James Ford, better known by the alias Sawyer, and known to the DHARMA Initiative as Jim LaFleur, was one of the middle section survivors of Oceanic Flight 815. His rural Southern accent, selfishness, machismo, and folksy use of oft-abrasive nicknames belied his sophisticated and tender sides as an avid reader and a caring lover—elements of his personality that became more apparent as he spent more time on the Island.
On the Island, Sawyer used his skills as a confidence man to accomplish various ends. He hoarded material possessions to leverage power, leading to his involvement in several “A-missions”. His acts of rebellion led him to, at various times, become the most hated survivor on the island, though he still formed a bond with Kate.
In an early attempt at rescue, Sawyer left the Island along with Jin, Michael and Walt on Michael’s raft but was forced to return when Walt was kidnapped and the raft was blown up by the Others. They washed up on shore and met up with the previously unknown tail section survivors of Flight 815 and returned to camp. After pulling off a long con, he gained control of all the guns and a position of power over the other survivors. He was later captured by the Others, along with Jack and Kate, as a result of Michael’s betrayal. While with the Others, Sawyer and Kate were used as leverage to convince Jack to perform surgery on their leader, Benjamin Linus, until he and Kate eventually escaped. During the time spent on Hydra Island and through the remainder of season three, Sawyer started an on-again, off-again relationship with Kate. Sawyer was asked by John Locke to kill a man, Anthony Cooper, who was revealed to be the real “Sawyer”. After Jack called the freighter for rescue, Sawyer joined Locke and a small number of survivors sheltered in the Barracks.
When the Oceanic Six left in the helicopter, Sawyer was left behind after he kissed Kate goodbye (also whispering her to tell his daughter he’s sorry) and heroically jumped into the ocean, when the chopper was running low on fuel. This sort of ended his relationship with Kate. He and a small group of survivors underwent time shifts as a result of Ben moving the Island. He led the small group until a final time shift, where they were stuck in 1974. Sawyer joined the DHARMA Initiative and eventually became their head of security. He began a relationship with Juliet and continued to live in the 1970s for three years until Jack, Hurley and Kate returned to the Island following the crash of Ajira Airways 316.
Sawyer joined the Man in Black upon meeting him, although he ultimately betrayed him while boarding Widmore’s submarine to escape the Island. The Man in Black however, had conned Sawyer into stealing the sub so that he could kill the remaining candidates with a bomb. After the explosion, Sawyer was knocked unconscious and brought ashore by Jack. While Jack was preventing the Island from being destroyed, Sawyer managed to escape on the Ajira plane with Kate, Claire, Frank, Richard, and Miles.
In the flash sideways, Sawyer was a police detective rather than a crook. Eventually, he was reunited with his lover, Juliet Carlson, and they moved on together with their friends.