24: The 12 Most Outrageous Moments

By Cory Barker

May 04, 2014

24: Live Another Day is almost here! To get hyped for Jack Bauer's return, we thought it'd be fun to look back at the show's storied past. We recently celebrated the show's 12 best villains, and today, we're surveying something else 24 was famous for: unbelievably crazy moments. There were so many to choose from, from the "gut-wrenching" kind of crazy to the "absolutely stupid" kind of crazy. Here are our picks for the 12 most outrageous ones—share your own in the comments!

HONORABLE MENTIONS: Teri has temporary amnesia (Season 1); Jack shoots a guy in the heart during an interrogation to reestablish his cover (Season 2); Air Force One gets shot down (Season 4); Edgar dies in the CTU HQ (Season 5); Curtis randomly loses his mind (Season 6); Juma and company infiltrate the White House; basically every mole reveal ever

12. Tony's alive! (Season 7)

This one was ruined by the year-long delay in the production brought forth by the WGA strike, but it was still pretty nutty. Tony (Carlos Bernard) was, for all intents and purposes, murdered in Season 5 by the miserable Christopher Henderson (Peter Weller). Dude was D-E-A-D. But after a terrible sixth season severely lacking in characters the audience could invest in, the show took a big leap to bring back one of CTU's finest. Of course Tony had "turned evil" since the last time we had seen him, but in the 24 universe, all decisions made with revenge in mind are at least somewhat justifiable. 

11. Jack loses his mind, goes on a torturing and killing spree (Season 8)

Speaking of revenge-fueled tirades... The final season of 24 was nearly universally terrible from start to finish (Remember Freddie Prinze Jr. as Cole Ortiz? There was talk of doing a spin-off with him!), but Fox's cancellation of the show meant that Jack (Kiefer Sutherland) could be completely unhinged in the final few hours. Renee Walker's (Annie Wersching) death caused Jack to snap, resulting in an extended and gruesome torture sequence involving a blow torch. Later, Jack ripped through an entire squad of Russian thugs with absolutely no remorse. Disturbing stuff.

10. Jack bites a dude, vampire-style (Season 6)

Jack did quite a bit of damage during interrogations over the years, but in the Season 6 premiere, he found himself on the other side of the poking and prodding. NBD though, because Jack maneuvered his way out of the sticky situation by luring his torturer close enough to take a bite out of the dude's neck, vampire-style. The moment was meant to illustrate that Jack had really been changed by his captivity in China. Uh, mission accomplished? 

9. Jack cuts off Chase's (James Badge Dale) hand (Season 3)

Hey listen, sometimes you have to strap a detonating device full of the deadly Cordilla virus to your hand to stop a bastard from releasing it in a school. And sometimes you also can't get that device off your hand in time, so your soon-to-be father-in-law is forced to grab an axe and dismember you at the wrist in order to contain the device in a refrigerator right before it explodes. It's just all in a days work. 

8. President Palmer and Michelle are murdered (Season 5) 

24's fifth season is probably its most beloved (it's the one that took home the Emmy for Best Drama Series), and boy did it start off with a couple of punches to the gut. Two long-running and popular characters, President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert) and Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth), were taken out in the first 15 minutes of the season by a sniper and a car bomb respectively, signaling that Season 5 would be the day when no one was truly safe. 

7. Jack is captured by the Chinese (Season 5)

From the beginning of day five to the end: After what was arguably the show's most devastating series of deaths and tragedies, 24's fifth season seemed to close on something of a happy note. Jack and Audrey (Kim Raver) shared a tender moment for the first time in a while, only for Jack to be suddenly captured by Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma) and the Chinese, who were out to get him for events dating back to Season 4. It was always nice when the show proved it had a long memory, especially with its screwy timeline, and no moment embodied that better than this one.

6. Jack kicks heroin in a day (Season 3)

I have a massive soft spot in my heart for Season 3 because it produced the stretch of episodes that pushed 24 into more outrageous territory. One of the most ridiculous parts of this season was when Jack made the journey from drug addict to recovering drug addict in the span of 24 hours (and really less, since it wasn't always mentioned in the last few hours). Early in the day, Jack shot up heroin as part of his undercover operation in Mexico. By the end of the day, he was preventing yet another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. He had a nice cry in his car though, so everything's good. Just let the tears wash away the drugs, Jack! 

5. It was President Logan all along! (Season 5) 

Wait, the weasely, neurotic, and borderline incompetent president was actually involved in the conspiracy against his own country? Up until this point in the show's run, the presidential figures were mostly decent people stuck in awful circumstances, but the tail-end of Season 5 changed all that. The slow reveal that President Logan (Gregory Itzin) was on the other end of Christopher Henderson's phone call was one of the better shockers in a season full of them. Of course, the series grew to rely far too much on Logan and more nefarious politicians in its later years, probably because this story worked so well. But that doesn't take anything away from the near perfection of this twist.  

4. The cougar (Season 2)

Oh, the cougar. I'm really happy that Elisha Cuthbert was so awesome on Happy Endings, because for a while it looked like this might go down in history as her most notable piece of acting. Cuthbert's Kim found herself lost in a national forest, only to be caught in a trap while a cougar closed in on her location. This is a thing that happened on a show about terrorist attacks and presidential assassinations. When I was compiling this list, I thought that maybe the cougar scene had simply taken on a life of its own thanks to the internet, but then I watched it again. It's possible we've actually undersold the cougar scene. You know what the best part is? Kim being saved from the cougar by Johnny Drama.

3. Jack is forced to kill Ryan Chappelle (Season 3)

Good shows can make the deaths of even the most annoying characters mean something, and that's what 24 did with its treatment of Division head-douche Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze). The character badgered and bothered Jack throughout a few different seasons, always getting in the way of whatever crusade Jack was on at the time, but when Stephen Saunders forced President Palmer's hand and Jack was ordered to execute Chappelle, it was truly devastating. This moment underscored the kind of terrible choices 24's heroes were forced to make on a regular basis. 

2. A nuclear bomb is detonated on U.S. soil (Season 6) 

I've always been a little bummed that "nuking Valencia" didn't replace "jumping the shark" in our pop-culture lexicon. After a go-for-broke fifth season, it was pretty clear from jumpstreet  that 24 didn't know what to do in Season 6. Unfortunately, the show's big solution to topping all the character deaths in Season 5 was simply to set off a nuclear bomb in California. Why kill a few characters the audience cares about when you can just melt an entire affluent neighborhood? And perhaps worst of all, 24 didn't do much in the aftermath of—and I repeat—setting off a nuclear bomb in California. People died, and there were some family members trapped in the zone, but it was ultimately done for shock value above all else. No bueno.

1. Jack finds Teri's body (Season 1)

I mean, what can you do? The last seven seasons of 24 consistently pulled out ridiculous, unbelievable moments that resulted in countless deaths. Yet, not one of them was as remotely shocking or powerful as the final moments of the first season, when Jack discovered that Nina (Sarah Clarke), his former coworker and lover, had killed his wife Teri (Leslie Hope). This scene set a CRAZY MOMENT precedent that the show could never quite top, at least as far as good crazy moments go, but it was sort of the perfect way to end the (first) worst day of Jack's life. 

Which 24 moments would YOU call the "craziest"?

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  • pamelliajohns May 07, 2014

    For me, it was when Jack shot Curtis in the throat! Curtis was such a big teddy bear. It was sad and so uncalled for. That scene still haunts me to this day.

  • Alastor7800 May 05, 2014

    "The final season of 24 was nearly universally terrible from start to finish"

    Wait is that a joke? And you praise season 3 in the same article? Well Bauer is not the only one doing crazy things then. I fought season 8 was among the good seasons of the show. To be fair I only see two really bad seasons in 24: season 3 and season 6. The rest is at least decent.

  • numberonecubsfa May 05, 2014

    Edgar's death wasn't a crazy moment. It was a long overdue welcome moment. No one I know remotely liked that guy. And judging from the complete absence of lines to get the actor's autograph at C2E2 this year, most people didn't care for him either.

  • Hamsterdam May 05, 2014

    What's worse is that Jack ultimately killed Chappelle for nothing. I didn't like Chappelle either but that really did not have to happen. It's the ultimate SMH moment of 24 for me.
    Also don't forget that after shooting a guy in the heart in season 2 he cut the guys head off.
    #11 is a favorite because it reminds me of the moment Brian finally decides to go to the bank to get the money that he owes Stewie.

  • apjccjqa May 05, 2014

    Gosh, I love this show. Also, I thought season 8 was better than 6 or 7 so it was the best later season IMO.

    Can you post a Best Season of 24 poll or something real quick? (;

  • ravipe007 May 05, 2014

    Cutting Chase's arm off was insane! Season 3 was the best season imho! But love 24 all around!

  • bstolemyremote May 05, 2014

    It wasn't my favourite (that's probably be S5), but I did enjoy the whole poison in the hotel hours.

  • abdulay31 May 05, 2014

    i think hacking off an innocent mans head just to provide cover takes is not justifiable no matter the situation.

  • ThePeanutGallery May 05, 2014

    If you're referring to season 2, wasn't the guy a confirmed bad-guy who turned on his crew and was in witness protection? While I thought that was a terrible place for the show to go, he wasn't an "innocent" guy per se, which didn't make the act any better although I thought the show tried to say was conflicted about doing it, but thought it was his only way. 24's "the ends justify the means" mentality really started to wear on me.

  • ThePeanutGallery May 05, 2014

    ^Meant to say "Jack was conflicted about doing it" above. Is there a way to edit posts?

  • dodge_hickey May 05, 2014

    The most ridiculous thing 24 ever done in my opinion is curing Jack in Season 7 with Stem Cells.

    1,3,5,7,8 - Those twists were great, especailly #5

  • CoryBarker1 May 05, 2014


  • jackwagon May 05, 2014

    #8: Nitpicking, but I'm pretty sure the image you used there was taken from the end of season 2, when Mandy had made an assassination attempt on Palmer. It's definitely not the image of when Palmer was shot by the sniper at the start of season 5.

  • bstolemyremote May 05, 2014

    Nearly naked Mandy! Loved her, especially when she reappeared after long stretches only to randomly show up and kill people

  • dolphin_intern May 05, 2014

    Probably one of my fave characters on the show and she's only been in like 7 episode, wah!!!

  • mrjimmyjames May 06, 2014

    Mandy was fantastic (not to mention sexy). She needs to come back.

  • mrjimmyjames May 07, 2014

    I feel like it has to be the right moment. Full of surprise and make complete sense instead of tying her into every season. I want her back but I don't want to ruin a brilliantly mysterious character.

  • dolphin_intern May 06, 2014

    Agreed I hope they bring her back for Live Another Day ack I miss her sooo much LOL.

  • sleepy-sonic May 05, 2014

    The show is about a one man fighting whole terrorist organizations after all.

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