A little bit of background for those of you who’ve never seen the show: each 24-episode season represents a full 24-hour day, so everything appears in real time. During these 24-hour spans, Jack Bauer, an agent with the Counter Terrorist Unit in Los Angeles (and apparently later New York, but I never watched that season), is faced with the task of thwarting off major terrorist attacks on the United States. From presidential assassinations to nuclear bombs and deadly viruses, Jack always manages to save the day.
Saving the day, though, doesn’t come without a lot of questionable acts on Jack’s part. This video (warning: it’s a little strange) actually goes through every scene he’s killed someone. According to the description, Jack kills 245 people over the course of eight seasons. Beyond this, Jack also repeatedly ignores CTU’s protocol and deals with a myriad of other ethically and morally complicated situations.
So, yeah, he killed a lot of dudes and didn’t always follow the rules. But Jack’s the good guy! He’s fighting terrorism, and if he has to take out a few people along the way, well, that’s just the way it is. Right?
What’s strange about this is that, despite my totally anti-violent demeanor, I found myself rooting for Jack every step of the way. I wanted him to fight back for himself, his family, President Palmer (a fantastic Dennis Haysbert a.ka. the Allstate guy), and the country. Placing Jack in the main character position, giving us all of his insights and the context for the decisions he makes, means it’s easy for us to understand why he so frequently disregards CTU’s protocol, not to mention the law.
Even though he’s committed a lot of crime along the way, one could argue that these crimes were for the greater good. Without Jack, whose capabilities and experience as a counter terrorist agent are generally unmatched, who else could come through to save the country? He’s too good at his job to be locked away – almost as if he’s “too big to fail.”