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 continue 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 80 and 71. 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)
80. Chief Inspector Helen McCarthy, London Metropolitan Police
Day: 9 (Live Another Day)
Hour: 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Performer: Shelley Conn
Two definitive upsides to the four-year gap between Day 8 and Live Another Day: The London setting easily established the strongest sense of non-Californian place, and there was a clearly bigger bang for TV’s visual-effects buck by then — essential for all of Day 9’s devastating drone strikes from the aggrieved Al-Harazi family. One target? St. Edwards Hospital, filled to the gills with patients. McCarthy is basically a functionary to whom a marginally deputized lone-wolf Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) must yield in a chain of command. But she also acts quickly, decisively and successfully when it comes time to evacuate the hospital. The scene after this moment is also one of 24’s finest action sequences.
Hour: 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Performer: James Calvert
Those still reading this understand the territory of extreme esoterica in which they find themselves. Perhaps they’re wondering: Out of all 205 installments, is there one hour with the most characters on this list? There is! It’s the ninth hour of Day 4, during which Jack played hellacious cat and mouse with Turkish extremist Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo). James, a security guard at Lindauer Memorial Hospital, is the first of five on this list from that hour. He essentially brings Jack up to speed on a situation at the hospital in which Marwan associate Navi Araz is trying to escape with his teenage son, Behrooz. But in the scheme of how such roles usually go, James is atypically calm, level-headed and concise in telling Jack what he needs to know and he helps without the slightest hesitation. Again, in a series filled with often fatally incompetent people, sometimes it’s nice to just see someone do his job and do it well.
78. Airport Young Man
Hour: 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
Performer: Angelo Vacco
Kim Bauer gets a bum rap. Questionable decisions on Day 1? She’s a teen! Falling for a bad-boy CTU agent like Chase Edmunds (James Badget Dale) and later working for CTU itself? It’s the life Kim knows. OK, Kim does cause Miguel, her Day 2 boyfriend, to lose his right leg … and after he displays such impressive spin kicks with it! But who among us, eh? To boot, Jack loves Kim but he’s not the most positive paternal presence. Kim was married and a mother by Day 7, so actress Elisha Cuthbert was merely a special guest. But her brief appearance that season finds her displaying enough of Jack’s passed-down perceptive observation powers to escape her scrape — in which the Prion Variant Cabal will kill her if Jack doesn’t yield to their demands. Bob and Sarah are a pair of assassins posing as married travelers stuck at an airport gate with Kim. Their laptop transmits a live feed to Jack that confirms their threat to Kim. Enter the unnamed Airport Young Man, who kindly asks Bob if he can move his laptop to make room for his elderly mother. Kim registers Bob’s displeasure at this, raising suspicion that she recalls at a key moment later. Here’s hoping Airport Young Man’s mom survived that eventual airport shootout!
Hour: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Performer: Oscar Nuñez
Day 3’s virus plot is enjoyable, but there are some wobbly bits in the first shift. Jack is hiding a heroin addiction he picked up on an undercover mission with drug kingpins Ramon and Hector Salazar. So it’s not exactly convenient when he must go undercover with them again. It’s not so much that the grip of drug abuse is beyond Sutherland, who does fine work with this distressing turn. It’s … look, there are some dipsy-doo switcheroos all over 24, but none is sillier than the quadruple-crosses Jack and Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard) cook up with fellow CTU agent Gael Ortega. There’s no point explaining the umpteen things that must go right for their nonsensical plan to work. One of them involves a pilot played by Oscar Nuñez, of the American Office, who’s flying the Salazar brothers’ private plane. Unexpectedly, the pilot turns out to be a brave and noble co-conspirator in this overcomplicated plot to re-establish Jack’s cover.
76. F-18 Pilot, Call Sign “Guardian Angel”
Hour: 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m.
Day 3’s virus plot also hit at a point when 24 was a full-blown, can’t-miss phenomenon after the initial wow of Day 1 and mostly avoiding the sophomore slump on Day 2. In other words, Fox gave the producers more money to blow things up real good. Case in point, a helicopter expertly annihilated by the unseen “Guardian Angel” at the end of Day 3’s antepenultimate hour. This era of the show also represented a heyday for its stunt team. That shot of snooty MI6 agent turned terrorist Stephen Saunders (Paul Blackthorne) knocked on his ass as his getaway helicopter erupts in flames? One of the most iconic images in the series.
75. Kevin Graves
Hour: 9:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.
Performer: Ray Laska
The severity of just how strange the political bedfellows could get on 24 often created its largest leaps of logic. There is no way weak President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) would overcorrect for his optics so much that he’d bring aboard warhawk VP Noah Daniels (Powers Boothe, disappointingly wasted like so many other Day 6 guest stars). You don’t even believe these two would be in the same party let alone on the same ticket. In the real world, attorneys general may never save us from such crises. Ah, but that’s what 24 is for! Kudos to 100% fake Attorney General Kevin Graves, who provides the lone voice of reason as Daniels makes a power play to usurp Wayne’s presidential authority.
74. Office Worker
Hour: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Performer: Gene LeBell
All this guy does is get stabbed by vicious Russian assassin Pavel Tokarov so Tokarov can establish a position from which to gun down Jack and former FBI agent / current Jack lover Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) in an adjacent building. (Side note: Out of 205 episodes, this is the only one in which Jack gets down sexually.) So why is Office Worker on the list? Well, he’s one of the most intriguing footnotes in 24 history. Gene LeBell performed stunts in such films as RoboCop, Rush Hour and Spider-Man 2 before appearing in the 17th hour of Day 8 — and becoming the oldest actor with a speaking role on the televised series. Look, by episode 186 of a months-long binge, such things are fascinating.
73. Farah’s Lover
Hour: 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Performer: Chris Eckles
Once again, the bountiful Day 4, Hour 9. Farah is also a one-hour-only presence in this episode, even if she doesn’t make the list. She’s the sister of Dina Araz (Shohreh Aghdashloo), who operates one of big-bad Marwan’s terrorist cells with her husband, Navi (Nestor Serrano). When Dina has a change of heart and flees with their son, Behrooz, Navi is sure Farah is harboring them at her apartment. They aren’t there, but a muscular shirtless dude sure is … and it’s not Farah’s husband! Farah’s lover is among the most inconsequential characters on the list. But this nameless bohunk puts on a stellar display of tough-bro fearlessness against Navi, even with a pistol pointed to his head. Perhaps it’s out of respect that Navi lets him live. And in those few seconds, you sense he doesn’t see Farah as a booty call. Perhaps he and Farah were able to enjoy a bright future together!
Hour: 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Performer: Andy Davoli
Once again, this is less of a fascinating character and more of a noteworthy notch on the show’s belt. Berkov is part of the security detail for Russian Foreign Minister Mikhail Novakovich (Graham McTavish) — who orchestrated the day’s plot to assassinate Prime Minister Hassan (Anil Kapoor) and, among other misdeeds, murder Renee Walker. What’s so special about Berkov? He’s the last person Jack kills during 24’s initial run. Plus, Berkov expires only after filling in his weaselly American co-conspirators on the specifics of Jack’s final berserker bloodbath — namely that he impaled that scoundrel Novakovich’s abdomen on a fireplace poker.
71. Fayed Terrorist #1
Hour: 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
Performer: Michael Hilow
Despite its sum-total disappointments, the first two nights of Day 6 were good. By then, Fox was wise enough to air 24 without any prolonged break, starting its seasons in January with a mitzvah of four-episode, two-night premieres. Day 6’s inaugural hour picks up many months after the stunning Day 5 finale, in which Jack disappears at the hands of Chinese authorities. President Wayne Palmer (D.B. Woodside) has negotiated Jack’s release … only to turn him over to terrorist Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis), who in turn uses Jack as leverage in his bid to fill a power vacuum. (See? Just another reason Wayne sucks as POTUS.) For 20 months, Jack has been beaten, interrogated and locked up only to be delivered into what he’s sure will be a meaningless death. The season premiere nicely stretches out the suspense of when Jack will snap back into action. If you’re wondering what kind of animalistic animus he has accumulated in that cell, just ask Fayed Terrorist #1. He probably knows.