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The Best of '24'
It’s been 15 years since Jack Bauer came into viewers' lives, saving the United States for the first of what would turn out to be many, many, many times. Bauer may have been the only mainstay through eight seasons, a TV movie, and a miniseries, but there were plenty of memorable characters along the way, whether it was a teenage girl who attracted cougars, an evil president, or Jack’s countless dead partners and/or love interests. To celebrate the groundbreaking drama’s 15th anniversary and the upcoming reboot, it’s time to look back on 24’s 24 best characters.
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Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland)
What can you really say about the man that on nine separate occasions saved the world? Along the way, he lost his wife, multiple lovers, his closest friends, while also never eating or using the bathroom, but he still kept getting back up to stop all terrorists, moles, and family members that he came up against. Whether it was through breaking into a prison, committing borderline treason, or lots of torture, Bauer got the job done. He will go down as one of the greatest characters in television history and despite not appearing, his presence will cast a large shadow over the upcoming reboot, 24: Legacy.
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Teri Bauer (Leslie Hope)
Mrs. Bauer may have only been around for one day, but it was a hell of a day. Teri wasn't just the wife stuck at home while the husband gets in on all of the action. Her daughter sneaking out of the house sends her on an adventure that included being kidnapped, killing a man in order to escape, finding out that she is pregnant, and ultimately, being killed by romantic rival and traitor, Nina Meyers. Teri’s death set the stakes for the entire series, proving that anyone not named Jack Bauer could be a goner.
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Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert)
Jack's only child gets a bad rap. Yes, she does some silly things that often end up putting her father and the country in risk, but what kid didn’t at that age? After the death of her mother, Kim became the only emotional tie for Jack, giving him something to actually live for even as he had terrible day after terrible day. Plus, despite the extreme nepotism that got her the job, Kim proved to be a solid part of the CTU team, and let's not forget about her surviving a run-in with a cougar!
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David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert)
The path to the presidency wasn’t easy for the stoic and idealistic candidate. The first season of the series took place on Election Day and if that wasn’t already enough pressure, add in having to deal with Jack Bauer, terrorists trying to kill you, and a truly evil wife. Palmer somehow survived that day and became president, and for the next four seasons — even after leaving the White House — he was a force to be reckoned with. While his shocking assassination at the start of season 5 stole an all-time great character from the audience, it set the show up for its greatest run and once again showed the dangers of the 24 world.
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Sherry Palmer (Penny Johnson Jerald)
What does a woman need to do to become first lady? Apparently, if you’re Sherry, it involves treason, murder, and having another woman seduce your husband for information. For three seasons, Sherry showed that she would do anything to get her husband elected and then, anything to get him to take her back. The one thing that you could always say about Sherry is that she was dedicated to her cause. All of her conniving efforts always ended up back firing though, with her desperate season 3 cover-up finally culminating in her death.
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Nina Meyers (Sarah Clarke)
The mole that started it all. As 24 got into later seasons, it was only a matter of time before a mole or two was revealed at CTU, but the shocking discovery that Nina, the woman who almost ended Jack’s marriage, was a terrorist set the tone for the entire series. Being the first mole was just the beginning of the critical role that Nina would play. If the twist of her real allegiances wasn’t enough of a game changer, Nina killing Teri in the season 1 finale goes down as the most shocking death in a world full of shocking deaths.
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Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard)
No relationship on 24 endured more ups and downs than that of Jack and Tony. The duo started as rivals due to their romantic ties to Nina before seeming to bond over the reveal of her true identity. Tony became one of the few people that Jack could trust, even helping him fake his death at the end of season 4. It looked like Tony had rode off into the sunset with Michelle in season 5, but viewers know that's not possible on 24, so instead, he tragically loses her in a car explosion. While he appeared to die a few episodes after Michelle, Tony eventually resurfaces, returning as a changed man who will do anything to avenge his late wife. Last seen being sent to prison by Jack at the end of season 7, Tony is set to return in 24: Legacy.
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Aaron Pierce (Glenn Morshower)
First appearing in a small role during season 1, Pierce became a staple of the political side of the series as the only non-Jack Bauer character to appear in each of the first seven seasons. He would do anything for the president that he was serving, especially during his stint protecting President Palmer. He wasn’t so kind to President Logan, both trying to expose his criminal activity and stealing his wife, but let's be honest, Logan kind of had it coming.
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George Mason (Xander Berkeley)
While he was never going to earn a “World’s Best Boss” mug, Mason was an effective leader of CTU throughout his run. It’s dark, but Mason’s best and most memorable moment came in death. With only hours left to live after being exposed to a virus, Mason made the heroic and honorable decision to save Jack’s life and sacrifice his own by taking control of a plane carrying a bomb that was set to detonate. On second thought, maybe he should have gotten that mug.
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Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth)
Considering that 24 constantly highlighted the struggle between terrorists and government agents, there understandably wasn’t much time for romance. Yet, the relationship between Tony and Michelle started as a minor side story for two supporting characters before eventually developing into a crucial element of the series. We followed them through multiple near-death experiences, a separation, and treason, and despite all the struggles, they retired together and were set for a happy-ever-after ending. But, of course, that doesn’t happen on 24, so Michelle and her unborn baby were tragically killed, setting Tony up for his dark turn.
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The Cougar from Season 2
There have been some juicy villains in the long history of 24, but none have been more memorable than the cougar that Kim came face-to-face with in season 2. The infamous scene was just the latest crazy mishap that Kim found herself in, with the insane circumstances even being made fun of years later on Cuthbert’s comedy Happy Endings. The cougar was so powerful that not even Jack would have been able to bring it down, so they had to bring in survivalist Johnny Drama.
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Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub)
It doesn’t get more ride or die than Chloe. Whatever Jack needed, no matter how illegal, crazy, or treasonous, the reliable, antisocial CTU analyst was in. Not introduced until season 3, Chloe soon became the second most important character on the series, appearing in more episodes than anyone other than Jack. Having helped him escape death more than a few times, Jack finally returned the favor in what could be his final appearance, giving himself up to spare her. The new lead protagonist on 24: Redemption can only hope that he’s lucky enough to find his own Chloe.
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Chase Edmunds (James Badge Dale)
Jack’s partner and Kim’s boyfriend served as the show’s first of many attempts to find a young Jack. Despite only being around for season 3, Chase goes down as best “new Jack.” More than his future replacements (i.e. Mike Doyle and Cole Ortiz), he proved to be willing to go along with his partner’s often reckless behavior. In the end, his undoing was making a classic Jack move by following through with a costly personal decision to save the day. He may have lost his hand and eventually Kim too, but Chase earned his place in 24 lore.
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Audrey Raines (Kim Raver)
Between losing his wife and constant terrorist attacks, Jack didn’t have much time for love — until he met Audrey. On paper, the two couldn’t be more different yet they had a connection that couldn’t be broken by anything, whether it was Jack letting her husband die, both of them being kidnapped by the Chinese government, or her fragile mental state upon returning in season 6. Any hope of these two crazy kids living happily ever after was dashed when Audrey was killed at the end of Live Another Day, reminding us once again that Jack isn’t allowed happiness, ever.
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James Heller (William Devane)
The Secretary of Defense and future president deserves to be on this list if only for making the genius decision to hire Jack as a special adviser. The two grew apart as the show continued, especially when he didn’t want Jack near Audrey after the trauma that she had suffered in China (probably a good call). It was tough to watch him struggle with Alzheimer’s in Live Another Day, concluding in the painful realization he soon wouldn't remember his deceased daughter.
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Curtis Manning (Roger Cross)
Like most characters on this list, Curtis wasn’t immediately fond of Jack. Also like many of the characters, he soon became an ally to Jack. Over his three-season run, Curtis proved to be an asset to the show and Jack, which makes his death that much tougher to handle. Despite being the hero, Jack has made his share of nauseating decisions, with his shooting of Curtis landing at the top of the list.
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Edgar Stiles (Louis Lombardi)
Poor, sweet Edgar. The CTU analyst may have been one of the few truly good-hearted characters that the show ever had, and how was he rewarded? Stopping a nuclear plant crisis, only to learn that his mom was in the one affected area, then a tragic death due to a nerve gas attack at CTU. While many deaths on the show have been heartbreaking, none proved more chilling than Chloe watching Edgar say her name as he died only feet from her.
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Bill Buchanan (James Morrison)
There are many (so many) to choose from, but Buchanan earns the distinction of being the best long-term Director of CTU, even if long-term only means two seasons. That being said, he cemented his status in 24 history with his role in season 7. Buchanan banded together with other fan favorites, Chloe and Tony, to work outside of the system to take down moles inside the government, ultimately ending the stand-off at the White House by sacrificing himself before Jack could.
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Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin)
All respect to Victor Drazen, the cougar, and all the other random bad guys throughout the show’s run, but Charles Logan has to go down as the greatest villain in 24 history. The man was responsible for the murders of President Palmer and Michelle, not to mention the emotional pain that he inflicted on poor Martha. Initially introduced as weak and indecisive, Logan was revealed in season 5 to basically be the male Sherry Palmer, only with real power. Also like Sherry, his constant attempts to regain his previous position always ended badly: first by being stabbed by his ex-wife, then with a failed suicide attempt that will leave him with serious brain damage. Sad ending for him, enjoyable ending for fans.
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Martha Logan (Jean Smart)
Martha, Martha, Martha. All Sherry Palmer ever wanted to be was first lady, but Martha’s one-season run didn’t make it seem like such a fun position to be in. While Charles Logan’s caring, mentally unstable wife thought she was married to a good man, over the course of season 5, she quickly learned his true nature, which included being involved with the assassination of her friend, David Palmer, threatening to commit her, and almost letting her get blown up. In the end, Martha got her revenge, between helping incriminate her husband and then later, stabbing him. Good thing that her new boyfriend, Agent Pierce, is a good guy and most likely has defense training.
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Morris O’Brian (Carlo Rota)
Only a main character on the show for season 6, Morris at times served as both a much-needed dose of comic relief and an anchor for Chloe. His relationship with Chloe also gave the audience more reason to care about what was going on with him separate from the main plot, unlike similar stories with other low-level supporting characters at CTU.
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Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones)
Before Hillary, there was Allison. As with President Palmer, 24 was ahead of the curve when it came to electing a president. Like her predecessors, Taylor was initially skeptical of Jack, before realizing that he is an ally that you want in your corner. She showed toughness during the invasion of the White House, while also demonstrating her dedication to the country when she turned her daughter in for plotting to have her son’s killer assassinated. Her desire to do what’s right was greatly tested in season 8, when she made the mistake of being influenced by the disgraced Logan. After originally allowing a kill order to go out on Jack, Taylor eventually proved her loyalty by rescinding it and telling him to run.
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Renee Walker (Annie Wersching)
By season 7, one of the many things that we learned is that being Jack’s love interest is almost as dangerous as working at CTU (almost). Renee didn’t start off as a romantic counterpart for our protagonist, she was a by-the-book agent who took a risk in going to Jack for help. After only working with him for one day, the FBI agent had gone full-Bauer: engaging in a little torture like her new mentor led to losing her job. Returning in a darkened state, a mission with Jack helps her confront some of her past demons, leading to the duo taking their relationship in a romantic direction. Before they can even bask in the latest development, Renee is murdered, a shocking ending to her short but notable time on the series.
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Kate Morgan (Yvonne Strahovski)
Maybe it’s that Strahovski had already memorably played a badass agent on Chuck, but Morgan immediately felt like a perfect fit for 24. While not as reckless or dangerous as Jack (who could be?), Morgan was a more than capable partner-in-crime. Despite failing to save Audrey and only appearing in the shortened Live Another Day, Morgan made such a strong impression that many fans were calling for her to be the new face of the franchise.