The TV show Dexter is enormously popular, especially with crime fiction enthusiasts. However, many people have questioned how accurate the show’s portrayal of a serial killer actually is. This essay compares the show’s lead character, Dexter, to a standard set of characteristics of serial killers.
The defining feature of a serial killer is the number of victims killed in a certain period of time. A serial killer is a person who has murdered three or more people over a period of more than one month, with significant periods of time between each murder. The lead character in Dexter murders more than three victims over a period of years, with significant breaks between his victims. Thus, Dexter does display this defining characteristic of a serial killer.
Another defining feature of a serial killer is their motivation for murdering people. Serial killers usually murder people for some form of psychological pleasure. Because of this, serial killers usually have a victim profile that helps them achieve this gratification. In the TV show, Dexter certainly gains a sense of psychological gratification and release from killing his victims. He also chooses his victims based on a victim profile. In his case, his victims are criminals themselves, and have often escaped punishment for their crimes. Here too, the lead character in Dexter displays a defining characteristic of a serial killer.
Varying degrees of mental illness and psychopathy is another defining feature of serial killers. Often, serial killers display psychopathic behaviour. Psychopathy often manifests in predatory behaviour, sensation seeking, impulsivity, and a lack of guilt for their crimes. Yet, psychopaths may appear to be perfectly normal and are often very appealing to other people. Dexter does appear to display some psychopathic behaviour in that he doesn’t seem to feel any guilt about the murders he commits, and he appears normal and charming to others. He also occasionally behaves impulsively and recklessly. Again, Dexter meets this defining characteristic of a serial killer.
Based on the points discussed above, the lead character of the TV show Dexter is a true serial killer, as he has met all three defining features of a serial killer. Firstly, he murdered more than three victims over a period of more than a month, with cooling off periods between murders. Secondly, his motivation for murdering people is a sense of psychological gratification. Thirdly, he displays psychopathic tendencies such as a lack of remorse for the murders he commits.