On May 23, 2010, an era of television ended, perhaps for good. The series finale of LOST aired to a viewing audience of over 18 million people after six years of character-stories, myth, and mystery. Yet this day did not just mark the end of an ambitious and riveting television show, but perhaps marked the passing of the big-budget serialized-drama on the broadcast network. The LOST finale is on-track to be the highest-rated scripted finale this year, but was the profit high enough to justify the exorbitant price-tag of the show? The two-hour pilot of LOST was the most expensive in television history costing ABC between $11 and $14 million. Although HBO’s Boardwalk Empire may cost that network over four times that amount according The New York Post. The beleaguered broadcast industry cannot keep pace with creative spending of that magnitude.
However, throughout the season, LOST rarely beat American Idol in the ratings – a show far less expensive to produce or NCIS – a procedural police drama of self-contained episodes. LOST, like other critically-acclaimed darling, but ratings-failure Arrested Development, was not a show that the casual viewer could start watching halfway through a season. The plotlines of the show were interwoven with character vignettes that simultaneously advanced the greater story arc of the season. Still ABC made every effort to give the casual viewer a chance to glean all of the necessary information needed about the show to enjoy the finale by devoting their entire weekend to LOST.
On Saturday, May 22, 2010, ABC re-aired an enhanced version of the pilot episode of LOST. While the story played subtitled information about the characters, the mythology, and plot of the show relevant to the action like Pop-Up Videos for the BlackBerry and Twitter age. The following day, a two-hour series retrospective with interviews with the cast and creators of the show highlighted the story and some of the more iconic scenes from the series, such as when Terry O’Quinn and Matthew Fox argue over science and faith. Show-runners and head writers, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse were on hand, but series creator and director of the pilot J.J. Abrams was noticeably absent. After the two-and-a-half-hour finale, Lost superfan Jimmy Kimmel dedicated his entire show following the finale to say goodbye to LOST and perhaps closing the book on the serialized drama on network television.