Bill Buchanan

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Bill Buchanan
24 character
24 Character Bill Buchanan as portrayed by actor James Morrison
James Morrison as Bill Buchanan
First appearanceDay 4 – Episode 15
Last appearanceDay 7 – Episode 14
Portrayed byJames Morrison
Days4, 5, 6, 7
Spouse(s)Karen Hayes
Significant other(s)Michelle Dessler

Bill Buchanan is a fictional character in 24. Played by James Morrison, the character is the head of the Los Angeles Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU) from the fourth season to the sixth season, when he is forced to step down. In between Season 5 and 6, he married Karen Hayes.[1] He returns in Season 7, working outside of official agencies to uncover a terrorist plot that goes to the highest levels of government.

Concept and creation[edit]

According to a New York Times review by Walter Dawkins, Bill Buchanan functions as a stoic center figure for the show's Counter Terrorist Unit. Executive producer Howard Gordon describes the balance Buchanan provides: "We feel like we don't want to take his hand off the steering wheel because it's so steady. He's sort of the grown-up in the room, the straight man for other people who certainly make it a more colorful place to watch."[2]

The occasions when Buchanan's temper does flare carry dramatic weight because of their rarity. Dawkins notes a brief outburst when a terrorist escapes during season six, episode four for being "as explosive as anything else that hour". Actor James Morrison describes the importance of such scenes. "If you pick those moments where he does have that quick explosion, then everyone will take notice."[2]


Buchanan has a Bachelor of Arts in English from Brown University.[3] Prior to becoming the Special Agent in Charge at the LA CTU office, he was the Associate Special Agent in Charge at the Los Angeles Division office. Buchanan started his career as an agent with the New York Domestic Unit.[3]


24: Season 4[edit]

Bill Buchanan is sent to CTU to help oversee operations during Day 4, particularly the Jack Bauer-Behrooz Araz trade off, an idea that Buchanan had initially disagreed with.[4] When he realizes that there are no viable alternatives, Buchanan decides to proceed with the exchange.[4]

Following the destruction of the trackers on Behrooz, Jack informs Buchanan that he was able to short circuit some wires where he had been detained. Jack leads a strike team to the location, storming it, only to have the location destroyed by Marwan.[5]

When Jack Bauer brings in Joe Prado, Buchanan looks to the Department of Justice for permission to torture Prado, however is unable to do so.[6] Buchanan calls President Charles Logan for authorization, however the President refuses.[6] Seeing no alternative, Bauer resigns and interrogates Prado as a private citizen, and acquires the information.[6] Audrey Raines and Mike Novick are angry with Buchanan for allowing it, who[clarification needed] suggests to Mike to have President Logan sign off on Prado's torture and then just fabricate the timeline.[7] Mike is unable to do so, but Bill later finds out that President Logan wants Bauer detained.[7]

Buchanan becomes visibly angry when he discovers that a raid had occurred on the Chinese consulate without his knowledge.[8] When Cheng Zhi comes to CTU for answers, Buchanan aids in the cover up until Howard Bern can escape from CTU.[9]

Buchanan is informed by Michelle Dessler that a terrorist named Mandy had been calling her[10] He advises her to act as if she is going to proceed with the plan, in order to capture Mandy, however Mandy stages her own death, supposedly killing Tony Almeida as well, which leaves Michelle devastated. Buchanan suggests that she go home. Later Jack calls Bill informing him that Tony is alive.[10]

When Buchanan discovers that Bauer is being transferred into Chinese custody, he tells the Secret Service agent that Bauer is a hero.[11] Bauer attempts to escape, and following a firefight, is supposedly shot and killed. Buchanan informs Audrey Raines what happened, and she breaks down.[11]

At the end of the day, Michelle and Tony retire and Buchanan becomes the Director of CTU.[3]

24: Season 5[edit]

At the start of the day, the CTU is working to find a connection between the death of David Palmer and Michelle Dessler. Buchanan briefs President Logan on the Palmer investigation, suggesting that he postpone the treaty signing, but Logan refuses.[12] Edgar Stiles shows Buchanan footage of Jack Bauer as the apparent assassin of Palmer, and Buchanan issues a warrant for Jack's arrest.[13] A hostage situation at the Ontario airport[14] prompts Lynn McGill to be sent to CTU in order to oversee the situation, though criticized for the adherence to protocol.[15]

Buchanan interrogates a suspected mole, Spenser Wolff, and learns he's working for Walt Cummings as part of an internal investigation.[16] Programmer Jacob Rossler, is captured for aiding terrorists, and Buchanan and McGill agree to grant him immunity in exchange for information, but Rossler is killed before he can provide the results.[17]

When Bauer escapes custody with the aid of Buchanan and Audrey, McGill becomes suspicious that he may have had help from CTU, and Buchanan is detained for insubordination,[18] but was later reinstated when McGill was relieved of duty.[19] Homeland Security is ordered to absorb CTU; and when Raines discredits Buchanan to reinstate O'Brian, Buchanan is relieved of duty.[20]

O'Brian is discovered working with Jack at Bill Buchanan's home by the CTU; but, a tipoff from Karen Hayes enables Chloe to escape, and Buchanan is arrested without incident. Buchanan knows that he'll have protection from Hayes upon arrival at CTU.[21] At CTU, Buchanan and Hayes discuss Jack's current situation. Working together with Chloe, they aid Jack in obtaining the evidence implicating President Logan, but the evidence is later destroyed. Vladimir Bierko escapes custody, and takes control of a submarine and its missiles. Bill and Karen have fighter planes sent to destroy the sub, and send Jack with a team to resolve the situation. The terrorists are killed, and their plan is thwarted.

Unknown to Bill and Karen; Jack, Chloe, Mike, Martha and Aaron plot to expose President Logan, until Chloe notifies them that she has evidence incriminating the President. The day concludes with Logan being arrested, and a foreshadowing of a relationship between Bill and Karen is revealed.

24: Season 6[edit]

Characters Bill Buchanan and Karen Hayes are married between seasons five and six.[22] The season opens with Bill and Curtis Manning at Ellis Airfield as a Hercules C-130 military transport lands. Buchanan finalizes the release of Jack Bauer from the Chinese, and are shocked by his condition. Bill brings Jack to the drop-off point and apologetically handcuffs Bauer to a nearby guardrail.[23] Bill returns to CTU to find that Morris O'Brian and Chloe O'Brian redirected a personal satellite to view Jack, breaking their promise with Fayed.[23] Chloe informs Bill of satellite footage showing Jack helping Hamri Al-Assad escape before the missiles hit. Bill orders her to monitor communications, and she discovers that Fayed is the terrorist culprit. Bill and Chloe agree to keep the information secret.[24]

A disgraced Charles Logan is brought into CTU, and Logan persuades Buchanan that his wife may be able to convince Anya Suvarov to help resolve the situation with the Russian Consulate. Buchanan agrees and provides Logan with a chopper to Logan's residence. When Jack is captured by the Russian Consulate and Markov refuses to divulge information, Buchanan orders an attack on the consulate without Vice President Noah Daniels's approval. Eventually he receives permission from both Daniels and Russian President Yuri Suvarov, and leads a successful attack along with Mike Doyle.

Doyle discovers a mole in the CTU and immediately suspects Nadia Yassir, creating tension between Milo and Doyle; thus Bill is forced to break up a fight in the situation room. Jack discovers that Bill kept secret the fact that Audrey Raines had died in China. Bill said that he did not tell Jack because Jack was about to sacrifice himself for the country. Nadia Yassir is cleared of charges, and agrees to return upon Buchanan's request. Later when Bill gets a call from his wife Karen Hayes and she says that she is afraid that she is the reason that Vice President Daniels will continue acting as president. Bill comforts her by saying that Daniels does not have a case and that the supreme courts will agree and to let him know when they made a decision. Karen thanks her husband for being there. Bill says, "You don’t have to thank me. It’s my job."

After the capture of lead terrorist Abu Fayed, CTU stages a fake rescue of Fayed hoping that he will lead them to the remaining suitcase nukes. It is revealed by the ambassador that his country has captured a general who might have been helping Fayed. Buchanan persuades President Palmer to order the ambassador to have the captured general contact Fayed. Nadia Yassir warns Buchanan that there might be a distress signal encoded in the phone call. Fayed is later killed by Jack Bauer.

Buchanan briefs the CTU staff on the death of Abu Fayed and the end of the terrorist threat; and thanks all the personnel for their efforts. During the briefing Chloe gets a call from Jack and admits that Jack wanted to trade the Russian bomb's circuit board to the Chinese in exchange for Audrey Raines. Buchanan orders Mike Doyle to secure Jack; while allowing Jack to contact President Wayne Palmer. Wayne gives CTU the go ahead to make the exchange after Jack assures that he will not allow the board to get into Chinese hands. Karen informs Buchanan that Vice President Daniels is the acting president, and wants Jack Bauer and the whole operation stopped. Buchanan calls Doyle, and tells him that he must disarm Jack and bring him in. Jack forces Doyle out of the car after the phone conversation and goes ahead with the mission. This allows for the rescue of Audrey Raines without Buchanan directly disobeying superior orders. Mike Doyle informs Buchanan that Jack has escaped is attempting to get the circuit board to Cheng. Buchanan announces to the CTU staff that Jack Bauer has gone rogue.

Buchanan calls Karen and she informs him that she is being forced to fire him from CTU to protect herself and the President. The Department of Justice wanted a fall guy for the Fayed escape, before he was a known threat. Buchanan contacts division and informs Nadia Yassir that he is stepping down and that she will be temporarily in charge of CTU until division sends a replacement.

During a 4:00am search of his home, Buchanan declines a call, and Karen leaves a message on his answering machine. She informs him that Vice President Daniels is about to go through with an exchange between Josh Bauer and the sub-circuitboard. She believes that it is a bad idea and begs Bill to intervene. Soon after, Buchanan crashes his truck with the CTU SUV that was transporting Jack back to CTU causing them to go off the road. When Buchanan is talking to the agents Jack comes behind Agent Turner and causes him to drop his weapon. After handcuffing the two agents to their car, Jack and Bill drive away towards the beach. When riding Buchanan gets a call from Karen, who tells him that Secret Service found out about her and that they will be arresting her any time. Knowing that they will likely not be allowed to talk to one another for a while, Karen thanks Bill for his help and also tells him that she loves him which Bill reciprocates.

After summoning medical attention for the injured Mike Doyle, Jack and Buchanan commandeer a CTU helicopter to rescue Josh against the orders of White House and CTU. Buchanan asks Nadia for the thermal-Intel of the oil rig so they would know the location of hostiles. Buchanan escorts Cheng back to the chopper and waits for Jack. Josh comes running and tells him that Jack is still with his father. When Buchanan communicates with Jack through comm., Jack tells him to fly along the side of the rig so that Josh can be picked up. Josh jumps on the ladder seconds before the missiles hit the rig.[25]

Buchanan flies Josh and Cheng back to CTU where he congratulates Nadia Yassir on her good work. At the conclusion of the day, Buchanan resigns in exchange for a pardon.[25]

24: Season 7[edit]

Although the actor originally wrote on his official website that he would not be returning to the series for its seventh season, he said in August 2008 that he will be returning to the show after all.[26] Bill is briefly shown in the first official 24 season 7 trailer with white hair, appearing to be working alongside Chloe O'Brian. Neither Bill nor Chloe appear in the first or second episodes of the seventh season, but appear starting in the third episode, working on their own, outside of official agencies, to reveal a conspiracy at the highest levels of the current administration. The seriousness of this threat has led him to be willing to let his men die in order to achieve their objectives.

After Dubaku is apprehended and a large number of US-based conspirators revealed, he asks the President to speak to Senator Mayer about the Senate hearings where Jack Bauer is accused of acts of torture, reminding her of the contribution Jack has made in stopping Dubaku. Later on when General Juma attacks the White House, Bill and Jack realize that Juma is using the President's tracker bracelet to locate her. Bill removes the tracker and uses it to lead Juma's men away from the President, acting as a decoy to buy Jack time to get the President to the lock-down room. He succeeds but is captured by Juma's men and taken hostage. In Hour 13, 8:00 - 9:00 PM, after Jack and President Taylor are forced out of the lockdown room, Jack informs Bill that before he opened the door he managed to release a significant amount of natural gas inside the lockdown room, and that a single gunshot would set off an explosion. Bill tells Jack that he saw Juma on a satellite phone to a co-conspirator and wants Jack to find out who it was through Burnett, another US-based conspirator who was in custody. Bill then charges at one of Juma's guards by the lockdown room, knocking him down and securing the guard's gun and manages to fire off a shot, thus setting off the explosion. This kills a considerable number of Juma's troops as well as Buchanan himself; in the aftermath, Jack is shown visibly mourning over Bill's body, as he had intended to be the one to set off the explosion and sacrifice his own life. Bill's sacrifice is honored with a silent clock at 8:11:52 P.M.

In other media[edit]

In the comic book 24: Cold Warriors, it is revealed that Buchanan had a relative, probably a brother, who served with Jack Bauer in Delta Force and was tortured and killed in Afghanistan by a Russian agent named Malenov (who is in turn killed years later by Bauer).[27] In the novel Operation Hell Gate, Buchanan makes a brief appearance on a conference call with Nina Myers.[28]


  1. ^ Owen, Rob (April 15, 2007). "Supporting players get to shine". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2008-07-08.
  2. ^ a b Dawkins, Walter (April 1, 2007). "Walk Tightropes. Teach Yoga. Fight Terrorists". The New York Times. p. 28.
  3. ^ a b c "FOX Broadcasting Company: 24". Archived from the original on 2008-04-04. Retrieved 2008-06-29.
  4. ^ a b Writer: Joel Surnow Director: Bryan Spicer (2005-03-28). "9:00pm-10:00pm". 24. Season 4. Episode 87.
  5. ^ Writer: Howard Gordon Director: Bryan Spicer (2005-04-04). "10:00pm-11:00pm". 24. Season 4. Episode 88.
  6. ^ a b c Writer: Joel Surnow Director: Jon Cassar (2005-04-18). "12:00am-1:00am". 24. Season 4. Episode 90.
  7. ^ a b Writer: Howard Gordon Director: Bryan Spicer (2005-04-25). "1:00am-2:00am". 24. Season 4. Episode 91.
  8. ^ Writer: Peter Lenkov Director: Bryan Spicer (2005-05-02). "2:00am-3:00am". 24. Season 4. Episode 92.
  9. ^ Writer: Joel Surnow Director: Kevin Hooks (2005-05-09). "3:00am-4:00am". 24. Season 4. Episode 93.
  10. ^ a b Writer: Sam Montgomery Director: Jon Cassar (2005-05-23). "5:00am-6:00am". 24. Season 4. Episode 95.
  11. ^ a b Writer: Robert Cochran Director: Jon Cassar (2005-05-23). "6:00am-7:00am". 24. Season 4. Episode 96.
  12. ^ Writer: Howard Gordon Director: Jon Cassar (2006-01-15). "7:00am-8:00am". 24. Season 5. Episode 97.
  13. ^ Writer: Evan Katz Director: Jon Cassar (2006-01-15). "8:00am-9:00am". 24. Season 5. Episode 98.
  14. ^ Writer: Manny Coto Director: Brad Turner (2006-01-16). "9:00am-10:00am". 24. Season 5. Episode 99.
  15. ^ Writer: David Fury Director: Jon Cassar (2006-01-30). "12:00pm-1:00pm". 24. Season 5. Episode 102.
  16. ^ Writer: Joel Surnow Director: Jon Cassar (2006-01-23). "11:00am-12:00pm". 24. Season 5. Episode 101.
  17. ^ Writer: Manny Coto Director: Brad Turner (2006-02-06). "1:00pm-2:00pm". 24. Season 5. Episode 103.
  18. ^ Writer:Howard Gordon Director: Tim Iacofano (2006-02-20). "3:00pm-4:00pm". 24. Season 5. Episode 105.
  19. ^ Writer:Joel Surnow Director: Tim Iacofano (2006-02-27). "4:00pm-5:00pm". 24. Season 5. Episode 106.
  20. ^ Writer:Manny Coto Director: Jon Cassar (2006-04-03). "4:00pm-5:00pm". 24. Season 5. Episode 112.
  21. ^ Writer:Steve Mitchell Director: Dwight Little (2006-04-24). "1:00am-2:00am". 24. Season 5. Episode 115.
  22. ^ Mitovich, Matt (January 15, 2007). "James Morrison, 24: CTU's Boss Teases the Next 22 Hours". Retrieved 2008-05-14.
  23. ^ a b Writer: Howard Gordon Director: Jon Cassar (2007-01-14). "6:00am-7:00am". 24. Season 6. Episode 121.
  24. ^ Writer: Manny Coto Director: Jon Cassar (2007-01-14). "7:00am-8:00am". 24. Season 6. Episode 122.
  25. ^ a b Writer: Robert Cochran, Manny Coto, and David Fury Director: Brad Turner (2007-05-21). "5:00am-6:00am". 24. Season 6. Episode 144.
  26. ^ "James Morrison: Acting". Archived from the original on 2008-09-16. Retrieved 2008-08-17.
  27. ^ Beau Smith (w), Steve Bryant (p). "Cold Warriors" 24: Cold Warriors (February 2008), IDW Publishing
  28. ^ Cerasini, Mark (2005). 24 Declassified: Operation Hell Gate. New York City: HarperCollins. ISBN 978-0-06-084224-6.