Dexter is an American television crime drama mystery series that aired on Showtime from October 1, 2006, to September 22, 2013. Set in Miami, the series centers on Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall), a forensic technician specializing in blood spatter pattern analysis for the fictional Miami Metro Police Department, who leads a secret parallel life as a vigilante serial killer, hunting down murderers who have slipped through the cracks of the justice system. The show's first season was derived from the novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004), the first of the Dexter series novels by Jeff Lindsay. It was adapted for television by screenwriter James Manos, Jr., who wrote the first episode. Subsequent seasons evolved independently of Lindsay's works.
In February 2008, reruns (edited down to a TV-14 rating) began to air on CBS in the wake of the shortage of original programming ensuing from the 2007–2008 Writers Guild of America strike, thus the reruns on CBS ended after one run of the first season. The series enjoyed mostly positive reviews throughout its run and popularity, including four consecutive Primetime Emmy nominations for Best Drama Series starting in season two. Season four aired its season finale on December 13, 2009, to a record-breaking audience of 2.6 million viewers, making it the most-watched original series episode ever on Showtime at that time.
In April 2013, Showtime announced that season eight would be the final season of Dexter. The season-eight premiere was the most watched Dexter episode with more than 3 million viewers total for all airings that night. The original broadcast of the series finale—shown at 9 pm on September 22, 2013—drew 2.8 million viewers, the largest overall audience in Showtime's history.
Orphaned at age three, when his mother was brutally murdered by a man with a chainsaw, and harboring a traumatic secret, Dexter (Michael C. Hall) was adopted by Miami policeman Harry Morgan (James Remar), who recognized the boy's homicidal, psychopathic tendencies and taught him to channel his gruesome passion for killing in a "constructive" way—by killing only heinous criminals (such as child molesters, mob assassins, rapists, serial killers of the innocent, etc.) who had slipped through the justice system. To satisfy his interest in blood and to facilitate his own crimes, Dexter works as a forensic technician specializing in bloodstain pattern analysis, for the Miami Metro Police Department (based on the real-life Miami-Dade Police Department). Although his drive to kill is unflinching, he is able to simulate, and in some cases feel, normal emotions and maintain his appearance as a socially responsible human being. Dexter is extremely cautious in his kills – e.g., he wears gloves and uses plastic-wrapped kill rooms, carefully cleans up afterward, segments the bodies and disposes of them in the ocean – to reduce the chances of detection.
KTV Media International Bullseye Art produced and animated the webisodes, working closely with Showtime for sound editing, Interspectacular for direction, and illustrators Kyle Baker, Ty Templeton, Andrés Vera Martínez, and Devin Lawson for creating distinctive illustrations. The webisodes are animated with 2.5D style, where flat two-dimensional illustrations are brought to life in three-dimensional space. The first season was created and written by Dexter producer/writer Lauren Gussis. She was nominated for a Webby for her writing on the first season.
The first web series precedes the current narrative of the show and revolves around Dexter hunting down the three victims that he mentions in the sixth episode of season one, "Return to Sender". Each victim's story is split into four two-minute chapters.
A second season of the web series titled Dexter: Early Cuts: Dark Echo, one story in six chapters, premiered on October 25, 2010. It was written by Tim Schlattmann and illustrated by Bill Sienkiewicz and David Mack. The story begins immediately following Dexter's adoptive father Harry's death.
Although the series is set in Miami, Florida, many of the exterior scenes are filmed in Long Beach, California. Many landmark buildings and locations in Long Beach are featured throughout the series. The finale episode's airport scene takes place at Ontario International Airport in Ontario, California.
In preparation for the UK launch of the series, Fox experimented with an SMS-based viral marketing campaign. Mobile phone owners received the following unsolicited SMS messages addressed to them by name with no identifying information other than being from "Dexter": "Hello (name). I'm heading to the UK sooner than you might think. Dexter." The SMS-message was followed by an email directing the user to an online video "news report" about a recent spree of killings. Using on-the-fly video manipulation, the user's name and a personalized message were worked into the report – the former written in blood on a wall near the crime scene, the latter added to a note in an evidence bag carried past the camera. While the marketing campaign succeeded in raising the profile of the show, it proved unpopular with many mobile owners, who saw this as spam advertising aimed at mobile phones. In response to complaints about the SMS element of the campaign, Fox issued the following statement:
The text message you received was part of an internet viral campaign for our newest show Dexter. However it was not us who sent you the text but one of your friends. We do not have a database of viewer phone numbers. The text message went along with a piece on the net that you can then send on to other people you know. If you go to you will see the page that one of your friends has filled in to send you that message. Therefore I suggest you have a word with anyone who knows your mobile number and see who sent you this message. For the record we did not make a record of any phone numbers used in this campaign.
The show's lead actor, Michael C. Hall, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, a type of cancer, while filming season four of Dexter. Immediately upon completion of filming the fourth season, Hall took a break from acting to begin treatment, including chemotherapy. During his treatment, he was noticeably thinner and had lost his hair, which he hid with a cap or bandana.
|Dexter Morgan||Michael C. Hall||Main|
|Rita Bennett||Julie Benz||Main||Guest||Does not appear|
|Debra Morgan||Jennifer Carpenter||Main|
|James Doakes||Erik King||Main||Does not appear||Guest||Does not appear|
|María LaGuerta||Lauren Vélez||Main||Does not appear|
|Angel Batista||David Zayas||Main|
|Harry Morgan||James Remar||Main|
|Vince Masuka||C.S. Lee||Recurring||Main|
|Joey Quinn||Desmond Harrington||Does not appear||Recurring||Main|
|Hannah McKay||Yvonne Strahovski||Does not appear||Main|
|Thomas Matthews||Geoff Pierson||Recurring||Does not appear||Recurring||Main|
|Jamie Batista||Aimee Garcia||Does not appear||Recurring||Main|
Besides Michael C. Hall playing the title character, the show's supporting cast includes Jennifer Carpenter as Dexter's adoptive sister and co-worker (and later boss) Debra, and James Remar as Dexter's adoptive father, Harry Morgan. Dexter's co-workers include Lauren Vélez as Lieutenant (later Captain) María LaGuerta, Dexter and Debra's supervisor, David Zayas as Detective Sergeant (later Lieutenant) Angel Juan Marcos Batista, and C. S. Lee as lab tech Vince Masuka (promoted to title credits in season two).
Erik King portrayed the troubled Sgt James Doakes for the first two seasons of the show. Desmond Harrington joined the cast in season three as Joey Quinn; his name was promoted to the title credits as of season four. Geoff Pierson plays Captain Tom Matthews of Miami Metro Homicide. Julie Benz starred as Dexter's girlfriend, then wife, Rita in seasons one to four, with a guest appearance in season five. Rita's children, Astor and Cody, are played by Christina Robinson and Preston Bailey (who replaced Daniel Goldman after the first season). Dexter's infant son Harrison is played by twins, Evan and Luke Kruntchev, through season seven; in season eight, Harrison was played by Jadon Wells. Aimee Garcia plays Batista's younger sister, Jamie.
Notable appearances in season one are Christian Camargo as Rudy and Mark Pellegrino as Rita's abusive ex-husband Paul. Jaime Murray portrayed Lila Tournay in season two, a beautiful but unhinged British artist who becomes obsessed with Dexter. Keith Carradine, as Special FBI Agent Frank Lundy, and Jimmy Smits, as ADA Miguel Prado, each appeared in season-long character arcs in seasons two and three, respectively. David Ramsey, who plays confidential informant Anton Briggs in season three, returned in season four, becoming romantically involved with Debra Morgan. John Lithgow joined the cast in season four as the "Trinity Killer". Carradine returned in season four, reprising his role as newly retired FBI Special Agent Frank Lundy, who was hunting the Trinity Killer. Courtney Ford was featured in season four as an ambitious reporter who mixes business with pleasure, getting romantically involved with Quinn while simultaneously fishing for sources and stories. Julia Stiles joined the cast in season five as Lumen Pierce, a woman who gets involved in a complex relationship with Dexter after the tragedy that culminated the previous season. Season five also had Peter Weller cast as Stan Liddy, a corrupt narcotics cop. In season six, Mos Def was cast as Brother Sam, a convicted murderer turned born-again Christian, and Edward James Olmos and Colin Hanks guest-starred as Professor James Gellar and Travis Marshall, members of a murderous apocalyptic cult. Seasons seven and eight featured multiple guest stars, including Ray Stevenson as Ukrainian mob boss Isaak Sirko, a man with a personal vendetta against Dexter; Yvonne Strahovski as Hannah McKay, the former accomplice of a spree killer; Jason Gedrick as strip club owner George Novikov, also part of the mob; and Charlotte Rampling as Dr. Evelyn Vogel, a neuropsychiatrist who takes an interest in Dexter. Ronny Cox as the Tooth Fairy killer. Sean Patrick Flanery joins the cast in season eight as John Elway, a private investigator who Debra works for.
Margo Martindale had a recurring role as Camilla, a records office worker who was close friends with Dexter's adoptive parents. JoBeth Williams portrayed Rita's suspicious mother, Gail Brandon, in four episodes of season two. Anne Ramsay portrayed defense attorney Ellen Wolf, Miguel's nemesis. Valerie Cruz played a recurring role as Miguel's wife, Sylvia. In season six, Billy Brown was cast as transferred-in Detective Mike Anderson to replace Debra after her promotion to lieutenant. Josh Cooke played Louis Greene, a lab tech and Masuka's intern, in seasons six and seven, and Darri Ingolfsson played Oliver Saxon in season eight.
The main creative forces behind the series were executive producers Daniel Cerone, Clyde Phillips, and Melissa Rosenberg. Cerone left the show after its second season. Executive producer and showrunner Phillips departed the series, after a record-setting season-four finale, to spend more time with his family; 24 co-executive producer Chip Johannessen took over Phillips' post. Head writer Melissa Rosenberg left after season four, as well.
Although reception to individual seasons has varied, the response to Dexter has been positive. The review aggregator website Metacritic calculated a score of 77 from a possible 100 for season one, based on 27 reviews, making it the third-best reviewed show of the 2006 fall season. This score includes four 100% scores (from the New York Daily News, San Francisco Chronicle, Chicago Sun-Times, and People Weekly). Brian Lowry, who had written one of the three poor reviews Metacritic tallied for the show, recanted his negative review in a year-end column for the trade magazine Variety, after watching the full season.
On Metacritic, season two has a score of 85 with all 11 reviews positive; season three scored 78 with 13 reviews; season four scored 79 with 14 reviews; season five scored 75 with 11 reviews; season six scored 63 with 10 reviews; season seven scored 81 with 7 reviews; and season eight scored 71 with 10 reviews. While remarking on some of the show's more formulaic elements (quirky detective, hero with dense workmates, convenient plot contrivances), Tad Friend of The New Yorker remarked that when Dexter is struggling to connect with Rita or soliciting advice from his victims, "the show finds its voice."
On Rotten Tomatoes, season one has 85% positive reviews, a score of 8.1 out of 10, and the consensus: "Its dark but novel premise may be too grotesque for some, but Dexter is a compelling, elegantly crafted horror-drama."; Season two has 100% positive reviews with a score of 8 out of 10; Season three has 80% positive reviews and a score of 8.1 out of 10; Season four has 80% positive reviews, a score of 8.6 out of 10, and the consensus: "While not as fresh or surprising as it once was, Dexter continues to pull viewers into its twisty plots, thanks to efficient storytelling and Michael C. Hall's performance."; Season five has 100% positive reviews, a score of 7.5 out of 10, and the consensus: "Dexter continues to improve as it enters its fifth season, successfully blending dark, gory intrigue with enough character development to keep things interesting."; Season six has 54% positive reviews, a score of 6.8 out of 10, and the consensus: "Dexter's sixth season certainly retreads well-worn themes, but Michael C. Hall's sly, cheeky performance is worth sticking around for."; Season seven has 80% positive reviews, a score of 7.8 out of 10, and the consensus: "Season seven represents a return to form for Dexter, characterized by a riveting storyline and a willingness to take some risks."; Season eight has 60% positive reviews, a score of 6.5 out of 10, and the final consensus: "In its final season, Dexter holds on to much of season seven's momentum and finishes on a strong note, even if the inevitable conclusion feels somewhat anticlimactic."
The season-three finale, on December 14, 2008, was watched by 1.51 million viewers, giving Showtime its highest ratings for any of its original series since 2004, when Nielsen started including original shows on premium channels in its ratings. The season-four finale aired on December 13, 2009, and was watched by 2.6 million viewers. It broke records for all of Showtime's original series and was their highest-rated telecast in over a decade. The season-five finale was watched by a slightly smaller number of people (2.5 million). The show was declared the ninth-highest rated show for the first 10 years of IMDb.com Pro (2002–2012). The seventh season as a whole was the highest rated season of Dexter, watched by 6.1 million total weekly viewers across all platforms.
Dexter was nominated for 23 Primetime Emmy Awards, in the category of Outstanding Drama Series four times in a row, from 2008 to 2011, and Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series (for Michael C. Hall) five times in a row, from 2008 to 2012. It has also been nominated for nine Golden Globe Awards (winning two), seven Screen Actors Guild Awards and received a Peabody Award in 2007.
On December 14, 2006, Michael C. Hall was nominated for a Golden Globe Award at the 64th Golden Globe Awards. In 2008, the show was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Drama Series for its second season (Showtime's first ever drama to be nominated for the award), and its star for Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series. It won neither, losing to Mad Men and Breaking Bad actor Bryan Cranston. In 2010, Hall and John Lithgow, in their respective categories, won a Golden Globe for their performances, on the same night, for their work in season four.
When, in December 2007, the U.S. television network CBS publicly announced that it was considering Dexter for broadcast reruns, the Parents Television Council ("PTC") protested the decision. When the network began posting promotional videos of the rebroadcast on YouTube on January 29, 2008, PTC president Timothy F. Winter, in a formal press release, again called for CBS to not air the show on broadcast television, saying that it "should remain on a premium subscription cable network" because "the series compels viewers to empathize with a serial killer, to root for him to prevail, to hope he doesn't get discovered". Winter called on the public to demand that local affiliates pre-empt Dexter and warned advertisers that the PTC would take action against any affiliates that sponsored the show.
Following Winter's press release, CBS added parental advisory notices to its broadcast promotions and ultimately rated Dexter TV-14 for broadcast. On February 17, 2008, the show premiered edited primarily for "language" and scenes containing sex or the dismemberment of live victims. The PTC later objected to CBS' broadcasting of the final two episodes of season one in a two-hour block, and to the episodes' starting times, which were as early as 8 pm in some time zones.
Several comparisons and connections between the TV show and its protagonist have been drawn during criminal prosecutions. In 2009, 17-year-old Andrew Conley said the show inspired him to strangle his 10-year-old brother. In an affidavit filed in Ohio County court, in Indiana, police said Conley confessed that he "watches a show called Dexter on Showtime, about a serial killer, and he stated, 'I feel just like him.'"
Prosecutors compared Christopher Scott Wilson to Dexter Morgan when they charged him with the February 2010 first-degree murder of Mackenzie Cowell.
On November 4, 2010, in Sweden, a 21-year-old woman known as Dexter-mördaren ("The Dexter killer") or Dexter-kvinnan ("The Dexter woman") killed her 49-year-old father by stabbing him in the heart. During questioning, the woman compared herself to Dexter Morgan, and a picture of the character would appear on her phone when her father called her. In July 2011, she was sentenced to seven years in prison.
In Norway, Shamrez Khan hired Håvard Nyfløt to kill Faiza Ashraf. Nyfløt claimed that Dexter inspired him, and he wanted to kill Khan in front of Faiza, similar to the television series, to "stop evil".
Association was established between Mark Twitchell, of Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, during his first-degree murder trial, and the character of Dexter Morgan. After weeks of testimony and gruesome evidence presented in court, Twitchell was found guilty of the planned and deliberate murder of 38-year-old Johnny Altinger on April 12, 2011.
British teen Steven Miles, 17, was sentenced to 25 years in prison on October 2, 2014, after brutally stabbing and dismembering his girlfriend Elizabeth Rose Thomas, 17 in Oxted, Surrey. Police discovered Thomas' body on January 24, 2014 and determined the cause of death to be a stab wound to the back. Miles was arrested on suspicion of murder. Miles pled guilty to the crime on September 9. According to Surrey Police, Miles had dismembered Thomas' body following her death, wrapping up limbs in plastic wrap, and had attempted to clean up the crime scene before he was found by a family member. Miles had been reported to be obsessed with the television series Dexter. Miles was also diagnosed with an autistic syndrome and reportedly had an alter ego named Ed, whom Miles claims made him carry out the heinous murder.
The opening title theme for Dexter was written by Rolfe Kent and scored by American composer Daniel Licht. The series music for each episode was overseen by Gary Calamar of Go Music and coordinated by Alyson Vidoli.
In August 2007, the album soundtrack entitled Dexter: Music from the Showtime Original Series was released featuring music from the television series. The album was produced by Showtime and distributed by Milan Records. The digital download version offers five additional bonus tracks from the show's first two seasons.
Marvel Comics released a Dexter limited series in July 2013. The comic books are written by creator Jeff Lindsay and drawn by Dalihbor Talajic. Another limited series, called Dexter: Down Under, was published in 2014.
|DVD Name||Release Date||Ep #||Additional Content|
|The Complete First Season||Region 1: August 21, 2007
Region 2: May 19, 2008
Region 4: February 14, 2008
|The Complete Second Season||Region 1: August 19, 2008
Region 2: March 30, 2009
Region 4: August 21, 2008
|The Complete Third Season||Region 1: August 18, 2009
Region 2: August 16, 2010
Region 4: August 20, 2009
|The Complete Fourth Season||Region 1: August 17, 2010
Region 2: November 29, 2010
Region 4: November 4, 2010
|The Complete Fifth Season||Region 1: August 16, 2011
Region 2: September 5, 2011
Region 4: August 18, 2011
|The Complete Sixth Season||Region 1 : August 14, 2012
Region 2: June 18, 2012
Region 4: June 20, 2012
|The Complete Seventh Season||Region 1: May 14, 2013
Region 2: June 3, 2013
Region 4: June 19, 2013
|The Complete Eighth and Final Season||Region 1: November 14, 2013
Region 2: December 2, 2013
Region 4: November 27, 2013
|Blu-ray Name||Release Date||Ep #||Additional Content|
|The Complete First Season||Region A: January 6, 2009
Region B: June 18, 2012
|The Complete Second Season||Region A: May 5, 2009
Region B: June 18, 2012
|The Complete Third Season||Region A: August 18, 2009
Region B: June 18, 2012
|The Complete Fourth Season||Region A: August 17, 2010
Region B: November 4, 2010
|The Complete Fifth Season||Region A: August 16, 2011
Region B: August 18, 2011
|The Complete Sixth Season||Region A: August 15, 2012
Region B: June 18, 2012
|The Complete Seventh Season||Region A: May 14, 2013
Region B: June 3, 2013
|The Complete Eighth and Final Season||Region A: November 12, 2013
Region B: November 27, 2013
On September 13, 2009, Icarus Studios released a video game based on the events of season one, for the iPhone platform, via the iTunes app store. The game was released for the iPad on October 15, 2010 and for PCs on February 15, 2011. The cast and crew of Dexter were very supportive, with some of the cast providing full voice work for the game, including Michael C. Hall. The game has received many positive reviews, including an 8/10 from IGN. No additional content for the game has been released or announced as planned; plans to release the game on the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 seem to have been cancelled, as no recent information regarding expansion of the game onto these platforms has been given.
In July 2010, Showtime launched Dexter Game On during Comic-Con. The promotion relied on community involvement, part of which required participants to use the SCVNGR applications available for the Android, iPad, iPhone, and iPod Touch platforms to complete treks around the five cities where the game was available. The final trek led to a kill room, where the Infinity Killer had recently claimed a victim. A link was found in the room to a (fake) company called Sleep Superbly, which began an extensive Showtime-maintained alternate reality game that continued until Dexter's season-five premiere. The alternate reality game involves players working cooperatively to help catch the Infinity Killer and identify his victims; a number of other characters help. During the game, players communicate with the Infinity Killer, among many others. The game spans Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, and countless unique sites created for the game. Players can even call phone numbers. The characters and companies are controlled by real people, adding an extra layer of realism and the ability for intelligent conversation. To maintain a realistic feeling in the game, Showtime does not put its name or advertisements on most sites or pages created for the game.
On August 13, 2015, the hidden object mobile game Dexter: Hidden Darkness was released for all iOS devices, with the announcement that Android support would be available soon. Players, acting as Dexter Morgan, solve crimes and hunt down killers to "feed" the dark passenger.
In March 2010, Dark Horse Comics released a seven-inch bust of Dexter Morgan, as part of its Last Toys on the Left series. In April 2010, it released a bobblehead doll based on the show character, the Trinity Killer.
A variety of merchandise items is available from Showtime including an apron, bin bags, blood slide beverage coasters and key rings, drinking glasses, mugs, pens made to look like syringes of blood, posters, and T-shirts.
In January 2014, in partnership with the HollywoodsProps company, DexterCorner created an auction site and sold hundreds of original props used in the series; part of the auction's proceeds were donated to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. Showtime has also offered a limited selection of props for sale.
In April 2013, Showtime president David Nevins said although the series would end with season eight, all options of continuing the series were "on the table." Reports at the time were for a series to be built around Debra Morgan. In early 2016, news outlets reported a ninth season was being discussed, though nothing has been confirmed by the actor or the television network.
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