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Political thriller, Political drama, Conspiracy thriller
No. of seasons
No. of episodes
September 21, 2016 – May 16, 2018
Designated Survivor is an American television drama that aired on ABC from September 21, 2016 to May 16, 2018.
The series was officially cancelled on May 11, 2018, after two seasons.
On the night of the State of the Union, an explosion destroys the United States Capitol building and claims the lives of the President and everyone in the line of succession except for Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Thomas Kirkman, who had been named the designated survivor. Kirkman is immediately sworn in as President, unaware that the attack is just the beginning of what is to come.
Designated Survivor was ordered straight to series by ABC in December 2015, with a formal announcement of 13 episodes in May 2016. A month later, ABC revealed that the series would premiere on September 21, 2016. Eight days after the premiere, on September 29, 2016, ABC gave the series a full season order.
Created by David Guggenheim, the series is executive produced by Simon Kinberg, Sutherland, Suzan Bymel, Aditya Sood, and Nick Pepper. Paul McGuigan directed the pilot episode. Amy B. Harris was set to be the showrunner in February 2016, but after the series' official pick-up in May, it was announced she would be stepping down due to creative differences, and that Jon Harmon Feldman was in talks to replace her. In July 2016, Feldman was confirmed as showrunner/executive producer. In December 2016, Jeff Melvoin was hired as showrunner, replacing the departing Feldman, and supervised the second half of the season. For season 2, writer Keith Eisner serves as the showrunner. Kal Penn, formerly associate director in the White House's Office of Public Engagement, serves as a consultant for the series as well as acting in the main cast.
The series is produced by ABC Studios and The Mark Gordon Company, and is filmed in Toronto, Ontario.
Kiefer Sutherland joined the cast in December 2015, playing Tom Kirkman, the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development who suddenly becomes President. Sutherland had no intention of returning to television; he read the first script of the series and changed his mind, saying, "I remember getting to the end of the script and thinking I was potentially holding the next 10 years of my life in my hands."
In February 2016, it was announced that Kal Penn, Maggie Q, Natascha McElhone, and Italia Ricci had been cast as Kirkman's speech writer; Hannah, the lead FBI agent on the bombing of the Capitol; Kirkman's wife, an EEOC attorney; and Emily, Kirkman's Chief of Staff, respectively. Shortly after, Adan Canto had joined the series as Aaron Shore, the White House Deputy Chief of Staff. In early March, LaMonica Garrett joined the cast as Mike Ritter, Kirkman's Secret Service agent, and Tanner Buchanan and Mckenna Grace had been cast as Kirkman's children.
In July 2016, Malik Yoba was announced for a recurring role as Jason Atwood, the seasoned Deputy Director of the FBI, to appear in seven episodes, while Virginia Madsen had been cast in the recurring role of Kimble Hookstraten, a conservative Congresswoman and the designated survivor for the rival political party. A month later, Ashley Zukerman joined the series in a recurring role as Peter MacLeish, an Afghan War veteran and popular third-term Congressman. In September 2016, Mykelti Williamson was cast as Admiral Chernow, a career military man and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On November 4, 2016, it was announced that Mariana Klaveno had been cast for the show as the Dark-Haired Woman, a clandestine operator in league with the people behind the Capitol attack.
For the second season, Paulo Costanzo, Zoe McLellan, and Ben Lawson joined the cast as series regulars, portraying White House Political Director Lyor Boone, White House Counsel Kendra Daynes, and Damian Rennett, respectively.