24 was never a reality in another timeline. Former Fox Television Entertainment Group chairman Sandy Grushow revealed that the Kiefer Sutherland series nearly didn’t see the light of day, per TheWrap:
“The whole economic challenge came down to the hyper-serialized aspect of the series,” Grushow said, noting that serials tend not to repeat for networks and at that time were harder to syndicate. “Since we were going to be on the hook for both network license fee and studio deficit, the whole thing could have been a financial bloodbath, which is why there was any hesitation at all about ordering it.”
So Fox looked to the bottom line. “One of the things I insisted upon was we try to do it as inexpensively as possible, which meant producing the show in Canada to take advantage of the tax breaks on the order of about $300,000 per episode,” he said. “We talked about casting an unknown in the lead, thereby budgeting about $40,000 per episode for the Jack Bauer role.”
24 survived nine seasons and a sequel, but Season 2 was almost cancelled, as Grushow explains:
“We had a lot of conversations about whether we should turn it into an FBI franchise show, and there was a lot of spirited debate about that. But that fortunately ended with us deciding to roll the dice and hoping the audience would take the ride again. And not only did they embrace it, I believe the ratings went up by something like 25 percent, which we attributed to the DVD sales over the summer.”
Can you imagine a world without 24?