Dr. Ethan Rom, born Ethan Goodspeed, was the son of Amy and Horace Goodspeed, and the surgeon of the Others. He spent some time as a child with the DHARMA Initiative, as well as The Others, who he eventually ended up living with. As a boy, he participated in the kidnapping of Danielle Rousseau's baby, Alex, with Ben Linus. Years later, when Flight 815 crashed on the Island, he was sent by Ben to infiltrate the middle-section survivors. On the verge of being discovered, he kidnapped Claire and took her to a medical station. After she escaped, Ethan attempted to take her back but was captured himself. Shortly afterward, Charlie killed the captive Ethan by firing several gunshots into him.
On the Island
Born two weeks prematurely in July of 1977 to DHARMA Initiative member Amy Goodspeed, Ethan's birth was not able to happen off the island as had been planned. Instead as Amy went into labor, the doctor discovered the baby to be breech and feared that he could not preform the necessary cesarean section as he was just an internist. Alerted to the potential crisis, Jim LaFleur ran to the car pool where he found Dr. Juliet Burke, who had previous experience delivering children. Attending to Amy, Juliet was successful in delivering the baby to the Goodspeeds. ("LaFleur")
Juliet holding a baby Ethan. ("Namaste")
The following day, while attempting to retrieve the sub manifest from a sleeping Amy, Juliet woke the drowsing woman. As a distraction, Juliet picked up the nearby child and asked Amy if she and her husband Horace had decided on a name. Amy said that they had, and his name was Ethan. ("Namaste")
Over the following days, the Barracks was host to the recently imprisoned man named Sayid Jarrah. Believing him to be a Hostile, Amy led a vote to execute the man, giving an impassioned speech while holding her son. Convinced by her argument, the other voting members at the Barracks voted in favor of executing the man, though he would eventually escape before an execution was held. ("He's Our You") Following a series of events that unfolded when Ethan was still only a few days old, Pierre Chang ordered the evacuation of all non-essential personnel from the island after being warned of an impending cataclysm that would wipe out all inhabitants of the island. ("Follow the Leader") (Lost Encyclopedia)
With the Others
Not long after the Incident occurred, Ethan returned to the island with his mother. As he grew older, Ethan became enchanted with the island's natives and sought them out. Finding Charles Widmore, the leader of the "Hostiles" welcomed him into the tight-knit group as long as he gave them something in return. Agreeing to aid in the Purge Ethan was spared as his people, including his parents, were all gassed. Changing his surname to 'Rom', Ethan was more than enthusiastic to live up to Widmore's standards. (Lost Encyclopedia)
Ethan is told to "shut up" by Ben, just before they steal Alex. ("Dead Is Dead")
In 1988, eleven year old Ethan was dispatched with Ben Linus to kill Danielle Rousseau and her child at their camp on the beach. While more than willing to kill the sleeping woman and her daughter, Ethan was ordered by Ben to stay out of sight as the older man approached the camp. While guns were drawn, Ben was able to take her daughter, Alex, and flee into the night with Ethan. Avoiding blame for the missions failure, Ethan stood silently as Widmore reprimanded Ben for not carrying out the executions as ordered. ("Dead Is Dead") Because of Widmore's favor for Ethan, the young man was allowed to travel to and from the island, learning the skills of a surgeon in the outside world in order to help solve the fertility problems that plagued women on the island. In addition to his schooling, Ethan helped in the acquisition of new members that might also help in the research revolving around on-island pregnancies. At some point during his stay on the island, Ethan married a woman who eventually became pregnant and died during labor. (Lost Encyclopedia)
Ethan is introduced to Juliet Burke. ("Not in Portland")
Sometime in 2001, Ethan assisted Richard Alpert in the recruitment of Dr. Juliet Burke. Seemingly living across the hall from Juliet's ailing sister, Rachel Carlson, Ethan approached Juliet as a representative of Mittelos Bioscience, a front used by the natives of the island to conduct business in the outside world. Ethan, along with Richard, convinced Juliet to join their organization. ("Not in Portland") Agreeing to their terms, Juliet met the pair at Herarat Aviation in September 2001 and traveled with them aboard a submarine known as the Galaga, to reach the island on the fifth. ("One of Us")
Ethan after a failed surgery on Sabine. ("One of Us")
Following his recruitment of Juliet, Ethan was dispatched by Ben Linus to investigate the crash of a Beechcraft several miles from the Barracks. Arriving at the crash site, Ethan came across a bald man climbing up the rock face on which the plane was precariously perched. Shooting the man in the leg, he fell to the earth and seemed to recognize Ethan. Startled that the man knew his name, Ethan prepared to execute the man, but a blinding flash of light signaled the departure of the mysterious man. ("Because You Left")
Ethan encounters a time-travelling John Locke ("Because You Left")
Returning to his people's base at the Barracks, Ethan continued his work as a surgeon, becoming an integral part of life for the natives. Along with Juliet and Goodwin Stanhope, Ethan performed a failed surgery on a pregnant woman named Sabine in The Staff's operating theater, one of many that constantly plagued his people. ("One of Us").
In 2004, after feeling several shock waves, Ethan, along with the rest of the Others, witnessed Oceanic Flight 815 breaking apart in mid-air. He was then ordered by Ben Linus to go to the crash site of the fuselage, pose as a mid-section survivor, and return with a list of survivors within three days. Without delay, Ethan rushed off to the site to fall into his role as a confused survivor on the beach. ("A Tale of Two Cities")
Days 4-30 after the crash
Ethan introduces himself to Nikki Fernandez and Paulo. ("Exposé")
Four days after Oceanic 815 had crashed, Ethan introduced himself to Jack and gave him a suitcase of medicine that he said he had found in the jungle. He compliments Jack for "thinking long-term" when most of the other survivors were still convinced rescue would be arriving soon. In light of this, Ethan points out that it was very likely that a pregnant Claire would have to give birth on the Island. (Jack, Meet Ethan. Ethan? Jack)
Soon after, he met Paulo and Nikki Fernandez as they searched for their missing bag. Ethan suggested that they look in the jungle, stating that it may have fallen there when the plane broke up mid-air. ("Exposé") During his time with the survivors, Ethan went hunting with Locke, who he had actually first encountered a few years earlier at the Beechcraft site during one of Locke's time flashes (though it is unclear whether Ethan remembered his initial meeting with Locke. ("Because You Left") Ethan was also the one who found and gave a bag of golf clubs to Hurley, who then set up a golf course for the castaways. ("Solitary")
Ethan keeps Claire Littleton quiet as he injects her. ("One of Us")
Meanwhile at night, Ethan was secretly taking blood samples from Claire, as well as administering injections of a serum developed by Juliet; this operation was later revealed to be an experiment by The Others to see if they could prevent Claire from dying the way other pregnant women did on the Island. ("One of Us") During one of these routine injections, Claire woke up and began screaming. Fleeing the scene before being spotted, Ethan returned shortly after and feigned shock that someone would attack Claire. ("Raised by Another") Due to the increased suspicions amongst the survivors, Hurley decided to conduct a census to increase trust and help everyone get to know one other. Ethan claimed to be from Ontario, Canada, and was was forced to act quickly after finishing Hurley's questionnaire.
Ethan warns Jack not to follow him. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues")
Ethan's ruse was uncovered after Hurley cross-referenced the Flight manifest and discovered that Ethan was never on the plane. But it was too late, as Ethan had already found a wayward Claire and Charlie in the jungle. ("Raised by Another") Jack, Kate, Locke, and Boone formed a search party to track them down. While following a false trail, Jack was attacked by Ethan and was warned against further pursuit. After leaving Jack, Ethan hanged Charlie from a tree, leaving him for dead. ("All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues")
Ethan takes care of Claire while she stays at the Staff. ("Maternity Leave")
At the DHARMA Initiative station known as "The Staff", Ethan drugged Claire to keep her compliant and created the illusion that she would live out her days in the Nursery there. Upon the arrival of fellow island inhabitant Tom Friendly, Ethan was reprimanded for not making a list as ordered and for taking more risks then necessary. Treating Claire with great care, Ethan promised her that her child would be in the care of "a good family"; he was sad to inform her that she would not be able to be with her child after it was born. ("Maternity Leave") The drugged Claire was oblivious to the fact that Ethan and his people intended to preform a Cesarean section with the intention of killing her after taking out the baby. She was only spared through the intervention of Alex Rousseau. Freed from the Staff facility, Claire wandered through the jungle as Ethan and his people searched for her. Calling out to the man who had seemingly been so nice to her, Claire was saved from recapture by Danielle Rousseau, who knocked her out before Ethan could reach her. Later on, enraged by his loss, Ethan attacked Charlie and Jin in the jungle and demanded that Claire be returned to him, or else a survivor would die each day if his demands were not fulfilled. Acting without the authorization of his people, Ethan followed through with his threat, killing Scott Jackson despite the organized defensive perimeter established around the survivors' camp. ("Homecoming")
Soon after, Ethan fell into a trap set by Jack, Locke, Sayid, Sawyer, and Kate. Physically overpowered by Jack, the defeated Ethan awaited the group's decision. Though they voted to keep him alive, Charlie (who had secretly followed the group) approached Ethan and shot him six times at close range, killing him. ("Homecoming")
Ethan's dead body, after being shot six times by Charlie. ("Homecoming")
Stating he "wasn't going to let that animal anywhere near Claire again," Charlie dismissed Ethan's death as necessary despite the others' anger. ("Homecoming") Charlie and Hurley moved Rom's body and buried it the next day deep in the jungle. While Charlie suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder from the events of Ethan's death, Claire felt safe at the beach camp without fear of another kidnapping, having forgotten her time with Ethan at the Staff. ("Outlaws") Her amnesia subsided weeks later following her journey to the Staff with Kate Austen and Danielle Rousseau, remembering Ethan for his kindness, despite the dark deeds he preformed to obtain her. ("Maternity Leave")
Ethan serves as Claire's doctor. ("What Kate Does")
When Claire Littleton and Kate Austen entered the hospital together in the afterlife, Kate went in search of a doctor and found Ethan, who introduced himself as Doctor Goodspeed. When Ethan entered Littleton's room, he asked her how she was feeling, and told her that she can have her baby that night if she wanted to. Ethan also offered to give her drugs to delay the birth, although he personally did not want to "stick [her] with needles" unless it becomes necessary. After Claire chose to wait, the baby's heartbeat monitor flatlined. Claire panicked, yelling "Is Aaron okay?", but Ethan calmly performed an ultrasound and showed a relieved Claire that her child had merely shifted positions in the womb, and was perfectly healthy. ("What Kate Does")
Behind the scenes
Ethan Rom is an anagram of Other Man, a reference to the fact that his is an Other. On the Oceanic homepage, the Pre-Board Check in the Seating Chart shows the name Ethan Rom and a series of boxes. If the phrase "Other Man" was placed into those boxes, a video of Walt being abducted by the Others from Season 1 would play. Ethan is of Hebrew origin meaning "strong, firmness, steadfastness, constancy." His name may be a reference to the novel Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton. Additionally, "Rom" may be a reference to the Royal Ontario Museum, affectionately called "The ROM" by most Torontoians.
By the end of the series, Ethan Rom had appeared in fifteen episodes, appearing in more episodes post-death via flashbacks than when he was actually alive. His counterpart amongst the tail section survivors, Goodwin Stanhope, was killed two days before Ethan, despite having remained undercover longer.
Ethan was the last-known character who was conceived and born on the Island; this makes him one of the few characters who was born on the Island and died on the Island. (Miles Straume was also born the same year and though he is seen as an infant on the Island, it is unclear whether he was actually born there.)
Ethan's body could be seen moving and breathing beneath the sheet when he was buried in "Outlaws," causing some fans to believe the character was not really dead. This has since been confirmed as a production error.
Unique to eight supporting characters, Ethan's name appears in a soundtrack title.