The first character to note is Jack Shephard, the de facto leader of the survivors. While he wasn't my favorite character of the bunch, he certainly was an interesting and dynamic character. Before coming to the island he was a spinal surgeon who lived with the mental abuse his father put on him. Throughout the series he believed that everything that happened was coincidental and not part of a larger plan and this frequently put him at odds with other survivors. I think my biggest problems with him were that he was very closed minded about things, overreacted to often, almost never took anyone’s advice but his own, and reacted to events rather than think them through. Still, he was a more then capable leader during the first few seasons but became increasingly broken and guilt ridden as the series progressed and by the time the series ended it seemed like he was looking for redemption for all the bad choices he made. In that sense, he embodied a few of the underlying themes of the series: redemption and destiny.
The next one to note is John Locke, the fan favorite and my personal favorite as well. Before crashing on the island, Locke was a paraplegic, trying to find purpose in his life, and on the island he seemed to have found it. Somehow the island healed his paralysis and this enabled him to become a major player in the series. In many ways, he was the exact opposite of Jack, in that he believed they had been brought to the island for a purpose. As the series progressed, he constantly found his faith in this tested and, at times, flat out abandoned it only to find it again. His belief in why they were on the island was in direct contrast to Jack's and frequently caused them to clash over the issue and eventually caused a schism between the survivors. In the end, he was right but it took his death to prove it to the other survivors. The fifth season, he tried to convince the survivors who left the island to return, saying it was the only way to save those who remained and apparently killed himself after he failed. Despite this, his influence over the other survivors was still apparent and he remains the most memorable character of the series.
Next we have James “Sawyer” Ford. Before the series began, he was a conman who was hunting for the man responsible for his family's death. On the island, he was a hesitant leader who often had to take the reins when Jack and Locke were out of the picture. I think it would probably be appropriate to describe him as someone who deep down wanted to be good but did things to keep people from liking him on purpose because he didn’t want them to for some reason or another. During the first few seasons he an ass hole, always picked on other people, giving them annoying nicknames, and still coning people but gradually developed into a more likeable character. By the fifth season he fully took on the role of leader after both Jack and Locke left the island. He also had to make a lot of critical decisions during the sixth season as Jack was broken and indecisive throughout much of it. He's one of those characters who starts out as an asshole but develops into a more likable character and you just can't help but like him.
Next is Kate Austen. Before crashing on the island, she was a fugitive, wanted for the murder of her abusive stepfather. Other than that, there isn't much to her and she didn't seem to have much purpose in the series other then serving as a love interest for Jack and Sawyer and complicating situations that were already complicated enough. All around, of all the major characters of Lost, I felt she was one of the, if not the, least interesting and useless character.
Then we have Hugo “Hurley” Reyes and my God was he a great character. Before crashing on the island, he was actually a lottery winner, apparently using cursed numbers to do it and was then apparently cursed with bad luck. Throughout the series he was portrayed as a nice guy with the worst luck and was the comedic relief of the series. He wasn't really a leader, more of a moral support character and was always goofy and likeable. As the series progressed, he got more involved with the events of the series and became a key player in it. He had the unique ability of being able to communicate with the dead, (as was able to have full conversations with dead people), and this proved to be invaluable ability in the final season. He may not be the best character of the show but he's one you can't help but love.
Next is Sayid Jarrah. A former member of the Iraqi Republican Guard, Sayid more or less seemed to serve as a lieutenant to whoever was in charge, be it Jack, Locke, or Sawyer. Before coming to the island, he was an interrogator for the Republican Guard and then traveled the world without purpose, trying to find redemption for what he did as an interrogator. Other than that, there wasn't much to him, other than he was one of the more badass characters of the group. Whenever a fight broke out between the survivors and the various enemies they make on the island, he was the one who more or less did the more dirty work, (though that's not to say other survivors didn't do anything). In the end, you like him because he's a badass character but there isn't much more to him than that.
Then you have Jin-Soo Kwon and Sun-Hwa Kwon, a married couple from South Korea. Their background was that Sun was the daughter of a powerful business man and Gin worked for him and married her. As a result he had to work for him even longer, often doing his father-in-law's shady work and this put a strain on their relationship to the point where Sun was about to leave him. When they first arrive on the island their nearly estranged from one another and this void kept on growing but eventually they reconciled. Other than their back stories and how they developed on the island, there wasn't much to them. They were interesting characters but didn't seem to contribute much to the series as a whole. That said, let's move on.
Getting into the Others, we first have Ben Linus, their leader. Other then the Man in Black he was probably the closest thing the series ever got to a true villain. He would often manipulate other people to do his dirty work for him and reap the benefits. To put it simply, he was a character who kept on proving that the other characters should have killed when they had the chance and have a hundred chances to do it, but he somehow always survives. He was one who always skimmed the lines of hero and villain and as a result was always getting the crap beaten out of him. He would often do things that would make him seem like a good guy but then would do just as many things that would make him a villain. Never before or after had I seen a character jumped over the fence so many times and still come out ahead. Is he truly a hero or a villain? I honestly don't know but he was one hell of a character and one of the best Lost had to offer.
Another character who was close to being a villain was Charles Widmore. Originally he was one of the Others but was banished from the island by Ben for breaking their traditions and rules. Off the island, he was a powerful business man with many connections and spent much of his time and energy trying to re-finding the island. In the fourth season he sends a boat to the island with mercenaries tasked with capturing Ben. It was obvious that he wanted the island no matter what the cost in lives and money were. Like Ben, he's one of those characters you aren’t sure about. One moment he'll do something that suggests he's a villain and the next that he has everyone's best interest at heart. Still, he was a worthy antagonist for Ben, the Others, and the crash survivors and a memorable character.
Next is Michael Dawson, the token black guy of the crash survivors, (half joke). Before coming to the island, he had been cut off from his son Walter after his wife left him. After she died the job of taking care of him fell to Michael. During the first season finale, Walter was kidnapped by the Others, prompting Michael's actions in the second season. He ends up having to kill some of the survivors in order to save Walter and then leaves the island. He later appears on the boat sent by Charles Widmore in the fourth season and has an ending that was tragic but he seemed to find his redemption in it. A memorable character, if only for the bad things he did.
The only short lived character worth mentioning is Charlie Pace. Before coming to the island, Charlie was the bass player in a one hit wonder band who became a heroin addict. On the island, he served as a moral support character and comedic relief like Hurley. Other than that, there isn't much to say about him. His story got really weird during the third season and was dead by its end, warning the survivors of Widmore boat and was one of the most depressing deaths of the series. A memorable character if not the best.
Then there is Claire Littleton, a pregnant young woman who survived the crash. She was another character I found a little useless in the series. Other than her baby, being a love interest for Charlie, and being the cause for a few twists regarding her father, she didn't have much to offer to the series. I guess she was interesting enough to keep around but was never one of my favorites.
Next we have Desmond Hume, one of the strangest characters of the series. Before coming to the island, he had connections to Charles Widmore in wanting to marry his daughter. He eventually found his way to the island after a worldwide boat race goes wrong and ends up spending years within the hatch entering the number, (don't ask just watch the series on that one). Later in the series he displays a number of strange abilities. He is able to see how Charlie will die and actually prevents his death several times but ultimately finds that he can't defy fate forever. He also seemed to be able to travel through time at random which prompted strange explanations to questions that hadn't even been asked yet. All around, he was a good character, but things always got strange when he came around.
Another character of note is Jacob. He was a character who was frequently referenced throughout the series but was never seen until the fifth season finally. He was always referred to as some kind of overlord of the Others but the series seemed to imply that he was some kind of force on the island rather than an actual person. As an actual person, it turned out he had affected many of the main cast members throughout their lives in both minor and major ways. Throughout the final season he seemed to act like a guide to the survivors and was a good one at that. He was a good character but they seemed to show too little of him and at the same time too much.
One of the most mysterious characters in the show was Richard Alpert. When he first appeared in the series, Ben Linus described him as being some kind of adviser but never went into details. In fact, not much was revealed about him until the final season. Throughout the series, he constantly popped up in the strangest places in the survivors' flashbacks, not unlike the way Jacob did. The strangest thing about him was that he never seemed to age and frequently appeared in different places in time, looking the same age as was in the present. Much of his past and motivations is revealed in the final season, but it's something I won't spoil. All around, he was a good mystery character and was a good, if not great, addition to the cast.
Then we had Juliet Burke, one of Ben's lieutenants and like Ben she was a frequent fence jumper but not nearly as unpredictable as Ben. At some points, it would seem like she was completely loyal to the Others but then would join the survivors in their fight against them. For some reason women couldn't get pregnant and give birth on the island and she had been brought in by Richard to research the problem. At first she just seemed like another Other, but quickly revealed that she hated Ben and wanted to get off the island as much as Jack. Unlike Kate, she was more than just a love interest for the male characters and was far more interesting and the best of the female cast members.
And last but not least, is The Man in Black. I don't have much to say about him, other than he is one badass villain. As the smoke monster, he's a devastating force that no one can stop and when he imitates the dead, he can be one manipulative basted. I don't want to say too much more about him, as it would ruin the final season for anyone who hasn't seen it. All around, other than Locke, he was probably the most memorable character in the series and the best TV villain I have ever seen.
And those are my thoughts on the major characters of Lost. Now I know that there are a ton of characters I didn't get into and I skipped over a lot of fan favorites but I had to draw the line somewhere. I restricted myself to the major and most mysterious characters so that will have to do and I apologize if anyone's upset. Next time I'll be giving my thoughts on the series finale as everyone seemed to have a different opinion on it so if you haven't seen it I'd recommend skipping it. So until then this is the Illusive One and my destiny is calling in the form a toasted waffle. Later!
SON OF A BITCH! SOME ONE ATE MY WAFFLE!