The series follows the survivors of Oceanic  Flight 815, which crashes on an unidentified island in the Pacific Ocean. The group of strangers must learn to cooperate in order to survive the island's challenges, which are vastly more complicated than initially thought. Despite the standard "desert island" scenario, the plot involves much more than mere survival against the elements, with the castaways encountering several mysteries and ever-deepening conspiracies to deal with, as well as bizarre occurrences and mysterious phenomena meeting them at every turn.
In the first three seasons, each episode typically centered around one character, with events on the island mixed with flashbacks to important parts of that person's life before the crash. Later in the series, however, this formula was altered several times, in ways that were appropriate to the radically-changing nature of the plot.
Lost's pilot was aired on September 22, 2004, and the finale of its sixth season, and thus of the entire series, was broadcast on May 23, 2010. The announcement for the show's end date, including the number of remaining episodes and their distribution among the remaining seasons, was made in May 2007, close to the end of the show's third season. The show's creators had been urging the network to agree to this relatively rare arrangement for some time, and explaining this move, executive producer Damon Lindelof remarked that "We always envisioned 'Lost' as a show with a beginning, middle and end. By officially announcing exactly when that ending will be, the audience will now have the security of knowing that the story will play out as we've intended."
The show's popularity was such that the sixth-season premiere, which aired February 2, 2010, forced the Obama administration to move up the annual State of the Union address to avoid scheduling conflicts.
Lost made unusual demands on its audience's ability to keep track of a long-term, detailed plot, and perhaps as a result of this gradually lost viewership, from 15.5 million in the first season to an average of 11 million in its fifth season. However, it received excellent reviews during its run, and still at its lowest point enjoyed an audience of over eight million viewers. Additionally, the show's complexity was clearly the draw for this loyal fanbase, and inspired numerous websites, such as "Lostpedia" and "DarkUFO," which posted detailed weekly analyses of each aspect of the plot and characters. Also noteworthy is that much in the way of Christian imagery and themes permeate the show's narrative. For example, one important character's name is "Christian Shepherd," and several characters exemplify the conflict between science and faith. Overall, the theme of good vs. evil is predominant, with other Christian themes such as redemption and judgment playing major roles. One of the show's executive producers, Carlton Cuse, has often stated publicly that he's a Catholic whose faith informs his writing.
- In the creative industry, Oceanic Airlines (or Oceanic Airways) is often used to represent an airline associated with a disaster, so as to avoid negative publicity by using a real airline.
- A radio interview with Monsignor Jim Lisante http://www.podcastdirectory.com/podcasts/14182, See Podcast 035
- see also blog discussion and transcript at http://tonyrossi.blogspot.com/2008/01/lost-and-found.html