Page "Novikov self-consistency principle" Paragraph 34
The show's version is often referred to by characters and fans as " Whatever Happened, Happened " ( also the title of an episode ).
It is supported by various implications in-show, chief of which is the fact that, in travelling to the past to prevent the ' future ' crashing of their plane, the survivors actually set in motion the chain of events that ultimately caused it.
However, the episode " Flashes Before Your Eyes " suggests that minor changes are possible, unlike the totally fixed timeline postulated by Novikov's principle: in this episode Desmond's consciousness time travels back to a point in his past, where he ends up in a bar, where he remembers ( from his previous experience of this time ) a man named Jimmy Lennon entering and attacking the bartender ; in his attempt to warn the bartender, he himself gets attacked instead.
Additionally, when Desmond meets a mysterious woman with apparent knowledge of the future ( later revealed as Eloise Hawking ), she points out a man with red shoes, who moments later is killed by falling scaffolding ; when Desmond asks why she didn't try to save the man, she says that " it wouldn't matter.
" Again, this suggests that although major events ( like the man's death ) are unchangeable, minor ones ( like the precise cause of his death ) can be changed, in violation of Novikov's principle.