Networks these days seem intent on canceling some shows early, while forcing others to continue on well past their expiration date with seemingly no logic behind their decisions whatsoever. That being said, it’s no secret that NBC’s The Office may be set to lose its primary character after this next season, and honestly the show’s gone on for longer than anyone ever thought possible when it first aired. Now, as much as we love The Office, the show really should have ended with the wedding episode (in reality, it pretty much did end there, but the network apparently can’t let go). If the network decides to keep pushing The Office even if Carell departs the show — and they may — then they should at least get somebody who can stand a good chance of properly replacing him. These are the 12 best candidates we could find for the job, should it be necessary.
The first choice on our list is a pretty obvious one, since Carell and Colbert both worked together on The Daily Show in the days before either of them rose to superstardom. The only catch with Colbert is that he’s already become so big that he’s locked in with his name, and it’s difficult to see him leaving his massively successful Colbert Report to play a character role in a dying show. On the other hand, if The Office were to bring in Colbert, it may actually gain viewership levels like never before.
Ken Jeong has been working his way up the ranks of the comedy industry, appearing recently in Knocked Up, Pineapple Express, Role Models, and The Hangover. Basically, he’s on the up and up, and he’s got pretty good potential. He also has a perfect entry-point for The Office, since he already exists in the show’s universe. In the ninth episode of the second season (“Email Surveillance”), Jeong was actually one of the participants in an improv class that Carell’s character terrorized. The encounter would make it easy for him to segway in since he’s already a character living in Scranton, and an oddball to boot.
Clement is best known as half the duo-turned-sensation Flight of the Conchords. Of the two, he seems to have the better stage presence, and with his kooky kiwi ways could be perfect for The Office. For Clement, it could actually be very easy to bring a character into the show for him. The corporate overlords could simply say that they’re bringing a junior manager from overseas to work in an American branch of the company, and the show could benefit from the change of pace.
Andy Samberg is a prominent member of the hugely famous Lonely Island comedy group, and of course, “Dick in a Box” duet-partner of Justin Timberlake. He’s one of comedy’s rising stars and while he is young, could easily be brought onto the show as junior management. His always awkward demeanor could play well into filling Carell’s role.
John Lehr, while not well-known by people who never watched 10 Items or Less (an Office copy set in a grocery store), is actually far more famous than most realize. He played a Geico Caveman in five of the commercials, including the therapy sessions, and that sort of versatility may make him perfect to fill Carell’s manager position in The Office. Just don’t use 10 Items or Less to gauge his talent… it isn’t pretty.
Now playing the role of Phil on ABC’s Modern Family, Ty Burrell’s acting style and look are perfect for any role meant to replace Carell on The Office. In his current role, he plays a semi-clueless, easy-going blue-collar all-American dad who means well but never quite gets it right. Replace dad with manager and you get the newest addition to The Office.
Better known as G.O.B. Bluth from the dearly missed Arrested Development, Will Arnett would be a major score for NBC if they signed him on to take over the slot Carell will leave behind. His characters are best known for extreme confidence and completely boneheaded persona, which always leads to hilarity. A manager position in The Office would fit him perfectly.
Patrick Warburton is one of those Hollywood actors who seems to stay perennially under the radar, while managing to be more memorable and famous than most people even realize. While he hasn’t played many big roles in film or TV on film, he’s been the voice actor for some of the most loved cartoon characters on television. For instance, he recently played the Hymie the robot in Get Smart (not a big role), but he’s the voice behind Joe Swanson of Family Guy, the Tick (of The Tick), Kronk from The Emperor’s New Groove, and Brock Samson of The Venture Bros. If Warburton were to take over for Carell, The Office would take on a decidedly weirder tone.
Nick Offerman is a long-time friend of Rainn Wilson, who plays Dwight in The Office, and even auditioned for the same role alongside Wilson before the show began filming. The casting call was such a close one that the show’s producers invited Offerman back to take a role in (yet another) Office copy, Parks and Recreation. His character, Ron Swanson, is even more ridiculous and managerial than Carell’s, and along with already having played a similar role, his friendship with Wilson would make for great chemistry on the show.
While he was made famous for his role on Reno 911!, Lennon has made his way around Hollywood and beyond over the years to become a well-loved star. Along with playing the role of Lt. Jim Dangle (which, aside from the flamboyant part, is quite like Carell’s character in The Office), he’s also got several awards for screenwriting in comedy — so he may actually be able to help the show in more ways than one.
Five years ago nobody would have ever considered listing Chevy Chase for something like the manager’s role in The Office, especially not as a replacement in the final leg of the show. Things have changed though, and Chase is playing a part in Community now, which is not exactly what you’d call a wildly successful show. It’s funny, and it’s got some good comedians in the cast, but it’s small-time compared to the body of work that he’s amassed over the last half-century. That being said, the role he plays in Community shows that he’s perfect for a role in The Office. On top of that, having Chevy Chase on the show would surely boost dwindling ratings.
Last on our list of potential replacements for Carell on The Office is none other than the man who filled the role in the first place, on the original BBC version of the same show. Ricky Gervais laid the foundation for everything that Carell’s character was supposed to be in the first place, and to have him enter the show would be as simple as having the corporate head office bring one of their more seasoned managers from England brought over to fill the void when Carell leaves the show. The only issue we can see with Gervais would be that he may be reluctant to take the role, since not only is the show on its dying legs, but he’s already made his way from TV to the big screen with startling success in the years since the original Office ran in the UK.