“You’re cursed, Jack. Everything you touch, one way or another, ends up dead.” There’s truth to those words, uttered by former secretary of Defense James Heller (William Devane) around two o’clock in the morning on the sixth worst day of Jack Bauer’s life. Indeed, if the Emmy-winning Fox thriller 24 accomplished nothing else in its eight seasons, it decisively declared Bauer as television’s King Midas of murder. Be it a gun, an axe, a screwdriver, or even a walky-talky, it is an instrument of death in his hands — or his thighs, as is sometimes the case. As it stands, Bauer has killed 270 people over the show’s run, and no doubt Kiefer Sutherland’s iconic counterterrorism agent will be adding to the tally when 24: Live Another Day premieres on Monday, May 5. Before the clock starts ticking on the 12-episode, London-set 24 revival, join us for a fond look back at Jack Bauer’s 24 best kills to date.
24. Pants-Off Dance-Off (Season Two, 3:00 AM—4:00 AM)
Remember that time Jack Bauer died? Not the season four fake-out — the time Jack Bauer actually died. In season two, terrorists tortured Bauer so badly that his heart stopped for three minutes. Minutes after he was revived, a butt-naked Bauer regained the upper hand and killed his captors with seven well-placed bullets. Even when he’s half-dead and not wearing pants, Bauer remains the most dangerous man in the room.
23. Axe Me Another (Season Eight, 4:00 PM—5:00 PM)
The final proper season of 24 kicked off with Bauer killing a man with a fire axe and tossing another several flights of stairs down to his doom. Not a bad way to start the day.
22. Tummy Treasure (Season Eight, 12:00 PM—1:00 PM)
It wasn’t the first time Bauer removed a computer chip from a suspect’s insides. Heck, it wasn’t even the second time. But it was the first time this form of data retrieval directly resulted in death — and such a gory, stomach-skewering death, at that.
21. ’at’s Not a Knife — ’at’s a Knife (Season Four, 12:00 PM—1:00 PM)
Bauer’s one-man rescue operation to save Secretary Heller and Audrey Raines stands out as one of the best and longest action scenes in the show’s history. But the crowning moment came right at the end, when Bauer saved Audrey by tossing a knife into her hostage-taker’s heart — sending him right onto the path of a hail of SWAT team bullets.
20. Take My Knife — Please! (Season Eight, 10:00 PM—11:00 PM)
Another knife throw! After Renee Walker suffers a psychotic break and kills a key witness (who may or may not be a Cylon), she accidentally plunges a knife in Bauer’s stomach. A beat later, the murdered gangster’s associate enters the room, ready to kill Renee. True to form, Jack doesn’t hesitate; he pulls the knife out of himself and immediately tosses it into the bad guy’s throat. Pretty gross, and pretty impressive.
19. Screwed Up (Season Seven, 9:00 PM—10:00 PM)
A new permutation on the knife throw: In season seven, Bauer lured a mercenary inside a construction yard trailer, overturned the trailer with a tractor, punched the guy up for another minute or two, tossed a screwdriver into his chest, and hammered it in with a plank of wood. Perhaps not the easiest way to a man’s heart, but A+ for effort and style points.
18. The Thigh Master (Season Three, 7:00 PM—8:00 PM)
The only thing Jack Bauer enjoys more than shouting “DAMN IT” at Chloe is snapping people’s necks with his thighs. One of the finest instances of this unique method of murder occurred while Bauer was captured on Ramon Salazar’s private jet, on his way to Mexico. The only thing poor Pedro wanted was to finish watching Speed. Little did he know he had a bomb of his own to worry about — a neck-breaking, heroin-addicted bomb called Bauer.
17. Sea Legs (Season Five, 5:00 AM—6:00 AM)
Bauer’s best use of the doom-thighs took place in the penultimate episode of the Emmy-winning season five, as he stopped Russian separatist Vladimir Bierko from hijacking a submarine by cracking his neck with those sweet and deadly legs.
16. Killing by Proxy (Season Five, 5:00 AM—6:00 AM)
Sometimes, Bauer kills people with other people, like the time he coached Kim into shooting homicidal maniac Gary Mathison to death. Here’s an even better example: Just outside the submarine, and right before Bierko’s death, Bauer radioed the sub’s sole surviving good guy — the unforgettably named Petty Officer Rooney — and gave him step-by-step instructions on how to kill a patrolling terrorist. Rooney did the deed, but he couldn’t have pulled it off without Father Bauer guiding his hand.
14. Sub Human (Season Five, 5:00 AM–6:00 AM)
Okay, fine, one final submarine kill. With the sub secured, Bauer set about murdering his old friend and new nemesis Christopher Henderson in cold blood, an execution carried out to avenge the deaths of President David Palmer, Michelle Dessler, and Tony Almeida. It wasn’t justice; it was personal. There were no witnesses to the crime — no witnesses, except poor Petty Officer Rooney.
13. Claim This (Season Five, 7:00 AM–8:00 AM)
Earlier that same day, almost 24 full hours before Henderson’s death, Bauer earned vengeance for Palmer by shooting the former president’s assassin to death. Bonus trivia: Palmer’s killer is Joe the Claimer from The Walking Dead. This one’s for you, Carl!
12. Whack-a-Mole (Season Three, 2:00 AM–3:00 AM)
In a perfect world, Jack would have spent an entire season of 24 locked in a room with the cockroach Nina Myers, slowly exacting painful revenge for murdering his wife. Instead, he (and fans) had to settle for three quick bullets to the chest during her CTU escape attempt. It’s not perfect, but it’ll do.
11. Training Day (Season Six, 7:00 AM–8:00 AM)
It’s a scientific fact that season six is the worst season of 24. But credit where it’s due: Season six has some of the best kills of the entire series, like Bauer chest-kicking a suicide bomber off of a subway train, seconds before the terrorist’s explosive vest goes off.
10. Pieces of Flare (Season Two, 4:00 PM—5:00 PM)
Jack lost some points for missing the Schwarzenegger-esque opportunity to shout “You’re fired” as he killed a Coral Snake mercenary with a flare gun. But he regained those points, and then some, for killing a Coral Snake mercenary with a flare gun.
9. Bad Medicine (Season One, 10:00 AM—11:00 AM)
Usually, Bauer knows the limits of his own strength. That wasn’t the case with Ted Cofell, a seemingly innocuous businessman in cahoots with vicious Victor Drazen. After a chest-punch accidentally induced a heart attack, Jack tried to save Cofell’s life, in order to continue his interrogation, but Cofell refused his medicine and died with his secrets intact. It wasn’t Bauer’s proudest moment, but it’s one of the best examples of the CTU legend at his most desperate.
8. Boogeyman Bauer (Season Eight, 1:00 PM–2:00 PM)
Sometimes, the best kill move is the one you don’t see. Case in point: That time Bauer channeled his inner Keyer Söze and murdered an entire room of Russians, completely off-camera. Even though we didn’t how see the carnage happened, images of the grisly aftermath provided a lifetime’s supply of nightmare fuel.
7. Happy to Hang Around (Season Six, 10:00 PM–11:00 PM)
Jack Bauer versus Abu Fayed is easily one of the most brutal, bone-breaking beatdowns in 24 history. Highlights include Jack and Fayed throwing their guns at each other, Jack breaking Fayed’s arm with a wrench, and a wicked Wahlbergian one-liner: “Say hello to your brother for me.” With that, Bauer killed Fayed exactly as he killed Fayed’s brother — well, not exactly, unless Bauer hanged Fayed’s brother to death with a motorized chain, too.
6. The Chapelle Showdown (Season Three, 6:00 AM–7:00 AM)
By executing Ryan Chapelle, Bauer showed just how far down the road of damnation he was willing to travel to protect his country. It’s easily among the most chilling, gut-wrenching moments in 24’s history. Observe a silent clock and pour out a tray of frozen lasagna for the former Father Phil. Here’s hoping there are leftovers at that stormy Carmella sleepover in the sky.
5. Scissors of Death (Season Five, 11:00 AM–12:00 PM)
It’s not Bauer’s best kill at CTU — that’s still coming up — but it was easily his best CTU fistfight, thanks to an undercover killer, a few cracked ribs, and a well-placed scissor throat-punch. And somehow, Tony Almeida slept through the whole thing!
4. Drazen Hell (Season One, 11:00 PM–12:00 AM)
It’s the 24 equivalent of the Konami Code: Bauer, fueled by the false information that his daughter had been killed, activated Invincible mode and wiped out the entire Victor Drazen syndicate’s dockside compound, armed with nothing more than a van, two handguns, and a belly full of fury. It’s by far and away Jack’s most emotionally charged killing spree, an amazingly action-packed way to close out 24’s first (and greatest) season.
2. Heads You Win (Season Two, 8:00 AM–9:00 AM)
“Are you out of your mind?!” CTU director George Mason barked at Bauer, seconds after the freshly reinstated agent shot federal witness Marshall Goren to death. “You want results, but you never want to get your hands dirty,” Bauer snarled back. “I’d start rolling up your sleeves.” Jack needed to reestablish his cover with a local terrorist cell to stop a nuclear bomb, and this scumbag’s severed head was the price of admission. It was a character and show-defining moment, ending with the greatest 24 one-liner of all time: “I’m gonna need a hacksaw.”
1. Heart-Attack Neck Snap (Season Two, 7:00 AM—8:00 AM)
Five hours after the pants-off resurrection killing spree and seconds after single-handedly shooting up a stadium filled with terrorists, Bauer had to fistfight his way to safety against one last assassin. Jack ended the brawl by running up a wall and breaking the bad guy’s neck in one fell swoop, before collapsing from a well-earned heart attack. Seriously, think about that: Jack Bauer ran up a wall, broke a dude’s neck, all while having a heart attack. And that is officially everything you need to understand Bauer Power in one killer, neck-breaking nutshell. Once you see that move, you know Jack.