The timeline of 24 has never been pinned down. The creative team behind 24 has resisted placing any season in any specific year; moreoever, the few date references given tend to conflict with each other, as well as with real life.
According to Evan Katz, the time frame of 24 is intentionally vague and undefined, with each season effectively taking place in the "perpetual now" — that is, each episode takes place at the corresponding time of day on whichever day the viewer watches it. References to the current date in the series — for example, the date visible on a cell phone screen — are usually not coordinated, and sometimes reflect the actual date and time when the scene was filmed. The star of the show, Kiefer Sutherland, has also stated on various occasions how the show has been set as an alternate take on today's world, which further helped explain the show's various references to real-world events (corrupt oil businessmen in Season 2, Middle-Eastern terrorists, and Blackwater-type private contracting companies in Season 7).
That said, each season is said to take place a certain number of years or months after the previous one, allowing the approximate timeline of events below.
By year Edit
Relative timeline Edit
This section or page contains pre-release information
regarding 24: Live Another Day and thus may contain spoilers.
- Day 1
- 18 months pass
- Season 4 Prequel Part 1
- 3 months pass
- Season 4 Prequel Part 2
- 1 year passes
- Season 4 Prequel Part 3
- 3 months pass
- Season 4 Prequel Part 4
- 6 hours pass
- Day 4
- 12 months pass
- Season 5 Prequel
- 6 months pass
- Day 5
- 7 months pass
- Season 6 Prequel
- 13 months pass
- Day 6
- 15 hours pass
- Day 6 Debrief
- 3 years, 6 months pass
- 65 days pass
- Day 7
- 18 months pass
- Day 8
- One hour passes
- 4 years pass
- Live Another Day
- The novel Trinity and the comic One Shot both claim to depict Jack Bauer's first mission with CTU. Trinity, however, is set before Jack officially joins the agency, while One Shot is depicted as his first day on the job.
- The first 24 novel, Operation Hell Gate, is established to take place after Operation Nightfall, and most of the following novels in turn reference the events of that book, placing them in the two years between Nightfall and Day 1. Cat's Claw, however, has nothing that explicitly places it within this time period.
- Christopher Henderson appears in Vanishing Point, Chaos Theory, Trinity, and Collateral Damage. In Chaos Theory, it is strongly implied that he will soon be investigated for wrongdoing and fired from CTU as mentioned in "Day 5: 4:00pm-5:00pm", placing this novel after the others.
- Head Shot, Death Angel, and Day Zero are all set during or after Jack and Teri's separation, placing them not long before the events of Season 1.
- A seemingly irreconcilable conflict in the timeline is introduced with Trojan Horse, which depicts the birth of Megan Matheson. Although Megan is nine years old at the time of Day 2, the novel is set within the two years prior to Day 1, no more than four years before Day 2.
- The mobile game Special Ops is set during Charles Logan's presidency (between Day 4 and Day 5), which is impossible as Jack Bauer was in hiding for nearly the entirety of Logan's administration.
Sample timeline Edit
- Operation Nightfall: March 2000
- Season 1: March 2002
- Season 2: September 2003
- The Game: March 2004
- Season 3: September 2006
- Season 4: March 2008
- Season 5 Prequel: March 2009
- Season 5: September 2009
- Season 6 Prequel: April 2010
- Season 6: May 2011
- Redemption: January 2015
- Season 7: March 2015
- Season 8: September 2016
- Live Another Day: 2020-2021
On the above (speculative) timeline, the Presidents on 24 served for the following terms:
- David Palmer: January 2003 – January 2007
- John Keeler: January 2007 – March 2008 (removed from office)
- Charles Logan: March 2008 – September 2009 (removed from office)
- Hal Gardner (presumed): September 2009 – January 2011
- Wayne Palmer: January 2011 – May 2011 (assassinated)
- Noah Daniels: May 2011 – January 2015
- Allison Taylor: January 2015 – September 2016 (resigned)
- Mitchell Hayworth (presumed): September 2016 – January 2019
- James Heller: January 2019 –
Theories about the timeline Edit
- Trinity is said to take place seven years after the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, placing it in 2000. Kim Bauer is mentioned as being 13 in it, and as Kim was 15 on Day 1 (according to Findings at CTU), this places Day 1 in 2002.
- Slobodan Milošević was in power until 2000, placing Nightfall sometime before then and Day 1 sometime before 2002.
Veto Power Edit
- Veto Power references the fall of Saddam Hussein, which took place in December 2003. If it takes place approximately six months before Day 1, this would place Day 1 in mid-2004.
Trojan Horse Edit
- In Trojan Horse, Operation Proteus was just getting started two years before the novel. According to Findings at CTU and the fox website, Operation Proteus took place in 2000, placing Day 1 in at least 2002.
Chaos Theory Edit
- The novel references the 2004 hotel bombing in Bali by Jemaah Islamiyah, hence placing Day 1 and the others after that year.
Day 1 Edit
- An aerial shot in "Day 1: 9:00am-10:00am" shows the LA Convention Center expansion in the early stages of construction. The building was constructed in 1993.
- In the intro of Day 1, it is shown that The Petronas Towers are in the finishing touches of construction. The towers were not fully completed until late 1998.
- Real life election years are 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, etc.
- The "National Geographic Traveler" that Martin Belkin shows to Mandy in "Day 1: 12:00am-1:00am" is the March 2001 issue.
- January 14, 2001, seen on Jamey's computer in "Day 1: 2:00am-3:00am", is mentioned as being a couple of months ago.
- In "Day 1: 9:00am-10:00am," while Jack is hiding behind an SUV, the California license plate has a 2002 expiration date on it.
- George Mason's phone in "Day 1: 5:00pm-6:00pm" appears to read "03/11/02."
- A view of Jack Bauer's phone in "Day 1: 6:00pm-7:00pm" says that it's March 19, 2002.
- Alexis Drazen's two files in "Day 1: 3:00pm-4:00pm" say he was 35 and born in January 1967, placing Day 1 in 2002.
Findings at CTU Edit
- According to Findings at CTU, Mark DeSalvo's wife Teresa died in 2000 and he began working as a warden in 2002, placing Day 1 sometime after that.
- Dates given at the bottom of every page in The House Special Subcommittee's Findings at CTU may infer that Day 1 took place in 2001.
Day 2 Edit
- Recent dates in Reza Naiyeer's passport shown in "9:00am-10:00am" appear to be from 2004, placing Day 1 in 2002 or 2003.
- A background sign as Nina Myers walks down North Collins in "2:00pm-3:00pm" advertises the 2002 GEVA awards, putting Day 1 in 2001.
- George Mason's phone in "2:00pm-3:00pm" gives the date as September 25, 2002, putting Day 1 in 2001. However, it also shows the time as 12:15pm.
- An on-screen date in "5:00pm-6:00pm" is given as 2002, placing Day 1 in early 2001.
- The racing game 24: Countdown takes place in December 2004, between Day 2 and Day 3, placing Day 1 between 2001 and 2003.
Day 3 Edit
- Kyle Singer's driver's license gives his date of birth as being November 19, 1987. His age is given as 19, placing Day 3 in 2006-2007 and Day 1 in 2002-2003.
- Jane Saunders's student ID, displayed in "Day 3: 7:00am-8:00am", is for the Spring 2008 semester at UCSB, placing Day 1 at least four years earlier in 2004.
- Nina Myers was born in 1975 according to her passport in "Day 3: 11:00pm-12:00am", and Findings at CTU gives her age as 34 on Day 1. This places Day 1 in 2009 and Day 3 in 2013.
Day 4 Edit
- A calendar visible in "Day 4: 10:00am-11:00am" shows July/August 2004, placing Day 1 in July/August 1998.
- Andrew Paige's driver's license in "Day 4: 10:00am-11:00am" was issued on 04/21/2003 and expired on 05/15/07, placing Day 1 between between April 1997 and May 2001.
Day 5 Edit
- Dates on the CTU phones on Day 6 reportedly read "Jan. 23, 2012." Day 1 was approximately nine years earlier, placing it in 2003.
- In the Day 6 Debrief, Jack Bauer states his birth as February 18, 1966. According to Findings at CTU, Jack was 36 at the time of Day 1, which places Day 1 in 2002 and Day 6 in 2011.
Day 7 Edit
- Jack was 49 during Day 7 and (according to the Day 6 Debrief) his birthdate was February 18, 1966. This places Day 7 in 2015-2016, placing Day 1 during 2002-2003.
Day 8 Edit
- An establishing shot of the flags of the UN building in "Day 8: 5:00pm-6:00pm" shows that Georgia is missing from the member states. As Georgia joined in 1992, this would place Day 8 sometime before then and Day 1 sometime before 1978.
- The cover of 24: Underground #1 states that Jack's age after Day 8 is 48, and that he was born in 1966. This would place the comic in 2014 (the year of its release) and Day 1 in 2001 or 2002.
A number of characters on 24 have specific dates of birth. Owing to the inconsistency of the timeline, these do not always line up with their stated ages.