#1 – Kiefer Sutherland
Launching just a few months after 9/11, the first season of FOX’s 24 gave America just what it needed. Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer was a man who was never given a chance to breathe. He knew that mass tragedy could strike at any moment and that time was always of the essence. As per the construct of the show, Jack always came in right at the very end of a terrorist plot, thwarting it at the last minute, using any means necessary. His job was to protect us and we were more than willing to turn a blind eye to most of his methodology.
Relentless and ruthless, Bauer raced against ticking clock and battled near-impossible geography to thwart nuclear and/or chemical armageddon. And Sutherland, and established film actor in his own right, experienced a career swell like never before.
Ripping throats out with his damn teeth, Bauer amassed a creative body count unlike any hero who came before him. One bad day after another led Bauer down a road of dark misery and violent extremism, as there was never enough time within each set of twenty four hours to pause for diplomacy. Whether you condone Bauer’s full measures or, looking back, realize that he himself became a monster, you have to agree that the was the right hero for the right era. And most definitely the biggest badass this side of atomic annihilation.