Kiefer Sutherland: “I don’t believe we ever jumped the shark with 24”

Kiefer Sutherland photo shoot as Jack Bauer
Kiefer Sutherland photo shoot as Jack Bauer

Kiefer Sutherland claims that 24 has never jumped the shark and the series finale ended “really well”.

Which brings us to the most important number of all: 24. The actor’s eight-season run as counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer transformed Sutherland from semi-reliable film-acting Hollywood offspring to one of the biggest TV stars of his time. 24 perfectly captured the insecurity and paranoia of the post-9/11 era, one ticking-time-bomb plot after another, and Sutherland became the face of American resilience across the planet.

Wrapping that series was “a mixture of mourning and ‘thank God,'” Sutherland says now. He’s wearing blue work clothes with a long-sleeve white shirt underneath and still looks as fit as he did back in his CTU days. “I don’t believe we ever jumped the shark with 24. It ended really well and I went, ‘Whew.'”

Source TV Guide


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Sorry is there any season 9 of 24?

I agree with Kiefer, I don’t think they “ever jumped the shark” on the series, although they came a little close to it on Season 7 by having to explain Tony’s non-demise, but that particular narrative ended up working pretty well in the end, so all’s well and all that…

In saying that though, and as much as I love ALL seasons of ’24’, if it was my choice how to do it over again, in my opinion Joel Surnow and Robert Cochrane should not have handed over the reins of the show to Howard Gordon (who still did a remarkable job, don’t get me wrong) for the sixth/seventh/eighth seasons (plus ‘…Redemption’), but rather should have retained hold of the series’ reins, and signed on for both a sixth and final season and the inevitable movie – with work on the movie beginning once the sixth and final season wrapped in summer 2007, shot in summer 2008, and released in summer 2009 – and once both were finished, everyone steps away from ’24’ whilst it was still on top, and left it to the ages, but that’s just my opinion, and I’m not sorry that series went on as long as it did (I love the character arcs for both Jack and Alison Taylor that spanned ‘…Redemption’, and the seventh and eighth seasons), but if you had the chance over again, sometimes you would do things differently…

While I think the series peaked at season 5, I wouldn’t say the show “Jumped the Shark”. I believe that term is reserved for shows that do something ridiculous to keep people watching or keep doing the same old thing making the show dull to watch. That didn’t happen with 24. I was getting a little tired of seeing Jack track down people with WMDs every season but on the other hand it usually lead to a unique story that turned out to be very interesting. By the 8th season the show was starting to run out of steam and I’m very glad everyone involved with the show was aware of it. It allowed the show to bow out on a reasonable high note and tell more succinct stories with the upcoming movie(s).

S6 and S8 were full-blown shark attacks. And Kiefer’s stagnant tragic caricature character whose only existential purpose being a terrorist hunting angry loner was a major reason for that. Such a shame that they trashed so many characters and opportunities just to create one more stale/cliche story for him.

I strongly but respectfully disagree with your assessment of Seasons 6 and 8, Ozgur, whilst both had flaws (as all seasons did) – with Season 6, I thought there was too much implied romantic feelings between some characters, whilst in Season 8, I thought the subplot with Dana Walsh’s redneck former boyfriend dragged a bit, not to mention the fact it was clear the series had run it’s natural course – but to say Jack Bauer was a stagnant character is simply ludicrous, he was both a heroic and tragic figure; heroic in what he did, tragic in the toll it had on him and those around him… and the fact that character is now an iconic one worldwide is proof he was anything but “stagnant”!

I notice you failed to cite any specific examples in your criticism, Ozgur, exactly what part(s) of the seasons you mentioned were “stale/cliche” story developments. And just for the record, I happen to be in the minority that believes Season 6 (flaws notwithstanding) to be an unfairly maligned, hugely underrated, and a very strong season overall, all things considered, whilst I thought Season 8 (minor flaws notwithstanding) was a real return to form, for the most part, compared to (the still excellent but my least favorite) Season 7, with the last eight or nine episodes of Season 8 the best and most intense concurrent story development in the series’ entire run, going out on the highest of high notes, in my humble opining…

Yes, Jack is a stagnant character because after Howard Gordon took over the show from Surnow and Kiefer was endowed with more executive powers, his characters never evolved from his tragic caricuature self. Kill/maim/kidnap everyone close to him, fuel his neverending anger constantly, make him do crazy things as a result, and in turn alienate those in power, emotionally break down and go away at the end of the season only to return back again. Rinse, wash, repeat.

Does the character go in any other directions other than this, does he even evaluate his life decisions, and the their effects on him and people close to him, does he try to change himself? No he doesn’t, he is constant as it gets. He got tortured in China, but did that have any effect on his stance on torture, no it did not. He threw a bravura in the senate hearings and claimed he was not above the law, and ready to take responsibility for his actions. His actions in S8 proved that was just talk because of his complete disregard to the law. If anything, Jack is nothing more than another “Macho Sue” (which is explained by Kit Whitfield in her excellent analysis in )

State/Cliche arcs: Killing everyone close to Jack over and over again to create arcs for him because he cannot create one for himself anymore. He fails in one of the most important aspects of being a great dramatic character: creating storylines for the supporting characters around him. Instead he trashes them. Audrey showed show aspects of development during S5 (less crybaby more in charge), but no she went back to being a damsel-in-distress and vegetable in S6 for the sole reason to break Jack again. The only reason for the terrible action-genre cliche “Bauer family mafia” was again to ram how tragic he was down my throat. Look at poor me, even my family are terrorists!

S8 took the great character development of Renee walker in S7, victimised and marginalized her with stupid amount female violence, turned her from being strong, capable, respected agent to a someone whose agency is stripped down to become a disposable love interest. Taylor went from a principled president to a weak-willed individual who cried at the whim. FFS, she was corrupted by Logan of all people! Really, by Logan, I mean really??!!

And no, I hated the last arc of S8 the most, because they trashed two previosly law-abiding female characters (Renee and Taylor) in order to provide not just a cause but also a justification for Jack’s crazy antics. And stuffing the love interest into the fridge and sending the boyfriend to a revenge bloodbath is as original and creative to a regular trip to a supermarket. And I am not fooled by any of constant narrative cheats and pseudo moral ambiguities just to make Jack’s actions acceptable to the audience. (As usual by making Russians responsible, Jack had its cake and ate it at the same time) If anything, that arc proved that the character exhibited zero growth in his entire run of the show. “Once a loser, always a loser”. Oh man, Jack is again a very broken individual in such a dark place and he is a total badass. Gee, thanks HoGo and Kiefer, I had no idea. :rolleyes:

@ Ozgur Ulker

Then y again did u watch the series again?^^
“the character exhibited zero growth in his entire run of the show”
Oh boy, no comment!
Poor judgement & characterization!

@Mr Bowwa.
Typical Bauer characterization (Bauer tragic loop).
– I want my life back! Give my life back!
– Uhhm, no, we won’t. In fact, let’s kill kill/kidnap/maim this one too.
– Noooooooooooooooo!
Jack cries a little bit, then returns.
Oh, I am very angry. Who is responsible for this. They are going to pay!.
Insert liberal caricature character who foolishly tries to downplay Jack.
– No, Jack you cannot do this. It is against the rules/regulations, blah blah, blah.
– I am Jack Bauer. There is no other way. These people don’t follow your rules. When will you understand that blah, blah, blah!

Jack goes rogue and kills again mostly caricature terrorists. He stops the bomb at the last second but he pisses someone in the process and gets broken and we are presented with a “Poor me Jack Bauer scene.”
– I had to do this, There was no other way. I do not regret anything I did, blah blah blah.
Disappears at the end of the season only to return the next.

Rinse, wash, repeat for following seasons.

Sorry, but some people associate the term “growth” with something more substantial than the same tragic [email protected] happening to the character. Where did this character move from Teri’s death in S1 to S8. Nowhere. Apparently “Once a loser, always a loser” means growth of character to you. Sorry, it isn’t. It is not even close.

And how did u wish he turned out at the end? Exchanging the diapers of little Terri and have a happy, peaceful life?
If u think like that, then u didn’t quite get what the series was about…

No, I did not think like that. You are aware that the life has much more variations than a perfectly happy family life and a completely sucky one like Jack’s, are you?

Yeah, I know what 24 is about. It is tragic popcorn action franchise where a man’s never-ending tragedy is utilized to keep him angry/badass enough for the viewers to eat and enjoy their popcorn while he is doing crazy stuff.

Okay, I see your (rather extensive) point, Ozgur, but I still respectfully disagree, ’24’ is and always was about entertaining the audience, it was a drama, a television series, popcorn entertainment, not a socio-political dissertation. I could go through your points individually, but I respect you have a different viewpoint than myself, and we should just agree to disagree, but if I may, I want to comment on just two points you made;

Firstly, Jack clearly had character development throughout the series’ run, and did express doubts about torture in Seasons 6 and 7, but also stated explicitly that whilst he recognises the need for law, he personally cannot stand back and watch the innocent be targeted and he’ll do “whatever it takes, and I MEAN whatever it takes” to save those people. This is, at once, both the heroism and tragedy of Jack Bauer, in that few can do what he does, and thank God we have people like him, but the emotional, personal, physical, familial, and spiritual toll it exacts is truly terrible, and Jack in unsuccessfully trying to leave behind that world several times and have a normal life only proves even more that he can never have a normal life, his gift is also his curse…

Lastly, the whole Renee Walker saga in Season 8 was about two wounded people – Jack and Renee – who are very alike, finding solace in each other and trying to get out alive and build a life together, the fact she was killed was a necessary part of that narrative, in that it once again underscored the fact you can never leave that world completely and those around you will always suffer because of it. The character arc of President Taylor in the last quarter of Season 8 was nothing short of genius, in my opinion, it showed how a good person can go rogue, not because they chose to out of revenge or other motives (like Tony Almeida in Season 7), but because they are so blinded by a cause or pursuit of an achievement that they’re better judgement is warped and distorted in that pursuit, it happens in real life you know, and I thought all involved on ’24’ should be proud of that story thread, it was powerful and dramatic and highly entertaining, and in the end, isn’t THAT what ’24’ is and was supposed to be about…?

If you want complexity and characteristic shades of grey, I suggest you watch Howard Gordon’s new show, ‘Homeland’, which is very different to ’24’ in tone and content, whilst exploring similar subject matter. If ’24’ represented the mood in the immediacy after 9/11 – a more emphatic go-get-’em attitude – then ‘Homeland’ is a more altogether more cynical and war-weary attitude, a nation tired and bruised by the War on Terror but nonetheless clearly still aware of it’s necessity to keep the homeland safe from those who would attack it, by enemies both foreign and (possibly) domestic…

Sorry, but I am not feeling that way at all. It was not a character development ongoing throughout the series, it was a character portrayal introduced early and repeated ad nauesuem with barely any progression at all. Forget about S8, Jack was already the same crazy tragic law-breaker way back after Teri’s death (You could have easily killed Kim Bauer and send Jack to a revenge bloodbath right there in S2) Whatever growth/redemption he (slightly) performed afterwards was immediately sent into the trashcan over and over again just to tell how tragic he was to the audience. By S6, tragic Bauer was nothing but a caricature. “Give me my life back, Noooo! he/she is dead! It is payback time! There is no other way!” So forced, emotionally manipulative and in some cases downright annoying because he was robbing some other aspects of the show that I actually wanted develop.

And I am really annoyed with this neverending justification of “whatever it takes” approach of Jack Bauer and the hero worship of the fans. Homeland in just one season did a much superiour job with Carrie Mathison adhering to a similar “whatever it takes” approach but that method completely backfiring and just blowing on her face instead. On the other hand, Jack always got away with all of his crazy antics from the POV of the audience. Apparently him and the writers think that noone but him should ever get his way in this show. He is almost always proved right in every terrorist situtation where he really should not be. Anyone who questions his methods are just liberal caricatures who would not know what a “ticking-bomb” scenario is even if it hit their faces. Jack is only a hero because the writers just want an arrogant obnoxious jerk (who tries to solve every problem by shouting, using excessive force, and complete disregard to law and authority) to be an hero by gifting the honour of stopping the bomb to him over and over.

You don’t seem to get my criticism with Renee Walker at all. She was reduced from a fully-fledged character in S7 to a merely plot device. She was subjected to suicidal depression, abuse, rape, scapegoating; she was stripped off from her agency in S7 and she was finally got stuffed into the fridge wrapped around in a bedsheet. And not for her own story, redemption, or regrowth for her character or anything like that, it was just a cheap ploy for Renee to fall into Jack’s arms, then to his bed, then to fall into the grave so that Jack could go on an extremely cliche revenge story which was better suited to cheap comic books than primetime TV. And I find it downward patronising that I, as a Renee Walker fan was expected to prefer a “revenge for Renee Walker plot” over an “alive Renee Walker” one.

I did not find the transformation of Taylor slighly bit believable. Forget about S7, in the first half of S8, she was never ever written as someone desperate for that peace treaty. In one instance where Hassan was suppressing the opposition in his country, she actually warned him about pulling out of the peace treaty. In another instance, she threatened to bomb his country when he did not want to cooperate with the IRK terrorist threat. And the show suddenly wanted to me believe that just because she lost her family to her job, she was supposed to lose her marbles as well. Besides, it was just odious to watch a whimpering spineless, weak willed, easily manipulated, emotionally unstable fool who was groveling to Logan of all people.

I already watched Homeland. I thought the first six episodes were very very strong but it quickly went downhill mainly due to the some 24ification and extreme trashing of Carrie Mathison’s character. Very similar to how 24 treated its female characters, really.

Each to his own it is then, bet you still had fun watching them all though Ozgur dude…

“the fact she was killed was a necessary part of that narrative”

Respectfully disagree.
The whole situation with Hassan’s demise is enough to get Jack and Renee back into the game. The whole thing was just lazy writing. Nothing more and nothing less.

I think the following expresses many fans’ frustration with the whole woman in the refrigerator route 24 took :

“Of course, because shows and movies so often set things up in this way – “the woman has to die so that the man can have a story” – manpain becomes easy to defend, in fannish circles, via a sort of fatalistic Watsonian attitude. “Why did they fridge that lady,” folks will say, and other folks will come in to helpfully explain to you that hey, if they hadn’t killed the lady, how would the plot have possibly gone on? They needed that lady to die in order for the dude to have an emotional arc! There is no other possible writing decision that can create plot! Also often writers don’t seem to exist, or producers, or directors – the show will seem to just spring organically from the ground, rather than being made by people who made choices. Check out, for example, this amazing page on the internet: Renee Walker’s Death Scene. This is a page about a character’s ridiculous and sudden death on 24, and it’s on a website that’s devoted to the actress who plays her, so everyone there is pretty sad or pissed off about her death – they loved that character and that actress! But I think the whole comments section really shows how manpain works, and how it gets propped up and defended, all that talk about what “has to happen,” about “what’s necessary to trigger the plot,” about how this isn’t a “shock value” death, but an “important” one – and when they say “important,” they mean “important to Jack Bauer, the dude with the manpain.”

What really amazes me, speaking of shock value deaths, is the degree to which these manpain-inducing moments, especially the ones where ladies die, are defended as “edgy” storytelling in some way, as “shocking” – when in fact they’re anything but. They’re blase, boring, predictable…”