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James Ford
Name James Ford
Gender Male
Country Jasper, Alabama, USA
Occupation Confidence Man
Family Father - Mr. Ford
Mother - Mary Ford
Daughter - Clementine Phillips
Flashback(s) Confidence Man, Outlaws, The Long Con, Every Man for Himself
Flashforward(s) LaFleur
Played By Josh Holloway (adult)
Gordon Hardie (child)

Gallery of ImagesTheoriesMain Discussion

James "Sawyer" Ford was aboard Oceanic Flight 815 after killing the man who he’d thought ruined his life, and was deported from Australia after being drunk and assaulting an Australian politician. Sawyer was a Con Man who preferred to play the romance angle.

Life Before Flight 815

At age 8, James' mother had an affair with a man named Tom Sawyer and provided him with her husband’s money. When Mr. Ford discovered this, he murdered his wife, and then killed himself; all of this occurred in the presence of their son. Distraught, James wrote a letter outlining exactly how he felt, knowing one day he’d find him and present him with it.

At age 19, James needed $6000 to pay off some people he was in trouble with, so he did the very thing he hated most; he found a woman and convinced her to give him her husband’s money. James had become everything he despised, and so, he renamed himself "Sawyer”.

Sawyer borrowed the sum of $160,000 from a man named Kilo in the hopes of scamming a woman named Jessica out of that very amount. He informed her that he had $140,000 to invest in a (fictitious) oil mining operation in the Gulf of Mexico, and that $300,000 buys one share; and after 2 weeks a Government sponsored fund kicks in and triples the investment. Intrigued, Jessica assures Sawyer that her husband can provide the remaining $160,000 for the share. When the deal is set, Sawyer backs out at the last moment when he sees David and Jessica’s child enter the room; the child reminds him of himself and what had been done to him by "Tom Sawyer”.

One of Sawyer's cons is a divorced woman named Cassidy Phillips, who tells him that she did not get a significant settlement in the divorce proceedings. While getting dressed, Sawyer accidentally opens a briefcase filled with fake cash bundles, which is one of his favorite cons (meant to give off the impression that he is rich, so he can more easily con his victim into giving him money meant for an investment). Cassidy, however, sees through the con immediately, but is also intrigued, asking Sawyer to teach her how to con someone. The two scheme a jewelery con by overpricing fake goods, and con two men at a gas station. Cassidy later asks if he can teach her how to pull off a "long con", and reveals that she got $600,000 from her ex-husband. Later, Sawyer has lunch with his partner, Gordy, who tells him to continue to con Cassidy despite Sawyer's feelings for her. Sawyer returns to the house and tells Cassidy to run because Sawyer's partner Gordy is going to kill them, and points to a car waiting outside. He reveals that the "long con" is Cassidy herself, and that he knew about her money from the beginning. He then sends her off with a bag which he appears to have stuffed with the money. However, this was all part of the con: the car was empty and the real money was hidden in another bag, ready for Sawyer to take once Cassidy left.

Although Sawyer appears to be through with Cassidy, she presses charges and he is sent to a eight year sentence in prison. Cassidy visits Sawyer in prison after two years, telling him that she bore his daughter, Clementine. In prison, Sawyer meets a man named Munson, who was sent to prison for stealing a large quantity of money. Munson asks Sawyer to have this money moved as he is unable to. Sawyer instead tells the warden where the money is, in exchange for a cut of the money and the commutation of his sentence. Sawyer asks that the money be put in an anonymous bank account for Clementine.

One night when Sawyer was laying the ground work for a grift on a woman, he was visited by a man he’d known from his past, Hibbs. As Sawyer reminded him of a death threat he’d delivered in the past, Hibbs offers Sawyer something that would make them even for a past job in Tampa; the known whereabouts of Frank Sawyer. Hibbs presents Sawyer with an envelope containing documents on a man named Frank Duckett, accompanied by a picture of him.

Sawyer flies to Sydney and purchases a gun from a man who informs him that when you point a gun at a man, you find out who you truly are. When Sawyer approached Frank Duckett, the two began to talk, and Sawyer with his gun cocked, backed away at the last second, having second thoughts.

As Sawyer mulls his problem in a Sydney bar, he meets a man named Christian who discusses the problem he is currently having with his son. As he convinces Sawyer to go through with solving his problem if it will ease his suffering, Sawyer makes his way back to Frank Duckett's shrimp stand, raises his gun, and fires. As Duckett lay there in agony, Sawyer removes the letter he had written so many years ago, he realizes the man he sought was not the man he killed, and that Frank Duckett was someone who had owed Hibbs money, and Hibbs had used Sawyer to his advantage, knowing he’d kill him.

Sawyer found his way to another Sydney bar, where he winds up being arrested after head butting the Honourable Warren Truss, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry. When Sawyer is interrogated by Detective Calderwood, he runs down a laundry list of Sawyer’s felonies. Sawyer is deported from Australia, and is booked on the first flight out, which ends up being Oceanic Flight 815

On-Island Life

Sawyer is known for collecting and hoarding items from the plane crash and for being the resident smart-talking rebel on the island. Along with Shannon, he is one of the island's most prolific sources of colorful, often insulting nicknames for other castaways and island locations. These mannerisms make him easily hated and despised by most of the islanders, although it is eventually revealed that he purposely incites others into hostility against him; Kate uncovers his tragic past and forces him to admit his inferiority complex, and Michael, noting that the otherwise entirely self-centered Sawyer seems eager to volunteer for dangerous tasks, theorizes he may be suicidal.

Initially Sawyer is Kate's most aggressive suitor, making various crude advances toward her, at one instance extorting a kiss from her, but as time passes on, the two seem to develop a genuine friendship, both sharing a background as criminals and fugitives tormented by guilt. He kills time on the island by reading books (such as Watership Down, which is "about bunnies", Are You There God, It's Me, Margaret, and A Wrinkle in Time) salvaged from the plane; this has caused Sawyer to develop hyperopia, forcing him to wear reading glasses made by Sayid. His voice also seems to entertain and comfort Claire's baby.

While on the raft, he is heard singing Bob Marley's "Redemption Song", in a bit of metaphorical happenstance. When Sawyer, Jin, Michael, and Walt encounter another boat at sea whose passengers demand that Walt come with them, Sawyer pulls a gun, given to him by Jack before they left, to protect Walt. He gets shot by "The Others" and goes overboard. After the boat leaves, he climbs onto the wreckage of the raft with Michael and pulls the bullet out with his fingers from his shoulder. Due to infection and a loss of blood, Sawyer becomes ill and passes out in Abandoned. Michael, Jin, and Mr. Eko make a stretcher for him and proceed to carry him back to their camp. Back at camp, he is taken to the hatch, where Jack declares him septic. In "What Kate Did", he is feverish, and says to Jack "I love her". Several minutes later, he attacks Kate and asks her why she "killed" him. She takes this to be a sign that her deceased stepfather Wayne, whom she killed, is seeking her from beyond the grave, and flees the hatch. She later returns and explains herself to Wayne in the form of Sawyer; he awakens from the fever, having no idea what she is talking about. Kate escorts him through the hatch, and out to the jungle; Kate is visited by the black horse she has been seeing, which Sawyer also witnesses.

After unlocking Locke and Jack out of the gun cache, they go out on a trek to find Michael. John asks Sawyer why he doesn't use his real name, James Ford, and where he got the name Sawyer. When the Others confront the hunting party, Sawyer is shot again, but only grazed in the face by a bullet. The leader of the Others, whom Sawyer nicknames "Zeke," threatens Kate; Sawyer is obviously shaken and angered at the possibility of losing her, and hugs her when she is finally released. When they get back to camp Sawyer comforts Kate in saying that he would have done the same thing that she did.

In "The Long Con" Jack raids Sawyer's tent and tells him that he stole medicine from the hatch. Kate and Sawyer hear Sun screaming and run to her. They find her unconscious and bring her back to camp. They later go back out to where she was attacked and Sawyer says that the bag used to cover Sun's head was not the same as the one used by The Others on Kate, making Sawyer suspect that someone from camp did it. Sawyer goes to the hatch to tell Locke that Jack and other survivors are coming for the guns. That night, Sawyer tells everyone that if they want a gun, they need to get it from him. Kate confronts him later in the night, and asks him why he has to make everyone hate him. He replies that at least she still likes him. Even later that night Sawyer meets up with Charlie. Sawyer had employed Charlie to pretend to be an Other and "kidnap" Sun and that he had planned the entire thing. He later tells Charlie that he has never done a good thing in his life.

In "Lockdown", Sawyer is playing Hurley and Kate in poker, winning a large pile of fruit. As Jack walks by, he comments Hurley should fold, without seeing Hurley's hand, saying Hurley doesn't have a good hand. Sawyer goads Jack into playing a few rounds of poker, thinking he must've got his experience playing online poker. Instead, Jack takes Sawyer for a run at the table, winning all the fruit from him. As Jack goes to leave, Sawyer ups the stakes by offering Jack one last hand where Jack can name the stakes. Jack names the medical supplies as the stakes and wins with a pair of nines. As Jack goes to leave, Sawyer asks him why he didn't ask to get the guns back, to which Jack replies "When I need the guns, I'll get the guns." Sawyer also shows some intellect in talking with Jack, asking him what he was doing in Thailand when Jack says he learned to play poker in Phuket, leaving Jack somewhat surprised that Sawyer knew where Phuket was.

In "Dave", Hurley comes to Sawyer, asking for some medication that would help him "stop seeing things, like a bald man running around in a bathrobe". Sawyer takes his usual demeaning attitude and makes fun of Hurley's problem, which leads to Hurley surprisingly leaping on top of Sawyer and punching him while he's on the ground. A few other survivors see this, but do not pull Hurley off too quickly, instead seeming to enjoy Sawyer getting his comeuppance for the way he treats everyone on the island.

In "Two for the Road", Sawyer, who holds all the guns, is asked by Ana-Lucia to give her one. He refuses and the two battle on the ground briefly before Ana-Lucia starts to kiss him. They then have sex in a frenzied manner. Later, when Jack holds a gun to Sawyer's head, it is revealed that Ana-Lucia stole Sawyer's gun when seducing him.

In "?", Sawyer reveals to Kate that his 'stash' of guns and other supplies is hidden in a small covered hole in his tent. Sawyer also expresses grief after Ana-Lucia's death, and feels guilty that he had sex with her without even knowing her last name. He also tells Jack that he is the closest thing he has to a friend.

In "Three Minutes", Sawyer enlists Sayid's help to attack the Others, but is confused and annoyed when Michael angrily refuses to have Sayid come along, Sawyer being unaware of Michael's treachery.

In "Live Together, Die Alone", Sawyer is part of the party that goes to attack The Others and get Walt back, along with Jack, Kate, Michael and Hurley. He eventually gets shot in the neck with a tranquilizer dart by The Others. The episode ended with him, Jack & Kate being held gagged and at gunpoint by The Others.

In the season 3 premiere, "A Tale of Two Cities", Sawyer wakes up in a large metal bear cage located in the jungle. Another cage with a young man, Karl, is directly across from Sawyer's cage, though he keeps his back turned to Sawyer and does not respond to attempts at conversation. Upon exploring his own cage, Sawyer discovers mechanisms that appear to be designed as some sort of puzzle for dispensing food. If pressed incorrectly, they deliver a powerful electric shock (the cage, with its levers, feeders, and stimuli is essentially a large Skinner Box, a behavioral test device). While Sawyer works on figuring out the proper technique, Karl picks the lock on his own cage, frees Sawyer, and advises him to run. Sawyer attempts to escape, but is re-caught by Juliet, re-caged, and a bloodied Karl is later brought back and forced to apologize to Sawyer. Karl is then marched off into the jungle.

Sawyer soon figures out the puzzle in his cage, which results in a fish biscuit, food pellets, and some water being released. As Sawyer indulges, he witnesses Tom putting Kate in Karl's old cage. He gloats to Tom about solving the puzzle, but Tom says that the bear who used to inhabit the cage solved the puzzle much quicker. Sawyer and Kate are relieved to see that the other is safe.

In "The Glass Ballerina", Sawyer and Kate are ordered to excavate and break rocks for an unknown reason. Sawyer comes into conflict with Pickett, the Other overseeing the work, who shocks him with a stun gun whenever he gets out of line. After staring at Kate all day, Sawyer decides to kiss her, causing Pickett to come over and hit Sawyer over the head with an AK-47 rifle. However, Sawyer rebels and punches Pickett in the face. He fights off the Others and manages to grab the AK-47 away, but Juliet holds another gun to Kate, forcing Sawyer to cease and desist. He is shocked again at high voltage and dragged back to his cage soon after. He notes to Kate that the Others don't seem to have much experience with actual fighting, except for Juliet.

"Every Man for Himself", Sawyer is beaten and knocked out by Ben, (whom Sawyer once knew as the captive Other, "Henry Gale") after a failed escape attempt. He is bound to an operating table and stabbed with a syringe. When he awakens, he realizes that he has been operated upon. Ben tells him that a pacemaker has been inserted inside of him that will cause his heart to explode if his heart rate reaches 140 beats per minute. They put a watch on Sawyer that monitors the pacemaker, which beeps whenever his heart is beating too fast. Ben threatens they will put a pacemaker inside Kate if Sawyer tells her about his own pacemaker.

When Sawyer is returned to his cage, he naturally stops his escape planning. Kate is confused and concerned by this, but because he does not want her in danger, Sawyer refuses to explain why. When Sawyer sees Kate changing, his heart rate goes up and he is forced to calm himself down. Soon, for a reason unknown to Sawyer and Kate, Pickett takes Sawyer out of his cage and begins to beat him up. Because of the pacemaker, Sawyer does not fight back and is badly beaten. Pickett (who is in a rage because his wife, Colleen, just died because Sun shot her) keeps asking Kate if she loves Sawyer, and when a hysterical Kate says that she does, the beating stops. Kate later says she only said this to stop Pickett.

Sawyer refuses to join Kate in another escape attempt. He tells Kate to leave him behind, but Kate refuses, going back inside of her cage. Ben arrives early the next morning and takes Sawyer for a walk. He reveals that a pacemaker was never put in Sawyer after all - the watch on his wrist is merely a heart rate monitor (which earns Ben a punch in the face). Their interaction includes Ben quoting Of Mice and Men, a book Sawyer was shown reading in prison during a flashback. The Others did all of that to Sawyer to earn Sawyer's cooperation, and since he was a con man, the only way to do that was to con him. Sawyer learns that his current location is not even on the island itself. It's on a smaller island just off the coast - he really has no way to escape even if he does break out of his cage.

Sawyer does not want Kate to lose hope, so he does not tell her the truth of their predicament immediately. After Kate becomes aware of Pickett's intention to kill Sawyer, she frees herself and Sawyer from their cages and tries to get him to run ("I Do"). He reveals that there is nowhere for them to run, and they decide to remain by the cages. They kiss and make love, and Sawyer asks Kate if she loves him. She smiles and kisses him, and he tells Kate that he loves her too. Pickett returns with a gun and drags Sawyer away from Kate; he is about to kill Sawyer when he receives word that Jack has taken Ben hostage in the middle of a surgery. Jack demands that Kate be freed, or he will let Ben die on the operating table.

Seizing the moment, Sawyer attacks a distracted Pickett, disarming him, and uses the button to shock him, before locking him in the cage. He and Kate then make their way to the beach ("Not in Portland"). When they arrive at the beach, they are caught by Pickett, who destroys their radio. They escape into the jungle, where they eventually encounter Alex. She leads them to a hiding hole in the ground, where they lose their pursuers. Alex explains that she has a boat, but will only let them use it if they help her rescue Karl, her boyfriend, whom Sawyer is familiar with. He and Kate pose as Alex's hostages when they approach the guard of some holding cells. They manage to get past the guard, and eventually find Karl being brainwashed in holding Room number 23. Sawyer is almost hypnotized himself, but snaps out of it in time to carry Karl out of the room to safety. Back on the beach, Sawyer helps Alex carry the boat into the water. He and Kate load Karl in the boat before preparing to set sail. Unfortunately, Pickett holds them all at gunpoint. Just before he fires his gun, Juliet appears and shoots Pickett. She lets Sawyer and Kate escape with Karl, but says that Alex must stay behind. He and Kate leave shortly after she radios Jack for the last time.

In "Stranger in a Strange Land", shortly after leaving, Sawyer manages to convince an adamant Kate on returning to their own island, rather than return for Jack. Once back on the island, he offers Kate some food, but she declines, still guilty over Jack. Karl wakes up, reminds them that they are lucky to be alive, and tells him and Kate about the Others; that they only work on the 'Alcatraz' island and that they live on the same island as they do. The next morning, Kate tells Sawyer that Karl had escaped during the night. Sawyer eventually finds him in tears, and the two have a heart-to-heart.

In "Enter 77", Sawyer, after finding Paulo with one of his magazines, challengers one of the other survivors to a ping pong game to get his things back, which during his absence had been redistributed. If he wins, he gets his stuff back. But Sun says that if he loses, he's not allowed to use insulting nicknames for an entire week. Nikki also stands up to him, telling him that the stuff wasn't his at all, he just took it from the plane. Hurley accepts the challenge, and Sawyer loses. In "Par Avion", Sawyer struggles to keep from calling anyone nicknames, particularly when questioning Claire's motives.

In "Exposé", Sawyer and Hurley are playing ping pong again when Nikki stumbles out of the jungle and collapses on the beach. Sawyer runs to get water, but Hurley says that she's already dead (unaware that she is actually temporarily paralyzed). The two of them, along with Charlie and Sun, attempt to figure out the cause of her "death." Sawyer and Hurley try to figure out her last words, deciding that she said "Paulo lied." Sawyer, Jin, and Hurley find Paulo in a jungle clearing, apparently dead, with one shoe off and wedged in some branches. Back on the beach, Sawyer begins digging a grave for Nikki and Paulo. He says that he found a gun on one of them, and that he suspects them of being in league with the Others. Later, Sun confronts Sawyer over her abduction stunt with Charlie. She tells him she won't tell Jin. She threatens that if she does tell Jin, the next grave dug will be Sawyer's. She slaps him in the face and leaves. At the funeral, Sawyer pours Nikki and Paulo's diamonds into their grave. They begin filling the grave, failing to notice that Nikki has opened her eyes.

In "Left Behind", Hurley tells Saywer that he [Sawyer] risks banishment if he doesn't make amends with his fellow castaways. After struggling to do simple tasks alone and failing, Sawyer gives in to Hurley's demands. He socializes with Claire, Desmond, and Charlie, with great success. Sawyer eventually discovers that there was no risk of banishment, and that Hurley had an ulterior motive for getting Sawyer more involved, in a positive way, with camp life. With Kate, Jack, Locke, and Sayid gone, Hurley thinks Sawyer is ready to assume the role of their temporary leader, much to Sawyer's dismay. The next day, in "One of Us", Sawyer is pleased to see Jack, Kate and Sayid return, but objects to Juliet joining them. Later that night, Sawyer tries to persuade Sayid to interrogate her, but is disappointed when he refuses. However, the two of them follow Juliet to her medical supply, and attempt to interrogate her. She manages to convince them otherwise, and they release her.

In "Catch-22", Sawyer approaches Kate about their fling in the cages while in captivity, to which she explains about the surveillance monitors from which Jack saw them. As he tries to flirt with her, she walks away from him. Later that night, a distraught Kate enters his tent and the two make out, much to Sawyer's surprise. The next day, Sawyer challenges Jack to a game of ping pong, where he learns about Jack and Juliet spending the night. Sawyer confronts Kate about this, gives her a cassette tape (belonging to Bernard) and subtly accuses her of using him.

Sawyer wakes up with Kate in "The Brig" and enters the jungle to relief himself after she leaves. He is suddenly approached by Locke, who emerges from the jungle and offers him the chance to kill Ben. At first, Sawyer is skeptic, but after Locke reveals that the Others have files on all the survivors, Sawyer reluctantly follows him. Along the way, Locke reels off pieces of Sawyer's past, angering him, but eventually he explains himself to Locke. It is at the Black Rock that Sawyer encounters Anthony Cooper, Locke's father. Sawyer is locked in with him, and Cooper begins intimidating him, saying that they're in Hell. It is during this conversation that Cooper reveals himself as the real "Sawyer" that is responsible for the deaths of his parents. Beyond reasoning, an enraged Sawyer strangles Cooper to death. Locke frees him shortly after and tells Sawyer that Juliet is infiltrating the camp. Sawyer heads back with the tape recorder as evidence.

Sawyer returns to camp in "The Man Behind the Curtain" and shows Sayid the recorder that Locke gave him. The two of them approach Juliet's tent, only for Kate to tell them she left with Jack after she told them about Naomi. Sayid tells Sawyer to play back the tape to Kate. That night, everyone gathers for a group discussion, where Sawyer plays the tape for everyone to hear, including Jack and Juliet, who arrive shortly after the tape finishes. After a brief argument, Juliet tells Sawyer to play the other side of the tape, where Ben tells her to mark all the pregnant women's tents ready for taking. Jack then explains that he has some catching up to do.

They take Sawyer and the others into the jungle, where they reveal their destructive plan to rid them of the Others. However, Sawyer defends Karl from Sayid when he arrives to warn them of the Others' change of plans. Sawyer later leaves with Jack and heads to the radio tower ("Greatest Hits"). However, after witnessing only two of three explosions that night, and arguing with Kate the next day, Sawyer offers to return to camp with Juliet. They arrive to find Sayid, Jin and Bernard tied up. Hurley shortly arrives in the van and runs down one of the Others. Sawyer then holds Tom at gunpoint and shoots him, as revenge for kidnapping Walt. Sawyer awaits the rest of the group to return ("Through the Looking Glass").

After Lost

After leaving the island Sawyer became a part of his daughter's life and made up for his past crimes. He remained close friends with Kate and Miles and eventually got over Juliet's death.

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