A Protector guards the Heart of the Island to prevent the Light there from going out. The Protector is imbued with certain supernatural powers, such as the ability to heal and the power to create "rules" for the island which others must follow. The Heart of the Island is the electromagnetic core, the source, of all electromagnetism on the island. It exists here in its strongest form and radiates outward to other locations, such as the Hatch, but in much smaller quantities. The Heart needed to be protected, for if the cork inside were removed, the electromagnetism would go haywire and destroy the entire island, and possibly the entire world, similar to the Swan Station "saving the world."
Over the course of the show, four people are known to have filled this role:
- Mother, at an unknown time in the distant past. She died when she was stabbed by the Man in Black. ("Across the Sea")
- Jacob, from Mother's death until late 2007. He had the job for at least 2000 years ("Across the Sea"). Jacob was stabbed to death by Ben, who had been manipulated by the The Man In Black. ("The Incident")
- Jack Shephard, for less than one day, after being given the job by the ghost of Jacob, and until he died from a stab wound inflicted by the Man in Black and exposure to the electromagnetism at the Source. ("What They Died For") ("The End")
- Hugo Reyes, after being appointed by Jack before he descended into the Source, and for an unknown time into the future. ("The End")
The protectorship is passed from the incumbent protector to his or her successor through a specific ceremony. In all known cases, this ceremony involved three actions.
- The incumbent gives the successor a liquid. The successor drinks the liquid.
- The incumbent touches the successor.
- The incumbent utters the phrase "Now you're like me" or "Now we are the same" to the successor.
There are some differences and additions in different ceremonies. Mother gave Jacob wine from a glass bottle, poured into a silver cup. Jacob gave Jack water taken from a river in a silver cup similar to the one Mother used. Jack gave Hurley water from the stream leading to the Source in an Oceanic Airlines water bottle. Both Mother and Jacob uttered an incantation over the liquid before giving it to their successors, but Jack did not. It is unknown which of these actions are simply symbolic and which actually result in the transfer of the protectorship. ("Across the Sea") ("What They Died For") ("The End")
|Picture||Name||Started Protectorship||Ended Protectorship||Manner of death|
|Mother||Ancient times||Ancient times||Stabbed and killed by the Man in Black|
|Jacob||Ancient times||Late 2007||Stabbed and killed by Ben|
|Jack||Late 2007||Late 2007||Stabbed by the Man in Black, died from his wounds later the same day after restoring the Source|
- Ability to make it difficult to find or leave the Island, as well as hiding specific areas on the Island
- Ability to create Island rules that others must follow
- Ability to confer Protectorship to a successor
- Only the Protector can appoint his successor.
- It appears that only one person may be the Protector at any given time, as Mother stated that her successor would have to be either Jacob or his brother.
- The Protector is endowed with certain powers. Jacob, for example, appeared to stop aging upon being appointed, and lived for many centuries (Mother also appeared not to age). He was also apparently able to heal and grant agelessness to others. The full extent of his abilities is unclear, and it is unknown if all protectors have had the same powers.
- All three Island Protectors before Hurley were killed by knife wounds. Mother and Jack were stabbed by the Man in Black and Jacob was stabbed by Ben.