TV.com Throwdown: Which J.J. Abrams Show is Better, Lost or Fringe?

Sometimes the people speak up and demand things, and once every 4,000 years, we listen. Earlier this week, in my review of J.J. Abrams' Alcatraz, I naturally drew comparisons to his most popular work, Lost. But given that Alcatraz has a procedural vibe, I suggested that the better comparison might be to another Abrams show: Fringe.

As I'm prone to go off on tangents, which by the way I was really great at in trigonometry because I have a natural inclination for mathematics—I don't want to promote stereotypes but maybe it's because I'm bi-racial and my Asian side took over? I don't know. Anyway, where was I? Oh, right. As I'm prone to go off on tangents, I casually floated the question of which show is better, Lost or Fringe? Several of you requested the topic get its own TV. Throwdown. And so we ask you:


Which J.J. Abrams show is better: Lost or Fringe?

Now, before you complain about the fact that Lost is over and Fringe is not, take a deep breath and use that energy to formulate a reasonable thought you can use while answering the question. We're all in the same boat here: None of us know how Fringe will end. But we do have enough of a body of work from the series to gauge its quality up to this point. This is a hypothetical question. If you like, we can ask it again when Fringe finishes its run, which hopefully won't be this May.

Okay! With that pesky fine print out of the way, let's take a look at the combatants:



Lost

Personal feelings on the ending aside, don't even try to pretend you weren't one-million percent interested in this show at one point. A mini-movie each week, Lost changed the way we watched television, thought about television, and talked about television. Heck, I cut short my participation in a good friend's bachelor party in Vegas just so I could watch the finale and write about it. The show's characters, who we came to know and love so quickly, really made Lost stand out. And no show has used the flashback device better.

Pros: Sci-fi elements that were enhanced by an ensemble of fantastic actors playing compelling characters; Michael Giacchino's riveting score; serialized television at its best; "We have to go baaaaack!"; Michael Emerson and Terry O'Quinn; the episodes "Walkabout" and "Through the Looking Glass."

Cons: The show's main mystery (how will it end?) was polarizing and put off many fans; several questions were left unanswered or answered unsatisfactorily; the series' second half wasn't nearly as good as its first; all the temple stuff from Season 6.




Fringe

Fringe may be struggling in the ratings department and hanging on to its spot on Fox's schedule by a pinky, but it's currently network TV's best sci-fi show by a long shot and one of the best the genre has seen in the last decade. Fringe borrows several of Lost's themes, including the ideas of fate and destiny, but skips over Lost's pamphlet mysticism in favor of more left-brained theoretical science and philosophy that's almost within our grasp. Fringe has expanded on Lost's excellent storytelling by polishing the idea of "mythalone" episodes: segments that feature open-and-shut cases with parallels to the series' overarching mythology. As was the case with Lost, the show's characters are of chief importance, and the award-worthy cast brings them to life.

Pros: Though some fans haven't been thrilled with Season 4, the show seems to improve as it goes along; Michael Giacchino's riveting score; procedural elements that are actually interesting; John Noble and Anna Torv; a cool multi-universe device that allows the cast to impress us with different incarnations of their characters; unexpected humor.

Cons: Character resets have left some fans feeling emotionally detached; low viewership means lonely days around the water cooler for those looking to discuss last night's episode; the constant danger of cancellation; a slow start to Season 1.


Think it over, prepare your argument, and tell us which show you think is better in the comments. I won't often do this, but in this particular Throwdown I will allow you to answer "both." Felicity is also an acceptable answer. But Undercovers isn't.


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Fringe is an amazing show. It has the nessasary romance, comedy, action, and plot twists. This show has a great cast and enough plot twists to keep viewers engaged. I give this show a 10/10.
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Fringe is a very close second to Lost. The defining factor is the discontinuity of the characters from season 3 to season 4 on Fringe. While many felt the ending of Lost was a let down, it was the end and I believe the end was suitable to the way Lost began. The ending of Fringe, on the other hand, was a strange collage of completing a storyline about the "Observers". My feeling is that Fringe finally lost it's battle with network executives as to the viability of the show and Season 5, being only 13 episodes is a testament to it's falling out of favor. The writers did what they could to complete the story-line with the "Observers" in the time left.

Lost had issues with the continuity of time and the obscure development of the overall story-line. Fringe had the same issue. While the writers want to keep you guessing, the "golden" blend of mystery and magnetism of the show to it's fan base is delicate, at best. Give too much away and you lose the mystery, become to disconnected with the audience and you lost the magnetism. By using flashes of past and future and some obvious timeline mistakes (Jack saving a child and his mother because he himself causes the accident....during his interview with the attending physician he talks about his father being drunker than him. His father was already dead). Some could say this was the past, but he was obviously reading the obituary about Jeremy Bentham and yet his ex-wife comes to see about him in the hospital. Why not Kate because she would be his "current" interest.

Fringe had problems not with mystery, but with magnetism. Season 3 and the ending of "Peter Bishop" is a great finale. It culminates all the theory around alternate time-lines and the "interference" of the Observers. Season 4 had problems giving "Peter" back to the audience. Even when he finally arrives, the revival is strained and tortured. I would have been more enticed had a phenomenon similar to Desmond's "gift" in Season 6 of lost where as Desmond "nudged" the other characters, they became fully aware of their identity and the identity of their group. Peter was rejected and isolated to a point that it's easy to lose interest.

It would be difficult to pick one show over the other; however, Lost, had the best plot sequence and everything, no matter now weird, had some basis for how it happened. Mind you, watching Lost a second time gave insight into "The man in black" that I did not catch the first time around. I realized that "black" had was better than Ben at predicting the outcome of events and creating the situations to "convince" the pawns to do their part. I say better only because he had the power to "shape-shift" into characters important to the decision making process. Interesting how shape-shifting and time theory are very prominent in both Fringe and Lost.

Fringe had the benefit of science and not faith to move the audience forward. Oddly, in our world, faith should be more prominent, but as God fades into obscurity, we are doomed by our on science and technology. That belief that technology can unravel the mysteries of time and space and breaking rules that are imposed by Newton and Einstein is intriguing and give the mind a way to grasp for more. The loss of character magnetism threw the show off balance more than "Peter" being brought to our universe. In the end, this is what killed Fringe. The characters were awesome. Anna Torv gave riveting performances of Pheux-Livia and "Belly". Peter was a rock, an anchor for the complete series. Walter was absolutely perfect in his "Mad" scientist/Secratary of Defence roll. This is what kept the show going, not the plot. The plot was too disjointed to give parity to the characters. I'm sure if you were to ask the cast, they would rather the series had gone a different direction. Just as Terry O'Quinn said that he wanted the old John Locke back (referring to John Locke as "The man in black").

Hope you enjoyed my critique and my theory as to the "end" of both series. I believe we will see a new "Lost" in the near future and I'm guessing it will be after the passing of the Torch to Hugo. It wouldn't make sense to do it any other way. As for Fringe, I believe the magic is lost and can't be conjured again. I would like to see Joshua Jackson in a future J.J. Abrams production, and Anna Torv is likable and has something more to give. On the Lost cast, I would like to see some work from Mathew Fox and Evangeline Lilly. Other cast members of both series have moved on to other success. I think we are missing out by not seeing the a fore mentioned before they become too far out of favor.
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Fringe is the best TV show I've ever seen in my life...period. It's the only show where I don't mind rewatching any one of the 100+ episodes. Fringe is just too good to top...even by Lost...even by Dexter...even by Breaking Bad or Sons of Anarchy...even by all the other shows I've seen including Dr. Who, Sherlock, Burn Notice, 4400, Continuum, etc., etc. I'd even take Fringe over X-Files...

Dr. Bishop is my favorite TV character ever. The Mad Scientist has never been personified better by anyone...
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Best Lost seasons are 1, 4, and 6. (Season 6 would've been my favorite but the finale sucked). Season 4 was fast paced, exciting, and gamechanging. Season 2 and 5 are my least favorite. 2 only gets good towards the end, while 5 gets worse towards the end but is awesome in the beginning.
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Fringe
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Both LOST and FRINGE are great shows, but to judge true quality you gotta look at the facts.



LOST was groundbreaking because no one saw a mystery show captivating tens of millions of viewers every week for six years. LOST knocked out other greats dramas in the 2005 Emmy awards for "Outstanding Drama Series". It was nominated again for it's last four seasons back-to-back. Because of this, LOST became a household name. Terry O'Quinn and Michael Emerson both won Emmy awards for their excellent acting.



What's my point? LOST is the better Drama in quality because of the accolades, the fan base, the attention in the media and social media. I'm not dissing Fringe, I love the show and I think the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences are dissing John Noble, who totally deserves three Emmys right now, but the facts is- judges don't like sci fi. But, the academy did appreciate LOST because of ITS QUALITY.



Fringe isn't as popular and hasn't won anything, or has gotten big attention. Does this make it a worse show, absolutely not. But in the television sphere- premium shows get attention and win awards and Fringe hasn't yet.



Bottom Line, based on the facts: LOST is superior.
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Fringe all the way. Tried lost 1 episode and never watched again
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fringe
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FRINGE
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LOST
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FRINGE 10/10 ; LOST 8/10 my opinion. Both series are excellent
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Never watched Lost but I love Fringe....esp the first 2 seasons...
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Well, due to all these comments, I guess I'm going to have to watch me some Alias. I originally passed on this show but so many of you are touting it, it must be worth a looksee...
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FRINGE
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FRINGE is where it's at. Lost was great...I loved it..even season six. But when I look back on who gave me more/better answers...its going to Fringe. Lost took too long. With Fringe...I know it needs another season even though I haven't seen 4x22. Fringe is also just too good to die off.
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i can't believe you guys are choosing fringe over lost....! i mean common....! yes i agree lost ironically "lost" its way in the second half of the series, but its LOST people.....! i mean wasn't the show amazing.....??!! and some are saying Alias.....?? please.........
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no...
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85% of Fringe's episodes are fillers! I watched the first 2 seasons (and a half of the third) the first seasib was great! They moved the story-line along with little fillers, if only they kept it up! I lost interest throughout the whole 3rd season... Lost, I stopped watching a couple times, but came back because I had heard something cool happened.. then I would stop watching again.... Basically, EVERY show J.J Abrams makes sucks!! It always could ve such a good show, but he makes it drag out so long!!
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Fringe!
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Fringe!!!!
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Lost all the way! I like Fringe and it is getting better but it will never have the effect Lost did. I know the end wasn't what we wanted but that shouldn't take away from the way we all felt watching it. I have never rewatched an episode of Fringe just to make sure I didn't miss anything like I did with Lost. Fringe doesn't make you care for their characters the way Lost did. If you asked this question before the finale of Lost it wouldn't have been close. Too many losties are still mad about the finale and will pick Fringe because of that. There will never be another show that grasped my attention like Lost did and that is why I think its the best show of all time despite the ending!
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Gonna have to go with Fringe. I stopped watching Lost twice during it's run due to waning interest, that has yet to happen with Fringe so far. I also agree with several of the other posters that Alias was superior to both.
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I like all the work of JJ Abrams. But especially the Fringe. Fringe show is a unique, engaging, and highly creative this renowned author. If I have to choose, or to say which is better between the series Lost, Alias and Fringe (are the ones I attended), the "eyes closed", no doubt Fringe is the best, with wide margin in favor!
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Fringe is better. It's easy to come with an amazing story when you don't care about answers and loose ends. Lost made me feel I lost 6 years of my life. I don't want to hear anything about Lost...
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Gotta go with C: Alias.
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Option C: Alias........ The winner Alias!
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fringe
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ALIAS :D
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Fringe!
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Lost ^_^
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Everytime I want to hit "Like" under the article, the number 42 keeps me from doing it :D
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The answer to life. Cool.
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and.. how can anyone buy the "We solve every crime by writing some illogical elementary school stuff on a blackboard" thing? (like walter and peter do).

Fringe, is disrespecting people by doing this.... seriously.
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...disrespecting people? wow.
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.. and don't forget how much they love maps. Need to find out who's the bad guy and why he does whatever bad things he's up to? Well go take a look at the map, that'll help you!
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Definitely Lost!
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LOST.



Because, just as the article says, it changed the way we experience TV forever. It was unexpected, had a drama that made everyone care, raised tones of philosophical discussions and so on. But more importantly, it achieved something I don't believe any other TV show (well, except for Mythbusters, maybe) is capable of: making fans think and do research of their own.



Every dialogue, every easter egg, every cleverly thrown citation from a book made us go read and read and read until we come up with theories and answers of our own. Of course, most of the theories were proven to be wrong, but then again - why should a TV show answer mythological and philosophical questions? Instead, it kept us intrigued, it made us evolve, and not just sit there on the couch for an hour once a week and then yawn and go to sleep.



No really, as much as I watch Fringe, and used to really like it back in seasons 1 and 2, it's still no LOST, and it can never even get close enough to being a LOST-alike.



After watching an episode of LOST, most of the fans would go to Lostpedia, discussing, analyzing and processing every bit of information received that week. Hours of building theories, reading theories, learning some history, physics and literature in between. Things that might've seemed boring before, but once mentioned in LOST, suddenly became the most interesting ever.



LOST not only entertained, but also educated. Which is hard to say about Fringe, since science for the last couple of seasons was way too buggy, and all the rest is just "meh".
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LOST



guy's there is nothing to compare.



Lost changed the way we watch tv shows and the way we judge them.

Show was truly amazing, with excellent continuity and made us really care about characters we see on screen.



While Fringe is the only Sci-Fi show we're left with now, it is nothing even close compared to lost, it's just a fraction of a shadow. It has so many continuity errors, and stupid plot lines that producers for some reason think are fun that, it's pity to watch. They introduced us with bunch of "mirror" characters that we do not give a damn about, and they expect us to emotionally bond to them.. which is frustrating.



Lost wasn't just awesome because of idea, but because of great talent of all guys working on it, specifically writers. Every episode was very interesting and was making us enjoy every seconds of it. While fringe is all like "Yeah , whatever"



Lost was the alpha and the omega of TV Shows, and Fringe is just something that started great, and then become something boring.



It became a show for people who are far from being smart and intelligent.





R.I.P. Lost, I miss you.
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Fringe
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fringe. it's simple. it's the next chapter. just like we wouldn't have a DVD without VHS. athough it's still has it's charme. . lost has changed television. a serie without proper characters irritates me even more, cause the standards were set higher. but everything i missed in lost and everything i hoped for, we get to see in fringe. maybe they were afraid to alienate the big audience at that time, if they would go forth with the sci fi a la fringe. or maybe peoples own fantasy makes lost more alluring. it does suck that one of the best series is under constant threath (?) it doesn't really make sense that they promote terra nova in belgium as if it was the greatest thing men made, but four seasons fringe and... nothing? with the proper support...
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LOST!!!!
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Lost hands down, it was a groundbreaking show that people will be talking about for decades, Fringe not so much
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My vote is for Fringe. Lost was a big scam. They made me watch a sh*tty soap opera in disguise of a good mystery for 6 seasons. I still feel like ripped off.
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i really find it shocking you would judge a show just for the ending. It's a shame!
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Fringe.
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Definitely Lost.. I like Fringe, but Lost was Imo one of the best shows ever.. I couldn't wait for each episode and then would spend hours on the web theorizing and reading about the mysteries.. And no, they didn't answer everything, but if you watch the show closely from the beginning you will find that they either answered or gave enough clues to allot of the mysteries.. And you can always use your imagination to fill in the blanks..



Plus that season 3 finale was some of the best tv ever. My jaw was on the floor after the twist ending.. :)
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That was the best season finale of all time to any show! How many people rewatched that episode right after watching it?
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And I dropped my jaw in the first minutes of season 2 premiere :)
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Lost wins hands down. Then again, I'm part of the camp that loved the finale. I stand by the argument that the show was very much about the characters more than the mystery/intrigue about the island. Yes, they didn't answer all the questions, but towards the end I felt that the finale was a beautiful way to wrap up the journey of the characters. Enough was done that I couldn't really care less about 'where the Polar Bears came from'.



Fringe on the other hand had more misses than hits for me. I'm not a big fan of procedurals and it is extremely frustrating for me to watch the show week by week, watching them fill in yet another 'mythalone' episode, knowing that there is so much more potential to be found if they just serialized the damn thing. (This was done in reaction to people not watching Lost because they couldn't join in midseason... LAME.)



Looking at the seasons in retrospect, bulk of the show was spent wasting away until the awesome multiverse twist came about. I felt the characters had poor chemistry, with a few exceptions, many failed to tell a compelling enough tale for me to remember. Enter the red-verse. THAT to me is Fringe being given its own room to breathe and explore. Bolivia is badass and 'probability-calculating' Astrid is super cool! It might have been a case of contrast, but everything including the subtle differences of the red-verse made the show so much more mythologically intriguing to me.



Keeping to the procedural format + keeping the awesome twist towards the end of season 1 has done more harm than good (as evidenced by the ratings perhaps). It disappoints me that many people might have given up on Fringe early because it didn't pick up steam till much later. So much damn potential.



Overall though, LOST still beats Fringe because it has kept me on the edge of my seat throughout all the seasons. I felt for each and every character (minus that weird couple that got buried alive + Bai Ling??) and the flashbacks were always so well tied in with the storyline that it never once felt like it was there as a filler.



The closest that I've felt that Fringe got to LOST's standard in-terms of good ol' storytelling was Season 4's "One Night in October". The juxtaposition of the main and altverse 'criminal' was an awesome perspective on the two Olivias we see today.
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but even then they answered the little questions on the dvd extra.
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Yep!
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Fringe.
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Love both but I have watched each episode of Fringe once not sure if I would watch again. And I have watch lost a lot, the 1st season around 20 times with the last season around 5 times. All the rest of seasons are between the two. Every time I watch it I find something I didn't catch before.
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FRINGE.
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LOST. OMG. It's so good!
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I do enjoy both shows, but if they both had the same time slot then I would pick Lost. Missing an episode of Lost was a travesty even missing a minute had repercussions. If I missed twenty minutes of Fringe, I can still figure out what has been going on. Fringe is more accessible, but less addicting.



One thing to think about is that a lot of shows have tried to capture the popularity of Lost after its cancellation by recreating mysteries and developing characters through flashbacks. When Fringe ends, will it leave the same legacy?



I still love Fringe, but if Lost had a bonus episode, I would watch it over Fringe.
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again i'd say fringe if only because it took longer to go into 'this crap is never going to end territory.' with that said what i'm referring is that I miss procedural fringe. with the characters developed and likable all there was left to do was solve cases week after week with maybe some overarching plots. but now, it is lost. the show back-tracked itno trying to get us to rediscover every other character or another side of them. i dunno but to me it's not compelling television. if it stays this way really wont miss it when it's gone.
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no edit so- i feel this was also the downfall of the x-files.
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Good God!! It's like I'm back on the Sunday family ride in the wayback seat of the wagon!! Stuck listening to my two brothers.......No you are.......no you are......no you are.......no you are..........no you are.......no you are.......no you are..........no you are.........no you are.........no you are........no you are..........no you are............no you are............no you are.........no you are........no you are..........no you are.........no you are..........no you are........no you are.........no you are.......no you are.......no you are..........no you are..........no you are.........no you are.........no you are........no you are.............
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Lost and Fringe are actually really similar structurally as well as just in terms of being of similar genre. Allow me to explain through the medium of wall of text. Lost began pretty slowly overarching-plot-wise, the first couple seasons were very limited in terms of reveals and major events, focusing more on individual character stories - it took a whole season just to get to opening the hatch and catch a first glimpse of the island beyond just sand and jungle. Similarly, Fringe was a pretty standard procedural for its first season, and the finale only gave us a quick glimpse of the other side. In both shows, the presence of 'others' was slowly established over the course of the first 2 seasons, in Lost's case the mysterious island natives, and in Fringe's, the people from the other side. The second season finales for each series had major reveals about the others, and the third seasons both dedicated time to humanising them and questioning our assumptions about them being the villains, as well as raising tensions between camps, culminating in clashes - Lost's third season finale, in which the others launch an assault on the original characters camp but are ultimately defeated, and Fringe's third season finale, in which the other side attempts to destroy our universe with the doomsday machine but are ultimately detsroyed themselves (also, in both cases the respective leaders of the others, Ben and Walternate, survive). Both series also come to a point at which the universe is broken, creating a season-long arc based around returning to normality. Lost's fifth season in which the island and its inhabitants become unstuck in time due to ben's shoddy wheel-turning work, and Fringe's current season in which peter has somehow erased himself from existence and caused a whole new timeline to be created. In both shows, some semblance of normality was restored early in the season - Locke shoved the wheel back onto its axis in Lost, Peter came back into existence in Fringe, but the problem of people being in the wrong place remained in both - characters were stuck in the seventies in Lost, Peter is stuck in the alternate timeline in Fringe. In Lost, this was rectified through Jack's plan of detonating a nuclear bomb (doomsday device) in the Swan site, which turned out not to destroy the island as they assumed, but just send them back to the present. In Fringe Peter is planning to... yep, use what was assumed to be a doomsday device to send himself back to his own timeline. Which will probably work. Lost's end game was revealed in the final season, once everyone was back in the right place. I'm guessing Fringe's end game will be revealed at the end of season 4 or in the fifth season, assuming it isn't cancelled before then. The shows similarities don't end there, but it's pretty interesting how well they mirror each other isn't it? Anyway, what was the question, which show is better? Neither, they're both incredible shows in their own right.
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