Last week, just as the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks was approaching, Deadline reported that Fox is engaging in “active discussions” to bring back the action series 24.
“There’s still a possibility, there’s still some discussions with the producers on a take that we have yet to hear,” Fox Entertainment President Michael Thorn said. “There [are] some active creative discussions that are happening.”
This 24 reboot is not be confused with 24: Live Another Day, a limited series that aired on Fox in 2014, four years after the end of the original series. It’s also not to be confused with 24: Legacy, which ran for a single season in 2017, with Kiefer Sutherland’s Jack Bauer character not involved and Corey Hawkins taking the lead.
Beyond that, there has been talk about a prequel series about a young Jack Bauer, a report in early 2020 that Fox had been trying to revive the show “for years,” and had come up with various premises. One of them involved “female prosecutor who uncovers a legal conspiracy and has to work against the clock to save a death row inmate facing imminent execution whom she had helped prosecute but may be innocent.”
I have a better idea. I think it’s time to just let 24 be over.
It was apropos that the 24 news broke around the 9/11 anniversary because the show was so associated with the error of the attacks, a few years afterward, and the time when concern about terrorism was at the forefront of American culture.
24 debuted in November of 2001, just weeks after the attacks. The premise of the series was always that the villains were terrorists whom the government (in the persona of Counter Terrorist Unit agent Jack Bauer) was heroically trying to stop them.
In the series, there were constant nuclear plots, plane hijackings, presidential assassination plots, government infiltrators, and other nightmare scenarios associated with the post-9/11 era ― nearly all of which never came to pass.
It was apropos that the 24 news broke around the 9/11 anniversary because the show was so associated with the error of the attacks
Yes, the show could be hugely entertaining and tense, and its real-time concept was something truly unique in TV history, even if the writers couldn’t always keep their plot points straight. Sutherland’s performance was one of the best on TV in that era.
But of course, the show had a dark side. It frequently featured torture and not only that, but it put audiences in a position to root for torture. The show was also frequently accused of Islamophobia, although to be fair, spread the villainy around to many other nationalities (different seasons had Russian separatists and Russian ultra-nationalists as the baddies, while the Islamic terrorists on at least one occasion proved mere frontmen for evil domestic oil interests).
Reasons to Leave It in the Past
Beyond that, there are two big reasons why 24 is best left in the past. One is that the show dropped in quality in a serious way in its later years, and was clearly out of good ideas by the end. That’s not the sort of show that lends itself well to a reboot, especially considering that it’s been rebooted twice already.
But the second is that 24 was a show of a very specific moment ― namely, the post-9/11, Bush-Cheney era ― and that moment is now past. September 11 was 20 years ago, we’re already on the third president since Bush, and the national mood isn’t where it was in 2005.
And sure, they could go with that prosecutor-trying-to-save-an-inmate idea, which could even be good. But it wouldn’t be 24, and the 24 audiences wouldn’t touch that.
No, this isn’t a cancel culture thing. How can one cancel a show that went off the air in 2010? You can watch the whole nine seasons on Hulu, and I don’t want to take that away from anyone. 24‘s place in TV history is secure, there just doesn’t need to be any more of it.