Well, at this juncture, I expect people to comprehend that, yes, I am a huge 24 fan. Jack Bauer was one of the decades best protagonists, in an era where there were very few. The aughts were a decade of the anti-hero…think Tony Soprano, The Rock, or Stone Cold Steve Austin. 24 was the one show that defied the decades “shades of gray” attitude. 24 featured clearly defined bad guys doing clearly defined heinous things. With that in mind, I will attempt to list the ten best “bad guys” in this history of the show. Now, more educated people will call them “antagonists” as I have, some, because of the nature of my writing (usually wrestling) will call them “heels”, which is wrestling/carny slang for bad guys. Its all semantics.
The unique nature of 24 is this: Each season features more than one bad guy, heel, antagonist. In fact, they generally feature a succession of bad guys, each more vile that the one before them, until you reach each season’s ultimate heel. That is one of the beauties of the program. So, without further ado, here are my top ten 24 villains of all time.
10. Noah Daniels, Season Six, Vice President of the United States.
Noah Daniels is the Vice President during Wayne Palmer’s administration on Day Six, and is portrayed by a fantastic actor in Powers Boothe. Now, Noah isn’t overtly evil or anything. He just is adamantly opposed to wishy-washy President Palmer’s policies in dealing with a Nuclear strike on the country and his handling of Muslims in the states. However, he is a main force in Palmer’s ousting from power due to a bomb that was set off during a peace negotiation with a former terrorist (Hamri al Assad), and conspires to keep Palmer in a coma so he can enact his own politics of fear to declare war on any country who may oppose the United States’ stances on certain things. Daniels, by the end of the season, is proven wrong, and is also proven to have started an affair with a secretary who is leaking secrets to the enemy. But fuck all that, the real reason he cracks the top ten is because he is POWERS BOOTHE. This man is an incredible actor, one of the better coups 24 had in character placement. Noah Daniels eventually comes over to the right side, and is not necessarily remembered for his counterproductive politics through Day Six. But he was still a damned fun character.
9. Abu Fayed, Terrorist, Day 6
Fayed was the main culprit behind the events of Day 6. He was in cahoots with Jack Bauer’s father and brother to set off a series of nuclear weapons housed in suitcases…Suitcase Nukes. Fayed may have had the best look of any of the antagonists in 24 history, as he looked, well, just plain EVIL. Fayed, Gredenko, and Jack’s own old man were the main villains of a somewhat forgettable season six.
8. (Tie) Peter Kingsley and Max, Businessmen, Day 2
Max. That is the only name given for one of the best heels in 24 history. Peter Kingsley is his surrogate, more or less. Kingsley is the man behind the Cyprus Recording and some of the attacks on America in Day 2. Kingsley doesn’t have much screen time, but his presence is felt throughout the final 4 hours of Season 2, possibly the best season 24 has to offer. He is certainly a main aspect of what I consider the best 24 Episode ever, the Day 2 finale at the LA Coloseum. He has to be mentioned. But once Kingsley is killed, his handler, Max, calls in a favor to have the President poisoned, and that is exactly what happens in the last waning seconds of Season 2, as Mandy (who may or may not be on this list) poisons the President.
7. Mandy (Seasons 1, 3, 4)
Mandy was a devious little bitch who had dipped herself into multiple terrorist activities. Day one, she sabotaged a plane to make off with some ID. Season Two she poisoned the President. Season 4 finally saw her comeuppance, as she was arrested and questioned. She demanded immunity for her leads to Habib Marwan, and received it. The character has not been heard from since.
6. Ramon Salazar, Season 3
Salazar was a Mexican drug lord Jack had put away at a serious price to himself: He became addicted to Heroin. Salazar only lasts half of Season 3, before murdering his own brother. Jack helped Salazar escape from prison in order to track the Cordelia Virus, but Ramon turned on Jack, to his own detriment. He was still quite the foul enemy. Amador was right there as well.
5. Graem/Phillip Bauer, Seasons 5 and 6
Jack Bauer’s own family takes the poll at number five. Graem stonewalled his brother when he was trying to find links to his father’s company and Gredenko in season six, as well as Fayed. Graem is eventually tortured by Jack and then murdered by his own dad Phillip, who killed in him such a way as to make Jack complicit in the murder. While Day Six of 24 has some wild plot swings, James Cromwell as Phillip Bauer is truly the epitome of evil.
4. Christopher Henderson, Season 5
Henderson was the man who trained Jack, who brought him into CTU. In season 5, he is a delusional ex agent that Jack more or less excommunicated from CTU after corruption charges. Nothing legal ever happened to Henderson, but he was jaded and hurt by the betrayal of Jack, even if he was justified. During Season Five, Henderson, for most of the series, is the main antagonist, the guy Jack keeps plugging away after. It is not until the final few episodes that you realize he is not the main bad guy, as it is someone much higher up in the hierarchy than this so called Patriot.
3. TIE: Stephen Saunders (Day 3) and Habib Marwan (Day 4)
This was too close to call. Saunders is absolutely my favorite villain ever on 24 for one reason: He had justification. He was an MI-6 operative with Jack in the mission to rid of Victor Drazen. Jack was the only operative, so he thought, to make it out of the mission alive. He was wrong. Saunders went through god knows what, and resurfaced as the epitome of evil, of revenge, of reciprocation. Saunders wielded the hand of god with the Codelia Virus, basically deigning its release whenever and wherever he wanted. What he wanted was revenge for being left behind by Jack, for being fucked over by the people he worked for and blindly respected. In short, he was fucked over, left for dead, dissed and forgotten, and he wanted his sweet sweet revenge. Saunders was easily the best written bad guy 24 has ever featured. He had means and motive, and that is the catalyst for an effective bad guy. That he was brought down by his love for his daughter only humanized the monster even more. Saunders remains my personal favorite 24 villain, and is the main reason why season 3 of 24 remains my favorite.
Marwan is a different story. This dude just blindly hates America, and wants the country to pay, and pay dearly. He is well educated, well informed, well trained. Whereas many 24 seasons have 2 or 3 or 4 bad guys, Season 4 sees Marwan as the force behind everything. From bombings to the Araz family struggle to shooting down Air Force One. Marwan is the force behind everything, and the fact that it came off as plausible is a credit to the writers of the program. Marwan and Saunders are DAMNED CLOSE to number one on my villain list, but there are two more people who are better than these chaps. And if you are a fan or viewer of the show, you already know who they are.
2. Nina Meyers, Seasons 1,2,3
Nina. Lovely ass Nina. Nina was Jack’s main confidant through Day One, and ended up as one of the most evil charlatans television has ever seen. She parlayed her affair with a separated from Teri Jack into an unfound trust that warped Jack for the rest of the series. Nina, in season one, was Jack’s go to, his main ally, and, by the end of the season, had proven to be not only a traitor, not only a Russian spy for Victor Drazen, but also killed innocent Teri Bauer. Many wrestling fans point to Bash at the Beach 1996, where Hulk Hogan turned on the fans as the ultimate heel turn in wrestling. Well, as fat as TV series go, you would be hard pressed to find a better heel turn than Nina on Jack in the final episodes of Day one of 24. Add into the fact that she remained deliciously heel through seasons 2 and three before meeting her untimely demise at the hands of Jack…well. Anyone who has never watched 24 needs to watch the first three seasons just for Nina Meyers. Some say Jack is the main character, and that is, to a point, true. But he would not be near the badass he is without Nina. One of the best heels television has ever known.
1. Charles Logan, Seasons 5,6,8
I am sure to get some grief here. Nina was pure evil, no doubts about it. But when it comes to ultimate, ULTIMATE, evil, Charles Logan is the greatest heel 24 has ever seen. He is THE heel of Season 5, and is remarkable. He is there in Season 6 and makes you think…well, maybe he isn’t THAT bad. Then season 8 hits. And the writers realized, “Logan is a totally unsympathetic character…fuck it, lets go full heel.”And they DID. Listen, if you are a sports fan, the LeBron decision was a heel turn. A-Rod shunning the Red Sox…heel turn. A-Rod doing what he is now to the Yankees…heel turn. Charles Logan is the greatest antagonist 24 has ever seen.