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Geoff Pierson
Pierson in 2006
Years active1980–present

Geoff Pierson is an American actor known for his starring television roles on Dexter, Unhappily Ever After, Grace Under Fire, 24, Ryan's Hope, and Designated Survivor. He has also guest-starred in dozens of other TV shows such as Friends, Monk, and Homeland.



Pierson appeared with George C. Scott on Broadway in Tricks Of The Trade, before continuing on to do several New York soap operas and many regional theater plays. Some notable theatrical roles include Angelo in Measure For Measure at the Yale Rep, Stanley in A Streetcar Named Desire at the Penn Ctr. Stage, Bobby in Speed The Plough at the Philadelphia Theatre Company, and Ricky in Glengarry Glen Ross and Teach in American Buffalo at the Virginia Stage Company.[1] His most prominent daytime role was as Frank Ryan on Ryan's Hope, a role he played from February 1983 through September 1985.

Pierson's first high-profile prime-time television role was as Jack Malloy, the head of a dysfunctional family, in The WB sitcom Unhappily Ever After, which was created by Ron Leavitt, one of the creators of FOX's Married... with Children. Other TV roles include a leading role as R.T. Howard on That 80's Show, and recurring roles on Grace Under Fire, In Plain Sight (USA) and The Firm (NBC). He also had a recurring role as Rodney's long lost dad on the ABC comedy Rodney. In 2001, he guest-starred in a Season 8 episode of Friends, "The One With Rachel's Date," playing Chandler's boss, Mr. Franklin.[2]

In 2005 and 2006 he appeared in two episodes of Veronica Mars as Stewart Manning, the father of Meg Manning.[3] In 2006, he guest-starred in Criminal Minds, playing Max Ryan, a former FBI agent-turned-author and Jason Gideon's mentor who comes out of his retirement to capture a serial killer known as the Keystone Killer in the episode, "Unfinished Business". From 2006 to 2013, he portrayed Miami-Dade Police Captain Tom Matthews on the Showtime series Dexter.

He appeared in the 2008 Clint Eastwood-directed film Changeling as the flamboyant defense attorney Sammy "S.S." Hahn. In 2011 he portrayed Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in Eastwood's J. Edgar.[4] He appeared in Touched by an Angel, Season 9, Episode 16.

Beginning in 2010, he had a recurring role in Boardwalk Empire as Senator Walter Edge. In 2011, Pierson played Midas Mulligan in Atlas Shrugged, based on Ayn Rand's novel of the same name. He played Russell Dunbar's wealthy father in Rules of Engagement and he had a recurring role as the mysterious Mr. Smith on Castle. In 2014 he appeared in an episode of Suburgatory.[5]

In 2015 he co-starred as Defense Secretary Pierce Grey on HBO's The Brink. Recently, he stars in the former ABC and now, Netflix political thriller Designated Survivor, where he portrays Former President of the United States and Secretary of State Cornelius Moss alongside Kiefer Sutherland.[6]


This list is incomplete; you can help by adding missing items. (July 2023)


Year Title Role Notes
1995 Two Bits Dr. Wilson
1997 Leave It to Beaver Coach Gordon
1998 The Right Way Michael Peretti
2001 Behind Enemy Lines Admiral Donnelly
2001 Venomous General Arthur Manchek
2004 Spartan Pearce
2006 Stay Dad
2007 D-War Secretary of Defense
2007 Already Dead Pierce
2008 A Line in the Sand The Mayor
2008 Changeling S.S. Hahn
2008 Get Smart Vice President
2009 World's Greatest Dad Principal Anderson
2009 Better off Ted Elijah Palmer
2011 Atlas Shrugged: Part I Michael 'Midas' Mulligan
2011 Something Borrowed Dexter Thaler Sr.
2011 God Bless America Frank's Boss
2011 J. Edgar A. Mitchell Palmer
2011 Jack and Jill Carter Simmons
2014 Revenge of the Green Dragons FBI Director Sam Higgins
2014 You're Not You Kate's Father
2016 Rules Don't Apply Merrill Lynch Executive
2020 The Wrong Missy Jack Winstone
2024 Watchmen: Chapter 1 Hollis Mason / Nite Owl I (voice) Direct-to-Video[7]


Years Title Role Notes
1980–81 Texas Detective Donovan 19 episodes
1983–85 Ryan's Hope Frank Ryan 126 episodes
1989 Days of Our Lives Barney Gillespie 4 episodes
1994–98 Grace Under Fire Jimmy Kelly 30 episodes
1995–99 Unhappily Ever After Jack Malloy 100 episodes
2000–01 Nash Bridges Deputy Chief Max Petit 3 episodes
2001 Becker Mr. Tipton 1 episode
2001 Friends Mr Franklin 1 episode: "The One With Rachel's Date" (Season 8)
2002 That '80s Show R.T. Howard 13 episodes
2002–03 The West Wing Senate Minority Leader Tripplehorn 4 episodes
2003–05 24 Senator John Keeler / President John Keeler 20 episodes
2004 Monk Harry Bolston

1 episode

2005–08 Rodney Dale Hamilton 3 episodes
2006 Criminal Minds Max Ryan 1 episode
2006 NCIS Roy Carver 1 episode
2008 Medium Sam Winters 1 episode
2009 The Mentalist Noah Plaskett 1 episode
2012 The Firm Judge Ken Walsh 4 episodes
2010–12 Boardwalk Empire Senator Walter Edge 4 episodes
2006–13 Dexter Tom Matthews 43 episodes
2012; 2019-2022 Young Justice Jay Garrick / The Flash Voice; 5 episodes
2015 The Brink Pierce Gray 10 episodes
2011–15 Castle Michael Smith 6 episodes
2016 Person of Interest FBI SAIC Roberts 1 episode
2017–19 Designated Survivor Cornelius Moss 16 episodes
2018–19 Splitting Up Together Henry 13 episodes
2019 Homeland Senator Richard Eames 1 episode
2019 The Face of Evil Narrator 6 episodes
2023 City on Fire Bill Sr 7 episodes


  1. ^ "Obituary for Helen Pierson - SKOKIE, IL".
  2. ^ "FRIENDS -- "The One with Rachel's Date" Episode 5 -- Aired --..." Getty Images. Retrieved 2023-07-02.
  3. ^ Li, Shirley (2014-09-17). "A Definitive Ranking of Every Notable Guest Star On 'Veronica Mars'". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2017-03-28.
  4. ^ Foundas, Scott (December 19, 2007). "Clint Eastwood: The Set Whisperer - Shooting quietly on the Changeling set". LA Weekly. Archived from the original on December 23, 2007. Retrieved December 29, 2007.
  5. ^ Geoff Pierson at IMDb
  6. ^ Petski, Denise (February 17, 2017). "'Zoo' Casts Sophina Brown; 'Designated Survivor' Adds Geoff Pierson". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved May 29, 2019.
  7. ^