troperville

tools

toys


main index

Narrative

Genre

Media

Topical Tropes

Other Categories

TV Tropes Org
random
YMMV: Dexter

TV Series:

  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Dexter a psychopath that is just simply following a code or a Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds that is just trying to end his suffering after he saw his mother being killed when he was a child?
    • Did Harry believe that he was saving a child with psychotic tendencies and possible future murder victims by making sure Dexter only went after criminals and acted professionally, or was he just a bitter cop who used a traumatized child to further his own vendetta?
  • Anti-Climax Boss:
    • Jordan Chase. A good amount of focus is put on his wealth, power, and tight security measures, but in the end, Chase abandons all that and confronts Dexter and Lumen by himself at an isolated location. And then Dexter easily gets the drop on him by pulling out a hidden knife.
    • Isaak Sirko. He spends much of Season 7 plotting to murder Dexter and being built up as possibly the most dangerous villain the show has ever had, only to eventually offer Dexter a truce and then get unceremoniously killed by George Novikov (and this happens three episodes before the season's finale). Apparently, the writers were forced to do this because of Ray Stevenson's scheduling conflicts.
  • Award Snub: Jennifer Carpenter's performance in Season 7, especially the final scene where she has to choose between shooting LaGuerta and Dexter
  • Awesome Music: The music is unusual, but fits the show, especially the instrumental pieces. Special mention goes to Blood, the full version of the eerie ending credits theme.
  • Base Breaker: Half of the fanbase can't stand Lumen for being annoying and whiny (despite being, you know, a rape victim), for constantly shouting about getting revenge on her rapists, and for doing things without thinking. On the other hand, the other half love her and find her to be an ideal woman for Dexter that relates to him in so many ways, is a great match for his personality, and actually understands him and accepts him in a way that Rita definitely would not have.
  • Broken Base: In the Season 7 finale, Deb kills LaGuerta instead of bringing Dexter to justice. For some viewers, Deb crossed the Moral Event Horizon as LaGuerta, despite her flaws, was ultimately a good cop doing the right thing much like Doakes. For others, LaGuerta was such a Jerkass Magnificent Bastard that they saw her final fate as a Karmic Death for all the morally questionable things she'd done over the years, painting her as an Asshole Victim and Deb as a Sympathetic Murderer. A rare case where BOTH characters can justifiably be said to be getting a degree of Draco in Leather Pants treatment.
  • Captain Obvious Reveal: During Season 6, many viewers guessed that Professor Gellar was Dead All Along almost immediately.
    • The Untwist: In fact, it was so blatantly telegraphed that some people thought it was too obvious to be true and, thus, were surprised when The Reveal came.
  • Complete Monster:
    • George Washington King (born Jorge Orozco), aka the Skinner, from season 3, was known as "The Blade" while a Torture Technician in Nicagagua. While in pursuit of a drug dealer who owes him money, finds anyone who might have information about said drug dealer's whereabouts and questions them while cutting off their skin. One of his victims was an innocent boy confirmed to have died from the skinning process. When Dexter confronts the Skinner, he confirms that, despite the reasons the Skinner makes up for performing his grisly crimes (which are by no means a justification anyway), his only real reason is simply because he likes it.
    • Season 5's Big Bad, Jordan Chase (born Eugene Greer), directs a group of men to capture women to torture and rape for months before disposing of them in barrels. All the while, Jordan looks on, occasionally holding his watch to the women's ears and whispering, "Tick tick tick. That's the sound of your life running out." Watching the video footage they took of what they did to the women was enough to make Debra root for the people who were tracking them down and killing them (despite it being her job to catch the killers); Dexter himself admits that they sicken him. The tapes themselves, which the viewers listen to, are pure horror. When Dexter and Lumen (the last victim who managed to get away) finally have Jordan at their mercy, he taunts Lumen about what he did to her, mocking her for being so "pathetic" and "helpless".
  • Creator's Pet: Hannah McKay. Many find her flat, uninteresting, and unlikeable, but the writers can't get enough of her. Dexter keeps narrating about how perfect she is; Harrison loves her despite sharing almost no screentime with her; she comes close to prison and death near the end of Season 7, but escapes both; she returns in Season 8 for another major (and largely reviled) storyline; Deb warms up to her despite the events of Season 7; Dexter's love for her helps him let go of his homicidal urges; and in the end she escapes to her dream paradise Argentina. And now Scott Buck is talking about giving her a spin-off.
  • Designated Hero: Dexter in the later seasons, especially 6 and 8. While the earlier seasons portray him as a morally ambiguous Anti-Hero, the newer ones practically make Dexter a paladin by rationalizing and justifying his every action, no matter how immoral or stupid.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
    • James Doakes. Despite being a complete Jerk Ass and having the foulest mouth in the series, he has a large amount of fans and is fondly remembered as one of the high points of the first two seasons. That and he's a complete and undeniable Bad Ass who held his ground well as one of the two primary antagonists of Season 2, and had a Dying Moment of Awesome. After all, he's also the originator of the meme "Surprise, mothafucka!" He was so popular that he was brought back for the Season 7 finale via newly filmed flashbacks.
    • Vince Masuka. One feels there should be studio audience applause whenever he enters the room or says something ridiculous.
    • Brother Sam, who is often noted as one of the best characters in season six (if not the best part of the whole season, being able to relate to Dexter since they both have darkness inside them. He is also a good representation of how people can change. Reviewers often said that Mos's performance as him stole every scene he was in. When he died, some thought this was enough to forego watching the rest of Season 6 altogether.
    • Isaak Sirko. See Rooting for the Empire below.
  • Fanon: Ask just about any fan of the show about the scene in the finale right after Dexter killed Saxon, and they'll tell you that Quinn figured out that Dexter was a serial killer, and possibly Angel did too. It's a nearly unanimous consensus that they let him go anyway because his actions avenged Debra's death, even though none of this is spelled out in the scene itself.
  • Fanon Discontinuity:
    • Some fans prefer to believe that Deb actually shot Dexter at the end of Season 7, and that LaGuerta's death and all of Season 8 were just his dying dream.
    • The backlash to the latter seasons of the show is so intense that some fans have decided to basically write off everything after Season 4, which is widely seen as the series' peak and was the last one to have Clyde Phillips as a showrunner.
    • And finally, a few fans have become so disillusioned that they interpret the show's final scene (Dexter living a new life as a lumberjack) as the only scene that takes place in reality, with everything else being part of Lumberjack!Dexter's imagination.
  • Foe Yay: Dexter gets this a lot. He seems to have a disconcerting habit of getting really close to his victims once they're on his table, physically. Entirely deliberate, as killing was Dexter's equivalent of sexual release. (Back before he managed to have sexual release during... y'know... sex.)
    • Dexter and Miguel Prado
    Miguel: I am the last person you wanna fuck with because I WILL FUCK YOU BACK! IN WAYS YOU NEVER EVEN IMAGINED!
    • In Season 7, when he has Hannah McKay on his table, he raises the knife...and cuts her free, then proceeds to have sex with her.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Most of the weaknesses of later seasons were already there in the early ones, but they were less important than the show's new and interesting premise. After the show was around for a while, the details are harder to ignore. Notably, you can find reviews for the pilot that are worrisome about the show's bland supporting cast outside of Dexter and Deb, a common complaint in later years.
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The Season 8 finale has pretty much ruined Dexter's "I will not kill my sister" Madness Mantra in Season 2.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • In Season 2, Doakes describes Dexter's urge to kill as being "like a cancer—and in case you haven't noticed, it's spreading." Michael C. Hall contracted Hodgkin's Lymphoma in 2010, before recovering later that year.
    • In-universe, Doakes's statement foreshadowed how Dexter's life would affect his friends and loved ones. This has led to Rita's death, via the Trinity Killer; Deb discovering Dexter is a serial killer, shattering her idyllic view of her brother permanently; and Dexter manipulating Deb into killing LaGuerta when she also figured out he was the Bay Harbor Butcher, which drove Deb to the Despair Event Horizon. By the end of season 7, it's pretty clear that Dexter's inability to control his murderous addiction has caused major problems in his personal life.
    • The season 3 storyline involving an overzealous neighborhood watch group in a Florida suburb became this in the wake of the death of Trayvon Martin.
    • A lighter, in-show example is Batista in Season 3 going around having sex with hookers, which ends up putting his career at risk. Cue Season 6, and that's more or less what happened to Matthews, because of his own penchant for screwing prostitutes.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • Michael C. Hall's character on Six Feet Under was exactly the same nice guy/control freak persona as Dexter (minus secretly being a serial killer), and was in a complicated on-off gay relationship with a tough black cop (who was bald and had a mustache). Now, try not to see the dynamic between Dexter and Doakes as one enormous mountain of Ho Yay.
    • In Season 2, Doakes tells Dexter, "You owe me a new Michelin, motherfucker." Years later, Erik King would work as a spokesman for Michelin.
    • Michael C. Hall once worked as a knife seller.
    • Shortly after playing Dexter's love interest, Yvonne Strahovski starred in 24: Live Another Day, playing a character named Kate Morgan.
  • Ho Yay:
    • Season 3 has tons of this between Dexter and Miguel Prado.
    • There's a lot between him and Arthur Mitchell/the Trinity Killer in season 4.
    • Brian's interest in Dexter seemed go to a bit past brotherly love. He kinda crossed the Stalker with a Crush line.
  • Jumping the Shark: Season 4 is widely considered the peak of the show, to the point some fans write off the following seasons.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Maria LaGuerta. It becomes apparent in Season 2 when, after getting demoted, she has an affair with the fiancé of her new boss, Esme, causing Esme to start acting paranoid and unprofessional, culminating in a complete meltdown. All the while, LaGuerta manipulates Esme by allowing her to confide in her, innocently taking over for Esme when she needs to deal with her fiance troubles, and even sticking up for her to her superiors. But after Esme's meltdown, LaGuerta's true goal is realized as she is reinstated as Lieutenant. She then immediately dumps Esme's fiance. Also, her maneuvers against Deb, feeding her to the press to cover herself. She takes it Up to Eleven in season 6, where she not only blackmails Captain Matthews to become Captain herself, but then exposes Matthews' involvement with an overdosed prostitute, leading to his resignation, and pins the blame on Debra for being unable to let the case go. LaGuerta even admits to Deb's face that she's just playing the game to her advantage.
    • The Ice Truck Killer was able to manipulate everyone he met, including Dexter and the cynical Doakes.
    • Whenever listing Magnificent Bastards for this series, one should remember that Dexter's very survival is only possible because he's the best of them all.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • "It's all about strategy. Out-maneuvering the opposition." [cut to him trolling or being a Magnificent Bastard in a PC game] "What are you doing in my office, Dex?" [Dexter looks up and grins, having succeeded trolling] "Winning."
    • "Surprise Motherfucker!"
      • And the many things it rhymes with.
    • And of course, the many gags mixing him with Dexter's Laboratory.
    • Anything involving Dexter ending the series as a lumberjack. Especially the Monty Python song.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Deb in the Season 7 finale: when placed in a Sadistic Choice predicament between killing/arresting Dexter or killing LaGuerta, she guns down LaGuerta to protect her brother.
  • Narm:
    • Remember back in season 1 when Harry stopped Dexter from off a building? Harry asks Dexter why he wanted to die, and Dexter's response was a soap opera-worthy, "I don't wanna die! I'm just trying to figure out some way to feel alive!"
    • Also in S1 and again in a flashback, Harry enters the garage furious that Dexter went hunting without supervision. Less than three in-universe minutes later, Harry pulls the about-face of the century, telling Dexter that it's acceptable to kill people sometimes. The complete lack of subtlety is strange.
    • In season 6, Travis' latest victim is cornered on a boat. Realising the danger, she turns to leave, only to have Travis enter the scene and declare:
      Travis: Hello, whore.
    • Later in Season 6, Travis Marshall makes a painting of Satan with Dexter's face. It looks hilarious.
    • In Season 7, Isaak Sirko's criminal organization is called the "Koshka Brotherhood," which literally translates from Russian to the "Kitty Brotherhood."
    • The Season 8 episode "Every Silver Lining" opens with a video where Harry talks about Dexter's psychopathic tendencies, and then later starts crying. It's supposed to be heartbreaking, but it's hilarious.
    • Harrison's treadmill accident in Season 8, from the poor editing to the obviously older stuntman to the kid's "OW! OW! OW!" acting, gave many viewers a good laugh.
  • Paranoia Fuel: In Season 7, when Dexter is snooping for evidence to use against computer programmer Louis, he learns that Louis once retaliated against an old boss by planting child porn on his computer, and reporting him to police. Given the Never Live It Down ramifications that comes with even being accused of such a crime, knowing that any decently skilled hacker with a grudge can ruin someone's life so quickly can make anyone uneasy. The fact that there are Real Life cases of this only exacerbates viewer anxiety.
  • Replacement Scrappy:
    • Quinn, to some. Many consider him Doakes-Lite, without the Ensemble Darkhorse status.
    • The various women Dexter has been involved with since Rita was killed. Lumen Pierce and Hannah McKay are both beautiful blondes who are as affectionate toward him as Rita, yet have the added convenience of knowing about and accepting his dark secret (something he feels Rita never would have been able to). A few of his brief flings have also been with attractive blondes. None of these women have been as well-received as Rita.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor:
    • Various seasons are afflicted with this, such as 2 and 5, but the granddaddy of them all must be Season 4. We're repeatedly taken away from what is arguably the best A-Plot of the series to concentrate on LaGuerta and Batista's relationship. It's particularly galling because there's no buildup to this romance: they're already lovey-dovey by the start of the season, and Batista's previous relationship is merely handwaved away. Oh, and this plotline affects the A-Plot in precisely one instance. Even worse is that it brought together LaGuerta, whom many fans can't stand, and Batista, who is a fan favorite and perhaps the most likeable person on the show.
    • And there's Hannah McKay, whose relationship with Dexter in Seasons 7 and 8 took focus away from more interesting characters like Isaak Sirko and Evelyn Vogel. It eventually grew to the point that it became Dexter's main arc, while his killing hobby and his fight with the antagonist felt more like the B-plot.
  • Rooting for the Empire:
    • Dexter, obviously. Only in our darkest dreams would we want this man to walk free, but the show makes it all too easy to sympathize with him anyway.
    • A substantial amount of fans were heartbroken when Brian Moser was killed by Dexter, despite the fact that his master plan involved offing deuteragonist Debra, Dexter's beloved foster sister. Some even prefer him over Debra.
    • Ray Stevenson's great portrayal of the three-dimensional villain Isaak Sirko stole the show and outshone Dexter for a considerable portion of viewers. Dexter lampshades this during a The Only One Allowed to Defeat You monologue when he wants some hitmen to fail.
  • The Scrappy:
    • Quinn. Although some consider Quinn Rescued from the Scrappy Heap somewhat by his relationship with Deb.
    • Astor, due to developing from a Cheerful Child to a Bratty Teenage Daughter. She seems to have mellowed out by season 7.
    • Debra teeters back and forth for some. On the one hand she really does love Dexter, but on the other she can be a completely unapologetic bitch, and she has apparently no common sense when it comes to who she chooses to date (her track record so far: a serial killer, an FBI agent who's old enough to be her father and who will obviously have to leave Miami once the case is over, a drug dealing/using CI, and a dirty cop).
    • Hannah McKay, with whom Dexter inexplicably falls in love and can't bring himself to kill, even though she more than fits his code.
  • Seasonal Rot:
    • Season 5. While the first four seasons are held in at least relatively high esteem (although Season 3 is generally viewed as fumbling the ball a little here and there), Season 5 gets a lot of flak for the Lumen character, the weak resolution of many plotlines, and overall disappointment at the entire season finale.
    • Season 6 is largely considered even worse, due to poor pacing, severe character derailment, and a badly handled plot twist.
    • Despite a promising start, Season 8 pretty much killed the goodwill Season 7 built up, thanks to its unfocused Random Events Plot, a multitude of B-plots that fans cared little about, the return of Season 7's scrappy love interest, and an overall lack of urgency or finality. The fact that it also aired alongside Breaking Bad's universally beloved final season only made all of the aforementioned flaws and others that much more glaring by comparison.
  • Special Effect Failure:
    • The snakes in the Season 6 premiere. It is quite obvious that they are CGI.
    • The treadmill scene. When Harrison trips while using the treadmill, an obviously older stunt double takes his place during the accident.
    • The hurricane in the series finale. Abnormally calm waters, cheap lightning effects, CGI mist, sharp shadows under a supposedly overcast sky... Yeah, that's realistic.
  • Spoiled by the Format: This has majorly affected season two, years after its original airing. The season's main conflict has Dexter dealing with the aftermath of his dead body stash being discovered by local scuba divers, which brings an FBI manhunt to figure out the Bay Harbor Butcher's identity. The obvious conclusion newer viewers will guess is that Dexter somehow gets away with his crimes, since there are six more seasons that come afterward.
  • Squick:
    • Right off the bat, the Ice Truck Killer's M.O. (that is, slicing and dicing exsanguinated hookers into equally portioned pieces) was pretty squick-tastic. Even more so when he chopped off Tony Tucci's hand and lower leg, then proceeded to fit him for prosthetics for the very body parts he cut off. (That one is more re-watch squick, as the viewer doesn't know Rudy Cooper is the Ice Truck Killer at the time.) Finally, his delightful rendition of Deck the Halls as he wraps a hooker's limbs in bows and wrapping paper.
    • An unlimited supply related to the Trinity Killer. Most notably, Becca—Arthur/Trinity's 15 year old daughter—essentially offers to move in with Dexter and be his willing sex slave if he'll take her away from her dad. Dexter is horrified at the prospect, and promptly says no. Sally, Becca's mother and Trinity's wife, overhears the conversation and begs Dexter not to tell Arthur about anything he has done or will do with Becca. Dexter promptly tries to explain that he would never take advantage of an underage girl, but Sally understands it to mean that Dexter won't tell Arthur and is visibly relieved. In other words, Sally can handle her only daughter being sexually abused, but not Arthur's temper.
    • In Season 6, a lot of people found Deb realizing she has romantic feelings for Dexter more than a little off-putting, even if they aren't biological brother and sister.
  • Strangled by the Red String:
    • The fourth season's opening episode features a brand-new relationship between Lt. LaGuerta and Sgt. Batista, which apparently developed entirely in the gap between seasons, despite no previous chemistry other than a standard-for-the-precinct friendship. Batista was even involved in an entirely different (and more developed) relationship as of the last episode of the previous season which vanished without a trace sometime in the meanwhile. Overstated drama immediately ensues over everything from policies against office romances necessitating secrecy to overblown arguments over shared bank accounts and Batista fighting in bars to defend LaGuerta's honor. Meanwhile, neither the show's primary nor secondary storyline is even remotely affected by any of this, and the rest of the cast largely ignores it. It just takes a lot of screen time in Seasons 4 and 5. Then in Season 6 they are suddenly divorced.
    • Season 7 had Dexter and Hannah McKay. They have little chemistry and hook up very suddenly, and pretty much the only thing they have in common is they're both serial killers. It's obviously meant to set up an emotional moment when Deb is forced to arrest Hannah; after all, she was "the only person who'd ever accepted Dexter"...except that the writers apparently forgot about Lila West and Lumen Pierce, both of whom had been perfectly willing to accept Dexter's killing, the latter even helping him out in the exact same way that Hannah did. The whole thing just felt rather forced. It's back in full swing in Season 8. Hannah shows up again out of nowhere, and she and Dexter are back together within two episodes. Even Dr. Vogel, an expert on psychology and human behavior, can't stop gushing about how utterly perfect they are for each other.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Evelyn Vogel. Introduced in Season 8 as a psychiatrist who helped shape Dexter into a serial killer because of her rather twisted philosophy on psychopaths, she starts getting less screen time halfway through the season, and is eventually killed off anticlimactically. Many fans now see her as pointless and blame the writers for not using her to her full potential.
    • Zach Hamilton. For three episodes in Season 8 he's built up as a possible successor to Dexter, and then he's suddenly killed off and forgotten.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • After Season 4's tragic ending, many viewers looked forward to a darker, more dangerous Dexter in Season 5. Instead, the season was about Dexter finding a new love interest and hunting down another group of villains.
    • In Season 6, some fans were irked that "Ghost Brian" barely lasted two episodes.
    • The Season 7 finale opened up a lot of possibilities regarding an investigation into LaGuerta's death and Dexter's secret eventually being exposed. Disappointingly for many people, Season 8 ignored those, focusing instead on another ho-hum serial killer hunt and the return of Hannah McKay. And even the latter could have been interesting since Dexter and Hannah had ended Season 7 on bitter terms, but in Season 8 they resumed their relationship with absolutely no signs of any grudge.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Joey Quinn in Season 5. On the one hand, he's meant to be a complex antagonist. On the other hand, most of his own problems are entirely self-inflicted. Therefore, it can be hard to root for him.
  • Win Back the Crowd: Season 7 was generally more well-received than 5 and 6, thanks to an interesting villain and a major change to the status quo. Season 8, however...
  • The Woobie: Several, though Rita and Lumen take the cake.

Books:

  • Alas, Poor Scrappy: Poor Deke, we hardly knew yee. As well as Deb's old partner, Samantha...
  • Angst? What Angst?: Debra concerning Dexter and what he does until the fourth book, and even then it's restrained. Justified in that she is a Bad Ass and we don't see how she deals with her life by herself.
  • Crowning Moment of Heartwarming: Or as close as this series gets to one. Dexter is perfectly willing to go after the man who stabbed Debra despite, for all he knows, being only guilty of attempted murder.
  • Franchise Original Sin: Many fans were displeased over the Genre Shift in the third book, but in the first book there is mention of how animals don't like Dexter, which is hardly scientific.
  • Squick: "Jenny's Leg", fourth book. A modern artist hacks off chunks of her own leg, videotaping it the entire time, before cutting it off entirely. The fun part? It's also Foreshadowing.
  • True Art Is Incomprehensible: The plot of the fourth book revolves around the antagonists' efforts at art with dead bodies.

random
TV Tropes by TV Tropes Foundation, LLC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available from thestaff@tvtropes.org.
Privacy Policy
52829
22