8:30am PT by Josh Wigler
The 24 Greatest '24' Deaths, Ranked
[Warning: This story contains massive spoilers for all existing seasons of Fox's 24.]
With very few exceptions, characters didn't get to walk away from Fox's 24 on their own terms. Whether it was a stray CTU agent in the wrong place at the wrong time, or even someone who was a fan-favorite figure for years and years, the real-time thriller more than earned its reputation as an incredibly deadly show, killing off core castmembers with shocking regularity.
As the premiere of 24: Legacy looms, and the body count becomes poised to rise even further, here's one last look back on the 24 most iconic 24 deaths as things currently stand. For what it's worth, these are all named characters only — which means the unnamed individuals with their own memorable exits aren't going to count here. Apologies to the man whose throat Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) removed with his teeth back in season six; given a proper identity, you would very much be on this list.
With that out of the way, let's roll up the sleeves and hack(saw) into this:
24. Janet York (Jacqui Maxwell)
Choked to death in a hospital room by a man posing as her own father, Janet's death in the early hours of 24's first season laid the groundwork for how a lot of the show's biggest moments would play out: chilling in its violence, and often packed with a hard left turn of a twist.
23. Ted Cofell (Currie Graham)
The vengeful Kosovo terrorist disguised as a business man would be a bit character if not for his central role opposite Bauer in the show's 11th episode. The scenes of Jack interrogating Ted amounted to a compelling two-man show, culminating in the latter willingly giving into a Bauer-induced heart attack rather than betraying his cause.
22. Jamey Farrell (Karina Arroyave)
Jamey was a heartbreaker through and through, serving as the show's very first CTU mole, albeit one who was operating out of a need to provide for her family. Her death via an apparent suicide is devastating at first blush, before becoming something entirely more harrowing when it's revealed she was murdered by another double agent altogether.
21. Gael Ortega (Jesse Borrego)
First presented as a double agent, Gael was eventually revealed as a triple agent, one of the show's more heroic and short-lived characters. He's killed when a virus breaks out in a downtown Los Angeles hotel, after risking life and limb to contain the disease in the first place.
20. Reza Naiyeer (Phillip Rhys)
Poor Reza. He woke up on the morning of Day 2 expecting to marry the love of his life. Instead, he's dead within a matter of hours, shot to death by none other than his bride-to-be. Reza's death, coupled with the reveal that Marie Warner (Laura Harris) was actually working with the terrorist organization Second Wave, remains one of the show's very best twists.
19. Nina Myers (Sarah Clarke)
There's no doubting Nina's place in 24 history, easily one of the show's most compelling characters and vicious villains. In isolation, Nina's season-three demise is an intense moment for the show, as Jack clearly crosses legal and ethical lines in order to satisfy his own personal vengeance. In the longer view, however, killing Nina so early into the show's run was probably a mistake, leaving Jack without a mortal nemesis to haunt him across the rest of the series.
18. President Hassan (Anil Kapoor)
Perhaps the star power Slumdog Millionaire actor Anil Kapoor brought to season eight was so blinding that it kept eagle-eyed viewers from anticipating his character's death. Hassan's assassination during a live-feed broadcast was a brutal ending to an action-packed rescue operation gone wrong, and among the show's last truly shocking main-character deaths.
17. Michelle Dessler (Reiko Aylesworth)
As one of the decisive main characters from the early era of 24, Michelle's death within the first act of season five was literally and figuratively explosive. Losing such a beloved character in such a sudden act of violence, only minutes after losing an even more beloved figure in David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), was as propulsive a start to a 24 season as it gets.
16. Larry Moss (Jeffrey Nordling)
Season seven is perhaps best known for the return of Tony Almeida (Carlos Bernard), previously thought dead only to reemerge as an agent of vengeance. Tony's allegiances are all over the place throughout the day, including an incredibly dark turn when he chokes the life out of an already wounded FBI Special Agent Moss.
15. Bill Buchanan (James Morrison)
Few characters exit 24 on their own terms, but Bill was an exception to the rule, ending his own life in an explosive sacrifice play designed to help Jack stop General Juma (Tony Todd) and his men from killing the president. It all happens so fast, it takes a good few minutes before Jack, the show and the audience alike can even stop to register the solemn CTU veteran's heroic final act.
14. Ramon Salazar (Joaquim de Almeida)
Settle in, folks. The next few entries are all about Bauer's biggest villains. Up first: Ramon Salazar, the Mexican drug lord filled with fiery fury toward Jack. Salazar's life ends in fiery fury as well, when he accidentally sets off an explosive while he was trying to get the upper hand on his nemesis.
13. Jason Pillar (Reed Diamond)
The season-eight villain was little more than a Charles Logan (Gregory Itzin) lackey, but the way he went out was truly priceless: conned and killed by the cowardly Logan, who then attempted to take his own life as authorities were closing in one last time. Of course, Logan survived his own self-inflicted gunshot to the head, because there's seemingly nothing the sniveling little weasel can't survive.
12. Margot Al-Harazi (Michelle Fairley)
The first villain of 24: Live Another Day was a very familiar face for Game of Thrones fans. But the erstwhile Catelyn Stark was a little bit more like a Lannister during her short stint on 24 — a short stint, but a long fall, killed off when Jack tosses her out of a warehouse window.
11. Vladimir Bierko (Julian Sands)
Among the many ways he's killed his enemies in the past, Jack has a thing for breaking necks — whether it's using his hands, his legs or even a wall for support as he's in the middle of having a heart attack. (No, really.) One of the most high-profile breakneck Bauer victims is Russian separatist Vladimir Bierko, his neck snapped by Jack's thighs at the end of a battle inside a submarine.
10. Abu Fayed (Adoni Maropis)
Yet another broken-neck victim, though this one was strung up by a massive chain at the conclusion of one of the show's greatest one-on-one fight scenes. This is also one of few compliments one can pay toward the sixth season of 24, easily the show's worst season.
9. Habib Marwan (Arnold Vosloo)
Season four's villain was perhaps the most competent bad guy of the entire series. Habib Marwan successfully destroyed some nuclear reactors, killed a sitting president, stole nuclear launch codes and very nearly incinerated Los Angeles in the process. Every time Jack closed in on Marwan, he escaped. Marwan only died in the end because he chose death over incarceration — a choice he makes with a maniacal smile on his face as he plummets to his doom.
8. Cheng Zhi (Tzi Ma)
He's the man responsible for locking Jack in a Chinese prison cell for almost two years, the same men who tortured Jack's girlfriend Audrey (Kim Raver) and eventually ordered her assassination. So when the time finally arrived for Jack to kill Cheng Zhi, he did so in style, removing the man's head with a conveniently located sword.
7. Victor Drazen (Dennis Hopper)
Fooled into thinking the Drazen family murdered his daughter, Jack unleashes a one-man assault on season-one villain Victor Drazen's dockside compound, eventually unloading his final rounds of ammunition into the genocidal maniac. It's one of the most emotionally charged sequences in 24 lore, and somehow not even the most emotionally charged moment from the first-season finale. That's still coming up.
6. Marshall Goren (Carl Ciarfalo)
This low-life loser lasted no longer than two or so minutes onscreen, before Jack blasted him away. But he's an iconic figure in 24 history nonetheless, on the business end of one of Jack Bauer's single most quotable lines: "I'm gonna need a hacksaw."
5. Ryan Chappelle (Paul Schulze)
Another of Jack's victims, albeit one he did not want to kill. Season-three villain Stephen Saunders (Paul Blackthorne) ordered Ryan Chappelle's killing, threatening to release a deadly virus if his wishes were not granted. Both Ryan and Jack agreed that the only way to save everyone else was to comply, a dark ending to one of the show's most powerful hours.
4. Edgar Stiles (Louis Lombardi)
Season five solidified its status as the show's most punishing year ever when it killed off poor Edgar, the incredibly likable agent who emerged as one of the new breakout characters in season four. The Sopranos veteran's lonely death via nerve gas stands out as one of the show's most haunting images.
3. President Palmer (Dennis Haysbert)
While it was absolutely devastating to lose such an essential character from the 24 cast, at least Palmer's exit provided the fuel for one of the show's single most intense seasons ever. Palmer's assassination was easily the most compelling opening scene of any season up to (and past) that point, and his ghost continued to haunt the action as season five barreled on.
2. George Mason (Xander Berkeley)
There's no one in the entire run of 24 who had a more satisfying redemption arc than George Mason, the snarky CTU director who transformed from a total craven into an irradiated hero within the span of only 12 or so hours. Although Mason didn't even last two full seasons, his role in season two as a cowardly man accepting and owning his inevitable death remains one of the most powerful performances in the show's history.
1. Teri Bauer (Leslie Hope)
If 24 is known for a single moment outside of its premise and ubiquitous main character, it's the death of Jack Bauer's wife in the final moments of the show's very first season. It was a harrowing way to end the day, a dark punchline after already enduring so much despair. But it also set the stage for everything that followed, making it clear that every single character on the board could be removed at any moment.
What are some of the other memorable 24 character deaths we left out? Let us know in the comments, and click here for our continuing 24 coverage.