The pilot (Chupacabra) aired on Animal Planet October 30, 2008 for Halloween, but the series officially premiered on January 6, 2009. Two episodes are always aired back to back. Animal Planet commissioned a second season, which premiered on September 29, 2009. Season 3 premiered on September 28, 2010, with episodes featuring Zombies and the Kraken. The Futon Critic announced that the series was canceled after a fourth season has never been announced since the third season finale on November 9, 2010. However it may be merely on hiatus as Animal Planet has not confirmed its cancelation.
Template:Unreferenced section Lost Tapes depic traumatic scenarios where people are being attacked and killed by mysterious, dangerous, deadly, savage, and ferious paranormal wild cryptids. The series is shot in a documentary style. Most episodes begin with a quick introduction of facts, which include interviews with experts explaining scientific theories or facts and folklore behind the episode's titular creature. In the second season, some episodes began with footage of a person being attacked and often killed by the episode's creature, an introduction meant to set up the events of each episode. In the third season, every episode had such an introduction, though the events of every episode in all three seasons are accompanied by videos of scientists, cryptozoologists, and folklorists giving their thoughts and opinions of the creatures, which are called Lost Tapes: Revelations.
A common formula in Lost Tapes involves the human characters, usually either a single person or a small group, ending up in a remote part of the world or otherwise in a place with few options of escape, such as enclosed areas like buildings or underground tunnels. They soon encounter the episode's creature in a series of stressful events, which sometimes result in the deaths of some or all of the featured characters. Many episodes end in cliffhangers which state that the creature which appeared in the episode was never found, and may "live among us." With the exception of a brief injury in "Thunderbird", no children have been physically harmed on-screen, though sometimes they become traumatized after the events of the episode, as in "Chupacabra" and "Death Raptor."
In most episodes, the creatures are often only partially revealed to the audience, and in brief glimpses or otherwise only as silhouettes, shadows, or are obscured by darkness; sometimes, they are never seen at all, but their presence is made obvious by sounds and the characters' reactions to them, such as in "Chupacabra." To give the show a mysterious atmosphere, techniques such as those used in Jaws are employed, and the creatures are almost never fully seen. "Hellhound," the last episode of the first season, marked the first time that a creature was fully shown on camera, and the second season revealed more creatures than the first: in "Jersey Devil," for instance, the creature's legs, hooves, and face are briefly shown; in "Vampire," the creature's entire body can be seen on several occasions, though only briefly; and in the season's last episode, "Dover Demon," the entire creature can be seen in the background when a night vision camera is turned on. The third season showed even more creatures, and many of them in full view of the camera. However, realism was better-maintained with human-like creatures such as a reptilian humanoid. Even non-human-like animals were shown more frequently, though this led to negative criticism among fans as many of the creatures in the third season were less convincing with low budget animatronics and CGI, such as in "Kraken" and "Q: The Serpent God," or even simply people in costumes, as in "Devil Monkey."
While most episodes feature the titular cryptid as the antagonist, in some episodes they benefit the people that the story follows. For example, in "Bigfoot," the creature seems to be watching over and protecting the main character, even killing a poacher that was trying to attack her; "Mothman" implies that the featured cryptid was trying to warn people about the imminent collapse of a bridge.
While there is normally no connection between episodes, the third season introduced the recurring Enigma Corporation, "a private security firm that specializes in the unexplained," though it is not exactly clear what order each of the episodes featuring them is supposed to be in chronologically or if the characters Noel Connor and Elise Mooney remember their experiences in each episode, as no connection between each one aside from the recurring characters is made. The Enigma Corporation first appeared in the third season's premiere, "Zombies," and reappeared in "Strigoi Vampire" and again in "Q: The Serpent God."
- Main article: List of Lost Tapes episodes
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In a preview of the season one DVD, TV Squad writer John Scott Lewinski states that in the case of this series, "Animal Planet could be accused of repacking a horror/sci-fi show as an animal documentary" and that much of the program is "outright bollocks." He goes on to state that the show holds some appeal for audiences looking for a scare, or incredibly gullible people.