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Top 5 Intriguing Shows like "Designated Survivor" Everyone Should Watch

Updated on December 30, 2019
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Rahul is a TV addict who can never get enough of good shows. His all-time favorites are 'The Wire', 'Breaking Bad', and 'The Sopranos.'

What Series Are Like Designated Survivor?

Tom Kirkman is merely a low-level cabinet member who has been appointed as the designated survivor. For the uninitiated, a designated survivor is an individual who becomes the president if the current one along with the cabinet members loses their lives. Now, you can probably guess the chain of events that forces our protagonist, Tom, to run the country.

This man, who was living a simple but happy life with his wife and daughter, now has to think about the country as well. Being the president of a nation is no easy task, especially if it’s the most powerful country in the world. Tom is the most powerful man in the world, which sounds like a great proposition at first, but the responsibilities are daunting, to say the least. Soon, others start wondering if he is actually competent enough to run the nation. Unlike most politicians who become presidents as a result of an electoral win, he got this prized position due to an accident. Will this job be too difficult to handle, or is he going to weather the storm and prove everyone wrong?

Season one and two of Designated Survivor were aired on ABC, but Netflix has taken over the production from season three onwards. While you wait for more, check out some series like Designated Survivor that will take you for a ride.

Series like Designated Survivor?

  1. House of Cards
  2. 24
  3. Scandal
  4. Condor
  5. S.W.A.T.

1. House of Cards

No list containing political-themed shows would be complete without House of Cards, an American TV series based on the 1990 UK miniseries of the same name. The show revolves around Frank Underwood, a cold, ruthless, and calculating man with shrewd intentions. Being deprived of the post of Secretary of State by the president even after being promised otherwise, Frank seeks to exact revenge. He and his equally cunning wife plan to destroy the head of state and anyone else who supports him. It takes a whole lot of courage to challenge the most protected man on the planet, but Frank may be the only one who could actually overpower him.

Politics is not everyone’s cup of tea because just like chess, every single move needs to be well thought out as even the smallest misstep could result in your downfall. The protagonist often breaks the fourth wall so he can directly talk to us, making the character-viewer relationship much more intimate. Kevin Spacey portrayed the role of the complex and interesting character of Frank Underwood until season five. However, following sexual misdemeanor allegations in the light of the #metoo movement, he was fired from the show, and the final season was made without him.

For those who haven’t seen House of Cards already, you’re missing out on some of the best TV writing and realistic portrayals of intriguing characters.

2. 24

24 is one of Fox’s most successful shows, thanks to its unique storytelling. Each episode represents an hour in real-time, and as you might have already guessed, there are 24 episodes in total per season. Agent Jack Bauer faces different perils in the span of one day, which started off after someone threatened to kill a presidential candidate. The events that follow affect his personal life as well. His wife and daughter are kidnapped, which forces Jack to make some tough calls. A sense of duty might have made him do the right thing at first, but it’s personal this time around. With his family in the crosshairs, men like Bauer will go to any lengths necessary to protect them.

This drama series became so popular that they made two spinoffs after the original ended. 24: Live Another Day and 24: Legacy contains 12 episodes each, and aired in 2014 and 2017 respectively. Spend an hour each episode to witness the life of a man who will eliminate anything standing in the way of his duty and his family.

3. Scandal

Olivia Pope is one of TV’s most powerful female characters. Partially inspired by former U.S. president George H.W. Bush, actress Kerry Washington does a brilliant job with the role. Olivia used to work for the president of the United States before opening her own crisis-management firm. Her company specializes in making their problems disappear, no matter the scale. It was all going very well but things soon go south when her past comes back to haunt her. The president once again requires her assistance and this time, the stakes are much higher.

Team Olivia can make even the biggest threats disappear, but their new client literally runs the country. With stakes being high, things become much more intense. Not many people can say they’re friends with the head of state, much less be able to help him solve his problems

Scandal ended in 2018 after seven seasons, becoming one of the most popular shows of the decade along the way. Watch Olivia aid the leader of the free world in this nail-biting, 2012 ABC production. If you're looking for some nail-biting shows like Designated Survivor, Scandal will not disappoint you.

4. Condor

Based on the 1975 mystery thriller film, Three Days of the Condor, this show revolves around brilliant CIA analyst, Joe Turner. He joined the force in his youth in hopes of reforming it from within, but things don’t go the way he anticipated. After his co-workers start getting killed in a way that suggests a definite pattern, the protagonist is forced to make a tough decision. Joe was confined to a fairly safe “desk-job”, but if he wants to outlive this crisis, he’ll have to get his hands dirty, both literally and figuratively.

Movies are rarely turned into TV shows. In fact, things are usually the other way around as it’s hard to stretch pre-designed storylines. Condor, however, does a very good job of breaking down its source material to expand its world and re-design the characters. Since it’s a TV show, there’s more time to develop the protagonist, making him more complex and intriguing. Although all the actors are equally intriguing, Brendan Fraser of The Mummy fame is probably the most well-known, and he displays his acting chops without fail. Condor has only aired for one season so far, so finish it to prepare for the already confirmed next one.

5. S.W.A.T.

The story revolves around Daniel Harrelson, an LA SWAT lieutenant who is assigned to protect the very place he grew up in. However, as an African-American who is familiar with the ways of the street, he is aware that cops are not always the good guys, creating a moral dilemma for him. Should he follow the commands as he promised in his oaths or should he stay loyal to his own people? Normal rules may not apply to him, but this conundrum goes beyond anything he’s ever dealt with before.

Blood may be thicker than water, but what happens when personal identity conflicts with responsibility? You can do your best to avoid a bad situation, but when people are under pressure, things tend to go wrong. Daniel does his best to handle dangerous circumstances in the calmest way possible, but things change in an instant when you’re in a SWAT team.

Only two seasons of S.W.A.T. have come out so far, with talks for a possible third season just springing up. If you’re looking for something with great action sequences and heart-pounding moments, start watching S.W.A.T. right away.

Did I miss out on any other shows like Designated Survivor? Let me know in the comments section.


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