Designated Survivor Cancelled (Again), No Season 4 At Netflix

kiefer sutherland designated survivor netflix

Well, it was fun while it lasted. Designated Survivor, which was picked up for Season 3 by Netflix after being cancelled by ABC, has just been cancelled by the streamer that saved it.

The Kiefer Sutherland-led political drama had a breakout season when it debuted on ABC in the fall of 2016. Not only were reviews from critics strong, but the audience was interested to see Sutherland, late of the very popular Fox series 24, take on the role of American politician Tom Kirkman, who becomes President of the United States after an explosion kills everyone in the line of succession before him.

Unfortunately, Designated Survivor's ratings fell pretty hard in Season 2. And, while star Sutherland thought, in April 2018, that the show had a solid shot at getting renewed, Designated Survivor was cancelled about a month later. ABC president Channing Dungey didn't even site the drop in ratings for the show's cancellation, instead pointing to "behind-the-scenes churn" which led to the series seeing a number of showrunners come and go in a short time. This turnover led the network to feel less than sure about the creative direction, and this (probably combined with the decline in ratings) led to show's demise.

Designated Survivor had four different showrunners in its first two seasons, including Amy B. Harris who oversaw the pilot before the show was officially picked up by ABC, and even for an industry as fickle as television, that's a lot. Apparently, though, this "churn" didn't faze Netflix, because when the show's production company put out feelers to see if anyone would be willing to pick Designated Survivor up, the streamer quickly took the bait and saved the show, even getting started on production before it was officially announced that the show would return. But, it turns out that that was for good reason.

Season 3 had the opportunity to pick up on the intense cliffhangers that fans were left with from the previous season, which included, among other things, President Kirkman deciding to run for re-election as an independent and almost finding out whether or not he would face impeachment for his actions early in the season. As most people who pay attention to ratings probably know by now, Netflix is very shy when it comes to releasing such stats on its programming, so we don't know just how bad things were numbers-wise when Designated Survivor returned.

It is worth noting, though, that all 10 episodes of Season 3 just hit the streamer on June 7. So, it would seem that less than two months of possible viewing time was all they needed to make a decision on whether or not Designated Survivor was worth investing in again.

If you haven't had a chance to catch up on Designated Survivor just yet, however, there's no reason to fear. According to a statement released by Netflix and obtained by TVLine, all three seasons will be available for viewing there "for years to come."

And, if you have finished Designated Survivor, there is plenty of content coming to TV in the next few weeks to keep you happy until all the fall premieres.

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Covering The Witcher, Outlander, Virgin River, Sweet Magnolias and a slew of other streaming shows, Adrienne Jones is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend, and started in the fall of 2015. In addition to writing and editing stories on a variety of different topics, she also spends her work days trying to find new ways to write about the many romantic entanglements that fictional characters find themselves in on TV shows. She graduated from Mizzou with a degree in Photojournalism.