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: 57


Audience Score

User Ratings: 1363
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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

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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
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News & Interviews for Designated Survivor: Season 1

Critic Reviews for Designated Survivor Season 1

All Critics (57) | Top Critics (27)

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

Oct 21, 2016 | 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…

The best new show on ABC illustrates how much star power can still carry a program.

Sep 20, 2016 | 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

  • 4d ago
    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!
  • Jun 20, 2019
    Just finished Season 1 on Netflix. Cut the cable cord years ago, so our household is all streaming. Gave it a shot due to being in a "show hole". Liked Keifer in "24". However, this really had the stink of network television all over it. Flat characters. "Ripped from the headlines" stories. The drama ginned up for commercial breaks is so awkward when streamed. The 5 Star General is right out of the "5 Star General Can - pop the top off and you have an ageing simplistic man who just wants to play with his war toys." The political drama feels like I am reading an editorial in the NYT or WaPo. Very predictable. So why did I sit through the whole season? The FBI drama. I can be had with a good "who dun it?". I was really impressed with Maggie Q's work. At first I thought "no way can this tiny woman kick ass (as a tiny woman myself) but damn look at her go." That kept me going. I may slog through Season 2 and 3 just to see what Netflix does with the series. Having seen some spoilers, I think I may be in for a let down.
  • Jun 14, 2019
    Sadly there was too much swearing in this series. It is a red flag for me when you have to log in because there is too much adult content! After 10 minutes I had to turn it off. Shame because seasons 1 and 2 were brilliant!
  • Jun 13, 2019
    Es una serie muy entretenida. Tal vez no resalte en nada pero es buena en todo.
  • Jun 11, 2019
    Very annoyed by season 3. Profanity, adult scenes, boring plot line. Make this show family friendly again. I loved seasons 1 and 2. I will not be watching this show again. Netflix you destroyed a series. You should've left it alone at a somewhat okay ending. I wish you never picked up this series. Do not watch this with your children!!!!
  • Jun 09, 2019
    Phenomenal political drama series

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