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Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique / 24

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Jack Bauer does this a lot, in 67 scenes in the first five seasons:

  • He starts by threatening to shove a towel down Ted Cofell's throat until he begins to digest it before pulling it out.
  • In one instance (the beginning of the second season), Jack Bauer decides that the perp is no longer necessary except as bait, and proceeds to actually shoot and kill the perp, cut off his head, and put it in a carpet bag.
  • In a subversion of Torture Always Works, however, for the first three seasons Bauer's rough interrogation tactics are usually ineffective and cause more trouble than they're worth. When Bauer punches the aforementioned Ted Cofell in the chest too hard, he has a heart attack and refuses to take his medicine out of spite, leaving him dead and Bauer without leads. In numerous other cases (Nina Myers, Syed Ali, Michael Amador) violence and pain is utterly useless, and Bauer only succeeds by outsmarting them. When David Palmer tortures the head of the NSA, although the perpetrator confesses, it's later used as evidence Palmer is unfit to lead the country. It was only with season four that torture started to become an effective intelligence technique, though that season had many more writing issues than just the portrayal of torture.
  • Season 4 shows the other downside of torture: when the victim happens to be innocent but the interrogators realize they're keeping secrets and therefore keep the torture going until that (unrelated) secret comes out. As well as a suspected mole who is then fired when she seeks compensation, The Secretary of Defense is kidnapped and nearly executed on a live webcast. After he is freed, he orders CTU to torture his own son for information, while the son protests that he had nothing to do with the plot. Eventually, they discover another piece of evidence which jogs the son's memory: He had a one-night-stand at a bar, while an accomplice checked his email and stole the SecDef's itinerary. The Secretary then berates his son for not revealing it sooner, but the son (correctly) points out that he had no reason to connect a random sexual encounter with events that occurred three weeks later. However, the main reason the son didn't want to discuss it, and the reason the interrogators had thought he was being deceptive, was because he was trying to hide his sexual orientation - the random sexual encounter had been with a man, not a woman as the interrogators and his father assumed.
  • Jack's torture technique is subverted towards the end of Season Five, where he confronts President Charles Logan. Instead of torturing him, Jack simply sits across from him and stares. Within minutes, the man is breaking down and babbling helplessly. Also, the whole thing is a Batman Gambit to plant a bug on Logan.
  • To give an idea of how cold-blooded Jack Bauer is regarding torture; the guy he's strangling in the picture for the main page is his brother. Jack tortured him in Season 6, and his brother was also one of the major players in the Season 5 plot (and he implies he had a hand in getting Jack thrown in a Chinese prison). The audience was aware of this but Jack was not at the time. Making it somewhat interesting as the viewers knew how rotten Jack's brother was, but Jack seemed to be going really far considering how little he knew.
  • The show's producers promised to cut down on torture scenes (in part due to the dean of West Point coming out to tell the writers to knock it off because his cadets were getting the wrong idea); indeed, throughout season 6, torture sessions conducted by Jack Bauer and other CTU officers have largely proven ineffective at getting the perp to talk. The Movie, Redemption, subverted the trope; while being tortured by The Dragon, Jack breaks down in tears and tells him exactly what he wants to hear, thereby causing him to send his Mooks on a wild goose chase so that Jack can escape.
  • Torture proved so common and effective in 24, one Jack Bauer Fact claims, "Jack Bauer once forgot where he put his keys. He then spent the next half-hour torturing himself until he gave up their location."
  • Season seven is very clearly an attempt to appease the people upset with the earlier use of torture. There are two prominent characters on Jack's side who are adamantly against using torture, even as one is forced to use Jack-like methods more and more, much to her own horror. And the show noticeably does not take the easy way out by making either of them The Mole in the FBI foreshadowed since the season premiere.
  • Season 8 featured Jack torturing Pavel Tokarev, the man who killed Renee Walker by tying him to a steel pole, ripping off part of his skin with pliers, savagely beating him, cutting him with a knife, throwing some liquid that burned his skin on him, and burning him with a blow torch before disemboweling him to pull a SIM Card that he swallowed out of his chest. It was very bloody.
  • Season 5 has a rare subversion when Jack decides not to torture Theo Stoller. Stoller is a German agent, so not only would it be unwise to piss off the German government, but it also means Stoller is trained to withstand torture and Jack doesn't have time to break him. Instead, he bribes him and then doesn't deliver what he promised.