Dexter- Your everyday detective and serial killer

I am always in the mood for a good, crime mystery with lots of drama, blood, and seduction. When I was told that  Dexter had this along with psychological thrill on the side, I was hooked.  Dexter Morgan is a forensic technician who works for a Miami Metro Police Department and specializes in blood splatter analysis. He is really good at analyzing the precise techniques killers use to kill their victims. Why? Because he happens to be a dedicated serial killer on the side. Unlike your “typical” serial killer, Dexter follows a specific moral code that only condones the killings of other murderers who have caused harm to others. In a way, one could say he is doing the community justice by keepings murders off the streets. Is this a justifiable reason to brutally and horrifically murder people for pleasure?

I enjoy this show because it challenges the audience’s moral compass while we “play along” in his secret, double life of being a detective by day and serial killer by night. We all know this is wrong- so we do we find ourselves rooting for this methodical sociopath? The perspective of the audience is so powerful because we begin to relate and connect to the mind of a character as if it is our own. We feel a type of bond with Dexter because we feel we are the only ones who are inside of his deepest, darkest secret. We hear his thoughts, feel his emotions, and understand this crazy “justification” in his killings. He wants to protect the community, and more importantly, the ones he loves. I am emotionally attached to this character who is horrifically killing citizens left and right. If this show had been shot from an outside perspective or another character, the emotional connection between the audience and Dexter would not exist.

This article was helpful in analyzing the messy and chaotic mentality behind Dexter’s justified killings, and why the audience feels compelled to accept this morally wrong lifestyle.

I also find this show intriguing because it ties back the concept of each individual’s perception of reality. The audience is able to experience the reality of a sociopath with a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder. We are sheltered by our own experiences and thoughts to understand the irrational and sometimes insane mindset of the mentally ill or unstable. This distorted sense of “bringing justice by murdering” is the reality in which Dexter lives in due to his traumatic past. I have included two snapshots that illustrate this.

This first snapshot is Dexter having intimate conversations with his dead father. His father plays a huge role in his life by providing counsel and advice on his killings. Dexter’s more personable and intimate relationship in his life is his dead father.



The second snapshot is a clip from the beginning of every episode that shows Dexter’s precise morning routine that emphasizes his strict OCD tendencies. The sharp sounds, intense visuals, and specific tasks each morning express the thoughtful and methodical normalcy he created for himself. These images include razor blades cutting his hair, knives slicing oranges, floss and shoe laces pulling with tight force and blood dropping into his sink.




This show intrigues me because it delivers a unique, scary, and uncomfortable reality for viewers by inserting them into the mind of a sociopath serial killer.

-Sarah Holt


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8 Responses to Dexter- Your everyday detective and serial killer

  1. mediaphiles says:

    I always really liked this show, especially Dexter’s character development. He would be described as the typical antihero of the story, which would justify his skewed sense of justice. It seems that he abides by the motto: “with great power comes great responsibility”. It makes the audience question if what he is doing is truly out of good will or a lust for killing. I believe its a mixture of both, but his OCD is a very prominent factor when making this decision. Dexter even has a routine for his killing and seems to enjoy himself, exhibiting addictive behavior. It is interesting because his father is a fraction of his subconscious that acts within the realm of rationality. That is why I like Dexter’s character development because it is mainly focused on Dexter’s internal conflict and whether his actions are considered that of a vigilante or a serial killer.

    -Shelby Halliman

  2. mediaphiles says:

    I’m really interested in watching this show after reading your analysis on it. I’ve always been a fan of crime dramas, and it seems that this one touches on interesting subjects pertaining to mental illness and the moral justification of killing for the sake of “good”.

    – Cal Parsons

  3. mediaphiles says:

    I really enjoyed this show as well. I am a fan of crime, thriller shows and movies but this tapped into something completely unique. I loved being able to see his justifications, and as you said, through learning his point of view, we almost feel sympathy for him. I oftentimes felt myself rooting for Dexter, who justified his killings by murdering people who he thought deserved it, and many times he actually left the world a better place. My one major fault with the show was how far fetched it became as the seasons progressed–his sister backing him up and falling for him, and not to mention the countless times he pinned the murders on others became too much. I still love the show but wish they had not pushed it so far.

    Maddie Turner

  4. mediaphiles says:

    I absolutely loved this show. I’d say I finished this series in at least a month, I just couldn’t stop watching it. I think I fell in love with it because of the sense that Dexter worked in the police department as a blood analyst. I mean he loved it show show he would kill just for the lust he enjoyed. It puts you in a whole new life when watching it. I mean, This distorted sense of “bringing justice by murdering” is the reality in which Dexter lives in due to his traumatic past. It is just something to think about.

  5. mediaphiles says:

    I’ve never seen Dexter, but it has been on my “to watch” list forever. While I am intrigued by the plot, I am worried there may be too much blood for me. Is it gory? I’ve heard the show is incredibly well written. I definitely need to sit down and watch it, but maybe on an empty stomach. -Caitlin Herlihy

  6. mediaphiles says:

    I never really took Dexter seriously because I always thought the premise sounded too absurd. I always thought that the writers must have been trying too hard to seem ‘edgy’ with the serial killer protagonist. But after hearing about Dexter’s OCD, hero complex, and visions of his dead father, I’ve got to say that you’ve sold me. I think I’ll start watching this weekend to see if I get hooked.
    – Russell Lawrence

  7. mediaphiles says:

    Sarah! I must say, that there is a lot in store for you with “Dexter”! I very much enjoyed your mention of the ways in which he quasi, “uses his murdering for good”, as you will find in later season that he comes to flirt with the line of good and bad. The show is absolutely phenomenal, but you must stay and watch it, in order to see what would happen if he were to get “a little messy” and did not follow his perfect routine!

    -Luke Dellorso

  8. mediaphiles says:

    Definitely one of my favorites!! I really like the article you chose and how you connected it to your posting. Your comment on the perception of reality was really strong, and I agree completely. The way that Dexter sees the world is clearly different from the way other characters in the show perceive reality, and that is definitely important to consider!

    Catherine Maier

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