A tense thriller for adults and mature teens.
Popular with kidsParents recommend

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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.


Intense violence -- torture, gunplay, stabbing, poisoning, explosions, plane/car crashes -- sometimes with blood.


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.


Very frequent use of "dammit" by Jack; other words include "hell" and "bitch."


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.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this very addictive series is 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 shoud probably avoid letting them them get started at all.

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 the show, 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.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about the series' frequent moral quandaries, 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?

TV details

Cast:Dennis Haysbert, Elisha Cuthbert, Jean Smart, Kiefer Sutherland, Mary Lynn Rajskub
Character strengths:Teamwork
TV rating:TV-14
Available on:DVD, Streaming

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Parent of a 15 year old Written byTsion January 29, 2011


Don't get me wrong. 24 is an extremely intelligent, addicting, well-written, and well-acted show. Though it can get very repetative, it is consistently moving and engaging. However, it is an adults-only program that has extreme violence and other graphic content. Going into this show, I thought that its TV-14 rating would be the equivalent of a PG-13. Far from it. The show's graphic content is hard R rated, and I would rather my kids watch certain R-rated movies than this show. Please note, however, that I haven't seen every episode of the show, so the content listed should be considered a minimum. The show's violence is consistently bloody, graphic, and disturbing. People are shot in every imaginable area of the body with spurting or spraying gore. Also, people are stabbed, exploded, or electrocuted graphically. Dead bodies made gorey with disease are shown. Jack Bauer uses common-place items like books and pens to fight people and often kill them. Main characters with whom the audience sympathizes are frequently killed brutally entirely on-screen. Rape and sexual assault are never shown, but sometimes implied and spoken about. Jack has to resort to gruesome measures to get the information he needs, including digging into people's deceased bodies with his bare hands (squirting blood is seen). Torture is also a main point of the show. Though the show's star, Kiefer Sutherland, is very anti-torture off-screen, the act of torture is never looked down upon in the actual series. People are shot, injected with chemicals, beaten within an inch of their lives, and dismembered (all on-screen) in order to get info. Several people's families (including children) are killed before their eyes. All of these actions are done by authority figures in the government. Sex is limited to brief implied trysts or flashes of skin (never any explicit nudity). Some extra-marital affairs are spoken about, sometimes quite frankly. "D**n" and "SOB" are used almost constantly, but that's the extent of language. The series also has the R-rated equivalency of drug use. We see people (including Jack) do drugs very graphically and disturbingly. One lady, dressed as a prostitute, is shown nearly nude in a disheveled room, injecting heroin into her foot veins while laughing hysterically (due to being high). Now, this content alone probably wouldn't get an "off" rating if it weren't for the messages that accompanied it. Though the show features many positive aspects, like sacrifice and bravery, the main message of the series seems to be "no one is incorruptible." Even squeaky-clean characters resort to violence and blackmail in order to get their way, and often get away with it. Jack Bauer keeps no one alive, and leaves a monumental body trail wherever he goes. The movie almost seems to promote the violence and torture it contains. All in all, this is a good show for adults only. It will only give bad messages to kids. I have no idea how it evaded a TV-MA rating. PLEASE NOTE: The series gets more graphic and violent as it goes on, but once kids start season 1, they won't want to stop due to the show's addictive nature.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Teen, 14 years old Written byMyWinterFirefly April 14, 2010

Fine for kids 12-13 with parental guidance and fine to watch alone past that :)

I started watching 24 with my parents when I was 12. It was fine, there were some scary parts then which is why I was glad my parents were there. But when I turned 14 I started watching it alone and I wasn't scared at all. Some of the moments are suspenseful but not that scary. If your kids are sensitive I would advice not letting them watch it until they are about 14-15. Definitely whatever the child's age watch the first few episodes with them incase there are any problems. The actual show is amazing. It is by far my favourite show on TV. It is insanely addictive, and no matter how hard you try you can't stop watching it. There are death and fighting scenes but you see surprising little blood and no gore. But all the time Jack is fighting for the country.
What other families should know
Too much drinking/drugs/smoking
Adult Written bydeschanel April 9, 2008


I've watched the show on A&E to catch up. It's a very good show! I can describe the show in one line. Addictive.


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