Designated Survivor: ABC Boss Was Concerned About Show's 'Creative Path Forward,' Prompting Cancellation

Designated Survivor Ratings

The decision to cancel Designated Survivor was not purely ratings-driven, per ABC president Channing Dungey. During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, the exec cited the series’ anemic “live” ratings as only part of the Kiefer Sutherland drama’s woes.

“Creatively, we’ve had a lot of behind-the-scenes churn on the show in terms of the number of showrunners involved,” she noted. “We were less confient with the creative path forward than the other shows we brought back.” 

Designated Survivor underwent three significant backstage shake-ups during its brief, two-season run. Amy B. Harris (Wicked City) originally served as showrunner on the series (which was created by David Guggenheim), only to be replaced in May 2016 upon its official pickup, with Jon Harmon Feldman (Blood & Oil). Feldman left in December, and was succeeded by Jeff Melvoin (Army Wives). And then The Good Wife grad Keith Eisner stepped in to run Season 2.

Averaging a 0.7 demo rating and 4 million total weekly viewers thus far this season (in Live+Same Day numbers), Designated Survivor ranks ninth and seventh among all ABC dramas, having dropped sharply from its freshman averages (1.2/5.8 million).

Designated Survivor series finale airs Wednesday at 10/9c.