Kiefer Sutherland originally wasn't interested in starring in another television series, after his eight season run on 24 (2001) and the limited series 24: Live Another Day (2014), but changed his mind after reading the script for the pilot and was blown away at how good it was.
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.
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.
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.
This will be the second collaboration between Kal Penn and Kiefer Sutherland since 24 (2001).
President Tom Kirkman has used the term "Damn it" 2 times in the first 5 episodes of Designated Survivor. That was a go to line for Jack Bauer in every season of 24.
Kiefer Sutherland, who plays the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development on the show, previously played a character named Ben Carson in Mirrors (2009). In 2016, the same year the pilot of the show was released, Ben Carson was officially nominated (& subsequently sworn in) for the position of Secretary of Housing and Urban Development.
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.
Three HUD Secretaries, like Kirkman, have served as the designated survivor: Samuel Pierce in 1984, Andrew Cuomo in 1999, and Shaun Donovan in 2010.
Many of the news reporters are actual news personalities on WNEP-16 ABC affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania
Geoff Pierson, who plays former President Moss, played President Keeler on 24. Keeler was the president who beat Palmer in the election, but ultimately died in Season 4 and his VP, Charles Logan, was sworn in. Pierson and Sutherland's characters barely interacted on 24.
In April 2017, cast member Kal Penn tweeted a close-up photo of an on-set prop, a set of white boards with post-it notes intended to display a breakdown of "Yea" and "Nay" votes. Penn revealed that several of the senators presented as votes on the board come from nonexistent states: a senator named "Penna" is listed as being from a state abbreviated "AV," and one named Engram is from a state abbreviated "VR." Neither of these are abbreviations for US states.
Both Kal Penn and Italia Ricci guest starred in How I Met Your Mother (2005) and House (2004).
Episode 2 names the late FBI Director as "Jacobs". In the early books/movies in the Jack Ryan-series by Tom Clancy the FBI Director is called "Emil Jacobs". Might be a tribute to the author of the books that probably inspired this interesting show.
LaMonica Garrett (Mike) and Adan Canto (Aaron) have similar names to two main 24 characters playing opposite roles - Chief of staff and secret service agent.
Kevin McNally (Harris Cochrane) appeared in the final episode of 24: Live Another Day as the Russian agent who takes Jack Bauer to Russia
Peter Outerbridge (Charles Langdon) and Maggie Q (Hannah Wells) were both in the TV show Nikita. Outerbridge played Ari Tasarov, the head of a Russian crime organization and former KGB while Q played the role of the series protagonist, Nikita Mears.
Natascha McElhone and McKenna Grace play mother and daughter in Designated Survivor. They both starred in Mr Church (2016) but had no scenes together. Natascha was McKenna's grandmother in the movie.
Abu Fayed was the "bad" guy in Season 6 of "24." Danny Fayed was the name of the kid killed in "Designated Survivor."
Virginia Madsen's brother, Michael Madsen also worked with Kiefer Sutherland in four episodes of 24