Right now, two decades have passed since the action-drama 24 premiered on Fox. My wife and dog have binged the entire show with me, and people that I work with may be involved in what’s below. I’m Midwest Film Journal editor / co-founder Nick Rogers, and today, I begin the longest thing I’ve ever written. Across 205 episodes, there were numerous fantastic characters on 24. But what about those who got in and got out in an hour or less — whose time was short but somehow memorable? Thus, Midwest Film Journal presents Gone in 60 Minutes: 24’s Best One-Hour Characters. The following list takes place between 100 and 91. Rankings occur in real reverse chronology. (Many thanks to Mollie Siu-Chong for baller banner photo design, as well as the administrators and users of Fandom’s 24 Wikia for meticulous information and copious images)
100. CNB Valencia Reporter
Hour: 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Performer: Robb Weller
Barring some form of stunning perversity, most 24 fans would agree: Day 5 is the show’s peak. (OK, we’ll allow “summit” for those who prefer Day 4 or Day 1.) It’s not only a perfect mix of the series’ penchants for shocking twists, insane cliffhangers, relentless pacing and ensemble work. By positioning the President of the United States himself as the big bad, it upended Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) and his belief in justified ends of national security through the means of one personal hell after another. The season ended with yet another heartbreaking defeat for Jack’s happiness snatched from the jaws of victory. Its slew of Emmys, including 24’s only win for Outstanding Drama Series, were richly deserved. So how do you follow that?
Detonating a dirty-bomb nuke in the middle of greater Los Angeles before breakfast hours are over is a surefire way to ruin Jack’s day. Discarding the panic of that event altogether by the end of the lunch rush is a surefire way to ruin the season, arguably the show’s worst overall. So we kick off this list with a Valencia-based reporter from 24′s fictitious Fox News proxy, CNB, who files a report live from the edge of the blast’s safe zone. This is the last time anyone references mass panic stemming from, you know, A NUCLEAR DETONATION IN AMERICA’S SECOND-LARGEST METRO AREA.
99. Fox 5 Anchor Ernie Anastos
Hour: 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Performer: Ernie Anastos
Speaking of Fox News: By the time 24 wrapped up its initial run, it had largely abandoned CNB for its own real-world counterpart. In actuality, Anastos was an anchor at Fox’s New York affiliate for years. He also achieved internet infamy for … well …
Anchor sound bites stretched across all of 24, often as refreshers on developments long forgotten in a hurlyburly of crises. But on Day 8, Anastos crucially factors into Jack’s ploy to draw out rebel terrorists from fictitious Kamistan, issuing a statement that their actually dead inside-man traitor is still alive at a city hospital. Now that’s fake news you can use.
98. Robin, CNB News Reporter
Hour: 11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Performer: Mary Chris Wall
Don’t worry. This isn’t a bait-and-switch about the 100 best reporters on 24. One of many unforgivable sins on Day 6: Making ding-dong Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) the POTUS. If your 24 recollection is spotty, this is not the President Palmer. No, no. You’re thinking of Wayne’s brother, David (Dennis Haysbert), who also once was POTUS and totally ruled at the job before hornball dummies like Wayne screwed it up for him. 24 had a knack for knocking off enjoyable recurring characters in sudden, sad ways. If you were like me, you welcomed Wayne’s demise, and Robin becomes the harbinger of his eventual offscreen doom. Having narrowly survived a close-quarters terrorist bombing, and much to his advisors’ chagrin, a physically and mentally feeble Wayne goes before the press to announce an end to the day’s aforementioned nuclear crisis. Wayne seems fine, his fire reclaimed. But then he continually refers to Robin as “Andrea,” gets confused by her simple question and repeats himself before suffering a cerebral hemorrhage, collapsing and dying somewhere before Day 7. Womp-womp. Bye, Wayne. Thanks for your service, Andr … I mean, Robin.
97. Starkwood Tech
Hour: 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Performer: John Griffin
Say hello to the first character on this list who dies! For the hell of it, let’s call him Reginald. One would presume a list of one-hour characters from a show with an enormous body count would largely consist of stiffs. Shockingly, only 35 on this list are confirmed dead. Ol’ Reginald is one such corpse, a button-pushing functionary at Starkwood, Day 7’s private-security proxy for real-world black-ops businesses like Blackwater. To strengthen its position as a government contractor, Starkwood infuses surface-to-surface missiles with deadly toxic bioweaponry. Given the order to fire one of the missiles, Reginald hesitates at the thought of vaporizing 10,000 people. Eventually, his boss tosses him aside to enter a firing code himself. But Reginald inadvertently gives Jack’s longtime sidekick, Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), enough time to activate all the C4 explosives he’s planted and bust the bunker. Although hypothetical Reginald rests in pieces, perhaps he’ll reap the rewards of his reluctance in the afterworld.
Hour: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Performer: Ryan Alosio
Until 2014’s Live Another Day, fans of 24 fans had to make do with a frustrating final season in 2010. In hindsight, Day 8 is not that bad, although there are plenty of misfires — including almost every interaction between young CTU hotshot Cole Ortiz (Freddie Prinze, Jr.) and CTU data analyst Dana Walsh (Katee Sackhoff), who’s also Cole’s fiancée and the eventual embodiment of the show’s resurrected CTU-mole trope. The hoops gone through to keep Dana’s secret and keep her in play once it’s revealed are quite clumsy. But one of Dana’s gambits, a booby-trapped safe-deposit box, brings about this list’s first instance of collateral damage to a civilian unknowingly caught up in CTU’s interpersonal and geopolitical messes. Woe unto Brian, the poor First Unity Savings Bank employee who’s all hair product and smiles until Dana mercilessly guns him down when fleeing the scene after her safe-deposit box goes boom.
95. Jim Payne
Hour: 7:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m.
Performer: Jamison Haase
Binging all 205 episodes of 24 makes one thing quite clear: Any non-star wheeled into CTU’s medical unit for any reason is probably a goner. But given all the moles, the silver medalist for worst CTU department must be its team of background checkers. Few faked identities are as flimsy as that of the aforementioned Dana, and this hour finds her panicking to finagle an exit from CTU’s New York office once her jig is up. Jim is the gee-shucks gomer security guard just following orders after an electromagnetic pulse attack fries CTU’s systems: No exits without directorial authorization. 24 has plenty of one-hour heroes doing their best to help either Jack or his cause, and Jim is the first such character on this list. Alas, his attempts to apprehend Dana are met with an immediate bullet from her gun.
94. U.S. Air Force Major Shepherd
Day: 9 (Live Another Day)
Hour: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Performer: Nigel Whitmey
24 introduced its fair share of hardass harassers over its many seasons. There are better, and more consequential, ones than Shepherd to come. But it was a nice reminder, in the opening hour of Live Another Day, that the showrunners hadn’t forgotten how to activate this archetype. Shepherd berates drone pilot Chris Tanner (a pre-Star Wars John Boyega) for not filing proper operational paperwork before he revokes Tanner’s weekend pass. In just a handful of moments, Shepherd ruins Tanner’s entire mood, and that’s before terrorists hijack Tanner’s drone and blow up part of an American-British soldier convoy. (Although it would seem Shepherd is among those killed in this attack, the trusted 24 Wikia tells me he is alive. So I have to trust the experts.)
93. Victor Aruz
Hour: 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Performer: Benito Martinez
The first hour of every day always has an Initiator. Someone on the run with critical intel, who ran with Jack on either side of the law, who draws him back into some new deadly scenario, whose death sets the season in motion. Sometimes it’s a mix-and-match combo. Victor Aruz is the most boilerplate Initiator of all. Offscreen, Aruz assisted Jack during his undercover mission with the Salazars a decade earlier. Here, he tips off Jack about the assassination plot against Kamistan Prime Minister Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor). Look, at this point, Victor is talking to Grandpa Jack, introduced watching cartoons with little Teri (sad tear) and about to fly to L.A. with his family. But Jack’s agreement to vouch for Aruz at New York’s CTU office is met by an ambush, a shootout and an exploding helicopter. And once Aruz tells Jack (with his dying breath) there’s a traitor inside Hassan’s camp, well … so begins just another day for Mr. Bauer. Aruz is purely a plot-functioning Initiator with no distinguishing idiosyncrasy or tic — an odd choice to give a readily capable actor like Benito Martinez, who had at that point killed it on The Shield.
92. Mr. Marr
Hour: 3:00 a.m. to 4:00 a.m.
Performer: Nicholas Guest
There were plenty of shadowy-government cabals on 24, too, often in underlit offices decorated with Rich Mahogany. Mr. Marr was part of the awkwardly named Prion Variant Cabal, part of Day 7’s aforementioned plot to create a bioweapon with Starkwood. Later seasons like Day 7 invested far too much time in palace intrigue among new, uninteresting characters, such as the members of this cabal. There’s nothing particularly memorable about Mr. Marr’s participation in the Prion Variant Cabal’s wee-hours video conference. But when you hear him speak, he sounds familiar. Yes, that’s snotty Griswold neighbor Todd from National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation. There aren’t many laughs during any given moment in 24. It’s nice to enjoy one, however unintentional.
91. Conner Vossler
Hour: 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
24 gleefully stepped across plenty of network-TV lines over nine seasons. But they’d never kill a screaming baby’s mother in front of him. Still, you feel really bad for poor little Conner while FBI Agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) holds Conner’s mother, Carol, hostage. The tyke also doesn’t know his dad, Edward, is a dirty Secret Service agent whom Jack winds up having to kill in self-defense. There’s zero plot significance to Conner outside of that immediate moment, but he’s a strong, and cute, reminder of how many everyday lives are straight-up ruined as a result of terrible shit happening on any given day in Jack’s life.