Nightmare Fuel: Dexter
For a show about a serial murderer, there's a lot of nightmarish stuff on Dexter.
- Every time Dexter has a flashback to his mother's murder. To whit, the sight of a two year old child drenched in blood, with the alternating sound of his mother begging her killer not to do it in front of her son and her telling Dexter not to watch, which then segues into the sound of Dexter crying mixed with his mother's screaming as she is cut to pieces with a chainsaw. No wonder Dexter is so messed up.
- Any of the times Dexter talks to his about-to-be-dead victim has slight indications of this, but when Dexter finally finds the man who killed his mom, well...
- The Trinity Killer: A batshit insane killer who "kills in threes":
- The first kill, as well as his very first appearance, consists of him physically overpowering a small woman in a manner that is very reminiscent of sexual assault (both of them being naked), and then sticking a razor blade between her legs in the tub. Then husband of the victim comes back to see his spouse murdered, then is tried and sentenced for killing her, and then accused of another homicide done in similar fashion. This was based off how Arthur Mitchell's sister died: slipping in the shower when she catches him peeping on her, which shattered the doors, which led to her cutting her femoral artery on the glass and bleeding out.
- The second kill is a death by falling made out to look like a suicide. The key here is that the said falling kill has him say that if his victim doesn't do it, he will go back to her (it's always a woman, mother of two) house and kill off her relatives one by one. There's his absolutely chilling forcing of a woman to jump to her death, with her begging him to push her because she's too scared.
- The third kill is incredibly brutal beating of a man to death with a hammer. He claims that "you made me do this" in a rather sad tone.
- It turns out his cycle actually has four murders, and the first one is unspeakably horrible. He buries unconscious ten year-old boys in concrete.
- Lithgow's ability to go from a cold authoritarian monster, to a psychotic man child crying over his own crimes to a God-respecting family man is perhaps more frightening than his crimes themselves.
- The Barrel Girl Gang in season 5 made DVDs of them torturing and raping their victims. Mercifully, virtually nothing is shown but the screams definitely qualify as this. Lumen's is especially horrific.
- Episode 6x04 was particularly jarring. Imagine being the girl in the greenhouse, knowing the trap that's set up for her demise as the police walk right into it. Even worse, imagine being one of the cops who triggered the device.
- In the Season 7 premiere when Mike was driving at night and saw a man in a nice suit standing by his broken down modest-income car, struggling to change the tire, and stopped to help him only to get shot and killed
- What Travis Marshall does to his own sister, not just killing her, but stripping her naked and posing her as the Whore of Babylon.
- Season 8's "Scar Tissue". It's not the scene of Deb crashing the car she and Dexter are in into a lake to purposefully kill them both, only for her to be saved by a fisherman, and for her to swim back and save her brother, no, it's the sound of a muted harp glissando when they rise from the water in the final second that conjures dark images to mind. It's not the only example of the show's musical score frightening the crap out of its audience, but even headier scenes like Season 6's finale didn't have scores this commanding.