When Ben confronts Jacob in the Lost season 5 finale, he asks Jacob,

What was it that was so wrong with me? What about me?

To which Jacob simply replies,

What about you?

That seems like a strange response to me. Is he trying to provoke Ben? Has he accepted that Ben is going to kill him? Later on, when Miles is holding Jacob's ashes, he reveals that Jacob was hoping until the moment he died that he was wrong about Ben. If he hadn't given up hope, I would have thought he would try to calm Ben down and explain things to him. But he just stands there and delivers this line. One of the comments on the video I linked to states,

to those who don't understand why jacob didn't just tell ben he was being manipulated, it was because he believed everyone was good and would make the right choices without knowing all the facts and any form of influence.

I'm not entirely satisfied by this answer, however. If Jacob was hoping until he died that he was wrong about Ben, this means he understood that Ben was capable of murdering him and wasn't deluded into believing that Ben would make the right choices. Does anyone have a different or clearer explanation of Jacob's line?

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    I always thought it was to make Ben take a deeper look at himself and see "the error of his ways" so to speak. I don't know that Ben ever saw himself from the outside, saw himself the way others saw him, and I think that was supposed to make him understand how he was viewed by others, and by Jacob. Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 13:12
  • @JohnnyBones I do think the same, looks like a potential answer to me.
    – Ankit Sharma
    Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 13:24
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    I interpreted it as Jacob essentially telling Ben that he (Ben) didn't matter at all to Jacob. After all, Ben had been manipulated by the Smoke Monster for the whole time he thought he'd been dealing with Jacob; we have no indication that Jacob cared one iota about Ben. His "what about you?" is a typical type of statement that people say when they are being dismissive about something. Commented Apr 8, 2016 at 17:28

5 Answers 5


Like many other unanswered questions, there's no definite answer to this one. I'll offer a couple of interpretations, however:

  1. If you take into account the context of the scene, Ben was talking about Locke, specifically he was comparing him to himself. However, unbeknownst to him, "Locke" in the room was in fact The Man in Black at the time, an entity that in many ways represented the evil counterpart of Jacob.

    Jacob, aware of this, asked Ben "What about you?" in hopes of setting Ben straight and making him realise what he's comparing himself with, i.e. "What about you? Do you want to be the monster he is?"

    We have two possibilities regarding this scenario:

    • Jacob knew Ben had not realised the true nature of "Locke" by that point, but was still hoping Ben knew on some level of all the bad things he had done.
    • While less likely, Jacob may have assumed Ben was aware of the true nature of "Locke" and was just making a huge mistake.
  2. Jacob was trying to make Ben realise he's not the "higher power" with all the answers Ben assumed him to be. Ben's questions were related to what was wrong with him, something Jacob had no way of knowing or responding to.

  3. Jacob was trying to provoke Ben into killing him, possibly in hopes he would resist the temptation.

  4. Jacob was dismissing Ben and truly didn't care about him. Ben was a murderer who, while manipulated at times by The Man in Black, displayed sociopathic tendencies on his own free will and Jacob simply didn't believe he deserved any kind words, even if that means he'd die.

In retrospect, it appears the point of the scene was simply to foreshadow that Jacob, who was strongly hinted to be a godlike being or even God personified until that point, was merely a man who, while possessing some sort of supernatural power, was far from all-knowing and all-powerful (as confirmed to a degree in Across the Sea).

Therefore, in that scene, he either:

  • Completely misjudged Ben's nature and intentions, assuming he wouldn't kill him.

  • Didn't truly care whether he lived or not, realising that The Man in Black will just keep trying until he's dead.

  • Was largely unaware of the influence his actions had on the survivors and the expectations some of them had of him.

  • Great answer, very thorough Commented Apr 24, 2021 at 23:21

Researching lost and thought I'd look up what people thought of this line, these are great answers, but I think you missed one:

Jacob realised that Locke had found the loophole that allowed him to kill him and already accepted the fact that he was going to die, so he didn't try to talk to Ben in any convincing way. He just answered the questions he knew that Ben would continue to ask himself even though might not immediately realise that "what about you" is the actual answer. Jacob did this tactic earlier in this episode when he was visiting lol the other characters. When he gave jack the apolo bar he said that "it just needed a little push" in the same style, and those world's stuck with Jack and helped him


Ben was a manipulator, intriguist, sociopath and above all he thought that the world revolved around him even though he was already aware that this was not the case. Jacob tried to open his eyes for one last time, trying to explain him that the World / Island was about everyone, not just about Ben.


just watched for the third time that episod ( the whole in fact) and something came up to me: what if Jacob by this sentence would invite Ben to share some introspection ( ok a bit late for a therapy but well...) "What about you?" I hear that as an invitation to seek his reason of living, his past, his personnal story ( Ben had a heavy suffering story hadn't he?) so that Ben might think fast, feel and make his choice ( which comes to the realization that he can choose not to kill, and forgive himself for all he has done "wrong") ?? i don't know, just came to me this way tonight...


I have just finished Lost for the second time and I remember thinking the same thing the first time I watched Jacob's line he spoke to Ben "what about you?" The whole time Ben was on the show, I felt he was very narcissistic. So when Jacob asked, "what about you?" Was his way of saying "it's not about you, so get over yourself." That's the way I felt about it anyway.

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