And they said, "We want you to at least consider not doing it." There was no ultimatum, but we started having conversations amongst ourselves saying like, "All right. This obviously will radically affect the second half of the pilot that we've written but they sort of do have a point."
ABRAMS: This was the consensus that we were hearing, and I still wasn't convinced because I loved doing something that was so crazy and dramatic. And then I showed the script to Greg Grunberg, who is my oldest friend, from kindergarten, and he's an actor who was in "Felicity" and he was in "Alias." And I showed him the script, and he read it and he called back and he said that he loved the script except he was furious at us that we killed this character. So I ended up casting Greg as the pilot who gets killed. I killed Greg instead.
TAPPER: And in terms of wanting to break all the rules, is that because of a certain boredom with the kind of predictable product that is churned out in Hollywood?
LINDELOF: The short answer is the show demanded that you broke all the rules. The beauty of a people stranded on an island show is it forces you to have to think outside the box in terms of generating story. We certainly approached the pilot and people watched the pilot and would say how is this show going to go anywhere? How is it going to sustain? How are you guys going to do Episode No. 5 let alone Episode No. 50, which we're up to now. The answer is we don't know. But every week is a new adventure and that is what forces you to break rules. You have to do things that you normally wouldn't do. With 16 main characters, you have to go off the island via flashback, you have to have weird things happen to them.
CUSE: The expectation that the network had at the beginning of the show was that this was way too large for a network cast and we'd have to kill some of these people off and then we'd be down to our normal seven or eight characters -- which is sort of the normal network-show paradigm. But the characters were all so good and the audience loved them all so much that it quickly became apparent that that was not going to be viable, it was not going to be a situation where you could suddenly reduce this cast to eight people.
ABRAMS: When we wrote the pilot and we were making it, it was just conventional wisdom that there was no way this was going to work. And we kept getting these calls: "You have to shoot an ending so we can air this as a movie." And we asked, "Well, what's the end? How do you end it?" It's sort of the beginning of something. We didn't know how to wrap it up. How do you do it?
TAPPER: The SS Minnow pulls up?
ABRAMS: Yes, and the Harlem Globetrotters show up and they're like, "What's up?" But I do think that the reality is that you look at what the show was when we were doing it and it did go against, what people believed was viable television. The cast was enormous, serialized storytelling -- I mean serialization in itself was sort of verboten in network television. It was a genre show.