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J.J. Abrams and Damon Lindelof originally sold 'Lost' as 'Law & Order' on a weird island

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Lost could have been a far, far different show from the one that aired. A document detailing its writers' initial plans for the series has leaked online, and it describes a show that, while similar, would have done away with some of its strongest — and ultimately most frustrating — elements. "There is no ‘Ultimate Mystery’ which requires solving," the document reads. It also notes that the show would never enter the realm of science-fiction, and would always "provide rational, real-world explanations for the seemingly bizarre."

Neither of those statements would turn out to be entirely true, much to fans' disapproval. The series ultimately began leaning more on mystical explanations, leading fans to criticize Lost's writers for seemingly being unsure of where the show was going. To some extent, this document may back their claims. It also describes the series as being procedural, easy to follow, and generally as accessible as possible — switching between being a cop, lawyer, and medical drama at will. "We are absolutely committed to this conceit," the document reads.

"[The document] was going to be completely and totally null and void."

If that sounds like a show that only a network executive could love, that may be exactly the point. SlashFilm spoke with series creator Damon Lindelof about the leaked document, and he reportedly says that it was meant to prove to ABC that Lost was a viable series that should be picked up.

It's unclear exactly how much the document's writers were stretching the truth in order to appease the network, but Lindelof tells SlashFilm that it quickly became evident that much of the document wouldn't be held to: "By the time we started breaking the first two episodes, it was already very clear to everyone in the room that the document that we had written to get the show picked up was going to be completely and totally null and void."

To the writers' credit, the document doesn't entirely fall to pieces. It describes a number of different possible plot arcs, many of which were ultimately followed through on. It just so happens that the commitments that the writers didn't keep — those around mystery and mythology — are the ones that most angered certain fans. But arguably, they're also the ones that most allowed the series to succeed in the long run.