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The Ben Theory That Changes Everything On Lost

Sure, the Man in the Black (Titus Welliver) might be the biggest overarching villain in "Lost" — although arguments could definitely be made that Jacob (Mike Pellegrino) is a bad guy, as well — but everyone knows that there's one character who is inherently pretty evil, and that's Ben Linus (Michael Emerson). When the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 first crash land on the island, he's the man behind the Others. But over the course of the show, audiences learnt more about the villain and discovered that things weren't quite so straightforward with Ben. What, "Lost" being complicated? Surely not!

Obviously, one of the most interesting things about the character is his eventual redemption arc, which leads him to help the survivors save the island and its inhabitants. But it was a long journey to get there, and he wasn't afraid of killing people who were in his way. Ben was particularly savage in the years before "Lost" originally started, as he massacred every single member of the DHARMA Initiative who were living on the island by releasing a toxic gas from the Tempest station.

However, there's a surprising theory about the character which changes everything about "Lost" and its sprawling, complicated storyline.

Is Ben dead?

Obviously, the timeline of the series wound up becoming very elaborate and messy because of all the time-travelling that takes place in Season 5 and beyond. However, the key element that was revealed was that the reason behind Ben's descent into villainy was because the survivors chose to save his life as a child. Remember, Sayid (Naveen Andrews) had decided to shoot Ben as a child, so that he couldn't plague them in the present day — an idea that physicist Daniel Faraday had already confirmed was possible. What the survivors did in the past would have effects on the future (aka their present).

However, this wound up becoming a paradox, because by trying to stop Ben from being killed — they had to revive him using the spring at the Others' temple. Saving him robbed the boy of his pleasant, helpful personality and pushed him to be the cold-hearted killer audiences knew he would become.

What if, though, there's more to the story than that? One online theory, as per Screen Rant, suggests that Sayid actually succeeded in killing him — and the boy only appeared to survive. In other words, the real Ben Linus died as a boy, and the adult "Ben Linus" that is a villain in "Lost" was his ghost. 

This wouldn't be so surprising, when you think about it. There were plenty of ghosts on the island, after all, and it would be quite appropriate for the survivors' own sin to physically haunt them and torture them in the present day out of revenge. 

Unfortunately, as cool as that idea would be, it doesn't square with the events of the series. Ben definitely survived, and eventually worked alongside the Oceanic islanders in the future. He even wound up as an advisor to Hurley (Jorge Garcia) once the fan-favorite character was chosen by Jack (Matthew Fox) as the protector of the island in the final episode.