DHS- Dennis Haysbert on 24

David Palmer on Season 4

David Palmer is one of the primary protagonists and a former senator-turned President of the United States on the television series "24". He appears in the first five seasons of the show as well as the video game spin-off and is portrayed in all appearances by actor Dennis Haysbert.

Character SummaryEdit

David Palmer, J.D., was a Democratic senator from Maryland and later became the first African-American President of the United States of America. David Palmer built his political career on integrity, honesty, commitment, honor, and a deep concern about the welfare of the American people. Palmer ended up having to learn who his true allies and enemies were the hard way while facing off with other political scandals and having to oversee that the proper authorities dealt with the extreme forms of terrorism.

On Day 5, David Palmer was assassinated by Conrad Haas, a hired gunman, to prevent him from exposing a conspiracy within the U.S. government. He was 55 years old.

Before Day 1 Edit

David Palmer was born approximately 48 years before Day 1. He attended Georgetown University with his childhood sweetheart and future wife, Sherry. He had at least two siblings: Wayne and Sandra. (

Together, David and Sherry had a son, named Keith, and a daughter, named Nicole.

Seven years before Day 1, Nicole was raped by a man named Lyle Gibson. After the attack, Keith sought out Gibson, and accidentally killed him in a confrontation. Realizing that this would destroy David's political career, Sherry conspired with her children and Palmer financier Carl Webb to cover up the murder, creating the impression that Gibson had committed suicide. The four of them kept the truth secret from David up until Day 1, when he learned about the coverup from reporter Maureen Kingsley.

Palmer served two terms at the House of Representatives, before being elected as Senator. During this time, he met Charles and Martha Logan. Even though Palmer and Logan rarely agreed politically, he and Martha became close friends. (5x02)

As a member of the House National Security Subcommittee, Senator David Palmer authorized a mission, codenamed "Operation Nightfall", to eliminate Balkan war criminal Victor Drazen. The mission was organized by NSA operative Robert Ellis and carried out by a small team led by Jack Bauer.

In the spin-off novel Vanishing Point, David, with his wife Sherry went to Las Vegas for the Pan-American Drug Conference but secretly planned to see the demonstration of the Malignant Wave project at Area 51.

The weekend before Primary day, Palmer was in Washington, D.C.. He arrived in Los Angeles on the Monday morning and made the round for photo-ops. (1x01; 1x15)

Day 1 Edit

Palmer's life was threatened during the course of Day 1. On another front, his political career was threatened as well. His son, Keith, was shown to be a viable suspect in the murder of the man who raped Nicole, Palmer's daughter and Keith's sister. Palmer investigated, but found that telling the truth was preferable to covering it up with lies and took a stand in favor of his son. However, he found out his wife, Sherry, was trying to manipulate him, both in that potential scandal, and in another that Sherry tried to create. David was furious with Sherry, and finally told her his wish for a divorce at the close of the day.

On this day, David won against Mike Hodges in all eleven states involved in Super Tuesday, including California, Ohio, and New York. This day was part of the Californian Presidential Primary.

After Day 1 Edit

The morning after Day 1, Palmer was scheduled to fly to Dallas.

Some time later, David Palmer won the Democratic Party's nomination for president and, with his running mate James Prescott, went on to win the general election and was elected as President of the United States with 60% of the popular vote, recapturing key states of the nation that had been held by the opposition for a long time. Palmer filed for divorce from Sherry, prior to being sworn in as President.

During his inauguration speech, Palmer emphasized his promise to bring commitment and honor to the office. At the inauguration ball, Martha Logan was one of the first people that David asked out to dance. (5x02)

Day 2 Edit

Over a year later, in Day 2, David Palmer was still serving his term as President. As he was working out of the Northwest Region Operations Complex, he was alerted to the threat of a nuclear bomb detonating in the U.S. He was also informed that Bauer, now an inactive agent, had contacts with people who could lead them to the bomb. Jack was still distraught over the death of his wife and his strained relationship with Kim, and he ignored calls from CTU. However, he responded to the call from President Palmer. Jack became an active agent again and eventually caught the bomb and detonated it in a remote area.

Palmer also had difficulties throughout the day, including dealing with the treachery of NSA director Roger Stanton, and his advisor Mike Novick conspiring with his Vice President James Prescott to use the 25th Amendment to remove him from office because of his belief that the Cyprus recording may have been forged, and his refusal to authorize military action because of it. Eventually, Palmer was able to regain the presidency due to the efforts of Brian Jacobs and Jack Bauer.

At the end of the day, Palmer was attacked by Mandy, who used a virus to attack him under orders from Max.

The Game Edit

DHS- Dennis Haysbert in 24 The Game

In-between the events of Days 2 and 3, James Prescott had taken over as acting president due to Palmer's illness. However, Prescott was in an assassination attempt himself, leading to Palmer's reinstatement to office. He claimed on television that he was healthy and ready to assume duties as President, yet did not reveal that he was still in a wheelchair.

Dr. Kevin Tyson, his personal physician, told him that he was still not healthy enough, but was getting stronger. When Palmer suffered heart problems, Tyson banned him from making any more public appearances, or showing himself on television.

Day 3 Edit

During Day 3, Palmer was faced with re-election and participated in the first of three presidential debates with Senator John Keeler. During the televised debate, a nationwide crisis developed centering around a Stephen Saunders, bio-terrorist mastermind who eventually held the country hostage with the highly lethal Cordilla virus. President Palmer was forced to endanger his bid for a second term in office, and found himself beholden to the demands of the terrorist in order to buy CTU desperately-needed time to stop him. At the same time, his Presidency was challenged by Alan Milliken, a former political supporter. David called in his ex-wife Sherry Palmer to help, but this situation quickly gained the momentum to unravel into personal disasters and death.

Day 4 Edit

After the events of Day 3, Palmer did not run for re-election, and so was an ex-President by Day 4. However, Mike Novick, a longtime friend, recommended he be brought in to assist the Acting President, Charles Logan, as he had shown poor judgment abilities; demanding the arrest of Jack Bauer, who at the time was staging a critical operation to apprehend the architect of the day's terrorist activities. The operation failed as a result of Logan's poor decision making, and Palmer was brought in shortly thereafter and effectively led the country in the last part of Day 4. Logan was less than gracious in accepting the help, as he blamed Palmer when things went wrong, but took full credit when things went his way.

The Chinese government gained proof that Jack led the attack on the Chinese consulate and demanded Jack's extradition. Palmer called Jack to thank him for his exemplary service to the country and told him that the Chinese government had proof of his role in the attack. When Jack asked what kind of proof they had, Palmer informed him that Howard Bern, a member of the team that went into the Consulate with Jack, made a full confession on tape. Palmer also said that the Chinese probably wanted Jack to implicate the United States government in the attack. Jack insisted that he would never do that, and Palmer agreed. However, this decision was not up to him. Palmer informed Jack that a Secret Service agent was on his way to take Jack into custody. Palmer also promised Jack that he would do everything he could to bring him back to U.S. soil as soon as possible.

A few minutes later, Novick overheard a conversation between Logan's Chief of Staff, Walt Cummings, and Secret Service Agent Dale Spalding. Cummings ordered Spalding to kill Jack Bauer once he was in custody, in order to prevent the Chinese from extracting any information. Novick gave this information to David Palmer. He paid his debt to Jack by warning him that the Secret Service was not just taking him into custody, but was instead planning on killing him. Jack was able to escape by faking his own death with the help of Tony Almeida, Michelle Dessler, and Chloe O'Brian.

After Jack escaped, he called Palmer and thanked him for saving his life. Palmer said that that would be the last time they would ever speak, because, for all intents and purposes, Jack Bauer was dead. Jack understood, and thanked him once more, saying that it had been a pleasure to work for him. Palmer hung up the phone and never spoke to Jack again.

David Palmer was therefore one of the four people who knew Jack was alive after he faked his death, as far as Jack knew.

Before Day 5 Edit

At some point, Palmer started writing his memoirs with the help of his brother and former White House Chief of Staff, Wayne Palmer. One day before Day 5, he arrived at Los Angeles to meet with him and continue working with them. That same night, at around 10:00pm, David called Martha Logan. He told her he wanted to speak to her about a matter of national security that might concern her husband, President Logan. They agreed to meet some time. (5x02)

Day 5 Edit

At 7:03am, while writing his memoirs at his brother's penthouse apartment in 34012 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, Palmer was assassinated by a sniper named Conrad Haas from an adjacent building with a .308 round to the throat. He died instantly.

It was later revealed that Palmer had attempted to contact Martha Logan, a good friend and First Lady of the United States, with the intent of talking to her about a "matter of national security". This knowledge was what led to his assassination. Initially, Walt Cummings and James Nathanson were revealed as being complicit in the murder, but later it was discovered that Christopher Henderson arranged for the death, to prevent the First Lady from finding out that her husband, President Charles Logan was arranging to sell Sentox nerve gas to Dawn Brigade separatists led by Vladimir Bierko. (Over the next few years it was discovered that several other power brokers were behind the killing, including Graem Bauer and Alan Wilson.) The next morning, Logan gave a filmed, faux eulogy remembering Palmer and was arrested immediately afterwards by the Secret Service due to evidence incriminating him in the assassination, which was obtained thanks to the efforts of Jack Bauer, Martha Logan, Mike Novick, Chloe O'Brian, Morris O'Brian and Aaron Pierce. Logan was led to his limousine as Palmer was given a 21-gun salute before being placed on a plane headed for Washington, D.C.

President David Palmer was buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia.

Major legislation Edit

  • Defense Appropriations Bill (between Day 1 and Day 2)
  • Social Security Bill (between Day 1 and Day 2)
  • A "clean energy" proposal (between Day 1 and Day 2)
  • Job Creation and worker Assistance Act (between Day 2 and Day 3)
  • A health care bill (Palmer's biggest contributor, Alan Milliken, threatened to stop this bill) (Day 3)

Controversial decisions Edit

  • Secretly authorized an operation to take out Balkan war criminal Victor Drazen (2 years before Day 1)
  • Took reporter Ron Weiland into custody against his will (Day 2)
  • Ordered the torture of NSA Director Roger Stanton (Day 2)
  • Enlisted ex-wife Sherry Palmer's help (Days 2, 3)
  • Delayed a military strike on the Middle East (Day 2)
  • Opened the Alaskan National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling (Midnight Sun book)
  • Passively authorized a prison break-in to covertly release terrorist Ramon Salazar, as per terrorist demands (Day 3)
  • Gave in to demands of terrorist Stephen Saunders several times, including the murder of Ryan Chappelle (Day 3)
  • Lied to LA police chief to provide an alibi for Sherry Palmer (Day 3)
  • Authorized a covert operation to extract a vital witness who was a Chinese national from the Chinese consulate in Los Angeles. During this operation the consul was killed, even though it was caused by friendly fire. (Day 4)

Background information and notes Edit

Character information Edit

  • According to his Presidential memoirs, Palmer spent time as a youth in Philadelphia. It is unclear as to if he was simply born or lived there.
  • Although they were close friends, Palmer and Jack Bauer only met on three occasions in "24", all of them on Season 1, though they spoke to each other frequently by phone in later seasons.
  • The IP address of his computer in Season 5 was
  • David Palmer is the longest-serving President to appear in "24", and the only one to serve for an entire four-year term. John Keeler was replaced by Charles Logan; Logan himself was replaced with Hal Gardner; Wayne Palmer was replaced by Noah Daniels, and Allison Taylor resolved to resign soon after Season 8.
  • David Palmer has the curious fortune of being the only on-screen president with established children who did not suffer the death of one of his children while in office. John Keeler's son Kevin was killed when Mitch Anderson shot down Air Force One, Allison Taylor's son Roger was murdered by Brian Gedge between Redemption and Season 7, and James Heller's daughter Audrey Boudreau was shot and killed by one of Cheng Zhi's operatives.
  • David and Wayne Palmer are the only Presidents in the 24 timeline that were assassinated.
    • The closest real-life resemblance of this is the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy (1963) and his brother Robert F. Kennedy (1968). Although the latter was not a President, he was a leading candidate for the Democratic Party in the 1968 primaries.

Show/real world references Edit

  • David Palmer was the first African-American president elected to office on "24". On November 4, 2008, this feat was paralleled in real life with the election of Barack Obama who, like Palmer, was a US Senator and a Democrat.
  • An "April Fools" joke ending of Season 2 involved Palmer getting into a car with Nina Myers, which would implicate him in the day's events. Instead, the writers had Mandy attempt to assassinate him.
  • An alternate ending for Season 2 was filmed, which shows Palmer getting up after Mandy's assassination attempt and telling the people around him he is fine. This was done so the extras used in the scene wouldn't go around spoiling the ending. This alternate version appears in the deleted scenes on the season 2 DVD.
  • Both David Palmer and Teri Bauer have been mentioned in every season since their deaths (except for the "Live Another Day" mini-series).
  • In press footage shown during "Day 5: 8:00am-9:00am", a commentator claims that David Palmer was elected with a 60% plurality. This is a factual error; in elections, a plurality is anything that is less than a majority but still the highest percentage (e.g. 48%, while 2 other candidates earned 40% and 12%).
  • In Season 4, while assisting Charles Logan, Speaker of the House Don Ashton says it comforts him that President Logan is in good hands. This may be a reference to Dennis Haysbert's commercials for Allstate, whose slogan is "Are you in good hands?".

Appearance notes Edit

  • Palmer was the only character besides Jack that appeared in all of the first 72 episodes of the show.
  • He appeared in all of the season finales of the first four seasons, or five seasons if one counts his closed-casket funeral in Day 5: 6:00am-7:00am.
  • Footage of Mandy's assassination attempt on Palmer from the final episode of Season 2 appeared on James Nathanson's television screen in "Day 5: 8:00am-9:00am."
  • A picture of David, actually one of Dennis Haysbert's promotional images for Season 3, is seen in the Oval Office throughout Season 6.
  • Palmer was the only character beside Jack that appeared in all the first 69 "Previously on 24" segments. He also has the most "Previously on 24" segments besides Jack, at 71.
  • Palmer holds the record for most appearances on "24" while being a sitting president, at 45. He was closely followed by Allison Taylor with 43.
  • David Palmer has the most appearances for a deceased character.
  • The Palmer family have the most appearances as a family apart from the Bauer family. The Palmers appeared in all of the first six seasons.
  • In the 2013 Indian remake of 24, Palmer's counterpart is Aditya Singhania, an idealistic young candidate for India's Prime Minister, portrayed by Neil Bhoopalam. Unlike Palmer, Singhania is unmarried and has no children, with his story arc altered to involve his mother and siblings.