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TV Series

  • Adaptation Displacement: This show is more popular and well-known than the original novels.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Trinity at the end of Season 4.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Dexter has yet to be caught.
  • Broken Base: Half of the fan-base can't stand Lumen for being annoying and whinny (despite being you know, a rape victim) or for constantly shouting on about getting revenge on the men that raped her whilst 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 someone that actually understands him and accepts him in a way that Rita definately would not have.
  • Clingy Jealous Girl: Lila, oh so much. She caused a fire just to try and control Dexter. She then tried getting revenge against Dexter just because he left her. She tricks the authorities into thinking Batista raped her due to rough sex and taking the date rape drug, stalked Rita and then tried to murder Dexter, Astor and Cody in the season finale because Dexter chose Rita and the kids over her.
  • Complete Monster: A great deal of Dexter's victims, but the main bad guys of seasons 1 and 3 in particular.
    • The Barrel Girl Gang, a group of men who kidnap young women, rape, torture, and killed them by electrocution. They then dispose of the bodies in barrels in a swamp. The leader, Jordan Chase, is the worst of them all.
    • Jorge Orozco George Washington King
    • Ice Truck Killer Brian Moser
    • Travis Marshall
      • Or, more specifically, the "Geller"/Doomsday Killer personality, although recent evidence has shown that Travis was always fucked up.
      • It comes to mind that, due to a variety of reason, Travis may in fact not fit this trope at all.
  • Critical Research Failure: In season 2, Masuka has to remind Dexter what "eukaryotic" means. The undergrad work preceding Dexter's medical degree apparently didn't teach him one of the most basic pieces of biological jargon.
  • Crowning Music of Awesome: 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.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: Doakes. Despite being a complete Jerkass and having the foulest mouth in the series, he has a large amount of fans that can't seem to get enough of him and is fondly remembered as one of the high points of the two earlier seasons. That and he's a complete and undeniable Badass that held his ground well as one of the two primary antagonists of Season 2 and had a Dying Moment of Awesome.
    • Masuka is this in the eyes of fans as well. One feels there should be a studio audience applause for whenever he enters the room or says something ridiculous.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • John Lithgow appears completely nude several times.
    • A shirtless Deb scene is marred by her nasty bullet scar.
  • Flanderization:
    • Dexter used to be a cold-hearted, meticulous, intelligent killer with no capacity for emotion and empathy. He had to put up a front to hide all that by using his then girlfriend Rita and her children. Seasons 3 and 5 are evidence that he's turned into a bumbling idiot, allowing two other strangers to watch his kills and confessing his murderous activities to them. In addition he is more sloppy than ever; one example being the season five finale where he left his blood and fingerprints in the crashed stolen vehicle in a ditch for cops to eventually see.
    • Deb has gone through some radical Flanderization throughout the series five season run. Originally she was tough but occasionally emotional and had a habit of sleeping around and cursing. As the series dragged on the sleeping around angle turned into a minimum of one illicit, Romantic Plot Tumor a season. Her strong emotions, which Dexter once commented she worked hard to hide, escalated to the point where she would break down and cry almost every episode. The culmination of this was a breathtakingly terrible scene in the beginning of season five in which Deb immediately after cleaning her murdered sister-in-law's blood off the floor with the help of a male friend, Deb breaks down crying, then fucks him.
  • Foe Yay: 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!

    • Dexter gets this a lot, actually. He seems to have a disconcerting habit of getting really close to his victims once they're on his table. Physically, I mean.
      • Entirely deliberate, as killing was Dexter's equivalent of sexual release. (Back before he managed to have sexual release during... y'know... sex.)
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • At the end of season two, Dexter has trapped James Doakes in a cage inside a remote cabin in the Everglades after he found out Dexter was a serial killer. Trying to convince his captor to turn himself in, 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.
    • A lighter, in show example is Batista in season three going around having sex with hookers after his bad luck with women. Turns out, one of the hookers was an undercover cop, and the only reason she does not bring up the incident to her superiors and ruin Batista's career is because it would screw up the case she's built up. Cue season 6, and that's more or less what happened to Matthews, because of his own penchant for screwing prostitutes.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: In season 2, Doakes tells Dexter "You owe me a new Michelin, motherfucker." Years later, Erik King would work as a spokesman for Michelin.
  • 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, too.
      • Was I honestly the only one who noticed that Brian's interest in Dexter went a bit past brotherly love?
  • Idiot Ball: Dexter has a nasty tendency to hold onto this, especially in later seasons.
  • Magnificent Bastard:
    • Lieutenant LaGuerta. It becomes apparent in Season 2 when, after getting demoted by her superior, she has an affair with the fiancé of her new boss, Esme, causing her new boss to become paranoid that he is cheating on her which causes her to do unprofessional things at work like use station phones for personal calls and have Masuka analyze a scrap of clothing because "it smells like another woman!", culminating in a complete meltdown. All the while LaGuerta is manipulating Esme by pretending to be there for her, allowing her to confide in her, and innocently taking over for her when she needs to rush off to deal with her fiance troubles. Even when LaGuerta's superior starts asking around about Esme's odd behavior, LaGuerta seems to stick up for her in front of him, much to his surprise. But after Esme's meltdown, her true goal is realized as she is reinstated as Lieutenant, now with her pesky Captain's misgivings taken care of. She then immediately dumps Esme's fiance.
      • Also, her maneuvers against Deb, feeding her to the press to cover herself.
      • Takes it Up to Eleven in season 6, where not only does she blackmail Captain Matthews to become a captain herself, but she then exposes Matthews as the man involved with an overdosed prostitute, leading to his resignation. All while pinning 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, Brian has his moments of MagnificentBastardry as well.
    • 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."
  • Moral Event Horizon: When invited to forgive his enemy, Dexter takes the right step along the fork to forgiveness. When the enemy spits on the mercy he has been showed, Dexter backtracks to the other tine and drowns him. Suddenly Brian has taken the place of his father as Dexter's spirit guide.
  • Narm: In season 6, as Travis is finishing his painting of Satan, he sees that Dexter sends him a message through the false tableau Dexter sets up. He then repaints the face of Satan to that of Dexter and it makes the painting hilarious.
  • Nightmare Fuel: The Season 4 finale.
    • How Arthur Mitchell's sister died: slipping in the shower, which shattered the doors, which led to her cutting her femoral artery on the glass and bleeding out. Oww oww FRICKING OWW!
    • Any of the times Dexter talks to his about-to-be-dead victim has slight indications of this, but when Dexter finally finds the man who killed his mom, well...
    • Trinity's killings. All four of his MO's. Considering his very first appearance consists of him physically overpowering a small woman in a manner that is very reminiscent of sexual assault (both of them being naked does not help), and then sticking a razor blade between her legs in the tub. He only cut the femoral artery, but this troper honestly thought he was attempting some form of genital mutilation at first, and almost had to turn it off. Then there's his absolutely chilling forcing of a woman to jump to her death, with her begging him to push her because she's too scared, then the incredibly brutal beating of a man to death with a hammer. Then there's the fact that he buries little boys alive in concrete.
    • The Barrel Girl Gang made DVDs of them torturing and raping their victims. Mercifully, virtually nothing is shown but the screams definitely qualify as this. Lumen's is especially horrific.
  • Romantic Plot Tumor: Various seasons are afflicted with this, such as 2 and 5, but the grandaddy 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 build up to this romance: they're already lovey-dovey by the time we see them and Batista's previous relationship is merely handwaved away. Oh, and this plotline affects the A-Plot in precisely one instance.
  • The Scrappy: LaGuerta, Quinn, Lila, and Astor.
    • Although some consider Quinn Rescued From the Scrappy Heap somewhat by his relationship with Deb
    • Debra to some. She teeters back and forth. On the one hand she really does love Dexter, but on the other she can be a completely unapologetic bitch if she wants to be, she has apparently no common sense whatsoever 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 she was apparently not smart enough to realize he'd leave Miami after the case was over, a drug dealing/using CI, and a dirty cop), and in season five, makes a few less than pleasant comments about people who speak Spanish in America.
    • That's arguable a lot, since most of her boyfriends were Jerk with a Heart of Gold (which was the most she could hope for, considering her career choice and her temper, language and general behavior; hell, Anton kept wanting to hint that he was too good for her), and Brian... well, he was a very good liar. Hell, he could fake emotions even while he had her tied up and almost begging for her life.
  • Seasonal Rot: Generally held to have set in around season 5. Season 1 and 2 are held in very high esteem, while season 3 just divided the fans a bit. Season 4 received perhaps the most acclaim from both fans and critics of any season thus far, especially for John Lithgow's performance. Season 5 however gets a lot of flak on account of the Lumen character, the weak resolution of many of its plotlines, and overall dissapointment at the entire season finale. Season 6 is now also largely considered this, due to poor pacing and writing problems and severe character derailment. Sometimes within the span of two episodes, such as with Quinn and Travis.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This show is just sort of the best example ever. Not an episode can go by without someone making some sort of unintentionally ironic comment about Dexter's double life. Really went for broke with this trope in the season 4 finale when Dexter found his son Harrison crying in a pool of his mother's blood, just like Dexter was as a child.
  • Special Effect Failure: The snakes in the season six premiere. It is quite obvious that they are CGI.
  • Squick: 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. Thankfully this plot seems to have been resolved, especially if the end of season 6 is anything to go by.
  • Spiritual Successor: To the Hannibal Lecter series.
  • Strangled by the Red String: The Batista/LaGuerta relationship, which comes out practically from nowhere and takes a lot of screen time in seasons 4 and 5.
    • And now in season six they are divorced.
  • Tear Jerker: "You finally brought me the perfect pie."
    • Also, almost the entirety of the Season five premiere. Especially when Dexter breaks down after killing that guy with the boat anchor and seeing Astor lose it after Dexter tells her of Rita's death.
      • Dexter's eulogy gets a special mention.
    • How about when Deb goes back to where Lundy was killed? Whatever you might think about her, seeing her break down like that is truly heartbreaking.
  • Unfortunate Implications: While avoiding any outright racist statements, in the first few episodes of season five, Debra makes a few less than pleasant remarks about spanish-speaking Americans.
    • The handling of religious believers in Season 6 also is getting a lot of criticism.
  • The Untwist: A lot of viewers guessed that Professor Gellar was Dead All Along almost immediately.
  • Wangst: Dexter
  • 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 Badass 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, is 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.
  • How Unscientific: The second and third books abandon the true-crime/psychological thriller format and explain that Dexter kills because he's possessed by a demon called the Dark Passenger. This is referenced in the television series in a metaphorical sense, rather than implying that Dexter is possessed by a literal dark entity. This deviation from the original narrative is a positive example of Executive Meddling since it would have placed the show in the Sci Fi Ghetto.
    • Not that it seems to matter, since the fourth book shoves it into a corner with barely a passing mention, and it's likely to go unexplored from here on out.
  • 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.
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