Replacing Steve Carell: 7 Actors Who’d Dominate on ‘The Office’

Seven unassailable ways for NBC to fill Michael Scott’s wingtips

Tuesday's news that Will Arnett and Ricky Gervais will be guest-starring on the May 19 season finale of "The Office" have made it tricky for us to get any serious work done this week.

Not only does the report mean we'll be able to watch two of our favorite comedic actors doing their thing on a crucial episode of one of our favorite sitcoms, it strongly suggests that at least one of them is being considered as a candidate to take over for Steve Carell after he flees the Dunder Mifflin building. It also leaves a whisper of hope that both Gervais and Arnett may be replacing Carell. Okay, we're dreaming that last part.

While it's possible the show won't bring in an outsider to fill Michael Scott's regional-branch-manager position, there's just not enough fun in that scenario for us to contemplate it. Indeed, we're very content to stay in speculation mode now that Gervais and Arnett are fully in the mix. And should NBC go in either direction (or both!), we can't help but think the show might have an eighth-season resurgence.

But there are other actors we also think could fit well with the vibe "The Office" has created over its lengthy run. Here are five other worthy — and more importantly, gettable — external candidates we'd fully endorse as replacements for Carell (and no, despite his lack of gainful employment, Charlie Sheen would not be a good choice).

Ted Danson

The Danson television renaissance must be allowed to continue unabated! His scene-stealing role as a pot-addled, horndog magazine editor on HBO's "Bored to Death" shows that he'd be more than capable of playing a less-than-inspiring boss. Or the "Cheers" alum could infuse the role with disdain, like the way he has portrayed himself in various "Curb Your Enthusiasm" guest stints. Plus, there's something about Ted Danson starring in a show that airs on NBC at 9 p.m. that just feels right.


Portia de Rossi

While Amy Poehler, Jane Lynch and Tina Fey could have been solid female replacement choices, each is otherwise engaged in her own high-profile TV project. But should NBC wish to crank up the estrogen factor at Dunder Mifflin, few TV vets would be a more reliable fit than de Rossi. Ellen DeGeneres's spouse more than held her own next to Arnett and Jason Bateman on "Arrested Development," and she managed to remain likable despite her character's monumental shallowness. We do wonder, though, if she might not be the A-list TV name the show likely needs in the wake of Steve Carell's departure. Then again, Ellen cameos would be an easy sell.


Chris Elliott

Yes, his last attempt at network stardom fell flat — at least in the ratings — but Elliott has deserved another shot at redemption ever since Fox rudely axed the cult classic "Get a Life" nearly 20 years ago. His smug, clueless TV persona essentially created the template later used by Gervais and Carell, and his understated silliness on Adult Swim's "Eagleheart" indicates that he's learned to ratchet down the absurdity level that turns some viewers off. Maybe he could even convince his old pal David Letterman to reprise his "Hey, kid — want to buy a monkey?" character from "Cabin Boy."


Jemaine Clement

One half of the cultish musical comedy duo Flight of the Conchords, Clement seems ready for a breakthrough role (more so than his old Outback Steakhouse ads, we mean). That he co-starred with Carell in last summer's "Dinner for Schmucks" doesn't mean as much as the fact that he was hilarious in it. Bonus: Clement would be the first New Zealand native to ever star in a network sitcom. Vote Team Kiwi!


Rob Corrdry

Yes, the funny "Daily Show" alum recently landed a pilot with Fox, so he'd be ineligible should that sitcom gets picked up. But if the promising Rob Thomas series doesn't make the fall schedule, the self-proclaimed "Masshole" could be a solid fit on "The Office." His bro-on-bro chemistry with "The Office" regular Craig Robinson in 2010's "Hot Tub Time Machine" was palpable — and humorously disgusting. But just thinking of that '80s-centric comedy makes us wonder: What if John Cusack took over for Steve Carell? Feel free to let us know which of these actors you think would do the best, or fill us in on who we might be missing here. Dave Chappelle? Sarah Silverman? Carrot Top? Sound off in the comments section.