The series 24 seems to contradict itself always in respect to Jack. He repeatedly seems to be acting against orders and for his personal goals, pretending to act for national security. Yet he always comes out as the hero, while others acting for their personal endeavours get punished for it, even by Jack himself. This shows in various incidents throughout the show:

  • In Season 1 Jack's family got kidnapped and he broke protocol/rules to go get them, when CTU got to know about his endeavors they stuck with him because he was doing it for the greater good. But the question is was he really doing it for the greater good or was it personal -- because of his family? He got away with it.

  • In Season 4 When Jack Bauer's lover Audrey Raines got kidnapped, he did everything to save her and chocked it up on national security and went further to save the day -- but prior to eventually saving the day, Chloe's friend the Hacker who was abducted by the terrorists was been beaten and interrogated forcefully. When Jack found him later, he was reluctant to actually save Chloe's friend and he shot the two remaining terrorists and left in persuit of the one on the run, leaving Chloe's friend, why? Because he cared about the bigger picture. BUT when the word got out that FA team are about to bomb the site that the terrorists are hosting their execution telecast, he actually decided to go irrespective of orders given to him, because of a woman. Well, he was successful and saved the day, again Jack Bauer got away with breaking rules/protocol. (Actually this happended twice, and he broke rules twice for Audrey Raines, the second time his reward was a restraining order, that was the only thing that made sense to me.)

  • In Season 6 - "Day 6: 9:00am-10:00am" (the season that Jack returned from China) Abu Fayed, the terrorist, demanded for Jack in return for a Hamri Al-Assad. The exchange was made and it came to the intelligence that Hamri Al-Assad was actually on the side of the government. Hamri Al-Assad agreed to co-operate with CTU so as to get his immunity from all his crimes, and he agreed, but CTU agent Curtis Manning, had a beef with Hamri Al-Assad and was not pleased with the immunity granted. He was willing to kill Al-Assad point-blank because his past involved him personally. Well, Curtis Manning had is moment and had the drop on him, but Jack (standing in for national security) told Curtis Manning not to, because doing so will go against the PRESIDENT'S ORDERS. Curtis Manning refused and Jack Bauer never hesitated to kill him, actually he made it clear that he is determined to kill him. Curtis Manning died and Jack was the hero because Curtis Manning was going against presidential orders.

  • Later on, the main terrorist Abu Fayed got captured by Jack and the replacement agent for Curtis Manning, Mike Doyle, who happened to be the head of field ops. While Jack was interrogating Abu Fayed by assaulting him and other brutal means Abu Fayed never broke, still maintained his posture, Jack got bored and fed up and phoned the CTU director. While he was on the phone Mike Doyle went for a shot, actually his shot was more of a persuasive approach, again Abu Fayed maintained his posture, Mike Doyle got bored and pulled out his gun, Jack intervened and told Mike Doyle to stand down... he later reached for his gun saying "I do not want to shoot you, but I will if I want to ... Drop the weapon agent Doyle". Well, Doyle responded saying something and Jack replied with "those are the orders of the Director of CTU". Again Mike Doyle wasn't able to do what he wanted because Jack demanded he follow orders.

  • But in Season 8 when Jack Bauer's lover (Rene Walker) got killed by the Russian, NATIONAL SECURITY, PRESIDENTIAL ORDERS, GREATER GOOD, and all those things again seemed to become irrelevant and only there to make Jack Bauer all knowing and invicible etc etc. He went against everyone - The country, his friends, national security, human morals all because of one insane/crazy woman who is willing to kill herself anytime (has tried it a couple of times, minimum one) and in the event, good people died - The bank owner of Dayna's deposit bank, courageous people proving security whether private security or national service, police men, innocent people who came in the middle of a crossfire, and at the end of the day Jack Bauer was the hero? Really?

My question is:

Am I misunderstanding or missing something? Is there an explanation for Jack being right all the time, especially in those mentioned instances? Why can only Jack Bauer not be charged with treason? If I quite recall the Chief of staff of President Taylor and another associate disobeyed the president so as to ambush Jack's team and save 10,000 Americans by giving in what the terrorists asked for, and they did, and they saved 10,000 Americans. Obviously that wasn't enough because it wasn't Jack Bauer who broke the rules and their reward was life imprisonment.

  • 3
    Hi and welcome to M&TV. As you can tell from the couple of down votes that rants aren't really what this site is about. Try to keep your questions specific and targeted, omitting as much as possible any other material that isn't the question itself (personal opinions, rants ... etc). Oct 6, 2015 at 17:22
  • thank you for the welcoming message@SystemDown , well that's an error on my side, i am actually familiarising myself actually, but i know to some extent what this site is about, and my question is specific-very specific -Why is jack bauer above the law ; also i agree but those rants where for readers to really understand what i am trying to say, suppose i come here and ask - why is jack bauer above the law in 24 ? that is specific - but is it specific? i do not know why it was put on hold as unclear- i am high!!?
    – Elltz
    Oct 7, 2015 at 9:25
  • 3
    I tried to improve the question siginificantly, including fixing formatting issues, introducing some necessary punctuation for better reading flow and especially removing some of the rather opinionated wording. The specific examples you provided might still deserve a little shortening, but it becomes a bit more apparent what you're actually asking now.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 7, 2015 at 11:18
  • 2
    "those rants where for readers to really understand what i am trying to say" - While this is understandable and providing context for readers to understand your question is always a good idea, they could very well have been written in a less ranty form. Putting a bit of opinion into a question is not necessarily a problem but when something reads like the asker having a very strong opinion, and thus a pre-made answer, on a matter, people might feel discouraged to even go on reading a question, let alone answer it...
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 7, 2015 at 11:35
  • 1
    ...However, after carefully considering your question and fixing some of the more ranty parts, I might agree that it seems reopenable now. It might still be grounded on a bit of a flawed premise, but at least it poses a clear and well-reasoned question now.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 7, 2015 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


Unfortunately, the answer isn't, "That shit actually makes sense." What you describe covers a few tropes that often tend to converge in action, crime, and drama shows:

  1. The Invincible Hero Trope - a movie or show going out of its way to ensure that the protagonist wins.
  2. The Protagonist-Centered Morality Trope - the protagonist's POV usually influences the narration, but sometimes it gets to a point where the writer(s) are bending over backwards to make the protagonist's sense of morality the overarching, defining morality of the show's universe. In crime shows like 24, this often means that all the good-guy coworkers/superiors/etc. of the protagonist look the other way or just give him a small slap on the wrist (often with an understanding that "I really didn't mind you going against orders/protocol/what-have-you, cause you were right") when said protagonist goes out-of-line. (Usually, this stepping out of bounds ends up being the right decision, despite all odds against it.)
  3. These can't-be-wrong protagonists are also often morally dissonant and/or Karma Houdinis, who - as mentioned in the last trope - will often get away with pretty much anything because the story doesn't allow them to be wrong about anything (even when they screw up).

No doubt I'm missing a couple of other tropes that would fit into the typical can-do-no-wrong protagonist, but to me, those are the main ones. Now, this is not to place judgement on 24 itself - or even to say that all shows that contain these tropes are automatically bad (every so often, these tropes can be done well or are sufficiently minimized so as to not detract from the show) - but simply to say that this is such a common recipe that it often flies under the radar in popular and/or mainstream shows (24 included). You'll see it in the classic Humphrey Bogart movie, Maltese Falcon, where protagonist Sam Spade gets warned by several other characters that he needs to be careful to not let his temper get the best of him and to avoid breaching protocol, but in the end he (a) proves his rather wild theories to be correct, and (b) actually saves the day precisely by losing his temper and breaching protocol. You'll also see it in more modern TV shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., where you can barely make it through an episode without a protagonist breaking rules or moral codes and ending up better for it (often while the antagonists can't catch a break, even as they make the same kinds of calls). Indeed, you'll notice it in a lot of superhero films and shows, especially ones whose heroes are vigilantes (Batman), chosen one/sole-possible-savior types (Superman - though this tends to show up more in general sci-fi/fantasy, such as Harry Potter), or simply know-better-than-all-the-authorities types (Iron Man).

  • 3
    Interesting answer. Yet, I wouldn't say it entirely flew under the radar all the time. The show (and its viewers) sometimes are aware of the fact that Jack Bauer isn't really a shiny hero at all, even if the story still lets him get away with it. There are various characters in the show itself that are aware of Jack's problems and the problems he causes and modern media seems to understand him largely as an antihero instead of a hero.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Oct 7, 2015 at 11:45

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .