Designated Survivor Wiki

It's not always up to us how history plays itself out.
~ President Tom Kirkman

Thomas Adam "Tom" Kirkman, PhD is an American government official, former University Professor and former urban planner who is currently serving as the 46th President of the United States. A registered Independent and ardent Centrist, Kirkman is beholden to no party or either side of the political aisle, which ironically is both his greatest strength and greatest weakness.

Prior to this, he served in President Richmond's Cabinet as the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development until a terrorist attack killed every person present at the State of the Union address, including President Richmond. Kirkman had been selected as the “designated survivor” before the bombing because according to Charles Langdon, he appeared the least qualified to be President.[2]

Throughout the first season, he was tasked with dealing with a crisis to unite the nation and rebuild and stabilize the government after the Capitol bombing wiped out most of the government.

He is the husband of Alex Kirkman, a former attorney at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. They have two children together, Leo Kirkman and Penny Kirkman.

Kirkman was elected to a full-term as president in the 2020 presidential election.


Tom graduated from Cornell University with a degree in History of Architecture and Urban Development and later entered Stanford University doctoral's program. He was a community and urban planner for the Department of Housing and Urban Development before being appointed as Secretary of the Department. He originally did not want to take the role but was persuaded by his wife Alex to do so.

Earlier on the day of the State of the Union, Tom was told that the President was planning on "promoting" him from Secretary of Housing and Urban Development to Ambassador to the International Civil Aviation Organization in Montreal, but learns he was being fired from the Richmond administration. When he got home, Tom was made the designated survivor via phone call.

Later that day, while watching the State of the Union Address by President Richmond, the signal was suddenly cut. Tom changed channels to see if any others had the same interruption but discovered that was not the case. As Secret Service agents entered the room asking for cell phones, Tom opened the window just in time to see a ball of fire over the Capitol building. He was promptly escorted to the White House by Mike Ritter to be sworn in office and was taken to an underground bunker. During the commotion, he asked if anyone knew who caused the Capitol bombing and was told it was too soon to tell. Unfortunately for Kirkman, he was quickly ignored as General Cochrane attempted to make an unauthorized call.

Kirkman, overwhelmed by the situation, rushed to the bathroom to vomit. Inside, he got into a brief conversation with speech writer Seth Wright. Divided by stall walls and unaware of Tom's presence, the oblivious speech writer ranted about the legitimacy of the current president, until they both came out of the stalls face to face. Tom asked if Seth had wanted him replaced. Seth gave him a yes, to which Tom replied he was all they had. He then recruited Seth as his speech writer and assigned him to write his first presidential speech.

General Cochrane encouraged a show of military force against Iran, whose destroyers were moving in on restricted territory, and Kirkman was tempted to use the nuclear football. After a disagreement, Kirkman dismissed the room, saying they'll have it his way, but was still completely uncertain as to what course of action he would take. Eventually, he met with an Iranian ambassador, who he successfully convinced him to tell his government to withdraw their destroyers from the Strait of Hormuz. Later, Tom was getting ready to address the nation on his first day as President.[3]

Unfortunately, his speech did not do much to ease the fear of the American people and so, Tom made a visit to the Capitol wreckage to give another speech to instill hope for the American people. Unfortunately for him, the press got word of violent arrests ordered by Governor James Royce in Dearborn, Michigan and began asking for his opinion on the sudden turn of events. To make matters worse, a man attempted to attack Tom by charging through the crowd, but was apprehended by security. These events force Tom and his wife to be immediately escorted to the White House.

Tom ordered James Royce to stop harassing the Muslim community, only for the latter to retort that there was no federal government and so he could do whatever he wished. Unsure of what to do, he spoke with two candidates for attorney general. Unfortunately, one candidate's advice conflicted with the other's, which did not help the situation.

However, after he saw the media's broadcast of a police officer beating a 17-year-old Muslim boy named Danny Fyed to death, he called Governor Royce and bluffed that he accidentally detained three undercover agents, which would land him with a criminal offence, to which Royce reluctantly agreed. Later that evening, Tom offered his condolences to Danny Fyed's parents via phone call.[4]


Season 1 appearances
Pilot The First Day The Confession
The Enemy The Mission The Interrogation
The Traitor The Results The Blueprint
The Oath Warriors The End of the Beginning
Backfire Commander-in-Chief One Hundred Days
Party Lines The Ninth Seat Lazarus
Misalliance Bombshell Brace for Impact
Season 2 appearances
One Year In Sting of the Tail Outbreak Equilibrium
Suckers Two Ships Family Ties Home
Three-Letter Day Line of Fire Grief The Final Frontier
Original Sin In the Dark Summit Fallout
Overkill Kirkman Agonistes Capacity Bad Reception
Target Run
Season 3 appearances
#thesystemisbroken #slipperyslope #privacyplease #makehistory #nothingpersonal
#whocares #identity/crisis #scaredsh*tless #undecided #truthorconsequences


  • Kiefer Sutherland originally wasn't interested in starring in another television series after 24, but he changed his mind after reading the script for the pilot and was "blown away at how good it was".
  • Kirkman is one of four characters to appear in all 53 episodes of Designated Survivor; the other three being Aaron Shore, Emily Rhodes, and Seth Wright.
  • Kirkman is a registered Independent, which means he's not affiliated with any political party.
  • His Secret Service code-name was originally "Glasses" while he was Secretary of HUD; it is now "Phoenix".
  • Kirkman originally wore thick glasses until he was sworn in as President whereupon he switched to contacts.
  • He speaks fluent Russian which he originally learned while he was still dating his then future-wife Alex in order to impress her Russian parents.
  • He is the fourth President to be widowed while in office, after John Tyler, Woodrow Wilson, and Cornelius Moss.
  • He was born on December 20, 1967.[5]
  • He is the first Independent to hold the office of President since George Washington.
  • He is an avid sailor.


Preceded by:
Secretary of Housing and Urban Development
2013 - 2017
Succeeded by:
eventually Bruce Rangell
Preceded by:
Robert Richmond
President of the United States
2017 - present
Succeeded by: