The Others, referred to by the DHARMA Initiative as the Hostiles or the Natives, and also by the tail section survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 as Them, are a group of people living on the Island who were followers of Jacob, intermediated by Richard Alpert. Jacob never showed himself to his people, and they took orders from a succession of leaders including Eloise Hawking, Charles Widmore, Benjamin Linus, and briefly, John Locke.
Jacob had long been bringing people to the Island to prove his nemesis, the Man in Black, wrong about his view of human nature. According to Jacob, it is the Man in Black's belief that all people are inherently corruptible, whereas Jacob wished to show him that people could know the difference between right and wrong without his interference. For some time, the people Jacob brought to the Island were simply killed by the Man in Black or each other, without Jacob stepping in. In 1867 however, Richard Alpert arrived to the Island on the Black Rock and, in exchange for the gift of agelessness, agreed to act as an intermediary between Jacob and the people he would bring to the Island. This was essentially the beginning of the Others.
According to Richard, only one leader of the Others is appointed at a time, and this person must undergo numerous tests to get the position. According to Benjamin Linus, the leader still has to answer to Jacob. Even while he was the leader of the Others, Ben never met Jacob during his time in that role. Aside from Ben, who finally encountered Jacob in "The Incident, Part 2", the only Other definitively established as having firsthand communication with Jacob is Richard Alpert.
Ben's term as the leader came sometime after the Purge, when he ousted and banished previous leader Charles Widmore. Ben stayed in power until he moved the Island in 2004, when John Locke took his place.
John's term was extremely short, however, for he soon unwillingly time-flashed throughout the Island's history in a journey that eventually sent him off-Island, ending in his demise. When "Locke" returned to the Island three years after leaving, it was actually the Man in Black in Locke's form.
Prior to Ben's term, the leadership of the Others seemed to be shared between Charles Widmore and Eloise Hawking, who had a "complicated" love life together. Before them, Richard Alpert appeared to be leading the Others in lieu of a "leader" in 1954; he did mention he had a superior that he answered to. It is unclear if he was referring to an unseen leader or simply to Jacob himself.
The earliest time frame that shows the Others on the Island is in 1954, but they have been on the Island long enough to be referred to as "indigenous". (LaFleur-Enhanced transcript) ("Jughead") They also speak various languages with each other, including Latin and Russian, to keep from being understood by foreigners. They actively recruit people from the outside world to join them on the Island (Dr. Juliet Burke, for example), and, by 2004, very few of their members had been born on the Island due the deaths of their pregnant women from an as-yet uncured medical affliction that plagued the Others some time after 1977.
They appear to have considerable wealth and power in the outside world, evidenced by the reach of their front company Mittelos Bioscience. The Others are in possession of the secret knowledge of the bearing by which the Island may be left, and also know how to locate it again to return (though the DHARMA Initiative later discovered reliable ways of getting to and from the Island). After the Purge, they gained the use of the Galaga submarine from the DHARMA Initiative, allowing them to clandestinely come and go from the Island at will.
The Others use rings of black ash to keep out (or possibly in) the smoke monster. The smoke monster can cross the perimeter of ash only when its continuity has been disturbed.
"The Others" was a designation initially coined by Danielle Rousseau and later adopted by the middle section Oceanic 815 survivors, while the tail section survivors simply identified the Others as "them". ("The Other 48 Days") When the DHARMA Initiative established itself on the Island and came into conflict with the Others, it labeled them as "hostile indigenous people" ("LaFleur") or simply "the Hostiles", (Access: Granted) a term eventually adopted by Desmond Hume after spending three years with Kelvin Inman, the last living DHARMA member present on the Island. ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1") The Initiative and the Kahana's science team also referred to the Others as "natives". ("The Man Behind the Curtain") ("Confirmed Dead") It is unknown by which term, if any, the Others refer to themselves; Ben has referred to his group as "the good guys" and "the Island's original inhabitants". ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 1") Juliet Burke is the only Other to refer to herself as such, in imitation of the Oceanic 815 survivors after defecting to their group. ("The Other 48 Days") ("Jughead") The text of the Truce referred to them as the indigenous island inhabitants.
The Others weren't the first people that Jacob brought to the Island, but none before survived due to Jacob's lack of guidance, getting into conflicts with each other, and the Man in Black killing them. In 1867, Richard came to the Island by way of the Black Rock, and was led to Jacob. He questioned Jacob: why did he allow those he brought to the Island to die? Jacob says he wants people to know the difference between right and wrong without being told. Richard then points out that if Jacob doesn't step in to offer guidance, the Man in Black certainly will. Apparently moved by Richard's reasoning, Jacob then offers Richard the job of representative or intermediary for Jacob to the people he brings to the island, people that, regardless of what they had done, could leave their past behind. Richard asks what he would get in return, and when Jacob told him that he couldn't revive Richard's wife, Isabella, or absolve him of his sins to save him from hell, then asks Jacob if he could make sure he would never die, and Jacob touches him and says that he can give him that. Richard thus became the first of the people to later be known as "The Others". Richard began serving Jacob and helped him recruit people to the Island and guide Jacob's people on the Island. ("Ab Aeterno")
Conflict with the U.S. Army (1954)
In 1954, 18 members of the United States Army were discovered by the Others, setting up a camp at the Mesa and making preparations for testing a hydrogen bomb named "Jughead" they had brought to the Island. Richard Alpert, leader of the Others at the time, claimed to have given the soldiers "the opportunity to leave the island peacefully", but his proposition was rejected. The Others exterminated the squad, an offensive that was, according to Alpert, a defensive response to the soldiers firing at them. Richard explained that he was ordered to carry out the attack, probably referring to Jacob. After burying the soldiers, the Others established themselves at the Army camp and salvaged their clothing, equipment and weapons, noticeably replacing their bows with modern infantry rifles. ("Jughead")
Less than a month after confronting the U.S. Army, the Others discovered the time-traveling Oceanic Flight 815 survivors, accompanied by Juliet and three members of the Kahana science team, loitering on the beach. Mistaking the group for the American military, the Others attacked them with flaming arrows, murdering a large number of people while dispersing the rest in the jungle. A group of Others, headed by 17-year-old Eloise Hawking, captured the three Kahana members, led by Daniel Faraday, and brought them to the Army camp. Once there, Faraday was allowed to attempt to deactivate the hydrogen bomb by Richard Alpert, who presumed him to be a scientist from the U.S. military. He was taken to the bomb by Eloise, and urged her to bury it, revealing he was from the future and explaining that the Island would be unscathed 50 years later.
Meanwhile, two Others, one of them being 17-year-old Charles Widmore, were captured by three time-travelers, John Locke, Juliet Burke and James Ford. Widmore was able to flee, allowing Locke to follow him to the the Army camp. Richard was confronted by Locke, who claimed to be sent by Jacob, an affirmation that stunned Richard. Locke explained to a hesitant Richard that he was from the future, where he was the Others' leader, and demanded to know how to leave the Island, a piece of information Richard described as "very privileged". In an attempt to ease Richard's reluctance to believe his time-traveling story, Locke suggested that, two years from now, Richard should leave the Island and witness Locke's birth (which he did ("Cabin Fever")). Moments later, a time flash occurred, and the survivors disappeared before the Others' eyes. ("Jughead")
DHARMA years (1970s–1992)
In the early 1970s, the DHARMA Initiative established itself on the Island, where "properties… that exist nowhere else on Earth" (Barracks video) were studied in an attempt to change the core values of the Valenzetti equation. (Sri Lanka video) Founded in 1970 by Karen and Gerald DeGroot and financially backed by Alvar Hanso's foundation, (Swan Orientation film) the Initiative found the Island after building the Lamp Post, a station that indicated the Island's probable location with respect to time. ("316")
The DHARMA Initiative personnel consisted of workers and scientists who were brought to the Island via submarine. A series of at least nine stations were built all over the Island where scientific research was conducted, and a suburban-like neighborhood called the Barracks was constructed where the DHARMA employees resided with their families. The DHARMA staff used microbuses and jeeps as a mean of transportation, and a network of dirt roads connected the Initiative's facilities. ("The Man Behind the Curtain") A radio tower was also erected on the Island, broadcasting the numerical values of the Valenzetti equation. (Sri Lanka video)
Charles Widmore attested that under his leadership, the Others "protected the Island peacefully for more than three decades" ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") indicating that he occupied this position during most, if not all, of the years during which the DHARMA Initiative was settled on the Island. He inherited his authority from Eloise Hawking when she left the Island, although Richard Alpert did not "answer to either of them". ("Whatever Happened, Happened")During this period, the Others lived in a camp consisting of yurts and tents, located near both the Temple and the Barracks. At the time, some the Others wore modern clothing, were in possession of rifles and used horses to travel across the Island. The presence of the Initiative on the Island apparently did not affect the Others' activities in the outside world, as Richard Alpert, who contacted John Locke in 1972 through his science teacher by offering him a place at a summer camp sponsored by Mittelos Laboratories, ("Cabin Fever") was seen on the Island a year later during his first encounter with Benjamin Linus. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
Thus far, no information on the DHARMA Initiative's first contact with the Others have been given, and the nature of their relations during this time is unknown. Horace Goodspeed, a DHARMA mathematician and leader of DHARMA Initiative on the Island, admitted in 1973 that the Initiative was not "exactly sure" who the Others were. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
Regardless of the initial relationship the DHARMA Initiative had with the Others, the situation rapidly deteriorated into military conflict, and the Others became known to the DHARMA Initiative personnel as the "Hostiles". Mikhail Bakunin, an Other, would later affirm that the Initiative "foolishly initiated a war against the Hostiles". ("Enter 77") Benjamin Linus, a DHARMA Initiative workman who defected to the Others, would state: "The DHARMA Initiative. They came here seeking harmony, but they couldn't even coexist with the Island's original inhabitants." ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
The earliest known battle occurred in 1973, when the Hostiles attacked the Barracks. Roger Linus, a DHARMA workman who was driving back from the Flame during the attack, claimed that he heard a "huge explosion" and drove through the middle of a "shootout". This, however, may very well not have been the first assault on the DHARMA Initiative by the Hostiles; Goodspeed noted that the Initiative was "having some skirmishes with the natives", and the DHARMA staff appeared well-prepared for an attack: a siren warned the personnel of the strike; armed employees could be seen rushing to presumably engage the Hostiles; young students in the DHARMA classroom knew their "positions" while their teacher Olivia Goodspeed, had a rifle available; and Annie, a girl attending the DHARMA Initiative classroom, reassured a young and scared Benjamin Linus by telling him not to worry, that it was "just the Hostiles" and that they were going to be okay. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
On August 16, 1973, a truce between the DHARMA Initiative and the Others was negotiated and agreed upon. The truce was brought into effect by the Letter of Truce, written by Horace Goodspeed and amended by Richard Alpert, which stipulated that "the DHARMA Initiative and the indigenous island inhabitants, desiring to bring about cessation of hostilities on the island, [...] call upon all authorities and leaders concerned to order a cessation of all actions of armed force in perpetuity going forward from this date." The truce established the boundaries of the Hostile and DHARMA territories as areas of five kilometers surrounding each camp. The letter also "instruct[ed] the DHARMA Initiative and the indigenous inhabitants to create security teams." Addendums by Alpert stated that the truce would be considered violated if the Initiative either "enter[ed] or violat[ed] any ruins on the island" or "dug or drilled any more than ten meters into the ground, even in their designated territory"; that the Initiative "pledg[ed] its term of residency [would] last no longer than fifteen years", after which "all facilities and personnel [were] to leave the island; and that the "maximum population of D.I. members [could not] exceed 216 at any one time on the island." One of Alpert's notes, "Our willingness to allow your presence should not be mistaken as continued opportunities for diplomacy," indicates that in Alpert's view, the Others were in a position of power over the DHARMA Initiative.
The Initiative violated the truce by building the Swan and the Orchid, both of which involved significant drilling, while the Swan was built in Hostile territory. ("Dead Is Dead") (Letter of truce) The Initiative also captured Others and brought them to the Hydra station for interrogation so they could learn more about them, and their "worship of a deity called Jacob". Afterward they would be put in Room 23 to have the memory of their capture erased. ("The New Man in Charge")
The DHARMA Initiative took several measures to protect its workers from the Hostiles. The Arrow, a DHARMA Initiative station whose primary purpose was "to develop defensive strategies and gather intelligence on the island's hostile indigenous population", had members with "a specific area of expertise". ("Because You Left") The Initiative built a high-frequency sonar fence surrounding the Barracks; however, it is unclear if the fence was effective, as Richard Alpert apparently entered its perimeter with ease, claiming that "[the] fence may keep other things out, but not [his people]". ("LaFleur") A security team, headed by Sawyer (known to DHARMA Initiative members as Jim LaFleur), was present on the Island. Some stations were equipped for defense against the Hostiles: the Swan and the Hydra had their own armories, which contained a wide array of weapons, and signaling "an incursion […] by the Hostiles" in the menu system of the Flame's computer triggered an explosion of C-4 that would destroy the communication station. ("Enter 77")
In late 1973, Ben ventured into the jungle and encountered Richard Alpert. While being initially scared of Richard, Ben eventually explained that he was looking for his dead mother, of whom he had had visions. At first, Richard encouraged Ben to head back to the Barracks, claiming that his people would be looking for him. However, after Ben expressed his hate for the Initiative and his desire to join the Hostiles, Richard explained that it might be possible, but cautioned that he would "have to be very, very patient". ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
In 1974, the truce was threatened when a conflict involving two members of the Others and a husband and wife pair of DHARMA Initiative members, Amy and Paul, resulted in the death of the latter. The episode took place outside the sonar fence surrounding the Barracks, and would have ended in Amy's capture (and possible death) had not a time-traveling Sawyer and Juliet intervened, killing the two Others and rescuing her. Later that night, Richard Alpert visited the Barracks and talked with Horace, accusing the Initiative as having broken the truce. However, Sawyer explained his actions to Richard and proved that he was not a member of the DHARMA Initiative. Alpert acknowledged that the truce had not been violated, on the condition that the Initiative surrender Paul's body as a symbol of justice, which was done. ("LaFleur")
In 1977, a group of armed Others led by Erik discovered Sawyer and fellow Flight 815 survivor Kate Austen, both now members of the DHARMA Initiative, along with an unconscious and gravely injured Benjamin Linus, inside Hostile territory. Their presence was a violation of the truce; however, Sawyer asked to see Richard Alpert, explaining that Ben had been shot and that both camps were in danger of war.
The two survivors were taken to Richard Alpert, who recognized both the young Benjamin Linus and Sawyer. When asked to save Ben's life, Richard accepted, but warned that Ben would "forget this ever happened" and that he would "always be one of [the Others]". ("Whatever Happened, Happened") After having healed Ben at the Temple, Richard returned him to the the Others' camp, where he was confronted by a furious Charles Widmore for having brought a member of the Initiative, even a dying child, to the Temple. Richard justified his actions, claiming they were done at Jacob's order and reminded Widmore that the "Island chooses who the Island chooses". When Ben expressed his desire to stay with the Others, Widmore explained that he would return to the Barracks once he had recovered, but still remain one of them. ("Dead Is Dead")
The next day, an armed Daniel Faraday burst into the the Others' camp, asking to speak with Eloise. Richard Alpert maintained that Eloise was not present at the moment, after which Faraday threatened to kill Richard unless he revealed the location of Jughead, the hydrogen bomb he had urged Eloise to bury in 1954. Faraday was then shot by Eloise Hawking, who had feared for Richard's life. In his dying words, Faraday claimed to be Eloise's son and accused her of sending him to the Island knowing she would kill him. ("The Variable")
On November 17th, 1988, a 7-months pregnant Danielle Rousseau, along with the other five members of her science expedition, shipwrecked onto the Island. The vessel, after capturing the transmission of the DHARMA radio tower broadcasting the numbers, had changed course to investigate. As the ship approached the Island, it was caught in a storm and and ran aground. While waiting for rescue, her team dug out a temporary shelter and survived for two months. Rousseau claimed that while they were coming back from exploring the Black Rock, her group met the Others, who Danielle identified as "the carriers" of the sickness, even though she later stated that she had never seen other people on the Island. ("Solitary") Although Rousseau claimed that the sickness took her comrades, one after the other, it is known that she shot and killed three members of her team while the other two members were killed by the Monster. ("This Place Is Death")
After her team was gone, Rousseau went back up to the radio tower and changed the transmission, broadcasting a distress signal. Even though Danielle arrived on the Island in 1988, four years before the collapse of the Initiative, it appears that she did not meet any DHARMA personnel. The transmission was not changed back to broadcasting the Numbers, as if the Initiative had abandoned the radio tower. It is unknown if this was a result of its ongoing war against the Hostiles. ("Numbers") At this time, DHARMA's maximum residency of 15 years on the Island, as stated in the Letter of Truce, had expired approximately five months ago.
Three days later, Rousseau delivered her baby herself. Rousseau had only been with the child, Alex, for only one week when she saw a pillar of black smoke 5 kilometers inland. That night, Benjamin Linus and a young Ethan Rom (two members of the DHARMA Initiative) were instructed by Charles Widmore to kill Rousseau. Ben entered Rousseau's tent while she was sleeping and discovered Alex. Instead of killing Rousseau, Ben took her baby, warning her, "If you want your baby to live, every time you hear whispers, you run the other way." Ben brought Alex to the Others' camp, where he was confronted by an aging Widmore for not having followed his orders, claiming they were in the Island's best interests. Widmore ordered Ben to kill the baby, but Ben refused, questioning if Alex's death really was what Jacob wanted and proposing that Widmore kill her instead. Widmore scoffed and walked away, allowing Ben to raise Alex as his child. ("Dead Is Dead")
On December 19 of either 1987 or 1992, the Hostiles launched an Island-wide toxic gas attack known as the Purge that effectively wiped out the DHARMA Initiative's presence on the Island. Over forty people were killed, and among the notable fatalities was Horace Goodspeed. ("The Man Behind the Curtain") ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1")
Under Benjamin Linus (1992–2004)
Following the Purge, the Others assumed full control of a number of facilities belonging to the DHARMA Initiative. Under Ben's directives, they established themselves at the Barracks, living in the suburban-like houses previously occupied by the DHARMA employees, with hot water, electricity, and other modern conveniences. The Man in Black would later express doubts as to whether this move was something the Island would want. ("Dead Is Dead")
It was around this time that Benjamin Linus, a DHARMA Initiative workman who had defected to the Others and supported them in their purge of the Initiative's personnel, emerged as new leaders of the newly formed Others, replacing Charles Widmore by establishing some sort of communion with Jacob. Ben acknowledged that "no one else [from the Others] has ever seen [Jacob]" and initially claimed that he was "the only one who talks to him", ("The Man Behind the Curtain") although he later admitted that he had never seen Jacob, instead receiving his instructions through Richard Alpert. ("The Incident, Part 1")
Ben exiled Charles Widmore from the Island, putting an end to his three-decades rule. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") Before his departure, Ben told Widmore that he was banished because he had "brok[en] the rules", leaving the Island regularly and having a child with an "outsider". ("Dead Is Dead")
The Others did not form a pure society. (Access: Granted) Karl and Alex, two young rebel Others and lovers, went against the Others' way of life and teachings. Other members, such as Bea Klugh and Mikhail Bakunin, were loyalists, willing to do anything to protect the secrets of the Island. Some prominent Others under Ben were displeased with his leadership. (The World of the Others) Not all Others knew about the existence of the Temple. ("Meet Kevin Johnson") Later on, Richard Alpert would eventually comment on the new direction undertaken by the Others under the leadership of Benjamin Linus: "Ben has been wasting our time with novelties like fertility problems. We're [...] here for more important reasons." ("The Brig")
The Initiative's submarine provided a new means of travel to the mainland, and the Others used it to recruit new members to their community, using their front company Mittelos Bioscience. Members recruited off-Island included Juliet Burke as part of the research on the Island pregnancy phenomenon. While talking about his community, Ben once told Locke, "Most of these people you see—I brought them here", ("The Man Behind the Curtain") indicating that the majority of present-day Others come from off the Island.
The Others also permanently occupied various DHARMA Initiative stations. The Staff was apparently used for the medical treatment and research of their dying pregnant women, while the Flame provided communication systems with the outside world. The Others also established themselves at the Hydra, although the purpose and subject of their activities at this DHARMA station is a mystery: Karl mentioned the Others working on "projects", ("Stranger in a Strange Land") while many members were building a runway, ("The Glass Ballerina") an initiative ordered by Jacob. (Official Lost Podcast)
Meanwhile, research on toxic gas was conducted at the Tempest, but the nature and ultimate aim of those experiments is currently unknown, except the fact that Goodwin Stanhope, while working there, confesses that "[Ben] has [him] working with chemicals that could kill every man, woman and child on this island." ("The Other Woman") Ben also secretly stationed two members, Greta and Bonnie, at the Looking Glass. It is uncertain if the Others continued, altered or abandoned the research of the Initiative, although Ben later referred to all DHARMA Initiative experiments as "silly". ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2") The Others also had knowledge of the Pearl and the Orchid, although it is unknown to what extent they were used.
On September 22nd, 2004, Oceanic Flight 815 crashed onto the Island. The Others' response was to send spies to infiltrate the two main groups of survivors. Lists were made of who amongst the 815 survivors were "good people". ("A Tale of Two Cities") These people would then be kidnapped by the Others at night. The mid-section survivors were for the most part unscathed by this plan, with the exception of Claire who was taken quickly after Ethan panicked that his identity was about to be found out with the discovery of the flight manifest. ("Raised by Another") At the tail-section camp, however, Goodwin was much more successful, and over a dozen survivors were taken in total. Some of those taken would later be seen at the Hydra station, including Cindy, Zack and Emma, suggesting that those kidnapped may have joined the Others.
This led to immediate conflict between the Others and the remaining survivors, and when a group of mid-section survivors set sail on a raft in order to escape the Island, the Others destroyed it and kidnapped Walt, whom they believed was "special."
With Walt's kidnapping and the merging of the mid-section and tail-section camps, the survivors were now united against the threat posed by the Others. In response, the Others met with the survivors in the jungle, and agreed upon a line separating the groups which neither side should cross. ("The Hunting Party") However, this "line" was quickly flouted, firstly by Ben who pretended to be an innocent survivor from a balloon crash ("One of Them"), and secondly by Michael when he tried to find Walt. ("The Hunting Party") ("Three Minutes")
At this point, the Others maintained a ruse that they were in fact very primitive, using huts and ragged clothing to augment this. However, after using Michael to get Jack, Kate and Sawyer ("Live Together, Die Alone, Part 2"), it was revealed that their society was far more sophisticated. ("A Tale of Two Cities")
The survivors finally learned more about the Others, and about Ben's role as leader. With their home at the Barracks compromised, the Others moved out and were forced to camp out in the Island plains and then The Temple. In addition, the survivors discovered how the Others had obtained information on them through the use of the Flame station, and slowly the omnipotence surrounding the Others and Ben was shattered, particularly with the deaths of a number of Others at the survivors' hands, casting doubt on Ben's ability to lead in light of John Locke's ability to also communicate with Jacob.
The issue of Island pregnancy was also pushed forward by Ben, who used Juliet to infiltrate the beach camp to report back if any of the women besides Sun were also expecting. Ben's plan was to kidnap these women, but as the survivors faced possible rescue, he accelerated these plans. Juliet's betrayal, however, saved the women, leading to a culmination in the conflict that had been boiling for approximately three months. During the Beach camp battle, a large number of the Others were killed, and around the same time, the survivors were able to contact a freighter which was anchored near the Island, much to Ben's horror.
The arrival of the freighter spelled disaster for both the survivors and the Others. Unbeknownst to Jack and those who had sought to contact the boat, the people on board worked for Charles Widmore, who was said by Ben to be a "bad man" who would destroy the Island and everyone on it. It emerged that the people on the freighter planned to kill everyone on the Island after extracting Ben, and the result was the death of all the freighter's soldiers at the hands of Richard Alpert and the Others. Ben was shown to also have some degree of control over the Monster, summoning it after Alex was murdered.
Much of Ben's actions were done in the name of the Island, and indeed he and Locke followed orders by Jacob, who seems connected to the Island itself. In doing this, Ben went to the Orchid station and turned a frozen wheel, which resulted in the Island physically disappearing. This event also ended Ben's leadership, as he stated whoever moved the Island could not return to it. As a consequence, John Locke appeared to have emerged as the new leader of the Others.
Interestingly enough, when the Others returned from the Temple to eliminate the mercenaries and greet their new leader, they were once again wearing shabby clothes and camping in crude tents, suggesting that there is more to this way of life than a mere deception.
Season 5Following the turning of the frozen wheel by Ben, all of the Island's inhabitants except for Claire and the Others began skipping in time. Why the Others alone stayed with the Island in the present is unknown; possibly they have some sort of deeper connection to it. For three years, the Others lived on the Island alone. They were living in a camp made up of yurts on the beach when Benjamin Linus and the form of John Locke suddenly returned, the latter reassuming his leadership after a long absence. Richard readily yielded authority to John, and, while he expressed reservations with the newly returned leader's new motivations and goals, he accepted his commands. The Others also seemed to tolerate the presence of Sun, who had returned to the Island with Ben and Locke, and was in their company when the two arrived at the camp.
The next day Locke, with the help of Richard, led the Others to the four-toed statue, where he had promised them that they could finally meet their mysterious leader, Jacob. The Others responded enthusiastically to this new approach. While en route, Locke quietly convinced Ben to kill Jacob, a deed Ben had not actually decided to go through with until he arrived. The Others waited as the two men entered the statue. While they were waiting, Ilana and her group arrived bearing a heavy crate, asking for "Richardus", and presenting the question, "What lies in the shadow of the statue?"
When Richard answered correctly, they emptied the crate, revealing the corpse of the real John Locke. The man whom the Others had been following appears to have been the Man in Black, for when he entered the statue, after exchanging pleasantries with the mysterious Jacob himself, killed the Others' leader through the manipulation of Benjamin's resentment and bitterness. After being stabbed by Ben, Jacob whispered, "they're coming," to which the Man in Black responded by kicking him into the fire.
From the answer to Ilana's riddle, it would appear that the Others' reverence for Jacob borders on the religious, as he as thus known as "he who will protect/save us all". The riddle's existence also implies that the Others may not be the only group with knowledge of and allegiance to Jacob.
Based on Richard's reaction and those of the Temple Dwellers, it seems the Others or at least their leaders are familiar with The Man in Black. ("LA X, Part 1") After Jacob's death and the revelation of "Locke's" true identity, the group of Others, previously led by Richard, who was later kidnapped by Man in Black, left the Statue of Tawaret and went to the Temple. It's not certain whether they reached it before Man in Black's arrival, but it's assumed they actually did.
Later, using Sayid as his messenger, the Man in Black was able to convince some of the Others to leave the Temple upon by telling them all that Jacob was dead and that there was no reason for any of them to stay, and that death would await them should they choose to do so. After Sayid killed Dogen, thus allowing the Man in Black to enter the Temple in his monster form, and then Lennon, while the remaining Others were killed by the MiB in his smoke form. The ones who chose to leave the Temple, including Cindy, defected to the Man in Black's side. ("Sundown") Later, those of the Others who chose to follow The Man in Black were mostly killed by Widmore's mortar attack; the survivors of this event went into hiding in the jungle. ("The Last Recruit") After these events, the Others who chose to remain with the Man in Black followed him faithfully, until they were all but wiped out by a mortar attack, ordered by Widmore to kill the Man in Black, which killed most of them. According to the Man in Black, those who were not killed in the attack scattered into the jungle. ("The Last Recruit") The fate of these last few Others is not revealed, but it can be assumed that they eventually came under the leadership of Hugo Reyes and possibly the guidance of Benjamin Linus (a la Richard before him) after Reyes assumed the leadership of the Island. ("The End")
While some could be described as original Hostiles, such as Richard Alpert, other members of what is now called "the Others" are people recruited from other sources. For example, Ben was a person who joined the Hostiles, betraying DHARMA. Furthermore, former members such as Juliet were recruited from the outside world to live on the Island and aid the Others in their research. ("Not in Portland") ("One of Us") Finally, some survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 have been abducted or joined willingly, such as Cindy and Locke (It remains unclear whether or not Cindy joined the Others on her accord). ("Abandoned") ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
When Locke attempted to join the Others, Ben told him that people who wanted to be part of them needed to show their commitment--in Locke's case, by killing his father, Anthony Cooper. Ben handed Locke a knife while the rest of the Others gathered to watch, but Locke could not bring himself to kill Cooper.
The next day, Richard Alpert suggested to Locke that he use Sawyer to kill Cooper. Ben gave Locke an ultimatum that he would only be able to continue following the Others if he presented them with his father's dead body.
Before Ben moved the Island, he told Locke that Richard and the Others would be waiting for him two miles east of the Orchid. When Locke got there, he was greeted by Richard, who told him, "Welcome home."
The temple dwellers are a group of Others who have made the Temple their base of operations. They protect the spring located in the inner sanctum of the temple. ("LA X, Part 2") Dogen acts as their leader, while Lennon as his right hand man and translator.
The Leader of the Others is the second-most-powerful individual within the hierarchy of the Others. The Others appear to only have one leader at any given time, and said leader performs a number of duties: ensuring the well-being of the Others, protecting the Island against threats from outside, and (allegedly) talking to and carrying out the orders of Jacob. Jacob is the only individual on the Island who carries more authority than the Leader. ("Follow the Leader")
The Others have been shown to have a very specific process for selecting their Leaders. Much of this leadership selection process is overseen by Richard Alpert, who had a crucial role in the selection of both Ben and Locke as Leaders. ("The Man Behind the Curtain") ("Cabin Fever") According to Richard, the Others' leadership selection process begins at a very young age. ("Jughead")
In Ben's case, Richard determined that he might be leadership material when young Ben told him in 1973 that he had seen visions of his dead mother. Richard seemed very intrigued, and told Ben that if he was patient, he might have a place in the Others' society one day. Ben later rose to become the leader of the Others. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")
The most specific evidence of the leadership selection process is Richard's testing of young Locke. In 1961, Richard presented a variety of seemingly random objects to Locke, including a compass, a knife, a baseball glove, a "Book of Laws," a vial of granules, and a comic book. Richard then asked Locke to choose the object that "already belong[ed] to [him]". Locke chose the knife, and Richard seemed disappointed, apparently thinking that Locke was not suitable leadership material.("Cabin Fever") It is highly likely that Locke was meant to choose the compass, since a time-traveling Locke had previously given the same compass to Richard in 1954.("Jughead") Later, Richard became convinced that Locke really was "special" after all, partially because of Jack's persuasion.("The Incident, Part 1") Locke eventually succeeded Ben as Leader of the Others.
Another part of the leadership selection process, at least in some cases, seems to consist of the soon-to-be leader killing his or her own father-- an initiation rite of sorts. Ben killed his father during the Purge, although it is unclear whether he did so under instructions from the Others.("The Man Behind the Curtain") Later, Ben told Locke to kill his father, Anthony Cooper, in order to prove himself to the Others, but Locke couldn't bring himself to do it. Instead, at Richard's advice, Locke had Sawyer kill Cooper instead. After Locke returned to the Others with Cooper's body, they took him much more seriously, and not long after that, Locke became their next leader.("The Brig")
Limits on the leader's power
The Leader of the Others appears to exert dictatorial, nearly absolute power over their people. However, the leader must always answer to Jacob. Also, leaders who fail to obey a specific set of rules (the exact nature of which is unknown) can be exiled from the Island, as was the case with Widmore and later Ben. Widmore was banished because he had spent too much time off Island and even had a daughter with an outsider. In Ben's case, he exiled himself by choosing to move the island, as he believed he had fallen out of favor with Jacob. ("Dead Is Dead") ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 3"). Interestingly, both Ben and Widmore returned to the Island after being banished, with Ben finding a loophole in the rules by returning with the Oceanic 6, and Widmore being invited to return by Jacob.
Richard Alpert seems to have some ability to check the Leader's power. He serves in an advisory role, and he has claimed to be outside the jurisdiction of Eloise and Widmore. ("Whatever Happened, Happened") Richard's involvement with the leader-selection process also gives him a measure of control over the Island's leadership, even when he himself is not the leader. During Ben's reign, Richard's role was that of a liason between Jacob and Ben; visiting Jacob to get his orders, which were written down on slips of paper, and delivering them to Ben. It should also be noted that Ben claimed Widmore had never seen Jacob either, implying the two of them could have been part of a long line of leaders who had never met Jacob during their reign, or even that no leader had ever met him. This is supported by the fact that Jacob chose Richard as his intermediary between himself and the people he brought to the island, suggesting Richard was always the one who visited Jacob - not the leader. ("The Incident, Part 2") ("Ab Aeterno") The producers of Lost have compared the relationship between Richard and the Leader of the Others to that between the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama.
The Leader of the Others seems to have limited jurisdiction over the Temple, which was commanded by Dogen, the Temple Master. Dogen shared little information, even extremely important information, like the threat of the Man in Black, with Ben, the then-Leader at the time. This suggests that the Temple may be an autonomous community beyond the Leader's control.
As of 2007, there is no known true Leader of the Others, and it is unclear, due to the high casualty rate of The War, whether the Others as a society continue to exist.
|Picture||Name||Started leadership||Ended leadership||Tenure|
|Richard Alpert||Unknown||Unknown||Richard may have been the Leader of the Others in 1954, however, it is possible that there was another unknown Leader, and Richard was still in his usual advisory role at the time. Richard's job is to act as Jacob's proxy, and while other Leaders may or may not ever see Jacob knowingly, Richard relays Jacob's instructions to them so that their community may naturally develop. Thus, Richard appears to fill the role of Leader when no more recent arrival is able to fill that role, as part of Jacob's "bet" that visitors to the island will naturally build a sustained, virtuous community.|
|Eloise Hawking||Unknown||late 1970s||Eloise was the Leader by 1977 at the latest. Not long thereafter, she left the Island to raise her son and was succeeded by Widmore. After her departure, Eloise continued to pursue a mysterious agenda off-Island, but did not attempt to return.|
|Charles Widmore||late 1970s||mid-1990s||Widmore was the Leader during the Purge and presumably played a significant role in the event, although the exact extent of his involvement is unknown. He developed a rivalry with Benjamin Linus, who engineered Widmore's banishment and took his place as Leader. After his banishment, Widmore made efforts to return to the Island, and finally succeeded in 2007.|
|Ben Linus||mid-1990s||2004||Ben was a ruthless and manipulative Leader, although he claimed that everything he did was for the benefit of the Island. He was unable to talk to Jacob, but still tried his best to carry out his orders, which he received from Richard. Over time, Ben fell out of favor with Jacob and became convinced that his duty was to move the Island, however, he was intern exiled. Although Ben claimed that he would not be able to return to the Island after moving it, he eventually did, and killed Jacob at the urging of the Man in Black.|
|John Locke||2004||2004||Locke's short-lived period of leadership began after Ben turned the wheel and moved the Island. He was accepted and welcomed as Leader, however, he never actually got to use his leadership powers, because he immediately began flashing through time because of the Island's time-shifts, while the rest of the Others did not. Locke left the Island via the Orchid and was killed before he could ever actually serve the Others in a leadership capacity.|
|The Man in Black||2007||2007||The Man in Black took Locke's form and used the latter's authority as Leader to convince Richard to take him to Jacob. After using Ben to kill Jacob, the Man in Black continued to masquerade as Locke.|
The Others have access to a variety of weapons, including firearms, tasers, explosives, bolas, and U.S. army knives. Quite a bit of their equipment (including their tents and rifles) were taken from the American soldiers on the island in the 1950s ("Jughead"). Prior to this, they were mostly armed with bows and arrows. They have various means of off-Island transportation, including a submarine (taken from the DHARMA Initiative), a yacht, a motor boat which they gave to Michael, and Desmond's sailboat (which they took from the survivors).
There seems to be extensive audio and video surveillance in certain areas of the Barracks where the Others live. Tom indicates the game room where Kate is held and speaks to Jack is under surveillance. The house where Jack is temporarily staying is equipped with video cameras which were carefully monitored.
Ben's house did not seem to be monitored. Locke was able to enter the house without being detected. He was also able to move hostages to different areas of the house including the kitchen. The full extent of the monitoring at the Barracks is not known. ("The Man from Tallahassee")
They had both communication with the outside world (via the Flame) and regular supply dispatches and transport to the outside world (via the Galaga); however, both of these were destroyed by John Locke in Season 3. They also had an implicit supply of fuel for their motor boat; when Michael and Walt departed in the motor boat, this became a moot point.
On December 12, 2004, all the Others along with John Locke left the Barracks for an unknown location that Ben called an old place. Juliet was left behind. She and a group of Losties were gassed by the Others but left within the perimeter of the Barracks. John Locke made a case for allowing Kate to accompany the Others, but the request was turned down because of her personal history, saying that "forgiveness isn't their strong suit." ("Left Behind")
The Others stopped on their journey and stopped at a high area full of stone ruins. They camped at that location for a few days and then moved on.
As seen in "The Cost of Living" during Colleen's funeral, the Others' funeral process is very unique. They burn the bodies of their dead, and send them out to sea. As seen in "LA X, Part 1", the smoke monster is a manifestation of the Man in Black, someone the Others fear. ("LA X, Parts 1 & 2") The Man in Black can manifest himself into any person who is deceased, explaining why the Others are hesitant to leave members of their own with any physical remains. They seem to have disregard for other people, such as the DHARMA Initiative members, whom they left in a pit after the purge, proving that they are only worried about someone that could possibly have influence over other members of their organization.
I want to know what you people are doing on this island. Why you're terrorizing us. Making lists. Kidnapping children. - Sayid
The ultimate aims of the Others were among the most integral mysteries of the show. It is revealed Jacob started the society to organize the people he summoned to the Island, and to help them tell the difference between right and wrong via strong social reinforcement, rather than his direct intervention. ("Ab Aeterno")
The Others made extensive use of DHARMA facilities, and have an understanding of their operation and purpose, but it is unclear whether they are continuing any of the DHARMA Initiative's research.
Jacob was a major force in determining the Others' purpose, and they treated him with an almost religious attitude. Locke implied several times that he thought all island residents, including the Others, should have treated the island itself with religious respect.
The Man in Black said that the Others thought their purpose was to protect the island from him. ("Recon")
Throughout the third season, it was revealed that the pregnancy problems on the island were a major factor in several of the actions undertaken by the Others, such as:
- Their recruitment of fertility doctor Juliet, to study the problem
- Their kidnapping of Alex, Zach and Emma, to supplement their own population
- Their kidnapping of Claire, for use as a test subject
- Their raid on the beach camp in the finale of Season 3, to obtain pregnant women as test subjects
However, it is likely that this is merely a means to ensure their continued survival as a group on the island, for the completion of their greater objectives.
The Others have committed a number of crimes against other groups on the Island. This includes murder, kidnapping, assault and imprisonment. However, it should be stated that the crimes are relative in comparison with those also committed by other groups themselves, including the survivors of Flight 815. Indeed, in an US Weekly interview in the June 12, 2006 issue, Lost writer Damon Lindelof was asked what it means that the Others are good guys, and he replied with a question: "Who has killed more people since they went to the Island, our guys or the Others?"
Murders, attempts, and intentions
The Others have committed a number of murders, including the killing of 17 members of the United States military in the 1950s (an 18th was killed by radiation poisoning), when Goodwin killed Nathan in "The Other 48 Days", when Ethan murdered Scott in "Homecoming", when Mikhail murdered Bonnie and Greta (as well as causing Charlie to drown) in "Through the Looking Glass, Part 1", and the mass murder of the DHARMA Initiative personnel.
There have also been attempted murders, including when Ben attempted to kill Locke in "The Man Behind the Curtain", when Pickett almost shot Sawyer in "I Do", and Ethan's attempted murder of Charlie in "All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues" and when Ben was ordered by Charles Widmore to kill Danielle Rousseau and her child.
Perhaps the most obvious crime committed by the Others is their numerous kidnappings. For instance, Alex was kidnapped as a baby from Danielle, as was Claire whom they wanted for her baby. The Others also attempted to kidnap all the pregnant women among the survivors. Despite Ben's promise that the kidnapping would be non-violent, he later ordered his team to shoot any survivor who got in their way. ("The Brig") ("Greatest Hits")
Numerous Tailies were also abducted by the Others. Karl commented that "we give them a better life". When Kate further asked "Better than what?" Karl answered "better than yours." In addition, Jack, Kate and Sawyer were all abducted as part of Ben's plan to convince Jack to operate on his tumor. Finally, Walt was forcibly abducted, though was returned to Michael as part of the deal to get Jack, Kate and Sawyer.
The Others have committed a large number of assaults during confrontations. For example, when attempting to abduct survivors, there were multiple skirmishes at the Tailies camp, as well as the final beach camp battle between members of the Others and Flight 815 survivors.
Imprisonment and punishment
The Others held Claire at the Staff Station in what appeared to be a drugged state in "Maternity Leave". Walt was also held captive and made to take tests before Michael arranged for his release, during which time he himself was imprisoned. Furthermore, Jack, Kate and Sawyer were all held prisoner on Hydra Island, with Jack kept in a tank originally designed for sharks and dolphins, and Kate and Sawyer were kept in cages originally designed for polar bears. They were monitored using video surveillance, and Kate and Sawyer were forced to do manual labor at a location called the Quarry.
The Others also employ psychological methods of torture, such as telling Sawyer that he had been implanted with a pacemaker device that would lead to heart failure if his pulse was above a certain rate. Karl was also made to undergo a psychological method of punishment similar to brainwashing in Room 23 at the Hydra.
- Lost producer Damon Lindelof said of the Others, "...they eat chicken, they wear clothes out of the J. Crew catalog" in reference to their lifestyle at the Barracks revealed in season 3.
- In Lost: The Complete Second Season (DVD), the Others' method of leaving no tracks was revealed when a group of 12 Others (the ones seen by Eko and Jin in "...And Found") are seen passing the screen, with the last member brushing off their trail with leaves.
- In the special feature "Access: Granted" TPTB state "And the Others... yes, there are other nefarious things the Others are doing in the real world, but, um... we can’t tell you about that yet."
- All Others are taught to speak Latin. When asked why this is the case, Juliet simply says "because it's the language of the enlightened." It's also Jacob's mother language.
- As of "The End", the fate of a few Others wasn't revealed. These were: Adam, Amelia, Harper, Vanessa and Widmore's victim.
- For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Others/Theories
- Why do they take blood samples from kidnapped individuals?
- Why did they abandon the Staff, the Hydra and the Barracks upon their discovery by the survivors of Flight 815?
- Why were they unaffected by the time flashes after Ben turned the frozen wheel?
- What happened to them under the leadership of Hugo Reyes and Benjamin Linus?
- How could they penetrate the sonic fence?
- How did they come to and from the Island before capturing the Galaga?
- How did they acquire their extensive off-Island resources?