The sixth season starts tonight on Sky with a double-bill. I have to say that I honestly did not see this reaching six seasons. But each season they manage to vary the formula enough to keep it fresh but with the familiar structure we enjoy in place.
Each season they have to raise the stakes but with season 6 they are raised as high as they can go and so I'm guessing this must be the last season. I believe they intend to go out with a bang or two.
As Good Dog mentions, 24 is reknowned for its torture scenes. Last season I got into a debate about them on a blog and I said that in 24 it isn't real-life and I enjoyed the vicarious thrill of Jack doing to bad guys what I would like to do to bad guys - if I only had the courage and opportunity. That's what heroes are for.
However in real life there were revelations about torture being secretly used in the "war on terror" and, considering that torture doesn't work nearly as well in real life as it does in fiction, it did make you think. In fact it made me think that maybe, just possibly, Jack was a tosser and not a hero. But the debate on that blog was clearly going on elsewhere, including in the 24 writers' room.
Jack comes back from China more vulnerable as a result of spending months getting a taste of his own medicine by the Chinese. He is prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice to keep the likes of you and me safe. How can Jack be anything but a hero?