Frank sent along this article from io9 in prep for Lost this season:
Being A Fanboy Helps In Damon Lindelof's World
There's a reason that Lost's Nikki and Paulo died so quickly after fans refused to accept their insertion into ABC's time-traveling/teleporting island drama, according to show co-creator Damon Lindelof: The writers felt exactly the same way that the fans did, only earlier. The reason for that? The writers are the fans, apparently.
Lindelof explained how the writers' room can act as a petrie dish for their audience:
We're writing a television show that's supposed to be consumed by the masses. In the same way that a gladiator in the Roman arena lived or died based on whether or not he was entertaining, we feel like an instantaneous thumbs up, thumbs down response is huge for us. More importantly, the majority of the writers on Lost are fanboys. There's a ripple effect that occurs where we say, "Nikki and Paolo are not working. We don't like them, the audience isn't going to like them." By the time the audience starts complaining about Nikki and Paolo, we've already written a script where they get buried alive.
Not that this means that the fans will always get their way, he warned. After all, there is a plan at work: "The uber-mythology has to stay the same because there's stuff we've set up that has to pay off," he explains... although even that plan can change:
In our minds, Mr. Eko was going to be a character who made it to close to the end of the show, but because Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje was so unhappy being on the show, we had to say, "Alright, life intervenes. Who else can we tell the story with? Can we re-jigger Locke to have it be him, or can we make Benjamin Linus a little bit more of a man of faith?" You adapt the characters as you go.
Also, when someone gets a DUI, their character has to die as punishment. It's the law in Hawaii, apparently.