacob is dead, Flocke can manipulate the universes at will.
  • If the Island is the magic box, it has indeed given the survivors what they wanted--as Christian says, they all needed each other, whether they knew it or not, and they even subconsciously waited for each other after death. In this way, the Island (and the box) gave them what they wanted--the friendship and companionship of the others, even after death--exactly as stated.
  • The Island grants people's most desperate desires, but in a roundabout way that seems almost as if it is doing the opposite. Locke deep down wanted to be free of his father—if he didn't, then his having Sawyer kill him would make no sense. So the Island sent his father to him, eventually leading to his death. Charlie wanted to be free of drugs, and the Island brought the plane loaded with heroin which initially tempted him, but lead him to do complete repentance in the end. Hurley felt horribly guilty about his food addiction, and the Island sent him the food drop. But this lead to his recovery, nonetheless.

Is The Smoke Monster

The black box is, in fact, Jacob's nemesis. He is at least partially under control of the others at the time when Locke is told to kill his father. Thus, rather than believing that the others and Jacob sanctioned bringing a man to the island to be killed by their potential leader, we believe it is just a test with no ones life actually in the balance.

Is the Source

The light that Mother shows Jacob and MiB would appear to be the Magic Box as it is "Where they came from."

  • Very unlikely. The box being something that gives you what you want, if the Source was the box, the Man in Black should have been transported outside the island when he was thrown into the Source, as it was what he wanted ... I seriously doubt he wanted to become the black smoke ...

The Magic Box is The Source, the Answer to the Ambiguity, and The Flash-Sideways

Did LOST change from being about science and faith to just faith? NO. It would only appear so.

The Source is an immense electromagnetic force and it is the magic box, inside the magic box is what everyone wants-in the flash sideways all of the losties are getting what they want but it doesn't feel right. Men would, as Mother Earth told the boys, try to obtain the Magic Box and exploit it. The light could possibly be extinguished but the consequence of trying to obtain the box would be the transformation into the black smoke. Mother Earth knew this because she had tried to take it and was smoke herself. That is how she killed an entire village of men. It is actually impossible to enter the Magic Box but it is possible, as we saw in season 6, to realize you are in the Magic Box and that getting what you want is not what life is all about (a major part of character growth and lost was about character). You then move on like the losties did. If the source had not been turned back on by jack, the magic box would have ceased to exist and the electromagnetic discharge would have destroyed the real world.

The losties were never in the magic box but their counterparts were, and since the source is outside time, and the magic box versions of the losties realized they had died in the true reality, the two halves of their selves were made whole and they moved on with their shepherd, Christian Shepherd, the Father Time counterpart to Mother Earth, to a higher plane of existence, whatever that may be. The white and black symbolism throughout referenced the duality within the characters and physically manifested by their twin forms both in the box and reality, the same duality they had to reconcile within the box.

It was the duality in Mother Earth, she was protector and smoke monster, and the duality in the losties that caused their suffering.

There are subtle hints at the flash sideways being the magic box.

In the candidate, Claire shows Jack the box that she inherited from Christian, who awaits them all at The End.

Jack goes to christian's coffin and opens it, and it is empty, the thing he logically would want most in the world.

Kate is innocent in the box.

Sayid is with nadia in the box.

Sawyer is on the right side of the law in the box.

Hurley is lucky in the box.

Locke can be healed through surgery in the box and anthony cooped is suffering for his wrongs.

Juliet is divorced from Jack but still has a healthy relationship with both him and her son.

jack also has a son and a healthy relationship with him.

When Desmond is "transported" to the flashsideways, he is blasted by electromagnetism *inside a large box*

The souls that can't move on appear on island because the magic box is on the island and they can't reconcile their duality.