By Sierra Filucci,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
A tense thriller for adults and mature teens.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
A major theme is teamwork. While Jack and his allies always seem to end up accomplishing their goals -- save the president/country/world -- they do so through very iffy means, including torture, deception, and much more. All of this sends a strong message that the "right" ends can justify the means, no matter what those means might be. The show also clearly takes the perspective that it's worth sacrificing almost anything for the greater good and places a strong emphasis on duty and loyalty.
Positive Role Models
Jack may be the hero, but he's a not a clear role model. Murder, drugs, torture, etc. -- he's done it all. However, he is loyal, resourceful, and resilient, and most of his actions are geared toward helping keep the country (and/or people he cares about) safe. The show is full of characters with questionable motives and means; every season includes double-crosses and betrayals, even by those who are supposed to be the "good guys." The show has been critiqued for potraying villains stereotypically.
Violence & Scariness
Intense violence -- torture, gunplay, stabbing, poisoning, explosions, plane/car crashes -- sometimes with blood.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Fairly infrequent sexual references/activity, though characters (mostly women) do end up scantily clad in some scenes, and sex (whether for pleasure or as an act of manipulation) is sometimes implied via bedroom scenes.
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Very frequent use of "dammit" by Jack; other words include "hell" and "bitch."
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Products & Purchases
FOX News plays a major role in the show. The Sprint logo is visible on constantly-in-use cell phones, and many vehicles are product placements as well.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Jack used to use heroin but talks about it with regret. Minor characters drink and smoke.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that 24 is a very addictive series all about terrorism. The violence is relentless, albeit usually somewhat bloodless (with the notable exception of some gory torture scenes), and the lead character is rarely remorseful for anything he does in the name of duty/accomplishing his goals. Villains are sometimes portrayed stereotypically, although, in general, the show depicts women and minorities without bias. Discussion of sex is common, but not a major plot element. Because 24 is expressly designed to be addictive, parents not wanting their teens to watch every episode should probably avoid letting them them get started at all.
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Based on 27 parent reviews
How is this TV-14??
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Only for adults
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What's the Story?
In an age of both real and imagined terrorist threats, 24 brings us Jack Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland), a rugged hero who works with the U.S. Counter Terrorism Unit (CTU) to fight those who threaten the country. His methods of fighting terrorism are often repugnant, but his quest is always driven by duty and honor. What makes this series unique and compelling is its structure. Each season follows just a single day -- each episode accounting for one hour (i.e., playing out in real time). The CTU is thrown into action by a major threat, such as nuclear bombs, viruses, or plots against the president. But even as Jack fights the bad guys (who have included Arabs, Russians, and Americans), he finds the time to make intimate connections with others, so viewers can find empathy for him despite his outrageous circumstances.
Is It Any Good?
With its breathless pace, moral dilemmas galore, and an innovative format, 24 is an extremely exciting show ... for adults. With its frequent gunplay, hand-to-hand combat, explosions, high-speed chases, double-crosses, deception, and some sexual content, 24 is definitely not for younger kids, though some teens may be able to handle the violence.
While Jack is the hero of 24, his aggressive tactics diminish his character as a role model. Sometimes the series' formula wears thin, with certain scenarios playing out over and over again, but well-developed characters, especially CTU agent Chloe O'Brian (Mary Lynn Rajskub), keep it interesting.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the series' frequent moral quandaries in 24, which can provide good jumping-off points for talking to teens about right and wrong. Does the end justify the means? What would you do in Jack's position?
How does the show make you feel about the way government and politics operate?
How do the characters on 24 demonstrate teamwork? Why is this an important character strength?
- Premiere date: November 6, 2001
- Cast: Dennis Haysbert, Elisha Cuthbert, Jean Smart, Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub
- Network: Fox
- Genre: Drama
- Character Strengths: Teamwork
- TV rating: TV-14
- Last updated: March 6, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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