It’s going to be a long six months without 24 kicking around on Tuesday nights. Sure, we’ll pass the time with Big Brother and Amazing Race, but those reality shows lack the one element that has become a signature mark of 24: grizzly character demises. Sometimes they come as a surprise, and sometimes we have episodes leading up to the inevitable death.
So in the spirit of killing time in the offseason, we rank the top ten most memorable deaths on 24. These are the slayings that either sent shockwaves through the audience or signified an important moment in the series. Not everyone will agree with the choices, and readers are encouraged to comment with their own picks. Without further ado, here is the top ten list:
10. Jack Bauer
Okay, this is a little bit of a stretch, but so was this plot twist. Jack Bauer, after an hour of electric torture, finally died – or so the writers would have us believe. As the clock conveniently ticked past the 59 minute mark of the episode, Jack Bauer was pronounced dead, but we’re not idiots. Sure enough, Jack was back the next week after a miraculous resurrection. Some people felt this incident was a Jump-The-Shark moment, and while everyone knew Jack would be alive and kicking in no time, for one week, 24 fans everywhere were buzzing about the temporary flat-lining of our resilient hero.
9. Russian Roulette Victim
We don’t know his name, and we sort of don’t even remember his face. But this hapless prison guard in season three was the unlucky sap who had to play Russian Roulette with Jack and Ramon Salazar during an unfortunate prison rebellion. The scene was one of 24′s most intense, and when the poor guy shot himself in the head, we were reminded that despite tangental Kim or Palmer plots, the show is one of the grittiest series on network television.
First we thought he was a mole, and then we learned he was a good guy, and then he got a money shot of virus. Not only was Gael the first to abduct Kim this season, but he was the first character to die from the aforementioned virus. His descent was marked by a nasal hemmorage followed by boils and sweating and general malaise. Gael’s three episode death scene was sad and gruesome, but it paved the way for his nutso widow to infiltrate CTU and kill the season’s bad guy. Wait, a day player killed the villain, not Jack? Let’s just move on.
7. Jamey Farrell
Ah yes. Jamey. This plucky computer expert whose bangs prefaced season three’s coiffure trends had a double death scene. First time around, it looked like she had committed suicide after her mole status had been revealed. A broken coffee mug was sharp enough to be the perfect wrist slicer. We all felt a little sad for this sweet technician who had gotten in over her head with her obligations for then-villain Ira Gaines. Jamey had a brief cameo in the first season finale when a security camera revealed that she had no killed herself. Turncoat Nina Meyers had murdered her! But Nina had bigger fish to fry. More on that later…
Joining the long line of good guys we thought were bad for a long time, sweet but shifty Reza fell victim to his WASPy blonde fiance, Marie Warner. All he was doing was checking in on his office when blam! Viewers were shocked when 24 provided a patented switcheroo – changing the players and sides just in time for the cliffhanger. In just one brief moment, Marie went from flakey wedding whiner to psycho femme fatale. Bridezilla, anyone? Unfortunately, after season two, Marie went the way of the mysterious Mandy and completely disappeared.
5. George Mason
We’ve all had bosses we’ve hated, and during Mason’s reign in CTU, he accumulated a fair share of enemies. Still, it’s hard for anyone to wish this guy’s death on anyone. First he endured several hours of intense radioactive poisoning. Then a nuclear bomb went off on his head. Okay, it’s more like he saved Southwest USA by flying a nuclear bomb into a crater in Nevada. Mason’s farewell storyline was someone poignant, and his final sendoff was one of 24′s best episodes ever, culminating with the eerie sight of a mushroom cloud illuminating the California skyline.
4. Ryan Chappelle
Ryan’s been hanging around since the first season, but his presence increased this season, and when you’re the dominating bureaucrat, that means only one thing: certain death. This time around, Jack had to shoot Chappelle point blank in order to keep the virus threat in check. This was the first time that CTU killed one of its own sacrificially, and the producers honored this moment with the rare silent ticking clock at the episode’s end. Pretty gripping stuff.
3. Nina Meyers
It was a long time coming, but in season three, Jack finally got his revenge on wife-killer Nina Meyers. The shrewd, dangerous gun-for-hire resurfaced in Mexico, only to be caught and eventually gunned down by Jack in CTU. It was sad seeing Nina go, but seriously, how many times could the producers keep bringing her back? Nina’s death was one of those inevitable events. It brought an end to a devilish character whose original betrayal of Jack ranks as one of the series’ best twists.
2. Sherry Palmer
24′s other woman we love to hate also met her maker in season three. In a surprise slaying, Sherry went down in a blaze of gunpowder and vitriol as unstable Julia Milliken aired a few grievances with her gun. We always knew Sherry would get hers – as she has at the end of every season – but death was a shocker. Like Nina, her continued presence on the show was losing credibility, but there were still a good two seasons left before Sherry needed to be taken to the 24 graveyard. As one of television’s most devious and cunning women, Sherry at least made her mark, despite rarely intersecting with the central storyline.
1. Teri Bauer
The grandaddy of all 24 deaths, Teri Bauer finished off her terrible day by snooping around CTU too much. Nina tied her up and fled the building. In the final minute of season one, we were shocked to discover that Teri Bauer had been slashed to death. Not only was this a huge twist – after all, we thought the mayhem of the day was over – but we suddenly realized that in the world of 24, no character was safe (except Jack). Teri’s death not only affected Jack’s motives and choices in later season, it effectively put an end to the first season’s penchant for ugly, short-cropped hairstyles (they were replaced by long, blonde locks the next season).
Some deaths (and near deaths) were still great, but just didn’t make the top ten. Here are a few noteworthy ones: Alexis Drezen gets shivved by his afternoon delight; Lynn takes a tumble down the stairs; Miguel loses his leg to Kim; Jack shoots a little boy (just kidding, it was all fake); Chase gets his hand chopped off; Sherry lets Miliken die in his wheelchair; Nina fakes her death by using Jack’s flack jacket (we thought she was good then, so we were concerned); Paula dies and nearly takes all of CTU’s computer codes with her; Claudia learns that the exposed cab of a pickup truck doesn’t protect against bullets; Jack beheads a chump; Tony gets shot in the neck and is back at the job in… three hours.