Dexter Morgan, the lovable serial killer from the Showtime series Dexter, was always known for his intellect and ability to finesse his way in and out of situations. Working on a forensics team allowed him to know exactly what the police look for in crimes. That being said, Dexter made some odd choices in the show’s eight-season run.
He may have a brilliant mind when it comes to science, but Dexter was never what you’d call a “people person.” Since he lacks empathy, he has a hard time making decisions when emotions are involved. We’ll be looking back at the moments when Dexter made some genius moves, but we’ll also look at the times when he clearly did not.
10 Not A Genius: Bringing His Guard Down Around Doakes
One of Dexter’s greatest and most challenging adversaries was Sergeant Doakes. From the very first episode, Doakes is introduced as the one person in Miami Metro who sees Dexter as someone completely different. It doesn’t help that Dexter didn’t always keep his guard up around Doakes.
Dexter's fascination with blood and violence always came out during crime scenes, which Doakes started noticing. In the Season 7 finale — appropriately titled, “Surprise, Motherf****r — we get flashbacks of these moments. Dexter then realizes he should’ve tightened his mask a little tighter around Doakes.
9 Genius: Getting Doakes Suspended And Framing Him
Throughout Season 2, Doakes is obsessed with discovering any secrets Dexter may be hiding. Dexter comes up with a plan to make Doakes looks so hot-headed that it clouds his judgment on a murder suspect. He then headbutts Doakes in his office, to which Doakes immediately runs out and beats him down, prompting everyone to believe Dexter was attacked.
While Doakes getting suspended frees him up to catch Dexter in his murderous acts, it still worked out in Dexter's favor by the end. With Doakes' violent past and history with Dexter, people aren’t surprised when he’s labeled as the Bay Harbor Butcher.
8 Not A Genius: Turning Miguel Prado Into A Killer
The first time audiences meet Miguel Prado, he’s seen as a charming attorney who just has some temper issues here and there. It isn’t until he befriends Dexter that we start to see his dark side — or should we say Dark Passenger.
Dexter obviously relates to Miguel’s violent urges, but Dexter was also trained for years by his father to learn his code. Only within a few weeks, Dexter brings Miguel along on a kill, which he allows to Miguel to do the deed himself. This awakens something sinister in Miguel, which Dexter should’ve realized was a possibility.
7 Genius: Making Ramon Prado Look Unstable
Miguel ended up catching Dexter in the act of killing Freebo, who was believed to be responsible for the death of Miguel’s brother, Oscar Prado. The middle brother, Ramon, is distraught and full of vengeance. Miguel wanted to relieve Ramon’s pain and tell him that Dexter killed Freebo.
Obviously, Dexter doesn’t want anyone else to know, which prompts him to make anonymous calls and tell Ramon he found Freebo. After agreeing to a meeting that never attends, Ramon instead gets super drunk and gets into a fight. This tells Miguel that maybe Ramon isn’t ready to know the truth. Dexter was able to keep his secret without spilling any blood.
6 Not A Genius: Not Killing Trinity Right Away Or Turning Him In
In any other situation, Dexter would’ve had Trinity on his table the moment he discovered his identity. Instead, Dexter envies Trinity’s seemingly happy family life. Under an alias, Kyle Butler, Dexter foolishly befriends Trinity to learn about how he can juggle both his murderous nighttime activities and being a father.
It all ends up becoming false, though, since Trinity is actually a monster in and out of the household. The worst offense is that even when the walls are closing in, Dexter could easily just give Arthur’s name to the FBI anonymously. However, his ego and obsessiveness to kill him are what ultimately lead to the tragic murder of Rita at the hands of Trinity.
5 Genius: Letting Zoey Kruger Think She’s In Control
“Dex Takes A Holiday” might be one the best self-contained episodes of the show. Dexter’s target is Zoey Kruger, a cop who killed her family. It proves to be a challenge, however, since Kruger finds out Dexter has been asking questions.
Instead of calling it off, he decides the best course of action is to make her think she’s in control. He still persists into the investigation while trying to look like an innocent forensics guy. This forces Zoey to take action into her own hands and attempt to kill him in a staged home invasion. As per usual, Dexter was one step ahead and able to take her out.
4 Not A Genius: Killing Travis Marshall At The Church
Sometimes Dexter likes to be a little too poetic. After he finally caught Travis Marshall, aka The Doomsday Killer, he stupidly decides to bring him to the church and kill him. In terms of being symbolic, it does work. Yet, it’s still an idiotic decision because this church has already been discovered by Miami Metro.
One of Dexter’s rules is “never create a crime scene,” but he thought it was smart to use an official crime scene as his kill room. As he finally kills Travis, he’s immediately caught in the act by Debra. All because he has a flair for the dramatic.
3 Genius: Pinning Miguel’s Murder On The Skinner
As Miguel became a more antagonistic force in Season 3, it was clear that he would eventually find his way onto Dexter's table. As Miguel was a high-profile Assistant District Attorney, a sudden disappearance would rouse a lot of suspicions. Luckily for Dexter, there’s another serial killer on the loose, The Skinner.
The Skinner was known to interrogate his victims to find Freebo. Dexter makes the brilliant plan to take out Miguel the same way The Skinner does, and leave him out for all to find. Since Miguel was connected to the Freebo case, no one even questions it.
2 Not A Genius: Letting Harrison Get Raised By Hannah
Aside from the many issues in Dexter’s final season, this is definitely the worst decision made. It’s clear that the writers didn’t know what else to do with Hannah’s character in this season. One thing we can conclude about her is that she will always be a killer. She was willing to kill Debra to save her own life, despite still being with Dexter. Therefore, why would Dexter trust his son in Hannah's hands?
We aren’t ever going to see what happens to Harrison and Hannah in the future, but how do we know she won’t kill again? What if raising Harrison ends up being too much pressure and she finds a murderous way out of it?
1 Genius: Stabbing The Brain Surgeon In “Self-Defense”
While the final season of this show is lambasted by fans and critics alike, there is one pretty awesome scene in the finale. When Debra falls into a vegetative state after getting shot by Oliver Saxon, (The Brain Surgeon), Dexter is distraught and wants revenge. Being the smart, calculating killer that he is, Dexter decides to let Saxon attempt to stab him with a pen, only to pull out the pen and stab him back in “self-defense.”
It’s a very satisfying scene to see Dexter up to his old tricks. Even though Batista and Quinn can clearly see Dexter did this on purpose, they have so much love for Debra that they don’t even try to pursue it.