The CTU Can Feel Very Real On '24'

by Caroline Gerdes
John P Fleenor/FOX

Fox's hit 24 franchise returns in a new way on Sunday, Feb. 5, with a desirable post-Super Bowl premiere. The new spinoff, 24: Legacy, picks up where Jack Bauer left off, though the story follows a new lead, Eric Carter, played by Corey Hawkins. The ex-Army Ranger finds himself to be a terrorist target soon into the premiere, which is where the series really start to connect. Fighting terrorism has always been a staple in the world of 24, as it focuses on the Counter Terrorist Unit. Now that we'll be revisiting the government agency, it's worth asking, is the CTU from 24 real?

Though the U.S. does have its fair share of intelligence and counterterrorism agencies that handle domestic and foreign terror threats, the CTU itself is fictional. Its name is very similar to a real agency within U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Counterterrorism and Criminal Exploitation Unit, but they are not one and the same.

While 24 and its spinoff are works of fiction set within a made-up agency, Variety writer Oriana Schwindt pointed out that the series often coincides with real events that are eerily similar to its plot. Schwindt explained that the original 24 was supposed to feature a plane exploding in its 2001 premiere episode, but the story was altered due to the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Ray Mickshaw/FOX

But such timing didn't end with Jack Bauer's story. As Schwindt explained, 24 Season 6 featured a plot in which a string of suicide bombings led to Muslim-Americans being stripped of their rights. Fast forward to the impending 24: Legacy premiere, which falls shortly after Donald Trump issued an executive order banning anyone from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the U.S. for 90 days, and banning Syrian refugees indefinitely.

So, 24: Legacy, like 24 before it, may have some eerie similarities to our current political climate. Of course, the dark series is sure to deliver more violence, suspenseful twists, and over-the-top moments. After all, the CTU isn't the only fictional part of 24.