Following an extended period of conflict between the Hostiles and the DHARMA Initiative, the Island's natives executed the Purge, releasing poison gas and killing almost every Initiative member. After inhaling the gas, which originated from DHARMA's own Tempest station, the members suffered violent spasms, nosebleeds and eventual death.


Sometime between its 1970 founding and 1973, by which time they established themselves on the Island, the DHARMA Initiative became aware of a defensive group of indigenous people. ("The Man Behind the Curtain") Mikhail claimed that the DHARMA Initiative "foolishly initiated a war against" his group and called it "the Purge". ("Enter 77") On the other hand the Others had previously exterminated other groups who came to the Island, like the US Army. ("Jughead")

DHARMA Initiative strategist Horace Goodspeed acknowledged that his group had been "having some skirmishes with the natives." While Benjamin Linus was still a schoolboy, his lessons were interrupted by skirmishes between the factions, involving a shoot out and explosions near the Barracks. The DHARMA Initiative installed a warning system to alert the community against incursions. The sonar fence built around the perimeter of the Barracks may have functioned to protect the community against attack.

DHARMA took further steps as the conflict escalated, including devoting one of their stations to developing new defensive strategies, installing of security cameras and other monitoring systems, stockpiling weapons (an unusual step for a utopian community) and even employing a professional interrogator. The conflict does not appear to have been helped by the appearance of the time shifting survivors in 1974-1977.

The conflict between the two groups may have spanned as long as 22 years.

Violation of the Truce by the DHARMA Initiative[]

According to the Richard Alpert's addendums to the original Truce from August 1973 between him and Horace Goodspeed, the DHARMA Initiative was not allowed to enter or violate any ruins, drill any more than ten meters into the ground, stay longer than fifteen years or exceed a maximum population of 216. However, the DHARMA Initiative conducted digs, performed drills at the Orchid and Swan Station and hadn't left the island by August 1988 in addition of developing counter-measures against "the Hostiles".

December 19th[]

After years of conflict, the Others reacted with extreme measures. The Others' leader, Charles Widmore, ordered that the Others use the Initiative's Tempest station to release poison gas to kill its members.

At 4 P.M. Ben murdered his father, Roger Linus, with a canister of toxic gas. When he returned to the Barracks, the bodies of DHARMA Initiative members lay strewn about on the ground. Horace Goodspeed, who brought Ben and his father to the Island, sat dead on a bench, and Ben closed Horace's eyes in a gesture of respect. As Ben and the Others removed their gas masks, Richard Alpert offered to retrieve Ben's father's body, an offer Ben declined. ("The Man Behind the Curtain")


Horace in Locke's dream ("Cabin Fever")

It is unknown how many members of the DHARMA Initiative defected to the Others before the Purge, but Ben indicated he was not alone in doing so. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 1") Other DHARMA Initiative members may have survived the Purge, protected from the gas attack by quarantine safety measures such as had been implemented at the Swan. Stuart Radzinsky is known to have survived the Purge, although the exact year in which Kelvin Inman joined him inside the Swan remains unspecified.

Year discrepancy[]

After his appearance on The Hatch: A Lost Podcast in December 2019, director Bobby Roth released the script of "The Man Behind the Curtain" to the hosts who released it publicly. The script confirms that the original intended date of the Purge was 1992.

This date is disputed by supplemental material for the series suggesting or naming it to be 1987, and the writers originally supporting this, however have been unable to offer any support or evidence since. Nonetheless, there is a large and substantial amount of in-universe canon evidence supporting the Purge's 1992 date.


  • This date explains why Danielle Rousseau's team did not find other survivors immediately after they were shipwrecked on the Island in 1988. ("Solitary")
  • This would leave no unanswered questions of why DHARMA's message at the radio tower was changed by Rousseau, and then left unchanged for the next 16 years she spent on the Island. ("Through the Looking Glass, Part 2")
  • When Danielle arrived in 1988, several of the Others appeared to be living in the jungle. ("Dead Is Dead")
  • Out-of-universe: The ARG 2006 Lost Experience interview, which aired between seasons 2 and 3, said the Hanso Foundation cut DHARMA funding in 1987.
    • This is non-canonical
  • Out-of-universe: The 2010 Lost Encyclopedia dates the Purge to 1987.
    • This is non-canonical
Suggested evidence[]

Danielle's survival in the Purge is a supportable claim to the 1987 date. However, other DHARMA animals survived the Purge, and the poisonous gas released in the Barracks was not wide scale to the entire Island, as the producers have confirmed in the past.


  • Kelvin Inman, who served in the Gulf War (1990-1991), eventually joined Stuart Radzinsky at the Swan at some point after Kelvin's service in the Middle East had ended. ("Live Together, Die Alone")
  • Ben's watch, that he checks before killing his father in the Purge, is a Timex Easy Reader Indiglo analog wristwatch. The Indiglo backlight feature was introduced in 1992 in Iron Man watches and eventually spread to other Timex pieces. ("The Man Behind the Curtain").
  • When Horace Goodspeed appears to Locke in a dream, he states he has been dead for 12 years before 2004, in 1992. ("Cabin Fever")
  • Ben's then-52-year-old actor Michael Emerson, appears to be more closely de-aged to a version of Ben in his early 30s as opposed to his mid-20s (if it was 1987) during the Purge sequence depicted in "The Man Behind the Curtain".
  • Ben states in the 2010 epilogue "The New Man in Charge" that the Dharma Initiative has not existed in "nearly 20 years" (18 years since 1992) as opposed to "over 20 years" which would be the more appropriate line for the Purge occurring in 1987.

This chronology, however, leaves some unanswered questions about Danielle Rousseau's backstory i.e why the radio tower message was not intercepted for 16 years if DHARMA was active for the next 4 years after her 1988 arrival.

  • Danielle Rosseau says in "Enter 77" that she has "survived on the island precisely by avoiding these types of encounters." She was focused on finding her daughter and may not have been aware of the existence of The Dharma Initiative because she lived hiding in the southern part of the island where The Others were in control, and also supporting by the fact that when talking about the radio tower she says "But they control it now" meaning The Dharma Initiative abandoned the radio station or never had a reason to station anyone there since the numbers were played on a loop. And not until before or after The Purge did The Others assume control of it, and for some reason let Rosseau's message continue playing.

It also leaves questions of where Ben left his 4-year-old adoptive daughter Alexandra, during these events (or whether he did not raise her until after this, if she lived with the Hostiles).

  • It is however possible that the Natives seized control of the tower sometime before Rousseau's 1988 arrival following negotiation from their long, documented periods of territorial disputes; the depiction of Paul, Amy Goodspeed's first husband's death as a result of the 1973 truce being violated is example of these territorial disputes. ("LaFleur")



Gas grenade

Ben's gas grenade ("The Man Behind the Curtain")

  • In an EW.com article published on March 6, 2007, when asked for a 10-word teaser about "Enter 77", Damon Lindelof replied that only a one-word tease was required: "Purge."
  • The term "purge" in politics means to "remove people considered by the group in power to be 'undesirable' from a government, political party, a profession, or from community or society as a whole, often by violent means." The term is often associated with the totalitarian Stalinist and Maoist regimes.
  • The event of the Purge, especially where it took place, bears resemblance to the real-world event of Jonestown. The people of Jonestown sought a utopia just like the people of DHARMA Initiative; the Barracks look similar to the Jonestown Troolie Cottages; and they had a radio tower.

Production notes[]

  • Lost: The Complete Third Season (DVD) commentary revealed that the mechanism for the Purge at the Barracks was different from the mechanism Ben used in the van. The gas canister was added in post-production to give Ben a more active role in his father's death. The original plan was for something to happen more-or-less Island-wide to cause the Purge.
    • This mass purging, rather than a series of individual acts, was later confirmed by Charlotte's statements while neutralizing the Tempest. ("The Other Woman")
  • According to the original script of "The Man Behind the Curtain", there are "Literally FIFTY BODIES" in the mass grave. If we adding Roger whose body was left at the mesa, we will know that there were 51 DHARMA members killed in the purge.

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: The Purge/Theories

See also[]