In what is sure to go down in television history as its most shocking twist, Lost is about to go somewhere that no still-hypersuccessful show ever has: away.

The time-tripping serial's producers announced at press tour today that they are in talks with ABC about establishing not a season but a series finale date - as they describe it, an "end game" - to ensure that their baby goes out on top. "From the word go, it always felt to me that [if we ran] somewhere in the neighborhood of between 90 and 100 episodes... we never [would have] to do a bad season," says cocreator Damon Lindelof. "We knew Season 1 was going to be the introduction, Season 2 was going to be into the hatch, Season 3 was going to be the Others....

"I don't want to tell you what Season 4 is gonna be," he continues. "And then there was a shortened wrap-up season that would put you somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 episodes. At the end of Season 4, we will have produced 93 hours of the show, and I imagine that would be very close to where it would end ideally."

"Ideally" from a creative standpoint perhaps. But from a financial perspective, ABC had to have hit the roof over Lindelof and Co.'s decision. Well, maybe not had to. In fact, if anything is more surprising than the execs' desire to bring Lost to a close while it's still vital, it has to be the network's reaction. "As opposed to them saying, 'Fine we'll bring on new [producers],' they said, 'Well, when do you think it should end?'" Lindelof reveals. "Obviously, they want the show to go on as long as possible. But all that we can say is, 'There's a show with us running it, and there's a show without us running it, and if you want the show with us running it, this is when we think it should end.' And like any negotiation, therein lies the rub.

"But," he adds, "I think [ABC president] Steve [McPherson] has begun to embrace the idea that the show needs to end, and now the question becomes when. I would anticipate that announcement would come sooner rather than later, because you don't want to make it in a way that seems like it's reactionary." In other words, he says he doesn't want Lost to come off like " The O.C. saying, 'We're going to end [the show!' No, you got canceled."

If he and his colleagues hadn't taken action, Lindelof can well imagine what the long-long-term future of Lost would have resembled. "They could produce a sixth or seventh or eighth season, but would anybody be watching?" he asks, though he clearly has an answer in mind. "The show would be so miserable by that time. Was it really The X-Files anymore when David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson weren't on the show? For me, The X-Files wasn't about 'Have aliens invaded?' It was about Mulder and Scully, a skeptic and a believer. And once that element of the show was gone, the show was over. So we don't want to produce those episodes of Lost. And we're not going to produce those episodes of Lost."

Lindelof believes such a gutsy move will only boost the show's popularity. "I think it will bring a lot of the audience who left back. To say like, 'I was wrong. They are going to give me [answers]. Whether I like it or not is yet to be determined.' But I think the question the audience is asking is not, 'Will the answers they give us be satisfying?' It's, 'Will they give us the answers at all?' And that's a very good question to be asking." - Additional reporting by Ben Katner

So, how do you feel about this revolutionary idea of Lost going away before it's a shell of its former self? Start the discussion below! Also, be sure to check out Ask Ausiello on Wednesday for some exclusive (and pretty darn spoilery) Lost prattle.