A script doctor is a writer or playwright hired by a film, television, or theatre production company to rewrite an existing script or improve specific aspects of it, including structure, characterization, dialogue, pacing, themes, and other elements.[1]

Script doctors generally do their work uncredited for a variety of commercial and artistic reasons.[examples needed][1][2][3] They are usually brought in for scripts that have been almost "green-lit"[4] during the development and pre-production phases of a film to address specific issues with the script, as identified by the financiers, production team, and cast.[5]

To receive credit, the Writers Guild of America screenwriting credit system requires a second screenwriter to contribute more than 50 percent of an original screenplay or 33 percent of an adaptation.[5] Uncredited screenwriters are not eligible to win the Academy Award or the Writers Guild of America Award.


This section may contain indiscriminate, excessive, or irrelevant examples. Please improve the article by adding more descriptive text and removing less pertinent examples. See Wikipedia's guide to writing better articles for further suggestions. (January 2020)

Many screenwriters have done uncredited work on screenplays:

See also


  1. ^ a b Jones, Sarah (2004). Film. North Mankato: Smart Apple Media. pp. 14–15. ISBN 158340256X.
  2. ^ Hyman, Paula E.; Moore, Deborah Dash, eds. (1998). Jewish Women in America: An Historical Encyclopedia. New York: Routledge. p. 444. ISBN 0415919363. Currently [Fisher] works in that great uncredited Hollywood profession of script doctor—or, as Fisher calls it, script nurse.
  3. ^ a b Hurd, Mary G. (2007). Women Directors and Their Films. Westport: Praeger Publishers. p. 150. ISBN 978-0275985783. She [Elaine May] then became a script doctor, one of a small group of writers who are paid handsome fees by studios to do uncredited work on a script.
  4. ^ Appleton, Dina; Yankelevits, Daniel (2010). Hollywood Dealmaking: Negotiating Talent Agreements for Film, TV and New Media (2 ed.). New York: Allworth Press. p. 303. ISBN 978-1581156713. A writer hired to 'spruce up' or 'fix' a script, usually by inserting jokes or otherwise adding some 'juice'. These highly paid writers are often hired by studios for brief periods of employment, most often to work on scripts that are very close to being 'green-lit'.
  5. ^ a b Abramowitz, Rachel (October 27, 2002). "To the rescue?". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  6. ^ Erickson, Hal (2015). "Al Boasberg - About This Person". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on 2015-06-11. Retrieved November 8, 2013.
  7. ^ a b c McNamara, Jonathan (April 29, 2008). "Carrie Fisher on Spy in the House of Me, Tinkerbell and being the movie industry's best script doctor". Phoenix New Times. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  8. ^ a b Cagle, Jess (May 29, 1992). "The Prayer". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  9. ^ Nick De Semlyen, "The Life And Death Of Last Action Hero", Empire, no. 269
  10. ^ a b Setoodeh, Ramin (December 18, 2008). "Being Carrie Fisher". Newsweek. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  11. ^ Booker, M. Keith (2011). Historical Dictionary of American Cinema. Lanham: Scarecrow Press. p. 164. ISBN 978-0810871922.
  12. ^ Phillips, Gene D. (2012). Out of the Shadows: Expanding the Canon of Classic Film Noir. Lanham: Scarecrow Press. p. 88. ISBN 978-0810881907.
  13. ^ Spicer, Andrew (2010). Historical Dictionary of Film Noir. Lanham: Scarecrow Press. pp. 129–130. ISBN 978-0810859609. He became a Hollywood screenwriter from 1926, valued highly for his contemporary, idiomatic, and vivid prose, and as a ruthless and effective 'script doctor', having a hand in many films noir for which he was uncredited...
  14. ^ Kashner, Sam; Schoenberger, Nancy (2010). Furious Love: Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton, and the Marriage of the Century. New York: HarperCollins. p. 13. ISBN 978-0061562846.
  15. ^ a b c Morris, Mark (November 29, 1999). "Get me Tom Stoppard". The Guardian. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  16. ^ Nelson, Valerie J. (August 3, 2010). "Tom Mankiewicz dies at 68; screenwriter for James Bond, Superman films". The Los Angeles Times. Retrieved August 16, 2012. Tom Mankiewicz, a screenwriter and premier script doctor...
  17. ^ Konow, David (June 26, 2012). "Think You Know Hollywood? You Don't Know Mank". Script Magazine. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  18. ^ YouTube, a Google company. YouTube. Archived from the original on 2014-05-01.
  19. ^ Lawrence, Will (October 11, 2010). "Facebook movie The Social Network tells a Shakespearean tale of money, power and betrayal". The Herald. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  20. ^ Koski, Genevieve (May 15, 2008). "Raiders Of The Lost Ark". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 17, 2012. Spielberg said, in an 2005 interview with Empire magazine, 'Tom is pretty much responsible for every line of dialogue [in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade].' 
  21. ^ Nashawty, Chris (November 19, 1999). "Sleepy Hollow: A Head of its Time". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 17, 2012. On the other hand, it doesn't hurt that Sleepy Hollow's script—credited to Andrew Kevin Walker (Seven)—received a stealthy stem-to-stern overhaul from Shakespeare in Love's Oscar-winning screenwriter Tom Stoppard.
  22. ^ a b c Lawson, Mark (April 14, 2010). "Tom Stoppard: 'I'm the crank in the bus queue'". The Guardian. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  23. ^ a b Rapkin, Mickey (October 18, 2007). "Tom Stoppard". Time Out New York. Retrieved August 16, 2012.
  24. ^ Dawson, Jeff (1995). Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool. New York: Applause Books. p. 198. ISBN 1557832277.
  25. ^ Dawson, p. 61.
  26. ^ Biskind, Peter (1998). Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex-Drugs-And Rock 'N Roll Generation Saved Hollywood. New York: Simon and Schuster. p. 158. ISBN 0684857081.
  27. ^ Turan, Kenneth (November 27, 1988). "Robert Towne's Hollywood Without Heroes". The New York Times. Retrieved August 17, 2012.
  28. ^ a b c d Robinson, Tasha (September 5, 2001). "Joss Whedon". The A.V. Club. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
  29. ^ Jacobs, A.J. (April 25, 1997). "Interview with a Vampire Chronicler". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 16, 2012. Consider that Whedon, an A-list screenwriter and script doctor...
  30. ^ a b Cecchini, Mike (December 20, 2013). "Steven E. de Souza Talks Commando 2, Sgt. Rock, the Flash Gordon Movie You May Never See, and Much More!". Den of Geek. DoG Tech LLC. Retrieved 23 April 2022.