It was recently announced that an Fox will be taking event television to the next level with a small screen version of Sylvester Stallone’s The Expendables. NCIS: Los Angeles creator Shane Brennan, as well as screenwriter Greg Coolidge (Ride Along), will be penning the script for our first adventure.
The biggest selling point of the franchise is, of course, how it brings together some of the most memorable names in Hollywood for an epic throwdown, the likes of which feature-film fans had only dreamed of before.
But, if the plan is to do the same kind of thing on television, just who would make for the perfect expendable? Maybe this list can help answer that.
Terry Crews (‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’)
Something we don’t fully know yet about the new series is if it will be set within the existing universe of Expendables films. If it is, it would make sense for there to be a bridge between the big and small screen, and there’s no better choice for that bridge than Terry Crews.
Considering his current role on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Crews certainly qualifies as a TV action star (albeit a humorous one) – and since The Expendables 3 saw him get phased out a little bit, he seems like the perfect man to lead a new team of heroes on the small screen. Also, he already has connections at Fox thanks to Nine-Nine, so the likelihood of it actually happening just makes sense.
Sullivan Stapleton (‘Strike Back’)
Here’s the truth of the matter: if we’re asking what the be-all-end-all of action TV is at the moment, what the gold standard for small screen mayhem is, the answer is Strike Back. There’s no series, right now, that delivers action the way Cinemax’s story of two government agents does. So of course it would seem obvious that at least one the show’s two leads would appear on an Expendables series – and if you have to pick between Philip Winchester and Sullivan Stapleton, it seems like a safe bet to go with the more action hero-y of the two: Sullivan Stapleton, a.k.a. Damian Scott.
The man is a true action hero archetype and could, in theory, serve a the series’ version of Jason Statham’s character from the film, that of the new generation hero stacking up against the old school guys.
Lucy Lawless (‘Xena: Warrior Princess’)
If one has to choose who the more worthy warrior is between Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules and Lucy Lawless’ Xena, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone that would honestly answer the former. Lucy Lawless was doing action on TV before it was cool to do action on TV – and she gave a whole generation of women a reason to enjoy the sword and sandals genre – something she did again with her work on Spartacus.
Lawless is the kind of name that could bring some real credibility to a very testosterone heavy franchise.
Jensen Ackles (Supernatural)
Going back to the track of up and coming TV action heroes, you can’t any further without bringing up Jensen Ackles. The fact of the matter is what’s kept the actor from being the next Jeremy Renner is a strict loyalty to Supernatural (and the money it prints). Marvel is rumored to have approached Ackles for Hawkeye – while making late changes on the list for Captain America – so we already know he’s going to break out as an action film star any day now.
An Expendables series might work for him because, if scheduled correctly, it could shoot around his Supernatural schedule. Or, he could even be the series’ version of Liam Hemsworth from the second movie. If you saw that flick, you know what that means.
Michael K. Williams (‘The Wire’)
Say it with us: Omar! There cannot be an Expendables show without the man that is, quite possibly, the hardest presence to grace the airwaves of HBO; even Tony Soprano wouldn’t mess with Omar Little. Williams is an actor that carries with him some serious street cred, and in an action setting, he could be the shining star. Whether or not it would actually happen is a mystery, but boy would it be nice to make this a reality.
Also, Williams has been killing it lately in just about every role he’s taken. So, really, there are many reasons to bring him aboard.
Philip Glenister (‘Life on Mars’)
Thanks to the ABC version of Life on Mars that bombed, most Americans were never introduced to Philip Glenister as DCI Gene Hunt in the brilliant original series (where no one actually goes to Mars). Harvey Keitel was brought in for Glenister’s role in the American version, which speaks to the strength of the character. Thing is, Gene Hunt is considered one of the best characters in UK television history, and for good reason: no one can do the foul-mouthed, Audi Quattro-driving Gene Hunt better than Glenister.
You want to see a personality that can carry event television? Take note, Agent Carter: Philip Glenister.
Kiefer Sutherland (’24’)
You didn’t think anyone was going to forget about Jack Bauer, did you? Kiefer Sutherland redefined the broadcast TV action hero thanks to 24. Jack was exactly the kind of character people needed to deal with the realities of a post-9/11 world – an uncompromising patriot with an unrelenting love of country. For many, Sutherlan is the action hero of a generation. And, the best part, he has very strong loyalty toward Fox.
If the rumors are true, the next season of 24 isn’t going to feature Jack either at all or not until the second half the season, so there’s certainly time for Kiefer to make this happen if he wants the job.
Jennifer Garner (‘Alias’)
It’s hard to argue with the excellence of ALIAS, especially when it comes to the series’ first season and a half. Garner brought something special to TV – an action hero with relatable issues. Her crises weren’t that of global terrorism or corrupt cops, they were college papers and roommates… and nuclear bombs. You know, the normal things. If we’re casting the greatest TV action heroes of the medium’s history, it would simply be wrong to leave her out of the mix.
As for possibility, the only thing that would stop this is Garner herself. She has the time to do it, but she doesn’t really partake in the action thing anymore. But, a chance to star in a series like this could turn her around.
Michael Chiklis (‘The Shield’)
Just like Sutherland did on broadcast, Michael Chiklis brought a new gold standard to the cable TV anti-hero with Shawn Ryan’s The Shield. Vic Mackey is, whole heartedly, a man that is not to be f****d with on just about every level. Also, before he was Mackey, Chiklis was The Commish for a whole ’90s generation, and everyone loves The Commish. Imagine a scene where he and Kiefer team up and start arguing over something mundane while bleeding in elements of their respective characters.
Chiklis has the time, and like Sutherland, a connection to Fox – the parent company of FX. Certainly there must be a way to make the man available for an Expendables role.
Maggie Q (‘Nikita’)
Maggie Q, like Jensen Ackles, is one of the most badass TV action heroes of present day. Her work on Nikita was applauded across the board, drawing many comparisons to Garner’s work on ALIAS, years prior. Of course, it’s easy to argue she’s an unnecessary inclusion when Garner’s already there, but imagine a scene where spies of the 2000s and 2010s got together to kick bad guy butt. It would be something of a magical sight to behold.
At the moment, the fate of the actresses’ current series, Stalker, remains unknown. If it’s renewed, her shooting schedule would require some dancing around, like Ackles, but Q would really be an asset to the team if cast.
Don Johnson (‘Miami Vice’)
Of course we can’t just limit this list to heroes of the ’90s and 2000s. TV has had some great stars through multiple generations, and there’s no way Don Johnson doesn’t qualify. Miami Vice completely changed the cop show genre by bringing a personal touch into the mix. The Crocket and Tubbs partnership wasn’t just about catching the bad guys; it was also about exploring how the two men dealt with each other. Obviously, if we’re doing a series about the greatest TV action heroes of all time, Johnson would most certainly make the cut.
Schedule wise, the man has some openings, so this could certainly work out.
Amy Jo Johnson (‘Flashpoint’)
“The pink Power Ranger? Seriously?” Yes, but Amy Jo Johnson’s inclusion has nothing to do with her work on the famed children’s series. See, since that time, Johnson has “morphed” herself into a highly respectable actor that truly shined in a badass sort of way during her time on the Canadian cop series, Flashpoint, where she played badass sniper, Jules Callaghan. Of every woman on this list, Amy Jo has the most credibility for playing a role that was truly built around the idea of “matching up to the guys.”
Currently, Johnson spends her time up in Canada working as a TV guest star and occasional indie director. She has the time to something like this and, most certainly, would be a welcomed inclusion to the Expendables team.
Kate Mulgrew (‘Orange is the New Black’)
Whether she’s rocking it as Red on Orange is the New Black or Captain Janeway on Star Trek: Voyager, with Kate Mulgrew comes a real sense of authority – something an Expendables series truly needs. Regardless of whether she’s put in an out-of the-field command position, or serves as an in-the-field shots caller, the series version of Stallone’s franchise would be lucky to have Mulgrew on the roster. In fact, she’s perfect for a TV version of Bruce Willis’ spook character from the movies.
This is also another possible entry as working around the actresses’ shooting schedule for Orange is the New Black shouldn’t be that difficult to do for Fox.
Henry Rollins (‘Sons of Anarchy’)
You may not always know his name, but Henry Rollins is one of the most badass of all the modern day TV badasses. From Sons of Anarchy to guest appearances on Hawaii Five-0 and voice work on The Legend of Korra, any role the man steps into is instantly endowed with a massive dose of machismo that most could only dream of possessing. If we’re putting together a list of people that can stand with some of the action top dogs of television, it would be a crime for Rollins to not be included.
As far as potential goes, Rollins is a working character actor with nothing long term currently on his slate, so this one feels likely.
Jesse L. Martin (‘Flash’)
Yes, the dad from The Flash is getting a nod. Why? Because in addition to rocking things hardcore on the Berlanti series, Jesse L. Martin also has a long history of being a cop bound badass on the mother ship Law & Order franchise. Ed Green was a staple of the series up until his sad departure in 2008. Martin would bring a real gravitas to The Expendables, and while he’s up there in age, surely he could still kick any and all necessary rear ends. He mostly certainly does already on The CW.
Like Q and Ackles, scheduling will have to find a way to work around Martin’s time on The Flash, but if it happens, we’d love to see it.
Honorable Mention Cameos
Of course there are far too many TV action start to encompass a single list of reasonable length. There’s also great choices with Jason David Frank, Richard Dean Anderson and even Mr. T. So this is where we leave it to you.
Who do you think should cameo (or star) in an Expendables TV series? Share your thoughts in the comments below so we can discuss.