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: 1374
User image


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
Show More Episodes

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
Show More Cast

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…

Audience Reviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1

  • Sep 10, 2019
    What a treat. Kiefer Sutherland delivers a seamless performance. Although critics tend to rate Season 3 a little less positively than the first 2 seasons, i believe all Seasons are equally strong and binge watchable. The only negative point would be the excessive ‘patriotic-ness' at times, esp. for non US viewers.
  • Sep 05, 2019
    Story is not plausible, the characters are great!
  • Sep 03, 2019
    This show showed so much promise, but it became dumb, very quick. Tiny spoiler...If you believe the USA, immediately after suffering a devastating attack that means rebuilding our entire govt top to bottom in addition to real worries that the perps are still out there ready to strike again, maybe would refrain from an eyeroll that a Congress in total chaos would try and pass a gun bill right out of the gate, before it has even begun the basics of rebuilding even truly began...this stupid story is for you. Of course there are evil Republicans at the ready to destroy the bill only based on politics, with an 'oily' looking Republican political with a Southern twang playing the bad guy that won't pass the bill only because he is power hungry...So....If you love liberal PC messaging that affirms your partisan rhetoric., you'll love this(Sutherland's character is an Indie). Too bad, it had potential but the characters fell flat...became almost drone in their scripts. We wanted to like this but gave it up, it was awful.
  • Aug 30, 2019
    Good premise for a series with a well written storyline.
  • Aug 28, 2019
    The first couple of seasons are OK but after that the script got more stupid. In Season 3, the story got so bad I stopped watching. Agent Hannah Wells was killed because she got too stupid to deserve life. She walked into a known bio-weapon lab without any personal protect and walked around lab as if she was a tourist strolling around an amusement park with both of her hands in her pocket. So, the villain released the toxic gas and killed her. The writers for Designated Survivor, the director, and the producer must be removed from the entertainment industry because they are too stupid to entertain anyone!
  • Aug 12, 2019
    Fabulous show; fast, smart, suspenseful and very well made. Love the characters, great actors. It's almost impossible to turn it off after each episode. Love it.
  • Aug 08, 2019
    This show makes me believe in America again. Such a breath of fresh air compare to the current Potus. Great political plots, with a side investigation plot, love love love!! plus it's not super addicting like some of the other life/death gruesome shows we have currently. It's just a good story. I can stop watching and go back without issues.
  • Jun 30, 2019
    Worst show to watch and the last season from Netflix is the worst season and tv show in all Netflix.
  • Jun 28, 2019
    Season 3 is TERRIBLE! Won't be watching any more - sex scenes (don't remember anything like this in prior seasons) and cuss words that have no bearing to the story - it truly is terrible. Won't be watching anymore.
  • Jun 27, 2019
    Does it get more simple minded? awful!

News & Features