24 Season 1 Alternate Ending
If you’d like to know the reason why this ending was not chosen, watch the version below which features the audio commentary track from Joel Surnow. We’ve also transcribed it in text underneath.
24 Season 1 Alternate Ending (with commentary)
Hi, I’m Joel Surnow, I’m an executive producer and co-creator of 24. We are watching an alternate ending to the last episode of the season. Bob Cochran and I, who created the pilot, always felt from the beginning that the show would end with Jack, his wife Teri, and daughter Kimberly, happy reunited. However, about halfway through the season, we realized that a happy ending might not be as satisfying to our audience who had sort of come to expect the unexpected. However, we felt that we should have an alternate ending in our pocket, just in case we looked at it and decided that it was too harsh of an ending, or in fact just the wrong ending. And there was an assumption that the show would just end happily. So being the subversive writers that we like to be, we decided to end the show with Teri being killed by Nina and Jack discovering that at the end. And that’s what we ended up doing as you know.
Very early on, Jack reunites with his daughter Kimberly. She comes along with him to look for Teri at the end. One of the reasons we did this is just to deepen the anticipation of the reunion. However we really didn’t think it through properly because we ended up having her leave the scene when Jack discovers the dead body on the floor of CTU. So he sends her away, and goes and searches for Teri by himself as we have now in the final cut. When he reunites with Teri, then Kimberly runs back in and the three of them are reunited. It’s not the most elegant construction of a scene. Maybe there was some sort of subconscious effort on our part to sabotage ourselves, since we were so in love with the final ending that we ending up going with, which was Teri dying.
We shot this alternate ending to have a sort of safety net in case we looked at the original ending and decided that it was just wrong. That it was just too much to ask our fans to except that Jack allowed his wife and unborn baby to die. However, after looking at the two together, it became clear that the killing and the death of Teri was in fact the right ending. And in a strange way, it was satisfying. It made the show feel more real. And it gives our audience a sense when they’re going to watch the show next season, of not being able to expect anything they’ve come to expect in a normal television show. If we’re willing to go as far as we did, by doing the ending that we did, when they go sit down to watch an episode they are not sure of any dramatic outcome that they’re going to be watching.