Who Is The Bad Guy In Designated Survivor? [Revealed]

by Barbara

Designated Survivor is an American political thriller television series that premiered on ABC on September 21, 2016. The show revolves around Tom Kirkman, a low-level Cabinet member who suddenly becomes President of the United States after a catastrophic attack on the Capitol during the State of the Union address. One of the core elements driving the plot forward is the search for the “bad guy” or the mastermind behind the conspiracy. This article delves into the key antagonists of Designated Survivor, exploring their motives, actions, and the impact they have on the storyline.

Introduction to Designated Survivor

The premise of Designated Survivor is built on the concept of a “designated survivor,” a member of the U.S. Cabinet chosen to stay at a secure location when the President, Vice President, and other high-ranking officials gather at a single location. This ensures the continuity of government in the event of a catastrophic attack. In the series, Tom Kirkman, played by Kiefer Sutherland, is the designated survivor who unexpectedly ascends to the presidency following a devastating explosion that kills everyone above him in the line of succession.


Early Suspicions and Red Herrings

From the outset, Designated Survivor keeps viewers on edge with numerous suspects and red herrings. The show’s writers skillfully weave a complex web of intrigue, making it difficult to pinpoint the true villain. Early in the series, suspicion falls on various characters, including government officials, military personnel, and even foreign entities.


Peter MacLeish

One of the initial antagonists is Peter MacLeish, a Congressman who miraculously survives the Capitol bombing. His survival raises eyebrows, and as the series progresses, it becomes clear that MacLeish is not just a fortunate survivor but a key player in the conspiracy. MacLeish is portrayed as a charismatic and seemingly trustworthy politician, but his true nature is gradually revealed.


Vice President Peter MacLeish’s Role

Peter MacLeish’s ascent to the vice presidency is a critical plot point. His connection to the conspiracy is unveiled through the tireless efforts of FBI agent Hannah Wells, played by Maggie Q. Wells discovers that MacLeish was complicit in the Capitol bombing, working with a mysterious organization aiming to destabilize the U.S. government. MacLeish’s role as a mole within the government adds a layer of complexity to the narrative, illustrating how deeply the conspiracy is embedded within the nation’s leadership.

The Mysterious Organization

As the investigation progresses, it becomes evident that MacLeish is not the mastermind but rather a pawn in a much larger scheme. The true villains are part of a clandestine organization with far-reaching goals. This organization is shrouded in secrecy, and its members are determined to reshape the political landscape of the United States.

The True Mastermind: Patrick Lloyd

Patrick Lloyd, played by Terry Serpico, emerges as the primary antagonist in the later seasons of Designated Survivor. Lloyd is the founder of the organization known as “The Loyalists,” a group with a radical vision for America. He believes that the country needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, and he is willing to use any means necessary to achieve his goals.

Lloyd’s Ideology and Motivations

Lloyd’s ideology is rooted in a belief that the current political system is corrupt and ineffective. He envisions a new America, free from what he sees as the constraints of democracy and bureaucratic inefficiency. Lloyd’s motivations are driven by a desire for power and control, and he is willing to orchestrate acts of terrorism and violence to bring about his vision.


Unmasking the Conspiracy

The process of unmasking the conspiracy is fraught with danger and intrigue. President Kirkman, along with his allies, must navigate a treacherous landscape filled with deception and betrayal. The investigation into the Capitol bombing and the subsequent attacks is a race against time, as the conspirators continue to plot and execute their plans.

Hannah Wells’ Determination

FBI agent Hannah Wells is a central figure in the effort to uncover the truth. Her relentless pursuit of justice leads her to risk her life on multiple occasions. Wells’ determination and resourcefulness are crucial in piecing together the puzzle and identifying the key players in the conspiracy.

President Kirkman’s Leadership

President Kirkman faces immense challenges as he works to stabilize the country and root out the conspiracy. His leadership is tested as he confronts political adversaries, manages crises, and makes difficult decisions. Kirkman’s evolution from a reluctant leader to a decisive and principled president is a central theme of the series.

The Role of Technology and Surveillance

In the modern era, technology and surveillance play a significant role in both the execution and investigation of the conspiracy. The use of advanced technology by both the conspirators and law enforcement adds a layer of complexity to the narrative.

The Hacker: Damian Rennett

Damian Rennett, portrayed by Ben Lawson, is a skilled hacker and former MI6 agent who becomes entangled in the conspiracy. Rennett’s expertise in cyber warfare is exploited by the conspirators, but he ultimately becomes an ally to Hannah Wells. His knowledge of hacking and surveillance proves invaluable in uncovering key information.

Cyber Threats and Countermeasures

The series highlights the growing threat of cyber attacks and the importance of robust countermeasures. The conspirators’ ability to manipulate technology to their advantage underscores the vulnerabilities in the nation’s cybersecurity infrastructure. Conversely, the use of technology by the government to track and neutralize threats demonstrates the double-edged nature of modern surveillance.

The Human Cost of the Conspiracy

The conspiracy at the heart of Designated Survivor has far-reaching consequences for both the nation and the individuals involved. The human cost of the conspiracy is a recurring theme, emphasizing the impact on families, communities, and the country as a whole.

Personal Sacrifices

Many characters in the series make significant personal sacrifices in their pursuit of justice and the truth. Hannah Wells, for example, endures immense personal loss and danger in her quest to expose the conspiracy. President Kirkman grapples with the moral and ethical dilemmas of leadership, often at great personal cost.

The Impact on Families

The series also explores the impact of the conspiracy on the families of those involved. The Kirkman family, in particular, faces numerous challenges as they adjust to their new roles in the public eye. The strain on their relationships and the constant threat of danger highlight the personal toll of political life.


Designated Survivor is a gripping political thriller that keeps viewers on the edge of their seats with its intricate plot and well-developed characters. The search for the “bad guy” in the series is a central element that drives the narrative forward. From the early suspicions surrounding Peter MacLeish to the revelation of Patrick Lloyd as the true mastermind, the show expertly weaves a tale of intrigue, betrayal, and resilience. The exploration of the conspiracy’s impact on individuals and the nation adds depth and complexity to the story, making Designated Survivor a compelling and thought-provoking series.

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