Dan Snierson
January 05, 2007 AT 05:00 AM EST

KAREN HAYES
Jayne Atkinson

WHAT’S HER STORY? After a nerve gas attack depleted the CTU staff in season 5, Karen — who was the director of the Department of Homeland Security’s L.A. branch — was ordered to assume control of the building. A seasoned pragmatist, she began to question her increasingly ill-advised orders from the White House; before long, she had switched to Team Jack, helping him bring down the very criminal President Logan. And as a feel-good epilogue, the slightest of romantic sparks were detected between Karen and CTU chief Bill Buchanan, whom she ordered removed from power earlier that day.

BEST SCENE Suspecting that Logan & Co. probably weren’t acting in the country’s best interest, she let Buchanan know that the authorities were en route to his house to capture an on-the-lam Chloe. (Honorable mention: When Homeland Security underling Miles’ backstabbing was exposed, Hayes slapped him across the face.)

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