Love or hate the final seasons of LOST, there’s little denying the mythology got a bit … abstract toward the end, between light-filled island corks and temples. That said, producers now reveal that the final episodes were meant to introduce an island volcano that tied things together, but got too costly to depict onscreen.

As Entertainment Weekly points out, references to a dormant island volcano were planted as early as Season 3, given that showrunner Carlton Cuse had in mind to capitalize on some of Hawaii’s actual volcanic landscapes in a later season. The idea was for ante-penultimate episode “Across the Sea” to depict Jacob tossing his murderous brother into the volcano (thereby creating the Smoke Monster), while the series finale would see Jack and the Locke-wearing “Man in Black” battling against an eruption backdrop:

The premise that developed over time was that the volcano was a mysterious place that forged the ticking, shape-shifting monster, the billowing black mass known as Smokey. By season 6, the writers had settled on the concept that the island was like a cork that bottled up all sorts of bad stuff, some volatile stew of spiritual dark matter stuff that would rob life of meaning and goodness if unleashed. ‘The question was always, how do you basically visualize and dramatize the idea that the island itself is all that separates the world from hellfire and damnation?’ says Lost co-creator Damon Lindelof. ‘And the answer was the volcano.’

Ultimately, two significant factors put an end to their “primal and ancient and end-of-the-world-ish” set piece: money, and Star Wars. A large portion of the final season’s production budget went into creating the temple set for Dogen and his followers, and ABC wasn’t willing to budge on the transportation costs for a volcanic location shoot. The finale was then re-worked into the cave/cork endgame, with Jack and Locke’s battle instead taking place on the cliffs of Oahu, which Lindelof realized was for the best:

The other thing that happened, was that we remembered Revenge of the Sith, and that big epic battle between Anakin Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi, in the midst of a volcanic planet. We knew whatever we did was going to look Mickey Mouse next to it.

Lindelof will continue his end-of-the-world finale beat with The Leftovers’ final season, but were Jack and Smokey robbed of a truly epic showdown?

Check Out 100 TV Facts You May Not Know!

More From Mix 93.1