Season: 1-6 , Episodes: 41, Faction: MIB
The Man in Black was an inhabitant of the Island who was antagonistic toward his twin brother, Jacob. He was once a normal man with dark hair and steely eyes, but an encounter with the Heart of the Island changed him into the Smoke Monster, a living cloud of black smoke. As the smoke, he had the ability to manifest himself as deceased individuals, most frequently as his former self. Eventually, and permanently after the death of Jacob, he took the form of John Locke.
Born on the Island in the Classical Roman era, the Man in Black lived with the other survivors from his mother’s shipwreck, after he was convinced that the island wasn’t his home. He tried to harness the power of the Source to leave, but his adoptive mother thwarted his plans and killed all the survivors he lived with, leaving him as the sole survivor of his village and the shipwreck, aside from Jacob. He, in turn, killed her in a rage. Jacob took revenge by casting him into the heart of the island, which transformed him into the Smoke Monster. The brothers spent the following centuries in conflict, drawing people to the island to test their nature. Though their mother had prevented them from hurting one another, the Man in Black eventually killed Jacob indirectly by assuming the form of John Locke and convincing Benjamin Linus to stab him. He had since tried to kill Jacob’s replacements and had also planned to use Desmond Hume for the one thing he could never do himself: destroy the Island. After Desmond deactivated the Source, he became mortal once more. With one last chance to leave the Island, he fought Jack Shephard and almost killed him before Kate Austen shot him from behind. Despite this, he thought they were too late to save the Island, but just when he realized that his plan would fail, Jack kicked him off the cliff to his death.
Early Life and Transformation
6×15 – Across the Sea
The Man in Black was born on the Island after his pregnant mother Claudia’s ship wrecked off-shore. A woman on the Island delivered him and his twin brother Jacob but killed their mother and raised them herself.
The boys initially led a carefree life, but some thirteen years later discovered the shipwreck’s other survivors on the island. Upon telling Mother, she blindfolded him and his brother and led them to a cave where a stream flowed into a glowing light. Mother told them both that it was the reason they were on the Island, and that one of them would eventually become its protector. The Boy in Black remarked how beautiful the light was, but was warned never to enter the cave. Later, Claudia’s ghost convinced the young Man in Black to join her people, against his adoptive mother’s wishes. He invited Jacob to join him, but Jacob chose to remain with Mother.
Years passed, but he remained in touch with Jacob, meeting with him often to play their childhood game. The Man in Black disapproved of his people, but when they discovered the Island’s electromagnetism, he used them to dig a well to its source, seeking access to the light his adoptive mother had once shown him.
He planned to build a wheel to harness the energy and leave the island. Jacob told their mother though, and she knocked him out, filled his well and killed all his people. Furious, the Man in Black sneaked up on her in her camp and stabbed her to death.
6×15 – Across the Sea
Jacob avenged her death by throwing his brother into the Source which either transformed him or combined with a part of him. He became a cloud of black smoke, leaving behind his human body in the process. Jacob laid his mother and brother’s bodies in a cave, where Locke would centuries later dub them “Adam and Eve.” (“Across the Sea”) (“House of the Rising Sun”)
Contined feud with Jacob
6×15 – Across the Sea
The Man in Black retained the ability to assume his human form, but Jacob denied him access to the Heart, confining him to the Island. Their Mother had prevented the Man in Black from hurting Jacob, so he sought a “loophole” to kill him and his replacements. (“Across the Sea”)
6×09 – Ab Aeterno | 5×16 – The Incident, Part 1
The two also began a conflict regarding the nature of humanity. Echoing his mother’s beliefs, the Man in Black thought people always “fight, destroy and corrupt,” but Jacob, believing their potential for good, began drawing them to the island to test their nature. (“Ab Aeterno”) (“The Incident, Part 1”)
5×12 – Dead Is Dead
In ancient times, some of these early inhabitants built the Smoke Monster a chamber beneath the Temple and devised an apparent method of summoning him, though Benjamin Linus later deduced the Man in Black only made it appear as if he were summoned. Hieroglyphs outside the chamber read “to summon protection,” suggesting they considered him a guardian. An engraving portraying the Man in Black with Anubis suggests they even considered him a deity. (“Dead Is Dead”) (“The Shape of Things to Come”) (“What They Died For”)
6×09 – Ab Aeterno
Soon after the Black Rock crashed on the Island, the Man in Black as black smoke killed its passengers and scanned Richard’s memories. He returned in the form of Isabella, telling Richard they were in hell, and left, his screams convincing Richard the smoke was killing her. Later, in his human form, he freed Richard and gave him a knife to kill “the devil,” who had taken Isabella. Jacob convinced Richard otherwise though, and Richard returned with a white rock from Jacob. (“Ab Aeterno”)
6×10 – The Package
According to Charles Widmore, the Man in Black became a much-feared figure in myth, ghost stories, and “jungle noises in the night” to the inhabitants who would reside on the Island during subsequent years. (“The Package”)
6×06 – Sundown
They would also come to regard him as “evil incarnate”. (“Sundown”)
3×20 – The Man Behind the Curtain
It is unclear how much the DHARMA Initiative knew of the Man in Black and his origins, although their constructing the sonar fence around the Barracks suggests they knew of his presence. In the video for new recruits, Pierre Chang said they built the fence “to protect us from the Island’s abundant and diverse wildlife.” (“The Man Behind the Curtain”) (“Namaste”)
4×09 – The Shape of Things to Come
Though their leader’s house stood over the Man in Black’s summoning chamber it is unclear whether they knew its significance. (“The Shape of Things to Come”)
6×16 – What They Died For
Ben Linus referred to the summoning chamber saying “It’s where I was told I could summon the Monster. That’s before I realized that it was the one summoning me.” (“What They Died For”)
2×17 – Lockdown | 5×12 – Dead Is Dead
The blast door map, begun by Radzinsky and Inman in the Swan, cryptically referenced “Cerberus activity” and “Cerberus vents“, likely referring to the Man in Black and his subterranean pathway of tunnels. (“Lockdown”)
5×05 – This Place Is Death
The Man in Black, in his smoke form, attacked Danielle Rousseau’s science expedition on their way to the radio tower.He silently killed Nadine, uprooted a tree; and dragged Montand beneath the Temple’s outer wall. He severed Montand’s arm during the struggle; and pulled his body into the depths. Moments later, the team heard Montand’s voice saying the Monster had disappeared. Robert, Lacombe, and Brennan disappeared into the opening. (“This Place Is Death”)
5×05 – This Place Is Death
Two months later, in early 1989, Jin found Lacombe and Brennan’s bodies near Rousseau’s camp. A hysterical Rousseau confronted Robert at gunpoint, claiming he and the team were sick and had been “changed” by the “Monster.” Robert claimed there was no monster, but what they saw was actually a security system charged with guarding the Temple. (“This Place Is Death”)
6×02 – LA X, Part 2
Montand’s body was found years later not far from the opening of the Temple’s outer wall. (“LA X, Part 2”)
After the crash of Oceanic Flight 815 (Days 1-44)
Mobisode x13 – So It Begins
Just after the crash, Vincent encountered the Man in Black in the form of Christian Shephard in the jungle. He asked the dog to wake up his “son,” saying he had “work to do.” (“So It Begins”)
1×01 – Pilot, Part 1
On their first night, the Monster awoke the survivors by knocking over trees. Rose, from New York, found its loud machine-link sounds familiar.
The next day, he pulled the pilot out of the cockpit and left him dead in a tree. He pursued Jack, Kate, and Charlie through the jungle, but disappeared when the rain stopped. During the chase, they hid in the roots of a banyan tree, which appeared to repel him. (“Pilot, Part 1”)
1×04 – Walkabout
Three days later, Locke saw the Man in Black’s Monster form. He stood his ground and escaped unharmed. He initially told Michael he had not seen it, but later told Jack, “I’ve looked into the eye of this Island… and what I saw was beautiful.” (“Walkabout”) (“White Rabbit”)
1×05 – White Rabbit | 6×13 – The Last Recruit
Jack later saw his dead father in the jungle but thought him a hallucination; the Man in Black later claimed to have appeared to Jack to lead him to water. (“White Rabbit”) (“The Last Recruit”)
He followed the apparition at Locke’s suggestion and discovered the Man in Black’s old home, the caves, which contained water and some debris from the plane. He found Christian’s coffin intact among the wreckage, but the body was not inside. (“White Rabbit”)
1×06 – House of the Rising Sun
Jack also found the black and white pieces from the Man in Black’s Senet game and the corpses of him and his mother. Locke dubbed the bodies Adam and Eve. (“House of the Rising Sun”)
Mobisode x07 – Arzt & Crafts
Following Jack’s discovery, Arzt heard the Man in Black’s roar and decided against moving to the caves. (“Arzt & Crafts”)
1×13 – Hearts and Minds
Boone hallucinated the Man in Black chasing him. In the hallucination, the Man in Black killed Shannon. (“Hearts and Minds”)
1×23 – Exodus, Part 1
Three weeks later, the Man in Black as the Smoke Monster form chased Rousseau, Jack, Locke, Hurley, Kate, and Arzt in the Dark Territory. Rousseau called it a “security system” that protected the Island and said they were safe behind some large trees. (“Exodus, Part 1”)
1×24 – Exodus, Part 2
He chased them again later the same day, first appearing as a small wisp of smoke, then producing his usual noises and explosions. Locke approached him, but he knocked Locke down and dragged him to a hole in the ground. Kate tossed dynamite at the black smoke, and he let go of Locke, the smoke dissipating. (“Exodus, Part 2”)
Associated LOST Themes
Associated DHARMA Stations & Location
Decoded Family Members
Decoded Season 1 Characters
Decoded Season 2 Characters
Decoded Season 3 Characters
Decoded Season 4 Characters
Decoded Season 5 Characters
Decoded Season 6 Characters
Key Episode(s) to Decoding the Character
Apep (Apophis, Apopis) A serpent God embodying the primeval forces of disorder inimical to life. Apophis is the eternal opponent of Re and attacks the solar boat, not only during its nocturnal journey, but even during its journey by day. He is conceived as massive in size (his name is sometimes interpreted with reference to Coptic oipe/ôipi/aipi as meaning huge or indeterminate in size, Wörterbuch 1: 67) and possessing a deafening roar and paralyzing gaze.
Many different deities are said to assist Re in fighting off Apophis, but pre-eminent among them is Seth, in his principal beneficent function. The vigor and vitality of Seth, disruptive on one level, is nevertheless apparently uniquely suited to combat the entropic assault of Apophis. The role of Seth in this drama underscores the distinction between the spheres in which the conflicts associated with Re and those associated with Osiris are situated. This is vividly illustrated in the depictions of the seventh hour of the night in the Amduat book, the book of “That Which is in the Duat,” or netherworld. The hour is depicted, as is the form in this book, in three registers. In the middle register, the boat of Re confronts Apophis, who has swallowed up the water which the boat needs to proceed. At the head of the boat stand Isis and Seth, whose exercise of magic (heka in Egyptian) wards off Apophis and permits the boat to proceed despite the lack of water. The cooperation of Isis and Seth here stands in stark contrast to the conflict between them in the Osirian mythos. Meanwhile, Apophis is fettered by the Goddess Serket while others hack his body to pieces. In the upper register Osiris is enthroned. Like Re in his boat, Osiris is encircled by the protective serpent Mehen, for the first time in the book in this hour, as if the beneficent counterpart of Apophis. Before Osiris are a series of bound captives, his own enemies, depicted in human form, who are being decapitated by a demon with a cat’s head, evoking spell 17 of the Book of the Dead in which Re (or alternately Shu) in the form of a cat uses a knife to decapitate a serpent (identified with Apophis) who is coiled around the sacred sycamore or persea tree in Heliopolis. In the lower register, a peaceful procession of stars proceeds toward the eastern horizon, either untouched by the conflict in the two parallel domains or their status secured by the overcoming of Apophis. The magic which is performed in this hour is said in the text to be performed likewise on earth, and “who performs it, is present in the barque of Re, in heaven and in earth,” (p. 93 in Abt & Hornung 2003). Humans thus while alive can and do participate in the drama of overcoming Apophis, and we have evidence of such rites directed against Apophis, especially from a collection known as The Book of Overthrowing Apophis, in which names and forms of Apophis written on papyrus or wax figures of Apophis are destroyed.
In the sixth hour of the Book of Gates, another New Kingdom depiction of Re’s nocturnal journey, the heads of those Apophis has swallowed are depicted rising up out of his body in the upper register, paralleling a series of mummified corpses in the lower register which lie atop a serpent-shaped bed, while the boat of Re passes through in the middle register. Those who have been consumed by Apophis are thus able to regain their forms through the grace of Re.
The same sort of scene depicted in the seventh hour of the Amduat book is narrated in spells 39 and 108 of the Book of the Dead. In 39 we note that Isis is said to dismember Apophis, evoking the dismemberment by Seth of Isis’ brother and consort Osiris. In 108 Seth hurls a spear of iron against Apophis, causing him to disgorge the water he has swallowed, which has brought the boat of Re to a halt, not in the middle of the night, as in the Amduat book, but just after midday. This victory, as ever only a temporary one, allows Re to set in safety. Apophis can never be wholly eliminated insofar as the forces of entropy are an implicit part of the cosmos. Thus just as Osiris is dismembered but reconstituted, expressing the salvation of the mortal being, so the very Goddess who reconstitutes Osiris, namely Isis, dismembers Apophis who nevertheless reconstitutes himself.
Other Names: Apophis, the Destroyer.
Patron of: evil and darkness.
Appearance: a great serpent or crocodile.
Description: Apep was the ancient spirit of evil and destruction who dwelled in eternal darkness. Every day he would attempt to devour the Sun Boat of Ra as it sailed the heavens. Set‘s original role was to battle Apep and keep him from destroying the boat. Occasionally, Apep would succeed, and the world would be plunged into darkness (a solar eclipse?). But Set and his companion Mehen would cut a hole in Apep’s belly to allow the Sun Boat to escape. Apep commanded an army of demons that plagued mankind. Only by putting faith in the gods of light could people defeat the demons. Every year, a ritual called the “Banishing of Apep” would be held by the priests of Ra. They would take an effigy of Apep and in the center of the temple they would pray that all the wickedness in Egypt would go into the effigy. Then they would trample the effigy, crush it, beat it with sticks, pour mud on it, and eventually burn and destroy it. In this way, the power of Apep would be curtailed for another year.
Worship: Not worshipped. Ever.
In Egyptian mythology, Apep (also spelled Apepi, and Aapep, or Apophis in Greek) was an evil god, the deification of darkness and chaos (isfet in Egyptian), and thus opponent of light and Ma’at (order/truth), whose existence was believed from the Middle Kingdom onwards. His name is reconstructed by Egyptologists as *ʻAʼpāpī, as it was written ꜥꜣpp(y) and survived in later Coptic as Aphōph.
Apep formed part of the more complex cosmic system resulting from the identification of Ra as Atum, i.e. the creation of Atum-Ra, and the subsequent merging of the Ogdoad and Ennead systems. Consequently, since Atum-Ra, who was later referred to simply as Ra, was the solar deity, bringer of light, and thus the upholder of Ma’at, Apep was viewed as the greatest enemy of Ra, and thus was given the title Enemy of Ra.
As the personification of all that was evil, Apep was seen as a giant snake/serpent, crocodile, or occasionally as a dragon in later years, leading to such titles as Serpent from the Nile and Evil Lizard. Some elaborations even said that he stretched 16 yards in length and had a head made of flint. It is to be noted that already on a Naqada I (ca. 4000 BCE) C-ware bowl (now in Cairo) a snake was painted on the inside rim combined with other desert and aquatic animals as a possible enemy of a (solar?) deity who is invisibly hunting in a big rowing vessel. Also, comparable hostile snakes as enemies of the sun god existed under other names (in the Pyramid Texts and Coffin Texts) already before the name Apep occurred. The etymology of his name (‘3pp) is perhaps to be sought in some west-semitic language where a word root ‘pp meaning ‘to slither’ existed. A verb root ‘3pp does at any rate not exist elsewhere in Ancient Egyptian. (It is not to be confused with the verb ‘pi/’pp: ‘to fly across the sky, to travel’) Apep’s name much later came to be falsely connected etymologically in Egyptian with a different root meaning (he who was) spat out; the Romans referred to Apep by this translation of his name.
After the end of the Middle Kingdom, the foreign Hyksos, now rulers over Egypt, chose Set as their favorite deity, since he had been protector of Ra, and was associated with Lower Egypt, where their power base was. Consequently, because the foreign overlords were hated by nationalistic groups, Set became gradually demonised, and started being thought of as an evil god. Indeed, because of the extreme level of nationalism and xenophobia, Set eventually became thought of as the god of evil, and gradually took on all the characteristics of Apep. Consequently, Apep’s identity was eventually entirely subsumed by that of Set.
Battles with Ra
Tales of Apep’s battles against Ra were elaborated during the New Kingdom. Since nearly everyone can see that the sun is not attacked by a giant snake during the day, every day, storytellers said that Apep must lie just below the horizon. This appropriately made him a part of the underworld. In some stories Apep waited for Ra in a western mountain called Bakhu, where the sun set, and in others Apep lurked just before dawn, in the Tenth region of the Night. The wide range of Apep’s possible location gained him the title World Encircler. It was thought that his terrifying roar would cause the underworld to rumble. Myths sometimes say that Apep was trapped there, because he had been the previous chief god and suffered a coup d’etat by Ra, or because he was evil and had been imprisoned.
In his battles, Apep was thought to use a magical gaze to hypnotize Ra and his entourage, attempting to devour them whilst choking the river on which they travelled through the underworld with his coils. Sometimes Apep had assistance from other demons, named Sek and Mot. Ra was assisted by a number of defenders who travelled with him, the most powerful being Set, who sat at the helm.
In a bid to explain certain natural phenomena it was said that occasionally Apep got the upper hand. The damage to order caused thunderstorms and earthquakes. Indeed: it was even thought that sometimes Apep actually managed to swallow Ra during the day, causing a solar eclipse, but since Ra’s defenders quickly cut him free of Apep, the eclipse always ended within a few minutes. On the occasions when Apep was said to have been killed, he was able to return each night (since he lived in the world of the dead already). In Atenism it is Aten who kills the monster since Aten is the only god in the belief system.
But in other myths, it was the cat goddess Bast, daughter of Ra, who slayed Apep in her cat form one night, hunting him down with her all seeing eye.
Apep was not so much worshipped, as worshipped against. His defeat each night, in favour of Ra, was thought to be ensured by the prayers of the Egyptian priests and worshipers at temples. The Egyptians practiced a number of rituals and superstitions that were thought to ward off Apep, and aid Ra to continue his journey across the sky.
In an annual rite, called the Banishing of Apep, priests would build an effigy of Apep that was thought to contain all of the evil and darkness in Egypt, and burn it to protect everyone from Apep’s influence for another year, in a similar manner to modern rituals such as Zozobra.
The Egyptian priests even had a detailed guide to fighting Apep, referred to as The Books of Overthrowing Apep (or the Book of Apophis, in Greek). The chapters described a gradual process of dismemberment and disposal, and include:
- Spitting Upon Apep
- Defiling Apep with the Left Foot
- Taking a Lance to Smite Apep
- Fettering Apep
- Taking a Knife to Smite Apep
- Laying Fire Upon Apep
In addition to stories about Apep’s defeats, this guide had instructions for making wax models, or small drawings, of the serpent, which would be spat on, mutilated and burnt, whilst reciting spells that would aid Ra. Fearing that even the image of Apep could give power to the demon, any rendering would always include another deity to subdue the monster, and/or knives already stabbed into him.
As Apep was thought to live in the underworld, he was sometimes thought of as an Eater-up of Souls. Thus the dead also needed protection, so they were sometimes buried with spells that could destroy Apep. The Book of the Dead does not frequently describe occasions when Ra defeated the chaos snake explicitly called Apep. Only BD Spells 7 and 39 can be explained as such.
Mythological Family Members & Associated Deities
Cerberus, in Greek and Roman mythology, is a multi-headed hound (usually three-headed) which guards the gates of Hades, to prevent those who have crossed the river Styx from ever escaping. Cerberus featured in many works of ancient Greek and Roman literature and in works of both ancient and modern art and architecture, although, the depiction and background surrounding Cerberus often differed across various works by different authors of the era. The most notable difference is the number of its heads: Most sources describe or depict three heads; others show it with two or even just one; a smaller number of sources show a variable number, sometimes as many as 50.
The name “Cerberus” is a Latinised version of the Greek Kerberos, which may be related to the Sanskrit word सर्वरा “sarvarā”, used as an epithet of one of the dogs of Yama, from a Proto-Indo-European word *ḱerberos, meaning “spotted” (This etymology suffers from the fact that it includes a reconstructed *b, which is extremely rare in Proto-Indo-European. Yet according to Pokorny it is well distributed, with additional apparent cognates in Slavic, British and Lithuanian). The use of a dog is uncertain, although mythologists have speculated that the association was first made in the city of Trikarenos in Phliasia.
“Cerberus” is generally pronounced in English with a soft C as in cell, even though the ancient pronunciation, in both Greek and Latin was with a hard C as in cat.
Cerberus was the offspring of Echidna, a hybrid half-woman and half-serpent, and Typhon, a fire-breathing giant whom even the Olympian gods feared. Its brother is Orthrus, always depicted as a two-headed hellhound. The common depiction of Cerberus in Greek mythology and art is as having three heads, a mane of live serpents (similar to Medusa’s hair) and a snake’s tail. In most works the three-heads each respectively see and represent the past, the present, and the future, while other sources suggest the heads represent birth, youth, and old age. Each of Cerberus’ heads is said to have an appetite only for live meat and thus allow the spirits of the dead to freely enter the underworld, but allow none to leave. Cerberus was always employed as Hades‘ loyal watchdog, and guarded the gates that granted access and exit to the underworld (also called Hades).