If there is a single unsung hero of the Batman universe, it is undoubtedly James Gordon, and diehard fans know that his starring role in Fox’s upcoming Gotham TV series is long overdue.

Set long before the Dark Knight’s rise to infamy, when Bruce Wayne was just a young boy (and apparent co-star?) the show is set to follow Gordon’s rise through the ranks, and his encounters with classic Batman villains along the way. But to guarantee the show’s success with both comic fans and casual channel surfers, Fox will need to choose the right leading man.

The first rumored actor has denied landing the part, so in the meantime, we present our list of 5 Actors Who Could Play Gotham‘s Jim Gordon.

Any fan of Sons of Anarchy knows that few actors have managed to tug the heartstrings in the midst of violence and crime like Ryan Hurst, most well known for his role of ‘Opie’ on the biker drama. But with Hurst’s schedule wide open (his run on Sons now over, and his follow-up project King & Maxwell cancelled) there’s no better time for him to finally get the attention and starring role he deserves.

With the stature of a grizzly, but the personality of a family man, it wouldn’t be a stretch to see Hurst portraying a cop who could come to trust Bruce Wayne’s fight against corruption, but still manage to survive the ranks of dirty cops until Batman’s arrival.

Falling squarely into the ‘face, not a name’ category for casual film and TV audiences, Shawn Hatosy’s career has taken some interesting turns over the past few years. Once typecast as smart-mouthed or cocky, more nuanced and offbeat roles came to the actor as the years progressed.

Dexter fans will remember Hatosy (with the Gordon mustache already in place) as ‘Boyd Fowler,’ a sanitation officer with an uncanny knack for forensic investigation. Since then, Hatosy has been promoted to detective on Southland, a cop drama that hopped from NBC to TNT when it was deemed “too dark” for the network. With undisputed experience and little baggage for mass audiences, Hatosy could bring an interesting dimension to a traditionally understated character.

With his run on HBO’s Game of Thrones skyrocketing Richard Madden into the stratosphere of Comic-Con celebrity, many wondered what doors would be opened for the actor. But at present, Madden’s schedule isn’t quite as full as many might think, with the star-studded Discovery Channel miniseries Klondike the next to be released.

With the right look, the right age, and undeniable acting chops (good enough to stand out in a talented ensemble cast), a jump from premium TV to a starring series role wouldn’t shock us. If Fox is aiming high for Gotham in terms of story and production values- as they have with Karl Urban heading up Fox’s other cop drama – then Madden’s skill and recognition would help launch the series with momentum.

It’s difficult to tell exactly how young a take on James Gordon Fox is aiming for, as rumored frontrunner Donal Logue (47) denied the part, stating his belief that the network was looking for someone under 30. Either way, if Gotham is going to be set around a young actor, we’d throw Sam Claflin’s name into the ring without hesitation.

With stand out performances in both Snow White & the Huntsman and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, Claflin’s time in the spotlight is certainly approaching. The fact that Claflin managed to prove skeptics wrong when cast as Catching Fire‘s ‘Finnick Odair’ would serve him well with a role like Gordon, while his screen presence, charm, and looks would make him appealing to both diehard comic fans and younger audiences.

After the lengthy debate of Rosenbaum’s skills, looks, and head shape on the latest SR Underground Podcast, there is no way we could leave him off a casting shortlist. Honestly, given his performance as Smallville‘s ‘Lex Luthor’ (not to mention the horde of DC fans he now carries with him wherever he goes), and his regular voice acting jobs for WB animation, it’s hard to believe he hasn’t been attached to a comic book property already.

All jokes aside, Fox will do everything possible to give Gotham a promising start – a task made difficult by the absence of Batman. If the viewers who even know Michael Rosenbaum are the same ones willing to give Gotham a shot, why not build interest and enthusiasm by casting a fan favorite?

That concludes our list of actors that we feel could bring all the necessary skills to a younger Gordon, and with schedules that make them possible (even if we too would love to see Homeland‘s Damian Lewis make the leap to Gotham City). With details on the show’s direction, tone, budget and connections to the larger Warner Bros. universe still unclear, only time will tell how close our predictions have come.

What’s your take on the casting? Will the leading man have a large impact on whether or not you’ll be tuning in, or is Gotham the star in your eyes? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

We’ll keep you up to date on all news surrounding Fox’s Gotham.

Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce.