As CBS CEO Les Moonves said, "there's only one David Letterman" — and he's the onlyLate Show host the series has ever known. Letterman's impending retirement is still a year out, but that doesn't mean we can't start thinking about his eventual successor. Here is our top 10 list of picks.
David Letterman to retire from Late Show in 2015
10. Jay Leno
We had to. Moving on.
9. Craig Ferguson
The logical choice, Ferguson, who has hosted the Late Late Show since 2005, seems like Letterman's heir apparent, and his contract expires this year. But unlike Conan O'Brien, who made sure a Tonight Show deal was in his 2004 Late Night re-negotiation contract, the Scotsman has never voiced a desire to succeed Dave — nevermind the fact that his strange humor might not mesh well in the earlier hour, something of which he is well aware. "I don't know if I want to be any more famous than I am now," he said in 2009. "There's a world of pain that comes with 11:30 that doesn't exist at 12:30."
8. Jon Stewart
Even Ferguson wants Stewart! "I think Jon should replace Dave if Dave decides to go," Ferguson said in 2008. "I think Jon has earned the job." Stewart, whose Daily Show won 10 straight Emmys for Variety Series, certainly has the respect and name for the job. Dave's also a fan of Stewart's, having been the final guest on The Jon Stewart Show in 1995 and even signed him to his production company. Plus: Stewart — whose Comedy Central contract is up next year — took a three-month hiatus from The Daily Show last summer to direct a movie, perhaps indicating he's ready to move on from the gig.
7. Stephen Colbert
Like Stewart, Colbert's Colbert Report contract expires next year, and after 10 years, he might be weary of playing his satirical conservative character (especially after the #CancelColbert misunderstanding). While Colbert has the chops for Late Show, will people be ready to see the real him?
6. Arsenio Hall
A familiar face to older viewers, Hall just returned to late night in September in syndication, and his show is distributed by CBS. Days before his show premiered, Hall says Dave personally called him to appear on Late Show.
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5. Conan O'Brien
The Late Night Wars would finally come full circle should Coco's career mirror Dave's, with a pit stop at cable. The two are pals, and O'Brien's TBS contract expires — say it with us — next year. But after being burned so badly by NBC, would Conan want to screw over his current home?
4. Anderson Cooper
CBS might as well throw its hat into the ring to draft the silver fox, who in the past year has been wooed by Jeopardy! and Today. AC isn't a comedian, but with his sharp, snarky wit and journalistic pedigree, he can engage with both vapid celebrities and worldwide leaders. And you've seen his giggle, right?
3. Bob Saget
A lot of people are suggesting Neil Patrick Harris, but how about another How I Met Your Mother alum? Saget's dirty, anti-Danny Tanner humor would be a welcome departure from the old, staid talk show sensibilities. Jimmy Fallon reunited The Rippers, but we bet in time Saget would host a full-fledged Full House reunion!
2. Louis C.K.
C.K. might be too irreverent for 11:30, but he thought he was asked to replace Dave in an epic arc on Louie. Why can't life imitate art?
1. A woman
Seriously. It's time. No woman since Joan Rivers in the '80s has hosted a late-night show on broadcast, and the funny ladies options are limitless: Chelsea Handler— who's leaving E! — Wanda Sykes, Ellen DeGeneres, Amy Schumer, and even long-shots like Tina Fey and Amy Poehler. Your move, CBS.
Who do you want to replace Dave?
(Full disclosure: TVGuide.com is owned by CBS.)