I just finished rewatching Lost and as everyone well knows it was confusing to say the least. The ending seems to lean more towards a religious explanation of "preparing to move on to the afterlife", but the entire show seems to be written dualistically in a scientific/religious perspective (particularly halfway through when we're given both explanations for events that occurred at that time).

This brings me to my question: taking the ending into account, how did the DHARMA Initiative fit into the Lost universe? I know that their alleged goal was solving the Valenzetti Equation and thus they were trying to find a way to avoid what seemed like an inevitable global apocalypse (mankind destroying itself). For most of the show we learn more about their work and it seems to tie in to the character's situation, until towards the end the show suddenly veered away from the DHARMA to the whole Man in Black trying to escape the Island plot. The DHARMA's role in the plot was quickly shoved under the carpet, with a mini-episode after the finale showing that Ben was closing down the initiative's operations off the island.

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    The article explains what they were doing, but it does not explain why the fact that the DHARMA Initiative failed does not spell doomsday for the Lost universe. The show itself seems to mainly abandon the DHARMA subplot, focussing entirely on the supernatural explanations behind Jacob and the MIB, though I wonder if I perhaps missed some small hints at whether the characters somehow prevented doomsday. Apr 15, 2015 at 20:29
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    I'm not sure what you're asking about. Why their plot was abandoned or how did they fit into the universe? Regarding the latter: if I remember correctly they were just another group of people brought to the island by Jacob, the fact that they were (pseudo)scientific organisation doesn't really matter. Apr 15, 2015 at 20:31
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    That's precisely the answer I'm looking for, but I'm unsure about your explanation. That would make sense if the DHARMA was portrayed as being pseudoscientific, however as the show went on they got a lot of credibility. They knew how to experiment with time using the Island's electromagnetic energy, they channeled it using technology they developed, etc. The background to the organization seems to indicate it had legitamate concerns, and that the Valanzetti Equation seems to be accurate. Apr 15, 2015 at 20:43
  • Well, I've added '(pseudo)', because some of their methods and aims were arguably scientific, but essentially I don't think it really matters (as I wrote above). In the end they were not different from the 'Oceanic 816' survivors, Spanish ship crew or some lost Egyptians. They were people that Jacob wanted on The Island. Whether it was him behind DHARMA creation or he just used an existing organisation (perhaps pushed it a bit in the proper direction) is unknown. Apr 15, 2015 at 21:33

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As I wrote in the comments my understanding always was that it was Jacob, who brought DHARMA to the island and this is how they fit the universe. In the end they were not different from the 'Oceanic 816' survivors or the Spanish ship crew. They were people that Jacob wanted on The Island. Whether it was him behind DHARMA creation or he just used an existing organisation (perhaps pushed it a bit in the proper direction) is unknown.

I've done more research on this and although it seems that no in-universe confirmation has been given this theory is plausible and quite popular.

In this blog post the author speculates that every person brought to the island was brought because of Jacob's actions:

Obviously, the clearest indication is the Man in Black's literal accusation that Jacob brings people to the Island. The former is referring specifically to the Black Rock when he says: "You brought them here." But I take the Man in Black to mean that Jacob is always the one who brings people to the Island, including DHARMA

and mentions some facts to support this claim.

Even more facts are listed in one of the theories on Lostpedia:

The DHARMA Initiative may have been brought to the Island by Jacob. This would appear to be contradicting with the fact that Jacob is normally associated with the Hostiles/Others. However, it could be related to the ongoing rivalry between Jacob and his nemesis.


DHARMA maybe had more knowledge on the Temple and Monster than the Hostiles. This explains why they build the Barracks over the summoning chamber, why they were the only ones who had a name for the monster, why the Temple had a DHARMA logo, why the countdown timer had hieroglyphs, why Horace Goodspeed would build a cabin for Jacob, why Paul would have an Ankh necklace, and why the Frozen Wheel has the shape of an octagon, like the DHARMA logo.

An interesting opinion is given in this Reddit discussion:

Now, some of the DI were candidates to replace Jacob, so maybe you could say he brought those specific people there, or maybe he just chose candidates from those that he knew would end up on the island anyway. Hard to say whether they were part of the plan (especially when the future is all set in stone, and Jacob can apparently see into the future).

In fact we don't know for sure that there was a candidate from DHARMA, but it's also not a prove, that there wasn't.

Lastly I would like to address the fact that as you wrote the DHARMA's role in the plot was quickly shoved under the carpet:

In my opinion the DHARMA background and their work (including Valanzetti equation) are not that important to the plot. I would see DHARMA more like an expanded plot device to introduce us to The Others, then through The Others to the secrets of The Island and finally to the Jacob/MiB story.

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    I tend to think Jacob could see well beyond time and DHARMA was brought to do their experiments and eventually screw up and create The Incident and the Swan Station that cause the "real" candidates to show up on Flight 815. He took the long view of his goal and put things in place to make them happen all along the way. Sep 10, 2015 at 19:53

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