Who'd have been Lost's leader if they'd killed Jack in the pilot

Contributed by
Jan 14, 2013, 1:38 PM EST

It's been well documented that ABC's smash hit Lost was a development mess of ideas that was reworked until the moment it hit the screen—and produced one of the best TV pilots ever made. But did you know a different character almost stepped into Jack's (Matthew Fox) leadership role?

An excerpt from Alan Sepinwall's new book The Revolution Was Televised has been published on Grantland, breaking down the chaotic early days of Lost as it evolved from a scripted version of Survivor to J.J. Abrams' wild mystery engine.

One of the most interesting tidbits? The writers had planned to kill the character of Jack in the pilot to show that no one was safe, then set up Kate (Evangeline Lilly) as the new leader of the group.

Here's the excerpt:

"At the center of the pilot would be two characters: Jack Shephard, a doctor who quickly falls into a leadership role among the castaways; and Kate Austen, a young woman whose fiancé had been in the back of the plane when the fuselage split in two, and who had no idea if he was alive or dead. In the vein of Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho (or even the pilot of Oz), they planned to pull the rug out from under the audience by killing Jack midway through the first episode,2 forcing Kate to take charge. After this sudden demise, viewers would realize no one was safe. Lindelof says Steve McPherson, then the head of the ABC studio, made a convincing counter-argument that it would teach viewers not to trust the show, and the writers ultimately agreed with him.

So Jack lived (his death scene would go to Oceanic 815's co-pilot), and when Abrams and Lindelof realized Kate wasn't dynamic enough, her backstory was changed to make her a fugitive from justice (the separated lovebirds angle would go to Rose and Bernard, an older couple who appeared sporadically throughout the series)."

Considering the pivotal role that Jack played for the entirety of the series, it's crazy to think what it would've been like without him. But, seeing Kate grapple with leadership on her own would've been pretty darn compelling, as well.

The article also reveals a ton of interesting details about the development process, and even spills how the writers planned to wrap up the series if it'd been cancelled after one season:

"Lindelof, Abrams, and then Cuse only knew a few broad strokes of the mythology in the early stages: that, for instance, the Oceanic passengers had been brought to the island for a reason, as part of some kind of battle between good and evil. (If the show wasn't a success and had to end after only one season, they would have built to a battle between the castaways and the monster.)"
Head over to Grantland for the full excerpt, and The Revolution Was Televised is available now on Amazon.

What do you think? Are you glad the writers didn't go this way, or do you wish Kate had been in charge?

(Via Grantland)

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