As the development of the award winning 24‘s reboot series 24: Legacy forges ahead with a whole new cast of characters and action hero protagonist in the shape of Straight Outta Compton‘s Corey Hawkins, there is one name that will always be synonymous with the hard hitting, counter terrorism drama; Jack Bauer. Kiefer Sutherland last revisited his iconic character in 2014’s 24 event series, Live Another Day, which left Bauer in the narratively inconclusive predicament of being escorted off to Russian prison: a seemingly unjust ending for a character that had suffered and sacrificed through seasons of day-saving (and especially in light of Sutherland’s apparent reluctance to continue on the 24 bandwagon).
Now 24‘s longtime writer and showrunner, Howard Gordon has offered some insight into the factors that led to that uncertain end to Bauer’s story line in the 24 universe. That includes Sutherland’s contradictory desired outcome for his character’s ultimate fate.
24 debuted it’s fast paced, real time format and distinguishable split screen style in 2001 and ran until 2010, releasing an additional TV film 24: Redemption in 2008 and returning for its 12 episode event series Live Another Day in 2014. The reboot 24: Legacy is due to air in 2017 starring Miranda Otto (Homeland), Jimmy Smits (Sons Of Anarchy) and Teddy Sears (The Flash) alongside Hawkins, who will be playing an ex Army ranger drawn into the CTU machine as he becomes embroiled in a terrorist threat against the U.S.
Although Sutherland has expressed his support for the rebooted series and will be serving as an executive producer for the show, it does not seem likely that fans will see Bauer in anything more than a possible cameo role in the future. This is further substantiated by Gordon’s reveal that the Emmy award winning actor apparently had a very final ending in mind for his legendary CTU agent character (as reported by Variety):
“Kiefer [Sutherland] actually wanted Jack Bauer to die, and we had many conversations about it… many of us, including his agent, tried to talk him out of it, but then there was an edict from very high up [within Fox] and Jack Bauer is still alive.”
The showrunner (who is also a co-creator and writer for the CIA drama Homeland) went on to give another glimmer of hope to fans that would love to see Bauer achieve a more satisfying ending to his incredible career by stating “There’s always a chance he could come back” and continued with praise for the character’s lasting TV legacy:
“Jack Bauer has cast a very long and powerful shadow……. Carrie Mathison [Claire Danes’ character in ‘Homeland’] was born out of Jack Bauer. So was Corey’s character. We are fishing in the same pond for stories. Jack Bauer is the atom.”
These comments from Gordon offer some explanation as to why Bauer’s ending storyline within Live Another Day, for many, felt inconclusive – considering there was no definite plan at the time to continue with the series in any certain capacity. Due to the nature of the show and history of dangling carrots of potential happiness in front of its characters before snatching them away, it was unlikely that fans would ever get the satisfaction of seeing Bauer disappear into a sunset of peaceful retirement that he probably deserved. Despite this, Sutherland’s wish to kill off his successful protagonist could have been born from disillusionment and fatigue from the long-serving role, rather than a need for a narrative closure that would have satisfied the majority of fans.
Watching Bauer make the ultimate sacrifice may have seemed cleaner in 2014 than leaving the character to rot indefinitely in a Russian prison, and been more satisfactory for those who have trepidation about the upcoming reboot. But Fox’s ultimate refusal to let Bauer die is somehow pleasingly fitting to the stubborn nature of this character – and leaves the door open for that closure his fans are still hoping for.
24: Legacy will debut with a two-night premiere on Sunday, February 5th and Monday, February 6th 2017 on FOX.