Designated Survivor Season 4: Will It Ever Release?

By Sam Hargrave Posted:
Kiefer Sutherland in Designated Survivor

Will Designated Survivor Season 4 release on Netflix? Here's what we think the chances are and what could happen in more potential episodes.

24 star Kiefer Sutherland led the way for Designated Survivor as President Kirkman, the former housing secretary who is forced into the White House after an attack on the U.S. capital building took out the rest of the government.

The series follows his journey as President while the CIA, through the lens of Agent Hannah Wells, uncovers the conspiracy behind the attack.

Will Designated Survivor Season 4 Happen on Netflix?

Designated Survivor, President Kirkman

Designated Survivor began on ABC with Season 1 in 2016 before receiving a Season 2 renewal in 2017. However, that's when tragedy struck as the political conspiracy thriller was later canceled by the network in May 2018.

Netflix would later strike a deal to resurrect the show for a 10-episode third season only to cancel Designated Survivor once again in July 2019, just one month after airing on the popular streamer.

The decision was reportedly not driven by low viewership, as Deadline claimed it came down to complications in the actors' contracts.

Upon Netflix taking on Designated Survivor, the streamer only agreed to one-year deals with its actors, which, unfortunately, led to several key stars moving on to other shows before a potential Season 4 could even be considered.

One example of this came with Seth Wright actor Kal Penn, who went away to create and star in NBC comedy Sunnyside, only for that to be canceled and pulled from the schedule due to low ratings.

As of writing, Designated Survivor isn't expected to return for Season 4, but one has to wonder if the cast issues could be resolved to bring it back for more episodes on Netflix and continue the story.

Star Kiefer Sutherland is busy wrapping up production on Clint Eastwood's next directorial endeavor, Juror No. 2, before tackling action-thriller The Winter Kills in which he will play a disgraced cop chasing his old partner's killer.

So even if Netflix did release Designated Survivor Season 4, it likely wouldn't become a reality until at least late 2025 to allow time to regather the key cast, pull together a story, and find an opening in Sutherland's schedule.

Who Would Return in Designated Survivor Season 4?

Designated Survivor Cast

Undeniably the most important part of any potential Designated Survivor resurrection comes with bringing back executive producer and President Kirkman actor Kiefer Sutherland, who led the show through all three seasons.

In a statement at the time of the cancellation, Netflix gave particular praise to Sutherland, noting his "passion, dedication, and unforgettable performance:"

"We’re especially thankful to star and executive producer Kiefer Sutherland, who brought passion, dedication and an unforgettable performance as President Kirkman."

It's unlikely Netflix would consider reviving the show without Sutherland, and clearly, it sees the rest of the cast as equally essential due to the lack of interest in continuing into Season 4 without them. 

So not only would Sutherland almost certainly return for Season 4 if it were to happen but so would most of the starring cast in Tom Kirkman's government:

  • Kiefer Sutherland - Tom Kirkman
  • Adan Canto - Aaron Shore
  • Italia Ricci - Emily Rhodes
  • Kal Penn - Seth Wright
  • Maggie Q - Hannah Wells

What Would Happen in Designated Survivor Season 4?

Designated Survivor, President Kirkman

At the end of Designated Survivor Season 3, President Kirkman was re-elected after the 2020 vote, with former White House Chief of Staff Aaron Shore joining him as the new Vice President.

Much to the horror of his closest aide Emily Rhodes, last season saw Kirkman withhold evidence that would have indicated that his election opponent, Cornelius Moss, wasn't as bad as everyone thought out of fear it may hurt his chances. This seems to mark the first taste of Kirkman making some rather shady decisions in Washington, which could be explored further in Season 4.

There's also the situation of Isabel Pardo being pregnant with Vice President Aaron Shore's child despite their break-up due to his affair with Emily. One has to wonder about the problems this could stir in Season 4, both for the pair's relationship and in terms of a potential public scandal.

All three seasons of Designated Survivor are streaming now on Netflix.

- In This Article: Survivor (Season 45)
Release Date
September 27, 2023
Jeff Probst
- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.