24: Legacy has been canceled by FOX after one season. 24, the action-adventure series starring Kiefer Sutherland as counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer, was one of the most significant network TV phenomena of the current millennium, following its debut in late 2001. It helped define the post-9/11 era, contributing to real life debates about anti-terrorism tactics and torture, while also revolutionizing television storytelling with its real-time structure.
24’s original run ended after eight seasons in 2010, but FOX spent several years afterward attempting to resurrect it in various formats. There was much talk of a feature film that never happened, although Sutherland’s Jack Bauer did return for a limited series, 24: Live Another Day, that aired in 2014. 24 was revived again this past season for a 12-episode sequel series, 24: Legacy, with no Bauer; now, the future of the 24 franchise is uncertain once again.
Variety reported Wednesday on the series’ cancelation; however, FOX is continuing to explore “future iterations” of the 24 concept, including some type of real-time anthology series, so it may not be truly dead after all.
The new version of 24, which starred Corey Hawkins as Bauer stand-in Eric Carter, retained the look and feel, as well as the format, pace and musical style, of the original series, with a pair of former 24 writers, Manny Coto and Evan Katz, serving as showrunners. But while Carlos Bernard’s Tony Almeida returned, the new 24 was missing a key element — Jack Bauer.
Therefore, the decision is not much of a surprise. Ratings, starting with the show’s debut following February’s Super Bowl, were soft. But beyond that, the series never really captured the imagination of the culture at large, the way the original series had all those years ago. This spring had some buzzy TV shows, but 24: Legacy never achieved that status, possibly because there was never much appetite for a post-Jack 24.
FOX has made a habit the last few years of rebooting various expired TV series, with The X-Files and Prison Break both getting revivals recently. 24: Legacy is another example of this, and judging by the Variety report, the network is not done with it yet. But perhaps they should be. 24 was a very important series in television history and was great for a long time, but it had clearly run out of steam by the end, even when Kiefer Sutherland was still part of the show. Perhaps the network should take it as a sign that they’re better off pursuing a more original idea.