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Man In Black (Lost)

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They come. They fight. They destroy. They corrupt. It always ends the same.
~ The Man in Black

The Man In Black is the hidden but true main antagonist of the science-fiction mystery drama TV series Lost, which lasted 6 whole seasons. Also known as the "Smoke Monster" in earlier episodes and often glossed over for the first part of the series, it was shown in Seasons 5 and 6 that he is an enigmatic and evil entity born on the Island during the Classical Roman Era that seeks to free itself from the Island, which according to Jacob, would unleash great evil into the world and destroy it. He was originally the brother of Jacob, the Guardian of the Island, but became the Smoke Monster after Jacob threw his brother down the Heart of the Island, a source of mysterious power that the Island keeps, as revenge for killing their adoptive mother.

Throughout most of the series, the Man in Black is seen this form, briefly adopting the guise of several other dead characters and animals in some episodes, until Seasons 5 and 6 when he assumes the appearance of John Locke, and remains in this form until his death.

The Man in Black is played by Titus Welliver in his original form (Titus would later play James Savoy in Transformers: Age of Extinction and War in Supernatural) and by Terry O'Quinn (who played the character John Locke in Lost) during the finale of Season 5 and the entirety of Season 6.

Origin

The Man in Black's earliest chronological appearance occurs in the sixth season episode "Across the Sea", which depicted his birth on the island to a woman named Claudia (Lela Loren), whose ship wrecked off-shore. An unnamed woman on the Island (Allison Janney) delivers him and his twin brother Jacob but killed their mother and raised them herself. Jacob is swaddled in light cloth, while the Man in Black in dark. The woman raises the twins to be ignorant of a world beyond the island and of death itself. She also raises them to be distrustful of humanity, whom she regards as corrupt and dangerous.

At age thirteen, the twins discover the other survivors of Claudia's ship on the island, and their adoptive mother takes them to a mysterious cave filled with light with a stream running into it. She tells them it is "the heart of the island", and one day they will be its caretakers. Soon after, Claudia's ghost appears to the young Man in Black, and tells him the truth. After he confronts his adoptive mother with this, he leaves to join Claudia's crew. Jacob visits his brother at the survivors' camp at various points over the course of the next 30 years, during which time the Man in Black comes to believe his mother was right in calling humanity inherently corrupt. Despite this, he stays with the crew, because they are a means to his finding a way off the island, which involves their use of the island's strange electromagnetic properties. When the woman learns this, she appoints Jacob as the new caretaker of "the heart of the Island."

She then visits the Man in Black at the bottom of a well, where he is planning to install a wheel to enable his use of the energy to leave the island. She knocks him unconscious, and then apparently massacres the people in the camp and destroys the well. Enraged, the Man in Black kills her with a dagger. Jacob retaliates by beating his brother and throwing him in the stream leading down the tunnel of light. A cloud of black smoke then emerges from the cave, suggesting it is the Man in Black's consciousness. After a while, Jacob finds the Man in Black's body in a pool nearby, and places it in a cave with his adoptive mother's corpse, along with a pouch containing the black and white stones they used in their game as children. It is consequently suggested that the black smoke's ability to take shape of dead people on the island led it to adopt the Man in Black's shape.

The next chronological appearance of the Man in Black and Jacob was in "The Incident", in which they talk on the beach as the Black Rock ship approaches. The Man in Black (who looks like his real form) states that he knows the ship was brought by Jacob, and expresses his disapproval of Jacob bringing people to the Island—stating that all they bring is corruption and destruction. The Man in Black tells Jacob he wishes to kill him, but their adoptive mother had prevented the Man in Black from hurting Jacob, so he sought a "loophole" to kill him. Soon after, the Black Rock crashes onto the island, the Man in Black appears as the smoke monster and kills everyone on board except Richard Alpert (Nestor Carbonell). He then returns in the form of Isabella, Richard's dead wife, telling him they are in hell, and tricks him into thinking that Jacob has taken her, letting Alpert know that he is the "smoke monster" but could not save Isabella from Jacob. Later, in the Man in Black's form, he frees Richard and gives him a knife to kill Jacob, whom the Man in Black refers as "the devil." However, Jacob convinces Richard otherwise. Shortly after, Jacob visits the Man in Black and states that as long as he, Jacob, is alive, the Man in Black will never leave the Island. The Man in Black then vows to kill Jacob and his subsequent replacements.

In 1988, the Man in Black as the smoke monster, attacks Danielle Rousseau (Melissa Farman)'s crew who are joined by a time-traveling Jin (Daniel Dae Kim). The Man in Black drags Montand, the crew's leader, under the Temple wall, and after the remaining crew attempts to rescue them, he infects them with "the Sickness", causing them to "change."

Lost

After crash of Oceanic 815

Days 1-44 (Season 1)

Immediately after the crash of Oceanic 815, the Man takes the form of Christian Shephard and instructs the dog Vincent to go find Jack Shephard (Matthew Fox). Then the Man in Black, in the form of the smoke monster, rips the pilot (Greg Grunberg) from the cockpit of the plane and kills him, leaving his mangled body in a tree; the pilot's corpse is found by Jack, Kate Austen (Evangeline Lily), and Charlie Pace (Dominic Monaghan). Later, the Man in Black as the smoke monster encounters John Locke (Terry O'Quinn) in the jungle, although he leaves Locke unharmed. John later tells Jack, "I looked into the eye of this island, and what I saw was beautiful." Locke would later tell Eko that he first saw a bright, beautiful light when seeing the monster the first time. Later, the Man in Black attacks the survivors as the monster again; he attempts to drag Locke down a hole but is stopped by Jack and Kate, who throw dynamite at the monster.

Days 50-64 (Season 2)

The Man in Black then confronts Mr. Eko (Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje) as the monster. As Eko stares down the Man in Black, he sees flashing images of his past. In a second instance, the Man in Black takes the form of Mr. Eko's brother, Yemi (Adetokumboh McCormack), and demands Mr. Eko to repent for his sins. When Eko refuses, the Man in Black briefly disappears, only to return as the monster. He then kills Eko by slamming him repeatedly against nearby trees and the ground. The Man in Black also appears to Juliet Burke (Elizabeth Mitchell) and Kate as the monster; during the encounter, the monster releases a series of bright flashes. The Man in Black reappears later, and it is revealed it cannot penetrate the sonar fence that surrounds the Barracks.

Days 71-82 (Season 3)

After becoming enraged over the death of his adoptive daughter Alex Rousseau (Tania Raymonde) at the hands of Charles Widmore (Alan Dale)'s mercenaries, Benjamin Linus (Michael Emerson) rushes to a hidden room below his home at the barracks, which has an ancient stone door covered with hieroglyphs; in the room, he drains a small pool, which summons the Man in Black as the monster to attack the mercenaries. As some of the survivors are preparing to leave the island, the Man in Black keeps Claire Littleton (Emilie de Ravin) company in the form of her father Christian Shephard (John Terry), and he tells her the Others took her son Aaron. When John Locke enters a cabin Horace Goodspeed had built in the '70s, the Man in the form of Christian Shephard falsely tells John he is giving instructions from Jacob, and tells him that he needs to move the Island.

Days 97-100 (Season 4)

When Hurley stumbled upon Jacob's cabin, he saw the figure of Christian Shephard in Jacob's rocking chair, wearing his usual outfit. He was also startled by a second figure peering through the window at him.

While the Barracks were under siege by the mercenary team, Ben summoned the Man in Black through a secret room in his house. He appeared as a single black cloud, larger than ever before, that ran parallel to the ground. He only injured one of the mercenaries seriously, but he caused a great deal of confusion and panic amongst his victims, who fired upon him in vain. Keamy grimly described the Monster as "a black pillar of smoke."

The Man in Black later held Aaron outside of Sawyer, Miles and Claire's camp. Miles saw Claire walk away with him in the night, calling him "dad".

When Locke entered Jacob's cabin, he met "Christian," whose form the Man in Black had previously taken, and who now claimed to be speaking on Jacob's behalf. He dodged questions about Claire, prompting Locke to ask, "How do I save the Island?" In response, the the sitting figure told him to "move the Island."

Soon afterward, "Christian" appeared to Michael on the Kahana, heralded by whispers. He told Michael that he could "go now" and the bomb Michael was trying to control detonated. If this figure was the Man in Black, he had managed to travel over the water to the freighter and managed to escape the ship's destruction.

At some point after residing with Christian Shephard in the cabin, Claire came to know the Man in Black enough to consider him her "friend". She later credited him with helping her survive in the jungle from attacks by the Others for the next three years. He falsely told her the Others had Aaron, allegedly to motivate her with hate. However, it was clear that she was not aware that "Her father" and "Her friend" were the same person, the Man in Black. This was proved when Claire told Jin-Soo Kwon that both her father and her friend informed her of Aaron's apparent whereabouts.

Time flashes (Season 5)

While Locke was trapped beneath the Orchid station in a frozen underground cave, the figure of Christian again approached him. He claimed that when he told Locke they must move the Island, he referred to Locke specifically. He told Locke to turn the frozen wheel, and confirmed Richard's statement that Locke would die trying to unite the Oceanic Six, calling it a "sacrifice." Moments before Locke turned the wheel, "Christian" asked Locke to say hello to his son. 

Ajira 316's crash

2007 (Season 5)

Following Ajira 316's crash on the Island, the Man in Black appears as Christian Shephard to Sun and Lapidus, informing them of the time travel undergone by the rest of the Oceanic 6. He then takes the form of the deceased Locke, whose body was on the plane, and tricks everyone into thinking Locke was brought back to life. Later, Ben tells the Man in Black, who he thinks is Locke, that he must travel to the monster's lair, which lies beneath the temple wall, to be judged for his complicity in his daughter's death. The Man in Black separates from Ben at the Temple and confronts Ben as the monster. After the Man in Black retreats back into a vent, he reappears to Ben as Alex's manifestation, warning Ben to follow "Locke's" every word, to which he complies. The Man in Black (in the form of John Locke), Ben, and Sun Kwon (Yunjin Kim), arrive at one of the Others' camps. The Man in Black then instructs Richard to find a time-traveling Locke, and tell him he must die to bring his friends back to the island. Later, The Man in Black demands Richard take him and the Others to see Jacob, to which Richard reluctantly complies.

Killing Jacob

The next day, he tells Ben of his plan to kill Jacob. Later, Ben informs the Man in Black of Alex's threat, to which the Man in Black replies by telling Ben to kill Jacob. After arriving at Jacob's residence at the four-toed statue, the two enter and meet Jacob. Ben tells Jacob how he has sacrificed and suffered for the island but still had been ignored by Jacob. Ben then proceeds to stab Jacob, whom the Man in Black kicks into a fire.

2007 (Season 6)

Later, Jacob's protectors enter the statue and attempt to kill the Man in Black, who changes into the monster and kills them. After the men are all dead, the Man in Black reveals to Ben that his intention is to "go home." After exiting the statue, the Man in Black knocks out Richard and carries him into the jungle. Shortly after, the Man in Black offers Richard a second chance to join him, which Richard refuses. The Man in Black then tracks down a drunken Sawyer (Josh Holloway), who recently lost Juliet. Sawyer realizes the Man in Black is not John Locke, but agrees to follow him after he tells Sawyer why he is on the Island in the first place. Sawyer and the Man in Black eventually reach a cave near a ledge, which has writing all over its walls. The writings are all people's names with numbers beside them. The Man in Black reveals to Sawyer the names represent the candidates to replace Jacob. He then has Sawyer join him on a mission to leave the island.

Later, the Man in Black recruits Sayid to his side by promising him his love Shannon back. He requests Sayid deliver a message to the Others, warning them to leave the Temple by sundown or they will be killed. He also requests he kill Dogen, since Dogen being alive keeps the Man in Black from entering the Temple. After Sayid kills Dogen, the Man in Black enters the Temple as the monster and kills all the Others remaining inside. After this, he gathers the Others that joined him, along with Sayid, Claire, and Kate.

Soon after, the Man in Black sends Sawyer on a recon mission to Hydra Island. Sawyer returns from Hydra Island and tells the Man in Black all the Ajira passengers are dead and Charles Widmore and his team are on the other Island, where they have set up a sonar fence. After Jin is taken from his camp by Widmore's men, the Man in Black takes Sayid with him to Hydra Island. He arrives on Hydra Island by himself, and confronts Widmore. After warning Widmore, the Man in Black returns to the main island, while Sayid spies on Widmore's team. After Sayid comes back, he shows the Man in Black Desmond Hume (Henry Ian Cusick). The Man in Black takes Desmond to an old well. After explaining its origins, the Man in Black throws Desmond down the well. On returning to his camp, Hurley's group arrives to join him.

The Man in Black instructs Sawyer to get a sailboat and bring it to a meeting point. He also instructs Sayid to kill Desmond at the bottom of the well. Sawyer steals the boat and takes some of the survivors with him to the Hydra Island. Jack jumps off the boat since he doesn't think they should leave the Island, and washes up next to the Man in Black. Widmore uses artillery shells to bomb the Man in Black's group and they flee into the jungle. The Man in Black and Jack arrive at the Hydra Island with Sayid and rescue the survivors from Widmore. After the Man in Black then recovers C4 from the Ajira Flight 316, he and the survivors head to Widmore's submarine to leave the island. However, Sawyer steals the sub with all of the survivors and the candidates on it, except for Claire. Jack then discovers the Man in Black inserted the C4 into Jack's backpack with a timer attached to it. Sawyer tries to pull the wires out, but Jack tells him not to since he has figured out the Man in Black can't kill the candidates himself and wants them to kill each other. He asks Sawyer to let it run down to zero, but Sawyer pulls the wires out anyway. As a result, the timer speeds up and the bomb detonates. The aftermath results in the death of Jin, Sun and Sayid.

The final battle with Jack and death

Later, The Man in Black arrives at the Barracks, and obtains information from Widmore that Desmond is immune to electromagnetism. After Ben kills Widmore, the Man in Black recruits him and reveals his plan to use Desmond to destroy the Island. The Man in Black finds Desmond and meets up with Jack's group on the way to the "heart of the island." After having Desmond remove the cork from the center of the "heart of the island", the Island proceeds to crumble. However, with the cork being removed from the "heart of the Island", the Man in Black is mortal again. During an intense fight with Jack, the Man in Black stabs him, but before he can finish Jack off, Kate shoots him in the back. Despite this, the Man in Black thinks they're "too late" to save the island, but Jack makes him realize his defeat, then kicks him off the cliff. The world was, as of now, no longer in danger from the Man in Black escaping from the island and Jack had won against the monster.

Nature

Abilities

The Monster

The Man in Black's most notorious ability is that of manifesting himself as a giant dark cloud, often described as looking like smoke. Referred to as "the Monster" by most characters, it appears immune to conventional weaponry, but was repelled on one occasion by dynamite. ("Exodus, Part 3") While seemingly intangible, the Monster can grasp and manipulate objects with a tremendous application of force - capable of uprooting enormous fully-grown trees, knocking down walls and slamming victims into the ground. The Monster makes a variety of biological and mechanical sounds—two of the most distinctive being a mechanical clicking and a loud high-pitched warning or alarm call. It appears the Man in Black is somewhat limited in movement in this form—and cannot ascend high enough above the ground so as to pass over the sonar fence. The Man in Black also implies his smoke form cannot pass over large bodies of water ("The Package"), although it is unknown if this is actually the case.

Some Island inhabitants believed the Monster could be summoned from a secret room in the Barracks. ("The Shape of Things to Come") Ben eventually concluded that the Monster himself controlled this process. ("What They Died For")

Morphing ability

Throughout the series, the Man in Black has displayed an ability to take on a number of different forms and perfectly mimic individuals, their appearance, voice and memories so as to manipulate others. All of the confirmed impersonated individuals are dead. He does not require that the dead person died on the island, only to scan the mind of a person who knew them, selecting the forms of those that were most meaningful to people to better manipulate the targeted individual. In smoke form, it displays images from an individual's past within itself. The scanning process appears as a rapid series of bright flashes of light. ("The 23rd Psalm")  ("Left Behind")  ("Dead Is Dead") He also appears to gain access to the memories of the mimicked person, even if they have been dead for sometime. ("LA X, Part 2") Some island apparitions, possibly the Man in Black's work, feature living characters. He has taken many forms throughout the series, such as the Smoke Monster, John Locke during the later seasons and many, many more. The producers have confirmed that the apparitions of Emily Linus and Dave were not The Man In Black. (Official Lost Podcast/March 21, 2008)

Immunities

The Man in Black is immune to bullets in both his Monster and human forms. Bram and Charles Widmore's team shot at him with no effect. Sayid stabbed him in the chest with the special dagger, but he did not appear to be wounded or suffer pain. He also appears to be invulnerable to explosions in his human form per Widmore's mortar attack. Regardless, the Man in Black claims he can be killed and used this as a justification for destroying the Others at the Temple.

He lost his immunities and became mortal when the light at the Heart of the Island was extinguished. ("The End")

Other abilities

Sayid stated that the Man in Black brought him back from death - ("The Last Recruit") a power his brother Jacob stated he did not have, although Jacob had the power to confer immortality. ("Ab Aeterno")

The Man in Black somehow released Ben from his shackles without physically touching them. ("Dr. Linus")

On occasion the Man in Black has displayed some unusual precognitive abilities. In the guise of John Locke, he knew exactly where and when to be to meet the passengers of Flight 316 when it made an emergency landing on Hydra Island. ("The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham") (although he could had simply seen Flight 316 land on Hydra Island from the main one) Much later, the Man in Black brought Richard Alpert to exactly the right time and place to meet an injured Locke caught in the time flashes. ("Follow the Leader")

Although the lagoon at the Hydra dock was quiet, he told Claire he knew the sub had sunk, and was also certain that not all candidates had died. ("The Candidate")

The Man in Black is able to manipulate people's dreams and manifest within them. He does this to both Eko and Locke in order to lead them to the Pearl station. It is unknown how he is able to do this. Aside from the confirmed dream manifestations as Yemi in "?", it is possible that several other occasions in which people have been led through dreams could be the Man in Black as well. These include when Locke saw Boone in a dream shortly after the Swan implosion ("Further Instructions") and when he saw Horace in a dream, who instructed him to find the Cabin. ("Cabin Fever")

In addition to all his supernatural abilities, the Man in Black is incredibly persuasive. He can easily bring people to trust him, or at least follow his lead (often under threat of death, overt or subtle). He is an expert liar (even outsmarting Ben) and can fake emotions and sympathy, so it is difficult to tell when he is sincere. So far, few characters weren’t convinced by his lies. He is also very strategic, being able to find the “loophole” necessary to kill Jacob, patiently biding his time perhaps over the course of hundreds of years.

Despite his long imprisonment on the Island, the Man in Black proved adept at fashioning a timing detonator from a digital watch and blocks of C-4 found aboard the Ajira aircraft, probably after learning from John Locke.("The Candidate") In an act similar to what the Man in Black would do over three years later sinking Widmore's submarine with the Candidates on board, John Locke at one time did destroy the Galaga with C-4 plastic explosives to prevent his fellow Castaways from leaving the island, displaying a knowledge of demolition to complement his hunting and tracking skills. ("The Man from Tallahassee") The Man In Black had scanned Locke's mind as far back as the fourth day the Castaways were on the Island during his first encounter with him, obtaining this knowledge through that method. ("Walkabout") Also, while The Man In Black cannot leave the island, many people have come to the Island, through Jacob bringing them there, they finding the island on their own, or were recruited from the outside by on island institutions like The DHARMA Initiative and The Others gaining insights on the outside world including technological advances.

According to the apparition of his birth mother, Claudia, The Man in Black is able to see the dead while his brother Jacob cannot. ("Across the Sea")

Due to his "special" nature, the Man in Black appears to be extremely intelligent. He was able to construct or reconstruct a mechanism to harness the island's electromagnetism in ancient times. ("Across the Sea")

Weaknesses

Sonar fence

The DHARMA Initiative's sonar fence repels the Man in Black in his Monster form. When Juliet activated the fence, the Monster slammed into the invisible barrier, screeched, and took off into the jungle. ("Left Behind") When Charles Widmore arrived on Hydra Island, his men began setting up a portable series of sonar pylons to keep the Man in Black at bay. ("Recon")  ("The Package")

Ash circles

Ash circles repelled the Man in Black. Ash at the Temple and around the cabin prevented his entry, and on a smaller scale, Bram tried to use one to save himself. ("LA X, Part 2")  ("The Man Behind the Curtain")  ("LA X, Part 1") The ash evidently relied on an external force, the Man In Black could enter the Temple as smoke after Dogen was killed. ("Sundown")

Banyan trees

On several occasions, characters have hidden in thickets of banyan trees, which seem to repel the Monster. Kate hid in a thicket after the Monster killed the pilot. ("Pilot, Part 1") In his hallucination, Boone and Shannon hid inside one while the Monster chased them. However, this was only in Boone's vision ("Hearts and Minds"). Later,Rousseau claimed hiding in banyan thickets could protect someone from the Monster. ("Exodus, Part 1") When Kate and Juliet were chased by the Monster, they hid in a banyan thicket. A Monster-perspective crane shot looms in front of Juliet behind the branches. Juliet reacts to several bright flashes of light just before the Monster leaves. ("Left Behind") The Monster, in the form of John Locke, is able to approach Kate as she sits in a banyan grove. ("Recon")

Explosives

The Man in Black appears sensitive to explosives, at least in his smoke form. On his second encounter with John Locke, he attempted to drag John away as he had with Montand in 1988. ("This Place Is Death") Kate lit and threw sticks of dynamite from the Black Rock at the monster, and it released Locke. ("Exodus, Part 2")

In December 2007 when Charles Widmore returned to the Island, Zoe and her party attempted to intimidate the Man in Black by firing mortar rounds close to his camp. Zoe later fired on him when he was on the beach with Jack. These explosives has no effect on him. ("The Last Recruit") Widmore also wired Ajira 316 with explosives, though likely to destroy the Man in Black's escape plan rather than to hurt him. The figure of Christian, whose form the Man in Black had previously taken, was also aboard the Kahana when it exploded, and he clearly was unharmed. ("There's No Place Like Home, Part 2")

Candidacy

One of the primary obstacles to the Man In Black's destructive capabilities was that he could not directly kill or harm anyone Jacob branded a candidate. While he could kill others with ease (such as Seth Norris), the rule surrounding candidates deterred him from attacking, for instance, all of the Oceanic survivors immediately upon their arrival.

The limitation did not, however protect candidates from indirect attacks or plots. The Man in Black exploited this loophole by tricking candidates into killing either each other or themselves. There are many examples of this throughout the series, including the death of Nikki Fernandez. The most prominent was his attempt to make the final candidates kill one another inside a submarine by triggering an explosive device. Such attempts encourage candidates to accidentally rather than deliberately kill themselves or each other, as rules appeared to protect the candidates from suicide.

The Man in Black also killed Eko, whose name appeared on the lighthouse candidate list, after the man refused to atone for past actions. This suggests a further loophole.

The Light

In "The End", the Man in Black was revealed to have a crippling weakness that even he had been unaware of; his dependence on the Light at the Heart of the Island to maintain his supernatural abilities. After the extinguishing of the Light there at Desmond's hands, the Man in Black returned to being a mortal man, albeit one that still resembled John Locke. He lost his ability to transform into smoke, his immunity to physical injury and his other abilities. This allowed for the Man in Black's final defeat and death (when shot by Kate and kicked off the cliff by Jack). Just as he became mortal but still in the form of John Locke, he left a corpse behind despite the former already being buried elsewhere on the Island.

Names

The entity has been known by several names to both fans and characters of the show, both as the smoke monster and as the Man in Black. Whether or not any character ever knew the Man in Black's true name, as well as whether or not he ever had one, is still unknown.

  • Referred to simply as the "Monster" or the "Smoke Monster" by the survivors as well as Ben, and, at one point, Jacob. The Man in Black disliked being called "the Monster" the one time he was referred to as such to his face.
  • The DHARMA Initiative appeared to refer to it as "Cerberus"
  • According to Ben, the Others have no name for it at all.
  • Rousseau and Robert referred to it as the "security system."
  • Sawyer and the Man in Black himself refer to it as "the smoke thing." ("Recon")
  • The ghost of Isabella told Hurley that Richard must stop "the man in black" from leaving the Island. This was the first time he was referred as such in the show itself. Earlier, Jacob referred to him as "a mandressed in black", indirectly calling his brother "the Man in Black" ("Ab Aeterno")
  • Richard referred to the Man in Black as "that thing".("The Package") Jin and Ilana have also referred to the Man in Black as such.
  • On few occasions, Jacob called him "brother".
  • For lack of any other name, most people have simply called the Man in Black "Locke", due, obviously, to his appearance as John Locke. Notably, both times he has been called "John," the person who says it has been corrected with the phase "That's not/This isn't John".

Credits

  • For his appearances in his original form, he is credited as man in black (no article, no capitals), with the exception of "The Incident, Part 1", where he is credited as Man #2.
  • For his appearances as John Locke, he is credited as Locke.

Fan Nicknames

As the Monster

  • Fans nicknamed the monster "Smokey." In the series finale, Sawyer called him that as well ("The End").

As the Man in Black

After the Man in Black's first human appearance in "The Incident, Part 1", the character was given several nicknames by the fan community, actors and staff, including:

  • "Flocke", a portmanteau word of the words "Fake" and "Locke". Coincidentally, Flocke is the name of apolar bear in the Nuremberg Zoo - the German word "Flocke" means "flake."
  • "Un-Locke", as in, the opposite of Locke. Used subsequently in TV Guide.
  • "Samuel", often used as a reference to the character's initial casting call, and finally claimed by Kristin Dos Santos to be the Man in Black's real name. The ABC publicity department dismissed this claim, saying that its use was for casting calls only to avoid red flags for fans.
  • "Jacob's enemy" or "Jacob's nemesis", in relation to his antagonistic role to Jacob, was the man names on Lostpedia for a period.
  • "Locke Ness Monster", references the legendary Loch Ness Monster of Loch Ness, Scotland. Used byDamon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse in their February 22, 2010 Podcast.
  • "Demon Locke", as Michael Emerson refers to him.
  • "Barry", the name given in a humorous Lost short shown at Comic-Con 2011. Jacob says tells his brother, "You've got a bad attitude, Barry." Possibly inspired by a 2010 article in The Guardian.

These names are considered parody and/or non-canon as they are not indicated as Man in Black's true name in the TV series of Lost.

Trivia

General

  • The Man in Black was the thirty-third and last character to ever have a flashback.
  • The Man in Black was the eighteenth main character to die.
  • The Man in Black never once left the Island during the course of his roughly 2,000-year life.
    • He is the only main character to never be off The Island - the opposite of Penny.
  • The original appearance of the Monster was the first major plot twist of Lost and changed how the viewers and characters perceived the Island. ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • The Man in Black has been portrayed by seven different actors, more than any other character on the show.
  • The alleged appearance of the smoke monster swooping down and causing the turbine explosion was officially debunked by the producers. ("Pilot, Part 1")
  • The entity, in the form of the black smoke, has been seen or heard by all the main characters except Daniel, Ana, Lucia, Charlotte, Libby, Pierre, Eloise and Christian. Locke, Jack, Kate, Charlie, Eko, Juliet, Jin, Ben, Sawyer, Claire, Hurley, Miles, Sayid, Frank, Sun, Ilana, Michael, Nikki and Desmond have had "close encounters" with it. Walt, Shannon, Boone and Paulo have all heard the Monster but not seen it. However, Boone and Shannon had a "close encounter" with the black smoke in Boone's vision. Jacob and Richard are the only ones who have been shown encountering the monster in the forms of the Black Smoke, Man in Black, and as Locke.
  • Richard Alpert took notice of a picture that a five-year-old Locke drew of a man being attacked by a cloud of whirling black smoke. ("Cabin Fever")
  • Cerberus is also the common name for dog-faced water snakes, a genus of water snakes in the Colubridae family.
  • Cerberus in the Greek Mythology was a multi-headed hound which guards the gates of Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. Robert claimed the monster wasn't a monster at all, but a security system charged with guarding the Temple.
  • In the May 26, 2006 Official Lost Podcast, the producers said, "There's a good chance that you guys saw the Monster this year Season 2, but just didn't realize you were looking at the Monster." Gregg Nationslater stated that the appearance of the Monster was after the episode "The 23rd Psalm" and likely in the second half of the season. Presumably, they were referring to his appearances as Yemi.
  • When the entity appeared in human form, his shirt and Jacob's shirt are contrasted. Jacob wears a light colored shirt, while his nemesis wears a dark one. (Dark and Light)
  • In November 2009, executive producer Damon Lindelof stated that, regarding the scene in "Pilot, Part 2" where Locke explains to Walt the premise of backgammon using the concept of light and dark, he and fellow co-creator JJ Abrams had planned for those two sides to eventually be personified by two individuals (in reference to Jacob and the Man in Black). 
  • The casting call described the entity's 1800's appearance as "Samuel. Any ethnicity, 40s-60s. A corporate raider looking to take over his next company. Powerful, devious and obtuse. He has a cunning intellect and a strong sense of danger. May lead to recurring. Looking for someone very interesting and very special for this role..."
  • Dogen describes the Man in Black to Sayid first as "an angry man" who is influencing Claire, then "evil incarnate."
  • The Man in Black evidently has a streak of sadism, as shown in the brutality of its attacks as the Monster, and the apparent amusement it expressed at John Locke's confusion about his own murder.
  • Since a DVD commentary reveals the monster sound effect to be an NYC taxi cab printer, Rose's familiarity with the sound may be an in-joke. In ("Pilot, Part 1"), the Losties discuss the sound on the beach the morning after first hearing the Smoke Monster in the jungle. Rose is heard saying "The noise it made sounded very familiar." Shannon is heard asking "Where are you from?" to which Rose replies "The Bronx."
  • In what appeared to have been a red herring, on June 14, 2006, DJ Dan fielded a call on his podcast, which was part of the ARG The Lost Experience, from a scientist worrying about nanotechnology(miniature machines that can carry out tasks). The caller suggested that with an electromagnetic field, the machines could work together to form a "storm cloud" that could actually think. This clearly was a reference to the Monster, but the theory had already been discredited by the producers in the July 31, 2006 podcast, and again in the first DJ Dan live broadcast.
  • The Man in Black is one of 22 characters to have their name appear in a soundtrack title, although some of his nicknames are used instead of a name, e.g. Monster and Smokey.
  • According to the Across the Sea audio commentary, Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse thought it would be interesting if the Man in Black didn't have a name at all.
  • The Man in Black along with Sun, Christian, Bernard, Eko, Libby and Ilana are only main characters who doesn't have any line in their first episode.
  • Last words: "You're too late"
  • Witnesses of death: Jack, Kate

Cultural references

  • Forbidden Planet is a classic sci-fi film based on Shakespeare's The Tempest and was mentioned by writer David Fury when describing the Monster. Its storyline features many similar themes to Lost: a mysterious location, geographic isolation, immense power sources, ancient civilizations, hidden underground facilities, an invisible monster, a stranded crew of explorers, lost scientific expeditions, and deadly psychic powers. The howling noise frequently made by the smoke monster in 'Lost' is strikingly similar to noises made by the monster from 'Forbidden Planet'.
    • The Tempest is a play written by William Shakespeare, that tells the story of the sorcerer Prospero and his daughter Miranda, who are stranded on a mysterious desert island that has mystical properties. Prospero raises a storm, or tempest, which causes a passing ship containing his enemies to run aground. Using magic, spirits and a man-beast creature named Caliban, he separates and manipulates the survivors of the wreck for his own purposes. The play ends with Prospero restored to his former glory. The Tempest is also the name of a DHARMA Initiative stationthat stores a deadly toxic gas.
  • In Dane Cook's "Rough Around the Edges" tour, he references the Monster, calling it a "Smokey Dragon," and wonders why no one ever thinks about it when they go into the woods. (Outside references to Lost)
  • Cerberus’ three heads relate to the threefold symbol of the baser forces of life. They represent the past, the present and the time yet to come.
  • In William Golding's novel Lord of the Flies, one of Lost's major influences, survivors on a deserted island live in constant fear of an entity they dub "the beast." Unlike on Lost, the monster in Golding's work is a figment of the survivors' imaginations, and fear of it is a major driver of the story. Also, interestingly enough, the survivors mistake a corpse hung up on a tree by a parachute for this monster, much in the same way Naomi was caught in a tree upon landing on the Island.
  • ABC's recap of "The Incident, Part 1" refers to him as the Man in Black. In Stephen King's The Standand Dark Tower series, "the Man in Black" is a name used for an antagonist also known as Randall Flagg or Walter o'Dim.

Explanations

  • Hurley and Paulo both questioned whether the Monster was a dinosaur. (Lost is filmed on many of the same locations used by the Jurassic Park series.)
  • Hurley also said the Monster could be just a "pissed off giraffe." This is an ongoing inside-joke between the producers and writers, as noted in the Season 1 DVD commentary. ("Numbers")
  • There is considerable discussion about the entity's relation to judgment of the characters, especially with regards to Eko's two encounters. In the November 6, 2006 Official Lost Podcast, the producers said:
Carlton Cuse: Well then, he might be a manifestation that the Island has generated. Perhaps an incarnation of the Monster?

Damon Lindelof: That's interesting. I would assume that that's sort of a theory that people are tossing around. Um… there's several manifestations in that episode. All of them seem to have come from Eko's memory. So, could one assume that when they last faced off, that all those flashes that happened in the Monster cloud, that it was sort of "downloading information" that it might want to use at a future date?

  • David Fury had this to say about the Monster in an interview with Lostpedia:
Metaphorically, the Monster was just the great unknown threat, the imminent danger around the corner that potentially haunts us all… Some thought of it as a monster of the id, much like in Forbidden Planet—that maybe it appeared differently to everyone who saw it. The most tangible thought, as explained later by Rousseau, was that it functioned as a security system set up by the Island’s creators/early residents... For Locke, clearly, the Monster was the "soul" of the Island that was responsible for his "miracle." (LP Interview:David Fury)

Sound effects

In the form of the black smoke monster, the entity releases several distinct noises.

  • The howling sound is usually if not always an A-flat 4. The frequency of this pitch is 415.3 hertz; exactly one semitone flat of concert pitch A, or A-440; the note that most musicians use to tune a musical instrument.
  • In the voice-over commentary for "The 23rd Psalm" on the Season 2 DVD, producer Bryan Burkconfirmed that one of the Monster's sound effects is the receipt printer from a NYC taxi cab. You can hear the sound at this link
    • This was reaffirmed in the May 21, 2007 Official Lost Podcast, but it was clarified that the mythologyof the Monster is unrelated to the cabs and was just a matter of sound effects. This sound effect was heard in the following scenes:
    • When Locke punched some numbers into a counting machine, right before the first commercial("Walkabout")
    • As the Monster flew by Kate and Jack ("Exodus, Part 2")
    • Before Nikki gets bitten by the Medusa spider, as was confirmed on the Season 3 DVD commentary for that episode ("Exposé")

Production notes

  • Some viewers believed that the The Twins (Others) could be amongst the entity's manifestations, but this was officially debunked in an interview with Damon Lindelof. He said they hired the twin stunt men to be guys on the Others' boat, but they were never meant to become important to the storyline. Damon Lindelof said, "We can tell you, sitting here now that twins have nothing to do whatsoever with the mythology of the show." ("Exodus, Part 2")
  • In the production building on the Disney lot where the Lost production has been housed, Cerberus is the name of the safety and fire protection system. The three-headed dog logo can be found all over the grounds.
  • According to Kristin Dos Santos of E! Online (but unconfirmed by official sources), the name "Samuel" was used in scripts to refer to the Man in Black, but the writers ultimately decided not to use the name in dialogue, feeling that leaving the character unnamed was more interesting. 
  • In a parody video shown at Comic-Con 2011 and at abc.com, it is "confirmed" that his name is Barry.

Additional casting

  • Ryan Bradford played the role of the young Man in Black (age 13) in "Across the Sea" The casting call described him as "[MATT], Caucasian, dark hair, 12-14, defiant and rebellious. Wise and smart but fights with other boys. He’s given a big responsibility that makes him feel important... NICE CO-STAR."

Producer's favorite fan theory

In February 2007, Damon Lindelof opened a question on Yahoo! Answers about the nature of the Monster. The answer he and Carlton Cuse liked the best was given by user ar233. Out of over 8000 submitted answers, the winner was:

I think the Monster was originally a highly advanced security system designed to separate participants in the experimental DHARMA hatches. I think it was an effect that was designed to frighten people (smoke, noise) if they strayed too far from their experiment location. (A bit Wizard of Oz-like.) However, the electromagnetic force has mutated it—in the same sense as Desmond experienced time travel and can now see the future after exposure—and made it malevolent and able to physically grab things in its force (Eko, the pilot, Locke). So in theory it may be able to be deactivated, if they can find the control room for it (which would be another hatch somewhere yet undetected).

The producers' explanation as to why they picked that answer was:

We were amazed at the imagination and prodigious creativity applied to answering the question, what is the Monster? We have chosen our favorite answer. Not that's it's the right answer. Sorry but we can't really give away the ultimate secrets of the Monster quite yet. The answer we selected might be somewhat right, totally right, or completely off-base. But we liked it and found it very cool and intriguing. Thanks to everyone who took the time to write in. We loved reading your thoughts, and thanks for watching! -Carlton and Damon

They later stated they were impressed by how close some of the responses came.

Unanswered questions

Unanswered questions
  1. Do not answer the questions here.
  2. Keep the questions open-ended and neutral: do not suggest an answer.

More details...

For fan theories about these unanswered questions, see: The Man in Black/Theories

General

  • Why was he kept at bay by the sonar fence or by a circle of ash?
  • Why was he able to enter the Temple after Dogen's death?
  • If he could glide at a very great height, why couldn't he glide over the sonar fence just as Kate climbs over it?
  • What would have happened if the Man in Black left the island?

History

  • Why was he transformed into the smoke monster upon his encounter with the Heart?
  • Did he occupy Jacob's cabin? If so, for how long?

Recent events

  • Where was the Monster dragging Locke?

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