Last night I put in an episode of 24 because I miss my boyfriend Jack Bauer (I tried to reconnect with him in The Sentinel but it just didn't do it for me). And during this episode, I watched as a suspect was interrogated by someone who was not Jack Bauer. The interrogator couldn't get anything out of the suspect. But Jack, believing that the suspect had very time-sensitive information, broke into the interrogation room, pulled out his gun, and started yelling at the suspect. The suspect didn't give up any information, so Jack blasted a cap into the guy's leg. As the guy was screaming and as Jack was sticking his gun into the wound to make it hurt more, the suspect gave the information that Jack was looking for. It turns out that Jack and the good guys were seconds too late to stop the bad plan from happening but gosh darn it, Jack got the information.
I'd love to see the stats on how many guys Jack Bauer tortures on average per 24 hours. Let's not forget that episode where Jack gets a guy out of prison, shoots him dead, and cuts off his head so that he can take it to go undercover and prove to some bad guys that he's a bad guy, too. And we ("we" as in 24 fans) watch this stuff and we love Jack (and if we're anything like me, we love Jack and want to have his killer babies). We love him as he breaks all the rules. We love him as he goes against government protocol because Jack makes things happen. I've heard it said that if everyone just did what Jack Bauer told them to do, the show would be called 12.
Allow me to quote a little from Wikipedia:
So the question: Is 24 actually a government plot to get people to support the government's right to do whatever it takes to get the job done? We love and praise Jack Bauer for what he does, and whatever measures he takes during torture, they always yield accurate results. We never see the victim of torture confess something that is not true just to escape the torture. We just see Jack Bauer doing what he does and getting results.
Bauer's behavior and actions are consistent with the philosophy "the ends justify the means". When innocent lives are in danger he behaves as though obtaining a desired result is more important than how he obtains it, and he frequently performs controversial actions if he thinks they will achieve an important goal. His philosophy was perhaps best expressed after he shot and killed a witness in front of George Mason, then-CTU Special Agent in Charge. George expressed dismay at Jack's extreme action, and Jack replied: "That's the problem with people like you, George. You want results, but you never want to get your hands dirty." Lying, torture, stealing, and even cold-blooded murder are all viable options to Jack, a stark contrast to the vast majority of fictional heroes. Comparisons with the very people he battles are inevitable. As stated by George Mason in Day 1, "Rules don't apply to Jack Bauer. He does what he wants, when he wants, and he doesn't care whose life it affects."