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Beware of spoilers, only spoilers from the seventh and eighth seasons are meant to be blacked out. All character sheets contain major spoilers. Proceed reading at your own risk.note 

"I'm Dexter, and... I'm not sure what I am. I just know there's something dark in me."
Played by: Michael C. Hall

"I'm not the monster he wants me to be. So I'm neither man nor beast. I'm something new entirely, with my own set of rules. I'm Dexter."

The show's protagonist. Dexter was adopted into his foster-family as a three-year old after his mother was murdered in front of him. Growing up with bloodthirsty tendencies, Dexter was trained by his father to direct his urges to kill at those who "deserve it", and to never get caught. Works as a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro PD.

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  • Action Dad: He can still kick ass even after becoming a father takes up some of his time (however, due to his usually neat and stealthy killing methods, he rarely has to get physical with his victims).
  • Adaptational Badass: In the novels, while still a serial killer, Dexter is a far less capable fighter who usually avoids physical altercations and often gets smacked around by the Big Bad or even mooks. Compare this with TV Dexter who's a blackbelt capable of holding his own against former special ops agent Doakes(who in the first novel he admitted to being intimidated by) and who has physically bested cops, serial killers, gangsters etc.
  • Adaptational Nice Guy: In the books, Dexter views Rita as more like a pet and he doesn't really care about anyone except for maybe Debra and children in general. In the TV series, he grows to love Rita and cares a great deal for the people around him. He also kills his victims a lot quicker instead of torturing them like in the books.
  • Adorkable: Well, he's about as adorkable as a serial killer can be, anyway. For example, when Hannah drops by, Dexter tries to fix his hair while looking at his reflection in a photo frame. Also a few examples when he's trying to fit in and getting it wrong, the bemused look on his face is charming.
  • Affably Evil: He actively cultivates a friendly persona. Bordering sometimes on Faux Affably Evil.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: He's said to be sociopathic, but he is far too restrained and can calculate too well into the future to be one. He was never diagnosed as such, as he deliberately messed with the diagnosis under Harry's request which leaves us with yet inexplicable violent urges and lack of ability to socialise and feel empathy. Overall, the safest diagnosis for him is a psychopath. Not in the common Hollywood definition of the term, but in the actual clinical definition; antisocial behavior, diminished empathy and remorse, high self confidence, social assertiveness, fearlessness, poor impulse control, and disinhibited or bold behavior. Still, even that doesn't fit him entirely.
    • Some fans consider him to be a blend of a "covert" or "secret" schizoid and a really malignant case of obsessive-compulsive disorder, due to his loner tendencies and the unusually obsessive nature of his homicidal impulses. It's technically possible that he has both schizoid personality disorder and psychopathy though, seeing as how many convicted serial killers meet the diagnostic criteria for both.
  • Ambiguously Evil: Zigzagged; he considers himself Necessarily Evil while in-universe opinions (and even out of universe) regarding his work as the BHB range from 'Byronic Hero' to 'Ax-Crazy and in it For the Evulz'. It should be noted that for him necessary evil doesn't mean "small evil in order to do great good." It means 'small evil in order to control myself so I don't do even greater evil.' Which is just according to what he says.
  • Animals Hate Him: Rita's neighbour has a dog that hates him utterly. Most interactions he has with animals, especially dogs, involve the dog being hostile to him on sight.
  • Anti-Hero: A Nominal Hero. While Dexter may be the protagonist of the series, and his actions are mostly directed at those who could be considered morally worse than himself, he only does it because of his own urges to kill.
  • Anti-Villain: The Noble and Woobie types. Despite being a serial killer, Dexter does have redeeming qualities and virtues that make him a character who can be rooted for and sympathized with. The Code of Harry and Dexter's personal inhibitions, such as being incapable of harming children or his family, are one of many things that ultimately assist in demonstrating that Dexter is not as monstrous as he thinks he is. And his traumatic experience as a child, which provoked his compulsion to kill, is an event that is shown to have deeply affected Dexter and continues to do so even years later.
  • Asexuality: Subverted. In the pilot, Dexter says, 'I don't understand sex. Not that I have anything against women, and I certainly have an appropriate sensibility about men, but when it comes to the actual act of sex, it's always just seemed so undignified.' Later on, it turns out he is pretty sexual, but he's aversive towards sex because somehow his partners get a glimpse of what he's really like. He sticks with Rita because somehow she doesn't.
  • Awesomeness by Analysis: He's a blood spatter analyst who can reconstruct a crime scene in seconds.
  • Badass Baritone: Bordering on Evil Sounds Deep while he's enjoying his rituals.
  • Badass Bookworm: To the point he's almost a Genius Bruiser, capable of going toe to toe in a fight with the bulky Doakes.
    Doakes: Lab geek my ass!
  • Batman Gambit: He tells Oliver Saxon he will kill him with the pen on his desk when he comes to perform a GSR test on him. Oliver grabs the pen and stabs him with it, but misses and lodges it in his shoulder; Dexter seizes the opportunity to overpower him, grab the pen, and lodge it in his neck, thereby allowing Dexter to argue for self defence.
  • Battle Trophy: Dexter takes a blood sample from every killer he's killed. Until season 7, when he stops after Deb confronts him for it, and destroys them all.
  • Beard of Sorrow: Grows one when he goes into hiding at the end of the series.
  • Becoming the Mask: The fake life co-created with Harry as a cover to kill gradually becomes real.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Dexter is quite affable for a serial murderer. Just don't push any of his berserk buttons.
  • Best Friend: Batista is likely the closest thing he has to one.. He's one of the few people Dexter genuinely likes, although they rarely interact in later seasons.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Messing with Debra is a way to get you on his kill list.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Before the Code of Harry, it is unclear whether he had much of a sense of morality in the first place due to the dominance of his urges. Even with the Code, he mainly concerns himself about whether he violates it not rather than feeling guilt about doing something wrong (i.e. his killing of Oscar Prado).
  • Break His Heart to Save Him: Dexter fakes his own death to leave Hannah's and Harrison's life for good, as he believes he will destroy their lives too if he stays with them.
  • But Not Too Gay: In the series premier, Dexter says, 'I don't have anything against women, and I certainly have an appropriate sensibility about men [...]' However, he never so much as checks another man out throughout the whole series. Then again, one could chalk this up to either Early Installment Weirdness, or what one thinks an "appropriate sensibility about men" is.
  • Byronic Hero: And a rather twisted one at that.
  • Can't Live With Them, Can't Live Without Them: Dexter jokingly remarks "Can't live with her, can't kill her" about his sister Debra. He doesn't actually dislike her though, just hates the fact she inhibits his possibility of killing. He makes huge efforts to defend her.
  • Character Development: Dexter was more emotionally distant in early seasons and, while still acting the Nice Guy part, he has problems showing affection even to people very close to him, like Debra and Rita. In the first episode he even says he doesn't have feelings. He eventually becomes more open and aware of his feelings for other people. He realizes how much Rita and her family are important to him and admits he loves Debra multiple times. In the last few seasons he also falls in love with Hannah, while early seasons Dexter was largely aromantic.
  • Chick Magnet: Just ask Rita, Lila, the high school classmate who fellated him at their high school reunion, Lumen, Hannah, initially LaGuerta, and other women he engaged with before getting together Rita. In the season 6 finale, Debra realizes she's in love with him.
  • Combat Pragmatist: When in doubt, if Dexter isn't able to murder his victim in his Kill Room, he will find ways to kill them. Best seen when he takes out Oliver Saxon, the Brain Surgeon with a fucking pen.
  • Consummate Liar: A given when one has to master a dual life.
  • Control Freak: He keeps everything tightly organized, and rarely trusts others to do things right. He does not react well when people interfere with his stuff, be it his computer or his shed or...anything, really.
  • Cool Big Bro: To Debra who loves him a lot and they are really close.
  • Creature of Habit: He's obsessed with daily rituals and routines of his and other peoples.
  • Creepy Monotone: His inner monologue is smooth and constantly calm. His actual speech gets this way, too, when he doesn't bother with the pretense (so this is usually the case when he's talking to his victims).
  • Creepy Souvenir: He collects blood samples from his victims. Deb made him stop doing so once she found out that he was the Bay Harbor Butcher.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: When he was three, his mother was murdered right in front of him.
  • Dating Catwoman: First with Lila (a pyromaniac Yandere), then with Hannah McKay (a Master Poisoner). He doesn't end up with either of them.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Mostly in his inner monologue (in the series and in the books), but in the present as well, quietly snarking to others.
    Doakes: You trying to be smart?
    Dexter: Not 'trying', no.
  • Detective Mole: He uses his position within Miami Metro to manipulate the police.
  • Determinator: When he sets his mind on a kill, no one can stop him. Additionally, since the first rule of the Code is "Don't Get Caught", Dexter often goes to great lengths to keep people off his trail to live another day. As time goes on, he justifies his approach since he has a lot of people who care about him and vice versa. According to Word of God though, there is an element of selfishness to his desire to live to the point where he's willing to frame others.
  • Did I Just Say That Out Loud?: He blurts out that LaGuerta died because she 'wouldn't leave things alone' Angel.
  • Disposing of a Body: Wraps the bodies in plastics, hacks'em good and then drops'em to the bottom of the sea.
  • Does Not Like Guns: He prefers to kill with knives, since they leave less evidence behind.
  • Doom Magnet: By the end of the series, Dexter has killed over a hundred people and caused the deaths of many people around him, including completely innocent people like Rita, relatively innocent people like Doakes and LaGuerta, and ultimately is forced to mercy kill Debra.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • His first scenes set him as your typical intimidating killer when he threatens the pastor and forces him to drive to his kill site. That is, until we see exactly why he's targeting him.
    • The opening sequence pretty much displays the duality of his character; he spends a lot of time cultivating normality alongside honing his craft as a serial killer.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Dexter kills only killers and pedophiles.
    • He brags of being a "very neat monster" and doesn't look too well on those who don't tidy their playground, whatever it may be.
    • He despises anyone who hurts kids in any shape or form.
    • When a copycat killer of the Bay Harbor Butcher shows up, he's very unhappy about it. He doesn't exactly consider himself a role model to be emulated, but someone who has to harness his dark urges into something productive.
    • He also doesn't like to tamper with evidence unless it's his own hide on the rope, and even then he half-heartedly does it. Makes you wonder why he went into forensics if he wasn't prepared to someday use the position to tamper with some incriminating evidence against himself.
    • His response to seeing videos of 13 young women being tortured and raped to death plays this more straight: "Despite having considered myself a monster for as long as I can remember, it still comes as a shock when I'm confronted with the depths of evil that exists in this world."
    • Dexter is always sure to kill quickly, the release is in the killing. When he discovers that the Trinity Killer has been psychologically terrorizing and physically torturing his own family for years Dexter is completely horrified.
    • He acknowledges that he's a monster, but will not stand for anyone trying to glorify his compulsion to kill.
    • The idea of cannibals disgusts him, although it's unclear if his disgust is a moral one or not.
  • Expy: Dexter is similar to Tim Dorsey's Serge A. Storms: both are south Florida-based serial killers who only target bad guys, with the first Serge novel Florida Roadkill published in 1999 and the first Dexter novel Darkly Dreaming Dexter published in 2001. Per Tim during his 2013 book tour for The Riptide Ultra-Glide, Showtime was even offered a Serge TV show two years before they were offered Dexter.
  • Faking the Dead: In the series finale. He pretends to have died in a boating accident, but is actually alive and working a job somewhere far from his home and his loved ones.
  • The Fettered: He has a "Code of Harry" that guides who he kills, how he kills and why he kills. It's purpose is to keep him on the "man" side of "man-monster".
  • First-Person Smartass: Dexter is just as much a smart-ass on TV as in the books, if not more so. There's even a subversion in one episode where Dex's internal monologue becomes external for a line; the only one who notices, of course, is Doakes.
  • Flanderization In the beginning of the series his social facade is actually believable, as intended with Harry's lessons in blending in. He smiles, cracks jokes, flirts and offers insightful comments, is only entirely clueless about some of the deeper emotional issues pertaining to relationships and makes up for his lack of empathy by being incredibly observant, an expert liar and thinking on his feet, and his inner monologue is mostly cynical comments, snarkery and exposition. By the third season he seems to have no idea how to act in any situation whatsoever, comes off as incredibly slow-witted in general conversation, and his inner monologue is 90% self-centered poetic imagery.
  • Foil: Dexter gets a few in the series.
    • Perhaps the most notable is Debra, his sister. Dexter is very much in control of his life and is also a serial killer. Debra's personal life is a constant mess, but she's a brilliant detective and believes in the strength of the legal process. Both of them also have amazing natural intuition, which helps them both track down serial killers.
    • The Ice Truck Killer, a.k.a. Rudy Cooper, a.k.a. Brian, his brother. Both have an instinctual need to kill and enjoy their respective rituals. However, Dexter is bound by his code and has loved ones he doesn't want to hurt, whilst Brian is Ax-Crazy and only cares about fulfilling his need.
    • Arthur Mitchell, the Trinity Killer. Like Brian, both Dexter and Trinity have a ritualistic need to kill that stems from a Freudian Excuse. They're also both family men with a wife and children to look after. The difference is Dexter actually cares about his family and treats them with respect, while Trinity is an Abusive Parent with control issues.
    • The Brain Surgeon, a.k.a. Oliver Saxon, a.k.a. Daniel Vogel. He is even viewed as mirroring the Ice Truck Killer in almost all of his tendencies, but his desire is to harm Dexter while Brian's was to be in Dexter's life and free him from the Code. In addition, as opposed to Brian, the Brain Surgeon shared Dexter's ultimate goal of living a normal life.
  • Freudian Excuse: Witnessing the murder of his mother and being left in the ensuing blood pool.
  • Friend to All Children: He likes children, which means that he is particularly wrathful against criminals that harm children. When he's not being particularly wrathful he only stabs people in the heart. He's a compulsive serial killer with a strict "only-hunt-monsters" policy and a soft spot for children due to his own Start of Darkness. This makes for a reaction to children in danger that goes far beyond Papa Wolf territory into something frighteningly awesome.
  • Happily Adopted: Finds a new and caring family, but his darkness can't be erased.
  • Happily Married: To Rita by the end of Season 3. Sadly, it ends in tragedy in the next Season, as Rita is killed by the Trinity Killer in the finale.
  • Has a Type:
    • Dexter seems to be attracted mainly to blondes, as evidenced by his relationships with Rita, Lumen, and Hannah not to mention the high school acquaintance/former popular girl who fellates him at their reunion.
    • He also seems to connect with women of the Broken Bird and/or Troubled, but Cute type (Rita, Lila, Lumen, Hannah). In the first episode he says that Rita is perfect for him because she is "in her own way, as damaged as me".
  • Heroic BSoD: He has one very early on in Season 5, still heavily impacted by Rita's death, which causes him to kill a surly red-neck for insulting her and having a Not So Stoic moment.
  • Hired to Hunt Yourself: His hobby often collides with his work for the Miami PD, leading to a lot of evidence tampering and misdirection.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Dexter is a vigilante serial killer traumatized as a child by witnessing the murder of his mother. In Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the novel on which the show is based, his brother Brian is also an atheist for the same reason, though it is also implied (at least in the Showtime series) that, rather than actively disbelieving in a god, Dexter simply has no use for religion/the concept of a god (this is sometimes called "apatheism"). In a later season he starts to explore the idea more after pursuing a serial killer whose inspiration is the Book of Revelation, becoming impressed by a reformed murderer-turned-minister called Brother Sam, but still never fully becomes religious that we see.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: His modus operandi is killing other killers.

  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Dexter often monologues that he wishes he could feel like everyone else, stripped of his own drives to slaughter. He even uses this to get closer to Rita after asking a couple about the secret of a successful relationship right before he kills them.
  • Informed Ability: For all he's supposed to be committing the perfect murder, it's a wonder Dexter isn't caught. The number of people who disappear after he parks his personal vehicle outside their homes, breaks into their living quarters in broad daylight, and/or investigates them using networked computers with easily traceable search histories is pretty darned incriminating. If LaGuerta were to assemble actual evidence against him, he would've been toast.
  • It's All My Fault: Dexter frequently believes he's the cause of all the horrible things people around him go through and struggles to stop it from happening. Debra defies it in the series finale, saying she's an adult who's responsible for her own choices, but she develops a blood clot during her operation that would not let her reason or even eat on her own. When the doctor says it would take a miracle for her to really recover, Dexter says he's never seen a miracle, implying that being saved in the ocean by a boat named 'Miracle'note  was not a miracle―it was a disaster.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Ruthless serial killer by night. Loving, affable man by morning who has a deep fondness towards children.
  • Karma Houdini: Due to his skill, another's person's screw up, or just plain dumb luck. By the end of the series, he still hasn't been caught for his crimes and is living up north as a lumberjack. One could interpret his self-imposed exile as a Fate Worse than Death though.
  • Knife Nut: Has an aversion for guns so his evidence-free routine involves a knife, but he sometimes chooses a more exotic weapon - axe, chainsaw, hammer...
  • Knight Templar Parent: Boarders on this at times. Once he killed a pedophile who was targeting Astor.
  • Lack of Empathy: He thinks he is this, and for the first two seasons, he's mostly right. However, come season three and beyond, Dexter begins to realize he truly does care about others around him, especially Debra and his family. And ultimately, his progress was all for nothing, as his sense of empathy and emotional development hinders his abilities to kill his targets, causing the death of Rita, the dissolution of his family, nearly kills him when he's facing Travis Marshall, and leads to Vogel being killed and Debra being shot. He is ultimately forced to abandon his son and girlfriend and ends the series a devastated shell, capable of feeling emotions and all the pain that comes with it.
  • The Lab Rat: His day job is a blood-spatter analyst.
  • Living Emotional Crutch: Debra has repeatedly referred to Dexter as "the constant good thing in [her] life".
  • Loophole Abuse: Dexter realizes that he cannot kill Doakes no matter how much he tries to justify it due to his code. Framing Doakes on the other hand is perfectly acceptable to him. This applies even after Doakes dies. Despite the fact that being locked in a cage led to his death in the first place, Dexter feels no remorse since he didn't directly kill him.
  • Love Makes You Dumb: When he's with Hannah, he loses the capacity to think straight.
  • Manipulative Bastard: He successfully plays the Miami Metro staff several times, such as leading them to believe Brian Moser killed himself or that Hector Estrada and Maria LaGuerta killed each other.
  • Minored in Ass-Kicking: He is a "Lab Rat" (with an MD) who took "courses in advanced jujitsu". While he usually strikes by surprise, he was able to clash with a heavily muscled police sergeant who is ex-special forces, and able to best him while Dexter was handcuffed and the cop had a pistol drawn.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Particularly in season 2, Dexter is frequently shown half-naked and Michael C. Hall sure isn't bad looking...
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: His first thought when someone gets in his way is "can I kill them?"
  • My God, What Have I Done?: When Dexter learns that his killing is what lead to his father's suicide it honestly makes him feel guilty enough and considers for the first time that he should turn himself in.
  • Nerves of Steel: When Paul is pulling his alpha male act on Dexter in season 1, he throws a punch that stops an inch short of Dexter's face. Dexter barely flinches and never takes his eyes off Paul or changes his expression, then calmly asks him, "Is that it?"
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: Dexter makes a point of only killing other serial killers. Even apart from the Code of Harry forbidding him to harm innocent people, he's disgusted by the idea that anyone could harm children.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Several times, especially in later seasons when he begins to start breaking the code with some regularity by going after people who the police were about to catch, instead of people who were slipping through the cracks like he's supposed to. As a result of his bloodlust, his wife is killed by Trinity.
  • No One Could Survive That!:
    • Travis Marshall makes that fatal mistake near the end of season 6.
    • Dexter somehow survives sailing into a violent storm in the series finale.
  • Noble Demon: A serial killer he may be, he also lives by the "Code of Harry" which outline he should only kill other murderers who kill for shear pleasure.
  • Not So Different: From Hector Estrada, the man who ordered the murder of his mother, of all people.
  • Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: His methods certainly are extreme and his target selection ensures that he's probably a net positive force in the universe, but he doesn't do it to make the world a better place, he does it because he needs to. However, as time passes by, he begins to kill people for their moral reprehensibility, as his urges seem to lessen somewhat.
  • The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: The reason why he saves the Trinity Killer's life in season 4. This comes back to bite him hard in the end.
  • Papa Wolf: People who even mildly threaten his kids meet a very bad end. A paedophile that targeted Astor, Lila West, Travis Marshall...all dead.
    • He's also this to others, as well. When Arthur Mitchell tried to strangle his son to death, Dexter responds by garrotting him and nearly stabbing him to death on the spot.
    • One episode of the series has him beating the hell out of the father of Astor's friend, who's been beating the child.
    • The show's first "kill" is also a paedo.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The whole premise behind the code isn't justice, it's to focus his own evil urges in a way that is 'productive', targeting only criminals that have escaped punishment.
  • Poetic Serial Killer: When particularly disgusted or angered by a killer, or when it's necessary, he kills them with a method that's relevant to their crime, such as bludgeoning Arthur Mitchell with a hammer, or drowning Nick at the same beach he had been baptized at by the man he killed, Brother Sam. In addition, part of his ritual with all of his kills is to show the target pictures of their victims so they know why they're being killed.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: The Code of Harry is designed this way. Ultimately, everything he does is for the sake of satisfying his urges without getting caught. While he does find himself genuinely disgusted by some of his victims, killing serial killers who've escaped the system is simply more convenient than wanton murder.
  • Principles Zealot: He knows without the Code he'd slip into the darkness completely and become like his brother.
  • Protagonist Title: His first name is the name of the series. And he's the main central character.
  • Psychotic Smirk: Fantastic things are done with lighting to make Michael C. Hall look as much like Light Yagami as possible when he turns on the evil grin.
  • Savvy Guy, Energetic Girl: The stoic, introverted Savvy Guy to Debra's impulsive Energetic Girl.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Dexter breaks all laws — including his own — just to kill people pedophiles.
  • Serial-Killer Killer: His whole schtick is that he kills other killers. He isn't limited to serial killers, but he's certainly taken them out. Brian Moser, Miguel Prado, Arthur Mitchell, Walter Kenney, Travis Marshall, Raymond Speltzer...
  • Slasher Smile: Offers pretty scary ones on the series' DVD covers.
  • The Sociopath: Deconstructed throughout the series. During the first two seasons, this trope is played straight with Dexter given his general portrayal as a completely self-absorbed individual who is only capable of feeling alive when killing. However, in Seasons 3-6, Dexter steadily becomes more conscious of the needs and feelings of those in his life and begins to take a personal interest in their well-being. However, throughout Season 7 and the first half of Season 8, the legitimacy of Dexter's newfound humanity is brought into doubt after he realizes that he kills others merely because he enjoys it and begins to suspect that his attachment towards others may be nothing more than a self-serving front for possessive feelings characteristic of all sociopaths. Nevertheless, by the end of the series, Dexter ultimately subverts this trope when he learns at a terrible cost that he has grown to value those in his life far more than himself and his bloodlust.
  • Sociopathic Hero: Particularly in the first two seasons, where Dexter is doing relatively 'heroic' things, but has yet to develop the burgeoning sense of empathy and emotions that would later define his Character Development.
  • Stepford Smiler: He can be types A, B, and C all at the same time. On the surface, Dexter affects a harmless, chipper personality to fit into society and hide the fact that he is a sociopathic serial killer. And empty. Over the course of the series, however, he becomes more in touch with his feelings and enjoys periods of legitimate happiness. Watching Dexter's face for real versus feigned expressions is very interesting, especially since the face you're watching actually belongs to an actor who doesn't mean the real ones or the fake ones.
  • Stronger Than They Look: Dexter is mostly a guile (anti)hero so it's not immediately obvious, but he is very strong. In season 2, when escaping an ambush set by Little Chino, he's able to lift a manhole cover (which likely weighs upwards of 100 pounds), escape down the manhole and replace the cover, by himself, in a matter of seconds. With his pursuers none the wiser. In the same episode he's able to move an unconscious Little Chino (who is probably 300+ pounds) to his car, stuff him in the trunk, bring him to the killing chamber, and get him strapped to the table before he wakes up.
  • Strong Girl, Smart Guy: Played with. At first sight, he's the forensics expert Smart Guy to Debra's Strong Girl (as an Action Girl police officer). However, even if the other characters aren't aware of it, Dexter is actually quite strong and can handle himself in a fight (he's also skilled in jiu jitsu) and Debra is also a very smart detective.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: He only kills abominable people who deserve to die because they got away. His justice system is extremely solid. Plus he's a charming guy.

  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Polite, charming, good-looking, and he even works for the police. You'd never know he was a calculating serial killer-killer.
  • Token Evil Teammate: In the Miami Homicide Department, since he's secretly a Serial Killer who abuses his position to alter evidence and actively sabotages police investigations, so he can kill the Arc Villain before he's arrested.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Seems to have a fondness for steak. Pork sandwiches and bananas are his favourite "driving" food.
  • Tragic Hero: Or Tragic Villain. Either way, Dexter is what he is because he had to witness his mother being brutally murdered in front of his eyes.
  • Troubled, but Cute: Dexter is a deeply disturbed loner with a dangerous, murderous side and Dark and Troubled Past. He's also handsome, charming, and can be genuinely Adorkable.
  • Two First Names: Either "Dexter" or "Morgan" can be used as a first name.
  • Übermensch: Dexter becomes this when he starts ignoring his "Dark Passenger" and the Code of Harry to start picking his own targets.
  • Underestimating Badassery: Many underestimate the lab geek.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Dexter often talks about how he doesn't have any emotions. While his emotions are definitely subdued, it's made pretty clear that he cares for the people close to him and have a conscience, that although quiet most of the time, still occasionally haunts him. He's pretty reliable regarding everything but himself.
  • Vigilante Man: Part of his trademark is that he only goes after other bad guys (with a few exceptions). He's explicitly referred to as this, when a comic book writer bases his work on him and makes him into a Batman/Punisher/Spawn hybrid called 'The Dark Defender'.
  • Villain Has a Point: Although Dexter's primary goal throughout the series is to satisfy his killing urges rather than heroism, he does make some good points about the work that he does.
    • He asks what it is about Doakes' job as a cop that makes it different from Dexter being a Serial-Killer Killer. As Doakes is someone with a temper and a high number of on-the-job kills, it hammers in some degree of moral ambiguity between the two characters.
    • He is right to be angry at Doakes for his constant violations of privacy even if Doakes is right that Dexter is hiding something dark.
    • After Debra finds out he's a serial killer in season 7, she reprimands him for his actions and keeping trophies of his victims. Dexter then proceeds to scoff at her use of "victims", listing some of many unsavory people he has killed which included a pedophile and domestic abuser. Serial killer or not, it's hard to call people like that "victims".
  • Villain Protagonist: At least during the final episodes of seasons 2 and 7. Season 2 has him going on to try and frame Doakes, while the end of season 7 has him trying to kill Laguerta.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: After witnessing his mother being murdered, he grew up with sociopathic tendencies.
  • Would Hit a Girl: He will kill a woman if he considers her dangerous.
  • Wouldn't Hurt a Child: Dexter is fond of children, finding them to be more interesting and easier to understand than adults, and he tends to drop his normally calm attitude around those of his victims that preys on them. He even broke his code of only killing murderers to get rid of a paedophile who was stalking Astor.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Dexter often projects his own experiences and motivations onto other killers and thus misinterprets their motivations and reactions. He expects the killer to play out one of the usual stereotypes and is blindsided when the killer actually does something completely different. This gets him in a lot of trouble and gets a lot of people killed.
  • Xanatos Speed Chess: He often has to work on his own crime scenes, and has to play merry hell with the chain of evidence.
  • Your Cheating Heart: He cheated on Rita with Lila in season two. However, they had a big fight and Dexter interpreted it as a break-up.


Example of: