In the end, LOST was all about the characters anyway. I pretty much looked at every episode and ranked it based on a 1-5 rating. I then broke down the episodes into specific characters since a vast majority of LOST episodes were either a flashback, flash-forward, or flash-sideways of one particular character. An interesting dilemma occurred. Do I rate the episode on the overall quality of it or focus more on the particular back-story or plot-line of the specific character being featured? Generally both went hand-in-hand, but an example is Season Two’s Two For the Road. The episode is known for the shocking deaths of Ana Lucia and Libby at the hands of Michael, and thus a solid episode, but the back-story was Ana-Lucia, widely considered to be Lost’s worst character. I gave it a 3.5 ranking, so I generally leaned more toward the overall episode as opposed to focusing solely on the back-story.
I accounted for 15 episodes either without a back-story or with many backs-stories, and I could not categorize them effectively. Here they are with my ranking for them in parenthesis: Pilot, Part 2(4) (the back-stories are Kate and Charlie on Oceanic 815, but I didn’t feel like giving both Kate and Charlie and 4 rating so I put them in this miscellaneous list), Exodus, Part 1(4.25), Exodus, Part 2(5), The Other 48 Days(4), Confirmed Dead(2.5), There’s No Place Like Home, Part 1(4), There’s No Place Like Home, Part 2(4.75), Because You Left(3), Namaste(2.75), Follow the Leader(3.5) (Lostpedia lists it as a Richard episode, I do not know why), LAX, Parts 1 and 2(3.25) (2 hr episodes on one night are listed as one episode while previous season finales like Exodus that were broken into different nights are listed as two), The Last Recruit(2.75), The Candidate(4.25), What They Died For(3.5), and The End(4.5).
I clumped a few characters together, Jin and Sun had their own episodes in Season 1, but after awhile their episodes were flash-stories of both of them. Walt had only one flashback, but I list him with Michael. With The Incident and Across the Sea, I counted them as both Jacob and MIB episodes. Rose and Bernard as well as Nikki and Paulo are obviously together.
I made two lists, the first one is of characters with two episodes or less. The latter and more important is the ranking of characters with three or more episodes. I gave 10 episodes a perfect 5 rating, and 9 episodes a rating of under 2 (only one got the 1 rating).
Characters With Two Episodes or Less
9. Nikki and Paulo
Expose - S3, E14 -1
Two worthless characters equates to the worst episode of the entire series and a dark stain on Season 3.
8. Rose and Bernard
SOS - S2, E19 - 1.75
I was never as big on these two as others are on this site. Their one episode from Season 2 was forgettable.
7. Boone Carlyle
Hearts and Minds - S1, E13 - 2
Did Boone kind of become a cult favorite character after his death in Season 1? He was likable, but his one episode was not that great.
6. Shannon Rutherford
Abandoned - S2, E6 - 2.25
Shannon is about the same as Boone but less likable, but I think her episode was a shade better.
5. Miles Straume
Some Like it Hoth - S5, E13 - 2.5
Miles was a solid and often underused character. His one and only episode from the epic Season 5 was average at best.
4. Ana Lucia
Collision - S2, E8 - 1.75
Two For the Road - S2, E20 - 3.5
As I said earlier, Ana Lucia is considered the worst LOST character by the Top Ten management, but does get the benefit of being connected to Two For the Road, her other episode was a stinker.
3. Daniel Faraday
The Variable - S5, E14 - 3.75
Daniel has many scenes off-island in a few other episodes, but his one and only episode was very solid.
2. Jacob and the MIB
The Incident - S5, E16 - 5
Across the Sea - S6, E15 - 2.75
I did include Jacob and MIB together in both of these episodes. These two are probably the two coolest as well as the most mysterious characters in LOST. The Incident is top-ten episode material and Across the Sea was slightly above average.
1. Richard Alpert
Ab Aeterno - S6, E9 - 5
Richard’s one and only episode was an absolute epic.
Characters With Three or More Episodes
14. Charlie Pace
The Moth - S1, E7 - 2
Homecoming - S1, E15 - 2.25
Fire + Water - S2, E12 - 1.5
Greatest Hits - S3, E21 - 2.75
Charlie is widely considered to be one of the weaker characters. All of his episodes are below average except for Season 3’s Greatest Hits. Fire + Water is one of LOST’s worst.
13. Kate Austen
Tabula Rasa - S1, E3 - 3
Whatever the Case May Be - S1, E12 - 2
Born to Run - S1, E22 - 2
What Kate Did - S2, E9 - 2.25
I Do - S3, E6 - 2.75
Left Behind - S3, E15 - 1.5
Eggtown - S4, E4 - 1.25
The Little Prince - S5, E4 - 2
Whatever Happened, Happened - S5, E11 - 3
What Kate Does - S6, E3 - 2
Everybody would cringe with a Kate episode on the horizon. Her best might have been her first in Season 1’s Tabula Rosa, and she also benefited from the awesomeness of Season 5 with Whatever Happened, Happened. Left Behind and Eggtown were major clunkers.
12. Claire Littleton
Raised By Another - S1, E10 - 2
Maternity Leave - S2, E15 - 2.75
Par Avion - S3, E12 - 2.25
I never liked Claire and her episodes were right around or slightly below average.
11. Jin and Sun Kwon
House of the Rising Sun - S1, E6 - 2.5
…In Translation - S1, E17 - 2.25
…And Found - S2, E5 - 2.5
The Whole Truth - S2, E16 - 2.25
The Glass Ballerina - S3, E2 - 2.5
DOC - S3, E18 - 1.75
Ji Yeon - S4, E7 - 1.5
This Place is Death - S5, E5 - 4.5
The Package - S6, E10 - 2.25
Jin was always better than Sun, but after Season 1 they came as a package deal in episodes. They benefited from having This Place is Death, which was awesome on-island. The rest of their episodes were certainly below average.
10. Hugo “Hurley” Reyes
Numbers - S1, E18 - 3
Everybody Hates Hugo - S2, E4 - 2.25
Dave - S2, E18 - 2
Tricia Tanaka is Dead - S3, E10 - 2
The Beginning of the End - S4, E1 - 3.5
The Lie - S5, E2 - 2.25
Everybody Loves Hugo - S6, E12 - 2.5
I was never that crazy about Hugo and his episodes were pretty average.
9. Mr. Eko
The 23rd Psalm - S2, E10 - 2.75
? - S2, E21 - 2.25
The Cost of Living - S3, E5 - 2.75
I liked Eko, and the whole DUI Season 2/3 arc was somewhat of a shame. His episodes were slightly above average.
8. James “Sawyer” Ford
Confidence Man - S1, E8 - 2.5
Outlaws - S1, E16 - 3
The Long Con - S2, E13 - 3.5
Every Man For Himself - S3, E4 - 1.75
LaFleur - S5, E8 - 3.75
Recon - S6, E8 - 2
We are getting close to the heavy hitters. This seems like an appropriate spot for Sawyer. Some solid episodes and others than weren’t, slightly above average, overall pretty solid.
7. Juliet Burke
Not in Portland - S3, E7 - 3
One of Us - S3, E16 - 4
The Other Woman - S4, E6 - 2.5
Before I looked at the episodes, I thought Juliet would be fairly high. Her Season 3 material was great, but The Other Woman from Season 4 was average at best.
6. Sayid Jarrah
Solitary - S1, E9 - 3
The Greater Good - S1, E21 - 2
One of Them - S2, E14 - 3.25
Enter 77 - S3, E11 - 3
The Economist - S4, E3 - 4
He’s Our You - S5, E10 - 3.75
Sundown - S6, E6 - 3.25
Ahh, my personal favorite character. His episodes were solid but not spectacular in Seasons 1-3. In 4-6, they definitely went up a notch.
5. Michael Dawson and Walt Lloyd
Special - S1, E14 - 2.75
Adrift - S2, E2 - 2.5
Three Minutes - S2, E22 - 3.75
Meet Kevin Johnson - S4, E8 - 4
This will come as a big surprise to many. Walt’s only back-story was Special from Season 1, but I included him here with Michael. In my opinion, Three Minutes and Meet Kevin Johnson are very good episodes, and Special and Adrift were pretty much average to slightly above average.
4. John Locke
Walkabout - S1, E4 - 5
Deus Ex Machina - S1, E19 - 3.25
Orientation - S2, E3 - 2.25
Lockdown - S2, E17 - 3
Further Instructions - S3, E3 - 1.75
The Man From Tallahassee - S3, E13 - 4.25
The Brig - S3, E19 - 3.75
Cabin Fever - S4, E11 - 4.75
The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham - S5, E7 - 5
The Substitute - S6, E4 - 4
Now we are entering the meat of the lineup. Except for the crappy Further Instructions and that weed farm, Locke had great episodes. Walkabout, the Man From Tallahassee, Cabin Fever, and the Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham are a Mount Rushmore of LOST episodes in and of themselves. The Substitute was one of the better episodes from Season 6.
3. Jack Shepard
Pilot, Part 1 - S1, E1 - 5
White Rabbit - S1, E5 - 3.5
All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues - S1, E11 - 3.75
Do No Harm - S1, E20 - 3.5
Man of Science, Man of Faith - S2, E1 - 4.5
The Hunting Party - S2, E11 - 3.5
A Tale of Two Cities - S3, E1 - 3.75
Stranger in a Strange Land - S3, E9 - 1.25
Through the Looking Glass - S3, E22 - 5
Something Nice Back Home - S4, E10 - 3.25
316 - S5, E6 - 4
Lighthouse - S6, E5 - 3.5
Similar to Locke, Jack had great episodes and one stinker with Stranger in a Strange Land. He did benefit from the Pilot and Through the Looking Glass in which the episodes were more about the shock of being the first episode as well as the flash-forward surprise more than them having a Jack back-story.
2. Ben Linus
The Man Behind the Curtain - S3, E20 - 5
The Shape of Things to Come - S4, E9 - 4
Dead is Dead - S5, E12 - 3.75
Dr. Linus - S6, E7 - 2.25
When Henry Gale was introduced in Season 2, everyone was anticipating this mysterious character’s flashback. The Man Behind the Curtain did not disappoint in Season 3 as it is my personal favorite episode of the entire series. Unfortunately, each episode after TMBTC got progressively worse. Not weak episodes, but the semi-below average Dr. Linus from Season 6 causes Ben to be in the number two spot.
1. Desmond Hume
Live Together, Die Alone - S2, E23 - 5
Flashes Before Your Eyes - S3, E8 - 2.25
Catch-22 - S3, E17 - 2.5
The Constant - S4, E5 - 5
Jughead - S5, E3 - 4
Happily Ever After - S6, E10 - 4
This really doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Live Together, Die Alone was an absolute epic and The Constant is a fan favorite. Even with the little lull in Season 3, Desmond is quite worthy of this number one spot. It’s ironic that the character with the best episodes had the best scene in the entire series with the opening of Season 2 in the hatch. LOST fans wanted to know more about this mysterious character in the hatch, and his back-stories, whether flashbacks, flash-forwards, or his escapades in sideways land never disappointed any of us.