Designated Survivor tells the story of Tom Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland), an unassuming Secretary of Housing and Urban development, who is suddenly catapulted to being President of the United States after a mass terrorist attack on the State of the Union address in Washington leaves him - the Designated Survivor - the highest ranking politician in America.


A mix of political drama and anti-terror action, the show immediately drew comparisons to both 24 (in which Sutherland starred as action-hero Jack Bauer) and Aaron Sorkin's long-running US political drama The West Wing and with international broadcasts on Netflix attracted a loyal fanbase around the world to watch Tom Kirkman's fragile administration attempt to battle dark and present terrorist plots while keeping American politics afloat.

Why is Designated Survivor season 3 on Netflix?

After Designated Survivor was dropped by original US Network ABC following its initial two season run, streaming giant Netflix announced in September 2018 that they would make a third season of the show as a "global Netflix Original."

Kiefer Sutherland, star of the show said at the time: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to play President Kirkman for season three of Designated Survivor with Netflix, eOne and Neal Baer. I believe this format will allow us to continue to delve deeply into storylines and issues concerning the American electorate that were not previously possible.”

Seasons one and two are already available to watch on Netflix, with the third to follow in 2019 (more details below). The new run will have 10 episodes and is to be helmed by showrunner Neal Baer.

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When was Designated Survivor season 3 released on Netflix?

Netflix released the third season of Designated Survivor on Friday 7th June 2019.

Sutherland himself provides a handy recap below for those who may be thinking about jumping on board.

The third season finished filming in February 2019. Actor Kal Pen posted from the "last day" of filming on 12th February.

Designated Survivor season 3: watch the trailer

The first full trailer for Designated Survivor season three teases the realities of President Kirkman's election campaign. As explained in more detail below, the new episodes see the once-unprepared leader face up to the fact that he may have to fight dirty if he wants to keep his seat in the Oval Office. Watch the video below.

Who is in the cast for Designated Survivor season 3?

Kiefer Sutherland will reprise his role as President Tom Kirkman. It is likely he will be joined by Kal Penn (Seth Wright), Adan Canto (Aaron Shore) and Italia Ricci (Emily Rhodes) plus and Maggie Q (Hannah Wells) who all played big parts in the second season of the show.

There's also a slew of new faces, too. First and foremost, ER's Anthony Edwards (AKA DR Mark Greene) joins the main cast as Chief of Staff Mars Harper.

LAW & ORDER TRUE CRIME: THE MENENDEZ MURDERS -- Episode 107 -- Pictured: Anthony Edwards as Judge Stanley Weisberg -- (Photo by Justin Lubin/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
Anthony Edwards

Julie White (Nurse Jackie) is also on board to play Kirkman's campaign manager Lorraine Zimmer, while Jamie Clayton (Sense8), Elena Tovar and Chukwudi Iwuji, will also feature.

What happens in Designated Survivor season 3?

The official Netflix synopsis for season three says: "President Kirkman will face a political reality… campaigning. What does it take to make a leader? What price will he be willing to pay? This season will explore today's world of campaigning, smear tactics, debates, campaign finance and 'fake news.' Democracy, as we know it, will hang in the balance."

“Next season would undoubtedly have to be the beginning of an election [campaign] – just the timing alone would dictate that,” Sutherland exclusively told “And then I think you’re going to have to deal with a character who has to make the decision if he really wants to run in the first place.”

He added: “He’s gone through the loss of his wife. He’s spent less and less time with his children, and the one thing that character valued more than anything at the very opening of that show was his family – and it’s been not that slowly pulled apart. So, there’s more decisions that will have to be made.”

Cast member Kal Penn called the first Netflix season "edgier" than what had gone before as he prepared to film his final scenes.

"Definitely put the kids to bed before watching the new episodes," he added.

Executive producer Neal Bayer has said that this season will integrate real-life "man on the street" interviews with American citizens, which address national issues.


"My documentary team went to Kentucky, Minnesota and California and filmed for five of the 10 episodes," Baer told the New York Post. "We hear real people’s views on why they don’t vote, among others. Ben Lawson, who plays Damian Rennett, puts the footage together and shows it to President Kirkman."