emmyAt the TCA Awards nominations last week, Lost landed three noms: in the top category, program of the year, for best drama series and for the Heritage Award, a category for shows that are no longer on the air. Three of the five nominees in that last category, Lost, 24 and Law & Order, just wrapped their runs. Of them, only Lost landed nominations in the mainstream fields, making a seamless transition from current to classic TV with a strong finish and a solid chance for a good showing at the Emmys. It’s a testament to showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse.

lost.jpgWhen Lost started losing steam in Season 3, Lindelof and Cuse decided to energize the series by setting an end date. Neither of them had deals for the show beyond that season, and both were prepared to walk away if ABC brass didn’t accept their ultimatum. The network finally agreed and Lindelof and Cuse guided Lost through three solid seasons and a dignified exit for the show, a contrast to a lot of series this year that were cancelled at the 11th hour without a chance for a proper goodbye.

Having the end point in sight is “incredibly liberating,” Lindelof said at the time of the announcement. “Like we’ve been running a marathon and we actually know where the finish line is for the first time.”

Lindelof and Cuse join a very exclusive group of showrunners who went against the wishes of their networks for more seasons and ended their series while they were still going strong. The group includes The Sopranos creator David Chase and Everybody Loves Raymond creator Phil Rosenthal. They all knew going into their shows’ final seasons that that would be it, and they wouldn’t let anyone change their mind.

“That will be the end, definitely” Chase said adamantly when he took on Season 6 of the HBO mob drama.

“Emotionally, we never want the show to end, but everything must,” Rosenthal said after he and Raymond executive producer/star Ray Romano agreed to an abbreviated ninth and final season of the hit CBS comedy. Added Romano, “The decision about coming back was always about maintaining the quality and not feeling like we’ve overstayed our welcome.”

There is another thing Lost, The Sopranos and Raymond shared going into their final seasons – each had won one best series Emmy. The Sopranos and Raymond went on to claim a second top Emmy award for their final seasons. Here’s where their and Lost‘s stories diverge… for now.