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24 jack bauer on the phone

Fox has never made a secret of its need to bring the 24 franchise back to the small screen in some way, shape or form. The network's deepest dive down that avenue resulted in the short-lived spinoff 24: Legacy, and execs haven't stopped coming up with ways to conversationally keep this Jack Bauer-infused universe alive. Unfortunately for fans (and for those most hopeful execs), Fox has announced progress was halted on not just one, but two in-development 24 spinoff projects.

Fans who have been keeping their ear firmly on the ground for 24 news may remember when reports dropped over the past two years that Fox was kicking around an idea for a Jack Bauer prequel, as well as a non-Jack pitch. Both ideas had their positive elements and their more questionable elements, and it would appear the latter were more prevalent from a big-picture standpoint.

While at this year's Television Critics Association winter press tour, Fox's President of Entertainment Michael Thorn told TVLine the disappointing 24 news, saying:

We had been circling two ideas for 24 spinoffs and those ideas are not moving forward. But we’re constantly looking at other opportunities to keep the title resonant, for us and the fans.

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Considering how long ago those 24 spinoffs first gained ground in the news cycle, it certainly didn't seem imminent that Fox was going to reveal any major series orders at TCA or otherwise. There had been some behind-the-scenes murmurings about things not going so smoothly, but execs tend to stay mum about in-development projects, so things hadn't been 100% confirmed until now.

Note, of course, that it definitely isn't a lack of passion keeping 24 projects from getting made at Fox. Indeed, Michael Thorn expressed quite the opposite notion.

It’s one of the most important titles at our network, so whatever we do with it we want it to fell as relevant and as explosive as the original — and that’s hard. We’re all committed to finding another version of it, but only when it’s right.

24's initial run on Fox lasted for eight seasons, as well as the limited 24: Live Another Day series, so one might think that some creative team out there could loosely mimic some of the show's biggest hooks in ways that still feel fresh in 2020. However, these spinoffs were really stepping out of the box in some ways.

One of the concepts was a 24 prequel series from original creators Joel Surnow and Bob Cochran was basically a "Young Jack Bauer" series that would go back and show audiences how Jack got to be the quasi-superhero CTU agent that he was when audiences first met him back in 2001. That kind of idea would run the risk of being too similar to the Corey Hawkins-starring spinoff 24: Legacy, which failed to win over big crowds and was cancelled after a single season.

The other 24 spinoff idea that was being kicked around was a complete departure from the world fans knew, with producers looking to bring the real-time ticking-clock element to other narrative structures. So in this case, the idea was for the story to be some kind of a legal thriller, as opposed to one focused on terrorism and politics. That would feasibly be a great way to extend the franchise's reach, though obviously not the ideal way to attract fans who are 99% invested in Kiefer Sutherland's Jack Bauer above all else.

It's been a while since Kiefer Sutherland fielded major 24 questions, as the actor had been busy with the political thriller Designated Survivor, which went from ABC to Netflix. But that series is finished now, so it's only a matter of time before the beep-boops start and he gets hounded to return to take down more dangerous terrorists.

While 24 won't be back in primetime at any point in the near future, our Winter and Spring TV schedule notes all the big shows that are on the way.