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 39 and 30. 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)
39. Molly O’Connor
Hour: 5:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m.
Performer: Christina Cox
Not the same Secret Service agent who dies saving Zoey Bartlet on The West Wing, although that was an unexpected bit of whiplash in a year where I binged both series. This Molly O’Connor accompanies Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), former FBI agent Renee Walker (Annie Wersching) and the Hassan family through a tunnel beneath the United Nations as they evacuate after a threat. They’re ambushed by mercenaries dispatched by the duplicitous duo of General Brucker (Michael Gaston) and White House Chief of Staff Rob Weiss (Chris Diamantopoulos). Brucker and Weiss disagree with a presidential order to protect Prime Minister Hassan (Anil Kapoor) from terrorists rather than exchange him for the abandonment of a planned nuclear attack. O’Connor is the rare tough female character that isn’t also some sort of foil, romantic interest, traitor or bundle of heretofore unknown neuroses (the last of which 24 served up far too often). O’Connor recognizes the threat, realizes her role in neutralizing it and simply lays down some cover fire for a retreat. Although we’re not entirely sure what happens to O’Connor, given that we see pretty much every other Secret Service agent on the detail bite it here, I’m going to say … dead.
38. Nurse at St. Virgil’s Hospital
Hour: 1:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.
Performer: Michelle Anne Johnson
Anyone who remembers Day 2 of 24 knows well that Gary Matheson (Billy Burke) was a huge-time asshole. He’s the guy for whom Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) worked as an au pair. When Gary wasn’t ogling Kim or abusing his wife and daughter, he was murdering his spouse and stuffing her in the trunk of his car. (Naturally, this complicates Kim’s efforts to escape in said car after Gary reports it stolen and the police find a corpse.) For all of this, Gary is certainly the show’s most memorable Kim-specific foe. Another reason is how effectively Gary exploits the social services system to further pin his own terrible misdeeds on Kim. Gary eventually dies at Kim’s hands but encounters very little resistance up until that point. Frankly, it’s a relief when this nurse gives him a hard time after Gary is being a dick about his daughter’s care. She throws a full raft of shit his way when he insists on using his cell phone against hospital policy. Good for her.
37. Federal Marshal Holtzman
Hour: 6:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m.
Performer: John Lacy
In the waning minutes of Day 5, the Attorney General issues orders to arrest President Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin). The besieged First Lady, Martha Logan (Jean Smart), finally delivers proof that her husband orchestrated both the murder of former President David Palmer (among many others) and a series of nerve-gas attacks to strengthen America’s oil position. Holtzman gets the call as Logan is smugly eulogizing Palmer, the very man he had killed, at a big, showy press conference. However diplomatic, Holtzman’s mere advance toward the podium lets Logan know his jig is up, and the coolness with which Holtzman handles Logan’s bloviating is nothing short of an inspiration. He even points out to Logan how Martha got the drop on him. It’s a cool-cucumber moment in a hot-pepper season and a nice shift to send Logan off with a bureaucratic whisper rather than a violent scream.
36. Marshall Goren
Hour: 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 a.m.
Performer: Carl Ciarfalio
What is a rule-driven list without exceptions? Well, here’s one of the bigger ones I chose to make. If someone dies during the same hour in which they’re introduced, and their corpse shows up later, that’s still a one-hour character. As woolly as 24 got, those who were proven dead stayed dead. Goren’s name may not ring a bell to anyone but the deepest 24 die-hards. But if you say “the guy Jack Bauer decapitated at the start of Day 2,” you might recall. Goren is indeed a despicable piece of shit — a child pornographer, kidnapper, murderer … and key witness in the government’s case against domestic terrorist Joseph Wald. Goren seems very pleased that he’s going to walk off scot-free in exchange for his testimony against Wald until Jack — still mourning the death of his wife, Teri (Leslie Hope) — shoots and beheads him in a CTU interrogation room much to the consternation of CTU L.A. director George Mason (Xander Berkeley). Of course, all of this is part of Jack’s gambit to get in good with Wald, against whom Goren was set to testify. Goren also gets the bump because he’s one of the show’s better Initiators, without whom the season’s momentum would be lost. And anyway, I’m fairly certain “decapitating terrible people” was at one point in consideration for Kübler-Ross’s stages of grief.
35. Morrison’s Hitman
Hour: 1:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Performer: Brent Fletcher
Even Turkish terrorist masterminds sometimes need subcontractors to hit major deadlines. So it was for Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo) with technicians Robert Morrison and Sabir Ardakani — engineers tasked to launch a stolen nuclear warhead from middle-of-nowhere Iowa. Too bad Sabir’s angry girlfriend, Nabilla, suspects dirty deeds and is about to blab to the authorities. Ah, but Morrison’s got it covered. His hitman friend can take care of Nabilla … to whose home Chloe O’Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub) is en route for an intercept of Sabir’s files. Of course, Chloe is no field agent. But hey, it’s a busy day at CTU. All hands, y’know? A few things distinguish this otherwise anonymous hitman: his tenacity with a shotgun on a bulletproof CTU vehicle; his ingenuity to try and ram the car while Chloe and Nabilla are trapped inside; his split-second murder of a confused homeowner who gets angry at all the hubbub outside. Most of all, this is the only person Chloe kills, after she’s able to pry loose an assault rifle at the last possible second to take him out. Day 4 is when the writers’ room truly discovered what they had in Rajskub and played to her strengths — something they rarely did with other CTU functionaries — and this is an episode with an incredibly long tail of Chloe understanding more about what it means, and what it takes, to be Jack Bauer.
34. Frank Haynam
Hour: 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Performer: Chris McGarry
Haynam is a senior engineer at the National Security Agency’s New York field office, brought in to prop up CTU’s crippled network infrastructure after an on-site EMP blast knocks it out. His territorial plan to use his own people, remove servers and create a new subnet will take forever. Nervous about having no eyes on Jack (who’s about to drive right into an ambush), Chloe has the better idea to directly splice the trunk line and restart the network. Chloe’s zero-tolerance policy for mansplaining meets its ne plus ultra in Haynam, on whom she pulls a gun to force out of the room so she can do her thing. Haynam threatens to pull rank and get her fired, but CTU director Brian Hastings (Mykelti Williamson) sides with Chloe — whose plan works as intended and prompts an apology from Haynam. He’s not a world-beating 24 government-functionary dickhead but definitely a memorable one in a thin season low on good one-hour characters.
Hour: 4:00 a.m. to 5:00 a.m.
Performer: Kevin McCorkle
Until this rewatch, I forgot that current MAGA loon Jon Voight portrayed a big bad for a full day of 24. Technically, it’s a day and change if you count 24: Redemption, the TV-movie prelude to Day 7. Voight plays Jonas Hodges, the CEO of private military company Starkwood who conspires to create terror as a way to forever cement his favored contractor status with the U.S. government. In Redemption, Hodges orders the murder of President Allison Taylor’s son, Roger — for which First Daughter Olivia (Sprague Grayden) later exacts vengeance by paying a hitman to kill Hodges once he enters government custody. Hodges has struck a deal for witness protection, and Sullivan is the U.S. Marshal tasked with reassigning his identity. However, there is the slightest inference that Sullivan is actually the assassin who plants the car bomb that kills Hodges.
Sullivan quips about not doing this job all his life, making you think maybe this was the inside man on the verge of a payday. He also boasts a slight sheen of upper-lip sweat; although unbecoming of a cold-blooded killer, it makes you wonder if it’s a ruse to drop Hodges’ defenses. This is the rare case where the 24 writers left a mysterious moment alone and an unexpected high point in a season that grows stronger upon reappraisal.
Hour: 5:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Performer: Lobo Sebastian
As previously referenced, Day 3 has a fairly cattywampus narrative before settling into the Cordilla virus plotline. One such bit is a prison riot that Jack stages to free drug cartel head Ramon Salazar (Joaquim de Almeida) and get back in Ramon’s good graces so he can conduct more undercover work. Not a bad plan, but Jack doesn’t count on Peel, a loud, violent prison lifer who recognizes running is useless because snipers will pick them off. So for fun amid the chaos Jack has created, Peel forces Jack and a prison guard into Russian roulette. After Jack advances in Peel’s impromptu tournament, Jack faces Salazar himself. To sate Peel’s bloodlust, Jack and Salazar go a few rounds before Jack turns the gun on Peel and shoots him. Lobo Sebastian lends Peel a primal, nihilistic presence that Jack had never really faced at this point on the show. Even Jack seems a bit terrified of this guy’s capacity for violence. Quite a feat.
31. Joseph “Joe” Wald
Hour: 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Performer: Jon Gries
Wald is the leader of a domestic terror cell conscripted to blow up CTU early in Day 2, crippling its investigative abilities ahead of a pending nuclear threat. Gries, who played the Wolf Man in The Monster Squad and later embodied the ennui of Uncle Rico in Napoleon Dynamite, portrays Wald — who holes up in his panic room when Jack comes a-knockin’. Gries is so great at conveying regret about his life’s decisions, even for a scumbag and largely by using his hangdog face to full advantage. So Wald is only this low because he doesn’t get a whole lot of range to play before taking his own life; at least Wald lets Jack know beforehand that nefarious Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke) recruited his squad for this part of the scheme. You emerge with zero sympathy for Wald, but Gries’ melancholy portrayal definitely portends the prison of loneliness that awaits Jack at the end of the series.
30. Carl Mossman
Hour: 11:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m.
Performer: John Posey
Remember that incriminating evidence of President Logan that Jack chases down in the final third of Day 5? Mossman is the man who more or less kicks off this segment of the story, yet another everyday hero conscripted into Jack’s headlong mission. He’s a night-shift manager at the City Trust and Savings Bank, where the First Lady’s aide has hidden a recording implicating Logan in the assassination of President David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert). Accompanied by David’s brother and eventual POTUS Wayne “Ding-Dong” Palmer (D.B. Woodside), Jack rousts Mossman from bed to help them. When the only way out of the bank is forcing a shootout between mercenaries and Los Angeles police officers, Mossman chooses to stay and help. Of course, things rarely go well for civilians in such circumstances. Mossman is no exception, taking a bullet and dying in the back of a cop car Jack and Wayne steal to escape. But it’s the look of incredulity Wayne gives to Jack as Jack shrugs off Mossman’s death — like the mild irritation or inconvenience as a man cut off in traffic — that makes this fallen civilian sting a little more. And unless I missed something, they just leave him in the back of the cop car. Yeesh.