A low-level cabinet member is suddenly appointed President of the United States after a catastrophic attack during the State of the Union kills everyone above him in the Presidential line of succession.
- This will be the second collaboration between Kal Penn and Kiefer Sutherland since 24 (2001).
- Both Kal Penn and Italia Ricci guest starred in How I Met Your Mother and House (2004).
- Designated Survivor was officially picked up to series on Friday, May 6, 2016. Although it was ordered straight to series back in January by ABC, Deadline reported that ABC still had the option to not go forward with the series.
- Kiefer Sutherland's character Tom Kirkman is the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development when he becomes the designated survivor. In the TNT Drama The Last Ship, Mark Moses' character Jeff Michener was also the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development when he becomes the designated survivor in Season 2.
- The premise of this series is similar to the plot of two of author Tom Clancy's Jack Ryan novels, Debt of Honor and Executive Orders.
- Kal Penn, who plays a White House staffer in this show, has actually worked as a White House staffer in his real life. In 2009, his character on House was killed off so that Penn could take a job as Associate Director of the Obama administration's White House Office of Public Engagement (working there under his birth name, Kalpen Modi). He took a leave from that job in June 2010 to film A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas and returned to the White House after filming ended, in November 2010. He also worked for Obama's reelection campaign and spoke at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
- Kiefer Sutherland originally wasn't interested in starring in another television series, after his eight season run on 24 and the limited series 24: Live Another Day, but changed his mind after reading the script for the pilot and was blown away at how good it was.