10 Killer Facts About Dexter

Showtime
Showtime

When Dexter debuted on Showtime on October 1, 2006, the disturbing show changed the landscape of TV. It premiered before antiheroes like Don Draper or Walter White were household names, and it helped put Showtime on the map with its original programming.

Dexter Morgan (Michael C. Hall) works as a blood spatter specialist at the Miami Metro Police Department, but also moonlights as a serial killer. He has a code, though: Don’t kill innocent people, don’t get caught, and don’t get emotionally involved. For eight seasons and 96 episodes, Dexter literally got away with murder. But as heard through his internal dialogue (a.k.a. The Dark Passenger), he was conflicted about his real self and only shared the truth with a few people—most of whom ended up dead.

On the show, Dexter’s not-biological sister Deb (Jennifer Carpenter) falls in love with him, which added to the conflict—especially since, offscreen, the two got married and divorced during the run of the show. The series ended in September 2013 with a polarizing finale: Dexter lived but others died in his wake. Here are 10 deadly facts about the Emmy- and Golden Globe Award-winning show.

1. MICHAEL C. HALL WASN’T LOOKING TO DO ANOTHER TV SHOW.

Hall’s first show, the funeral home drama Six Feet Under, went off the air in 2005, so he wasn’t looking to jump back into TV again. “I got a call about a new pilot,” Hall told Entertainment Weekly. “I was reluctant to the idea of doing another television series in general.” He heard the pitch and asked himself, “‘Do I want to be surrounded by dead bodies for another indeterminate number of years?’” He read the book and the script and decided he liked that Dexter “operated in a morally gray area.”

“The tragedy of Dexter is that it’s not his homicidal behavior that’s gotten the people in his life in trouble but it’s his appetite to play at becoming a human being—his desire to have real relationships," Hall said. "I guess a lesson that’s emerged is that you can’t have your cake and kill it, too.”

2. THE FIRST SEASON WAS BASED ON A BOOK.


Showtime

In 2004 Jeff Lindsay published Darkly Dreaming Dexter, the first of eight novels surrounding the titular killer. The book was the basis for the show’s first season, but the rest of the seasons strayed from the novels. Lindsay said the inspiration for the character came to him rather randomly: “I was speaking at a business booster’s lunch. I don’t know why, but I looked out at the crowd, and thought, ‘Serial murder isn’t always a bad thing.’" That was the message Lindsay tried to get across in his book, and the idea that carried through to its television adaptation.

"I think Dexter is actually very moral—there are lines he will not cross, no matter what," Lindsay said. "I’m hoping he makes us think a little about what is and isn’t moral, and where the whole idea of a conscience comes from, but if not, hey, just enjoy the book.”

3. JOHN LITHGOW THINKS DEXTER AND TONY SOPRANO HAVE A LOT IN COMMON.

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, a reporter asked John Lithgow—who played the Trinity Killer, the main antagonist in Dexter's fourth season—who some of his favorite villains had been. “The great evil creation of the last 10 years has been Tony Soprano, and I see a lot of similarities between Dexter and Tony,” Lithgow said. “Obviously, there are a lot of huge differences, but he’s a captivating character. You can’t get enough of Tony Soprano: even when he was slapping a Russian prostitute on the butt or killing people in the most gruesome manner, you’re still with him all the way. I think Michael C. Hall and James Gandolfini are both great, smart actors who really understood that duality, that’s what made it so hypnotic.”

4. DAVID ZAYAS WAS A COP IN REAL LIFE.


Showtime

David Zayas portrayed Lieutenant Angel Batista on Dexter and was a cop in real life, too. While working for the New York Police Department, Zayas studied acting. “The moment I was involved in that world, it electrified me and I realized that it was something that I wanted to do,” Zayas told NPR. He didn’t tell many of his co-workers he was trying to become an actor, but his partner knew.

“I remember riding in the cars with [my partner] during the midnight shifts and he would run lines with me for my audition the next day,” Zayas said. For the past two years, Zayas has played another police officer on the second and third seasons of Bloodline, another show set in Florida.

5. JULIE BENZ MADE A JOKE OUT HER CHARACTER’S DEATH.

Julie Benz played Dexter’s wife, Rita, until the end of season four, when the Trinity Killer sought revenge and murdered her. But Benz felt shocked when she discovered her demise was coming.

“I found out an hour before they put out the script,” Benz told MTV. “Then I only found out an hour before we shot the scene how I was going to die—they wouldn’t tell me or anybody. It was the last scene of the season, so my family—the crew, who I spent five years with from the pilot forward—was very emotional and upset because they couldn’t believe it. I at least had a couple of days to process it, so I brought in a Styrofoam tombstone and I floated in the bathtub that said R.I.P. just to make a joke. I needed some kind of levity! Saying goodbye to my character, my job and people I love, was just too heavy.”

6. LITHGOW DIDN’T THINK THE TRINITY KILLER WAS PURE EVIL.


Showtime

During an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Lithgow—who won a Guest Emmy for playing the Trinity Killer—said his character was “far more than one-dimensional. Even in the first episode, you see him commit this horrific murder, and it looks like pure evil, but the next time you see him, he’s in that scalding shower, torturing himself with remorse. Something’s going on: there’s a lot more going on here than just sadism and evil.”

When he's not killing people, Lithgow's character, Arthur Mitchell, tries to be a family man and fit in with society, which humanized his character. “To me, the most fascinating thing is that he’s an evil man who does not want to be evil,” Lithgow said. “In that sense, he’s sort of a mirror image of Dexter, just a much, much more extreme case.”

7. YVONNE STRAHOVSKI THOUGHT HANNAH WOULD DIE IN SEASON 8.

Yvonne Strahovski played Hannah, Dexter’s serial-killer girlfriend in seasons 7 and 8, and was one of the few people who had enough of an emotional attachment to Dexter to survive. “I was surprised when I got to the end of Season 7, and I read that scene where she leaves the black orchid at his doorstep, I thought, ‘Wow, this is a pretty open ending. This might mean that they want me back,’” she told Collider. “And sure enough, season 8 happened and I thought, ‘Well, I probably will end up dying in this season, seeing as I didn’t die in season 7, and traditionally, most of the guest stars on that show usually die.’”

The show ends with Dexter’s son Harrison and Hannah fleeing to Argentina, with Dexter battling a hurricane in Miami. Later on Hannah hears about Dexter’s death, which unbeknownst to her was faked. “There is no happy ending in any of it,” she said. “I walked away feeling very depressed, and it really stayed with me. That feeling lingered for a while after I watched it.”

8. JENNIFER CARPENTER WANTED DEB TO DIE.


Showtime

Jennifer Carpenter told The Hollywood Reporter she wanted her character to die but didn’t want Dexter to do the deed. “In a strange way, I wanted her [death] to be a suicide,” she said. “I wanted Deb to take the one thing that was totally alive in his life away. But how it played out was much better. Deb deserved to die an organic death.”

Carpenter also said if Deb had lived, she probably wouldn’t have had a happy ending. “She always would have been making sure she was piling enough dirt on the secrets that existed with Dexter. I’m not sure a happy ending was possible for her. This was her happy ending.”

9. THE SHOW MIGHT HAVE INFLUENCED SOME REAL-LIFE MURDERS.

In 2009, an Indiana teenager named Andrew Conley strangled his 10-year-old brother. The reason? “He felt just like Dexter.” And if that wasn’t bad enough, Mark Twitchell built a Dexter-like kill room, lured strangers off the internet saying it was part of a Dexter movie he was making, and then murdered Johnny Altinger. In 2011 Twitchell was sentenced to prison, where he continued to watch the show and even drew pictures of Michael C. Hall.

10. DEXTER WASN’T ALLOWED TO DIE.


Showtime

The big question of the series finale was: Would Dexter live or die? He almost died in a hurricane, but Showtime was adamant he needed to live. “They [wouldn’t] let us kill him,” producer John Goldwyn said. “Showtime was very clear about that. When we told them the arc for the last season, they just said, ‘Just to be clear, he’s going to live.’ There were a lot of endings discussed because it was a very interesting problem to solve, to bring it to a close. People have a relationship with Dexter, even if it doesn’t have the size and the ferocity of the fan base for Breaking Bad. But it has a very core loyal following.” 

Dexter did sort of die, though. He faked his death and ended up at working as a log driver in the Pacific Northwest. “He banishes himself, if you will, into exile,” executive producer Sara Colleton told TV Line. “When he looks into the camera in the end [of the finale], the rest is silence; there’s not even a voiceover there anymore. It’s just emptiness ... Committing suicide is too easy; that’s letting himself off the hook.” 

Hall commented on the finale saying, “Sometimes I wish he’d offed himself, wish he’d died, wish Deb had shot him in that train compartment—of course, that would have made an eighth season difficult to do … But the idea that he imprisons himself in a prison of his own making I think is fitting [for the character].”

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire Almost Had a Different Title

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is a favorite for fans of both the Harry Potter book series and its film franchise. In addition to offering readers a more mature outing for Harry and the gang, the stakes are far more dangerous—and the characters’ hormones are all over the place.

The name Goblet of Fire is a pretty literal title, as that’s how Harry is forced into the Triwizard Tournament. In addition to being accurate, the title has a nice ring to it, but it was previously revealed that JK Rowling had some other names in the running.

In JK Rowling: A Bibliography 1997-2013, author Philip W. Errington reveals tons of unknown details about the Harry Potter series, so much so that Rowling herself described it as "slavishly thorough and somewhat mind-boggling." In it, Errington revealed that Goblet of Fire had at least three alternate titles: Harry Potter and the Death Eaters, Harry Potter and the Fire Goblet, and Harry Potter and the Three Champions were all working titles before the final decision was made.

While Death Eaters sounds far too depressing and scary to market as a children’s book, Fire Goblet just doesn’t have the elegance of Goblet of Fire. As for Three Champions? It's as boring as it is vague. So kudos to Rowling and her editor for definitely making the correct choice here.

It's not the only time a Harry Potter title led to a larger discussion—and some confusion. In 1998, readers around the world were introduced to Harry through the first book in the series: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. But elsewhere around the world, it was known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone.

As Errington explains in his book, the book's publisher wanted “a title that said ‘magic’ more overtly to American readers." They were concerned that Philosopher's Stone would feel "arcane," and proposed some alternatives. While Rowling agreed to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, she later admitted that she regretted the decision.

"To be honest, I wish I hadn't agreed now," she explained. "But it was my first book, and I was so grateful that anyone was publishing me I wanted to keep them happy."

The 20 Best-Selling Movie Soundtracks of All Time

Warner Home Video
Warner Home Video

Movie soundtracks can be big business—sometimes bigger than the movie itself. (And sometimes better than the film itself.) In early December 2018, three soundtracks were in the Billboard Top 10, and Mariah Carey’s Glitter soundtrack has been in the news recently for reentering the charts. But they have a long way to go before entering the top echelon.

Here are the 20 best-selling movie soundtracks of all time—many of which have been on the list for decades.

(The following list is based on RIAA certified units).

1. The Bodyguard (1992)

Certified units: 18 million

Elvis Presley originally wanted to record Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” but his people wanted half the publishing rights. Parton refused and later commented that “when Whitney [Houston’s version] came out, I made enough money to buy Graceland."

2. Saturday Night Fever (1977)

Certified units: 16 million

CPR will never be the same.

3. Purple Rain (1984)

Certified units: 13 million

Prince wrote around 100 songs for the movie—and "Purple Rain" wasn’t even in that original group.

4. Forrest Gump (1994)

Certified units: 12 million

Like a box of chocolates, except songs, with everything from Jefferson Airplane to Lynyrd Skynyrd featured in Robert Zemeckis's Oscar-winning hit.

5. Dirty Dancing (1987)

Certified units: 11 million

Maybe don’t rush to get the album if you love the film’s songs: According to executive producer Jimmy Ienner, “We needed different mixes for the film and record ... For example, the guitars were dropped way down for the film because guitars weren’t a dominant instrument back then; saxophones were. We took out most of the synthesized stuff and replaced it with organs in the film version.”

6. Titanic (1997)

Certified units: 11 million

Céline Dion told Billboard that when she was recording "My Heart Will Go On," her thoughts were: “Sing the song, then get the heck out of there."

7. The Lion King (1994)

Certified units: 10 million

"Nants ingonyama" apparently translates to “Here comes a lion.” And if you've seen this Disney classic—which is about to get a live-action remake—you certainly know what "Hakuna Matata" means.

8. Footloose (1984)

Certified units: 9 million

When Ann Wilson of Heart was prepping to duet for the song “Almost Paradise” for Footloose, she broke her wrist. But she refused painkillers because they’d affect her singing voice.

9. Top Gun (1986)

Certified units: 9 million

The songs of Top Gun “still define the bombastic, melodramatic sound that dominated the pop charts of the [mid-80s],” according to AllMusic

10. O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)

Certified units: 8 million

According to Marcus Mumford of Mumford and Sons, they were introduced to bluegrass through the Coen brothers's O Brother, Where Art Thou, saying “That movie kind of heralded the advent of bluegrass in mainstream British culture."

11. Grease (1978)

Certified units: 8 million

According to Box Office Mojo, Grease is the second highest-grossing musical of all time, beaten only by 2017’s Beauty and the Beast.

12. Waiting To Exhale (1995)

Certified units: 7 million

The song “Exhale” is famous for its "shoop" chorus. But writer Kenneth “Babyface” Edmonds explained that it’s a result of every time he wanted to write actual lyrics, they just got in the way.

13. The Little Mermaid (1989)

Certified units: 6 million

According to co-directors Ron Clements and John Musker, “Part of Your World” was nearly cut from The Little Mermaid after a black-and-white and sometimes sketched version made a test audience squirm with boredom. Everyone kept with it until a more polished version solved the problem.

14. Pure Country (1992)

Certified units: 6 million

Not bad for a movie that only grossed $15 million (and one you've probably never heard of).

15. Flashdance (1983)

Certified units: 6 million

The song “Maniac” was originally inspired by a horror film the songwriters saw (the lyrics were rewritten for Flashdance).

16. Space Jam (1996)

Certified units: 6 million

Not only was "I Believe I Can Fly" the best-selling soundtrack single of 1997, but third place was Monica’s “For You I Will”—which is also from Space Jam.

17. The Big Chill (1983)

Certified units: 6 million

By RIAA certified units, The Big Chill soundtrack is the fifth biggest Motown album of all time.

18. City of Angels (1998)

Certified units: 5 million

One of the chief songs from the soundtrack—“Uninvited” by Alanis Morissette—caused some piracy issues. A California radio station got their hands on a bootlegged copy and played it. Someone recorded the song off the radio and uploaded it to the internet (this was in 1998) and even radio stations began playing illegally downloaded versions. As a result, Warner Music was forced to release the album to radio stations a week earlier than planned.

19. The Jazz Singer (1980)

Certified units: 5 million

Fun Fact: Neil Diamond won the first Razzie for Worst Actor for this movie and was also nominated for the Golden Globe for Best Performance by an Actor.

20. Evita (1996)

Certified units: 5 million

Evita started off as a concept album in 1976. Then two years later it premiered on London’s West End. In 1979 it debuted on Broadway and an album was released that went platinum in the U.S. before Madonna got to it.

Honorable Mention: Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording)

Certified units: 5 million

Whether a Broadway cast recording counts as a soundtrack or not is debatable, but Lin-Manuel Miranda’s cultural powerhouse managed to shift as many units as Madonna and Neil Diamond, according to the RIAA .

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