There is far more information about him than I had time to compile, but here is a chronological glimpse at the man, the myth, the menace.
BEFORE THE ISLAND
Ben was born just outside of Portland, OR, to Roger and Emily Linus. While hiking in the forest, Emily went into early labor. Horace and Olivia Goodspeed just happened to be driving by when Roger was looking for help, and they drove the Linus clan to the hospital. Shortly after Ben was born, Emily passed away and Roger blamed Ben for her death. Not a candidate for father of the year.
ON THE ISLAND
Cut to several years later. Roger was recruited by the Goodspeeds to work for Dharma, so he and Ben relocated to the island. Drunk and disgruntled by his job as a Dharma janitor, Roger was mean to little Ben and even forgot his son’s birthday.
Ben had visions of his mother on the island. First, she appeared outside of his window, and then in the jungle on his birthday. Emily spoke to Ben, and told him it wasn’t time to follow her yet.
Ben attended Dharma school on the island and his only friend was Annie. They were warned about island hostiles but never saw any. Annie carved two wooden dolls that they would each keep forever to remind them of one another. We don’t know if Annie survived the purge years later, or if she’s alive and well somewhere, but we do see Ben look at his doll as an adult.
Young Ben was running away when he first encountered Richard Alpert. Ben asked if he could join the hostiles, and Richard told him that he had to be very patient in order to do so.
Cut to several years later. Ben now works for Dharma, along with his father. On his birthday while out running a work errand together, Ben put on a gas mask and released gas, killing dear old dad.
He then returned to the barracks, where all of the other Dharma folks were also dead from a mass gas purge. Richard Alpert and the hostiles had a helping hand, and it seemed like they were the original members of the Others, under Ben’s new reign.
Although it is not clear when or how, Ben left the island on several occasions. He had a hidden closet full of disguises and drawers full of passports and money. It is also not clear when he ‘obtained’ Alex from Danielle Rousseau, and raised her as his own.
Three years before Flight 815 crashed on the island, Ben recruited Dr. Juliet Burke to come work as the island’s fertility specialist. Ben had a fatal attraction to Juliet, and made sure that the man she was having an affair with (Goodwin) was killed for it. Then Juliet discovered that Ben had a spinal tumor.
After witnessing Flight 815 break apart above them, Ben ordered Goodwin and Ethan to infiltrate the survivors from the flight, and get names. Both died trying. Ben had Mikhail gather intel about all of the passengers in the meantime.
Cut to a month or so later. Ben ordered Tom and some Others to kidnap Walt, a kid from the fuselage section of the crash who was traveling with his father, Michael. Walt was held at the Hydra station on the other little island, where he was subjected to brainwashing and other tests.
Ben knew about spinal surgeon Jack from the information gathered by Mikhail, and was monitoring him in the Swan hatch. Ben knew that he could toy with Jack’s emotions, and he could use Michael to lure Jack and other important survivors over to the Others. He sent Michael an instant message on the Swan computer, pretending to be Walt. Michael fell for it and started his plan to recover his son.
In order to infiltrate the survivors himself, Ben purposefully got himself trapped by Danielle Rousseau. As planned, she handed Ben over to Jack and co. in the Swan hatch, but not before shooting an arrow into his shoulder. While trying to find out who he was, Ben was beaten time and again. He used the alias Henry Gale, which belonged to a man who’d been killed on the island after his hot air balloon crashed.
While everyone was out looking for the balloon to verify Ben’s story, Locke got himself trapped under a hatch door. Ben helped him escape, and began a lengthy mental manipulation of Locke.
Michael had taken off to search for Walt, but was captured by Ben’s team of Others. They made a deal with him, that in exchange for Jack, Kate, Sawyer and Hurley, they’d return Walt. And Michael would also have to set Ben free. In order to let Ben go, Michael made the decision to shoot and kill Ana Lucia, who was guarding Ben’s cell in the Swan hatch. He also killed Libby, who showed up at the wrong time.
Ben was released, and Michael was reunited with Walt after leading the 4 survivors to him as planned. Ben let Michael and Walt leave the island and return home.
Cut to a few days later. Kate is handcuffed and forced to wear a dress. She is brought to breakfast on the beach with Ben, who told her that the next two weeks were going to be very unpleasant.
Ben keeps an eye on Kate and Sawyer in their cages, and Jack in the shark tank. Although Ben assigned Juliet to befriend Jack, Ben told him that he could go home if he’d operate on the spinal tumor.
Even though Ben had access to medical care off island, he was insistent that Jack perform the surgery to remove his tumor. Jack operated on Ben, and made a deal for the Others to let Kate and Sawyer go, not realizing that they were on another island entirely....
Juliet shot an Other to allow Sawyer and Kate to use a boat for their escape. Ben's stitches later became infected, and Jack agreed to take care of him if Ben spared Juliet's life (she was on 'trial' for killing one of her own).
Ben returned to the bigger island, to live in the barracks once again while he recovered. Locke blew up his submarine, so Jack and Juliet could not leave the island after all.
Ben had Locke's father, Anthony Cooper, brought to the island and told him that in order to learn the secrets of the island, he'd have to make a sacrifice. Locke couldn't kill his dad, so he had Sawyer do it for him.
Cut to an unknown time...Ben had his right hand man Tom find Michael in New York and recruit him to hop on a freighter and return to the island to help his friends.
Ben had Juliet return to the beach and live among the survivors, but everyone was suspicious of her except for Jack. Ben and the remaining Others vacated the barracks and set up camp elsewhere.
When Locke showed up with his dead dad, Ben told him about Jacob and took him to see him. Jacob seemed to ask Locke for help, which pissed off control freak Ben. So he shot Locke and left him in a pit of Dharma skeletons from the purge.
Ben ordered some Others to go to the survivors' beach and kidnap the pregnant (or potentially pregnant) women, but Juliet told Jack and they blew up several of the Others in a surprise attack. He also told Mikhail to go down to the Looking Glass station to kill Charlie, who had unjammed the communications signal to and from the island, and Mikhail blew himself up in the process.
Shortly thereafter, Ben went to find Jack and the remaining survivors, who were headed to the radio tower. He tried to warn Jack that the freighter near the island contained people who wanted to kill everyone on the island, but Jack beat him to a pulp and made contact with them anyway.
When the survivors separated into two groups, deciding to follow Jack to rescue or Locke to safety, Ben asked to go with Locke and Jack let him. The Freighter Four had arrived on the island, and their primary objective was to find Ben (for Charles Widmore). Ben then used his insider info about the freighter (courtesy of his spy Michael) to keep Locke and Sawyer from killing him.
Locke kept Ben locked up in his own basement while formulating a plan, which of course Ben manipulated with key intel when needed. Freighter dude/ghostbuster Miles attempted to blackmail him for the random sum of $3.2 million dollars, but that has yet to be resolved. Ben revealed to Locke that Charles Widmore wanted to exploit the healing powers of the island and that he'd sent the freighter. He also told Locke about Michael.
Ben sent Alex with her boyfriend Karl and Rousseau to a safe location, but some of the freighter mercenaries were already there. They killed Karl and Rousseau, but took Alex as bait for Ben. When Ben tried to play his usual mind games, he failed and they killed Alex right in front of him.
Ben then disappeared into his chamber of secrets and emerged covered in soot. He seemed to summon the Black Smoke Monster, which appeared with a vengeance and went after the mercenaries.
Ben and the survivors evacuated the barracks, and he took off to see Jacob with Locke and Hurley. Locke discovered the supposedly dead Christian Shephard inside Jacob's cabin, who told him that they have to move the island. So Ben took them toward the secret Orchid station, where he instructed Locke to enter and then surrendered to lead mercenary Keamy.
OFF THE ISLAND, IN THE FUTURE
We don't know exactly when or how Ben left the island, he told Sayid that he took Desmond's sailboat.
The year after the crash, we see Ben in Tunisia. It wasn't his first visit there, apparently. He then went to Iraq and, in what seemed like a premeditated event, met up with Sayid who was there to bury his wife.
Ben convinced Sayid that Widmore was responsible for her death, and recruited Sayid to work for him.
Cut to another unknown time, when Ben is in London to confront Widmore himself. Widmore told him that he owned the island, and that Ben stole it from him. Ben told him that he was going to kill his daughter Penny because Widmore had killed his daughter Alex.
Mr. Linus has an affinity for the fluffy little things, although he put them in harm's way on more than one occasion...
He had one as a pet when he was a kid in Dharma village. When he ran away, he used the bunny to see if the sonic fence was armed. Later in life, he pretended to kill one to make Sawyer think that his heart would explode.
It's more than likely that he obtained said bunnies from the Orchid station, which we should learn more about during the Season 4 finale.
LINGERING QUESTIONS ABOUT BEN
- When, how and where did he actually meet Danielle Rousseau, and under what circumstances did he obtain Alex?
- Did he kill the real Henry Gale?
- Aside from a very slow submarine, how did Ben travel to and from the island?
- Why did he get a spinal tumor when the island seemed to heal others that arrived there (Locke, Rose, Jin, etc.)?
- Miles had an off island photograph of him. When/where was it taken, and by whom?
- Can he return to the island after the Oceanic 6 are rescued?
- Did he arrange for the death of Sayid's wife Nadia?
- If he does time travel, is his point of entry always the Orchid station?
- Is there any actual power or significance to Ben's black baton?
- What the F did he say to Kate on the beach over breakfast last season?!
- Is he the mysterious man in the coffin that Jack visits in the future?
So what is YOUR lingering question or theory about Ben, or favorite scene/character interaction?