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10 Of The Best Moments From 24

Before next week's debut of 24: Live Another Day, Brad Wilson takes a look back at some of the finest moments from Jack Bauer's first 8 days on the clock.

“Damn it, Chloe” why did we have to wait so long for the triumphant return of America’s most badass Counter Terrorist Unit agent?

“24: Live Another Day” begins May 5th, nearly four years after its eight-season run on Fox ended in 2010. In this revived mini-series, we’ll be treated to only 12 hours, instead of the titular 24. But hey, every hour spent with Jack Bauer is time well spent.

“24” still maintains its reputation as a wild ride full of left turns, right turns and some moments that just spun you around completely. The writers of the series killed beloved characters way before “The Walking Dead” and “Game of Thrones.” (Yes, I know GoT was published in the mid-90s and the first Walking Dead novel came out in 2003, but they weren’t part of pop culture like they are now, so just go with it). They even killed off their main character - twice! Every season had its emotional highs and lows and most of the time fans would scream at the TV for everyone to just listen to Jack and do what he says! There would be fewer deaths.

All of that being said, it would be damn near impossible to list every major mark in the show’s lengthy history. But, still, there are some standout moments that even casual fans of the show have filed away in their memory. It should go without saying the following top 10 list contains MAJOR SPOILERS for the original “24” series. If you haven’t seen the show yet, you probably won’t. But I’ll be damned if I don’t tell a movie/TV/comic fan when a spoiler is coming.

Now, there are several top 10 and top 24 moments of “24,” all different and all correct in their own right. The following list is just my own humble opinion as a faithful watcher of the real time TV show. I may have cheated a little by creating some subsets in the list and included two moments in one, but it works, I think.

Honorable Mention: Pretty much every time Jack says “Damn it!” I wasn’t of age at the time, but that’s one hell of a drinking game.

10: “I’m gonna need a hacksaw.” If you needed just one moment to see the cojones Jack Bauer has, this would be a top contender. Right in front of Day 2 CTU director George Mason, Jack drops a witness with a single, point blank shot. Here’s some background: there’s a threat of a nuclear bomb going off in Los Angeles. One of the main suspects in connection is Joseph Wald. Well, there’s one witness that’s key in a trial against him. So, Jack needs to do something drastic to gain his trust. That doesn’t bode well for the witness, Marshall Goren. CTU brings him in for “questioning”, and Jack puts a bullet in him (but first asks Michelle to leave the room. Such a gentleman). Then, after the hacksaw line, Jack delivers Goren’s head to Wald. COLD. BLOODED. But don’t feel too badly for ol’ Marshall. He was convicted of child porn, kidnapping and murder. So, it was probably for the best.

9: Like father, like daughter: The writers of the show always seem to find new ways to torture Jack. Be it emotionally or physically, the guy just cannot catch a break. In Day 2, we find Kim Bauer in the home of Gary Matheson, the murderous father of the child for whom she’s been caring. As Matheson tries to find Kim hiding in the attic, she knocks him out with a nice shot to the head. Hysterical, she calls daddy for help. Matheson starts to regain consciousness and Jack tells Kim to shoot him. Think about that for a moment. A very emotionally unhinged daughter (in the moment) being told by her hardened, terrorist hunting father to shoot a man. She does. From the looks of it, it took a lot out of her. But it doesn’t end there. Jack makes her shoot him *again. The entire ordeal is emotionally draining and a very powerful, yet largely overlooked, moment in the series.

8: The death of Paul Raines: Speaking of emotional torture, let’s talk about the death of Audrey Raines’ husband. It wasn’t that shocking and his character was not that memorable. This moment makes the list because of the circumstances surrounding it and the rift it created between Jack and Audrey. Earlier in Day 4, Jack tortured Paul thinking he might be involved in a terrorist plot. After being cleared of any involvement, Paul accompanies Jack on a mission. A firefight ensues and Paul takes a bullet for Jack during the shootout, causing him to need surgery. During the operation, Jack rushes in with suspect Lee Jong from the Chinese consulate. At gunpoint, Jack forces the surgeons to operate on Jong instead - leaving Paul Raines to die. Audrey eventually forgives Jack, but their romantic relationship ended with Paul’s death.

7: Tony is alive! And he’s bad?: Trying to avenge the death of Michelle in Day 5, Tony Almeida gets killed. Or so we think. On Day 7, Almeida shows up alive and apparently working with a terrorist organization… WHAT?!?! All the while giving President Allison Taylor a very big headache. The show later reveals he’s working with Chloe and former CTU Director Bill Buchanan. The rest of the season is interesting as Jack and Tony play out their love-hate relationship, which ultimately ends with Tony cursing at Jack as he’s taken into FBI custody.

6: The Chinese take Jack: Day 5 was a very long day. But let’s go back to Day 4 for a moment. If you recall, Jack took the blame for the death of a Chinese consulate during a secret raid. Well, fast-forward to the final seconds of Day 5 and we see a very beaten Bauer in the hands of the Chinese. He’s taken before Cheng Zhi, then to a Chinese prison, where he is tortured for nearly two years. It’s revealed later he never said a word! We also find out Audrey went looking for Jack, only to be captured and tortured as well. This is HUGE, as it’s been revealed Audrey’s torture will be a subplot of the upcoming new season.

5. Edgar Stiles didn’t make it out: Edgar Stiles was a lovable dork that was always one, and sometimes two, steps behind super brain Chloe O’Brien. On Day 5 CTU comes under attack. As Sentox nerve gas disperses through the building, Chloe seals off the ventilation to the situation room. She and other CTU agents, including Jack, hide there until the gas is gone. But once the doors are closed, Chloe realizes her oaf of a sidekick is nowhere to be found. What follows is maybe one of the most heartbreaking moments on the show. We see Edgar running back, but it’s too late, the nerve gas kills him as he utters his last world “Chloe.” A silent clock at the end of the show honors his death. Originally I had this as a subset of number three on this list (The silent clock), but the more I thought about it, the more I wanted to make this its own moment. Much like number four on this list, re-watching this moment was very powerful for me. Edgar was such a great character and very popular with fans. The only reason he didn’t make it into the room in the first place is because he was checking on another CTU person, to make sure she was OK. A terribly sad moment.

4: Valencia goes nuclear: As if having to shoot your friend and partner isn’t enough to make it a bad day, why not tack on a nuclear device exploding in California… IN THE SAME EPISODE. During the fourth hour of Day 6, CTU fails to stop a terrorist attack in Valencia. The result is a mushroom cloud that takes out millions of people. CTU, President Wayne Palmer and his staff all witness the moments leading up to the detonation by way of the strike team’s POV camera. It is certainly one of the most trying hours of the Wayne Palmer presidency. (Personal side note: I re-watched this moment while writing this article. Wow. What a powerful element in the series. The emotional response I got from watching it again is why this moment is so high on the list).

3: The silent clock (and the moments that warranted it) Boop...beep...boop...beep. That noise is probably one of the most recognized sounds in television. We hear it in the show from start to finish, but sometimes, that familiar show-ending cadence is silent. The silent clock shows up several times, but there are few that stand out.

  • Nina kills Teri Bauer: This was the first silent clock. It came at 11:59 p.m. at the end Day 1 when we see Jack holding his wife, Teri, after she and their unborn child were shot and killed. (We’ll discuss this more later in the countdown).

  • George Mason’s sacrifice: Jack is flying a plane carrying an atomic bomb into the desert on Day 2. Obviously, this would save millions of lives, but also take our hero with it. But CTU Director George Mason, after being infected with plutonium earlier in the day, snuck on the plane. Having only hours to live, Mason tells Jack to parachute out so he can complete the mission. A silent clock honors him.

  • Jack Executes Ryan Chappelle: Ryan Chappelle’s “by the book” attitude frustrated fans and just made Jack’s life very difficult. But no one was happy when Day 3 villain Stephen Saunders puts President Palmer in a no win situation when he threatens to release a deadly virus. The death of Chappelle is his price to not release it and Jack is tasked with the deed. Chappelle’s final moments are very powerful. Jack gives him the opportunity to call someone, but turns out; Chappelle isn’t close with any family and has no loved ones. He does try to go out with some “dignity” and pull the trigger himself, but he just can’t do it. As Jack puts the muzzle to the back of Chappelle’s head he says, "I'm sorry we let you down, Ryan. God forgive me." Silent clock.

2: President Palmer assassinated: President David Palmer may be one of the most beloved presidents in TV and film. He was a good man, a good leader and, probably most important of all, he trusted Jack Bauer! Palmer was almost equal in popularity to Bauer, as the events of Day 1 really linked them throughout the next several seasons. The start of Day 5 we find former President Palmer at his brother’s penthouse apartment writing his memoirs. Wayne Palmer senses something is wrong, but David waves it off. Seconds later, David is hit in the throat by a sniper’s bullet. WE’RE THREE MINUTES INTO THE DAY AND THEY KILLED PALMER!??!!? Ugh. Anyway, his death set the course of that day where all hell broke loose (as it always does). Later we find out former President Palmer had information about current President Charles Logan that tied him to selling nerve gas to terrorists. I still remember the shock I had when the plot reveals Logan had a hand in the assassination. That same day a car bomb takes out Michelle Dessler, which sends Tony Almeida down a very bad path (see number seven).

1: Nina kills Teri Bauer: The end of Day 1 really set the tone for the kind of ride we were about to take. Nina Myers, Jack’s former lover, is revealed as a CTU mole. Jack’s wife Teri stumbles onto this and is bound and gagged by Nina. Nina tries to make her escape, but of course is thwarted by Jack. A very angry and hurt Bauer whispers, “I trusted you” to Nina. To which she replies, “I was just doing my job.” Well, before her capture, part of her job was to make sure no one could tie her to Germany (where the people she worked for would hide her). Teri had walked in on Nina speaking German earlier in the episode - so she had to go. In the closing minutes of Day 1 the trajectory of the next eight seasons was set. Jack is reunited with Kim, his daughter, but doesn’t see his wife anywhere. He looks for her, but ultimately finds her body. The closing seconds show Jack cradling his wife’s body and weeping out the words “I’m so sorry… I’m so sorry,” ending with a silent clock. From that moment on, Jack Bauer is a changed man. We see the scar of Teri’s death on Jack throughout the series as many of his decisions (especially in Day 2) are tied to his wife’s death.

There are so many more moments that could easily replace this list, but I challenge anyone to come up with a top 10 “24” list that everyone agrees upon. However, I think we can all agree that seeing Jack back in action will be a treat! I’ll have a review up shortly after the mini-series debut.

Brad Wilson lives in Southwest Florida where he writes every day at his job as a television news producer at WINK News. He doesn’t have a blog up yet, but it’s coming. In the meantime you can follow him on Twitter @bradwilson86.

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