Role reversal

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As a form of cosmic irony, characters' roles reverse as the series progresses. Sometimes, characters fulfill a role that is opposite from an earlier one. Other times, they reverse roles with a specific other character.

Reversal of characters' own roles

Old role
New role

Ben Linus

The chessmaster
The pawn
Ben spent much of the series as a master manipulator. He divided Locke and Jack while imprisoned in the Swan, drove Kate and Sawyer to a romantic encounter that convinced Jack to operate on him and got Locke to blow up the Galaga, among other things. Alex said Ben's defining characteristic was tricking others into doing his bidding. Ben eventually learned though that the Man in Black manipulated him over the entire course of his life, leading him towards killing Jacob.
Mass murderer
Kind teacher
Ben killed several people over the course of the series - scores, counting the Purge. In his afterlife though, he taught at a high school. This change may reflect his years as Hurley's second-in-command in "helping people" on the island post-series.
Roger's killer
Roger's caregiver
Ben killed his father as his initiation into the Others' leadership. In his afterlife though, he cared for his father in a manner similar to how he'd killed: he killed his father with poison gas and cared for his father with oxygen gas.

Bernard Nadler

Sugar lover
Though Bernard was a dentist, he developed a "sweet tooth," and Rose pocketed a candy bar for him while they were apart.

Boone Carlyle

1x01 BooneIsWrong
Drowning victim
Boone was a trained lifeguard, besides his position at his mother's wedding business. He even tried administering CPR on Rose, but Jack told him he was performing it improperly. A few days later, he tried saving a drowning woman, but he almost drowned himself, and Jack had to again intervene.

Daniel Faraday

Time travel skeptic
5x14-Lives With Hippie
Time traveler
In 1996, a mysterious Scot visited Daniel, claiming to have traveled from the future. Daniel dismissed this a colleague's prank. Years, later, Daniel traveled back in time himself. Pierre dismissed his story as one of his colleague's pranks.

Desmond Hume

Several people - Ruth, Penny, Widmore - called Desmond a coward before he came to the island. In the Hatch though, he turned the fail-safe, an act no one had previously had the bravery to do. Later still, after briefly flashing into the afterlife, Desmond appeared almost supernaturally fearless, confusing and angering the Man in Black.


2x10 EkoWarlord
Warlord Eko disguised himself as a priest to smuggle drugs out of the country. When the plan failed, he became an actual priest.

Ethan Rom

Crash survivor shooter
1x15 EthansDeadBody
Crash survivor shooting victim
Ethan saw Locke time traveling and shot him. Years later, Charlie shot Ethan. As Richard said about the reversal, "What goes around comes around."

Hugo Reyes

Working stiff
Millionaire CEO
Hurley was poor, working for minimal wages at a fast-food restaurant, when he won the lottery and then further increased his financial worth through investments. ("Numbers")

Jack Shephard

4x10 JackDuringTreatment
Jack, though a doctor, often submitted to others' medical treatment:
Respected surgeon
Lowly workman
Sawyer purposely assigned Jack a menial position in the DHARMA Initiative, reigniting their old rivalry.
Island escapee
Island searcher
Jack was the survivor most keen on leaving the island. Afterward, he became a depressed addict who wanted to return.
Awed son
Imposing father
Jack's father scared him during his childhood, and Jack felt he could never please him. In his afterlife, Jack created a son just like young Jack. Imposing Jack scared David, who feared failing in front of his father.
Man of science
6x07 The Fuse Stops
Man of faith
Jack and Locke were often at odds with one another over the debate between science and faith, free will and destiny. Jack changed positions, first after seeing visions of his dead father, then by managing to return mystically to the island and finally by learning that Jacob watched him his whole life.

Kate Austen

1x22 kate 2
Kate was a fugitive from the law in all her flashbacks, flash sideways and current off-island action. On the island though, she tracked people with skill:
Cop hater
Cop lover
Kate spent years running from police for her crimes. Despite this, she married an officer, Kevin Callis.

Libby Smith

Mental patient
Libby the mental patient pretended to be a psychologist on the island. Or perhaps Libby the psychologist ended up in a mental institution.

John Locke

Health-Ed teacher
As a teacher in his afterlife, Locke took on two roles at odds with his paralysis - gym teacher and health-ed teacher.
Button pusher
Button rebel
Locke began the season as the person most determined to push the button. He ended it as the one least likely to.
Drug grower
Drug fighter
Locke worked for a farm growing drugs. He later helped Charlie overcome his drug addiction on the Island. ("Further Instructions")  ("The Moth")

James "Sawyer" Ford

1x08 SawyerFlash2
Con man
Con victim
Long after becoming an adept con-man, Sawyer has fallen for several cons. - Hibbs's, Ben's, the Man in Black's and even Hurley's. ("Outlaws")  ("Every Man for Himself")  ("The Candidate") ("Left Behind")
Law man
Despite his years breaking the law, including time in prison, Sawyer became DHARMA's head of security. He continued as a law man in the afterlife.

Sayid Jarrah

6x03 WhyAreYouDoingThis
Torture victim
Sayid the torturer has repeatedly suffered torture and interrogation.
  • Sami imprisoned him and interrogated him about his own activities as a torturer. ("Enter 77")
  • Danielle tortured and interrogated him during his self-imposed exile for torturing Sawyer. ("Solitary")
  • Oldham interrogated him, but using LSD, not physical coercion. ("He's Our You")
  • Dogen's electrocuted Sayid and burned him with a poker. This baffled Sayid. "They didn't even ask me any questions," he said. ("Sundown")
Terrorist negotiator
Suicide bomber
After once seeking redemption by dissuading Essam from martyring himself with C-4, Sayid achieved it by doing so himself. ("The Candidate")

Reversals with another character

Hurley and Libby
First roles
Reversed roles
Jin and Sun

Jin orders Sun
Sun orders Jin
Jin ordered Sun around during their marriage, hurting their relationship. After their on-island reconciliation, Sun ordered him around. Sun commented on the reversal.
Libby heals Hurley
Hurley heals Libby
Libby suffered from mental illness after her husband's death. On the Island, she discovered Hurley, a fellow inmate from the hospital, and she convinced him he was sane. After death, Libby imagined herself in the hospital again. This time, Hurley, now free from madness, convinced her of her sanity.
Ben and Jack

Jack imprisons Ben
Ben imprisons Jack
Jack imprisoned Ben in the Swan for the latter part of season 2. For the first half of the following season, Ben imprisoned Jack on Hydra Island. Ben commented on the reversal.
Ben and Locke

Locke imprisons Ben
Ben imprisons Locke
Locke imprisoned Ben in the Swan for the latter part of season 2. For a brief time of the following season, Ben had Locke locked up when he had destroyed the submarine. Locke imprisoned Ben again the following season.
2x14 SayidAndBenry
Ben and Sayid
Sayid interrogates Ben
5x09 Visit
Ben interrogates Sayid
Sayid questioned and tortured Ben when in the Swan station. Years later, Sayid traveled to 1977 and found himself imprisoned. A 12-year-old Ben came to question him.
5x08-Wake Up Sawyer
Horace and Sawyer

Horace wakes Sawyer
5x08-Wake Up Horace
Sawyer wakes Horace
After the sonic fence knocked him out, Sawyer awoke on a couch to Horace asking, "How's your head?" Sawyer replied, "It hurts." Years later, Horace awoke on a couch to Sawyer asking the same question and gave the same reply.
Exodus groupshot
Others and Survivors

Clueless survivors
6x01 Japanese Temple leader
Clueless Others
After 815 crashed, the Others knew all about the survivors and the survivors knew nothing about the Others. After 316 crashed, the survivors knew a lot about the Others, but the Others knew nothing about the survivors.

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