ABC's Lost series aired its controversial, head-scratching finale, The End, Part 2, on May 23, 2010, and many millions of fans are still pissed off at the confusing, existential ending. Still, legions of faithful loved its metaphysical reunion in the church. My feelings lie somewhere in the middle. While some thought the strange and somber denouement and the repercussions of the "flash sideways" universe rendered the events leading up to the conclusion as invalid, many found comfort and serenity in the way J.J. Abrams, Carlton Cuse and Damon Lindelof arrived at this satisfying purgatorial end for the survivors of Oceanic 815. But now we're finding out just how different that ending could have been.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, executive producers Cuse and Lindelof explained how the ending nearly featured a magnificent eruption of the island's volcano during a climactic battle between Matthew Fox's Jack and Terry O'Quinn's Man in Black.
“We were always looking to cannibalize anything on Hawaii to aid in the visual storytelling of the show,” said Cuse. “We also thought of the island as a character on the show, so we were always looking for things that would give it more personality. We didn’t have an idea of how the volcano could be used, but it was something we banked and thought we could use downstream.”
As seasons progressed, the notion of that symbolic landform playing into the climax of the series was tossed around more and more.
“The question was always, how do you basically visualize and dramatize the idea that the island itself is all that separates the world from hellfire and damnation?” said co-creator Lindelof. “And the answer was the volcano. The volcano had been dormant for the duration of the series, but based on moving into this endgame, the island had become unstable and the volcano was going to erupt. We were going to have lots of seismic activity, and ultimately, there was going to be this big fight between the forces of good and the forces of evil, which ended up in the series manifesting as Jack and The Man in Black, in the midst of magma. Magma spewing everywhere!
Apparently the network's execs and official bean-counters ultimately felt that the costs of this spectacle would be budget-busting, and the violent volcano idea was rejected.
“ABC was like, ‘Guys, we love you, and we’re letting you end the show; we can’t let you bankrupt the network in the process,'” said Lindelof.
They decided to have the good-versus-evil moment at a much more cash-effective location: the cliffs of Oahu, thus snuffing out forever what might have been the most insane ending ever to a network television series.
Would you have loved to see the monster volcano eruption, or were you pleased with the way Lost ended?