Chills! Former Dexter Producer Clyde Phillips Reveals How He Planned to End the Series

Exclusive! This alternate ending might be one of the best series-finale ideas of all time

By Kristin Dos Santos Sep 23, 2013 2:00 AMTags
Jennifer Carpenter, Michael C. Hall, DexterJim Fiscus/SHOWTIME

Dexter is no more. In case you haven't yet seen tonight's series finale, we won't post any spoilers here about Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) getting a sex change and running off with Masuka. (Jokes!)

But we can exclusively share with you an amazing alternate ending.

Clyde Phillips served as an executive producer and showrunner on Dexter in the early years, helping shape the series for its first four seasons until he decided to leave the show in late 2009, at the end of the Trinity Killer (John Lithgow) season, which ended with Rita's shocking death.

I tracked down Phillips, who now serves as executive producer of Showtime's Nurse Jackie, and asked (OK, possibly begged) him to share what he had planned for the very end of Dexter...assuming he had one.

Turns out, he did have a very specific ending in mind, and it's possibly one of the best series-finale ideas I've ever heard.

"I haven't shared this with anyone," Philips told me. "And I can tell you that this is what I personally would have done should I have stayed with the show. I chose not to stay with the show, and so everybody did what they did, and I had no problem with that…and I think they did a good job with the final episode. But here is what I personally would have pitched."

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"In the very last scene of the series," Philips explained, "Dexter wakes up. And everybody is going to think, 'Oh, it was a dream.' And then the camera pulls back and back and back and then we realize, 'No, it's not a dream.' Dexter's opening his eyes and he's on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. They're just starting to administer the drugs and he looks out through the window to the observation gallery.

"And in the gallery are all the people that Dexter killed—including the Trinity Killer and the Ice Truck Killer (his brother Rudy), LaGuerta who he was responsible killing, Doakes who he's arguably responsible for, Rita, who he's arguably responsible for, Lila. All the big deaths, and also whoever the weekly episodic kills were. They are all there.

"That's what I envisioned for the ending of Dexter. That everything we've seen over the past eight seasons has happened in the several seconds from the time they start Dexter's execution to the time they finish the execution and he dies.  Literally, his life flashed before his eyes as he was about to die. I think it would have been a great, epic, very satisfying conclusion."

Anyone else have chills from the top of their scalp to the tip of their toes?


Phillips further explained that his idea for the ending was inspired by An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge, the 1890 story by Ambrose Pierce about a Confederate soldier that is famous for its time-altering, plot-twisting ending. When the soldier is hanged, the rope breaks, he falls into the river, swims to shore, runs toward his family, see his wife and children and right before they are reunited, the rope catches and he dies. It turns out that the entire story takes place in the two to three seconds between the soldier's intial drop and his neck snapping.

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Of course, even if Phillips had stayed on with Dexter, there's no telling how the series finale woudl have turned out. "That is what I would have pitched and what I would have liked to have done," Phillips tells me. "But I can't say what we would have done because nobody was the boss of that show. It was a collaboration between Sara Colleton and John Goldwyn and the network and me."

In our Anti-Hero series finale debate, more than 60 percent of Dexter fans believed Dexter Morgan should die in the end. (Only 30 percent of Breaking Bad fans believe Walter White should perish.)

Phillips, who took over as showrunner of Nurse Jackie a year ago, starts production on the Edie Falco series this Tuesday, and teases this for fans about what's ahead: "Last season, Nurse Jackie was about her sober year but the brand of the show, the culture of the show and the logo of the show is the story about a nurse who is a drug addict. In the finale of last year, she used, so now we go back to showing Jackie using in a bigger way than she did before, and we make it different than before."

Given Phillips' distinctive knack for bold storytelling, surprising plot twists and flawlessly nuanced character development, we can't wait to see how it all unfolds.

What do you think of Phillips idea for the end of Dexter? If you've seen tonight's finale, did it meet your expectations? Are you sad to see the series end? Hit the comments!