’24’: Season 2’s Cougar Bit Lead Cast Member

Fans of the hit Fox TV show 24 likely remember that moment from the second season when Elisha Cuthbert’s Kim Bauer found herself in a staredown with a cougar. The show was lauded for its cinematic action sentiments on a network television screen. It did not skimp when it needed the cougar and got a real one. Unfortunately for Cuthbert, that decision almost had some tragic results. 

Kiefer Sutherland looking to the right
Kiefer Sutherland | Tom L. Phelan/Getty Images


According to IMDb, Kim’s season two arc consisted of her teenage character playing babysitter for a young girl with an abusive father named Gary Matheson. After killing his wife and threatening Kim, she takes his daughter and runs. However, after Gary murders his wife, and evidence points to Kim being the culprit, she has to run away. With the help of her friend, Miguel, Kim escapes police custody after they cause a crash that costs Miguel his leg.

Running from the cops, however, Kim gets stuck in a bear trap, and to make things worse, she finds herself face to face with a wild cougar who sees the trapped Kim Bauer as an easy meal. Kim stares down the predator for an entire episode before a hunter saves her at the last moment. However, while Kim escaped mostly unscathed by the cougar, Cuthbert was not as lucky. 

Cuthbert on the cougar bite

According to an interview with Vulture on the episode, Cuthbert was never scared of the real-life cougar on-set. The trained ones seldom bite unless they are spooked. On top of all this, Cuthbert was feeling sick from a sort of bug. This conflation of events made it hard to understand why the cat did what it did. 

“Either something in the woods spooked it, and I happened to be in front of the cat, or maybe it was because I was so ill. Maybe it sensed that I was weak. Nothing would have provoked it. I have no idea why it decided to bite me, but it definitely did,” she said. Kim was battered and injured throughout the show, and as Cuthbert notes, the stage injuries provided the doctors with a humorous challenge. She continued:

“Because of the show, I had all these, like, cuts and fake blood on me … So when I got to the hospital, they knew an actor was coming in that had been attacked by a mountain lion. They thought I was, like, totally mauled. I was like, ‘No, it’s just my hand! I just got bit on the hand!’ So the fake blood kind of threw the nurses a bit. I remember that being funny.”

Cuthbert was fine, and it ended up being little more than a memorable case of the wrong thing happening at the bad times. Actors go to extraordinary lengths to get these moments on the screen. As a result, it becomes as exciting as the fictional action they’re filming on the scene. 

What was ’24’?

According to Fandom24 premiered on Fox in 2001. Already slated for release, the series immediately turned some heads due to its foreshadowing themes of terrorism in what was now a post-9/11 world. The result was a smash hit that scratched an itch for an audience who was increasingly interested in the workings of the series’ fictional Counterterrorism Unit. For nine seasons, Bauer fought the enemy both at home, inside his unit, and abroad. 

The series main draw, however, may have been its format. As the title suggests, the standard season consisted of 24 one-hour episodes, which took place in real-time, meaning that each season successfully covered an entire day. Writers loaded those days with suspense, drama, terrorist attacks, and high-stakes espionage, which often meant the difference between status quo and nuclear disaster. 

During the show’s first season, Jack was joined by Kim and his wife, who died during the closing moments of the show’s first season. Lauded at the time for its gritty action and production, the series has now become a fascinating insight into post 9/11 America. As the show expanded, it showed that anyone could be in on nefarious operations, from Jack’s co-workers to the President of the United States. 

In season two, however, the focus was on stopping a nuclear attack. However, one subplot involved Kim Bauer, a cougar, and a race against time that was nothing like the show was known for. 

RELATED: Why Are So Many Fictional Heroes Named Jack?