I'm watching Lost for the second time and every time I watch an episode with the entire plot in mind I can see how the purgatory theory is one of the ones that most fits in.

The basic idea is the following:

Everybody died in the plain crash and they were brought to the island because they all had something to complete before moving on. The Dharma Initiative was a group of scientist that somehow made it to the purgatory to be able to exploit its magic.

There are few things that matches with this theory, the main ones, I can come up with, are:

  • People gets sick (like Ben) because that's not the place where they are supposed to be since they are alive.
  • The healing capacities of the island (that healed John) is a metaphor of the fact that in a soul trip the body doesn't have to weight.

What are the main proofs of this theory and what are the main against it?

  • You're on the right track for a great question but I think it needs to be rephrased; "What are other proofs of this theory and what are not?" is kind of open ended. Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 6:36
  • @DustinDavis, rephrased, not yet sure though. Should I ask for a top 5?
    – Shoe
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 6:37
  • 6
    Aside from the showrunners repeatedly saying the island is not purgatory, how would you explain Jack, Kate, Sun,... getting off the island in Season 5? Did they return from the dead? And what were the Flash-Sideways in Season 6? Purgatory's purgatory?
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 10:44
  • Is there any way I can improve my answer?
    – Rogue Jedi
    Commented Jul 12, 2016 at 12:01

2 Answers 2


I think you're looking for more definitive proof of your purgatory theory being valid.

I would say that it is a type of purgatory because in the finale, they all converge to a building and attend their own funeral.

According to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purgatory),

Purgatory is, according to Roman Catholic teaching, the state or place of purification or temporary punishment[1] by which those who die in a state of grace are believed to be made ready for the Beatific Vision in Heaven.

It looked to me as if they were all going to heaven.

I found quite a few articles to support the purgatory. This one here http://www.losttvfans.com/page/Purgatory has some good points to support it

  • Purgatory would explains why women cannot give birth to children conceived on the island.
  • In the episode “The Brig” when Sawyer asks John’s father, Anthony Cooper, how he got to the island, he explains that he was in a car accident and the next thing he knew, he was tied to a chair and gagged and looking at his “dead son”: John Locke.
  • Sawyer asks if he thought Locke was dead because he threw him out of a window and Cooper replies: “He’s dead because a plane he was flying on crashed in the pacific.” Sawyer doesn’t believe him, then Cooper says: “If this isn’t hell, friend…then where are we?”

In “A Man Behind The Curtain”, there are a few things that support the purgatory theory.

  • One is when Young Ben sees his mother, who died when he was born, on the island.
  • Another is that when we see Richard in Ben’s flashbacks, he appears to be the same age then as he is now. Maybe he's not supposed to seem the same age but could it be because he is already dead?
  • Also, Jack sees his dead father. Kate sees a dead horse.
  • 1
    Claire and Amy gave birth on the island, Sun conceived while on the island. - The dead people who occasionally showed up where most likely Smokey/MIB. - Richard didn't age because he was granted eternal life by Jacob.
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 10:54
  • 1
    Claire was already pregnant when she arrived. Sun and Gin concieved (which even Dharma members could do) BUT she didn't have the baby until after the island. Additionally, she was receiving aid from Julia. The members of Dharma could not carry to term because as you stated, they were not supposed to be there. Why was Richard granted eternal life? What was his purpose? Maybe it wasn't a gift, but a punishment. Additionally, Claire received injections too. Commented Mar 31, 2013 at 17:48
  • If the purgatory theory was true then it shouldn't matter if one got pregnant off-island, because once you are dead you can no longer create new life/give birth. Or how else does the purgatory-theory explain the pregnancy problem? - Plus, there here was no pregnancy problem before "The Incident" (the Swan station drilling accident in 1977). - Richard actually asked for eternal life (though it wasn't his first wish), but at the end, after Jacob had died, he became mortal again
    – Oliver_C
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 10:21
  • The second half of this answer is proven false due to MIB's power of changing his form to those who have died.
    – Tablemaker
    Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 12:14
  • 3
    The part in the finale you talk about is in the alternate universe that is only part of the final Season. The remaining 5.5 Seasons are real. Commented Apr 1, 2013 at 15:42

No, various LOST creators and show-writers have debunked this theory.

According to LOST creator JJ Abrams, the theory is incorrect. The island is not purgatory.

From the linked video (emphasis mine):

Abrams (When asked if there were any fan theories he particularly liked): The one I like... is the purgatory one, because it was such a cool idea and though that's not what it is, it's like it was such a great idea...

Show-writer Carlton Cuse also said this:

No, no, no. They were not dead the whole time.

Fellow show-writer and creator Damon Lindelof also said this, in the same talk.

For us, one of the ongoing conversations with the audience and there was a very early perception, was that the island was purgatory and we were always out there saying, "It's not purgatory, this is real, we're not going to Sixth Sense you

  • IMO this is accurate. The Island is a time machine that housed all manner of life extension including it's "Heart" (Life, Death, Rebirth) with "Death" (the FS) being a transitional astral plane between Life & Rebirth. "It Only Ends Once, Anything Before that is Just Progress." = as long as there is the Island with it's "heart" (exotic light-water matter) in tact, people will spiritually progress by facing the Island (the unknown/properly motivated by Smoke Monster astral projecting/playing "black hats") and be rewarded via reincarnation/more life times. There's evidence of other time lines. Commented May 31, 2019 at 14:59

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