Not long after FOX announced 24: Legacy, the network's sequel series to the long-running Kiefer Sutherland-led 24, questions as to whether or not that series' protagonist, Jack Bauer, would ever cross paths with the new series lead, Eric Carter (Corey Hawkins), began to surface. The question was inevitable, but it made sense; audiences had developed an attachment to Bauer over the course of his nine seasons (if you count Live Another Day) as the terrorist-thumping CTU agent who routinely had the worst days anyone could ever imagine. As such, the idea of bridging the gap between the established Bauer and his new, untested counterpart sounded like a it could work as a decent marketing move, one that might allow the stars and producers a chance to officially pass the torch before repeatedly ruining Eric Carter's day.
As is so often the case, a good idea was passed around as perhaps something more and as a result, the notion of Sutherland stopping by Legacy in the near future – or even the first season – seemed like it was in the works. This was followed by news that Sutherland had wanted his famous character to take the ol' dirt nap, which helped fuel speculation that any appearance he might make on Legacy could signal the official end to Sutherland's time as Bauer. Essentially, it was a scenario that sounded like ratings gold.
Recently, however, 24, Homeland, and Tyrant producer Howard Gordon spoke about his plans for 24: Legacy, and how the talk of Sutherland making an appearance was just a bit of wishful thinking on his behalf. Gordon also discussed that while the door is open for Sutherland to cameo, right now, he's more focused on ensuring his new star Hawkins and the rest of the Legacy cast have the support they need in order to be a successful show on their own and to take the 24 brand into the future.
Speaking to Deadline, Gordon said:
"Let me be clear, there’s no plans at the moment; I think it’s just sort of a possibility downstream reflecting just my own personal fantasy (laughs). We haven’t said you’re definitely coming back; it’s just something that I was just musing about and that I think isn’t impossible but there are no plans about it. We have to talk as friends and colleagues about him coming back but he’s doing Designated Survivor, which will keep Kiefer busy.
There’s no specific timing. I think my guess if it were to ever happen it’d be at some point me point downstream when everybody agrees sort of creatively. Unfortunately, it sort of became what people are talking about but the show Legacy is really about something else entirely. It’s about launching a new story off this franchise and introducing Corey Hawkins and Jimmy Smits and Miranda Otto and our narrative different from the old 24. And, because of that, my guess is that other characters from the 24 universe will probably show up before Kiefer does."
As with so many things, it appears that a potential appearance by Bauer might come down to logistics. Gordon mentioned Sutherland's new ABC series Designated Survivor and that would surely make time a factor. Meanwhile, Howard's comment about seeing "other characters" before Kiefer might lead one to think Carter will be yelling "dammit Chloe!" at some point, but he couldn't say exactly. More interesting, though, is Howard's desire to see Legacy play up its own impressive cast and allow them to help sell the series rather than rely on a cameo appearance to set things off.
While Hawkins is a bit of a newcomer – having made a big splash recently in Straight Outta Compton and a much smaller splash (a ripple, really) with his role as Heath on The Walking Dead – he will have a role in next year's Kong: Skull Island, right around the same time Legacy is smashing into audiences' living rooms. While that will likely work in the series' favor, Legacy also has two familiar faces from film and TV in the form of Miranda Otto and Jimmy Smits to help sell the viewers on giving another 24 series a go.
Audiences are still several months away from seeing this Jack Bauer-less version of the show he made famous, but if the trailer FOX already released is any indication, the series is one that works by delivering a compelling premise and by filling it with interesting characters – whether they're named Jack or not. The people behind Legacy already know how to deliver a show people will watch, so the hard part is already done. In that sense, if Sutherland does find the time to make an appearance, it won't be to do any of the heavy lifting in terms of getting the audience on board and that might make his arrival something to celebrate.
24: Legacy is expected to air in the spring of 2017 on FOX.