Lost was an iconic piece of television that saved ABC, even as it left its longtime fans asking: “What does it mean?!“
During the show’s nine-year run, as well as in the years after, a number of other series tried to capture the same magic and popular appeal. There was FlashForward, The Crossing, and successful productions like Manifest. Many have not lasted, but a few managed to stay long enough to go out with divisive and bizarre finales similar to their forerunner.
With the streaming and broadcast landscape awash in more than 500 shows at any given time, it can be hard to know what is truly similar to this landmark show from the man who ruined the Skywalker story. Here are our picks for shows that scratch the same itch as Lost and are worth your time.
Let’s face it, parts of Lost were and remain ridiculous, and it is a fool’s errand to treat this show with a religious reverence. This show, which aired on TBS from 2016-18, openly mocked Lost by picking apart the mysterious island premise with glee, and it was a shame it was cancelled. We would have liked to see what their version of the finale would have been and whether it would have had the volcano which was not to be.
9. Twin Peaks
Looking for lots of mysteries? A mysterious horse which has no ultimate impact on the plot and was bizarre when it appeared? A supernatural battle between good and evil and two different versions of the same character? Yep. Twin Peaks has got all these bits from Lost and more.
This show also had the involvement of J.J. Abrams and was similar to Lost for its wide cast, embrace of mysteries, evil versions of main characters, and a wide variety of tie-ins. Much like the other series, its best episodes were ones which told side stories apart from the main narrative. Season 2’s White Tulip episode was particularly memorable — if you know, you know.
7. The X-Files
This show also had a dumb ending, but it helped people learn to love mysteries and serialized storytelling outside of traditionally episodic structure. Plus, Gillian Anderson’s role as Dana Scully has become one of the most iconic TV roles of all time since the show as left the air. Give it a watch if you are down for the things you loved about Lost: an abundance of tense, puzzling, serious, funny and unexpected moments.
6. Under the Dome
This adaptation of an operatic Stephen King book probably would not have been made on network television had Lost not shown that TV could be a space for scope and scale. While it got ridiculous and ultimately was cancelled before reaching a conclusion, it does have the kind of ensemble acting Lost was known for, and it had its fair share of fans.
While the other shows on this list are fairly well-known, this entry warrants more of an explanation. This series came and went before Lost concluded and featured the entire world blacking out at the same time and seeing visions of themselves in the future. Though it was based on a book and received some acclaim, the series about grappling with destiny and questions of fate was not to be and it was canceled before even finishing its initial season.
4. The Leftovers
This show was created by Lost alum Damon Lindelof and explored the interesting premise of what happens if much of the world’s population disappears, as in religious prophecy, but nothing comes after. Those who didn’t disappear are simple the leftovers. It interweaves the stories of multiple people and families before coming to a satisfying conclusion that its forerunner could not match. In some ways, given Lost‘s unsatisfying end, Lindelof had a second crack at delivering a stunning finale, which he accomplished.
3. The 100
This show stars someone from Lost and we will not say who, but rest assured, their performance is compelling. The characters exist in a place not known or understood by the audience, and things slowly reveal themselves over time. Many of the characters fall in and out of love, providing some of the series’ narrative drama.
2. The I-Land
Hey, we never said all the shows on this list were good and man, this one is not. A 2019 miniseries from the guy who also produced Nicolas Cage’s The Wicker Man, it is so bad that you should consider watching it on a day when you need a laugh. It has a twist to rival Matthew McConaughey’s gloriously ridiculous Serenity, and trust us, that’s saying something.
This show reminded us the most of Lost, in that it begins with a plane and delves into time travel and folks with special abilities. It recently beat the odds of its predecessors by actually getting to have a conclusion and though it can be goofy at times, is worth watching if you need to scratch the itch the island gave you many many years ago.