Netflix's The I-Land tries (and fails) to be the next Lost — just like these 11 other shows
A bunch of strangers waking up on a beach with no memory of how they got there. Pretty soon they’re discussing the possibility of their plane crashing, and someone even wonders if they’re dead and just all in heaven (or some kind of afterlife). There’s a no-nonsense protagonist character trying to get to the bottom of things and immediately taking a leadership position. There’s an attractive (at least physically, definitely not personality-wise) bad boy character with long, rumpled hair who is most definitely a criminal. There’s a strong-willed woman who tries to keep to herself among the group. And there’s something weird going on with repeating numbers that just keep showing up …
The series (streaming now on Netflix) has several similarities to Lost that are hard to ignore from the very first scene onward. But unfortunately for fans of Lost, this is not going to be your new obsession. The Netflix drama is a pale imitation of the iconic ABC series, with so many cringe-worthy developments, lines of dialogue, and poor execution of a potentially great idea that you’ll soon find yourself wondering how this show even got made. In the premiere alone is an awful rape subplot that will make you want to rage quit out of the show immediately.
Airing for six seasons, Lost, a supernatural sci-fi mystery about plane crash survivors trying to figure out the mystical island they’re stranded on, was the ultimate sci-fi series. It was (and still is!) widely regarded as one of the best TV shows of all time. Regardless of how you feel about the way the series finale ended, its pop culture impact can’t be denied. It captured the nation’s attention in a way that had never been seen before. Some shows have certainly come close to that kind of response since (most recently Game of Thrones), but there has yet to be another Lost since it signed off in 2010. But that hasn’t stopped many shows from trying to replicate that show’s magic throughout the nine years since the series finale aired.
The I-Land may be the most recent, but it definitely wasn’t the first to try to earn that title. So in honor of Lost‘s 15th anniversary on Sept. 22, here are 11 other shows that have tried (and failed) to be the next Lost.
This is the most obvious Lost copycat. Airing for one season on ABC, it premiered in the final year of Lost and was intended to be the perfect companion for Lost fans looking for their next TV obsession to fill the void that would soon consume their lives. The premise was based on the 1999 novel of the same name about a mysterious event that causes nearly everyone on the planet to black out for two minutes and seventeen seconds on Oct. 6, 2009. The blackout allowed everyone to see visions of where they would be and what they would be doing on April 29, 2010, six months in the future. A small percentage of people didn’t see anything, adding to the mystery. The heavy use of flashforwards was majorly inspired by Lost’s storytelling device of flashbacks and flashforwards. Rapidly declining ratings resulted in an early cancellation despite the finale having a huge cliffhanger of another global flashforward.
Another show that aired for one season before it was canceled, this sci-fi update to Invasion of the Body Snatchers aired after Lost in 2005, intended to capture that same audience, but it failed to catch on with viewers. It told the story of the aftermath of a hurricane in a small town in Florida where aquatic creatures infiltrate and begin to take over the bodies of the humans living there by cloning. Because the country was still dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, ABC quickly pulled advertising and the show never lived past the first season.
This sci-fi mystery aired on NBC in 2005, the season immediately after Lost premiered, as this network’s bid to develop the next big TV obsession. But due to the Olympics, Surface‘s first season aired in broken up segments, leading to poor ratings. Eventually, NBC canceled it after only one season. Surface’s central mystery focused on a global event when a new form of sea life began to appear everywhere.
This Fox series premiered in 2012, a couple years after Lost signed off for good. But it attempted to reach that same fandom by casting Jorge Garcia, a.k.a. Hurley, in a lead role, as well as coming from the minds of Lost creatives like JJ Abrams, Elizabeth Sarnoff, Stephen Semel, and Jack Bender. Alcatraz was a sci-fi mystery that relied heavily on time travel themes, switching back and forth between the past and present when Alcatraz inmates and guards who mysteriously disappeared in the past begin popping up in modern-day San Francisco. It only ran for one shortened season before cancellation.
Another JJ Abrams show that starred a Lost alum, this NBC series enlisted Elizabeth Mitchell, who played Juliet, for a post-apocalyptic sci-fi drama that began 15 years after a global blackout put humanity back into the Wild West. This series followed the Lost model of telling the origin stories of each character in flashbacks that connected to the present, all while working toward solving the central mystery of what caused the blackout. Revolution premiered in 2012 and actually lasted two seasons before getting canceled.
This NBC drama premiered just last year and has been renewed for a second season. The story of an airplane mysteriously disappearing is an obvious nod to Lost, but the supernatural themes are more immediately overt in Manifest than they were in the beginning of Lost. However, the response from critics has been mixed and the conversations and ratings are nowhere near Lost‘s numbers and reach.
Another mystery series that uses flashbacks and features a plane vanishing was this NBC drama that aired for only one season in 2010, the same year Lost ended. The Event was about a group of aliens living on Earth, some being detained by the government while others assimilated into human civilization. Despite a promising start, drastically falling ratings throughout its first season resulted in its cancellation.
Joss Whedon’s Fox drama was an extreme sci-fi mystery that lasted for two seasons. It’s earned a cult following and has become beloved by fans since it was canceled back in 2009, but at the time it was on, it received mixed reviews and less-than-stellar ratings. More sci-fi than supernatural, Dollhouse dealt with a lot of the same moral themes as Lost.
Terra Nova was a Fox sci-fi drama that only aired for one season in 2011, a year after Lost ended. It featured a group of people trying to survive in a wild location, just like Lost. But Steven Spielberg‘s version, of course, included dinosaurs, as a group of humans volunteered to leave a dystopian future to live on a parallel time stream planet that resembles Earth 85 million years ago, a.k.a. the Cretaceous Period.
The remake of the 1983 sci-fi series once again starred Lost alum Mitchell in a story about seemingly peaceful aliens arriving on Earth and the resistance that grows to fight them. It aired on ABC for two seasons, making it one of the rare Lost copycats that lasted for more than a season. And another show that was more sci-fi than supernatural, it featured many common themes that Lost tackled but in a futuristic setting swapped in for the primitive island.
Netflix may have failed with The I-Land, but earlier this year the streaming service succeeded with The Society, a YA drama that reimagines The Lord of the Flies in a WASPy east coast town filled with privileged teens. Dropping a big group of people in a sci-fi place that seems to be normal only to realize it’s located in a parallel universe? Yeah, that’s Lost. The Society has already been renewed for season 2 and is hugely popular on social media, but unfortunately not enough to be called the new Lost.