Murphy’s Law – What I’ve learned from watching eight seasons of 24

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

Most people know what a fun, action-packed show 24 is, but not everyone realizes just how educational it can be too. Now some of you may read fancy newspapers and watch liberal networks like CNN, but I prefer to learn everything I need to know about terrorism and American politics from this show. And I’ve already learned so much, including how to kill an armed assassin in a stairwell using only a fire axe.

Since HoboTrashcan is primarily an educational website and since this may very well be the final season of this informative show, I figured I would share some of the valuable things I’ve learned from 24 with you fine readers this week …

Always trust Jack Bauer. There’s a reason he’s still alive after all this time. He knows what he’s doing. Besides, the guy has singlehandedly thwarted seven terrorist plots (and in his free time, rescued African school children from drug lords). He’s had a direct line to every single president since David Palmer. He did time in a Chinese prison to protect this country from war. He’s America’s greatest hero. Yet every time a new boss takes over at CTU, they always roll their eyes at him when he offers them advice as if he’s the CTU janitor butting into their conversation while he should be scrubbing the toilets. He’s Jack fucking Bauer. He’s never been wrong. You should probably hear him out.

In the absence of Jack, listen to Chloe. There’s a reason she’s still alive too. And it’s not like CTU keeps her around for her sparkling personality.

There’s always a mole. If there are more than four people in a group, one is required to be a secret terrorist. Seriously, look around the room you are in right now. Chances are one of the people in it is planning on blowing up your city with black market nuclear rods. And it’s probably the person you least suspect. Or the foreign guy.

The government does not do background checks. Ever. CTU should probably pay attention to the above paragraph, since they have managed to house at least one mole in every single season they have been around for. My brother edits a military magazine and the government performed an extensive background check before hiring him, digging deep into our family history and interviewing our old neighbors. But somehow, the government doesn’t feel the need to do the same kind of background check when hiring employees for its Counterterrorism Unit. Even the most basic check would have been enough to out Dana Walsh, the mole with a criminal past working at CTU under a fake name.

CTU is incredibly easy to find and take down. Every terrorist group has been able to easily locate this secret government facility and take it out of commission with a minimal amount of effort. They might as well put a big neon sign outside the place since even civilians like Dana Walsh’s ex-con former boyfriend and his probation officer can just show up and get on the premises. Seriously, why even go to the trouble of recruiting someone like Dana to aid you in your terrorist plot? Save your resources and just send a pizza guy with a bomb.

At CTU, there is only one shift. It doesn’t matter what time a day an attack occurs, the same team will always be there working and at no point will the night shift show up to take over. Everyone works 24 hours straight without stopping for food or bathroom breaks. Come to think of it, this may explain why so many moles slip through the cracks and why CTU is so easy to take down – everyone is sleep-deprived.

You should probably stop trying to attack the city Jack Bauer is in. Seriously terrorists, I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, but have you noticed that every time you attack the city Jack is in, he stops you? The guy quit CTU two seasons ago, he doesn’t even want to be chasing after you. But you keep attacking nearby and forcing his hand. It’s like you want to get caught.

Politicians are generally backstabbing, manipulative, self-centered blowhards who care more about their careers than the good of the nation. Wait, I think I learned this one on C-SPAN …

No president will ever be better than David Palmer. Seriously, I loved that guy. I’m sure he’s up in Heaven playing baseball with Bill Buchanan right now.

If you’re in a disagreement with a co-worker and/or boss, simply point a gun at their head. Sure, they’ll be upset at first, but as long as you continue to shout loudly and threaten to kill them, they will eventually come to realize just how right you are. You’ll get to do whatever you want and they’ll be so happy with the results that there will be absolutely no repercussions for your actions. Hell, you’ll probably get promoted.

Tony Almeida can grow a mean soul patch. He may have betrayed America, but he sure looked smooth doing it.

Incurable life-threatening diseases can be cured with stem cells. I’m still not sure if Jack Bauer was injected with stem cells at the end of last season or what. In fact, I don’t even think the writers know what stem cells are. They simply realized that if you just mention the phrase “stem cells” enough, eventually your audience will begin to zone out, allowing you to offer a completely nonsensical explanation for Jack’s miraculous last minute recovery.

Unless 24 hours have passed, the threat is not over yet. I know it seems like you caught the guy and America is safe once again, CTU. But these terrorist are crafty. They never launch an attack on the U.S. without having a backup plan. And that guy you have either killed or arrested that you thought was in charge of the whole operation – he really works for some other guy; a powerful, sinister man who waits at least 12 hours before making his presence known.

Kim Bauer, in addition to being sloppy seconds, gets a gun pointed at her head nearly as often as Kate Austen. Apparently Jack was way too busy saving the world to teach his daughter the most basic of survival skills. Hell, she managed to get kidnapped twice in the first season alone. She couldn’t even be a nanny without having a cop draw a gun on her and mistakenly arrest her for murder. I wonder what would happen if she and Kate ever went after each other. I think the world would end.

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at

  1. murf March 24, 2010
  2. Thor March 24, 2010

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