TORONTO (Reuters) - After eight horrifying days, U.S. special agent Jack Bauer ended his career on television's hit action show "24" on Monday by turning into a fugitive from justice and being forced to escape the country he loved.
It seemed a fitting end for Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) because during the show's eight seasons -- each one-hour episodes elapsed as if it were one hour in a day -- the tough-as-nails super agent always landed in trouble.
The cliffhanger ending also will undoubtedly leave loyal fans guessing about the plot of a planned movie based on the show now that it has gone off the Fox network for good.
Earlier this month, "24" executive producer Howard Gordon had promised fans that "to give Jack a happy ending didn't feel authentic," and he and Sutherland did not disappoint.
In Monday's gripping final two hours, Bauer came within a razor's edge of being executed with the tacit knowledge of U.S. president Allison Taylor (Cherry Jones), even as he grew closer to assassinating a Russian president who conspired to sabotage a historic global peace agreement.
"Day 8" began earlier this year just as Bauer seemed to be at peace with himself and was preparing for a quiet family life, but he was reluctantly asked to help New York City's Counter Terrorism Unit stop the assassination of the president of fictitious Islamic Republic of Kamistan (IRK).
The attempt to save the IRK president failed and Bauer discovered the Russian -- a reluctant partner in the peace treaty -- was behind the assassination and working with former U.S. president Charles Logan, Bauer's nemesis since "Day 4".
Bauer threatened to unravel the conspiracy, and immediately became a target for murder. In the finale's last minutes, President Taylor stopped Bauer's assassination and advised him to flee the country, because the "Russians will be coming after you -- and so will we."
The final scene ended with an emotional goodbye between Bauer and his long-time trusted friend and colleague, Chloe O'Brien (Mary Lynn Rajskub), before he disappeared off-grid.
While viewers say so long to Bauer on TV screens, expect him to return again in movie theaters.
When Sutherland, Gordon and the Fox television network announced in March that the show would be yanked off the air, they also said they were working on a movie. No details were available as a script was still in development.
"24" premiered on U.S. airwaves in November 2001, shortly after the September 11 attacks in the United States, and over the course of eight seasons, its stories often echoed real-life events and controversies. Some episodes sparked heated debates about the effectiveness of torture, and others touched on issues of press freedom and nuclear arms.
During its run, the show garnered numerous Emmy awards, including best drama series in 2006. Sutherland was nominated for best actor seven times and won once.
Editing by Bob Tourtellotte