He was a cold-blooded serial killer who planned his kills with precision, performed them like an artist and preserved the memories of each kill like a memento.

And despite the brutal way he killed people in every episode, I sort-of liked him. 

I would constantly justify this liking towards a serial killer by telling myself over and over again, “He’s just killing the bad guys. They deserve it.”

Dexter became a vigilante serial killer not because he wanted to clean up the society but because of his wild urge to murder instead. 

He would romanticise the trickling drops of blood from a body. The death of a human being was just another trophy for him and yet, I always found myself giving an explanation for his actions. At least this way, the bad guys were getting eliminated, right?

During the initial seasons of the show, Dexter was shown as someone who desperately wanted to fit in. He dates, goes out with his colleagues, spends time with his sister and yet, until he gets his fix of murder for the day, he remains restless.

Killing was his drug and he kept justifying it, even after he was caught by other characters.

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The glorification of bad guys has happened on a lot of TV shows and films. 

Take for instance, a character like Pablo Escobar. He was highly glorified on Narcos but still, the audience never supported his actions. 

However with Dexter, the killer enjoyed a unique kind of support. Was it because he was mostly killing the bad guys? 

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Over the years, we’ve seen various shows and films with an anti-hero protagonist. 

We cheer for them, feel bad for them and even curse them. And we don’t necessarily support their actions. Yet, though their flawed personalities don’t make them the hero, watching them take decisions, that are sometimes beyond their control, allows us to forgive them easily.

Walter White (Breaking Bad), for instance, was a chemistry teacher who got into the meth business. While his decisions at the time stemmed out of his helplessness, they soon transcended to a place where he stayed in the business just to feed his megalomaniac personality.

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And something similar happened with Dexter as well. 

He justified his actions by punishing those who escaped the justice system but soon transformed into a person who could kill just to feed his inner beast. He did not kill for social service; he killed because he wanted to.

Dexter concealed his personality from those around him for the longest time and deceived his friends and family because he was an addict. His day job never made anyone suspicious of his actual life. He had learnt the social skills of a ‘normal person’ and had everyone fooled. His addiction was to kill and no one could help him.

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As a show, Dexter had a few great seasons and then it faded into episodes that were being narrated just to get to the end. It was in these seasons that Dexter’s code (criteria to murder) was suddenly not important to him anymore. He identified his beast and he knew the repercussions it would have on his child, yet, he gave in to his urges. It was in these episodes that his urge to kill took over the cover he had carefully constructed over many years.

Dexter’s work life wasn’t particularly glamorous. His mundane life that the world saw was quite boring but his actions in the kill room revealed his true personality. 

He was presented as a man who does horrible things but is actually cleaning up the society but does that justify our appreciation for him?