… at least on Fox come May after the conclusion of it’s eighth “day,” otherwise known as a season. From The Hollywood Reporter:

Tick, tick, tick … and done.

After eight seasons, Fox’s “24” is coming to an end.

The groundbreaking action drama will air its final real-time episode in May, the victim of a confluence of circumstances: a swelling budget, declining ratings and creative fatigue.

BOOOOO!!!!! Apparently, due to the fact that salaries spiral upward dramatically the longer a show is on television (especially after the fifth season), Fox was paying an incredible $5 million an episode for this year’s installments. Let’s see … 5 million times 24 episode equals …. A LOT!

But Jack Bauer himself, as he’s proven countless times on “24” is hard to kill:

Yet for fans of Jack Bauer, there remains hope. Studio 20th TV is developing a theatrical film that takes Bauer to Europe, and showrunner and executive producer Howard Gordon says other possibilities are being explored as well.

“There are other possible iterations of Jack Bauer and his world,” Gordon said.

The producers of “24” have long begged off shifting Jack Bauer to the big screen because it would screw up the narrative of the show. Makes sense. It would be hard to slip an entire new adventure into the timeline of each “off season” of “24” and not (1) take away from the show and (2) easily integrate the spent movie plot into the show’s historical timeline. But I welcome the idea of seeing Jack Bauer in the movies. We could use an American James Bond.

And, no, Jason Bourne does not count. Jack Bauer would kick Bourne’s whiny, metrosexual, conflicted-about-what’s-right-and-wrong behind. After easily subduing Bourne with a chop to the throat — then sitting Bourn down in a chair to make it easier to get a clean shot when shooting him in the knee — Jack would lecture him on what real sacrifice for one’s nation is about.

“Oh. Your girlfriend got killed? Boo hoo, you traitor! My wife was killed!!! I saw her die in my place of work!!! But I kept coming back, DAMMIT!!!! To protect my country. To do my duty. To do what was right.” (Those last lines are not adorned with accumulating exclamation points because Sutherland would deliver them in his trademark Whisper of Intensity.)

So this May will mark the end of Jack Bauer’s exploits on TV — and one of the most innovative dramas in the history of television, not the least from a production/presentation stand point. Remember that “24” insisted (once it was a legitimate hit) that all its episodes be run for 24 consecutive weeks so as not to lose its “one-day-in-real-time” grip presented one hour at a time. And Fox acquiesced. That was unheard of in modern television, but served the show well. The “24” producers even cancelled the entire season last year over the Hollywood writers’ strike, because it was not willing to produce half a season, then come back and finish up later. I think what resulted — essentially a one-year hiatus — contributed greatly to the show’s sagging, but still solid, ratings.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that “24” pioneered a network television innovation — “a returning hit that airs in midseason without repeats.” “24,” as much as the advent of summer-scheduled reality shows like “Survivor,” blew up the tradition that the “television season” starts in the fall, takes a repeat-heavy break, and starts up again in the spring. Indeed, “24” executive producer Howard Gordon knows that his show has established itself in television history:

“I’d like it to be remembered as a revolutionary concept,” Gordon said. “I hope the second thing is that we loved this show so much and never did anything less than our best and I hope we delivered to our fans like we feel we did to ourselves.”

You did, Howard, by giving America a real American hero — who time and again put country before self and family. Bravo! And may Jack Bauer make a splash in movie history as well. I smell franchise!

(Cross-posted at Infinite Monkeys.)