Americans loved the show. Specifically, military personnel loved it. And the most important thing they learned was that torture is both an admissible and almost 100 percent effective method of extracting information. Neither of those things are remotely true, but on the odd occasion that 24 does ruminate briefly on the illegality of torture, Jack Bauer still manages to stab the correct information out of his illegally detained captives every single time, and anyone who questions him is treated with as much derision as the sneering police chief who keeps demanding Harry Callahan's gun and badge.
After the fifth season ended, the fussy old dean of the U.S. Military Academy, Brigadier General Patrick Finnegan, requested a meeting with the show's producers in California. His complaint: teaching the next generation of the armed forces wasn't easy, what with his lessons being contradicted every week by America's favorite Lost Boy. While Finnegan was trying to instruct his students in the art of actual effective interrogation techniques, his pupils just wanted to know when they start shooting bad guy limbs, and how hard.
"Whoops, hit an artery!"
"That's all right, this is why we practice. Let's try again on his kneecap."
Finnegan wasn't the only educator at West Point with complaints. Professor Gary Solis, who teaches wartime law, exasperatedly explains to his students how Jack Bauer would actually be the biggest war criminal who ever lived -- we're pretty sure even Saddam had trouble violating international law over 10 times in 24 hours. But trying to convince his students that torture was not just illegal and immoral, but completely ineffective was, in Solis' words, "like trying to stomp out an anthill."