Who Was Jeremy Bentham on "Lost?"

Locke's Alias Alludes to 19th Century Philosopher

Jeremy Bentham

ABC/Mario Perez 

Jeremy Bentham makes an appearance in three episodes of the TV series "Lost." Here are the facts about this character and the fascinating historical allusion in his name. Rather than being a new character, it is an alias used John Locke after getting off the island in season 3, 4, and 5.

  • Most Prominent Island Connection: John Locke
  • Relationship: Jeremy Bentham is the alias Locke uses after getting off the island
  • Portrayed By: Terry O'Quinn

Episode Appearances

In Episode 3x22, Through the Looking Glass and Episode 4x13, There's No Place Like Home Part 2 Jack reads an obituary for Jeremy Bentham and goes to the funeral home. He is the only one to show up. He doesn't look inside the casket. Later, Jack breaks into the funeral home and looks inside the casket. Ben is in the room and tells Jack that he can only go back to the island if all of them go back, including Locke.

In Episode 5x07, The Life and Death of Jeremy Bentham, the alias becomes a focus. John Locke is in the wheel room on the island, having fallen and broken his leg after being told by Richard and Christian Shepherd that he will die as he undergoes a mission to return all who escaped to the island. By realigning the wheel, he is transported to the Exit in the Tunisian desert. Charles Widmore oversees his recovery and reveals that he was the leader of the Others and exiled by Ben from the island 50 years before. Widmore saw him during that period of the island during a time flash. Widmore gives Locke his new identity as Jeremy Bentham with a Canadian passport. The name is that of a 19th-century philosopher, which Widmore gives him in alignment with the name John Locke, who was also a philosopher of that era.

Locke, as Bentham, sets about visiting those who escaped the island to try to convince one of them to return. He visits Sayid, Walt, Hurley, and Kate. He visits Helen's grave, lamenting that he could have had love with her if he had stayed rather than going on his fateful walkabout. Abaddon, who is gunned down accompanies him. Locke escapes and has a car crash. This brings him to a hospital where Jack is his doctor. He is unable to convince Jack to return. A month later, he writes out a suicide note to Jack and is about to hang himself when Ben forces his way into the room. Ben saves him, and Locke tells him that he needs to see Eloise Hawking. At that, Ben strangles him.

Jack attends Locke's wake (back to Episode 3x22). He later encounters Ben, who tells Jack that if he is going to return to the island, he must bring back everybody, including Locke's corpse (Episode 4x13). Eloise Hawking gives Jack the suicide note and tells him Locke's body is necessary to be a proxy for Christian Shephard's body in the original crash. The suicide note says, "Jack, I wish that you had believed me, JL."

The Philosopher Jeremy Bentham

English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (1748-1832) is known for the philosophy of utilitarianism, "It is the greatest happiness of the greatest number that is the measure of right and wrong." His philosophy was influenced by that of philosophers John Locke and David Hume.

But it is probably what happened after his death that led to his name being used as an alias in "Lost." Before his death at age 84, he dictated detailed instructions for his body to be dissected and preserved as an auto-icon. His skeleton and head were padded with hay and dressed in his clothes and kept in an Auto-icon wooden cabinet. The cabinet was acquired by University College of London and is on display in the South Cloisters. At major anniversaries of the college, it is brought to the College Council meeting where Bentham is listed as "present but not voting."