“My name is Dexter. Dexter Morgan. I don’t know what made me the way I am, but whatever it was left a… hollow place inside. People fake a lot of human interactions, but I feel like I fake them all and I fake them very well. And that’s my burden, I guess.” – Dexter
Dexter Morgan is the greatest Serial Killer to ever grace our television screens. No arguments. It’s true. For 8 truly wonderful seasons (we’ll get to that finale later on), the mild-mannered blood splatter analysts from Miami warmed our hearts – while tearing out his victims.
I was infatuated/borderline obsessed with Dexter Morgan and his entire world during the entire length of this shows runtime (October 2006 – September 2013). I still find myself having bouts of melancholic malaise due to his departure from my life – but alas, I just find myself grateful that he was ever in it at all 🙏🏻
I was unsure how to actually go about honouring the show as a whole – so in the end I simply settled for a run down of my favourite seasons in order – along with moments/characters.*
Here you can see Michael C Hall’s favourite moments from the show 😁
*There’ll be spoiler’s everywhere from this point onwards, so – yeah, you’ve been warned…
Dexter Morgan is the protagonist and antihero of both Showtime’s DEXTER and the Dexter Book Series. Until he faked his own death and resorted to isolation as a lumberjack, Dexter was a Serial Killer that went after other killers (to control his “Dark Passenger“), rather than harming innocent people.
By day, he was a blood spatter analyst within the Miami Metro Police Department, working closely with the detectives and other forensic specialists, while maintaining a ‘jovial’ personality.
His detailed method of killing allowed Dexter to avoid the justice system by getting rid of any potential evidence (including the body itself) with the use of stream currents that flow north into the Atlantic Ocean.
Now please be reminded that I love Dexter. I love every single series – but in my list, I will be fair and honest and I’ll try to be as unbiased as possible 👀
Ranking from 8th (worst) to 1st (best)…
8. Season 8
There’s a strong case to be made for Season 6 being at the bottom of this list, but Season 8 was unfortunately defined by that final episode. 😭
It’s what the writers and producers chose to leave us with that has forced me to place this a the bottom of my list. And while it didn’t, let’s say, add up to nothing like Season 6 did, it gave fans a ton of stuff that no one wanted, including plot points and revelations that weren’t just unsatisfying, but intolerable. None of the supporting cast was brought into the main story, leaving them to flail and falter in their own weird, unwanted side stories, while the wonderfully intense hostility between Dexter and Deb, which was set up excellently in the Season 7 finale, was “solved” after only four episodes – reverting everything back to its previously banal ‘status quo.’
But yeah, none of the new characters (whose final season presence was suspect anyway) paid off like they should have, while both Deb and Hannah were transformed from ferocious to almost gutless. And let’s not forget the ending itself – the one we all wished we could wrap in plastic and stab in the chest. In all honesty – I can live with Dexter pissing off into the hills and secluding himself from everything he’s done. BUT DEB! Why?! If you ask me, he should have jumped in with her – not just ‘dump’ her like everyone else. His sacrifice to end it along side his sister – the only person he really truly loved, would’ve been a more fitting end for me.
7. Season 6
It seemed as though this season was completely designed to waste twelve episodes of TV in order to give us the shocking ending that it should have given us at the end of Season 5 (Deb catching Dexter in the midst of a kill), Season 6 decided that it would be fun to explore Dexter while he explored the nature of religion. Except it wasn’t really that fun…
This was the first year that Dexter really and truly acted just plain dumb, as we watched him be painfully two steps behind a big “twist” that almost everyone figured out right out straight away (yet still took up nine episodes of the season). Not only that, but there were elements to the shocking reveal itself that didn’t make sense – like why, when Travis discovered proof that he was clearly insane, did he instantly become even more insane?!
This was also the season where Deb figures out that she was in love with Dexter and yearned for something more than just a close sibling relationship. *whispers as though children are in the room* (Like sex.) Now, I may be alone here, but I kinda wanted it to happen… 👀 (I don’t know what’s wrong with me 🙈)
6. Season 5
Season 5 wasn’t bad. I really like Julia Stiles and thought her portrayal of Lumen was great. Dexter’s need to help her kill off her rapists as a diversionary tactic for his own grief over Rita was perfectly carried out. But where Season 5 faltered a little was in its endgame (there’s a bit of a theme here). Not only did Deb come within a hair’s breadth of catching Dexter (he and Lumen were literally just behind a translucent sheet!)
Lumen eventually decided that she was magically alleviated of her “darkness” – which was conveniently temporary – and then took off, never to be a part of the series again. Although her stint was short, Stiles left a bit of a stir in Dexter-Land…
There were a lot of (unconfirmed) tabloid rumours about Julia Stiles and Michael C. Hall at the time, which led to all sorts of rumours and speculation about why she never came back. Whether those stories were true or not, that didn’t change the fact that story-wise, this just wasn’t the time for a closed-ended season of Dexter. Season 4’s big finish had shaken us all out of the nice “bow on top” endings of Seasons 2 and 3 and few wanted a return to that. Now just imagine that Season 5 had ended with Deb catching Dexter in the act, as she almost did. Season 6 is skipped over and then… right into the story in Season 7. Sounds amazing, right? Eh, oh well…
5. Season 3
It was hard to realise, at the time, just how basic Dexter’s third season really was. The show was only in its third year and still a fairly fresh, young thing – and the set up of Dexter accidentally killing someone in self-defence – outside the parameters of the “code” – was a big-ish deal at the time. But after the intense manhunt of Season 2, Season 3 was, you know… okay. It sufficed.
In retrospect, it also would have been better if Dexter and Miguel’s murderous partnership/apprenticeship had lasted longer than just one episode – but again, back then, it was just a big deal that someone discovered Dexter was a killer and was let into his world.
More interesting though, from a sociopath aspect, was Dexter having to deal with the notion of becoming a father. In Season 3, Dexter was on his way to becoming more rounded as a human being, but there was still a big learning curve ahead of him.
Another funny thing to think about, when considering Season 3, is that LaGuerta was still a likeable and sympathetic character. Ha!
But yeah. Looking back at the series as a whole – season 3 was just – alright.
4. Season 2
Season 2 is fairly well-regarded, if not a lot of people’s favourite season altogether. Season 2 definitely had a lot going for it. The “FBI Hunt for the Bay Harbour Butcher” was appropriately nerve-wracking and engrossing. Now… just imagine if that story hadn’t happened as early as the show’s second season!
Think about it. The hunt could have actually led to dire consequences for Dexter if the show wasn’t in Season 2 and the writers didn’t feel the need to close this plotline off with an overly convenient story-killer in the form of Lila West. Dexter would have had to make a moral choice about whether or not to kill Doakes himself. Dexter would have been in charge of either ending the investigation or letting himself get apprehended.
Still, Season 2 had great elements right up until the end (ahem). Keith Carradine’s Frank Lundy was a terrific addition to the series even though closing off the manhunt meant he also had to get closed off (at least for the time being). Overall, I very much enjoyed this season!
3. Season 7
Aside from the story told in Season 2, Season 7’s epic confrontation between Dexter and Deb – after Deb caught him murdering Travis Marshall at the toe-end of Season 6 – felt the most like a final season arc.
It was pretty much the last solid story the show had to give us to be honest, before sailing off into the sunset (or hurricane as it were) and I think it was really well done. Not only did everything come brutally bubbling back to the surface as far as Dexter’s past crimes (and big, big mistakes regarding Trinity, Lumen, taking cases away from the police, etc), but Jennifer Carpenter was phenomenal in her performance. I just wish Season 8 had allowed her to have the Dexter/Deb story play out more antagonistically, given the end of Season 7 – which saw Deb murder LaGuerta in cold blood!
Season 7 also introduced the character of pretty poisoner Hannah McKay (Yvonne Strahovski), who thusly came between Dexter and Deb (who had begun to wonder if Dexter was right about vigilantism, in certain circumstances) after Hannah tried to induce a fatal heart attack in Deb (if she wasn’t SO darn pretty, I’d hate her).
Sure, it was easier for us to let LaGuerta go – sacrifice her at the Altar of Dexter – because she’d become unlikeable over the previous seasons, but Carpenter’s expert acting, and immediate hugging of LaGuerta’s dead body (which was improvised, btw) showed us just how soul-shattering it was for Deb to kill her. Even if LaGuerta was close to taking Dexter (or even both of them) down. This season had everything for me. So, so, so, so, sooooo good!
2. Season 1
Season 1 remains a wonderful gift, containing all the initial elements of Dexter that hooked us while also, strangely, still remaining wonderfully sealed off. In fact, you could just give someone Season 1 of Dexter and tell them not to watch any more if need be. It stands on its own. If they’d never made another season, these 12 episodes would have reached epic cult status, complete with that amazing “day-dream parade of applause” ending that showed us just how perverse and demented Dexter’s mind truly was.
The show didn’t need to waste time with extensive side stories for its supporting characters because everything was primarily about Dexter. It was mostly all through his deranged eyes. And the Ice Truck Killer, along with the double-reveal that he was not only Deb’s fiancé but Dexter’s long lost brother, was a spectacular gut-punch that the show really could never really match (apart from season four’s finale).
The show most certainly got flashier over the years, with gruesome scenarios that now (possibly) make Season 1’s gore seem tame, but nothing quite topped the basic, bloody nature of Dexter’s origin story and his past returning to haunt him, beginning with the friendly message, “Hey, wanna play?”
And yes, Dexter wanted to play. He really, really did.
1. Season 4
It had to be! Best known for that shocking/thrilling ending and John Lithgow’s menacing presence as Arthur Mitchell – aka The Trinity Killer – Season 4 was exciting in both action and theme. Dexter thought Arthur had something to teach him about balancing family and murder, but Dexter was wrong. Way wrong. So wrong that he lost a huge part of his own family.
It still gets me, guys…
Frank Lundy also returned, but only to get gunned down right in front of Deb – giving us a big side murder mystery on top of everything else.
Then – boom! Trinity’s mystery daughter was revealed in an excellent scene which involved the audience thinking that Arthur was out to kill a young lady journalist who was getting too close to the case. Good stuff.
It’s not always good to give so much weight to a season based on how it ended, but I think Season 8 showed us that that there is merit in that type of analysis since not only does the ending have a chance to “wow” you, but if done right it can also shine a light back over the whole season, putting things into different perspective. For Season 8, that was a bad thing. But for Season 4, the ending was a big, sad slap in the face to a man who’d made far too many mistakes in the name of trying to arrogantly lead a double life.
Season 4 of Dexter will probably go down in history as one of the best seasons of any show. Ever. When people talk about fantastic TV, they talk about this. John Lithgow tore up the screen as The Trinity Killer, and Dexter complemented him perfectly for a wild ride we couldn’t wait to watch. We, like Dexter, were so devastated by Rita’s death we didn’t think we could continue. The shock stayed with us for months. Television doesn’t really get any better than Season 4 of Dexter. It, without a doubt, deserves the No. 1 spot on my list.
So there we have it. Wasn’t it wonderful? As well as the man himself, I think you’ll agree that he came up against some truly wonderful opponents! To finish off my trip down dexter-memory-lane, here are some of my favourite ‘foes’ to come up against the man himself.
Why not start off with the best villain of all 8 series – The Trinity Killer, Arthur Mitchell
Arthur Mitchell, to this day, stands as the one villain to deliver a truly devastating, world-changing blow to Dexter. Others have come close, but no repercussions have been as severe as Trinity killing Rita – Made all the more haunting given that it was done shortly before Dexter finally killed Trinity.
Also, when you think about what Rita must have gone through, it gets worse. Did Trinity tell her about Dexter before he bled her out? Did she die knowing it was all Dexter’s fault? Knowing that Harrison was sitting on the floor crying and watching it happen?
Brian Moser – aka “Rudy Cooper/Biney/ITK”
The Ice Truck Killer made it seem like he just wanted to play with Dexter – as a kindred killer. But once he was revealed to be Brian, we found out that the ITK’s motives were that of bringing him and his brother closer together, to re-form their family and kill together as ‘bros’. Unfortunately, that meant getting rid of what he saw as Dexter’s “fake” family – namely his adopted sister, Deb.
He was a tremendous character and worthy adversary though!
Dexter learned the hard way that chicks who can ‘set it on fire’ in the sack will probably also set it on fire…in real life. As in, burn down everything you love. Yup, bitches be crazy.
Part of Dexter’s psychological recovery process, after killing his brother at the end of Season 1, involved kill-impotence (it’s a real thing, guys) followed by a reinvigorating sexual relationship with a woman who he was attracted to. This woman tried her best to amplify Dexter’s darkness. Some fans might not have been crazy about the way Lila met her end (or how she all-too-conveniently killed Doakes), but her stealthy, seductive madness was enough to send Dexter running back to Rita and commit to forming a new family. So, you know, she must have terrified him to the core.
Hannah “Pretty Poison” McKay represented the best of both worlds for Dexter; a gorgeous domesticated suicide blonde like Rita and a murdering/serial killer-accepting hellcat like Lila. Unfortunately, she also complicated Dexter’s life, as all his attempts at close, personal relationships do.
First, she was his target, but her “come hither” charms were too much to resist and he decided to spare her. Then, in order to simplify their life together, Hannah tried to snuff out Deb, leading Dexter to make a hard choice and call the cops on her.
As well as Dexter and Deb, there were certainly a few extra constant characters who helped to make this show a little extra awesome…