Hi , this is Clyde Phillips. I’m an Emmy-nominated, Edgar nominated and Peabody Award winning writer and producer of television and film. Some of my work includes the shows Dexter, Suddenly Susan, and Parker Lewis Can’t Lose. I’m currently the showrunner on Nurse Jackie. I’m also the author of several bestselling crime thriller books – very happy to announce the recent release of my most recent, “Unthinkable”, which is getting amazing reviews. Ask me anything! http://imgur.com/6NKCHJH proof: link to picture

Comments: 1196 • Responses: 92  • Date: 

Jesters947272 karma

Why is season 8 of dexter carp?

iamclydephillips435 karma

couple of reasons. they broke the code with the audience. it's so important to keep the rules in place when doing a show like that. also... i'm not there anymore!

gerodive231 karma

Hey, next time you run into Scott Buck, could you do this for us?: http://imgur.com/6t5sLJp

iamclydephillips192 karma

i'm so not engaging on this one!

niggaitwastimefoanu1152 karma

If you were still Show runner of Dexter, how would YOU have ended his story?

iamclydephillips547 karma

it's so frustrating because the show ends this sunday and if i tell you my ending, then you'll know that's not what's going to happen. i'll check this site on monday and tell you my ending. okay by you?

niggaitwastimefoanu1126 karma

Absolutely! Thanks a lot!

I guess I have one more question, if that's ok. Of the four seasons under your direction, which was your personal favorite?

iamclydephillips212 karma

by far it was the fourth season, the trinity killer year. the writing room and the directors had all been with me since the start and we were really firing on all cylinders by then.

PlumpBulldog241 karma

Coming back to give us your ending has now become the real wait instead of the actual ending. Thanks!

iamclydephillips206 karma

that's hilarioius!

iamclydephillips25 karma

no contest. season 4. trinity/lithgow

DiegoVonCosmo122 karma

I read somewhere that John Lithgow was told the whole Trinity arc before he was even hired in order to get him to agree to the part. Had Lithgow turned down the part, do you think you would have recast the part of Trinity or would you have rewritten the Season 4 plot completely?

iamclydephillips328 karma

i personally pitched the whole trinity story arc to john lithgow in a conference room at his agent's office. i talked for an hour. no notes. when i finished, he stood up dramatically (as he does) and said 'i'll do it!' i said he had some conflicts in timing. he said 'forget that stuff. i'm in!' that's how it happened.

Bethesda_106 karma

Do you think Quinn is kind of a one dimensional character?

iamclydephillips182 karma

sadly, i kind of agree.

Phunk131112 karma

But his character has so much to do!

Like this season. He didn't want to become sergeant. Then Angel convinced him to try to be sergeant. Then he tried to become sergeant. Then the black woman who's only job on the show was to become sergeant over Quinn became sergeant over Quinn. Then she or the subplot completely disappeared and were never heard from again.

You call that one dimensional?

iamclydephillips87 karma

appreciate the irony

asanimasa16 karma

How would you have solved this problem? To me it feels that something has gone wrong with the way this character was used, especially in season 6-7. Now they seem to be flashing him out, giving him redeeming qualities but it feels a bit late. Doing this earlier would he have become a more satisfying character? Using him to his function (teased in S5) would have made a change? And one more question: Did you have any idea or goal of what to achieve in the future with this character when he first appeared in season 3?

iamclydephillips32 karma

i created the quinn character. originally he was going to be a new foil for dexter, after drakes. and a love interest for deb. part of it worked. part didn't. again, it's not bricklaying. it's always a moving target.


Any regret not saving the Bay Harbor Butcher FBI pursuit for later in the series? It would undoubtedly have been a significantly better way for this series to go out....you know, with actual tension.

iamclydephillips180 karma

no regrets. you always have to tell your best story as soon as you can and not save anything. you just have to trust that you'll come up with something better down the line.

narwhalsare_unicorns66 karma

As a film major I will take that as a lesson thank you.

iamclydephillips30 karma

well, i disagree with my friend vince. i'm all for getting the best stuff out there quickly, then just doing better and better.

KjandHondo93 karma

Hey Clyde! I was wondering what you thought about the Dexter/Hannah love story that has seemed to become the main focus of the show. Do you like it? Dislike it? Does it seem forced?

iamclydephillips221 karma

gotta say, it feels a bit forced to me. i know what they're going for. not sure it works as well as it could have.

Thicknifacent56 karma

I just finished season 3 and I keep telling my buddies how Dexter would slice up heisenburg so quick, but I am about to get into Season 4 which people just nut their pants about... really disappointed I know all the big suprises going forward but you guys put together one hell of a show!!

iamclydephillips95 karma

even though you know the big reveals, the show is still amazing. you'll love it.


One thing on the minds of a lot of Dexter fans is how low the quality of the show dipped when you stepped down as show runner. With many particularly viewing seasons 6 and 8 as particularly atrocious, Since you were so invested in the first half of the show, what is your opinion on the direction the show has taken, and if you were show runner again what would your vision have been for post-season 4 Dexter?

iamclydephillips157 karma

i agree the show has slipped. i had a great idea for the end of dexter that i never got to pitch. too much to go into now. also, you have to see the final episode before i can comment on it.

thexxchris87 karma

Doakes was a great character and was truly missed on the show..Was there ever any talk about keeping him around and how hard was it to kill him off?

iamclydephillips161 karma

doakes, played by erik king, was a terrific character and a truly great guy. just saw him at comicon in august. it was a tough decision to kill him off. but this is the big leagues; and we wanted the audience to know we meant business. it's a tough world out there and there are casualties. james doakes was a casualty of the fact that he was on to dexter and had to be dealt with.

squirreltastic79 karma

Who exactly is responsible for the episode descriptions, i think that far too many of them are too detailed and give away too much of the plot.

"Dexter enlists Dr. Vogel's help to lure the brain Surgeon to a location in order to get him on the table. Later, an importan person in Dexter's life is murdered before his eyes." (Seriously?)

I do feel similar about the "Next week on..."-previews

btw your Dexter seasons were awesome =)

iamclydephillips101 karma

thank you for the btw. showtime does the episode descriptions. i agree they give too much away. i'm the kind of guy who won't watch trailers in a movie theater. i want the experience to always be new.

Oliver_Saxon68 karma

If you know how Buck and crew end Dexter... could you at least tell us if it is an ending you are satisfied with for a character you brought to life so well?

iamclydephillips121 karma

the ending that buck and crew came up with is satisfying to me and i think will be satisfying to the viewer as well. it's pretty powerful.

n_ji6464 karma

What's your opinion - compared with season 1-4 - on the evolution of Debra's character and the confusing and complicated relationship she has with his brother Dexter? (Sorry if there are spelling mistakes, English is not my native language) Thank you anyway

iamclydephillips125 karma

i think that the whole debra storyline was inevitable. the writers just couldn't keep her in the dark any longer. that said, i wasn't thrilled with her whole downward spiral into near insanity. but it's all about choices and those were the choices they made. but the way, your english is perfect.

Frajer60 karma

Would you say antiheroes have become more prevalent on TV and if so why?

iamclydephillips124 karma

yes antiheroes are definitely more prevalent on tv. not just dexter, breaking bad, tony soprano, mad men. characters with deep flaws are more interesting to watch, to write... and are more like us.

dukenewcomb9247 karma

What the hell happened? Do they even care about good story anymore, or just putting out the first thing that comes to their heads?

iamclydephillips82 karma

if you're asking about dexter, the mix in the writing room changed significantly. it's still a really hard job to put out a good tv show.

dukenewcomb9246 karma

I guess, but I mean, that treadmill scene? Come on.

Edit: But otherwise, props to your input for the first four seasons, they were fantastic :)

iamclydephillips61 karma

thanks so much. didn't really know we had such a hit on our hands. it all kind of blew up in a really great way. right show for the right time i guess.

pixelinaa47 karma

Love Dexter. Which was your favorite episode?

iamclydephillips150 karma

i have two favorite episodes: the trinity thanksgiving episode. and the final episode where dexter kills trinity and comes home to that horrific discovery.

rbaltimore41 karma

What kind of research did you guys do for the Dexter character? I was a social worker and have some experience with very disturbed sociopaths, and you got his psychopathology pretty bang on.

iamclydephillips66 karma

thanks. there are several serial killer books out there. i read a few. my staff read them all. also, dexter is based on a novel called 'darkly dreaming dexter' and jeff lindsay, the writer, gave us a pretty solid template.

rbaltimore22 karma

Do you remember which books you used?

iamclydephillips45 karma

no. sorry, it was a long time ago. i can tell you this, though, they were disturbing as hell.

ScalpelBurn239 karma

  1. Can you comment on why you, Daniel Cerone, and Melissa Rosenberg all left Dexter when you did (I think Daniel left after season 2)?

  2. How much creative control did you have over Dexter? How much creative control did Showtime have?

iamclydephillips59 karma

daniel left after season 2 because he had an offer to run a show on cbs. melissa left because she had written ALL of the 'twilight' movies and it was time for her to move on. i left because i was shooting and living in l.a. and my family was in the east. it was time to be with my wife and daughter. i had significant creative control on dexter. but i also had partners and showtime. as i said below: best idea wins. not about ego. about results.

chooter39 karma

What are some shows / writers that have influenced you?

iamclydephillips85 karma

x-files, hill street, sopranos, all in the family, simpsons, breaking bad, lost (yes, lost), so many

iamclydephillips50 karma

well, it really goes back to the original golden age. so, paddy chayefsky, rod serling, reginald rose. and then steven bochco, david milch, damon lindelhof, vince gilligan. so many good writers out there.

iamclydephillips39 karma

in books, it'd be dashiell hammett, raymond chandler, michael connelly, dennnis lehane, lee child.

ManWithoutModem36 karma

If you were asked to do "one more season" of Dexter as the real "final season" for maybe Netflix or something like that - maybe a movie, would you do it (and possibly get most of the original team back together)?


iamclydephillips55 karma

thanks for asking. but that ship has sailed for me. i've moved on creatively with my books and other stuff i have in the works.

Thousands-of-Ghosts34 karma

From a writer's perspective, what's worse:

Introducing an insane central plot dynamic that blindsides people (like, say, a woman suddenly realizing she's been in love with her foster brother her whole life)


Trying to do a Take Backsie on it when you don't know how to properly weave it into the narrative?

iamclydephillips46 karma

such a loaded question. both options suck. again, it's really difficult doing a show that lasts 8 years. stories and characters and plot have to be diligently tended. the writers did the best they could.

Primetime2232 karma

Hello Clyde! I'm a huge fan of Dexter. Season 4 is one of the most entertaining and devastating collection of episodes in the history of television, and I believe that it was a huge part of forming what people are now calling "the golden age of television." So thank you so much for your influence!

My question is, as I'm sure many would like to know, if you were still the show runner for the final season of Dexter, how would it be different from the actual final season? Would it be the same? And if you could safely answer this, how would your version of Dexter end?

iamclydephillips47 karma

thanks so much for the kind words. i agree about the fourth season. actually, the writers guild and variety magazine came up with a list of the 101 best written tv shows OF ALL TIME and dexter was on the list. can't comment on the last episode just yet as it's airing this sunday.

ebbv29 karma

Thanks for your seasons of Dexter, they were definitely the best (as everyone seems to unanimously agree.)

For some reason I have never really watched Nurse Jackie even though I was always a major fan of Edie Falco on the Sopranos. I'll have to start watching it now.

iamclydephillips35 karma

the pilot is amazing. also, season 5 is terrific. we start shooting season 6 a week from today... off of my script!

thexxchris27 karma

When the current writers state that they have had the end for Dexter "in mind" since the beginning, Is that an end thought up by the writers at the start and followed by current writers? Or what does that mean exactly? Was there an outline of the story arc from the beginning at all, but of course could be stretched or shortened due to not knowing the amount of seasons?(to your knowledge of course)

iamclydephillips48 karma

when we started the show, we didn't know how it was going to end. when i left after four years, we still didn't know how it was going to end. so there was no outline or arc that charted the course they're taking now.

fight_like_a_cow27 karma

If you were still showrunner of Dexter, what other themes would you have explored?

iamclydephillips92 karma

i would want to go deeper on dexter discovering his own humanity. or realizing that he'll never be fully humanized; and what's the psychological cost of that?

titans85623 karma

I just wanted to say that Dexter seasons 1-2 are still 2 of my favorite seasons of any TV show (I also enjoyed 3-4 but those first two will always stand out as the height of "Dexter" to me).

iamclydephillips21 karma

thanks for saying that. season 4 is still my favorite.

JehovahsHalibut22 karma

How do you think Dexter would have been had Deb discovered Dexter and Lumen at the end of season five instead of the end of season six? What would you have done if maybe upon Deb's discovery, Lumen may have shot Deb that instant ala Todd from 'Breaking Bad'? Should things have been set in a running train like motion after your season instead of stalling?

iamclydephillips25 karma

it's always a challenge to know how fast to go, how much story to eat up. hard for me to comment further as i didn't do the seasons you're referring to.

JehovahsHalibut12 karma

Thank you for the reply. I apologize, I thought you were the show runner for season five, which I didn't think was bad at all, I just felt that was the season where Dexter got in the habit of stalling with no pay off. Love your work! Again, sorry for my confusion, your part in the show was brilliant. I should have wiki'ed before posting. Keep the genius up!

iamclydephillips18 karma

thanks. even wiki has it wrong. so don't go there!

nohitter2122 karma

I don't even know if you're here anymore, but I just need you to know how fucking disappointing this season of Dexter is. You could have made it brilliantly, and I can't wait to see how you would have ended it. So thanks for the 4 amazing seasons.

iamclydephillips28 karma

so nice of you to say. i'll be checking this site for a couple of days if anyone wants to write to me.

I_H_S_V20 karma

I saw you comment on the very end of Dexter. Could you please set our minds at ease and let us know that none of the "leaks" are legit?

Did you ever do controlled leaks to throw fans off?

How the hell did you keep Rita's death a secret from everyone else on the show?

Thank you!

iamclydephillips54 karma

not sure what the leaks are that are out there. never did controlled leaks. i respect the fans too much. as for rita's death. i wrote a false ending for the crew and cast, so it wouldn't be leaked. the real ending only was in my computer until we were ready to shoot. the network and others had to actually come to my office and read it on my monitor.

Gexus15 karma

Can you tell us about the false ending?

niggaitwastimefoanu118 karma

MCH said in a podcast once that everyone but Clyde, Michael and Julie were under the impression that Dexter returns home after killing Trinity, Rita calls and tells him she is on her way home, he sits down and turns on the tv, where an anchor says there is yet another serial killer on the loose in Miami. Dexter smiles, roll credits.

iamclydephillips19 karma

that's exactly what we wrote for the false ending. only the killer who had escaped was a child murderer. perfect for dexter.

gaga5919 karma

Clyde, thanks for taking the time to do an AMA.

I’m just going to get this right out of the way, and I’m sure what’s on a lot of people’s minds – what happened to Dexter after you left?

The overall consensus is that the final season (as well as seasons 5-7) is a letdown, and I’ve collected some complaints/concerns from the Dexter subreddit:

  • Lazy writing (no computer having a password, no house having a security system. Dexter being able to hack into someone’s computer by using a 2-way spyware program. Harrison’s epic fail fall on the treadmill)

  • Not grounding Dexter (emotionally or otherwise) after the season 4. Elevating him to “superhero” status

  • Formulaic and predictable writing (People called the ending to season 6, two episodes in)

  • Never resolving story arcs that were started (Quinn’s suspicions, Deb “loving” Dexter)

  • Short-lived, pointless story-arcs that had undeserving endings (Sirko’s death in season 7, Louis’s death in season 7)

  • Useless characters (Masuka’s daughter) that don’t belong in a final season.

  • No sense of impending doom or closure for a final season. Writers trying to cram in points/characters they never had a chance to explore (Dexter having a mother figure in Vogel)

  • A general dumbing down of the show (especially characters like Quinn and Batista)

What are your thoughts on the above? How much of Dexter going downhill so fast has to do with switching show runners from you to Chip, and then to Scott? How much say did MCH have, if any? Do you think it was a mistake to give season 2 a “series finale” feeling? Is Showtime to blame at all?

iamclydephillips18 karma

first of all, i agree with most of what you have to say above. it could be argued, that my leaving had a deleterious effect on the show. but i would never say that, though others have. mch is the sort of actor and man who trusts the writers and goes about his work brilliantly and professionally. showtime was part of every big story decision that was made.

TauRho18 karma

Something one must ask all writers:

  • What do you do in a "writer's block"?

And also what are the greatest difference between a good idea for a script and for a book? I'm not talking about writing, that part is obviously very distinct, but the "raw story" itself. Like what would make a story "good for a show" but not for a book and the other way around?

iamclydephillips28 karma

because i have to keep writing to make a living, i'm blessed with not having writers block. i know now that often not writing is part of writing and i just go with it.
as for difference in ideas for book or series: a series has to have what we call 'legs'. how can it sustain audience interest for many years. a book, even 'unthinkable' is often conceived for the reader to enjoy in one sitting.

thexxchris17 karma

I am aware you said "no comment" pretty much on the leaks, however, this would go a long way for a lot of people, so I'll ask this last question. Do you think it would be ridiculous/absurd/bs if it turned out that season 8 of Dexter was all a dream/not real? Thanks for answering all the questions and your time!

iamclydephillips31 karma

it has been discussed that maybe it's all a dream. but that's so unfair to the audience! you can't ask them to invest in something and then tell them it never happened.

cinnabartourguide17 karma

just wanted to say that I wish Doakes could have stayed around a bit longer. I loved his character. Maybe a spinoff with Doakes in his younger days?

iamclydephillips31 karma

did someone say spinoff? i would have liked to keep doakes around longer, but story wins every time.

tsalt2716 karma

Unthinkable stands independently but is the fourth book in the series. What’s changed this time around?

iamclydephillips20 karma

yes it's the fourth in the series. but with 'unthinkable' the characters have matured. actually having aged in real time. jane, the protagonist is pregnant and has to solve a huge and dangerous murder case.

RatherSleepIn15 karma

I met you at the season 4 finale of Dexter in NYC and you were so kind and sweet. Just wanted to thank you again for your work on the show :D

iamclydephillips24 karma

were you at the screening at the hilton? that was so much fun. thanks for writing.

furiousBobcat15 karma

Another big fan of the first four seasons! I know you that you had a book series for reference, but even then it was some damn good writing that translated immaculately to the screen thanks to Michael C Hall. Thank you for giving us those seasons.

I just have a small question. When you wrote that last scene of the season 4 finale with Harrison in it, did you have plans (even vague ones) about making Harrison a major character at one point and maybe even introducing him to Dexter's dark world?

iamclydephillips20 karma

thanks for your kind words. we toyed with a couple of things for harrison. but it never got past thw 'what if' stage. really, it never went beyond just yakking about it.

suppplofwor4313 karma

Would you say you had a big "break" ever? (If so what?) Or did the work just keep going progressively up?

iamclydephillips24 karma

i grew up in dorchester, a poor part of boston. moved to l.a. when i was a teenager (tough to do). was working on my masters when i met these two guys who were the kings of the tv movie world (remember tv movies?) anyway i started reading scripts for them and doing notes. they offered me a job to be their second secretary. i had to choose between that and grad school. i chose them and they basically taught me the business. i had alway been a writer, but never thought i could make a living doing it in show business or in books. and here i am.

ninopettis13 karma

I hope you're still answering questions. Thanks for your work on Dexter. Seasons 1-4 are my favorite ever seasons of TV.

Wikipedia says you joined Dexter mid-way through season 1. Is this correct? You wrote episode 2 'Crocodile', so I couldn't understand how that could be true. I thought you were writer and showrunner for the entire first season except for the pilot.

Did you enjoy working on Dexter? I assume it was exhausting, so is that why you left?

What work did you do as a 'consultant' on Dexter? How involved have you been with the show since you took that role? Did you only have this role for season 5, or do you still have that job?

Daniel Cerone was credited as the second-top writer on the show, after yourself, for seasons 1-3, but did he actually work on season 3 (the Prado season)? I ask because there were reports that he left the show after season 2, and he didn't write any episodes that season.

Does John Goldwyn still work on the show? He's still credited as Executive Producer along with Colleton, but since season 6 we haven't seen him do any interviews or Comic-Con panels, while Colleton still does.

Was Lundy ever actually suspicious of Dexter, or was that just Dexter/us being paranoid?

When you made the decision to kill Rita off, did you have future seasons in mind? Were you trying to envision storylines for future seasons, and believed that Dexter would be better off on his own again? Or, was killing Rita about making the best and most dramatic season 4 you possibly could?

While writing season 4, did you know that it would be your last season on the show? If not, did you have any vague plans for what would happen in season 5?

Thanks again for one of the best TV series ever.

iamclydephillips22 karma

okay, that's a lot of questions. i'll answer a few. wikipedia is wrong. i was showrunner on all episodes of the first four seasons. i loved working on the show. yeah, it was exhausting. but it was an amazing ride. cerone did not work on 3. goldwyn was involved til the end. the thing about killing rita was showing to dexter that what he does, what he can't help doing, has consequences. and that he can never really have a normal life. i knew near the very end of 4 that i was leaving for sure.

tsalt2712 karma

television is a really collaborative medium. but as the showrunner, you must have a lot of power to make final decisions. do you find your strength to be pushing your own ideas through, or working with others to get their ideas in?

iamclydephillips21 karma

it's always 'best idea wins'. so, it's not about ego, it's about the final product. it's my responsibility to make it the best it can be, no matter whose ideas come to the fore. when i'm doing a book like 'unthinkable', i have final say on everything. but i still listen to my writer friends and to my editor.

CompC12 karma

So, is there anything you like or were surprised by that you hadn't thought of in the seasons of Dexter that you didn't handle?

Favorite non-Trinity story in the show?

iamclydephillips25 karma

favorite non-trinity moment is the last episode of the first season. that was amazing. the way the show ends this sunday night is pretty cool. not what i would have done, but cool nonetheless.

tlp3212 karma

Do you have a process that differs when you write different genres?! Mysteries as opposed to say comedies? I won't reveal anything but the plot and resolution of Unthinkable was insanely satisfying. Do you have to work backwards, outline differently? Very curious. Thanks

iamclydephillips17 karma

it's kind of the same for both. first of all i outline the hell out of everything. usually i know the ending and work backward from there. that's how it's been for everything i've written. with 'unthinkable' i was lucky enough to know the very beginning and the very ending at the same time. then the tough stuff came: filling it in!

lovecat211 karma

Hi Clyde! Do you feel like the Hannah storyline this season just erases all the events of last season? The fact that she tried to kill Deb, that Dexter could never trust her...and now suddenly she is a trustworthy, innocent saint living with Deb and he's leaving with her and his son! It makes no sense to me and at the same time I feel it cheapens Dexter and Deb's relationship that he would accept her back so easily after she tried to kill deb.

iamclydephillips13 karma

i agree. it just doesn't make sense to me.

flipfooey1111 karma

What can we expect from season six of Nurse Jackie?

iamclydephillips21 karma

if you follow the show, you'll know that jackie used drugs in the last episode of last year. this year will be an exploration of her drug use, but in a different way than was portrayed in the past.

superdrive02111 karma

If season 5 was the last season of Dexter and you were still the showrunner, is it safe to say Jordan Chase and Lumen would have not existed on the show? What would season 5 be like with you as a showrunner?

iamclydephillips9 karma

i don't remember my thoughts when i was thinking about coming back for season 5. but they sure didn't include lumen or jordan

DarylsCrossbow11 karma

Do you think that you left the new writers on season 5 a bit of a mess to clean up? How would you have progressed after the events of season 4? We're you at Michael and Jennifer's wedding?

iamclydephillips12 karma

i don't think it was a mess, rather an opportunity. no i didn't go to the wedding.

kaphx10 karma

I just wanna thank you for answering all of the questions, usually when people do AMAS and are questioned about their opinion on something they used to work on they would just ignore it.

I got the feeling that from season 1 Dexter was not a complete psychopath since he was able to care for the people around him and even felt genuinely sad when he had to choose between his sister and his brother, and that his character development was inevitable, I saw it going somewhere similar to where it is now but I would've never thought it would be for the same reasons.

now for my question, don't you think that it's a little disrespectful to Dexter's history and after all that he's been through, that the one who would "cure him" of his killing urges would be a new love interest? it just felt very weak, and I saw it as dismemberment of his history with his family, and that the last show shouldn't have had a big bad introduced, instead it should've been someone that's been on the show for a while now? I was hoping after the ending of Season 7 that Deb would end up being the one who wants to take Dexter down but is too afraid to do anything about it herself (Jesse pinkman of dexter, maybe?) and Angel would be the one who would start looking into Dexter after Laguerta's murder while attempting to get Deb on his side and make her speak up, all in all I just think that by the time you left it was clear where the show's going, and I don't know why they would try to stir away and take it in a completely, different, corny direction.

Regardless of whether you answer my question or not, thanks for the great show, I really admire what you and the rest of the crew did in the first 4 seasons, I used to prefer Dexter over breaking bad, but nowadays I feel like I can't even compare the two and it just saddens me.

iamclydephillips13 karma

thank you for your kind words. as for your question: i completely agree with you. it's hard to talk about because i don't want to slam anyone. and i chose to leave the show. i just wouldn't have done it the same way. your question is smart and your solution is just as smart.

skemp31110 karma

Hello Mr. Phillips. Thanks for taking the time to do this AMA. Can you share one behind-the-scenes humorous story regarding Dexter or Deb? Something ad-lib and off the cuff? Thanks!

iamclydephillips18 karma

the thing i love about working with michael and jennifer is that they'll be doing some really heavy, demanding scene. we'll then be relighting and they'll come over and hang and tell jokes and screw around. then when the set is ready for them, they go back to the heavy demanding stuff without missing a beat. i really respect that.

c0rruptioN9 karma

Correct me if i'm wrong but you wrote 4 episodes of Dexter than Produced another 44 episodes. Did you actually have a lot of creative input being a producer (executive producer and consultant according to imdb)? People on here seem to think that and I just don't think that's right., no offensive.

iamclydephillips17 karma

no offense taken. i had near-complete creative input. that's what a showrunner does. of course i had partners and a network, but my input was highly valued and observed all the time.

Jakubo9 karma

One thing I really can't understand about this season is why Hannah hasn't yet cut and dyed her hair. As a fugitive it would make her life way easier, at least in situations like going to hospital with Harrison. How can a thing like this happen, how come none of the people working on the show have noticed this?

iamclydephillips11 karma

i can't answer for the people working on the show. but i agree with you.

flipfooey119 karma

What would you say are the main differences between writing television vs writing novels?

iamclydephillips15 karma

gotta say, they're both kind of the same in that it's all storytelling. the key is to make it good storytelling.

sounds_like_a_plan8 karma

Thank you for this! It is the one bright spot of Dexter season 8. Another Deb/Dexter question: Do you think you could have set up/written a Dexter and Deb pairing (or romance or whatever) that would have been widely accepted by the viewing audience? Or do you feel this is a plot line that was doomed to fail no matter how it was executed?

iamclydephillips11 karma

good question. my short answer is: doomed to fail.


What did you think of the Dexter books? Did you ever consider tracking them more closely in the show than you ended up doing?

iamclydephillips17 karma

the first dexter book was great and we harvested a lot of stuff from it for the first year. but the schedule of jeff lindsay writing his books and our tv production schedule didn't mesh; so we just had to move forward without them.

nsaadat7 karma

How does someone like me get the chance to intern for you? I'm in law school now but I am more interested in the production side of film.

iamclydephillips20 karma

interning is a bitch. getting into this business is a bitch. but it's amazing once you're in. i certainly can't tell you how to get in touch with me - not that i'm looking - but if you're smart enough to get into law school, you should be smart enough to figure out how to get in touch with a show runner about interning.

bworkedom7 karma


iamclydephillips8 karma

i don't think there's enough there, there. i'll watch ray donovan and write my next book, thank you very much!

howdyoack6 karma

You're at the point now where you're able to dictate what projects you want to work on. What aspects of a project do you generally gravitate towards? Is it all story?

iamclydephillips9 karma

when i decide to do a show, it's a big commitment, because luckily i'm at the stage of my career where if i attach myself to it, it will probably go. so i have to ask myself, is this something i want to be doing for five years? when i first was approached about dexter, i wasn't sure. it's such a dark place to go every week. so i re-watched it the pilot, saw the magic coming through, knew what i could do to make it even more magical and said yes. thank god!

poopdickshit6 karma

Season 9?

iamclydephillips32 karma

season 8 is the last season of dexter. final episode this sunday night. it will have been the longest running scripted one hour show in cable history. some of it was actually great. john lithgow year for example. very proud of that.

eberg956 karma

How did you cast Michael c hall for the role? Who else did you consider? Thanks for doing this AMA wish you all the best.

iamclydephillips8 karma

i personally didn't cast mch for the role. there was a pilot that was already made when i came aboard and he was in it. i did some minor rewriting and reshooting of the pilot and then we were off.

Morrison_215 karma

If you could rearrange the seasons of Dexter what order would you use and what seasons would you take out? (ex. 1-4-2)

Thanks for doing this!

iamclydephillips11 karma

gotta start with 1. then go to 4 and kick some new ass from there.

chooter5 karma

20,000 foot view of UNTHINKABLE: what's it about and what inspired you to write it?

iamclydephillips8 karma

unthinkable is about a mass murder in san francisco. it's the fourth in my series of books featuring a female homicide lieutenant. reviews have been incredible. check it out on amazon. inspiration was the basic paint myself in a corner and write my way out of it.

echocrest4 karma

What do you think made Dexter a sociopath? His mother's death? Harry constantly telling him he was permanently damaged? Something else?

iamclydephillips18 karma

it's a big salad of what you mentioned. remember, he watched his mother being murdered, then say in her blood in that container for days. how can you ever get away from that?

tsalt274 karma

how did you get in the mindset to write a female protagonist who is pregnant in your book Unthinkable?

iamclydephillips4 karma

With 'unthinkable', as with my other books, i wanted a female protagonist because the odds would be automatically stacked against her in the boys club of a big city police department. as for the mindset. it's not hard. there's no channeling involved or anything like that. it's just imagination.

bobinstien4 karma

do you enjoy potatos?

iamclydephillips21 karma

i'm on a diet.

SomeKindOfMonster3 karma

What would you say are some of the biggest differences between when you worked on Dexter, and the show as it is today?

iamclydephillips16 karma

well, seriously, i started the show. had the chance to have the greatest amount of input. hired the writers and the directors and crew.

craycraytop3 karma

'parker lewis can't lose' was the coolest thing on tv. anything you would do differently as far as the direction of the show? season 1 was groundbreaking and funny as hell. everybody says fox screws over the show's creative people after that. true or false?

iamclydephillips5 karma

fox did mess up parker lewis. if i had been more experienced (and more powerful) i would have resisted more strongly. it would be different now.

tsalt273 karma

How do you find the time to write novels (the latest installment being Unthinkable) when you are working on television shows like Dexter and Nurse Jackie?

iamclydephillips8 karma

writing, i'm happy to say, is my job. if you love what you do, there's always time.

blaitman343 karma

Do you have a "writers group" that everyone shows their works to before releasing into the world? (heard it's common for writers??) If so anyone we know?

iamclydephillips8 karma

i do have a couple of pals whom i show my stuff to and vice versa. can't really mention their names. but you've heard of them. i also work with writing assistants to bounce stuff around with and to help me with my outlines.

booklover3152 karma

I see you wrote your first three books before you got involved with Dexter. Did that experience shape or affect the writing of Unthinkable?

iamclydephillips3 karma

really the way it shaped it was just the maturation process of being a writer. the more you write, hopefully, the better you become. perhaps it helped me understand characters a bit better. but it really just has to do with growth and maturity.

flipfooey112 karma

What (if anything) is there something you'd like to try or even revisit from your career? You've jumped around with drama's/sitcoms/crime thriller novels - is switching things up so drastically a way to creatively stay fresh? If so what can we expect next?

iamclydephillips2 karma

good question. i kind of go off of gut instinct. if it feels right i'll do it. more importantly, if it doesn't feel right, i have to say no. regardless of the financial impact. this (believe it or not) is really hard work and i have to love what i do. so whether it's 'unthinkable' or 'dexter' or 'nurse jackie' or the other stuff i have in the works, it has to call out to me. make me feel good about showing up for work every day.

[deleted]2 karma


iamclydephillips8 karma

here goes: always take the high road. you will never regret it. also, read everything there is to read, you won't regret that either.

hexagonalshit2 karma

What's the most challenging part of being a showrunner?

What's it like coming onto an existing show with a narrative and cast that are already established?

iamclydephillips5 karma

being a a showrunner is being in charge of everything. communicating with the network, the studio, the actors, hiring the writers, the directors, the crew. taking responsibility for everything. the hours are incredible. but there's such satisfaction when it all is working. the hardest part is when it all isn't working. coming onto a pre-existing show is a different experience for me. but i was asked to reboot the show and that was helpful to me as a showrunner and as a writer. but it was definitely a learning curve.

JehovahsHalibut1 karma

What do you as an artist think about people like perhaps Showtime 'milking' something amazing for money rather than story? Do you think this is practice may end soon as audiences are becoming more interested in the perfect story arc rather than their favorite characters coming back in a year again and again?

iamclydephillips4 karma

thanks for calling me an artist. as for showtime milking something. it's their significant investment of millions of dollars. i have no illusions about how the business is run. if the audience didn't show up year after year, the show would have been cancelled. but dexter is their highest rated show.

craycraytop1 karma

when is clyde phillips going to do sci-fi? would you ever do something like reboot Star trek for TV?

iamclydephillips2 karma

i actually wrote a sic-fi pilot with one of my dexter writers, tim schlattmann. but alas, it didn't sell.

hoopitfever31 karma

What's up with people wanting to spread out plots for 10 plus seasons and too many epiosdes? Ever feel like you're forced to drag stuff out by the powers that be? How much do you fight back to give the story some kick?

iamclydephillips3 karma

it's a constant give and take with the network. as long as there's enough story, the show will work and succeed. the real shame is when there just isn't enough story and the show continues and flatlines. but it's a business and companies are making significant investments, so they have a big say in how best to market their shows. it's just the real world we all live and work in.

cheeno1 karma

Hello Clyde Love Nurse Jackie gotta catch up on the last season before the new one starts.

Is watching Dexter this last year been as frustrating to you as for most of the fans?

if you tell the writers something to change what would be?

What is your current favorite shows on TV?

Thank you in advance

iamclydephillips3 karma

you'll love last season of nurse jackie. yeah, it's frustrating watching dexter. but i made the choice to leave and i appreciate how hard everyone's working. about changing something on the show: it would be about keeping the code more intact. it's a covenant with the audience. my new favorite show is 'ray donovan'. just love it.

booklover3151 karma

What would happen if Det. Jane Candiotti met Dexter in a dark alley?

iamclydephillips2 karma

wow. only one would come out alive. or maybe they'd start dating! depends on where the alley is.

NHGuy1 karma

Did you hear about the young men in NH who hacked up a mother (killed her) and maimed the daughter with machettes? One of them said that they were influenced by Dexter. If you did hear about it, how did it affect you, if at all?

iamclydephillips3 karma

i don't know about that specific incident. but i can't control what someone who can't differentiate fiction from real life does. look at shakespeare. the most violent stuff out there.

talk4hours21 karma

Who's your favorite character you've ever written? Villan and hero? And I'm very curious where they come from in your personal experience? (I feel like even the seeds of imagination start off from something personal)

iamclydephillips6 karma

favorite character is definitely jane in 'unthinkable'. i let my ego float away and was able to write a great female character. also 'trinity' in dexter. just to be able to explore pure unfettered evil in that way was very freeing. my childhood was fraught with challenges, tough neighborhood, no money, not a great father. i'm sure all of that goes into the stew that i call a brain.