Few creators of hit television programs are afforded the luxury that has been granted to the team behind ABC's "Lost." For years, fans have known that the sixth season would be the final installment of "Lost." This unusual path to an ending is not because of falling ratings or fleeing talent but rather comes at a time and in a manner chosen by the show's makers.
On the eve of their final season premiere, "Lost" Executive Producers Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse sat down with ABC News' "Nightline" to discuss how Harry Potter inspired their demand to be canceled, why they aim to "cause agony" for their obsessed viewers and how it's all going to end.
ABC NEWS: What has it been like to take the show all the way to its completion?
Carlton Cuse: When we started making "Lost" we had no idea that the journey would be like this, that it would end up being six years and 120 episodes . I mean, the beauty of the show was, we thought we were going to make 12 episodes and be done with it. So, we said, "Well, if we are going to go down in flames, let's really go down in spectacular flames." So we broke a lot of conventional rules of television storytelling and lo and behold, that turned out to be the exact thing that the audience embraced.
ABC NEWS: You did something that sounds counter-intuitive. You demanded a lot from your audience.
Damon Lindelof: If you assume that the audience is made up of idiots, then you are going to write the show for idiots. But if you assume that the audience is incredibly intelligent and savvy and sort of wants a much more complex and rich puzzle, then write the show for those people and see what happens. Anybody can ski the bunny slope, but we wanted to see how many people were willing to ski the black diamond.
ABC NEWS: How hard of a sell was it to make this show really hard for people to follow?
Cuse: I remember actually...it was between season one and season two and we were going to be pitching to all the network executives what was in the hatch. I remember telling Damon that we are about to tell those guys that there's a guy in this hatch and he is pushing a button every 108 minutes and if he doesn't push that button, the world might end. Damon was like "That's right." And we were like this is, this is...
Lindelof: We are getting fired! We are going to get fired, right. Maybe we can get jobs on another show...We pitched it and everybody was like "Wow, that's cool." And it just sort of seemed like the crazier the plot turns in the show, the more the network actually embraced it and it's kind of counter intuitive to what you hear about normal network television situations. I think our show is an anomaly in that regard.
ABC NEWS: You are blessed and cursed because after every episode the fans are rabid and active online and dissecting everything. Were you expecting that kind of response?
Lindelof: No, I mean never.