Capt. Phil Harris told 'Deadliest Catch' cameras to keep filming in hospital: 'We need a great finish to this story'

The upcoming sixth season of Discovery’s Deadliest Catch will include Capt. Phil Harris’ final voyage on the Cornelia Marie, and, possibly, footage of his final days. Catch cameras had already filmed the Cornelia Marie during king crab season (mid-October to mid-December), and had been with the crew since mid-January for opilio (or snow crab) season when Harris, who died Feb. 9 at age 53, had a stroke while in port off-loading at St. Paul Island in Alaska. “We were there for the entire time. We were there in the hospital,” Catch exec producer Thom Beers tells EW. Harris hadn’t been expected to awaken from the medically-induced coma he was placed in following surgery, but remarkably, on Feb. 2, he did. “When he came out, he was trying to talk. He couldn’t, but he was motioning with his hand to my producer and camera man. We said we want to give you your space and get out, and he wrote on a piece of paper. It said, ‘No, we need a great finish to this story,’” Beers says, with a laugh. “He’s just come out of a coma, and he’s producing [the show].” The fact that Harris also summoned what his sons Josh and Jake proudly described as “his trademark captain’s bluntness” to tell the doctors and nurses “Don’t f— up” spoke volumes, Beers adds. “That was wit, that was sarcasm, that was sardonic, that was brilliant.” Whether any of the hospital footage will air will be a decision made later with Phil’s family.

This Saturday, Discovery will pay tribute to Capt. Phil with a 15-hour marathon of Deadliest Catch beginning at noon ET covering the best of season 4 and the second half of season 5. Beers expects to produce a new tribute special devoted to the skipper’s entire run on the Emmy-winning series to air during season 6, which premieres in April. In addition to a private funeral, a public memorial and other remembrance events are being planned for the second annual fan fest CatchCon, which Discovery says will be held later this spring in Seattle. Beers, who flew to Seattle last week to meet with Phil’s sons, says they want to spread his ashes out on the Bering Sea when the new crab season begins this fall.

More: Remembering ‘Deadliest Catch’ Captain Phil Harris

Comments (176 total) Add your comment
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  • maria

    he was my favorite. and his kids made me laugh when they would try 2 butter him up.

  • Beverley

    I never personally knew Captain Phil but he made me smile and I appreciate that. It makes me a little teary that his ashes will be scattered in the Bering Sea. How appropriate. And now there will always be a part of him out there. This makes me emotional to think about it. It’s just what he would have wanted.

  • Anna

    last year I was sick in bed, and so I watched a marathon of Deadliest Catch. Captain Phil and his crew were my favorites. He will be greatly missed.

  • Jeremy

    Farewell, Phil! The show will never be the same.

  • MsSuniDaze

    Wow. I was wondering if they might have been shooting during this time. This will be a very emotional episode if they show it (which I’m sure they eventually will). Still sad that he died. Along with Sig, he was one of my favorite captins.

    • MsSuniDaze

      argh.. Captain.

    • Rachel

      Gotta agree. Captain Phil without a doubt was my favourite, dedicated and true. Will without a doubt be sorely missed. Captain Sig also shows heart and soul.

      • Mike from Brookfield CT

        Phil and Sig are two great Capt.’s and I really feel most feel the same way. Phil will be sorely missed as will the interaction he had with his son’s. But lets no forget the Hillstrand Brothers. The 3 of them also seem like good guys. Keith seems like a bit of a jerk who would not be missed on the show nearly as much of ANY of other of the captains.

      • carol

        i know my husband and i love the Cornelia Marie and captain Phil was a great guy we miss him!

    • Brenda Smith

      I agree Phil and Sig are the two best captions by far. Phil will be missed greatly. He will always be with them thow.

      • Brenda

        Sorry I mispelled captain. Phil and Sig are the two best CAPTAINS by far. Love you Sig and Phil.

  • june

    It is so hard to imagine Phil being gone. The show will definitely take a dramatic change. Season Six during opilio season will be hard to watch.

  • Mendy

    Captain Phil you caught my eye on the first day that Deadliest Catch aired and I have been a faithful fan ever since, My heart was filled with pain to hear of his passing… He will be missed by all and will live on threw his wonderful stories he has left behind, It’s a great idea to give his ashes to the Bering Sea. There he will be a true sea GOD!!! I will miss you!!!

    • lisa

      We miss you phil but we know your pots are now all filled with crab your crabbing with the best now we will watch josh an jake for you you done a good job with them an I know there hurting now but watch over josh he is gonna be a great craber just like you.

    • Punggawa

      Thanks for a great day Matt. As you know, we were both a bit nervy/awkward at the start but both yourself and David made us feel at ease saigrtht away.These photos are brilliant and can’t wait for the wedding… less than 3 months and counting

  • Angela

    Captain Phil will definitely be missed. I’m glad they’re putting together a tribute for him, he will be missed. I’m a huge fan of the show and all the fisherman..will for sure be in tears

  • Ms. Catch

    Love, love, love this show. I’ve been watching it since it has been on tv. I love Capt. Phil and his wonderful sons. Loved watching the father-son relationships. He will be missed (the raspy voice, chain smoking, coffee drinking, blunt talk’in fisherman who loved his sons and showed it). Rest in peace Captain Phil.

  • Erica

    I believe seeing the final King and Opilio seasons Capt Phil will be so very bittersweet. However I’m not sure if it is a good idea to show the hospital film. We all loved his spirit but does his family need to relive the footage? I lost my Dad 20 yrs ago and still have a hard time watching family videos. As for Josh and Jake scattering his ashes during the next brab season, that is by far the best idea!!

    • Erica

      sorry I misspelled crab

    • Jen

      I do believe it should be up to the family if they want to show that and I believe the producers will be respectful of their wishes. Everyone deals with grief in their own way. I lost my mom 4 years ago and I find it comforting to see her in better days. She had ovarian cancer and suffered very much towards the end. I look at those films and pictures of her with a heavy heart but it makes me happy too so I believe it should depend on the families wishes. I already know that if they decide to air that footage or not it will be extremely emotional episode. I love that show and Capt Phil and his sons were my favorites. Peace be with you Captain.

  • jojogirl09

    I miss captain Phil. its sooo hard to believe he is gone:(

  • Janet Billups

    I believe he would want it left to the decision of his family. If the family says to show it, Then by all means, Show the hospital footage. I believe Captn. Phil would want it to be shown.
    GODS SPEED ~ Captain Phil….

    • Brenda

      I believe he would have wanted it shown also. Our prayers are with Josh and Jake. Captain Phil will always be with them.

    • Celiane

      Have you ever thought about crianetg an ebook or guest authoring on other sites? I have a blog centered on the same information you discuss and would love to have you share some stories/information. I know my audience would appreciate your work. If you are even remotely interested, feel free to shoot me an e mail.

  • Yvonne

    I miss him so much. He was a very special guy. Reminds me a lot of my own dad, rough on the outside, an old softie on the inside.

    • Arema

      Thank you for such a fun day!We were terribly neouvrs at first but you and David made the experience a real pleasure and HEAPS of fun!Cannot wait for you to shoot our big day.Thank you again!

  • T

    We loved Captain Phil. He had a heart of gold, and will be greatly missed. RIP Captain.

  • Deborah Ellison

    My friends,Family are so sick over the passing of Captain Phil Harris He was and still is our favorite.He loved his sons so much and I hope the cornila Maria will still be on the show along with Josh and Jake Bless them and there family.But (Captain Phil Harris) you will always be the Captain of the Cornila Maria.God Bless you

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