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12 Intriguing Shows Like 24 You Should Check Out Next

In the long-running thriller "24," Kiefer Sutherland plays a Counter Terrorism Unit agent who deals with political and personal crises in "real-time." The show is a twisty mystery, as well as a high-octane thriller, and deals with many intricate and emotionally-charged relationships. A normal day at the CTU office lasts an entire season and features bomb threats, beheadings, blackmail, sexy assassins, killer handshakes, killer characters, and plenty of xenophobia.

Sutherland leads the charge as Jack Bauer, a CIA specialist and stone-cold killer. Bauer is a survivor, and everyone around him who endures the madness that is his American life is either also a survivor or someone he's about to kill. His wife didn't make it, but his daughter did — even though she had to throw down with a cougar.

"24" is a politically-charged, panic-inducing thrill ride. Premiering just weeks after the events of 9/11, the show's outlandish treatment of treason, torture, and terrorism made the show suspenseful and fed into a sense of popcorn paranoia. Bauer operates with an ends-justify-the-means attitude, and the show is on his side as he does whatever it takes to take down terrorism and save the world a whole bunch. The success of the Fox series has spawned games, comics, an energy drink, and the "24: Legacy" spinoff. So if you're craving a jolt to your system, here are 12 intriguing shows like "24" you should check out next.


"Homeland" is a complex thriller about a bipolar CIA counterterrorism operative suspicious of a recovered prisoner of war. It was even called "The '24' for the Obama Era" by The Atlantic.

Developed by former "24" team Howard Gordon and Alex Gansa, this post-9/11 thriller stars Claire Danes stars as Carrie Mathison on the case of recently-returned POW politician Nicholas Brody (Damian Lewis). Mathison is convinced Brody was turned in captivity by al-Qaeda and will stop at nothing to uncover proof for what she believes is the truth.

While "24" was more convicted in its portrayal of Jack Bauer's "morality," "Homeland" messes with moral murk. Mathison's personal life is scrutinized for its instability, and the show asks if her actions are motivated by nobility or selfishness. The result is a war on terror thriller that keeps viewers off-balance and intrigued — but at a cost.

Though critically lauded for its twists and turns, "Homeland" is undeniably sensational in its paranoid portrayal of Muslim infiltration. It should be noted that the show's issues with islamophobia are significant — the BBC even argued it may be the most islamophobic show on TV and that its failings helped usher in more representative media that doesn't portray all Muslims as terrorists-to-be. The intrigue of "Homeland" holds up, but the misinformation and monolithic portrayal of a diverse group of people feel both of its time and a warning for pop culture to stop repeating history it should have already learned from.


Jack Bauer follows his own lead when it comes to doling out justice — much like "Reacher's" Jack Reacher. While you may recognize the character from the Tom Cruise "Jack Reacher" movies or Lee Child's novel series, Prime Video's "Reacher" is an adaptation of the first published novel, "Killing Floor." The show stars Alan Ritchson as a former U.S. military policeman, and asks the age-old question: What do you get when you frame "250 pounds of frontier justice" for murder?

Reacher quickly clears his name and discovers there's more to the town he was framed in than meets the eye. Reacher has mysteries to solve and scores to settle — but he'll do both in his own hyper-violent way. Like Jack Bauer, unmitigated violence is Reacher's love language. He will do whatever it takes to unravel the town-wide conspiracy that tried to tie him to a crime he didn't commit, whether it's gouging the eyes out of a racist during a gang assault in a prison bathroom or shooting bad guys in the back. Reacher doesn't play clean, but he will clean up the dirty town of Margrave.

This bulked-up and bloody adaptation is not without its wisecracks and sidekicks — especially in the form of Reacher's main sidekick. If Oscar Finlay looks familiar to you, that may be because he's played by living legend Malcolm Goodwin of "iZombie" fame.

Jack Ryan

"Jack Ryan" shares more than just a first name with Bauer — this twisty espionage thriller also emphasizes close relationships as much as global intrigue. The flashy, thoughtful, and politically complex iteration of Tom Clancy's "Jack Ryan" premiered in 2018 on Prime Video. It features John Krasinski (of "The Office" and "A Quiet Place" fame) as a Marine veteran, working a quiet desk job as a CIA data analyst — until a series of terrorist-made bank transactions yank him off his desk and throw him into the field.

There, Ryan works with a crack team of fellow counterterrorism agents (played by Wendell Pierce, Abbie Cornish, Noomi Rapace, and Michael Peña) to take down Suleiman (played by Ali Suliman), an Islamic extremist with financial acumen and an axe to grind. Suleiman isn't portrayed as a cut-and-dry bad guy and has a rich family life depicted on-screen. The series is as action-packed as "24," but with a more globe-trotting scope.

"Jack Ryan" doesn't fully escape the anti-Muslim mania of its counterterrorist thriller forebears, but it does make some notable attempts. Omar M. Mozaffar, who worked as a sensitivity consultant on the show, told The National News, "I was brought onto 'Jack Ryan' because these producers felt it was important. The writers also wrote on 'Lost,' which had the fascinating, complex, and sympathetic Iraqi character Sayid, so they're already the exception there ... but generally, they're definitely an outlier in Hollywood."

Person of Interest

"Person of Interest" is like "24" with a sci-fi flair. The show follows a CIA operative using futuristic surveillance technology to identify possible terrorists, as well as gang members and murder-for-hire schemes, among other criminal activities, ahead of time. While "24" featured Jack Bauer running around really fast and torturing to bring order to his chaotic post-9/11 world, "Person of Interest" relies on another tried-and-true espionage device: surveillance.

"The Machine" is an artificially intelligent government computer program, developed by spooky billionaire Henry Finch (Michael Emerson of "Lost" and "Evil" fame), and is able to monitor all forms of surveillance and communication. It's able to pinpoint possible threats and raise more moral quandaries than you can shake an international criminal tribunal at. Finch takes the program to washed-up former Special Forces agent John Reese (Jim Caviezel) and together, they assemble a ragtag team to track the people The Machine marks as persons of interest.

The show is stylish, smart, and spectacular — what less could you expect from executive producer and "Felicity" mastermind J.J. Abrams? It plays with the fantastic side of spy game technology, and while it occasionally sticks to series-long arcs à la "24," it also spends time loading intrigue into standalone episodes made possible with special guest stars. There are familiar faces in the guest and recurring cast, including Winston Duke, Ken Leung, Leslie Odom Jr., Morgan Spector, and Taraji P. Henson.

Prison Break

"Prison Break" may not utilize the real-time gimmick seen in "24", but it comes pretty close. This is a high-tension, big-action thriller about (you guessed it) a prison break that comes together over the course of one month. While the season doesn't use an hour-by-hour format, the tension and twists in this show are ratcheted up so high, the suspense levels feel minute-to-minute. Another intense thriller from Fox, "Prison Break" follows Lincoln Burrows (Dominic Purcell) and Michael Scofield (Wentworth Miller) as brothers orchestrating a prison break to free and clear Burrows from a crime he didn't commit.

In keeping with the political intrigue of "24," Burrows is jailed for killing the vice president's brother. Scofield is a structural engineer on the outside who devises a brilliant plan to rescue his brother and gets himself arrested to execute it from the inside. The show was wildly popular upon debut, and back when "Gone Girl" scribe and screenwriter Gillian Flynn wrote reviews for Entertainment Weekly, she put "Prison Break" on her 2005 top ten list.

While the show sometimes vamps for time while plotting its great escapes, the stacked cast always gives viewers something fun to watch. Highlights include Robert Knepper as "T-Bag," Amaury Nolasco as Fernando Sucre, William Fichtner as Alex Mahone, and Rockmond Dunbar as "C-Note." Some filming also took place in the infamous Old Joliet Prison outside of Chicago, which also made a cameo in the 1980 film "The Blues Brothers."

Burn Notice

"Burn Notice" pulls off the intrigue of "24," but with a much lighter touch. The show dispenses with the typical espionage thriller's life-or-death tension and plays the fish-out-of-water angle for more humor and charm than your average action thriller. "Burn Notice" follows contract covert agent Michael Westen (Jeffrey Donovan) who gets anonymously discredited and blacklisted with the CIA. Westen finds himself stuck in Miami with his assets frozen, and a mystery to solve –- who burned him, and why? And ... what will he do now to pay the bills?

He teams up with some unlikely allies on his comedic journey to the truth, and the rapport he has with his unintentionally-found family is not unlike Jack Bauer's dynamics with his family and team in "24." Westen's main allies are ex-girlfriend and current weapons supplier Fiona Glenanne (Gabrielle Anwar), fellow former spy and best friend Sam Axe (Bruce Campbell), and his mother Maddie (Sharon Gless), with whom he has a stormy relationship.

While humorous, "Burn Notice" deals with some dark topics, including child abuse, family reconciliation, and, of course, terrorism. However, this hidden gem of a show relishes the laugh-out-loud and wry comedy of its twists and turns, whether it's pitting Westen up against the demons of his past or the evil masterminds of his future.


Assassination attempts, bomb threats, bioterrorism, corruption — these are just a few of the occupational hazards encountered by both Jack Bauer and Sterling Archer. Featuring H. Jon Benjamin in the titular role, "Archer" is a spy series with the same intense intrigues of "24," but played for laughs. Heavily inspired by James Bond, "Archer" follows the womanizing super-spy through high-octane, hilarious misadventures. It's an espionage thriller meets workplace comedy — and it holds nothing sacred.

Archer and his secret agent co-workers spend their days as part of the International Secret Intelligence Service (ISIS) and their nights sending up spy movie clichés. This is a Cold War-era show and favors a classic '50s spy style. The ensemble cast features Jessica Walter as Archer's cold, cutting ISIS-director mother Malory Archer, Aisha Tyler as rival and love interest Lana Kane, Judy Greer as unhinged assistant Cheryl Tunt and series creator Adam Reed as Ray Gillette — an openly gay spy which Esquire called "one of the best LGBT characters on TV."

This silly, sensational show also features a star-studded guest cast, much like "24." The Archer cast revealed their favorite guest stars to Looper, a list which included Timothy Olyphant, Christian Slater, Jamie Lee Curtis, and Simon Pegg. "The Americans" star Matthew Rhys even helped create an "Archer" episode and guest-starred on it.

Designated Survivor

Fans of Kiefer Sutherland in "24" are sure to dig his performance in the political thriller "Designated Survivor." In this high-concept show, Sutherland plays Tom Kirkman, a low-level Cabinet member assigned the role of "designated survivor" – someone who can temporarily lead the country should everyone else in line for the presidency die in a mass-casualty event — following an attack during a State of the Union address. Kirkman is forced to transition from the secretary of housing and urban development to president overnight.

While he is initially unassuming in this massive life shift, Kirkman discovers he can go head-to-head with government officials and global opponents alike. "Designated Survivor" trades in the field work explored in "24" for White House palace intrigue, more akin to "The West Wing" or "House of Cards." The event that kills the whole government is tied to a greater conspiracy, and Kirkman has his work cut out for him figuring out who is behind it before they strike again.

The show always had cable show ambitions, and made the move from ABC to Netflix mid-run, opening up some suspenseful story potential. Unlike "24" or "Homeland," "Designated Survivor" is more concerned with finding common ground — however fictional — in a fraught political climate. Rounding out the cast of this tense political thriller are Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Adan Canto, Italia Ricci, and Natascha McElhone.

The Little Drummer Girl

"The Little Drummer Girl" is a '70s-set spy thriller that combines the tension and intrigue of "24," and adds Alexander Skarsgård in a Speedo. Florence Pugh stars as Charlie, a British actress recruited to infiltrate a possible terrorist cell. Charlie is a bold, left-wing actress looking to make her break when she is recruited by a mystery man, played by Skarsgård. Charlie is called up by Mossad (the national intelligence agency of Israel) to infiltrate a Palestinian terrorist group. It's a volatile, audacious plan that Charlie executes for better — or worse.

Like "24," every episode is its own ticking time tomb. The stakes are life and death. There's also a whole lot of making out. While the romantic intrigue matches the political intrigue and the story jaunts all over Europe (and the ruins of ancient Greece), the show is rooted in its pursuit of the right outcome,  much like "24." Adapted from the John Le Carré novel of the same name, and with Le Carré being a former spy himself, there is an air of authenticity to all of the outlandish spy games the renegade crew (led by Michael Shannon) play.

Park Chan-wook ("Snowpiercer," "The Handmaiden," "Stoker") directs a star-studded cast with style and substance. But what makes "The Little Drummer Girl" most interesting is Pugh's dynamic performance, and the questions and critiques the show poses about its spies. Is what they are doing right, wrong, or merely a very bloody piece of theatre?

The Americans

"24" deals with global intrigue from the CIA's point of view, but "The Americans" tells its espionage tale from behind enemy eyes. This taut, tense, ridiculously stylish, and sexy spy thriller is set in and around Washington, D.C. in the '80s. Phillip and Elizabeth Jennings (Matthew Rhys and Keri Russell) are Soviet KGB agents, undercover in America posing as a married travel agent couple with kids. Of course, the Jennings kids have no idea their parents are working to win the Cold War on behalf of the Soviets — and neither does their neighbor, Stan Beeman (Noah Emmerich) –- a counterintelligence expert working for the FBI.

While "The Americans" explores the duality of being an American, a spy, a patriot, and a partner on all fronts, it pledges no allegiance to anything remotely resembling moral certitude. This show slinks around in moral gray area, and you will question your own limits when realizing you might be cheering as Philip and Elizabeth pull some of the most depraved human behavior imaginable, all in honor of stealing a few scraps of information. Like "24" and its torture scenes, "The Americans" glories in graphic depictions of violence, both physical and emotional. And there are plenty of wigs.

What makes the show so addictive and so darkly relatable is the most suspenseful plot at its center: the love story between Philip and Elizabeth. While much has been made of the actors' chemistry (Rhys and Russell are married in real life), their portrayal of their characters' connection is as high-octane as any episode of "24."


Jack Bauer will threaten to kill you if you mess with his family, his country, or his president. Whatever torture he exacts, whatever gun he fires, whatever face he punches, to Bauer, it's justified. "Justified" leading man Raylan Givens would approve — as long as Bauer didn't give Givens a reason to shoot him. "Justified" is a high-intrigue and deep relationship crime show featuring Timothy Olyphant as a trigger-happy U.S. Marshal dealing with his hometown "Dixie mafia" and other domestic intrigues.

Adapted from Elmore Leonard's short stories, "Justified" was developed by Graham Yost, an executive producer for "The Americans" and the screenwriter for one of America's best thrill rides of all time, "Speed." "Justified" pits Givens against his hometown frenemy, faux-white supremacist and for-real criminal mastermind Boyd Crowder, played to sublime and surly perfection by Walton Goggins. Givens' shoot-first-ask-questions-later attitude gets moments of glory, but also moments of consequence.

While "Justified" is a crime show that features a mystery per season and mini-mysteries-of-the-week, it is just as much a character study of two cowboys from Appalachia — the white hat and the black hat — and how blurred the line can be between good and bad. This show is also a strong contender to watch next after "24" in terms of killer lines, like, "If you wanted me to shoot you in the front you should've run towards me." Bauer and Givens can toss out a killer quip when they need to, and threaten with the best of them.

The Following

If a show about an FBI agent trying to stop a serial killer by any means necessary sounds like "24,", well, it should. Kevin Williamson — screenwriter of iconic slasher "Scream" — even previously compared "The Following" to "24," saying in an interview with IGN, " ... Keifer Sutherland always had a problem to solve, and that's the same here. They just have to stop it before one more person dies. And unfortunately ... a lot of people are going to die."

Kevin Bacon stars as FBI agent Ryan Hardy trying to take down serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy). Like Bauer, Hardy is a man haunted by his past. An FBI agent who botched a case, Hardy gets his shot at redemption when the FBI asks him to help recapture Carroll. The killer's cult is highly reminiscent of Charles Manson's own following (except with more Edgar Allan Poe references) and serves as a serial killer training camp.

Gory, grim, and not for the faint of heart, "The Following" is unique for being a violent cable show on network TV. Just like the gritty realism of "24" was a feat of filmmaking for Fox, so are the blood and guts of "The Following." Torture gets plenty of screen time here but at the hands of acolytes instead of seasoned counter-terrorist operatives. The show is a bleak, bloody cat-and-mouse game in the style of "Silence of the Lambs" but with the heart-racing pace of "24."