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ABC has not renewed the political drama Designated Survivor yet, leaving some to wonder if the series and its commander-in-chief will live to see Season 3. The first season premiered to big ratings in 2016 and was quickly renewed by the alphabet network for a second season. A renewal for Season 3 has been less forthcoming, but there may be some news on the horizon, and series star Kiefer Sutherland is speaking out about whether or not he believes the drama will be renewed for a third season.
Do I believe we're going to do a third season? Yes. Is that a guarantee? Not until, I think, May 15. So we'll see, we'll see.
Kiefer Sutherland shared his positive renewal thoughts with Digital Spy, and the date he mentions is likely a reference to ABC's upfront presentation, where the network tends to officially announce its giant slate of new and returning programs for the following broadcast season. While networks can always announce the renewal of a show early, bubble shows often have to wait until May to learn their fate. By May 15, Designated Survivor will have been a few weeks out from its Season 2 finale, which could mean many things for the series, depending on how it all wraps up.
For one, Designated Survivor's standings in the ratings will be able to be better assessed by then. While it was a sizable hit in the ratings when it premiered in 2016, those numbers definitely declined across Season 2's many episodes. When discussing the potential for a Season 3 renewal, Kiefer Sutherland followed up his hopeful take on the show's chances by offering his thoughts whether a shorter season might help things.
I don't know if it can [run to fewer episodes]. It's set up the way it is. There's a purpose for the network, the way it's set up. I don't get involved with that, I have no weight in that kind of decision. But just from a creative point of view, personally, I think if the story you want to tell takes eight episodes, do it in eight episodes. I think that the creator should dictate that, as opposed to: 'We've got 22 spots to fill, and that's what we need.' Television is changing, because the writers -- who have the real power in the industry -- are saying, 'No, this story that I want to tell, it will take 12 episodes, and that's it. So take it or leave it.
Kiefer Sutherland makes a strong point here. In the case of Designated Survivor, a reduced episode account could run in the show's favor for a myriad of reasons, including those he mentions. Not only would it maintain the series' creative integrity, but it could also help heighten the show's renewal chances.
Committing to a series for a full season of 22 episodes is a huge risk for the network to take on any show these days. If ABC were to give Designated Survivor the green light for an abbreviated season, the show could focus on telling a tightly constructed story that may bring fans rushing back to the series. Too many bubble shows end on cliffhangers, and with this scenario, fans could watch Designated Survivor Season 3 safe in the knowledge they will experience a complete story from the series.