The List: Ranking every episode of Lost [UPDATED TO INCLUDE “THE END”]

With Lost’s conclusion airing tonight, a slew of lists, editorials and personal reflections have flooded the internet. I have no problem adding to that mass of opinions. The past few days I’ve been wondering how to celebrate the series in a way that seems personal to me and one of the things I love almost as much as Lost are lists. Thus, I’ve compiled a ranked list of all of the series’ episodes, ever. I’ve gone through three or four hand-written drafts and now feeling pretty damn good about the number. As usual, the top tier and last tier feel the best, while all the efforts in the middle could be interchangeable depending on my mood. But I can’t wait any longer, so here we go. This is just one man’s humble opinion.

Note: I’ve counted two- or three-part episodes as one whole episode. If they were all written under the same title, it’s one episode.

UPDATE: After two viewings, I’m okay with adding “The End” to this list. I’ll be happy to return to it in the future after re-watching the series with complete knowledge.

111. “Stranger In A Strange Land” (Season 3, Jack-centric): Oh, Jack’s tattoos. Oh, Bai Ling. Oh, kites. At least this episode served as a catalyst for Darlton to say, “we need to end this.”

110. “The Other Woman” (S4, Juliet-centric): We get it, Juliet is always the other woman. But we didn’t need to see a petty, completely lovesick-to-creepy-levels Ben. And the Jack and Juliet kiss – ew.

109. “Par Avion” (S3, Claire-centric): Carrier pigeons. I don’t care how nice it was to get the confirmation that Christian was Claire’s father – carrier pigeons.

108. “Fire + Water” (S2, Charlie-centric): The weird hallucinations/dream sequences, the baby ‘napping and Locke punching Charlie’s face in created a kooky, but ultimately miss-fire of an episode.

107.  “Adrift” (S2, Michael-centric): This episode was thrown together at the last moment after a Sawyer flashback fell through and it shows. The shark-in-the-water trope and the beginning of Michael’s “MY SON. I HAVE TO FIND MY SON.” rants didn’t help things either.

106. “The Little Prince” (S5, Kate-centric): Kate’s parental issues with Aaron never really worked as a major story so the drama here had little emotional impact.

105. “Recon” (S6, Sawyer-centric): A surprisingly boring episode that attempted little more than “Hey, Sawyer and Miles are cops!”

104. “Further Instructions” (S3, Locke-centric): This episode tried to rebuild Locke as a hunter, but the excursion into the sweat lodge and hippie drug cult flashback make for a weird hour of the series.

103. “S.O.S.” (S2, Rose/Bernard-centric): No disrespect to Rose and Bernard because I’m glad we learned a little bit about their pre-island lives. But this effort made a kinda-dick out of Bernard and derailed season two’s closing momentum.

102. “What Kate Does” (S6, Kate-centric): This episode turned lots of people against the flash-sideways very quickly and though it was far from the series’ worst, it didn’t really add anything to either sides of the story it was telling.

101. “Abandoned” (S2, Shannon-centric): When the best part of your only centric-episode is your death, it’s probably a good sign you weren’t that important or well-liked of a character. Sorry, Shannon.

100. “Eggtown” (S4, Kate-centric): Kate is bashed fairly regularly by the Lost fan population and I hate to add to that by giving her a third episode in the bottom handful, but this episode tried too hard to convince us that Jack and Kate could have a future when we all know they could not.

99. “Something Nice Back Home” (S4, Jack-centric): See above.

98. “Namaste” (S5, Multiple-centricity): This might be the ultimate chess piece episode that doesn’t do anything really wrong, but doesn’t do a whole lot overwhelmingly right either.

97. “Hearts and Minds” (S1, Boone-centric): I don’t have a lot of problems with the Boone-Shannon hook-up, but this effort proved that Boone wasn’t much more than a guy who really wants to help people, even when he regularly just gets in the way.

96. “Homecoming” (S1, Charlie-centric): Charlie icing Ethan at this episode’s end was completely intense. It’s too bad all the stuff leading up to that moment was mostly off.

95. “The Package” (S6, Jin/Sun-centric): Though it was finally nice to see the two of them together in the flash-sideways universe, the frustration caused the lack of them together in the island story overtook this otherwise fine episode.

94. “What Kate Did” (S2, Kate-centric): That stupid horse.

93. “The Lie” (S5, Hurley-centric): Hurley’s explanation of the entire series to-that-point and his burrito throwing were fantastic, but the whole “lie” arc never really mattered anyway.

92. “Catch-22” (S3, Desmond-centric): Desmond’s only centric episode that isn’t top 25 material brought us his first meeting with Penny and Jin’s Korean ghost story.

91. “He’s Our You” (S5, Sayid-centric): The acid-giving Dharma version of Sayid was fun. His pre-Aijra journey was not.

90. “…In Translation” (S1, Jin-centric): Jin’s side of our first foray into the Kwon marriage was fine. Just fine.

89. “Born To Run” (S1, Kate-centric): Kate’s inability to stand pat was already hammered into our heads at this point.

88. “The Greater Good” (S1, Sayid-centric): The only-okay flashbacks pushed this one down a handful of notches.

87. “The Whole Truth” (S2, Jin/Sun-centric): Learning about Jin’s inability to father a child just as Sun turned pregnant set off one of the early seasons’ best stories.

86. “Every Man For Himself” (S3, Sawyer-centric): The reveal about the existence two islands was a highlight of the frustrating six-episode pod when the efforts aired live.

85. “Dave” (S2, Hurley-centric): This episode played with one of the fans’ most talked-about theories – is it all in Hurley’s head? – and did so very well.

84. “Maternity Leave” (S2, Claire-centric): A weird episode, but one that at least partially answered some questions about the Others.

83. “Whatever the Case May Be” (S1, Kate-centric): Kate as a bad-ass, conning bank robber? Yes please.

82. “Enter 77” (S3, Sayid-centric): Ping pong, Sayid’s cat problem, the Flame and Patchy – a nice combination.

81. “Some Like It Hoth” (S5, Miles-centric): I love Miles and love the basic story here, but in the larger scheme, probably not too crucial.

80. “Meet Kevin Johnson” (S4, Michael-centric): Union rules put Harold Perrineau’s name in the credits all season and ruined the impact of this unusually (for the series’ standards) structured episode.

79. “Ji Yeon” (S4, Jin/Sun-centric): The flash mash-up was too cute, but Hurley coming to visit Sun after she gave birth was awesome.

78. “Outlaws” (S1, Sawyer-centric): Sawyer’s boar issues were frivolous, but his Australian excursion was emotionally hefty.

77. “Follow The Leader” (S5, Richard-centric): It was very cool to see Richard in both 1977 and 2007. Aside from that, this is mostly a chess piece episode.

76. “Left Behind” (S3, Kate-centric): Juliet and Kate in the mud, running from the Smoke Monster was…tasteful.

75. “I Do” (S3, Kate-centric): Kate’s faux marriage to Cop Nathan Fillion was better-than-expected, but Jack’s maneuvering against the Others made this episode.

74. “…And Found” (S2, Jin/Sun-centric): Tracing the Kwons’ journey before they even met was extremely charming. The kid’s feet and dirty teddy bear? Extremely creepy.

73. “The Cost of Living” (S3, Eko-centric): External factors forced Mr. Eko to meet a rapid and unceremonious end, but Smoke Yemi’s judgment is all the more relevant with knowledge of the Man in Black and his purpose.

72. “One of Us” (S3, Juliet-centric): Doctor Burke’s subterfuge among the 815 survivors only added another layer to the multi-faceted character.

71. “Lighthouse” (S6, Jack-centric): Though it featured too much watching in the jungle, this episode planted seeds for Jack’s eventual decision to replace Jacob.

70. “The Moth” (S1, Charlie-centric): Charlie struggle to kick his addiction is one of his finer moments; too bad most everything that followed it was mishandled.

69. “Three Minutes” (S2, Michael-centric): Michael’s time spent away from the survivors was handled fairly well and in a way that almost made us feel sorry for his deeds. Almost.

68. “Because You Left” (S5, Multiple-centricity): This episode did a fine job of setting up time travel and the journey back.

67. “Expose” (Nikki/Paulo-centric): A fun episode that actually has more relevance to the island’s morality testing than initially thought.

66. “Everybody Hates Hugo” (S2, Hurley-centric): Hurley’s fear of change and responsibility drive this episode that ends on a beautiful montage with Mr. Reyes passing out grub.

65. “Everybody Loves Hugo” (S6, Hurley-centric): The sort of-companion to “Hates” saw Hurley take hold of his responsibilities on the island while he reunited with Libby in the flash-sideways.

64. “Special” (S1, Michael/Walt-centric): The exploration of Walt’s special-ness never came, but flashbacks proved Michael’s dedication to his son was rooted in history.

63. “One of Them” (S2, Sayid-centric): This episode marks Ben’s first appearance as Henry Gale, but it really focuses on Sayid’s inner ability to always know when someone is lying.

62. “Whatever Happened, Happened” (Kate-centric): Kate’s struggle to save little Ben paralleled beautifully with her losing of Aaron in flashbacks.

61. “The Last Recruit” (S6, Multiple-centricity): The conversation between Jack and Sawyer on the sailboat is one of the highlights of season six.

60. “House of the Rising Sun” (Sun-centric): Sun and Jin’s first flashback was compelling, but I always liked this episode for the beginnings of the Michael and Sun relationship.

59. “The Hunting Party” (S2, Jack-centric): This episode is one of my favorites for the showdown with Mr. Friendly alone, but the flashback story is one of the series’ worst.

58. “White Rabbit” (S1, Jack-centric): Jack search for his father’s ghost/body is a story that’s still relevant today and the flashback story is one of the series’ best.

57. “The Long Con” (S2, Sawyer-centric): The argument over the guns and the safety of the survivors allowed Sawyer to prove just how damn smart he really is – and created one of the best mostly-standalone episodes ever.

56. “Raised By Another” (S1, Claire-centric): Even though the psychic Malkin ended up being a fraud, his initial warning to Claire and her subsequent emotionally-charged decision make this one of the better first flashback efforts.

55. “The Glass Ballerina” (S3, Jin/Sun-centric): Jin being ordered by Sun’s father to kill the man who was sleeping with his wife was a nice, screwed up moment. And hey, Sun kills her first – and only – person here!

54. “Do No Harm” (S1, Jack-centric): As Boone struggled for life, this effort proved Jack’s desire to fix everything was going to be a blessing and a curse.

53. “Collision” (S2, Ana-Lucia-centric): Ana-Lucia was unfairly hated – seriously, her arc plays much better on DVD – and this episode went a long way of showing how messed up she really was as a person – even when she tried not to be.

52. “The Beginning of The End” (S4, Hurley-centric): The writers smartly anchored this episode to everyone’s most-liked character and made sure that we remembered that Charlie’s emotional death was going to count for something.

51. “Confidence Man” (S1, Sawyer-centric): Though light on flashbacks, the island drama between Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Sayid was a highlight of the first batch of episodes.

50. “Across The Sea” (S6, Jacob/Man in Black-centric): It might be the most divisive episode of all time, but our only true extended look at the lives of Jacob and his twin brother added much-needed shading to broad type-like characters and provided some substantial answers.

49. “Tricia Tanaka Is Dead” (S3, Hurley-centric): Some think this episode is beyond stupid and full of stalling like the season three episodes at the bottom of the list. They’re wrong.

48. “316” (S5, Jack-centric): Though the mechanizations that got the Oceanic 6 back to the island were skirted over way too much, it’s hard to deny the effect of Jack’s initial transformation thanks to Locke’s note.

47. “D.O.C.” (S3, Jin/Sun-centric): Learning that Jin was indeed the father of Sun’s baby was intensely curbed by the fact that meant she conceived on the island. This is an expressive episode that rightfully ties Sun and Jin into the island’s bigger mythology.

46. “?” (S2, Eko-centric): Mr. Eko’s dream-induced journey to the Pearl station is one of the more eerie moments in season two and this episode also set Locke spiraling down a crisis of faith.

45. “The Economist” (S4, Sayid-centric): Learning that Sayid was a hit-man hired to kill Widmore’s people after he left the island was amazing. Learning that he was hired to do so by Ben was one of season four’s best moments.

44. “Numbers” (S1, Hurley-centric): Hugo’s first flashback finally came near the end of season one, but it was well worth the wait. The reveal of how and why he used the numbers was an odd choice that had fans speculating for seasons about their importance.

43. “A Tale of Two Cities” (S3, Jack-centric): The season three opener takes Jack to emotionally draining ends on both sides of the story, but gives us Ben’s real name and Juliet!

42. “Tabula Rasa” (S1, Kate-centric): The drama surrounding a possible fugitive in their midst created perfect initial post-crash drama for the 815 survivors and gave Kate  her best centric episode to-date.

41. “Confirmed Dead” (S4, Freighter Folk-centric): Their stories were strike-shortened in the end, but the introductory flashbacks into the lives of the freighter team were all individually compelling enough to get us invested in all four characters.

40. “Sundown” (S6, Sayid-centric): Sayid’s confirmed turn to the dark side propelled NotLocke to go Smokey on everyone in the Temple, which is still a series highlight.

39. “The Candidate” (S6, Multiple-centricity): The deaths of three major characters weren’t as heartbreaking as they maybe should have been, but the emotional impact was still there. Plus, this one finally gave us NotLocke’s real plan.

38. “LA X” (S6, Multiple-centricity): The season six premiere set up a lot of plotlines and possibilities that we’re still waiting to be concluded, but a number of moments on and off the island were full of heart and intrigue.

37. “Two For The Road” (S2, Ana-Lucia-centric): Ann-Lou-Lou’s story comes to a close with a bang – or three – as Michael returns just in time to kill two of the tail section survivors in what is one of the most shocking Lost moments of all-time.

36. “All The Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues” (S1, Jack-centric): At the first season’s mid-point, the story ramped into another gear with this episode as Ethan abducted Claire, whipped Jack’s ass and hanged Charlie. Meanwhile, Locke found something weird in the jungle.

35. “Lockdown” (S2, Locke-centric): The blast door map was tailor-made for internet fanaticism, but Locke’s inability to shake his con-man father in flashbacks was really the heart of this stellar effort.

34. “The Man From Tallahassee” (S3, Locke-centric): We all assumed that Anthony Cooper had something to do with Locke’s injury and subsequent wheelchair, but I’m not sure who could’ve thought it would end up being that bad.

33. “Solitary” (S1, Sayid-centric): The tortured torturer’s island journey and “meeting” with Danielle was the creepiest to-date at this point in season one. This episode also got us hooked on the underrated Sayid-Nadia romance.

32. “Cabin Fever” (S4, Locke-centric): The island drama is solid, but watching the flashbacks of Richard following Locke since birth was insanely unsettling the first time through.

31. “This Place Is Death” (S5, Jin/Sun-centric): This episode contained the most time traveling in a season full of it, which thankfully brought us a mini-Danielle flashback, the outskirts of the Temple, Montand’s arm and Charlotte’s untimely death.

30. “The Other 48 Days” (S2, Tailies-centric): The group ended up fizzling out (read: dead) for the most part by the end of the season, but this fast-paced, draining effort perfectly depicted the contrast in experiences between the two sets of survivors.

29. “The Variable” (S5, Faraday-centric): Season five’s MVP made his triumphant return in this episode – only to die at its end.

28. “What They Died For” (S6, Multiple-centricity): Though most assumed it’d be a chess piece episode, the series’ penultimate episode switched tones masterfully, provided some nice character beats and provided a huge answer – the characters have a choice.

27. “The Brig” (S3, Locke-centric): At the Black Rock, both Locke and Sawyer get their revenge on Anthony Cooper. Their ability to let go of Cooper and all the bad associations put them on the road to the people they are currently.

26. “Dead Is Dead” (S5, Ben-centric): This effort began Ben’s penance and featured a number of very cool island moments.

25. “Deus Ex Machina” (S1, Locke-centric): Locke, covered in Boone’s blood, banging on the hatch door and screaming for answers is a hotly moving moment that parallels his heartbreak in flashbacks after losing his kidney to a con-man father.

24. “The 23rd Psalm” (S2, Eko-centric): Oh Mr. Eko, how I miss you.

23. “Jughead” (S5, Desmond-centric): Though it’s supposedly Des-centric, this episode’s best moments focus on Faraday and company’s infiltration of the Others’ camp in the 1950s.

22. “Live Together, Die Alone” (S2, Desmond-centric): The season two finale wraps up almost all the season’s major storylines while introducing others that weren’t paid off for a number of seasons later.

21. “Greatest Hits” (S3, Charlie-centric): One of the most heart-wrenching hours of the series, as Charlie recounts the best moments of his life as he heads to an inevitable death.

20. “Ab Aeterno” (S6, Richard-centric): Comparisons to “The Constant” are misguided, but this episode balances mythological download and character-building damn well.

19. “Exodus” (S1, Multiple-centricity): A fine, action-packed conclusion to the first season that includes one shocking cliffhanger – the Others taking Walt – and one frustrating cliffhanger – the lack of entrance into the hatch.

18. “Not in Portland” (S3, Juliet-centric): Our first look into the pre-island life of Juliet brought Richard’s first appearance, solidifying of the Others’ obsession with babies and pregnancy and excellent work from Elizabeth Mitchell.

17. “Dr. Linus” (S6, Ben-centric): A stellar flash-sidways story was up-staged by Ben’s island journey that concludes with him simply asking for someone, anyone to take him in.

16. “Orientation” (S2, Locke-centric): The Swan Station Orientation Film was the step towards a larger mythology and more ambitious storytelling the series needed.

15. “There Is No Place Like Home” (S4, Oceanic Six-centric): Though light on character beats, this effort plays out more like an action movie – and a very good one at that.

14. “LaFleur” (S5, Sawyer-centric): Free from the time travel-induced headaches of the season’s first half, this episode made Sawyer the star of season five and his relationship with Juliet its emotional anchor.

13. “The Man Behind the Curtain” (S3, Ben-centric): The first flashback for the island’s resident bug-eyed villain was heartfelt and sad in traditional Lost fashion – which conflicted wonderfully with the island-bound Ben’s rage.

12. “Man of Science, Man of Faith” (S2, Jack-centric): Well, who thought there’d be a guy pushing a button on an old computer in the hatch?

11. “The Substitute” (S6, Locke-centric): As great as it was to see a happy(ish) John Locke alive in the flash-sideways universe, the reveals of the cave wall, the names and the beginnings of NotLocke’s plan were even better.

10. “Flashes Before Your Eyes” (S3, Desmond-centric): This one introduced a conscious-traveling that could play a major role in tonight’s finale.

9. “Happily Ever After” (S6, Desmond-centric): Des’ re-introduction to the main story brought us a catalyst – and purpose – for the flash-sideways universe.

8. “The Incident” (S5, Jacob-centric): Our first full-fledged look into the life of the island’s supernatural master was thrilling, confusing and series-altering, even that late in the game.

7. “The End” (S6, Multiple-centricity): It’s not a flawless conclusion to the series, but the series was never flawless in its own right. It pushed all the right emotional buttons and finished up the island story in a satisfying way as well — answers be damned.

6. “The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham” (S5, Locke-centric): The man of faith’s journey didn’t end quite how he thought it would, but the conclusion was sure something to marvel at.

5. “The Shape of Things to Come” (S4, Ben-centric): Seeing the leader of the Others go through a sympathetic, traumatic experience was perspective-shifting and fantastic from start to finish.

4. “Walkabout” (S1, Locke-centric): I bet millions of Lost fans remember exactly where they were when it was revealed Locke used to be in a wheelchair.

3. “Through The Looking Glass” (S3, Jack-centric): This effort features the biggest mind-you-know-what of the series – and of recent television period.

2. “The Constant” (S4, Desmond-centric): Time travel was officially introduced in a completely complicated way that should have been too confusing. But by grounding it in the series’ best romance, this episode is the best single hour of the series.

1. “Pilot” (S1, Jack/Kate/Charlie-centric): The one that started it all. Not sure what else I can say that hasn’t been said.

Well, that’s it. That only took me about 15 hours over the past five days. I’m sure you’ll disagree and I’m showing some character bias here, but again, I’m just one guy. I think this is a solid list though. Your thoughts?

Note: Check out critic Todd VanDerWerff’s list over at the LA Times’ Showtracker. Some major differences there.

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5 thoughts on “The List: Ranking every episode of Lost [UPDATED TO INCLUDE “THE END”]

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