Dexter is a forensic blood spatter expert for the Miami Metro Police Department. Based on a code given to him by his foster father, Harry, he survives ethically as a serial killer. He utilizes his expertise, often withholding evidence from the police so he can solve murders and kill the killers either before they kill again, or before they are caught by the police.
When Dexter is seven, Harry discovers that the boy has been killing neighborhood pets. Harry realizes that Dexter is a sociopath with a deep need to kill, and decided to channel the boy's homicidal urges in a "positive" direction by teaching him to be a careful, meticulous killer of people who "deserve it"—murderers who had escaped justice. Doris died when Dexter was 16, and Harry died when Dexter was 20. Dexter's nemesis, Sergeant James Doakes, discovers that Dexter pursued blood spatter analysis, despite being top of his class at medical school. He also notes that Dexter studied advanced Jujutsu in college.
Since childhood, Dexter has felt homicidal urges directed by an inner voice he calls "the Dark Passenger"; when that voice cannot be ignored, he "lets the Dark Passenger do the driving." He abides by a moral code taught to him by his adoptive father, Harry Morgan, in which he only allows himself to kill people who are themselves murderers.
Dexter considers himself emotionally divorced from the rest of humanity; in his narration, he refers to "humans" as if he is not one himself. He makes frequent references to an internal feeling of emptiness and says he kills to feel alive. He claims to have no feelings or conscience, and that all of his emotional responses are part of a well-rehearsed act to conceal his true nature. He has no interest in romance or sex; he considers his relationship with his girlfriend (and eventual wife) Rita Bennett to be part of his "disguise."
Dexter likes children, finding them to be much more interesting than their parents; accordingly, he treats victims who prey on children with particular wrath. His connection to Rita's children, Astor and Cody, sometimes supersedes his relationship with Rita herself. For example, in the novels, Dexter continues his relationship with Rita because he realizes that Rita's children are exhibiting the same sociopathic tendencies he did at their age, and tries to control their violent urges by providing them with "guidance" (similar to that which Harry provided him). On the show, Dexter deviates from his code of only killing murderers in order to dispose of a pedophile who is stalking Astor.
Animals don't like Dexter, which can cause noise problems when he stalks a victim who has pets. The novels reveal that he once owned a dog that barked and growled at him until he was forced to get rid of it and a turtle that hid from him in its shell until it died of starvation.
Dexter occasionally behaves in a way that suggests that he does feel some rudimentary human connection. He acknowledges loyalty to family, particularly to his late adoptive father, saying, "If I were capable of love, how I would have loved Harry." Since Harry's death, Dexter's only family is his sister Debra, Harry and Doris' biological daughter. Dexter admits that he cannot hurt Debra or allow anyone else to harm her because he is "fond of her". He says that "I don't have feelings about anything, but if I could have feelings at all, I'd have them for Deb."
His relationship with Rita sets in motion his slow but steady introduction to human feelings, progressing further with each season. During one episode, when his current target is a psychologist, Dexter infiltrates his office by posing as a patient, where the doctor speculates that part of Dexter's problem in admitting to his feelings is his need for control. He finally admits that he needs the people in his life. When he is threatened by a target, he fights to live because he wants to see his unborn child. Before killing a police officer who has murdered her own husband and daughter, Dexter is nearly overwhelmed with the realization that he does not want to lose his new family. He is also horrified when he witnesses one of his potential victims abusing his family; Dexter vehemently insists he is nothing like that and would never hurt his family. After Rita is murdered, Dexter realizes that he genuinely loved her, and is devastated at losing her.
Dexter Morgan Photos
|Next: Debra Morgan|