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 60 and 51. 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)
Hour: 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Performer: Blake Robbins
24 was rarely funny on purpose. Even the early chuckles brought on by proudly outspoken and socially awkward intelligence analyst Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) tended to dry up as she took a dramatic right to become the last friend left for Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland). Ross is one of few 24 characters purposefully created as comic relief. Attempting to assist Jack in the field while fleeing the turncoat bureaucrats trying to shut her down, Chloe sets up shop at an out-of-the-way hotel bar. Ross is a boorish, drunken doofus who persistently hits on Chloe by offering “free bandwidth” for her setup. Eventually, Chloe invites Ross to sit down and you wonder: Is this guy really going to help? Nope. Chloe dupes him just to stun him with a taser and shut him up, and Ross’s slumped schlubby body is a welcome sight-gag counterpoint to all of Day 5’s screw-turning momentum.
59. Dr. Levinson
Hour: 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
Performer: Paul McGillion
24 was practically born repeating itself, so it’s tough to knock indulgences of déjà vu across nine seasons. The seventh season of anything, though, is where you can start fooling around and finding out. It’s hardly chronology-minded Cronenberg, but Day 7’s isolated swerve into body horror presents an invigorating moment in a season that most benefits from binged reappraisal. While Jack avoids the Cordilla virus in Day 3, the Prion Variant toxin takes hold of him here. (More on why that happens later in this list.) Jack destroys all of the weaponized canisters, but the fatal toxin has infiltrated his spinal fluid and organs … all easily harvested for reverse engineering if the villains have their hands on Jack, which they do. Levinson is the ghoulish physician working for the Prion Variant Cabal, underneath whose quiet reserve there is a nigh supernatural excitement to slice Jack open. This isn’t the wild-eyed raving of a madman. It’s the go-for-broke scientist pursuing speculative discoveries at the expense of ethics or the gain-of-function bureaucrat unbothered by unctuous behavior. So it is very much a relief when Jack is able to snap Levinson’s neck using the handcuffs to which he’s still bound and then escape.
Hour: 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Performer: Cleavon McClendon III
A terrorist moonlighting as a New York cop, Davros (Doug Hutchison) shoots actual Officer Jim Koernig (and his wife, Maggie) as part of his ploy to create mayhem in a motorcade for Prime Minister Omar Hassan (Anil Kapoor). Able to track Davros only within a several-block radius of the Koernig house, Jack approaches a group of Black teenagers playing basketball for more information. They stonewall him until he flashes a Benjamin, to which Jay alights and volunteers what Jack needs to know. McLendon III takes a moment that starts with deeply weird racial tension that 24 is ill-equipped to handle and defuses it, as Jack might a bomb, into something lighter about how his friends’ concern with the neighborhood code is dumb and he’s the one with $100, not them.
57. Scott Baylor
Hour: 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Performer: Scott Denny
You’d think a character that more or less kicked off the entire plot that started it all would last more than one episode. That’s how good 24 was, in its prime, at keeping audiences on its toes. (’Twas the season, too, with the classic rug-pull pilot of Alias among the fellow fall freshman class.) Before Day 1, Baylor learned encrypted information about then-presidential candidate and assassination target David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) was uploaded to a CTU keycard and smuggled out of the building. CTU is stressful work, and this is the last straw for Baylor — who just wants to resign and rejoin his family before he’s talked into, ahem, 24 more hours of help. Seconds later, Baylor is in a pool of his own blood. Looking back after nine seasons and a movie, Baylor represents a microcosmic encapsulation of Jack’s plight — a man who simply cannot escape the entropy for which he enlisted.
Hour: 9:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m.
Performer: Gregory Sporleder
Dave is a notably mistrusting associate of militia leader Joseph Wald, into whose good graces Jack must return to prevent a bombing at CTU. Dave improperly packs fuses (as Jack points out in an attempt to establish his bona fides) and has his ankle broken for his insolence toward Jack. Dave isn’t a legendary character or anything, but he’s given such malevolent menace from veteran That Guy Gregory Sporleder (The Rock and Black Hawk Down) that you remember his impudence even when it’s mostly incidental.
55. Gabriel Schector
Hour: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Performer: Tommy Flanagan
From Braveheart and Gladiator to Sons of Anarchy and the MCU, you’ve seen Tommy Flanagan’s face even if you don’t recall his name. Flanagan’s long-ago nightclub scrape left him with scars that assured a lifetime of non-lovable roles. His appearance as Day 7’s Initiator is perhaps the first time you’ve wondered if the story’s hero left those wounds himself and one of few times where Flanagan excels at conveying fear rather than inspiring it. Schector is a rat-fink arms dealer who orchestrated low-level heists to engineer a device central to the Sangalan terrorists’ portion of the day’s events. Schector lives high on the hog and figures he can hornswoggle more feds into a plea deal … until Jack walks in alongside them and the air shifts in his lofty apartment. Eventually, Jack threatens to jam a pen in Schector’s eye until he agrees to confess. Wouldn’t you know it? Sniper next door has a bullet with Schector’s name on it!
Hour: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Performer: Pat Healy
24 showcased plenty of gonzo, greedy and / or murderous fringe conspirators across its run. The problem, as it pertains to this list, is they usually stick around for a few hours before they’re disabled or deceased. Few of them made avarice feel as intrinsically greasy as Healy in an early, good hour of Day 6. He’s an electronics expert hired by terrorists to obtain a component that will help them activate and trigger suitcase nukes. They’ve agreed on a price of $50,000, which ersatz everyman courier Ray Wallace delivers under threat of his family’s murder. However, Marcus decides he wants more money and Ray just cannot give it to him. There’s a frightening frenzy with which Ray kills Marcus to spare his family, repeatedly ramming his head into the concrete. Once again, good people pushed to horrible necessities.
53. Brady Hauser
Hour: 8:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Performer: Scott Michael Campbell
From the tenor and tempo of its torture sequences to a sometimes carelessly straddled line of xenophobia, 24 never shied away from double-edged swords inherent to instincts of its particular action subgenre. Perhaps it’s unsurprising that the show’s depiction of a person on a spectrum of autism would prove equal parts problematic and poignant. Mark Hauser has acquired blueprints to a nuclear power plant at the request of an evil Russian general, who promises a big payday if he can deliver them. When Mark is injured ahead of a meeting with the general that CTU intends to monitor, his brother, Brady, must step in to lure the general out. Look, this is Stereotype 101, Campbell embracing every finger gesture and facial tic imaginable. And that voice. Dear lord, that voice. However, Brady is also among few civilians involved in a meaningful way during a season otherwise glommed up by boring political palace intrigue at the White House. He’s also integral to Jack’s eventual takedown of big-bad Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis). Plus, for all the things Day 6 gets so very wrong about bad people in the Bauer family, there are enough moments here between Brady and Mark where Jack realizes what a loving, if dysfunctional, sibling relationship looks like, and Sutherland lets you see that race through Jack’s mind. Lots of pluses. Lots of minuses. Classic 24.
52. George Avila
Hour: 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Performer: Kirk Acevedo
51. Stan Cotter
Hour: 2:00 a.m. to 3:00 a.m.
Performer: Richard Gilliland
At some point, most days of 24 downshift into a convoluted, several-hour quest for evasive, but essential, evidence. It’s not shocking that the great Day 5 handles this trope best, as Jack Bauer and company must chase down an integral recording that incriminates President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) in his labyrinthine schemes. Whenever 24 acquired classic That Guys like the aforementioned Flanagan or Healy, it wisely made extra room for their episodes. Kirk Acevedo (who later had a great run as a regular on Fox’s Fringe) is Avila, an air marshal whom Jack knocks out and impersonates to suss out who on the plane is carrying the recording he needs. Once Avila wakes up, he makes a good strategic foil for Jack, whom he traps in a cargo hold that he then depressurizes to make Jack pass out. Naturally, Jack has a counterattack and gains the upper hand, but it’s good to see his strategic mettle tested like this.
Part of Jack’s plan is persuading pilot Stan Cotter that national security hinges on his help. Turns out that Cotter’s co-pilot is actually the one Jack wants. Richard Gilliland does a commendable job of barking back at Jack per Cotter’s charge of ensuring his passengers’ safety and also does everything he can to get that cockpit door open while fighting with his copilot. At least Cotter doesn’t die for his troubles like many other in-the-moment allies. Also: This is the same episode in which Ross (#60) harasses Chloe. As far as great one-hour characters go, Day 5, Hour 20 is no Day 4, Hour 9 but it’s no slouch, either.