Although Lost ended a decade ago, its profound effect on television can be felt to this day, ushering in the era of 'prestige television' like Breaking Bad and Mad Men, which followed the formula set by Lost in having set storylines unfold over finite seasons with a predetermined end. In a recent interview, the co-creator and showrunner of Lost, Damon Lindelof, explained that the original intent had been to end Lost after three years.
"Lost was like, 'What's in the hatch? What's up with the monster? Who's the original Sawyer? How did Locke get in the wheelchair? What is the nature of the island? Why does it appear to be moving? Who are the Others?' There were all of these compelling mysteries and so we were saying, 'We wanna have this stuff answered by the end of Season 1, this stuff answered by the end of Season 2, and then the show basically ends after about three years.' That was the initial pitch, and they were not even hearing it. They looked at particularly me - Carlton came on about midway through Season 1 and he joined the chorus of me - but they were just like, 'Do you understand how hard it is to make a show that people want to watch? And people like the show? So why would we end it? You don't end shows that people are watching.'"
It was unthinkable back then for studios to voluntarily end a show that was getting successful ratings. Since ABC was determined to keep Lost going past the planned three seasons, Lindelof had no choice but to prepare to exit the show on his own terms, and let someone else develop its next season.
"So we got all the way to the end of Season 2 and then tried to formalize the conversation again. At that point, it was formal because Carlton and I both had two-year deals that ended after Season 2, so we were now negotiating for the future of the show. They thought they were in a monetary negotiation, where it was like we were trying to get more money, and all we were trying to get was for them to agree to end the show. So neither side blinked, so we agreed to sign a one-year extension - Carlton and I - with the understanding that we'd be leaving at the end of the third season and someone else would be running the show."
Lindelof's plans to leave did not pan out, and he ended up sticking with Lost for six seasons. It was only then, after fans started complaining about the show's various storylines and mysteries going around in circles and ratings started to flag that ABC finally agreed to put the series out of its misery.
"They finally came to the table and we had a real conversation. They were like, 'We have agreed to let you end the show.'... I just said to [ABC President] Steve McPherson, 'Thank you. This is what's best for the show,' and he said, 'We were thinking 10 seasons.' Mind you, we're halfway through Season 3, so first off how do you even think we're gonna get to 10? That's really the same as saying we're not gonna let you end the show, because how many drama series even get to 10 seasons?"
It is unfortunate that Lost's legacy as a groundbreaking piece of network programming has since become tainted due to an unnecessary additional set of seasons of stretched storylines that the creators of the show did not even want in the first place. Fortunately, the success of the series allowed Lindelof to move on to other critically-acclaimed programming like Watchmen and The Leftovers. This news comes from Collider.