Designated Survivor: Season 1 - Rotten Tomatoes

Designated Survivor: Season 1 (2016-2017)




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


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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
View All

News & Interviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1

All Critics (56) | Top Critics (25)

If you get to the end of the currently available first batch [of episodes], it's likely that you'll be sufficiently hooked to want to find out what happens next.

November 6, 2018 | Full Review…

Happily, there's not a skerrick of Jack Bauer on display.

October 21, 2016 | Full Review…

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.

September 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.

September 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.

September 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.

September 20, 2016 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1


Fresh and exciting, Designated Survivor is a riveting political thriller that delivers an impressive (though a little uneven) first season. When terrorists bomb the Capital during the State of the Union Address, killing the President and Congress, Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Thomas Kirkman is thrust into the presidency and must rebuild the government and find those responsible for the attack. Starring Kiefer Sutherland, Natascha McElhone, Kal Penn, and Maggie Q, the show features an incredibly strong cast. And, the writers do a good job at addressing the realities of rebuilding the government and at having an inexperienced politician suddenly assume high office. But unfortunately the show changes directions mid-season, replacing the showrunner due to "creative differences," and becomes more of a left-leaning political drama. Still, the characters are compelling and there’s a fair amount of intrigue to the terrorist hunt (which is reduced almost to a minor subplot in the final third of the season). While it clearly has problems deciding what direction to take the show in, Season 1 of Designated Survivor is entertaining and full of suspense.


Super Reviewer

The premise is pretty terrible, which doesn't save the series from a bunch of unlikable characters and ridiculous plot that goes no where


Super Reviewer

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