The prospect of a live action Star Wars TV show has been dangled in front of us many times. When Disney bought the rights to Star Wars in 2012, it seemed like that tantalizing dream could finally become a reality. Upcoming shows were rumored, but ultimately snatched away from us. We’ve already gone over why a live-action Star Wars show would be a great idea, and now we thought it would be fun to do some full-on fantasy drafting. We’ve picked 12 showrunners who we would love to see spearhead a live action TV show set in the galaxy far, far away.
As we put this list together, we tried to look at the traits already displayed by these talented showrunners. Whether they have a knack for detailed world-building, or a keen ear for group dynamics, every person on this list could bring something unique to the Star Wars universe.
Keep in mind that this list takes place in a fantasy world where anything can happen. Scheduling conflicts don’t exist and showrunners are never too busy. You’ll notice we also left off the most obvious choice for a Star Wars showrunner, Mr. J.J. Abrams, because we felt that was just a little too easy. With that being said, here are 12 Showrunners Who Should Spearhead A Live Action Star Wars TV Show.
12. Vince Gilligan
Vince Gilligan seems to have the Midas touch when it comes to television shows: everything he becomes involved with turns to gold. Starting out as a writer on the X-Files, he contributed some of the show’s greatest, late-in-the-run episodes, such as the suspenseful “Drive,” which featured Bryan Cranston as a man with a deadly pathogen who hijacks Mulder’s car. From there, Gilligan created one of the greatest shows in television history with Breaking Bad. And now with Better Call Saul, he’s taken what could have been a disastrous concept (a partly comedic Breaking Bad spinoff focusing on on a minor character) and nurtured it into one of the smartest and most compelling television shows currently on the air.
Gilligan has a talent for portraying scummy, criminal underworlds on television, and giving us fascinating, morally conflicted characters. He could do brilliant work with a Star Wars show focusing on the bounty hunters called to Bespin in Empire Strikes Back, or a series about the seedy pod-racing circuit on Tatooine. Star Wars is at it’s best when it’s got a bit of grime to cover the sheen, and Gilligan does grime better than anyone.
11. Joss Whedon
Whedon is famous for his witty dialogue and endearing, misfit characters. From Buffy to Angel to Firefly to the current Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, Whedon has proven that there’s no one better at crafting entertaining group dynamics and brilliant storyline structuring. He would be right at home in the Star Wars universe. What is Firefly if not his crack at a Star Wars-esque space opera? Not to mention he’s already developed a working relationship with Disney with his work on The Avengers films. He can make clunky, expository dialogue crackle and pop, which is key for any Star Wars writer. We’d love to see him explore any avenue of the Star Wars universe, from Hoth to Kashyyyk to planets yet to be discovered. And, while we’re dreaming, why not bring Nathan Fillion aboard as a bounty hunter rival to Han Solo.
10. Dave Filoni
This one may be too obvious, but we’d be remiss to leave Dave Filoni off this list. Filoni has done what even George Lucas couldn’t, which is to explore the time before the original trilogy in a way that expands and enlivens the universe, while not dissipating the mystery or wonder of it.
With his animated shows Star Wars:The Clone Wars and Star Wars:Rebels, Filoni has proven time and again that he truly understands and empathizes with the Star Wars characters, and can continually find interesting arcs for them. Filoni understands that the heart of Star Wars lies not in the effects or spectacle, but in the grounded, relatable characters. With a limited budget, he’s crafted some of the most engaging Star Wars storylines outside of the original trilogy. Filoni has been emphatic that he is only interested in doing the animated Star Wars series, but that’s not enough to keep us from dreaming.
9. Sera Gamble
Before overseeing SyFy’s immensely entertaining show The Magicians, Sera Gamble worked as a showrunner on Supernatural. The success of that show hinged almost entirely on its marriage of comedy with suspense. The natural chemistry between the two ghoul-hunting brothers infused a heart into that show that has ensured its continuing popularity and success.
Star Wars has always relied on a mixture of adventure and comedy. Look at C-3PO and R2-D2. They’re genuinely funny, but we also care about them because we see that they care about each other. Sera Gamble could be a wonderful choice to helm a Star Wars television show. Her knack for marrying humor with monster-of-the-week serialized storytelling would jive well with a new television series set in the Star Wars universe. And of course, she’s recently found great success in adapting Lev Grossman’s Magicians novels, where she is able to believably develop a fascinating group of gifted characters. We’d love to see her bring her wit and heart to a show focusing on the Queen’s droids, or about the students enrolled in the Jedi Academy.
8. David Benioff and D.B. Weiss
While we know that there’s no hope of David Benioff and D.B. Weiss leaving the land of Fire and Ice for the galaxy far, far away, the thought of a live-action Star Wars TV show helmed by the Game of Thrones showrunners is too fun to not discuss.
Benioff and Weiss are masters of world building. They’ve proven that they can adapt previously existing material in a way that enhances the fictional universe. From the costume design of King’s Landing to the look of the White Walkers, Benioff and Weiss have an incredible eye for detail that effectively builds the vast world of Westeros. One of the greatest appeals of Star Wars is the expansiveness of that universe, and no showrunners would be a better fit for translating that world to the small screen. Their instinctive sense for pacing and effective cliffhangers would make their Star Wars series a suspenseful and addictive weekly watch. Just imagine a live action Star Wars series with the budget and scope of Game of Thrones. It’s enough to give you chills.
And with only 2 more years rumored to be left in the series, Benioff and Weiss may actually be available in the not so distant future.
7. Ronald D. Moore
On paper, there is probably no one who is a better fit for spearheading a live action Star Wars TV show than Ronald D. Moore. Not only did he create one of the greatest sci-fi space adventures outside of George Lucas’ domain, but he has actually worked with Lucas in the past on a potential live-action Star Wars show, writing over 50 hours of a never produced series called Star Wars:Underworld. Moore is clearly game, so what’s the hesitation?
With the 2000s reboot of Battlestar Galactica, Moore showed that he was able to take an existing property and propel it into the world of prestige television. Every week, viewers were drawn into the compelling story of humans vs. Cylons. He crafted beautiful, flawed characters and gave them arcs with real emotional weight, while simultaneously providing us with consistently thrilling space action. Recently, he’s brought his immense world-building talents to the time-hopping television series Outlander, which has proven to be a pretty big hit itself. If and when a live action Star Wars show is greenlit, Moore needs to be one of the first people called.
6. Naren Shankar
If you don’t know the name of Naren Shankar, you will. He is currently running one of the smartest and most consistently entertaining shows on television with the brilliant The Expanse. Part intergalactic adventure story, part space noir, and part conspiracy thriller, The Expanse has surprised many viewers with its nuanced character depictions and flawless pacing.
While the tone of The Expanse is considerably darker than anything seen in the Star Wars universe, Shankar could bring a real gravitas to a live action Star Wars show. The beauty of that universe is that there are always a million different stories going on at once. Shankar could focus on a rebellion on a distant planet, or the criminal population of Coruscant, with occasional cameos from characters in the main Star Wars storyline. A series helmed by Shankar could weave an even richer tapestry out of the already vast Star Wars mythology.
5. Sam Esmail
If and when Disney begins looking for potential Star Wars showrunners, we think they’d be wise to keep Sam Esmail’s name on the shortlist. The Egyptian-American auteur broke onto the scene with Mr. Robot in 2015, a wildly entertaining hacker thriller on USA. The show has earned rave reviews, and was the third most-watched scripted basic cable drama of last year. Not bad for a first time showrunner.
Esmail’s ability to balance character with story is the key to Mr. Robot’s success. The show runs like a tightly wound clock, keeping viewers guessing week after week. Esmail could potentially bring a more intellectual Star Wars series to life, one more focused on intricate plotting and political maneuvering. Perhaps a political thriller taking place in the Senate in the years leading up to The Phantom Menace? Esmail is adept at balancing weighty themes with smaller, honest character moments, which could result in a stellar Star Wars television series.
4. Ann Biderman
As we considered potential showrunners for a Star Wars television show, one of the most important factors that kept surfacing was attention to character. The reason the original films resonated so powerfully with audiences wasn’t just the thrilling action, it was the immediately iconic characters such as Han Solo and Darth Vader. This is a reason the prequels didn’t work as well, and, on the other hand, why The Force Awakens found such massive success. In the Star Wars universe, character must come before anything else.
With this in mind, we’d love to see Ann Biderman take a crack at a serialized Star Wars TV show. As the creator of Southland, she took what could have been a formulaic police procedural and made it instead a grounded, weekly character study. With Ray Donovan, she again wisely puts character above all else, working with Liev Schreiber to bring the Hollywood fixer with a troubled past to life in a fully realized way. We could see Biderman finding success in the Star Wars universe by focusing on a single character in the galaxy and really delving into what makes them tick. Character studies seem to be Biderman’s forte, and the Star Wars universe is brimming with fascinating characters just waiting to be studied.
3. Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones
With Black Mirror, showrunners Charlie Brooker and Annabel Jones must create a fully realized world from the ground up with each new episode. The Twilight Zone inspired anthology series has gained enormous popularity since its premiere in 2011. Viewers enjoy diving into a complex, unique universe with each episode. Smartly written and tightly plotted, Black Mirror has a bunch of characteristics we would like to find in a live action Star Wars show.
Creating believable worlds is an essential element to Star Wars. With each new planet, we must quickly understand the population, climate, history and economy. Dagobah is completely different from Mustafar, and they’re both completely different from Endor. Brooker and Jones could excel at bringing these different worlds to life. We’d love to watch an anthology Star Wars series that focuses on a different planet in the galaxy for each different episode. “Fifteen Million Merits,” the second episode in Black Mirror’s first series, gave us a slight glimpse at the type of futuristic, sci-fi world the showrunners could potentially create within the Star Wars universe.
2. Damon Lindelof
Damon Lindelof is no stranger to science fiction. From Lost to The Leftovers to Prometheus to Star Trek, Lindelof’s fingerprints are all over some of the biggest sci-fi properties of film and television. Though he has been criticized for some creative blunders (later seasons of Lost, pretty much all of Prometheus) he inarguably has a unique vision and a tendency to create intriguing projects. The Leftovers in particular has cemented him as a true visionary, bringing pathos to a wickedly clever sci-fi premise.
Lindelof seems like such a natural fit for the Star Wars universe, a lot of people assumed he would surely have a hand in The Force Awakens, especially when it was announced that his frequent collaborator, J.J. Abrams, was directing the film. But we believe Lindelof could best serve the Star Wars universe by acting as a showrunner for a live action series. The Leftovers has shown us that he’s capable of complex long-form storytelling with a sci-fi twist. Maybe he could helm a show set in the distant past of the Star Wars universe, perhaps incorporating elements from the Knights of the Old Republic games? That’s something we would tune into every Sunday night.
1. Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg
In terms of scope, one fictional universe that rivals the size of Star Wars is the world of superhero comics. So, when looking for showrunners to bring Star Wars to the small screen, why not look to the men who have successfully brought a plethora of DC superheroes to television in spectacular fashion?
Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg are two of the masterminds behind the recent DC television boom. Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl have all shown that infinitely large properties can be adapted successfully for television. These shows have found the perfect formula of humor, action, and drama to produce four of the most popular television shows currently on the air.
We’d love to see Berlanti and Kreisberg bring the wit and buoyant energy they bring to these DC properties to the Star Wars universe. These two men already have experience in pleasing a massive, expectant fan base, while also being inclusive of new viewers who may be less familiar with the original properties. Give these two guys free rein on a Netflix original focusing on some fringe Star Wars characters, and watch the sparks fly.
Which showrunners would you like to see helm a live action Star Wars TV show? Let us know in the comments section!