Why Shelving 24's Jack Bauer Is a Bipartisan Agreement

On Friday, Fox announced that this season of the real-time thriller 24 would be the last. Immediately, the conversation seemed to turn toward whether the current political climate was too inhospitable toward 24's deeply entrenched Bush-era themes to last in an Obama age. Anyone who believes that also probably thinks that someone who gets killed off-camera is actually dead.

The end of 24 has nothing to do with politics; it has to do with old age. 24 is in its eighth year, and after that many seasons, any show starts to reveal some fatigue. This is especially true for 24, a show with a basic premise so elaborate and limiting that critics once wondered how there could be a second season, let alone an eighth. But when it caught on, the writers made a way, as they so often do when they have a hit on their hands.

Now that the show's ratings continue to sag, as the cost of making the explosion-heavy, ensemble-cast drama continues to rise, the time has come to retire Jack Bauer's weekly adventures in terror-plot busting. But as for the politics, they're merely a coincidence. If McCain had won the White House, 24 would still be on its last narrative leg, even with the alternate-universe POTUS as one of its biggest fans. (McCain even had a brief cameo appearance.) The mounting plot twists would still be hard to swallow, the ticking time bombs just as beyond belief, Bauer's ability to withstand torture equally unbelievable. Ending 24 at this point should be a rare area of bipartisan agreement.