Previously on ‘Dexter’: A Series Recap of the Show’s Original Run

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Randy Tepper/Showtime

There’s less than one month left before Dexter Morgan makes his triumphant return in Dexter: New Blood. Hopefully those rewatches are in full swing. But if you don’t have time to rewatch the entire series, don’t worry. We’ve done the hard work for you. Read on for a full series recap of Dexter.

Humble Beginnings

dexter series recap

Meet Dexter Morgan, a blood spatter analyst for Miami Metro Homicide who moonlights as a serial killer. But he’s a serial killer with a code. By the end of the first episode, viewers know about the Code of Harry, instilled by Dexter’s adoptive father Harry to prevent Dexter from getting caught. Dexter almost separates from this dark part to compartmentalize. Later in the season, he names this shadowy part of himself: the Dark Passenger. Viewers also get to see the dynamic between his adoptive sister Deb, and his relationship with his girlfriend Rita and her kids.

On to the primary case — the Ice Truck Killer, whose crime scenes are unique for one major reason: they are entirely bloodless. As such, Dexter becomes fascinated with ITK … who seems to reciprocate. Thus begins the dance between Dexter and the currently unknown identity of ITK. But why? And how does ITK know about Dexter? With the reveal of Brian Moser as ITK came the reveal of Dexter Moser (now Morgan). They’re brothers! Honest to god biological brothers, separated after they witnessed the horrific death of their mother. (Brian was kind enough to remind Dexter of this in episode 10. This was one of the very few times Dexter genuinely panics.)

At last Brian is caught. Kind of. Dexter stops him from killing Deb. Afterwards, Dexter gives Brian a taste of his own medicine, killing him the way Brian killed his victims, leaving the body for Miami Metro. He’s not in the clear yet, though. Ever the suspicious detective, Doakes begins tailing Dexter.

Will the Real Bay Harbor Butcher Please Stand Up

Peter Iovino/Showtime

Ding-dong, the Ice Truck Killer is dead. But since it was by Dexter’s hand, he’s been struggling a little. Not to mention Doakes tailing him. To top it all off, a group of divers finds Dexter’s dump site. Thus, Miami Metro now has a new killer on their radar – the Bay Harbor Butcher, aka Dexter. Throughout the season, he tries to bring the team on a wild goose chase, and it kind of works. Until the FBI leads the investigation. Enter Special Agent Frank Lundy, a renowned agent known for catching high profile serial killers. So, you can imagine how Dexter’s paranoia only increases as Lundy and his task force (which includes Deb) get just a little too close.

Eventually, Doakes finds the blood slides in Dexter’s apartment. Unfortunately for him, Dexter successfully frames Doakes as BHB. By the end of the season, Doakes dies with everyone believing he was BHB. Only LaGuerta is convinced otherwise, though she doesn’t have solid proof … yet.

Meanwhile, Dexter faces other obstacles. First, Rita is on to him about his nightly activities. Of course, he’s not going to tell her what he’s really doing. Instead, he leads her to believe he’s a drug addict. Cue Lila, Dexter’s “sponsor,” who forms her own obsession with Dexter. While she manages to help him in a couple regards, she’s ultimately an incredibly toxic (and … fiery) presence. After she flees the country, Dexter finds her and kills her. If that wasn’t enough, Dexter learns that Harry overdosed on his medication after seeing, really seeing, what Dexter had become.

Friends That Slay Together…


This season, Dexter captures the attention of Assistant District Attorney Miguel Prado … whose brother Dexter unknowingly killed in a struggle. Miami Metro takes on the homicide of Oscar Prado. (No one’s connected the Dexter dots.) Miguel, wanting justice, keeps close tabs. When he catches Dexter literally red-handed after killing Freebo — the person Miguel believes is responsible for Oscar’s death — he, too, wants a more hands-on approach. Miguel thinks Dexter is on to something with who he chooses to kill.

So begins Dexter guiding Miguel through Harry’s Code. But Miguel’s enthusiasm begins to make Dexter nervous. Soon Miguel suggests they kill Ellen Wolf, a defense attorney who’s a thorn in Miguel’s side. However, she doesn’t fit the code. Miguel doesn’t care. He does it anyway. After Ellen’s body turns up, Dexter sets his sights on Miguel. After a few hiccups, Dexter gets Miguel on his table. Alas, another Prado brother sent to an early grave.

In Dexter’s personal life, three notable events occur. First, Harry becomes a personification of some of Dexter’s internal monologue. Next, Dexter and Rita’s relationship takes some MAJOR steps. Rita is pregnant, and she and Dexter are surprised and uncertain. That soon turns to excitement, and eventually they get engaged and married.

The Unholy Trinity


Ah, season 4. The most painful (and arguably the best) season of the show. First things first, welcome to the world, Harrison Morgan! With a growing family comes growing responsibilities, and Dexter finds himself spread incredibly thin. And with another serial killer on the loose, he needs to be in tip top shape. This season introduces Arthur Mitchell, aka the Trinity Killer (who will return in Dexter: New Blood). The case also sees the return of Special Agent Frank Lundy, retired.

To catch Arthur, Dexter befriends him, introducing himself as Kyle Butler. He becomes enmeshed in Arthur’s life. But Dexter finds it’s not that easy. He even begins to question what it means to be human. With Lundy around, things are even more complicated. Sadly, Lundy and Deb are both shot by who’s later revealed to be Arthur’s daughter. Lundy doesn’t survive, but Deb continues the investigation. Dexter, meanwhile, wants Arthur to himself. So, he manages to mislead Miami Metro to buy more time. The clock is rapidly ticking, though.

Finally, Dexter gets Arthur on his table. When Trinity is gone, he goes home. He’s ready to be with Rita and Harrison. When Dexter returns, though, he’s greeted by a ghastly scene. Rita is dead in the bathtub, killed by Trinity. Harrison sits crying on the floor, in a pool of overflowing water stained red. And like his father, Harrison is “born” in blood.

Tick Tick Tick

dexter series recap

Dexter may not fully experience emotions, but Rita’s death profoundly affects him. We begin to see the long-term effects it has on him. He also fears a dark playmate may have entered Harrison. Still, he continues to do his thing. He sets his sights on a new victim, Boyd Fowler. Boyd leads to Lumen, one of his escaped victims. Initially, Dexter attempts to send Lumen back home. Instead, he finds himself helping her track down each of the men in cahoots with Boyd who hurt her and killed several other women. Because he couldn’t save Rita, this is how he tries to atone.

As each involved man drops with no explanation, Deb begins to suspect Dexter and Lumen — she just doesn’t know it’s them specifically. Her theory is that they’re vigilante killers who are most likely a couple. Check and … check. Dexter and Lumen’s search leads to prolific motivational speaker Jordan Chase. But, of course, Miami Metro has their eye on Chase, too. Lumen soon faces Chase. After seemingly endless obstacles, she and Dexter finally get him.

Meanwhile, Quinn is focused on the mysterious case of Kyle Butler. He suspects it’s Dexter. So, he sends a man, Stan Liddy, to keep tabs on Dexter. Liddy gets just a little too close, and Dexter finds out. He kills Liddy in his van, prompting a quickly closed investigation, as Quinn was the primary suspect. Quinn knows better (and Dexter knows, too), but he never breathes a word about it.

Doomsday Is Here

Randy Tepper/Showtime

In season 6, Dexter grapples with the concept of religion. He doesn’t really believe in a higher power. He has the Code. When he meets Brother Sam, not only does Dexter begin to question this, he becomes acutely aware of his own darkness. Brother Sam, though, firmly believes Dexter carries light. Soon, Sam is shot and killed, an event that shakes Dexter. His darkness comes out in full force (oh, hey again, Brian), but ultimately it subsides, and things go mostly back to normal.

Meanwhile, this season’s baddies recreate tableaus from the Book of Revelation, believing they’re on a mission from God. Initially, the “Doomsday Killer” is believed to be one Professor James Gellar. It’s really two people, the other being Travis Marshall, an almost unwilling accomplice. Both Dexter and Miami Metro seek Doomsday, though Dexter realizes Travis is an accomplice first. As much as Dexter wants to kill Gellar and Travis, he has a bit of a crisis of conscience when it comes to Travis, letting him live. Big mistake.

It’s only a matter of time until Dexter finds Travis chained in the abandoned church where he and Gellar operate. Soon after, Dexter finds Gellar’s long dead body in a freezer. It was Travis all along. This in turn sets Travis into frantic motion to finish his plan — including kidnapping Harrison. After multiple attempts, Dexter finally gets Travis on his … altar. In those final moments, Deb goes to the church to, uh, share something with Dexter. Instead, she’s greeted by witnessing her brother plunge a knife into Travis.

Warning: Poison

dexter series recap

Season 7 picks up right where 6 ends. Deb is stunned and struggles to comprehend what she sees. She mostly accepts Dexter’s flimsy excuses, but she’s a good detective. Despite refusing to believe it, she knows exactly who Dexter is now. Soon enough, he admits he’s a serial killer. Rather than turn him in, Deb wants to “cure” him. And Dexter kind of makes a real effort. Eventually, Deb accepts he can’t be cured, and settles for warning him not to take cases from Miami Metro.

This season also includes two major antagonists: Koshka Brotherhood leader Isaak Sirko and Hannah McKay. When one of the Koshkas kills Mike Anderson, a detective, Miami Metro sets out to find out who. Dexter knows, of course. He finds the guy (Viktor), who turns out to be Isaak’s lover. Isaak seeks his own revenge, but ultimately ends up turning to Dexter for help. Soon, Isaak gets fatally shot. His dying wish is to go where Dexter dumped Viktor. Dexter obliges. But not before Isaak makes Dexter question his feelings for …

… Hannah. She’s first brought in to help Miami Metro find bodies from a killing spree she went on with her boyfriend years ago. It leads Dexter to realize Hannah’s not as innocent as she claims. He figures out her MO is poison. It lands her a spot on his table, but he keeps her alive. They begin a romantic relationship. When Hannah poisons a true crime writer, Deb asks Dexter to kill Hannah, but he can’t. By the season’s end, Deb catches Hannah. But Hannah, with the help of a longtime friend, escapes.

Meanwhile, LaGuerta finds a bloodslide at Travis’ crime scene. She reopens her case into the Butcher, getting closer and closer to Dexter. Despite Deb trying to mislead LaGuerta, she persists. She knows it was never Doakes. She even arrests Dexter! It’s not until the end of the season that she gets vindication. So, LaGuerta sets a trap that almost works. Eventually, LaGuerta and Dexter face-off. When Deb arrives, she’s torn. In the end, she shoots and kills LaGuerta. No one ever truly finds out.

Dexter and the Brain (Surgeon)

dexter series recap
Randy Tepper/Showtime

In season 8, quite the storm is brewing (literally). Dexter faces his past and looks forward to his future. He becomes a sort of mentor to a young psychopath, Zach, as well. When a new serial killer — the Brain Surgeon — enters the picture, Miami Metro gains the help of Dr. Evelyn Vogel, an expert on psychopaths. Oh, and she’s responsible for Harry’s Code, which shocks both Dexter and Deb.

Vogel enlists Dexter’s help to find the Brain Surgeon. She believes he’s one of her former patients. And … she’s kind of right. The killer is Oliver Saxon, who’s revealed to be Vogel’s son chock full of mommy issues. During his run, Oliver kills Dexter’s neighbor and tries to frame Zach. But it’s only a matter of time until Miami Metro and Dexter are hot on his tail. So, he kills Zach, Vogel, and is eventually responsible for Deb’s untimely demise.

Hannah returns, too. Deb kicks off an investigation with her boss Jacob Elway, a private detective. Seeing Dexter’s relationship with Hannah, she wants to back off. Elway, though, sets a US Marshal on Hannah’s trail. Dexter plans to help her escape to Argentina. Then, the two plan to leave together, along with Harrison. First, Dexter has tie up a loose end named Oliver Saxon. Saxon is ultimately caught, but Dexter still kills him (on camera!!) and claims very questionable self-defense. Finally, after a few hiccups, Argentina is closer than ever. Until Dexter learns about Deb’s worsened condition.

As the show reaches its final moments, Dexter makes some hefty decisions. First, he accepts that Deb may never emerge from her coma. Therefore, he removes her from life support. In the panic of the hurricane, he brings her to his boat and gives her a burial at sea. He also speaks to Hannah and Harrison one final time. However, he manages to convince them he’ll be joining them soon. Believing they’re better off without him, he drives his boat into the hurricane. He lives but is presumed dead. The last we see of Dexter for a little while is that he’s traded his Miami life for one as a lumberjack.

Dexter: New Blood premieres Sunday, November 7 at 9 p.m. ET on Showtime. Stay tuned for our recaps and review. Keep up with all our Dexter coverage here.

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By Julia
Julia is a writer/editor/content assistant for Nerds who joined the team in 2019.
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