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All Episodes of 24 Ranked

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Now, many people have ranked the seasons as a whole in the past, but to my knowledge, no-one has attempted ranking every episode in order, and this is what really needs to be done more. Regular TV shows would typically have consistent writing throughout 13 episodes, as they are usually tasked with creating a whole new story from scratch. 24 was different in the way that each season had to have 24 episodes, almost double, and had to continue the story of the previous episode.


The following will take place on this scale:

  • Days 1 through 8
  • Live Another Day
  • Redemption
  • The Day 4 through 6 prequels
  • Day Zero
  • The Game (Day 2.5)

For this ranking I have decided to create a 24 point (naturally) scale known as S.A.R.A. - Story, Action, Realism and Atmosphere, all of which are graded on a scale of 0 - 6. Here are the four separate factors explained:

Story

Not necessarily how well the story is told in the episode or how good the plot is, rather the impact of the story on the series as a whole. If an episode's story makes a permanent change to the series which is observable many seasons later, then it'll be graded as a 6. Something which only matters for the next episode will only receive a 1, and a filler episode will not receive anything.

Action

The concentration of action in an episode. If it is consistently action packed, then the episode will rate very high indeed. If there's a small gap in the middle of the episode where there isn't any action at all, then a couple points will be deducted. If the only action is in the last 5 - 10 minutes, then the episode will rate low on this part of the scale.

Realism

What it says on the tin, how realistic the episode is. An example of a hypothetical episode which would score the maximum points for this section of S.A.R.A. would show Jack driving around Los Angeles for most of the hour, listening to the radio, having something to eat, stopping at red lights and getting caught in brief jams. There might be one or two incidental deaths in the whole episode if the terrorists catch up to anybody in particular.

Atmosphere

The tensity of an episode, but also immersion, which really makes you think that the story presented within the episode could happen to you in real life, helping to bridge a gap between sofa and screen. An episode with a good Atmosphere rating will have you empathise with the characters and the predicaments which they are put in, and when anyone is in imminent danger you will be on the edge of your seat.

The Rankings

So, without any further ado, here is every episode of 24, ranked from worst down to best!

Day 1, Hour 19 (6:00 PM - 7:00 PM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 3/6
  • Atmosphere - 2/6
  • Total - 10/24 (4.2/10)

Comment: One of the many mistakes of this episode was the employment of the very first Deus Ex Machina, wherein Tony saves Teri by a matter of seconds. The usage of just one of those was enough to detract the realism category by a whole point, without going into the rest of the shortcomings. A lack of Jack hurts this one too, and this is a shame as it seemed that 24 was finally back to the way it was prior to Jack's rescue of his family. The final scene with Jack and George was what helped it score 2 atmosphere points, otherwise it would have been difficult to ascribe anything to this seemingly lethargic episode.

Day 1, Hour 16 (3:00 PM - 4:00 PM)

  • Story - 2/6
  • Action - 3/6
  • Realism - 4/6
  • Atmosphere - 2/6
  • Total - 11/24 (4.6/10)

Comment: The quality of the 1st Season continues to be tarnished with this affront. A dulled atmosphere makes one desperately want to skip it, and if you choose to, the only thing you ought to know is that Kim and Teri are chased out of their safehouse by a couple of Drazen's men. A brief shootout ensues between them and the safehouse's guard. Also Teri gets amnesia from seeing the car she was driving explode after tumbling down a 20 foot decline. Somehow Kim escaped harm. Don't ask me how.

Day 2, Hour 5 (12:00 PM - 1:00PM)

  • Story - 2/6
  • Action - 0/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 3/6
  • Total - 11/24 (4.9/10)

Comment: The first episode out of a very short list where nothing of note happens. The story only affects the next couple of episodes, and the atmosphere only began to pick up at select points, such as Jack realizing his only option is to interrogate the person he hates the most.

Day 1, Hour 17 (4:00 PM - 5:00 PM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 3/6
  • Total - 13/24 (5.4/10)

Comment: This episode is a little more influential on the rest of the season than its predecessor was, though realism was still lacking due to Teri's ridiculously short-term amnesia and Elizabeth Nash just so happening to be dating a highly desired Serbian terrorist. The atmosphere had notable breaks in it, where at one point you feel tense and the other you just feel indifferent.

Day 1, Hour 15 (2:00 PM - 3:00 PM)

  • Story - 2/6
  • Action - 1/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 4/6
  • Total - 13/24 (5.7/10)

Comment: This episode really wasn't necessary as almost nothing happens. The basic plots of the next few episodes are set out and that's that. The only reason to watch this episode is for the epic dialogue between Bauer and Palmer.

Day 1, Hour 9 (8:00 AM - 9:00 AM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 3/6
  • Atmosphere - 4/6
  • Total - 14/24 (5.9/10)

Comment: Unfortunately, another dead end of Season 1. Sure, Jamey dies, but other than that, the episode is just a buffer to ensure the next 4 were as good as they possibly could have been. Action is a little subdued, and realism takes a hit as Jack is somehow able to escape his captors with a volatile combination of skill and luck. Surprisingly for an episode from Season 1, the Atmosphere is noticeably lacking in depth. No real tense moments and nothing to make us feel sympathy, with the only thing we can feel during this one is frustration as Lauren chooses to abandon Jack at the moment he needed her the most.

Day 2, Hour 6 (1:00 PM - 2:00 PM)

  • Story - 2/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 5/6
  • Total - 14/24 (5.9/10)

Comment: The fact that this episode only has a 5.9 rating does not necessarily mean it's bad, like the previous episode, but rather the production crew seemed to be playing it safe in lieu of being adventurous, which is what they revert to later on in the season with varying results. This was also a couple of seasons before the writers were able to make the presidential subplot entertaining to watch instead of a dilute for more Jack. This episode's one main redeeming feature is Jack's interrogation on Nina, one of the best of the whole series.

Day 1, Hour 5 (4:00 AM - 5:00 AM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 1/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 5/6
  • Total - 15/24 (6/10)

Comment: Unfortunately, one of the weakest episodes of Season 1. If you choose to skip it, you won't be missing much. The story has become a little stagnant as nothing considerable transpires, and the only action to speak of that prevented me giving it a rating of 0 was Gaines "sorta dead" speech, resulting in the death of Dan Mounts, as well as Jack showing off his interrogation skills for the very first time, albeit not to his full capacity that his later one on Ted Cofell reveals. Only a 6 out of 10 overall.

Day 1, Hour 20 (7:00 PM - 8:00 PM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 3/6
  • Realism - 4/6
  • Atmosphere - 4/6
  • Total - 15/24 (6.4/10)

Comment: The climax has finally been set up after 6 episodes where the crew really struggled to attain consistent quality as they had done earlier in the season. The level of action was again at an average level, and the realism was believable to an extent though it's highly doubtful no law enforcement officer would not be in the know of a federal agent going Rambo on an entire facility full of Serbian mooks, who earlier in the day was part of an assassination attempt on Senator Palmer. The dilemma of what was going to happen at 8PM played as another strength of this episode too.

Day 1, Hour 14 (1:00 PM - 2:00 PM)

  • Story - 5/6
  • Action - 1/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 4/6
  • Total - 16/24 (6.6/10)

Comment: At the end of the long, fast straight, you've got to brake for the corners otherwise things would get boring and uneventful after a while. The same logic applies to 24, which takes some downtime yet still manages to be good in its own right. The story is developed remarkably well given the lack of action, and is fully ready to progress onto the climax. Atmosphere is missing a couple of things but the realism more than makes up for it.

Day 1, Hour 6 (5:00 AM - 6:00 AM)

  • Story - 5/6
  • Action - 1/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 5/6
  • Total - 16/24 (6.8/10)

Comment: This episode was the one the season needed to move ahead and get out of its rut. Jack being put under duress by Gaines and Palmer realizing that a threat may be running against him helped give it the near perfect score in that category. Action again was the Achilles' Heel of a lot of the early Season 1 episodes, preventing it from reaching a much higher score. Realism would have been perfect with the start of a slow sunrise from 5:55 AM until about 9:30 AM, that is if Kev- oops, "Alan" somehow didn't manage to get away with killing Janet as apparently there were no people monitoring her, no CCTV, and no one able to connect the dots that she died shortly after her supposed father walked in. As a result, the Atmosphere rating is not perfect either.

Day 1, Hour 23 (10:00 PM - 11:00 PM)

  • Story - 6/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 2/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 16/24 (6.9/10)

Comment: It's in the closing scenes of this episode that we finally learn who the real villain of 24 is. That alone is enough to warrant the full points from this sector, as it's something that stretches over the next 2 seasons and is constantly referred back to later on. The episode was kind of mundane however and didn't need to be, as the climax was well underway by this point. What are the chances of one man saving the same guy twice in one day though? And likewise, how could Kim escape from the Drazens? It requires a suspension of disbelief even more so than Jack's earlier escape from Palmer's guards.

Day 1, Hour 3 (2:00 AM - 3:00 AM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 17/24 (7/10)

Comment: Giving this episode a 3 for the story was kind of generous, as it was the episode where the kidnapping of Kim finally becomes apparent. Otherwise, nothing majorly consequential occurs. Action was minimal, as none of the main cast barring Kim was in any real danger. Realism and Atmosphere though are once again for the third time in the inaugural season perfect, as nothing unbelievable transpires within the hour and Kim's attempt at escape was nail-biting to watch.

Day 1, Hour 21 (8:00 PM - 9:00 PM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 4/6
  • Atmosphere - 5/6
  • Total - 17/24 (7.2/10)

Comment: The buildup from the previous episode pays off and we get a solid episode in return. With Drazen's crew organizing a raid in the secret bunker where he is being held, Jack is put in a weaker position than when he was under Gaines' control, leaving Kim and Teri vulnerable once more.

Day 2, Hour 2 (9:00 AM - 10:00 AM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 17/24 (7.3/10)

Comment: The realism again is a strong aspect of this episode. To use an example, we even see Gary use his Lexus' phone-based tracker in order to find out where Kim is taking it. Kim then gets stuck in roadworks and has to abandon the car. Gary and his daughter do get annoying after a while though, but the important thing is we do feel for them on this rare occasion, which helps to ensure a perfect atmosphere for the second episode in a row.

Day 1, Hour 4 (3:00 AM - 4:00 AM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 5/6
  • Total - 17/24 (7.4/10)

Comment: Story this around is a little more developed as Jack becomes aware of the true extent of the day's events about to unfold and begins actively looking for his daughter, Kim. Palmer also has time to develop his subplot involving his wife, son, and Carl. The only real action in the episode is Jack chasing one of Gaines' men and shooting at him. This is the first episode in the series not to have a perfect Atmosphere rating, as it goes a little stale somewhere in the middle. However, it redeems itself unbelievably well in the last few minutes that we feel Jack's rage as the man he's been pursuing knows more than he's letting on, and would rather have himself killed which he and Jack knows is going to happen than give up the necessary information.

Day 1, Hour 22 (9:00 PM - 10:00 PM)

  • Story - 3/6
  • Action - 3/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 17/24 (7.4/10)

Comment: As Kim is violently dragged away into the night for what must be the 3rd or 4th time in one day, we are immediately faced with Palmer's momentous achievement, as well as his wife's dirty tricks finally causing a veritable rift between the two. We also see how heartless Victor Drazen is, willing to kill his own flesh and blood rather than have his enemy take the liberty of doing it for him. With just two hours left in the day, we are left feeling extremely tense.

Day 2, Hour 1 (8:00 AM - 9:00 AM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 1/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 17/24 (7.4/10)

Comment: Season 2 gets going with a bang, or to be more specific, Jack's Beretta into Marshall Goren's chest. In spite of any real action, the story, realism and atmosphere especially are all wrapped up in one neat little package. With Remi Aubuchon at the producer's helm the show entered arguably its best era before the semi-reboot that occurred for Season 4.

Day 1, Hour 1 (12:00 AM - 1:00 AM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 2/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 18/24 (7.6/10)

Comment: Sets up the story for the remainder of the season, as well as, more importantly, introducing us to the world of 24. The only weak point of the episode has to be a lack of action, as the only thing of note which happens in the first hour of the first season is Mandy blowing up the plane. Both the Realism and Atmosphere scores for the pilot are perfect, as the plot is conceivable, the events are believable and the aforementioned plane bomb was based on real incidents, as the production team rather famously consulted the FBI. A huge $4 million price tag for the episode ensured its atmosphere was as tight as it could possibly be, if a little weird and jarring when considering the direction the show eventually took. Boatloads of licensed music tracks and real life culture references too.

Day 2, Hour 4 (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 4/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 18/24 (7.7/10)

Comment: Apart from Jack being able to kill a whole host of armed men using only dual-wielded pistols, the realism for this episode was relatively spot-on once more. Besides, it was only three people, therefore not impossible.

Day 1, Hour 2 (1:00 AM - 2:00 AM)

  • Story - 2/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 18/24 (7.8/10)

Comment: For this episode, the Story and Action categories are reversed in comparison to the pilot. The plane crash loses its relevancy very shortly afterwards, Richard is never mentioned again, Jamey lives for a grand total of 7 more episodes before being slain by Nina, and even the Palmer subplot holds little ground to the rest of the season. I am very sure that not all of the $4 million pilot money was spent on the one episode, as the second episode is almost equally movie-like, the only main difference is the lowered emphasis on clocks. Helicopter cam is used frequently and to great effect. Bauer and Walsh slowly moving their way through the complex was easily one of the tensest experiences of the first few seasons.

Day 1, Hour 11 (10:00 AM - 11:00 AM)

  • Story - 5/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 4/6
  • Atmosphere - 5/6
  • Total - 18/24 (7.9/10)

Comment: Solid episode with many great moments, particularly what Jack got up to in the parking lot. The only real questionable moment to ask about this episode is why would a Serbian with a seemingly naturalized American accent revert to his old one when put on the spot? Also the "Serbian" he speaks is pure nonsense. His initial statement seems to be a mainly Romanian-inspired diatribe of gibberish, and What he says after "You will pay" appears to be a derivative of the Polish word for "Cunt" (Kurwa). This would mark the first usage of mature language in the series except there is no similar word to "Kurwa" present in Serbian.

Day 1, Hour 18 (5:00 PM - 6:00 PM)

  • Story - 5/6
  • Action - 3/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 19/24 (8.3/10)

Comment: 24 finally gets back on track after 3 hours of hit and misses. The story is highly influential on the future of the series, as it provides the first reference to who would later be known as Christopher Henderson, Jack's disgraced mentor, some action is prevalent with the mall deal, and the realism is relatively well presented in spite of Hanlin outright disobeying CTU orders. The episode is thoroughly tense with every subplot, even Palmer as he is dead set on the protection of that sensitive tape. Teri unknowingly puts herself and her psychiatrist into grave danger.

Day 1, Hour 7 (6:00 AM - 7:00 AM)

  • Story - 5/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 20/24 (8.6/10)

Comment: This episode was one of the better ones. Just a shame the editing department had to completely screw it up, especially with the clocks for some reason lacking a background and disappearing 1 second before they were supposed to. Other than that, a brilliant episode to end 2001 with, the one that helped Kiefer Sutherland to his Golden Globe. This time around, Teri learned she was just as vulnerable as her daughter, and we began to see David Palmer's virtues shining through by standing up for what is right. Action is up on the past few episodes as we see Teri smash "Alan" over the head with a rock before Jamey aiding her recapture and Jack becoming Gaines' pawn, and is forced to "kill" Nina. If only he knew what was to happen. A lot of scenes were shot at daybreak which is great for the realism aspect of things, and the atmosphere once again reaches its peak. In addition, no one is killed in this episode.

Day 1, Hour 10 (9:00 AM - 10:00 AM)

  • Story - 4/6
  • Action - 5/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 20/24 (8.7/10)

Comment: Right back on the pace and damn time too! The story begins to cement itself back into place with Jack's family in danger and the President struggling with familial conflict. The episode is almost completely filled to the brim with action, taking only a slight break now and then to allow us a breather. Realism would have been a perfect score were it not for Jack somehow evading the police by ducking into a parking lot way too shortly before they follow him inside. He also gets out his car standing up. I have watched the scene time after time and have come to the conclusion that there was no way that neither Jack, nor his car were out of the line of sight of the police officers pursuing him. The only explanation is that Nina ratted Jack off to the police early on to give him a little headache, then called them off to prevent suspicion. Hell, they might not even have been real police officers anyway, just impersonators hired by Drazen to put the fear of God into Bauer. With this episode, we really feel for Jack as he talks to his family on the phone and begins his journey towards them.

Day 2, Hour 3 (10:00 AM - 11:00 AM)

  • Story - 6/6
  • Action - 4/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 21/24 (8.8/10)

Comment: The only qualm one could have with the realism is the chances of finding not only nuclear material in a bog standard storage locker, but also successfully being able to bomb a government building, especially in the post-9/11 era.

Day 1, Hour 24 (11:00 PM - 12:00 PM)

  • Story - 6/6
  • Action - 5/6
  • Realism - 4/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 21/24 (8.9/10)

Comment: Teri dies, and Nina commits her second unforgivable sin in two episodes by doing this. As a result, the story is permanently affected. Action only lets off at the very beginning and a little bit in the middle, and from there on in it's jam packed. Realism took an unnecessary battering with Jack and Nina's deadly gun joust as it's highly unlikely the two would have gotten off unscathed after the third shot from either of them. At least Jack wasn't invulnerable and did take a bullet from Victor Drazen, unlike later seasons.

Day 1, Hour 8 (7:00 AM - 8:00 AM)

  • Story - 5/6
  • Action - 5/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 22/24 (9/10)

Comment: This episode builds upon the foundations of the one before it to make a truly unforgettable episode. If this had aired a few days prior, one could reckon that the cast and crew of 24 would have won more awards than they did. The only real flaws are the story which once again begins to stagnate a little, and the action which could have been a little more tense and fairly spread throughout the episode. Unlike any other show, Jack hams up his forced assassination badly, leading him to be subdued and detained.

Day 1, Hour 12 (11:00 AM - 12:00 PM)

  • Story - 6/6
  • Action - 5/6
  • Realism - 5/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 22/24 (9.3/10)

Comment: Jack finally makes it to his family and makes the attempt to rescue them from the compound. My only problem with it is that I find it hard to believe ammunition strong enough to tear apart the doors on a van are able to miss 4 people lying down in the wheel wells. At least Rick got shot, and Jack's versatility resulted in him deliberately puncturing the gas tank of the van so that he could retreat, shoot at the puddle and watch the resultant explosion. A tense experience throughout the whole episode, especially during the chase scene.

Day 1, Hour 13 (12:00 PM - 1:00 PM)

  • Story - 6/6
  • Action - 6/6
  • Realism - 6/6
  • Atmosphere - 6/6
  • Total - 24/24 (10/10)

Comment: They could have ended the season right here and it would have been perfect. Jack rescues his family, the baddies are dead, badabing, badaboom. A well-done cliffhanger that could have started Season 2 had the show been called "12", or "13", or hey, even "Eleventh Hour". Unfortunately, it was called 24 for a reason, meaning the day which seemed complete at this moment in time had to go on for another 11 hours. Its tiny imperfections are ironically what made this episode perfect. The breaks in action helped to build up tension in a way that was seldomly repeated for the entire run of the show.

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