Designated Survivor: Season 1 (2016 - 2017)


Season 1
Designated Survivor

Critics Consensus

Kiefer Sutherland skillfully delivers the drama in Designated Survivor, a fast-paced, quickly engrossing escapist political action fantasy.



Critic Ratings: 62


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1424

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Air date: Sep 21, 2016
Air date: Sep 28, 2016
Air date: Oct 5, 2016
Air date: Oct 12, 2016
Air date: Oct 26, 2016
Air date: Nov 9, 2016
Air date: Nov 16, 2016
Air date: Nov 30, 2016
Air date: Dec 7, 2016
Air date: Dec 14, 2016
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Designated Survivor: Season 1 Videos

Designated Survivor: Season 1 Photos

Tv Season Info

Season 1 of "Designated Survivor" begins with the lowly Secretary of Housing and Urban Development, Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), being told he's literally the only guy left to become president when a devastating explosion rips through the Capitol during the State of the Union. In the aftermath, President Kirkman teams up with Congresswoman Kimble Hookstraten (Virginia Madsen), the GOP's chosen designated survivor, to bring stability back to the country. He also makes Congressman Peter MacLeish (Ashley Zukerman), the lone survivor of the catastrophe, his new vice president. Meanwhile, the FBI desperately try to uncover how the attack was even possible, with Agent Hannah Wells (Maggie Q) and Deputy Director Jason Atwood (Malik Yoba) suspecting it was an inside job. Also starring Natascha McElhone and Kal Penn.


Kiefer Sutherland
as Tom Kirkman
Natascha McElhone
as Jessica Kirkman
Adán Canto
as Aaron Shore
Italia Ricci
as Emily Rhodes
LaMonica Garrett
as Mike Ritter
Tanner Buchanan
as Leo Kirkman
Kal Penn
as Seth Wheeler
Maggie Q
as Hannah Watts
Virginia Madsen
as Kimble Hookstraten
Kevin McNally
as Harris Cochrane
Rob Morrow
as Abe Leonard
Mark Deklin
as Senator Jack Bowman
Malik Yoba
as Jason Atwood
McKenna Grace
as Penny Kirkman
Geoffrey Pierson
as President Cornelius Moss
Reed Diamond
as John Forstell
Alex Quijano
as Lawrence
Richard Bekins
as President Richmond
Elias Zarou
as Ambassador Ahmed Fayad
Peter Outerbridge
as Charlie Langdon
Rothaford Gray
as Acting Defense Secretary
Krista Morin
as Acting FBI Director
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News & Interviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Designated Survivor Season 1

All Critics (62) | Top Critics (30)

Designated Survivor has got a dynamite premise, but the premiere episode flounders when it leaves the White House for the ruins of the Capitol...

Aug 20, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…

Designated Survivor aims to have it all: the weight of "The West Wing," the addictive thrills of "House of Cards," and perhaps even the action of "24" (thanks, mainly, to vengeful Maggie Q).

Aug 20, 2019 | Rating: B+ | Full Review…
Top Critic

Sure, it's a far-out premise, but the suspenseful pilot gets your adrenaline pumping and it's fun watching Sutherland navigate a role where he can't rely on snapping anyone's neck -- at least not yet.

Sep 7, 2016 | Full Review…

This is so chilling a premise, it's not something many of us want to think about, especially in these troubling times, and that makes Designated Survivor both disturbing and riveting.

Sep 21, 2016 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Overly familiar story beats and cardboard character cutouts in Wednesday's opener blunt the return of Jack Bauer 2.0. A hint of genuine promise, however, remains.

Sep 21, 2016 | Rating: B- | Full Review…
Top Critic

The pilot is terrific, as it moves briskly through the horrific events that lead to Kirkland's ascension, featuring troubling images of the Capitol sending fire into the Washington, D.C., sky.

Sep 20, 2016 | Full Review…

A terrific pilot episode.

Aug 20, 2019 | Full Review…

It looks like Sutherland has another winner on his hands.

Aug 20, 2019 | Full Review…

While we'll certainly click on to the next episode... it's got a while to go to prove that it's as good as any number of US dramas relating to the White House.

Jul 9, 2019 | Full Review…

[It] shows a lot of promise in several categories.

Jun 27, 2018 | Full Review…

If any actor knows firsthand what it means to step into big shoes, it's Sutherland... who has made himself really, really good, shining in everything from 24 to art movies by Lars von Trier. He's great here, too.

May 17, 2018 | Full Review…

[Keifer] Sutherland feels at home in this well-paced pilot - he's playing a different kind of hero than we've seen him play before, and it's exciting to see him take the reins here.

Dec 20, 2017 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1

  • Jul 04, 2020
    Loved it, not as good as 24, but Great. Action, drama, suspense....!
  • May 28, 2020
    The show is globalist tripe...oh the poor Muslims...oh the poor immigrants...what about the American working class that has been virtually ignored by both parties for decades... The early theme of the show had promise until it pushed open borders and it portrayed America as the dumping grounds for the world's immigrant problem. The enemy is at the gate and we must take care of our own...
  • May 24, 2020
    It's a show we watch to pass the time. It has an interesting premise, but it's a bit cheesy and unrealistic. Always love Keifer Sutherland as a president, though.
  • Apr 20, 2020
    another series taking one narrative and turning it into 20. Complete waste of time
  • Apr 08, 2020
    Started out promising but went downhill fast. Gave up without finishing season one as the left wing propaganda was insulting to most of the audience. Still, the critics seam to like it. Says it all for me.
  • Apr 08, 2020
    Started watching. Was okay enough to continue. Then the political bias set in and it was enough to make throw up in my mouth.
  • Apr 02, 2020
    Your 6th grade politics absolutely ruins what might have been a pretty good show.
  • Jan 19, 2020
    The early season political intrigue gives way to B-movie action filler, loads of questions, and a sense that the real story is lost in the ether. Started amazing, but interest waning towards the end of the MacLeish story line. The incredible story and exquisite main character development and relationships made each early episode a must watch and fully captivating. However, as the show moved away from the white house politics, the show lost a lot of appeal. The enemy characters are 2 dimensional. The final few episodes are rushed and uninteresting.
  • Jan 07, 2020
    Such a great first two thirds of a season of tv. Such a disappointing last third.
  • Oct 29, 2019
    I like the new season on Netflix however very disrespectful to speak other than English especially in the Whitehouse. My relatives had to speak English outside their home when they arrived in America. They were free to speak their language in the confines of their home. I find it very offensive when I cannot understand what they say and I am tired of the United States giving handouts while I work hard and have to pay for medical

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