Fonts on LOST

smirkiston's picture

I don't know know whether this is really a question, or a statement, or whatever, but has anyone else looked at the fonts that are used on episodes of LOST?

The countdown timer inside the hatch is using Arial [except for the digit 1, which is in Helvetica], however most everything in the hatch looks like it's from the 70s. So Arial wouldn't have been around yet.

And then there's that Apple II computer. Of course the computer display was done in post, but... why Palatino? Why there?

For some reason, those details bugged me so much I was looking at them frame-by-frame on the TiVo. Anyone care to add anyting to my ramble this morning? :)


paul d hunt's picture

what bothers me is the disconnect between the Kabel uppercase in their animated logo and whatever they got goin on for the main logo. i mean, couldn't they have got a bit of uniformity in there? but yeah, the computer console looks really stupid. they should have chosen something like OCR-A or a generic bitmap font, doncha think?

smirkiston's picture

I agree... or even better, they could've just gone with the original Apple character set.

And you're right, the two different versions of the main logo is weird... although to my eye, that looks like Futura in the animated logo.

paul d hunt's picture

although to my eye, that looks like Futura in the animated logo.

i'm sure you're right. font IDs were never my forte.

Chris Rugen's picture

Oh man, the two versions of the logo and the Impact/Helvetica Bold Condensed (or whatever) in the ads. It all annoys me. Stick with the Futura! It's great!

Si_Daniels's picture

Arial 1982 -

Apple II+ 1979 - also

LOST interest, Si

PS Movie font critiquing is best left to the professionals like Mark.

david h's picture

> Anyone care to add anyting to my ramble this morning?

No. Just enjoy the show. Relax. And enjoy it. And relax.

eliason's picture

The onscreen serifed font was bugging me, too. And strange that each letter appears almost as a L to R "wipe" rather than character by character.
(Well, I think I AM becoming a typophile now...)

Mark Simonson's picture

Yeah, that does look like Palatino on the Apple II. Desmond was down there for years. Maybe he did it out of boredom. "And what's wrong with Palatino, brother!?" No wonder he was so upset when the computer got shot. Whatever, I still love the show. It's the only tv show I watch right now.

FYI, the title at the end is set in Verdana, which seems like a last minute rush thing that stuck. I have always thought it was funny that The Sopranos uses Geneva in the closing credits.

Chris Rugen's picture

Yeah, I wonder if the titles were rushed and they just left in what looks like a screw-up because they felt no need to get change it.

In season 1 there's a moment in the opening titles, just as the Futura comes into focus before going back out again, where you can see a broken seam on the 3-D lettering. It drives me crazy.

Mark Simonson's picture

The broken seam is still there in season 2. It bugs me too. I try my best to ignore it. Maybe it's a clue...

smirkiston's picture

Hadn't noticed that. Time to go pick up the old TiVo™ remote...

smarks's picture

> The countdown timer inside the hatch is using
> Arial [except for the digit 1, which is in Helvetica]

Really? They might have used Arial because they didn't think that ordinary people would notice the anachronism. (But we're not ordinary people, are we?) The Helvetica '1' is quite distinctive, though, so I believe you. I don't see why they'd mix the fonts though. This would take extra effort, which they apparently didn't put into other typographical elements. Unless... unless... it's part of the conspiracy....

Joe Pemberton's picture

I heart LOST. I addicted to LOST.

And I do cringe when I see the badly rendered 3D animation... Ug.

nickfruhling's picture

I'm so glad to find a place where this bugs everyone else as much as it bugs me...


If we all rally around it, maybe they will atleast change it for season 3.


nickfruhling's picture

(Thanks for directing me here folks).

Norbert Florendo's picture

What has troubled me more about the show than the typography (my wife and I are avid fans from the very first episode) are the sprinkled hieroglyphs and the ancient Chinese Bagua.

I have a feeling the writers are going to take us down a DaVinci Code popularization of mysterious symbology.

It's bad enough that interior designers now carry Bagua compasses trying to Feng Shui condos.
What's next? Where's the Kabala?

One fan translated the hieroglyphs as "Cause to die".

smarks's picture

Heh. Cool screenshot with the hieroglyphics that appear after the countdown timer passes zero. That was pretty wacky. Got any shots of the numerals? I'm still not convinced they're Arial.



nickfruhling's picture

Not the best shots, but I think it clearly shows that the 1 is not an ugly old Arial 1.


smarks's picture

Thanks for the additional shots.

Hm, looks like the original poster was right. The '1' looks like Helvetica Black but the rest of the numerals (particularly the '2' in the first shot) look like Arial Extra Bold or something. Still a mystery why they'd mix. Maybe they first did it all in Arial, then somebody realized the '1' sucked.



Bald Condensed's picture

A slightly unrelated question -- how do you people manage to make such nice screenshots? I heard from a colleague that you can't make screenshots from a DVD playing on a 'puter. Is that correct?

Chris Rugen's picture

You can use VLC media player* and get around that. I use it to get sshots for my site. It's not 100% easy to pause on the dot, but it works. Also, 'Lost' is available on the Apple iTunes store, so maybe you can capture the image on video from there.

*for the Mac

Mark Simonson's picture

You can do it in the Apple DVD player if you have Snapz Pro X.

Some of these are no doubt from files of broadcast shows downloaded from BitTorrent sites.

nickfruhling's picture

All my shots were obtained (legally) right from the "Previously On Lost" section of the ABC website at

It's actually quite nice quality and they have good 4 minute recaps of the episodes. The only downside is that you can't fast-forward or rewind, just pause, hence the fact that some of my shots are less than optimal.


Bald Condensed's picture

Thanks for all your suggestions.

I asked this because I will be doing some features on type used for television series (Bank Gothic for 24, Clicker for CSI, FF Confidential for Alias, Trajan for Six Feet Under, Democratica for Carnivale and so on...), and the articles certainly would benefit from some illustrations.

Anybody has some more suggestions on interesting use of type in television series?

lunyboy's picture

Anyone notice the quarantine typeface?


mathowie's picture

If you watch the Season 1 DVD for Lost, somewhere in the extras JJ Abrams explains the title sequence, and why it looks different than the rest of the show.

When they were cutting an early preview version of the first episode for ABC execs, he did a quick title sequence on his mac (in flash I believe) using futura that was on his mac. When the execs saw it, they loved it and it apparently stuck around for the final version of the show, unchanged.

bakagaigin's picture

The 3 doesn't look like arial, the arial 3 has all those ugly diagonal cut-offs.

matthewabate's picture

> No. Just enjoy the show. Relax. And enjoy it. And relax.

Good Idea. Besides, you can't date anything in the hatch against anything else. Hurley and Libby make a comment about the newness of the washer and dryer (This years iconic LG machines must have been product placement) that is kind of a joke addressigng this very thing. Remember MR. Echo's advice, "Don't mistake coincidence fore fate."

Ryan-C's picture

Hi could anyone tell me the font they use on the credits text used after the 3D logo bit at the start of the show. The text is in the bottom left and bottom right alternatively.


Bald Condensed's picture

We're inbetween Seasons 2 and 3 here in Belgium, so I can't check it anytime soon.

Ch's picture

for a while i stayed fascinated by the show like a sore tooth. i knew it was painfully bad, but i kept checking it out. replete with mixed up pseudo-spiritual iconography, ridiculous plot twists, atrocious acting, and inconsistent character portraits. for a while these questions really bugged me: why didn't the korean characters mention that the dharma logo / taoist trigrams appear on the korean flag ? why doesn't anyone mention that the ultimate number 108 is quasi-magical in some hindu traditions ? why doesn't anyone notice that the infamous doomed numbers 4 8 15 16 23 42 are all streets in new york where A train exits are ?

then i heard one of the creators interviewed on steven colbert and i got my answer: they were winging it ! making it up as they went along... lame-o. it seems the design problems are just part of the same process. "ok, that'll do for now".

but i'm grateful, as that helped me lose interest.

Si_Daniels's picture

>making it up as they went along…

It's an American tradition that starts at the very top. ;-)

apeterson's picture

Well very frankly i had never noticed but definatley looks lie they had been optimised the font design looks cool and so the fonts size nothing wrong in it,altough i like the "Dharma logo so much"..great work.


Sylph's picture

What font did they use for the credits (writer, director, executive producers...)?

Mark Simonson's picture


Syndicate content Syndicate content