Designated Survivor: Virginia Madsen Laments That She Won't Be Back

The latest iteration of ABC’s Designated Survivor will not involve Virginia Madsen, the actress confirmed on Wednesday evening.

“I won’t be back for Season 2,” Madsen told one fan on Twitter, explaining to another: “I guess they had other stories to tell. It’s a big show, so I wish them well. But I would like return to kick some ass.”

“It was a great role,” she tweeted. “I was loving it.”

For much of Season 1 of the Kiefer Sutherland-led drama, Madsen recurred as the fantastically named Kimble Hookstraten. As the other “designated survivor,” the congresswoman oft clashed with unlikely POTUS Tom Kirkman. But by season’s end, the two appeared to reach a nice détente, when Hookstraten accepted the Secretary of Education position after becoming too politically radioactive to claim the VP title she coveted.

That storyline appeared to usher Hookstraten off the canvas; Madsen’s tweet confirms as much, sadly, since her scenes with Sutherland were among the series’ most entertaining.

ABC has not yet responded to TVLine’s after-hours request for comment on Madsen’s status.

ABC’s lone hit freshman drama this past season, Dez is entering Season 2 under the leadership of its fourth showrunner thus far, Keith Eisner (The Good Wife). Appearing at ABC’s Upfront event last month, series lead Sutherland apparently got wind of the new boss’ plans, teasing the addition of  “no less than three principal characters to round out the complexities of running the White House” as well as “a midseason event that I believe will knock the socks off our audience.”

Want more scoop on Dez, or for any other show? Email and your question may be answered via Matt’s Inside Line.

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  1. KC says:

    That stinks. I really liked her character.

    • Big Cheddar says:

      I agree! She was a real asset to the show!

      • Thinking mom says:

        Hookstratten was a strong leader…and was that rare TV figure…a character from the right who wasn’t robotic (like many in the extremist group portrayed). And she was a tough female character from the right also…not portrayed as weak evil…Rare.

    • Laurel Lane says:

      Yes, she was such an interesting character. Actually, probably the most interesting character on the program.

      • PatriciaLee says:


      • Wordsmith says:

        She was the only character with any real subtlety or nuance. Everybody else is either a painfully idealistic hero or a mustache-twirling villain.

        • Rex the Wonder Dog says:

          Nothing wrong with a painfully idealistic character. For me Maggie Q’s Hannah Wells was the most interesting character.

          • Wordsmith says:

            The trouble with painful idealists (and full-on villains) is that you always know exactly how they are going to act, i.e. by doing the right/wrong thing. They are only as interesting as they are pushed to become by the situations inflicted on them.
            More ambiguous characters constantly keep things interesting by reacting in ways that you don’t expect and can’t immediately understand.

        • Totally agree. This is the new EP’s first mistake, and a big one. Hopefully, this new show runner has read a Civics book, because none of the former ones seemed to have remembered a thing from 9th grade Civics class.

  2. laurelnev says:

    I am sorry to hear this. Virginia was one of the best parts of this becoming-a-mess show, and Kimble was the only character who seemed to use her brain on a regular basis.

  3. Violet Lemm says:

    Will miss her character. I love anything Virginia is in.

  4. TV Fanatic says:

    What a bummer! I loved her character so much and really loved her scenes with Kiefer – they had such great chemistry! Bad decision on the writers’ part…

  5. Iris says:

    Malik Yoba, and now Virginia Madsen? Not happy at all.

  6. Nerdbot says:

    Her Kimble was a good character. I liked that even though she seemed to want power, she never did anything to jeopardize the well-being of the country and stood beside the President whenever he needed her. I’ll miss her.

  7. MelindaB says:

    Too bad. She was entertaining, mostly because she kept you guessing about her motives, but never about her loyalty to the country.

  8. Dominique says:

    well that’s a dumb move. i thought hookstraten’s involvement was a brilliant addition that showed you don’t HAVE to be part of the same political parties in order to work together. and virginia was great. i hope the new showrunner knows what they’re doing, since i still feel like we already lost so many interesting things during season 1.

  9. Mark says:

    I hope that changes for her in the future. Her scenes were wonderful and she really added to the show.

  10. dean says:

    I can only stand 2 Repubs and she was 1 of ’em. Oh well.

  11. Sara says:

    Huge mistake, if you ask me. She was very well liked by the fan base. Will miss her for sure! Need to see what else they change before I decide whether it’s still worth tuning in.

  12. Lani says:

    Uh oh. First mistake.

  13. Em says:

    I can’t believe Masden is gone. I really enjoyed watching her and her character. I like this show I just hope this doesn’t ruin itself

  14. Araceli martinez says:

    I loved her! Please put her back. She was someone I hated but loved at the same time. I love DEZ..

  15. ellajasper says:

    OH no, I loved her character. And she can ACT! I really hate to hear this. Why couldn’t the wife and kids go? They get way too much silly time. Love Aaron, Emily and Seth too.

  16. Gwen says:

    That’s too bad. I thought her scenes with Kiefer were among the most enjoyable.

  17. Billy Bob Johnson says:

    Male ego. Can’t have too strong of a female character.

  18. Huge mistake, she was one of the reasons it was an interesting show. Always trying to figure out her angle. Trying to figure out if she was legit or deep undercover.

  19. kmw says:

    Too bad she was the brightest thing besides Kiefer on DS. All these changes aren’t going to help this show at all. Good luck DS you are going to need it. CM should beat this show by a mile

  20. Amelia says:

    I liked her character, too. Hopefully they will find a way to bring her back into the fold.

  21. kate says:

    That stinks, though not surprising once they moved her in the Secretary’s role. I could vaguely see them asking her to return in the later half of the season or whenever the election cycle is starting up.

  22. trilbymiss says:

    I think it is a HUGE MISTAKE to take Kimble Hookstraten off the show. I really like her and her interaction with the President. BIG MISTAKE!!! I like the regulars, lets get her back. Of course new blood is good for the show but don’t take the people off that made this program a success. I liked her strength. This may no longer be my favorite program to look forward to every week!!@

  23. RichieS says:

    Would it be possible to add a new powerful female preferably played by Mary Lynn Rajskub?

  24. Ashley says:

    Well that’s unfortunate. I thought the show got better toward the end of the season, but with yet another show runner — not sure if it will be worth watching next season.

  25. Nan says:

    OMG she was one of the best on the show…really liked her role

  26. Luis Roman says:

    No better way to make someone invisible than putting them in the Cabinet.

  27. Kenbud says:

    Totally agree her scenes with Sutherland were among the best of the show. You never knew if she was a good or bad person. They touch Maggie Q, and I’m done.

  28. Larc says:

    Poor decision! The Hookstraten character was one of the most interesting on the show, IMO.

  29. herman1959 says:

    Agreed, this is a huge mistake. Getting rid of two strong characters played by seasoned actors…WHY? This whole showrunner shake-up thing is becoming too much; how many times can a show be rebooted without ruining it? Supporting players are very important to a good drama, but the fact that the new showrunner worked on The Good Wife worries me. As I remember, they had issues with supporting players on that show…hmmm.

  30. Paul K says:

    NOOOOOO!!!! She was one of the best things about this show. The powerful female characters are what really made the show. I will still watch but I am bummed!

  31. Viewer 23 says:

    I think I first saw Virginia Madsen in the David Lynch version of “Dune,” where she contributed to an excellent cast. I vaguely remember her also in some ancient tv series but couldn’t find it in IMDB.

    On DS, they never seemed to know what they wanted to do with her character. At first I was convinced she was going to turn out to be a plant who would gain the president’s confidence and then turn on him. Then they seemed to be grooming her as a true partner as vp. Then it looked like they just wanted to diminish her role. I attribute all this to the constant churning in the showrunner position. It’s a shame to be losing her.

  32. Barb Mendlowitz says:

    So sad. Any character that has substance and depth, it seems are doomed on most stations. Maybe it was felt she overshadowed Sutherland but she was a great asset and one he could trust and bounce thing off.

  33. She was one of the best characters and an important foil. Disappointed.

  34. Ryan says:

    4 show runners in a year?!! Typical ABC meddling in their TV shows-

  35. Christian says:

    She really added a touch of class to the show.

  36. cacuna68 says:

    Nooooooooooo! Just no. Her character was a main attraction for me. The honeymoon is over.


    Ok, but I need season two.

  38. Mose Ferre Gola says:

    OH NO,Virginia Mudsen was keeping Kieffer Southerland on toes,she should appear in all the following Series

  39. parstl says:

    Madsen will be missed. Do the producers ever run focus groups on thos kind of stuff before making casting changes. I doubt you would find many if any followers of the show who did not like what her character brought
    wonder of there was a contract issue or just stupidity by showrunners.