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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - For fans of hit TV show "24," this will come as no great shock: the show's creator on Friday promised that when the action program finishes its run this month, an unhappy ending will greet Jack Bauer.
U.S. government agent Bauer, played by Kiefer Sutherland, has saved the world time-and-again and been thanked for his efforts with any number of personal tragedies, including the death of loved ones. So it seemed natural that in the final seconds of his final show, he should face hardship -- again.
"(It) leaves him in a compromised place morally, ethically and emotionally," said executive producer Howard Gordon. "This show is a tragedy, and to give Jack a happy ending didn't feel authentic."
But Gordon remained mum on the specifics of how Bauer meets his unhappy fate. Still, beyond the end one thing is certain, there will be more of Jack Bauer to come -- in movie theaters.
"24" began in 2001 as a novel concept for TV. The entire season elapsed in 24 fictional hours, with each one-hour episode being one hour of a day. A clock on TV screens ticked off the time, adding to the tension on the program.
The show proved to be a hit for the Fox network and gained a loyal following. It won an Emmy, U.S. television's highest award, for best drama in 2006, and Sutherland was given a Golden Globe trophy for acting in 2002.
Season 8 began in January with Bauer preparing for a quiet life, playing with his grand-daughter and smiling for only the second time in the show's history. But within minutes, he was drawn back into action by the government, which needed help in foiling a plot to murder a Middle Eastern peace-keeper.
Since then, treachery, back-stabbing and a well-intentioned but misguided U.S. President Allison Taylor (portrayed by Cherry Jones) have landed Bauer back in hot water and the country in jeopardy. Will he save it?
Gordon's not telling, but he did promise this: the writers are "taking him to a place he's never been before."
The final episode airs on May 24, and while that may be the last episode for TV, plans are in the works for a movie based on the show and Bauer. Gordon said a first draft of a script has been written and a second one is in the works.
"We're honoring the series and the creative integrity of (Bauer) and then possibly bringing in a whole new group (of characters)," Gordon said. "What I do think is important is that we do not retread" over old ground.
Reporting by Bob Tourtellotte; Editing by Jill Serjeant