What’s 24 without Jack Bauer? According to Fox chairwoman Dana Walden, there may be a future for the espionage thriller series, which got a new lease on life last year when the network brought it back from the cancellation graveyard for limited series 24: Live Another Day, even if star Kiefer Sutherland doesn’t return.
Of course, some 24 fans may be mortified by the very idea of continuing the show without its leading man, but Walden notes that another limited series expansion of the property could still honor the spirit of the original 24 while leaving the door open for Sutherland to reprise the part of Bauer later down the line.
Walden and 24: Live Another Day executive producers Howard Gordon, Evan Katz and Manny Coto are currently weighing one idea in which “there is a point at which Jack Bauer could come in and fit organically into the story, or they are prepared to do… one installment without him.” Walden further explained that “potentially, he won’t be in this installment, we’re not sure yet,” but she took care to stress that there are no plans to exclude Sutherland’s Bauer from all future seasons of 24. “We’re talking about whether there’s one installment that he’s not in.”
If this idea, which Walden states has been discussed with Sutherland, comes to pass, the plan is to focus on supporting players who were featured and/or introduced in last year’s 24: Live Another Day. “I look at everyone that surrounded Kiefer in [the limited series] – I think it could work,” Walden said.
Whether the chairwoman is referring to long-time 24 stalwarts like Mary Lynn Rajskub’s Chloe O’Brian or newcomers like Yvonne Strahovski’s Kate Morgan is unclear, but the idea of a Bauer-less 24 may be a lot for fans to swallow. Sure, it could be very interesting to see a series powered by Chloe O’Brian or Kate Morgan, but would it still be 24? Or would it be something new entirely?
It makes sense that Fox wants to keep 24 going, but if the network is already talking about doing so without the figure most crucial to the show’s success, maybe it should be asking a different question: about whether there’s already reason to just retire the franchise, for good this time.