The timeline of 24 has never been pinned down. The creative team behind 24 has resisted placing any season in any specific year; moreoever, the few date references given tend to conflict with each other, as well as with real life.
According to Evan Katz, the time frame of 24 is intentionally vague and undefined, with each season effectively taking place in the "perpetual now." The production made a concerted effort to avoid showing dates onscreen; those that do appear — for example, the date visible on a cell phone screen — are usually not coordinated, and sometimes reflect the actual date and time when the scene was filmed. Regardless, each season is stated to take place a certain number of years or months after the previous one, allowing the approximate timeline of events below.
- 1 By year
- 2 Relative timeline
- 3 Official comments
- 4 Sample timeline
- 5 Theories about the timeline
- 6 Birthdays
- 7 References
- Trial by Fire
- 6 years pass
- 2 years pass
- Day 1
- 18 months pass
- Day 2
- 6 months pass
- The Game
- 2 years, 6 months pass
- Day 3
- 3 months pass
- "Season 4 Prequel" Part 1
- 1 year passes
- "Season 4 Prequel" Part 2
- 3 months pass
- "Season 4 Prequel" Part 3
- 6 hours pass
- Day 4
- 12 months pass
- "Season 5 Prequel"
- 6 months pass
- Day 5
- 7 months pass
- "Season 6 Prequel"
- 13 months pass
- Day 6
- 15 hours pass
- Day 6 Debrief
- 3 years, 9 months pass
- 24: Redemption
- 65 days pass
- Day 7
- 18 months pass
- Day 8
- One hour passes
- 1 year, 7 months, 23 days pass
- 2 years, 4 months pass
- Day 9
- 2 years, 6 months pass
- 6 months pass
- The Raid
- 6 months pass
- The novel Trinity and the comic One Shot both claim to depict Jack Bauer's first mission with CTU. Trinity, however, is set before Jack officially joins the agency, while One Shot is depicted as his first day on the job.
- The first 24 novel, Operation Hell Gate, is established to take place after Operation Nightfall, and most of the following novels in turn reference the events of that book, placing them in the two years between Nightfall and Day 1.
- Christopher Henderson appears in Vanishing Point, Chaos Theory, Trinity, and Collateral Damage. In Chaos Theory, it is strongly implied that he will soon be investigated for wrongdoing and fired from CTU as mentioned in "Day 5: 4:00pm-5:00pm", placing this novel after the others.
- Head Shot, Death Angel, and Day Zero are all set during or after Jack and Teri's separation, placing them not long before the events of Season 1.
- A seemingly irreconcilable conflict in the timeline is introduced with Trojan Horse, which depicts the birth of Megan Matheson. Although Megan is nine years old at the time of Day 2, the novel is set within the two years prior to Day 1, no more than four years before Day 2.
- The mobile game Special Ops is set during Charles Logan's presidency (between Day 4 and Day 5), which is impossible as Jack Bauer was in hiding for nearly the entirety of Logan's administration.
- The set dressers for the CTU Los Angeles building set the date on telephones and other devices to January 23, 2012.
- In an E! Online interview, producer Howard Gordon commented that, accounting for the passage of various presidential administrations, Season 7 would technically take place in 2017.
- Operation Nightfall: March 2000
- Season 1: March 2002
- Season 2: September 2003
- The Game: March 2004
- Season 3: September 2006
- Season 4: March 2008
- Season 5 Prequel: March 2009
- Season 5: September 2009
- Season 6 Prequel: April 2010
- Season 6: May 2011
- Redemption: January 2015
- Season 7: March 2015
- Season 8: September 2016
- Live Another Day: September 2020
- Legacy: March 2024
On the above (speculative) timeline, the Presidents on 24 served for the following terms:
- David Palmer: January 2003 – January 2007
- John Keeler: January 2007 – March 2008 (removed from office)
- Charles Logan: March 2008 – September 2009 (removed from office)
- Hal Gardner (presumed): September 2009 – January 2011
- Wayne Palmer: January 2011 – May 2011 (assassinated)
- Noah Daniels: May 2011 – January 2015
- Allison Taylor: January 2015 – September 2016 (resigned)
- Mitchell Hayworth: September 2016 – January 2019
- James Heller: January 2019 –
Theories about the timeline
- Trinity is said to take place seven years after the 1993 World Trade Centre bombing, placing it in 2000. Kim Bauer is mentioned as being 13 in it, and as Kim was 15 on Day 1 (according to Findings at CTU), this places Day 1 in 2002.
- Slobodan Milošević was in power until 2000, placing Nightfall sometime before then and Day 1 sometime before 2002.
- Veto Power references the fall of Saddam Hussein, which took place in December 2003. If it takes place approximately six months before Day 1, this would place Day 1 in mid-2004.
- In Trojan Horse, Operation Proteus was just getting started two years before the novel. According to Findings at CTU and the fox website, Operation Proteus took place in 2000, placing Day 1 in at least 2002.
- Nina Myers pulls up files about an FBI investigation that took place in 2003, placing Trojan Horse and Day 1 after this year.
- In Cat's Claw, Mercy Bennet references the tv series Alias, which first aired in 2001, thus placing Cat's Claw in 2001 at the earliest.
- The novel references the 2004 hotel bombing in Bali by Jemaah Islamiyah, hence placing Day 1 and the others after that year.
- An aerial shot in "Day 1: 9:00am-10:00am" shows the LA Convention Center expansion in the early stages of construction. The building was constructed in 1993.
- In the intro of Day 1, it is shown that The Petronas Towers are in the finishing touches of construction. The towers were not fully completed until late 1998.
- Real life election years are 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, etc.
- The "National Geographic Traveler" that Martin Belkin shows to Mandy in "Day 1: 12:00am-1:00am" is the March 2001 issue.
- January 14, 2001, seen on Jamey's computer in "Day 1: 2:00am-3:00am", is mentioned as being a couple of months ago.
- In "Day 1: 9:00am-10:00am," while Jack is hiding behind an SUV, the California license plate has a 2002 expiration date on it.
- George Mason's phone in "Day 1: 5:00pm-6:00pm" reads "02/13/02." (see here)
- A view of Jack Bauer's phone in "Day 1: 6:00pm-7:00pm" says that it's Tuesday, March 19, 2002. However it also says the time is 4:24pm (see here)
- Alexis Drazen's two files in "Day 1: 3:00pm-4:00pm" say he was 35 and born in January 1967, placing Day 1 in 2002.
- Mishko Suba's two files in "Day 1: 3:00pm-4:00pm" say he was 32 and born in August 1969, placing Day 1 in 2001 or 2002.
Findings at CTU
- According to Findings at CTU, Mark DeSalvo's wife Teresa died in 2000 and he began working as a warden in 2002, placing Day 1 sometime after that.
- Dates given at the bottom of every page in The House Special Subcommittee's Findings at CTU may infer that Day 1 took place in 2001.
- Recent dates in Reza Naiyeer's passport shown in "9:00am-10:00am" appear to be from 2004, placing Day 1 in 2002 or 2003.
- A background sign as Nina Myers walks down North Collins in "2:00pm-3:00pm" advertises the 2002 GEVA awards, putting Day 1 in 2001.
- George Mason's phone in "2:00pm-3:00pm" gives the date as September 26, 2002, putting Day 1 in 2001. However, it also shows the time as 12:15pm (see here).
- An on-screen date in "5:00pm-6:00pm" is given as 2002, placing Day 1 in early 2001.
- The sun is shown setting at 6:53:48 in Los Angeles, which may place the date of Day 2 on or around September 20.
- The racing game 24: Countdown takes place in December 2004, between Day 2 and Day 3, placing Day 1 between 2001 and 2003.
- A shot of Chase Edmunds' phone in "Day 3: 6:00pm-7:00pm" gives the date as Thursday, September 4, 2003. This would place Day 1 in 1999. However, it also gives the time as 2:15pm.
- Kyle Singer's driver's license gives his date of birth as being November 19, 1987. His age is given as 19, placing Day 3 in 2006-2007 and Day 1 in 2002-2003.
- Jane Saunders's student ID, displayed in "Day 3: 7:00am-8:00am", is for the Spring 2008 semester at UCSB, placing Day 1 at least four years earlier in 2004.
- Nina Myers was born in 1975 according to her passport in "Day 3: 11:00pm-12:00am", and Findings at CTU gives her age as 34 on Day 1. This places Day 1 in 2009 and Day 3 in 2013.
- A calendar visible in "Day 4: 10:00am-11:00am" shows July/August 2004, placing Day 1 in July/August 1998.
- Andrew Paige's driver's license in "Day 4: 10:00am-11:00am" was issued on 04/21/2003 and expired on 05/15/07, placing Day 1 between between April 1997 and May 2001.
- In "Day 4: 3:00pm-4:00pm", a shot of Dina's profile gives Behrooz Araz's date of birth as 06/06/90. Dialogue in the same episode states his age as 17, placing Day 4 in 2007-2008 and Day 1 in 2001-2002.
- In "Day 4: 5:00pm-6:00pm", the date on Edgar Stiles's phone reads "12-08-09", placing Day 1 in 2003.
- 2 different CTU phones in "Day 5: 10:00am-11:00am" give the year as 2010, placing Day 1 in 2003. However, one says it is 17:59 on the 1st of September, and the other says it is 19:30 on the 29th of October.
- A CTU phone that Shari Rothenberg grabs in "Day 5: 12:00am-1:00am" gives the date as 02/17/11, placing Day 1 in 2004, but gives the time at 22:20.
- The sun is shown rising at 6:18:35 in Los Angeles, which may place the date of Day 5 at March 3-4, or August 19-20.
- Dates on the CTU phones on Day 6 reportedly read "Jan. 23, 2012." Day 1 was approximately nine years earlier, placing it in late 2002 or very early 2003.
- In the Day 6 Debrief, Jack Bauer states his birth as February 18, 1966. According to Findings at CTU, Jack was 36 at the time of Day 1, which places Day 1 in 2002 and Day 6 in 2011.
- The immunity agreement for Greg Seaton, signed by President Taylor during the 11:00 PM to 12:00 midnight episode, gives the year as 2007, as derived from the last sentence on the agreement (1776+231). This places Day 7 in 2007 and Day 1 during 1994.
- An establishing shot of the flags of the UN building in "Day 8: 5:00pm-6:00pm" shows that Georgia is missing from the member states. As Georgia joined in 1992, this would place Day 8 sometime before then and Day 1 sometime before 1978.
- The cover of 24: Underground #1 states that Jack's age after Day 8 is 48, and that he was born in 1966. This would place the comic in 2014 (the year of its release) and Day 1 between 1998 and 2000.
- The car that Chloe and Jack steals has a road tax disc with an expiry date of 31-05-2014, which would place Live Another Day between June 2013 and May 2014, assuming the tax disc was valid.
- In "Day 9: 3:00pm-4:00pm", Adrian Cross mentions in dialogue that his group Open Cell has been active for the past six years. As the Open Cell website places the organization's founding in 2008, this would place Day 9 in 2014.
- In "Day 9: 5:00pm-6:00pm", Prime Minister Alastair Davies states there had not been a successful terrorist attack in the UK for 7 years. If he was referring to the July 7 bombings of London (which killed 52 and injured a further 700), this would place Day 9 in 2012. If he was referring to the 2007 Glasgow airport attack (which injured 5 people and is regarded to be a failed attack), this would place Day 9 in 2014. However he may have been referring to a different real-life, or entirely fictional, attack.
- During various episodes of this season car number plates contain the number 63 as the third and fourth digits, this means the cars were manufactured sometime after September 2013.
- In "Day 9: 9:00pm-10:00pm", Anatol Stolnavich has the departure details of the container carrying Cheng, the departure date is listed as June 14th 2014.
A number of characters on 24 have specific dates of birth. Owing to the inconsistency of the timeline, these do not always line up with their stated ages.
- April 3: Chris Tanner
- Looking for clues on the set of '24'. Zap2it (January 17, 2007).
- Kristin Dos Santos (January 15, 2008). Jack Is Back! Kiefer and Bosses Talk 24 Movie and New Season. E! Online. Retrieved on July 16, 2014.