Dexter is a very brainy child whose awkward and nerdy personality is loved by the fans.
Dee Dee is a complete ditz and scatterbrain whose bubbly and perky personality make her lovable.
Alas, Poor Scrappy: Dexter wishing away Koosalagoopagoop, and he reluctantly complies. Even if you didn't like the character, you can still feel pity for him, and tell why Dee Dee and even Dexter were upset at it happening. And then he comes back a few episodes later...
Quite a few fans believe he has Asperger's syndrome, or something similar.
Likewise, one could argue that Dexter's Mom has a form of OCD, especially if the Mother's Day episode and the episode where she was dating his dad when they were teens is anything to go by.
Even Dee-Dee is often seen as having a form of ADHD.
How much of this show is just happening in Dexter's head? The constant Reset Button could be an indication of this.
Is Dexter actually the smarter sibling, or just the more motivated one? There are plenty of episodes that indicate Dee-Dee actually understands all of Dexter's technology (sometimes better than Dexter does), she just doesn't have the inclination to put her knowledge to use.
Considering the somewhat unethical nature of some of Dexter's experiments opens up another can of worms entirely. Does Dexter have a darker side, is this the normal scientific train of thought, or is Dexter just a young and somewhat naive kid whose moral compass is still being formed?
Is Dee Dee an intentionally annoying sibling, oblivious to how annoying she can be, or is she just a sister who wants to bond with her nerdy, introverted little brother? A little of them all? Even the show itself varies on her.
Is Dexter truly tormented by his sister? Or is it really his own inflated ego causing him problems? Dexter fancies himself as some kind of genius but for some reason he makes some of the most ridiculously flawed and impractical inventions that are easily destroyed by Dee Dee. In the same note, is Dee Dee tormenting Dexter for lulz, or is she really trying to teach him to improve as an inventor/designer and see the flaws of his own designs that he ignores (or outright refuses) to see due to his own ego? Consider "Dexter's Assistant," in which Dexter makes Dee Dee intelligent and articulate so she can be his lab assistant, only for him to ignore all of her (correct) predictions that his experiments will fail and suffer as a result. He even takes his anger out on the Cymbal-Banging Monkey that she gives him before leaving!
In "Dimwit Dexter," are the neighborhood kids pointing and laughing at Dexter's mental breakdown-induced stupidity or are they entertained by how off-the-wall his antics are? Consider how they both chant his name and cheer when he kisses a duck's butt at the end.
The nameless Voiceless creepy eyed girl from "Aye Aye Eyes" has a crush on Dexter and Dexter assumes that if he doesn't become her boyfriend she would tell everyone about his secret laboratory despite the fact the girl never speaks in the entire episode. Question is that is she really mute or is Dexter not taking any chances in case she really does talk.
Awesome Music: Thomas Chase and Steve Rucker's music for the show really pushed the limits of music for comedy cartoons and especially the capabilities of a synthesized orchestra circa 1995. The John Williams-esque opening theme alone features epic brass, swelling strings, and even choral vocals, while the incidental music features various homages to classic sci-fi. Not only does it all sound like a real movie score, but it makes for a hilarious contrast to the comedy.
The entirety of Labretto. While What's Opera, Doc? is inarguably the greatest animated parody of an opera, Dexter's Lab is unprecedented for managing to do a legitimate and completely original mini-opera, let alone one that's still funny!
Dee-Dee is seen as either a good foil to Dexter or an annoying pest. Not helping is the fact that she suffers pretty badly from Depending on the Writer and can come off as being unacceptably cruel to her brother at times.
Koosalagoopagoop. Pray his antics charm you, otherwise the episode just got a whole lot more annoying.
The part of "Continuum of Cartoon Fools" where Dexter holds a stopwatch while periodically saying 'BAAAAWT'. Those who have ever did timing scripts for animation dialogue know exactly what he's doing. Word of God says that he was timing a storyboard of the cartoon itself - yet indeed, there was no other reason to put it besides the fact that it was funny.
The ending of "That Crazy Robot!" where Dexter shoots lasers from his eyes.
The gag in "Dexter is Dirty" where Dee Dee straight-up teleports, literally warping into the bathroom while Dexter's taking a bath to give him his laminated lab ID and then teleporting out. For those who don't realize it's a Shout-Out to I Dream of Jeannie (Dee Dee, in her plush bath robe and hair towel, resembles the title character), it can feel like a punchline to a joke that was never set up.
The entire Chubby Cheese pizza show scene in "Chubby Cheese" is pretty bizarre, but then it ends with the audience randomly flying off at the end. Apparently, this was due to a language barrier between the Korean animation studio and the American creators: the storyboard read that the audience should "take off" (as in leave) at the end of the scene, but the animators interpreted it as taking off into the air like Superman. The US crew found it so funny that they left it in and added an accompanying sound effect to make it funnier.
Cargo Ship: Dexter really loves his computer. And the feeling's mutual.
And in a lesser extent, Dexter and Buttercup - which, interestingly, is actually supported to a small degree by canon: in a vocal announcement back in the late 90's/early 2000's in during one of the credits, it was announced that Dexter has a crush on Buttercup, because she's sassy. There were even hints in a few Cartoon Network games, such as in the Cartoon Network online game "Cartoon Cartoons Summer Resort", where Buttercup pointed out the feeling was mutual, and the two danced at the disco. And their interactions aren't even Belligerent Sexual Tension either, as others would suspect.
Thanks to FusionFall, Dexter and Ben have gained quite the following.
Mandark gets this treatment a lot. It helps that he's just more of an ass than an actual villain.
Dexter is a somewhat mild case of this. Although Dee Dee is generally the antagonist, there are several episodes in which Dexter is genuinely being a jerk to her when she doesn't really deserve it, verbally abusing her when her worst crime is being nosy. He's also used her as a human guinea pig several times, including performing an unnecessary brain surgery on her for his benefit. Some viewers tend to forget that both siblings are capable of being jerks to each other and that Dexter is not 100% innocent, and neither is Dee Dee.
The shorts "Dial M for Monkey" and "The Justice Friends" are just as popular if not more so than the main Dexter shorts, in a better case, the latter.
Lisa the babysitter. She only appears in a very early episode of the series and never shows up again after that. But look up any fanart of her and you'd be surprised at how much of it there is. Guesswhy.
For similar reason The Touchy-Feely Neighbor Lady and Candi, the Dee Dee replacement, are widely remembered despite only appearing in one episode.
Mandark's abrasive younger sister and Dee Dee's rival-turned-friend Lalavava only appeared in one episode, yet has a substantial amount of fanart, enough to have gained her own category in some fandom groups for the show.
Lee Lee, one of Dee Dee's friends, is one of these
Douglas Mordecai, one of Dexter's friends, despite being a borderline Satellite Character. He is popular because he is the only character Dexter could talk to like a human being.
Val Halen has a ton of fangirls.
The Puppet Pals. Some people wished they had their own Spin-Off (the closest we got were some live-action segments featuring the duo to fill time in some eps).
The robot parrot from "The Parrot Trap", thanks to its statements making the episode one of the funniest in the show's history.
"Funny Aneurysm" Moment: The ending of "Dexter's Dodgeball" today reads like it would've been a response to Columbine... except it came out three years before the massacre in question occurred, so Dexter showing up to school with a literal war machine (a robot) and mowing down his bullied by rapid-firing dodgeballs at them with it feels less cathartic and more eerily prophetic (just change "robot" to "machine gun" and "dodgeballs" to "bullets").
This show was very popular in Japan, likely due to Dexter being a bizarre scientist and Dee Dee being the show's resident Moe girl.
For similar reasons, it was also well liked in South Korea.
Genius Bonus: A lot of gags on the show are science references, some of which are fairly obscure.
Growing the Beard: While the first season is by no means considered bad, season two is when it officially grew beyond just another Hanna-Barbera cartoon into something more ambitious, phasing out the other two segments and experimenting more with high-stakes action and visual storytelling, all without sacrificing the comedy. Not only did this give the show a stronger voice of it's own, but it became the wind-up for everything Genndy and co. would later do for Samurai Jack.
Val Hallen is blonde, based on a Swedish god, wears black, and plays lead guitar. Skwisgaar Skwigelf from Metalocalypse is blonde, Swedish, can't find his biological father (leading him to believe he's part god), wears black, and plays lead guitar. Cue WMG that Val Hallen's his father.
Major Glory, 1996, zaps his cape with eye lasers while trying to kill a bee and the cape caught on fire. NO CAPES!
In the Mexican dub of the pilot episode, when Dexter is turned into a rabbit, he adds the line"What's up, doc?" Years later, Dexter's first actor from the dub becomes the current voice of Bugs Bunny.
The same episode has a brief scene of the Blue Falcon interacting with Dexter's Dad. The direct-to-videoScooby-Doo film Scooby-Doo! Mask of the Blue Falcon, which portrayed Dynomutt and the Blue Falcon as in-universe fictional characters, would later have Jeff Bennett, the voice actor of Dexter's Dad, play Owen Garrison, the washed-up actor who used to portray the Blue Falcon.
In that same scene, the following dialogue, after the 51st Super Bowl in 2017, when the Atlanta Falcons lost to the New England Patriots, after being ahead by 28 points in the 3rd Quarter.
Dexter's Dad:(Looking at Blue Falcon's costume) Nice uniform! You on some kind of sports team?
A more meta example, Genndy Tartakovsky's brother Alex was apparently the inspiration for DeeDee, as he was always destroying Genndy's projects when they were children. Their careers ended up going in the opposite direction of the characters they inspired: Genndy (Dexter) went into the arts and Alex (DeeDee) became a scientist.
Part of Dexter's plan to get Lisa the babysitter to fall in love with him is to turn himself into a teenager. He does so, but ends up a homely and grossly stereotypical dweeb, driving her away. Later, Cartoon Network would create FusionFall, where many of the younger characters seem to be teenagers, at the oldest. In the game, Dexter's older self is... not a gross dweeb. Far from that, in fact.
The episode "Hunger Strikes" parodies The Incredible Hulk by having Dexter turn into a Hulk-like creature when he doesn't eat enough vegetables, and when denied anything from the school's cafeteria utters the line "You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry." Years later Bruce Banner actually ends up saying the same thing by accident in The Incredible Hulk.
On a related note, this show wouldn't be the last Cartoon Network show to spoof the Incredible Hulk in that manner, either. The Mighty Magiswords episode "Hangry Hangry Hoppus" had the character Hoppus turn into a Hulk-like monster because of a cursed Garlic Magisword, and one scene actually has him say "You wouldn't like me when I'm hungry".
On a related note is how the Infraggable Kronk is essentially a friendlier version of the Hulk, which is also an accurate description of the Super Hero Squad incarnation of the Hulk.
In "The Big Cheese," one of Dexter's records in his collection is "Professor Hawk Sings." A couple years later was Ken Leavitt-Lawrence's nerdcore project, MC Hawking, which recast Professor Hawk's namesake as a gangsta rapper.
The dodgeball robot seen in earlier episodes bears a striking resemblance to a Dreadknight.
Ho Yay: The end of "Sun, Surf, and Science" has Mandark walking away with the boy in an awfully chummy manner.
Idiot Plot: The episode "Sis-Tem Error" has Dee Dee accidentally shutting off the lab's power and spending the rest of the episode tricking Dexter into thinking nothing is wrong by disguising herself badly as Computer, Robot and Mandark.
Seasonal Rot: Seasons 3 and 4, the two seasons made without theSamurai Jack-bound Genndy Tartakovsky after the show wasUn-Cancelled, are considered this due to lackluster plots (with slow pacing), Flanderization, and a new more bland-looking art style. Plus, they got rid of the Justice Friends and Dial M for Monkey segments. Oh, let's not forget that almost everything from the two final seasons are about everything, butthe laboratory mentioned in the title. Most storylines of the new episodes involve Dexter playing chess, Dad playing Golf, DeeDee dying Dexter's hair blonde, and so on. In fact, the final episodes of the show are about: a) Dexter and Dee Dee learning Karate; b) Dexter writing poetry; c) Dee Dee going nuts over an ostrich.
Seems to be the general consensus behind the infamous "Dexter's Rude Removal" episode now that it's finally been released. Not really as offensive as expected with the amount of hype, and just generally meh.
For those who don't outright hate the post-movie seasons, they're usually considered this. They're humorous and some of the episodes are more memorable than others, but overall, it's nothing special compared to the rest of the show.
The criminal mastermind and his evil organization who owns a Chuck E. Cheese-like restaurant in "Chubby Cheese". He even says they'll meet again after Dexter and Dee Dee escape. But nothing came of it. He could have been the Big Bad alongside Mandark.
Similarly, there's Matt Parallax, the head of the corrupt photo developing company from "Photo Finish." When he flees, he implies that he knows about the lab, but we never see him return. Much like the head of the evil organization running Chubby Cheese's, he could've been one of the central antagonists of the series.
They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: There's the belief that Dial "M" for "Monkey" and/or The Justice Friends (and to an extent, the TV Puppet Pals) were strong enough concepts for their own show. Or at least given more episodes in the Un-Cancelled seasons beyond their only appearance in the Wacky Racing episode.
The numerous times Dexter is depicted as a Jerkass for yelling at Dee Dee dont hold up due to the Made Out to Be a Jerkass usually being in play. Not to mention that when she isnt destroying his lab, a lot of problems are cause because of her merciless teasing of him.
Mandark can be this, given (most) of his backstory.
Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Dee Dee, Depending on the Writer. The total disregard she shows for Dexters things and even Dexter at times makes it hard to feel sorry for her, especially since a lot of those instances were in retaliation for something she did.
There are an awful lot jokes that involve Dexter, who is implied to be prepubescent, naked or in his underwear. He's also frequently seen flirting with or being flirted with by older women. Cable TV viewers from the 90s would have found this funny, but not general audiences today who are far more sensitive to potentially sexual depictions of children in media.
In an age of greater LGBTQ+ awareness, Mandark's parents trying their hardest to feminize him feels a lot more cruel. It's obvious that the joke is supposed to be that clinical, evil Mandark was born to peace-loving flower child parents, but they also force him into a gender role he hates and give him a distinctly feminine name which he hates even more, both of which are common struggles for gay and transgender people. The modern progressive climate also makes it outright strange for hippie parents to aggressively gender their child and discourage an interest in science, two things which extremely left-leaning people in 21st-century are vehemently against.
An inoffensive example. In one episode, Dexter meets a bunch of doll collectors who freak out when a collector's box is opened. This viewpoint is not quite as common as it was in the 1990s, as many doll collectors now open their boxes.
In the wake of regular mass shootings in The New '10s, the ending of "Dodgeball Dexter" (where Dexter uses a robot to fire dodgeballs with machine gun rapidity at his bullies) comes off less like a cool revenge fantasy and more like a disturbing glorification of school shooters. The actual, barely-exaggerated bullying Dexter endures is also a lot less darkly humorous in an age that's more enlightened about bullying.
A cross-cultural example comes during the Terrible Interviewees Montage in "Dee Dee and the Man" when one of the people Dexter interviews during is a nun who refers to herself as a "spastic sister." While "spastic" isn't considered that offensive in North America, it very much is in the UK and Ireland, where it's reputation is equally as negative as the word "retarded" and it's derivatives are in America.
What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: The show features a considerable amount of violence, both implied and explicit, and sexual innuendo, along with one episode based entirely around characters swearing. Only the last of which was considered too edgy for children's television, but the rest is indicative of the post-Ren & Stimpy cable TV in the mid-90s, where all cartoons for young audiences tried to see how much they could test the censors.
The Woobie: Dexter, in "Old Man Dexter", when his family excludes him from movie night because he's not old enough to stay up late.