UPDATED: 24 is returning next season with 24: Legacy, a spinoff featuring all-new characters led by a new hero, played by Corey Hawkins. Original 24 star Kiefer Sutherland serves as an executive producer on the Fox series. He has no deal to act on the show as he toplines high-profile new ABC drama Designated Survivor. But there is a chance for him to guest star on 24: Legacy as Jack Bauer, according to executive producer Howard Gordon.

Howard Gordon, Nazanin Boniadi
Associated Press

“I do think the character has life in him, whether it’s a movie or if he intersects with this new iteration of 24, [Legacy],” Gordon said today during his master class at the ATX TV Festival in Austin. “I sure would love to see him at some point on the show, and I don’t think he’s ruled it out, either.”

I’d heard Gordon and the team of 24: Legacy have an arc in mind for the second part of 24: Legacy‘s 12-episode first season that could involve Bauer if a deal comes together, but there are no talks going on at the moment with Sutherland for acting. He could do a couple of episodes as a guest star without creating a conflict with his leading-man duties on Designated Survivor. There also is a possibility of  other 24 original cast members reprising their roles in guest stints.

Adding further credence to the possibility of a Jack Bauer comeback, when asked about the finale in Live Another Day, Gordon said, “I don’t know how public this is but we didn’t question or consider this being Jack’s last moment, Jack’s end. We couldn’t bring ourselves [to kill him].”

Why did the 24 producing team decide to continue the franchise without Bauer at the center? “That character has, in fact, lost too much to be the center of an ongoing enterprise,” Gordon said.

Hawkins’ character wouldn’t be a “copy of Jack Bauer” but would be “compelling in his own right,” he said, “Once we put Jack to rest as the center of the story, we could [do another story],” he explained.

The comments topped off a session filled with anecdotes about Gordon’s storied career that has included hits such as The X-Files, Homeland, 24, and now, Tyrant and 24: Legacy.

As for a 24 movie, Sutherland had been a longtime supporter of the idea, but the project never got off the ground after a couple of attempts. Sutherland reprised the Jack Bauer role in the 2014 Fox event series 24: Live Another Day, which picked up the story four years after the series finale.

24: Legacy will premiere on FOX after Super Bowl LI on February 5, 2017.