Every Season Of Lost Ranked Worst To Best

We have to go back, /Film readers! Back to the Island filled with research stations, smoke monsters, birds that shout "Hurley!," eerie whispers, and mystical electromagnetic fields that heal paralysis. Although "Lost" premiered almost two decades ago, it left a lasting impact on television — inspiring a plethora of mystery shows, including everything from ABC's "Flashforward" and Epix's "From." The ABC show fueled the audience's appetite for serialized and mystery-forward storytelling. Additionally, "Lost" launched the careers of many people involved — not least of all "Watchmen" showrunner Damon Lindelof.

Looking back at "Lost," it's incredible to track where the show began and how its twists forever altered characters' fates. While the series occasionally meandered — frustrating viewers with more questions than answers — its characters were the show's beating heart. Let's take a trip down memory lane to revisit some old friends. Crank Petula Clark's "Downtown," climb on board Ajira Airways Flight 316 with us, and head back to one of the most famous mystery-box-styled shows of all time. Here, we rank all six seasons with the benefit of hindsight.

6. Season 4

"Lost" aired its first few seasons when it was typical for a network television drama to have 22 (or more) episodes per season. Halfway through the show's run, its seasons' lengths were shortened. Season 4 is the first season with fewer episodes. Instead of tightening up its storytelling, season 4 covers a slimmer time period. The on-Island storyline takes place over several days, following the gang's journey to finally escape the Island. However, the problem with this setup is that we already know they succeed. In the season 3 finale, we saw some characters returning to civilization. Sadly, this means that season 4 feels like a lot of wheel-spinning, dragging out its revelations of who gets away and how.

Off-Island, in flash-forwards, we follow the Oceanic Six attempting to return to the Island. Of course, that means the overall season arc feels circular and pointless. Season 4's tensions are never as urgent or clear as in prior seasons. Should we be rooting for them to get away? Or are we waiting to be told why they must return? Is Jack (Matthew Fox) horribly mistaken? Should we be dreading them getting back?

However, it's worth also noting that this season contains (perhaps) the best episode of "Lost" – "The Constant." Desmond (Henry Ian Cusick) and Penny's (Sonya Walger) Christmas Eve 2004 phone call scene is a guaranteed tearjerker: The events of this episode are almost enough to bump the entire season up a spot in our ranking.

5. Season 5

In season 5, "Lost" moves away from the freighter-based storyline that season 3 introduced. As a result of the Island being "moved" by the frozen donkey wheel, season 5 shows "Lost" tackling time travel. This choice brings positive and negative aspects into season 5. In the 1977 timeline, it creates more space for the relationship between Sawyer Ford (Josh Holloway) and Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) to grow into one of the show's most beloved couplings. Additionally, the show can dig into the Dharma Initiative's origin story more, explaining the research stations' role in investigating the Island's mystical properties. Overall, these revelations are rewarding. We finally learn more about Ben's father, Roger Linus (Jon Gries), who is also the body Hurley (Jorge Garcia) found in a van in season 3.

However, time travel also makes season 5 more perplexing than season 4. By this point in the show's run, "Lost" fans expect to untangle mysteries. But splitting the season between the 70s, the mid-00s, and flash-forwards that show the Oceanic Six returning to the Island makes "Lost" needlessly confusing — not to mention its flashbacks and flash-forwards to solve who killed Locke (Terry O'Quinn). In the early seasons of "Lost," its flashback structure is elegant — a brilliant way to deepen our understanding of its characters. But in Season 5, figuring out the show's structure feels like homework.

4. Season 3

Let's get this out of the way: Season 3 contains some of the worst episodes of "Lost." This is the season with "Par Avion" — the episode where Claire (Emilie de Ravin) is convinced tying messages to the legs of seagulls will rescue everyone. No one tells her that the birds will probably land on water at some point, ruining the paper. Frustratingly, season 3 aired an episode 9 promo promising fans would finally get answers to "three of 'Lost's' biggest mysteries." However, all episode 9 gave fans were flashbacks explaining Jack's tattoos. It's also the season with "Exposé," an episode centering on (and killing off) much-hated new characters Nikki (Kiele Sanchez) and Paulo (Rodrigo Santoro). (God, they were the worst!)

However, season 3 expands its cast, deepening our love for the characters of "Lost." Season 3 also introduces Juliet, a fan-favorite and fiercely sympathetic member of the mysterious Others: "Lost" wouldn't be the same show without her. We also get two excellent Desmond-focused episodes in season 3 — including "Flashes Before Your Eyes." As the season develops, the ill-fated friendship between Desmond and Charlie (Dominic Monaghan) becomes one of the show's best pairings.

We'd be remiss not to mention the season 3 finale, "Through the Looking Glass," one of the best finales in a show full of great ones. Who can forget "Not Penny's Boat" or the thrill of their first time hearing Jack's anguished, show-redefining howl of "We have to go back!"?

3. Season 6

After a structurally-confusing couple of seasons, "Lost" season 6 brings the series to an emotionally satisfying close — even if a handful of the show's questions never get answered and the "mysterious light in a cave" revelation falls flat. What works best here is the season's "flash-sideways" device, which places the characters in an alternate universe where they never got on Oceanic Flight 815. For most of the season, we watch the off-Island Losties find each other as if their connections are fated. In this light, it harkens back to the magic of earlier seasons' crisscrossing flashbacks: This is an audacious move and deserves kudos for keeping the show's structure fresh.

The series finale's revelation — that this is an afterlife — effectively proves that the characters of "Lost" matter more than the show's "mysteries." People came into each other's lives and altered them forever. They needed each other, and it was a hell of a ride. Masterfully, the finale reworks the show's opening moments. As Jack watches his friends leave the Island, hopefully for the last time, he returns to the jungle and lays down where he was in the pilot. This time, the dog Vincent curls up by his side. Despite what he repeatedly feared throughout the show, Jack, after all, doesn't die alone.

2. Season 1

The first season of "Lost" still stands as one of the most compelling opening seasons in television history. "Pilot," a two-part, killer episode, was then the most expensive debut episode(s) in television history. Every dollar is on screen: its sequences in the aftermath of the plane crash are genuinely harrowing. Also, its large ensemble cast makes it a compelling watch. Dominic Monaghan was then the show's biggest name — fresh off his successful role of Merry in "The Lord of the Rings" film trilogy. Familiar faces like Matthew Fox and Terry O'Quinn appear, and "Lost" turned newcomers Ian Somerhalder and Evangeline Lilly into breakout stars. In the first few episodes of "Lost," we get to know the characters and a broad outline of their situation. The series quickly finds a compelling structure in its flashbacks to pre-Island life.

Then, there are the mysteries. Much of what made "Lost" instant water-cooler fodder is on display in season 1 — including a monster, the revelation that many characters were connected beforehand, and a set of numbers that crops up everywhere. But the most intriguing mystery of all — the one that would later define the show — was the mysterious hatch buried in the jungle. Season 1 is a lot of table-setting, getting viewers ready for the adventure to follow.

1. Season 2

Season 2 of "Lost" deepens its mysterious elements and adds now-classic lore to the show — all while still giving us more of the characters we've come to know and love. In this season's opening moments, "Lost" finally shows what's inside the hatch from season 1: a man named Desmond — a character who will make such a mark on the show that it's wild to remember he wasn't always there. Also, this sophomore season lets us see the smoke monster. We meet Ben Linus (Michael Emerson), and the history of the Dharma Initiative begins to unfold. It's a masterclass in how to continue a television show after a critically beloved first season.

Take the arrival of the tail section survivors, for example. The fact that they survived answers a question from season 1 — letting us know who Boone (Ian Somerhalder) heard on the walkie-talkie. Season 2 refreshes its cast, introducing new characters like Michelle Rodriguez's Ana Lucia into the mix. Of course, new characters complicate the ensemble's already-existing relationships — even resulting in the death of Shannon (Maggie Grace). These intriguing new dynamics are quintessential to what "Lost" does best — twist the mystery in a way that shows who it'll affect. If Season 1 got us hooked, season 2 ensures we'll keep watching.