’24’ Was Supposed to Be About a Wedding Instead of a Kidnapping

24 was appointment TV  when it debuted in 2001. But did you know the show that made Kiefer Sutherland a household name was originally intended to have an entirely different premise? Yes, you heard that right. The show was originally going to be about an upcoming wedding! 

24 had a novel premise

When 24 debuted in 2001, it was structured in a truly novel way. Each episode of the show, created by Robert Cochran and Joel Surnow, took place over the course of an actual hour.

The “24” of the title referred to the 24-hour day that was portrayed over a season of the show. To drive the point home about the use of time on the show, a clock was always prominently displayed on the lower part of the screen, counting down the 24 hours for viewers.

Another original technique that the show took advantage of was the split-screen. By showing events taking place simultaneously in different locations, the show’s creators and directors helped the audience keep up with everything that was happening without losing time on the ever-ticking clock. 

In 24, Sutherland portrayed Jack Bauer, the head of a counter-terrorism unit. In the show’s first season, Jack and his teamwork to thwart the assassination of a presidential candidate portrayed by Dennis Haysbert. Other seasons involved such adventures as stopping a bomb in LA, infiltrating a Mexican drug cartel, and saving the Secretary of Defense and his daughter when they are kidnapped by terrorists. The adventures truly never seemed to end for Jack Bauer. 

Terrorism wasn’t 24‘s original focus

Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer
Kiefer Sutherland as Jack Bauer | Greg Williams/FOX/Getty Images

It’s hard to imagine now, but when the show’s creators first dreamed up 24, they envisioned it as being about the 24 hours leading up to a wedding. As The Week reports, Joel Surnow came up with the idea of having a season based on one 24-hour day because most of the shows he had worked on previously had 22-week seasons.

When he proposed his original idea to co-creator Bob Cochran, the two decided to focus the premise on a wedding. That vision didn’t end up lasting, though. After all, they realized, it’s hard to imagine an audience feeling compelled to stick around for the entirety of such a show. So they decided to change the focus of the show to something more compelling–terrorism prevention–and the rest, as they say, is history. 

Sutherland had a hard time saying goodbye

In a 2016 interview with the People/Entertainment Weekly Network, Sutherland reflected on his last days working with the 24 cast and crew. Entertainment Weekly gave a rundown on the interview, where Sutherland described the experience of saying good-bye to the people he’d worked so closely with for so many years as “like the worst breakup I have had.”

He explained: “I think we had 30 some-odd weddings, marriages. Some people both on the show or another. I think some 40 some-odd children were born. The get-togethers were amazing. … We were known as the show that: if you invited us to the Emmys, or you invited us to the Golden Globes, or the Screen Actors Guild awards, we were the last to leave.”

With feelings like that, it’s easy to imagine that Sutherland might be interested in someday reprising his role as the iconic Jack Bauer. Nevertheless, it’s unclear at this time whether a reboot might happen going forward, or if it does, whether it would star Sutherland. For now, we’ll just have to wait and see, and maybe enjoy streaming some old episodes when we need some good nail-biting TV. 

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