Jack Ryan: Clear and Present Danger
When it comes to fighting bad guys, no one does aww-shucks badass better than Jack Ryan (Harrison Ford), the CIA’s Deputy Director of Intelligence. The star of Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games is a straight shooter who’s sometimes accused by morally lesser men of being a “boy scout.” When he finds himself drawn into an illegal international drug war, he finds a way to save his men from the battle zone and bring down a corrupt president—just the man to keep America honest.
M: James Bond Films
The longtime head of Britain’s covert MI6 spy agency, M (Dame Judi Dench) could bring a little Anglicized discipline to the CIA. Sure, on the surface she’s cold and calculating, but there’s a maternal instinct beneath that frosty exterior that serves her well. Successfully navigating a personal and professional relationship with the roguish Bond has prepared her for anything.
Avery Bullock: American Dad
Voiced by Patrick Stewart, CIA chief Avery Bullock would be easily the most entertaining replacement for Petraeus. For a character created by Seth MacFarlane, Bullock is surprisingly competent, running a tight ship—by treating his agents like schoolkids. But his sexual deviance, sporadic drug addiction, and overreliance on hand-to-hand combat may not hold up to scrutiny.
Sydney Bristow: Alias
It would be quite a leap for Sydney Bristow (Jennifer Garner) to go straight from CIA double agent to chief, but if anyone could pull off that type of vertical move, it’s her. She’s an emotionally resilient genius who speaks some 30 languages and is an expert at Krav Maga. She may not want the job, but she could kick its ass if she wanted to.
Saul Berenson: Homeland
Saul Berenson (Mandy Patinkin) is a calm and steady mentor to Carrie Mathison (Claire Danes, a bipolar CIA agent who suspects a decorated Marine hero may actually be a terrorist. Quiet and methodical, Berenson considers himself a father figure to Mathison and approaches his team like it’s a family. And he’s got eyes everywhere—a trait that would serve him well dealing with the politicians in Washington.
Eugene Kittridge: Mission: Impossible
It’s hard to get an exact read on Eugene Kittridge (Henry Czerny), the director of Impossible Missions Force, as he searches for the mole inside his unofficial arm of the CIA. Perhaps that’s because the Mission: Impossible franchise intentionally keeps you guessing as to who’s the real bad guy. Kittridge ultimately needs superspy Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) to do the heavy lifting, but his heart is in the right place.
Walter Burke: The Recruit
A senior CIA instructor, Walter Burke (Al Pacino) is ruthlessly intelligent, but also ruthlessly treacherous. He puts his new trainee, computer whiz-kid James Clayton (Colin Farrell), through a sick game of cat and mouse in order to scam the agency for millions. If only his moral compass were pointed in the right direction.
Pamela Landy: The Bourne Supremacy
CIA Deputy Director Pamela Landy (Joan Allen) is smart, dedicated, and respectable. She’s initially fooled by the schemings of a corrupt CIA mastermind, but who wouldn’t be? When Jason Bourne (Matt Damon) uncovers the evil plot and alerts Landy, she’s compassionate and grateful. A steady hand to guide the agency through its turbulent transition.
Nathan Muir: Spy Game
Loyalty is the name of the game for Nathan Muir (Robert Redford)—not toward the CIA, however, but toward people he cares about. The day before his retirement, the midlevel case officer skirts his bosses to concoct an elaborate and dangerous plan to save a former recruit, rogue CIA agent Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) who’s about to be executed in China. That type of loyalty is admirable, but might be ill-advised for the nation’s top spy.
Ed Hoffman: Body of Lies
For Ed Hoffman (Russell Crowe), the ends almost always justify the means. He comes across as a typical suburban dad, but he’ll go to any length to bring down terrorists—even if it means having to torture people to get the information he wants. He’s definitely a multitasker, taking care of his kids as he coordinates covert operations taking place halfway around the world. Probably too much of a loose cannon for the job of chief.
Having trouble keeping track of the saga of David Petraeus's affair with Paula Broadwell? The Daily Beast's timeline has you covered.
On this week's Spin Cycle, Howard Kurtz chats with the longtime Slate editor, who compares the Petraeus story with Bill Clinton's Lewinsky scandal: it was a 'grotesque thing that went out of control, but was so much fun.'
Lessons on leadership from General David Petraeus.
With David Petraeus out as head of the CIA, Michael J. Morell—a 32-year agency veteran—takes over at the top.
Diane Dimond reports on what we know about Gen. Petraeus’s biographer.
It's a joke-off! Watch Jimmy Fallon, Jon Stewart, Seth Meyers and more weigh in on the general.
From suave Jack Ryan to smarmy Eugene Kittridge, potential candidates for America's next top spook.