24 is an American action television series created by Joel Surnow and Robert Cochran and presented in real time, with each season depicting a 24-hour period in the life of Jack Bauer, who works with the United States government as it fights fictitious terrorist threats to the United States.
Broadcast by Fox in the United States and syndicated worldwide, the show aired from 6 November, 2001 to 24 May, 2010. There are 124 episodes (and a TV movie) in eight seasons.
24 originally premiered in South Africa on M-Net on Thursday 31 January 2002, at 19h00. It was moved to DStv's M-Net Action channel for the 7th season, as well as the preceding television movie 24: Redemption. The first season also aired on free-to-air channel e.tv.
The series premiered on TopTV's Fox Entertainment channel before the channel went live in South Africa (on 1 May, 2010). The first three seasons had already aired by the time the channel activated, so the series began in South Africa with Season 4, which premiered on Friday 9 July 2010, at 21h00. Seasons 1-3 were later broadcast in a late-night slot, airing daily, from 12 September, 2010.
When Fox Entertainment became FOX in 2013 the final season aired on the new channel, which was broadcast simultaneously on TopTV and DStv. See "Seasons" below for seasonal broadcast dates and times by channel.
24 happens in real-time with each season following a 24-hour period in the life of federal agent Jack Bauer (who works for the fictional Counter Terrorist Unit) as he tries to prevent terrorist attacks. The show also covers the actions of others associated with the attacks.
24 employs fast-paced and complex plots. Though each day's events typically revolve around thwarting an impending terrorist attack, the series maintains an episodic format by requiring its characters to investigate leads on said terrorists, with each lead taking roughly an hour and introducing the next episode's lead in its closing minutes.
The exact objective of the day may also change over the course of the season, as the terrorists adapt their plans, execute contingencies, try to cover up connections or are discovered to have been mere pawns in a larger, more insidious scheme.
A recurring theme of 24 has characters faced with the decision of whether to let something tragic happen for the sake of a greater good.
In Season 2, a Dept. of Defence staffer has the chance to warn CTU of an imminent attack on their building, but argues doing so would put the culprits on alert and thus cause a valuable trail to go cold.
A similar situation occurs in Season 5, when terrorists plan to release a canister of nerve gas inside a busy shopping mall.
In Season 3, the President and CTU agents must choose between the life of a high-ranking CTU official and the imminent threat of further attacks, while Season 4 is notable for a scene in which two men—one of whom possesses crucial information about a nuclear missile strike, and the other is the husband of a major character—lie dying in an emergency room, creating the ethical dilemma of whom to save.
In addition, the sitting President often has to deal with a similar quandary. For example, in Season 6, President Wayne Palmer asks Jack Bauer to sacrifice himself in exchange for the location of a known terrorist.
The first season began and ended at midnight, and during its ninth episode (8:00 - 9:00 AM) Jack mentioned that he had already been awake for 24 hours.
Later seasons have tended to use a different time window, starting in the morning, with the exception of Season 3, which began and ended at 1PM to allow filming to begin in the summer when there are more daylight hours available.
This also makes for a more realistic period of time for the characters in the show to be continuously awake, in addition to plot elements such as 24-hour crises and worst-case scenarios.
24 frequently uses split-screen action to follow multiple plots, phone conversations, and shots leading into and out of commercial breaks, and emotional conversations, allowing the depiction of both participants' faces without breaking tension by cutting back and forth between camera angles.
Season 1 begins and ends at 12:00 AM, and occurs on the day of the California presidential primary. Jack Bauer must protect Senator David Palmer from an assassination plot, and rescue his own family from those responsible for the plot, who seek retribution for Jack's and David Palmer's involvement with a covert U.S. mission in the Balkans.
Set 18 months after season 1, season 2 begins and ends at 8:00 AM. Jack must stop a nuclear bomb from detonating in Los Angeles, then assist President David Palmer in proving who is responsible for the threat using only the weapons he has.
Set 3 years after season 2, season 3 begins and ends at 1:00 PM. While struggling with a heroin addiction, Jack must re-infiltrate a Mexican drug cartel in order to acquire a deadly virus being marketed underground.
Set 18 months after season 3, season 4 begins and ends at 7:00 AM. Jack must save the lives of Secretary Heller (his new boss) and Heller's daughter Audrey Raines (with whom Jack is romantically involved) when they are kidnapped by terrorists. The same terrorists then launch further attacks against America, and Jack is forced to use unorthodox methods to stop them, methods which will have long-term consequences for both Jack and the U.S.
Set 18 months after season 4, season 5 begins and ends at 7:00 AM. Former President David Palmer is killed by a shot to the neck by a sniper. Jack is believed to be dead by everyone except a few of his closest friends. Terrorists with connections to the U.S. government attempt to steal a nerve gas in order to protect U.S. oil interests in Asia, and Jack must resurface to stop them as well as dismantle the government conspiracy.
Set 20 months after season 5, season 6 begins and ends at 6:00 AM. Jack is released after being detained in a Chinese prison for twenty months. Terrorists plot to set off suitcase nuclear devices in the United States and Jack must stop them; later, Jack has to prevent sensitive circuitry from falling into the hands of the Chinese to prevent war between the U.S. and Russia.
Redemption is a television movie, aired on November 23, 2008, bridging the gap between the sixth and seventh seasons of 24. Set partially in Southern Africa, Jack finds himself caught up in a military coup while trying to find somewhere he can rest. Meanwhile, in the United States, it is Inauguration Day, where Allison Taylor is being sworn in to office.
Season 7 begins and ends at 8:00 AM. A major national security incident occurs when the firewall responsible for protecting America's government computer infrastructure is breached by the same people responsible for a conflict in Sangala. The season features the show's first female president, Allison Taylor, and this is the first season to take place outside Los Angeles. It also includes members from the previous seasons.
Season 8 begins and ends at 4:00 PM in New York City. Jack is about to leave for Los Angeles with his daughter, Kim, her husband and her daughter Teri when he is brought in by CTU to uncover a Russian plot to assassinate Islamic leader Omar Hassan during peace negotiations with U.S. President Taylor. This leads to Islamic extremists creating a dirty bomb, which they threaten to detonate unless Hassan is handed over.
Note: Seasons 6 and 7 were separated by the TV movie 24: Redemption, which did not air on Fox Entertainment.
Season 1 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 31 Jan 2002 | Finale: 11 Jul 2002 | Thursdays, 19h00
Channel: e.tv | Premiere: 15 Feb 2005 | Finale: 26 Jul 2005 | Tuesdays, 21h00
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 12 Sep 2010 | Finale: 5 Oct 2010 | Daily, 23h15
Season 2 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 1 Jul 2003 | Finale: 9 Dec 2003 | Tuesdays, 21h30
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 6 Oct 2010 | Finale: 29 Oct 2010 | Daily, 23h15
Season 3 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 13 Apr 2004 | Finale: 21 Sep 2004 | Tuesdays, 21h30
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 30 Oct 2010 | Finale: 22 Nov 2010 | Daily, 23h15
Season 4 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 3 May 2005 | Finale: 11 Oct 2005 | Tuesdays, 21h30
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 9 Jul 2010 | Finale: 17 Dec 2010 | Fridays, 21h00
Season 5 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 9 May 2006 | Finale: 17 Oct 2006 | Tuesdays, 21h30
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 4 Jul 2011 | Finale: 12 Dec 2011 | Mondays, 21h00
Season 6 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net | Premiere: 15 May 2007 | Finale: 23 Oct 2007 | Tuesdays, 21h30
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 3 Jul 2012 | Finale: 11 Dec 2012 | Tuesdays, 21h00
Channel: M-Net Action | Premiere: 3 Jun 2009 | Wednesday, 19h00
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Aired: Did not air
Season 7 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net Action | Premiere: 10 Jun 2009 | Finale: 18 Nov 2009 | Wednesdays, 19h00
Channel: Fox Entertainment | Premiere: 1 Jan 2013 | Finale: 4 Jun 2013 | Tuesdays, 21h00
Season 8 (24 episodes)
Channel: M-Net Action | Premiere: 6 Oct 2010 | Finale: 16 Mar 2011 | Wednesdays, 19h00
Channel: FOX | Premiere: 2 Jul 2013 | Finale: 3 Dec 2013 | Tuesdays, 21h00