Why Harrison Ford Should Return As Jack Ryan One More Time

Harrison Ford should make a Jack Ryan comeback in a direct sequel to the character her played in the 90s.

By Kevin C. Neece | Published

Jack Ryan has been played by multiple actors, and our sources tell us Harrison Ford is returning to the role in Debt of Honor. As the Amazon Prime Video series Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan starring John Krasinski begins its fourth and final season this month, it’s a good time to think about the future of the character. It’s possible—if unlikely—that Krasinski could continue to play Ryan in feature films, but we’d like to see Ford have another go.

Harrison Ford took over the role of CIA operative Jack Ryan from Alec Baldwin, who played him in the now-classic 1990 film The Hunt for Red October alongside Sean Connery. Ford portrayed Ryan in two successful films, Patriot Games (1992) and Clear and Present Danger (1994). It looked like Ford would continue on for the highly anticipated sequel, but by 2000, as Parade recounts, he announced he was stepping away from the role, having been dissatisfied with the scripts he had been given.

Ryan was then played by Ben Affleck in the 2002 film, The Sum of All Fears, his only turn at the part.

Since Harrison Ford’s exit, the Jack Ryan door has continued to revolve, with a long gap after Affleck’s film ending with Chris Pine playing Ryan in 2014’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Intended as a reboot, the film was poorly received and sequel plans were scrapped. Krasinski has been the reigning Ryan since 2018, but even though all of these productions have come from Paramount, the franchise has begun to feel disjointed and inconsistent.

Harrison Ford could provide an anchor for the series, giving some cohesion by returning as Jack Ryan. The films have played fast and loose with timelines, but Ford’s age at first seems to present a problem. At 80, he certainly could not be Krasinski’s Ryan, and certainly not in today’s world.

harrison ford jack ryan
Harrison Ford as Jack Ryan in Patriot Games

That leaves open the possibility of Harrison Ford doing Debt of Honor as a direct sequel to his Jack Ryan timeline, ignoring what has happened in the interim. This would allow, as has already been the de facto case, for the other Ryans to exist in their own timelines and universes, meaning a turn by Ford as Ryan would not keep other actors from taking up other versions of the character. It could also give some sense of closure to the Ford-era films and, by closing one timeline, lead to the possibility of others.

It’s easy to think this Jack Ryan would need to slow down, but Harrison Ford’s recent turns as Rick Deckard, Han Solo, and Indiana Jones show he still has the intensity and physical ability to do an action-oriented role. It would be fascinating to see him star in a film that would advance the character’s story and development a great deal and also echo the style of the earlier films. We don’t often get the chance to see a character like this in their older years and that alone could open up a lot of story possibilities.

Add to this the fact that Harrison Ford still has immense star power and it could really draw attention to the Jack Ryan franchise. There has been, in Ford alone, a trend of older actors returning to beloved roles, and an interest in stories featuring older characters. It could be intriguing to see Ford’s Ryan alongside younger agents—perhaps even leaving a desk job or coming out of retirement to teach them things he learned in his time, using his knowledge and experience to save the day in ways the character never has before.

The Debt of Honor novel will clearly have to be adapted in one way or another to bring Harrison Ford back as Jack Ryan, but the character has already been through a lot of changes. Starting out as an analyst in Red October, in Ford’s second film, Ryan made it all the way to acting-CIA Deputy Director of Intelligence. Could he even be head of the CIA by now?

We’d love to see how Harrison Ford’s Jack Ryan might have moved on in his career and life, not to mention how he could be sucked back into another adventure—one he might very much not want to embark upon. He could be very happy with a quieter life, only to be called upon one more time, with Ford’s reliable weary bitterness churning underneath his equally reliable sense of duty and moral obligation.

No matter how it’s done, Harrison Ford will be sure to bring something exciting to Jack Ryan, and we’ll certainly buy a ticket.