In the world of "24," the sound of a familiar ticking clock is heard when the show goes in or out of commercial breaks and when an episode ends.
 
There is an exception, though. When a beloved character dies, the show goes to a silent clock, a somber reminder of finality and mortality. 
 
It's time for "24" itself to earn the silent clock treatment.
 
On Friday (March 26) afternoon, FOX announced that this will be the final season of "24." A press release described the long-anticipated news as a joint decision made by star and executive producer Kiefer Sutherland, executive producer and showrunner Howard Gordon, Twentieth Century Fox Television, Imagine Entertainment and Fox Broadcasting Company.
 
As the schedule stands, "24" will have its two-hour finale on Monday, May 24 and then all and sundry will turn their attentions to continuing Jack Bauer's adventures on the big screen.
 
"This has been the role of a lifetime, and I will never be able to fully express my appreciation to everyone who made it possible," Sutherland says in the first of several respectful statements. "While the end of the series is bittersweet, we always wanted '24' to finish on a high note, so the decision to make the eighth season our last was one we all agreed upon. This feels like the culmination of all our efforts from the writers to the actors to our fantastic crew and everyone at FOX. Looking ahead to the future, Howard Gordon and I are excited about the opportunity to create the feature film version of '24.' But when all is said and done, it is the loyal worldwide fan base that made it possible for me to have the experience of playing the role of Jack Bauer, and for that I am eternally grateful."
 
Since it premiered in the fall of 2001, "24" has become one of the signature programs in FOX's schedule, becoming the centerpiece of the network's winter roll-out starting in 2005. The series has been nominated for 68 Emmys and won for Outstanding Drama Series in 2006. Sutherland was nominated for six lead acting Emmys, winning one. The 2008 telefilm "24: Redemption" has picked up an additional five Emmy nods.
 
"'24' is so much more than just a TV show -- it has redefined the drama genre and created one of the most admired action icons in television history," states Peter Rice, Chairman, Entertainment, Fox Networks Group. 
 
Adds Kevin Reilly, President, Entertainment, Fox Broadcasting Company added, "We are extremely proud of this groundbreaking series and will be forever thankful to Kiefer, the producers, the cast and crew for everything they’ve put into '24' over the years. It’s truly been an amazing and unforgettable eight days."
 
The news of the "24" cancellation had been expected for several weeks. First 20th Century Fox hired Billy Ray to take a stab at writing the long-awaited "24" movie, a project Sutherland and Gordon said probably couldn't be produced while the show was still on the air. Then there were reports that FOX wasn't planning on ordering another season, but that "24" might be shopped to other networks. Then longtime showrunner Howard Gordon committed to a new pilot at 20th Century Fox TV and said that even if the show returned, he wouldn't be back in the same capacity.
 
It would now seem that after may, Jack Bauer is off to the multiplex.
 
"Kiefer and I have loved every minute of making 24, but we all believe that now is the right time to call it a day," Gordon states. "I echo his sentiments of gratitude toward the show’s amazing creative team, as well as the studio and network who have always believed in us and shown us unbelievable support."
 
In a nice piece of serendipity, "24" came in at No. 24 on this reporter's list of TV's Best of the '00s.