Dexter and Saw

Dexter Morgan

"The only way to kill a Dark Passenger is to take out the Driver." ~Dexter
The Dark Passenger is a concept used within the DEXTER Universe.

It was Dexter Morgan's name for his urge to kill.


Dexter's Dark Passenger (a need to kill) was born during his mother's brutal murder by chainsaw at the hands of Santos Jimenez and two other men. From an early age, Dexter was trained by Harry Morgan to focus his urge on other killers. Although Dexter had a preferred modus operandi, he would frequently improvise. He received some pleasure in dismembering his victims, but its main purpose was to more easily dispose of the bodies.

The TV Series

Season One

  • The Dark Passenger was mentioned as a general term for the burden Dexter carried as a result of his childhood trauma.

Season Two

  • The Dark Passenger was used to refer to an addiction, such as for a drug ("An Inconvenient Lie").

Season Five

  • Dexter's urge to kill took over, and he brutally murdered an obnoxious man ("My Bad").

Season Six

  • After Dexter broke a promise to Brother Sam and killed Nick, Dexter visualized his dead brother, Brian Moser, as a representation of his inhumane side. "Brian" pressured Dexter to forgo The Code of Harry. Although tempted to succumb to a life of killing without constraints, Dexter concluded that The Code protected him. Dexter opted to return to Miami and follow the rules of his dead father ("Nebraska").
  • Dexter thought Travis Marshall had a Dark Passenger which, unlike his, could walk, and talk, and breathe...and be killed ("Sin of Omission"). He later realized that Travis was mentally ill.

Season Seven

  • Dexter told Debra that if he didn't control his need to kill, it would control him. He added that the only way he could control it was to channel it, not suppress it, in the way that Harry had taught him. When Dexter hadn't killed for a duration of time, he began to display "withdrawal" symptoms ("Buck the System").
  • It was revealed that Dexter mentioned the Dark Passenger for the first time at age twelve. He thought of the concept due to a remark from Harry, that "it got into him too early in the shipping container." Young Dexter took it as meaning that he was "possessed," but Harry meant that he had been traumatized ("The Dark... Whatever").
  • Dexter, with the insight of Hannah McKay, began to view his Dark Passenger as an excuse for killing that he himself adopted. This revelation was finalized with a confrontation with arsonist, Joe Jensen. When Dexter killed Clint McKay, he accepted personal responsibility for his actions ("The Dark...Whatever").

"The Dark Passenger has been with me ever since I can remember, pulling the strings, running the show, but as it turns out, I'm no puppet." ~Dexter

Season Eight

  • At one point, Dexter felt a stronger need than the need to kill. Although he had a victim strapped to a kill table, he didn't follow through. He opted to join Hannah instead of continuing with the kill ("Monkey in a Box"). This led to dire consequences for Debra.

The Novels

Dexter referred to his homicidal urges significantly more frequently in the books.

Dexter in the Dark

  • Dexter in the Dark -- The Dark Passenger was revealed to be a independent entity inhabiting Dexter, possibly the offspring of the ancient god, Moloch. The idea was largely disliked by critics and fans alike and was dropped from future books. In 2013, the writer, Jeff Lindsay. stated that Dexter in the Dark was an experiment. As such, the storyline had been tested, and the idea was abandoned.

Dexter by Design

  • Dexter by Design -- During the beginning of the novel, Dexter was still feeling the somewhat weak and backseat attitude of his Dark Passenger, caused by the events of Dexter in the Dark.

Related Pages


Urges of Other Killers

Other murderers in the series were driven by their own distinctive dark desires, as described below.

Brian Moser


Brian and Monique's prosthetic arm.

Brian Moser's attraction to body parts resulted from a childhood incident. He witnessed his mother's murder and dismemberment by chainsaw at the hands of Santos Jimenez and two other men. It fed his perverse fascination with limbs and prostheses. Brian had a large refrigeration unit in his apartment where he would drain his victims' blood and cut up their bodies into symmetrical pieces. He rarely made spur-of-the-moment kills and would, generally, plan them well in advance.

Brian displayed his dismembered, bloodless victims in public as part of his scheme to force his brother, Dexter, to remember his past. He also covered a hotel room with blood to make it resemble the shipping container where their mother was killed. Because Brian was jealous of the bond between Dexter and Debra (whom Brian viewed as Dexter's "fake sister"), he attempted to separate them by killing Debra. Brian's ultimate goal was to reunite with Dexter so they could become a killing team.

Lila West


Lila as she sets fires in her loft.

Lila West's fascination with fire fed off her negative emotions. When angered, she would spontaneously burn anything, even her high-priced works of art. The cause of her pyromania was unknown, but she once told Dexter that she had killed her ex-boyfriend (a drug dealer) by setting a house fire after he left her strung out on drugs. This event supposedly led her to attend NA meetings, where she met Dexter.

Lila did not have a problem using fire to get what she wanted or to manipulate Dexter. Killing people had little effect on her, shown when she murdered James Doakes in a fiery explosion. When Dexter (whom she considered her "soulmate") rejected her, she attempted to burn him, Cody, and Astor alive in her loft.

Miguel Prado

Miguel Killer

Miguel tells Dexter that he feels "fantastic" moments after he kills Billy Fleeter

Miguel Prado's desire for vengeance likely arose early in life due to his father physically abusing his children. As an ADA, he was known for his harsh enforcement of the law. Over time, Miguel's rage built towards criminals who escaped what he believed to be an inefficient judicial system. He began to feel that murder was necessary to mete out justice.

Miguel was power-hungry and would let no one stand in the way of his political ambitions. He found killing a useful tool to achieve what he wanted. After he killed Billy Fleeter, he discovered that he enjoyed it. Miguel presented a cheerful demeanor within hours of having murdered him, and later Ellen Wolf (an attorney who threatened to wreck his career). When Miguel realized that Maria LaGuerta knew he had murdered Ellen, he attempted to kill her, also. At one point, Dexter thought of Miguel as a friend, but he eventually recognized that Miguel had only been using him. When Dexter tried to exert control over him, Miguel sought to have him killed by The Skinner.

George King

The Skinner

George King skins Anton Briggs to gain information..

George King's demand for respect originated in his violent history of torturing and killing people for a living in Nicaragua. It turned him into a control freak who insisted on being obeyed. King never really accepted that he was a serial killer, although he was feared by many who personally knew him.

King came to believe that Freebo had disrespected him, and he began a relentless hunt for him. Because King always used an excuse to justify his kills, he told himself that Freebo owed him money, despite actually caring little about the money. Whether he admitted it or not, it was mostly about the respect that Freebo failed to show him. While looking for Freebo, King would interrogate, partially skin, and kill those associated with Freebo. He then left their bodies in public, most likely as a warning to Freebo and others.

Arthur Mitchell

Arthur Mitchell

Arthur with the remaining ashes of his sister, Vera.

Arthur Mitchell's compulsion to re-enact family deaths was linked to his sister's death, his mother's suicide, his father's abuse -- and his father's brutal murder (likely by Arthur himself). While on a road trip, Arthur showed Dexter the bathroom in his childhood home "where it all started." When he was ten-years-old, Arthur watched his sister take a shower. He startled her and she slipped, suffering an accidental death. His parents blamed him for her death and he always felt responsible, although he tried to convince himself that it wasn't his fault. He said that it led to the loss of his "innocence."

Arthur killed in cycles - first a young boy (who represented himself), a young woman (who represented his sister), a mother (who represented his own), and a man (who represented his father). Each was murdered in the same way that each had died. After getting away with murder for thirty years, Arthur decided to commit suicide. He even constructed a coffin and let himself fall from the roof of a building. However, Dexter managed to save him (to his later regret). It should be noted that the suicides of Arthur's mother and both of his daughters, Christine and Rebecca, were all tied to his actions. While on Dexter's table, Arthur claimed that he could not control his "demon," took no pride in his kills, and was just following his "path." Knowing that Dexter was going to kill him, he accepted his fate as "God's plan."

Lumen Pierce

Lumen and knife

An angry Lumen kills Jordan Chase

Lumen Pierce was driven by a need for revenge that stemmed from her torture and rape by Barrel Girl Gang. Dexter noticed her watching him when he killed Boyd Fowler (Lumen's captor). Although she was fearful of Dexter at first, he was slowly able to convince her to trust him.

Lumen was determined to kill the men responsible for raping her but, because of her inexperience and mistakes, she sought Dexter's assistance. At first, he tried to dissuade her. However, by Dexter's standards, these men deserved to die, so he eventually agreed to help her. They formed a partnership and took them out one by one, with Lumen herself killing two of them. After she watched Dexter set up a kill room, she realized that he had killed many times before. Instead of this fact frightening her, she started to rely on him even more. Their friendship grew stronger and, after she killed Alex Tilden, Lumen initiated an intimate relationship with Dexter. When they killed the last member and leader of Barrel Girl Gang, Lumen's darkness suddenly disappeared. Unlike herself, she knew that Dexter could not stop killing. To Dexter's dismay, Lumen then left him to return to her previous life.

Jordan Chase

Jordan Teenage-Wasteland

Jordan suspects that Dexter tampered with Emily's vial of blood.

Jordan Chase began to exert his need for abusive power and control when he was a teenager. While at a summer camp, he befriended Cole Harmon, Dan Mendell, Alex Tilden, and Boyd Fowler. One day, Jordan drugged an older girl, Emily Birch, and persuaded his friends to gang-rape her while he stood back without participating. Emily survived the ordeal and Jordan subsequently kept a vial of her blood as a reminder of the occasion.

Borrowing ideas from Plato, Jordan became a famous motivational speaker who relished the influence he exerted over his fans. Although he outwardly appeared as a normal and inspirational man, he was responsible for at least thirteen sadistic rapes and twelve murders that were committed upon his orders. He himself avoided sexual contact during the crimes, receiving his gratification by directing the abuse and verbally tormenting the victims. Jordan proved to be a very dangerous antagonist for Dexter.

Walter Kenney

Walter Kenney, Tooth Fairy Killer

Walter stares at an attractive woman

Walter Kenney was compelled to rip out lateral incisors. This need originated from abuse by his mother. When he was nine years old, his mother had repeatedly hit him in the face so severely that she knocked out a lateral incisor. Kenney later became a serial killer, who over several decades killed at least fifteen prostitutes. Because he would rip out their lateral incisors, he was labeled The Tooth Fairy Killer. A young Dexter found him inspiring and kept a scrap book containing news articles of his exploits.

When Keeney retired, he moved to a retirement village in Florida. After five years, he became bored and so killed another prostitute. However, after several attempts, he was unable to remove her tooth. Dexter noticed at the crime scene the specific damage in her mouth and he wondered if the murderer was The Tooth Fairy Killer. Dexter tracked him down to learn that his name was Walter Keeney, now an ill-tempered old man. After Dexter befriended him under the alias of Dan, he broke into Kenney’s storage locker to find his trophies – a box of teeth. Kenney soon discovered Dexter’s true identity and tried to murder him, but failed. As he was about to be killed by Dexter, Kenney grumbled that all he ever cared about was killing but, in his old age, he couldn't do it right, anymore. This caused Dexter to ponder his own future.

Travis Marshall


Travis is frightened by a message written in blood, not realizing that he had written it

Travis Marshall became a religious fanatic when he attended the University of Tallahassee and met Professor James Gellar who was forming a theory about how to bring on the End Times. Travis believed that he and Gellar were the "Two Witnesses" (two powerful prophets mentioned in the Book of Revelation). However, Gellar rejected the idea that they were prophets. Travis then attempted to prove that Gellar couldn't be killed by stabbing him with the sword of John the Revelator. When Gellar died from his wound, Travis hid his body in a freezer in the abandoned church where he set up his base of operations. Travis began to visualize interactions with the deceased Gellar as he planned and created his bizarre Doomsday Tableaus. Travis was soon labeled "The Doomsday Killer" by the police and media. Dexter came to be viewed by Travis as the "False Prophet" or "The Beast" - enemies of God mentioned in the Bible.

It was established in "Ricochet Rabbit" that Travis was mentally ill and suffered from psychological effects, such as delusions of grandeur, violent tendencies, and a lack of empathy, along with being a master manipulator. He was suspected of having murdered his parents. Travis also experienced periods of amnesia, especially during the commission of a violent act. His psychiatrist had prescribed Chloropromazine, an anti-psychotic drug used to treat schizophrenia. Since his psychiatrist had been dead for two years, it's likely that Travis was no longer medicated.

Joe Jensen

Phantom arsonist

Joe as he is about to set fire to a bus filled with passengers.

Joe Jensen was driven to burn people alive. When he was twelve years old, his childhood friend, Bobby, set their school's gym on fire, in which Bobby was inadvertently killed. After the incident, Joe was sent to a juvenile detention center for six years. Joe blamed Bobby for this and developed a deep anger toward him. In 2006, Joe was sent to a psychiatric facility for several years.

After Joe was released from the facility, he became a serial arsonist who was responsible for several deaths in Miami. He was dubbed The Phantom Arsonist, and it was suspected that he burned people alive just to watch them suffer. Joe mystified investigators with a clue that he left behind at each crime scene -- the word "Bobby.' Dexter eventually captured Joe but, instead of killing him, he set him up to be arrested by the police.

Isaak Sirko

Isaak S

Isaak waits in Dexter's apartment to torture and kill him.

Isaak Sirko was a ruthless and powerful crime boss. His history of violent behavior dated back to the act of him pushing his music teacher down a flight of stairs at an English boarding school. After that incident, according to Isaak, he didn't have much of a sensitive side left. He went on to become the leader of the Koshka Brotherhood, a criminal organization based in Ukraine. 

Isaak was briefly driven by a second desire -- revenge. After Isaak's secret lover - Viktor Baskov - went missing in Miami, Isaak tracked him down, only to discover that Dexter had murdered him and dumped his body at sea. Isaak was determined to avenge Viktor's death by killing Dexter, but he first wanted to know why Dexter had killed Viktor. Dexter and Isaak then played a dangerous cat-and-mouse game. Isaak proved to be tenacious and his quest for revenge hindered the operations of the Koshka Brotherhood. Isaak identified Dexter as someone similar to himself and even remarked that, under different circumstances, the two could have been great friends. Eventually, Isaak spared Dexter because he needed his help in killing Oleg Mickic and Benjamin Caffrey, two hit men out to kill Isaak. When Isaak was shot by a subordinate, Dexter buried him at sea where he had previously dumped Viktor's body. 

A.J. Yates

A.J. Yates had a fixation on women's feet, which resulted from growing up with an abusive mother. He would hide under his bed and watch her feet as she searched for him. He grew to hate his birth name "Albert," which his mother would call him during the abuse. He was a very careful and paranoid individual who had security cameras situated around his house.

Yates' M.O. was to capture a woman and hold her for days. During this time, he would break each individual toe on her right foot. After the woman died, Yates would bury her body in his backyard with her possessions (minus the right shoe, which he kept on display in his closet).

Oliver Saxon

Oliver Saxon

Oliver notices that his mother is fearful of him

Oliver Saxon was consumed with jealousy. From an early age, he felt neglected by his mother who, unable to deal with his psychopathy, focused her attention toward his younger brother. As a response, Daniel drowned his younger brother in a swimming pool. In turn, he was sent away to a mental facility at age 14. While there, he was practically tortured by the staff who would tie him down to a chair and force-feed him medications. After three years, Daniel deliberately caused an immense fire that allowed him to escape. The fire killed seven children, one of whom was assumed to include him. A nurse was blamed for causing the incident.

After the fire, Daniel Vogel changed his name to Oliver Saxon and used his freedom to travel across two continents. Later, in his 40s, he settled in Miami where he continued to murder people. Saxon was soon dubbed The Brain Surgeon because he would carve into his victims' craniums and harvest a brain fragment (the anterior insular cortex). This was his way to draw the attention of his own mother, Dr. Evelyn Vogel, who was residing in Miami as well. After a long search for The Brain Surgeon, Dexter discovered that it was none other than Evelyn's (believed dead) son, Daniel Vogel. Evelyn and Saxon then secretly met at her house and he, at first, was somewhat pleasant toward her. However, due to Saxon's jealousy over his mother treating Dexter as a son, Saxon slashed her throat in front of Dexter. Evelyn was later avenged when Dexter killed Saxon by stabbing him in the neck.