Season: 1–6, Episodes: 19, Faction: The Island
Dr. Christian Shephard was the son of Ray Shephard, the father of Jack Shephard and Claire Littleton, the husband of Margo Shephard, former lover of Carole Littleton and the grandfather of Aaron Littleton.
Prior to having his license stripped for performing surgery under the influence of alcohol, he was the Chief of Surgery at St. Sebastian Hospital. After being fired, Christian left for Australia with Ana Lucia where he died as a result of an alcohol-induced heart attack. After the crash of Oceanic Flight 815, his coffin was found but Christian’s body was mysteriously missing. Despite his death, Christian has subsequently appeared and spoken with people both on and off the Island. The Man in Black, able to take on the form of the deceased, claimed he had been impersonating Christian after his death.
Building a Family
Mobisode x01 – The Watch
Christian grew up in Boston, Massachusetts and at some point before or after the birth of his son Jack, moved to Los Angeles, California to pursue a surgical job opportunity. Sometime in his young life, Christian began dating a woman named Margo. He eventually proposed to her, but Christian’s father told him on his wedding day that he disapproved of their union. Nevertheless, he gave him a watch as a family heirloom on that same day. Christian accepted it, but never wore it. (“The Watch”)
1×05 – White Rabbit
Christian’s early relationship with his son, Jack, was distant and authoritarian. One such occasion demonstrated the tension between them when a young Jack attempted to defend his friend, Marc Silverman, against a pair of older boys. Christian took this fight as a chance to dispel his son’s heroic nature. While drinking at home, Christian explained that Jack should not try to be a hero, because he “didn’t have what it takes”. (“White Rabbit”)
1×05 – White Rabbit
As time passed, Christian developed a drinking problem, became disconnected with many of his friends, and began to distance himself from his family, even to the point of taking sporadic, private trips for periods of time. (“White Rabbit”)
3×12 – Par Avion
During one of those periods of absence, Christian developed an extramarital relationship with an Australian woman named Carole Littleton. Carole became pregnant by him, and she gave birth to Claire, their daughter. Christian saw Claire regularly when she was very young, but stopped visiting because Carole disliked sharing Christian with the Shephard family back in America. Christian’s decision to stop visiting was further solidified when Lindsey, Carole’s sister, became hateful and aggressive. Claire’s mother later told her that her father was dead.
Years later, however, Christian received a phone call from a doctor he knew in Sydney. Through this conversation, Christian learned that Carole was in a coma as a result of a car accident. He decided to return to Australia. He intended to pay for her medical expenses anonymously, but Lindsey and a teenage Claire returned to the hospital and found him in Carole’s room. At first, Christian attempted to leave without causing any trouble, but hostility between him and Lindsey led Claire to ask questions. Christian revealed his identity as her father. After this event, Claire, too, became hostile toward him.
Nevertheless, Christian later convinced Claire to grab some coffee with him so they could discuss his affair and Carole’s vegetative condition. Christian said that Carole wasn’t really living and needed to be let go. Claire became angry at this suggestion and began to leave their meeting, but Christian urged Claire not to keep her mother alive with machines “for the wrong reasons.” After pleading with Claire, he returned to America, presumably never seeing her again, and things returned more or less to normal for Christian and his main family. (“Par Avion”)
Working with Jack
5×16 – The Incident, Part 1
Christian supervised Jack’s first solo procedure operating on a young girl. When Jack made a critical error and began to panic, his father was the one who calmed him down and advised him to count to five, then resume working and fix what he had done. Later, Jack was angry at his father for embarrassing him in front of the attending surgeons, remarking that his position at the hospital was rumored to be a product of nepotism. (“The Incident, Part 1”)
2×01 – Man of Science, Man of Faith
In the meantime, Jack finished residency and began working alongside Christian at St. Sebastian Hospital in Los Angeles. In Jack’s adult years, Christian took a more encouraging approach to Jack. When Jack was working on a patient named Sarah, Jack’s no-nonsense diagnosis left little hope, but Christian reminded Jack that everybody needs a little hope. Jack disagreed, but eventually managed to “fix” Sarah despite impossible odds, and the two later became a couple. (“Man of Science, Man of Faith”)
Mobisode x01 – The Watch
Some time later, Jack proposed to Sarah. Prior to the wedding, Christian shared a profound discussion with Jack on a nearby beach. Christian gave Jack the family watch, expressing the approval he had never received from his own father. He hinted that his own decision to marry Margo had been the wrong choice, but that Jack was doing the right thing. Before leaving, Christian asked Jack to be a better father than he, Christian, had been. (“The Watch”)
1×20 – Do No Harm
Christian continued to encourage Jack as time passed. While Jack was having trouble writing his vows, Christian asked Jack if he loved Sarah. Jack responded, saying “absolutely”, but expressed a worry that he might not be a good husband or father. While sitting at a pool and drinking a beer, Christian tried to dispel these fears, telling Jack that commitment was what made him tick. (“Do No Harm”)
2×11 – The Hunting Party
One difficult case at the hospital was a man named Angelo Busoni, who was accompanied by his daughter and de facto translator, Gabriela. Christian and Jack explained that Angelo’s condition was inoperable, and Christian refused to perform surgery. But Gabriela said that she had heard of Jack’s miraculous surgery on Sarah and had come for him, not Christian. Jack sympathized and agreed to attempt the difficult surgery.
As the weeks of preparation for surgery went by, Christian began noticing his son’s attachment to Gabriela. One night, he took him aside to discourage Jack from getting too personally involved, reminding him that ignoring the line of professionalism would be a mistake for his career and his marriage. Jack was offended and ignored his father’s advice. After Angelo died in surgery, Christian tried to comfort his son, but Jack was enraged by the fact that Christian had already told Gabriela about the outcome of the surgery. (“The Hunting Party”)
3×01 – A Tale of Two Cities
Christian later joined Alcoholics Anonymous, hoping to put an end to his drinking problem. Around this time, Jack’s marriage had begun falling apart. Sarah was having an affair, and her divorce with Jack led him to become obsessed with stalking her, trying to determine the identity of the other man. Jack eventually accused his father of being the other man, and during one of his AA meetings, he physically assaulted his father. After this hurtful incident, Christian returned to drinking. (“A Tale of Two Cities”)
Christian’s drinking problem eventually crossed over into his professional life, with profound ramifications. He operated on a woman named Beth while impaired, inadvertently causing her death. Christian’s surgery team all signed off on the fact that there was nothing Christian could do to save the patient’s life, except for Jack. Jack insisted that the whole truth should be told, but Christian pleaded that he not mention alcohol because it would cause him to lose his medical license. Jack wasn’t persuaded until Christian tried to reconnect with his son. Christian apologized for being so hard during Jack’s childhood and explained that medicine was his life. Jack agreed to sign, but later, when he learned that the patient was pregnant, he revised his statement, saying that his father was responsible for the death of the woman and her unborn child. After this, Christian lost his medical license and became estranged from Jack. (“All the Best Cowboys Have Daddy Issues”)
2×20 – Two for the Road
Christian began taking extended trips again. At a bar in LAX, where Ana Lucia worked as a security guard, the two shared a conversation. He told her about the rift between him and Jack and asked her to come to Australia with him as a bodyguard. He didn’t tell her what he was going to do there, but explained it might be “a little dangerous,” and he needed someone to protect him. He then explained that fate had brought them together in order to help one another out. Ana Lucia agreed. Christian suggested not using real names and that the two go by aliases. He decided to call Ana Lucia “Sarah,” his daughter-in-law’s name, and she decided to call him “Tom.” (“Two for the Road”)
While in Australia, Christian went on a severe drinking binge for four days. He then told Ana Lucia it was time to protect him. In the middle of the night, Christian drove to Lindsey’s house, hoping to regain contact with Claire. Lindsey refused to let him in, and when he became violent, Ana Lucia grabbed Christian and forced him back to the car. When Ana Lucia asked Christian why he had been arguing, he nonchalantly explained that he was just having a conversation.
The next day, Christian and Ana Lucia were parked near a wharf. Ana Lucia began questioning Christian about the woman from the night before, but he refused to give a straight answer. She told him her real name, but Christian didn’t reciprocate. She remarked on how pathetic a life Christian was living and asked why he was even in Australia to begin with. Christian admitted to her that his son was trying to help him, but he felt so hurt that he had to run away. He suggested they enter the bar on the wharf and drink together, but she refused. (“Two for the Road”)
1×16 – Outlaws
After the argument, Christian left Ana Lucia and stumbled into the bar, where he met a man named Sawyer. Christian had forgotten his wallet, so Sawyer bought the drinks. Christian told Sawyer about the falling-out with his son, Jack and in turn, Sawyer told him he was there on business of his own, but wasn’t able to do what he came to do. Christian admitted that he was weak and didn’t have what it took to call his son and tell him how he really felt. He nonetheless encouraged Sawyer to go through with whatever business would ease his pain. (“Outlaws”)
1×05 – White Rabbit
During this time, Jack flew to Australia to find Christian, upon his mother’s urging. He was told that Christian had been found dead in an alley in King’s cross in Sydney, with his blood alcohol concentration so high that it was probably responsible for the massive heart attack that led to his death. Jack was brought in to identify his father’s corpse. Afterwards, Jack made the preparations to fly his body back to Los Angeles, though he ran into some trouble with regulations at the airport. (“White Rabbit”)
Post-Death (On the Island)
Following the crash of Oceanic 815, the Man in Black took on the appearance of Christian and began appearing to many of the survivors.
1×05 – White Rabbit
He appeared to Jack a few days after the plane crash and led him to the caves, where he found fresh water. (“White Rabbit”)
Associated LOST Themes
Decoded Family Members & Lovers
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 3 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
(Nu) Nun personifies the oceanic abyss that pre-exists the emergence of the cosmos and which continues to exist outside its limits. The Egyptians conceived the heavens as a fluid expanse surrounding the earth and its atmosphere, on whose surface or ‘belly’ the heavenly bodies travel like ships or rest like islands. Nun is the bottomless depths of the heavenly ocean, beyond the waters in which the stars actually travel. The earth and sky came into being by separating out from this abyss, which persists as the remainder, so to speak, of this formative activity by the primordial Gods. While the divinities of sky and earth, Nut and Geb respectively, are not to be confused with sky and earth themselves, the Egyptians having distinct words for these which were not the names of deities, Nun is at once a God and the limitless abyss itself, a sort of reservoir of latent potential and inert or inactive forms. It is therefore convenient at times to speak of ‘the’ Nun, rather than Nun, and in such cases to refer to the Nun as ‘it’ rather than ‘he’.
The nature of the abyss lying at the ‘upper side’ of the sky is described as dark and inert, without limits and as that into which the Gods and spirits do not penetrate. However, Nun is also conceived, in the Book of the Celestial Cow, as a God with whom Re at least is able to consult about the problem posed by the rebellious humans, who separate themselves from the natural order represented by Re’s sovereignty, thus in some sense evoking the formlessness embodied by Nun. In seeking Nun’s counsel, Re addresses Nun as “Eldest God, in whom I myself came into being,” subtly raising the question of whether Nun is the source of Re’s sovereignty or only the occasion of it. Re’s legitimacy has been undermined by humanity’s rebellion, but Nun makes no claim upon the sovereignty based upon his own seniority: “My son Re, God greater than he who created thee, older than he who made thee, be seated on thy throne!” (Piankoff, 27). Nun is thus a force cooperative in the cosmogonic work of Re, as symbolized in images of the boat of Re being lifted up by the arms of Nun. A pre-cosmic force, Nun is nevertheless not an anti-cosmic force, like Apophis. In CT spell 75, Shu similarly asserts himself relative to Nun; speaking of his “creation from the Nun,” Shu states that “Nun saw me when I came into being, and I know his name, I know the place where I came into being, but he did not see me come into being with his own sight, for I came into being from the flesh of the self-created God,” meaning Atum. Nun is here clearly less an independent center of awareness than a place, contrasted in this respect with Atum.
Nun is often simply a synonym for the heavens, or for waters in general. His association with wine, however, implies reference not only to liquids but also to oblivion, and sleepers are also thought to enter the Nun (Hornung, pp. 180, 183). Nun is potentiality, and by virtue of that, participates in nonbeing to a degree. It is for this reason, possibly, that Osiris is referred to as the “heir of Nun” (BD spell 181; “for whom Nun has poured his libation” (185A); BD spell 144, “for entering unto Osiris,” requests the “doorkeepers of the horizon” to “Make way [for the deceased] … for he is Nun”), for as the God who dies, Osiris is able to partake of a portion of Nun’s legacy that the other Gods cannot. Hence Osiris and Atum occupy the Nun together when all else has returned “into the flood, as it was aforetime” (BD spell 175). Osiris and Atum take the form in the Nun of snakes “which men know not and Gods see not.” The Nun is already in the Pyramid Texts both a place from which dangerous serpents emerge (PT utterance 233) and, as a deity, a means of repulsing them (“… crawl away because of Nun!” (utterance 729)). Nun protects the four Goddesses (Isis, Nephthys, Neith and Serket) who in turn protect the “throne” (i.e., the sarcophagus and the canopic chests); CT spell 820, for “having power over water,” affirms that “the protection of Nun is about me just as the protection of Nun was about the egg from which I issued.” Mortals, by nature of their very mortality, have perhaps a special bond with Nun: “My aged father Nun … has established my paternal inheritance yonder” (BD spell 57). PT utterance 576 asks Nun to “raise the King’s arm to the sky that he may support the earth which he has given to you.” The deceased king has perhaps given the earth to Nun in the sense that he has brought his own ‘world’ with him into death.
Nun and his consort Naunet feature along with their fellow Hehu, Amun and Amaunet, in PT utterance 301, in which these pre-cosmic Gods are said to “protect the Gods with your shadow.” References to Nun, therefore, when they do not simply designate a place, invoke him as what one might term the beneficent side of nonbeing. The Nun was “before the sky existed, before earth existed, before men existed, before the Gods were born, before death existed” (PT utterance 571; cf. also Hornung, p. 175 n. 125). And yet this was when the deceased king “was fashioned by Nun at his left hand when he [the king] was a child who had no wisdom; he [Nun] has saved the King from inimical Gods, and he will not give the King over to inimical Gods” (PT utterance 607) because Nun is prior to the conflict inherent in the evolved cosmos. But there always remains an ambivalence to any contact with the Nun because of the element of nonbeing inherent in its nature.
The question of the relative priority of Nun and Re seems to have been a matter for reflection among Egyptian theologians. The Book of the Celestial Cow is careful to have Re say that he came to be ‘in’ Nun, referring to the abyss as a medium rather than a progenitor. Nun is sometimes called ‘father of the Gods’, but this does not imply that the other Gods are not self-generated – in fact, any given God is typically and in general regarded as self-generating. Questions of priority can emerge in specific contexts, however. Hence the statement in BD spell 17, “I am the great God who came into being of himself,” is glossed by one ancient commentator as “He is water, he is Nun, the father of the Gods,” while another commentator simply glosses “He is Re.” The operator in CT spell 307, identifying his/her soul with “Re who issued from the Nun in this my name of Khepri,” that is, ‘transformer’, is empowered to affirm “I am the Soul who created the Nun.” In CT spell 76, however, Atum “creates the names” of the eight ‘Chaos-Gods’ or Hehu (i.e., brings them forth) in “speaking with” Nun, and in spell 78 the Hehu are those “whom Nun begot,” and in spell 79 their names are created by “the flesh of Atum in accordance with the word of Nun,” and are to be made (if the unusual tense can be trusted here) “according to the pattern of the word of Nun and Atum” (alternately, “of Nun and Re”). In such texts it seems that Nun is, at minimum, a sort of material constraint upon the creative process, if not an active partner in it (which would seem to be something of a contradiction in terms) with the cosmogonic Gods.
There are some texts in which Nun speaks in the first person. In CT spell 444, the ‘inertness’ of Nun is an advantage, hence the operator’s identification with him: “I am Nun, I was inert when the Two Lands were complete, but I was not gripped and my magic was not attacked … I controlled my appearing.” This spell is one of a series in which the operator, in a move which overturns certain of our expectations concerning the Egyptian attitude toward death, affirms the body’s dissolution: “I am a pure one who has demolished his body” (441; var. “his portal” (440); “his castle” (443)). In CT spell 714, the operator states “I am Nun, the Sole One who has no equal … I brought my body into being through my power; I am one who made myself, and I formed myself at my will according to my desire. What went forth from me was under my supervision.” Identifying with Nun’s negativity in relation to the entire cosmos – “everything in the hand of Nun” (CT spell 316) – allows the operator to emancipate him/herself from any particular cosmic conditions. Nun embodies in this sense not an absolute nonbeing but a kind of simplicity that is pure potentiality: “I am Nun, Lord of darkness; I have come that I may have power over the path, and he who has two faces is afraid of me” (cp. BD spell 7, “for getting past the dangerous vertebra of Apophis”: “I am the one-faced one who presides over the Nun, and my protection consists of the Gods, the lords of eternity.”).
The Egyptians believed that before the world was formed, there was a watery mass of dark, directionless chaos. In this chaos lived the Ogdoad of Khmunu (Hermopolis), four frog gods and four snake goddesses of chaos. These deities were Nun (Nu) and Naunet (water), Amun and Amaunet (invisibility), Heh and Hauhet (infinity) and Kek and Kauket (darkness). The name of the water of chaos was Nun.
It was from Nun that Ra (or Amun, another of the Ogdoad who became prominent Middle Kingdom onward, and joined with the sun god as Amen-Ra) created himself, rising up on the first piece of land – the primeval mound (Benben) out of the lotus blossom, born from the world egg, or as a bnw-bird who then found and landed on the mound. In another story, it was Thoth who awoke from Nun and sang the unnamed four frog gods and snake goddesses who then continued Thoth’s song to keep the sun travelling through the sky.
The First Time then began and Ra was thought to have created the universe, including his children – other gods. He brought Ma’at – order – to chaos. Nun was thought to be the father of Ra, who was known as the father of the gods.
One story says that Ra’s children, Shu and Tefenet, went to explore the waters of Nun. After some time, Ra believed that they were lost, and sent the his Eye out into the chaos to find them. When his children were returned to him, Ra wept, and his tears were believed to have turned into the first humans. Nun then became the protector of the twin deities, protecting them from the demons in his waters. Later on, it was Nun who suggested that Ra sent out his Eye to destroy the humans who were in contempt of the sun god. Finally, it was on Nun’s orders that Nut turned into a solar cow, and carried Ra up into the sky after the sun god had grown old and wearied of life on earth.
Nun was thought to exist both outside the universe and as part of every body of water from the Nile to temple pools. The Nile itself was thought to flow from Nun’s primordial waters. He was thought to play a part in the rituals involved in laying out the foundation for new temples.
The god was shown as either a frog-headed man, or as a bearded blue or green man, similar in appearance to Hapi, but wearing the palm frond (symbolising long life) on his head, and holding another in his hand. He was also shown rising up out of a body of water, carrying the solar barque in his up stretched hands.
Though Nun was a being of chaos, he was thought to have a beneficial side rather than the serpent of chaos, Apep, Ra’s enemy. The Egyptians believed that Apep had been created when the goddess Neith spat into Nun – her spittle turned into the serpent-demon.
The god of chaos didn’t have a priesthood, nor any temples that have been found, and was never worshiped as a personified god. Instead, he was represented at various temples by the sacred lakes symbolising the chaotic waters before the First Time. At Abydos, he is represented by an underground water channel at the Osireion.
The Ogdoad were the original great gods of Iunu (Heliopolis) where they were thought to have helped with creation, then died and retired to the land of the dead where they continued to make the Nile flow and the sun rise every day. Iunu was thought to have been the site of the primeval mound by the priests of the city, and they had a sacred lake known as ‘The Sea of Two Knives’ and an island known as ‘The Isle of Flames’. The lake, attached to a temple, represented Nun’s waters, and the island was believed to be the primeval mound itself. Ra was thought to have come into the world out of the giant lotus which grew on the mound:
Out of the lotus, created by the Eight, came forth Ra, who created all things, divine and human.
In Hikuptah (Men-nefer, Memphis), Nun was linked to the creator god, Ptah, and known as Ptah-Nun. Thus both Ptah and Nun were thought to be the father of the sun god Atem, and also thought to be more powerful than the god. He was the ‘Heart and the Tongue of the Ennead’ (the one of intelligence who had the power to command), and thus the one who was in control, with the sun god being placed a step below the creator god of Hikuptah.
The priests of Waset (Thebes, Modern Luxor), on the other hand, declared that Waset was the site of the Nun’s water, and the rising of the primeval mound. Amun, the creator god of Waset, was originally one of the Ogdoad and became the most powerful god of the area. They believed that Amen changed from the invisible chaos deity into the primeval mound. In this form, he created the other gods. He created the lotus, which opened to reveal the child form of Amun-Ra, who then finished the creation of the world. Nun, although he was a powerful force, was thought to have been inert until Amen awoke him from torpor, and used his chaotic waters to create the universe.
The Ancient Egyptians envisaged the oceanic abyss of the Nun as surrounding a bubble in which the sphere of life is encapsulated, representing the deepest mystery of their cosmogony. In Ancient Egyptian creation accounts the original mound of land comes forth from the waters of the Nun. The Nun is the source of all that appears in a differentiated world, encompassing all aspects of divine and earthly existence. In the Ennead cosmogony Nun is perceived as transcendent at the point of creation alongside Atum the creator god.
Nu was shown usually as male but also had aspects that could be represented as female or male. Naunet (also spelt Nunet) is the female aspect, which is the name Nu with a female gender ending. The male aspect, Nun, is written with a male gender ending. As with the primordial concepts of the Ogdoad, Nu’s male aspect was depicted as a frog, or a frog-headed man. In Ancient Egyptian art, Nun also appears as a bearded man, with blue-green skin, representing water. Naunet is represented as a snake or snake-headed woman.
Beginning with the Middle Kingdom Nun is described as “the Father of the Gods” and he is depicted on temple walls throughout the rest of Ancient Egyptian religious history.
The Ogdoad includes with Naunet and Nun, Amaunet and Amun, Hauhet and Heh, and Kauket with Kuk. Like the other Ogdoad deities, Nu did not have temples or any center of worship. Even so, Nu was sometimes represented by a sacred lake, or, as at Abydos, by an underground stream.
In the 12th Hour of the Book of Gates Nu is depicted with upraised arms holding a “solar bark” (or barque, a boat). The boat is occupied by eight deities, with the scarab deity Khepri standing in the middle surrounded by the seven other deities.
During the late period when Egypt became occupied the negative aspect of the Nun (chaos) became the dominant perception, reflecting the forces of disorder that were set loose in the country.