Here is the latest in a series of examinations into urban legends about TV and whether they are true or false. Click here to view an archive of the TV urban legends featured so far.
TV URBAN LEGEND: Kiefer Sutherland added lines to episodes of 24 just to mess with fans playing 24-based drinking games.
Something that often gets lost among fans, particularly on the internet, is the fact that writers, artists, directors and actors – they’re all just people. There is often a bit of a detachment when fans write about them, as if doesn’t matter what you say, since it is not like they are ever going to actually see what you write. But you’d be surprised by how often creative people do read the negative things said about them on the internet. Jimmy Kimmel has a whole bit on his show about celebrities reading mean tweets about themselves. It is not just fans, of course. Popular celebrity impersonators also speak of the odd feeling when you know that a celebrity has seen their (often mocking) impression of the celebrity. A particular amusing instance where celebrities sometimes “break the fourth wall,” in a way, is when they become involved in games revolving around them. Like Gwyneth Paltrow calling in to a radio contest about her (which I featured in a Movie Legends Revealed a while back). Or Kiefer Sutherland’s interesting response to learning about a drinking game based around his hit TV series, 24.
24 was a long-running TV series that just last year returned for a ninth season after a four-year absence (currently there are no plans for a tenth season, but I would be very surprised if they did not get around to doing one). It stars Kiefer Sutherland as special agent Jack Bauer (who has worked with and for various federal agencies over the course of the series, most typically for the fictional Counter Terrorism Unit). Every season takes place in a single day, with every episode being set in real time. So each day has Jack dealing with one (or sometimes multiple) threats to American security through various terrorist attacks (assassination attempts, nuclear bombs, deadly viruses, hijacked drones, you name it). With such a rigid format, 24 is known for following a certain formula in their episodes. When you need to fill up 24 hours worth of a story, it is always useful to have a traitor involved, for instance, to delay the good guys from solving the crisis too quickly. So nearly every season of 24 has involved at least one traitor working with the good guys.
This adherence to formula is what makes 24 such an appealing show to use as a drinking game. Drink every time someone “established a perimeter,” drink every time someone talks about “protocols,” drink every time Jack Bauer yells/asks someone “Who are you working for?” And, of course, drink every time Jack yells “damn it.” “Damn it” is an especially popular term, as 24 airs on network television so Jack Bauer can’t very well use explicit profanity, so “damn it” has become his catch all phrase when he is upset.
Here are some examples:
However, the twist came when Kiefer Sutherland learned about the drinking games that people (primarily college students) developed around 24. His first reaction was to try to use the popular phrases less. Instead, though, he decided to use the phrase more. He explained to Rolling Stone that he began saying the phrase multiple times:
Boom, boom, boom. And that was just one scene. By the end, there had to be fourteen ‘Damn its.’ And I could just see all these college kids going, ‘Oh, fuck!’ “
The lesson is, as always, when it comes to drinking, don’t mess with Kiefer Sutherland.
The legend is…
Thanks to Erik Hedegaard of Rolling Stone and Kiefer Sutherland for the quote!
Feel free (heck, I implore you!) to write in with your suggestions for future installments! My e-mail address is email@example.com.