It’s no secret that season two of True Detective split opinion. We, like everyone, went back and forth on it as the show went on, before it culminated in a very disappointing finale.

So what can True Detective do in its next season to save the show? As with shows like American Horror Story and the forthcoming second series of Fargo, we love the idea that we get a new location, and a new cast.

But who should be our leading detectives? McConaughey and Harrelson set a serious benchmark in their run, but we think we can cast it even better…

Charlie Cox

Why? Currently turning heads in the standout performance as Marvel’s blind crime fighter Daredevil, The Englishman is the youngest entry on our list, and with good reason. He was also excellent as Owen Sleater in HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

Doing What? We say introduce him as the young, cocky (no pun intended) cop, still pretty fresh faced to the whole detective gig but who has got a little too big for his boots after a couple of lucky case breaks in a small town.

Once the ball is rolling and the murder is discovered in episode one (in the same small town where Cox’s character hangs his hat, no less) his arrogance gets him in trouble with the older, outside detective that has been brought in, and from there a relationship with little trust and no respect is what drives the characters forward.

Chances? With him held up at the moment with the second series of Daredevil, and the possibility of seeing him pop up in future Marvel features, his schedule seems pretty clear outside of the comic book world. Is this  a hint or just us grabbing at straws?

Kiefer Sutherland

Why? A man who is no stranger to being the tough guy hand-of-the-law, Kief has been crafting his “gruff old warhorse” approach to acting with projects like 24: Live Another Day and with voicing Big Boss in the new Metal Gear Solid game. It’s about time he got caught up in a brand new TV outing.

Doing What? Playing to his strengths, Kiefer is introduced as the detective feeling old before his time. With years of wear and tear finally showing, he has his ways of coping and getting through the long, lonely nights. Once a brutal murder occurs in his small town, and with the other local law enforcement turning a blind eye, it’s finally time for him to make a stand – with the motivation of a brand new partner to boot.

Chances? He has more than proven his chops as a quality TV actor, but could his history as Jack Bauer take him out of the running?

Jennifer Garner

Why? Once seen as the forerunner for the title of “best female ass kicker on TV”, Garner’s run on Alias, leading to playing Elektra in 2003’s Daredevil and subsequent spin-off flick, her recent body of work isn’t as action based, with her being more of a supporting character than leading up front, but it’s time to bring her back as the female lead she deserves to be.

Doing What? With the backdrop of a grey, cold city behind her, Garner’s character has recently been promoted to the ranks of detective. Once a student of law, she’s by the books and smart as a tack, but her lack of experience on the mean streets costs her following the discovery of a heavily mutilated corpse. She’s going to have to get tough and learn to let her partner help in order to make it out of this one alive.

Chances? Maybe the ship has already sailed for Gerner’s leading lady chances, with the fact she isn’t really known for her hard hitting dramatic performances weighing against her, this one might be a bit of a push. Plus, she needs a bit of HBO drama after splitting up with long-time hubby Ben Affleck.

Jason Clarke

Why? Basically, because he’s brilliant in everything. His role as special operative Dan in Zero Dark Thirty showed us that he’s adept enough at playing a hardened interrogator, while The Great Gatsby showcased his abilities to dominate the screen as a boorish, loudmouth drunk (which was half of what Colin Farrell was in season 2). Clarke has excelled in previous TV roles in The Chicago Code and Brotherhood, so perhaps a return to the small screen is exactly what he needs to take his career to the next level.

Doing What? Well, as already discussed, he would bring a certain measure of versatility to TD. We would see him best as a kind of recklessly self-destructive Ray Velcoro-esque crusader – a rebel with a philosophical cause. Yeah! Clarke would make for a good bloodshot antihero in the vein of Rust Cohle (McConaughey), without the wide-eyed, world-weary ramblings, of course. No wait, maybe that would be pretty awesome.

Chances? He’s a much more likely candidate than some others on this list. A quick can at his IMDB page tells us that, having just enjoyed a starring role in Terminator: Genisys, Clarke is currently filming All I See Is You, due to be released next year. That’s a reasonably light workload compared to most top actors, so perhaps he’s intentionally left a slot open for the perfect television role.

Hilary Swank

Why? Because she can ACT. Remember that brilliantly transformative role in Boy’s Don’t Cry? What about the gut-wrenchingly emotional turn as Maggie Fitzgerald in Million Dollar Baby? When it comes to grandiose performances that can stun audiences into staying in their seats long after the credits roll, Swank is top of the bunch (in this writer’s opinion).

Doing What? Anything – she is that good. Imagine Swank something like McAdams, only with more acting and less space-staring.

Chances? As much as we’d love to Swank ride along in a car listening to the nonsensical stratagems of Jason Clarke’s Velcoro/Cohle hybrid, this may be a stretch too far. With only 42 acting credits in the last 16 years, Swank is highly selective with her roles and she already has a main role in TV show that’s currently in production — The One Percent. 

Ed Harris

Why? Nominated for a quarter of Oscars during a glittering career that has seen him shine in everything from The Truman Show to A History of Violence, Harris is exactly what Pizzolatto needs to stop his show from suffering another near-car crash season. Also, if you need further evidence of Harris’ suitability for TD, just watch the brilliant Gone Baby Gone with him as Remy Bressant. WOW.

Doing What? Doing what he does best — squinting slightly and owning the screen.

Chances? Harris is set to become a key player in the so-called ‘Golden Age of Television,’ with main roles in both Westworld and The One Percent coming up in the next year. However, the former is a HBO production so his allegiances to the network could make it slightly easier to complete what would be a fantastic acquisition for True Detective.

Giovanni Ribisi

Why? The man who first shot to prominence as Phoebe’s deliriously under-slept and high-strung half-brother in Friends has the capacity to bring some real intensity and depth to the third season of TD. He can soon be seen in the titular role of Sneaky Pete, coming soon to Amazon Prime (alongside small-screen giant Bryan Cranston), so perhaps another television gig is unfeasible for Ribisi.

Doing What? The villain, or something mysterious and creepy, perhaps. Although, he could easily pull off a conflicted cop too, chucking a ton of whiskey down his gullet and assaulting fellow officers. I can see it now!

Chances? Somewhat slim, in a realistic world – but hey, stranger things have happened! and despite the monotonous grind that was series two, TD still has some serious star pulling power.

Sandra Bullock

Why? Bullock seems to be exclusively attached to mega-money film contracts, but she NEEDS to follow some of her illustrious colleagues to the small screen to bolster her impressive career even further. We haven’t actually seen her chiseled cheekbones since she was hanging upside down in space in Gravity so a main role in TD would be refreshing.

Doing What? A headstrong lead investigator type: Bullock could bring some dramatic heft to any role.

Chances? Probably not, but we can dream! Besides, her wage demands are astronomical and unreachable, even by modern television standards.

Zach Galifianakis

Why? Huh? That goofy guy from The Hangover? Before you laugh, True Detective can be the show to reinvent an actor and Galifianakis is in need of a career shake-up! While his lovable stoner persona is endearing, the man is 46 – time to get into some serious acting! He was surprisingly impressive in a semi-dramatic role in Birdman playing Riggan’s (Michael Keaton) best friend and lawyer. So, why not?

Doing What? The likeable detective with a point to prove in the force after a series of unfortunate events nearly got him stripped off his badge. Haunted by inner demons and taunted by his peers, Lou (that’s what I’ve decided his character is called) rises to the occasion, with some, er, minor stumbles along the way.

Chances?  For sure. Compared to some of the heavyweight names on this list, Zach would be fairly easy to tie down. But it’s more a question of whether HBO executives could go with such a risky decision, after the casting of Taylor Kitsch and Vince Vaughn clearly didn’t work.

Bonus Slide

Or, they could just re-cast Matthew McConuaghey and Woody Harrelson to investigate what the hell went wrong with season 2. They’d probably figure it out in the end too…

Just bring back these two!
Just bring back these two!