"Sometimes, I wonder what it would be like for everything inside me that's denied and unknown to be revealed. But I'll never know. I live my life in hiding. My survival depends on it." ~Dexter Morgan ("Born Free")
He is an elusive serial killer in Miami, known as The Bay Harbor Butcher, who targets and kills other murderers. His detailed method of killing allows him to avoid the justice system by getting rid of any potential evidence.
The irony of Dexter's life is that he works closely and affably with homicide detectives and a forensic specialist. Dexter, himself a blood spatter analyst, collects, processes, and interprets evidence for the Miami Metro Police Department. He often uses his ability to access police databases or tamper with evidence for his personal advantage.
By survival, Dexter is the most successful serial killer in the series.
At an early age, Dexter starts to kill and dismember animals. His adoptive father, Harry, (a homicide detective) realizes that Dexter is a potential serial killer. After attempts to curb Dexter's violent behavior failed, Harry concludes that Dexter's need to kill can not be suppressed--only focused. Making the best out of a bad situation, Harry decides to train Dexter as a vigilante, to solely hunt and kill other murderers (arguably making society safer). To avoid arrest, Dexter follows a set of guidelines, The Code of Harry.
Dexter generally disposes of his victims by dismembering them, putting the parts into black trash bags, and dropping the bags off his fishing boat into the ocean. During Season Two, scuba divers discover the bodies of eighteen of his victims. Due to the location where the bodies are found and because they were cut into pieces, the media labels the unknown killer The Bay Harbor Butcher - a moniker hated by Dexter.
Face and Hair
Dexter is presented as a handsome, white male in his mid-30's with auburn hair, hazel eyes, and a few beauty marks. His hair length varies slightly during the series. It is the shortest in Season One and the longest in Seasons Two, Three, and Four. Dexter usually has a "5-o'clock shadow" beard, although in the title sequence ("Morning Routine") from Episode Two onward, he's shown shaving his neck - with a drop of blood falling into the washbasin.
Build and Fitness
Dexter is 5'11", approximately 175 pounds, physically fit, and maintains an exercise routine. He is shown, periodically, running on a treadmill, using a stationary bike, jogging in the streets, swimming, and working out in a gym. Keeping himself in shape is important for two reasons. He must maintain the facade that he is an everyday guy, and he must be able to overpower his victims. Furthermore, Dexter's death-dealing activities require a lot of dragging, heavy lifting, and occasionally the chasing of someone (e.g. Lumen Pierce, Lance Robinson).
Dexter has four scars. Under his arm on his left side is a long scar, which he received in childhood. From being shot by Doakes, Dexter has a scar on his left leg. Jimenez gave Dexter a scar on his upper right arm when he slashed it outside the bowling alley. He also has a scar caused by Lumen near his left shoulder.
Dexter, both in the novels and in the television show, is partial to the Cuban style of khakis or light-colored linen trousers, and rayon or linen guayabera-style shirts. He also wears polo shirts, t-shirts, jeans, athletic pants, and shorts. For work, he generally wears a collared, button-down shirt and often a lab coat. Boat shoes are his preferred footwear.
When stalking a target, Dexter wears a military-inspired green (the manufacturer calls it "Army Green") 4-button Henley. He also wears brown cargo pants and boots that resemble WWII paratrooper jump boots. To avoid leaving fingerprints, Dexter uses latex gloves or black leather tactical gloves.
Dexter's kill attire consists of coveralls and a dark-colored bib apron, probably made of thick vinyl. He usually wears a plastic face shield when using a power tool. He also wears sleeve guards, shoe covers, disposable gloves, and waterproof boots that match his apron. This suggests that he has his own PPE (Personal Protective Equipment). Often, it appears as if he wears his Hunting Outfit beneath his PPE. At times, he has to improvise.
When creating crime scenes in his lab or working at bloody murder scenes ("Seeing Red"), Dexter wears disposable clothing. This includes coveralls with a hood, gloves, shoe covers (sometimes, boots), face shields, masks, and goggles. It should be noted that some of these items are the same or similar to his Kill Attire.
"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."
One of Dexter's most important traits is his need for control - of himself and others. Despite frequently feeling the urge to kill, Dexter displays an incredible amount of self-control. In order to survive, it is vital that he restrain his dark urges and follow the rules of Code. Also, he is very organized in all areas of his life. He keeps his home clean and neat, writes meticulous lab reports, and carefully plans most of his kills. Dexter admittedly calls himself a "control freak."
Another trait of Dexter is his sense of superiority. Because he follows a code, he believes that he has higher moral values than the killers that he kills. He justifies his actions as "taking out the trash."
Dexter can be charming but he is a practiced liar and, in most cases, viewers should place more trust in his thoughts than in his words. Even Hannah called Dexter a "master manipulator."
Often, he engages in pre-murder conversations with his victims. With them, he can share the truth about who he is and know that they'll take his secret to their watery graves.
Except for anger, Dexter's emotional responses are usually part of a well-rehearsed act. In Season Two, he tells James Doakes that he only has a "small conscience" and that his feelings can't be played on because he doesn't have any ("There's Something About Harry").
Dexter frequently references his internal feeling of emptiness. In his youth, this lead to attempts to "feel alive." (This is shown more in the show than in the books). As an adult, he enjoys the rush he feels when stalking, killing, and evading capture.
For many years, Dexter lived alone, had no interest in romance, and thought it best to avoid sex. He had learned to be wary of intimacy because usually when a woman gets that close to him, she is scared off. But he knew that he needs a relationship to help blend into society. So, for that reason, he starts to date Rita Bennett (an abused woman). At first, he considers his relationship with Rita to be part of his "disguise." Later, it appears that he cares more for Rita than he admits. Dexter eventually marries Rita (after she becomes pregnant with his son, Harrison) (In the novels, Dexter has a biological daughter, Lily, instead of a son.)
In his narration, Dexter often refers to "humans" as if he is not one of them. But there are a chinks in Dexter's emotional armor. He acknowledges loyalty to his family, particularly to his dead, adoptive father. Regarding him, Dexter stated, "If I were capable of love, how I would have loved Harry." After Harry's death, Dexter's only family (until he marries Rita) is his adoptive sister, Debra Morgan. In one episode, Dexter comically repeats in his head "I will not kill my sister" (as she regularly leaves his apartment a mess while living with him). However, Dexter didn't allow his own brother, Brian, to harm Debra, as Dexter was "fond of her."
Although Dexter ruthlessly and ritualistically kills murderers with no remorse, he often wishes that he could just lead a normal life. His attempts to do this prove fruitless in the end.
”Am I evil? Am I good? I'm done asking those questions. I don't have the answers. Does anyone?” ~Dexter ("The British Invasion")
Dexter is portrayed as highly intelligent, introspective, pragmatic, calculating, relentless, generally fearless, and a "master of compartmentalization." He enjoys challenges, has a dry sense of humor, and is aware of his human defects.
Main article: Dexter Morgan / Early Life
Dexter was born Dexter Moser on 1 February 1971 (three years after Brian Moser) to parents Laura Moser and Joe Driscoll. On Wednesday October 3, 1973, Laura, her two sons, as well as three drug users were herded into a shipping container. The boys watched as their mother and the others were brutally murdered by chainsaw. Dexter and Brian sat in their blood for two days before they were rescued, and the traumatic event forever changed both of them. While Brian was institutionalized, Dexter was taken in by the Morgan family and legally adopted. His adoptive family members are Debra (sister), Doris (mother) and Harry (the homicide detective who found him sitting in blood). Dexter grew up unaware of Brian's existence.
Dexter's murderous urges took shape well before adolescence and it was his adoptive sister, Debra, who saw the signs first, but she didn't realize what it meant. Dexter had taken apart each of her dolls - a harbinger of human dismemberment. (per Early Cuts)
One day, while on the family boat, Harry asked Dexter if he's "different." He told Dexter that he'd found the grave of the neighbor's missing dog, Buddy, along with a lot of other bones. Harry asked Dexter if he ever wanted to kill something bigger than a dog, like a person. Dexter admitted that he had, but no one in particular. When asked, "Why didn't you?," Dexter replied that he thought his father and mother "wouldn't like it." ("Dexter")
When Dexter was 19-years-old, Harry fell ill of coronary heart disease and was confined to a hospital. Harry soon realized that a nurse, Mary, was purposefully overdosing people. On the verge of death from Mary's actions, Harry gave Dexter his "permission" to kill her. This would be Dexter's first human kill ("Popping Cherry"). A year later, Harry walked in on Dexter dismembering Juan Ryness and he vomited.
Religious Points of View
"If I believed in God, if I believed in Sin, this is the place where I would be sucked straight to Hell. If I believed in Hell..." ~Dexter ("Waiting to Exhale")
Dexter doesn't understand religion. He personally never believed in a higher power, apart from the guidance from his father, Harry Morgan. Throughout the seasons, he hinted at being atheist, although he had no problem with those who followed religion.
In Season Six, he clarified that his belief was mainly in science. The season's focus on religion introduced him to various characters, from Brother Sam to Travis Marshall. After pressure from Angel and Debra, he decided to pass religious belief on to Harrison (his son). Dexter's faith was tested on multiple occasions, yet he never called out to a spiritual deity for assistance. He found his own way out of bad situations. The exception was when he was faced with a predicament that he couldn't fix alone--Harrison in surgery for a ruptured appendix. Twice during this situation, Dexter prayed to God. Deeply worried, he promised that he'd do anything if Harrison would be okay. He wasn't sure if he really believed in a higher being but, for the moment, he just wanted his son to survive. After news of his son's successful recovery, he said "Thank God," which Brother Sam heard.
Season Six events brought spirituality into Dexter's life. Deciding that his son would benefit from a structured lifestyle, he enrolled Harrison in Catholic school. As Dexter sought to understand religious values, he encountered one who knew little (Joe Walker); one who was an obsessed End Times expert (Professor James Gellar); one, a killer, who was trapped between his beliefs and his own personality (Travis Marshall); and one who "found" God but was a normal, functional man (Brother Sam). In the end, Dexter didn't believe in a high power. After Brother Sam's death, he claimed that religion was useless for his "dark passenger." In Season 8, he stated, "I don't believe in miracles."
The Urge to Kill
“Tonight's the night. And it's going to happen again, and again. It has to happen. Nice night.” ~Dexter ("Dexter")
Dexter's need to kill stems from an early life incident. At age three, he witnessed his mother's brutal murder by chainsaw inside a cargo container. He was then left sitting in blood for two days. The traumatic incident caused something inside of Dexter to "change" and he was reborn as a killer.
Dexter's urge to kill is strong and needs to be satisfied nearly monthly. He continually hunts for prey to place on his table. Then he takes his time to thoroughly enjoy his ritual. If he doesn't kill for a duration of time, he becomes unstable, with his personality representing "withdrawal syndrome.
- Main article: Dark Passenger
"I just know there's something dark in me. I hide it. I certainly don't talk about it. But it's there. Always. This ‘Dark Passenger.’ And when he's driving, I feel...alive. Half sick with the thrill of complete wrongness. I don't fight him. I don't want to." ~Dexter
An important aspect of Dexter is his Dark Passenger, a psychological manifestation of his inner-thinking that represents his urge to kill. It is a level of 'darkness' that he can only keep at bay with a high degree of control. For many years, Dexter believes that his ‘Dark Passenger’ is an actual 'entity.' Eventually, he views the ‘Dark Passenger’ as a scapegoat that he blames for his actions. At times, Dexter has thought that other murderers also have ‘Dark Passengers.
The Code of Harry
Main article: The Code of Harry
“Without the ‘Code of Harry,’ I’m sure I would’ve committed a senseless murder in my youth just to watch the blood flow.” ~Dexter
“My code requires a higher standard of proof than your city’s laws, at zero cost to the taxpayer. If you ask me, I’m a bargain.” ~Dexter
Dexter's adoptive father, Harry Morgan (with the guidance of Evelyn Vogel) trained Dexter to control his homicidal urges and to channel them away from innocent people. The Code of Harry allowed Dexter to kill other killers and helped him to avoid arrest.
- Don't get caught!
- Never kill an innocent. Be certain that the target is a killer.
- Victims must be killers who have evaded the justice system.
- Killing must serve a purpose, otherwise it's just plain murder.
- Blend in socially. Maintain appearances.
- Fake emotions and normality.
- Control urges to kill and channel them.
- Be prepared. Leave no traces or evidence.
- Never make a scene. Stay calm and collected.
- Don't make things personal because it clouds judgment.
Main article: Dexter's modus operandi
”I prefer a stalk-and-ambush approach. My instincts are impeccable, but I have to be sure of my prey." ~Dexter ("Popping Cherry")
Dexter's preferred modus operandi but he improvises as needed:
- Select a victim (suspected murderer).
- Stalk (learn routine, gather evidence).
- Confirm that the target meets the Code.
- Prepare a Kill Room.
- Capture the target.
- Collect a blood trophy.
- Conduct his Kill Ritual.
- Dismember the body.
- Leave no evidence.
- Dispose of remains from his boat.
Main article: Blood Slide Boxes.
”Some gangs earn teardrops of blood by killing. I understand, we all need our keepsakes. One man’s tattoos are another man’s blood slides.” ~Dexter
Dexter usually collects a blood slide as a trophy during a planned kill. Hie slices a victim’s cheek with a surgical scalpel and places a drop of blood between two microscope slides. He keeps his blood slides inside a specialized Blood Slide Box.
Dexter was in the top of his class in medical school and, subsequently, earned a degree in forensic science. His formal education included courses in biology, anatomy, chemistry, and mathematics. Additionally, he demonstrates knowledge on various topics, including history, anthropology, psychology, botany, philosophy, architecture, sociology, economics, religious lore, art, literature, law, and criminology. Dexter possesses a large English vocabulary and speaks some Spanish, but he never exhibits fluency in other languages.
Lawyer: "Please state your name and occupation."
Dexter: "My name is Dexter Morgan and I'm a forensics specialist in blood-spatter analysis for the Miami Metro Police Department."
Lawyer: "And how long have you been doing blood-spatter analysis, Mr. Morgan?"
Dexter: "Almost twelve years."
Lawyer: "You've been involved in quite a few cases then?"
Dexter: "Two thousand, one hundred and three."
Lawyer: (Chuckle) "Give or take..."
Dexter: "No. Two thousand, one hundred and three."
Lawyer: "Then it's safe to say that blood is your life?"
Dexter: "Safe to say."
Prior to Season One, Dexter Morgan spent almost twelve years employed as the only known blood-spatter analyst in the Miami Metro Homicide Dept. He's a well-respected and model co-worker (reliable, efficient, friendly). The person that he works the closest with, Vince Masuka, covers the remainder of forensics although Dexter does often help him with non-blood related forensics (fingerprints, fiber, hair, and bullets). Dexter also serves as an expert witness in court proceedings and is certified to photograph crime scenes.
Dexter has a precise knowledge of his work field and, thanks to his interest in blood, he proficiently solves criminal cases. To Dexter, "The blood doesn't lie." Both Dexter's personal and professional lives revolve around blood.
At times, suspects involved in cases fly into his radar and match the Code. Then he will tamper with evidence to ensure that they go free so that he can claim their lives. Also, he tampers with evidence for other reasons. In one such instance, he altered evidence to ensure that Detective Joey Quinn didn't take the fall for Stan Liddy's death.
Because of his many years in his line of work and the tragedy of his wife's murder, Dexter became well known locally. Even Jordan Chase, a motivational speaker, had heard of and (unfortunately) became interested in him. When Dexter attended his high school reunion, most of his classmates admired his "cool job." The exception was sports-store-owner, Joe Walker, who became a bit jealous, due to the attention that Dexter received and began to enjoy.
Sergeant Doakes found it curious that Dexter would "settle" for blood spatter work, a job he considered beneath Dexter's abilities. He also questioned why a "lab geek" had studied advanced jujitsu in college. Detective Mike Anderson judged Dexter to be an exceptionally good deductive analyst and wondered how a "pro" like him could stand working with "Miami Homicide chuckleheads."
Skills And Abilities
"A wolf would chew off its own paw; its survival instinct is that fierce. So is mine." ~Dexter ("Do You Take Dexter Morgan?")
Dexter is a force to be reckoned with.
To supplement his forensic expertise, Dexter mastered a wide array of skills. He's portrayed as a master manipulator, practiced liar, lock picker, burglar, marksman, hunter and tracker, hand-to-hand combatant, actor, computer hacker, and impersonator. These abilities proved necessary to maintain his double life, carry out his nightly activities, and keep one step ahead of the very Department in which he worked. His high level of physical fitness was a requirement for his survival and of utmost benefit in following the first rule of the Code - "Don't get caught."
Dexter's cardio was a major factor in his personal upkeep. In the event that he had to chase down a target, he needed to keep up without tiring. If in a fight, he had to endure hits and return them with ease. And having enough energy while chasing, subduing, transferring, and disposing of victims was a necessity. Regarding his cardio, he said, "The voices in my head get quieter until it's just me, my breath, and my feet on the sand." During the series, Dexter was shown swimming, jogging, running on a treadmill, using an exercise bike, and rowing on a gym's machine. Considering his muscle size and abdominal shape, it was apparent that he incorporated crunches, weight lifting, and push-ups into his exercise regimen.
His physical strength is also quite impressive; only a few of the series' antagonists, including Little Chino and Ray Speltzer, have been able to overpower him. Dexter himself has overpowered antagonists (in no particular order) Arthur Mitchell, Brian Moser, Louis Greene, George King, Jonah Mitchell, Jordan Chase, Oscar Prado, Miguel Prado, James Doakes (twice), Joey Quinn, and more. Additionally, he can lift and carry adult men with ease, showing little sign of strain. He has proven capable of lifting a full grown man (Louis Greene) off of the ground by the neck, although with two hands.
In his college years, Dexter studied advanced Jujitsu techniques to aid in learning how to fight opponents. Through years of experience (and likely a few close calls), he became a master at hand-to-hand CQC (close-quarters-combat) and, on more than one occasion, he was able to out-maneuver and defeat other experienced combatants. For the most part, his training in Jujitsu allowed him to quickly subdue targets with just a few simple movements, which mostly culminated in a rear naked choke hold. (This technique cuts off blood flow to the brain via the carotid arteries and causes temporary unconsciousness in just a few seconds). While not often, Dexter snapped necks, particularly if the situation called for a quick execution. If his opponents had weapons, he was able to disarm them before they caused any real damage.
While capable of taking on opponents, Dexter never rushed a battle to leave room for his own mistakes - unless he really needed to do so out of desperation. For instance, a handcuffed Dexter did decide to start fighting Doakes right away when the latter held him at gunpoint. Another example would be the time that a hit man held him at gunpoint and Dexter quickly cut his throat. Dexter's style often relied on counter-offense. He would allow his opponents to strike first in order to expose a weak or blind spot and then immediately take advantage of them (as with Joe Walker or Travis Marshall). In most instances, he adopted stealth and sneak attacks, as opposed to direct confrontation. He often stalked his victims from the shadows and disposed of them with minimal effort due to quiet steps and quick movements. He took advantage of any opportunity that presented itself, including the use of the surrounding environment. The following situations are examples of when Dexter used strategic thinking:
- Zoey Kruger. Usually, Dexter never allowed a fight to last longer than thirty seconds or so. This was to ensure that his victim had little to no chance of turning the tide of battle in their favor. Dexter preferred to use his animal tranquilizer (also known as M99) to disable his opponent so that he could strap them onto his table. However, when he didn't have his M99 or if he was challenged while carrying it, he had to rely on his strategic thinking. For instance, when Zoey Kruger attacked him, it resulted in him putting the M99 in his mouth and fighting Zoey until he had her in a position where he could inject the M99.
- Jordan Chase. An excellent example of Dexter's strategic thinking would be when Jordan Chase was able to hold both him and Lumen captive at his camp. Dexter was able to stab Jordan in the right foot with the 'missing knife' that he held in his pocket. This is a definite indication that Dexter was constantly preparing himself for any situation that could have the potential to escalate. It can safely be presumed that Dexter knew that Jordan had the potential to be cocky and, thus, Jordan would ignore the possibility that he could get harmed.
- Oliver Saxon. Another good example of Dexter's intelligence would be when he confronted Oliver Saxon in a jail cell. Dexter and Oliver both sat across from each other at a table, upon which Dexter placed a pen. Oliver quickly used the pen to pierce Dexter's shoulder, but Dexter pulled it out and killed Oliver by stabbing him in the throat with it. Miami Metro Police then replayed security footage of the incident, but they let Dexter off as the murder appeared to be in self-defense with no forethought from Dexter. This is an example of Dexter being able to look innocent to the people around him, but at the cost of an injury to his arm.
- James Doakes. Dexter was also very good at manipulating situations and setting people up. When Doakes started to go after him, Dexter's initial response was to make Doakes look inept. At a crime scene, Dexter first gave Doakes incorrect information regarding the homicide of a young woman, which caused Doakes to arrest a completely innocent man. Dexter then put a lab report on Doakes' desk, telling LaGuerta that he had delivered it to him the previous day (which he did not), making it look as though Doakes was deliberately interrogating an innocent person. This caused LaGuerta to harshly question Doakes' judgement. Dexter then headbutted Doakes in the privacy of his lab and quickly walked out to the main office area in front of his co-workers. Enraged, Doakes chased after him and attacked him publicly, while Dexter feigned helplessness and fear, causing LaGuerta to suspend Doakes on the spot.
- Louis Greene. Years later, when Louis started to harass Dexter by sending him Brian's Prosthetic Hand and cancelling his credit cards, Dexter arranged for Louis to get fired as well as causing his girlfriend to break up with him, all while Dexter appeared to be completely innocent.
- Maria LaGuerta. Dexter also successfully setup LaGuerta by making it appear as though she tried to frame him for the murder of Hector Estrada. This put her job in jeopardy.
Methods of Capture
See: M99 Tranquilizer article: Etorphine
In the TV series, Dexter mostly uses sleeper holds or M99 tranquilizer to capture his victims. In the novels, Dexter uses 50-pound-test-nylon-fishing line to strangle his victims into unconsciousness with a tactic known as garroting. He either casually walks up to his victims and quickly throttles them, or he hides in their cars and waits for them to sit down in the front seat, at which point he strikes. He then orders them to drive to the site where he plans to kill them. Dexter also does this in the TV series.
Dexter Morgan, who is rarely seen handling guns, uses a two-tone Heckler & Koch USP ("Left Turn Ahead") taken from the corpse of cocaine dealer Esteban Famosa to shoot and kill Esteban's brother, Teo, in the only shooting death caused by Dexter.
In Dexter's early days, he underwent extensive gun-training from his father, Harry. In flashbacks, Dexter can be seen at a gun range making accurate shots with various weapons. In addition, he hunted with a rifle during his teen years and was capable of hitting a deer or another animal quite easily.
Although Dexter prefers not to use firearms in his adult years, he is still a proficient marksman that can fire a handgun with precision. One of his witnessed uses of a handgun in his adult life is the time that Esteban and Teo Famosa hold Sergeant James Doakes as a hostage at the cabin.
After Dexter snaps Esteban's neck, he works with Doakes and, using Esteban's gun, he fires a shot that pierces Teo's heart. Another notable instance of Dexter's marksmanship is during his road trip to Nebraska. Using his left hand, Dexter fires a bullet between the eyes of a cartoon figure on a billboard, while he drives at about 100 miles per hour.
Following his difficult struggle with Mary, Dexter knew that if he couldn't easily subdue someone like her, he would find it extremely difficult to take on stronger foes. To succeed as a serial killer and to avoid putting his own life on the line, Dexter became skilled in jujitsu (which he studied in college) and other fighting and grappling techniques. The following is a list of situations in which Dexter was forced to subdue a victim or opponent outside of his regular stealthy approach:
- Emmett Meridian. Dexter used a sleeper hold on Meridian as he attempted to walk away, causing Meridian to lose consciousness in a matter of seconds. ("Shrink Wrap")
- Sergeant James Doakes (ex-United States Army Special Forces soldier). The first real sign of Dexter's Jujitsu training was in a small confrontation with Doakes at the Shipping Yard, where Dexter is tracking a theory on where Rudy Cooper could have taken his sister, Debra. When Dexter sarcastically lied to Doakes about why he was in the shipping yard, Doakes punched him squarely in the gut and readied himself to throw another right-hand punch, only to have Dexter dodge out of the way and grab Doakes' wrist. Dexter aligned himself so that Doakes' right arm was outstretched across his own chest, and his free hand was positioned in a choke-hold around Doakes' neck. Doakes tried to use his left hand to pull off Dexter's grip, but was not successful. The two went flying back against the shipping container as Dexter began to tighten his hold, rendering Doakes immobile. A nearby worker forced the two to break up the fight. This was the first clear sign that Dexter was capable of handling others by using his quick reflexes and agility to turn an offense into a weakness. It demonstrated Dexter's ability to manipulate the bodies of others so that they are put in a compromising position ("Born Free"). Later, Doakes) held Dexter at gunpoint on a pier and forced him to put on handcuffs. The two ended up falling into the water and fighting in it waist-deep. Doakes managed to fire a bullet from his gun that grazed Dexter's thigh but Dexter, even with a gunshot wound to his leg, managed to overpower and subdue Doakes by placing him in a choke-hold ("Resistance Is Futile").
- Brian Moser. Dexter's older brother, attempted to separate his younger sibling from his bonds to his adoptive family by killing Debra Morgan. He gave a knife to Dexter and tried to make him do it willingly but, when Dexter hesitated, Brian took the blade back and thrust it down in Debra's direction. Dexter quickly grabbed Brian's wrist and stopped his arm in motion. Using his momentum, Dexter pushed Brian back and slammed Brian's hand against the wall to force the knife out of his grip. However, Brian took the upper hand by elbow-locking his brother's head and kneeing him in the face. Brian then threw Dexter to the floor and escaped. Dexter lost his advantage in this struggle (a rare occasion for Dexter) likely due to having been tranquilized earlier and feeling emotionally torn. ("Born Free")
- Oscar Prado. Oscar attacked Dexter with a knife for attempting to intervene when he was attacking Freebo with it. Dexter proved to be superior in combat when he shoved Oscar's own knife into his heart in self-defense. ("Our Father")
- George King. He knocked out and kidnapped Dexter, planning to torture him. Dexter managed to escape by breaking his own hand in order to free himself from the rope that restrained him. Despite his broken hand, Dexter overpowered King when the latter attacked him and snapped his neck. ("Do You Take Dexter Morgan?")
- Zoey Kruger. She was a police officer who had murdered her family. Kruger found out that Dexter was looking into her case and went to his house with the intention of killing him. Dexter attempted to sneak up on her from behind, but she saw his reflection and tried to defend herself. She put up a fight but was no match for Dexter and he was able to inject her with M99.("Dex Takes a Holiday")
- Lance Robinson. He woke up after being tranquilized and placed in the trunk of Dexter's car. He began to run away, forcing Dexter to run after him. Dexter eventually caught up with him and suffocated him with plastic wrap. ("Everything is Illumenated")
- Stan Liddy. He attacked Dexter with a knife, but Dexter proved to be superior in combat as he managed to get on top of Liddy and thrust the knife into his heart. ("Hop a Freighter")
- Joe Walker. Walker was a professional athlete and, consequently, had impressive reflexes. He defended himself the second that Dexter attacked him, even though Dexter had been successful in sneaking up on him. When Joe took a swing at him, Dexter caught his fist and choked him until he was unconscious. ("Those Kinds of Things")
- Alberto. He proved to be no match for Dexter when the latter used a harpoon to impale him, throwing him into the ocean. ("This is the Way the World Ends")
- Andrew Briggs. He got into a fight with Dexter and tried to grab hold of a knife that was laying on a desk, but Dexter was quicker and grabbed it first. Dexter then quickly killed his opponent with it. ("A Beautiful Day")
The following are not necessarily impressive displays of his fighting abilities, though they still show him overpowering a character in one way or another.
- Jeremy Downs. When he first intended to kill Jeremy, Dexter was able to sneak up on him relatively quickly and force him against a wall with his strength. He then held Jeremy by the throat, claiming that he could snap his neck with ease. ("Let's Give the Boy a Hand")
- Paul Bennett. Due to Paul's constant meddling in his and Rita's lives, Dexter grew increasingly annoyed. When Paul persisted in irritating Dexter, it resulted in Paul being knocked out by a frying pan. ("Seeing Red")
- Oliver Saxon. He took Dexter's pen and stabbed him in the shoulder with it. Dexter then pulled the pen out and quickly killed Saxon with it.
While Dexter is usually more physically capable than his opponents, there are a few instances where he has been at ends with capturing his victim:
- Little Chino - A mountain of a man, Little Chino was taller and more muscular than anyone else in the series. He proved to be stronger than what Dexter had anticipated and broke free from his shrink wrap, while supposedly still tranquilized. If Little Chino had stayed to fight, he could have possibly killed Dexter (although Dexter would likely have used one of his many knives). ("It's Alive")
- Ray Speltzer - Ray, a bodybuilder on steroids with a psychotic attitude, escaped from Dexter's arm lock and used a nearby object to knock Dexter out. Even more unusual, Ray brought Dexter to his own version of a kill room (built like a maze where Ray becomes a Minotaur). Dexter, for once, had to escape for his life. He later repaid Ray with an ambush in a cemetery. ("Run")
In general, Dexter consumes food that will contribute to his energy and stamina. At times, however, he is not adverse to eating sweets or "junk food." Following are food items that he is shown eating, or planning to eat:
- Donuts (often purchased at Sadie's Donuts), T-Bone Steaks, Porterhouse Steaks, Beer, Coffee, Eggs, Bacon, Blood Oranges, Bananas, Pulled Pork Sandwiches, Stone Crabs, Tacos, Corn on the Cob, Salad, Turkey, Yams. Pizza, Hamburgers, Spaghetti, Ice Cream Cone, Chips, and Cake
"If the legal system worked as well as you say it does, I wouldn’t be so busy." ~Dexter
Despite how Stan Liddy describes Dexter as "squeaky clean on paper," he has committed many crimes. All of them have something to do with his status as a serial killer. They include:
- Murder - As a prolific serial killer, Dexter has taken the lives of over 130 people (Dexter's Kill List)
- Unlawful Disposal of Human Bodies - Usually buries his victims at sea, but has dumped some in the Everglades, and burned one in a crematory
- Breaking and Entering - Normally committed while vetting a target
- Trespassing - Normally committed while stalking a target
- Stalking - Online and offline
- Unlawful Use of Police Databases or Files - Normally committed while vetting a target
- Arson - Set his storage unit and a church on fire
- Destruction of Private Property - Destroys things annoy him, are problematic, or interfere with his kill ritual
- Abduction - When capturing targets
- Unlawful Imprisonment or Detainment - Normally committed on intended victims
- Intimidation - Displays threatening behavior toward victims or problematic people (e.g., Mike Donovan, Louis Greene).
- Assault and Battery - Normally committed on his targets
- Unlawful Possession and Use of Tranquilizers - Used to sedate his victims
- Unlawful Possession and Use of Illegal Drugs - Used to frame someone (e.g., Paul Bennett)
- Interference with Police Investigations / Tampering with Evidence - To cover-up his crimes or to clear someone else
- Impersonation / Identity Fraud - Uses aliases regularly, often illegally; possesses fake IDs.
- Theft - At times, steals the possessions of targets or victims
- Grand Theft Auto - Stole a car to pursue Jordan Chase
- Moving & Stationary Traffic Violations / Hit and Run Accidents - Committed when in pursuit of victims or people of interest.
- Falsely Pulling Fire or Security Alarms - To distract or remove people from an area.
Risks and Mistakes
- Dexter has answered phone calls at or near his kill sites (which could be used to pinpoint his location).
- He researched his potential victims on his work computer, both at work and home, and appeared to take few counter-measures against leaving electronic evidence.
- In Season Two, he borrowed a tranquilizer gun from the Miami Metro Police Department’s armory (under the pretense that he was having an alligator problem) and lost it to Little Chino's lackeys.
- In Season Two, Dexter was recorded on a security camera at his marina cleaning his boat. He was able to delete the footage in the nick of time before it was viewed by Lundy.
- In Season Two, he did not delete his travel history from his GPS tracking device in Rita's minivan after driving it, which resulted in Lila West being able to track him down and learn that he is The Bay Harbor Butcher.
- In Season Five, Dan Mendell, a member of the Barrel Girl Gang (men who raped and tortured Lumen Pierce), called another member of the Group, Cole Harmon, whose identity was unknown to Dexter at the time. After killing Mendell, Dexter did not check the phone for the number Mendell called (and for other possible Barrel Gang members’ numbers). This would definitely have aided him in identifying Harmon.
- In Season Eight, Dexter was viewed on A.J. Yates security cameras while breaking into his house.
Main article: Dexter's Kill List
Category page; Killed by Dexter
Those Who Knew His Secret
Main article: Those Who Knew Dexter's Secret
Important Lovers"Lucky to have me? I wouldn't say so." ~Dexter
- Rita Morgan
- Lila West
- Lumen Pierce
- Hannah McKay
"[Hannah] isn't drawn to my darkness like Lila, or blind to it like Rita, and she doesn't need it like Lumen. She accepts both sides of me." ~Dexter
- Joe Driscoll - Father (deceased)
- Laura Moser - Mother (deceased)
- Brian Moser - Brother (deceased)
- Harrison Morgan - Son (Showtime TV series only)
- Lily Anne Morgan - Daughter (Dexter Novels only)
- Harry Morgan - Adoptive Father (deceased)
- Doris Morgan - Adoptive Mother (deceased)
- Debra Morgan - Adoptive Sister (deceased)
Family through Marriage
- Rita Morgan - Wife (deceased)
- Astor Bennett - Stepdaughter
- Cody Bennett - Stepson
- Gail Brandon - Mother-In-Law (Showtime TV series only)
- Bill Bennett - Astor and Cody's grandfather (no relation to Dexter) (Showtime TV series only)
- Maura Bennett - Astor and Cody's grandmother (no relation to Dexter) (Showtime TV series only)
Debra, His Sister
Main article: Debra Morgan
"My sister puts up a front so the world won't see how vulnerable she is. Me, I put up a front so the world won't see how vulnerable I'm not." ~Dexter
Next to Harry, the most influential person in Dexter's life was his adoptive sister, Debra. According to Dr. Evelyn Vogel, Debra was "a mirror, reflecting a positive image" of Dexter that balanced out his notion of himself as a monster. ("Scar Tissue").
Dexter was the most important person in Debra's life, but she didn't understand why he wouldn't share his feelings with her. When it came to Dexter, Debra had a blind spot and she only recognized his good qualities.
In Season Seven, Debra discovered that Dexter was a serial killer, and it horrified her. However, she still loved him and tried to protect him. Unfortunately, Dexter's actions led to her shooting an innocent woman, which caused her severe emotional distress.
In the final season, Debra was shot by Oliver Saxon. After surgery, she suffered a stroke due to a blood clot. Recognizing Debra's dismal future, Dexter turned off her life-support. As she was dying, Dexter told her, "I love you, Deb."
Harrison, His Son
Main article: Harrison Morgan
"I want to believe that smile, that watching your mother die hasn't changed you the way that watching mine changed me." ~Dexter
Dexter, having grown up with lessons from Harry Morgan on how he could secretly kill people, decided that he did not wish to pass that kind of life onto his own son, Harrison. Therefore, Dexter hid his deadly activities and only showed Harrison his "human" side, along with letting him experience a mostly normal childhood.
Dexter's original feelings about Rita's pregnancy were mixed but he ultimately accepted that his child would come into the world. After his son was born, Dexter began to evolve into someone who could actually care about someone. He enjoyed time with his son, fed him bottles, and played with him. However, Dexter was a serial killer and he was unsure how to survive in the years to come with his new family.
Because of his interactions with another serial killer, Dexter found Rita murdered with a crying Harrison sitting in her blood. Because this was the exact same position he had been in as a child, Dexter became heavily concerned with whether Harrison would be affected like he was. Would the tragedy create a Dark Passenger in Harrison that would make him a killer?
Following his wife's death, Dexter thought that he would not be a suitable single parent and almost deserted his son. However, he accepted the responsibility and did whatever it took to provide for and protect Harrison. To all appearances, Dexter was just a regular guy. Because he was a busy single parent, Dexter hired a nanny to watch over Harrison in times when he had to work or take care of his dark urges. The first nanny was Sonya and, later, Jamie Batista (sister of Angel).
People in Dexter's life kept dying, usually for reasons related to his deadly activities. In the end, to protect the ones that he cared about, he abandoned Harrison to the care of Hannah, faked his death, and moved to an undisclosed location. It is unknown whether Dexter ever saw his son again.
Note: This section only contains a few of the main events that take place in each season. For a more detailed look, refer to the article links or the tabs at the top of this page.
Dexter Morgan has settled into a steady life of ritualistic killing doubled with his life as a forensics blood spatter analyst. He is viewed by his colleagues as a lab geek. To appear normal, he dates Rita, a mother with two children (Astor and Cody) whose abusive husband is in jail. The police begin to investigate murder scenes involving dismembered bodies, but without blood. The murderer, nicknamed "The Ice Truck Killer," intrigues Dexter with this intricate methodology. The killer begins to leave Dexter personal clues in the guise of friendly competition between them.
Thirty-eight days have passed since Dexter killed his brother. Debra, traumatized by her ordeal with the Ice Truck Killer, moves in with Dexter. Unexpectedly, scuba divers find the bodies of eighteen of Dexter's victims near Bay Harbor. An FBI Task Force arrives to help with the investigation and Dexter takes steps to divert suspicion away from himself. After Rita forces Dexter into NA due to lie he told, he becomes involved with another woman. Sgt. Doakes stalks Dexter because he believes that he is connected to the Ice Truck Killer.
Dexter continues his double life as a serial killer and blood spatter analyst. Rita discovers that she's pregnant and decides to keep the baby. Dexter ends up proposing marriage to her, and she accepts. When Dexter kills another man in self-defense, the victim turns out to be the brother of ADA Miguel Prado. Dexter begins to view Miguel as a friend and they even kill together. However, Dexter learns that Miguel has been manipulating him, and they race to have leverage over one another. The season ends with the wedding of Dexter and Rita.
Now married, Dexter and Rita live in a new house with her children, Astor and Cody, and their new son -- Harrison. Dexter attempts to adapt to life in suburbia, but finds it difficult to maintain his double life now that he is a husband and father. He soon targets serial killer, Arthur Mitchell (The Trinity Killer). Arthur has been killing for thirty years even though he has a family. Dexter is Intrigued by his ability to blend into society and puts off killing him. Instead, he befriends Arthur under an alias - Kyle Butler. This leads to dire consequences with Rita being murdered.
The season picks up directly after the last one. Following his wife's funeral, Dexter hires a nanny for Harrison so that he will have free time to go "hunting." When he rents a moving truck, he finds human blood inside and tracks down a serial killer. This leads to his involvement with a woman who was raped by a gang of abusers. They join forces to kill the men. Meanwhile, Det. Joey Quinn begins to suspect Dexter of murdering Rita or being involved with The Trinity Killer.
Over a year has passed since Lumen departed, and Dexter continues to eliminate killers. He develops a friendship with Brother Sam, an ex-con and murderer who now self-identifies as a born-again Christian. Dexter targets Jonah Mitchell, who now lives in Nebraska and apparently has killed his mother and sister. A serial killer who stages gruesome tableaus based on the Book of Revelation makes his appearance in Miami. Debra is shocked when she discovers Dexter making a kill.
This season picks up with no time skip. Debra has just witnessed Dexter killing Travis Marshall. Dexter displays his acting skills and convinces Debra that it was an impulsive act. He then manipulates her to help destroy evidence. Captain Maria LaGuerta finds a blood-slide at the scene and it sparks her curiosity. She begins to suspect that Dexter is the true Bay Harbor Butcher. Dexter targets an attractive murderer, Hannah McKay. He takes her on a date, injects her with M99, but is unable to kill her. They continue to see each other romantically which causes friction between Dexter and Debra. In the final episode, Dexter is about to kill LaGuerta, but Debra appears in the cargo container and ends up shooting LaGuerta herself.
Six months after Maria LaGuerta's death, Dexter's life is going very well, but Debra is guilt-ridden. She now works as a private investigator for Jacob Elway and feels nothing but hatred for Dexter. A new serial killer, dubbed The Brain Surgeon, appears in Miami. An expert on psychopaths, Dr. Evelyn Vogel, offers her assistance on the case. She reveals to Dexter that she knew Harry and helped with creating The Code. Dexter takes on a young psychopath as an apprentice. Hannah McKay returns to Miami and she and Dexter rekindle their relationship. Because Hannah is a fugitive, they make plans to move to Argentina with Harrison. Debra is shot by Oliver Saxon and she has a major stroke while in the hospital. Dexter turns off Debra's life support and buries her at sea. Feeling that he must protect the ones in his life, Dexter fakes his death during a hurricane and moves to the Pacific Northwest, leaving Miami and his career behind.
Dexter is the only character in the show whose thoughts can be heard by the viewer.
Dexter often spoke in his head, sharing with the audience his point of view as a serial killer, while outwardly pretending to be normal. His comments usually included personal philosophy, dark humor, and killing plans. Unlike the narration in the books, Dexter narrated in the present tense in the show. This means that he only revealed what he was thinking about in the moment, and not predicting what was going to happen. Also, his narrating did not focus on secondary characters, such as Masuka, Angel or Quinn, as he wasn't aware of the details that came along with their private lives. On several occasions, Dexter broke the fourth wall and talked directly to the audience. In the pilot episode, he mentally introduced himself. Later, in the Season Six opening, a young woman was shown in his apartment, and he mentally remarked, "It's not what you think."
(In the first few seasons, Dexter has more of a comical style to the way he refers to various situations.)
- Kill Tools
- Kill Room
- Kill Ritual
- Slice of Life
- Gulf Stream
- Dexter's Kill List
- Dark Passenger
- Blood Slide Boxes
- The Code of Harry
- Dexter's Apartment
- Harry Morgan's House
- Miami Metro Homicide
- Coral Cove Marina
- Dexter's Rented Room
- Dexter's modus operandi
- Underwater Graveyard
- Locations of Dexter's Kills
- Shipping Yard Massacre
- Bay Harbor Butcher Case
- Dexter re-named his fishing boat from Slice of Heaven to Slice of Life in reference to him using knives.
- Victims that Dexter buries at sea are often reported as missing persons.
- Dexter jokingly mentions to Rita Bennett on their first date that he is an axe murderer
- Both Dexter's first and last (known) victims are females (Mary and Debra).
- Dexter’s blood type is AB negative.
- Animals do not like Dexter, especially dogs.
- Dexter inherited his watch from Harry.
- Harry set up college funds for Dexter and Debra.
- While Dexter attended medical school, he killed an associate professor. (per Early Cuts)
- Dexter prefers to kill with knives instead of guns because it is more "intimate."
- Hurricane Laura shares its name with Dexter's biological mother, Laura.
- Dexter’s original marina, Coral Cove, is the same one where Harry had a slip.
- Dexter hides a getaway pack inside his bedroom wall (cash, burner phones, passports w/aliases).
- The killing of a mosquito in the opening theme song symbolizes Dexter's killing of a bad person.
- The Dexter TV series and the Dexter novels have many differences.
- Dexter's role was possibly inspired by Miami's 1986 vigilante serial killer, Manuel Pardo. Pardo was an ex-Miami police officer who in 1986 killed at least nine drug dealers. As trophies, he had photos instead of blood slides. Pardo was executed in 2012 by lethal injection.
- Dexter's phone number as of Season Eight is (305)-744-3078, which was used for Zoey Kruger and also Dexter's realtor. Calling the number results in a voice saying, "I'm sorry, but this number's not programmed to take messages."
- While Dexter does kill murderers who are likely to kill again, it's not out of the goodness of his heart, nor is it to make the world a better place. Dexter simply thinks that it's better, as well as safer, to kill criminals instead of innocents, per Jeff Lindsay
Main Photo page: Dexter Morgan/Gallery
- Main article: List of Episodes
- Main article: Dexter Morgan (Novels/Comics)
- Darkly Dreaming Dexter (2004)
- Dearly Devoted Dexter (2005)
- Dexter in the Dark (2006)
- Dexter by Design (2008)
- Dexter is Delicious (2010)
- Double Dexter (2011)
- Dexter's Final Cut (2012)
- Dexter Is Dead (2015)
- "I see their pain. On some level, I even understand their pain. I just can't feel their pain." ~Dexter ("Crocodile")
- "I like to pretend I'm alone. Completely alone. Maybe post-apocalypse or plague... Whatever. No-one left to act normal for. No need to hide who I really am. It would be...freeing." ~Dexter ("Love American Style")
- “So what's the alternative? Leave? Disappear? Fake my own death and start over again?” ~Dexter ("The Getaway")
- "All you can ever believe in is now -- this moment -- because, in a blink, everything can change." ~Dexter ("Do You See What I See?")
- "Most actors toil in obscurity, never stepping into the spotlight. But if you hone your craft, work diligently, you might just find yourself cast in the role of a lifetime." ~Dexter ("All in the Family")
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