Blood never lies, but Dexter never got caught until the end. The crime drama starring Michael C. Hall as Dexter, a forensic analyst who moonlights as a vigilante serial killer, kept fans captivated for eight seasons before it went off the air in 2013. People were left with questions unanswered, but now it is coming back for a ninth season.
Inspired by the best-selling series of novels by Jeff Lindsay, Dexter was one of the biggest hits on Showtime. As fans prepare for the series to return, some questions still bounce through their heads. Why did the series finale end that way? Will the new season pick up where it left off? Take a look behind the scenes of the hit series and get excited about the new season.
Michael C. Hall Used a Strange Method to Prepare for the Role
When Michael C. Hall got the role of the title character Dexter, he wanted to get into the mindset of a real serial killer. Although he never went as far as living out the morbid desires of his character, he did stalk random people in New York by following them wherever they went.
In a 2013 interview, he reassured people that he was just following them around for the role and only wanted to see how long he could go without getting caught. This method proved successful and led to one of the most striking portrayals in TV history. We guess he is a method actor.
Julie Benz Auditioned to Play Dexter’s Sister
One of the best storylines throughout the series was when Dexter learned to love Julie Benz, who played his wife, Rita. Although we couldn’t imagine anyone else in this role, Benz initially auditioned to play Dexter’s sister, Debra Morgan. This role later went to Jennifer Carpenter, which was ironic because they were married in real life.
Benz said the audition process was long, and she thought she was perfect for the role of Debra because she wanted to swear on TV. However, the casting directors thought she was better for the role of Rita. They had her come back without any makeup, and she said it was refreshing compared to other parts she had played in the past.
Although Michael C. Hall and Jennifer Carpenter played adopted siblings, Dexter and Debra Morgan, the pair were actually married in real life. In one of the series’ most bizarre subplots, Debra Morgan admits to having romantic feelings for her adoptive brother, but that probably wasn’t hard for Carpenter to act.
Hall and Carpenter struck up a real-life romance and got married in 2008. However, they split up in 2010 but have remained friends. They didn’t let it affect their working relationship during the series. It must have been strange to go to work and play siblings but leave as a couple at the end of the day.
David Zayas Was a Cop Before Playing One on TV
Sergeant Angel Batista is one of the many loveable characters on Dexter who don’t suspect their coworker of being a murderer. However, this wasn’t the only law enforcement role David Zayas played in his life. He was a police officer in New York City in his 20s while he took acting classes.
It must have been great training for his future role as a Miami police sergeant. When he was on the police force in New York, no one was aware that he had bigger dreams, except for his partner, who would read lines with Zayas while they were on patrol.
Jeremy Renner Turned Down the Role of Dexter’s Brother
After playing Jeffrey Dahmer in a 2002 biopic, Jeremy Renner was considered for a role in Dexter, but he turned it down. He later became a household name for playing Hawkeye in The Avengers, but he reflected on the time he could have played Dexter’s homicidal brother, Brian Moser.
When Renner and the producer of Dexter, Michael Cuesta, were interviewed in 2014, the show came up in the conversation. Renner told Cuesta that he turned down the role because he wasn’t interested in playing another murderer, especially after portraying one so horrific. The part of Brian Moser went to Christian Camargo instead.
Daniel Licht Reused Music for Dexter
The late composer Daniel Licht was the leading composer for Dexter, and he previously wrote scores for scary movies. He wrote music for the 1993 HP Lovecraft-inspired anthology film Necronomicon: Book of the Dead, which features a piece entitled “Because the Dawn.”
The particular song may sound familiar because Licht reused it as the famous “Blood Theme” for the series. He was inspired by many of his past horror movie scores to create the music for Dexter. The score makes the show much more suspenseful and scarier.
The BTK Killer Inspired John Lithgow’s Character
John Lithgow plays the infamous Arthur Mitchell, aka the Trinity Killer, on Dexter. His portrayal of the horrible serial killer was inspired by the history of Dennis Rader, aka the BTK Killer. His portrayal was so convincing that he won an Emmy for his performance.
Lithgow’s character’s life closely mirrored the BTK Killer. Rader was a family man who went to church and remained undetected for many years as he continued to kill. Lithgow’s character is still considered one of the creepiest in the show’s history, especially because of what he did at the end of Season 4.
Rita’s Death Scene Was Challenging to Shoot
In one of the most shocking and heartbreaking scenes of the series, Dexter Morgan finds his wife Rita dead in a bathtub with her blood running over the sides onto the floor where his son is sitting. It was a surreal scene for everyone to shoot, but especially for Julie Benz.
Prop master Joshua Meltzer said the Season 4 finale was haunting because the bathtub on the soundstage didn’t have actual plumbing. Therefore, they had to add plumbing to get the blood in and out. It was the last scene they shot for the season, and everyone knew how powerful the scene would be for viewers.
An Australian Dexter Ad Sparked Complaints
Even before the series finale aired, Dexter became the subject of protests due to a 2008 commercial promoting the series in Australia. The commercial showed Hall telling a man in an airport that he was headed to Adelaide because it “has more serial killers per capita than any other city in Australia.”
A tourism spokesperson was not pleased with the commercial, and they received many complaints. However, an Australian TV site claimed the complaints increased the excitement for the series. It shows that there is no such thing as bad press. Some people can’t handle the truth about their city.
Michael C. Hall Battled Cancer During Season 5
After his character suffered extreme heartbreak during the Season 4 finale, Hall went through his own battle in real life. During the production of Season 5, Hall was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma. Although he was going through chemotherapy, he continued to work on the show.
Hall had to wear a wig to hide his hair loss and announced that he made a full recovery the following year. While his fans were supportive that he survived cancer, viewers were not as happy with his character’s fate in the series.
Dexter Was Supposed to Die
The fanbase was left horribly disappointed in the infamous series finale, where Dexter fakes his death and starts a new life as a lumberjack. Now we know we can blame Showtime because the writers wanted to kill him off before Season 8, but they were put in a corner.
The writers intended to have Dexter wake up on the execution table at the Florida Penitentiary. As they start to administer the drugs, he looks through the window and sees all the people he killed. The writers wanted everything over the eight seasons to seem like it was Dexter’s life flashing before his eyes before he died.
Jennifer Carpenter Dropped a Lot of F-Bombs
If there is one thing everyone remembers Debra Morgan for, it is how much she loved to drop the F-bomb. Jennifer Carpenter got to curse on TV, and she took advantage of it as much as she could. One fan painstakingly took the time to count how many times she said it, and the number is shocking.
Over eight seasons, Carpenter uttered the F word 996 times. She might be back for the show’s reboot, but her cursing will go down as some of the most extensive swearing in TV history. It made her character so much more relatable.
John Lithgow Had Interesting Thoughts About the Trinity Killer
While many fans despised the Trinity Killer because he broke Dexter’s heart and killed Rita, the love of his life, Lithgow had other thoughts. Lithgow was drawn to the character because of the element of inner conflict. He said the Trinity Killer was an evil man who wished he could be better.
Lithgow said the character was like a mirrored version of Dexter but more extreme. Out of all the villains he played, this was the most complex one. His character had many levels, and Lithgow said the scariest part was when he was being friendly and gentle.
Michael C. Hall Almost Didn’t Take the Job
Before Dexter, Hall was best known for his work on Six Feet Under, and after that role, he hoped to explore more film roles instead. However, when he read the script for the first time, Hall was intrigued by Dexter’s character and knew he had to take it.
Dexter had so many layers, and Hall was interested in how he could make the character iconic. Hall said the show’s sense of humor helped sell him, and he liked that Dexter had a code of ethics despite being a serial killer.
Yvonne Strahovski Didn’t Like Her Character’s Ending
Yvonne Strahovski played Dexter’s serial-murdering love interest, Hannah McKay, during the final two seasons. Before she started filming, producers told her about her character’s journey and how involved she would be with Dexter. However, Hannah’s fate was not what she expected.
When Strahovski watched the ending, it was upsetting as an audience member. She assumed her character would be killed, but there wasn’t a resolution. It was uncomfortable and sad, and no one knew what happened to her character after Dexter left Hannah with his son.
Jennifer Carpenter Wasn’t Happy with Deb’s Death
When Deb was shot in Season 8, Dexter did what he always does and put her body in the ocean. However, Carpenter was unhappy that she died at Dexter’s hands when he took her off life support. In her final moments, Dexter confesses his love for Deb, and then she flatlines.
Carpenter said that she would have preferred Deb to kill herself instead of Dexter killing her. In the end, she realized this was more organic than suicide, so she was happy that she didn’t get to choose Deb’s death. Carpenter was also pleased Deb died at the end of the series instead of leaving her story open-ended.
Dexter Killed a Lot of People
While this is an obvious fact, most viewers have not kept track of how many people Dexter really killed. For those who have counted, Dexter killed at least 135 people over the show’s eight seasons, and there is no telling how many he will kill in the reboot show.
If Dexter really existed, that would make him one of the most prolific serial killers of all time. However, he only kills bad guys, so maybe he would cause the crime rate to decrease. Dexter was killing before the series started, so we can assume the actual number of deaths is much higher.
Michael C. Hall Wanted Dexter to Die
Hall admitted that he had mixed feelings about the series finale and Dexter’s fate. At first, he thought it would be more reasonable for Dexter to die instead of escaping to a new life. However, Hall said the idea of exile would be torture in its own right.
While the show is coming back, Hall sometimes wished that Deb or another character killed him. If Deb had shot him in the train compartment, there wouldn’t have been a Season 8. However, Hall thinks that Dexter created his own log prison, which was fitting for the character.
The Show Inspired a Copycat
Although Dexter was a fictional series, it inspired a real-life killer. Mark Twitchell was known as the “Dexter Killer.” He lured and murdered Johnny Altinger in an almost identical way to the show’s victims. He is now serving a life sentence for his crime.
What makes his case even worse is that he has been watching reruns of Dexter while he is in prison. He is supposed to be paying for his crimes, but he gets to relive his fantasy whenever he watches the show. He is not reforming by watching the show that inspired him.
The First Season Was Based on a Book
In 2004, Jeff Lindsay published the book, Darkly Dreaming Dexter. It was the first of eight novels surrounding the killer, which served as the basis for the show’s first season. However, the following seasons strayed from the novels. Lindsay came up with the idea in a strange way.
Lindsay said, “Serial murder isn’t always a bad thing.” He thought of Dexter as a moral person because he won’t cross lines, which was the message he wanted to share in his novel and the TV series.
John Lithgow Thinks Dexter and Tony Soprano Should Have Lunch
While most people wouldn’t think to put Dexter and Tony Soprano in the same sentence, Lithgow believes they have many characteristics in common. In an interview with The Los Angeles Times, he said, “The great evil creation of the last ten years has been Tony Soprano, and I see many similarities between Dexter and Tony.”
Lithgow continued, “I think Michael C. Hall and James Gandolfini are both great, smart actors who really understood the duality; that’s what made it so hypnotic.” Although there are many significant differences between them, maybe a crossover episode could help the world see why they are alike.
Julie Benz Made a Joke About Her Character’s Death
Benz might have been the last one to find out that Rita would be killed in the Season 4 finale, but that didn’t stop her from making a joke about it. She found out how she was going to die an hour before they shot the scene, and everyone was emotional because it was her last day.
She had some time to process it and decided to make light of the situation. On the last day of filming, Benz brought a Styrofoam tombstone that said RIP and put it in the bathtub to make a joke. She thought everyone needed something to laugh about.
Plastic Wrap Almost Suffocated Dexter’s Victims
Although it was a cool look for the show, the actors who played Dexter’s victims were almost all suffocated by the plastic wrap he used to cover them. In Season 1, the cocoon-like plastic used to secure people had to be altered after the crew saw it could be dangerous.
Instead of covering them completely, a crew member came up with the idea of separating the plastic covering into sections and only holding down the top of the head, torso, hips, and feet. It was much safer, but the actors couldn’t get off the table unless someone cut them out.
Real Maggots and Flies Were Used to Make Scenes Authentic
Most people assume that crime shows like Dexter use special effects to show crime scenes, but the set directors for Dexter wanted to keep things authentic. During a Season 5 scene when Deb discovers two decomposing bodies, real flies and maggots were used instead of CGI.
The prop master, Joshua Meltzer, used fake remains, so he didn’t have to coat an actor in layers of makeup or put maggots on a person. Unfortunately, even the large number of larvae Meltzer requested wasn’t enough for an authentic scene, so he filled the gaps with brown rice.
Dexter’s Knives Were Real
The show’s prop team utilized a variety of chainsaws and blades throughout the series, and many of them were real. However, for the actors’ safety, the edges were dulled. The team also created special devices, including a knife with a retractable blade.
Meltzer also created a prop with just a handle screwed onto a plate attached to an actor’s chest. This made it look like the blade was stuck in the target’s chest without needing to puncture an artificial torso. Some rubber blades were used when actors had to swing at each other.
The Plastic Rooms Took a Long Time to Set Up
As most viewers know, Dexter would take his victims to a room covered in plastic so there wouldn’t be any evidence left behind. While it seemed like he set it up within an hour or throughout the series, those sets actually took eight or nine hours to put together.
The crew waited till the end of the day to film these scenes because it would take them most of the day to wrap everything. Each piece of prop furniture, wall, and small item would be covered in plastic wrap, and just a single light illuminated the scenes to make them look more sinister.
Joshua Meltzer Is Now Known as the Blood Guy
It’s safe to say that Dexter had a lot of blood throughout the eight seasons. Therefore, Meltzer became known as the master of blood because of his work on the series. He even created his own recipe for fake blood that looked real but cleaned up easily.
To avoid a significant mess and lengthy set-up times, Meltzer’s team invented a mess-free, moveable version of blood made from silicon. The thin red pools could be placed beneath an actor or fake body to produce realistic gore but could also be picked up and moved with no clean-up.
A Gruesome Display Was Filmed in Public
During Season 1, the Ice Truck Killer (ITK) caused problems for Dexter’s prop department. Although they had many limbs, the ITK would drain his victims of their blood to make them look less lifeless than the props. Instead, the team used silicon to form fake fingers.
Because the storyline took place during the Christmas season, the crew had to set up a scene in a public location in Long Beach. This is a big tourist destination, so people who walked by didn’t know what to make of the fake body parts posed under a tree at Santa’s house.
Dexter’s Slides Weren’t Blood
Dexter’s blood slides were a significant prop in the show, but the prop department couldn’t use real blood, so they had to improvise. Luckily the blood master, Meltzer, had many tricks up his sleeve. While most people would use a syrup base with food coloring, Meltzer wanted something more realistic.
For the blood slides, Meltzer used furniture dye. However, his other blood recipe contained Dawn dish soap for easy clean-up and a few drops of peppermint oil to keep bees and insects away. It is estimated that he used 25 gallons of his special recipe during Season 5 alone.
Crime Scene Photographs Took Hours to Stage
Crime scene photos were an essential part of the cases Dexter worked on, and all the photos had to be staged and photographed by the prop team. The most challenging photos were the ones used to document the Trinity Killer’s crime scenes.
Meltzer and his team had to travel to different bathroom sets to create the photos of Trinity’s previous victims in bathtubs. Besides carrying various props and setting everything up, they also had to clean up the scenes that got pretty gruesome. Some days involved twelve hours of just taking pictures.
Dexter’s Blood Samples Required a Special Trick
Every one of Dexter’s victims had their cheek sliced so he could take a sample of their blood. While the scalpel in the scene is genuine, no one was really cut. The dull blade had a small amount of fake blood so that when Hall sliced, a capsule released the substance onto the cheek.
However, Dexter’s kill room wasn’t covered in plastic for no reason; there was a much larger mess when he killed his victims. A sprayer was attached below the camera to splatter Dexter and his surroundings to make everything realistic.
Dexter’s Syringe Was Real
To capture his victims, Dexter would sedate his targets with a syringe of animal tranquilizer. Like many props on the show, the needle was real, but it had a retractable duplicate. They switched the fake syringe right before the injection to keep the actors safe, and editing helped with the process.
Meltzer kept both of the syringes in his office but made sure to carefully label them so no one would get punctured with a real syringe. That would be a horrible set accident. Luckily, they were never working with real animal tranquilizers.
The Locusts in “Angel of Death” Were CGI
Season 6 of Dexter revolved around the Doomsday Killer, who left targets in positions related to the Book of Revelation. This required the prop team to get very creative, like finding a taxidermist to create a seven-headed alligator. It was a tough challenge for them.
When the police walk into one of the scenes, they accidentally turn on the machine that ends women in the greenhouse, and a door opens to release a swarm of locusts. While the show used many real bugs, the locusts were added in via CGI because it would be too challenging with real bugs.
Is Dexter Coming Back?
Luckily for fans, the serial killer will be returning to Showtime after eight long years. Hall will reprise his role as Dexter for ten episodes premiering in fall 2021. People were unsatisfied with the original ending, so the new episodes will pick up ten years after the finale events.
According to teasers, Dexter now uses the name Jim Lindsay and works at a fishing shop. Another teaser suggests that his son Harrison is likely a teenager now and might be on to his father’s dark past. The plot details are a huge secret, but there might be some reunions.
Who Will Be Returning from the Original Cast?
Besides Hall, most of the cast for the reboot are newcomers to the Dexter universe. Clancy Brown will play the unofficial mayor of Iron Lake, where Dexter now lives. Jamie Chung will join the cast as a podcaster caught up in the show’s central mystery.
Luckily for fans, it was reported that Lithgow would return for some of the episodes. Even though Dexter killed his Season 4 nemesis, it is a mystery how his character will play into the new episodes. Julia Jones and Alano Miller will also be part of the new cast.
The Return of Debra
Although we mentioned that Debra (Jennifer Carpenter) was killed off in Season 8, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed that Carpenter will be returning to the show. However, it is unclear how they will resurrect her character. Maybe she will be in flashbacks, or she will be a figment of his imagination.
In August 2021, Carpenter hinted at how her character will return. She said, “I don’t think I’m a ghost, but more of a link or echo or inconvenient truth for Dexter.” Carpenter said her character comes back to punish, haunt, care for, love, and provoke Dexter, so it should be interesting.
They Won’t Undo the Finale
The original final of Dexter is described as one of the most unsatisfying finales in TV history. However, the show’s creators have no intention of undoing the events that happened in that episode. They feel like it would be a betrayal to the audience if they just said it was a dream.
It would be admittedly strange if Dexter woke up in the first episode and thought the first eight years were all a dream. That would be like they undid all the events of the original show. It’s also not Season 9; it is a reimagination of the original show that covers the course of two weeks.
Julia Stiles Was Blamed for Breaking Up Hall’s Marriage
During Season 5, Julia Stiles joined the cast of Dexter for a few episodes. Hall and Carpenter announced their split shortly after the season was released, and rumors started to swirl that Stiles had something to do with it. However, she says she had nothing to do with her co-star’s breakup.
Stiles released a statement around that time stating she was good friends with Hall, and they enjoyed working together, but it was a personal matter between Hall and Carpenter, not her. The couple married in December 2008 and had no children together.
Preparing for His Return
While he is preparing for his return as Dexter, Hall has kept quite busy since the original Dexter ended. Hall starred in a miniseries on Netflix called Safe. He also guest-starred on shows including Documentary Now! and The Crown. He was also in a series in 2020 called Shadowplay.
Hall has not only been busy on screen, but he has taken his talents to the stage as well. The actor made his return to Broadway in 2014 in Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Hall also got remarried to Morgan Macgregor in 2016.
Lauren Velez Took Her Acting Game Up a Notch
Most people know her as Maria LaGuerta on Dexter, but Lauren Velez took her career to the next level after Dexter. She landed recurring roles on How to Get Away with Murder, South of Hell, and MacGyver. Besides her additional TV appearances on Madam Secretary and Elementary, she had also been on the big screen.
Velez popped up in films like The First Purge, Shaft, and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. She produced and starred in the 2016 film Adult Adrift. Velez is not returning to the new Dexter, but we are sure she will be watching some of her old co-stars in the reboot.
The Dexter Cast Is Loyal
Many people who worked on the show said Hall is one of the greatest actors of all time, and those who spent the eight seasons working with him were in awe of how well he performed the role. Hall is always precise and attentive to his work.
The crew said they were so loyal because everyone worked hard and wanted the show to succeed. Hall led by example, and the crew said there was never a moment where he wasn’t paying attention or thinking about what he had to do next.
Dexter’s Voiceover Was Based on the Novels
We previously mentioned that Dexter was based on a book series, so for the show’s narration, they decided to match the tone of the novels. The show’s creators wanted the voiceover to be something very intimate between the audience and Dexter.
They tried to have Hall be very observational and droll. The inner voice of this character in the book was so amusing that it organically became part of the character’s development from the beginning. It helped add an extra element to the show that people didn’t know they needed.
The Writers Learned a Lesson After the Doomsday Killer
The Doomsday Killer became a much bigger production than the crew thought it would be, but that was not their intention. The crew reflected that this was one of the lower points in the series because they needed to learn smaller ways to tell the story.
They put so much effort into the story of the Doomsday Killers, but they didn’t feel like it was worth that much effort for the reception the season received. Dexter’s team thought it would be better to focus on character reflective stories rather than large productions.
We Are All Connected to Dexter’s Dark Passenger
As we learned throughout the series, Dexter has this thing he calls his dark passenger, which drives him to kill. It is a beast he needs to feed to control his urges, but the writers say it also shows Dexter’s humanity because we can all relate.
Dexter’s dark passenger is much more extreme than most people, but we all have a part of ourselves that we aren’t comfortable showing other people. We worry that if we show our loved ones, they might run or judge us, so we keep It inside.