Parallels in LOST and Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” – Part 1 – Narrative

I don’t generally do full write-ups of LOST theories, but lately, I’ve been thinking a great deal of what I want the series to be from this point on, and I can’t help but want to explore these theories regarding the show’s mythology. I freely admit there are better theorists out there, namely Jeff Jensen and Nikki Stafford, but when I’ve got an idea, I have to articulate it in some way or it burns in my mind until I do. So this is as much a mental exercise for me as it is anything.

That said, my previous post regarding the three major revelations I hope are in Season 6 got me to thinking about what I listed as number 3: the Temple. I went into a very brief summary of what I hope the Temple turns out to be, and I intend to go deeper into that in this series of blogs. I am indeed aware that this will likely turn out to be, at best, crazy talk because I see what could turn out to be a great many parallels between Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series and the mythology behind LOST, and not just the Temple itself. And given that this is a LOST theory which only uses The Dark Tower as literary allusion, I will typically assume that I only need to fully explain the literary references and not those from the show.

Given J.J. Abrams reportedly purchasing the rights for The Dark Tower series from Stephen King for a mere nineteen dollars (a number that is symbolically important to the world of The Dark Tower), it is a safe bet that he’s a solid fan of the novels, which makes my theory have at least part of a leg to stand on. You see, this theory is based on LOST’s penchant to incorporate literary allusion into its unique mythology, both literally and thematically. And with LOST’s creator possessing the rights for a The Dark Tower film adaptation, it’s too easy of a fit to seek out similarities.

Some of the most notable allusions from the series have been from L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. A few examples of this are: when Ben Linus was first introduced under the guise of Henry Gale (Dorothy’s uncle). Ben also claimed to be a balloonist, which parallels the history of the book’s title character. There are episode titles taken from the novel as well, such as “The Man Behind the Curtain” and “There’s No Place Like Home.” With The Wizard of Oz, LOST set the precedent to both have a direct reference to the work as well as behind-the-scenes allusion which exists parallel to the original work. The Dark Tower might be used in LOST in much the same way—direct homage to the novels as well as moving along the same narrative arc.

If you have not read Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series, then A.) you should simply because it’s awesome, and B.) you won’t understand half of what I have to say. I’m also sorry to tell you that if you have not read the novels (and plan to at some point in the future), you will probably have a few things spoiled for you if you continue reading this theory. The same goes for LOST fans, but if one is reading LOST theories, then it can be safely assumed spoilers are out of the picture.

There are four main parallels I can find within The Dark Tower and LOST. The most fundamental of which is how the two series share a similar narrative arc, the basic description of which follows.

The Dark Tower itself, in the most essential terms, is the center of all possible realities, a hub where parallel dimensions exist as levels of the Tower itself. As one climbs the Tower, the different floors contain doors leading to different worlds. It has been held standing for eons by focused energy called Beams which Roland Deschain eventually follows to reach the Dark Tower itself and complete that leg of his quest for redemption.

Along the way, Roland learns that he and his companions represent but one faction seeking the Dark Tower; they find that the Dark Tower is in trouble, thus threatening reality’s existence, and they must save it. But from whom? The Crimson King—a malevolent entity who wants nothing more than to break the Beams, sending the Dark Tower crumbling and setting himself up to rule the chaos created by destroying the nexus of reality.

Does that sound familiar to LOST-philes? It should. It’s just another angle of LOST’s basic story arc: Charles Widmore’s camp has been unsuccessfully searching for the Island because he has mysterious, yet seemingly malevolent intentions to exploit its powerful scientific and mystical properties. On the other side of that coin lay Jack Shephard, Ben Linus, and their respective communities, who seem fated to find the Island and work toward protecting its best interests, whether they intend to or not.

As you can see, the most basic narrative arc of the stories is very similar. Both follow two competing factions as they fight for control of a central location which happens to be an ancient locus of power. Along the way, both have characters who suffer painful losses, experience untold misery, and make decisions they never would have been able to before their quests, but in the end, all of their work is directed toward personal redemption from previous mistakes. Both LOST and The Dark Tower break down into a single word: salvation.

And that’s where my theory on LOST and The Dark Tower is based. There are many details from both series which extrapolate their parallels which I will get into later, but the most elemental way these two works are similar is through basic plot.

Which brings me to how my posts on this theory are going to be broken up. There is no way for me to post such a lengthy exposition on my theory in just one post. There are too many details that I need to explore, and making just one post would be too limiting. While the narrative arc itself is easiest to grasp and probably the most fundamental part of the theory (though not the most interesting or important, I’d wager), it is worth further exploration than I have gone into in just this basic synopsis. Its details fit better into future posts where I can get more detailed regarding situations from both series without having to set up the theory itself. So consider this the baseline primer for my real theories of congruency yet to come.

Hopefully, when Season 6 airs, this theory will hold some water. But even if it doesn’t, this kind of theorizing is what makes analyzing TV shows and novels with such rich mythology fun in the first place.

You can find the rest of this series at the following links:

Part 2 deals with the Dark Tower itself and how (and why) I think the Others’ Temple is its LOST counterpart.

Part 3 deals with the Island and its tendency of course correction which directly parallels The Dark Tower’s notion of ka.

Part 4 tackles both series underlying quests for redemption and the seeming cyclical narrative possessed in both.

And with that said, I think all that’s left is “Namaste, sai.”

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About B.J. Keeton

B.J. KEETON is a writer, teacher, and runner. When he isn't trying to think of a way to trick Fox into putting Firefly back on the air, he is either writing science fiction, watching an obscene amount of genre television, or looking for new ways to integrate fitness into his geektastic lifestyle. He is also the author of BIRTHRIGHT and co-author of NIMBUS. Both books are available for Amazon Kindle.

4 thoughts on “Parallels in LOST and Stephen King’s “The Dark Tower” – Part 1 – Narrative

  1. I haven't finished the entire Dark Tower saga yet so I'm being careful not to spoil it too much :)

    All I will say is that JJ Abrams making a Dark Tower film or mini-series (I think that would be better) would make me groan with pleasure :)

  2. I am really hoping for a sweeping film series like Harry Potter or something more along the lines of the Extended Lord of the Rings movies. There's so much involved in each novel that I worry a mini-series would be a poor adaptation. Unless it was done Sci-Fi channel style ala Dune and had a new mini every year or two.

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