Lost character endings ranked worst to best

ABC's hit series Lost may have concluded its run over a decade ago, but the debate about its ending is still going strong. Whether you loved or hated its existential finale, it's hard to deny that some characters' storylines wrapped up better than others, with most characters actually getting two endings over the course of the show — in the real world and the afterlife. While every character was dead by the end of the finale, not all of those deaths were shown in the episodes, and a privileged few actually managed to escape the island alive and well to eventually pass away at some indeterminate point in the future.

But just because some characters survived the island, that doesn't necessarily mean they got the best endings, as a poetic TV show death can carry more narrative punch than ambiguous survival. On the other hand, some characters' middling endings in the real world paled in comparison to their poignant afterlife codas. So which of Lost's main cast got the best conclusion overall, and which ones got the worst? Well, we took our best shot at ranking all the endings of the show's most prominent characters, from worst to best.

Be warned, there are major spoilers ahead.

Locke had the worst ending on Lost

Of Lost's most major characters, John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) received by far the worst real-life ending, with his life being unceremoniously snuffed out by Ben (Michael Emerson) after Locke had already hit rock bottom emotionally.

For much of Lost's run, Locke served as the faith-focused counterpart to Jack's (Matthew Fox) man of science. But toward the end of Locke's life, his faith took quite a beating after he was transported off the island in his efforts to stop the time flashes in season five, and he was then unable to convince any of the other survivors who made up the Oceanic Six to return. Defeated, Locke resolved to kill himself, hoping that his death might convince the others to return. At the last moment, Ben showed up and convinced him to live … only to then turn around and strangle him to death. To add insult to injury, no one even attended his funeral.

Following his death, the Man in Black wore Locke's body for a while, but the character of John Locke had already met his end. In the afterlife, John regained his memories of the island after undergoing surgery by Jack to cure his paralysis, and he ultimately got out of his wheelchair to walk into the church with the others. It was a nice final ending, but it wasn't enough to overshadow the awfulness of his death.

Ben's ending wasn't satisfying

After serving as one of the series' main antagonists, Ben Linus pivoted toward the end of the show to ally himself with the Oceanic survivors. Ben was responsible for some of the series' most ruthless turns, including the murder of John Locke and the murder of Jacob (Mark Pellegrino). However, while his loyalties to people were often unpredictable, he was consistently one of the island's chief saviors. He was the first to turn the giant wheel that moved the island on Jacob's orders, and at the end of the series, he accepted Hurley's invitation to serve as his "Number Two" when Hurley (Jorge Garcia) took over as the island's new protector.

Sure, Ben was one of the lucky few who managed to survive, and he probably wound up ultimately outliving most of the other characters, since the island likely extended his and Hurley's lives. But while Hurley told Ben in the afterlife that he was a good Number Two, most of Ben's redemption was left to our imaginations. In the flash-sideways, Ben refrained from entering the church that allowed most of the characters to move on, implying that he had more work to do before he was ready to take that next step. All in all, neither of Ben's endings were particularly satisfying, but they both reinforced the ambiguity and mystery that always surrounded his character.

Claire's ending was really frustrating

Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin) began as one of Lost's most compelling characters, as a young pregnant woman planning to give her baby up for adoption. After crash landing on the island and giving birth, Claire found herself having to parent a child she never intended to keep. Meanwhile, she also became a subject of fascination for the Others, due to their inability to have children.

But over the series, Claire's arc ran off the rails when she disappeared for three years to have some ambiguous jungle adventures. She returned completely unrecognizable — disheveled, suspicious, and violent. For the rest of the series, she was mostly a mess, with her years of solitude in the jungle having taken a significant toll on her mental health. In the series finale, Claire overcame her fears enough to leave the island with Kate (Evangeline Lilly) and reunite with her son, Aaron, but it was still far from a fulfilling end for a previously rich and promising character.

Her reunion with her deceased love, Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), in the afterlife as she gave birth to Aaron was one of the flash-sideways' more touching reunions, with the three of them finally moving on as the family they never got a chance to be in real life. But as sweet as it was, it still wasn't enough to redeem Claire's frustrating final season on the island.

Kate's conclusion wasn't anything special

Although Kate was one of Lost's central protagonists, her endings in both real life and the flash-sideways wound up being not particularly special. After successfully escaping the island, parenting Claire's son for several years, returning to the island, time-traveling to the past, and finally making it back to the future, Kate joined Jack in a final stand against the Man in Black. Kate was the one who wound up delivering the almost-killing blow to the Man in Black, shooting him right at the moment when he was made mortal again after his millennia-long reign of terror. Jack pushed him off a cliff before he could bleed out, but Kate's carefully timed shot helped facilitate their victory.

Afterward, Kate bid Jack a tearful goodbye and departed for the mainland, where she'd agreed to help Claire raise Aaron. It was a bittersweet ending for Kate, since it would be many years before she was reunited with Jack in the afterlife, but she hopefully lived a long and happy life once leaving the island for good. In the flash-sideways, Kate regained her memories while delivering Claire's baby, just as she had on the island, but she couldn't fully awaken Jack until he touched his father's coffin in the church. They moved on together, but Kate's relatively quiet ending still lacked the dramatic and emotional punch of many of Lost's other main characters.

On Lost, Sayid had a great ending ... and a weird one

As a former torturer for the Iraqui Republican Guard, Sayid (Naveen Andrews) started as one of Lost's more morally ambiguous characters, but he ended up as one of its greatest heroes. Over the course of the series, Sayid served as the Oceanic survivors' technical expert and one of Jack's chief lieutenants, often weighing in on strategy and tactical decisions. He married his lost love, Nadia (Andrea Gabriel), after he escaped the island as a member of the Oceanic Six, but she was murdered only a few months into their marriage.

Sayid survived until Lost's final season, but he ultimately sacrificed himself in order to save his friends, carrying a bomb to the back of a submarine in order to give them a chance to escape. It was a tragic but heroic end for a character who'd spent the entire series wrestling with his past and searching for redemption.

In the flash-sideways, however, Sayid wound up saving Shannon (Maggie Grace) from attackers, causing them both to remember their time together on the island. It was a sweet end for him but a little odd considering that he'd previously described his time with Nadia as the happiest time in his life. She'd been his wife, and he'd only known Shannon for a few weeks, so yeah, kind of a weird pick there, Sayid.

Sawyer's flash-sideways finale made us tear up

During the course of Lost, Sawyer (Josh Holloway) grew from an antagonistic conman into a sacrificial leader and loyal friend. After jumping off the helicopter that carried the Oceanic Six to safety, Sawyer underwent a lot of his growth during his time in the 1970s, where he fell in love with Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell). Without Jack and Kate around, Sawyer stepped up as the leader of the time-shifting survivors and helped them build a life for themselves with the DHARMA Initiative.

The group ultimately was able to return to 2007 … at the cost of Juliet's life. Grieving, Sawyer was angry with Jack for much of the final season, blaming him for the events that led to Juliet's death, but he eventually helped Jack execute the plan to defeat the Man in Black and save the island. Sawyer then escaped on the plane and presumably lived out the rest of his natural life in peace.

In the flash-sideways, Sawyer reconnected with Juliet in one of the finale's most heart-tugging reunions, as she repeated her final few words to him from the island before they both regained their memories. It was especially moving to see them reconnect since Juliet never knew that Sawyer had been preparing to propose before she died. It was a lovely final ending for his character, even if he didn't go out with much of a bang in real life.

Jack's farewell on Lost was totally fitting

Although Jack is the main character of Lost, his ending on the show is pretty middle-of-the-road in terms of its effectiveness. As the de facto leader of the Oceanic survivors, it's only fitting that at the end of the series, Jack volunteered to take over for Jacob as the island's new protector. However, Jack was badly injured in his fight with the Man in Black, and he was ultimately willing to sacrifice himself in order to restore balance to the island and save the world. Before his death, he passed his protector role on to Hurley, demonstrating significant growth for the previously control-obsessed character.

In the flash-sideways, Jack was married to Juliet, had a teenage son, and was very reluctant to learn the truth when Kate touched him and began to awaken his real memories. He wound up being the last of the Oceanic survivors to remember his life and head to the church to move on, although he did finally reunite with Kate in the end.

Jack's death in the finale mirrored his very first scene, with our hero lying on the ground and closing his eyes, echoing the way his eyes opened in the pilot. Everything about his two endings makes sense for his character, but while his endings are definitely fitting, there are still others that are more impactful.

Hurley proved he was always looking out for others

A friend to everyone, Hurley was one of the most consistently optimistic and kind-hearted Oceanic survivors, making it that much more surprising when we learned that before crashing on the island, Hurley won millions of dollars in the lottery and then suffered a shocking string of devastatingly bad luck.

Hurley spent the series underestimating himself and believing that he's cursed, but in the finale, he stepped into a pivotal role as the island's new protector. It was a surprising but satisfying conclusion for Hurley, a guy who was always content to play a supporting role to his friends but who proved over and over again that he was a caretaker at heart. True to form, he immediately asked Ben to join him as his second-in-command, a second chance no one but Hurley would've been likely to offer.

In the flash-sideways, Hurley had once again won the lottery, and he used his vast wealth to help facilitate the reunions of many of his fellow Oceanic survivors. He was reunited with Libby (Cynthia Watros), a fellow survivor who died in the second season of the show, and they were able to move on together. Hurley's afterlife story shows that even in death, he was still doing what he had always been best at — caring for others.

Jin and Sun had a truly beautiful finale

At the start of Lost, it was hard to root for the marriage of the controlling Jin (Daniel Dae Kim) and the meek Sun (Yunjin Kim), especially when we learned that Sun had been secretly planning to leave Jin after their plane landed in the US. But crashing on the island turned out to be the best possible thing for their relationship, and gradually, the couple rediscovered their loving feelings for one another and built a healthy relationship. 

For several years, Sun believed Jin was dead while he was stuck traveling through time, but eventually, they were joyfully reunited in the final season. Their happiness was short-lived, though. When they attempted to escape the island together on a submarine, Sun was trapped beneath debris when a bomb exploded. When Jin realized he couldn't free her, he refused to leave her side, and the two drowned together, holding hands.

In the flash-sideways, Jin and Sun were still together, although they weren't married. They remembered their past lives when Juliet gave Sun an ultrasound to see their baby, and they were able to move on together. While their deaths on the submarine were heartbreaking, both of their endings were also beautiful, as the couple who could barely stand one another in the premiere ultimately couldn't bear to be apart.

Juliet went out like a hero

Juliet Burke began her tenure on Lost as the doctor for the Others, the mysterious group who initially seemed to work against the survivors at every turn. A fertility specialist, Juliet had been brought to the island to study why its inhabitants couldn't have children, but she eventually defected to the Oceanic survivors. She was with them when the group time traveled back to 1974, and she fell in love with Sawyer during that time.

Juliet was killed when Jack tossed a bomb into a magnetic shaft, thinking it would disrupt the electromagnetic "incident" they knew was set to occur in 1977, sending them back to their time. Instead, the bomb failed to go off, and Juliet was pulled into the shaft as the electromagnetic energy of the island began to overload. Although grievously injured, she didn't die right away and used the last of her strength to ignite the bomb, sending everyone back to their proper time and saving them all. While Juliet's death was tremendously sad, she died saving lives, befitting her calling as a doctor.

When Juliet reunited with Sawyer in the flash-sideways, it was especially meaningful because Juliet had been doubtful of Sawyer's commitment to her before she died. When they reawakened their memories of each other, she was sure that he did truly love her, and they finally got their chance to be together forever.

Charlie Pace has one of the most touching death's in Lost

Ex-rock star Charlie Pace spent the beginning of his time on the island overcoming his heroin addiction and getting especially close to Hurley and Claire, and he often struggled with wanting to be useful, feeling as though he frequently got overlooked and sidelined by the group's leaders. Still, he did whatever he could to pitch in and help.

In the show's third season, Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) began having visions of Charlie's death and spent much of the season valiantly working to save him. Although Charlie initially was despondent over his probable fate, he eventually decided to overcome his fear and take on a mission to save his friends, even though he knew he might die. Before he went, he came to terms with his imminent death by writing down the best moments of his life, which included the time he was called a hero and the day he met Claire.

Charlie wound up shutting himself in a flooding room in order to save Desmond, but before he drowned, he was able to communicate a final message to his friend, giving him crucial information. In the finale, Charlie was touchingly reunited with Claire in the afterlife, but it was his heroic final act and the poetic buildup to his death that earns him such a high spot here.

Desmond has the best ending in Lost

Lots of the characters on Lost got emotionally satisfying endings, but none of the characters wound up having as much significance to the other characters and the show's mythology as Desmond Hume. Desmond's storyline on the show was extremely complex, as he found his way to the island before the Oceanic survivors and was instrumental in causing the plane crash that brought them there. On the island, it was Desmond who acted to make the Man in Black mortal, enabling Jack to defeat him. After that, Desmond was rescued by Ben and Hurley, who were able to return him to his wife, Penny (Sonya Walger), and their son, Charlie, who he named for Charlie Pace.

After he died, it was once again Desmond who brought everyone together, beginning to recall his past after seeing Charlie pressing his hand to the window of a car sinking in water, triggering his memory of Charlie's death. He fully regained his memories after tracking down and meeting Penny, and then he took it upon himself to orchestrate the awakenings of all of the other Oceanic survivors. Both during his life and in the afterlife, it was Desmond who brought everyone together, and his actions ultimately saved them all and opened the door to a better future, which is why he earns the top spot on this list.