Jacob And The Man In Black's Lost Backstory Explained

Back when ABC's "Lost" first aired in 2004, the show was full of secrets. Drip-feeding its mysteries across six seasons, "Lost" kept viewers like myself gripped with its combination of mythology and pseudoscience. What was in the hatch? What was the smoke monster? What did the DHARMA Initiative really want? Would the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 ever make it off The Island? I must have sunk countless hours into fan theories, researching old scientists and scrubbing through each frame of every new episode in the search for clues.

Thankfully, some of those mysteries were solved ... even if the answers weren't quite as satisfying as we hoped.

But by the time "Lost" ended in 2010, we had been introduced to two key players — Jacob and the Man in Black. It seemed their complicated history was key to understanding (or at least, trying to understand) The Island. But who are they? Where did they come from? And what were they doing on The Island?

Here's what we know about Jacob and the Man in Black.

'Two Players, Two Sides, One is Light, One is Dark.'

Jacob and the Man in Black have existed on The Island for thousands of years. And their relationship is ... complicated, to say the least. It was revealed during the season 6 episode "Across the Sea" that Jacob and the Man in Black are twin brothers. But they've been locked in a seemingly endless struggle since childhood.

It was one of those big moments when everything clicks into place. "Lost" is all about duality. Good versus evil, light versus dark, science versus faith — the concept of opposing forces runs deep throughout the mythology of the show.

And when it comes to Jacob and the Man in Black, it's all about The Island. The twin brothers were born there after their mother Claudia survived a shipwreck sometime during the 1st century and became stranded on The Island. But shortly after giving birth, Claudia was murdered by a mysterious woman, the unnamed protector of The Island, who adopted the two boys and raised them as her own.

For years, the two boys lived an idyllic life on The Island, playing games, hunting, and exploring the beaches together. Their adopted mother eventually revealed why they were there — to protect the Heart of the Island. But their quaint family wouldn't last long...

'If We Can't Live Together, We're Going to Die Alone.'

One of the central themes of "Lost" is the clash of ideals. Science versus faith was a big one, pitting Jack and Locke against each other from very early on. The Island seems to attract this kind of conflict, and now we know why — it's all because of Jacob and the Man in Black.

Sometime during their childhood, Jacob and his brother encountered a group of survivors. These people had been involved in a shipwreck off the coast of The Island years earlier, and it turned out to be the very same ship their biological mother arrived on.

Of course, the boys had no idea ... that is until the ghost of Claudia appeared to Jacob's brother and told him what had really happened.

It's this moment that drove a wedge between the twin brothers. Jacob was enraged by what his brother had been told and attacked him, driving him out of the family home and into the arms of the shipwrecked survivors. Jacob remained with their mother, while his brother left the fold ... and although they still met to talk and play games, their family feud was growing by the day.

'SeeYyou in Another Life, Brother.'

The final nail in the coffin came when Jacob's brother revealed his true motive. He didn't really care about the survivors but used them "as a means to an end" to harness the power of The Island to aid his escape. Their plights mirrored Jack and Locke almost exactly — Jacob wished to remain and protect The Island, while his brother wanted to escape it.

The Man in Black eventually used his people to dig a well, to locate the Heart of the Island. He planned to harness this energy to get off The Island, but once his adoptive mother found out, it was game over. She knocked him out, filled the well, and killed all his people. In an act of revenge, he repaid her in kind — sneaking up to her camp and stabbing her to death.

Jacob then avenged his mother's death by throwing his brother into the Heart of The Island.

It was this act that transformed the Man in Black into the smoke monster, leaving his human body behind. And when Jacob laid his mother and brother's bodies to rest in a nearby cave, their sad story came full circle. These were the bodies of "Adam and Eve" that the survivors of Oceanic 815 found centuries later. Families, huh?

'Don't Tell Me What I Can't Do!'

After becoming a giant smoke monster, the Man in Black retained the ability to appear in his human form ... but there was one thing he couldn't do — kill Jacob.

Try as they might, the two brothers were unable to really kill each other after their mother had mystically prevented them from offing each other. Apparently, turning someone into a big smoke monster doesn't count as killing them, so Jacob got away with that one. But the Man in Black would need to find a loophole if he was going to get revenge on his brother.

And that's where the survivors come in.

The Man in Black had, ironically, begun to view humanity in the same way as their adoptive mother, that people only "fight, destroy, corrupt." But Jacob, on the other hand, decided he prove his brother wrong by bringing people to The Island to test their true nature. That's the real reason the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 ended up on The Island. But while Jacob used survivors to prove his point, the Man in Black sought to corrupt them, often using those who ended up on The Island in various assassination plots against his brother.

Over the years, the smoke monster became regarded by The Island's inhabitants as true evil incarnate, while Jacob became revered as The Island's protector. And so, The Island became locked in a perpetual cycle of duality — those who washed up on The Island's shores as mere pawns in a feud that spans thousands of years. Grim.