Jack Bauer (played by Kiefer Sutherland)
HIS JOB Director of Field Operations, CTU (Counter-Terrorism Unit)
HIS LONG DAY To paraphrase a running gag from ''Airplane!,'' it looks like Jack Bauer picked the wrong day to give up heroin. Bauer, who almost quit the spy biz after losing his wife in season 1 (not to mention nearly losing his daughter Kim to kidnappers and a wild cougar), has rededicated himself to his work. But a between-seasons undercover mission to bust drug lord Ramon Salazar left him needing heroin the way his show's producers need cliffhangers.
''This was a way to underscore the irreconcilable challenge of having a personal life and doing the kind of work that he does,'' says ''24'' exec producer Howard Gordon. So Jack will be sweaty and ill-tempered as he attempts to simultaneously go cold turkey and stop Salazar's brother from infecting Los Angeles with a killer virus. ''Jack begins this year with a hard-bitten and hard-boiled sense of duty and purpose,'' Gordon says. ''He's had to kill part of himself.''
Following his split with girlfriend Kate Warner, Jack won't have a new sweetheart to improve his mood. ''We'll discover that he had a lover during his undercover operation, which helped make his civilian relationship with Kate impossible,'' reveals Gordon. We won't see a flashback, though; that's a no-no when your show runs in real time.