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Jack Bauer

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"I'm federal agent Jack Bauer. This is the longest day of my life."
"I see fifteen people held hostage on a bus, and everything else goes out the window. I will do whatever it takes to save them, and I mean whatever it takes. ... Laws were written by much smarter men than me. And in the end, these laws have to be more important than the 15 people on the bus. I know that's right. In my mind, I know that's right. I just don't think my heart could ever have lived with it."
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A retired American serviceman and a federal agent, who was responsible for saving multiple American citizens from potentially devastating terrorist attacks on more than one occasion.

He took a leadership role in various covert and undercover missions, and served as both Special Agent in Charge and Director of Field Operations of CTU Los Angeles. His dedication to keeping U.S. citizens safe led him to make some deep personal sacrifices. Jack lost his job, his family, his friends, and, for a period of nearly two years after Day 5, his freedom. He showed his willingness to sacrifice his life on multiple occasions, but each time his sacrifice ultimately proved to be unnecessary.

  • Action Dad: One of TV's most prominent examples.
  • An Axe to Grind: Uses one to great effect in Season 8's opening episode.
  • And This Is for...: His last words to Pavel before eviscerating him to obtain evidence and avenge Renee Walker: "This is for my friend!"
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    • States this right before killing Cheng Zhi. "This is for Audrey, you son of a bitch!"
  • Back from the Dead: He fakes being dead for a year, which starts with being clinically dead for real for a couple of minutes. He was also clinically dead for a few minutes on Day 2, before being brought back to life by Peter Kingsley's men when they needed to continue torturing him.
  • Badass Beard: Usually to signify Jack will be even more badass than usual.
  • Badass Boast: Jack makes several over the course of the series, and it's never an empty boast.
    "I have killed two people since midnight, I haven't slept in over 24 hours. So maybe… maybe you should be a little more afraid of me than you are right now."
    "I can make you die with more pain than you ever imagined."
    "So help me God I will kill you, and you will stay dead this time."
    "Look, I can tell you consider yourself a pretty intimidating group. You probably think I'm at a disadvantage. I promise you, I'm not."
    "I've taken you at your word. But if you're lying to me, if anything happens to her or my family your entire world will come apart, and you will never see it coming."
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  • Badass Driver: During Live Another Day, he manages to outrun a UAV that's launching hellfire missiles on the getaway car he's driving.
  • Badass Longcoat: Wears one at certain points during both Days 1 and 7.
  • Badass in Distress: He gets captured at least 2-3 times a season, but most of the time he's successfully able to escape. On a few occasions, he will need someone (The President, CTU, Chloe...) to bail him out, but not without trying on his own first.
  • Badass in a Nice Suit: When he infiltrated the Russian Consulate during Day 6 and during Juma's invasion of the White House on Day 7.
  • Heartbroken Badass: Damnit Pavel, you couldn't just leave Jack alone, could you?
  • Break the Badass: Often and repeatedly throughout the series. Several personal crises and losses hit him as a cost of Jack doing what he does and threaten to destroy him emotionally, and the one that happens in Day 8 finally breaks him so hard that it causes a permanent shift downward on the Anti-Hero scale for him, something that continues on to Day 9. And top it all off, the ending of Day 9 comes in and hits him even harder.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Day 2 and Redemption. Technically averted in season 6, since it was from him being held prisoner rather than a Heroic BSoD, although he was pretty much a broken shell of himself by that point.
  • Bench Breaker: Restraining Jack Bauer is... problematic at best.
  • Berserk Button: Do NOT try to justify treason, cold-blooded murder, terrorism, and assassinating the president with "It was for the good of the country!" and then say that makes you and him the same. Really, don't. Even if you're his brother, Jack will still utterly lose his shit at you.
    • For that matter, threatening, harming, or killing anyone he loves is pretty much a death sentence.
  • Best Served Cold: Never lets his emotions impede his tactical plans, which makes him even more dangerous when he's Axe-Crazy.
  • Big NO: Several throughout the show, notably at the end of Season 4.
  • Broken Ace: The best covert operative in the world, but is just as (or even more so) big a fanatic than the terrorists he fights.
  • Butt-Monkey: Throughout the entire series he's been betrayed, tortured, used, exploited, and almost all his friends and loved ones have wound up dead; while the majority of those that don't either eventually turn out to be traitors or wind up wanting absolutely nothing to do with him. His life borders on Cosmic Plaything level bad.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: To James Heller at the end of Season 6, although he's more a father figure than a father. While his father also becomes his enemy, he doesn't quite "call him out".
  • Cassandra Truth: If a Reasonable Authority Figure listened to Jack, most of the bad guy's terrorist plots would be ended in hours, not a day. And the rare times one of them does, someone else's red tape comes in to get in the way.
  • Cartwright Curse: Teri's dead, Audrey's gone, and the latest victim is Renee.
    • Claudia Hernandez falls into this, too, though she wasn't seeing Jack at the time.
    • Lampshaded by James Heller when he tries to keep Jack from seeing Audrey. This ends up being foreshadowing.
    Heller: You're cursed, Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead.
  • Catchphrase: In any given season of 24, it's likely you'll hear Jack yell "Dammit!" or "We are running out of time!" at least a couple of times.
  • The Chessmaster: As of Live Another Day, he's showing signs of becoming this. In the first hour, he purposely gets caught by the CIA in order to get transported to their black site. At the right moment, he signals an associate outside the building to prepare an escape route, incapacitates the agents escorting him to the torture chamber, rescues Chloe, sets off an explosion which guts much of the building, and to top it off, his associate uses a grenade launcher to blow a hole through the top of the underground passage where Jack is, deploys a ladder, and by the time the rest of the CIA realize what has happened, their prisoners are gone.
  • Chronic Hero Syndrome: If he sees or knows of someone in trouble, he will help them regardless of laws or politics.
  • Clear My Name: At several points, he's suspected of working with the terrorists, starting in Season 1, when he's thought to have tried to assassinate David Palmer, despite managing to narrowly prevent it.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Sniper rifles, assault rifles, pistols, knives, CQC, chains, axes, scissors... teeth...and, rather memorably, a fireplace poker. There's also cars and vans... and on one memorable occasion, a ''bulldozer''. Hell, on more than one occasion, he's killed someone with nothing but his legs while chained up in a basement/holding compound.
  • Covered with Scars: In season 6 and onward, thanks to the torture the Chinese inflicted on him. It's enough to get everyone at both CTU and the FBI to flinch when they see them.
  • Cowboy Cop: Probably the best 21st century television example.
  • Crazy-Prepared: Egregiously so in many cases, particularly towards the end of Season 8 where he outwits absolutely everyone that tries to stop his Roaring Rampage of Revenge, and only backs down at the last possible moment aiming a sniper rifle at Yuri Suvarov by choice. Though given the average IQ of the typical government employee on 24, it may not be ''that'' surprising.
  • Darker and Edgier: After the first season. Although Jack still has his dark side during the show's freshman year, you can tell that Nina's betrayal and Teri's murder really effed him up after it. Even moreso by the ending of Day 8, as Live Another Day shows that he's crossing a lot more lines that even he would have initially hesitated at back during the show's initial 8-season run.
  • Deadpan Snarker: With so many obstructive bureaucrats on the show, it's often the only way to get his point across. When told CTU no longer have torturers on speed dial?
  • Death Glare: One so effective, Charles Logan broke down blubbering at it.
  • Death Seeker: In the first half of season 2, most of seasons 6-7, and the second half of season 8.
  • Determinator: Oh boy is he ever. If you've got Jack Bauer after you, you should probably just shoot yourself in the head to save yourself a more painful death.
  • Despair Event Horizon: Winds up crossing over this more than a few times over the course of the series, but Audrey's death was the one to make him permanently go over it. The biggest indicator of this is the near relief he seems to have when he turns himself over to the Russians in the last scene. It heavily implies that were it not for the fact that they had taken Chloe hostage to force him to give himself up, he likely would have done so willingly.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: In the Day 8 finale, the threat Jack poses is the first to be resolved thanks to Chloe going through a non-fatal version of Talking the Monster to Death, and all in the first 10 minutes. The rest of it is focused on bringing down the Russian coverup and then eventually saving Jack from Logan.
  • Driven to Suicide: In the final episode of Live Another Day, he comes very close to eating his gun after Audrey is killed. Luckily, he channels those emotions into a more constructive direction.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Despite saving America every single season, Jack always has to convince whatever idiot of the week is in charge of CTU or the White House that maybe, just maybe, he isn't involved with the villain's plans and they should trust his judgement.
  • Elites Are More Glamorous: He served in the U.S. Army Delta Force before joining CTU.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Shooting his boss with a tranquilizer gun out of suspicion that he may be withholding evidence in the very first episode.
  • Et Tu, Taylor?: His reaction when Allison Taylor sides with Charles Logan to protect the Russians for their part in the attacks on New York and President Hassan's death in order to ensure her treaty is signed, even forcibly sidelining him to (try and) keep him from interfering. Seeing as how the last few hours were especially bad for Jack what with the deaths of both Hassan and Renee, this last act winds up being the straw the breaks the proverbial camel's back for him and he loses it.
    • Long before that, it was "Et Tu, Nina?" after he discovered that Nina was a mole. He nearly killed her right on the spot until Mason talked him down.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: While he's shown to never take pleasure in it and usually takes measures to keep himself from fully crossing a line, Jack repeatedly exploits this whenever he's facing an opponent who won't tell him what he needs to know.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Unlike Tony, when Jack went on his revenge path, he didn't try to intentionally hurt any innocent people. When dealing with police, for example, he shoots to wound rather than kill. He also couldn't bring himself to kill Jason Pillar after learning about his family.
  • Fallen Hero: Near the end of Season 8, and despite regaining his senses, the world's forgotten all the good he accomplished. His line about no going back even as he races to stop Margot in Live Another Day perfectly sums it up. Over the course of it though, he at least manages to attain redemption in the American public's eyes by the time it's over. The Russian public is a different story.
  • Good Is Not Nice: From his willingness to kill in cold blood (though he's never killed anyone who didn't deserve it), to his his penchant for torture, Jack epitomizes this trope. Though he actually is a nice guy when there isn't a crisis afoot.
  • Guile Hero: Often, his most important weapon is his ability to assess how people operate. Like, for example, telling the President's aide in Day 5 that the people that have her daughter would never let the girl go even if she did what they asked, and in fact are more likely to shoot both dead on the spot afterward for knowing too much. This is how he and Wayne Palmer are able to discover that the Big Bad behind the day's events is actually Charles Logan.]]
  • Heel Realization: A major case in the final two episodes of the series. His confrontation with Jason Pillar gets him to admit that this time he isn't fighting for justice or the greater good, but rather his own selfish goals, and later with Chloe, he realizes that what he's doing is threatening the lives of innocent people, ultimately causing him to follow her plan of exposing the main antagonists of the season.
  • Hero on Hiatus: Due to being infected by the Starkwood weapon in the second half of season 7, he's forced to spend it helping from the sidelines rather than the field like usual.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Let's just say murdering a high-ranking member of the Russian government, even if he was corrupt, performing borderline acts of terrorism, and nearly starting a world war doesn't exactly endear you to the public. By the time of Live Another Day, he's considered a traitor by the entire country.
  • Heroic BSoD: Has suffered a few, notably at the end of season 1, which lasted into season 2. Season 3 ended on him having one of these. But the record probably goes to season 6, where Jack begins the day so broken he's okay with being turned over to terrorists so they can murder him. And though he escapes (otherwise the show would be called "1"), he breaks down again a few times throughout the day, especially after having to kill Curtis, and when Heller gives him a "reason you suck" speech. And then season 8 happened...
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Countless times, and he actually summarizes his losses in season 7.
  • He's Back: Tends to get one of these per season, usually in the first (though sometimes second) episode. Notably averted in season 6, driving home just how broken and lost he was at this point.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: A constant temptation, but for the most part averted; Jack is constantly told, "he did the right thing" in impossible situations by his coworkers. Let's just say in season 8, though, it's a really bad idea to target Jack once he's out of the game.
  • Hidden Depths: Deep down, Jack truly wants to live in a world where laws and regulations make a difference. The problem is that there are just too many terrorists, time bombs, and incompetent/corrupt government agents in the Crapsack World he lives in.
  • Hollywood Healing: It's highly unlikely Jack would be standing after some of the injuries he sustains. However, he is slowed by serious ones on occasion.
  • Honor Before Reason: Jack Bauer gives you his word and you can hold him to it. He doesn't break it because then he fears he wouldn't be able to keep promises anymore.
  • I Gave My Word: When he gives you his word, you better believe it. As long as you aren't German. Or have killed someone close to him.
  • Irony: In the Day 7 finale, Jack chastises Tony for his selfish actions that have endangered innocent people by giving him a whole "x wouldn't want you to be doing this, and you're tarnishing their memory!" speech. Exactly one season later, he's on the receiving end of the same speech for the same reasons. Ouch.
    • The thing that initially brings him out of hiding in "Live Another Day?" Preventing the assassination of President Heller; in other words, preventing a president from dying on foreign soil since it could lead to war. You know, the same thing he nearly succeeded in doing at the end of the original run and what left him a fugitive in the first place.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: He is the Trope Namer because he does some really squicky things to get information from prisoners.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: In six hours, he goes from waging personal war against the corrupt members of both the United States and Russian governments to nearly starting World War III just to kill them, and for a while, he's actually convinced that's the right thing to do if that means they can get their comeuppance. Thankfully, Chloe stops him seconds before he actually goes off it and pulls the trigger on Suvarov.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Threatens to harm Chloe late in Day 8.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Frequently, especially killing a pedophile who was testifying for immunity in order to infiltrate Wald's group.
  • Knight Templar: A rare sympathetic example. This is Jack's Establishing Character Moment from the very first episode:
    "You can look the other way once, and it's no big deal, except it makes it easier for you to compromise the next time, and pretty soon that's all you're doing — compromising, because that's the way you think things are done. You know those guys I busted? You think they were the bad guys? Because they weren't, they weren't bad guys, they were just like you and me. Except they compromised... Once."
    • Taken Up to Eleven in season 8 when, for the longest while, he even justifies starting a world war with the counter that "the Russians attacked first."
  • Made of Iron: He shrugs off what should be crippling injuries all the time.
  • Manly Tears: Sheds them when he gets the news about David Palmer's death. Then there was his humanizing breakdown at the end of Day 3 and his weeping over the body of Renee Walker.
  • Neck Snap: He's done this to villains 10 times, 5 of those with his feet. One of them was even done with the back of his leg!
  • One-Man Army: Jack frequently takes out entire buildings full of people by himself.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Jack isn't someone who is above revenge, but at the same time, he's always gone by the principle of putting justice before it first. When Renee is killed and Allison Taylor betrays him, causing to go down a path of placing revenge as the highest priority, you know just how enraged he's become. And of course, there's his Kick the Morality Pet moment listed above.
  • Out of Focus: In Day 7. He's somewhat hit with this in the first half of the season due to much of it taking place from Renee's POV, but it's the second half where this really strikes in full force. As mentioned in the Hero on Hiatus trope, Jack winds up getting hit with the Starkwood pathogen, which leaves him largely getting pushed to the background, with most of the focus going to Tony's rogue activities.
  • Quickly Demoted Leader: On Day 1, he was the special agent in charge of CTU Los Angeles, but left the job after his wife was killed. He later returned to government service, but never returned to a position of leadership. This was actually a good idea, because Jack's a better field agent than bureaucrat.
  • The Quiet One: Not usually, but he notably doesn't say a single word for almost the entire first episode of Live Another Day.
  • Old Soldier: By Day 7, Kim has a daughter. In Live Another Day, Jack is in his mid-fifties and it hasn't slowed him down at all.
  • Papa Wolf: For the love of God, leave Kim alone.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Especially with regards to Jack's rampage in Season 8; it may not be the best thing for world stability, but after all the crap he put up with that day, you'll probably be cheering him on through most of it. World War 3 might be taking things a bit too far.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: With Chloe in the later seasons. She's just about the only longtime friend he's got that hasn't died, and he trusts her more than anybody.
  • Put on a Bus: Does not return for Legacy. Though this may be due to the fact that he turned himself in to the Russians at the end of Live Another Day.
  • Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Several, but the best would probably be to Fayed. "Say hello to your brother".
  • Rabid Cop: Subverted in the sense that Jack is almost never wrong in identifying the villain, but he's certainly willing to break the law to extract information.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Happens in Live Another Day when he learns of Audrey's murder.
  • Redemption Earns Life: In Day 8 his going along with Chloe's plan ultimately leads to Allison Taylor getting ahold of his datacard and viewing his video will, which leads her to realize that she's betrayed her own ideals. This change of heart allows her to help Chloe locate Jack and save his life literally seconds before Logan's men put a bullet into his head.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Possibly played straight in Day 9, where even after he wins back the general public's trust back and is pardoned by President Heller Jack is ultimately forced to give himself up to the much-less-forgiving Russian government. Assuming there's no Day 10 or any other followups to pick things up, the implication the last we see Jack is they'll likely try to execute him as soon as they can.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Though it's averted for most of the series, it's arguably played tragically straight in season 8; at the very least, he's ensuring not only that there's no way in hell he'll ever get to see his family again, but in the finale even lampshades that they could also be targeted by the organizations he's harmed in season 8 in retaliation for his actions. In the final episode, it's at least averted again in the long run, as Chloe manages to call him out on his actions and snaps him back to his senses.
  • Sanity Slippage: With everything he goes through, he seems like he's constantly on the verge of blacking out and waking up surrounded by body parts.
  • Scars Are Forever: Has numerous horrible scars over his body that were attained from his near two-year imprisonment in China, which serve as a constant reminder of the events that would ultimately leave him completely broken. He's able to move beyond it by the beginning of season 8.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Deconstructed in the final season. Jack goes up against his own government in order to punish the true perpetrators behind Hassan and Renee's deaths, but if he'd managed to completely succeed in his endeavors, the end results would have been much, much worse than anything the villains of the season were trying to accomplish.
  • Shoot the Dog: Many, many examples, but what stands out the most is probably when he shot Henderson's wife in the leg during an interrogation.
  • Shut Up, Kirk!: Tries throwing this at Chloe in the series finale. It doesn't work.
  • Signature Move: Despite it not being used for the first time until the third season, he became known for his sleeper hold. The 24 Wiki indicates it was used 13 times throughout the series. It comes with its own Catchphrase.
    Jack Bauer: Don't fight it.
  • Sir Swears-a-Lot: Expect to hear "Dammit!" many times in the course of the Days.
  • Smug Smiler: Occasionally, particularly at the end of the penultimate episode.
  • 10-Minute Retirement: Twice in season 6.
  • The Pardon: Jack is told by Heller that he's been granted one for all his actions up to and including Day 9's events just prior to Heller's (false) death by drone. At the end of the day, it's become moots when Jack is forced to turn himself over to the Russians to save Chloe and subsequently protect his family from their retribution.
  • To Be Lawful or Good: as his establishing quote describes, this is basically the crux of his character. He almost always chooses "Good," and is surrounded by too many Lawful Stupid Obstructive Bureaucrats to have any reputation but that of a loose cannon.
  • Took a Level in Cynic: Multiple times, with the aftermaths of his wife's murder, his imprisonment in China, and Taylor's betrayal being the most noteworthy cases, the last one hitting especially hard due to it coming off right when he'd started to gain a bit more idealism after so many years. By the last act of Day 8 and all of Day 9, he makes a permanent shift downward as an anti-hero, not even thinking twice about endangering or harming innocent people if it can get him results.
  • Torture Technician: Don't give Jack a reason to extract information from you, just don't.
  • Tragic Hero: The question is, who hurts Jack more? The villains he fights? The government he protects or Jack's own inability to compromise?
  • Tranquil Fury: Whenever he goes on a revenge warpath against one who's personally harmed him and/or his friends and loved ones, he remains incredibly calm and collected, oftentimes disturbingly so. The closest he gets to breaking it is when his voice briefly begins to crack right before he tortures Pavel to death. In the Live Another Day finale, however, he isn't so tranquil when he learns that Audrey has been killed by Cheng Zhi's men, and yells in rage while killing 15 of Cheng's men in the course of two minutes before beheading Cheng himself.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Having a loved one murdered turns Jack into a nigh-invincible One-Man Army when he goes after the perpetrators. Just ask the Drazens, Mikhail Novakovich, and Cheng Zhi.
  • Villain Protagonist: In the final 5-6 episodes up until his Heel–Face Turn early in the series finale, he crosses the line from "Anti-hero" to villain. It's worth noting, though, that without Jack's standard MO (i.e. going rogue at the drop of a hat), the false peace would have protected the vast majority of those guilty for the day's events.
  • Weapon of Choice: His standard sidearms are always Cool Guns: a Sig P229 in the first two seasons, the HK USP Tactical for the rest of the original run, and an HK P30 for the revival.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: As demonstrated by his page quote, Jack doesn't care about laws when people are in danger. He will all sorts of bad things to ensure their safety.
  • Wham Line: "Nothing. Nothing at all." This is the exact moment it becomes clear Jack isn't playing by his usual rules.
  • White Sheep: As violent as he is, he is much better than his Corrupt Corporate Executive family.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: After everything that's happened to him in the series' entire run, Season Eight manages to to make it look like he'll finally find some sort of happiness... only for his government to betray him again resulting in his mission ending in failure, the woman he fell for to die, and the one figure he came to trust in the last few years stabbing him in the back to further her own goals. After all that, he finally snaps and goes on a violent, bloody rampage to avenge himself against the masterminds, and after all the crap he's been put through his entire life, can you blame him? He almost becomes a literal example when he has the chance to kill Suvarov and Logan, which would entire lead to the U.S. and Russia declaring war on each other, but it's narrowly averted when Chloe talks him out of it.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Subverted in season 2 where he fakes the death of Syed Ali's son.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: Any time it looks like he's going to get some sort of happy ending it's eventually cruelly denied him.
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