Wait, Is Designated Survivor Season 3 Actually Happening Now?

designated survivor season 2

When Kiefer Sutherland returned to TV for his non-Jack Bauer role on Designated Survivor, it seemed possible the show could easily last longer than an actual U.S. President's official term in office. Unfortunately, so-so ratings and behind-the-scenes issues caused ABC to cancel the drama after just two seasons, leaving its cliffhanger completely unresolved. But it now appears that Designated Survivor Season 3 in in active development and may indeed be going into production soon, although it's not immediately clear how, or where it would be airing. And those aren't the only mysteries.

Rather than Kiefer Sutherland himself sharing the news himself, or ABC putting out some cryptic teasers, the potential Designated Survivor reveal comes from the most recent report from the reliable publication Production Weekly. It's listed that Designated Survivor Season 3 is set to kick off production in Toronto, which is also where the previous seasons were filmed. As well, no cast members are listed for Season 3, although Keith Eisner is listed once again as showrunner, a role he filled in Season 2, even though Neal Baer was reportedly going to take over showrunning duties in Season 3. And finally, it's stated that the show is going under the working title of The White House Project, presumably to discourage onlookers from taking pics and leaking spoilers. Of course, onlookers probably wouldn't be paying attention to a show if they aren't even aware it's back on the air.

Unfortunately, the news about the cast was comparable to the news about where Designated Survivor would even be planning to air Season 3, in that it was fully absent. One would think ABC would go public with news about resurrecting Designated Survivor for another season, so it's probably not the network. There were rumors going a while back that said Netflix would step in to renew the political thriller, but unless the streaming giant is also being coy for no real reason, then it's probably not heading to Netflix, either. ABC is presumably still one of the production companies behind the drama, so perhaps there are active discussions behind had amongst execs about where Kiefer Sutherland's Tom Kirkman should show up next.

It would be a curious turn of events if Designated Survivor would go back into production in Toronto, given how conversations went down between the star and the (former?) network after Season 2. Kiefer Sutherland's contract had a stipulation that called for the show to change filming locations from Toronto to Los Angeles, which ABC was not at all interested in, since that would have meant more expensive productions. And Designated Survivor was already a pretty expensive show to put together each week already. Of course, the show got cancelled before that issue could really come to a head anyway. Did Kiefer loosen up about filming in Toronto? Or will there be a whole new cast?

For what it's worth, Designated Survivor is getting a remake for Korean television. But that isn't what this is. Unless it's all a big conspiracy...

Until we find out something more substantial about Season 3's chances of happening, Designated Survivor's first two seasons are currently available for streaming on Hulu, for anyone who hasn't fully caught up just yet. And if you're in need of something different to throw on, head to our fall TV premiere schedule.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native, and is often asked why he doesn't sound like that's the case. His love for his wife and daughters is almost equaled by his love of gasp-for-breath laughter and gasp-for-breath horror. A lifetime spent in the vicinity of a television screen led to his current dream job, as well as his knowledge of too many TV themes and ad jingles.