Now, 24 has a lot of reasons to be liked, it’s jam packed with twists and surprises, some lovable characters, and great action scenes. (Plus the whole concept of following someone’s 24 hours is innovative and fun, though the effect is lost if you don’t sit and watch the show all at once.) If you like 24, there are a lot of other shows out there for you:
If what you like about 24 is the spy element, then maybe a show like Chuck is for you. Though not a serious, deadpan show like 24, Chuck is full of spy action and mystery as well as great characters and entertainment. Also on the funny but spy-filled list is Burn Notice, chronicling Michael Weston’s attempts to being reinstated as a spy after receiving and inexplicable burn notice. There’s a lot to enjoy about this series, particularly the “how to” of spying given in each episode. In this category I would also recommend Psych, though not quite aa spy show, the main character is a hyper-observant, amusing guy who pretends he’s psychic so he can play detective and help police solve cases. I have to also add Leverage to this list, though it doesn’t fall strictly into the spy genre. Leverage is about a band of thieves who band together to con the rich and evil in order to help the innocent and weak. It’s both funny, action-packed in its own way, and full of intriguing spy-like cons.
Newer spy shows include: the CW’s Nikita reboot about a woman who was taught to be a spy by the secret government branch called division. When they killed the man she loved she went awol and works to take them down with the help of a mole. USA Network’s Covert Affairs follows Annie Walker, a spy for the CIA who is graduated early in order to lure out her old boyfriend after he disappeared mysteriously (what she didn’t know what that he was a CIA spy too). This show is a lot like Alias without the crazy supernatural stuff. (There is also NBC’s Undercovers which followed a married couple that were lured back into working as spies. The show was cancelled pretty early.)
An old school spy option is Remington Steele, a show in which a woman in charge of a detective agency finds that people are reluctant to hire a woman, so she creates a false identity, Remington Steele, to be the “man” that the clients will be hiring. Things go awry when a man shows up claiming to be Remington Steele. Other old school hits include McGuyver (sort of like Burn Notice with the how to be a spy with anything around you type stuff) and Mission Impossible of course.
If the think you like most are the twists and turns, the attempts to solve the case and figuring out who’s behind everything, then shows like the CSI, NCIS, and Law And Order shows, along with Numb3rs, Cold Case, Veronica Mars, and The Shield are some good options for you. In truth there are tons of criminal shows you might try, like Dexter (on my list of shows that I plan to start once I finish Psych because I’ve heard it is excellent), Bones (which I particularly like because I find it is more character driven than the Law and Order and CSI ones), Crossing Jordan, The Closer, etc. Police shows are “the thing” for television so there is certainly no shortage of those shows to fill your days.
For a crime solving with a twist type show, you can try Tru Calling about someone who relives days into to solve murders and keep people from dying.
If the thing you are looking for is more of the action adventure, there isn’t much by way of non sci-fi shows. One good option is Prison Break. While many complain that the show went downhill as the series continued, it is still filled with some good fight scenes, intrigue, and surprises that make it a show worth watching. (I would certainly recommend Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles if you want hand to hand and gun combat and don’t mind the science fiction thrown in. Shows like Angel, Buffy, and Dark Angel also fit this category.) Alias, which didn’t always have the crazy sci-fi spin is another good spy, action choice. Though it did get a little weird from me as it got further in.
(There’s also shows like House and Lost which have a lot of mystery and plot points, with similar pacing to 24 but are really quite different.)
If I’ve forgotten anything, let me know!