It’s been two years since we said goodbye to Dexter Morgan, Miami Metro’s fascinating blood spatter analyst and serial killer. Pushing the boundaries of television’s comfort zone, Dexter explored the not-so-straightforward situations surrounding a pathological killer and his code. Casting a supposed villain in the role of a protagonist, and letting us hear the inner monologue of a psychopath, the show explored Dexter’s discovery of a humanity that he never knew he had, as well as his "dark passenger" – the side of him with a violent bloodlust.
Following the teachings of his father, he tries to keep to a code that stops him from murdering the innocent – and yet he conveniently forgets the code when it best suits his needs. Michael C. Hall’s relatable, yet discomforting, portrayal of the titular character could have carried the show if it had been necessary, which, thankfully, it was not, due to the outstanding performances of the supporting cast and the impeccable writing.
Whilst the majority of the series was exceptional, there were some hiccups (mainly around seasons three and eight) along the road. In this list, however, Screen Rant is looking at the crème de la crème; the absolute best episodes of Dexter, ranging from the pivotal plot points to the downright disturbing details. If you’re late to the party and just catching up on Netflix, be forewarned – there will be spoilers.
Here is Screen Rant's list of the 14 Best Episodes of Dexter Ever.
13 Remains to be Seen (Season 4, Episode 2)
The preceding episode to this ends in Dexter being involved in an intense car accident, in which his car is totaled and he is knocked unconscious. In the beginning of “Remains to be Seen,” he comes to and remembers his last victim – Benny Gomez (Gino Aquino). As he is forced into an ambulance by paramedics, he panics about the remains of his latest victim.
As soon as he can, he leaves the hospital and goes on a man-hunt for the body parts that he is yet to dispose of – racing to find them before someone else does. Suffering from concussion, Dexter can’t remember what he has done with the remains – if anything – and blindly rushes from the crash site, to the car, and further, trying to hunt down the dismembered corpse of his victim. It’s not often a TV show can leave you crossing your fingers, desperately hoping that a serial killer can hide his victim in time!
12 Dex Takes a Holiday (Season 4, Episode 4)
Earlier on in season 4, Dexter packs his wife Rita (Julie Benz) and the kids off to a wedding, staying at home by himself to do work and enjoy his freedom. By which, of course, he means stalking his next kill. Police Officer Zoey Kruger (Christina Cox), who has survived a home invasion in which her family were killed, is back at work. However, Dexter believes she was more involved the crime than she’s letting on. He is, of course, right, and rids the world of Zoey.
However, the true pivotal moment of the episode comes at the end when Deb (Jennifer Carpenter), recently reunited with her ex-lover and fellow police officer Frank Lundy (Keith Ian Carradine), another police officer, is talking to him in a car park whilst they hunt the Trinity killer – when out of nowhere, a shot rings through the air, killing him almost instantly. But not before Deb has a chance to beg him to stay with her.
It’s shocking, unexpected moments like this that made Dexter what it is; a gripping thriller with inconceivable twists and turns and excellent writing.
11 Hungry Man (Season 4, Episode 9)
Approaching soap opera levels of drama, Hungry Man shows us Dexter’s version of Thanksgiving. He himself is attempting to have a normal, family life, and so Rita invites their friends over for Thanksgiving dinner. Dexter has also been stalking Arthur Mitchell, knowing his true identity as the Trinity Killer. He is in awe at Trinity’s ability to maintain both his murderous ‘professional’ life, all the while keeping his marriage and home life afloat.
However, after some avid research, it becomes apparent that Trinity has been beating and terrorizing his family. Jonah, Trinity’s son, is afraid to confront his father, but instead invites Dexter to Thanksgiving dinner. While he is there for dinner, Masuka spots Rita kissing the new neighbour, Elliot. Yet another episode of Dexter that leaves you grabbing your cheeks and squeaking, wide-eyed, at the TV.
10 Hello, Dexter Morgan (Season 4, Episode 11)
As season 4 geared up for a close, the penultimate episode saw Dexter determined to put an end to the Trinity Killer’s (John Lithgow) ongoing murders. Whilst Miami Metro is getting ever closer to discovering who Trinity is, Dexter decides that he wants the kill for himself, and leads them down a fictitious path, framing a different murderer for Trinity’s crimes.
In the meantime, Trinity follows Dexter’s alias to an innocent Kyle Butler, murdering him. Dexter attempts to trap Trinity by subduing another Kyle Butler, but fails. The episode comes to a head in a gut-twisting final moment, where Trinity has come to Miami Metro and discovered a photograph of Dexter’s bowling team, meeting him in the office with a chilling “Hello, Dexter Morgan.”
9 The Getaway (Season 4, Episode 12)
Nothing could have prepared viewers for Dexter’s season 4 finale. After a back-and-forth game of cat and mouse between Dexter and his friend-turned-rival, Arthur Mitchell – also known as the Trinity Killer – Arthur has finally discovered Dexter’s true identity. However, Dexter believes Trinity to have fled, and has himself made the pivotal decision that his family life with his wife and children means more to him than his Dark Passenger.
Returning to his home, enlightened by this epiphany, Dexter is struck down by a turn of events that no-one saw coming. His infant son, Harrison, is alone on the floor, drenched in blood – a perfect carbon copy of Dexter’s own traumatic childhood. And then, the camera pans to the shot that blew the series apart. Rita, dead, in the bathtub. She has been murdered by a neat cut to the femoral artery, signalling a new trinity of killings by Arthur, and the end of life as Dexter knows it.
8 Beauty and the Beast (Season 5, episode 4)
Dexter is confronted with a new and unforeseen issue in this episode – rather than bringing someone to harm, he has saved them. While "disposing" of serial killer Boyd Fowler (Shawn Hatosy), Dexter finds a young woman in his house who was being kept prisoner. He manages to identify her as Lumen Pierce, but struggles to get her to trust him – understandably.
As if that wasn’t enough to get the episode on to the list – Detective Paul Quinn has also developed an accurate theory that Dexter is in fact the Kyle Butler who had befriended Trinity Killer in the previous season, and attempts to show Dexter’s photo to the Mitchell family in order to confirm his hunch.
7 Circle Us (Season 5, Episode 7)
Dex has decided to help abuse victim, Lumen (Julia Stiles), whom he has rescued from captivity in a basement earlier in the series. This game-changing episode sees him searching for one of the tormentors, known only as the “suit and tie” man. When called to the scene of an accident, he sees that the pick-up truck involved has spilled several 55-gallon drums containing the bodies of several women, floating in formaldehyde.
Some basic research leads him to Jordan Chase (Jonny Lee Miller), a motivational speaker who soon comes to play an incredibly important role in the series, as it transpires that he is not all that he seems – as people rarely are in the show.
6 Morning Comes (Season 2, Episode 08)
After admitting his affair with Lila (Jaime Murray), Dexter is told that he’s no longer welcome at Rita’s house. However, both Deb and Lila are also living in Dexter’s apartment, making for an uncomfortable situation.
More is revealed when Dexter tries to help Lila clean up after the apartment fire that brought him back in to her life – and realizes that her story of how the first started doesn’t measure up.
In what is already an intense episode, the plot point that bumps it so high up the list is the very end. Sergeant Doakes (Erik King), who has been suspended already for assaulting Dexter, breaks into his apartment looking for some evidence – and finds everything he’d hoped for and more hiding behind the air conditioning vent.
5 There's Something About Harry (Season 2, Episode 10)
Battling with the difference between taking a human life and keeping one, Dexter is keeping Sergeant James Doakes in a cage in his remote cabin, after Doakes has discovered that his suspicions were right all along – Dexter is the infamous Bay Harbor Butcher. Torn by his faith to his code, Dexter battles with his urge to kill Doakes in order to keep both his true identity and Rita and her children safe.
As a compromise, Dexter decides to frame Doakes by putting his fingerprints on his "kill tools" and leaving them to be found in the Bay Harbor. While waiting for the inevitable result, Doakes begins to suggest that Dexter's childhood may not have been quite how he remembered it.
Dexter struggles to come to terms with his father’s suicide, and the fact that it may well have been his fault – and the audience desperately clamors for the next episode, eager to find out if Doakes will make it out of the cabin alive.
4 The British Invasion (Season 2, Episode 12)
In this explosive (pun absolutely intended) finale to Dexter’s outstandingly good second season, the tense situations all come to a head. Whilst Rita has forgiven Dexter for his affair with Lila , Lila does not appear to have gotten over it herself – and has become more than a little stalker-y.
Sergeant Doakes is still locked in the ill-gotten cabin by the lake, where Dexter left him after he discovered his identity, and Miami Metro are closing in on his location fast. Dexter’s plan to release Doakes after framing him as the Bay Harbor Butcher isn’t quite going to plan – but the situation gets flipped completely when Lila’s detective work leads her to the cabin. She discovers from Doakes that Dexter is the Bay Harbor Butcher, but rather than be disgusted or outraged, she defends her "soulmate" by lighting fire to propane gas in the cabin, torching Doakes to death.
Wrapping the season in a neat little bow, Dexter decides that enough is enough when Lila threatens Astor and Cody in a desperate bid to win back his affections, and…sees that it doesn’t happen again.
For the majority of season six, both Miami Metro and Dexter had been tracking and investigating a series of seemingly religious-inspired murders, committed by Professor Gellar (Edward James Olmos) and his young student and protégé, Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks).
However, in yet another mind-blowing twist, this episode sees the entire situation unfolding in a completely unexpected way. Un-spoilered by promos, the moment took audiences completely off guard as Dexter finally hunted down the location of the killers, believing that he was helping Marshall out of an impossible position as Gellar’s forced accomplice. However, the episode is soon blown wide open as Dexter attempts to rid Marshall of Gellar’s influence – only to discover his long-dead body in Marshall’s freezer.
It is in this moment that the truth is suddenly revealed – that Marshall has been the mastermind behind the graphic religious murders. And also, that he is the one that will continue them.
3 This is the way the world ends (Season 6, Episode 12)
The drama of season 6 culminates in the season finale to end all season finales (almost…). Dexter has managed to thwart Miami Metro’s attempts to catch serial killer Travis Marshall, in favor of dealing with the murderer himself. Following his usual routine of wrapping his victim in plastic wrap and plunging a knife into them, Dexter continues with his usual act of so-called vengeance, sticking strictly to Harry’s code – nothing out of the norm for a Dexter finale there.
However, the ultimate game-changer blows this episode far above the rest. His recently promoted police officer sister – and perhaps the person he is closest to in the world – has made her move to catch Travis Marshall, too. But when she arrives, ready to arrest him, not only does she witness Dexter’s taunts of Marshall, but she gets an eye-witness account of him thrusting the knife into his defenseless chest.
With nothing but an “Oh God” of realization, viewers were plunged into the darkness of the credits and the abyss of waiting for season 7.
2 Are You...? (Season 7, Episode 1)
Following on from the epic finale to season 6, the opening episode of season 7 takes place within the following moments, and sees Deb almost immediately choosing to help her brother by dealing with the murdered body of Travis Marshall (Colin Hanks).
We are also witness to a flash forward, in which Dexter appears to be in the airport, running from someone – possibly his sister. The entire episode is fraught with run-ins and questionable motives, and leaves the audience on tenterhooks as they try to fathom what Deb has done with this new, disturbing discovery.
Meanwhile, LaGuerta is making a discovery of her own, leading her slightly closer to finding out what really happened to her good friend Sergeant James Doakes…
1 Surprise, Mother****er! (Season 7, Episode 12)
The pressure is on Deb in what is a huge decision for her future – and her sanity. Season 7 sees Dexter and Deb’s relationship swerve into brand new territory, with her attempting to wean him off of his life as a murderer in hopes of starting fresh.
However, LaGuerta has discovered Dexter’s secret – and harbors a resentment from his framing of her best friend, Sergeant Doakes, back in season 2 – and intends to see him brought to justice. Unable to consider this, Dexter kills Hector Estrada (Nestor Serrano), the drug lord responsible for the murder of Dexter's biological mother, and plans to shoot LaGuerta with his gun, framing him for her murder. Not all goes to plan when Deb walks into the shipping container to find Dexter about to kill LaGuerta. She begs him not to, as LaGuerta wakes up and pleads with her to see sense and shoot her brother, telling her “you’re a good person.” Dexter realizes the moral dilemma his sister is facing and lowers his knife, telling her “do what you gotta do.”
Sealing her fate as Dexter’s accomplice (and, ultimately, his victim), Deb shoots LaGuerta dead.
Did we miss any other great episodes? Let us know in the comments!