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How Lost's Michael Emerson Saved Ben Linus From The Chopping Block

In the mid-2000s, "Lost" emerged from the network TV pack to become premier television. With regular shocking plot twists, a secretive cast of compelling characters, and an undeniable hook, the weekly cliff-hangers of the ABC drama kept fans coming back for six seasons.

Centered around an airplane that crashes on a remote island and the surviving passengers who must learn to survive there, "Lost" also has a fantastical, supernatural element to it. For instance, shortly after the crash, a smoke monster arrives and kills the pilot, and the survivors discover a polar bear roaming the tropical island.

Though these strange events provide much of the adventure fantasy's appeal, it was undeniably the massive cast of layered characters and their relationships with one another that kept fans coming back to the show for so many years. However, if the writing team had stuck to their original plans, one key character would have been written off the show long before the series finale.

Ben Linus was supposed to be killed off after three episodes

Though Ben Linus (Michael Emerson) was introduced in Season 2 and went on to stick around for the remainder of "Lost," the original plan was to kill off his character after only three episodes. Initially, Emerson had been cast for a guest stint on the ABC hit, but "something about what I brought to [the character] was working," he told Stated Magazine.

Though the slimy, treacherous villain is easy to hate due to his ruthless nature and penchant for violence, Emerson gave the character a sense of quirkiness and eccentricity that made viewers always want to see more of him. The actor was just as surprised by how long his character stuck around as anyone else, explaining that the role eventually became a regular one, joking, "And then I could never escape the island."

While the ending of "Lost" courted its fair share of derision and controversy, Emerson was satisfied with where Linus ended up. "I was especially happy with the way they resolved my character," he said. "He was left sitting on a bench, outside the gate of eternity or something. Waiting. He was in a purgatory. He was like a character out of Beckett. That seemed just right."

Even if not everyone was as satisfied by the ending of "Lost" as Emerson was, the cultural impact of the show and its enduring popularity made it a water-cooler television event that kept audiences talking for years.