Madam Secretary
Title card
Created byBarbara Hall
Country of originUnited States
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons6
No. of episodes120 (list of episodes)
Executive producers
  • Sam Hoffman
  • Téa Leoni
Production locationNew York City
Running time42–46 minutes
Production companies
Original release
ReleaseSeptember 21, 2014 (2014-09-21) –
December 8, 2019 (2019-12-08)

Madam Secretary (titled Madam President for its sixth and final season) is an American political drama television series created by Barbara Hall, with Morgan Freeman and Lori McCreary as executive producers. It stars Téa Leoni as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst and political science professor who is appointed as the United States Secretary of State following the suspicious death of her predecessor.

Madam Secretary ran on CBS from September 21, 2014, to December 8, 2019, for a total of 120 episodes aired.


The first five seasons of Madam Secretary explore Elizabeth McCord's life as the reluctant but determined United States Secretary of State. She drives international diplomacy, battles office politics, and circumvents protocol if needed as she navigates global conflicts. The show also focuses on McCord's personal life and family, and their relationship with her work; she is married and has three children.

At the end of the fifth season, McCord announces her candidacy for President of the United States; as the sixth season begins, the audience learns that she has won the election, and the remainder of the series follows her tenure as the United States' first female president.[3][4][5][6]

Cast and characters

Main article: List of Madam Secretary characters



Presidential Cabinets and principal advisors

The Dalton cabinet
PresidentConrad Dalton (Keith Carradine)2013–2019
Vice PresidentMark Delgado (Alex Fernandez)2013–2017
Teresa Hurst (Jan Maxwell/Jayne Atkinson)2017–2019
Secretary of StateVincent Marsh (Brian Stokes Mitchell)2013–2014
Elizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni)2014–2019
Susan Thompson (Tonya Pinkins)2019–2019
Secretary of the TreasuryMax Quinn (Michael Cumpsty)2013–2014
Secretary of DefenseGordon Becker (Mike Pniewski)2013–2019
Attorney GeneralMary Campbell (Anna Deavere Smith)2013–2015
Louise Cronenberg (Leslie Hendrix)2015–2016
Unknown (shown in "French Revolution")2016–2017
Hank Nolan (John Bolton)2017–2019
Director of National IntelligenceEphraim Ware (Clifton Davis)2013–2019
Director of the
Central Intelligence Agency
Andrew Munsey (Patrick Breen)2013–2015
Sean Williams (Larry Pine)2015–2015
Dennis Ellerman (John Doman)2015–2016
Hugh Haymond (Michael Gaston)2016–2019
National Security AdvisorDarren Kahn (Cotter Smith)2013–2015
Craig Sterling (Julian Acosta)2015–2015
ADM (Ret.) Ellen Hill (Johanna Day)2016–2019
Chief of StaffRussell Jackson (Željko Ivanek)2013–2019
The McCord cabinet
PresidentElizabeth McCord (Téa Leoni)2019–present
Vice PresidentCarlos Morejon (José Zúñiga)2019–present
Secretary of StateSusan Thompson (Tonya Pinkins)2019–present
Director of National IntelligenceEphraim Ware (Clifton Davis)2019–present
National Security AdvisorADM (Ret.) Ellen Hill (Johanna Day)2019–present
Chief of StaffMike Barnow (Kevin Rahm)2019–2019
Russell Jackson (Željko Ivanek)2019–2019
Jay Whitman (Sebastian Arcelus)2019–present

Other officials

Office Name Term
Chief Justice of the United States Frawley (Morgan Freeman) 2013–present
Deputy Secretary of State Steven Cushing (William Allen Young) 2013–2019
Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Susan Thompson (Tonya Pinkins) 2014–2019
United States Ambassador to Yemen Paul Wellington (Tim Guinee) 2013–present
United States Ambassador to Myanmar Arlen Maxwell (David Rasche) 2013–2016
United States Ambassador to Algeria Roy Curtis (Dakin Matthews) 2013–2016
Deputy Director of the FBI Marguerite Sanchez (Roslyn Ruff) 2013–present
Administrator of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Glenn (John Pankow) 2013–present
Chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board Humphrey Nelson (Alfredo Narciso) 2013–present


Main article: List of Madam Secretary episodes

SeasonEpisodesOriginally aired
First airedLast aired
122September 21, 2014 (2014-09-21)May 3, 2015 (2015-05-03)
223October 4, 2015 (2015-10-04)May 8, 2016 (2016-05-08)
323October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02)May 21, 2017 (2017-05-21)
422October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08)May 20, 2018 (2018-05-20)
520October 7, 2018 (2018-10-07)April 21, 2019 (2019-04-21)
610October 6, 2019 (2019-10-06)December 8, 2019 (2019-12-08)



In August 2013, it was announced Madam Secretary was in development at CBS, co-written by Barbara Hall.[3][4] Madam Secretary is about "the personal and professional life of a maverick female secretary of state, as she drives international diplomacy, wrangles office politics and balances a complex family life."[4][5][6]

The show's pilot episode was directed by David Semel.[8] On May 9, 2014, Madam Secretary received a series order at CBS.[5][6] A preview trailer was released on May 14, 2014.[9] Madam Secretary premiered on CBS on September 21, 2014,[10] and on October 27, 2014, CBS picked up the series for a full season of 22 episodes.[11] Madam Secretary was renewed for a sixth season on May 9, 2019.[12] On May 15, 2019, it was announced the sixth season would be the series' final season and would comprise 10 episodes.[13] It premiered on October 6, 2019.[14] Filming for the series was completed on November 13, 2019.[15]


In January 2014, the pilot was cast with Téa Leoni as Elizabeth McCord,[16] Tim Daly as Henry McCord,[17] Geoffrey Arend as Matt Mahoney,[18] Patina Miller as press coordinator Daisy Grant,[19] Bebe Neuwirth as Elizabeth's chief of staff Nadine Tolliver, Erich Bergen as Blake Moran, Evan Roe as Elizabeth's son, Jason McCord,[20] Kathrine Herzer as Elizabeth and Henry's daughter Alison McCord,[21] Željko Ivanek as Russell Jackson,[22] and Wallis Currie-Wood as Elizabeth and Henry's older daughter Stephanie "Stevie" McCord.[23]

Bebe Neuwirth left the series after the third episode of the fourth season.[24][25] Sara Ramirez joined the cast as Kat Sandoval, replacing Bebe Neuwirth as a series regular. Of Ramirez, Hall stated, "She brings a fresh perspective and a fun, energetic quality to the State Department staff."[26][27][28]

On August 6, 2019, it was revealed that Ramirez would not return as a regular for the sixth and final season.[citation needed] On September 3, 2019, it was revealed that regulars Arend, Roe, Herzer, Carradine, and Arcelus would also be dropped from the main cast; however, Carradine was expected to make at least one guest appearance, and the others would appear in recurring roles according to their work schedules.[citation needed] Additionally, Kevin Rahm, who had recurred as McCord's advisor Michael "Mike B." Barnow since the second half of the first season, would be upgraded to regular status.[citation needed]


The series is particularly popular in Finland: 9% of Finnish people watched the first episode when it premiered on MTV3 on January 1, 2015.[29][30]



Viewership and ratings per season of Madam Secretary
Season Timeslot (ET) Episodes First aired Last aired TV season Viewership
Avg. viewers
Date Viewers
Date Viewers
1 Sunday 8:00 p.m. 22 September 21, 2014 (2014-09-21) 14.75[31] May 3, 2015 (2015-05-03) 9.67[32] 2014–15 10 14.16[33]
2 23 October 4, 2015 (2015-10-04) 11.79[34] May 8, 2016 (2016-05-08) 9.99[35] 2015–16 14 12.39[36]
3 Sunday 9:00 p.m. 23 October 2, 2016 (2016-10-02) 9.20[37] May 21, 2017 (2017-05-21) 7.44[38] 2016–17 18 10.92[39]
4 Sunday 10:00 p.m. 22 October 8, 2017 (2017-10-08) 7.21[40] May 20, 2018 (2018-05-20) 6.22[41] 2017–18 37 8.84[42]
5 20 October 7, 2018 (2018-10-07) 6.13[43] April 21, 2019 (2019-04-21) 4.79[44] 2018–19 42 8.12[45]
6 10 October 6, 2019 (2019-10-06) 4.77[46] December 8, 2019 (2019-12-08) 4.53[47] 2019–20 52 6.74[48]

Critical reception

Madam Secretary has been met with generally positive reviews from TV critics. On Metacritic, the show has a score of 66 out of 100, based on 31 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[49] On Rotten Tomatoes, the show holds a rating of 67% based on reviews from 52 critics. The site's consensus for the first season reads, "Bolstered by Tea Leoni's strong central performance, Madam Secretary is a solid but unspectacular political drama."[50]

Three former United States Secretaries of State were apparent fans of the series. On April 27, 2022, during a eulogy at the memorial service for Madeleine Albright (Secretary of State from 1997 to 2001), Hillary Clinton (Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013) disclosed that she, Albright, and Colin Powell (Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005), "loved and actually watched" Madam Secretary. All three former Secretaries of State made a cameo appearance together in the fifth-season premiere of the show, which aired on October 7, 2018.[51]


Three women have served as United States Secretary of State to date: Madeleine Albright from 1997 to 2001 under Bill Clinton, Condoleezza Rice from 2005 to 2009 under George W. Bush, and Hillary Clinton from 2009 to 2013 under Barack Obama. Shortly after the series' debut, Fox News asked if the show served as a campaign ad supporting Hillary Clinton, but quoted the Los Angeles Times saying the lead character was "no Hillary knock-off" and a New York publicist calling the casting of a woman "simple business and smart on CBS' behalf."[52] Conservative activist organization Culture and Media Institute said "The connections in the show between Elizabeth and Hillary are clear, from the blond hair to the pantsuits."[52]

When the trailer of the 15th episode of the third season titled "Break in Diplomacy" was released showing McCord responding to unwanted sexual advances by fictional Philippine president Datu Andrada by punching Andrada in the face, the series became controversial in the Philippines. Viewers noticed parallels between Andrada and real-life Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte, who was known for making inappropriate and sexist remarks.[53] The Philippine Embassy in Washington published a statement protesting the negative depiction of the presidential character on its Facebook page.[54]

The fourth-season premiere, "News Cycle", led to a protest from East Timor's Minister of State José Ramos-Horta, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. He said, "It is a slander against a country that only shows ignorance and racism."[55] The show used the border dispute between Australia and East Timor in the Timor Sea as background story. (The dispute is transferred in the TV show to the South China Sea, although neither Australia nor East Timor borders it). East Timor is shown as a country controlled by a Mexican drug cartel and used for the shipment of drugs. Secretary McCord asks China to take measures to prevent the leader of the drug cartel from making a narco-state out of East Timor.[55]

In the fourth episode of the first season, "Just Another Normal Day", the series used stock footage shot in Hoi An, Vietnam, but noted the location as Fuling, China. This caused anger among the Vietnamese government, who said that the episode "offended Vietnam's sovereignty and territorial integrity". Soon after, the Department of Radio, Television and Electronic Information of the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam ordered a ban on the series, and asked Netflix to remove the series from the Vietnamese version of Netflix.[56]


Year Association Category Nominee(s) Result
2014 TV Guide Award Favorite New Show Madam Secretary Nominated
2015 American Cinema Editors Awards 2015[57] Best Edited One-Hour Series for Commercial Television Elena Maganini and Michael D. Ornstein Nominated
41st People's Choice Awards[58] Favorite Actress in a New TV Series Téa Leoni Nominated
Favorite New TV Drama Madam Secretary Nominated
Publicists Guild of America The Maxwell Weinberg Publicists Showmanship Television Award CBS Television Studio/Madam Secretary Nominated
2015 Humanitas Prize 60 Minute Network or Syndicated Television Madam Secretary Nominated
2016 CBS MVP Awards[59] Best Motivational Speech Téa Leoni Nominated
2016 Humanitas Prize 60 Minute Network or Syndicated Television Madam Secretary Nominated


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