When the long-running real-time TV thriller 24 returns this fall with 24: Legacy, it will be missing one key element that was a constant in the past: the presence of series protagonist Jack Bauer. Don't feel bad for actor Kiefer Sutherland, though, because it turns out he would have preferred if the character he has become known for were killed off entirely. Instead, there were early hints that Bauer could return for a cameo, although those have since been downplayed.
Rather, the focus of 24: Legacy will be on a new protagonist: Eric Carter. Carter is being played by actor Corey Hawkins, and his background is unsurprisingly similar to Bauer's. A former Army Ranger, Carter returns home to Virginia to settle down with his wife and leave the violence of war behind. Naturally, there is a hitch in that plan as he is drawn back into action after he uncovers a plot for a large-scale terror attack on American soil. In doing so, he becomes involved with 24's fictional government anti-terrorism group CTU, and that could mean that he crosses paths with CTU members from past seasons.
TVLine spoke to 24: Legacy executive producer Evan Katz and asked him about one CTU employee in particular: Chloe O'Brian, played by actress and Mr. Show alum Mary Lynn Rajskub. That is exactly the sort of potential spoiler that an executive producer might want to avoid spilling the beans on, but Katz was forthcoming about the possibility of Chloe's return:
"We have plans. Right now, our clear priority is [establishing] these new characters, and have the audience build a relationship with them. But we have some surprises planned."
If Chloe does become involved, what kind of potentially catastrophic conspiracy will she be helping to thwart? Executive producer Manny Coto offered some additional details about the season's plot:
"The premise of the season is based on a real story about the guys who took out Osama bin Laden. It struck us as a fascinating [introduction] for a character who participated in a huge mission to take out a terrorist leader and then had to go back to his normal life. And then what would happen if [someone] started killing off the members of his team one by one? He’s the one who realizes this and goes on a large quest to find out why this is happening.
“It was a way to start fresh [with a] brand new character — a character that is not Jack Bauer. Jack Bauer was a seasoned agent. This character is not. This character is [a] soldier who is not used to this world of espionage."
Chloe was a fan-favorite character on the show and so no doubt many fans will be happy to learn of her possible return. It will only make it all the more painful for those fans, however, if the "surprises planned" by the show's producers do not end up including her in some way. If she does make an appearance, it's still possible that could be alongside former protagonist Jack Bauer. Given the focus on establishing the new characters, however, any such appearance would probably be fairly limited.
24: Legacy premieres on FOX on February 5th, 2017.