But on his new ABC series, the stakes are even higher.
His character survived an attack on the U.S. Capitol and, most recently, lived through an assassination attempt.
This season, the episodes will go a long way toward resolving a conspiracy tale that began at the start of the series.
We learn a lot about the attack that wiped out most of the U.S. government and propelled Sutherland to become president.
Along the way, President Tom Kirkman faces challenges that are unprecedented, all the more so because he never aspired to hold the top job in the nation.
"He also gets smacked around, because he doesn't know what he's doing," Sutherland said.
Still, Kirkman's common-sense approach wins praise.
"A man who is basically placed in a position that is unwinnable," he said. "How does he take that on? And how does he try to do the best he can?"
As more is revealed about the plot to kill Kirkman, the series creator, David Guggenheim, gets to explore the journey of lead character.
"What we're trying to embrace in the second half of our season is the education of Tom Kirkman," he said.
The creator and the writers will tell the story of an ordinary man in an extraordinary situation.
"Having secrets that you can't even share with your wife because they're classified," Sutherland said. "Those kinds of things I find to be a very interesting."
The return of "Designated Survivor" garnered a strong response from audiences, with over 13 million viewers tuning in.
"Designated Survivor" airs Wednesday nights at 10 p.m. on ABC.
Report a typo to the ABC13 digital staff