Character Culling on 24

On 24, the list of recurring characters gets culled every year, for what I assume are two reasons: 1) to make the audience aware that no-one, not even our heroes (except, of course, Jack Bauer) is bulletproof, and 2) to stave off the payrises that come every season from returning actors. By halfway through season five, another three original characters had been killed: David Palmer, Michelle Dressler and Tony Almeada. This brought the total of remaining season-one main characters (other then Bauer) to none.

Oh, wait. I forgot Jack’s daughter, Kim. She fumbled her way through seasons 1-3, only to disappear in season four and reappear halfway through season five. In season four, she was dispatched offscreen with a one-line explanation, and never mentioned again. I find it interesting that they haven’t killed Kim off, especially since Elisha Cuthbert is probably the show’s second most well-known name after Kiefer Sutherland.

My reasoning is that Jack’s lost too many friends and family – his wife, Tony, David, Michelle – that, realistically, one more loss like that and he’d probably refused to work anymore, and who could blame him? So instead of paying Cuthbert, they write Kim out into some white picket fence life. She’s still around, and safe and happy, we just don’t see her. A nice compromise between Jack’s character integrity and the show’s budget.

But what got me thinking was if the 24 PTB would have come up with such a compromise if Jack had been Jacqueline. So many times I’ve seen female characters jerked in every direction of characterisation, doing whatever needed to be done to further the storyline – which not only compromised character integrity, it also compromised script integrity. There’s no fun in having a story propelled by a character who exists to, well, propel the story.

I cannot see the 24 PTP subjecting Jack to such an indignity. I would have trouble accepting that Jack would keep working – and exposing the people he loves to the people he pisses of – if they killed Kim. Hunt down her killers, yes, but continue the fight against terrorism, no. And in the greater picture, I cannot see any TV show compromising a male character like that.

I can, however, doing such a thing to a female character.

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