Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth About The Others From Lost

When it first debuted in 2004, "Lost" was a TV show unlike any other. The enigmatic series follows a group of people stranded on an island after a terrifying plane crash. As they explore the seemingly deserted spit of land, they unearth a number of mysteries about their new environment. These include abandoned research stations from the 1970s, unseen monsters, and a group of island natives known as the Others, who have lived there far longer than should be possible.

"Lost" presents many fascinating riddles, but one of the biggest regards the true nature of these island inhabitants. Initially presented as a rugged band of hostile individuals, later seasons of "Lost" reveal more and more about the Others — yet many details remain foggy. Years after the series' final episode hit the airwaves, it still feels as though there's much left to learn about this strange group. From their original purpose to their time on the island, we're taking a look at the untold truth of the Others from "Lost."

The first Others we see aren't actually the first Others

One of the biggest revelations of Seasons 5 and 6 of "Lost" is how long certain characters have been on the island. Season 6's "Across the Sea" reveals people have been coming to the island since the days of Ancient Rome, as evidenced by the dress and Latin usage of Mother. After an unnamed pregnant woman comes to the island and gives birth to twins, Mother kills the unfortunate woman and adopts the children as her own. They eventually grow into Jacob and the Man in Black.

As any diehard "Lost" fan knows, the Others' ultimate allegiance is to Jacob. However, "Across the Sea" reveals this hasn't always been the case. The native islanders who predate Jacob's Others are loyal to the Man in Black. After Jacob and the Man in Black discover other people living on the island, the Man in Black leaves Mother and Jacob to join them. Over the next few decades — a complete "Lost" timeline comes in handy here — the Man in Black and these proto-Others work on finding a way off the island. But they're thwarted by Mother, who kills them all, save the Man in Black.

Centuries pass before another group of island natives bands together to survive. While there are survivors on the island who predate the Man in Black's group, canonically, these are the first Others seen in the series.

Richard Alpert is the first and longest-tenured leader

The modern day band of Others who encounter the survivors of Flight 815 have roots in the late 1860s. In Season 6's "Ab Aeterno," we see Richard Alpert agree to act as an intermediary between Jacob and anyone Jacob brings to the island around this time. This means the Others we meet have existed for roughly 140 years, with Richard acting as the group's first official leader.

While it's almost certain that leaders other than the ones we see on the show have come about, Richard is frequently shown occupying the position. For example, when Locke and his group of survivors travel back to the 1950s, Richard is shown leading the Others. Whether Richard hasn't found a sufficient candidate to lead the Others since the 1860s or is simply acting as an interim leader is up for debate. But whenever the Others' leader is indisposed, Richard assumes the role until they return to their duties.

Key examples of this are seen when Richard acts as the temporary leader after Ben is captured by the Flight 815 survivors in Season 4. Moreover, he acts as the group's leader when Locke disappears for three years while time traveling in Season 5. Richard likely acts as a sort of vice president, advising the true leader on important matters and standing by to step in if the need arises.

The Others will protect the island at all costs

While the goals of the Others seem to change from season to season, their central objective remains the same: They protect the island, no matter what. This is detailed in Season 6's "Ab Aeterno," when Richard offers to act as an advisor to whoever Jacob brings to the island. Because Jacob's main goal is to protect the island from destruction, the Others pursue that goal as well. The Others take their duties very seriously: They're willing to kill themselves and members of their own group if it fulfills their objective.

The Others' aggression towards Flight 815's survivors in Seasons 1, 2, and 3 is motivated by many things. One of the biggest is their adamant belief that the survivors shouldn't leave the island. According to Jacob's philosophy, the survivors have been brought to the island for a reason, and if they're allowed to leave, they risk exposing the island's fantastic nature to the outside world. This also explains the Others' hostility towards the DHARMA Initiative and Widmore's expedition: The Others see them as unwelcome outsiders trying to seize control. 

At the same time, the Others' leader, Ben Linus, sees Flight 815's arrival as an opportunity to study the island's effects on pregnant women and a chance to get the life-saving surgery he desperately needs. These motivations also explain the Others' aggression in the beginning of the series.

The Others carefully choose their leaders

The Others have several leaders throughout "Lost," ranging from Widmore and Eloise in the 1970s to Ben and Locke in the present day. Though the Others' leadership is diverse, the group is very careful about who they choose. As Richard tells Locke in Season 5's "Jughead," "We have a very specific process for selecting our leadership, and it starts at a very, very young age."

It's difficult to say what this process looks like, but we might see a glimpse of it when Richard visits a young John Locke in the early 1960s. Richard lays an assortment of items before John and asks him to pick the items that are already his. While this might seem like a test to prove the elderly Locke he sees in the 1950s is the same Locke he meets in the 1960s, the test might also be a way for the Others to detect leadership potential in young children. 

Interestingly, every leader of the Others after Richard was once a junior member of the group. In the 1950s, teenage Widmore and Eloise appear as members of the Others' camp. Similarly, Ben, the leader of the Others in the mid-2000s, first joins the group as a child in the 1970s. As we see in Season 4's "Cabin Fever," Richard routinely observes Locke throughout his childhood. It's almost certain that, in all these cases, Richard is testing them to see if they might make an ideal leader of the group.

Numerous leaders are exiled from the island

Each leader of the Others is granted almost universal power on the island. The Others follow them faithfully and without fail, so long as they justify whatever's being done as for the protection of the island. As powerful as this position is, once a leader's tenure is over, they're stripped of command and are generally unwelcome in the Others' company. Several leaders of the past have been treated in this manner. Eloise and Widmore, for example, both live in exile off the island. Eloise's is seemingly self-imposed, while Widmore's is enforced by the Others. 

Ben is initially unable to return to the island after physically moving it in Season 4's "There's No Place Like Home." This implies there's some sort of rule in place that states when a leader leaves the island, they are no longer welcome back. This is evidenced when Ben finally returns to the island with John in 2007 and is treated coldly. The exception to this rule is Locke, who is reinstated as the Others' leader after three years away from the island. Does this mean there isn't a rule? We're not sure. But it's still interesting that of the five leaders audiences meet, three are essentially barred from the island.

Jacob rarely speaks to the Others' leaders

Every leader of the Others is expected to carry out Jacob's orders. Despite this, only a handful of people can speak to Jacob personally, and most leaders are never able to gain an audience with the mysterious island protector. More often than not, Richard delivers messages from Jacob to whoever the leader is at the time. Ben, subject to this sort of communication, never meets Jacob during his tenure, and appears extremely jealous when Locke is granted a chance to speak with him.

The Others are bound by certain rules when it comes to meeting Jacob. It's very unusual for two leaders of the Others to meet with Jacob, for example: As Richard tells Locke, "Only our leader can request an audience with Jacob, and there can only be one leader on the island at a time." It's unknown if this is a formal rule created by the Others, or if Jacob has simply requested one-on-one meetings between himself and the current leader on the occasions he's agreed to meet with them.

The Others have a complex culture

It's difficult to say what the Others' daily lives are like, but certain social norms can be discerned. We know every Other is taught Latin, which they use to secretly communicate with each other in the presence of potential enemies. This can be seen when Juliet overhears a young Widmore and another captive Other speaking Latin while under guard.

The Others also seem to have a social hierarchy, with each member specifically recruited to fulfill a particular role. Juliet is brought to the island to act as a fertility doctor and research several female Others' post-pregnancy health issues. Danny Pickett becomes security supervisor. Mikhail oversees all communication with the outside world.

The Others are shown to have a very specific funeral process, involving ceremonial white robes and the cremation of their deceased comrades' remains. The Others are at least somewhat familiar with the nature of the Smoke Monster, and seem to know about its ability to shapeshift. Perhaps the cremation prevents the Smoke Monster from taking the form of deceased Others? This has not been confirmed, nor have the Others' funeral customs been elaborated on by the series' creators. But it's definitely an intriguing idea.

The Others' long history of murder

Having been around since the 1860s, the Others have encountered numerous outsiders. More often than not, their interaction with these groups tends to result in conflict, which the Others always manage to come out on top of. However, these hostilities can go further. The Others have even massacred opposing groups to protect the island.

In the 1950s, Richard informs Daniel that a team of U.S. soldiers have come to the island to test hydrogen bombs. When the soldiers refuse to leave peacefully, Richard orders the Others to kill the entire group. Decades later, after a prolonged conflict with the DHARMA Initiative, the Others carry out a massive chemical attack. This kills practically every member of the Initiative, whose bodies are dumped into a large open grave. The Others can also be seen as responsible for the deaths of Widmore's expeditionary team, as Ben causes the freighter to blow up.

The Others are capable of other barbaric acts of aggression as well. In Season 1, they kidnap and run experiments on Claire while preparing a risky operation that might kill her and her unborn son. They also hang Charlie as a warning to the Flight 815 survivors, and nearly kill Rousseau and her baby.

The Others know everything about everyone

Season 3 delves into the Others' complex society. They have access to resources, wealth, and information the survivors of Flight 815 never consider in their initial clashes with the Others. Not only can the Others venture to and from the island while communicating with members who are off-island, the Others also possess detailed files on every Flight 815 survivor. Basically, they know everything.

How the Others accrue so much information on every passenger is unknown. As we see through characters like Ethan and Goodwin, they rely on a system of spies who infiltrate groups new to the island. This provides them with a lot of insight, but it doesn't explain how they know everything about the survivors' educational backgrounds, previous romances, criminal records, and psychological evaluations. We know the Others closely monitor specific individuals in the outside world, however, which might play a role. For example, Richard regularly visits Locke throughout his boyhood, and Ben is shown keeping tabs on Juliet's sister, as well as the "Oceanic Six" survivors after they return to the outside world.

The Others' elaborate system of fronts

In the outside world, the Others rely on a network of fronts to recruit likely members. For example, when Richard meets a young John Locke in the 1960s, he tells John that he runs a school for special kids. This implies some Others are brought to the island at a very early age. The Others also recruit members through Mittelos Bioscience (aka Mittelos Laboratories), a completely fake company. When the Others find an appealing candidate, they set up an interview and tailor the fabricated position to the individuals' strengths and interests.

In Season 3's "Not in Portland," Richard plays one of Mittelos' hiring managers. He interviews Juliet for a job, enticing her with promises of complete freedom and abundant money. According to Richard, Mittelos is a small, privately funded company just outside of Portland. In Season 4, the same company is revealed to run a summer camp, used to lure young candidates to the island. Richard sends a flier to Locke's high school, expressing his desire for John to visit the camp.

The Others have a complex recruitment process

The Others seem to predetermine whether potential members will be an ideal fit. This is based on unknown criteria, but the method is partially revealed. In Seasons 1, 2, and 3, the Others capture several Flight 815 passengers. Though viewers initially assume the Others kill them, they simply recruit them into their ranks. While their choice of passengers seems random, in truth, the Others carefully consider their choices, creating lists of who to capture. Who makes these lists? We don't know, but it's hinted they come directly from Jacob himself. Several Others say the names on these lists are good people who are willing to stay on the island rather than leave.

Certain main characters' names appear on these lists, like Mr. Eko and Cindy. Other characters apparently come very close to being recruited by the Others. This includes John and Ana Lucia, who Goodwin believes is worthy of membership based on her ability to change. This reveals there's some sort of method the Others use to determine who joins them, though said method is never explained.

They Others have their own laws

Like any society, the Others possess a set of laws. While most of their details are unknown, we learn some of them — and the penalties for breaking them — in passing. When Juliet disobeys orders and kills Danny in Season 3's "Not in Portland," she is placed on trial for murder. This is a serious offense, punishable by death. After Jack speaks on Juliet's behalf, she is branded. 

In apparent contradiction to this, the Others intentionally kill one another multiple times over the course of the series. But the laws regarding intra-Others violence varies. When an Other has been captured, they seem ready and willing to kill themselves and their fellow Others rather than face interrogation. This is seen in Season 3's "Enter 77," when Mikhail shoots Beatrice and prepares to kill himself, and in Season 5's "Jughead," when a young Widmore kills a captive Other who agrees to lead Juliet and her group to the Others' camp. In both circumstances, death is justified as being for the sake of the greater good. This makes it an acceptable offense, rather than a capital crime.

Some laws seem to be unique to certain societal positions among the Others. This is apparent when Widmore is exiled for leaving the island and having a daughter with an outsider, according to Ben.

The original Others were very different

Years ago, a "Lost" series outline leaked online. As Damon Lindelof told /Film, this document was put together to show the network that "Lost" had real, sustainable potential. It charts the series' general direction, plans for specific characters, and general themes. One detail reveals what might have been the series' initial plans for the Others' true identity. In the story outlined in this proposal, Walt's dog, Vincent, goes missing on the island for a prolonged period of time. When he finally makes his way back to camp, he has an apparently human bite mark on his ear. Someone apparently tried eating the hapless canine before he managed to escape.

While we'll probably never know the identity of these proposed ear-biters, it feels distinctly possible that they were intended to be the Others. At the moment Vincent goes missing in this early outline, the Others' presence has only been hinted at. The survivors are still under the assumption that they're simple natives who wear ragged clothing and live in huts. Of course, this is revealed to be a clever disguise used by the Others to get their enemies to underestimate them. It's interesting to ponder where these original plans might have gone, had they been fully implemented — perhaps the Others' ruse might have turned out to be their reality.

Ben almost wasn't the Others' leader

Benjamin Linus wasn't actually meant to be the leader of the Others. In fact, Michael Emerson, the actor who portrayed Ben, was initially cast in only a handful of episodes. But the series' creators were so impressed by Emerson's performance, they decided to keep him on the show. In a 2009 NJ.com interview, Damon Lindelof discussed the character's original trajectory, as well as the decision to cast Emerson in the role. The captive Other Emerson played was going to either be a lieutenant in the Others' hierarchy, or — if the actor was strong enough — the Others' leader. As fans know, the show goes with the latter option at the end of Season 2.

Emerson was picked due to the interesting contrast between audiences' expectations of what the Others' leader should act like and the reality of his portrayal. He isn't a terrifying titan, as you might assume — and that makes him all the more interesting. Thus, he was cast.

Ethan Rom's name hints at his true identity

When Hurley looks through Flight 815's manifest and cross-references it with everyone on the island, he discovers there's an extra person in their midst: The seemingly helpful Ethan. After he's found out, Ethan kidnaps Claire and Charlie. This moment is one of the most surprising twists "Lost" pulls off in Season 1. But one major clue points towards Ethan's deception and true identity. 

When Hurley interviews Ethan in Season 1's "Raised by Another," Ethan introduces himself as Ethan Rom. This name is an anagram of "Other man." As we learn in future seasons, Ethan was born on the island to Horace and Amy Goodspeed, two members of the DHARMA Initiative. After the Others launched the chemical attack that killed most of the Initiative's membership, they adopted a young Ethan into their ranks and raised him as one of their own. An "Other Man" indeed. 

Shortly after Ethan's true loyalties are revealed, it's established he was planted among Flight 815's survivors as a spy. His medical background allows him to conduct research on Claire, monitoring her pregnancy and injecting her with Juliet's experimental serum to ward off the health defects pregnant women suffer on the island.