Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Why Clyde Phillips's Original Ending For Dexter Has Fans So Divided

In September 2013, Showtime's "Dexter" and AMC's "Breaking Bad" both ended after many years on their respective networks. Both series focused on men who illicitly committed crimes that they knew were wrong, but felt compelled to commit anyway. Both series were also critically acclaimed and featured top acting talent that were routinely showered with praise during awards season. However, whereas the finale of "Breaking Bad" is now remembered as one of the best endings to a TV show in history, the final episode of "Dexter" is looked upon with much less favor. The Rotten Tomatoes score for the final season of "Breaking Bad" reports that 97% of critics liked it, and 98% of audiences agreed with them. The Rotten Tomatoes scores for "Dexter," meanwhile, are decidedly lower in both categories, with only 33% of critics responding favorably and 51% of audiences agreeing. 

Now "Dexter" is getting a chance at redemption with the release of the limited series "Dexter: New Blood," which places Dexter Morgan in a fictional town located in upstate New York. Clyde Phillips, who served as showrunner for the first four seasons of "Dexter," is also back and has repeatedly emphasized that "Dexter: New Blood" should not be seen simply as Season 9 of "Dexter" (via Entertainment Weekly). With that in mind, it's interesting to revisit Phillips' initial idea for how to end the original series.

Clyde Phillips wanted Dexter executed

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, "Dexter: New Blood" showrunner Clyde Phillips admitted that, while he "wasn't in the room" and "can't really criticize anybody," he too agreed that the final season of the original series left plenty to be desired. "The show went off the rails," Phillips said. "The show was untethered, and the character was untethered."

Entertainment Weekly's Lynette Rice asked Phillips if "Dexter: New Blood" would even exist, had the original ending had been better received. He responded, "Well, if Dexter had died in the final season, we wouldn't be here." He later elaborated that his original idea for ending the series would have included the death of Dexter Morgan — because while fans of the series may root for him to get away with it all, there is no denying that Dexter, is in fact, a serial killer.

"My personal ending for the show was that he was going to be executed for his crimes," Phillips told Entertainment Weekly. "He's lying on the table and outside the window are all the people he's killed. That was just in my own head. I never pitched that to anybody."

Dexter fans liked the idea years ago

This interview isn't the first time that Clyde Phillips has talked about his original view for how Dexter Morgan's murderous reign of terror should conclude. Phillips first revealed his un-pitched idea for the final episode to E! Online back in 2013, just after the series finale aired. Devoted fans took to the "Dexter" subreddit at the time to talk about which ending they preferred.

A "Dexter" fan posted Phillips' interview with E! Online and sparked a long discussion about the various implications of either ending. U/TheBestStuF had one of the most popular comments on the post: while noting that he liked the alternate ending in theory, this user said, "I think what would be even better than the ghosts of victims past gimmick, have it be that his last request was to have his execution room lined with the photos of all his victims."

U/crazyloof responded to u/TheBestStuF by adding that while no state would ever agree to such a thing before an execution, "it's still better than this season though."

Such comparisons to the real ending were a common theme among responders to the post. U/Fellero wasn't especially complimentary of the discarded idea, but preferred it to the aired finale, commenting that Phillips' ending was "kind of cliche, but way better than what we got."

Whether "Dexter: New Blood" will take these ideas into account as the limited series attempts to right the wrongs of the past, though, is yet to be seen.